The Baptism of the Holy Spirit
February 6th, 1977 @ 10:50 AM
THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2-6-77 10:50 a.m.
You are listening to the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas as he delivers the message from God’s Word today, entitled The Baptism of the Holy Spirit. This is the first day of our entrance into a six-week period of "Good News Dallas." What we’re praying for, asking God for, is not just for a series of services that will climax that six weeks – about the second or third week in March – what we are asking God to bless is in power to work with us, to be present among us, to lift us upward in true spirit of renewal, and revival, and resurrection, and re-consecration. And it extends over a period of six weeks. I have the feeling and the persuasion in my soul, they will be the greatest, most meaningful, significant, spiritually blessed of all of the six weeks that we have ever lived through.
And this is the beginning; our Jewish Christian fellowship meetings, our tremendous superintendants, and teachers, and officers, and leadership meeting of the Sunday school Tuesday night, then we enter into a visitation program, then hundreds of cottage prayer services all over the city. These are days of uplift. They are days of the outpouring of the Spirit of the Lord. They are days of true revival. I see it on every hand. Then a sign of it is in my preaching through the Bible; so oft times and once again, the passage before me is as though the Holy Spirit of God had chosen it in keeping with this day of great revival and outpouring. In our preaching through the Book of Acts, we are in the second chapter, and these are the words of the text:
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
And suddenly there came from heaven a sound as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all of the house where they were sitting.
And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other glōssa – with other languages – as the Spirit gave them utterance.
As I read through the text I am amazed, I am surprised, I am overwhelmed, for there is a word that I am looking for but I don’t find it in the text. The word I’m looking for is "the baptism of the Holy Spirit." There is no such phrase as that in the Bible. The Greek is "the baptism in the Holy Spirit." And it is translated in the King James Version, "baptized with the Holy Spirit." But even though the phrase, "the baptism of the Holy Spirit," is not in the Bible, at least I’m looking for the word "baptism," but I don’t find it in the passage. It is not mentioned nor is it referred to.
Well, maybe inerrancy has fallen into error. Maybe inspiration is dropped away from its inspirare, its inbreathing of God. Maybe infallibility is no longer infallible. Maybe God has made a mistake and He left out a word here that I am looking for, the word "baptism," the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Then surely I will find it if I turn the page, for inerrancy may not be inerrant there, and inspiration may not be inspired there, and infallibility may – maybe God made a mistake here. But surely, He will correct it over here and I’ll find the word "baptism" over here. But I turn the page and it isn’t there. And I turn the next page, nor is it there. And I turn the next page, nor is it there. And the next, and the next, and the next, and it isn’t. It just isn’t there. Well, what is this? What is God doing? And what is the Lord saying? And what are these words? It isn’t there!
Then I discover as I study the Book that "the baptism with the Holy Spirit" is said just one time – just once – in the third chapter of the Gospel of Matthew that you read, John the Baptist said:
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance:
but He that cometh after me, mightier than I, the latched of whose
shoes I am not worthy to unloose:
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit, in the Holy Spirit, and in fire.
And that’s the only place that it’s said. In the first chapter of the Book of Acts, out of which I am preaching, Jesus referred to that one saying of John the Baptist [Acts 1:4-5]. And in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Acts, Simon Peter referred to that one saying of – of John the Baptist [Acts 11:16] – here in the Book of Matthew [Matthew 3:11]. But other than that, it is never mentioned. It is never referred to. It is never spoken of.
Well, if the word "baptism" is not used, then what word is used? All we have to do is to open the sacred Book and read it, "and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit" [Acts 2:4]. And I turn the page and it is the same word, "and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit" [Acts 4:31]. And I turned page and it is the same word, "and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit" [Acts 6:3]. Nor is there ever any deviation from it. Always they are "filled with the Holy Spirit." And they are "filled with the Holy Spirit." And they are "filled with the Holy Spirit" [Acts 6:5, 7:55, 9:17, 13:52]. But never, never are they "baptized with the Holy Spirit."
Then there must be some tremendous doctrinal revelation that God is teaching us. There is. This is not ephemeral, or peripheral, or summarily presented in God’s Word; it is fundamental and dynamic. And it is because we do not understand it that we fall into such heresy and error. But understanding it, God’s Word is true, and plain, and experiential, and heavenly, and confirmable, and reasonable, and demonstrable.
