Latest Thoughts on the Holy Spirit

In Sunday School this morning, we discussed the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It was a good discussion, and I think quite productive. There is some further study I wish to do, but I think this is a good working doctrine in the meantime.

It was pointed out that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not mentioned anywhere in the Old Testament and only about 9 times in the NT. The references given are Matt 3:11, Mark1:8, Luke 3:16, John 1:33 (all from John the Baptist's quote regarding He who would come after), Acts 1:5, Acts 11:16, Acts 2, I Cor 12:13, and Romans 6:1-4. Actually, I question whether the Romans 6 passage is referring to Spirit baptism or water baptism, but it has little bearing on the conclusions--at least for now.

Next, we discussed 4 specific actions of the Spirit: baptism, filling, indwelling, and sealing. They were differentiated as follows: baptism signifies a believer's joining of the body of Christ and is given in response to belief (see Acts 11:16-17); filling empowers the believer for daily Christian living; indwelling is the Spirit taking up permanent residence within the believer; sealing is the mark of permanent possession by God. We talked about the literal meaning of the words. Filling is to put into a container as much as it can hold (with the spiritual application that as the believer grows in Christ, his capacity for 'fullness" may increase); Sealing connotes approval, ownership, completion, and/or authority. Indwelling is said to be different from filling in as much as the Spirit may still inhabit the believer, even if the believer is not living righteously as a result of continual and constantly increasing filling. The proposition is that all 4 take place simultaneously at the conversion of a believer (which brought up a discrepancy in belief about infant baptism, but we'll get there later).

We then looked at the following scriptures with the associated interpretations:
1. John 14:16-17 The Spirit was sent by Christ in inhabit and be with believers forever. That is, the filling or indwelling of the Spirit cannot be temporary. (Overtly Calvinist - it brought up some curious questions about evangelicals who believe in backsliding. I'm still not sure what I think about that.)
2. John 7:37-39 The Spirit was first given after Christ's ascension in response to belief alone, not specific requests. (Hence, no need to pray for the baptism of the Holy Spirit)
3. Ephesians 1:13 Believers are marked with the seal of the Spirit at conversion; a pledge for the future, this is eternal and permanent.
4. Galatians 3:2 The Spirit is received by those who believe.
5. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 The Spirit's seal is one of ownership, a deposit that absolutely guarantees the future.
6. Ephesians 4:30 The command is given to not grieve the Spirit. (Therefore, there is a potential for stifling the Spirit.)
7. Ephesians 3:19 Paul's prayer for Ephesus is that they may know the love of Christ to abound in knowledge and be filled with all the fullness of God. (Already believers, they must already be filled with the Spirit. The interpretation is that their capacity might be increased to be filled with ALL the Spirit.)
8. Ephesians 5:18 The command to "be filled" with the Spirit. (Why is the command necessary if filling is automatic upon belief, unless the believer may be "further filled" in time? The interpretation is that the filling of the Spirit is continual and ever-increasing in response to the believer's increasing humility and submission to God's sovereignty.)

As for speaking in tongues and other gifts of the Spirit, it was proposed that they are each a manifestation of the baptism of the Spirit, but none is the manifestation. This may fit with 1 Corinthians 12, if you ignore the section heading inserted between verses 11 and 12 in most Bibles. 1 Corinthians 12 is the chapter on the gifts of the Spirit and the unity of the the body's many different members. Verse 13 says ALL believers are baptized in the Spirit into 1 body. It comes after 12 verses of discussing the different gifts and members of the body, emphasis on the word different. This is what I want to study more, but here's my initial idea: the chapter is all on the different gifts of the Spirit for different members of the body. Might that support the idea that speaking in tongues is a gift of the Spirit, but not the single recognizable gift?

To briefly return to the infant baptism question. . .
From Lutheran perspective, Spirit baptism occurs at water baptism. . .therefore in infancy for those born into a Lutheran church. Does that mean that conversion is not necessary for the infant baptized into the covenant? That would seem logical. However, the Presbyterians baptize infants as a sign of the body's belief in the covenant for the child. The child must still accept Christ when they are older; thus, conversion is separate from baptism. Confirmation, if I'm understanding correctly, is basically a new-member class. It has no bearing on conversion. Odd.

I shall be out of internet contact for 2 or 3 days. I hope to have some study time between now and then to further explore these ideas.

1 comment:

Naomi Joy said...

Okay, I've printed this out and studied it thoroughly. Wow. I think this is a viable position. Perhaps I will take it on. I never thought about the Presby/Lutheran differences on infant baptism. You may be right. I wonder which I agree with. I wonder how they coincide with the question at hand. I wonder if I will ever find out. Keep me posted.