Take your Bibles and turn please with me to the 2nd chapter of Acts. In our continuing study of Acts we come now to chapter 2, which records for us the birth of the church. The beginning of chapter 2 records also the occasion of the baptism of the Spirit, and the filling of the Spirit that occurred at the birth of the church.
Now, let me say to begin with that all kinds of groups with all kinds of views have approached Acts chapter 2 to prove all kinds of points, as is so often the case in a crucial passage in Scripture, it has been exposed to some truth and some error in terms of its interpretation. And what I share with you this morning is what I believe in my heart to be that which comes from this passage, and I have to believe in my heart, though I am well aware of my own imperfections. And in case you’re not sure from my viewpoint, ask my wife.
I have to believe what comes from this has been entrusted to my care by the Holy Spirit, because if God answers prayer, that would be the prayer that I have repeatedly prayed for three or so weeks in leading up to sharing this with you this morning. It is not my attempt at this point to minimize other Christians who feel that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is something quite different than what I will tell I believe it is this morning. It is not my attempt to divide the body of Christ. It is only my attempt, as I see it in my own study, to clearly distinguish to you what this passage says.
Now, we will not be able to complete the passage, and therefore some of the argument that I would like to advance and some of the points that I would like to make will not be made until next Lord’s Day. But what I am giving you this morning is from my heart to yours as I believe the Spirit of God has opened this passage to me. And I trust that you will take it in the sense and in the sense of love in which it is given, and yet in the sense of lovingly giving you what I believe with conviction; and I don’t apologize for that.
Coming then to Acts chapter 2, we come to the birth of the church. In the 1st chapter of Acts, as we began our study, we saw the preparation for the birth of the church; and in chapter 2, we see it born. In chapter 1, the disciples were waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit; in chapter 2, He comes. In chapter 1, they were anticipating the church being born; in chapter 2, it is born. In chapter 1, the disciples were equipped; in chapter 2, they are empowered. In chapter 1, the believers are held back; in chapter 2, they are sent forth.
So chapter 2 then is a very important passage. In chapter 2, Acts 1:8 is fulfilled: “But ye shall receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto Me.” This promise of Jesus comes to pass in the beginning of chapter 2. The church is born and moves out in testimony in chapter 2.
Now, this is a tremendous transitional passage. This is the greatest change that has occurred in all of the Scriptures; for is the end of the old age and the birth of the new age. The great crux of God’s redemptive history is right here. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ issues itself in the sending of the Spirit and the birth of the new age: the age of the Spirit.
In the old age, the Spirit was with you; in the new age He is – where? – in you. In the old age, men served God out of fear of consequences under law; in the new age, men served God out of love for Jesus Christ energized by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It’s a new economy altogether. This is the birth of the new age and the character of the new age is the church, that body of believers indwelt by the Holy Spirit all in an invisible union with Jesus Christ and with each other. And that is the mystery that unfolds beginning in Acts 2.
Now, Acts 2 then is the birth of the church, is the next step in God’s redemptive history. Now, God has endeavored to reveal Himself to men in a redemptive fashion. In the Old Testament He revealed Himself in terms of the law and the sacrifices, et cetera. Then came Jesus Christ who died, who was buried, who rose again bodily and physically. Then the next act, Jesus ascended to heaven. The next act, sent the Holy Spirit.
In response to that, this great redemptive history is continued in the birth of the church here in Acts chapter 2 – crisis chapter. We could not say enough about it, we only beggar the occasion by words at all. We cannot bespeak the truth of what really happened in this great transition. Words just don’t allow, only God Himself can define the fantastic change that took place.
Now, the definition of such change, just for your point of reference, is in John 7:37. Don’t look it up; listen as I read it: “In the last days, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out saying, ‘If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink.’ – verse 38 – ‘He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.’ – 39 – “But this spoke He of the Spirit, whom they that believe on Him should receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”
In God’s redemptive history, the Spirit age couldn’t happen until Jesus ascended and was glorified in heaven. So in the great flow of history, Jesus must return to the Father before the Spirit can be sent. And that’s exactly where we find ourselves in chapter 2. The closing of chapter 1 is the ascension of Jesus Christ; the beginning of Chapter 2 is the coming of the Holy Spirit. Jesus accomplished His work, and went to the Father; and the Father in response to the perfect work of Christ, sent the Holy Spirit to dwell within the believers.
This is a new dispensation, a whole new age; a new thing is born, and you and I are a part of it by faith in Jesus Christ. This is called the church: church from Ecclesia, called out ones. This is something never seen in the Old Testament. It’s a mystery Paul calls it, something hidden throughout the Old Testament. They never saw the church.
“This is a bride of Christ,” the New Testament says. “These are branches for the Vine, Jesus Christ,” says John. “This is a flock for Jesus, the Good Shepherd.” “This is a mystery kingdom ruled by the Son of God.” “This is a household, a family of sons by adoption.” “This is a building,” – says Paul – “a spiritual temple with Jesus Christ as the foundation.” But most uniquely, this is a body. And the most unique metaphor in defining the church is the church as a body, body two, as a human body is fitly joined together, so that everything functions in harmony.
So the church is brought together in union with Jesus Christ and with each other by the Holy Spirit so that we’re all part of each other. We are a body. We are body two. Body one, Jesus Christ incarnate on earth; body two, Jesus Christ incarnate in His church. Not one body, but a multiplicity of bodies in whom Jesus lives. And so we are the body of Christ blended together, a spiritual incarnation of Christ in men. We are a fellowship knit together with Christ as the head, totally dependent on each other: one new man.
