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1. Introduction

Today, both in the church and in the personal life of the believer, the ministry of the Holy Spirit is rich and varied. If we look at the older churches of the western world and the younger churches of the third world, we can obviously see the significant role of the Holy Spirit. In this paper, let us see, "Baptism," one of the aspects in the ministry of Holy Spirit from different angles.

There are three main views concerning the baptism of the Holy Spirit. First, there are those who believe that it refers to the Holy Spirit coming into a person at the moment of salvation. This view is often held by evangelical denominations such as Protestants, Baptists, etc., Their view is called as the "evangelical" view.

On the other hand, there are those who believe that a person automatically receives the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation, but they say that the "baptism" of the Holy Spirit is a separate event which is usually accompanied by the outward evidence of being able to pray in tongues. Denominations such as Pentecostal, Full Gospel, Assemblies of God, and some non denominational churches hold this "Pentecostal" view.

Some other people walks in the middle of these two extremes and they are called charismatics. Charismatics have a slightly different view with Pentecostals on the timing or the outward evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Some charismatic Catholics, charismatic Baptists, charismatic Presbyterians, and some of the Non-denominational churches have this charismatic view.

Please note that the terms "pentecostal”, "evangelical" and “charismatic" are simply meant to distinguish between the views, nothing offensive is meant by these terms. For this paper we have taken only the two extreme viewsPentecostal and Evangelical. The aim of this paper is to present the different views and to draw some conclusions with evidences from scripture.

2. Baptism of the Holy Spirit – Definition and meaning

            The key Greek words denoting Baptism are bapto and baptizo. The Greek term bapto means dip. Baptizo is an intensive form of bapto means ‘dip and cause to perish.’ In OT LXX bapto usually translates the OT Hebrew tabal, which also means dip. The idea of ceremonial washing, or cleansing, appears repeatedly in the mosaic law of purification. “In the Septuagint version of the OT, translated into the Hellenistic idiom of the NT, the word baptizo is used twice: 2 kings 5:14 and Isaiah 21:4.” It is clear that later Judaism incorporated this connotation of cleansing and purification and used baptism as a rite of initiation. The word "baptism" is commonly used as a metaphor.

2.1 Proselyte baptism: “A gentile convert to Judaism at the beginning of the Christian era was required to receive circumcision, to undergo ritual bath and to offer sacrifice. For this is so called proselyte baptism.” In assessing the proselyte baptism it is essential to note the importance attached by the Jews to circumcision. The conversion from the heathenism to Judaism was viewed as an entry upon life from the dead and that this was the source for the Christian doctrine of the new life of a convert to Christ.

2.2 John the Baptist baptism: When Judaism certainly attached a strong significance to the cleansing ritual, John the Baptist introduced the baptism as an initiation to pure repented life. Here “baptism was transformed from a rite to which one submitted oneself to a positive moral act initiated by the individual as a decisive commitment to personal piety.

2.3 Christian Water baptism: Baptism of Jesus connects the act of water baptism with the meaning of the salvation events through his own person and work. To the water baptism Jesus added the promise of the baptism with the spirit, the means by his redemptive work is applied to human beings (Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; Acts 1:4ff; 11:16).

2.4 Baptism of the Holy Spirit: Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a controversial topic in today’s church. Church leaders and theologians differ even from the basic meaning of the Holy Spirit baptism. Some say, baptism of the Holy Spirit is related to salvation experience and some others say that it is an empowerment of the Holy Spirit to enable us to do ministry. To conclude a point, we need to analyse these two extreme views with scriptural evidences.

3. The two major schools of thought

3.1 Evangelical doctrine

            The major emphasis of the evangelical view is the timing of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Baptism of the Holy Spirit is the universal experience of all the believers. John Stott says “Every Christian believer has an experience of the Holy Spirit from the very first moments of his Christian life.” It is spirit who works in the life of sinner and changes him into a new being. Once he has come to us and makes our body his temple, his work of sanctification begins (1 Cor. 6:19, 20). The promised gift of the spirit is the same as the baptism of the Holy Spirit and there is no second subsequent experience of Holy Spirit in the Christian life. John Stott writes “Certainly we must never conceive salvation in purely negative terms, as if it consisted only of our rescue from sin, guilt, wrath and death…But it also includes the positive blessing of the Holy Spirit to regenerate, indwell, liberate, and transform us…when sinners repent and believe, Jesus not only takes away their sins but also baptizes them with his spirit.” Further he adds “baptism with water is the sign and seal of baptism with the spirit, as much it is of the forgiveness of the sins. Water baptism is the initiatory Christian rite, because spirit baptism is the initiatory Christian experience. So then what ever post conversion experience there may be, baptism with the spirit can not be the right expression to use for them.” So the evangelical view clearly says that the baptism of Holy Spirit is an initial experience and it can not be a second experience in Christian life.

