Baptism, Receiving the Holy Spirit & Speaking in Tongues
Baptism is a most important step to take in the Christian experience. It is an outward symbol of an inward change of lifestyle, and acceptance of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ into the heart. When someone says that they wish to unite with Christ’s body of believers, this is the door through which they are to enter. Jesus declared:
“…I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6 - It is this way, which one must follow.
The Apostle Paul, after having been converted and having ceased his persecutions of the saints, declared to Felix, while on trial for his faith:
“I do admit this to you, that I am a follower of the Way, which they call a faction. Accordingly, I worship the God of our ancestors and believe everything set out in the Law and written in the Prophets.” Acts 24:14
Therefore, when we commit to baptism, we are committing to following the Way, which is Jesus. Therefore, we need to follow or do what He did, the way that He did it; also, we are to follow the instructions that He gave. Following are the steps outlined in Scripture, which point out what Jesus did, along with many other followers of Jesus, upon being baptized and why the baptizers said and/or did what they did. Everything needs to be considered, when we talk about this one very important subject.
1. Matthew 3:13-15 – describes where, why, how, by whom and the results of Jesus’ baptism. We are to do as Jesus did; if we do, we should receive the same results that Jesus received; for He was our example in all things.
a. Where – Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River: a place where there is plenty of water and he could be completely immersed. If for some reason there is no river available, then a pool of water, deep enough to completely submerge you should be used.
b. Why – Jesus said that the reason he was being baptized, was to “fulfill all righteousness”. This indicates that Jesus had to add to the list of required prophetic fulfillments, relating to the coming Messiah. Just like the Israelites, when they passed through the Red Sea were baptized; (I Corinthians 10:2) so was Jesus to be baptized. In addition, those who were baptized by John, the Baptist came and were baptized, because they felt the need to confess their sin (Mark 1:5); however, Jesus had no sin. His baptism was to be an example to all who would come to Him, as an indicator, as to what they should do; additionally, to stand in the place for any other soul (for whatever reason) who could not be baptized, even though he/she had confessed his/her belief in Christ (i.e. the thief on the cross) Luke 23:42 .
c. How – Scripture declares in Matthew 3:16 that “When Jesus was baptized, he immediately came up out of the water.” This again indicates that He had been completely immersed. John had placed him all the way under the water, in order to baptize Him. There was no sprinkling, no pouring or any of the other 8-10 ways some people will tell you that you are to be baptized. It was total submersion in a large body of water.
d. Whom – It was John, the Baptist who was given the privilege of baptizing Jesus. Why was he selected? You may ask. Well, John had been especially chosen by God, even before his birth Luke 1:5-25, for this special job. He was referred to as, “…the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord…” John 1:23. He is known as the “Forerunner” of Christ; an announcer of the coming Messiah.
e. The Results – Upon completing the baptism of Jesus, by John, when Jesus came up out of the water, The Holy Spirit descended upon Him, in the form of a dove, signifying that He, along with the Father, who declared Jesus to be “His beloved son”, were well pleased and approved of what Jesus had just done. Hallelujah!
2. When it came to other believers, who were baptized like Jesus, some things, SEEMED to get tricky, but they really didn’t. All it takes is a little reading “in context” and it will be made quite clear.
a. The command of Jesus – After Jesus’ resurrection, He appeared to His disciples several different times. However, when He was ready to return permanently to His heavenly home, this is what He commanded His disciples to do:
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” Matthew 28:19
That seems pretty clear to me. Here He was, standing on the top of Mt. Olives, giving His disciples their last directives, before leaving. He understood the importance of acknowledging all three persons in the Godhead, for all three were present when He was baptized. Remember, He was there; the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove, and God the Father audibly spake from heaven. Now he commissions His disciples to go and to make other disciples, using the same methodology that had been used by Him and the other two entities in the Godhead.
b. Baptize in the name of Jesus – On the day of Pentecost, we read in the second chapter of the books of Acts (Acts 2) that the Holy Ghost had fallen upon all of the 120 persons in the upper room, which included the Apostles. They all began to speak in foreign languages; 17 in fact; the number of different countries represented there in Jerusalem.
These people had come from various parts of the world, for the Passover and had stayed for Pentecost. Now about Pentecost:
“This one-day celebration came on the heels of the Feast of First Fruits. This was the name of the day to yield the first fruits offering, which was to be offered on the 50th day; Pentecost means 50th day. This feast celebrated the abundant goodness God had shown his people throughout the year; it acknowledged their sins against Him, and celebrated the peace He extended to them.
‘For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.’ Acts1:5 - And on the 50th day, the day of Pentecost, the Holy Ghost came in His fullness, thus fulfilling the promise of the Father and coinciding with the Sanctuary Feast Day, which pointed to the coming and fulfillment of Jesus, the Messiah or Anointed One.” The Simplicity of the Biblical Sanctuary, V.E. Harrison, Articulate Communications Publications - 2014
Jesus had died during the Passover Celebration, for He was “…the lamb which taketh away the sins of the world.” John 1:29 – Although these people were doubtless in the area when all of this took place, they didn’t recognize what all was going on. Only those living in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas, like Samara, Judea, Galilee, Capernaum, etc. were familiar with the teachings of Jesus, and many of them did not fully understand; most were waiting for the Scribes, the Pharisees and the Sadducees to accept Him as the Messiah, but alas they did not. Therefore, the people from these 17 different countries did not understand who Jesus was, or what He stood for, but the Apostle Peter did. Therefore, as he gave to those listening, an updated history lesson regarding the recent activity of the religious leaders toward Jesus; how they had maligned and crucified Him, who was the promised Messiah; and how God had raised Him from the dead and had taken Him up to glory where He was presently reigning, the people were convicted in their hearts and amazed. They asked Peter “…what must we do to be saved?” Acts 2:37 – Peter responded, “…Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
Why did Peter mention that they would receive the Holy Ghost? He mentioned it because he and the other people, who had been in the upper room, had just received the Holy Spirit and the people were marveling at their boldness and ability to speak foreign languages; they wanted to have that same power. They wanted the joy that they saw on the Apostles’ faces. Therefore, Peter assured them that if they would accept the Savior, about whom he was preaching and be baptized in His name, showing that they truly believed in Him, also, as they believed in the Theocratic God, then they too would receive the same power as the ones in the upper room had received. Peter was NOT CHANGING CHRIST’S COMMISSION given in Matthew 28:19.
