Is Baptism Essential for Salvation? – Program 3

By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. Jimmy Allen, Dr. James Bjornstad, Dr. Jerry Jones, Rev. David Kingdon; ©1982
If someone expresses faith in Christ, but is not baptized, is their salvation valid? At what point does baptism become necessary? Is salvation a process that must include baptism?


The following material is divided into four sections, corresponding to the four half hour programs as they aired. Each segment includes first the written copy directly from the program as aired, then separate comments by either Dr. Jones or Dr. Allen, and finally some concluding remarks by Dr. Ankerberg.

(This information was valid at the time this program was taped.)

Dr. Jerry Jones, Church of Christ evangelist, Professor of Bible at Harding University

Dr. Jimmy Allen, Church of Christ evangelist, Professor at Harding University

Dr. James Bjornstad, Professor of Northeastern Bible College, author, lecturer and a director of the Institute of Contemporary Christianity.

Rev. David Kingdon, Baptist minister, author and former college principal in Ireland.

Program 3: Is Baptism Necessary For Salvation?
Is Salvation by Faith Alone in the Work of Christ? Or is Salvation by Faith Plus Baptism?

Ankerberg: We are continuing our debate on whether or not baptism is necessary for salvation. Is it just faith alone in the work of Christ, or is there faith plus baptism that is needed? Last week as we were talking about some things, Dr. Bjornstad, we cut you off in your response. And in your response tonight, as you refresh our memories would you also put that in the total context of your position for people that are just tuning in.
Bjornstad: Well, the position that I hold is that salvation is by faith in Jesus Christ alone and apart and before baptism. And the question that we got into last week revolves around Galatians 3:27. The text reads: “For all of you who are baptized into Christ have clothed yourself with Christ.” Now, the comment that was made in the last program is an extension of what the text actually says. The text to me says, “Those who are baptized into Christ have clothed or put on Christ,” but the statement that was made was that “they were clothed with Christ’s righteousness.” The question that I have is nowhere do I see propositionally stated in verse 27 the concept of righteousness, nor the word.
Ankerberg: Alright, response. Jim?
Allen: Alright, my response. I would like to clarify one more time that the difference between these other gentlemen and ourselves is not salvation by faith. We believe with all of our hearts in salvation by faith. The difference between the two groups is the definition. And we are convinced that faith includes repentance as they include repentance. When they say faith, they don’t mean faith without repentance, they mean a faith which includes repentance. And sometimes their church statements are that they are inseparable graces, that repentance and faith are inseparable graces. We maintain justification by faith and we believe that faith, repentance and baptism are inseparable graces as far as initial salvation is concerned. Whenever faith is mentioned in Scripture, we see baptism in faith just like they see repentance in faith. The argument is, “What does saving faith embrace?” I do not believe in righteousness by works. I do not believe it can be earned, it cannot be merited, it cannot be deserved. So I want to make clear that Jim and I at least in a broad statement are in agreement. We believe in justification by faith, but what does…
Ankerberg: Let me see if I can clarify that for the audience too. It seems to be so close for people that are out there. They’re saying, “Hey, why are all you people debating this issue? Okay. Because it seems like you people agree on so many things. Which is true, and yet, what you’re saying is that at the moment of baptism that salvation is applied. Is that correct?
Allen: That’s correct.
Ankerberg: And what Bjornstad and Kingdon are saying is that it’s applied at another moment.
Allen: That’s right.
Ankerberg: Without baptism.
Allen: That’s right. I think I’m correct on that.
Ankerberg: Now, James and David, I think that you would consider these fellows to be Christians in the full sense of the word, even though you would disagree on their theology. Is that a fair statement?
Bjornstad: That would be a true statement of my position despite what I would call the extra parts of theology that they have added. Because they truly believe in Christ, from my perspective they are my brothers in Christ. I do not deny that.
Ankerberg: Okay. And I’m not trying to divide our fellowship, but without fudging on your methodology, which I love, which is namely, if the Scripture says it, we’re stuck with what the Boss says, with what the Lord says. And you would have to say in looking at them, they can have true faith and true repentance and they can even have baptism, but if they did not consider baptism as Allen and Jones are saying – namely that it is at that moment when Christ applies salvation – if they do not view it that way, would you say that they are Christians?
Allen: My response, first of all, John, and I will respond – you may think this is hedging at first – but I believe that that is a prejudicial question. In other words, regardless of how I answer, I’m going to be in hot water. If I say, “No,” that I don’t believe these men are brethren, then immediately I’ve turned you off and I’ve turned everyone else off. If I say, “Yes,” I believe these men are brethren, then the question is put to me, “Why argue about baptism? Why even argue it?” So either way I answer, I’m going to be in hot water. But I’m going to go ahead and try to answer.
Kingdon: That’s because of your theology, brother.
Allen: Well, that’s fine. That’s fine.
Kingdon: That’s why you’re in hot water – baptismal water.
