The Baptism by the Holy Spirit
January 30th, 1966 @ 10:50 AM
THE BAPTISM BY THE HOLY SPIRIT
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Corinthians 12:13
1-30-66 10:50 a.m.
On the radio and on television you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. And this is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Baptism By the Holy Spirit. These are not slight, and easy, and peripheral, and adolescent messages. And if you have a tendency to go to sleep, they will not mean anything to you. You have got to listen with your head, and listen with your heart, and listen with your soul, and listen with all of your might; but it is extremely important that we listen and that we know and that we understand!
This last week, I preached through the state evangelistic conference in Arkansas and in Ohio. And by the way, when I came into Dallas yesterday afternoon I felt as though I had come down to the banana belt; and yet most of us here are freezing to death. You do not know what a blizzard is with snow up to your chin, and sixteen degrees below zero, and a howling, blowing out of the North Pole. Oh, how salubrious it is to live down here!
Anyway, yesterday I was seated at a dinner table, and at the table were several laymen and laywomen, one or two pastors, but the conversation was carried on by those laypeople. And to my heartbreak and to my sorrow, they were describing the tearing up, the decimation of our finest church in Ohio, our oldest church in the capital city. And why had the church fallen apart? And what had happened to the congregation? A very simple thing; they were torn asunder. They were divided apart, and the church was split right down through the middle by an altercation over the baptism by the Holy Spirit. I do not mention that as though it were unique, or as though it were peculiar, or as though it happened just in the capital city of Ohio; that thing is happening all over America and all over the world; churches and pastors and people torn apart and divided and decimated and ruined by these altercations over the baptism by the Holy Spirit.
So, after these months and now a few years, I have come to feel in my heart, at least, that I have an understanding of the mind of the Spirit of God, and of the revelation of the Holy Word of God concerning these things of the presence, and power, and enduement, and infilling, and sealing, and baptizing by the Holy Spirit. Now our text is going to be 1 Corinthians 12:13, “We are all baptized by one Spirit into one body, into the body of Christ,” into the church of the living God. “We are all baptized by one Spirit, are we all baptized into one body, the body of our Lord.”
Now to begin––and these sermons are just summaries; you could take hours in the discussion of any point––but by summary, we’re going to contrast the baptism by the Holy Spirit and some of the other rich experiences of the child of God. Then the last part of the sermon will be a discussion of what exactly is the baptism by the Holy Spirit. Now the first discussion will concern a contrast between baptism by the Holy Spirit and several things; and the first one will be regeneration.
Baptism by the Spirit is not regeneration, it is not salvation, because the disciples were converted, they were regenerated before Pentecost. In salvation, in regeneration, the believer who trusts in Jesus is given salvation [Acts 16:30-31]. He’s saved by opening his heart to the Lord Jesus [Romans 10:9-10]. That’s how he’s regenerated. That’s how he becomes a Christian. He opens his soul, and his heart, and his life to the blessed Savior, and he is saved when Jesus comes into his heart [Revelation 3:20].
That’s what it is to become a Christian; to receive the Lord by faith into our souls. Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any one hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in and will sup with him, and he with Me.” That’s what it is to become a Christian. We receive Jesus into our hearts. We open the door of our souls to our Lord.
If you are tired of the load of your sin,
Let Jesus come into your heart;
If you desire a new life to begin,
Let Jesus come into your heart.
Just now your doubting give o’er;
Just now reject Him no more;
Just now throw open the door;
Let Jesus come into your heart.
[Let Jesus Come Into Your Heart,” Mrs. C. H. Morris]
That is regeneration. That is being born again. That is the way we become a Christian. That’s what it is to be saved; Jesus comes into our hearts!
Baptism by the Holy Spirit places us who have been saved and regenerated and born again into the Lord Christ [1 Corinthians 12:13]. Christ comes into us and we’re saved. By the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit, we who are saved are put into Christ! Galatians 3:27: “For as many as you as have been baptized into Christ have enduō,” middle voice, “put on Christ,” translated here, “have been clothed with Christ. You are in your clothes.” He uses that as a figure of speech, “You are in your clothes. You are in your clothes.” And he says we who have been baptized into Christ are “in the clothes,” we are clothed with Christ, we have put on Christ, we are in our garments in Christ.
