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"And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him." (Gen.22:2-3)
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Br. Samuel Babu, Believers Brethren Assembly, (BBA), Majlis - Bahrain For the last few days, we have been relentlessly praying for Br. Samuel Babu, who suffered Cardiac Problems and was admitted in Salmaniya Medical Complex, Bahrain. It was well pleasing for our Lord to call HIS child to the Eternal Home, where there is no pain, no sorrow, no tears, no sickness and no death. He went to be with the LORD around 10:30 PM Bahrain Time today (Friday 23rd 2015). Let us uphold the grieving family members to the Throne of Grace. May the Lord bestow upon them heavenly Grace, Peace and strength and console them with the word of God.


(A study on the Holy Spirit)

Dr. Silas C. Nair






The word ‘baptism’ is a transliteration of the Greek word baptisma, (‘baptizo’ is ‘to dip’, ‘immerse’).


There are only seven direct references to the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. These references can be categorized into three groups.


1. Matt.3.11; Mark 1.8; Lk.3.16; Jn.1.33; Acts 1.5. These are prophetical.

2. Acts 11.16. This is historical

3. 1 Cor.12.13. This is doctrinal.


The first four references are made in the setting of water baptism of John the Baptist. He prophesied that the One coming after him will baptize with (Gk. ‘en’) the Holy Spirit and fire. The fifth reference is also prophetical. But here Jesus is the prophet who said, “You shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1.5). Till this time baptism by the Spirit had not taken place.


The next reference (the 6th) is historical. According to the direction of the Spirit, Peter went to the house of Cornelius, a gentile, and preached the gospel. He is recounting this experience before the Jerusalem elders: ‘as I began to speak the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 11.15,16). So what happened in the house of Cornelius was similar to something happened when Peter and the other men in Jerusalem were together at the beginning. Peter understood that what happened to them and in the house of Cornelius were the fulfillment of the prophecy of the Lord Jesus.


What happened at the beginning is described in Acts 2.1- 4. But no definition of this is given in Acts.


“When the day of Pentecost had 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, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance”.


The last and the seventh reference is in 1 Cor.12.13. This is the doctrinal definition of baptism of the Holy Spirit. “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body”. So the baptism of the Spirit is the work of the Holy Spirit whereby He made the believers into one body, the Church.


The Greek word “en” is variously translated by words “with”. “by”, “in” etc. The context has to decide by which English word the Greek word should be translated. “Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water” (Matt.3.16). He was in the water and came up out of the water. So it is correct to translate John’s word, “I indeed baptize you “in” water. In water baptism, there is the Baptizer, (John) the one who is baptized, (Jesus) the element in which He is baptized (water) and the purpose for which He is baptized (to fulfill all righteousness). The same is true of baptism ‘in’ the Spirit also. The Baptizer is Jesus, those who are baptized are the believers, the element is the Spirit and the purpose is to form the body.


In all the first four reference to Spirit baptism John said it was Jesus who was going to be the Baptizer. In Acts 1.5 Jesus only prophesied about the fact of baptism ‘not many days hence’. In Acts 11.6 Peter recollected the prophecy of the Lord Jesus. In all these six references to the Spirit baptism the Baptizer is therefore the Lord Jesus. There is no reason to suppose another Baptizer in 1 Cor.12.13. Jesus Christ Himself is the baptizer here also. Spirit would have come only after He was glorified (Cf. Jn.7.37-39) and He Himself had promised to send the Holy Spirit (Jn.16.7). On the day of Pentecost Jesus Christ baptized the believers in one Spirit into the Body. So this is the baptism “in the Spirit” not ‘baptism by the spirit or with the spirit’.


After Pentecost “the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2.47). The saved ones are those who are born again, sealed by the Spirit and indwelt by the Spirit. The Holy Spirit lives in them. As in the case of baptizing ‘in’ the Spirit, the work of adding to the Church is also the work of the Lord Jesus.



In the prophetical reference in Mathew and Luke, John the Baptist also mentioned of a baptism of fire. Some have seen in this reference the cloven tongues as of fire on the day of Pentecost, comparable to the Shekinah glory filling the temple. But the context makes it very clear that this is not so. “His winnowing fan is in His hand and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matt.3.11). So baptism of fire speaks of future judgment.


