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The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

Part One    Part Two    Part Three


Introduction

In Part One and Part Two of this series we saw that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a separate event from salvation, and that its purpose is to empower Christians for their individual ministries. We also saw that the ability to pray in tongues is the usual outward evidence that a person has received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

In Part Three we will take a look at several objections that people sometimes make concerning the charismatic view. For example, many people believe that certain spiritual gifts (including tongues) "died out" in the first century. Also, people sometimes say that certain spiritual gifts were "foundational" or "confirmatory" (meaning that they were temporary, only for the first century), or that "the Age of Miracles" ended when the New Testament was completed and the last apostle had died. If these views prove that speaking in tongues "died out" in the first century, then this obviously hurts the credibility of the charismatic view. We will take a close look at these and other viewpoints in this article.


Have Any Spiritual Gifts Ever "Died Out"?

The apostle Paul said that the spiritual gifts of prophecy, tongues, and knowledge will someday pass away:
"Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears." (1 Corinthians 13:8-10)
This is the only passage in the entire New Testament which tells us when any gifts of the Spirit will pass away. If we want to know whether or not these spiritual gifts have "died out" (as some people believe) then we need to examine this passage carefully, prayerfully, and objectively.

Paul said that these gifts will cease when "perfection" comes, so in order to determine when these gifts will die out we need a proper understanding of when "perfection" will come.

Many people assume that "perfection" refers to the completion of the New Testament. They correctly point out that this word is translated from the Greek word teleios, which means "perfect," "mature," or "complete," and they argue that "perfection" was achieved when the New Testament was completed. However, there are a number of reasons why 1 Corinthians 13:10 (above) does not refer to the completion of the New Testament:

  1. Let's assume for a moment that the Greek word teleios means "completion" in 1 Corinthians 13:10, as many people believe. When we substitute the word "completion" for "perfection" then the passage reads:
    "For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completion comes, the imperfect disappears." (1 Corinthians 13:10)
    This sounds like it could be referring to the completion of the New Testament, but in reality that would just be an assumption. If we believe that this passage is referring to the New Testament then we are reading into the passage something which it does not actually say. For example, it is equally possible that Paul was referring to the completion of our salvation (which will occur when our bodies are transformed at the Rapture), as in the following passage:
    "he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6)
    The words "completion" or "perfection" can refer to any number of things. The fact that the Greek word for "perfection" can be translated as "completion" does not prove that Paul was referring to the completed New Testament.

  2. One of the best ways to understand what Paul meant by the Greek word teleios is to examine every place he used it in Scripture and then to determine how he normally used this word. Apart from the verse we are studying (1 Corinthians 13:10), Paul used teleios seven other times in the New Testament:
    "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect [teleios] will." (Romans 12:2)

    "We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature [teleios], but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing." (1 Corinthians 2:6)

    "Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults [teleios]." (1 Corinthians 14:20)

    "until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature [teleios], attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." (Ephesians 4:13)

    "All of us who are mature [teleios] should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you." (Philippians 3:15)

    "We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect [teleios] in Christ." (Colossians 1:28)

    "Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature [teleios] and fully assured." (Colossians 4:12)
    With the sole exception of Romans 12:2, it is clear that every time Paul used the Greek word teleios ("perfection") he was referring to the spiritual maturity of believers, which will not be fully complete or perfect until we are resurrected and transformed at the return of Christ.

    This gives us valid reason for taking Paul's use of teleios in 1 Corinthians 13:10 as being another reference to the perfection of our spiritual maturity when Jesus returns, as Paul pointed out just two chapters later:
    "Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed --in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality." (1 Corinthians 15:51-53)
    Here Paul described the completion or perfection of our salvation when we will receive our transformed, immortal bodies at the Rapture. The internal evidence of Paul's consistent use of teleios is a strong reason for understanding "perfection" in 1 Corinthians 13:10 as being a reference to our ultimate perfection in heaven. There is no evidence to suggest that Paul had the completed New Testament in mind in 1 Corinthians 13:10.

