Explaining about Baptism of the Holy Spirit and Fire
by Robert Randle
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One of the common practices and teachings among Pentecostal, Holiness and Charismatic Christian Churches is the doctrine of Holy Spirit and Fire baptism, just like the apostles received on “Pentecost Day” after the Feast of Passover, when the LORD Jesus was crucified. This study will review biblical texts to get a perspective as to see how such a theological perspective originated.
Matthew 3: 11-12
I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come One who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Cp. Luke 3: 16b).
NOTE: Before trying to understand the context it is necessary to start back at verse 7, paying careful attention to the narrative, as in the following:
Matthew 3: 7-8, 10
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and cast into the fire (Cp. Luke 3: 7,-8, 9).
Matthew 7: 16a, 17, 19
By their fruit you will recognize them. Likewise every good tree bears good [fresh] fruit, but a bad tree bears bad [rotten] fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Luke 3: 17
His winnowing fork is in His hand to clear His threshing floor and to gather the wheat into His barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
NOTE: What has been presented so far is a series of contrasts: baptism of the Holy Spirit/fire; good fruit/bad fruit; and wheat/chaff.
Acts 1: 3-5
After His suffering, He showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while He was eating with them, He gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift My Father promised, which you have heard Me speak about (Cp. Luke 24: 49). For John baptized with water; but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit (Cp. Acts 11: 16).
NOTE: Jesus did not say that they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire, too.
Acts 2: 2-3
Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the entire house where they were sitting. They “saw” what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues [languages] as the Spirit enabled [empowered, directed, guided] them.
CONCLUSION: In all due respects to my Spirit-filled, tongues speaking Christian brethren it is all a matter of rightly dividing the word of truth (Cp. 2 Timothy 2: 15). Jesus mentioned to His disciples (apostles) before His ascension back to heaven that they were to tarry in the city (Jerusalem) until they be imbued with power from on High. Jesus said that John baptized in water but that they would be baptized by the Holy Spirit, and there was no mention about fire. What the apostles experienced on “Pentecost” was a unique and extraordinary gift of divine grace as the special emissaries of the LORD Jesus and messengers of His gospel to the world. Other believers subsequently spoke in tongues but the scriptures does not have any record of a person or group who heard a violent rushing wind or sound [perhaps like that of a hurricane, whirlwind, or tornado] and actually “saw” some kind of supernatural manifestation described as “tongues of fire” that afterward separated and quantities or aspects of that ‘something’ came and rested upon any of them. Lastly, this accounts for the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit part to which all believers experience presently, however, in a different way from the ‘original’ apostles but the remaining “fire” [baptism] will occur at the end of the Age.
Revelation 20: 11-12, 15
Then I saw a great white throne and Him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from His presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of Life. The dead were judged according to what they had done according to the books. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of Life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
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