If on the other hand the ‘baptism of fire’ is symbolized by the ‘cloven tongues as of fire’ on the day of Pentecost, and Pentecost is a personal experience of the baptism in the Spirit, every time a person experiences this the ‘cloven tongues as of fire’ should sit on every believer. This has never happened and is never happening today. Therefore to claim that the ‘baptism of fire” is a present experience of blessing, whether second or third, is to misinterpret the Scripture.



There are other similar references in the NT. We will examine some of them.

‘Baptized into Christ’, i.e. ‘baptized into his death’ Rom.6.3; ‘baptized into Christ’ Gal.3.27; ‘one baptism’ Eph.4.5; ‘buried with Him in baptism’ Col.2.12.


Some have classified these reference also under ‘baptism with the Spirit’. This should not be so and the things that differ should be distinguished.


Griffith Thomas wrote a book called “Christianity is Christ”. It is true Christianity is Christ. It is not a religion in the sense of other religions. Christianity is a Person, Christ. Christianity is also personal. Christ is a historical person. But when one accepts Christ as Lord and is born again, he experiences Christ. In this sense Christianity is experiential also.


Christianity is also corporate. The Lord added to the Church daily those who were being saved. The moment a person is saved he is added to the Church. The personal and corporate aspect of Christianity should be distinguished.


“I have been crucified with Christ” (Gal.2.20). This is the identification of the believer with Christ in His death. Jesus was crucified on Calvary. This was 2000 years ago. When I accept Him as my Lord, I have been crucified there as well in Him. This is the truth of Scripture.


“Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” (Rom.6.3). Those who were baptized into Christ are those who were baptized into His death. This is personal. Baptism into Jesus Christ means in salvation a believing sinner is identified with Christ in his death and resurrection. God reckons as if the believer has died with Christ and rose again with him. Whereas by the baptism in (or of or with) the Spirit the believers are fused into the body of Christ. This happened on the day of Pentecost. (Today believers, those who are baptized into Christ, are added to the Church) These are two distinct operations, though happening simultaneously. One cannot be divorced from the other but they are distinct. Baptized into Christ speaks of my relationship with Christ, but baptism in the Spirit and being added to the Church speaks of my relationship with other believers in the body. Without the former the latter is not possible. They also happen simultaneously but there is a logical order. The personal comes before the corporate aspect.


The baptism of Romans 6.3 is neither water baptism of a believer nor ‘baptism with the Spirit”, which is corporate, but the believer’s personal identification with Christ in his death and resurrection. Water baptism is the likeness of this baptism into the death of Christ.


For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Gal.3.27). What is the meaning of this baptism?


“This is not water baptism, which cannot save. Paul used the word “baptized” in a metaphorical sense to speak of being “immersed” or “placed into” Christ (cf.Gal.2.20) by the spiritual miracle of union with Him in his death and resurrection (John Mac Arthur, Note on Gal.3.27).


This “union with Christ, which takes place at the time of conversion, is confessed in water baptism. This baptism does not make a person a member of Christ or an inheritor of the kingdom of God. It is a public identification with Christ, which Paul speaks of as a ‘putting on’ of Christ. Just as a soldier proclaims himself a member of the army by ‘putting on’ his uniform, so a believer identifies himself as one who belongs to Christ by being baptized in water. It is certain that the apostle is not suggesting that water baptism unites a person to Christ. Nor is Paul likely referring here to Spirit baptism, which places a believer in the body of Christ. In water baptism the Galatians confessed that they had died with Christ and had been buried with Him (Wm Mac Donald, Believers Bible Commentary, N.T. page701).


In Galatians chapter 3, Paul explains that justification of a believer is by faith and is apart from the Law (1-25). And such a justified person is a son in the family of God. All are sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus. Without any distinction of Jew or Gentile, bond or free, male or female all becomes Abraham’s seed by faith. This is because all have been “baptized into Christ”. This is not water baptism, but one’s personal identification with Christ in His death and resurrection. Everyone who is thus baptized have “put on” Christ.


Water baptism does not baptize a person into Christ, but is a confession that the candidate is the one who has identified himself with Christ in is death and resurrection i.e. baptized into Christ.


