The Baptism of the Holy Spirit
August 9th, 1981 @ 8:15 AM
THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Dr. W. A. Criswell
8-9-81 8:15 a.m.
We welcome the multitudes of you who are listening and sharing this hour with us here in the First Baptist Church of Dallas, on radio. This is the pastor bringing the message entitled, The Baptism of the Holy Spirit. In our long doctrinal series, we are in the section on pneumatology, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Sunday before last was the first message, entitled The Deity and the Person of the Holy Spirit. Last Sunday was The Outpouring of the Spirit. And today, The Baptism of the Spirit.
Now, I pray all of you will open a Bible and turn to Acts, chapter 2, the passage that we just read together. Acts, chapter 2, and then keep your Bible open because there are several passages that I pray you will mark in your Bible as we deliver the sermon this morning on the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Before I read the passage, in a magazine, one that I’d never suspect for, in a magazine I cut out this cartoon. There is a young woman standing in the background, and apparently her husband is lying on his stomach with an open 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.” That’s just a little introduction.
And I don’t know of any study in the Bible that is more afflicted with preconceived notions than the subject of our message this morning.
When the Day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind; it filled all the house.
There appeared unto them tongues that separated
The word in the King James Version is “cloven.”
a great fire—looked like fire—came down from heaven, and as it came down it parted—and it sat upon each of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other glossa
Do you see that in verse 4, glossa? Now you have that thing described in verse 6 as languages.
When this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded because that every man heard them speak in his own language.
All right, look at verse 11: “Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our glossa the wonderful works of God” [Acts 2:11]. So it is a language by which they are magnifying the Lord.
Well, when I read this, I’m looking for the word “baptize,” the baptism of the Holy Spirit. And I’m looking for the word “baptize,” but it’s not in the passage. It’s not referred to. It’s not mentioned. Well, it must be an oversight. There must be some mistake. Maybe the writer is not as inspired as we thought he was, because we’re looking for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Maybe inerrancy is not so inerrant, and maybe the revelation is not as fully revealed as we have supposed for. Well, maybe they made a mistake on that page, so I’ll turn the page, and I’ll find the baptism of the Holy Spirit on the next page.
Well, I turn the page, and there’s no reference to any baptism of the Holy Spirit on the next page. Well, surely it will be on the next one, or the next one, and I don’t find it on any page. Well, if it wasn’t at Jerusalem, it is bound to be at Samaria, so I turn to Samaria, and it’s not in Samaria [Acts 8:5-25]. Well, it just has to be, so I turn to the experience at Caesarea, and it’s not mentioned at Caesarea [Acts 10:1-48]. And I turn through the whole book, and it’s not mentioned anywhere; never referred to.
Then when I study the Holy Scriptures, I learn that in one instance in the Bible, in a prophecy by John the Baptist, John the Baptist said that after the death and the burial and the resurrection of Christ, figured in His baptism, that He, Jesus, would pour out the Holy Spirit of God upon the earth, that He would baptize the world in the Spirit of holiness, that it was the promise of the Father when He ascended into heaven, a once-for-all gift, an ascension gift, He would pour out, He would baptize the whole world in the Holy Spirit [Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16]. And that’s the only time it is mentioned. The Lord Jesus refers to that prophecy of John in the first chapter of Acts [Acts 1:4-5], and the apostle Peter refers to that prophecy of John in the eleventh chapter of Acts [Acts 11:16], and that’s all.
Jesus, in the prophecy of John, in a once-for-all gift, ascension gift, when He returned back unto heaven after His death, burial, and resurrection, He poured out the Holy Spirit of God upon the earth [Matthew 3:11]. That is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It is a once-for-all pouring out. Just as you will never have the incarnation of God again, it was one time, in Jesus Christ. So you will never have a baptism of the Holy Spirit by the Lord Jesus but one time, and that happened when He poured out the Spirit of holiness on the whole world at Pentecost [Acts 2:1-4].