Jesus uses that in the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John: “I in you,” that’s what it is to be saved, to be regenerated, “I in you,” Christ in us; “ye in Me” [John 14:20], that’s what it is to be baptized by the Holy Spirit. We are placed in Christ, in the body of Christ when we are saved [1 Corinthians 12:13]. When I open my heart and become a Christian, Jesus comes in. That’s what it is in regeneration. Then when I receive the Lord by faith and become a Christian [Romans 10:9-10], the Holy Spirit of God places me in Christ [Ephesians 1:13]. I am clothed with Christ, as you’re in your clothes. And that’s what it is to be baptized by the Holy Spirit [1 Corinthians 12:13].
All right again; in regeneration, in regeneration we are quickened from the dead. “We who are dead in trespasses and in sins,” Paul says in Ephesians 2:1, “We who are dead in trespasses and in sins,” in the old Adamic carnal nature, “we who have been dead, we are now quickened by the power of the Lord God” [Ephesians 2:5]. That’s what it is to be saved. That’s what it is to be regenerated: “We who were dead have been quickened and made alive” [Ephesians 2:5].
Now, this is what it is to be baptized by the Spirit. We who have been dead in the old Adamic nature, and we are under condemnation, and we are facing the judgment of God, we who have been in Adam, now are lifted out, and we are in Christ [Ephesians 2:5-6]. We belong in a new world, and we live in a new earth, and a new heaven, and a new vision, and a new life. That’s what baptism by the Spirit is; taken out of the old Adamic nature, as Paul discusses in Romans chapters 5 and 6, and placed in Christ! [Romans 5:14-21, 6:3-6].
All right again, in regeneration we are made a child of God. John 1:12, “But as many as received Him, to them gave He the right to become the children of God, even to them that trust in His name.” In regeneration we’re made a child of God, a joint-heir with Christ [Romans 8:16-17]. But in the baptism of the Holy Spirit, we are made a member of the body of our Lord [1 Corinthians 12:13], of His flesh, and of His bones, and of His heart and mind, and soul, and life. In baptizing we are into the Lord Himself [Ephesians 2:5-6].
Now let’s contrast baptism by the Holy Spirit and the anointing of the Holy Spirit. In the anointing of the Holy Spirit, we have a wonderful instance in the baptism of Jesus Christ. So many great Bible teachers, I mean world-famed Bible teachers, will say that at the baptism of Jesus by John in the Jordan River, that Jesus was baptized by the Holy Spirit. “And Jesus, when He was baptized, went straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him” [Matthew 3:16]. And they refer to that as the baptism by the Spirit of the Lord Jesus. No, there is nothing that approaches that; not by the Word of God. Baptism by the Spirit is an ascension gift [Luke 24:49; John 16:7; Acts 1:8], after the death, burial, and resurrection [Matthew 27:32-28:7], and ascension of our Lord [Luke 24:50-51]. At the right hand of God He received this glorious gift, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit into the earth [John 14:16]. And the purpose of that outpouring of the Holy Spirit is to join us to Jesus as Jesus is joined to the Father [John 17:23]. But Jesus is already one with the Father; He needed not to be joined [John 17:22]. So this is not a baptism of the Holy Spirit. The dove, the emblem, the sign, the symbol of the dove coming upon Jesus, this is not a baptism. This is an anointing [Matthew 3:16]. The Lord Jesus is beginning His messianic ministry, and He is as a high priest, preparing to offer the sacrifice that shall wash our sins away [Hebrews 4:14-16].
But according to the law every priest, when he was about thirty years of age, had to be consecrated for that holy intercessory office. And by law when the priest was consecrated, first he had to be washed with water, and second he had to be anointed by oil. As you find in the twenty-ninth chapter of the Book of Exodus, the Lord commanded Moses and said, “Take Aaron, and bring him before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and wash him with water” [Exodus 29:4]. Then we go on, “Then shalt thou take the anointing oil, and pour it upon his head, and anoint him” [Exodus 29:7]. So a priest that was to offer the blood of atonement before God must be washed, and then he must be anointed! [Exodus 29:4, 7].
