Question and Answer

Baptism with the Spirit

Question: What is the difference between the “baptism with the spirit” and the “baptism of the spirit”?

Baptism with the Spirit

The expression “baptism with the spirit” is a biblical expression found in various passages of the Bible. For example, in Mark 1:3, John the Baptizer says, “I indeed have baptized you with water: but he (i.e Christ) shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.” ( , baptisei humas en pneumati hagiō) Similarly in John 1:33, John the Baptiser was recorded to have said, “And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.”

We see from the examples above that the Holy Spirit ZAis said to be the agent through which Christ will use to baptise men. This baptism with the Spirit places the believer into union with Christ and other saints in the body of Christ. “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. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13) The one who was baptised with the Spirit is now joined and identified with Christ in His death and life. He is now risen with Christ to walk in the newness of life. “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:1-4)

Once we are united with Christ, no one is able to pluck us out of the Father’s hand (John 10:28-29). The baptism with the Spirit is thus a one-time event, that is not to be repeated.

Baptism of the Spirit

The problem with this expression is the various interpretations of the genitive. There are those who take this expression as synonymous with the baptism with the Spirit, where it is Christ who baptises men with the Holy Spirit. However, there are those who take this expression to mean that it is the Holy Spirit who does the baptizing which leads to erroneous practices such as modern-day tongue speaking and the “slaying of the Holy Spirit” as seen in the Pentecostal and Charismatic Movement that is sweeping across Christianity.

The origins of this new and erroneous understanding of spirit baptism can be traced back to the Azusa Street Revival of 1906. The Los Angeles Times reported this phenomenon as a “Weird Babel of Tongues” for “meetings are held in a tumble‐down shack on Azusa Street, and the devotees of the weird doctrine practice the most fanatical rites, preach the wildest theories and work themselves into a state of mad excitement in their peculiar zeal. Coloured people and a sprinkling of whites compose the congregation and night is made hideous in the neighbourhood by the howlings of the worshippers, who spend hours swaying forth and back in a nerve‐racking attitude of prayer and supplication. They claim to have the `gift of tongues’ and to be able to comprehend the Babel.”

The central teaching of this early phenomenon was the “baptism of the Holy Spirit”. It is said to be an experience subsequent to salvation, which is evidenced by the speaking of tongues. The phenomenon of tongue-speaking is said to be the “Second Pentecost”.

This teaching later evolved to be regarded as a “third experience”, separate in time and nature of the “second blessing” of the sanctification of the spirit. While sanctification cleansed and purified the believer, the baptism of the spirit gave power for service unto the Lord. The speaking of tongues was manifestation and evidence of the baptism of the spirit.

Such understanding of the “baptism of the Spirit” is a perversion of the Scriptures and stand contrary to the biblical doctrine of “baptism with the spirit”.

Follow-up Question: Why is it then that the baptism with the Spirit (Acts 1:5) is equated with the filling of the Spirit in Acts 2:4?

The filling with the Spirit talks about the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to do the Lord’s work and to bear a faithful witness for Christ. It is a repeatable event subsequent to salvation (see Acts 13:52; Romans 15:13; Ephesians 5:18; Colossians 1:9). If that is the case, why is it then equated with the baptism with the Spirit in Acts 1:5 which is not a repeatable event?

The key to the answer lies in the fact that the book of Acts involves a transitional period. The saints in the past found salvation by looking forward to the suffering Messiah dying on the cross for their sins. However, in this age of the local church witness, men are saved by looking back on what Christ has done on the cross.

Just as the Apostles of Christ were united with the saints of the Old Testament who looked forward to the coming of Christ via the baptism with the Spirit, this same baptism also unites the Apostles with the believers to come in the New Testament looking back at what Christ has accomplished at Calvary. To make this union clear, the baptism with the Spirit will be evidenced by the filling with the Spirit, empowering the Apostles to declare boldly the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ at Pentecost. Thus, it is the manifestation of the baptism with the Spirit in the form of the filling of the Spirit that is spoken here as the Promise of the Father. After Pentecost, the Holy Spirt continues to serve as the Comforter of the Apostles, empowering them to do a good work for Christ in the establishment of the churches of Christ.

How Tall Was Jesus

Question: How tall was Jesus?

The Bible does not provide any answer concerning his height. The only passage that provides a physical description of Jesus is Isaiah 53:2. “For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.” The Lord Jesus Christ looked like an ordinary average man. He gave up his outward kingly glory and became man. His humanity was so evident that it masks His deity. Therefore, while Christ walked upon the earth, many believed that He was fully man but they did not believe that He is God.

Yours affectionately,
Pastor Clement Chew