“The Baptism of the Holy Ghost”
Kent E. Heaton Sr.
In many religious circles, the Holy Ghost (or Spirit) is enjoyed as a topic of great interest. The seemingly mysterious nature of the Spirit has always caused people to take notice and desire more knowledge of His power. When Simon the sorcerer saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered Peter and John money to obtain this power. Peter rebuked him for it and Simon sought repentance for his outburst.
The church of God in Corinth had the gifts of the Spirit but had failed to properly understand the use and purpose of the gifts. Paul spends a lengthy discussion of the gifts in 1 Corinthians 11 - 14 establishing the foundation of the spiritual gifts. He exhorted the brethren, "I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification." (1 Cor 14:5)
One of the things that Simon had seen in Acts 8 was the gifts of the Spirit were given by the laying on of the apostles hands. The apostles had the power of the Spirit as Jesus had promised would be given unto them prior to His ascension. They received the baptism of the Holy Ghost in Acts 2 and evidenced this power throughout the infancy of the early church (Acts 2-28).
Are all believers entitled to the promise of the baptism in the Holy Ghost? A Statement of Fundamental Truth (1983) says, "All believers are entitled to and should ardently expect and earnestly seek the promise of the Father, the baptism in the Holy Ghost and fire, according to the command of our Lord Jesus Christ. This was the normal experience of all the early Christian Church. With it comes the enduement of power for life and service, the bestowment of the gifts and their uses in the work of the ministry."
The Lord made a promise of the coming of the Spirit in Luke 24:29, Acts 1:4,5 & 8 when He said: "Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high ... And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, "which," He said, "you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now ... But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
This promise was never made to all believers but only to the disciples to whom Jesus was speaking. He had said in Luke 24:48, "And you are witnesses of these things." Their eyes would behold all those things that Jesus said would come about and they would receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. On the day of Pentecost (Acts 1,2), the apostles were baptized with the Holy Ghost. "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." (Acts 2:4)
Paul wrote to the Christians in Ephesus and said there was only one baptism (Ephesians 4:5). He affirms the only baptism to be water baptism and denies the possibility of the baptism of the Holy Ghost by all believers. All believers are not entitled and should not ardently expect and earnestly seek the promise of the baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire as it was never promised by Jesus Christ. Beyond the first century, no Christian has ever possessed the baptism of the Holy Ghost.