Allen: It’s still a prejudicial question because you’ve got a fellow about five seconds before he repents and believes and he doesn’t do it. And then what’s your response? You say, well, whatever the Bible teaches, that’s important regardless. And whatever the Bible teaches on this question is important regardless.
Kingdon: Could I just ask a question? This is very important. I think it was Jerry in the previous week’s program used the term “process” in relation to salvation. Am I correct in saying that?
Jones: I don’t exactly remember the context of the statement, David. You’d have to…
Kingdon: Well, we were talking about righteousness and the imputation of righteousness and I picked you up as using the word “process.” Now, I may have picked you up wrongly, I’d just like confirmation.
Jones: I don’t remember the context of the statement.
Allen: Will you let me deal with Galatians 3?
Kingdon: Well, no; this is very important.
Ankerberg: The reason I bring it up is to say to people out there that that is an important question.
Allen: Amen, it’s important!
Ankerberg: And one pastor was talking with me and he was saying to me, “John, we have such great fellowship. In fact, I wouldn’t even say that in terms of where you’re coming from that I’ll make a final declaration about you.” And I’m saying, “wait a minute!” If the Scriptures are exactly what you’re saying, then I agree with you that that’s what the Boss says. The only thing that we’re talking about is, “Is that what the Scriptures actually say?” I mean, is that seen to be the difference, so people that are tuning in are wondering, what in the world is the story here?
Allen: We believe that one must be immersed in water as an expression of faith and repentance in the Lord Jesus Christ to become a child of God.
Ankerberg: And we also have to say that you are not saying that that’s baptismal regeneration.
Allen: No sir. We do not believe in baptismal regeneration.
Ankerberg: Would you define “baptismal regeneration” for people who think that, because you don’t want to be caught with that position either.
Allen: We do not believe that. Baptismal regeneration implies there’s power in water. There’s no power faith. There’s no power in repentance….
Ankerberg: Like the car wash, you put the person through whether they have faith or anything else, you put them through the water and it does something to them.
Allen: No, water doesn’t do anything to them.
Ankerberg: I’m saying baptismal regeneration for folks that believe that. They are simply saying….
Allen: There’s power in water for baptismal regenerationists. We do not believe there is power in faith to forgive; we do not believe there is power in repentance to forgive; we do not believe there is power in water to forgive. We believe the power is in the Lord Jesus when a man obeys the commands to repent and be baptized.
Ankerberg: Okay, gentlemen, I’d like to have kind of a wrap-up statement on Galatians 3 and then let’s move on to another verse. Okay, from both sides, please. Jimmy, do you want to start us on Galatians 3?
Allen: If I may, please. In Galatians 3, beginning at verse 6, it talks about “Abraham believing God and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” At verse 8 “God would justify the heathen through faith.” In verse 11, “But no man is justified by the law in the sight of God; it is evident: for the just shall live by faith.” Verse 21 mentions that righteousness could not come by the law. In verse 24 we read again of being justified by faith. In verse 26, “You are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”
It is my view that sonship and righteousness in Galatians 3 are the same thing. They are used interchangeably. Those who are sons of God have been made righteous by Christ. Those that have been made righteous by Christ are sons of God. Galatians 3:26, “You are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”
Now, what kind of faith? That’s what the argument is. What kind of faith? And it is the kind of faith that includes baptism. Why are you sons of God by faith? Galatians 3:27: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Job said, “I put on righteousness and it clothed me.” [Job 29:14] We put on Christ, and in light of the context of Galatians 3, that’s when we put on His righteousness, it clothes us, we become His sons. Sons by faith, which includes baptism, and it is not a work of merit, it is not a work of man’s righteousness, it is nothing that we do to earn salvation. It is a part of our faith-response to the grace of God.
Kingdon: Does baptism then make us righteous?
Allen: May I answer it? Does baptism make us righteous? Christ makes us righteous. Faith does not make us righteous; repentance does not make us righteous; confession does not make us righteous; baptism does not make us righteous. And yet faith, repentance, confession and baptism are conditions we meet in order that Christ might make us righteous.
Kingdon: No. You are confusing two things. You are confusing imputed righteousness, which is reckoned to us by faith, with imparted righteousness. Now, justification is God declaring the guilty sinner who believes to be acquitted in His sight. Sanctification is the process of making that justified sinner more like His Son, Jesus Christ.
Now, if you look at Romans 8:31-34, “What shall we say then to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not His own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth?” Now justified and condemned are set against each other. Now, I am not made justified, I am declared justified, just as I am declared condemned if I will not believe in Christ. But the argument is in verse 34, we don’t look to our baptism as the occasion of the impartation of God’s righteousness, we look to the Christ who has died, “Yea rather, that has risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” [Rom. 8:34]
Ankerberg: Okay, let me stop here. I think you agreed with everything that Jimmy said in terms of it was Christ that does it. I don’t think anybody up there is saying that any other way is happening except it’s, “At what moment does Christ do it?” is the question. Now, at that point, Jones and Allen are saying baptism, and Kingdon and Bjornstad are saying faith. I think we need more verses on this.