This is the identity of the church. All barriers are abolished. “There is no longer Jew nor Greeks,” says Paul. “There’s no longer male nor female,” Galatians 3. “No longer bond nor free, for we are all one in Christ.” And everyone of us in the church is indwelt by Jesus Christ.
Now, when we’re talking about the church, we’re talking about the real church, those who know Christ. We’re not talking about the building. We’re not talking about those who say they’re in the church. We’re talking about the true church, those who know Christ by personal faith.
We all possess the Holy Spirit. He lives in us. That’s the character of the age, you see. And the people who would tell us today that there are some Christians who don’t have the Holy Spirit do not understand the dispensation of the church at all. They don’t understand what the character of the church is. It is a body of believers all indwelt by the Spirit. That’s what the church is. It can’t be anything less than that.
That’s why Romans 8:9, Paul said, “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ in him, he is none of His,” because that’s what the church is, you see. So every believer possesses the Spirit for instruction, for power, for comfort, for security, for guarantee of our inheritance. The Spirit is in every believer.
Now, our Lord promised that this would happen and it happens here in Acts 2. The church is born and from then on every believer at the point of faith in Christ receives the Holy Spirit. And I’ll show you why we believe that to be true.
Now, the Bible calls this the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Himself gave it that title, Acts 1:5, “For John truly baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” And we know what He was talking about when He qualified it by saying not many days from now. He was talking about what would happen at Pentecost, which was ten days later.
Jesus said, “You will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Now, He used a very clear word, a very definitive word, baptizō – and we’ll talk about what that exactly means. But keep in mind that Jesus titled this what it is. And it’s what happens here in chapter 2; They were baptized with the Holy Spirit.
So Jesus had promised that the character of the church would be such that those who were in the church would be indwelt by the Spirit, “He shall be in you,” and that this was called “baptized in the Spirit.” And we’ll take this apart in a moment. Now, as we look at the text, we see three things – and we’ll barely get halfway through or so the first one because it’s the key. We see the evidence of the Spirit’s coming, we see the effect of the Spirit’s coming, and we see the explanation of the Spirit’s coming in verses 1 through 13.
Now, the evidence of the Spirit’s coming is in verses 1 through 4. Now, keep in mind this is the introduction of a new age. This is the birth of the church, the fulfillment of the promise of Jesus that you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit; also, the fulfillment of the promise of Jesus that the Spirit will be in you. Both occurring simultaneously at salvation from here on, but obviously couldn’t occur at salvation here, because these people were already believers, and it was the birth of the church in a unique historical sense.
To say that you get the Holy Spirit later, after salvation, because the apostles did, is to misunderstand the redemptive history of God. The Spirit came here, because this was the time for the Spirit to come. And there had to be a beginning. It is not to say that this is the example of every Christian who then gets the Spirit X number of years after his salvation, not at all.
All right, let’s look, first of all at the evidence of the Spirit’s coming – and we’ll take this all down so that you’ll understand it, we trust. This morning though, when after the message I went out making clear distinctions, someone met me immediately and said, “You forgot to say this.” I said, “Wait, that’s the whole point of my message.” So I felt bad, but I hope I get the point across better this time.
Verse 1, “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.” Ten days later and they’re still with one accord, beautiful. The historical designation is extremely important here, and it’s important for many reasons.
Note that it does not say “when the disciples had prayed,” or “when the disciples had tarried,” or “when the disciples had fulfilled some spiritual requirements,” or “when the disciples had the paid the price of Pentecost, then this occasion occurred.” It doesn’t say that at all. It says it happened “when the day of Pentecost was fully come.” Luke points then only – watch it – to the history and the divine timing of God; that’s the only thing Luke points to. This happens when God wants it to happen, not in response to anybody’s spiritual activity no matter how spiritual it may be.
Now, I want you to look at the concept of Pentecost, because this is a basis for which all the interpretation hinges. The word “Pentecost,” a Greek word, signifies fiftieth, or fiftieth in order, or fiftieth part of a thing. This is an important feast. It’s called Chag ha-Qatsir in Exodus, which is the Feast of Harvest. It’s called Chag Shavuot, which may be the most famous name which means the Feast of Weeks. Or it’s called Yom HaBikkurim, which means the Day of the First Fruits. But all three titles, using Exodus and Numbers, mean the same thing, and it refers to this Pentecost feast.
Now, the feast of Pentecost celebrates or commemorates the first fruits of the wheat harvest. It also commemorates the giving of the Mosaic Law, because they also believe that after the Exodus it was about fifty days until the coming of the law. And the Passover, you remember, was celebrated at the time of the exodus, because that’s when the angel passed over right before the exodus. And so they measured some fifty days to the giving of the law, and they used Pentecost then to celebrate not only the first fruits of wheat, but they used Pentecost to celebrate also.
And they still do even to this day. In fact, today is exactly fifty days after the 14th of Nisan. This is exactly Pentecost Sunday. But, nevertheless, it’s divine timing, perhaps, right to the day. This is it, fifty days after Passover, or after Easter, I should say. But after the exile, it became traditional to celebrate the law-giving as well as the Feast of First Fruits of the wheat harvest. So it came to be very significant, and the Jews still celebrate this even today.
Now, keep this in mind: the Spirit’s coming on the day of Pentecost then is a matter of divine chronology. Now, I want you to keep in mind something that I’ve taught you before, and I now remind you, because you learn line upon line, line upon line, precept upon precept, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little, right?
All right, now what I want to remind you of is there are two types of prophecy: one is verbally predictive, one is typically predictive. There are verbal prophecies, word prophecies; there are picture prophecies. A word prophecy is, “A virgin shall conceive and bring forth a son.” That’s a word prophecy.
