The Baptism of the Holy Spirit
August 9th, 1981 @ 10:50 AM
BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Dr. W. A. Criswell
8-9-81 10:50 a.m.
And welcome to the uncounted multitudes of you who are worshiping with us on radio and on television. This is the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and the title of the sermon is The Baptism of the Holy Spirit. In our long series of doctrinal messages on the Bible, the “Great Doctrines of the Bible,” we are in the section on pneumatology, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit.
Sunday, a week ago, we began with the subject, the Deity and the Person of the Holy Spirit; last Sunday, The Outpouring of the Holy Spirit; and this Sunday, The Baptism of the Holy Spirit. We can turn in our Bibles again to the passage that you just read, Acts chapter 2; Acts chapter 2.
And while you are turning to the passage, I might point out a little interesting cartoon that I saw in a magazine. The magazine surprised me itself. I wasn’t looking for any such thing in it. And here is the cartoon: there is a young woman standing there, and in front of her on the floor is a young man lying on his stomach poring through a book. And she is looking at him as he turns the pages of the book. And he says to her, “Don’t bother me. I’m looking for a verse of Scripture to back up one of my preconceived notions.” And that is about as pertinent to our subject this morning as any observation could ever be made, our preconceived notions.
And I pray God will help us to listen to the Word of His Spirit and the Word of His revealed truth with our minds as well as our hearts. Acts chapter 2, and I want you to keep your Bible open because we’re going through some of these truths of God revealed on the pages of this sacred Book. Acts chapter 2, the Day of Pentecost [was] fully come, and there came suddenly not only a sound from heaven as of a mighty wind, but there appeared a great lambent flame, and as it lowered it parted. In our King James Version it’s referred to as cloven; it parted, and each one present, over him burned a flame of fire. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other glōssa, glōssa” [Acts 2:1-4]. In verse 6, “Every man heard them speak in his own language” [Acts 2:6]. In verse 11, “Cretes and Arabians and all the rest, we do hear them speak in our glōssa, in our own language, mother tongue, the wonderful works of God” [Acts 2:11].
What is this that happened at Pentecost? Always they refer to this as the baptism of the Holy Spirit. They were all baptized with the Holy Spirit, and we’re baptized with the Holy Spirit [1 Corinthians 12:13]. Well, I look through the whole story, and I never find the word baptize. I don’t find it anywhere. It must have been an omission. Maybe inspiration is not as inspired as we thought it was. And maybe inerrancy is not quite as inerrant as we’ve been led to believe. Maybe infallibility is fallible after all, for I look through the passage and the story carefully, and it is never used; the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Well, surely I’ll find it on the next page. But I read the next page, and it isn’t there. But finally I know I’ll see it on this next page. And I turn to the next page, and it isn’t there. Well, maybe they forgot at Pentecost, and maybe they’ll remember what it was at Samaria. So I turn to the great revival at Samaria [Acts 8:5-8], and it isn’t mentioned there.
Well, surely it will be mentioned in Caesarea, the great opening of the door to the Gentiles [Acts 10:24-48]. I’ll find the baptism of the Holy Spirit in Caesarea, and it isn’t there. So I go through the whole Book, and it’s never mentioned. It is never referred to. Now that is an astonishing come to pass!
As I study the Bible and search the Scriptures, one time and only once in the prophecy of John the Baptist is it said that the Lord Jesus Christ, when He ascends into heaven [Acts 1:9-10], after His death, burial, and resurrection [Matthew 27:30-28:7], He will baptize the world in the Holy Spirit [John 1:33]. That prophecy is referred to by Jesus in the first chapter of the Book of Acts [Acts 1:5]. That same prophecy is referred to by Peter in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Acts [Acts 11:16]. But it is never referred to in any other place.
John the Baptist is prophesying that in death, burial, and resurrection, the picture, the meaning of baptism as the promise of the Father to Him [Luke 24:49], as Jesus describes it, He would have the privilege, the gift, the marvelous reward of baptizing, pouring out the Holy Spirit of God upon this whole world. That happened one time, the ascension gift of Christ [Acts 2:33]. And that baptism never happens again. There is one incarnation in Christ Jesus, God incarnate in Christ [Matthew 1:23-25]. There will never be another incarnation. There is one great baptism of the world in the Holy Spirit [Acts 2:16-17], and it will never happen again.
