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The Holy Spirit in the First Century Church and Today

We are going to look at the third part of the Godhead, called in scripture by various names, but primarily the Holy Spirit.   There exist much confusion about the Holy Spirit and how it works.   Scripture reveals there are different manifestations of the Holy Spirit and we in the churches of Christ have been remiss in recent years over our neglect of this subject, possibly due to fear of being called charismatic or some other such thing.   The Holy Spirit works in many ways within the Bible, but this article is limited to discussing the three ways the Holy Spirit worked to set the order of the new Church in the first century and how it works with us today.   The three areas covered in this article are:

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

The Miraculous (Temporary) Manifestation of the Holy Spirit

The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

There is only one Holy Spirit, but we see it working for different purposes or reasons in the first century church.   I will go through the first two as they existed in the first century and then finish with the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which began on the day of Pentecost and is still valid today.   The Baptism of the Holy Spirit was foretold by John the Baptist in Matt. 3:11: (with parallel passages in Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16) 

11 "As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.  

John is telling us that it is Jesus is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.   We need to identify who the “you” that John the Baptist is referring too in this passage.   He is speaking to the crowd and telling them (the crowd) they will be baptized with the Holy Spirit, but does he mean it in same context that Jesus did when he told his disciple’s who were to become the Apostles that he (Jesus) would baptize them with the Holy Spirit?   At the conclusion of this section on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, I will come back and address this.   In the Gospel of John, Jesus repeatedly told his disciples, who were to become the Apostles that the Holy Spirit would be given or sent to them.

John 14: 25 "These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you.   26 "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.  

John 15:26 "When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me, 

John 16:7 "But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.  

John the Baptist established that Jesus is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit, now Jesus confirms to his disciples, that He will send the Holy Spirit to them.   The “you” in the above three passages are the disciples, it is not us today.   Never lose sight of who is being addressed and why.   If you do, it leads to confusion and a misunderstanding of the passage.   So when was the Holy Spirit sent to the disciples?   It happened as Jesus said in John 16:7, after he went away, that is, after he ascended back to Heaven.   In Acts 1:3-8, in Luke’s accounting of the ascension, Jesus commands his disciples to remain in Jerusalem and that they will be baptized with the Holy Spirit in a few days. 

3 To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.  4 Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, "Which," He said, "you heard of from Me;  5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."  6 So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?"  7 He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority;  8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."

A few days later on the day of Pentecost, the disciples were gathered together in Jerusalem as Jesus had commanded them, as shown in Acts 2:1-4

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2  And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.   3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them.  4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. 

This is the first of only two recorded occasions where the Baptism of the Holy Spirit occurred.   This is the day the church began and Peter went on to preach that famous sermon and the church was established.   This is where the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Jews.   Notice also in verse 4, they began to speak with other tongues.   This is very important and I will address this later.   The second occasion where it occurred is found in Acts, Chapter 10, involving Cornelius, an Italian soldier and a gentile.   God sent the Apostle Peter to Cornelius and his household and Peter preaches the Gospel or the Good Message of Jesus Christ to them.  While he was preaching, the following events in Acts 10: 44-48 occur:

44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. 45 All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.  46 For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, 47 "Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?" 48 And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days.

Here we see the Holy Spirit being poured out on the gentiles while Peter was preaching.   Notice that even with the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, Peter stills baptizes them with water.   After this Peter returned to Jerusalem and several there took issues with what happened.   He explained to them that they had eaten with the Gentiles and then gave this account beginning in Acts 11:15-18:

15 "And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as He did upon us at the beginning.  16 "And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, "John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'  17 "Therefore if God gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God's way?"   18 When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, "Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life." 

These are the only two recorded acts of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament Church.   The first was on the day of Pentecost and the Spirit was poured out on the Jews and the second was at the house of Cornelius, where the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Gentiles.   Look at verse 18, God has granted to the Gentiles “repentance that leads to life”.   God has now granted to both the Jews and the gentiles the Kingdom of God.   This shows that all “flesh” or “mankind” or “all people”, is now acceptable to God.    This fulfills Joel’s prophecy that Peter quoted in the sermon of Acts, Chapter 2: 16-17:

16 but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel:   17'AND IT SHALL BE IN THE LAST DAYS,' God says,  'THAT I WILL POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT ON ALL MANKIND…  

