The Baptism with the Holy Spirit

by Lewis Sperry Chafer

Taken from Grace and Truth Magazine 1922


It is Satan's purpose to diminish, if not to destroy, the authority of the Scriptures. The reason for this is obvious. Every revelation depends on the Scripture for its exact message. An attitude of doubt concerning the Scriptures will eventually become a doubt concerning every truth from God. We are aware of the Satanic method of an open denial of the trustworthiness of the Bible teachings; but a far more dangerous device of Satan is abroad which is designed to allure the most zealous of Christians away from the power and force of exact revelation. I refer to the practice of elevating a personal experience, or supposed leading of the Spirit, above the importance of the Scriptures which are "once for all delivered to the Saints."

The words of Bildad in his argument with Job are an illustration; Bildad had experienced a night vision and unless Job could claim as much or more he must remain seated and be silent. On such a supposition Satan has only to create a mental impression and then to verify it with a sensation to lead many earnest people into the deepest error. This is exactly what he is doing, and concerning no one subject more than the truth which is our present theme.

Our study is to be of “The Baptism with the Spirit.” The Subject is perhaps quite new to many, for it is so little considered; but we shall discover as we go forward that the subject is of deepest import since we receive all our positions and our possessions in Christ en the sole ground of the baptism with the Spirit, Therefore, in the point of the valuable accretions in the riches of grace. no truth could be more important to the believer next to that of salvation itself, We are not surprised, then, to discover that more satanic error is now being received by earnest Christians which is based on false teaching concerning the meaning of this great ministry of the, Spirit than almost any other one subject of revelation, I do not refer to heresies such as Christian Science; refer to certain sanctification and pentecostal movements which are basing everything they do and teach on an erroneous conception of the baptism with the Spirit. Coming face to face with the actual facts of revelation on this question, the advocates of these systems have either to give up their peculiarities or give up the Scriptures. Many are esteeming their experience-confirmed doctrines above the Bible itself. Thus does Satan minister even as an “angel of light.” That which is almost true is many times more dangerous than that which is wholly untrue. There can be no safety, therefore, apart from an absolute loyalty and devotion to the exact teaching of the Bible.

Our subject is one of the five ministries of the Spirit to the believer. I am bold to state that it is the imperative duty of every Christian to study these ministries until these things are familiar and the exact and? discriminating meaning of each is fixed in the mind beyond confusion. It is necessary for me to refer to each of these ministries of the Spirit since there is a  tendency to confuse them one with another, and especially to confuse some of them with the baptism with the Spirit.

1. The Spirit gives divine life. We are "Born of the Spirit." This is a new creation and is a work of God in response to saving faith in Christ.

2. The Spirit indwells every saved person' from the moment he is saved. There is much misunderstanding and consequent opposition to this fundamental truth. It is, however, only a matter of Bible testimony. We should consider among many passages John 7:37-39, Rom. 5 :5; 8:9. 1 Cor. 2:12; 6:19, and against this clear teaching there is no opposing Scripture when all Scripture is carefully considered. Simply to have received the Spirit does not imply that we are filled with the Spirit.

3. Every child of God is also sealed with the Spirit. (Eph. 4:30). This ministry is most evidently of particular value to God as He looks at His own in the world

4. Every believer, too, is baptized with the Spirit. Of this we are yet to study,

5. Every Christian may be filled with the Spirit, which ministry has to do with power, service and blessing. He may be filled, and should be filled according to the divine purpose. The “filling” is too often confused with the baptism with the Spirit. ‘To correct this confusion we need only to turn to God's Word,

There are, in all, not more than eleven direct references to the baptism with the Spirit. In taking them up in order we discover:

First a plain prediction by John the Baptist mentioned once in each of the four gospels that there would be a baptism with the Spirit. (Matt, 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, John 1:33.) This fourfold prediction is important; but there is no light from these Scriptures as to what constitutes that Baptism with the Spirit. .

Second, in Acts 1 :4-5 we read, "And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith He ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence." Revelation here advances only to the point of assurance that this ministry of the Spirit would be "not many days hence." This, we believe, anticipates the Day of Pentecost; but no light is yet shed on the exact meaning of this work of the Spirit.

Third, in Acts 11:15-18, we have Peters defense concerning his unJewish action in going to the house of Cornelius the Gentile. Peter states; "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. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as He did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ ; what was I that I could withstand God?" Particular attention should be given to this passage, for here, more than anywhere else in the Scriptures, false interpretations as to the meaning of the baptism with the Spirit are founded.

It should be noted that m this passage Peter makes three references to the Spirit; He states that (1) the Spirit fell on them. (2) Peter was reminded of the promise of the baptism with the Spirit (Acts 1:4-5.) And (3) the Spirit was given to the Gentiles as He had been given at Pentecost to the Jews. All error concerning this passage arises in supposing that the Spirit "falling on them" is identical with the baptism with the Spirit. Evidence that this is not true will be seen in a further study of the Scriptures.