A typical prophecy is the Passover Lamb, which typically predicts a final Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ, in a picture sense. Do you see? Another typical prophecy would be, for example, the blood on the door posts in the middle: a picture of the blood of Christ which satisfies the requirements of God and stays the hand of the angel of death. So there are both verbal direct prophecies and picture prophecies that we call “types” in the Bible.
And may I hasten to add, my friends, those prophecies which are typical, which are types and picture prophesies are no less strategic than the verbal ones; and they better come true with just the same accuracy or the Bible really has problems. When God predicts something, whether He predicts in verbal statement or by perfect picture, it better come true. And so when we come to the day of Pentecost, this is a fantastic fulfillment of a predictive type. And it must happen on the day of Pentecost, or it blows the whole thing in terms of what God prophesied through pictures.
So we say then this – and I’ll explain it in a minute. The Spirit’s coming was not in response to prayer. The Spirit’s coming was not in response to tarrying. The Spirit’s coming was not in response to meeting any conditions, it was God’s sovereign timetable at work. It was the right day in the plan of redemptive history. And that day is revealed to us clearly in Leviticus chapter 23 so that we know exactly when it was going to happen.
Now, without turning to that, but make a note of it, write it down and you can study it on your own. The key features of the feast revealed in Leviticus 23 are clearly laid out for us there. But we add to that that they are all in a sense predictive in their pictures.
Now, three major feasts there are direct pictures of the work of Jesus Christ. The first feast of Leviticus 23 was God telling them to keep the Passover. Now, you remember the Passover? They were in Egypt in bondage. The Lord was going to, at the end of the plagues, kill all the first born. And so He said, “If you want to escape the killing of the first born, you kill the Passover Lamb, take the blood, put it on the door posts in the middle, side and the middle, and the angel will Passover.” And so the Israelites knew that God had passed by them and saved them because of the blood. And that was a perfect picture of Jesus Christ, whose blood shed for us. And God sees us in view of the blood of Christ and passes by.
And so the Passover feast pictured the death of Jesus Christ. On what day did Jesus die? On what feast day? Passover, right on the day. You see, that prophecy not only was a picture of Jesus Christ, it was an accurate indication of what it was that was going to happen on one Passover that He would actually die on a Passover as a Passover Lamb. On the 14th of Nisan, which is in the spring, which is equivalent to some time in our April or late March, comes Passover. And it was on such a Passover that Jesus died as the perfect Passover Lamb. You see, God’s timetable was right on.
And then there was another feast, and the other feast is called the Feast of the First Fruits. And this was interesting – catch this one. This feast was on the next day after the Sabbath after the Passover. Now, the Sabbath is on what day? Saturday. What would the next day be? Sunday. So that the Feast of First Fruits then would be on the Sunday right after Passover. Now, the first fruits was interesting, because the first fruits was a barley first fruits. And I’ll tell you what I mean. I’ll give you a second handed farmer’s eye view of first fruits, because I don’t know anything about it.
But anyway, the farmer looks at his field, all right. He wants to determine if he’s got a good crop. Now, he wants to know, so he does what is commonly done by farmers: he examines the first fruits. He goes to sections, not the whole field, but a section there and there. He gets a section from every area of the field and pulls some of it out, and he brings it all together and looks at it; and if it all looks good, he says the whole crop is guaranteed to be good by the first fruits.
And so this feast was for them to go gather the pieces of barley, which evidently matured soon, and get the barley and examine it, and therefore praise God for what God was going to do when He brought the full harvest. It was a good lesson for trust. But they would gather the first fruits of barley, and that would be the guarantee of a good crop.
Now, my friends, that is a very, very accurate picture of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus even said Himself, “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it goes into the ground and dies, it comes forth, and it really not only gives life to itself, but to others.” It produces seed, produces fruit.
Jesus is the perfect fulfillment of the first fruits. In fact, listen to this, 1 Corinthians 15:10 (John meant verse 20), Paul said, “Christ the first fruits of them that slept.” You say, “What does that picture symbolize?” It symbolizes that because Christ’s resurrection was valid and good, so shall ours. Did you get that?
Jesus said, “Because I live,” – what – “ye shall live also.” And the first fruits was a picture of the resurrection of Christ that guarantees that our resurrection will occur. You see it? And do you know, Jesus not only was crucified on the Passover, He rose on the first fruits, perfectly fulfilling the prophecy.
Then, friends, fifty days later, Leviticus 23:15 and 16, fifty days later exactly, there was another feast called the Feast of Harvest. This is the Pentecost, and it’s celebrated the wheat harvest. And it was again a first fruits. The wheat crop was not yet fully done, and what was done was this: they would go and they would gather the first fruits of wheat, they’d bring it together. Only this time, they did something unique with it. They didn’t just bring it as a sheaf. You know what a sheaf is? Loose grain just tied together. They took it and they baked it into two loaves. Very specifically, they were baked into loaves.
You say, “Well, what does this predict?” Well, it’s very interesting. But I believe it predicts just exactly what happened on Pentecost. It has to, because that’s when it occurred. Jesus Christ died on the Passover, He rose on the first fruits, and Pentecost completed the pattern by making possible the enjoyment of these events.
Now, let me show you what I mean. Pentecost is another first fruits of the wheat harvest. Now, some day our Lord is going to harvest believers, right, in the great coming of Christ, and He’s going to separate the wheat from the tares, right? Now, what your guarantee that you’re going to be in that harvest?
All right, His resurrection is one of the guarantees. Let me give you another one. Second Corinthians chapter 5 and Ephesians chapter 1 says this: “You have the earnest of the” – what? – “Spirit.” You know what the word earnest is? Arrabōn: engagement ring, pledge, guarantee, or first fruits.