  3. Although "complete" is a valid translation of the basic Greek word teleios, Paul actually used a specific form of this Greek word in 1 Corinthians 13:10 which has a very definite meaning. Paul used the Greek expression "to teleion," which specifically refers to our ultimate perfection in heaven (The Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament, Spiros Zodhiates, p.1372). You can easily verify the expression that Paul used by going to any library or Christian bookstore and looking up 1 Corinthians 13:10 in any Greek version of the New Testament. If you then look up teleios in the Greek dictionary mentioned above, you can verify that when it is used in the form of "to teleion" it refers to the heavenly perfection of our bodies, which we will not experience until our bodies are transformed and perfected at the Rapture.

    Again, there is no evidence to suggest that Paul had the completed New Testament in mind in 1 Corinthians 13:10. Instead, the evidence indicates that "perfection" refers to our ultimate maturity as believers.

  4. Notice that Paul said that when "perfection" comes, then the "imperfect" will disappear:
    "But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears." (1 Corinthians 13:8-10)
    It is clear from the context that the word "imperfect" refers to the spiritual gifts that are mentioned here, although this obviously does not mean that the Holy Spirit is imperfect or that His gifts are imperfect! The gifts of the Spirit are for our use while we are in these fallen, physical bodies on earth, and it is our use of the spiritual gifts which is imperfect, because Paul said that "we know in part and we prophesy in part." However, when "perfection" comes, meaning the perfection or completion of our salvation at the Rapture (or when we get to heaven, whichever comes first), then we will no longer need these gifts of the Spirit.

    Notice what Paul said will happen when we receive the completion or perfection of our salvation:
    "Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed --in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality." (1 Corinthians 15:51-53)

    "But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body." (Philippians 3:20-21)

    "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." (1 John 3:2)
    When Jesus returns for us at the Rapture then we will instantly be changed from mortality to immortality. Our previous, mortal, fallen state of existence will be completely done away with when "perfection" comes. It is this completion and perfection of our salvation which Paul was referring to in 1 Corinthians 13:10, not the completion of the New Testament.

  5. If Paul had mentioned the completed New Testament somewhere in the same context as the word "perfection," then this would strengthen the argument that the word "perfection" refers to the completed New Testament.

    However, Paul did not mention the New Testament at all in the context of 1 Corinthians 13:10. Paul never said anything about the completed New Testament in the entire book of 1 Corinthians. In fact, Paul never mentioned a "New Testament" or a new set of Scriptures in any of his letters!

    Every book of the New Testament written by Paul was a letter to a particular church, or to believers in a particular city, or to specific individuals. Notice in the following passages that Paul always referred to his letters as "letters," not as new books of Scripture. Here are all of the places in the New Testament where Paul made a reference to his own writings:
    "I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people" (1 Corinthians 5:9)

    "Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it--I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while" (2 Corinthians 7:8)

    "I do not want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters. For some say, "His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing." Such people should realize that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present." (2 Corinthians 10:9-11)

    "After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea." (Colossians 4:16)

    "I charge you before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers." (1 Thessalonians 5:27)

    "So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter." (2 Thessalonians 2:15)

    "If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed." (2 Thessalonians 3:14)

    "I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand, which is the distinguishing mark in all my letters. This is how I write." (2 Thessalonians 3:17)
    As we can see, Paul never referred to his letters as new books of Scripture, nor did he ever describe anyone else's writings as being new books of Scripture. Certainly Paul's letters are inspired Scripture, but the point is that Paul never made any kind of reference to a "New Testament" or a new set of Scriptures. We have no Scriptural evidence for taking Paul's vague statement, "when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears," as being a reference to the completed New Testament because Paul never mentioned such a thing as a "New Testament." In fact, after Paul died, roughly 75 years went by before anyone even tried to formally put together a new set of Scriptures, which we now call "the New Testament" (The History of Christianity, Dr. Tim Dowley, p.106). This makes it even less likely that Paul had such a thing in mind in 1 Corinthians 13:10.

  6. Paul's use of the word "perfection" is rather vague, but he elaborated on this statement with three illustrations, all of which deal with our maturity as believers. Not one of these illustrations has any bearing on the completed New Testament.

    Paul's first illustration is in 1 Corinthians 13:11, which immediately follows his use of the word "perfection":
    "but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me." (1 Corinthians 13:10-11)
    Paul's illustration speaks of maturity, but notice that he was not talking about the maturity of the New Testament. He was talking about our maturity as believers, which will finally be "perfected" or "completed" when we are transformed at the return of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 15:51-53, Philippians 3:20-21, and 1 John 3:2 above, for example).

