MANY say so: but is it true?


Do such understand, what is the Scripture meaning of the baptism of the Spirit?


With most it seems to have two significations. (1) As applied to the unconverted, it is generally understood to mean, conversion. (2) As applied to the converted, it is regarded as meaning the increase of faith and feeling of zeal, love, energy in the work of God.


But are these its meanings in the Word of God?  No.  Most confound the regeneration of the Spirit with, His baptism.  But the regeneration of the Spirit is quite a different thing from the baptism of the Spirit.  A man must be born before he can be baptized; so also he must be begotten of the Spirit before he is baptized in the Spirit.


What then is the meaning of the baptism of the Spirit?


Let us look at the passages which speak of it.


1. The first occasion is found in John Baptist's words to the Jews.


“I indeed immerse you in water unto repentance; but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall immerse you in the Holy Ghost and, in fire" Matt. 3: 11.


Now does this mean that Jesus would convert those who received John’s message?  Nay: if they received John’s message and were baptized, they were already repentant, converted, and forgiven.  They confessed their sins and were immersed; in token of their cleansing entirely from sin.  This was the design of God's sending John the Baptist.  “And thou child shalt be called the prophet of the Highest, for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, to give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins” Luke 1: 77; 3: 3.  But John speaks of the baptism of the Spirit as something yet future; something over which he had not power, while Jesus had.


An example of it was first given in the Saviour's case.  He was immersed into the Jordan by John : Mark 1: 9.  And then the Holy Spirit descended and rested on Him as a dove.  That was Jesus baptism by the Spirit; and thus was He pointed out to John as the one who should bathe others in God's Spirit : John 1: 33.


That promise of the baptism of the Spirit was fulfilled at Pentecost.


Jesus prepared His disciples for it, just before He left them.  He commanded them “not to depart from Jerusalem; but to wait for the promise of the Father, which (saith He) ye have heard of Me.  For John, indeed immersed in water, but ye shall be immersed in the Holy Ghost not many days hence “Ye shall receive power afler the Holy Ghost is come upon you:” Acts 1: 4, 5, 8.  In these words the Saviour teaches, that the promise of the Baptism of the Spirit had not been fulfilled up to that day: but that the fulfilment was close at hand.


Accordingly, ten days after, Jesus having ascended to the Father, the Holy Ghost was sent down.  He came in wind and fire; and at once the whole hundred and twenty disciples began to speak in languages they had never learned.  That was the baptism of power.  It did not regenerate them; they were already regenerate. It was not an inward invisible sanctifying; it was the Holy Ghost coming upon them visibly, and in the tongues of fire communicating supernatural gifts; as tongues, prophecy, healing.  That was the promise of the Father, which Jesus having received had poured out: Acts 2: 33.  For He alone had power over the Spirit.


Peter explaining the matter to the doubters and scoffers tells them, that this manifestation had been already foretold in their prophet Joel.  He had said, that in a day to come, Jehovah would pour out of His Spirit, and the result would be prophecy, visions, dreams of God: Acts 2: 17-19.


2.  The second instance of the [Holy] Spirit's baptism, is on the occasion of Peter's preaching to the Gentiles.  He goes at the Spirit's command to the Roman Cornelius, and preaches the Gospel to him and his friends.  They receive it.  “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them that heard the word ... For they (the Jewish brethren who came with Peter) heard them speak with tongues, and magnify GodActs 10: 44, 46.


‘But this (it may be said) is not called the baptism of the Spirit.'  Yea, but it is; in the next chapter.


There we read, that when Peter afterwards went to Jerusalem, his Jewish brethren rebuked him for eating with unclean Gentiles.  Peter explains to them, that he had done so in obedience to the command of God.  He then adds:-' “And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on, them, as on its at the beginning.  Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how He said, John indeed immersed in water, but ye shall be immersed in the Holy Ghost.  Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as He, did unto us, what was I that I could withstand God11: 15-17.  This, then, Peter tells us, was a fulfilment of John Baptist's word about the baptism of the Spirit.  Peter did not recognize its fulfilment in his own case at Pentecost, at the time; because he was too much engaged with the Spirit's effects on his own soul.  But when he came to see the same operation of the Spirit manifested on others, he at once recognized it.  He leaves out of our Lord's speech the “not many days hence;” because those referred to Pentecost; and it was then a long while since that day.


That work of the Holy Ghost, then, was his baptism: it was the communication of supernatural powers, as in the former case.  It was a gift poured out on those who believed, and so were regenerate.


Now what does Peter say to Cornelius and those present on that occasion?  If he had been of the mind of many now, he would have said – ‘Since these have received the, baptism of the Spirit, they need no baptism of water


Says he so?


Nay, the very reverse!


“Then answered Peter - Can any forbid the water, that these should not be immersed who have received the Holy Ghost as well as we47. (Greek.)


That is - Peter makes the baptism of the Spirit the reason why the receivers should be immersed in water.


