A Different Kind of Baptism – Spirit-Baptism!

Two Main Questions:

1.  Is there a difference between having the Holy Spirit and the filling of the Holy Spirit?

2.  Is there a difference between having been baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and having been baptized in the Holy Spirit?

Acts 1:4-8

4On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5For John baptized with[a] water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

   6So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

   7He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Acts 2:1-4

 1When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.

This act drew a big crowd and the disciples were all empowered
(using the word power from Acts 1:8) and were enabled (Acts 2:4) to speak the native tongues of those who heard them. 

Acts 2:14-21

 14Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17“ ‘In the last days, God says,
      I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
      your young men will see visions,
      your old men will dream dreams. 18Even on my servants, both men and women,
      I will pour out my Spirit in those days (not just on that day, Pentecost, but “in those days”),
      and they will prophesy. 19I will show wonders in the heaven above
      and signs on the earth below,
      blood and fire and billows of smoke. 20The sun will be turned to darkness
      and the moon to blood
      before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21And everyone who calls
      on the name of the Lord will be saved.’[c]

Acts 2:32-33

God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. 33Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.

The Holy Spirit was promised.  This pouring out was the promised gift of the Father in Acts 1:4. Joel said this Spirit would be poured out on all people, your sons and daughters.  I guess this could be taken as a promise too.

Contextually, would it be safe to say that the promise from Acts 1:4, Acts 2:14-21 (If we consider that a promise), and Acts 2:33 are the same promise that Peter mentions in Acts 2:38,39?

38Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off–for all whom the Lord our God will call.” 

Is the promise of “the gift of the Holy Spirit,” the pouring out of the Spirit as on the day of Pentecost?  Are the three terms, the pouring out of the Spirit, the filling of the Spirit, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit, synonymous?    Note that “the gift of the Holy Spirit” in vs. 39 seems to be parallel to the word,“gift,” in Acts 1:5.  Is this pouring out, or filling, or baptism in the Holy Spirit (from here on out to referred to as Spirit-Baptism) received in the sacrament of Baptism?

For the apostles it obviously was not.  I’m sure they had already been baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  I’m also pretty sure that they already had the Holy Spirit in them as well, since they had faith in Christ and proclaimed his as Lord.  For Cornelius and his household it was also not received in the sacrament of Baptism.

Acts 11:11-18

11“Right then three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea stopped at the house where I was staying. 12The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man’s house. 13He told us how he had seen an angel appear in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. 14He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.’

   15“As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. 16Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with[a]water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?”

   18When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.”

This text seems to show that being baptized with the Holy Spirit, Spirit-Baptism, is different from the sacrament of baptism.  Cornelius and his household had the Holy Spirit come on them apart from washing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, but it reminded Peter of what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’

The people in Acts 2 who Peter told to repent and be baptized, might have already had faith before verses 38 and 39.  I say this because in verse 37 we are told that the people upon hearing Peter’s statements were cut to their hearts.  This means that they were convicted of their sins and potentially already believed that Jesus had risen from the grave, which would mean that they already had faith, which means the Holy Spirit was already at work in them or that they already had the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, or what Lutherans would consider to be “the gift of the Holy Spirit.” If all of this is a proper interpretation, then the stance that the gift of the Holy Spirit mentioned in verse 39 would not be referring to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which all Christians have.  Could it be referring to the pouring out of or the filling of the Spirit mentioned at the beginning of Acts 2 or Acts 11

This then begs the question, is the Holy Spirit given in the sacrament of Baptism?

I’ve said many times in my life that the Holy Spirit is given in Baptism.  I’ve used it as one of the reasons why infants should be baptized.  It’s always been a statement that I have questioned though, because not everyone receives the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of baptism, do they?  What about the adult convert?  Before they receive the sacrament of baptism, they already have the Holy Spirit, because they already have faith and already confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.  Do they then receive the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Baptism? 

Luther, in my opinion, even implies that infants already have faith before they are baptized.  He does this in his Baptismal Booklet found in the Book of Concord.  In this booklet he has a format for infant baptism, in which he says, “the priest shall let the child, through his sponsors, renounce the devil.”  A string of questions follow in which the child through the words of his sponsors renounces the devil and accepts the Trinity.  These questions conclude with, “Do you want to be baptized?”  The sponsors then answer, “yes.”  And then the baby is baptized.  The question was not, “Do you want this baby to be baptized, it was “Do you want to be baptized?”  So, if the baby truly believes all these things, which the sponsors answer on his behalf, then the baby already has faith and the Holy Spirit as well, which would mean that the child does not receive the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Baptism.  He/She would already have the indwelling of the Spirit. 