Bjornstad: Can I go back to the passage in Galatians 3 and at least respond? I feel that the position that he has given is not the one that you could really follow if you work your way through the passage. It seems the passages that he read about righteousness, the passages that indicate the fact of faith in Christ, it seems that all of the words that are used regarding righteousness is “belief” and “faith” which are literal terms. Therefore, when you come to verse 26, which he hinges sonship, and I agree with him, it is “by faith in Christ,” that’s what the statement makes. But when you move to verse 27 you move from a literal, direct meaning of the word to the concept that baptism, which is putting on or clothing, which moves to a metaphoric area. Now, I think if you want to argue from a pre-conceived idea that righteousness is put on at that point, that’s not what the text has said all the way along.
Ankerberg: But many people at that point, Dr. Bjornstad would be saying, “You know, okay, what tips you off that one is literal and one is figurative?”
Bjornstad: Okay, the essential aspects of looking at a word in context to see its primary meaning. If I come to the word “believe” and I look at it, in context in that sentence it means that “I put my trust in something.” “I accept something.” That’s the literal way that we use the word today. But when I come to the word that says “baptism” and then it identifies as “putting on,” it cannot be the literal water in the sense that is referred to as righteousness, but the “putting on” of something which is the clothing of Christ. So it becomes in that sense metaphoric or figurative language.
Allen: I think the talk about figurative and literal can sometimes be a bit misleading. A figurative statement can be used to set forth reality. I may say of an individual that he shed a barrel full of tears. Well, that’s a figure of speech, a hyperbole, and a gross exaggeration, but the man did actually cry. So you may use figurative language to describe reality. In Romans 6 there is a symbolism; there is some figurative language; but there is also a reality displayed. In Galatians 3:27, if these gentlemen are thinking that we’re saying that right now I have Jesus literally on me in some physical way, then of course I would say that I don’t hold any such view.
However, Galatians 3:27 does say, “We are baptized into Christ.” And many times in Scripture the expression “in Christ” is used, and in Charles B. Williams’ translation (he was a Baptist), he points out that “in Christ” means to be in union with Christ. And I maintain that through faith and repentance one is baptized into an actual, dynamic, vital union with Christ. That right now there is a union between Christ and the individual Christian, and that takes place – that unity is formed – in the act of baptism upon the basis of trust and repentance. One who genuinely trusts the Lord and truly repents is immersed and he is brought into Christ.
And if these gentlemen want to say then we clothed with Christ in some figurative sense, I maintain Galatians 3 means that His righteousness is then imputed to us. I don’t mean that Christ physically is around me at that time, if that’s what they mean by “literal.” I get a little confused on literal and figurative. I do believe in the act of baptism we are actually, really, literally brought into union with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Kingdon: Well, what about Galatians 2:16? Because you’ve got exactly the same preposition as you have in Galatians 3:27. “For as many of you have been baptized into Christ.” “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed [eis] in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ.” Now, you’re going to use eis in Galatians 3:27 to say that baptism puts us into union with Christ. I’m going to say that look at Galatians 2:16, which comes before, and you’ve got exactly the same preposition. And faith, therefore – and I think you can quote many other verses – can be said to put us into union with Christ. One could quote Ephesians 2, for example.
Ankerberg: Can we move to some other verses?
Jones: Well, he’s brought up something new that I think has to be considered here, okay, if you understand to be biblical faith. We’re coming back to the definition of faith. Now, if it’s mental assent that brings me into Jesus Christ, how can I later on be baptized into Him? If I’m already in this room I can’t be brought into it again.
Kingdon: Who said it was mental assent? You’ve just brought that in, and assumed it.
Jones: But isn’t that your position?
Kingdon: No, it’s not!
Jones: Well, what do you mean by faith?
Kingdon: I mean trust in Christ, commitment to Christ, that which puts me into union with Christ, and I object very strongly to the imputation that I am talking about “mental assent” in relation to Galatians.
Jones: Okay. We’ll correct that point.
Ankerberg: Let’s go back on that. Jerry, would you give us the definition of faith where you’re at so that we out here can tell what you’re saying.
Allen: Hebrews 11 is the place where you define faith, which simply says the faith that saves is the faith that obeys. Noah by faith built the ark and he was saved. [Heb. 11:7] The children of Israel by faith walked around the walls of Jericho and they fell down. [Heb. 11:30] And so faith includes what God told them to do to bring about the desired result. So what we’re saying here again is that it’s not faith plus something else, but baptism is in faith. We include baptism in faith like they include repentance in faith.
Ankerberg: I’m not sure I compute on faith. I understand how you just defined obedience. What is faith then? In other words, I don’t get the definition between faith and obedience there.
Allen: Faith includes what God said to do to bring about the desired result.
Ankerberg: What is the faith then?
Allen: The faith is putting in action what God said.