    Since Paul used a description of spiritual maturity to elaborate on his statement that "when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears," it provides further confirmation that this "perfection" does not refer to the completion of the New Testament.

  7. Here is the next illustration that Paul used to describe "perfection" (which immediately follows the previous illustration):
    "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face." (1 Corinthians 13:12)
    The exact same Greek phrase ("see face to face") is used in the Greek version of the Old Testament for seeing God face to face:
    "So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, "It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared."" (Genesis 32:30)
    The apostle John confirms for us that we will see God as He is (face to face) after Jesus returns for us and "perfects" our bodies at the Rapture:
    "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." (1 John 3:2)
    Paul explained his statement about "perfection" by saying that "we shall see face to face," and we can see that it has nothing to do with the completion of the New Testament. Instead, it refers to our being transformed and taken into heaven when Jesus comes for us at the Rapture. Since Paul used this illustration to elaborate on his statement that "when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears," it provides further confirmation that this "perfection" does not refer to the completion of the New Testament.

  8. Paul's final illustration in the 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 passage which we are examining puts the whole issue to rest:
    "Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." (1 Corinthians 13:12)
    This does not describe the completion of the New Testament, because the New Testament was completed almost two thousand years ago and yet we still do not "know fully, even as [we are] fully known." Having a complete New Testament has not caused us to have a full, complete knowledge of God nor has it caused us to individually become "fully known" to one another.

    Scholars say that Paul was martyred in 64 or 68 A.D., but there are several books of the New Testament which scholars believe were written after Paul died: Hebrews in 68 or 69 A.D., Jude somewhere between 67 A.D. and 80 A.D., the Gospel of John somewhere between 85 A.D. and 95 A.D., and Revelation, which many scholars agree was written in 95 or 96 A.D. In addition, the first formal list of New Testament books was not compiled until roughly 75 years after Paul's death (The History of Christianity, Dr. Tim Dowley, p.106), and the New Testament was not actually completed in its final form for another 250 years or so after that (The History of Christianity, Dr. Tim Dowley, p.205).

    Paul said, "when perfection comes...then I shall know fully" (1 Corinthians 13:12, above). Some people believe that "perfection" refers to the completion of the New Testament, but Paul did not live to see the completion of the New Testament. Paul's use of the word "perfection" cannot be referring to the completed New Testament because that would contradict his statement that he himself would "know fully" when perfection comes.

To summarize, all of the evidence indicates that the "perfection" which Paul described is our transformation from mortal, corruptible bodies to perfect, immortal, incorruptible bodies. There is no suggestion in any of these verses, nor anywhere else in Scripture, that the completed New Testament is the "perfection" which Paul spoke of.

Paul said that certain spiritual gifts will only cease when perfection comes, meaning that we will no longer need these gifts after we are raptured and we receive our perfect, glorified bodies. Since the Rapture has not yet happened, all of the gifts of the Spirit are still functioning in the body of Christ, including tongues. This means that God still wants us to be empowered by the Holy Spirit for our own personal ministries just as Jesus and the apostles and the early Christians were. There are no other passages anywhere in the New Testament which tell us that any gifts of the Spirit will ever "die out."


Were the Gifts of the Spirit "Foundational"?

Sometimes people use Ephesians 2:19-21 to argue that certain gifts of the Spirit were "foundational":
"Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord." (Ephesians 2:19-21)
They argue that God's "building" (the Church) was built on the foundation of the apostles, so therefore the apostles must have been given certain spiritual gifts in order to help found the Church. The idea is that these gifts of the Spirit were part of the foundation for establishing and building the Church, and therefore they were temporary (which is not a very strong argument when you consider that the foundation which your house sits on was not temporary, it is still there). Since speaking in tongues is believed to be one of the "temporary" gifts, then tongues cannot be the outward evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

However, the above line of argument misses Paul's point and goes beyond what the above passage actually says. Paul's point was simply that we are members of God's "building," and that the apostles (and the prophets) laid the foundation for this "building." Notice that Paul used the same imagery in 1 Corinthians 3:9-11, where he specifically said that the foundation has nothing to do with his gifts as an apostle, but instead the foundation is Jesus Christ:
"For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building. By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 3:9-11)
Jesus is the true foundation, so if we use the argument which some people use (above) then we must conclude that Jesus and His gifts (salvation, eternal life, the Holy Spirit, forgiveness of sins, redemption, etc.) were purely "foundational" and therefore ended when the New Testament was completed. Obviously this is the wrong conclusion to make. The argument that the apostles' spiritual gifts were purely foundational (and therefore temporary) is not Scriptural.