The NASU and NASB translate this verse as “mankind”, while the original ASV, KJV, NKJV and ESV translate this “flesh” and the NIV shows “people”.   Since all flesh or mankind or peoples have been accepted by God, the need for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit has been fulfilled and has passed.   That is why there are no other records of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit because God had granted to all the inhabitants of the earth, the Kingdom of Heaven.   Ask yourself this question:  Who else is left to grant it to?   The need for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit has therefore fulfilled its purpose.   The Kingdom of God, the church, is now open to all the inhabitants of the earth, no exceptions.   All inhabitants are the “you” spoken of by John the Baptist in the early reading of Matt. 3:11 and also Mark 1:8 and Luke 3:16.    God has now poured out his Spirit on everyone.   When Jesus spoke of “you” as shown in John and Acts, he was speaking directly to the disciples in Jerusalem, then the same disciples at the ascension and again the same disciples a few days later when he sent the Holy Spirit to them on the day of Pentecost.   The purpose of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit has been fulfilled and it is now passed.   God poured out his Spirit on all mankind, on all flesh.   The promise of salvation has now been given to everyone.   Let’s turn now to the Miraculous (or Temporary) Manifestation of the Holy Spirit.

The Miraculous (Temporary) Manifestation of the Holy Spirit

In the New Testament we see the Apostles performing miracles and other things under the power of the Holy Spirit.   In Acts 3:1-9, following their Baptism of the Holy Spirit, we see the Apostles John and Peter going up to the temple:

Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer.  2 And a man who had been lame from his mother's womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple.   3 When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms.   4 But Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze on him and said, "Look at us!" 5 And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.  6 But Peter said, "I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene -- walk!"  7 And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened.  8 With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.  9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God;

Here we see a miracle performed by the Apostle Peter.   A man who was born lame was healed and walked again in front of everybody, so we know the Apostle’s had this power to perform miracles, in addition to speaking in tongues.   Now let’s go a little further into Acts, Chapter 6:4-6 we see the Apostles had picked out seven men, who were called disciples to do work:

4 "But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word." 5 The statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch.  6 And these they brought before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them.  

Here we see the Apostles praying and then laying their hands on them.   Among these seven men, notice one is named Philip.   Let’s follow Philip to Chapter 8 of Acts.   In verse 5, we see Philip going into Samaria and preaching the gospel.   Let’s pick up the reading in verse 6.

6 The crowds with one accord were giving attention to what was said by Philip, as they heard and saw the signs which he was performing.  7 For in the case of many who had unclean spirits, they were coming out of them shouting with a loud voice; and many who had been paralyzed and lame were healed.  

Philip, not an Apostle, but a disciple upon whom the Apostles had prayed over and laid their hands on, performing miracles; healing paralyzed and lame people.  In verse 13 we see Philip continuing to perform miracles.

13 Even Simon himself believed; and after being baptized, he continued on with Philip, and as he observed signs and great miracles taking place, he was constantly amazed.   

Now beginning in Verse 14 something else happens:

14 Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.  16 For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  17 Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit.  (Emphasis added by this writer)

Notice two things here as in Chapter 6 involving the seven men, which included Philip.  When Apostles came down, they prayed that they (the Samarians) might receive the Holy Spirit and they laid their hands on them and the Samarians were receiving the Holy Spirit.   Now answer this question:   Why didn’t Philip do that?    Why was it necessary for the Apostle’s John and Peter to go to Samaria.   Why, because Philip did not have that power, only the Apostle’s had the power to lay on hands in this manner and depart the Holy Spirit to other people.   Remember, it was the Apostle’s who were baptized with the Holy Spirit by Jesus and the Apostle’s prayed to God to grant the Holy Spirit to others and laid their hands on the ones who were to receive it.    The people who had the Apostle’s hands laid on them could perform miracles, preach the word of God and everything necessary to spread the Gospel and build up the first century church, but the Apostles had to be sent to transfer, that is ask God to grant the Holy Spirit to other people, as they did with the seven men in Acts 6 and again with the Samarians.   Philip was preaching Jesus and performing miracles but could not lay his hands on them in the same manner in which the Apostles did.    I will go over two passages that will help explain this.   The first is in Matthew 16 and the second one is in Mark 16.