So we look at those two words. John the Baptist used the word "baptize" and he’s the only one that ever said it [Matthew 3:11, Luke 3:16, Mark 1:8]. Then all of the recounting thereafter is "the filling of the Holy Spirit."
What is the difference between the prophecy of John the Baptist concerning Christ, "He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit" [Matthew 3:11, Luke 3:16, Mark 1:8], and then the story as it unfolds before us of the filling of the Holy Spirit, "the filling of the Holy Spirit?" It is this and plainly this – and God reveals it to us – this: with relationship to Christ in regard to our Lord, as concerning Jesus, He is the baptizer in a once-for-all sense and that only. That is, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is an ascension gift of our Lord when He returned to heaven. After He was crucified, and buried, and raised from the dead, He returned to His Father [Acts 1:11], and there He kept the promise He made to the disciples that He would pour out upon them the Spirit of presence and of power [Acts 1:4-5].
One time did that happen, just once. And in that sense Christ is the baptizer with the Holy Spirit. It is an ascension gift that He poured out upon the earth when He returned back to heaven. Why is it just one time? Because that ascension gift of the baptism of the Spirit, the pouring out of the Spirit [Acts 1:5]; that ascension gift is the beginning of a new era, it is the beginning of a new dispensation. It is the beginning of a new epoch. It is the beginning of this day of grace in which we live [Acts 1:8]. It is the beginning of the day of the "calling out," the ekklēsia – the ek kaleō, the gathering together – the calling out of the body of Christ made up of Jew and Gentile [1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 3:1-12].
A mustērion, Paul describes it, "a secret," God hid in His heart until He revealed it unto His holy apostles, according as Paul writes it in Ephesians chapter 3 [Ephesians 3:3-5]. In one sense only, and in one time only, is Christ considered the baptizer. That is when He returned to heaven and poured out the ascension gift upon this world, the day of Pentecost [Acts 1:1-4].
Thereafter, and this is the baptism of the Holy Spirit as it concerns the Holy Spirit Himself and us, thereafter – that is, after the Lord returned to heaven and poured out the ascension gift upon this earth – thereafter, the Holy Spirit is the baptizer. And He baptizes us into the body of Christ. First Corinthians 12:13, "By one Spirit – the Holy Spirit of God – are we all baptized into the body of Christ." And here again, that is a one-time thing in the life of the believer. When you were converted, when you were regenerated, when you were saved, when you became a Christian, the Holy Spirit took you and joined you to the body of Christ. He baptized you into the body of our Lord [1 Corinthians 12:27]. That is the baptism of the Holy Spirit; first, a once-for-all ascension gift of Christ as He poured out the Holy Spirit upon the earth [Acts 2:1-4]. And thereafter the Holy Spirit is the baptizer, and He baptizes us when we’re saved into the body of Christ [1 Corinthians 12:13].
Now the filling: the filling of the Holy Spirit of God is an experience that is ours now and forever and repeated again, and again, and again, and again. And they were filled with the Holy Spirit at Jerusalem. And they were filled with the Holy Spirit in Samaria. And they were filled with the Holy Spirit in Antioch. And they were filled with the Holy Spirit in Ephesus. And they were filled with the Holy Spirit in Dallas. And we are filled with the Holy Spirit of God today. Lord, grant it.
Now, what is the difference then between "the baptism" and "the filling?" First, never in the Bible is there anything even approaching a command, a mandate that we be "[baptized] with the Holy Spirit." There is no such thing in the Bible. But we are commanded, we are under authority, and under mandate, and under injunction, to be "filled with the Spirit." Ephesians 5:18, "Be ye filled with the Spirit." It is a command of God. A dry, potsherd kind of a Christian – without life, without quickening, without joy, without gladness – is a travesty upon the face; it is a disgrace to the name of the Lord. We’re to be filled with the Spirit of God; bright, radiant, happy, singing, praising the Lord, filled with the Holy Spirit of God. Our church services, our prayer meetings, our Sunday school lessons, our witnessing; the whole life of the Christian is to be quickened and uplifted, we are to be filled with the Spirit of the Lord. That’s a command from God. No such command to be baptized, it isn’t from the Word of God.
Number two: the baptism is a once-for-all operation of God, but the filling is again, and again, and again. You will see that in the language that the Scriptures use, the inspired Word of the Lord.
