Building up believers and the New Testament church

The Gospel of Baptism

The Baptism with the Spirit at Pentecost

"And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, 'which,' He said, 'you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.' Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, 'Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?' And He said to them, 'It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth'" (Acts 1:4-8).

These are the final words of Jesus, just before He departed from this world. He refers back to John's baptism that foretold what would shortly take place. In between the Jordan and this event were three to four years of ministry, and Calvary, but even after all that, He repeats the same thing John said and focuses the disciples' attention on the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Again, water baptism formed the initial understanding of baptism, but now the focus is on the Spirit who will bring the essential baptism that they need. The disciples cannot go on in the plan of God without this baptism. It is essential because this baptism will unite them with God. They cannot be "witnesses unto Him" without this baptism.

"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" (Acts 2:1-4). This is undoubtedly the baptism that Jesus said was coming. It was a sovereign act of God, and came as they waited on the Lord together. I think it is safe to assume that all who were present had submitted either to the baptism of John or the baptism of Jesus' disciples, but it is perhaps noteworthy to see that no mention of additional water baptism was made.

However, when Peter stood up to address the multitude, this was his instruction: "'Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call'" (Acts 2:38-39). Many have taken this scripture as a "formula" or the "standard" that God set forth pertaining to baptism. While I agree that we should accept this instruction of Peter for ourselves, we will see from other examples in Acts that it is not essential for this exact pattern to be followed. What I do think we can see from this scripture is that the focus was on "receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit." This was the promise. Water baptism here was identified with believing in Jesus for the forgiveness (deliverance) from sins, and the resulting promise was that the believers would receive the Holy Spirit. The following scripture records that in response to the word, "about three thousand souls were added to them."