3. There is but one other passage which speaks directly of the baptism of the Spirit.  It is found in 1 Cor. 12, where the Apostle Paul is speaking of the supernatural gifts.  He gives directions where one speaking by inspiration of evil spirits can be distinguished from one inspired by the Holy Ghost: verses 1-3.  He then speaks of “the manifestation of the Spirit” imparted to each believer there, and how useful it was.  He enumerates some of the many supernatural gifts then bestowed; and we read of healings, miracles, tongues, and the translation of tongues.


“For in one Spirit were we all immersed into one body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether slaves or freemen; and were all made to drink one Spirit1 Cor. 12: 13. (Greek.)


This, then, confirms what has been said before about the [Holy] Spirit's baptism, as the communication of supernatural power, whereby the Lord raised up prophets and apostles, workers of miracles, gifts of healing: verses 28-30.


And these gifts generally were bestowed at once after immersion in water, by the laying on of the hands of apostles.


Thus Peter says:-


“Repent and be baptized every one of you in. the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost; for the promise [of Joel just quoted, ver. 17-19] is unto you [Jews] and to your children, and to all that are afar off, [Gentiles,] even as many as the Lord our God shall call:” Acts 2: 38, 39.


Samaria receives the Gospel by the preaching of Philip.  But he cannot impart the supernatural power.  Hence Peter and John are sent down to the believers there.


“Who, when they were come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Ghost.  For as yet He was fallen upon none of them; only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost:” * Acts 8: 15-17.


 [* Or more accurately - 'a holy spirit.'  There is no article.  The Holy Ghost dwelt within the believers before; this gave power, the gifts are also called “spirits1 Cor. 14: 12, marg.]


Similarly, Acts 19: 1-7.


Here, then, friend, is not your plea laid low?


1. You affirm, that ‘you have the Spirit's baptism It is not true!  None now possess it.


2. But even if you had it, that, instead of being a Scriptural reason why you should not be immersed in water, is a reason why you should be.  Peter commands in the name of the Lord, that Cornelius and his friends who had been baptized of the Holy Ghost should be immersed in water: Acts 10: 48.


3. Are you a believer?  Really regenerate by the Holy Ghost?  Then Christ calls you to obey His command of baptism in water.  Jesus, in spite of being circumcised as an infant, was immersed in water when He became a man.  Circumcision did not supply the place of baptism, as some affirm.  Paul is commanded by Ananias to submit to baptism of water after he is converted, and the Saviour's command was obeyed by the disciple.


Now Paul says:-




Now Jesus was immersed in Jordan when adult.  Paul was immersed after faith.  Here, then, are your examples. IMITATE PAUL!  IMITATE JESUS! Jesus obeyed the word through John the Servant.  Do you obey the Son of God!


Behold, then, God is trying His people!  Will they obey His commands?  Jesus commands His messengers to preach the Gospel, and immerse* those who receive it: Matt. 28.


[ * Of the sense of this Greek word take the following examples from Josephus:-


“As our ship was drowned (baptized) in the Adriatic Sea, we that were in it, being about six hundred in number, swam for our lives all the nightLife of Josephus, § 3.


“The child (Aristobulus) was sent by night to Jericho, and was there dipped (baptized) by the Gauls, at Herod's command, in a pool, till he was drownedWars i, 22, § 2. See also Antiquities xv, 3, § 3.]


‘But is it not proved that - baptism is pouring, by that phrase which occurs so frequently - ‘the pouring out of the Holy Ghost?’’’ Acts 2: 17, 18, 33.


No, it is not.  The pouring out is in order to the baptism, but it is not the baptism.  Baptism is never said to be pouring; pouring is never said to be baptism. If I bid my servant fill my bath with water, the pouring in pail after pail is in order to my bathing but it is not my bathing.  Until it is proved that the pouring is the baptism, nothing is effected on that point.


In Mark the Scripture presents especially the persons to be baptized.  They are first to believe the good tidings, then to be immersed; and then they may be certain that they shall be saved*: Mark 16: 16.


[* The salvation here is a future salvation, and not eternal salvation by the grace of God through faith in Christ Jesus.]


When the Holy Spirit descends, and the inquiry goes up from souls convicted – ‘What are we to do?’ the answer given of the Holy Ghost is – “Repent, and be baptized every one of you unto the remission of sins When Saul the persecutor is arrested by the grace of God, and his cry ascends – “Lord, what wouldst thou have me to do?” the answer is – “And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized Acts 22: 16.


The Lord censures strongly those of Israel who, neglected or refused the command of baptism given through John Baptist.  “And all the people that heard, and the publicans, justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John.  But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, not being baptized of him Luke 7: 29, 30.  Their worldly wisdom and pride led them to refuse God's command; but in the day to come it will be proved to be folly.  God calls you, believer, not only to believe, but to show “the obedience of faith!”  So will you resemble Abraham your Father; he commanded by God to be circumcised, submitted the self-same day! Gen. 17:.23.