Well, what is it now that is happening? We have entered a new dispensation. We now live in the age of grace, in the age of the Holy Spirit of God [Titus 2:11]. And in this new age, the Holy Spirit is the baptizer, and He baptizes us into the body of Christ. He places us into the body of Christ. He joins us to Jesus [1 Corinthians 12:13].
Now turn to 1 Corinthians 12:13, and with a pencil or a pen, mark this passage; 1 Corinthians, chapter 12, verse 13; 1 Corinthians 12:13:
For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body—the body of Jesus, the church of our Lord—whether we be Jews or Gentiles, bond or free: we have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
We are baptized by the Spirit now into the body of Christ, a once-for-all operation. When I am saved, when I am converted, I am baptized into the body of Christ. And in this age of grace and of the Holy Spirit of God, in this day of regeneration and the preaching of the gospel, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is, He baptizes us. The Holy Spirit baptizes us. He places us into the body of Christ [1 Corinthians 12:13].
Now let’s turn back to Acts 2. Turn back to Acts, chapter 2. If this word, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, is a heavenly thing when it refers to Christ, if Jesus, as an ascension gift, the promise of the Father to Him, that if He would die for our sins, He should have the gift of pouring out His Spirit upon the earth, if that is a heavenly, heavenly nomenclature, the baptism of the Spirit on the part of Jesus, He baptized the world when He poured out the fullness of His Spirit after He ascended into heaven. And it came to pass at Pentecost [Acts 2:1-4]. If that, the baptism of the Holy Spirit on the part of Jesus, is up there in heaven, and He poured out the promise of the Father, then what is this experience we have down here in the earth? What is that?
All right, we’re going to see what it is. There is a word used to describe it, and it happens again, and again, and again, and again.
- Now turn in your Bible to Acts 2, verse 4. Look at the word that is used. Acts 2:4: “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.”
- All right, turn to Acts chapter 4:8. Acts 4:8. Look at that word again. Acts chapter 4, verse 8: “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said unto them.”
- Now look at chapter 4, verse 31; chapter 4, verse 31: “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” [Acts 4:31].
- Now turn to chapter 6, verse 3; chapter 6, verse 3: “Wherefore, brethren—chapter 6, verse 3—look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Spirit” [Acts 6:3].
- Now look at chapter 6, verse 5: “And the saying pleased the multitude: and they chose . . . Philip, a man full of faith and full of the Holy Spirit” [Acts 6:3,5].
- Now turn to chapter 7, verse 55, chapter 7, verse 55: “This man Stephen, being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God” [Acts 7:55].
- Now turn to chapter 9, verse 17; chapter 9, verse 17, and Ananias came to this Paul that we know and said to 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—baptized with the Holy Spirit? Why, certainly not—be filled with the Holy Spirit” [Acts 9:17].
- Now turn to Acts, chapter 11; Acts chapter 11, verse 24; Acts 11:24: “For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith.”
- Now turn to Acts13, verse 9; Acts 13:9: “Then Saul, who is called Paul, being filled with the Holy Spirit.”
What is the word? There’s no exception to it. There’s no deviation from it. They haven’t made a mistake in the Bible. God hasn’t erred. The inerrantist has not fallen into blunder. The Holy Spirit has inspired these men. The revelation of God is full and clear. “Filled with the Spirit, filled with the Spirit.” Again and again and again, “Filled with the Spirit.”
Well, what is the difference between the baptism of the Spirit and the filling of the Spirit? We shall find a clear answer from the Word of God.
There is never any command to be baptized in the Spirit or be baptized with the Spirit. There’s no such thing. There is never any command, there’s never any mandate to be baptized with the Spirit. According to these preconceived notions of ours, you would think that in the inspired Word of God there would be exhortation after exhortation and plea after plea to be baptized in the Spirit. No. There’s nothing approaching such a thing, but we are mandated and we are commanded to be filled with the Spirit. That’s exactly the command that the apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:18, “Be ye filled with the Spirit.”