The Spirit of God within you is the guarantee of your full final inheritance, right? God has given you His Spirit now. Would He withhold anything from you in the future? No. The Spirit then is the earnest of our inheritance. We have the first fruits of our resurrection. In Christ’s resurrection, we have the first fruits of our inheritance in the Spirit dwelling in us. What happened on the day of Pentecost? The Spirit came and dwelled in them, right? Perfectly fulfilling the type of the first fruits feast. So you see, this was exactly in God’s timetable.
Then mark this one: They not only gathered the sheaf, but they made it into a loaf. What do you think that symbolizes? The church is not a loosely gathered-together group bound together by string. The church has been blended into one common body, right? A loaf. You see, the Feast of Harvest is a perfect picture of the coming of the Spirit as a guarantee of our full inheritance, and the loaf is the picture of us being blended together.
It’s another wonderful picture, because the first fruits of barley – the other feast that I mentioned that signified the resurrection – that was one that could have no leaven, because it pictures Christ, and leaven means sin, and Christ had no sin. But the church pictured in the feast of harvest has leaven, because in the church there is sin. Would you buy that? Perfect picture; never misses one thing; exactly accurate.
So, beloved, when the Bible says when the day of Pentecost was fully come it happened, that’s exactly why it happened. It didn’t happen because they did something. It happened because it was God’s divine sovereign timetable had run its course, and this was the moment that it happened. So in God’s perfect design since the early ages, the church was designed to be born at Pentecost to fulfill typical prediction. The Spirit was to come as the first fruits as the guarantee of our full inheritance as Christ was the first fruits and guarantee of our resurrection. So the day was set by God. It was His sovereign timetable.
And so when our Pentecostal brothers and sisters in Christ say in their creed which states this, recorded every month in the Pentecostal Evangel, and I quote: “We believe that the baptism of the Holy Spirit, according to Acts 2, is given to believers who ask for it,” end quote, they have totally missed the point. They have violated the prophetic word of God when they assume that, or at least they have eliminated one of the most glorious fulfillments of prophecy that you’ll ever find in Scripture.
Jesus died at the right moment. He rose at the right moment; the Spirit came at the right moment; all on God’s timetable – not in response to any activity of men. And, thus, the church was born as a first fruits fulfillment, just as Jesus had risen as a first fruits fulfillment and died as a Passover fulfillment.
All right, so we know then why it happened on the day of Pentecost. It was no accident, and it was in no way related to what they did. It was the promise of the Father purely apart from them.
Now, it says also in verse 1, “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.” Now, we could talk about where this one place was. The best we can do is look at verse 2 which says it was a house. Some commentators have felt that it was the house of the Lord, the temple. I don’t feel that’s correct, because Luke, when he wants to talk about the temple, uses the word “temple.”
In 2:46, he says, “They were with one accord in the temple.” If He said one accord in the temple there, He could easily have said one accord in the temple here. But he says “house.” I believe that they were likely in this house, maybe this same one where they had the Passover the night before Jesus died, maybe in the same one where He appeared at His resurrection, the same one they went to when they returned from the ascension.
But they were in the house, I believe. And I believe contrary to what some say, that all 120 at least were there, not just the 12. Some have said that only the 12 at this point received the baptism of the Spirit. I think that would have left 108 people seriously wondering what was going on; and it would have not been complete in accord with the baptism of the Holy Spirit in the sense of the birth of the church, because it would have left some out.
All right, notice they were all in one place. They were together. And then it happens, verse 2: “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven like a rushing mighty wind.” Notice it wasn’t a wind, it was just a sound like a wind. But notice the word “suddenly.” Isn’t that good? Suddenly the church was born. Suddenly the church was born with no forewarning really. And I’m sure they didn’t really expect what happened to happen even when it happened. They were just kind of in limbo waiting and suddenly it happened.
It’s a wonderful thing about the church. It suddenly happened, and my Bible says, Jesus said, “Behold I come” – what? – “quickly.” Just as suddenly it’s going to unhappen. The church is in and out suddenly. Began with an instantaneous, unexpected, miraculous moment. It’s going to end with an instantaneous, unexpected, miraculous moment, all on God’s sovereign timetable. And God has as much right to determine the beginning of the church as He does to determine the end of it; and to say that either comes in the response of anybody’s prayers really isn’t understanding the sovereignty of God.
Now, you’ll notice that this whole thing happens in a fantastic way, but there’s a very interesting note. It says, “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven.” If anything is fantastic or supernatural we want to know the source, don’t we? This is from heaven. That takes it out of the hands of man or Satan. This is God acting.
Now, notice that it was a “sound from heaven” – that it was – “like a rushing mighty wind.” Now, the wind in Scripture is often an emblem of the Holy Spirit, is it not? John 3:8, “The wind blows where it listeth;” – you don’t know where it goes, you can hear the sound of it – “so is the Spirit; so is everyone that is born of the Spirit.” The Spirit of God moves about as a wind in Scripture. And it’s the same word. Spirit is pneuma, and that’s the same word for breath or wind.
But here there’s a different word. “There came a sound from heaven like the rushing mighty wind.” And the word translated “wind” is not the ordinary pneuma, but it’s an interesting word used only one other place in the New Testament – I think it’s Act 17:25 – and it’s the word pnoēs, p-n-o-e-s if you’re writing it down – and it means a blast of breath. It’s not just a gentle breathing, it’s a blowing just as if somebody was blasting breath.
Now, remember, this is not a real wind. There’s no physical wind any more than there’s physical fires – we’ll see in verse 3. But it’s just the sound of it. This must have been fantastic phenomena. Can you imagine? No motion in the air, yet the sound is if a hurricane is raging out of heaven; and no movement at all, just the noise of a hurricane without the wind.