There is one baptism (Eph.4.5)

Chapters 4 and 5 describes the life and service of a believer. All are one in Christ. Because they are united to Christ they are united to one another. This unity of the Spirit is to be maintained. The seven-fold unity that is to be kept is mentioned in 4.4-6. The first three chapters of Ephesians speak of the doctrine and the next three of life. Though ofcourse the doctrine is related to life, the emphasis is on

practice in the second section. The baptism here speaks of water baptism. Believer’s baptism is one, though there are different modes of this baptism adopted by different groups. Some even don’t follow water baptism.


Buried with him in baptism (Col.2.12)

The emphasis in the expression “baptized into Christ” is one’s identification with Christ in his death and resurrection. But in the present reference in Colossians, the emphasis is on burial of the believing sinner. This also happened at conversion and is portrayed in water baptism.


Baptism in the Spirit at conversion.

It was mentioned earlier that the baptism in the Spirit was the work of the Lord when the believers were fused into the body of Christ. This is historical and took place at Pentecost. This is not repeated.


Is a believer baptized with the Spirit today at conversion? Some maintain that this takes place every time a sinner believes. Paul’s statement: For by one spirit we were all baptized into one body (1 Cor.12.13) is the corporate aspect of this baptism. If the Spirit baptism is historical and it happened on the day of  Pentecost this does not happen again.


Is baptism ‘with’ the Spirit a second blessing or experience for which a believer has to wait, as the early believers waited in Jerusalem? There is no baptism ‘with the Spirit’ as it was explained earlier. There is only baptism ‘in’ the Spirit. Therefore it is not necessary for any believer to wait for the baptism with the Spirit either in Jerusalem or elsewhere.


“Baptized” is in the aorist tense, which not only looks back to an act, but views the act in its completeness, as accomplished. This verb ‘baptized’ refers, therefore, to Pentecost, and gives us the doctrinal explanation of that event. All references to this baptism have Pentecost in prospect (Matt.3.11; Mark 1.8; Lk.3.16; Jn./1.33; Acts 1.5) or in retrospect (Acts 11.15; 1 Cor.12.13). Again ‘baptized’ links with what took place in Acts 2, where we are told that the Spirit filled the house (v.2). It was a literal baptism. The Holy Spirit had come in answer to the promise of the Lord in the Gospels (Jn.14.26; 15.26; 16.7) to form the Body of Christ. Those present were actually baptized in the element, the Spirit. By the descent of the Spirit they were all baptized into one body. When Paul says “we” he has in view the whole Church in contrast to “ye” (v.27), referring to the local church. Do not the words of John the Baptist in the Gospels indicate that all whom he baptized in water would be baptized in the Spirit (Mark 1.8)? In the mind of God all Christians were seen to be baptized. It is essential to see that the Holy Spirit only came down once. His coming was unique and final. It was unique for it never happened before; it was final in that it will never again happen in that way. There was only one baptism of this kind. This was the birthday of the Church. We speak of our next birthday, but actually we have only one birthday, the rest are anniversaries. Believers are not baptized in this way at conversion; they come into the good of what took place at Pentecost. There is no Scripture that states that believers are baptized in the Spirit at conversion. The words used of what takes place at conversion are indwelling, anointed, sealed, earnest, but not baptism” (Richie New Testament Commentaries, I Corinthians, by J. Hunter, P.146)


“The baptism in the Spirit by Christ of every believer into His body to form His body is a historical event similar to His incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension and coming again. Christ did it once and for all when He sent His Holy Spirit” (Hebrew Greek Key Study Bible, 1 Corinthians P.1403)


The next phrase, “and have all been made to drink into one spirit” is the individual aspect. “Literally translated it means we all “have been given to drink”. The idea in the verb ‘potizo’ is that a drink is offered to someone, but he must drink it or reject it himself” (The Layman’s Commentary on the Holy Spirit, by John Rea, P.69). Each believer is offered this. This is personal and his drinking into one Spirit is experiential.


So it would be more correct to say that in (by/with) the baptism of the Spirit the body was formed on the day of Pentecost), and as in Acts 2.47 the Lord is adding to the Church daily those who were being saved. The saved are those who have been made to drink into one Spirit. One need not wait for the baptism in the Spirit or by the Spirit or of the Spirit.

                                                          To be continued........

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