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Baptism and the Holy Spirit

 The references for this section are Matthew 3:11, 16, Mark 1:8, 10, Luke 3:16, 22, John 1:32-34, John 3:5, Acts 2:38-39, Acts 8:14-17.

In my next essay, Baptism and Covenant,  I will be discussing how baptism is a covenant. One of the covenant promises of baptism is the gift of the Holy Spirit. This gift will be discussed in this essay.

Before discussing the gift of the Spirit, it would be helpful to place the discussion in context. According to the filioque, the Spirit “proceeds from the Father and the Son.” This phrase summarizes the ways in which Scripture describes how the Spirit comes forth from the Father and the Son. In John’s gospel, for example, the Spirit is given by or from the Father (14:16, 14:26, 15:26). Or Jesus breathes the Spirit on the disciples (20:22), or sends the Counselor who is the Spirit (16:7). Scripture also describes the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Christ, meaning that the Spirit’s work is to reveal the Lord Jesus (Acts 16:7, Romans 8:9, 2 Corinthians 3:17, Philippians 1:9, 1 Peter 1:11). Scripture also states that Jesus is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, John 1:33, Acts 11:6), and in that sense, the Spirit comes from Jesus. Since the Spirit comes from the Father and the Son, the Spirit works to enliven the words and deeds of Jesus so that one may know him and through him to know the transcendent Father. This was described in the essay, Trinity and Incarnation.   This needs to be kept in mind as we investigate the gift of the Spirit given in baptism.

The passages from the four gospels given above in this section all show that John proclaimed that Jesus would baptize with the Spirit, and further, that Jesus himself, at his baptism, received the Holy Spirit. In the essay, Baptism and the Lord Jesus,  we learned that being baptized into Jesus meant entering into the life of Christ. Christ received the Spirit at his baptism, and entering into his life by baptism implies receiving the Spirit.

Further New Testament passages connect baptism with the gift of the Spirit. In John 3:5, Jesus says that no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. In Acts 2:38, Peter tells those who hear his sermon that they are to be baptized and then they will receive the Holy Spirit. In Acts 10:44-48, Peter was preaching and the Holy Spirit was given to the household of Cornelius, and then they were baptized. According to Acts 9:17-19, Paul received the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands and was then baptized. In Acts 19:1-7, the Spirit was given through the laying-on-of-hands after baptism. In Acts 2:1-13 and Acts 10:44-48, the Spirit was given without the laying on of hands and was associated with baptism. According to Acts 8:14-17 the believers in Samaria had been baptized, but they had not yet received the Spirit. Peter and John were sent to them, and after they had received the laying-on-of-hands by these apostles, the Spirit was manifested.

From these passages it can be seen that the Holy Spirit could be poured out before, during, or after water baptism. The Spirit works prior to baptism since it is the Spirit’s work to convict someone of the truth of the gospel message. The Spirit works after baptism since the life of Christ entered into by baptism requires further work of the Spirit to make it real in Christian experience. Having said this, however, the sequences of biblical events show that the fullness of the Spirit comes after the revelation in Christ given by his life, death, and resurrection. This is due to the fact that the Spirit witnesses to the Lord Jesus and the revelation in Christ was not completed until his resurrection, ascension, and rule at the right had of the Father. Pentecost comes after Easter.

This last passage, Acts 8:14-17, has been variously understood by Christian interpreters. Some see in this passage a justification for confirmation. Others believe that proof of having received the Spirit requires a second baptism, a baptism in the Spirit which is not necessarily given when baptized in water. More light can be shed on these passages if we consider them theologically.

In assessing various biblical passages, it is important to recognize that Scripture needs to be interpreted christologically. The essay, The Creeds and Biblical Interpretation,  stated the matter with these words, “When interpreting Scripture, any passage must be understood in reference to Jesus Christ as revealed in the gospels.” Jesus Christ, according to the Nicene Creed, is the “only-begotten Son of God, begotten from the Father before all ages, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not made, of one substance with the Father, …” He is the only incarnation of God. When considering any matter, he is the decisive norm. All passages of Scripture are important, but their relevance needs to be seen in relationship to Christ. In reference to baptism, Christ’s baptism is the foundation and norm of Christian baptism. In his baptism the Spirit was given and he was proclaimed God’s son. Therefore, the gift of the Spirit and being adopted as a daughter or son of God are given in Christian baptism. There is not a second baptism into the Spirit. The Spirit is given in the one baptism. The gift of the Spirit is only one of the many gifts given in baptism.