Were the Gifts of the Spirit "Confirmatory"?

Some people believe that the miraculous gifts of the Spirit were given to the apostles in order to confirm their apostolic ministry, or that the apostles were able to do miracles because this confirmed the apostles' authority for writing inspired Scripture. This is based on passages such as the following:
"Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it." (Mark 16:20)

"So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders." (Acts 14:3)

"how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will." (Hebrews 2:3-4)
One reason that this argument is erroneous is because few of the apostles wrote any of the books of the New Testament, and many of the books were written by people who were not apostles (see my article called Who Wrote the New Testament?).

Another obvious flaw in this argument is that signs and miracles and spiritual gifts were not limited to the apostles:
"Now Stephen, a man full of God's grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people." (Acts 6:8)

"When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said. With shrieks, evil spirits came out of many, and many paralytics and cripples were healed." (Acts 8:6-7)

"During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.)" (Acts 11:27-28)

"Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven. He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied." (Acts 21:8-9)
Some people believe that the miraculous gifts of the Spirit were given to the apostles in order to confirm their authority, yet all of these other people (above) had miraculous gifts as well. And Paul specifically pointed out that all of the gifts of the Spirit were present in the church at Corinth (1 Corinthians 1:7).

Not only did these people (who were not apostles) prophesy and do amazing signs and wonders through the Holy Spirit, but at Pentecost the apostle Peter said that according to God's Word all Christians have the opportunity to do similar things:
"Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: ... "'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy."" (Acts 2:14-18)
God specifically said that He will pour out His Spirit on all types of people, and notice that He did not put any time limit on this. God did not say "I will pour out my Spirit for 60 or 70 years until the last apostle has died." Instead, God said that He will pour out His Spirit on people regardless of gender, age, social position, or time period.

Not only was there no time limit placed on the gifts of the Spirit (except that when we are transformed at the Rapture then we will no longer need certain gifts), but neither Jesus nor the apostles ever took back, canceled, or in any way softened any of the things that they said about spiritual gifts. Take a close look at what they said:
"But eagerly desire the greater gifts." (1 Corinthians 12:31)

"Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy." (1 Corinthians 14:1)

"I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy." (1 Corinthians 14:5)

"Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church." (1 Corinthians 14:12)

"Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues." (1 Corinthians 14:39)

"Do not quench the Spirit." (1 Thessalonians 5:19, New King James Version)

"do not treat prophecies with contempt." (1 Thessalonians 5:20)
Not a single one of these statements was ever taken back or canceled! Now notice Jesus' final words in the Gospel of Mark:
"And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well." (Mark 16:17-18)
Just before Jesus left the earth He said that "those who believe" will cast out demons, speak in tongues, see miraculous healings through the laying-on of hands, and so on. Neither Jesus nor the writers of Scripture ever canceled this promise, so this promise is still in effect!

