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Thursday, 9 December 2010

Two baptisms or one?

I was visiting a pastor today to offer prayer support for his family, and for his ministry. We found ourselves talking about the nine gifts of the Spirit. “Have you been baptised in the Spirit and spoken in tongues to prove it?” he asked me. We share common ground – a person becomes a Christian when he repents of his sins, and commits his life to Christ, but there’s more. “Well, yes, 1 Cor. 12:13 says all Christians have been baptised into the body of Christ by One Spirit." “Agreed," he says, “It’s the indwelling of the Spirit which every Christian has, but that’s not the baptism of the enduement of power for serving God, is it? Christ said He came to baptise in or with the Holy Spirit (Mat. 3:11). The book of Acts shows empowerment came on the disciples, with the descent of the Spirit!” “So, you take the book of Acts as normative for all Christians when they first receive Christ, they must be specially endued and prove that by speaking in tongues?” “Yes! You can be baptised into the Body of Christ, be indwelt by the Spirit, but not be empowered to witness, which every believer needs!” “So, you distinguish between the Holy Spirit baptising us into the Body (1 Cor. 12:13), as being something different from Christ baptising us into the sphere of the Holy Spirit, for power (Mat. 3:1)? As to the first, it’s the Spirit baptising, but as to the second it’s the Saviour baptising.” He goes on, “I teach my men to speak in tongues for five minutes or so, all together at the beginning of a prayer session, so we get tuned to the Spirit, and stop thinking carnally!” “Is that the same thing as exercising the gift of tongues?” No, says the pastor, “a gift of tongues is more than that. Praying in tongues is not exercising a gift, it’s doing what you first did when you were baptised in the Spirit. So, it’s not subject to the need for special interpretation, which it would be if it were exercising a gift of tongues. It’s like prophecy. You can get swept up in a spirit of prophecy in a meeting, but that’s not the same as having a gift of prophecy, which is an ongoing thing. If a person regularly shows regularly by a 'word of knowledge' and a 'word of wisdom' that they have that gift, then we have a third aspect – the gift of a prophet in the church!” “So, you would say a ‘word of knowledge’ (I Cor. 12:8) is a supernatural thing, where God gives you information about a person which you have not learned through the usual natural channels of communication.” “That’s right!” “And a ‘word of wisdom’ is where God tells you how to use that knowledge to someone’s benefit?” “That’s correct! - I’ve sat next to someone on public transport and God revealed to me a whole lot about that person, and I was able to help them with that knowledge.”

What do you think about this? Do you think there are two aspects to the baptism of the Spirit – one being a mere fact, the other being an experience? The first concerns the work of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13), the other concerns the work of Christ (Mat. 3:11)? One is about membership in the Body of Christ; the other’s about the dynamic of knowing the Spirit’s presence and power? How can we know for sure that an experience of speaking in unknown syllables is not psychological (‘soulish’), versus spiritual? Did the gift of prophecy “fail,” with the death of the Apostles (1 Cor. 13:8)? We have all twenty-seven books of the New Testament now. Do we, then, need any other special way of receiving communication from God? When you comment, please support your view, using Scripture.


  1. Clive,

    There are so many things in scripture that are much more worthy of thinking about. I would encourage you to move on. Or as Philippians 4:8 says (New King James version) which I think you accept "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things."
    Your Friend

  2. Anonymous,
    Thanks for responding. Are you saying the "charismatic" approach to 1 Corinthians is patently untrue? Thus, if so, my comments are impliedly censored by the Apostolic directive in Phil. 4:8? (one of my favourite verses, as it happens.) Courage would suggest you give identity to your comment!
    on 12/12/10