As we have seen, the Spirit works before, during, and after baptism. For that reason, aspects of Christ’s baptism may not be realized immediately at the moment of baptism. For example, the Spirit is given in baptism, but experiences of the Spirit may not be given until later. The same is true of being a son or daughter of God, or of repentance, or actually experiencing forgiveness. All these things, however, are promised in baptism and worked out by the Spirit in varying times and circumstances.

In regard to Acts 8:14-17, it could be asked, by what right did the Samaritans receive the Spirit? They were qualified to receive the Spirit because they had believed the message of salvation and had been baptized (Acts 8:12). Therefore, they were inheritors of all the blessings given in Christ, including the active presence of the Spirit. In Acts 8:16 the text says the Samaritans “had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” This does not imply that the Spirit was not given in baptism, or that the Spirit was not found in Christ as they entered into his life. There is no evidence that the Samaritans were rebaptized because of a defective baptism, and further, baptism in the name of Jesus is often the way baptism is referred to in Acts and other similar baptisms were accompanied by the Spirit. It means that the normal manifestation of the Spirit that often accompanied baptism had not taken place.(1) This is because the blessings given in baptism are manifested in time and not always at the moment of baptism. As the text says, the Holy Spirit “had not yet fallen on any of them” (8:16). After they had received the laying-on-of-hands, there were apparently miraculous manifestations of the Spirit since Simon wanted to do miracles as well. The passage does indicate that if the Spirit is not manifest, then it is good to seek ministry to release the Spirit. All these passages show that the Spirit is given by promise and reality in baptism.(2)

In considering these passages, it is significant that the giving of the Spirit occurs in the aorist tense, that is, the events of receiving the Spirit were completed events in the past. An exception is Acts 8:17, apparently implying that the action of praying for the Samaritans to receive the Spirit took some time. The other exception I know of is Acts 13:51, indicating that over a period of time the believers were filled with joy and the Spirit. In general, however, the receiving of the Spirit occurs in the aorist tense which can be seen in Luke 1:41, 1:67, Acts 2:4, 4:8, 4:31, 8:15, 9:17, 10:38, 10:44, 11:15, 13:9, and 19:6. This, as the next paragraph shows, implies that the Spirit was given, and then given again repeatedly according to circumstances and God’s will.

According to Luke 1:15, 35, Jesus was born of the Holy Spirit, yet he received a further anointing of the Spirit at his baptism (Luke 3:21). The purpose of this anointing was to enable him to carry out his redemptive ministry. Or, on the day of Pentecost, Peter and the other disciples were “filled (aorist passive) with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Act 2:4). The disciples, however, had already received authority to drive out demons and cure diseases (Luke 9:1), a power which, from a biblical perspective, is the work of the Spirit. Later, in Acts 4, Peter and John were brought before the rulers and elders where Peter, “filled (aorist passive) with the Holy Spirit,” (4:8) began to speak. In other words, Peter received the Spirit again and again as the Spirit empowered him to carry out the ministry that Christ had entrusted to him. Similarly, Paul was filled (aorist passive) with the Spirit when Ananias laid hands on him, but later, Acts 13:9, Paul was filled with the Spirit (aorist passive) when he confronted the sorcerer, Elymas. Again, he received the Spirit repeatedly, according to changing circumstances and the purposes of God. McDonnell and Montague, on the basis of their study of the biblical evidence, conclude, “Even for the primitive community (and by implication for the later church), the fact that the Holy Spirit filled them once does not exclude later ‘fillings.’ And for such experiences, there is no need to repeat baptism: prayer suffices.”(3) For this reason, John 3:8 will say that those born of the Spirit are like the wind. The wind blows both gentle and strong with varying directions, indicating that the Spirit works in varying ways and with varying intensity.

As described in previous sections, being baptized is an entrance into the life of Christ and it is the Spirit that enables a believer to experience Christ as a living reality. The life of Christ is inexhaustible, a plentitude of mercies, insights, challenges, disappointments, sufferings, and joys. For this reason, one cannot say that one possesses the Spirit as an accomplished fact, or that one has fully received the Spirit, or that one is Spirit-filled while others are not, or that past experiences prove our spiritual status since, at any given moment, there is more to the life of Christ than what we have already received, and in order to receive this new life we need further renewals in the Spirit beyond what we have previously experienced.