During Jesus ministry here on earth, he taught his disciples many things.  These disciples, who were the going to become the Apostle’s were given certain authority that others of that day and later times were not given, such as the authority to bind things on earth and in heaven, and the keys to the kingdom, as shown here in Matthew 16: 13-19: 

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" 14 And they said, "Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah , or one of the prophets." 15 He said* to them, "But who do you say that I am?" 16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17 And Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona , because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 "I also say to you that you are Peter , and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. 19 "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven."

Jesus knows his disciples, at this point in time, are not certain who He is, so the first time asks generally who the people think He is.   The disciples give Him a variety of answers, mostly naming the prophets as shown in verse 14.   In verse 15, Jesus directs the question to the disciples, wanting to know from them who they thought He was.   In verse 16, Peter answers that He is the Christ (Christ means the anointed one), “the Son of the Living God”.    Jesus then tells Peter that God has revealed this to him.   In verse 18, Jesus makes a very profound statement the He will build his church upon this rock.   What rock is Jesus talking about?   The rock is not Peter as some mistakenly teach, the rock upon which the church is built is the truth of the statement that Peter made, which was revealed to him by God, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”.    In verse 19, Jesus tells Peter and the rest of he disciples that they (not us today or anyone else in the first century) will be given the keys to the Kingdom of heaven, and what they bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and what they loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.   All of this comes to fruition in Acts, Chapter 2, which I will cover a little later in this article.

Why then the miracles?   Jesus in Mark’s accounting of the ascension gives us the reason.   Turn to Mark 16 and let’s begin at verse 15.   Remember, it is the same group here as in Acts, Chapter one we read earlier.

15 And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.  17 "These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues;  18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."  19 So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.  20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.]  (Bold and Underline emphasis added by this writer)

We always quote verses 15 and 16 by heart, but never read further.  First look at verse 18, Jesus tells his disciples here, the group that were to become the Apostles that they, not us or anyone else today, would lay their hands on the sick.   Sick has multiple meanings in scripture, you can be physically sick or spiritually sick.  Now, look at verse 20, the miracles and signs had a purpose.   Was it because God is a loving God and just wanted to heal people?   One could say that, but Jesus did not.   He said it was to confirm the word.   We have that confirmed word today; it is called the New Testament. 

Consider the time here.   It is the first century; there are many religions floating around and along comes another one.   How do you separate it from all the other religions?   How do you establish it?   If I told you things that were new and foreign to you, you probably would not be sure about what I am telling your or flat out not believe me.   But what if I could make the blind see, the deaf hear, the crippled walk and raise the dead as Paul did.   That would get your attention, as people just cannot do these things.   The miracles performed under the Miraculous (or Temporary) Manifestations of the Holy Spirit were to confirm that the men who were speaking, who were preaching and teaching the Gospel were speaking for and from God.  Look at verse 20 again.  The Lord worked with them and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.

So why don’t we have the same thing today.   The answer to that is simple.  In the early first century church, there was no written word, they did not have Bibles.   They worked directly under the power of the Holy Spirit to bring God’s truth to the people, just as Jesus said.   As the first century begins to unfold, letters were written to the various churches and earthly leaders within the church, such as Timothy and Titus.   We see as time passes, there are less and less miracles and as the century neared the end, we see no more miracles being performed.  That is why it is called temporary, because it was.   It was for a specific purpose and that purpose has been accomplished.   The letters were being written under the direction of God and shared among the churches as the New Testament was being written.   In Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth, he explains this in Chapter 13, so let’s begin in 1 Corinthians at verse 8:

8  Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.  9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.  11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.  12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.  13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. 