I have a great grief that it is impossible almost, to take these Greek verbs and to make them beautiful – translated them exactly as they are – to translate them exactly as they are into English and to make them beautiful. It is almost impossible to do. And the reason is this: we have a different kind of a verbal system in Greek than in English. In English you cannot speak without tense. You can’t do it. Every time you say a word, every time you pronounce a verb, you have to pigeonhole it in some kind of time. That’s the way the English language is constructed, the way it is built together. Always every verb that you use has some kind of tense to it, some kind of time. The Greek did not use their verbs like that. In the Greek language, they used in their verbal system "kinds of action." A thing was considered a point, it happened just that one time. Or a thing may be considered as going on, and just on and on.
Now, you look at these verbs. In 1 Corinthians 12:13 it says, "For by one Spirit are we all ebaptisthēmen: – aorist – one time! Just like a point like that, "For by one Spirit are we all ebaptisthēmen," aorist – one point – "At one time are we all baptized" – ebaptisthēmen, aorist – "are we all baptized into the body of Christ" [1 Corinthians 12:13]. Now, you look at the verb in Ephesians 5:18, "Be ye plērousthe, plērousthe, be ye plērousthe with the Spirit." Continuous action, plērousthe, "filled," passive. "Be ye filled with the Holy Spirit of God." One time, aorist, are ye baptized into the body of Christ. And plērousthe, continuous action again, and again, and again, and again, are we to be filled with the Spirit of God.
Look again: a third distinction between the baptism and the filling. In the baptism we are talking about a positional operation of God. It is something God does. It’s the same kind of a thing as when the Bible says that when we’re converted, when we’re saved, God writes our names in the Book of Life [Luke 10:20; Revelation 20:12, 15, 21:27]. That’s something God does; it is positional. I can reach up to the height of my hand, and I can just reach that far. But God writes my name in the Book of Life in the third heaven, beyond the highest stars. It is something God does. I am baptized into the body of Christ [1 Corinthians 12:13], my name is written in the Lamb’s Book of life; it is something God does up there in heaven.
He creates for me my relationship with the Lord. He joins me, He places me, into the body of Christ; He does that. And we’re all fellow members of the body of our Lord, joined to the Lord by the Holy Spirit of God. And the Bible uses the word "baptized." We are baptized into the body of Christ – joined to the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit of God – that is positional. It is something that God does up there in heaven when we are saved [1 Corinthians 12:13].
Now, the filling is experiential. The filling is something that happens to me in my heart, and it happens again, and again, and again, and again. Maybe when I was saved I just shouted, or maybe I cried, or maybe I laughed, or maybe I was just filled with the holiness of God. Oh, there are so many ways that we responded when we were converted and filled with the Holy Spirit of God! Then sometime thereafter maybe in a prayer service, or in a dedication, or in a kitchen corner, or out in a field, or driving along, or in a house somewhere crying to God, I have another marvelous experience: I’m filled with the Holy Spirit of God. And time without number have I felt the infilling as I met with God’s people in this dear place and with this dear church. The filling is again, and again, and again, and again.
Nor do we ever reach any high plateau where God has nothing else for us. No matter how we’ve been filled, and no matter what a great experience we’ve had with Jesus, there is always something more, and something else, and something over, and something beyond, and something beside; filled with the Spirit of the Lord, again and again and again and yet again. Always some great, glorious, great, good thing God hath prepared for those who love Him [1 Corinthians 2:9]; the filling of the Spirit of God.
Now for just a little bit, we’re going to take that, the filling of the Spirit of God, and see its effect upon people. We’re going to take these apostles and look at the effect of the filling of the Spirit of God upon these apostles, for the Book says, "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit" [Acts 2:4]. The effect upon the apostles: they’re new men. I don’t recognize them. They are somebody else. They are not the same. Why, I’ve been reading about those twelve apostles in the four Gospels, I’ve been reading about them. They appear all the way through these four Gospels. And you look at them. They are quarrelsome, they are ambitious, and they are selfish. And they’re always vying with each other as to which one is going to be greatest in the kingdom of heaven [Luke 22:24] and who’s going to be seated next to the Lord on His right hand and on His left hand. They are always in some kind of selfish, bickering, quarrelsome mood. Why, the night that the Lord was betrayed, the night that He instituted the Lord’s Supper [John 13:4-10], the reason why He washed their feet was this: they were quarreling about who was going to be greatest in the kingdom of God!