It suddenly happens. A great sound out of heaven as if the very blast of God’s breath had reached the earth. And, my friends, that’s exactly what happened. Who is the breath of God? Holy Spirit. And God just blew His breath on the earth. The blast of breath came from God, and at that point, the Spirit of God came to the earth.
Notice verse 2: “and it filled” – where? – “all the house where they were sitting.” I believe everybody heard it. I think that’s what gathered the crowd – we’ll get to that next week in verse 6. But I believe it only filled the house where they were sitting.
This, beloved – mark it down – was the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Did you get that? Very important. This is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The sound was heard all over, and it began to gather the crowd. But the presence of the breath of God filled only the house where they were sitting. They were completely enveloped, immersed, and baptized by the breath of God who is none other than the Holy Spirit.
Since that was the coming of the Holy Spirit, the breath of God, they were then truly at that moment baptized by the Holy Spirit. And I believe right there in verse 2, you have the fulfillment of chapter 1, verse 5; the baptism of the Spirit takes place in verse 2. What you have in verse 4 is subsequent, and it is different. It is called the filling of the Spirit.
Now, let me add something, and I want to talk about this for a moment because it’s important. This baptism that occurs in verse 2 is nonexperiential. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is often defined today as an experience: you get baptized and then certain things happen. In the Bible, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is nonexperiential. That is, it occurs on a divine level without any reaction. It’s a sovereign act.
For example, you were justified when you received Christ. Did you all of a sudden feel, “Oh, there goes justification”? No, that’s non-experiential. You were adopted into the family of God as a son. Did you feel, “Oh, there I went; I now am a son”? No, that’s nonexperiential. You were so baptized into the body of Christ which you neither experienced. It happened in a nonexperiential sense.
Now, what experience comes, comes in the filling of the Spirit, which we’ll see later. But it is a nonexperiential thing. It came from heaven, they were just sitting there, and it happened; and so far, there’s no response. The Spirit of God moved in among them. And what do you say, “What is the baptism of the Spirit?” And now we must turn to the apostle Paul who was God’s man to define this term. Jesus said it will happen at Pentecost; it did.
You say, “Well, I thought it was the same as filling.” It can’t be. Jesus knows what He’s saying. Jesus says in Acts 1:5, “You will be baptized with the Spirit.” That must come first. Paul defines the baptism as one thing, and the filling is something else, so we must be distinct about them.
So what occurs first in verse 2 is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Let me show you what it is from Paul’s own words written by the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians chapter 12. And here is the definition of what happens at the baptism of the Spirit: “For as the body is one and hath many members, and all the members of that one body being many are one body, so is Christ.” All right, now that’s just giving us a little view of the body of Christ.
Well, watch this. Here’s a definition of the baptism of the Spirit: “For by one Spirit” – that’s the same Holy Spirit – “were we all baptized into one body.” Now, that’s what the baptism of the Spirit does. It takes a person at salvation and places him in the body. Whether Jew, Greek, bond, or free, we’ve all been made to drink into one Spirit.
The baptism of the Holy Spirit is an act by God’s Holy Spirit whereby He takes a believer and places him in the body of Christ. It is nonexperiential. You don’t shout, you don’t feel joy, you don’t feel good as a result of the baptism of the Spirit; that is a divine act on God’s part whereby placing the Spirit of God in your life you are then placed into Christ, nonexperiential.
Now, let me show you some more about this, because this is very important. Galatians 3:27 defines it further. If we’re not clear, we can go to this verse and we read this: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have” – what? Shouted, had joy, run around, spoken in other languages, preached the word with boldness, done wonders and miracles? No. “As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” The baptism of the Spirit then places you into union with Christ in His body.
Now, this is a mystery. The body of Christ is a collective unity of all saints of which Christ is the head. When you believed in Jesus Christ, you were placed into that unity, that body. You became one with Christ and one with every other believer, right? If you’re in the body of Christ, you’re one with Him.
First Corinthians 6:17, “He that is that joined to the Lord is one” – what? – “one spirit.” When you became saved, Paul says, “Nevertheless I live; yet not I, but” – what? – “Christ lives in me.” My life is not my own anymore, it’s Christ’s. I am in Him; I’m one with Him; I’m joined to Him.
So when you believed in Jesus Christ at the very moment of your salvation, He placed you into the body in union with Christ and every other believer. Are we one with each other in Christ? Sure. How did we get there? That’s what the baptism of the Spirit is.
Now, in case you want to look at another passage, look at Romans 6. And keep in mind that there’s no water around; these passages aren’t talking about water baptism at all. This is theology, at this point, apart from the symbol of it, which is in the water baptism.
Romans 6: “What shall we say? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” The argument here was if grace is activated when we sin, let’s sin a whole lot so grace can really go to town. “God forbid. How shall we, that have died to sin, live any longer in it?” Now watch this: “Know ye not that as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death.” And then verse 4 implies into His resurrection as well.
What is the baptism there? It’s not baptized into water, it’s baptized into Christ. Baptized simply means immerse you, sticks you into it, places you inside the body of Christ in union with Him and with every other believer; that’s all it means. Don’t make a fetish out of the term.
Galatians 3:27, “If you’ve been baptized into Christ, you have put on Christ,” you have been clothed with Christ, you’ve become one with Christ. So the baptism of the Spirit, friends, keep it clear, is the placing of a believer into the body of Christ at salvation.
Now, Colossians 2:9, and I take it a step further: “For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in Him who’s the head of all principality and power;” – don’t ever think you lack anything, you don’t – “in whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands,” – in other words, the Jews were always saying that they were circumcised and that got them in. But theirs was only physical, ours is spiritual – “in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ;” – verse 12, here it is – “buried with Him in baptism, in which also you are risen with Him.”