Jesus said He will be here forever [Matthew 28:20]. It is an ascension gift of Christ, the promise of the Father to Him [Luke 24:49-51]. “If You will suffer and die for the redemption of the world [Acts 2:16-17], You will be given the reward of the Holy Spirit of God poured out upon the earth” [Luke 24:49].
We live therefore in a new dispensation. We live in a new age. We live in a new era, the age of grace, the age of the Holy Spirit, the age of the preaching of the gospel. And now, in this age, it is the Holy Spirit who baptizes us into the body of Christ.
We turn now to 1 Corinthians 12:13. All of us turn to 1 Corinthians 12:13. And mark it with a pencil or with your pen, 1 Corinthians 12:13, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body,” the body of Christ, the church, “whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and we have all been made to drink into one Spirit.” By one Holy Spirit of God are we all baptized into the body of Christ. In this era, in this dispensation, the baptizer is the Holy Spirit, and He baptizes us. He joins us to the body of Christ; a once-for-all operation when we are saved [1 Corinthians 12:13].
The baptism in the Holy Spirit has to do with the church. And the Holy Spirit joins us to the body of Christ. We are baptized into the church, the body of our Lord [1 Corinthians 12:13].
Now let’s turn back to Acts chapter 2. All of us turn to Acts chapter 2. If the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a nomenclature up there in heaven, that is something that happened up there in heaven; the baptism of the Holy Spirit is an ascension gift [Luke 24:49-51]. After the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord [Matthew 27:12-28:7], God gave to Him the promise that He would send the Holy Spirit [Acts 2:17], baptize the world with the Holy Spirit, and He would abide here with us forever [John 14:16-17].
If the baptism of the Holy Spirit is the nomenclature of heaven, if that’s up there in heaven, then what is this that we experience down here in the earth? We shall read it in the divine, inspired, inerrant, infallible revelation of God.
- Acts 2, verse 4, we begin there, “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” [Acts 2:4].
- Now turn to Acts 4, verse 8; Acts 4, verse 8; Acts 4:8, “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said…”
- Now, let’s turn to 4, verse 31, verse 31; Acts 4:31, “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken wherein they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spake the word of God with boldness. And they were filled with the Holy Spirit.”
- Turn to chapter 6, verse 3; chapter 6, verse 3; Acts chapter 6, verse 3, “Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men full of the Holy Spirit” [Acts 6:3].
- In that same chapter, look at verse 5. Acts 6:5, “And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and full of the Holy Spirit.”
- Now turn to chapter 7, verse 55; chapter 7, verse 55; Acts 7:55, “And Stephen, being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up steadfastly into heaven, saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God.”
- Now turn to chapter 9, verse 17; chapter 9, verse 17, and Ananias came to Brother Saul, Paul of Tarsus, and said unto him, “Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit” [Acts 9:17].
- Now turn to chapter 11, verse 24; chapter 11, verse 24; 11, verse 24, “For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith” [Acts 11:24].
- Now turn to chapter 13, verse 9; chapter 13, verse 9; Acts 13:9, “Then Saul, (who is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Spirit, said….”
No need to go any further. There’s no exception to that. It is always that, “Filled with the Holy Spirit of God.”
“Well pastor, then what is the difference between the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the filling of the Holy Spirit?”
One: we are never, ever commanded to be baptized with the Holy Spirit, never. You would think according to some preconceived notions that there would be in the Bible exhortation after exhortation and plea after plea that we be baptized with the Holy Spirit. There is no such thing in the Bible. We are never, ever commanded to be baptized with the Holy Spirit. But we are commanded and we are mandated to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 5:18, “Be ye filled with the Holy Spirit.”
All right, number two: the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a once-for-all operation of God, when we are added to the body of Christ, one time in your life. Just as there was one time that the blessed, ascended Savior poured out, baptized the world in the Holy Spirit, so there is one time and one time only that you are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ [1 Corinthians 12:13]. Then we are filled again and again and again. Now let us look at this.
Turn again to 1 Corinthians 12:13; 1 Corinthians 12:13; 1 Corinthians 12:13. We are never commanded to be baptized by the Holy Spirit. We are commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Now we are baptized by the Holy Spirit one time in our lives when we are saved; we are added to the body of Christ, we are baptized into the body of Christ [1 Corinthians 12:13]. Now the passage, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body,” into the body of Christ, into the church [1 Corinthians 12:13].
