We have seen how the church developed in personnel from the calling of the apostles to "the church which was at Jerusalem," composed of several thousand followers. They have been scattered abroad and have gone everywhere preaching the Word. We have seen also how the commission has developed from the first charge to carry to the Jews the message of the Kingdom to the world-wide preaching of the gospel through the churches. Before we proceed to the close of the period of revelation for the churches, we should bring up to date the progressive manifestation of the Holy Spirit. This we shall do as briefly as possible.
PROGRESSIVE MANIFESTATION OF THE SPIRIT
In the Old Testament age, the Spirit was not an abiding presence in the believer as He is today, but rather came upon whom He would, apparently without reference to conditions in them and for special reasons in keeping with the purpose of God at particular seasons. Examples of this are abundant. He was in the creation (Gen. 1:2). When God dealt with the world of Noah, the Spirit was striving with men (Gen. 6:3), doubtlessly through Noah. It seems that He was upon the leaders of Israel and not in each individual person. He was "upon" Saul (I Sam. 10:10) and left him (16:14), He came upon David (16:13), was "upon" the messengers of Saul (19:20). He was in or "upon" Samson (Judges 13:25, 14:6 et al.), and Samson knew not when the Lord departed from him (16:20). The prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit to speak the Word of God (II Pet. 1:21); the Spirit of the Lord "fell upon" Ezekiel (Ezek. 11:5); and so on we could go with other references in the Old Testament.
In the New Testament, there is for a little while a continued manifestation of the Holy Spirit similar to that which characterized the Old Testament revelation. Elizabeth was filled with the Spirit (Luke 1:41), so was Zacharias (1:67); Simeon had a revelation by the Spirit, for the Holy Spirit was "upon" him
(2:25, 26); and John the Baptist was "filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb" (1:15). This John prophesied that Jesus would baptize His disciples with (or in) the Holy Ghost (3:16 et al.). When Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in a bodily shape like a dove (3:22). He was full of the Holy Spirit (4:1). Jesus prophesied of the blessing of the Spirit through the symbol of "living water" and specified what He meant in John 7:38-39: "But this he spake of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Spirit was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified." This seems to imply quite plainly that the Holy Spirit would not be given until He was glorified. When Jesus was in the synagogue at Nazareth, He read the portion from Isaiah which He said referred to Him and was fulfilled at this moment: "The Spirit of the Lord, is upon me. . . ."
Like the leaders of the Old Testament, Jesus was the one on whom the Spirit came and in whom He dwelt for that period of our Lord's ministry until Pentecost. The Spirit was not in the disciples but with or among them, doubtlessly in the person of Jesus (John 14:17). It is in this chapter that we find Jesus beginning His teaching about the Holy Spirit, and it is without doubt in view of the Spirit's coming that He promises them that they who believe on Him shall do greater works than those which He has done (v. 12). He calls the Spirit the Comforter, and He tells them that this Comforter will "abide with you forever" (v. 16). In the 26th verse He tells them that this Comforter will teach them all things and bring to their remembrance all things whatsoever he has said unto them (cf. Acts 11:16). This is the inspired help they will receive in writing the story of His life and ministry as well as other revelations which the Spirit will give. Again, He tells them that this Comforter will "testify of me" (15:26). In 16:18 He tells them what will be the Spirit's work to the world -- "reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment." In verses 12ff., He tells them that they cannot bear more of His teaching now, but that when the Spirit is come He will guide them into all truth. This Spirit is to talk about Jesus and what Jesus wants them to know (vs.13-15).
After the resurrection, when Jesus appeared to the apostles with Thomas absent (John 20:1-23), He breathed on them "and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost." Many think that
here the ten apostles received the Holy Spirit. We cannot say, but if they did, it was out of keeping with the stated promise. He had said that the Spirit could not come upon them until He was glorified. There is no evidence that the Spirit came here upon the apostles to abide, for the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost was just as much of a great moment for them as it was for any others present. It is our opinion that this was for the apostles a foretaste of the Spirit, that is, a sort of effervescing of the Spirit from Him upon them. In other words, just as we have in moments of great revival felt the "mysterious influence" (as some have expressed it) of the Spirit, or as others have put it, "the presence of the Spirit," we believe that here the Spirit in Him could have made them conscious of the divine presence. However, it might have been a prophetic utterance of that which was to come to them "not many days hence."
It was the Spirit of God that raised Jesus up from the dead (I Pet. 3: 18). While this is the outstanding experience of our Saviour, we must all confess that we know very little about it. In the resurrection we shall know.
THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY GHOST
The coming of the Spirit at Pentecost marked the beginning of the fulfilment of Joel's prophecy (Acts 2:16f.). The Jews had expected this outpouring of the Spirit at some time, but they did not understand all its meaning in this setting. He has come now to reveal Christ and to make full revelation to the churches their mission and other things which concern tlieir life and work. In various ways and through various channels He speaks to the churches (Rev. 2:7 et al.). As far as the church is concerned, this baptism is to authenticate it as the habitation of God through the Spirit, and subsequent baptisms identified directly with this (Acts 11:15, 16) were to show that this habitation of God was to include all nations in one body.
This new assembly is strange to the Israelite who has been expecting the Messiah to set up the kingdom. He must now learn more of it and God's purpose through it. The Spirit is here to make the necessary revelation. We would look now more particularly at this great event commonly known as the "baptism of the Holy Ghost."
We agree with B. H. Carroll in his interpretation of this great event. He says:
The baptism in the Spirit, then, is that miraculous submersion of certain early Christians in the power of the Holy Spirit, which accredited the church established by our Lord as a new and divine institution, superceding the narrower Jewish institution (author's emph.), by its inclusion of all people into the family of God. In order to accredit this, power was manifested in miraculous gifts enumerated in Acts 2, 8, 10, 19, and I Cor. 12. To this end, understand that the baptism in the Spirit is the submersion of certain Christians into the power of the Spirit in order to accredit a new institution, distinct from the Jewish institution, in itself to include all peoples, and not just one people, and for the spiritual reasons, not fleshly reasons. To this end this power came first on the Jews (Acts 2), then on the Samaritans (Acts 8), then on the Romans (Acts 10), then on the Greeks (Acts 19 and I Cor. 12). The accrediting was just as much needed to Peter as it was to the heathen. He was mighty hard to convince that this new institution was meant for all people . . . "1This, we think, is a fine statement of the matter and the author continues at length in an enlightening manner. In the progressive revelation of the order and mission of the church, it has not yet become clear to the apostles, much less to the Jewish believers, that the gospel is for all nations. This is the reason why this spectacular manifestation of the Spirit came on different groups. Gentiles have not yet received this ministry. The Spirit is now an abiding presence in each believer associated with the church, but believers consist now only of Jews. Soon another experience of this kind must reveal to the apostles that the mission of the church is to all peoples.
The eighth chapter of Acts is very revealing in this matter. Philip is preaching down in Samaria and the people are being baptized in the name of Jesus, but the Holy Spirit has not yet come upon them. When the apostles heard about it they sent Peter and John down to see the work. Verses 15 to 18 tell the story vividly and the reader can easily see how this fits Dr. Carroll's interpretation.
In Acts 10, at the house of Cornelius, the Spirit falls upon the group of disciples even before they are baptized in water. There is no doubt about the purpose of this manifestation of the Spirit, for Peter explains it fully in chapter 11. We quote here the significant explanation with our emphasis: "As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with (in) water; but ye shall be baptized with (in) the Holy Ghost. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift (that is, the Holy Spirit) as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life." This passage tells us exactly why the Holy Spirit fell upon these disciples in this fashion. It was to show that the church, the new habitation of God through the Spirit, was to include not only Jews but Gentiles of every nation, and that God had granted repentance unto these Gentiles as well as to Jews. Notice that the 18th verse does not say merely that the Holy Spirit was granted unto the Gentiles. It says that the Holy Spirit was given as a sign that God had granted unto the Gentiles repentance unto life. This, of course, astonished the Jews who came with Peter from Joppa, for they had not expected the gospel to include the Gentiles.
Another case of the out-pouring of the Spirit in such a manner is in Acts 19. Here Paul found some disciples (about twelve) who seemed not to have had the genuine experience of a saved person. If they had had the right experience, by this time there should have been evidence of the Holy Spirit's presence in them. It is likely that they had been converted to the ideas of John's preaching in preparation for the Messiah, but they had not spiritual understanding of his message. The proper understanding of this matter would have included saving faith in the Saviour who was soon to be revealed (Acts 19:4). In other words, they had not had genuine spiritual repentance and were not, of course, in step with the progressive manifestations of this "transition period." They certainly were ignorant of the Ho]y Spirit. Paul brings them the real message of John. The fact that they were not affected with a true, spiritual experience does not mean necessarily that they were not sincere. They had not fully grasped the import of John's baptism and had experienced the water only. It is also possible that their baptism may not have been of proper
authority, but of this we cannot be sure. Whatever the situation, this point is very important: We have here a definite case of some people who did not have the right kind of baptism, and who submitted to baptism again in order that it be right. The apostle then laid his hands upon them, and they had the attesting experience of the Holy Spirit coming upon them ''as upon us at the beginning."
