A Brick in the Valley

Baptism of the Holy Spirit
February 23, 2008, 11:16 am
Filed under: Holy Spirit

Energized by the Florida sun and invigorated by the rides, Dr. Warnock returned to the U.K. and invited discussion about the nature of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (TBOTHS).

Here’s the question.  Does TBOTHS take place at conversion?  Or, is it a separate experience for Christians?

Adrian raised the stakes by citing a quote from Lloyd-Jones.  I am quite a fan of Lloyd-Jones (in fact I forked over hard earned cash today to buy a book by him only this afternoon).  So, it is hard to disagree with him.

Never the less, I do.

There I said it.

Lloyd-Jones position is that if we teach, as many do, that TBOTHS takes place at conversion, we make so profound an error as to quench the work of the Spirit.  Again, see the quote on Adrian’s post.

Grudem has a great section on this in his Systematic Theology (Chapter 39, “Baptism in and Filling with the Holy Spirit”), and you should probably quit reading this post and just read it.  But, I think Lloyd-Jones basic error is to confuse TBOTHS and the filling of the Spirit.  It would be a mistake to say that we can never have experiences of the Spirit subsequent to conversion.  But, they are not the Baptism of the Spirit. 

TBOTHS is primarily a redemptive-historical event that took place at Pentecost to begin the Church.  The Spirit was poured out with a view to unity and the Great Commission (see Acts 1-2).  It was more a corporate event than an individual one. 

As Israel was delivered out of Egypt (through a redemptive historical event with a focus on the Red Sea), so the Church was baptized by the Holy Spirit (as seen in Acts, with an emphasis on Pentecost).

In reference to the TBOTHS, Kuyper writes, “Formerly isolation, every man for himself; now organic union of all the members under their one Head: this is the difference between the days before and after Pentecost.   The essential fact of Pentecost consisted in this, that on that day the Holy Spirit entered for the first time into the organic body of the Church, and individuals came to drink, not each by himself, but all together in organic union.”[1]

So TBOTHS took place to form the Church and believers are, therefore, a part of the Spirit baptized Body of Christ (1 Cor 12:12-13).  Filling, on the other hand, is something that happens at different points and is usually connected to proclamation, though not so in Eph 5:18ff.

While there are “echoes” of TBOTHS in Acts, it principally took place at Pentecost and, hence, when one is converted he or she is part of the baptized Church.[2]

Hoch summarizes:

“Baptism in the Spirit is a redemptive-historical complex of events whereby the universal church is created by the risen Christ as he pours out his Spirit, so that all who believe in Jesus and invoke his name for salvation are incorporated into his body, the church, regardless of their ethnic, sexual, or socioeconomic status.”[3]

Hoch maintains that it is finished after Acts 19.  But, one wonders if there can’t be more “echoes” of Pentecost today even a there were within the book of Acts.  He points out that the additional events of chapters 8, 10, and 19 fit in because their purpose is to unify new groups: Jerusalem, Samaria, Caesarea, and with John’s followers.[4]

Again, it seems Lloyd-Jones is confounding TBOTHS and “filling of the Spirit.” . . .which Grudem would say is the best explanation for second experiences.[5]

Fortunately, there is a great deal of great literature on this subject which include Sinclair Ferguson’s book on the Holy Spirit and Kuyper’s towering work.  One that I found most helpful, and I agree very closely with his views as they were written at that time, is John Armstrong’s book, True Revival (2001, Harvest House).

I apologize for the sloppy documentation – – hey, it’s a blog.  If you Google well, you can fill out the rest of the information.

Works Cited

Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994.

Hoch, Carl B., Jr. All Things New: The Significance of Newness for Biblical Theology Grand Rapids: Baker.

Kuyper, Abraham. The Holy Spirit.

Richard, Earl. “Pentecost as Recurrent Theme.” In Luke-Acts Studies.

[1] Abraham Kuyper, The Holy Spirit, 133.[2] See Earl Richard, “Pentecost as Recurrent Theme,” in Luke-Acts Studies.[3] Carl B. Hoch, Jr., All Things New: The Significance of Newness for Biblical Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker), 41.[4] Hoch, 46.

[5] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 781.


2 Comments so far
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G’day Peter,

I disagree with your take on the narrative story of Acts / Church / Pentecost. While I understand the position you have accepted, I think it is a rather forced position that one has to make to understand it in that way.

That there is not teaching in the Epistles to support this doctrinal stance is also indicative of its shaky footing. Whereas there is much to support that there is two experiences to be had when one reads the Epistles in the context of the narrative story.

You can read a more reflective post on my stance here http://trinitariandance.wordpress.com/2008/02/23/does-equating-salvation-as-the-baptism-of-the-holy-spirit-grieve-the-holy-spirit/

Comment by craig b

Cragi – – thoughts for stopping by!

Comment by cdbrauns

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