The Meaning of Pentecost
Key Verse: Acts 2:4
I. The Promise of Baptism in the Holy Spirit
A. In four instances (Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16;
John 1:33) John the Baptist stated that he was baptizing in or with water After him there was One, Jesus Christ, coming who was stronger and was going to baptize (baptisei, future indicative meaning a certain future action) in or with the Holy Spirit.
1. The baptizer is clearly Jesus Christ.
2. The element of baptism was going to be the Holy Spirit, even as the element of physical baptism was water.
B. The purpose of this spiritual baptism is indicated in
1 Corinthians 12:13: “For by [this in Greek is en, meaning ‘in’ or ‘with’ the Holy Spirit] one Spirit are we all baptized [ebaptisthemen, ‘we were all baptized’] into one body [the body of Christ so beautifully described in 1 Cor. 12:14-27], whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”
1. The Holy Spirit must convict the sinner if that conviction is going to be genuine and acceptable to Christ.
2. There are two instances in the New Testament when human belief was invalid because it was not initiated or energized by the Holy Spirit.
a) Simon the magician believed, but not in theHoly Spirit (Acts 8:9-25). He even fooledPhilip the deacon into baptizing him physicallywith water. This happened in Samaria. Then came two apostles, Peter and John. They prayed that those who had believed and were baptized might receive the Holy Spirit and validate their faith. This happened to all of themexcept Simon, the sorcerer. Only then did these become true believers. Before they simply believed because of the persuasiveness of Philip. Now that their faith was energized by the Holy Spirit, they were truly saved.
b) In Acts 19:1-7, we read of some disciples who had believed and experienced the baptism of repentance of John the Baptist, but they had never heard of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, their faith was not energized with the Holy Spirit and was consequently invalid. But when Paul put his hands upon them, they received the Holy Spirit. Their faith was validated, they were truly born again and made fit to become members of the body of Christ.
II. The Fulfillment of Johns Promise of the Baptism in theHoly Spirit
A. The Lord Jesus confirmed and clarified John the Baptist’s prediction in Acts 1:5: “For John truly baptized with [or in] water; but ye shall be baptized with [or in] the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”
1. The Lord gave further information as to when this historical event was going to take place: “not many days hence.” Stated positively, it meant that it would occur shortly. It was an event which indeed occurred ten days after the Lord made this prophesy prior to His ascension. This was the baptism with the Holy Spirit.
2. The expression “baptism” or “baptize in the Holy Spirit,” is not found in Acts 2:1-13. How then can we identify this baptism as that to which John the Baptist and Jesus said was yet to come and which Paul said had already taken place (1 Cor. 12:13)?
B. A key occurrence of the term “baptism” or “baptize in the Holy Spirit,” found in Acts 11:15, 16, can makethis identification clear.
1. Peter was in Caesarea by the sea speaking to Cornelius and his group of Gentiles. He said, “And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them [the Gentiles], as on us [the Jews] at the beginning [en arche, which may be understood as the beginning of the body of Christ, the establishment of the Christian church].”
2. Peter confirms that what the Gentiles witnessed at Caesarea and the Jews witnessed in Jerusalem at
Pentecost was the baptism of the Holy Spirit. He “Then remembered I the word of the Lord, w that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 11:16).
III. Speaking in Tongues, the Evidence of the Holy Spirit Baptism
A. At Pentecost those Jews who experienced this special coming of the Holy Spirit (see John 14:15-17; 16:7-14) spoke in other (hetirais, “qualitatively different” than their mother tongue) languages.
1. These were not “the unknown tongue” spoken by Corinthians (1 Cor. 14:2, 4, 13, 19, 26, 27) which was not a language per se, but an utterance not understood by the hearers.
2. In Acts 2:6, 8 they are definitely called dialects in Greek which can only mean ethnic languages. In other instances, the word glossai, “languages or tongues,” is used in the plural with a singular pronoun, referring to ethnic languages (see Mark 16:17; 1 Cor. 12:10, 28, 30; 13:1, 8; 14:5, 6, 18, 22).
B. They needed no interpreter to be understood.
C. They were spoken in the presence of one of theTwelve Apostles, including Paul.
1. At Pentecost all the apostles were present except Judas.
2. At Caesarea, Peter was present.
3. At Ephesus, Paul was present.
D. They spoke as part of a group.
1. At Pentecost–Jews.
2. At Caesarea–Gentiles.
3. At Ephesus–disciples of John the Baptist.
E. In the case of Ephesus in Acts 19:1-7, we don’t have the exact expression “baptism” or “baptize in the Holy Spirit,” but we do have the speaking in tongues or languages as the evidence of the Holy Spirit baptism. Thus the phenomenon must be identified as the same as at Pentecost and Caesarea.
1. Therefore, the special coming of the Holy Spirit was the sending of the Paraclete, the Comforter, by the Father and Jesus Christ after His ascension into heaven John 14:16; 16:16, 17; Acts 1:5).
2. This does not mean that the Holy Spirit did not exist or was not in the world prior to that time, but at that time He began to be with us as He is now (John 14:17). This period of time in which we are now living is thus the dispensation of the Holy Spirit in a very real sense (John I6: 16-20).
IV Who Is Baptized with the Holy Spirit?
A. The words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:13 make this unmistakably dear, especially if we translate it literallyfrom the Greek: “And indeed in or with one Spirit[that was the event manifested at Jerusalem, Caesarea,and Ephesus] we were all baptized into one body [the body of Christ, the Church], either Jews or Greeks [Gentiles], or slaves or free, and all were given to drink one Spirit” [author’s translation].
B. Observe the word pantes, “all,” occurring twice. Even the immature, carnal Christians of Corinth (1 Cor. 3:13) and all true believers whose faith was energized by the Holy Spirit, were baptized into the body of Christ.
C. Clearly this is not an experience of individual believers as a sign of maturity, but it is something Jesus
Christ accomplished for us all as a result of His incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. He will finally make the identities of those in His body known at His coming again (Rom. 8:21).
V. When Does This Baptism in the Holy Spirit Take Place?
A. Before we are Christians, the Holy Spirit’s only relation to us is that He convicts us of sin (John 16;8).
B. Then when we trust the work of Christ for us on the cross, our relation to the Holy Spirit changes John 14:17; Rom. 8:14).
C. Genuine believers are joined to His body when they are saved. When this joining is done by Christ, it is no more “our” salvation but “His,” and once He has made us part of His body no one has the power to tear His body apart by annulling His work.
VI. Pentecost Is the Beginning of the Baptism in the HolySpirit, a Work of God Also Manifested at Caesarea and
A. This work of God began the formation of Christ’s invisible body, the Church.
B. We personally appropriate this work of Christ when we believe in Christ through the empowering of the Holy Spirit. We can personally experience the meaning of Pentecost today!
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