3.2 Pentecostal doctrine

            The Pentecostal view is the “baptism in” the Holy Spirit rather than “baptism with” the Holy Spirit. This baptism is intended for all who have faith in Christ, have been born again and have the indwelling of the Spirit. “The baptism in the Holy Spirit is an operation of the Spirit distinct and separate from his work of regeneration.” The baptism in the Spirit complements the regenerating and sanctifying work of the Spirit, just as the Spirit’s sanctifying work is a distinct work complementing regenerating work.

            Baptism in the Spirit means filling with the Spirit (Ac 1:5; 2:4). “In the book of Acts, speaking in tongues as the Spirit gives utterance is the initial outward sign accompanying the baptism in the Spirit (Ac 2:4; 10:45-46, 19:6). Baptism in the Holy Spirit is connected closely with the external manifestation of the speaking in tongues and it is considered as the norm when receiving this baptism. “The baptism in the Holy Spirit is not primarily for the development of holiness in the individual, it is empowering for service,” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5; Acts 1:8). This baptism will bring personal boldness and the power of the Spirit in order to accomplish mighty works in Christ’s name and to make effective his or her proclamation and witness.

4. The three important questions to be answered

4.1 Is Baptism of the Holy Spirit always a Separate Event from Salvation?

            As we have seen already, there are two extreme answers for this question. In Bible there are five places where Holy Spirit came upon the people. They are the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4), at the House of Cornelius the Gentile (Acts 10:44-45), on the new Christians in Samaria (Acts 8:12-17), on the disciples at Ephesus (Acts 19:1-6) and Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:17-18). Let us see the explanations and interpretations of both evangelicals and Pentecostals.

4.1.1 The day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4)

Evangelical view: In the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit came upon the 120 disciples including the 12 apostles at the upper room (Acts 2:1, 2). Stott explains the First Pentecostal experience of 120 regenerated disciples was a historical event and “those historical circumstances have long since ceased to exist.” While Wayne explains this event,

                         “They received this remarkable new empowering from the Holy Spirit because they were living at the time of the transition between the old covenant work of the Holy Spirit and the new covenant work of the Holy Spirit. Though it was a ‘second experience’ of the Holy Spirit, coming as it did long after their conversion, it is not to be taken as a pattern for us, for we are not living at a time of transition in the work of Holy Spirit. In their case, believers with an old covenant empowering from the spirit. But we today do not first become the believers with a weaker old covenant work of Holy Spirit in our hearts and wait until some later time to receive a new covenant work of the Holy Spirit. Rather we are in the same position as those who became Christians in the church at Corinth: when we become Christians we are all “baptized in one Spirit into one body (1 Cor. 12:13)”

            So for the evangelicals the Pentecostal experience cannot happen again because it is considered as a historical event.

Pentecostal view: Though there are lots of controversies on this event we cannot deny the fact that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was a separate event to the 120 disciples. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the first time was certainly a historical event. However it doesn’t mean that it cannot happen again. Some modern writers suppose that the Pentecostal experience is a historical event and it was limited to the day of Pentecost, but in the Bible it is clear that what happened on the day of Pentecost was repeated. The same thing was experienced by others on at least four other occasions in Acts.

4.1.2 At the House of Cornelius the Gentile (Acts 10:44-45)

Evangelical view: The situation at the house of Cornelius is not even clear because we don’t know whether Cornelius was a genuine believer before Peter came and preached the gospel to him. He is a gentile and a God fearer, and he had not trusted Christ for his salvation. However while Peter was preaching the gospel to him, the Holy Spirit poured on them (Acts 10:45). So we can say that the Holy Spirit came on them when they repented and received Jesus Christ as their personal saviour.

Penetecostal view: Pentecostals also accept the fact that the situation of Cornelius  is not clear. However they emphasize the baptism of the Holy Spirit as a second event in the case of Cornelius too.  

4.1.3 The New Christians in Samaria (Acts 8:12-17)

Evangelical view: In Acts 8:4-13, Philip preached the gospel to Samaria and many of them were baptized and became believers. However Stott doubts their perfection in Christian faith. Later apostles heard that the Samaritans believed the word of God and had been baptized (Vs. 14). Then Peter and John arrived at Samaria, the apostles laid their hands on them and they were baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:14-17). There was a prolonged fight and enmity between Jews and Samaritans in that time, so Wayne thinks, “God in His providence, sovereignly waited to give the new covenant empowering of the Holy Spirit to the Samaritans directly through the hands of the Apostles (Acts 8:14-17) so that it might be evident to the highest leadership in the Jerusalem church that the Samaritans were not second class citizens but full members of the church. This was important because of the historical animosity between Jews and Samaritans” He further names this event as Samaritan Pentecost. So we cannot expect that to happen again when our church leaders lay their hands on us.

