Charismatic Doctrine In The Light Of God’s Word

Matthew 3:11

  Matt.3:11 is one such text. In this verse, John the Baptist said, "he [Christ] shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire". According to Charismatics, this verse entitles Christians to seek a "second blessing."

  But does it?

  In Acts 1:5, Jesus used the same words of John, saying, "John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence." He was referring to the day of Pentecost, as his own words reveal, in Lk.24:49 and Acts 1:4,8. The disciples, prior to Pentecost, were most certainly regenerated by the Holy Spirit, as Scripture makes plain (Lk.10:20); they had the Holy Spirit, just as all God's saints prior to Pentecost did: Abraham, David, etc.(e.g. 1 Pet.1:10,11). But the Old Testament saints did not have the Holy Spirit in such fulness, richness, and power, as New Testament saints do, as is evident from Jn.7:37-39, Jn.14-16, Acts 1:4,5,8, Acts 2:4,16,17, and other places. Prior to Pentecost, the disciples were Old Testament saints; they were regenerated, the Holy Spirit was within them; but on the day of Pentecost, they became New Testament saints! The risen, glorified Christ "poured out" his Holy Spirit (Acts 2:17): they were, in the words of John the Baptist and of Jesus himself, "baptized with the Holy Ghost."

  What must be understood is that those disciples lived through the transition from the Old Covenant to the New. They had been converted before, as Old Covenant people; but at Pentecost, they entered into the fulness of New Covenant salvation. No-one, however, is in that transitional phase today! Now, when a soul is regenerated, and believes on Jesus Christ, that soul immediately receives the gift of the Holy Ghost: he is immediately "baptized with the Holy Ghost." And this is taught so plainly in Acts 2:38,39: as many as the Lord calls, enabling them to repent and believe in Christ, receive the Holy Spirit. It is clear, from this text, that "receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost" (vs.38) is the same as being "baptized with the Holy Ghost" (Acts 1:5): it is the "promise" of Acts 1:4 and 2:33. And as Peter said, all those who are called by grace "shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 2:38)! The gift of the Holy Spirit is not a "second blessing" subsequent to salvation, given to those who "seek" it but not to others; rather, the Holy Spirit is given to every single one whom the Lord calls and saves! Once again, the reader is referred to Rom.8:9, Gal.4:6, and others, in the light of Acts 2:38,39, which show that every Christian has received the gift of the Holy Spirit.

  In the case of the first disciples, the "baptism with the Holy Ghost" occurred on the day of Pentecost (Acts 1:4,5); but John the Baptist was speaking about all believers, in Mat.3:11–and the experience of the first disciples was not normative for all time, as shall be seen. The 3000 were "baptized with the Holy Ghost" when they repented and believed in Christ, and not later; and this is the pattern for today.

  In addition, the disciples who were "baptized with the Holy Ghost" at Pentecost spoke with tongues; but there was a specific purpose for this, as will be explained below. It is very important to note that the 3000 who repented at the preaching of Peter did not speak with tongues–and bear in mind that they were "baptized with the Holy Ghost" at that very moment, just as all believers are today! The miraculous gifts are no longer given, as shall be seen.

Acts 2: The Day of Pentecost

  Acts 2:1-4 is the central text of the Pentecostal/Charismatic Movement. They argue that, just as the disciples were baptized with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, Christians can and should receive the very same experience today.

  While they can make this sound so plausible to multitudes, they fail to take note of the fact that this was an historical event; and that unless it can be shown from Scripture that it was to be repeated, and repeated often, in churches and other gatherings around the world, it must be understood simply for what it was: a very special event that was never repeated in precisely the same way again.

  That this was in many ways a unique event is quite clear from the inspired record. What occurred at Pentecost was the fulfilment of "the promise of the Father" (Lk.24:49; Acts 1:4). It occurred at a specific time–the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1); at a specific place–Jerusalem (Lk.24:49); in fulfilment of a specific Old Testament type–the feast of weeks, or Pentecost (Lev.23:15-21); in fulfilment of an Old Testament prophecy (Joel 2:28-32); and it was experienced by a specific group–the 120 disciples (Acts 1:13-15). It was accompanied by not one, but three miraculous signs: a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, cloven tongues like as of fire, and speaking with other tongues. No-one can expect "another Pentecost" today, if Pentecost was in many ways unique even in the early Church!

  What occurred on the day of Pentecost was the fulfilment of Acts 1:4,5, and the first fulfilment of Matt.3:11 (which is fulfilled in every single believer). Being "baptized with the Holy Ghost" is the same as "receiving the Holy Ghost," or "receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost" (Matt.3:11; Acts 2:38,39; 8:15,16; 10:45,47; 19:2). But the 120 were baptized with the Holy Spirit quite some time after their calling by grace, whereas believers today are baptized with the Holy Spirit at that very moment. The reason for this has already been given above, when Matt.3:11 was examined.

  Now let us consider the tongues-speaking. If there is one thing Charismatics spend more time discussing and promoting than anything else, it is speaking with tongues. At Pentecost, the tongues-speaking, too, was a sign, just as the sound as of a wind and the tongues like as of fire were signs. It was a twofold sign to the Jews. Firstly, it was a sign to them that the Lord was now going to save people from all nations under heaven, and not only from Israel. "And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans?" (vss.5-7). The Galileans were generally unlearned people. The Jews were astounded: how could such simple, uneducated folk proclaim "the wonderful works of God" (vs.11) in languages which they had never learned? "And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?" (vs.12). Indeed, what did it mean? What was the Lord's purpose in this? The Lord was fulfilling a prophecy, as Peter went on to tell them–the prophecy of Joel (Acts 2:16-21; Joel 2:28-32); and he was thereby revealing to the Jews that the Gospel was to go to all nations under heaven, not only to Israel; and that it would be confirmed, in its early days, by miraculous signs, as Jesus had foretold (Mk.16:16-20). That these signs were not going to be performed beyond the earliest period of the Church, we shall see presently.

  Secondly, the tongues were a sign, to the unbelieving Jews, of approaching judgement. This is clear from 1 Cor.14:21,22. The divine judgement came in 70 AD, the Roman army being the instrument God used, in fulfilment of various prophecies (such as Lk.21:20-24).

%d bloggers like this: