In The Spirit
indeed baptize you with (in)
water unto repentance: but he
that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to
bear: he shall baptize you with (in) the Holy Ghost"
I have myself heard one and the same person use seriously every one of
the following expressions:
1. "Oh, I have received the Spirit baptism, and that is the main
2. "Whatever may be said of the mode of water baptism, it is certain
the Spirit baptism was by pouring."
3. "0 Lord, baptize us in the Holy Ghost and in fire."
4. "The Spirit baptism is but another name for regeneration or
conversion, as proved from the Scriptures, Ephesians 4:5: 'One
Lord, one faith, one baptism.' And from I Corinthians 12:13:
'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.'"
I say that I have heard one person use all four of these expressions. Now
listen to an analysis of them. Judging from the conditions and circumstances
when these expressions were used, fairly analyzed, they mean as follows:
First expression analyzed:There are now in the world two baptisms,
by authority of Jesus Christ: Spirit baptism, the greater; water baptism,
less. If you receive the first it exempts you from any special obligation
as to the second. I say that is what that first expression means when analyzed.
"Oh, we have received the Spirit baptism, which is the main thing." Analyze
that expression and it means that if you have received the greater, the
other is a matter of so small importance that there is no special obligation
with reference to it.
Second expression analyzed: As the Spirit baptism, the greater,
was by pouring, therefore the water baptism could not be an immersion.
That is unquestionably a fair analysis of the second expression.
Third Expression analyzed: The Spirit baptism comes in answer
to prayer. Christians should pray for it. Spirit baptism and fire mean
the same thing. The expression you remember was this: "0 Lord, baptize
us in the Holy Ghost and in fire." That is a prayer. I say that when that
expression is analyzed it means first, that the Spirit baptism comes in
answer to prayer, and second, that Christians should pray for it; and third,
that the baptism of the Holy Ghost and baptism in fire mean the same thing.
Fourth expression analyzed: As the Spirit baptism means
regeneration or conversion, therefore all Christians have already received
it, since one cannot be a Christian without regeneration or conversion,
and as there is only one baptism, by the Scripture quoted, it cannot be
received again by the same person. Hence, Christians may not pray for the
baptism of the Spirit. Moreover, as there is only one baptism, and that
is Spirit baptism, therefore water baptism is no baptism, and is not obligatory.
That is a fair analysis of the fourth expression. The last expression flatly
contradicts the first and the third, and the second abuses etymology, rhetoric,
and logic and yet the one who said these four things devoutly and religiously
held to them all.
I would not deem these four expressions worthy of serious notice in a sermon
if they were only the past expressions of one man; but as they are the
stereotyped and present expressions of a multitude, as they are proverbs
and catchwords of today, more potent with many than any argument or any
Scripture in swaying human conduct, it may not be amiss to consider them
somewhat in this sermon.
I repeat that these four expressions, which I have analyzed, and which
are contradictory, and which abuse etymology, rhetoric, and logic, and
which are palpably contrary to many Scriptures, these four expressions
are stereotyped and are the present utterances of a multitude. They are
proverbs and catchwords of power with many in swaying human conduct, and
they do four hurtful things.
They set aside the action of water baptism and depreciate it.
They confound the Spirit baptism with conversion.
They confound it with sanctification.
They nullify the teachings of the Bible with reference to eternal punishment.
By way of introduction I want to propound to your consciences certain questions.
First question: The New Testament speaks of a baptism in water
and of a baptism in the Spirit. In which connection is the word baptism
used in a literal sense and in which one is it used in a figurative sense?
I put it upon your consciences to answer that question. Is the baptism
in the Spirit the literal baptism, and the baptism in the water the figurative,
or vice versa?
Second question: Is there any command in the New Testament imposing
on you the obligation to be baptized in water?
Third question Is Spirit baptism or water baptism designated and
required in the following Scriptures?
... were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing
their sins"(Mark 1:5). Is that water baptism or Spirit baptism?
"After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of
Judea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized. And John also was
baptizing in Enon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and
they came and were baptized" (John 3:22,23) Is that Spirit
baptism or water baptism?
"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). Does that require water baptism or Spirit baptism?
"And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified
God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers
rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him"
"Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ
Then they that gladly received his word were baptized" (Acts
"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" (Acts 8:12).
"See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? ...
"And they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch,
and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit
of the Lord caught away Philip" (Acts 8:36, 38,39).
"Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which
have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?" (Acts 10:47).
"We went out of the city by a river side, ... and spake unto
the women which resorted thither. And ... Lydia attended
unto the things spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized," etc.
they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.
And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes;
and was baptized, he and all his, straightway"(Acts 16:32,33).
many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized"(Acts
now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized"(Acts 22:16).
My question is, do these Scriptures which I have just read, designate and
require water baptism or Spirit baptism? Which one? Is the baptism in these
Scriptures a literal one or a figurative? Do these Scriptures obligate
you to water baptism?