Further, since the life of Christ is held in faith, it cannot be said that a second experience called “the baptism in the Spirit” must occur in order to guarantee the Spirit’s presence. The Spirit’s work is guaranteed by faith in the promises of Christ and signed by baptism. Spiritual experiences come and go, but the promises of God are forever. If one relies on an experience to verify that one has the Spirit, experiences may or may not come, and even if some do, new circumstances may occur that make past experiences seemingly irrelevant. Better to rely on the promises of God than spiritual experiences.

In this connection many people have been hurt seeking spiritual experiences to verify their having received the Spirit. It is good to seek the power of the Spirit, and if the Spirit is not apparent, do what they did in Samaria. Seek someone to pray with you, and if nothing happens, keep seeking, and in the meantime, believe by faith that the Spirit is given in baptism and act boldly, believing that the Spirit will accompany your actions done in faith. Even if you have a spiritual experience, it can, in difficult circumstances, always be doubted since the devil can create spiritual experiences, or they can arise out of our psyches, or even if valid, we can easily wonder if past works of the Spirit are adequate to new circumstances. The devil cannot, however, break the promises of God, and they are true even if our souls are weak. It is better to rely on God’s promises than to rely on experiences.

Within the Old Testament, there were only a few on whom the Spirit rested, or, in whom the Spirit worked continuously. One can think of Moses or Elijah, for example. In Jesus, however, the Spirit was given as an ongoing active presence. When Jesus received the Spirit at his baptism, the Spirit descended in the bodily form of a dove, indicating a powerful anointing of the Spirit. The gospels, and Luke’s gospel in particular, are especially clear on this. They affirm that the works and words of Christ are constantly empowered by Spirit. The same holds true for Christians. The Spirit is promised in baptism, the promises of God are sure. The Spirit abides with believers even though he is not always experienced. He is always working, however, and from time to time, his work will be apparent and visible.

There are those who say the gifts and fruits of the Spirit are not as real today as they were in the time of the apostles. Nothing in Scripture would tell us that God the Holy Spirit cannot act now as he has always acted. Miracles do occur, hearts are changed, life is renewed, God is blessed, his people come to love him and each other, and his works still give him glory. I have narrated a few of God’s Mighty Acts  on my personal web page.

On the other hand, there are those who believe that Christians are so endowed by the Spirit that they pass from glory to glory, from miracle to miracle, with continuous blessings both financial and personal. There are many blessings in the Christian life, and it is not unusual for God to bless his people materially, spiritually, and in their personal relationships. The New Testament recognizes, however, that suffering for Christ is an important aspect of following Jesus, and it is by suffering, above all, that God brings his Kingdom. As stated by Jesus, “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27). Or Paul will connect the work of the Spirit with the suffering of Christ. “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Romans 8:16-17). Or Peter will say, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (1Peter 4:12-13). Because of this, it is not unusual for the Spirit to lead us into painful situations that Christ might be glorified. At that time all sense of the Spirit’s presence and power may well seem to disappear. Whether we sense the Spirit’s presence is immaterial. We live by faith in God. The Spirit’s greatest work often occurs when we are at our weakest, when we have reached our limit and there is nothing left to give. Christ’s greatest work was his crucifixion and resurrection. It was there, in his weakness, that God acted decisively, and that is true for the Christian in whom the Spirit recreates the life of Christ.

When the Spirit is given, there are always manifestations of the Spirit’s work. McDonnell and Montague state the matter in these words, “Concerning the evidence of one’s having received the Holy Spirit, it is assumed in the texts that there is an experiential dimension. … Though caution should be exercised lest ‘experience’ be equated too narrowly with “feelings” in the modern sense, it is nevertheless a reminder that the effects of receiving the Holy Spirit should somehow be manifest.”(4)

The Holy Spirit is a member of the Godhead, and therefore, his presence is manifested according to his character. For example, the word for “spirit” in Greek and Hebrew is the word for wind and breath, and the Spirit manifests himself like a wind or a force with direction and purpose. This was clearly the case on the day of Pentecost where the Spirit was experienced as a wind. The descent of the Spirit like a dove at the baptism of Jesus has similar connotations as the Spirit’s “wings” beat the air.