Thus the baptism of our blessed Savior; He identified Himself with sinners, with you, with me. He became one of us, and He was washed, He was baptized in water! [Matthew 3:16]. And then after He was raised in the likeness of His glorious resurrection from the watery deep, then He was anointed by the Spirit of God for the holy priestly office [Matthew 3:16], by which and in which He offered a sacrifice to God to wash our sins away [Hebrews 9:11-12].
Nor is the baptism by the Spirit the indwelling whereby Christ is with us forever. Nor is it the sealing of the Spirit whereby Christ stamps us as His own forever. Nor is it the filling. And because of the importance of that, and the length of its discussion, that will be the sermon next Sunday morning, The Filling of the Holy Spirit. “There is one baptism, just one; one Lord, one faith, one baptism” [Ephesians 4:5]. There is one baptism by the Holy Spirit; there are many, many fillings. Fillings, the power of God upon a people, upon a congregation, upon Peter, upon Stephen, upon us, you; there are many fillings, there is one baptism!
There is no injunction in the Word of God that we be baptized, no exhortation, no mandate, but there is a decided injunction that we be filled by the Holy Spirit of God! In Pentecost, and at Caesarea, the baptism by the Spirit and the filling of the Spirit came simultaneously, at the same time [Acts 10:44]. And that’s why so many great Bible teachers identify the two. And it is a tragic error. They are not the same. They are altogether different; the baptism by the Spirit and the filling, the enduement, the empowerment, the enablement of the Spirit. And that’ll be the sermon next Sunday morning; the enablement, the power, the filling, the might, the surge of the Holy Spirit of God.
Now we come to the last part of the sermon, the second part. What is the baptism by the Holy Spirit? The answer to that question is found in the sixth chapter of the Book of Romans [Romans 6:3-5]. It is found in the twelfth chapter of First Corinthians [1 Corinthians 12:13]. It is found in the third chapter of the letter to the Galatians [Galatians 3:26-27]. It is found in the fourth chapter of the letter to the Ephesians [Ephesians 4:5]. And it is found in the second chapter of 1 Peter [1 Peter 2:5]. Now we’re going to take as a center for those passages of Scriptures, the text that I read: “For we are all baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ” [1 Corinthians 12:13]. What is the baptism by the Spirit of God?
When we begin discussing this, we’re going to talk about the church. We’re going to talk about the body of Christ. When we begin talking about baptism, we’re going to start talking about the church, the body of our Lord. “By one Spirit are we all baptized, by the Spirit we are baptized into the body of Christ” [1 Corinthians 12:13]. So baptism, baptism by the Spirit is the way God joins us to His church, to the body of our Lord. We are baptized into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit of God.
There is no such thing in the Bible as being baptized into the Holy Spirit. There is no such nomenclature. We are never baptized into the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the agent. He is the baptizer. He is the instrument. He does the baptizing. And the Holy Spirit baptizes us into, He immerses us into, He joins us to the body of our Lord [1 Corinthians 12:13].
Now the creation of the body of our Lord, of the church, was a mustērion, a secret kept in the counsels of the heart of God from the beginning of the world. The patriarchs never saw it. The lawgiver Moses never saw it. None of the prophets ever saw it. No one of the saints of the Old Testament ever saw it. In the third chapter of the Book of Ephesians, Paul says it was a mustērion, a secret kept in the heart of God from the beginning of the world [Ephesians 3:2-9].
That the Gentiles were going to be saved was no mustērion; that was no secret. Moses, and Isaiah, and Hosea, and Joel prophesied of the coming blindness to Israel and the salvation of the Gentiles. From the beginning of the prophetic word it was revealed that not to the Jew only but also to the Gentile would come the word of salvation. But the mustērion was this, that there was to be created a body, one body into which Jew and Gentile, Roman and barbarian, Greek and barbarian, Roman and provincial; for to all the Greeks everybody else was a barbarian, and to the Roman everybody else was a provincial, and to the Jew everybody else was a Gentile dog.
It was a marvelous thing, this mustērion in the heart of God, that there was going to be created a body, an organism, a living being: the church, the body of Christ; and into that body should belong the Jew and the Greek, the Greek and the barbarian, the Roman and the provincial, bond and free, male and female, near and far, all in that one body. That was a secret kept in the mind of God from the beginning of the creation [Ephesians 3:6-11].
Now the creation of that one body, the body of Christ, the church of our blessed Lord, the creation of that one body is the work of the Holy Spirit of God [1 Corinthians 12:13]. And He does it by His baptizing work. He takes the man who trusts Jesus as Savior, and He baptizes him, He places him, He joins him to the body of our Lord, the spiritual organism of Christ in this earth [1 Corinthians 12:13].
Now there are three figures used in the Bible to describe that building of the Lord. We, being many are yet one. There are three figures in the Bible. One: sometimes the Bible will use the figure of a bride, of a bride. In the twenty-first chapter of the Revelation, the angel says to John, “Come with me, and I will show thee the bride of Christ” [Revelation 21:9].
Oh, what will it be like? What will she look like, the bride of Christ? So he takes John to a great and high mountain, and shows him what? When John stands on that great and high mountain to see the bride of Christ, he sees a great city, full of the saints of the Lord [Revelation 21:10]. Wonder what street we’ll live on? And what will be our address in glory? All of the redeemed of the Lord God, there in one great, glorious city; the figure of a bride and all of us in that beautiful, celestial New Jerusalem.
A second figure: He will use the figure of a building, a building. In the third chapter of 1 Corinthians the great foundation is Jesus Christ [1 Corinthians 3:11]. And in the second chapter of 1 Peter, all of us are living stones, built upon that great foundation, making the temple of God [1 Peter 2:5]. So many of us, and yet one great edifice to the glory of God; a building, and we are stones, each one of us, in its upbringing, uprising.
And the third is a body, a body. “We being many members are yet one in Christ” [1 Corinthians 12:12-13]; a foot, and a hand, and an eye, and an ear, and a tongue. And the foot cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of thee.” And the hand cannot say to the eye, “I have no need of thee” [1 Corinthians 12:14-16]. It takes all of us, so Paul says, to make a glorious organism, a living being, an entity for Jesus Christ [1 Corinthians 12:12]. And that is the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit of God [1 Corinthians 12:13]. He adds us to the church, and it takes us all to make the complete unity of our blessed Lord [1 Corinthians 12:12]. And the way the Holy Spirit of God does that, He takes us out and puts us in. He takes us from and adds us to. The Holy Spirit of God takes us out of the old world, and out of the old nature, and out of the old life, and He places us in the Lord Jesus Christ; in His body, in His temple, in the beautiful city, and He makes us one in Jesus [Galatians 3:27].
That glorious taking out and putting in is illustrated by Simon Peter when he speaks of Noah [1 Peter 3:20]. “Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few”—how many are few? The Bible says “few” is eight: “Wherein few, that is, eight souls, were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us” [1 Peter 3:20-21]. Then lest somebody think that baptism actually washes our sins away in that water; no, “not the putting away of the filth of the flesh,” not the washing in water, but the regeneration of the soul, the saving of the heart and life, “the answer of a good conscience toward God” [1 Peter 3: 21].
Now what Peter is saying there is this. The water separated the perishing from the saved; Noah, the eight in the ark. And that is a type; taken out of the perishing world, out of the drowning main, out of the civilization that shall perish and a world under condemnation, and God shall take us out and put us in the ark of Christ. And that is a figure whereby baptism saves us, out of the perishing world into the saving grace of the Son of God [1 Peter 3:21]. That is the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit.
Now one other: this is the universal experience of all of God’s people, all of us, all of us. What does the text say? “For by one Spirit, for by the Spirit are we all baptized into the body of Christ,” all of us [1 Corinthians 12:13]. What an unusual thing. If you read this Bible about the church at Corinth, you’ll be astonished at that word; or same thing about the churches of Galatia “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” [Galatians 3:26-27]. You are in Christ, like you are in your clothes. What an amazing thing!
