Lesson Seven, Part 2 – The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit

Part 2:  The Baptism Of The Holy Spirit


Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.  Acts 2:33

John the Baptist said Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire (Matt. 3:11).  This did not happen until after Jesus took His seat at the right hand of God as king over God’s kingdom.  During the forty days Jesus spent on earth after His resurrection, He told the apostles, “You shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”  (Acts 1:5).  The baptismal measure of the Holy Spirit the apostles received came on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4).

Some have concluded that the first Gentile converts were baptized with the Holy Spirit while Peter was preaching to the house of Cornelius.  For when relating to this incident later Peter said, “The Holy Spirit fell upon them, just as He did upon us at the beginning.”  But then he went on to say, “and I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, ‘John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’”  Acts 11:15, 16.  The question is, did Peter mean the Gentiles were baptized with the Holy Spirit, or did he mean that when he saw the Holy Spirit fall upon the Gentiles, as He fell upon the apostles at the beginning, he was reminded of what Jesus said about some being baptized with the Holy Spirit?

Since there appears to be a vast difference in the powers Cornelius and his household possessed and those the apostles possessed, we might conclude, only the apostles had the baptismal measure of the Holy Spirit and the Gentiles on this occasion merely received a special gift.  Our main interest in this lesson is to understand the Holy Spirit’s role as He cooperated with Jesus in the ordering of God’s kingdom; consequently, we will not pursue all of the “side avenues” concerning the Holy Spirit.

We must conclude from the information we find recorded in the book of Acts that Jesus enjoyed a fantastic and successful evangelism program after He returned to heaven and baptized the apostles with the Holy Spirit.  First, three thousand Jews or Jewish proselytes were baptized on Pentecost (Acts 2:41).  Then shortly thereafter the number rose to five thousand men (Acts 4:4).  After this multitudes of men and women were added (Acts 5:14).  Then Luke, the most likely author of Acts, tells us that conversions were increasing in numbers, including large numbers of  priests (Acts 6:1, 7).  In Samaria both men and women were baptized after hearing the message of the kingdom and the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 8:12).  In Lydda and Sharon all turned to the Lord, while the numbers increased in Judea, Galilee and Samaria (Acts 9:31, 35).  Even the Gentiles were offered repentance that leads to life (Acts 10:48).  The success story continued as large numbers were converted at Antioch and in parts of Asia (Acts 11:21; 14:21).

In our time, it is not uncommon to hear church leaders use the foregoing numbers from Acts to try to inspire the church members to be more active in evangelism.  We cannot help but wonder if this success story could be duplicated in our time without the baptismal measure of the Holy Spirit.  It has not happened, yet.  Of course, on a world wide scale in the same amount of time, we perhaps could convert as many with only the power of the word and our vast communication system.

What made the new divine king’s heavenly directed, Holy Spirit powered, apostle preached, evangelism program so successful?  Jesus had told the apostles to wait in Jerusalem until they were “clothed with power from on high,” and so they did and they were (Luke 24:49).  For the first time, they fully understood the kingdom of God, and how they were to be children in God’s heavenly spiritual kingdom.  They understood Jesus in His spiritual role as king, priest and sacrifice.  Although Jesus had explained these things to them carefully, it took the baptismal measure of the Holy Spirit to open their minds so they could understand what they had heard.

This new understanding became the basis for their faith; consequently, they took courage.  As was suggested in a previous lesson, we see a great difference in Peter after he was immersed in the Holy Spirit.  Compare Peter’s behavior the morning they arrested Jesus with his boldness after Pentecost when he came before the same people in authority.  Peter was not afraid of physical death, because he had come to understand the resurrection (John 18:15-27; Acts 4:19, 20).

Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John, and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were marveling, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.  Acts 4:13

Jesus had told His disciples not to worry about encounters like the foregoing, because He said, “The Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”  (Luke 12:12).  Also, He said, “He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.”  (John 14:26).  And again, He said, “He will bear witness of Me.”  (John 15:26).  Before the apostles enjoyed the help of the Holy Spirit, Jesus confused the apostles when He said, “A little while, and you will no longer behold Me; and again a little while, you will see Me.  And so they were saying, ‘What is this that He says, A little while?  We do not know what He is talking about.’”  (John 16:16, 18).  However, after they were clothed with the Holy Spirit they could explain all things concerning Jesus and His kingdom.

It is easy to lose sight of Jesus our king as we become engrossed in the work of the Holy Spirit and the apostles in Acts, but we must remember that Jesus was the source of all the directives which the apostles received via the Holy Spirit.

But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.  John 16:13

We can be sure that what Jesus wanted implemented in the world is exactly what the Holy Spirit directed.  For instance, Jesus wanted to convict the world concerning sin, righteous and judgment; therefore, Jesus said, “And He (the Holy Spirit), when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment.”  (John 16:8).  The gospel of the kingdom is the powerful message which convicts the world, but it must be preached in an understandable way.  The apostles obtained the power to understand when they were clothed with “power from on high,” but they also had some other powers supplied by the Holy Spirit to aid their work.