Ankerberg: But what is the faith? It’s the putting in action of mental assent?

Allen: Faith includes what God said to do to bring about salvation.
Ankerberg: That’s obedience?
Allen: Okay, obedience. There’s no such thing as a non-obedient faith that brings about salvation.

John Ankerberg’s remarks on Spirit Baptism

The words “baptized with the Holy Spirit” have a relationship to our debate tonight. What do the words mean? They are found only seven times in the New Testament. Four times they are recorded of John the Baptist who predicted that the outpouring of the Spirit foretold by the prophet Joel would be the work of the Messiah. Now, John says, “I have baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” [Mark 1:8] John’s prophecy is recorded in Matthew, Mark and Luke as a simple future statement: “He will baptize.”

For the fourth time it is recorded, in the gospel of John, the word “baptism” is a present participle and it reads, “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” [John 1:33] Here, the use of the present participle shows that Jesus’ baptizing with the Holy Spirit is timeless, never-ending. The very words, ho baptizon used of Jesus to mean “the baptizer,” are the same ones used of John the Baptist in Mark 1:4. John Stott had said about these words, just as John is called “the Baptist,” or “the Baptizer,” because it was characteristic of his ministry to baptize with water, so Jesus is called “the Baptist” or “the Baptizer” because it is characteristic of His ministry to baptize with the Holy Spirit. Now we can find another present participle that describes Jesus’ continuing ministry in John 1:29 where it says, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” Jesus’ work is characterized by these two wonderful continuous activities, of taking away sin, and of baptizing with the Holy Spirit.

The fifth place this phrase is found is in Acts 1:5. Jesus takes John’s prophecy and applies it to Pentecost saying, “Before many days, ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” At Pentecost two separate companies of people received the baptism or gift of the Holy Spirit, the 120 at the beginning of Acts 2 and 3,000 at the end of the chapter; the difference in the two groups being the 3,000 did not receive the miraculous phenomena. Yet, Peter assured them that they had received the same gift of the Holy Spirit.