Do you, are you familiar with the church at Corinth? Paul calls it a carnal church, and it was filled with every divisive faction. They were divided over the preachers, personalities. Some of them said, “I like Paul, and I don’t like Apollos.” Some of them said, “I like Apollos, and I don’t like Paul.” And some of them said, “I like Cephas, and I don’t like anybody else” [1 Corinthians 3:4-5, 22]. And they warred, and feuded, and fussed, and fought over the preachers. If I see a church that is having trouble, ninety-nine times out of a hundred I can guess why. They’re having trouble over a preacher, always, always; dividing over a preacher. And that was what they were doing at Corinth. They were going to war over preachers, preachers; folly on them all! “What is Paul,” says the apostle, “or what is Apollos but somebody that just waters? It’s God that gives the increase!” A preacher’s not anything,” says Paul [1 Corinthians 3:5-7]. It’s God. Let’s don’t get our eyes on a preacher. Let’s don’t worship a preacher. Let’s don’t follow a preacher. Let’s follow the Lord, says the apostle Paul. But that was Corinth. They were all divided over a preacher.
They were divided over doctrine; some of them holding pure doctrine and some of them holding heretical and false doctrine. And they were divided over discipline. They had a fellow there in the church living with his father’s wife [1 Corinthians 5:1]. And Paul says, “But it doesn’t bother you? You don’t think anything about that at all. Why, such a thing as that is unspeakable and unnamed even among the Gentiles!” [1 Corinthians 5:1]. And they were divided over discipline, and they were divided in a thousand other ways, and going to courts of law [1 Corinthians 6:6-7]. And they were divided over the Lord’s Supper; some of them came to the Lord’s Supper to gormandize [1 Corinthians 11:20-22]. No wonder Paul called the church at Corinth a carnal church [1 Corinthians 3:1-3]. But he doesn’t say, “Now you need the baptism by the Holy Spirit, that’s what you need.” He didn’t say, “That baptism of the Holy Spirit was for an elect few.” Nor did he say to pray and seek it, and get right with God so you can possess it.
What he did say was, “All of you have been,” aorist, “have been baptized” [1 Corinthians 12:13], aorist, “all of you, all of you,” the carnal ones, the back-slidden ones, the bickering ones, the altercating ones, the feuding ones, the fussing ones, the fighting ones—all of them, he says, had been baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ. And isn’t that an amazing thing? Isn’t that an amazing thing?
You know, you walk around, look at a church, oh, oh, oh, oh! So many of our members are compromised, and some of them are worldly, and some of them are indifferent, and so many of them never witness and never testify, never win anybody to Jesus. And some of them just come once in a while. Some of them hardly ever make any kind of a contribution to the work of the Lord. And you just wonder at them.
Yet Paul says they’ve all been baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ, if they’ve been saved, if they’ve been regenerated, if they’ve been born again [1 Corinthians 12:13]. They all have been baptized into the body of Christ [1 Corinthians 12:13]. Now that explains why it is, that explains why it is that there’s no exhortation and there’s no appeal, there’s no mandate, there’s no commandment in the Bible to be baptized by the Spirit: because all of God’s children have already been baptized by the Spirit into the fellowship, and the organism, and the life, and the body of our living Lord, all of us have already [1 Corinthians 12:13].
Then it just remains for me to preach my sermon next Sunday morning. The yieldedness, the surrenderedness of the life that what God has already done might have power in us, might shine in us, might glory in us, might bless us, might empower us, might send us out invincible in the power and strength and might of the Lord God. That is what we need! [Galatians 2:20]. Trouble is not up there. Trouble is down here. Trouble is not that God hath withheld His hand or withheld His power, “for God giveth not the Spirit by measure” [John 3:34]; He is poured out upon us! All we need is the spirit of triumph, and march, and thrust, and victory, and standing up, glorying in the power and the name of the Lord. Why, God’s people are invincible. God’s people cannot be overwhelmed, or drowned, or destroyed! We’re so cowardly and so weak, and so insignificant, and we say, “We’re just grasshoppers in the sight of these great giants of Anak, and we are…” [Numbers 13:32-33] Not so! We’re only grasshoppers because we think we’re grasshoppers. We’re only defeated because we haven’t the spirit of triumph in us. It’s not up there. It’s down here, for God has reservoirs, and oceans, and universes full of divine strength, and glory, and power for those who will take it!