The Spirit takes a believer, baptizes him into the body, which is putting him in union with Christ. When you’re saved, you come into union with Christ. You’re buried with Him in His death; you rise with Him in His resurrection. By a divine miracle you’re united with Jesus Christ.
And one other one that is very strategic, 1 Peter 3:21, and I’ll summarize: “The like figure unto which even baptism doth also now save us.” Oh, no. Baptism saves us? That’s what it says. You say, “Do you believe it?” I believe it.
Then it says this: “But not the putting away of the filth of the flesh.” Not water baptism. What kind of baptism? Spirit baptism. Therefore, Spirit baptism is tied intrinsically to what experience? Salvation.
When does it occur then? At salvation. The baptism of the Spirit occurs at salvation. It is the placing of the believer into the body. It is another salvation term like justification, which is God declaring us righteous. Like adoption, which is God making us sons. It’s the same kind of thing. It’s a so soteriological term. That means it’s a term for salvation. That’s one for me. But it fits salvation, that’s the point.
The baptism of the Spirit then has nothing to do with the experience of the believer. Initially, it is simply the Spirit placing him into the body. The filling of the Spirit then is the experiential thing. And that’s what resulted in all of the speaking and languages, and all of the wonderful things that happened through the book of Acts; and that’s what results in the wonderful things that are still happening in the energy of the Holy Spirit right now.
But, please, don’t confuse the baptism of the Spirit or you destroy the whole point that Paul is making about our unity in Christ. For if somebody doesn’t have the baptism of the Spirit, they’re not in the body. And if they’re not in the body, they don’t have the Spirit. And if they don’t have the Spirit, they’re not even saved. You foul up the whole theology if you make the baptism of the Spirit an experiential thing that happens all the time. Can’t. It’s the placing of the believer into the body at the point of salvation, that’s what it is.
Now, I want you to know that, so that you’ll be able to understand your identity in Christ. You’re one with Him. You’re one with every other Christian. That’s what occurred in verse 2 when it says, “There came a sound from heaven like a rushing mighty wind,” – we know that to be the breath of God, the Holy Spirit – “filled the house where they were sitting.” And if He filled that house, He filled them who were in it. And I believe at that point the baptism of the Spirit took place.
Kind of an interesting play on words, if you take the idea that it filled all the house, and carry it to Ephesians 2:22. There’s a new house there where all the believers are called the house or the habitation of the Spirit. So He filled the physical house in Acts 2:2; but in the same moment, He filled the spiritual house, and all believers became His new house.
Now, let me add another thought here, because I want you to understand this. The baptism of the Spirit is also extremely important understood this way, because if it isn’t, then Jesus’ prayer in John 17 goes unanswered, and then you’ve got some real problems. You see, Jesus prayed this four times: verse 11, 21, 22, 23. He said, “Father, I pray that they be” – what? – “one. One, one, one.”
Now, my friends, this happened right here. This is the answer to Jesus’ prayer. When the Spirit of God came, He made us one positionally. Now, we aren’t always one practically, are we? There’s divisions and strife among us when we’re carnal. But, positionally, are we one blended together? Are we that common loaf? Sure we are. We’re not just a loosely-gathered sheaf tied together with string, we are one in Christ, inner-dependent and mutually-dependent on life from each other in the ministry of our gifts and fellowship. And so we must assume the baptism of the Spirit to be that baptizing all believers into oneness, or the prayer of Jesus Christ goes unanswered.
Now, notice another phenomenon that happened in verse 3 accompanying the first; and this is all proof that the Spirit came. Verse 3: “And there appeared unto them,” – that is to those believers who had been baptized, immersed at that moment into the body of Christ by the Spirit – “appeared unto them cloven” – or parted – “tongues as of fire,” – they weren’t fire, they were as like fire – “and it sat upon each of them.” Now, here’s another interesting phenomenon. These parted tongues that appeared over everyone of them was testimony that with no exception, each of them had received the Holy Spirit.
I’m going to add another theological point; and if your theological file can still handle this, listen. At the baptism of the Holy Spirit, Paul says, “You are baptized into one body, but you are all individually made to drink of one Spirit.” So that the baptism that takes place at salvation when you’re placed into the body, doesn’t just put you into the body, it puts the Spirit into you.
Now, don’t try to unscrew the inscrutable, just leave it at that. In other words, you are not only placed into the body of salvation, but the Spirit came to dwell in you. True? And that’s what he’s showing right here. He wanted them all to know that there was nobody left out of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Every single believer received the Spirit of God on that occasion. And that is a permanent thing. Jesus said, “He shall abide with you” – how long? – “forever.” And that’s the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
When you go into the body, are you in there for a while? You’re in there forever. You’re in there forever. And when the Spirit comes to dwell in you, is He in there for a while? He’s in there forever. So, you see, the baptism has occurred, the parted tongues indicating that on each one of them without any exception.
Now, some folks have misconstrued Matthew 3:11 to relate to this, because they take the tongues here, the tongues of fire, and the baptizing to be a direct indication of Matthew 3:11. Let me show you what I think is the correct interpretation.
Matthew 3:11, “I indeed baptize you with water under repentance;” – John the Baptist says – “but He who cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I’m not worthy to bear. He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and with fire.”