And I presume it was precipitated by who would be seated at the right hand and the left hand of our Lord. And while they were quarreling – and selfishly ambitious, and trying to further their own interest – the Lord took off His clothes, which is a humblest thing a man can do. I don’t care where you see him, a man without his clothes is a man without dignity, or prestige, or power; a naked man is just flesh. And the Lord took off His clothes, and girded Himself with a towel, and began to wash the apostles’ feet [John 13:4-10]. Are you a Mason? You know exactly what I am talking about in the humility of a man unclothed. And He began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to dry them with a towel wherewith He was girded, and said to them, "He that would be greatest in the kingdom of heaven must be the humblest servant of all" [Matthew 18:4]. Now, that’s those disciples. At the most sacred moment of the life of our Lord, they are quarreling and vying, ambitious, selfish as to who is going to the greatest.
Look at them again. They are full of doubt. Why, one of their finest, Thomas, said, "I do not believe that He lives. Can’t convince me that dead men rise. All you have to do is go out here and look at these cemeteries and see if any of them rise from the dead. I do not believe it." And he said, "Nor shall I be convinced until I put my fingers in the scars in His hand, and thrust my hand in the scar in His side" [John 20:24-25]. That’s the disciples.
Now look again; a little girl, a menial maid in the household of a high priest accosts the big fisherman, Simon Peter, and points a finger at him and says, "You, you are one of His disciples. You talk like Him" [Mark 14:70-71].
And he cowered before a little maid in the house and swore and cursed saying, "I never saw Him. I do not know Him. Cannot accuse me of being one of His disciples" [Matthew 26:69-74].
Now, these are the men that I read about in the four Gospels. Now, I want you to look at them. After they are filled with the Holy Spirit, they were bold, and fearless, and courageous, like lions! They even count it worthy to be suffering for the name of Jesus [Acts 5:41]. And they are filling the whole world with the faith that He is raised from the dead, and He lives forevermore! And to those who find refuge in Him, He is for them also an everlasting Savior. I can’t believe it! These are the same men! But they are transformed men; they are new men. They are somebody else, they are unrecognizable! They have been filled with the Spirit of God [Ephesians 5:18].
The effects of the Holy Spirit, the filling of the Holy Spirit: look again. Look again. Look at the effect that the filling of the Holy Spirit of God has upon sinners outside the church, look at it. These are the men who crucified Jesus to whom Simon Peter is addressing this sermon. Their hands have been dipped in the blood, the crimson blood of the Son of God. These are the men to whom Peter says, "Ye with wicked hands have taken and crucified the Son of glory" [Acts2:23]. And he repeats it boldly, courageously, facing those men and accusing them of slaying the Prince of Glory [Acts 2:36].
What is the response of those men who perpetrated the most heinous crime in human history, the crucifixion of the Son of God? What is their response? Do you read in that sacred Book that they rose with fury and seized those apostles and threw them to their death off of the highest pinnacle or stoned them outside the city? No! What you read is that they were cut to the heart. They were filled with conviction and they said, "Men and brethren, what shall we do? The blood of the Son of God is on our hands, what shall we do? What shall we do?" They cried for mercy, "God forgive us. God save us." What an astonishing thing! And it isn’t half a dozen of them – three thousand of them that day – three thousand of them that day were saved and added to the church [Acts 2:37-41].
And I turn one page in the fourth chapter and there are five thousand andrōn. Andrōn is the word for man as opposed to woman – anthrōpos is the generic word for mankind – anthrōpos. Andrōn is the word for men as distinct from gunaikēs, women. There are five thousand men who are added to the faith, five thousand men in that church [Acts 4:4]. And it says, "A great company of the priests became obedient to the faith" [Acts 6:7]. That is, they took a position of openly confessing and being baptized by water as disciples of the despised Nazarene. It’s a miracle! It’s a wonder, the power of the gospel to reach hearts that are obstinate, or obdurate, or steeped in sin, or given to vitriolic and vituperative denial and opposition. It is a wonder! It is a miracle!
In my reading this week and preparing this sermon, I read of a humble preacher in a hotel lobby where was seated an infidel, loud and brazen and blasphemous.
And he said to the preacher, "You and your prayers! Let’s see you pray for me and convert me."
And the preacher in the hotel lobby knelt down by the side of blatant infidel and prayed for his soul that he might be saved.
And when he stood up the infidel laughed, "Ha, ha, ha, I’m just the same! Nothing has changed in me."
And the preacher humbly replied, "But wait. God is not done yet."
And sometime after that, that humble preacher was looking at a newspaper. And in the newspaper, from another town, there was an article about a layman, a layman who was holding a God-blessed, heaven-sent, Spirit-filled revival meeting in that town. And he looked to see, and the name of the layman who was leading that revival was that infidel that he prayed for in the hotel lobby.