Now that word, let’s look at it carefully, ebaptisthēmen. That’s an aorist indicative, passive from the Greek word baptizō, to baptize. Ebaptisthēmen, an aorist; an aorist tense, one time, it is an aorist. An aorist always refers to one thing that has happened one time. For by one Spirit at a spot, at a time, whenever you were converted, at that moment, one time only were we baptized into the body of Christ [1 Corinthians 12:13]. When I’m saved, I am baptized into the body of Christ, a one time, once for all and forever experience.
Now turn to Ephesians 5:18, Ephesians 5:18. The fifth chapter of Ephesians and the eighteenth verse: “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” Plērousthe, present, indicative, continuous action, “Be filled with the Spirit.” The baptizing was an aorist, one time in your life, one time, a once-for-all time, a one time and forever time.
You are not added to the body of Christ and then taken out, and then added, and then taken out, and taken out. Like a fellow gets his hand chopped off and then put it back on, or his foot chopped off and put back on, or your head chopped off and put back on. When you’re added to the body of Christ, you’re added there forever. One time in your life, you’re added to the body of Christ, and that’s a forever operation [1 Corinthians 12:13].
Now, “Be filled with the Holy Spirit” [Ephesians 5:18]. That is a present indicative, continuous action. “Be—keep on being—continuously filled with the Holy Spirit.” We’re to be filled with the Holy Spirit again, and again, and again, and again, and again. So we can say that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is positional [1 Corinthians 12:13]. It is something God does for us. I couldn’t do that. All the king’s men couldn’t do that. It is something God does for us. It’s like writing our names in the Book of Life. God does that [Luke 10:20, Revelation 20:15].
When we are converted, God adds us to the church. God baptizes us into the body of Christ. God does it. It is positional. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is something God does for us. It places us in a relationship in Christ. God does it.
The filling is experiential [Ephesians 5:18]. Dear me, we praise God, our hearts overflowing. We’re happy in Him. We feel His presence and His grace and His power, and it is again and again and again and again: the filling of the Holy Spirit.
One other thing: the difference between the baptism and the filling. The baptism is something that God does for all believers, all of them. There is no such thing as an elite class, a first-class citizenship in the church. We are all baptized into the body of Christ. You look at that word “all” in that passage, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into the body of Christ” [1 Corinthians 12:13]. And in Galatians 3:26-27, “For ye are all the children of God”; we have all been baptized into Christ, and “We have all put on Christ.”
It is for all of us. There is no such thing as this special group over here. “They are the elite. They are the chosen few. They are the unusually blessed. They’ve been baptized with the Holy Spirit, and these haven’t been baptized with the Holy Spirit.” God never thought of anything like that. It was just somebody down here that thought that up. God never thought of anything like that. All of us alike, all of us are baptized into the body of Christ when we are converted, when we are saved. It is a once-for-all operation [1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:26-27].
Now, let me point out, if I may, there are two things that happen when you’re converted, when you’re saved. Two things happen to you, to me, when we’re saved. Number one: Jesus comes into our hearts. That’s the first thing. He comes into our souls and He makes His home in us. Revelation 3:20 says of our Lord, “Behold, I stand at the door”—of your heart, and of your life, and of your house and your home and your business—”Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: and if anyone will hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in, and sup with him, and he with Me.” “I will be your friend and counselor and Savior and fellow pilgrim.” Jesus comes into our hearts when we’re saved, when we’re converted, when we open the door and invite Him in. There is a hymn like that:
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 doubtings 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,” Leila N. Morris, 1898]
That’s the first thing that happens when we’re saved. Jesus comes into our hearts.
There is a second thing that happens when we’re saved: we are placed in Christ. Turn to that passage now in Galatians 3:26-27; Galatians 3:26-27, “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus,” accepting Him as our Savior. And all of you who have done that, you have been converted, you’ve accepted the Lord; you’ve opened your heart to the Lord, and He has come into your heart. All of you who have done that have been baptized into Christ [Galatians 3:27]. You have been placed in Christ. You have been joined to the body of Christ, and “you have put on Christ” [Galatians 3:27].
Now, that word, “You have put on Christ” is fine. There’s nothing wrong with that translation. Only thing is, the Greek that he wrote there is far more vivid. Enedusasthe is an aorist, indicative middle of enduō; which means to clothe one’s self, to wear clothing. Enduma refers to clothing, a garment. Enduement comes from that. A man has a great enduement, endowment, enduma, clothing. Endusis refers to the wearing of clothing. So what he says here, all of us who have been converted, we have been baptized into Christ [1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:26-27]. We’ve been added to the body of Christ, and he puts it another way. Enedusasthe, we have been clothed with Christ [Galatians 3:27]. We are in Christ as we are in our clothes.
