Term Paper: Baptisim in the Holy Spirit

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[. . .] In any event, the apparent interval between belief and Spirit baptism in this narrative should not be taken as normative for Christians, according to the classic Protestant position. To insist on such is to place reasoning into the scripture that is present in modern day denominationalism and theology, but not present in the text itself.

Other evangelicals maintain that the New Testament distinguishes between receiving the Holy Spirit and being baptized in the Spirit. This perspective does not place the conversion event as synonymous with being baptized in the Holy Spirit. In John20.22 Jesus appeared to the gathered disciples, which included apostles and others, breathed on them and said "Receive the Holy Spirit." At this time, Jesus gives the believing community the Holy Spirit. Yet, days later when he ascend to the heavens, he tells the disciples to wait for the promised power and gift of the Holy Spirit before beginning the mission of spreading the gospel. According to Jesus words, we can understand that:

The baptism of the Spirit occurs at some point subsequent to salvation,

It is different that receiving the holy spirit upon conversion and faith in Christ.

The spirit baptism is for the purpose of empowering believers for ministry.

Hence, Jesus told his disciples that they would "receive power when the Holy Spirit" came upon them and that they would be his "witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8). The disciples already believed in Jesus and thus already had the Holy Spirit present in their lives, for no one can authentically confess Jesus as Lord without the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:3). But they were not yet empowered for ministry.

A closer look at the scriptures containing Jesus' commands to wait, and the purpose of the Spirit Baptism reveal the following.

"I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed (enduo) with power (dunamis) from on high." (Luke 24:49)

"Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water (hudati), but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit (en pneumati hagio).... But you will receive power (dunamis) when the Holy Spirit comes on (epiechomai) you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:4, 5, 8; see 11:15-16) (Wilson, online)

A closer examination of some of the words gives clarity as to 'why' the spirit baptism is meant as a universal Christian experience.

"Clothe (KJV 'endue') with power." The verb is Greek enduo, "dress, clothe." This may be similar to the analogy of baptism, the idea of covering completely with. The word translated "power" is Greek dunamis, from which we get our word "dynamite." The church was to be covered with power in order to carry out the mission of the Gospel.

"Receive power." The verb here is the extremely common Greek word lambano, "to receive." The emphasis here is not on voluntary acceptance here but upon possessing it, as if being handed a package.

"Come upon." The Greek verb is eperchomai, a compound word that means "come over or upon." It often referred to unpleasant happenings or to an enemy attack. But here it used of the Holy Spirit coming upon the disciples. The word suggests something out of our control that happens to us. Spirit baptism is wholly in God's power and at his time and pleasure.

"Pour out." The Spirit is "poured out" upon believers (Acts 2:17-18, 2:33, 10:45). Similar to the water baptism analogy, in pouring the water is in a vessel above the believer, and is saturating the believer with the Holy Spirit. (Wilson, online)

Thus, the infilling with the spirit that happens at the time of conversion is distinctively different than the "pouring over, or immersion in the Holy Spirit" which is described here. The "baptism of the Holy Spirit" involves being covered with, immersed in, empowered by the Holy Spirit.

This position argues that the distinction between conversion and spirit baptism is found throughout Acts as well as in some of Paul's epistles. For example, in his first sermon on the day of Pentecost, Peter commands his audience to "repent, and be baptized" and then "you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). The gift is promised after repentance and obedience. In Acts 6, the apostles tell the Christians in Jerusalem to find "seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom," to help with some of the tasks of ministry (6:3). According to advocates of this position, this implies a distinction between those who are "full of the Spirit" and others who are not. The distinction is further shown in Paul's dialogue with the disciples of John the Baptist at Ephesus. Before he knew that these disciples had not received the full gospel, Paul asked them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?" (Acts 19:2). The question does not make sense, defenders of this position argue, if all who believe automatically receive the full empowering of the Holy Spirit. Paul later wrote to the church at Ephesus, encouraging them not to "get drunk with wine...but be filled with the Spirit" (Eph. 5:18). How could Paul command this if all believers are automatically filled with the Spirit?

The distinctiveness of Spirit baptism is also clearly evidenced in Acts 8, according to advocates of this position. They argue that the attempts to explain away the interval between faith and Holy Spirit baptism in this passage are forced. More to the point, advocates of the view that Spirit baptism is subsequent to salvation ask, How could Philip or the apostles have considered the possibility that the Samaritans had not been filled with the Spirit if being filled with the Spirit is synonymous with conversion?

For all these reasons, advocates of the view that Holy Spirit baptism is subsequent to salvation encourage all believers to seek to be filled with or baptized with the Holy Spirit. Only when this occurs will they be fully empowered to carry out the work of the kingdom.

James Dunn's expositions

Dunn's book has become the standard reply by non-Pentecostals and non-charismatics. The book was written in 1970 and has since become standard reading in many evangelical colleges. As such, this book became standard reading in many of the divinity schools before the modern "charismatic movement" became common place across the American continent. Even those who do not ascribe to Dunn hold to his theological approach in explaining Spirit-Baptisms in Acts.

Dunn begins his approach to the spirit baptism with this statement:

The core of religion is religious experience. ( Lewis, 1959) If a man must say that he cannot find God in the reality of his own present life . . . then his belief in God will be a theoretical or dogma; and however great the force with which he clings to this belief, it will not be true faith, for faith can be only the recognition of the activity of God in his own life. (Bultmann, 1958) From this starting point, Dunn explores the topic of the spirits baptism. But is approach has the scale tilted toward the existential and dispensational theologies which were popular in his day. As such, he quickly departs from traditional theology, and even departs from orthodox Christology. Dunn begins his examination by posing the question "What was Jesus experience of God." Dunn used this as a dock on the edge of a deep sea from which to launch his own research vessel. However, his approached Jesus' experience of god is in the same manner he would measure his own experience of God. In his traditional existential approach, Dunn is led into considering Jesus' experience through Dunn's perspective, and he sidesteps the important issue of Jesus deity.

Jesus Christ was God in the flesh. His experience of God was different than every other person's because his experience of communion and community with the Father was one of perfect oneness. He was tempted like every man, but his experience was one of perfect union. Dunn suggests the Jesus had to grow into the knowledge and revelation that he was inspired by God, and that he didn't take on the role of Son of God, or his messianic destiny until his baptism at the Jordan. (Dunn, 1975) This perspective limits Dunn's understanding of Jesus relationship to the Father to the level to which it parallels our own. As such, Dunn's evaluation of Jesus' experience of the Holy Spirit is also distorted.

Dunn skirts the issue for a number of pages, but then expresses that he does not believe that Jesus was in fact the divine god-man that John's Gospel clearly identifies him. Dunn believes… [END OF PREVIEW]

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