The sixth place we find this phrase is Acts 11:16. Peter, in speaking of Cornelius’ conversion, equates the gift of the Holy Spirit with the baptism of the Spirit. He recalls Jesus’ words to him when he says, “I remember the word of the Lord, how He said John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit. For as much then as God gave them the like gift as He did unto us who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God.” [Acts 11:16-17]

The seventh place we find this phrase is 1 Corinthians 12:13. Paul says, “For with one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, Jews or Greeks, slaves or free, and all were made to drink of one Spirit.”

If we put together all seven biblical passages we will learn that (1) Jesus is the baptizer, as John clearly foretold; (2) the ones baptized are “we all;” (3) the Holy Spirit Himself is the element with or in which the baptism takes place; and (4) the purpose of this baptism is incorporation into one body, namely, the body of Christ, the church.

But some say that the baptism of the Holy Spirit and miracles ceased with the apostles. First Corinthians 13:8 is cited where it says, “But whether there be prophecies, they shall fail, whether there be tongues, they shall cease, whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away,” But we have to ask, What time is this speaking of? Is it speaking of the apostolic age? No. In verse 12 we read, “For now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face; now, I know in part, but then shall I know even as also I am known.” Can we say that we see face to face and know as we are known right now? No. This won’t happen until heaven.

Second, some of the spiritual gifts that are mentioned here to say that they will cease, are still used today by all Christian churches. Prophecy is defined in 1 Corinthians 14 as the ability to speak to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort. Paul tells us to pursue this gift. Do we want to give up the spiritual gifts of prophecy and knowledge? These gifts are said to pass away and some day they will, but not until heaven. They have been given to the church until then so that we can serve effectively.

I don’t think we should confuse spiritual gift abilities with the baptism of the Spirit. The baptism of the Spirit takes place at conversion. When one receives Christ by faith, Jesus baptizes that person with the Holy Spirit and forgives his sins. In Acts 10, Cornelius reached out by faith to Jesus, received the gift of the Holy Spirit and the forgiveness of sins, and it was after this happened that he testified of it by water baptism.

Dr. Jimmy Allen – Response to John Ankerberg’s remarks on Spirit Baptism

We are told that the present participle is timeless and never ending. Since Christ’s baptizing in the Spirit (John 1:33) is described by the present participle, it was concluded that baptism in the Spirit is timeless or never ending. However, in the same presentation John used 1 Corinthians 13:12 to show there is a time when Spirit baptism does end. It cannot be both ways. Is Spirit baptism never ending or does it end? Ankerberg overlooked John 1:29 where the present participle is used of John’s work of baptizing. Does this mean John is still baptizing? The present participle is timeless, but not in the way Ankerberg interprets it. It is timeless in that it does not tell when an action begins or when it ends as it describes continuous action (generally). The time of the present participle is determined by the verb or the context of the Scripture (C. F. D. Moule, An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek, p. 99).

Only the apostles were baptized in the Spirit on Pentecost Day (not the 120 and 3000 as John contended). The promise was made to the apostles (Acts 1:5-8). They were all Galileans (Acts 2:7). Peter stood with the eleven (Acts 2:14). The question was addressed to Peter and the other apostles (Acts 2:37). No one but the apostles is said to have worked miracles at that time (Acts 2:43).

The “gift of the Holy Spirit” is used to describe baptism in the Spirit (Acts 10:45), however, this does not mean it always refers to Spirit baptism. Food and water are gifts of God but this does not mean food is water or water is food. The baptismal measure of the Spirit was God’s gift, the measure of the Spirit received by the laying on of the apostles’ hands was God’s gift (Acts 8:14-17; 19:1-5) and the ordinary measure of the Spirit given to all who repent and are baptized (Acts 2:38) is a gift from God. Context determines the meaning of “gift.” John said the Spirit baptism of the 3000 was not accompanied by miracles. In the only two cases where it can be proved that Spirit baptism occurred, miracles did follow (tongue speaking). Since there were no miracles performed by the 3000, this is reason for concluding they were not baptized in the Spirit. Every child of God has the Spirit (Acts 2:39; Rom. 8:9) but there is not one living who has been baptized in the Spirit.