All right, a second thing: the difference between the baptism and the filling. The baptism is a once-for-all operation by which the Holy Spirit baptizes us into, places us into the body of Christ when we are converted [1 Corinthians 12:13], and the filling of the Spirit is an experience again and again and again and again.
Now we’re going to look at that. Turn to that passage that you marked a while ago, 1 Corinthians 12:13; 1 Corinthians 12:13; 1 Corinthians 12:13, “For by one Spirit”—now, that word there translated—“are we all baptized into one body,” ebaptisthēmen. It’s an aorist indicative passive. It was done one spot at one time. It’s an aorist. It’s a passive. The subject is acted on, and it was back there at one time, “For by one Spirit”—one time—“we were all baptized into the body of Christ” [1 Corinthians 12:13].
All right, now let’s turn to Ephesians 5:18, Ephesians 5:18, “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit,” plērousthe—it’s a present imperative, continuous action—“but keep on being filled with the Spirit.” Ebaptisthēmen, one time we are baptized into the body Christ [1 Corinthians 12:13]; plērousthe, present imperative, continuous action, “Be filled with the Spirit” [Ephesians 5:18].
All right, number three: the difference between the baptism and the filling. The baptism is positional. It has to do with our relationship in the body of Christ. It is something God does. We have nothing to do with it at all. It is positional. It is something God does.
When I am converted, when I am saved, I am added to the body of Christ [1 Corinthians 12:27]. A like thing expressed in a different way is, God writes my name in the Lamb’s Book of Life [Luke 10:20; Revelation 20:15, 21:27]. I have nothing to do with that at all. When I’m saved, God does that for me. He writes my name in the Book of Life. He establishes my relationship with Jesus. He places me in the body of our Lord. It is positional. It is something God does for us when I’m saved.
The filling of the Holy Spirit is experiential. Dear me, at Pentecost they spoke with other languages [Acts 2:4-8]. They were filled with joy and praise. They met together in a loving relationship, all kinds of people, Jew and Gentile, bond and free, slaves and the man that owned the slave, the high and the low, the educated and the uneducated, the wise and the unwise, men and women, male and female. It is a marvelous thing, the filling of the Holy Spirit, the presence and the moving of the Holy Spirit.
All right, one other difference: all of us, all of us have been baptized with the Holy Spirit [1 Corinthians 12:13]. There is no elite among us. When we’re saved, all of us belong to the body of Christ. Now turn to Galatians, chapter 3, verses 26 and 27. Galatians 3:26-27: “For ye are all, 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.”
Do you see that word “all” there? “For ye are all the children of God” [Galatians 3:26]. You’ve been baptized into Christ. You see that word “all” again, you don’t need to turn to it, you’ve already marked it in 1 Corinthians 12:13, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body.”
Now that’s remarkable when you look at it. There never was a church that I ever heard of in my life that ever had more divisiveness and more carnality and more trouble than the church at Corinth. They had members there where a fellow lived with his father’s wife [1 Corinthians 5:12-13]. I don’t see much of that going on, do you? But it went on in Corinth. The word Corinthianize means to carnalize, and yet Paul says they all were baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ, all of them. There’s no certain elect or select or first class citizens in the kingdom of God, and these have been baptized and these haven’t. Ah, there’s no such preconceived idea like that in the Bible. All of us have been baptized into the body of Christ if we’ve been saved [1 Corinthians 12:13].
Now the filling of the Spirit is just according to how much we’ll yield, each one of us. When we were saved, we were baptized, we were added to, we were placed in the body of Christ [1 Corinthians 12:13]. It has to do with the church, the body of our Lord, and being baptized, a once-for-all operation. Then I can have the Spirit without measure [John 3:34], just as much as I’m yielded and willing. If I’ll give up this selfishness, and this carnality, and this grasping, and this ill-temperedness, and this sin, and this vice, and this weakness, if I’ll just give it up and let Jesus have me, let the Holy Spirit of God have me, there’s no limit. We never reach a plateau beyond which God doesn’t have anything else for us. As we grow in grace, and in the knowledge of the Lord, and in the spirit and likeness of our wonderful Savior, we can be filled with the Holy Spirit. He will take this section of our hearts, and He will take this piece of our lives, and He will take this area in our business, or in our homes, or in our dreams and visions, and the Holy Spirit of God will just fill every area of our lives, if we will just open the floodgates and let Him come in.
