The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

by | Jan 1, 2006

“For John truly baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”—Acts 1:5

What is this baptism of which Jesus speaks? Predicted by the prophet Joel, as Peter reminded his hearers at Pentecost, it was to be the work of Jesus Himself, who, according to John the Baptist, would

“baptize you with the Holy Ghost and fire” (Matt. 3:11).

In his own baptism, John had used water as the outward symbol of purification which followed repentance and faith. But Jesus was to baptize with the Spirit and “thoroughly purge his floor.” There is no record of Jesus Himself ever using water to baptize anyone.

Certainly the idea of washing or cleansing is implicit in the idea of baptism, whether it is by water or by the Spirit. But in the case of baptism with the Spirit, what is to be washed or cleansed? Certainly not the body, for as Jeremiah says,

“Though thou wash thee with nitre and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me” (2:22).

If Christ is to dwell in us (Eph. 3:17), our very nature must be thoroughly cleansed as His dwelling place.

The human soul is that part of us which indwells and controls the human body during its sojourn in this world of time. This soul is sick and cannot cleanse itself. Depravity has come down to it from Adam, our Federal Head, who having lost the image of God, which is righteousness and true holiness, now begets all descendants “in his own likeness and after his image” (Gen. 5:3).

As a result, our whole race is born in a state of sinful depravity.

  • “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9).
  • “Estranged from the womb, they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies” (Psa. 58:3).
  • “There is none righteousness, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10).

Under pressure from this internal source of sin, the will is pressed down, and the conscience is defiled. David declares that this was what had caused his sin with Bathsheba (Psa. 51:5). How many like him have been swept away from what they thought were safe moorings! Judas fell, and even Peter and the other disciples slipped.

To deal with this internal sinful condition, Christ administers a baptism different from anything previously given. First, as we have said, Christ Himself administers it. It is a baptism with the Holy Spirit to effect a “circumcision made without hands” (Col. 2:11), because it is to be “of the heart” (Rom 2:29). But who is the Holy Spirit?

Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit is God, that God is love, and that God is a consuming fire. Think of it, my friends, to be washed with God. With Love on fire! This is not to wash the outside of a corporeal body, but to be thoroughly purged inwardly by God’s love that burns and casts out sin. Yes, this baptism is administered by Jesus, the Divine Son, as he washes the human soul and spirit with the Divine Spirit. Thus we pray, “Cleanse me with the washing divine, and I shall be whiter than snow.”

Are you a candidate for this Baptism with the Holy Spirit? Have you ever applied for it? Remember, dear friends, “The promise is unto you and to your children, and to all that be afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.”

Our first selection for this new Revivalist column comes from the late Dr. S. I. Emery, well-known holiness evangelist, conference speaker, and Bible expositor. In this space we will use writers both past and present to discuss various aspects of Christian holiness. This selection is used with permission from The IHC Messenger and is condensed and edited by Larry D. Smith.