Sometimes the above passage is called "the longer ending of Mark," implying that Mark 16:9-20 is a "disputed" passage. We should be careful here, though. It is true that scholars are uncertain about who wrote Mark 16:9-20, because the evidence suggests that Mark did not write this passage himself. However, the uncertainty is over who wrote the passage. God has watched over His Word and has ensured that the Bible contains exactly what He wanted it to contain. God saw to it that this passage was accepted into the canon of Scripture and therefore it is infallible Scripture, and it is included in some form in all modern versions of the Bible. Some of the early church fathers quoted from this passage, which means that it comes from the earliest days of Christianity. Without this passage, the Gospel of Mark ends abruptly at verse 16:8 ("Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.") without ever mentioning the risen Jesus. This leads many scholars to believe that the original ending of Mark may have been lost or destroyed and that it may have been added back in by scribes. People sometimes want to dismiss Mark 16:9-20 because it seems to have been written by an anonymous person, but what they don't realize is that the entire Gospel of Mark is anonymous and nobody knows for sure who wrote any of it! Furthermore, all of the Gospels are anonymous, but all four of them, including the Mark 16:9-20 passage, have been canonized as inspired Scripture. The book of Hebrews is also canonized Scripture, yet nobody knows who wrote it. The human authors of other books and portions of Scripture are unknown as well, such as John 7:53-8:11, Deuteronomy 2:10-12, 20-23, 3:13b-14, 34:1-12, the Old Testament books of 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Esther, and numerous other parts of the Old Testament, yet we don't dispute the fact that these books and passages are canonized Scripture. In fact, the mainline Bible Knowledge Commentary (Walvoord and Zuck, Dallas Theological Seminary) says this about Mark 16:9-20:
"verses 9-20, though written or compiled by an anonymous Christian writer, are historically authentic and are part of the New Testament canon ... Possibly these verses were brief extracts from the post-Resurrection accounts found in the other three Gospels and were known through oral tradition to have the approval of the Apostle John who lived till near the end of the first century. Thus the material was included early enough in the transmission process to gain acceptance by the church as part of canonical Scripture. These verses are consistent with the rest of Scripture." (p.194, emphasis added).
The point is, it doesn't really matter who wrote Mark 16:9-20, just like it doesn't really matter who wrote the Gospels or the book of Hebrews. What matters is that God caused this passage to be included in the canon of Scripture, and therefore it should be believed and obeyed.

The Bible says that in the first century, the Lord confirmed His Word by miraculous signs and wonders and gifts of the Spirit (see Mark 16:20, Acts 14:3, and Hebrews 2:3-4, above). The exciting reality is that the Lord will still confirm the preaching of His Word to this day with miraculous signs and wonders and healings! So why don't we see more miracles? Because miracles require faith, and many modern Christians do not really have faith that miracles and healings can happen right in front of their eyes. That's why it appears as if miracles have "died out." But they haven't! Miracles are for today! You can verify this for yourself by reading my Healing Training Course and learning how to heal people in Jesus' Name. I have personally witnessed cancer instantly healed, nearly-blind eyes instantly healed, backs instantly healed, short arms and legs instantly growing out, a growth which fell off, and so on, when I have laid hands on people in His Name. There is nothing special about me, so you can do these things too!


Are Miracles Really "for Today"?

Some people believe that there was an "Age of Miracles" which ended in the first century, but the New Testament never says anything about an Age of Miracles which will only last for a few decades after the cross. In fact, the greatest weight of Scriptural evidence shows that the entire Church Age (which includes us modern Christians) is supposed to be an age of miracles. To prove this, I invite you to see Part One of my Healing Training Course.

It is easy for modern Christians to assume that our non-miraculous church experience is normal, and that the people in the early years of the Church were "special" people living in a "special" time who experienced a "supercharged" form of church life. But what infallible source of information are we using which tells us that a lack of miracles is normal for modern times? The only infallible source of written information that we have is the Bible, and the Bible shows that miracles are to be expected throughout the Church Age. The New Testament does not provide us with any instructions or examples for a non-miraculous form of church. Instead, the New Testament is filled with instructional examples of how signs, wonders, miracles, and the supernatural gifts of the Spirit are supposed to operate throughout the Church Age, and there are numerous instructions given to us for the orderly use of these miraculous spiritual gifts in the body of Christ (read chapters 12, 13, and 14 of 1 Corinthians, for example).

Further, neither Jesus nor the writers of Scripture ever described two Churches, meaning an "early Church" (which ended when the New Testament was completed) and a "modern Church," so these terms are misleading. There is only one Church, and only one Church Age, and only one body of Christ, and therefore we are part of the same New Testament Church that was born at Pentecost. To illustrate this, consider a new Christian who has not absorbed any biases from Christian friends or church leaders. Imagine that he is so hungry to know the Lord that he reads through the entire New Testament several times. When this person goes to church for the very first time in his life, wouldn't he expect to see people sometimes speaking in tongues, laying hands on the sick, prophesying, and so on? After all, this is the only type of church experience which is described in the New Testament!

