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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Spiritual Baptism

 In his book The Holy Spirit, Dr. Billy Graham makes the following comments.
  Many years ago when I was attending a small Bible school in Florida, I visited what was called a “brush arbor revival meeting.” The speaker was an old-fashioned Southern revival preacher. The little place seated about two hundred people and was filled. The speaker made up in thunder what he lacked in logic, and the people loved it.
  “Have you been baptized with the Holy Spirit?” he asked the audience during the sermon.
  Apparently he knew a great many in the audience because he would point to someone and ask, “Brother, have you been baptized with the Spirit?” And the man would answer, “Yes, bless God.” 

  “Young man,” he said, spotting me, “have you been baptized with the Holy Spirit?”   “Yes, Sir,” I replied. 

  “When were you baptized with the Holy Spirit?” he asked. He had not questioned the others on this. 

  “The moment I received Jesus Christ as my Savior,” I replied.  He looked at me with a puzzled expression, but before going to the next person he said, “That couldn’t be.” 

  But it could! It was.    
  I do not doubt the sincerity of this preacher.  However, in my own study of the Scriptures through the years I have become convinced that there is only one baptism with the Holy Spirit in the life of every believer, and that takes place the moment of conversion.1
  Every believer should have the same fruit as every other believer, but not every believer will have the same gifts as every other believer.   No, the Holy Spirit distributes the gifts in such a way that every believer has at least one gift which is uniquely his.  You may have been given a certain gift by God, but it would be a mistake for you to say everyone else should have that same gift.

… the gift of tongues is not necessarily a sign of the baptism of the believer by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ. . . Nowhere in the Bible do I find it said that the gift of tongues is a necessary evidence of being baptized with the Holy Spirit into Christ’s body, the Church.3
  Although it is not commonplace, there are still people who claim that one has not received the baptism of the Holy Spirit if one does not have the gift of biblical tongues.

   Such a claim is what Dr. Graham refutes in his book and what the Apostle Paul refutes in 1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 27-30.
  Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.  Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. . . 

  … Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?  Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues?

  The body of Christ is able to perform its mission because its members all have the same spiritual baptism but have different spiritual gifts.  
  It is childish to believe that having a particular spiritual gift makes one spiritually superior to those who don’t have the same gift.
  So, let us believers in Messiah Jesus put away such childishness and embrace each other as spiritual equals.  Doing so is one way for us to love one another as the Lord commanded us to.


1Billy Graham, The Holy Spirit (Word Publishing: 1988), p. 62.

2Ibid, pp. 133-134.

3Ibid, pp. 173-174.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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