People say, “Yeah, and that’s what happened at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit and fire.” No, it’s not. The Holy Spirit happened at Pentecost. The fire had nothing to do with those tongues that look like fire. You say, “Why?” Because the fire is defined in verse 12: “Whose fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather His wheat into the grainery; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
That’s the fire of eternal judgment, friends. That’s saying either you’re baptized with the Holy Spirit, or in the end with eternal judgment. That’s what that’s saying. That’s not referring to the tongues of fire here, so we’ll set that aside. But these apparent looking – evidently, they look like tongues and they look like fire, and you can use your own imagination to determine what was going on.
But they were separated unto each individual, parted. Not each tongue parted, but the total was parted into little pieces, each on a top of an individual. This was the visible manifestation of the descent of the Spirit. You see, they had to know that something really happened. They didn’t have the senses spiritually to comprehend it apart from seeing it and experiencing it, and so they did. God gave them that.
It’s kind of like – you remember at the baptism of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit descended to equip Christ for His ministry, and it says that “He descended on Christ in the form of” – what? – “of a dove.” And so here you have again a visible manifestation of the Holy Spirit, this time an apparent tongues shaped like a tongue, and also looking like a flame, which is an obvious comparison. And so they are on each one. And that indicates that every believer, at this point, received the Holy Spirit.
You say, “What about carnal Christians? Do they have the Holy Spirit?” Of course, that’s Paul’s whole argument in 1 Corinthians. He says to them, “What? Don’t you know your body’s a temple of the Holy Spirit? What are you doing acting like that?” He doesn’t say, “You have now lost the Holy Spirit.” He says, “You have Him, that’s why you shouldn’t act like that. And the fact that you have the Holy Spirit” – Paul says – “depends on the fact that you were bought with a price.”
So what are we learning? All right, we’re learning this: we’re learning that we have been baptized at the moment of salvation, that this occurs here, in this instant, historically in verses 2 and 3. In addition to that, we come to verse 4. Now, watch it; and we’re just going to introduce this, and then we’re going to close. Verse 4: “And,” – there’s a conjunction adding an additional thing – “and, they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other languages, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
Now, watch this. They have been placed in union with Jesus Christ already. They had been made one. The Spirit had entered into them forever. But here He goes a step further and fills them for a reaction. And whenever you see the filling of the Spirit, friends, it’s always tied with something that happens after that. They were filled with the Spirit, and immediately they began to speak in other languages in the power of the Holy Spirit. Don’t confuse that with baptism.
This passage teaches two distinct things. The Holy Spirit came on Pentecost, first of all, to baptize believers into the body; secondly, to fill those believers for powerful testimony. And you will find no where in Scripture anytime that you’re ever told to be baptized with the Spirit. It never says to believers, “Go get baptized with the Spirit. Seek the baptism.” That happens at the moment of salvation; it’s nonexperiential.
Now, let me add this. I believe both occur at salvation at the same time. The filling of the Spirit is something that happens repeatedly through your life. You’ll be filled. It’s a momentary thing for special ministries as you yield to the Spirit – and I’ll explain more about that. But the filling of the Spirit can happen many, many times, and should happen constantly in your life.
The baptism happens once. You’re placed into the body in union with Christ; the Spirit comes to dwell within you. That takes care of that. From then on, it’s a question of filling of the Spirit. The difference is just as simple as the words of the apostle Paul who doesn’t say, “Get baptized with the Spirit.” Ephesians 5:18, he says, “Be” – what? – “filled with the Spirit.”
And it’s a very interesting term in the Greek, because it means be being kept filled. Now, if you’re going to be being kept filled, that’s assuming that at one time you were filled. Buy that? It has to be, because that’s the meaning of the tense, which means that at the point of salvation, you were not only baptized into the body, but were filled with the Spirit of God.
Do you remember when you were first saved, the joy that you experienced; the blessing, the love that kind of oozed out of you, and the tremendous desire you had to share Christ with somebody else, except you were kind of ignorant and didn’t really know what to say? Why, doesn’t John call it first love?
That feeling – and I think the filling of the Spirit scripturally happens when you yield everything to the Spirit and He just fills everything. And I suggest to you that you get the tape on the filling of the Spirit if you don’t understand this concept. I don’t have time to go into; that’s an hour-and-a-half itself; I’ll spare you.
But the filling of the Spirit is that thing that happens daily, moment by moment as you yield, and He fills you. If there’s sin in your life, He can’t fill it, right, because the law of expulsion says two things can’t occupy the same space at the same time. The filling of the Spirit is simply yielding, yielding, yielding. That happens again and again.
Paul says, “Be being kept filled. Keep on yielding.” And when you do that, there will be immediate results, because that’s an experiential thing. You’ll speak to yourselves in songs, hymns, spiritual songs. You’ll sing, make melody in your heart. You’ll love your wife. Wives, you’ll obey your husbands in the Lord. Children, you’ll obey your parents. Fathers, you won’t provoke your kids. Masters, you’ll treat your servants right. Servants, you’ll work for a days wages. That has immediate results.
And repeatedly occurs in a Christian’s life. You can be filled many times. You’ll be baptized once at the point of salvation. That’s connected with salvation. So the filling of the Spirit then always has an immediate response. In filling things happen. Let me show you. Look at Acts 4:8. This is really exciting, watch this, Acts 4:8.
Now, Peter was already filled with the Spirit on the day of Pentecost once. He was baptized in verses 2 and 3; he was filled in verse 4, it’s a distinct thing. “Then Peter,” – in verse 8, chapter 4 – “filled with the Holy Spirit.” You say, “Peter’s gotten filled again.” That’s right. It happens repeatedly. And what did he do? “Said unto them, ‘Ye rulers of the people and elders of Israel,’” and away he goes preaching again.
Anytime the filling comes, there’s a response that’s immediate. It may be joy. It may be love. It maybe the right relationship to people in the body: your wife, your husband, your mother, your dad, whoever. It may be the proclamation of the gospel. Whatever the Spirit designs to do when He fills you will be done. You got that one?