Now I want to show you that again in a little different way, in a little different verse. I want you to turn to the fourteenth chapter of John and keep it open there for just a second; the fourteenth chapter of John, John chapter 14. Now, just keep it open there for a moment, and I’m going to expound a truth of the Scripture, then we’re going to look at it.
When I am saved, when I am converted, when I am regenerated [John 3:3-7], there are two things that happen to me. The first thing that happens to me is, Jesus comes into my heart. That’s the first thing that happens to me. Jesus comes into my life. He comes into my house. He comes into my home. He comes into my business. I’m somebody else, I’m new [2 Corinthians 5:17]. I’ve been saved. That’s the first thing, and it’s a wonderful thing. It’s a glorious experience, when we accept Jesus into our hearts.
Revelation 3:20, He says, “Behold, I stand at the door of your heart and of your life, and I knock: if you hear Me, and will open the door, I will come in,” and we will sup together, we will fellowship together; we will solve every problem together, we will pilgrimage together; we will walk through the gates of heaven together. That’s the first thing that happens when I am saved, Jesus comes into my heart.
Do you remember that song?
If you’re 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.
That’s the first thing that happens to us.
All right, the second thing that happens to us: God, the Holy Spirit, places us in Christ. Now look at my verse, John 14:20. Do you see that? “Ye in Me, and I in you” [John 14:20]. “I in you,” that’s what happens when Jesus comes into our hearts and into our lives, into our business, into our homes, into our pilgrimage, into our dreams and prayers, “I in you.”
All right, look at the other, “And ye in Me” [John 14:20]. That’s what the Holy Spirit does with us, He places us in Christ, in the body of our Lord. Now I want you to see that in a wonderful way. I want you to turn to that passage in Galatians chapter 3 again; Galatians, chapter 3. Look at verse 26 and 27 again. I want you to see this, how the Holy Spirit places us in Christ. Galatians 3:26-27: “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.” Now that word “put on” doesn’t quite express the vividness of that word, enedusasthe. It’s an aorist. It’s the middle, it’s indicative of endeuō. Now, endeuō means “to clothe oneself, to be clothed.” The middle voice means “to clothe oneself,” endeuo, to put on your clothes. Endeuma, and our word “enduement” comes from that. “Enduement” means clothing or a garment. Endeuses means “a wearing of clothes,” so he uses that word endusasthe, an aorist middle, “As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” [Galatians 3:27], have been put in Christ, like a man is in his clothes.
Do you see me this morning? I am in my clothes. I need to be. I couldn’t think about standing here without them. I’d be very embarrassed. I’m in my clothes. That is the exact thing about a child of God. When he’s baptized into the body of Christ, he is in Christ as a man is in his clothes. That’s what the Greek says exactly, we are in Christ, and we would be naked and hopeless without Him. Like the Revelation says, we would be ashamed, we would walk in shame [Revelation 3:18]. Without Jesus, we would be ashamed. But we are in the Lord, and that is what the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit does for us, it places us in Christ [1 Corinthians 12:13], just as I am in my clothes. It is a vivid picture.