According to Paul, there is only “one baptism” (Eph. 4:5). As followers of John the Baptist, the apostles were baptized in water. On the Pentecost Day, they were baptized in the Spirit. Cornelius and those with him were baptized in the Spirit and later baptized in water. Without doubt, these two groups received two baptisms. How does this harmonize with Paul’s “one baptism”? The apostles were baptized in the Spirit to give them miraculous power (Acts 1:5-8) for the purpose of confirming the word (Mark 16:20; Heb. 2:1-4). Cornelius and those with him were baptized in the Spirit to prove to the Jews that Gentiles had a right to hear the gospel and become a part of God’s family (Acts 10:45; 11:15-18). The purpose of something is learned by its use. Peter used the Spirit baptism of Cornelius to prove to the Jews that he had done right in going to a Gentile home with the gospel (Acts 11:1-4, 18-20). He was successful and the brethren then began to preach to Gentiles (Acts 11:18-20). Holy Spirit baptism had nothing to do with the salvation of the apostles as they were already saved before it happened. In like manner, it had nothing to do with the salvation of Cornelius. There are four miracles mentioned in connection with Cornelius (Cornelius’ vision, Peter’s vision, Spirit speaking to Peter and Holy Spirit baptism) and none of them deal with salvation. One could as logically argue that the vision of Cornelius is part of salvation as contend that Spirit baptism is involved in salvation. Cornelius met the conditions of belief (Acts 10:43), repentance (Acts 11:18) and water baptism (Acts 10:48) to be saved (Mk. 16:16).

John has two baptisms (Spirit and water). Paul said there is only “one baptism.” Someone is wrong and it is not Paul. On this question, you must decide to stand with John or Paul. There was a time when some received two baptisms, however, when Paul wrote Ephesians (ca. 61-62 AD), there was only one baptism. If that one is water, no one is being baptized in the Spirit. If it is Spirit, no one is being baptized in water. There are just as many baptisms today as there are Lords, Spirits and Gods (Eph. 4:3-6). Since there is one Lord, one Spirit and one God, there cannot be more than one baptism! In the great commission, Christ told the disciples to go, teach and baptize.

He then promised to be with them to the end of the world (Matt. 28:18-20). The baptism of the commission is to be administered by men. Men can baptize only in water. Hence, the baptism which is to continue until the end of the world is water baptism. When Paul said there is only one baptism (Eph. 4:5), he obviously had water baptism in mind. Spirit baptism had ceased by that time.

“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13). This verse does not prove John’s case. “No one can say Jesus is Lord but by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:3). Notice the construction in the two verses: “by one Spirit” and “by the Holy Spirit.” Surely, they mean the same. In each verse, the Spirit is the agent rather than the element. The Spirit operating through certain Corinthians led them to have gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:4-11). Likewise, the Spirit operating through saints to lead men to be baptized in water. The Spirit is not the element but the agent. To say “Jesus is Lord” by the Spirit does not mean one was baptized in the Spirit. It does mean the Spirit was the agent which caused him to make the statement. First Corinthians 12:13 means the Spirit was the agent who worked through the saints and led others (by teaching the word) to be baptized in water. This should not appear strange as similar language is used of Jesus and water baptism in John 4:1-2. There is no proof the Corinthians had been baptized in the Spirit. There is proof they had been baptized in water (Acts 18:8; 1 Cor. 1:14-16).

Notice the unity which follows baptism in 1 Corinthians 12:13. That same unity is mentioned following water baptism in Galatians 3:26-28. Notice how they drank of the Spirit following the baptism of 1 Corinthians 12:13. That same participation in the Spirit follows water baptism in Acts 2:38. A study of the context and a comparison of 1 Corinthians 12:13 with these two verses shows conclusively that water baptism rather than Spirit baptism is the subject under discussion.

John said He baptizes with the Holy Spirit and forgives sins. [John 1:29, 33] You will see that he has the Spirit preceding forgiveness; however, Paul did not agree. He said, “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts (Gal. 4:6). When one understands the unique character of the events at the house of Cornelius, the Bible has beautiful harmony. John has people receiving the Spirit and becoming sons. Paul has them receiving the Spirit because they are sons.

I don’t have the time or space to comment on John’s remarks concerning 1 Corinthians 13:12. If you are interested in an answer read my book entitled Survey of 1 Corinthians.