The work of the Spirit is most clearly manifested, however, when the Spirit enables the life of Christ to occur among believers. There are many examples of this in Scripture. For example, according to Luke 24:36-49, the resurrected Jesus appeared to his disciples, ate with them, and opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures which spoke of his death and resurrection. He then said that “repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things” (Luke 24:47-48). Finally, he instructed them to remain in Jerusalem until they had received the Holy Spirit. This account was repeated in Acts 1 where again the resurrected Jesus instructs them to wait for the Spirit. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Act 1:8). As can be seen, the work of the Spirit was to enable the disciples to witness to the Lord Jesus. There were powerful manifestations on the day of Pentecost, the wind and the tongues of fire, but the decisive work, the emphasis of Luke’s gospel, was that the gospel was preached and the Kingdom of God established. In terms of the Spirit’s work, that was and is the decisive manifestation of the Spirit’s action. Even so, all manifestations of the Spirit, even the apparent work of Christ, can be doubted. Again, believers live by faith in the promises of God, but in due time, God honors faith by creating the life of Christ among those who love him.

On the day of Pentecost the believers spoke in tongues and some would say that the gift of tongues is the decisive sign of having received the Spirit. In First Corinthians 12-14 Paul describes the gift of tongues and understands it as useful for personal edification when the tongue is not interpreted (First Corinthians 14:4), and as a prophetic utterance when it is interpreted and therefore understood by those present. Within the book of Acts, there are three examples of persons receiving the Spirit and speaking in tongues, Acts 2:4, 10:56, and 19:6. All three examples, Acts 2:4, 10:46, and 19:6 associate tongues with something understood, known languages in Acts 2:4, praising God in 10:46, and prophecy in 19:6. For that reason, tongues, to my mind, belong to building up the body of Christ through prophetic words if understood, or for individual, personal edification if not understood. Furthermore, Paul does not expect everyone to speak in tongues (First Corinthians 12:29-30), yet he expects all by the Spirit to have some gift of the Spirit for the common good of the body (First Corinthians 12:7). For these reasons, I cannot believe that tongues are the necessary evidence for receiving the Spirit.(5) Rather, the Spirit is promised in baptism and this promise is believed in faith and made evident by a Christ-like life. Having said this, however, it is good to seek the gifts of the Spirit including tongues.

Sometimes, when seeking to live by the Spirit, the Spirit does not appear to be at work. There can be several reasons for this. As one matures in the faith a felt awareness of the Spirit may diminish. This is because as one matures, the power of sin and evil lessens and the Spirit can work more freely without resistance. Under these conditions, a person is able to live the Christian life of love and ministry with greater freedom and effectiveness which is itself an evidence of the work of the Spirit. Or, there may be a loss of an awareness of God because one has entered what the saints call the dark night. In this night the Spirit is working in a hidden manner to liberate a person from deep sins. Under these conditions, as always, faith is required. Or, finally, there can be the sense that God is not present and active because we have rejected or quenched God’s Spirit. It is good to seek counsel if one is haunted by this fear. In the final analysis, it is the Lord’s responsibility to reveal to us if our sins have hindered his work. Our responsibility is to be open to his prompting. Furthermore, we need to recognize that we always carry a degree of sin, but we are justified, set right with God by faith, and therefore, the Spirit is given because we are heirs of the Kingdom and clothed in the righteousness of Christ.

Many persons, when they first encounter the work of the Spirit, manifest a variety of physical and emotional reactions such as sensations of warmth or unexplained weeping. Believers should be free to let these manifestations occur, but not to manipulate them into occurring. It is good to seek the Spirit and pray with others to receive the Spirit, but if there are no immediate manifestations, this does not mean that one has been abandoned.

