“Unto What Then Were Ye Baptized?”
One of the largest controversies within Christianity has been the rise of three movements associated with the fresh indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I consider myself to be a part of the Spirit-filled traditions. The confession of sin and acceptance of Christ as Lord and Savior does not necessarily bring this baptism of the Spirit. There have now been three ‘waves’ of the Spirit: Pentecostal, Charismatic and Third Wave movements. Each of these has placed an emphasis on being filled with the Holy Spirit. Many times there are objections from those outside about what they see in these churches. Manifestations of the Holy Spirit, emotionalism, speaking in tongues, and ‘falling out’ in the Spirit have made people feel uncomfortable. But here are some of the things that Jesus and the Apostles have told us.
In the Gospel of John, Christ tells His disciples that when He leaves them the Father will send to them the Holy Spirit:
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you (Jn. 14:26).1
At His ascension Jesus again told His disciples about the coming of the Spirit:
But ye shall receive power, after that the holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8).
The Holy Spirit would deliver both comfort and power to Christ’s followers on Pentecost. On that day Peter and company spoke in foreign tongues and, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, brought three thousand people to belief in Christ Jesus. Throughout the book of Acts there are accounts of healings, prophecy, a resurrection from the dead, and other phenomena that were all wrought by the Spirit.
Many have told me that the Comforter was given to us at the moment we embraced Christ as our Savior; but within the many verses of the Acts of the Apostles there is a passage that I, as of yet, have not heard anyone mention:
And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,
He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.
And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.
Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 19:1-5).
Notice that the author writes of two baptisms, one of John the Baptist and the other of Jesus Christ. The believers that the Apostle Paul encountered had received John’s baptism, but were unaware that there was such a thing as the Holy Spirit. In this circumstance, Paul saw fit that they should also be baptized in Jesus Christ. How is this different from John’s baptism? John the Baptist himself explained the existence of two baptisms and their different natures:
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 (Matt. 3:11).
The forerunner of the Messiah prophesied a second baptism that was much different than what he was offering. It is apparent that this is referring to Pentecost, when tongues of fire came onto the Christ followers who were waiting in the upper room. If this was the event that John was referring to, why did Paul have to baptize others in the name of Christ? This is because, just as being baptized with water is a choice, so too is being baptized with fire, even if you have already accepted Christ’s invitation.