Pentecostal view: If we have a clear look at the passage, Peter and John were not sent to Samaria until the apostles heard that the Samaritans had received salvation. When they laid their hands on the Samaritans, the Holy Spirit came on the Samaritans. We cannot deny the fact that there was some time gap between the moment the Samaritans were saved and the moment they "received" the Holy Spirit. Nothing is there to doubt their perfection in Christian faith. Even Grudem agrees that “there is no indication in the text that Philip had a deficient understanding of the gospel (he has been prominent in the Christian church) or that Philip himself thought that their faith in Christ was inadequate, for he allowed them to be baptized (Acts 8:12). This is totally against the evangelistic view that everyone automatically receives the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation. Some evangelical writers says that we cannot expect that to happen again when our church leaders lay their hands on us, but it happened many times in the life of disciples (Book of Acts) and it is still happening in the churches which believes and practices.

4.1.4 The Disciples at Ephesus (Acts 19:1-6)

Evangelical View: When Paul visited Ephesus and asked the disciples, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They replied “we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” (Acts 19:2) They also said that they received John’s baptism of repentance. Paul preached to them about Jesus Christ and he baptized them. Later when he placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them and they spoke tongues and prophesied. Evangelical argument is that they were John’s believers and when they accepted Jesus Christ they received the Holy Spirit. So there was no second and subsequent experience for the Ephesians.

Pentecostal view: This passage clearly says, “… On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied." (Acts 19:1-6) They received the filling of the Holy Spirit after they believed in Christ and baptized in the water. This event clearly shows that the baptism in the Holy Spirit (fullness of the Spirit) is a separate event from salvation.

4.1.5 Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:17-18)

Evangelical View: Saul received the baptism of the Holy Spirit when he heard the voice of Jesus on the road to Damascus. The fact of the matter is that the Evangelicals do not have any consistent view on this matter.

Pentecostal view: When Paul asked, "What shall I do, Lord?" he made a decision to follow Jesus as his Lord, and the Lord said that He had some assignments for him to do. So Paul was converted to Christianity when he saw and spoke to Jesus on the road to Damascus. There was a three-day gap (Acts 9:9) between the time when Paul was saved and the time when he was "filled" with the Holy Spirit. He received the Spirit when a disciple named Ananias laid hands on him (Acts 9:17-18).

Our conclusion: The researchers are convinced with the pentecostal view that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a separate event from salvation because it is also proved by some other scriptural evidences:

1. Even Jesus, Son of God, needed to receive the empowerment of the Holy Spirit  separately for His earthly ministry.

            Dave feels, “After Jesus was baptized in water, the Holy Spirit descended on Him (Luke 3:21-22, below). Was this done to seal Jesus with the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of His salvation (as in Ephesians 1:13-14)? Obviously not, because Jesus was not in need of salvation. Then why did Jesus need the Holy Spirit? Philippians 2:7 says that Jesus emptied Himself before becoming human, He 'set aside His self-willed use of deity when He became a man' (The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Walvoord and Zuck, Dallas Theological Seminary, p.654). In order to be born as a human, Jesus voluntarily set aside His glory and His power. On earth, Jesus was our perfect role model because He was the perfect human (He is both God and man), and He received the Holy Spirit in order to be empowered for His ministry on earth.”

2. Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a gift, which gives spiritual empowerment, and we can ask for this gift after we receive salvation We can understand this clearly by comparing Luke 11:13 with its parallel passage in Matthew 7:11. If we compare these two passages, we can see that receiving the Holy Spirit is equated with receiving "good gifts." When we ask our Father for the Holy Spirit, He will give us the gift of being baptized with the Holy Spirit for our spiritual empowerment. “Since only Christians have been adopted as children of God (Ephesians 1:4-5), only Christians can ask the heavenly Father for the gift of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This demonstrates that the baptism of the Holy Spirit comes after salvation as a separate event.” The above two scriptural evidences further proves that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a separate event.