There are others who consider the behavior of those who are filled with the Spirit so outrageous or bizarre that they decide to have nothing to do with seeking the Spirit. To begin with, manifestations of the Spirit are, in part, socially conditioned. People expect certain things and they happen. This does not mean that the Spirit isn’t active or that the manifestation is false. According to the Creed of Chalcedon, Christ was one person of two natures, human and divine. In Christ, the divine nature does not crush or negate the human nature, and the same occurs with us. All acts of God occur in specific social situations and the Spirit normally honors a person’s dispositions unless they are sinful. For that reason, unusual reactions to the Spirit’s presence may vary, but that in no way detracts from the Spirit’s work unless manipulation is involved. Whatever the case, we cannot allow the behavior of others to cause us to avoid the Spirit. Two examples can be helpful.

Recently a friend of mine returned from a mission to an Asian country where he and his team ministered to several hundred people. The great majority had been sexually molested as children, many of the molestations being religious rites. On the final day of the conference, the Spirit fell upon those assembled, delivering them, healing them, and assuring them of the love of God. The result was spiritual pandemonium as God moved in their midst. Their reactions would be considered bizarre by the standards of some in the West. The real issue was the results. Were people delivered and set free? That is the essential question. According to Luke 9:38-43, when Jesus drew near a possessed boy, “the demon threw him to the ground and convulsed him.” When severely abused people meet the love of Christ, it is not unusual for there to be intense manifestations. Or, after the lame man had been healed by Peter in the name of Jesus, he responded by “walking and leaping and praising God” (Acts 3:8) It is normal for people, touched by God, to respond with great joy, regardless of social conditions. In general, when seeking the power of God, we need to avoid manipulation, whether for or against manifestations. God is sovereign. We are called to be open to the Spirit however he chooses to manifest himself.

A second example might also be helpful. C.S. Lewis was an intellectual and was raised in a culture that placed a low value on showing emotion. Here is his description of his conversion to Jesus Christ which cannot happen without the work of the Spirit.

I know very well when, but hardly how, the final step was taken. I was driven to Whipsnade one sunny morning. When we set out I did not believe that Jesus Christ was the son of God, and when we reached the zoo I did. Yet I had not exactly spent the journey in thought. Nor in great emotion. “Emotional” is perhaps the last word we can apply to some of the most important events. It was more like a man, after long sleep, still lying motionless in bed, becomes aware that he is now awake.(6)
As one reads the book from which this quotation was taken, it becomes evident that Lewis’ conversion was a gradual advance from a belief in the Absolute, to Spirit, to theism, to going to church and hearing the words and deeds of Jesus, and finally he came to believe in the Lordship of Jesus. This cannot happen without the work of the Spirit and his description is evidence of a power giving him insight after insight, always moving in a particular direction, that is, toward Jesus. That is the work of the Spirit, a power with force and direction. The fact that there were not apparent “manifestations” does not mean the Spirit was inactive. The Spirit was very active, enabling Lewis to become one of the great Anglican apologists of the Christian faith.

Just as it is possible to reject the person of Christ, one can also reject the Spirit. The primary way this occurs is through conformity to social conditions found in the particular churches. Many churches are not open to the full work of the Spirit and their members conform to social expectations. Paul commands the churches not to grieve the Spirit, Ephesians 4:30, nor to quench the Spirit, 1 Thessalonians 5:19, and in 1 Corinthians 12:28-30, and he urges the Corinthians to seek the greater gifts of the Spirit. To fulfill these commands requires a church culture that encourages freedom and order in the power of the Spirit. As previously mentioned, many churches proclaim only a portion of the Spirit’s work. For example, they may limit themselves to preaching and teaching and leave aside Spirit-empowered ministry, or others may have their ministry times but neglect the power of the sacraments. Others may have some awareness of these realities, but do not provide opportunities for their members to receive the Spirit. Alpha is an example of a good program that enables believers to receive the Spirit. The development of a healthy expectation of the Spirit calls for a leadership that is mature, not given to excess or fascination with miracles, yet open to the love and power of God however he wishes to act.

Further, as individuals, we are called to reject our sinful nature and live by the Spirit, Romans 8:12-14 and Galatians 6:8. We are, according to 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 and 6:18-20, the temple of the Holy Spirit, and called to care for our bodies and flee immorality. In 1 Corinthians 13, between two sections on the work of the Spirit, Paul proclaims the Spirit’s greatest work, that is, to love. That is the greatest work of the Spirit. In Ephesians 4:3 believers are called to walk in the unity of the Spirit, and Hebrews 10:29 warns those who outrage the “Spirit of grace” with the severest punishments. When the Pharisees and others did not recognize the Spirit at work in Jesus, accusing him of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebub, Matthew 12:22-28, Jesus replied that blasphemy against Jesus himself can be forgiven, but not against the Spirit. That is, Jesus recognized that knowing him as savior and Lord required the work of the Spirit, and not receiving the Spirit’s work of witnessing to Christ would lead to an evil end. For this and many other reasons, believers are called to seek the Spirit and to walk in the Spirit. This entails following Christ on a daily basis.