Paul says in verse 8 that love never fails, but the gifts of prophecy, tongues and knowledge will be done away with.   Why, in verse 9 he says it is only partial knowledge and in verse 10 he says when the perfect comes, the partial will go away.   Then in verses 11 and 12, the language changes and becomes comparative.   As we grow and mature as people, the embryonic church was also growing and maturing, knowing only in part, but then will fully know.    In verse 10 Paul talks about when the perfect comes.   Many think this is Jesus, but it is not for a couple of reasons.   He had already been here and ascended back to heaven before Paul wrote this.  Now when Jesus comes a second time, an event that is yet to occur He will return for judgment.   Further, it is written in the gender neutral and Jesus was not gender neutral as given in scripture.   This verse is referring to the completion of the New Testament, which was being written at the time and would not be finished until around 95-97 AD when John would write the Revelation letter.   The New Testament is God’s complete revelation to “all flesh - all mankind”.   Everything that you need to know for salvation is found in the word of God, the New Testament scriptures, the New Testament church.   In verse 9, Paul says that speaking in tongues will be done away with.   Why, because it is no longer needed.   We have the confirmed Word of God, the New Testament today as the complete reveling of God’s word for salvation.   Speaking in tongues was nothing more than a form of communication.   God wanted to spread the Gospel and the need to communicate it to the people of many different nations, of many different languages and this was done by speaking in a way they could understand what was being said.   Since the Bible is now in written form, it can be and is translated into different languages so the word of God is communicated to those people in their own language so they can understand it.   Many in the Charismatic world today say they are speaking in tongues, but utter gibberish that cannot be understood by anyone.   That simply flies in the face of the original purpose of speaking in tongues, which was to clearly communicate the Gospel to people so they could understand God’s will for their lives.

Look now at verse 13 and how he closes.   He does not describe prophesies or miracles or speaking in tongues, but he speaks of faith, hope and love and what is the two greatest commandments, to love God first and your neighbor as yourself.    The confirmed word (Mark 16:20) was being completed at the time Paul wrote this passage and within the scriptures is everything you need to know to get you from here to heaven.   After all, if you want to be in heaven with God for all eternity, doesn’t it make sense to follow God’s way, because plainly, there is only one way; that is God’s way.  (Read John 14:6) 

Since only the Apostles could transfer the Holy Spirit by prayer and the laying on of hands, when the last Apostle died, probably John in the late first century or early into the second century, the power to transfer the Holy Spirit passed with him.   There was no other Apostle alive and further, it was no longer needed, as we now have the “completed” confirmed word, the New Testament, which was given through them.   Further, those disciples who worked and performed miracles, as we saw with Philip, but since they could not transfer it, as we saw in Acts 8, when they died out, it all ceased and only the confirmed word of God, the New Testament was left for us and it is by faith that we take that.   That is why when you see people today saying they have been baptized with the Holy Spirit or they can heal people and we see plenty of faith healers on TV, they are false teachers and everything they do flies in the face of God’s truth.   They cannot do what they claim.   As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13, these things will cease and have now ended.   God full revelation to mankind is the New Testament and the New Testament Church.   Both the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and the Miraculous (Temporary) Manifestations of the Holy Spirit have fulfilled their purpose and ceased in the first century.   Let’s take a look at the Apostle Paul and then we will move on to the last one.

The Conversion of the Apostle Paul

There is one other conversion that is possibly Baptism by the Holy Spirit, but the scriptures do not expressly state it, as shown on the day of Pentecost and with the household of Cornelius.   This is taken by inference and it is the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, known as the Apostle Paul. (Acts 13:9)   As you know from Acts, Chapter 9, Saul was converted on the road to Damascus by Jesus himself.    I find the following reasons and scriptural support for this position.  

This conversion was done by Jesus and as we saw earlier in teachings by John the Baptist, only Jesus can perform the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Second, Paul was an Apostle, not a disciple as shown in his writing through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, so we know the Holy Spirit approved of the statements.   Further, also under inspiration, Paul said he was an Apostle of out of due time.  (1 Cor. 15: 8)

In Acts 19: 1-7, we find the following events occurred at the church in Ephesus regarding Paul and the Holy Spirit and laying his hands on about 12 disciples.   Notice two things, they were re-baptized into Christ and after Paul laid his hands on them, they were prophesying and speaking in tongues.    Also, verse 11 says that God worked special or extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul. 

1 It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples. 2 He said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" And they said to him, "No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit." 3 And he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" And they said, "Into John's baptism." 4 Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus." 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying. 7 There were in all about twelve men.

11 God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul,

I believe, by inference and the mentioned scriptural support, that Paul was also Baptized with the Holy Spirit.   There is an alternative view, because it is Paul, he was working under something different or special, as shown in verse 11, but that verse does refer to miracles.   Let’s move on to the last one.

The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

When does this happen?  Turn to Acts 2: 37.   This is the same day that the Apostles were baptized with the Holy Spirit and Peter preached the famous sermon of Acts 2, this was the day the church began.   At the conclusion, the crowd asks the Apostles a question, and that question applies to us today.