Now let me summarize. I don’t know where the time goes. Let me summarize. One: all men everywhere are in need of regeneration [John 3:3,7]. By nature, we are not in the family of God. By nature, we are not in Christ. By nature, we are in old Adam, and we belong to a generation of death [1 Corinthians 15:22]. By nature, we are lost. But the Holy Spirit of God, when He regenerates us, He takes us out of the old Adam and puts us into the new Adam [1 Corinthians 15:22]. He takes us out of the old generation of death, and He places us in the generation of life. He takes us out of the world [1 Thessalonians 4:13-17] that is condemned and places us in the new heaven and in the new earth that will last forever [Revelation 20:1-4, 21:1-7]. By nature, we are all lost and condemned, all of us [Galatians 3:22], and we need regenerating, we need lifting up out of death and placed into Christ [1 Corinthians 12:13], who is the way, the truth, and the life [John 14:6].
All right, number two: an observation. There is no limit. It is limitless, the power of the Holy Spirit of God to change men, to convert them, to lift them out of death and place them in the marvelous way and pilgrimage of life. There is no limit to the Holy Spirit of God.
Why, my brother, do you realize it was a Jewish city in which the church was born? [Acts 2]. Do you realize it was a hated half-breed city in which the Spirit was poured out in Samaria? [Acts 8:15-17]. Do you realize it was an idolatrous Ephesus [Acts 19:1-12] and a corinthianized Corinth where God planted His colonies of heaven? [Acts 18:1-11]. There is no limit to the power of the Holy Spirit to convict and to convert, and to add to the kingdom of Jesus [John 16:7-11].
There was an infidel who said to a preacher, “Why, get down there if you want to and pray for me. That’s what you want to do. Won’t do you any good.” So the preacher got down by the side of the infidel and prayed for him. And when he finished his prayer, the infidel said, “Ha, ha, ha, ha. Isn’t that what I told you? I’m just the same. I’m just the same.” And the preacher humbly replied, “But wait, give God time. He is not done yet.”
Did you know, upon a time after that, open a newspaper, and there was a newspaper account of a layman holding a great revival meeting in another city, and the layman was that infidel. There’s no limit. He is omnipotent, and anybody can be wonderfully changed and wonderfully saved [Acts 2:21].
All right, a third observation: the outpouring of the Spirit of God is universal [1 Corinthians 12:13]. It isn’t just these select people here, or these elect ones there. It is everywhere. That learned professor, gifted in chemistry, or physics, or history, or any of the sciences, and maybe scoffing at the idea of God, may turn out to be the most marvelous teacher of Jesus in the university. And at the same time that the Holy Spirit of God is convicting that learned academician, at the same time the Holy Spirit of God may be working in the heart of the most degraded of the Patagonians, down there in South America or in the heart of an aborigine in the heart of Australia; universal, universal.
And a last observation: the response to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit is always the same [John 16:7-11]. Whether in the elite professor or in the degraded Patagonian, it always is the same, and it is the same in all of us. There is conviction in the heart, “I ought to give my life to God. I ought to repent. I ought to find in Christ a Savior.” He always leads us to Jesus. And it is followed by an open confession of faith. And the open confession of faith is exemplified in being baptized, “See, here is water. I want to be baptized. Thou mayest if you believe with all your heart” [Acts 8:36-38], and whether it’s the Ethiopian eunuch, or the Philippian jailer [Acts 16:30-33], or a Caesar as Constantine, or the most glorious scientist as Galileo, all of us are alike, our expression and our response is always the same. In repentance and in faith [Acts 20:20-21], we come confessing our Lord Jesus who is come to live in our hearts [Ephesians 3:17]. Dear people, it’s a great doctrine and a sweet, wonderful one and we just let the Word of God speak to us and reveal to us the way of life. Now may we stand together?
Our Lord, honor the preaching of Thy Word with a gracious harvest. May some come forward this holy hour, “Pastor, the Spirit has spoken to me, and I’m answering with my life.” Out of the balcony, down a stairway, in the press of people on this lower floor, down an aisle, “Here I come, pastor, putting my life in the church [Hebrews 10:26-25], or giving my heart in faith to Jesus [Romans 10:8-13].” Thank Thee, Lord, for the precious response, in Thy saving name, amen. While we sing, welcome. Come, and welcome.