The entire Church Age (from Pentecost until the Rapture) is supposed to be an age of miracles, and this includes all of the miraculous gifts of the Spirit. Jesus told the disciples that they will receive power when they are baptized in the Holy Spirit, and this happened after they were saved (as we saw in Part One of this series). After we become saved, we also need to be baptized with the Holy Spirit in order to receive spiritual empowerment.


"One Baptism"

Occasionally someone will argue that the baptism of the Holy Spirit became obsolete in Paul's time, based on this passage:
"There is one body and one Spirit-- just as you were called to one hope when you were called--one Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Ephesians 4:4-5)
The assumption is that the above passage is referring to water baptism as being the one remaining baptism for Christians, and therefore the baptism of the Holy Spirit must have been obsolete by the time that Paul wrote the above passage.

However, notice that Paul simply mentioned "one baptism." The question is, which one of the baptisms in the New Testament was Paul talking about in the above passage? Perhaps it was John's baptism (e.g. Mark 1:4), or perhaps it was the baptism of suffering (e.g. Mark 10:38-39), or perhaps it was the baptism of the Holy Spirit (e.g. Matthew 3:11), or perhaps it was the baptism of fire (e.g. Matthew 3:11), or perhaps it was Christian water baptism (e.g. Matthew 28:19). Paul said nothing at all about water or water baptism in the context of Ephesians 4:4-5 (above), so people are simply making an assumption that Paul was talking about water baptism.

In reality, all he said was that there is "one baptism," which might simply mean that Christians only need to be baptized in water one time (not multiple times), or that Christians only need to be baptized in the Holy Spirit one time (not multiple times). People are making an assumption when they say that this "one baptism" implies that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is now obsolete.


When Did Jesus Go to the Father?

It is sometimes argued that the disciples could not have received the permanent, indwelling Holy Spirit on Resurrection Sunday (the day that Jesus was resurrected) because the Holy Spirit was not able to be permanently received by anyone until after the Ascension (when Jesus physically ascended back up to heaven). This view is based on the following passages:
"But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you." (John 16:7)

"And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever" (John 14:16)

"After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. ... But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight." (Acts 1:3-9)
In the first two passages above, it appears that the Counselor (the Holy Spirit) would not permanently come to the disciples until after Jesus had "gone away" to the Father. In Acts 1:3-9 (above) we see that Jesus "went away" 40 days after the Resurrection by ascending up to heaven. If the Holy Spirit was not able to be permanently received by anyone until after the Ascension, then the disciples could not have received the permanent, indwelling Holy Spirit on Resurrection Sunday. Therefore, the charismatic view must be wrong.

On the surface, this sounds like a strong argument. However, there is an assumption being made here, and assumptions can easily lead us into error. This argument assumes that Jesus was referring to the Ascension when He said that He must "go away" before the Holy Spirit can be sent. But is this really what Jesus meant? The only way to know for sure is to prayerfully, honestly, and objectively search for the greatest weight of evidence in Scripture so that we can see the full picture of what Jesus meant in John 16:7 (above).

What we're about to see is that Jesus "went away" to the Father on the day that He was resurrected, and then He came back to the earth later that same day (which was about 40 days before the Ascension). Watch how several different lines of evidence all lead to that conclusion:

  1. According to Acts 1:3-9 (above), the Ascension happened almost a month and a half (40 days) after the Resurrection. But look what happened on the night before Jesus was crucified:
    "It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father." (John 13:1)
    Just before the Last Supper, on the night before Jesus was crucified, He knew that the time had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father. Is this referring to the Ascension, which was still a month and a half away, or did Jesus leave this world and go to the Father at the time of His crucifixion and resurrection? As we will see, He went to the Father on the day He was resurrected.

    Here's what He said to the disciples on the night before He was crucified:
    "You heard me say, 'I am going away and I am coming back to you.' If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe." (John 14:28-29)
    Jesus said that He was going to the Father and then coming back to the disciples, and then they would believe the things He said about Himself. When did the disciples believe these things? On the day that Jesus was resurrected (John 20:19-31). On Resurrection Sunday, Jesus went to the Father and then returned to the earth, just as He promised He would.

