The Promise of the Father – Acts 1:4-5

The apostles, to whom the Lord Jesus was speaking in these verses, were our spiritual fathers.

They were members of the first church,

And through them the gospel was brought a generation closer to us.

They were commanded by the Lord to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father.

The Lord explained that that promise was of the baptism of the Holy Ghost.

So here we have the first church – the grandmother of our church.

We have the Apostles, our spiritual forebears.

We have the command that they were to be witnesses, just as we have the command to be witnesses.

And we have the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

So what if some dear saint of God asked you: “Have you been baptized by the Spirit?” – what would you say?

Would you answer: “Yes, the day I was saved I was baptized into the body of Christ by Spirit of the Lord”?

Would you say, “Yes, years ago I attended a little country church and was baptized by the Spirit, and I spoke in tongues”?

Would you say, “Yes, I am currently filled with the Spirit”?

Or would you say, “No, I’ve never been baptized by the Spirit, nor do I want to be or ever expect to be”?

What would you say?

This promise of the Father, as I’ve all ready told you, is explained by Peter as the prophesy of Joel.

Last Wednesday we read from Joel 2.

But this promise of the Spirit has been reiterated in other places.

For example Matthew 3 describes the ministry of John the Baptist.

Turn to Matthew 3 and let’s read from verse 5:

“Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan,

And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:

And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

We notice that there are three kinds of baptism mentioned here.

They are all different: one is figurative, one is historical and one is practical.

Water baptism is a subject that most real Baptists understand pretty well.

It is the immersion of a child of God in water depicting his new life in Christ.

It is a picture of the death, burial and resurrection of the Saviour.

But what is this fire baptism?

I won’t go into a full analysis of all the ideas.

Let it suffice to say, I believe that it refers to the judgment of God.

The baptism with fire is not the same thing as baptism of the Holy Ghost.

The only reason that they are mentioned together is because they have the same Administrator.

John came baptizing in water, but Christ would baptize with the Spirit and with judgment.

But what is this baptism of the Holy Spirit?

We certainly have no clear declaration of its fulfillment before Calvary.

In John 20:22, Jesus breathed on His disciples the Holy Spirit,

But there isn’t a word about this being the important baptism that John described,

And there weren’t any of the spectacular effects that Joel described.

In fact Acts 1:5 distinctly says that the Baptism of the Spirit would take place in just a few more days.

“For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence”

Since the Lord made the comparison between water baptism and Spirit baptism …

Let’s make some parallels between them to help us understand Spirit baptism.

I believe that there are four requirements necessary for water baptism to be scriptural:

There must be a proper giver, receiver, purpose and procedure.

In other words only someone truly born-again by the power of the Holy Spirit should be baptized.

Only a scriptural New Testament church has the authority from God to baptize.

It can only be by immersion in water

And it is with the purpose of illustrating the new life that is in Christ Jesus.

Now, can I be so bold as to say that the same four requirements are true for any kind of baptism?

Matthew 3:11 says that the Administrator of spiritual baptism is not Holy Spirit but Christ;

The Holy Spirit is the substance, the element, into which the candidate is immersed.

And “immersed” as the right word, because that is the meaning of the word “baptize.”

And that leaves us with the questions of “who” and “why.”

Of course, the day that Calvary Independent Baptist church baptizes a cuddly little baby, is the day that it will cease to be a New Testament church.

Only a person who rationally and actually receives Christ as Saviour is a proper subject for baptism.

Well, Spirit baptism is restricted as well.

Jesus said, YE shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”

Who was He speaking to?

Compare verse 4 with verse 15 and then move on to chapter 2 verse 1.

This is not a loosely assembled mob or crowd.

This is a numbered and organized group of disciples of Christ, called a church.

They were the group commanded to evangelize the world in verse 8.

They were the people who elected Mathias to succeed Judas Iscariot as one of the apostles.

They were included in the group to whom the Baptist spoke.

This is the church of Christ in Jerusalem, established by the Lord during his earthly ministry.

And Jesus told this church, “Not many days from now you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

What was our question?

Who was baptized in the day Pentecost?

Did the baptism of the Spirit fall on two Christians in Damascus, four in Jerusalem, or six in Post Falls?

Did it come on a dozen worshipers of the Queen of heaven?

No sir, became on the church of Jesus Christ as a unit.

Nowhere in God’s Word do we ever find a command for individuals to seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Nowhere will you read a promise that God will so baptize us.

It never was, nor is, nor ever shall be an individual blessing.

Okay then WHAT HAPPENED on the day of Pentecost?

The church or Jerusalem (the number of names of which were an 120) were assembled as commanded.

They were united in prayer, doctrine, faith and even administration.

And then the Holy Spirit with the will of Christ engulfed the room, verse 2.

The Spirit filled the room and in so doing submerged the congregation in Himself.