If we turn back to Acts 10:44-48 where the first account is given of Peter's experience in Cornelius' house, we find that no reference is made to the baptism with the Spirit ; but the Spirit, it is written "fell on them," and as a direct result they "spake with tongues." "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 he baptizedin the Name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

It 'is equally important to read the account of the advent of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost as stated in Acts 2:1-4. "And when the Day of Pentecost was 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 all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance." It should be observed that according to the Scriptures, they spake with tongues, on the Day of Pentecost as a direct result of the Spirit's filling, and that, according to Acts 10:44-48, they spake with tongues as a direct result of the Spirit falling on them. It is therefore reasonable to conclude^hat the Spirit "falling upon them" and the Spirit filling them are one and the same thing. In each case the result was identical; but if this be true, it is evidently unscriptural to relate any outward manifestations of the Spirit, such as speaking with tongues, to the baptism with the Spirit. Not discerning this error, multitudes to-day are "seeking the baptism of the Spirit," and are assured that if "it" can be gained, they too will speak with tongues.

The tongues' manifestation was given as a witness at the beginning of this age and is one of the sign gifts (1 Cor. 14:22.) These gifts naturally ceased as the need passed away (note 1 Cor. 13:8). However, during the centuries past, promoters of unscriptural movements and false teachings have often claimed to speak with tongues. This claim has usually been advanced as an assurance that those who claimed to speak with tongues as well as their teachings, were under the special favor of God. The danger in this is obvious; Satan who is able to imitate and_ counterfeit the outward manifestation of tongues, can thus easily delude people into supposing that any false doctrine is of God simply 'because of this outward sign.

The natural course in all these matters is to bring the doctrines in question the searching test of the Scripture itself, and not to be misled by superficial things, which things easily might be only a delusion from Satan. The modern revival of the tongues manifestation is open to serious question. (1) It wholly misinterprets the true meaning of the baptism with the Spirit, and, in the main, it bases its whole system on this colossal error. (2) It usually incorporates into its First, that the Church which is His body is indwelt by the Spirit of God. When in Eph. 2:18-22 Christ is set forth as the Chief Corner Stone, and the Church as the stones of the building, it is to disclose the truth that the Spirit of God is now living here on the earth in a temple of living stones. That temple is said to be the "habitation of God through the Spirit." This plainly indicates the Church as a corporate body; but it is also revealed ;

Second, that the individual believer is the temple of the Holy Spirit; "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost?" (1 Cor. 6:19).

These scriptures declare a most vital truth; not only is the Body as a whole indwelt by the Spirit of God but each member of that body is indwelt by the individual, undiminished Person and Presence of the Spirit. It is wrong to suppose that the divine Presence is divided and apportioned to the various believers who constitute the Body of Christ. The Spirit is a Person and therefore, indivisible. Pie, the third Person of the blessed Trinity, lives in every Christian. This marvelous fact established an organic union between the members of that Body and the Head, and also between the members in relation to each other, which is too deep for analysis. When we contemplate that two human persons are indwelt by one and the same Spirit we pass beyond the range of all human experience or understanding. The truth is somewhat illustrated by the fact that two members of a human body are partaking of the same physical life. Consider the living relationship between a person's two hands. There is one pulse beat, one temperature, and one vitality. All this is due to the presence and manifestation of one common life. The closest union between two persons in human affairs is that of marriage, — "They two shall be one flesh;" but the union between two Christians is as their union to Christ their Head — "He that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit."

It may be concluded then that, by the baptism with the Spirit, the believer, is joined unto Christ as a branch is grafted into a vine, or a member might be joined to the human body. This union is so vital and eternal, we may believe that Christ will never be seen in glory apart from the members of His body, and the members of that Body will never be seen apart from. Christ. This is revealed in 1 Cor. 12:12: "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."

So, also, we may conclude that by the baptism with the Spirit there is established a vital and eternal union between all believers. There is a kinship too deep for description or understanding. What love and care one for another is demanded by this union! This is stated in 1 Cor. 12:25-27: "That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care' one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it; Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular."

Christian fellowship and unity, like our fellowship and union with Christ, is eternal, and deeper and more important than all other issues of human life combined. It has too often been supposed that to dispose of the mere outward organizations into which Christians are gathered would solve the problems of Christian coldness, indifference, and division one toward another. This has never proven true. The root trouble is lack of pure love in the Spirit. When we thus recognize and love our Lord the living Head, and recognize and love each fellow-member in the Body of Christ, we are keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Thus we may conclude that the baptism with the Spirit is m no way related to the outward manifestations of power in the life of the believer, which manifestations follow the Spirit's filling; it is rather the placing of the believer in that vital union with Christ wherein it may be said of him that he is "in Christ" and Christ is "in him." Thus are all saved ones vitally united to Christ and to each other, and according to this marvelous relationship their love one for the other should be manifested. No federation or combination of the world is comparable to this fellowship in Christ.