Closing Remarks on Spirit Baptism

Ankerberg: Spirit baptism ends when the spiritual gifts of 1 Corinthians 13:12 end – in heaven. Spirit baptism will last as long as Jesus’ other ministry (also present participle), forgiving of sins, lasts. I used John 1:29 deliberately to point out that John is called “the Baptist” or “the Baptizer” because it was characteristic of his ministry to baptize with water. So Jesus is called “the Baptist” or “the Baptizer” because according to the verses it is characteristic of his ministry to baptize with the Holy Spirit. John’s ministry ended. Jesus’ ministry of forgiving sins and baptizing with the Spirit continues until time ends. C.F.D. Moule is cited correctly: “The present participle is timeless in that it does not tell when an action begins or when it ends as it describes continuous action.” The same biblical writer, in the same paragraph, used two identical tenses to characterize Jesus’ ministry. One is a taking away of sin, the other baptizing with the Holy Spirit. Baptizing with the Spirit should therefore last as long as anyone wants to say Jesus will forgive sins.

To say only the apostles were baptized in the Spirit on Pentecost Day (not the 120 and the 3,000) is to separate the gift of the Holy Spirit as something different than the baptism with the Spirit. Dr. Allen admits the gift of the Holy Spirit is used to describe baptism with the Spirit in Acts 10:45. The gift of the Spirit is promised by Peter at Pentecost when he preached to the 3,000. It was for them and all who would believe.

The phrase, “the gift [singular] of the Holy Spirit” is used in connection with salvation. As Vine says, “The gift of the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit Himself. Spiritual gifts (plural) are spiritual abilities given to Christians by the Spirit to serve.” Dr. Allen says only the apostles were baptized on Pentecost Day. Yet Acts 2 never uses the word “baptized.” In Acts 2 we do find that Peter quoted Joel to explain that the pouring out of the Spirit would be for all flesh (Acts 2:17-18) and two verses later he promises as a result, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” [Acts 2:21] In verse 33, Peter said they had “received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.” In verses 38-39 Peter promises, “Ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.”

Peter’s words are very clear. The gift of the Holy Spirit which is the promise of the Holy Spirit is the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy and it is for all flesh, “Unto you and your children, and to all afar off.” [Acts 2:39] If Dr. Allen believes the apostles were baptized by the Spirit in Acts 2, Peter says it is for all who believe. Dr. James Dunn thoroughly researched all of the phrases Luke uses in Acts to describe the coming of the Spirit and says, “I conclude that in the 23 instances in question, these seven different phrases describe not different operations or experiences of the Spirit, but rather different aspects of the same operation and experience – the first initiating, baptizing work of the Spirit.”

The only way one can prove that Spirit baptism happened at all to the disciples is to believe the “gift” of the Holy Spirit, or “the promise” of the Holy Spirit, is the same thing Jesus promised as the “baptizing” of the Holy Spirit in Acts 1:5. This is proof that the baptism of the Spirit was above all the coming of the Spirit. What the Spirit gave in addition to His coming did not detract from the main fact that He had come.

First Corinthians 12:13 says, “With one Spirit all of us were baptized into one body,… and all of us were made to drink of one Spirit.” If at Pentecost (the beginning of the new age, the new covenant) it is admitted that Jesus’ promise of Spirit baptism took place, then Ephesians 4:5 must point to that, otherwise “one baptism” refers to the inner Spirit baptism which is expressed symbolically by water baptism. Paul cannot be pressed in his use of “one,” any more than he can be pressed on the use of “one hope” (is there only one hope in the Christian faith?), or “one Lord” (are God the Father or the Holy Spirit not Lord in their own right?). When Dr. Allen admits Cornelius was baptized in the Spirit and later baptized in water, how many baptisms is that? There is no reason why Ephesians 4:5 cannot refer to Spirit baptism alone, which Paul the author so importantly displayed in 1 Corinthians 12:13.

Dr. Allen says the apostles were baptized in the Spirit to give them miraculous power. Jesus said in Acts 1:5, “For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” Here the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not equated with power, but with salvation via John’s baptism. Acts 1:8 is the place where it talks about power and a different phrase is used: “But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you. And ye shall be witnesses unto me.” In Acts 2, when the Holy Spirit baptized them, Peter equated it not with power but with the prophecy of the outpouring of the Spirit on all flesh. In verse 33 Peter says it is the exalted Jesus who sent the Holy Spirit; that is, “the promise of the Holy Ghost.” In verse 39 Peter says, “the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off.”