Now may I conclude with a little summary? Time was, time was, in the old day, when the Spirit of God was a strange mysterious fire, falling from heaven sometimes like lightning, we knew not whence and we knew not whither, sometimes falling in power upon a Moses, and again upon an Elijah. Sometimes the Spirit of God would flash out as in the camp of Israel in consuming fires and flames of judgment [Leviticus 10:2], and sometimes fall in majestic and awesome majesty on the sacrifice on Mount Carmel, licking up the very stones and the dust of the ground [1 Kings 18:38]. In days past, sometimes the Spirit of God would be seen in the bush that flamed at Horeb [Exodus 3:1-3], or again in the shekinah glory that lambently rose above the holy altar of sacrifice, the mercy seat in the temple of Solomon [1 Kings 8:10-11]. Just now, just then, just again, and the mysterious awe brought wonder and amazement to those who looked upon it. But that day is past forever.
Since our Lord ascended into glory [Acts 1:9] and has poured out into this earth an ascension gift without measure [Acts 2:1-4], God’s people can be emboldened and inspired to tear up and to tear down and destroy the citadels and the ramparts of the wicked, and the darkened, and the blaspheming. All we need to do is just to seize it, and to take it, and to open our lives for the holy and heavenly presence. He is here [Acts 1:8].
If I were to stand up here, had I stood here fifty years ago and said this, “At this hour, this church house, this room here is filled with singing, and music, and pictures, and editorials, and comments, and discussions,” you would have said, “The man has lost his mind!” All we needed was a little transistor, a little tube, and set it just so, and the earth is filled with waves, and on those waves are carried the songs and the symphonies of the world, the great speeches of statesmen, and sometimes the blasphemy of those who defy the name of God.
All of it here, all of it here; I just need the little instrument. I just need the transistor. I just need the tuning. It is that identical and exact thing in the power of God upon His people. Here into this world, Christ Jesus in ascension glory has poured out the Holy Spirit, the heavenly fire, beyond measure! [Acts 2:1-4, John 3:34] Just as far as my soul will allow, and just as much as my faith will accept, and just as much as the compartments of my heart and life will open up, I can receive and take of God’s Holy Spirit whatever, by His grace, I have the faith to receive [Matthew 17:20]. That is what God hath done for His people. It’s just for me to give myself, to surrender myself, to yield myself as an instrument in His blessed hands [2 Timothy 2:21]. And the rest is according to His sovereign endowment and His glorious outpouring of power [Hebrews 13:21]. O Lord, help us to receive it, and to take it, and to believe it, and help us, Lord, to do great and mighty things for Thee upon it.
Now in the goodness of God, oh, may the Lord give us a gracious harvest again this hour. He did at the eight-fifteen service. Ah, the Lord blessed us at that hour. May He do it again through you, through you. “Today, preacher, I open my heart and my life and my mind to receive Jesus; and here I come” [Romans 10:9-10]. “Today, we’re putting our lives in the fellowship of this precious church and here I come. Here I am. This is my wife, these are my children, all of us are coming today.” Or a couple you, or one somebody you, as the Spirit of the Lord shall say the word, shall make the appeal, shall open the door, in the throng in the balcony round, in the press on this lower floor, down one of these stairways at the front or the back on either side, and there’s time and to spare, come. Into the aisle, down here to the front, somebody you, come. “Here I am, pastor. Today I choose God. I choose Christ. I open my heart for every rich benedictory blessing of the illimitable riches of the grace of God in Jesus, and here I am [Matthew 16:24]. I open my hands to receive them, to take them.” And they’re ours for the asking. Just hold your hand and let God fill them. Just open your heart and let God come in like a floodtide. Just open your life and let the Lord bless celestially from heaven. Just take. “Whosoever will, let him come” [Revelation 22:17]. Do it. Do it today. Do it now. On the first note of this first stanza, come. And when we stand in a moment to sing, stand up coming. Out of that seat, down this aisle, “Here I am, preacher, I make it now.” Do it, do it, while we stand and while we sing.