Obviously though, the Holy Spirit is present and working in the sacrament, because the Word is present in Baptism.  To separate the Holy Spirit’s work in the Word and sacraments would certainly be wrong, but is this work of the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of baptism “the gift of the Holy Spirit?” 

If it is not, what exactly would be the gift of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:39 and is it connected with the sacrament of baptism or does it come separate?  What would it be if it is not simply having the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as creator and sustainer of faith?

It could be what some Christians refer to as the Spirit-Baptism.  It is different from the sacrament of baptism.  Could it be the filling of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2? It is a baptism in the Holy Spirit apart from water.  In Acts 1 it is said that this Spirit-Baptism would be for the empowerment to witness. 

Are there other examples in scripture of what might be the filling of the Spirit or Spirit-Baptism?

Acts 19

Paul in Ephesus

   1While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 2and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when[a] you believed?”

   They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”

   3So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”

   “John’s baptism,” they replied.

   4Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5On hearing this, they were baptized into[b] the name of the Lord Jesus. 6When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues[c] and prophesied. 7There were about twelve men in all.

These people apparently already believed in Christ.  They were already disciples.  I think it is interesting that they were just baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.  It does not match with the words of Matthew 28.  It seems that after the baptism, that Paul placed his hands on them and the Holy Spirit came on them, unless the placing on of the hands was part of the baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus, this act of the Holy Spirit coming on them was apart from the sacrament of baptism.  “Came on” is the same term used in Acts 11 with Cornelius and his household, which was an event that Peter said was the same as what happened on Pentecost and it reminded him of when Jesus said, “I will baptize you in the Spirit.”  Remember that what happened at Cornelius’ house was separate from the sacrament of Baptism. 

Are there more examples of what could be called Spirit-Baptism?

Acts 8:4-23

  4Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. 5Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christ[a]there. 6When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7With shrieks, evil[b] spirits came out of many, and many paralytics and cripples were healed. 8So there was great joy in that city.

Simon the Sorcerer

   9Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, 10and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is the divine power known as the Great Power.” 11They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his magic. 12But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.

   14When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 15When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into[c] the name of the Lord Jesus. 17Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

   18When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money 19and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”

   20Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”

So again here is another example of where people in scripture believed but had not received the Holy Spirit.  This people also had already been baptized as well, so this seems to be an event separate from the sacrament of Baptism.  Again you see the word phrase, “come upon,” which matches with Acts 19 and Acts 11, which in Acts 11 is tied back to Pentecost and Jesus’ statement, “I will baptize you in the Spirit.”  The word “simply” concerning the Baptism into the name of the Lord Jesus sure penetrates deep and hard into my Lutheran theology.  Would a Lutheran ever say, “I’ve simply received Baptism”? This passage seems to imply that someone can simply receive Baptism and not receive the Holy Spirit.  I think the receive here could be more in the sense of a Pentecost type of receiving, a filling of the Holy Spirit.

Is Spirit-Baptism a one-time thing?

Acts 4:8-13

8Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, 10then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11He is “ ‘the stone you builders rejected,
      which has become the capstone.[a][b] 12Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

   13When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

Here in this passage we see that Peter is “filled” with the Spirit.  This is the same terminology used at Pentecost in Acts 2:4.  There we read that all in the room were “filled” with the Spirit.  Then they spoke in tongues as they were enabled.  Jesus told them to wait until they received the gift his Father had promised.  He told them that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them and that this power was to help them witness.  Maybe it seems the same in this passage, from Acts 4:8, that Peter was filled with the Spirit and was empowered at this moment to aid his witness. 

Later in the same chapter we read. 

  23On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: “ ‘Why do the nations rage
      and the peoples plot in vain? 26The kings of the earth take their stand
      and the rulers gather together
      against the Lord
      and against his Anointed One.[c][d] 27Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people[e] of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

   31After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

Points on this passage.

1.  vs.  25, maybe when we are filled with the Spirit, it is when we are not speaking at all.  It is a time when it is nothing of me, but only of God, his word.  And this word is spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of God’s servants. 

2.  They admit to God the threats that they face in the world, all the powers and forces that oppose the spread of the Gospel “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 

3.  They ask to be enabled to speak His word with great boldness.  “Enabled” is the same word used to describe how and why the people present at Pentecost were able to speak in tongues. 

4.  “With Boldness” seems to tie back to the earlier mentioned passage from this chapter, when the people saw the courage with which Peter and John spoke.  Maybe when filled with the Spirit we are given confidence, courage, boldness, to help us proclaim. 