    Here's another one:
    "Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, 'Where are you going?' Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you." (John 16:5-7)
    On the night before Jesus was crucified, He said that now He was going to the Father. He was not referring to the Ascension because that was still a month and a half away. He was referring to the time of His crucifixion and resurrection. Then Jesus said that unless He "goes away," the Counselor (the Holy Spirit) will not come. Jesus "went away" to the Father on the day that He was resurrected, and that is why He was able to impart the permanent, indwelling Holy Spirit to the disciples on the evening of Resurrection Sunday.

    Here's another one:
    "Some of his disciples said to one another, "What does he mean by saying, 'In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,' and 'Because I am going to the Father'?" They kept asking, "What does he mean by 'a little while'? We don't understand what he is saying." Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, "Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, 'In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me'? I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy."" (John 16:17-20)
    On the night before He was crucified, Jesus told the disciples that in a little while they would no longer see Him because He was going to the Father. Then after a little while they would see Him again and their grief would turn to joy. When did the disciples see Jesus again, and when did their grief turn to joy? On the day that Jesus was resurrected (John 20:19-20). When Jesus said that He was going to the Father and then returning to the earth, and their grief would then turn to joy, He was referring to Resurrection Sunday, not the Ascension.

    Here's another one:
    "Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. ... I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father." (John 16:22, 28)
    On the night before He was crucified, Jesus said that now was their time of grief, and now He was going to the Father. He also said that they will see Him again and rejoice, which happened on Resurrection Sunday (as we saw a moment ago). "Now" refers to the time of the crucifixion and resurrection, not the Ascension.

    Here's another one:
    "I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name--the name you gave me--so that they may be one as we are one." (John 17:11)
    Once again, on the night before He was crucified, Jesus said that He was just about to go to the Father.

    Here's another one:
    "I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them." (John 17:13)
    Once again, on the night before He was crucified, Jesus said that He was just about to go to the Father.

    All of these passages tell us that on the night before Jesus was crucified, He repeatedly said that He was returning to the Father now (not in a month and a half at the Ascension). Jesus went to the Father and then returned to the earth on the day He was resurrected. That's why the disciples were able to receive the permanent, indwelling Holy Spirit at the time of their salvation on the evening of Resurrection Sunday.

  2. When Jesus said, "Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you" (John 16:7), He was specifically referring to the time of His death and resurrection, not the time of the Ascension (as we saw in point #1). Watch how this fits with the events that happened on Resurrection Sunday.

    That Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene was at the tomb before dawn:
    "Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance." (John 20:1)
    The risen Jesus appeared to Mary and told her that He had not yet returned to the Father. Then He told her to tell the disciples, "I am returning to my father":
    "Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"" (John 20:17)
    So on the morning of Resurrection Sunday, Jesus said that He was just about to go to the Father!

    Now, consider that Bible translators often have to make an interpretation of a passage in order to find the right English words to use. In the above verse the NIV says "Do not hold on to me," but several other translations of the Bible (including literal translations) say "Don't touch Me" instead. So which translation is correct?

    The Greek word that is used in this verse is haptomai, which means:
    "To apply oneself to, to touch. Refers to such handling of an object as to exert a modifying influence upon it" (The Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament, Spiros Zodhiates, p.245, emphasis added)
    It turns out that the NIV never translates this Greek word as "hold on to" except in John 20:17 (above). Why? Because "hold on to" is not the normal meaning of this Greek word. The NIV translates haptomai as "marry" in 1 Corinthians 7:1 and as "harm" in 1 John 5:18, but in all of the other occurrences of haptomai in the New Testament, the NIV always translates it with the word "touch." That is the normal meaning of this Greek word (here are the references: Matthew 8:3, 15, 9:20-21, 29, 14:36, 17:7, 20:34, Mark 1:41, 3:10, 5:27-31, 6:56, 7:33, 8:22, 10:13, Luke 5:13, 6:19, 7:14, 39, 8:44-47, 18:15, 22:51, 2 Corinthians 6:17, and Colossians 2:21).

