The Baptism of the Spirit

1 Corinthians 12:12-13

The baptism of the Spirit is one of the areas around which there is a great deal of controversy and error.

Let us look at some of the errors first and then the Scriptural explanation.

The baptism of the Spirit is improperly linked with some of the ministries of the Spirit. Some Pentecostal groups link the baptism of the Spirit with certain of the temporary gifts, in particular tongues and healing.

The temporary gifts: apostleship, prophecy, miracles, healing, tongues, interpreting tongues, discerning of spirits.

The permanent gifts: pastor, teacher, evangelist, service, administration, exhortation, giving, showing mercy, faith.

Some groups teach a particularly objectionable theory which says that that Baptism of the Spirit is subsequent to the salvation and produces special sanctification.

These groups also teach that the baptism of the Spirit can only be had after great striving and agonizing, then the baptism is authenticated by speaking in tongues.

This theory cannot be substantiated from the Scriptures. On the contrary Paul wrote, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body,” etc.

The Corinthian church was a carnal, quarrelling, divided and defiled group, yet they had the baptism of the Spirit.

The Scriptural teaching on this point is that the baptism of the Spirit takes place for every believer at conversion. What this means is that individual believers are brought into the body of Christ at conversion.

Then simultaneously with conversion they are baptized with the Spirit and fused together with all believers into one body. The human body is a picture of this.

Paul may have had this in mind when he wrote Ephesians 4:5.

The baptism of the Spirit is universal for believers, and is not reserved for a few. The Gospels predicted that Christ would baptize with the Spirit. Acts 1:5.

At this point stress the difference between baptism and filling.

Nowhere in Scripture are we exhorted to seek the baptism of Spirit. We are exhorted to be filled with the Spirit. Ephesians 5:18.

This baptism is into Christ Himself. See v. 12. The reality of this was anticipated by Christ when He said, “In that day you shall know that I am in the Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” John 14:20.

The “you in Me” relationship was accomplished through the baptism of the Spirit. Before conversion we were in Adam. After conversion we are in Christ.

This baptism is identification with Christ. The believer is identified with Christ in His righteousness, His death, His resurrection, His glorification.

Baptism of the Spirit is not only identification but it is also a union of life. Because we are baptized with the spirit into Christ, He encompasses, surrounds, encloses, and indwells us. Through the baptism the believer has become an organic part of Christ, as the branch is part of the Vine.

Summation: (1) The baptism of the Spirit is not linked to speaking in tongues or any miraculous gift. (2) The baptism does not produce sanctification, neither has it to be sought after. (3) This baptism takes place at conversion. (4) This baptism is into Christ.

Study on the Use of Tongues

There are three major uses of tongues:

1. Tongues are for a sign.

2. Tongues were given for communication.

3. Tongues were given for edification.

Tongues are for a Sign

This sign is for unbelievers, not for believers. To reach foreigners. Contrast this with what the tongues-speaking advocates practice today. The value then of tongues-speaking is that it is a sign for the unbelieving world. Tongues did not have a message for the believer.

Joel in his prophecy said, “I will pout out my Spirit…and I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs in the earth beneath.”

See Acts 2:17-21. Explain Joel 2:28-29.

This prophecy was given to Israel, not to the Church, and is yet unfulfilled.

The happenings at Pentecost were given principally as a sign to unbelieving Israel, to confirm the message of the apostles regarding Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:22—The Jews require a sign, etc. The Jews had been taught by their OT Scriptures to look for certain signs which would reveal the Messiah and His messengers. The Lord challenged His listeners (Jews) to admit that He was performing the works of the Messiah. Luke 4:17-19.

The phenomenon of Pentecost was a challenge to the unbelieving nation to believe the message of the Gospel.

Tongues were Given for Communication

At Pentecost the awestruck crowd said, “We hear them speak in our own language the wonderful works of God.” Acts 2:8.

There were those present who spoke 15 different languages or dialects and they each heard and understood the message.

There was person-to-person communication. The reactions of the crowd were different…some believed, others rejected and mocked.

Despite this no one could deny that the works of God had been authenticated, and the Word of God had been communicated.

This was all the more evident when the preachers were a group of untrained Galileans.

Following the thought of communication through Paul says, “If I come to you speaking in tongues (languages) what shall I profit you? But if I speak by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine, then you shall profit.” 14:6.

Communication and edification, exhortation and comfort of the church is the purpose for which gifts are given.

See verses 7-8.

What’s the use of playing the flute if the heavens cannot discern the tune? What communication is there if the notes played on the trumpet are garbled? In plain words Paul is telling the Corinthians that communication is vital and basic in the use of tongues.

Some of the Corinthians had the gift of speaking in languages. Explain. This gift was given by the Spirit as a means of communicating the Gospel to unbelievers.

Unfortunately some believers were using or abusing the gift for purposes of showing off. Therefore Paul wrote instruction to regulate its use.

v. 23—Furthermore, Paul says that when the use of the language gift is unregulated, unbelievers are present, they will conclude “that ye are mad.”

Tongues were Given for Edification of the Church

The result of speaking in tongues at Pentecost was that a multitude of unbelievers were saved. The church was built up numerically. Paul urges the use of this gift in chapter 14 for the edification of the Church.

v. 26—“Let all things be done unto edifying.”

The apostle is very emphatic that “all things be done decently and in order.” He says that if no interpreter is present then tongues speaking must not be engaged in. See verses 27-28.

That the Corinthians were using tongues-speaking for self-gratification is evident. Paul therefore calls them “carnal” or immature believers.

Speaking in Tongues is Private

There is no Scriptural authority for anyone to practice speaking in tongues in private. If the gifts of God were to be used for the building up of the church, what is the point of speaking in tongues in private?

The tongue in our mouth is given us to communicate. Our mother tongue or language is given us to communicate with God and with our fellow men.

What communicating is a person doing, shut up in a room by himself, not knowing what he is saying?

Furthermore, tongues were given for a sign to unbelievers to communicate the Gospel to them, that they might believe and that the church may be built up numerically.

To me, speaking in tongues in private is the ultimate in self-centered, unproductive futility.

Rules for the Use of Tongues

1. Tongues must always be used for the edification and building up of the church.

2. Women are to be silent in church meetings.

3. When languages are spoken in the church, there must always be an interpreter present.

4. Even with an interpreter present they were to speak one by one, or in turn, never more than three. These regulations would rule out the confusion which had been practiced. Such confusion was not of God.

5. The tongue or language used must always communicate a message. There was never to be any incoherent gibberish.

6. Tongues, when spoken, were to be a sign to unbelievers.