I would be very ashamed if I were not here in my clothes. The Book of the Revelation speaks of those who have departed and have rejected Christ and their shame appears [Revelation 16:15]. They are walking naked. I would be very ashamed to stand here without my clothes. Thank God for clothes. It sure hides a whole lot of ugliness, I tell you. Clothes help us look better, man alive!
That is the exact thing that he is saying here, the vividness of the imagery of that Greek word, enedusasthe. All of us who have accepted Christ have been baptized into Christ, and we have been placed in Christ [Galatians 3:27]. We have been clothed with Christ. Like a man is in his clothes, he is in Christ. Now, may I show that in the Scriptures in one other way?
All of us turn to John 14; John 14:20; John 14; John 14:20. Look at that verse: “Ye in Me, and I in you.” John 14:20, “Ye in Me, and I in you. I in you.” That is your conversion. When Jesus comes into the heart, into the house, into the home, into the life, into our labor, into our business, into our dreams, and into our prayers, into our hopes, into every effort—when Jesus comes in, “I in you,” that’s when we are wonderfully saved and Jesus comes into our hearts [Revelation 3:20]. And He lives there in our hearts; “I in you” [John 14:20].
Now the other: “And ye in Me” [John 14:20]. That is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. That is the enedusasthe. That is the clothing of Christ. We are in Him, and in Him forever, saved forever [John 17:23].
The discussion of that—and sometimes you might read it, such as this afternoon in a quiet moment, reading the fifth and the sixth chapters of the Book of Romans—we are now in the old Adam and in this world of death [1 Corinthians 15:22]. But the Holy Spirit lifts us up and He places us in Christ [1 Corinthians 12:13], in a new world, a new hope, a new dream, and a new life, and a new pilgrimage and a new way, everything is new. We’re born again! [John 3:1-8].
It’s a beautiful thing that God says He does for us. “I in you,” when Jesus comes into my heart; and “we in Christ” when the Holy Spirit places us in the Lord [John 14:20], when we’re baptized into the body of Christ, when we’re added to the Lord Jesus, when we’re clothed in His glory, and righteousness, and love, and grace; that is what God has done for us [John 14:20].
Now, my time’s almost gone. Seems to me just as I get started, it’s time to quit. Man, I could hope it seems that to you. I’d hate to think you all sit out there and think, “I don’t believe he’s ever going to stop.” May I summarize what I have tried to say and the teaching of the Holy Word? May I summarize it for us?
Number one: the need of all men everywhere is regeneration, to be born again, to be added to the family of God, to be in Christ [2 Corinthians 5:17]. By nature we are in the old Adam. By nature we are unregenerate. By nature we are lost and condemned [Ephesians 2:12]. We have to be born into the family of God [John 3:3]. We have to be added to the family of God [Galatians 4:5]. The Holy Spirit must regenerate us, and the Holy Spirit must add us to the body of Christ, all men everywhere [Titus 3:5].
A second observation: the power of the Holy Spirit of God is absolutely invincible, and immeasurable, and infinite in His ableness to convict, and to convert, and to save, and to lead into new birth and into regeneration in every area of human life [Romans 8:11]. It is a miracle! It is a wonder!
In Jerusalem, those were Jewish people. The mother church, the first church was altogether Jewish. And the power of the Holy Spirit formed and framed as they were converted and added to the body of Christ, that first congregation and family of the Lord [Acts 2:41, 47]. The Samaritans were half-breeds and were despised and hated. And the same marvelous thing happened there; the saving power of the Holy Spirit to take a people and to add them to the family of God [Acts 8:5-8, 14-17]. It’s a miracle.
And the same thing happened in Ephesus, an idolatrous city of the first order and kind [Acts 20:17-28]. And the same thing happened in Corinth, the most wicked of all the ancient Greek cities [1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:1]. To Corinthanize was a common word referring to debase. A Corinthian was a debauched and debased person. And out of that debauchery and idolatry, the power of the Holy Spirit formed a household of faith and a family of God [2 Corinthians 1:21-22]. There is no one, no people anywhere in the earth but can be changed by the power of the Holy Spirit of God.
