Holy Spirit Baptism
John the Baptist made the claim that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit.
Matt 3:12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
John made it clear that he would not only baptize with the Holy Spirit but with fire. Many times Bible students make the mistake of thinking that Holy Spirit baptism and the baptism of fire are the same thing. With a little logic one can realize this is not true.
All Bible students know Holy Spirit Baptism is a good thing. Yet notice what the verse above said about the baptism of fire. The context goes on to show that the fire being talked about is unquenchable fire used on the chaff. Jesus will use his winnowing fan to get rid of this chaff and burn it. It should be obvious now that Holy Spirit Baptism is a blessing and baptism by fire is a punishment.
Since John said Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit, many have assumed John meant Jesus would baptize EVERYBODY with the Holy Spirit. Let's see what we find in the Bible about this.
The Bible makes it extremely clear the first time someone was going to be baptized with Holy Spirit baptism.
Acts 1:2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the APOSTLES whom he had chosen:
Acts 1:3 To whom also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:
Acts 1:4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.
Acts 1:5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
Note that I have capitalized the word apostles above to make it stick out. Luke tells us here in Acts that Jesus told his apostles they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit. He also made it clear that it would happen SOON. We then see this happen in the very next chapter of the Bible.
Acts 2:2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
Acts 2:3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Just as Jesus said, it wasn't very long before the apostles were baptized with the Holy Spirit. Jesus was crucified at the time of the Passover. He arose and was with them 40 days. We are talking about Pentecost which is 50 days after passover. The "not many days hence" that Jesus was talking about was only 10 days later.
When they were baptized with the Holy Spirit they began to speak in other tongues or languages that they had never learned. Some have argued that more than just the 12 apostles were baptized with the Holy Spirit. However, details in Acts 2 make it clear that it was only the 12 apostles. For example, only 12 people were accused of being drunk because of tongue speaking.
Acts 2:13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.
Acts 2:14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:
Acts 2:15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.
Again I emphasize that only the 12 apostles were being accused of drunkeness. That's because they were the only ones speaking in tongues.
So thus far we know that Jesus baptized the apostles with the Holy Spirit. Did he baptize any one else with Holy Spirit baptism? We move on to Acts 10 where Peter is speaking to the household of Cornelius.
Acts 10:45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Acts 10:46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
It appears that Cornelius and his household had the spirit come upon them and they began to speak with tongues. Does this remind you of anything? It sounds exactly like what happened to the apostles. Peter makes it clear that it WAS exactly what happened to the apostles. In Acts 11 we read
Acts 11:16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.
Acts 11:17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?
Acts 11:18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
Peter clearly states that this was Holy Spirit baptism. He also says it was like what happened "at the beginning". He is talking about the beginning of the church in Acts 2, when the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles. It had been between 7 and 10 years since the apostles had been baptized with the Holy Spirit. Many people had been "baptized" since then. We have examples of baptism in nearly every chapter of Acts from chapter 2 to chapter 10. However he has to refer to the day of Pentecost when the church began to show another example of Holy Spirit baptism like Cornelius and his household experienced.
I pose to you, that these are the only two examples of Holy Spirit baptism that we find in the Bible. Both were extremely important events. During the first instance the church was being established. It required a mighty sign from God to prove that the Jews should listen to these 12 men. Likewise, it took a mighty sign to show the Jews that the "gospel is for all". Cornelius and his household were the first Gentile converts who were not proselytes. The Jews would not have accepted them unless God showed by mighty signs that it was his divine will that they were accepted. Recall the visions and so forth that Peter had to have before he would even teach the gospel to them.
So I ask a question. Was John right? Did Jesus baptize with the Holy Spirit? Yes he did. He doesn't do it to everybody. He only did it two times. But he did just what John said. He baptized with the Holy Spirit.
I want you to think about one other thing Jesus said.
Some have argued that this being born of the Spirit is Holy Spirit baptism. Jesus said you cannot enter the kingdom of God unless you are born of the Spirit or are baptized, but Jesus only baptized the apostles and Cornelius household with Holy Spirit baptism. Are these the only people that he ever intended to save?
Bible students are aware that Jesus followers baptized. The apostles baptized 3,000 on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). Philip baptized (Acts 8). On and on the references go showing disciples being baptized. The Bible also makes it clear that they were baptizing in water.
Acts 8:37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
Acts 8:38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.
Acts 8:39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.
When Jesus said one could not enter the kingdom of God unless he was born of water and the Spirit, he was not talking about Holy Spirit baptism. He was talking about "water baptism". Some of the last words he said to his apostles were
Matt 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Matt 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Jesus wanted his apostles to go baptize people. In another account we read
Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
Just as Jesus had told Nicodemus in John 3, He made it clear here that if one believed and was baptized, he or she would be saved. Although it is emphatically denied by most in the religious world, the Bible (and Jesus himself) makes it clear that water baptism is a command of God that one MUST obey to enter the kingdom.
John was right when he said Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit. Just as assuredly he was right when he said that Jesus would baptize with fire. Let us keep that in mind as we work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12).