5.  Stretch out your hand.  In The Prayer of Jabez, I read that the hand of the lord is a biblical term for God’s power and presence in the lives of his people (Joshua 4:24, Isaiah 59:1).  “The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord” (Acts 11:21).  Wilkinson who wrote The Prayer of Jabez says, “A more specific New Testament description for God’s hand is “the filling of the Holy Spirit.  The church’s growth bears powerful witness to both the necessity and the availability of the hand of God to accomplish the business of God.”

6.  They prayed for it.  They prayed for the Lord to enable them to speak his word and to give them boldness when doing so.  They asked and they were “filled” with the Holy Spirit.  They spoke boldly.  I’m guessing, they were filled with the Spirit and then they went out and spoke boldly.  I guess I’m pointing out that it was something they asked for.  Does God give us good things that we don’t ask to receive? Yes. In scripture does God fill people with the Spirit even when they don’t ask for it? Yes.  But here, they asked. 

So, what about this asking? 

Luke 11

Jesus’ Teaching on Prayer

   1One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

   2He said to them, “When you pray, say: “ ‘Father,[a] hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.[b] 3Give us each day our daily bread. 4Forgive us our sins,
      for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.[c] And lead us not into temptation.[d]’ ”

   5Then he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, 6because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’

   7“Then the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness[e] he will get up and give him as much as he needs.

   9“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

   11“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for[f] a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

The man doesn’t give to his friend based on friendship, but based on his friend’s boldness to come at midnight.  And the man will give his friend as much as he needs.  Then maybe we see the connection to this in verse 12.  How much more will your father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! The sentence does not end with a question mark, although it is phrased as a question.  It ends with an exclamation mark.  It seems that we can ask for the Holy Spirit and that we can ask for it boldly.  Now, only a Christian can pray to God and only a Christian can ask god for a gift.  In this verse however, the asked for gift is the Holy Spirit, but I thought Christians already had the Holy Spirit? So what’s being asked for of the Holy Spirit?  Is it for more of the Spirit, a filling of the Spirit?

Is this verse telling us to ask for the Holy Spirit like they asked in Acts 4?

Here’s a verse that I think can help explain one way of describing being filled with the Spirit other than being enabled or empowered for service. 

Ephesians 5:19

18Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.

I have always related the “be filled with the Spirit” of Ephesians 5:18, with what I think is commonly referred to as Spirit-Baptism.  When you are drunk on wine, you cannot walk straight, talk straight, think straight, or act straight.  That is a lot of straights.  This is because you are not in control.  The same would be true with being filled with the Spirit.  You are not in control; the Spirit is in control.  Except here, your actions are straight.  For this to take place, that means our flesh is completely in the back seat.  A complete surrender to God’s will takes place for the Spirit to be in control in this manner. 

Here are some points about Spirit-Baptism if it is held in the regards as it has been presented:

1.  Spirit-Baptism is not a means of grace.  There is no forgiveness of sins offered in Spirit-Baptism. 

2.  All Christians have the Holy Spirit, at times however, Christians are filled with the Holy Spirit.  This does not mean that when not filled with the Spirit a Christian only has a percentage of the Holy Spirit.

3.  Spirit-Baptism is for the enabling and empowering of a Christian for witness and the serving of the Lord’s kingdom, in whatever role, the Lord has given to him/her.

4.  Spirit-Baptism is synonymous with being filled with the Spirit, and this can happen multiple times in a Christian’s life. 

5.  This is a promise from the Lord.

6.  Sometimes Spirit-Baptism is received without asking, but it is also received through asking. 

7.  Spirit-Baptism seems to be connected to prayer and also the laying on of hands. 

8.  With this presentation of Spirit-Baptism, it is stated that the Holy Spirit is not given in the sacrament of Baptism, but that the Spirit works in Baptism on the basis of the Word. 

9.  Being baptized in the Holy Spirit, does not mean that you must speak in tongues. 

Besides point eight, do these points oppose Lutheran doctrine?

Are the scriptures in this presentation misused?

So to repeat the first two questions. . .

1.  Is there a difference between having the Holy Spirit and the filling of the Holy Spirit?

2.  Is there a difference between having been baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and having been baptized in the Holy Spirit?

Published by

Andy Wrasman

I live in Lilburn, GA, with my wife and two young kids. I am a pastor at Oak Road Lutheran Church. I've written a book called, Contradict - They Can't All Be True. Be sure to visit my other website: https://www.contradictmovement.org.

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