Now, look at verse 31: “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were filled with the Holy Spirit and” – what? Went home? No, they did what? – “spoke to word with boldness.” Anytime you get filled with the Spirit it’s immediate reaction. This is an experiential thing in terms of ministry.
Chapter 6, verse 5: “And the saying pleased the whole multitude; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and full of the Holy Ghost.” There’s Spirit-filled Stephen. Now, what kind of guy is Spirit filled Stephen going to be? He’s just going to be the kind of guy that’s liable to go out there and get himself killed for preaching the gospel. That’s exactly what he did.
Verse 8: “And Stephen, full of faith and power.” You notice that first he was full of the Holy Spirit and faith, now he’s full of power and faith, which means that the Holy Spirit and power are synonymous. When you get filled with the Holy Spirit, you’ve got power. And he fired out the gospel as a result.
Chapter 7, verse 55 nothing’s changed. “But he, being full of the Holy Spirit.” There he is again. So Stephen, when he was full of the Holy Spirit, preached such a powerful message that unbelievers stoned him to death, and he became the first martyr.
Chapter 9, verse 17: “And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, ‘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.” Now, look at verse 20: “And in three weeks in he preached Christ, and” – what? – “immediately response to the filling of the Spirit.”
Look at chapter 11, verse 22. This is a good one. 11:22, “Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem; and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart, they should cling to the Lord.” Why did he do it? “For he was a righteous man, and full of the Holy Spirit.” That’s why he went up there and preached like that.
Chapter 13 gives you one more, verse 9: “And then Saul, who is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, set his eyes on Him, and said. And he took off after this guy Bar-Jesus who was a sorcerer.
And then verse 52 – I love this: “And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Spirit.” See, it happens over, and over, and over again. And what did they do? 14: “It came to pass and Iconium, they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so” – did what? – “spoke.” Well, I’ve taken you halfway through the book of Acts.
Now, do you understand what happens when the filling of the Spirit occurs? That’s not a nonexperiential thing. That’s not the same as putting you into the body. That’s what fires you up to do the job that God wants you to do, and be the person He wants you to be. The filling of the Holy Spirit, beloved, is so easy to understand; all it is, is at any point in your life when you yield the control of your life to the power of the Holy Spirit, you’re filled with the Spirit. If you want more definition, as I said, get that tape, and that’ll help you.
Baptism then is positional, filling is practical. Baptism grants the power, filling turns it on. Nowhere in the New Testament is a Christian told to be baptized. I want to remind you that he’s already in the body, that he’s already possessing the Holy Spirit, and he ought to act like it. And filled simply means total control, total yieldedness to the resident power of the Spirit. That means no sin unconfessed, no self will. It’s yielding to the Holy Spirit.
And so we go back to Acts 2, and what do we see? “When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were in one accord in one place.” That’s the sovereignty of God on the right day, fulfilled prophecy. God’s sovereignly going to bring birth to His church.
“And suddenly there came a sound from heaven like a rushing mighty wind that filled the house where they were sitting.” At that moment, they were baptized into the body, they become one. They are the fulfillment of the prayer of Jesus in John 17. They were blended together in oneness. And to make sure they knew that nobody was missed, “There appeared unto them cloven tongues as of fire, and sat upon each of them,” that they might know that they were not only blended into one body, but they all possessed the same Spirit, the Spirit descending on everyone.
And then having been baptized into the body and being possessed by the Spirit of God, they were then filled with the Spirit of God, because they were so yielded. They were so of one accord waiting what would God would do; and in this great moment, so yielded, the Spirit filled them, and then they began to do something. And what they began to do we’ll see next time. Let’s pray.
Father, we thank You this morning for what we’ve learned in this hour and in our preparation. I thank You for what I’ve learned. Father, we know that it’s so important to You that we declare the whole counsel of God, that it’s so important to You that we, indeed, teach the word of God with accuracy. And, Father, we would desire above all that we might teach it as You have written it word by word, understanding what You’re saying.
Father, I want to thank You right now that I have not missed the baptism of the Spirit, but that I have been placed by the Spirit in the body. I know that, because I have a love that is supernatural for others in Christ. And I know I’m one with Jesus Christ, for I know His life is in me. Father, I have no doubts at all in my mind that I have the baptism of the Holy Spirit, nor do I about any other Christian; for that, Father, occurs as a sovereign act that You perform in placing us into Christ and into each other.
But, O Father, I know that from time to time my life is not filled with the Spirit as sin comes in, and I fail to yield control. God, so many times I do those things that do not please You; and I know I grieve the Spirit, and I quench the Spirit. Father, I would ask above all things that You would point my sin out to me faithfully. Send the Spirit of conviction to show me at all times what is not right, that I may make it right, that the Spirit of God may fill me to the full, that I may in power and boldness speak as I should speak, and be as I should be.
Father, my prayer for these gathered here today, Father, is that, first of all, they might know the baptism of the Spirit, that is that no one would leave this place who is not a Christian who hasn’t been placed into the body. And, secondly, that we who know You would experience the filling of the Spirit, that with power we may they speak the word with boldness, that we may know the great joy that they knew, that we may do those things that Paul says: singing, and praising You, and loving each other, and serving each other, being the kind of people You want us to be.
And we know that we have been filled; we were at salvation. It occurred at the same time simultaneously; we know that. For at that moment we were more yielded than perhaps any other moment. But, O Father, may we be being kept filled. May it be the desire and prayer of our hearts to yield moment by moment, one moment at a time to the power of the Holy Spirit. And, Lord, as we close our service this morning, may Your Spirit do His perfect work. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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