That answers the definition of baptism; they were immersed, enveloped, submerged.

Later in Acts 11, Peter said, “When that happened we all knew that it was the fulfillment of Jesus words.”

Let me point out here some of the related events.

Holy Spirit baptism is not the same thing as the filling of the Holy Spirit.

The house was filled with the Spirit and in so doing the church was baptized.

Acts 2 is linked together by a number of “ands” with verse 4 saying AND they were all filled.”

The filling of the Spirit is something individual and very important.

But it is not the same thing as the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

We are commanded to be filled, encouraged to be filled, taught to be filled.

But we are never commanded to seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

And it’s important to realize that baptism of Holy Spirit has nothing directly to do with speaking in tongues.

In the case of the day of Pentecost there were several miracles performed all at once.

Miracles very rarely run in packs like this, but on that day they did.

If all these miracles, the sound of wind, tongues of fire, glossolalia were all were result of Spirit Baptism,

And Spirit baptism does take place weekly in charismatic churches as they say,

Then why don’t we hear and see the rest of the signs of Pentecost today?

It is because all these gifts are individually wrapped and only incidentally related on this occasion.

Speaking in tongues is not proof of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Alright then, was his miracle of Spirit Baptism EVER REPEATED?

Yes, it was, but only once, and then that at the home of Cornelius in Caesarea.

You see, the baptism experienced Pentecost came only on a Jewish congregation.

Only Jews saw the miracles: spoke in foreign languages, and 3000 of them were saved.

The Holy Spirit endorsed the work of the church with undeniable evidence.

But the commission of Christ was to evangelize the whole world.

The apostle Peter was sent therefore as a special missionary to reach the rest of the world.

Turn to Acts 10, and begin reading with verse 1:

“There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,

A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.

He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.

And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.

And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter.”

Now look at verses 24 and 34.

“And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends.”

“Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons.”

Now go down to verse 44:

“While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.

For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,

Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.”

What was his demonstration of the Holy Spirit?

Again it was multifaceted.

Was it His indwelling at salvation?

Probably for some of those people it was, but that wasn’t the baptism of the Spirit.

Was it His filling of those people? Apparently it was.

But also, unusually, it was His filling of the house where the people were gathered.

When the Spirit filled the house, the people were submerged or baptized. v.44

Later on the Peter explained everything 11:15-16.

“And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.

Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.”

There was no question that Cornelius and the other Greeks were baptized in the Spirit, but why?

That leads us to I Corinthians 12:13, a verse often misused and misunderstood.

“For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles,

Whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”

Isn’t the theme of Acts 10 and I Corinthians 12 the same?

God unites diversities.

Part of the problem in Caesarea was that the Jews were not willing to accept the Greeks.

Paul keeps emphasizing the same thing in this part of I Corinthians.

Verse 13 says that the church continues this unity process through salvation and baptism.

For being in one Spirit, we were immersed into the church of Corinth.

There’s a heated debate about whether or not the word “Spirit” should be “Holy Spirit” or simply “attitude.”

The answer is not as spectacular some people think,

But I believe that refers to the Holy Spirit.

And so did the translators of our King James Bible when they capitalized word “Spirit.”

The key to understanding this verse is little word “by”.

Remember that the promise was that the Lord Jesus would baptize “with” or “into” the Spirit.

Just as ordinary baptism is “with” water or “into” water.

But the Holy Spirit is never said to baptize anyone, unless you find it here.

So I understand the word “by” to mean “in” in this verse.

This is B.H.Carroll’s understanding of the word.

It’s even the opinion of the Pulpit Commentary, which is not a Baptist book.

And what is the baptism of this verse?

In the light of Ephesians 3:5 which says that there is only one kind of baptism today,

I conclude that this is referring to water baptism.

I Corinthians 12:13 teaches us absolutely nothing about the baptism of the holy spirit.

That special holy spirit baptism was administered by the war Jesus on only two occasions.

And what was HIS PURPOSE, the fourth requisite for spiritual baptism?

The baptism of the Holy Spirit was not primarily to empower anyone or anything,

Although that was a secondary result.

The power of the Spirit is felt to those who are filled with the Spirit, not baptized by the Spirit.

The filling of the Spirit is something that comes and goes depending on our relationship to the Lord.

No, the baptism the Spirit was to prove to the Jewish mind that the church of the Lord Jesus Christ was now the chosen temple of God.

Those Jews knew about God’s acceptance of Moses’ Tabernacle and Solomon’s Temple.

They knew how God’s glory entered those buildings, and approved and claimed to them.

Pentecost was God’s acceptance of the already existing church of Christ.

And at Cornelius’ house the Jews saw that the Gentiles were excepted as well.

As 21st century Christians, we don’t look for the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

We look for the return of Christ, and we desire the filling of the Holy Spirit.

We are to be filled with the Spirit not covered by the Spirit.

And how desperately we need that filling.