37 Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?"  38  Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.

47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

The KJV and NKJV translate verse 47 as being added to the church.   Their number and the church are the same terms.   We are the church, as the word church means the called out.   Remember the earlier passage in Matthew 16, where Peter and the disciples were together and Jesus told them He would give them the “keys” to the Kingdom of heaven.   Who is together here on the Day of Pentecost:   Peter and the disciples (except Judas Iscariot) and the “keys” are figurative language.   If you are locked out of somewhere, say your house or car or office, how would you get in?   The normal way is to use your key, unlocking the lock and opening the door.   The “keys” Jesus gave to Peter and the rest of the disciples in Matthew 16 are about to be used here, in response to the question ask in verse 37, “Brethren, what shall we do"?    In verse 38 Peter answers that question by using the key to unlock the doors to the church, opening the church to the Jews who were assembled there.  Later, Peter again uses another key in Acts 10 where the doors of the church are open to the gentiles.   Now the church is open to everyone and the “keys” of Matthew 16 have been fully used.    God’s Spirit has been poured out on all flesh, on all mankind.   (Remember Peter commanded the gentiles to be baptized with water, even though they were baptized with the Holy Spirit and Paul re-baptized those at Ephsus who had been baptized into John's baptism.   It was necessary to fulfill God's commandment for everyone as shown in Acts 2:38)   When Peter finished preaching this sermon on the day of Pentecost, in verse 37 the crowd was affected by it and ask Peter and the Apostles what to do.  In verse 38, using the key he gave them and us today the answer of what to do.   Look very carefully at what God says through the Apostle Peter.   Did God say to:

Repent and say the sinner’s prayer – No, God did not say that

Repent and just have faith only and you will be saved – No, God did not say that

Repent and pray Jesus into your heart – No, God did not say that

Repent and just confess Jesus – No, God did not say that

No, God did not say any of these things, yet these are all things taught in many denominational churches today.   I know, I have sat in many of them and I have heard these teachings given from their pulpits.  I have studied their publications that state the same thing.   God speaking through Peter said to Repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins.    You see, God cannot be where sin is.   In Isaiah 59:1-2, Isaiah said that your sins have caused God to turn his face from you.   Then Peter said you will receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit.   The Gift of the Holy Spirit occurs after Baptism, not before.   Peter did not say you will be Baptized with the Holy Spirit.   He did not say you would be able to work miracles after the gift of the Holy Spirit.   Do not read into this passage something that is not there.   Clearly he said that after you repent and are baptized, you sins are forgiven and you will receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit.

But why the gift of the Holy Spirit?   Well, scripture is replete with many reasons, but in a nutshell, the Holy Spirit gives you access to God and without repenting and being baptized, you do not have the “Gift of the Holy Spirit”, therefore you do not have this connection with God.   The Gift of the Holy Spirit dwells in your person as shown in 1 Corinthians 6:18-20.   Again, do not lose sight of the fact that this letter to the church in Corinth was addressed to Christians, church members who had repented; been baptized for the forgiveness of sin, received the gift of the Holy Spirit and been added to the church by God.   

18 Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.   19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?   20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.   

 Here the body referred to is the human or physical body as shown by the immoral sin against his own body.   Paul says that “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you”.    The Spirit is in your body, your body has become the temple or dwelling place of the Spirit.  In Romans, Chapter 8, often referred to as the Great 8, there is revealed several things about the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit.   Again, do not lose sight of the fact that this letter to the church in Rome was addressed to Christians, church members who had repented, been baptized for the forgiveness of sin, received the gift of Holy Spirit and were added to the church by God.   The first two verses set the tone for this entire chapter.

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

Now what Spirit is Paul talking about here?    It is the Holy Spirit which is given with obeying the will of God through his son Jesus.   That obedience has freed you from sin and from eternal separation (death) from God, that is, eternity not spent with God.   Paul talks about the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus as setting you free, so you are no longer condemned by sin.   This Spirit is extremely important to your salvation, in fact, so critically important that without it, there is no salvation.   Paul goes on in verses 9-11:

9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.  10 If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