In each of these cases which we have examined, it seems that the purpose is the same. Be it remembered that these demonstrations do not become the course of procedure for this age, but are given in special instances for the reasons previously indicated. In each case the miraculous gift of tongues was present, a matter which ties the events together in identity.
The fact that the miraculous gifts were in evidence in each case of the Holy Spirit baptism makes B. H. Carroll and some others believe that the church at Corinth also had this blessing. His explanations in various places on this subject are so convincing that we cannot but agree. The reader should take time to examine each reference in Carroll's Interpretation on this subject. Paul's discussion of the miraculous gifts in I Cor. 12, 13, and 14 seems to be fully in keeping with this idea.
One of Dr. Carroll's great contributions in this area is to give such a satisfactory explanation of the badly abused and often puzzling passage of I Corinthians 12:13: "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body. . . ." He shows in the reference given above that this passage has nothing to do with an individual, personal baptism of the Spirit, but that it is another example of the baptism to authenticate the church as the habitation of God through the Spirit, and to show that it is not just a Jewish institution but that it includes all nationalities. Let it be carefully noted that he does not mean that the coming of the Spirit is for this purpose, but that these manifestations of the Spirit on these special groups in the initiation of the ministry of the church were for that purpose.2
Good men have categorically listed this passage as one meaning that each believer is "baptized into the body of Christ" (a common statement). Others have likewise made it consonant with conversion or regeneration. The better rendering of the verse is: "For in one Spirit were we all baptized unto one body,"
that is, to the church. This gives the Corinthian church with its miraculous gifts a completely harmonious identification as a church which had received the baptism of the Spirit. There seems to be no other definite case beyond these we have mentioned.
This miraculous manifestation of tongues, gifts, and other Holy Spirit demonstrations did not take place in every instance of salvation are significant, and this more firmly substantiates our belief that it is for a special purpose in the progressive revelation of this period. It was given wherever the Lord thought it necessary to designate the church as Hiis incarnate presence and to show that it was to include all nations. This could well be the significance of the "one body" idea in I Cor. 12:13 and other passages like those in Ephesians and Colossians, as the context often indicates.
Some examples which show that this baptism did not accompany every instance of salvation are significant. There is the conversion of ilie Ethiopian eunuch, of Saul (one might say, an important example), of Lydia, of the Philippian jailer and perhaps others without any baptism of the Spirit.
Besides, as Dr. Carroll points out, the baptism of the Spirit here is a fulfilment of the type of the pillar of cloud and fire on the tabernacle and the temple, a baptism of dedication of the house of the Lord. We might add, in contrast, that the baptism into (or unto) Christ, as spoken of in Romans 6:3-4, is a baptism typified in the Red Sea experience, a type of salvation as realized in the believer. The baptism of a believer "into the death of Christ" ("unto" is perhaps the better word) sets forth that which is experienced in regeneration. It is also performed by the Spirit. The baptism of the church in the Spirit was for another purpose entirely, and it was performed by Jesus Himself. This is a very significant distinction.
At the initiation of every great epoch in God's unfolding purposes, there seems to have been some display of miracle to attest the purpose of God and to identify Him with His chosen agency of expression. Witness the giving of the law at Sinai and, as we have indicated, the baptism of the pillar of cloud and fire upon the tabernacle and the temple respectively as examples. Likewise, this baptism of the Spirit seems to fit this pattern of God's way.
The baptism of the Spirit has served its purpose, the Spirit now abides with His churches in the believers who constitute
them, and the church age is on its way. That Spirit now through these churches not only develops, comforts, nurtures and enlightens these believers, but also through them He brings the impact of convicting power upon the world. A little later we shall see Him inspiring the Word by which He will guide the churches after the apostles and prophets are gone.
1 Carroll, op. cit., Acts, p. 55. Note: We find it hard to see Dr. Carroll's interpretation that the "baptism of fire" (Mt. 3:11) means "everlasting punishment in hell" (See ibid., p. 64). We think it could mean the tongues like as of fire which appeared on the day of Pentecost. However, commentators disagree on this, and we hold no dogmatic position.
2 Carroll, op. cit., I Cor. XIX.
[Buell H. Kazee, The Church and the Ordinances, Lexington, KY, 1965, pp. 58-65.]
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