The cloven tongues of fire resting on each of them, undoubtedly convinced the apostles of the truth of John the Baptist’s message.  He had said that they would be baptized with fire and the Holy Spirit.  The presence of the Spirit was accompanied by a sound like a rushing mighty wind.  This helped draw an audience.  Another power that became a useful part of the apostles’ ministry was their ability to speak in tongues (Acts 2:1-6).  This relieved the early preachers and teachers of the need to enroll in a language school.  Their being able to speak in tongues also served as a sign to the non-believers.  It made it easier for the public to believe the message was authorized by God (I Cor. 14:22).

These Spirit immersed apostles were able to heal some sick people and to make some people sick who were well.  For instance, Peter healed a man who had been lame from his birth, and Paul struck Elymas blind (Acts 3:6; 13:9-11).  Handkerchiefs and aprons were carried from Paul to some people who were sick, and other people were laid on Peter’s path with the hope that his shadow would pass over them (Acts 5:16, 17; 19:11,12).  They even had a cure for those who went to sleep during the sermon and when members of the church lied about their contribution.  Paul revived Eutychus when he went to sleep and fell out of the third floor window during his sermon.  Ananias and Sapphira died when they lied about their offering to the Holy Spirit in the presence of Peter (Acts 5:1-10; 20:9).  The foregoing are things which the apostles were able to do after they were baptized with the Holy Spirit.

The apostle Paul claimed to have the same powers as the other apostles; although, he did not qualify to be one of the Twelve when the Holy Spirit first descended at Pentecost (I Cor. 9:1; Acts 1:21, 22).  An investigation of the miracles performed by those other than the apostles shows they had the power to perform some of the same miracles.  A power which appears to belong only to the apostles was that they were able to pass on to other Christians gifts of the Spirit.  This enabled them to perform miracles.  We can make this deduction because Peter and John traveled from Jerusalem to Samaria to lay their hands on certain believers for them to receive the Holy Spirit in such a way as to perform miracles (Acts 8:14, 15).  The elders of the local churches did have some power to lay their hands on others to endue them with the power of prophetic utterance ( I Tim. 4:14).

An overall study of the Acts and the epistles will show the apostles had authority over the churches for a while, just as Paul said in I Thess. 2:6 and II Cor. 13:1, 2.  With this power working through the apostles, Jesus Christ, our king, was able to win many citizens for His kingdom in the first century.  This authority and these powers were the result of them having been baptized with the Holy Spirit.

If this first century campaign was so successful then we might ask, why did our king remove the baptismal power of the Holy Spirit from the leaders of the church?  It appears it would be useful to have those great powers of the Holy Spirit to fulfill our ministry; the power of: preaching and teaching with a full understanding of the kingdom of God, speaking the language of different audiences, healing the sick, raising the dead, striking blind those who hinder the hearers, casting out evil spirits, enjoying immunity from poisonous snakes and insect bites and passing on the gift to perform miracles to certain church members.

According to human wisdom it might seem wise for Jesus to have continued with this arrangement.  Evidently, many charismatic leaders believe He has not changed His original program.  The world is waiting for them to prove their point.  To the rest of us it appears the Holy Spirit cooperated with Jesus in this powerful manner until the church was established – full grown and able to reproduce herself with the word of God.  Our king did not want this type of campaign after certain goals were accomplished.  We must come to this conclusion, because we cannot find anyone who is able to perform the variety of miracles on the level of completeness which those men did who were baptized with the Holy Spirit.

Perhaps, Jesus now wants people to be converted to the kingdom based upon the power of the word and without the excitement and the intimidation of the miracles.  We know our Lord’s church is unique: a church which functions as the body of Christ; a church which has a clear understanding of the kingdom; a church whose leadership consists of successful fathers; church members with personalities and characters like Jesus combined with the faith of Abraham.  This unique church should be able to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment without the performance of miracles.  Surely, Jesus wants this type of evangelism program today, and that is why He does not baptize anyone with the Holy Spirit.  However, Jesus did established His kingdom in the first century with the cooperation of the Holy Spirit in miraculous ways because of the baptism of the apostles with Him.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Who was the first person to speak of the baptism of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament?
  2. When did the first baptism of the Holy Spirit happen?
  3. What incident reminded Peter of Jesus’ statement about the baptism of the Holy Spirit?
  4. Name the goal which the Holy Spirit helped Jesus accomplish?
  5. Describe the success of the evangelism program that Jesus implemented with the help of the Holy Spirit?
  6. What were some of the immediate powers the apostles gained after they were baptized with the Holy Spirit?
  7. Describe the change in Peter’s behavior after he was baptized with the Holy Spirit?
  8. Who aided the apostles in preparing their lessons?
  9. Why is it easy to lose sight of Jesus as king in a study of the book of Acts?
  10. Of what did Jesus want to convict the world?
  11. List all of the powers listed in this lesson which the apostles gained as a result of the baptism of the Holy Spirit?
  12. How much power did Paul claim?
  13. Why might we conclude that only the apostles had the power to pass on to other Christians special gifts of the Holy Spirit?
  14. Why do you think Jesus stopped arranging for the baptismal measure of the Holy Spirit?
  15. Describe the church which will be able to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment?

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