    So for some unexplained reason, Jesus told Mary that morning not to touch Him because He had not yet returned to the Father. But watch! That evening, Jesus specifically told the disciples to touch Him. Something had changed:
    "Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. ... Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me ["Do not touch me"], for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"" (John 20:1,17)

    "While they [the disciples on the evening of Resurrection Sunday] were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have."" (Luke 24:36-39)

    "On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." And with that he breathed on them and said, "receive the Holy Spirit." If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."" (John 20:19-23)
    Notice the sequence of events: On Sunday morning, the risen Jesus told Mary not to touch Him because He had not yet gone to the Father. Then He told Mary to tell the disciples that He was going to the Father. [Then He went to the Father.] That evening, He had returned from the Father and He told the disciples to touch Him! They believed that He had risen from the dead, and they received salvation (see Romans 10:9). Then Jesus breathed the permanent, indwelling Holy Spirit into the disciples as an exact parallel of breathing spiritual life into Adam (as we saw in Part One).

    Notice that Jesus did not say to the disciples that evening what He had said to Mary that morning: "Do not hold on to me ["touch me"], for I have not yet returned to the Father." Why didn't He say this to the disciples? Because He had already gone to the Father and returned back to the earth.

    When Jesus said that He must go to the Father before the Holy Spirit could be permanently received by anyone, He wasn't talking about the Ascension. He was talking about Resurrection Sunday. That's why the disciples were able to receive salvation and the permanent, indwelling Holy Spirit on the day that Jesus was resurrected.

  3. During Jesus' earthly ministry, sometimes the disciples were not able to understand what He was talking about. Here are some examples:
    "At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him." (John 12:16)

    "Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand."" (John 13:7)

    "(They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)" (John 20:9)
    However, when Jesus appeared to the disciples on the evening of Resurrection Sunday, He opened their minds so that they could understand the Scriptures:
    "While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. ... Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures." (Luke 24:36-37,45)
    Why did Jesus wait until after His death and resurrection before opening their minds to understand the Scriptures? Because the Bible tells us that without the Spirit we cannot discern the things that come from the Spirit of God:
    "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:14)
    This means that unsaved people (unregenerate people) cannot understand the spiritual truths in Scripture, as this prominent mainline Bible commentary points out:
    "Since only spiritual people are able to receive spiritual truths, it follows that the man without the Spirit, an unregenerate person, would not and could not receive the message of wisdom regardless of his intellectual abilities or accomplishments" (The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Walvoord and Zuck, Dallas Theological Seminary, p.510)
    Before Jesus died and was resurrected, the disciples did not have the permanent, indwelling Holy Spirit and therefore they sometimes could not understand what Jesus was talking about. But on the evening of Resurrection Sunday, Jesus was able to open their minds so that they could understand the Scriptures. Why? Because they were now saved and they had received the permanent, indwelling Holy Spirit, which allowed them to understand spiritual truths on Resurrection Sunday.

We have seen that Scripture is very consistent, and we have seen that various different lines of evidence all point to the same conclusion. The disciples were able to receive salvation and the permanent, indwelling Holy Spirit on the evening of Resurrection Sunday because Jesus had already gone to the Father and then returned back to the earth. When Jesus said that He must "go away" before the Holy Spirit can be received by people (John 14:16 and 16:7), He was not referring to the Ascension.


Conclusion

We have examined the baptism of the Holy Spirit from a number of different angles. We found that Scripture is completely consistent, and we found that the Scriptural evidence completely supports the charismatic view.

I have tried to offer plenty of evidence that after salvation there is a voluntary second experience of the Holy Spirit which is for empowering a Christian and which has the usual outward evidence of being able to pray in tongues. We honor God when we prayerfully seek His truth with an unbiased, teachable spirit, and my hope and prayer is that this series has given you some food for thought and some Scriptures for prayerful consideration. Whatever you believe, if you have trusted in Jesus alone as your Savior then you are my brother or sister in Christ, and I look forward to meeting you when we all get Home!

For a detailed Scriptural explanation of the difference between "the gift of tongues" and "praying in tongues," see my article called Praying in the Spirit Involves Speaking in Tongues, which examines every passage on tongues throughout the New Testament.

When you are ready to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues, I invite you to read my article called How to Receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.


All for Your glory, Lord Jesus!


Part One    Part Two    Part Three
 
 
 
  Modification History  
 
 

  • 02/16/2009 - This was originally a two-part series, but it is now a three-part series. No new information was added, but instead Part One was split into two separate parts.
  • 10/28/2006 - Added a section called "One Baptism."
  • 02/09/2002 - Modified some of the wording.