Verse 9 is very powerful.   If you do not have the Spirit of God dwelling in you, you do not belong to Christ.   How do you get the spirit, at your baptism, you receive this gift from God.   Where does that leave those who teach saved by faith only, or just pray Jesus into your heart or just confess Jesus for salvation.   I will tell you this much, I cannot find one single verse or passage in scripture that supports any those positions that claim you can be saved outside repentance and baptism.   It leaves them outside God’s teaching.  In verse 11, Paul repeats twice that the Spirit dwells in you from God.   This is EXTEMEMLY IMPORTANT.    If you do not have this, you have no connection with God.   Why, let’s continue with verse16:

16  The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God,

Verse 16 is very powerful, the Spirit, the same one you received at your baptism, testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.    The Gift of the Holy Spirit confirms with you own spirit that you belong to God and communicates or “testifies” (or “bears witness” in other translations) of this to God.   The Spirit given at your baptism tells God that you are a child of God, testifies of this to God an acts as a witness on your behalf.   This thought can be scary to some, that the Spirit of God is in you and it tells God what you are doing.   If you think about this, it assures you of your salvation.   Later we will look at being sealed by the Holy Spirit for judgment day.   This Spirit also helps us pray as shown in verses 26-27:

26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;  27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Many times we can’t explain in words what is in our hearts.   The Spirit does this for us.   The Holy Spirit you received at your baptism intercedes for you and tells God what it is that you cannot find the words to say and in a way that is too deep for words.   The Spirit makes sure God knows what is in our hearts.  Remember, if you are struggling with an issue and you don’t think God understands; God does.  In the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:8, Jesus tells his disciples that God knows what you need before you ask him.   Now you know how.   The Holy Spirit in you testifies to God about you, communicating issues you have to God when you cannot find the words or what you are saying just doesn’t come out right, doesn’t say exactly what it is you want to say.   The Spirit intercedes on our behalf in our prayers to God.

The Spirit also helps us to walk the way God’s wants us to walk.   In Gal 5:22-25, Paul records what is known as the “Fruit of the Spirit”.   Now if you had an Apple, Pear or Orange tree in your back yard, would you go out and eat the leaves, or the limbs or the bark or the wood?   No, that is silly.   You would eat the fruit from that tree, as it is the best part and the part that nourishes your physical body and gives you strength.  In like manner, what Paul is saying here is that the Fruit of the Spirit is the same thing; the best part of the Christian life and it gives your spiritual being, your spirit those things which strengthen you to lead the life God wants you to lead.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

I want to close with two final passages, the first is Ephesians 4:30

30   Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

We are told that the Spirit seals us for the day of redemption which is either Judgment Day or the day we die.  The Spirit testifies to God who we are, what we have done and works on our behalf, if we are faithful Christians.   The Hebrew writer tells us that it is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment.  (Heb. 9:27)    Either one sets your eternal destination; it cannot be changed after death even though the “day of redemption” may not come for a long time after your death.   If you are a faithful Christian, the Holy Spirit is there as your seal before God.

The only expression of the Holy Spirit today is the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  You receive it at your baptism, which marks your entry into the church, when you become the called out of God.   At your baptism, you enter into the covenant of Jesus Christ and you are connected to God by the Holy Spirit.   When you pray, you do not need the intercession or agency of man anymore which was the case under the Law of Moses, you have direct access to God.   Paul in Galatians 3 goes to great lengths to describe the difference between the two covenants, Moses and Christ.

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit and the Miraculous (or Temporary) Manifestation of the Holy Spirit served a purpose in the first century church, as these were the men who were speaking for and from God, to confirm his word, the word we have today, the New Testament which is complete and reveals the way to heaven for all of us.   These were needed to establish the first century church, to grow it and to prepare God’s message for us.   You see, men did not write the Bible, God did through the agency of man.  (2 Tim. 3:16-17)

What we have today is the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit, given to you when you are baptized and this confirms to God that you are one of God’s children.   I would like to close with one final passage from 2 Timothy 2:19:

19 Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness."

Notice the word seal used again.   The seal is this, God knows who are his through the Holy Spirit which Indwells in you.   Since he knows who are his, your are therefore sealed for the day of redemption.   I once heard a preacher say it like this:   You are not saved when you know God, you are saved when God knows you.   How does God know you?   You repent of your past ways outside of God, confess that Jesus is the Son of God and then be baptized (immersed) for the forgiveness of your sins and receive the gift or Indwelling of the Holy Spirit.   Then lead the Christian life, faithful until death and Heaven is yours.  

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