In my reading, there was an infidel who was being invited to the Lord by a devout, humble preacher. And the infidel scoffed at him. And the preacher wanted to pray for him. So the infidel said, “Why, just fine, won’t do you any good, just pray for me.” So the preacher knelt down and humbly asked the Holy Spirit of God to convert his heart. When he got through praying, the infidel laughed.
“Ha, ha, ha. Isn’t that what I told you,” he said. “I’m just the same. I’m just the same.”
And the humble preacher replied, “But, sir, give God time. He is not done yet!”
And in the days that followed after in another city, some were reading a newspaper. And in that other city, there was a great revival meeting being led by a layman. And the layman was that infidel. You never know. You never know. The power of God to change a life, or to change a civilization, or to change a culture, or to change a city, or to change a family, the power of God is invincible!
A third observation: the appeal of the Holy Spirit is to no particular class or to no particular one. The appeal of the Holy Spirit to repentance, and to conversion, and to faith and salvation is universal [John 3:16, 16:8]. That was the miracle of the church in the Roman Empire. By the side of an aristocrat was a slave that he owned. They were brothers in the Lord. Such as Paul writes to Philemon saying, “This Onesimus, your bond slave that ran away, I am sending back to you no longer a slave, but as a brother beloved” [Philemon 1:10-16]. It is addressed to all men everywhere, all men alike.
A learned professor may be a Nobel Prize winner in physics, or in chemistry, or in medicine. The Holy Spirit of God makes appeal to that academician. And the same Spirit of God will make appeal to a degraded Patagonian or an Australian aborigine. It is a wonder! It is a miracle, the moving, wooing Spirit of God to all men everywhere! There is no one class, or there’s no elite, or there is no one chosen, or there is no one race or family or tribe; all men, everywhere feeling the tug and the Spirit of the wooing invitation of God.
And a last observation, the response is always the same, always. Whether in a Galileo, or whether in a Constantine, the Caesar of the Roman Empire, or whether in those degraded tribes, some of whom I have seen and to whom I have preached the gospel; it is the same. When the Holy Spirit appeals to the heart, there is conviction, there is repentance, there is acceptance, there is faith in Christ; there is a public confession, a glad owning of the goodness of God in the blessed Lord Jesus [Romans 10:9-10]. And there is a baptism in water [Matthew 28:19-20] which is a figure and a symbol of the baptism of the Holy Spirit [1 Peter 3:21], adding us to the body of Christ.
Whether it be an Ethiopian eunuch, “See here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” “You can if you believe.” And he replies, “I have believed in the Lord” [Acts 8:36-37]. Or whether it be a Philippian jailer [Acts 16:25-31], or whether it be the Caesar of the empire, all alike respond in the same way. “I accept Jesus as my Savior. I confess Him openly and publicly, and I want to be baptized”; a picture of our baptism into the body of Christ when we accept Jesus as our Lord [Romans 6:3-5], a beautiful faith, a precious doctrine, and a marvelous experience [1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 4:5].
Now may we stand together? Our wonderful Lord in heaven who baptized this world, who poured out upon this world the Holy Spirit [Acts 2:26], who comes into our hearts [Revelation 3:20], who adds us to the body of Christ [1 Corinthians 12:13], and who fills us again, and again, and again, and again with His presence [Ephesians 5:18], sometimes so full we cannot contain ourselves, we weep in joy, or we shout in gladness, or we cry in exaltation, filled with the Holy Spirit of God, sometimes alone with the doors shut, down on our knees, and the Holy Spirit of God overflows. Sometimes in a church service, when we can hardly contain ourselves, we are so glad and so happy in Him. O Lord, in how many ways and how many times and how many places have we been filled with the Spirit? [Ephesians 5:18]. And thank Thee, Lord, for that one time when I was baptized into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit of God and added to the church [1 Corinthians 12:3]. O Lord, God be praised for His wondrous goodnesses to us.
While our people wait and pray, a family you, come. A couple you, answer with your life. Or one somebody you, “This day is the day of decision and rejoicing and gladness for me. Here I stand, pastor, I am coming.” Make the decision now in your heart, and in this moment when we sing, answer with your life. Down one of those stairways, down one of these aisles, “Here I am, pastor, I’m on the way.” Thank Thee, Lord, for the sweet harvest, in Thy saving name, amen. While we sing, and welcome.