How then, does one receive the Spirit on an on-going basis? First and foremost, is to believe by faith that the Spirit is given in baptism, and therefore, to step out in faith to live the Christian life. This corresponds to the fact that all Christians are justified by faith and therefore children of the Father, inheritors of his blessings, and one such blessing is the abiding presence of the Spirit. At the same time, corresponding to sanctification, and recognizing the dynamic reality of the Spirit, the Spirit is increasingly given as believers immerse themselves in the full power of God’s grace, the Word, the sacraments, and the ministry. One such ministry in liturgical churches is the ministry of the bishop who prays for an increase of the Spirit in the rite of confirmation which will be discussed below. In other churches, Pentecostal services for example, the Spirit is conveyed by services which often entail the laying-on-of-hands. This also can also be a blessing. Above all, one can recall the words of Jesus, a promise which is also a command to pray that we might receive the full measure of the Spirit. "If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke 11:13) If we believe we lack the power of the Spirit in some aspect of our lives, it is good to seek the Spirit by prayer and the ministry of the church. The Spirit is given and promised in baptism, and it is good to receive the promise by continually seeking the Spirit.

In the two prior essays, Baptism and the Lord Jesus  and Baptism and God the Father,  I described how one can know God. The Holy Spirit can be known as well. He is known as he gives manifestations of his presence, the wind and fire of Pentecost, for example. He is especially known by his works, his power to enliven the words and deeds of Jesus as they are announced in preaching, sacraments, and ministry. He is also known as he brings believers before the living Father and melts their hearts with love. As the Spirit works, as Christ becomes the revelation of the Father, the one living God becomes known, known in his transcendent nature by an immediate mediated presence enlivened by the Holy Spirit. These ways of knowing the Father, Son, and Spirit can be distinguished. Perhaps that is why baptism into Christ uses the word εἰς, while the same baptism is in (ἐν) the Holy Spirit, using a different preposition. The one God lives in a three-fold way, and knowing him is one yet three-fold experience. All this is given in baptism, and for that reason, baptism is in the “name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Finally, let us end this section with a prayer, asking God to illumine our minds with the Holy Spirit that we may rightly understand baptism and live its consequences. This prayer is taken from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, the prayer for Whitsunday, the Sunday of Pentecost. I have modernized the text slightly.

God, who at this time taught the hearts of your faithful people, by the sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit; Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through the merits of Christ Jesus our Savior, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

Endnotes

1. Some commentators believe that Peter and John were sent to the Samaritans because they were hated by the Jews and therefore the apostles affirmed their ministry by coming to them and praying for the Spirit. This may well be, yet the text does indicate that the Spirit had not fallen on the Samaritans. See Michael Green, Michael, Baptism, Its Purpose, Practice and Power (Downer’s Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1987), pp. 131-32.
2. “The most we can assume on the basis of these few baptismal events described in Acts, then, is that, for the earliest Christians, baptism and the Holy Spirit were bound together inseparably.” Maxwell E. Johnson, The Rites of Christian Initiation (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1999), p. 26.
3. Kilian McDonnell and George T Montague, Christian Initiation and Baptism in the Holy Spirit (Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1991), p. 40.
4. Kilian McDonnell and George T Montague, Christian Initiation and Baptism in the Holy Spirit, p. 87.
5. On the basis of their examination of the biblical evidence, McDonnell and Montague conclude: “There is no evidence, however, that any one charismatic gift such as tongues was always expected to reveal itself.” Kilian McDonnell and George T Montague, Christian Initiation and Baptism in the Holy Spirit, p. 87.
6. C.S. Lewis, C.S., Surprised by Joy (New York: Harcourt, Brace, & World, Inc., 1955), p. 237.

The Rev. Robert J. Sanders, Ph.D.
rsanders.org@gmail.com
August, 2012

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