c. The true significance of baptism – baptism signifies that we have turned from our sins and have taken on the life and character of Jesus Christ.
i. “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:4
ii. “One Lord, one faith, one baptism” Ephesians 4:5
iii. “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.” Colossians 2:12
Quick Review: When undertaking baptism, the form that we pursue really does matter. If it is a Christian baptism, we need to remember the points made in this writing:
· We need to follow the example of Jesus – He was fully immersed.
· We need to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, as Jesus instructed.
· We need to remember that it is NOT NECESSARY to be baptized in the name of Jesus only, as were those who were ignorant of who Jesus was or why He had come. We have the entire history of what Jesus did, His immaculate birth, His sinless life, His rejection, His crucifixion, His resurrection, His commission and His promise to return. Therefore, if we have had the gospel preached unto us, it is not necessary for anyone to point those things out again, as though the gospel does not teach these things.
3. How does receiving the Holy Ghost play into all of this?
a. For those who insist that one must speak in a foreign language (i.e. tongues), in order to receive the Holy Ghost, here are just a couple of examples wherein these things were not so, which points out that Acts 2 was an exception, not the rule. The people, who had gathered, needed to be able to take the gospel of Jesus, the Christ, back to their native homeland with them. Therefore, the gospel needed to be shared in their language that they might understand it. Because the disciples did not possess that particular gift, God allowed it for that specific purpose. It really is just that simple.
b. In Acts 8, the Deacon Philip went to Samaria and preached Christ unto the people. He performed many miracles and people were very much pleased. Verse 12 tells us, “But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.” However, no word is mentioned about them receiving the Holy Ghost until Acts 8:15-17; nor were they ever recorded as speaking in a foreign language (tongues). In these verses, it points out that even though these souls had been baptized in the name of Jesus, they still had not received the Holy Ghost and that it wasn’t until the apostles came and prayed for them, lying on hands that they received Him. Therefore, even though some think that you must speak with a foreign tongue, or only be baptized in the name of Jesus, neither is true.
c. When Paul was converted, on the road to Damascus, he first met and acknowledged that it was Jesus, whom he was persecuting, he repented and asked what was he to do - Acts 9:3-6.
d. Then Ananias was sent to Paul, while blind and in Damascus. He laid hands on Paul and Paul received the Holy Ghost, before he was baptized - Acts 9:17-18.
e. Also, no Scripture records Paul speaking in tongues in order to receive the Holy Ghost.
f. Upon receiving and obeying Jesus, you qualify to receive the Holy Ghost – Acts 5:32.
g. Paul states that speaking in foreign languages (tongues) is for unbelievers, not believers. I Corinthians 14:22
h. Therefore, if you wish to count yourself among the unbelievers in Christ, then insist that one must speak in tongues for any reason.
i. Tongues or the ability to speak a foreign language, without training, is just ONE of the many gifts listed in I Corinthians 14. As a matter of fact, Paul puts speaking in tongues, far down the scale of gift receiving. He says that we need to seek to be a “loving” or “charitable” person in verse 1; next he compares speaking in tongues with prophesy and states that it is far better to prophecy, because prophesy builds up people, whereas, if you are speaking in tongues, that’s between you and God (and is really kind of selfish if no one can be benefited but you). In verses 5-19 Paul explains the importance of having a translator, if someone is going to speak in another language, otherwise it is useless for that person to even speak. It is like giving an uncertain sound to soldiers, when they are going off to war. If the sound is not clear to them, they won’t know whether to march forward or to retreat.
Paul spends just about the entire chapter of I Corinthians explaining the proper use of tongues, because many of the believers back then were as confused about the use of speaking in tongues as they appear to be now, 2000 years later. He reproves those who would insist on speaking out, when there was no interpreter. He also said that if a stranger were to walk in and everyone was insistent on speaking in tongues at the same time, the visitor would think that they were ‘out of your minds?’ his words not mine. Let’s look at it in verse 23:
“So suppose that the whole church is meeting and everyone is speaking in tongues. If people come in who are outsiders or unbelievers, won’t they say that you are out of your minds?” CEB
“However, if there is no interpreter, then they should keep quiet in the meeting. They should speak privately to themselves and to God.” V. 28 CEB
“God isn’t a God of disorder but of peace. Like in all the churches of God’s people…” V. 33 CEB
There is more that I could say, but I believe that you have the point. If we truly seek to do ‘only’ what Christ would have us to do; earnestly study the Word of God; praying for the Holy Spirit to give us understanding, then we shall ‘know of the doctrine (teaching)’ John 7:17.
Bottom line: When we truly love God, we will do whatever He asks, in whatever manner that He presents it. Amen!
Note: All Scripture is taken from the king, James Bible, unless otherwise noted. The CEB is the Common English Bible.