If Cornelius was saved only after he had met the condition of belief, repentance, and water baptism, why did Luke via Peter record before Cornelius was baptized in water, “because on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit”? [Acts 10:45] Isn’t this the same gift as is promised in Acts 2:38? Acts was written from Rome in 61 AD, after Paul’s journeys. Ephesians was written in 61 AD as well.

Dr. Allen says there was only one baptism. If that one is water, no one is being baptized in the Spirit (which would contradict Paul’s own statement and the inspiration and inerrancy of the Scriptures, in 1 Corinthians 12:13). If that one is Spirit, no one is being baptized in water (which goes against the Great Commission). Why not hold that water baptism expresses outwardly the inward Spirit baptism? Just as there is one Spirit, one Lord, one God, does one count them as three? No, they are One.

If you count water baptism, which expresses Spirit baptism, is two, not one; just like one Spirit, one Lord, one God, (if you count) are three. Yet they are one with no contradiction. If one refuses to accept water baptism (outward) and Spirit baptism (inward) as one – because one and one make two – then what must be done when Paul states there is one Spirit, one Lord, one God? Should we, because we count three, choose one and ignore the other two simply because we say they cannot be one without contradiction?

Concerning 1 Corinthians 12:13, no mention is made of the fact that the exact expression used here is found in six other places in the New Testament. And the Greek expression is precisely the same in all its seven occurrences. As a sound principle of interpretation, it should be taken to refer to the same baptism experience in each verse (for a list of the verses see the conclusion to Program 3). The burden of proof rests with those who deny it.

The natural interpretation is that Paul is reiterating the word of John the Baptist as Jesus and then Peter had done (Acts 1:5; 11:16). It is unnatural to make Jesus Christ the baptizer in six instances, and the Holy Spirit the baptizer in the seventh. The Greek preposition in this verse is en, just as in the other six verses, where it is translated “with.” Why should it be rendered differently here? If it is because the words en heni pneumati (RSV, “by one Spirit”) come at the beginning of the sentence, the reason for this is surely that Paul is stressing the oneness of the Spirit in whom we share, not that the Spirit is the baptizer.

In all seven verses the baptism is “with the Spirit.” The element is the Holy Spirit. It is sometimes argued that in 1 Corinthians 12:3 the Holy Spirit must be the baptizer, since otherwise the baptism would have no subject. But no baptizer is mentioned in Acts 1:5 and 11:16 either. We find no difficulty in supplying Jesus Christ as the baptizer in those verses: why should we not do the same in 1 Corinthians 12:13? The reason why Christ is not specifically mentioned as the baptizer in these three verses is that, whereas in the four gospels the verb is in the active and Christ is its subject (“he will baptize,” “this is he who baptizes”), in these other three verses the verb is passive and the subject is those baptized (“you shall be baptized,” “we were all baptized”). The active verbs contrast John and Jesus as the two baptizers. When the verbs are passive, however, the identity of the baptizer fades, and the emphasis lies rather on either the favored people who receive the baptism or the one Spirit with whom they are baptized. I reaffirm, therefore, that in 1 Corinthians 12:13, although He is not named, Jesus Christ must be regarded as the baptizer.

What would be the “element” with which He baptizes? That there is no answer to this question seems enough to overthrow the interpretation, since the baptism metaphor absolutely requires an “element,” otherwise baptism is no baptism. Therefore, the “element” in the baptism of 1 Corinthians 12:13 must be the Holy Spirit, and (consistently with the other six verses) we must supply Jesus Christ as the baptizer. Similarly, at the end of the verse it is the Holy Spirit of whom we drink and (consistently with John 7:37 ff.) it must be Christ by whom we are “made to drink” of Him.

In John 4:1-2, the words “baptized with the Holy Spirit,” are not mentioned. If 1 Corinthians 12:13 teaches Spirit baptism, it is the Spirit who brings unity here, in Galatians 3:28, Ephesians 4, and Acts 2.

Possession of the Spirit is proof one belongs to Christ. Romans 8:14-15: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God… ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” Paul did not think water baptism was part of the gospel (1 Cor. 1:17). Yet he thought the gospel was the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16).

Read Part 4

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