In preparing this sermon, I first started to name men in this church who have been marvelously and miraculously saved. But I thought I would embarrass them if I spoke of their former lives and how they’ve changed, how God has saved them. So I decided not to name them, but he may be seated next to you. And he may be on that end of the pew where you are listening to this message. Or he may be up there by your side in the balcony.
Lectorreader monumentus circumspeces, on Christopher Wren’s tomb in St. Paul’s cathedral: Lector, "reader," if you seek a monument, look around you – circumspeces. If you want to look at the power of God unto salvation to change men’s lives, look around you. They’re everywhere, they’re everywhere. And if I were to have them stand and testify, you would be here for the hour and the day, "This did God do for my poor soul." It is a miracle. It is a wonder. The filling of the Holy Spirit, the effect He has upon sinners outside the fold of grace.
How shall I stop? The effect of the filling of the Holy Spirit of God; just one more moment, look at these people whom God added to the church. "They are continuing steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and koinonia – the fellowship, the communion – in breaking of bread, in the prayers . . . eating their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God and having favor with all of the people" [Act 2:42, 46-47]. Isn’t that just wonderful? Look at that. Look at that. That’s what a church is like when it is filled with the Spirit of God. No bickering, no quarreling, no vying, no selfish ambition.
Lord, whatever God can use me for, put me down, Lord. Be a door keeper, sweep out the floor, raise the window, knock at the door. Teach a little class of boys; make a visit. Lord, Lord, just doing it because my heart is so full of love. I have got to express it some way. So here we are; one in the faith, in the church, in the communion, in the fellowship, in the koinonia; one in Him [Ephesians 4:4-5]. It is like heaven. It is just a little colony of heaven, just like it is going to be on the other side [Philippians 3:19].
Ah, Master, fill us with the Spirit of God [Ephesians 5:18]. Do it again, Lord, and then again, and again, and again, until finally, we say, "Lord, desist, withhold Thy hand. My poor feeble frame can’t bear the weight of the glory." God do it. Do it for us.
We are going to sing our hymn of appeal and while we sing it, a family you, come. A couple you, you and your wife, come. Just one somebody you, come. "The Spirit of God has spoken to me and I feel His call in my heart and I am on the way." Make that decision now and on the first note of the first stanza, come. Do it now. Make it now. Come now and God bless you in the way as you come, as she does, while we stand and while we sing.
THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Reading of the
Text – Acts 2:1-4
measure. Looking for the word
Maybe an oversight.
Inspiration a mistake!
Look for the word next page. Then surely the next page.
In fact, discovered,
said only one time (by John)
Matt. 3:11 Gk.
en; in pages following, never referred to
Acts 1:5 Jesus
cites that one saying of John
Acts 11:16 Peter
cites the saying of Jesus about John
What word is
"filling" – Acts 2:4 – and thereafter at Samaria
The "Baptism" and
1. The "baptism"
A once-for-all ascension gift of Christ
"The promise of the Father" – outpoured at Pentecost
only in this one sense, and time – Jesus to
Thereafter, the Holy spirit Himself baptizes
He baptizes us into the body of Christ – I
If this the "baptism" then what is the "filling"?
The "filling" – The
No command, ever, for
anyone to be "baptized in the Spirit."
But a mandate, injunction, that we be "filled with the
The baptizing work of
the Holy Spirit a once-for-all operation
Cor. 12:13 ebaptisthemen (Greek)
saved, added to body of Christ. Never
Eph. 5:18 plerousthe (Greek) , continuous action, again, again
baptism; many fillings
never reach a plateau where God has nothing more for us.
The baptism is positional
Something God does for us, as writing ones name in
Book of Life
The filling is experiential.
The result of the baptism – Establishes our relationship with Christ
a fellow member of the body of Christ
The result of the filling – Acts 2:41-47
Effect of the Filling
Effect on the apostles
No longer quarrelling, ambitious, (cf. Last Supper,
who sit next to Jesus)
doubting (Thomas), afraid (Simon Peter).
They are new men. Bold,
down lives for the Lord
counted worthy to suffer
And continues to this day
Effect upon sinners
outside the church
Crying for mercy on their souls
the very men who crucified Jesus)
andron (Greek for "men") in 4:4
plus many priests, ready to
position as open, confessed, baptized followers of the
continues to this day
Effect on the converts,
disciples, after entered the church
continues to this day