|Topical Bible Study||May 1961|
The Holy Spirit Series—Lesson II
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit
IN OUR previous lesson we learned that the Holy Spirit is the invisible power of God, exercised in any and every manner which he deems proper and necessary for the accomplishment of his just and holy purposes. So far as his dedicated people are concerned, his influence is exerted in their lives largely by the power of his thoughts, which were miraculously recorded in his written Word. There are also, of course, the providences of God.
God’s thoughts are very exalted, and quite beyond our ability to understand, except as he reveals them to us. (Deut. 29:29; Isa. 55:8,9) To help us understand more clearly what is being accomplished in our lives as Christians by the invisible workings of his Spirit, the Lord uses what we might define as picture language. For example, the Bible speaks of the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit. This word is used, not to present a mystery, but to explain one of the practical ministries of the Holy Spirit.
The words baptism and baptize, as used in the New Testament, are translated from the Greek word baptizo, which means, “make whelmed” (i.e., fully wet).* Some translations use the word immerse, or immersion. The thought of overwhelmed, or completely buried, is implied. Thus, to be baptized by the Holy Spirit would mean to be placed under its complete control, or to be overwhelmed by it.
* Prof. Strong’s Greek Dictionary of the New Testament, page 18.
But this baptism of the Spirit is not against the wishes of those who receive it, but is God’s answer to those who indicate their heart’s desire wholly to do his will. Jesus, as the Head of his church, was the first to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The outward manifestation of his Spirit baptism was the descending of a dove upon him. (Matt. 3:16 – 4:1; John 3:34) This was at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, when he presented himself to his Heavenly Father to do his will as it had been recorded in the Old Testament Scriptures.—Ps. 40:7,8
Thereafter Jesus is said to be the One who “baptizeth with the Holy Spirit.” (John 1:33) On the occasion of his last visit with his disciples, Jesus told them that they were to be baptized with the Holy Spirit (not “Ghost” as in the Common Version). (Acts 1:5) This occurred at Pentecost, and the record shows how completely the waiting disciples came under the Spirit’s influence. The “rushing mighty wind” and the “cloven tongues like as of fire” were, even as the dove that descended upon Jesus, merely an outward manifestation of what had taken place.—Acts 2:14
These few disciples were representative of the entire church of Christ, but they were all Jews; so later on God gave a similar demonstration in connection with Cornelius. (Acts 10:31,44-48; 11:15,16) This was to give assurance that Gentiles could also be accepted into the church of Christ.
These are the only baptisms of the Spirit mentioned in the Bible, and no further such outpourings were necessary. Since then, all who have been called of God and have consecrated themselves fully to do his will, are accepted into the body of Christ, and thus individually come under this baptism.—I Cor. 12:12,13
By way of review, what is the Holy Spirit, and how principally is its influence exercised in the lives of Christians?
Mention one of the ways by which God reveals his exalted thoughts to his dedicated people.
What does the word “baptize” mean? and what is the baptism of the Holy Spirit?
Who was the first to be baptized by the Holy Spirit?
How do we know that the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was a baptism of the Spirit upon the waiting disciples?
Why was it necessary for Cornelius and his household to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit?
How have consecrated disciples of Christ since Pentecost received the Spirit’s baptism?
“The Atonement Between God and Man,” pages 209-213.
“The New Creation,” pages 442, 443.
SUMMARY OF IMPORTANT THOUGHTS
Jesus was baptized by the Holy Spirit at Jordan, and the church at Pentecost, and also in the home of Cornelius. Since then, each one accepted into the body of Christ participates in the church’s baptism.