4.2 Is there any difference between baptism and fullness of the Holy Spirit?

Evangelical View: Baptism of the Holy Spirit is the gift given by Jesus Christ in fulfilment of his promise on Holy Spirit, but fullness is the result of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Baptism of the Holy Spirit is the life time event but the fullness happens often in our life. Stott explains this as

“What happened on the day of Pentecost was that Jesus poured out the spirit from heaven and thus baptized with Spirit first the 120 and then the 3000. the result of this baptism of the Holy Spirit was that ‘they were all filled with the Holy Spirit’ (Acts 2:4). Thus fullness of the spirit was the consequence of the baptism of the Spirit. The baptism is what Jesus did, the fullness is what they received. The baptism was a unique initiatory experience; the fullness was intended to be the continuing, the permanent result, the norm. As an initiatory event the baptism is not repeatable and can not be lost, but the filling can be repeated and in any case needs to be maintained. If it is not maintained it is lost. If it is lost, it can be recovered.”

            So in the evangelical view, baptism and fullness are different phenomena.

Pentecostal view: Acccording to Pentecostal view the baptism in the Holy Spirit is also called by other terms. Holy Spirit is a person and we need to understand that baptism describes only one aspect of His person. It is also called a filling (fullness). Acts 2:4 says, “all of them were filled with the holy Spirit.”The Holy Spirit was “poured out” upon them (Acts 2:33; 10:45) as Joel prophesied (Joel 2:28, 29). They “received” the gift (Acts 2:38; 8:17). The Spirit “came on” them (Acts 10:44; 11:15; 19:16). All these terms express the same meaning. “The baptism in the Holy Spirit occures only once in a believers life and... The Bible teaches that there may be new fillings with the Holy Spirit after the believer has been baptized in the Spirit (4:31; 2:4; 4:8, 31; 13:9; Eph 5:18). Thus, the baptism in the Spirit brings the believer into a relationship with the Spirit that is to be renewed (Acts 4:31) and maintained (Eph 5:18).” The Pentecostals strongly believe that the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the fullness of the Holy Spirit occur at the same time and the researchers also believe the same.    

4.3 Is tongues an outward sign of baptism and fullness of the Holy Spirit?

Evangelical View: Evangelicals agree the tongues as a gift but not as a sign of baptism and fullness of Holy Spirit. But some evangelicals totally reject tongues, that tongues ceased in the first century. The tongues spoken in the day of Pentecost were intelligible words and the foreigners could grasp the meaning. At that time God used the tongues to attract the foreign language people. As a result of the tongues in Acts 2:4, crowds gathered and repented on that day. But Stott doubts the contemporary tongues-speaking because today's tongues seem to be an unintelligible and ecstatic utterance. He also complains that most of the tongue speaking has no interpretation.

Pentecostal view: The Bible does not tell us to expect any specific outward sign at the moment a person receives salvation, but the Bible does describe one sign which happened when people received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. In the book of Acts, we can clearly see that people uttered tongues when they received Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4; Acts 10:44-48; Acts 19:1-6). Speaking in tongues was the convincing evidence that people had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. For example, in the house of Cornelius (Acts 10:44-48), when Peter heard the Gentiles speaking in tongues he was astonished that God had poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit upon the Gentiles. This was an unprecedented event, because in the Jews' entire existence the Gentiles had been "unclean," and salvation was always thought to be only for the Jews. When Peter saw this he  immediately ordered Cornelius' household to be baptized in water and he recognized that the Gentiles had been saved and then baptized with the Holy Spirit because they were speaking in tongues.

            "Since we do acknowledge the historical discription in Acts as having a theological purpose and holding a pattern for the Church today, there is strong ground for our conviction that those who would be filled with the Spirit should expect to have the witness of speaking other tongues as the Spirit enables them." Eventhough most of the Pentecostal churches (including our church) experience and impose tongues as a evidence of baptism of the Holy Spirit, the researchers believe in Kendall's statement that if one experiences speaking in tongues he or she should not impose this on others as 'the' evidence of the Spirit.

5. Conclusion

            We have looked at the aspect of “baptism of the Holy Spirit” from both evangelical and Pentecostal point of view. The researchers found out that Scripture is consistent, and the events happened in the early church support the Pentecostal view. Though they are convinced with the Pentecostal view of baptism of the Holy Spirit as a separate and subsequent event from salvation, they respect other views too. As far as tongues is concerned, even though the researchers believe, experience and practice the Pentecostal view in their personal lives and local church, they think and hope that it is not good to impose this on others as 'the' evidence of the Holy Spirit. Though there are many controversies on this subject we cannot deny the fact that today's church is in greatest need of the power of the Holy Spirit.  We should ask and plead the Lord that it will happen to us, that which happened in the early church. We need to honor God by seeking his truth. The researchers prayer and hope is that the readers consider the insights given in this paper (from scripture) prayerfully. The researchers do not want this subject “baptism of the Holy Spirit” to be a 'divisive issue' within the body of Christ, and if you have trusted Jesus alone as your Savior then they look forward to meeting you when we all get Home, no matter which view you hold concerning the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

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