Fourth question: I ask you to listen to it. In trying to understand
your duty concerning water baptism ought you to study what is said in the
New Testament about water baptism or about Spirit baptism? I want to repeat
and emphasize that question. In trying to understand your duty about water
baptism ought you to study what is said in the New Testament about water
baptism, or ought you to study what is said about Spirit baptism?
Fifth question: Is there a command in the New Testament which imposes
the obligation of Spirit baptism on you? If so, where? Will you quote it?
Sixth question: Granting such a command, does it exempt you from
the necessity of obedience to plain and positive commands to submit to
Seventh question: Because something is said in the New Testament
about the Spirit baptism, using the word in a figurative sense, ought you
to shun, avoid, neglect, or depreciate a positive and unequivocal command
expressed in a literal sense of the word?
Now, following these expressions which I have quoted, and these questions
which have been propounded, I will take the text, "I indeed baptize
you in water; ... but he that cometh after me is mightier
than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you in the
Holy Ghost." (Matthew 3:11)
This text is a contrast throughout. There is a contrast between two baptizers,
John and Jesus. Jesus is mightier than John, in the purity of His character,
by so much as an immaculate one is superior to a sinful one; in the power
which He holds, in so much as omnipotence transcends temporary, limited,
and derived power; in the dignity of His character and of His office, by
so much as all authority in Heaven and on earth surpasses a brief earthly
commission; and in His ministry by so much as that one was to decrease
and cease and the other to increase and endure "alway, even unto
the end of the world."
There stood the two baptizers; and of the one it is said that he was as
great as any man ever born of a woman; and hence it is not instituting
a comparison between an insignificant man on the one hand and a greater
man on the other, but it is instituting a comparison between the greatest
man and a Being infinitely greater than the greatest man. Hence, it unequivocally
teaches the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ, as to His immaculate nature,
as to His omnipotent power, as to His investment with all authority, and
as to the perpetuity of His kingdom.
The second point of contrast is in the baptism. "I indeed baptize
you in water." "He will baptize you in the Holy Ghost."
are two elements which stand over against each other as the two baptizers
stood over against each other. One element is water; the other element
is the Holy Ghost.
There is not only a contrast between the baptizers and the baptism, the
element, but there is a contrast in the subjects. John baptized in water
only penitent believers, men who had repented of their sins, men who had
accepted the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus baptizes in the Holy Ghost some Christians,
and in fire all sinners.
There is also a contrast in the design of the two baptisms. John baptized
in water penitent believers who in that ordinance, visibly and before men,
confessed their allegiance to Jesus Christ, and showed forth His burial
and resurrection. The design of the baptism of the Holy Ghost was to confer
power on Christians, whether they had been baptized in water or not, as
you will see directly.
Thus, between the baptizers and the elements in which they baptized and
the subjects they baptized, and the design of the baptism, they stood over
against each other in contrast, and the essential feature of the contrast
was power. Power! John said to these Pharisees and Sadducees who came to
this baptism. "I cannot baptize you. You do not repent. You do not bring
forth fruits meet for repentance. I announce to you that the ax is laid
at the root of the trees, and every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit
is hewn down and cast into the fire. But I cannot take that ax and cut
down the trees, I can not make that discrimination. I cannot separate between
the righteous and the unrighteous: but there cometh one after me mightier
than I. He can and He will." And I ask you to notice in the next place
that neither of these baptisms supersede or displace the other. You could
not plead an exemption from the water baptism because you had received
the other. Each one stood upon its own merits.
Now I want to show you in the next place what the baptism of the Holy Ghost
is not. I want to discuss it negatively.
In the first place, it is not conversion for the following reasons:
In conversion the Spirit of God is the agent or administrator; but in the
baptism of the Spirit the Spirit of God is the element, and Jesus is the
agent or administrator. Jesus will baptize you in the Holy Ghost; as the
water was the element in which John baptized penitent believers, so the
Spirit was the element in which Jesus baptized those who received the baptism
of the Spirit. But in conversion the Holy Ghost is the direct agent, the
direct administrator. He originates, He acts, He confers, and this is the
first point of distinction
In the second place, the subjects of the Spirit baptism and the subjects
of regeneration are totally different. The subject of regeneration is a
sinner, a lost sinner. The subject of the Spirit baptism is a Christian,
one who is already regenerated and converted. There is not a man living
who can show one instance where a sinner received the baptism of the Holy
Ghost. Let me elaborate that before I leave it. Take the second chapter
of the Acts, where it is said that the Christian people being assembled
together in one place, on these Christian people came the baptism of the
Holy Ghost. Jesus had said unto his disciples: "Tarry ye in Jerusalem
until I send to you the promise of the Father, which ye have heard of me."
And at the close of that sermon Peter makes faith in Jesus Christ the condition
of receiving that Spirit baptism; as Paul does, when he says to those disciples
whom he met at Ephesus, Have you received the baptism of the Holy Ghost
since you believed, or did you receive it when you believed?
Take the next instance. In the eighth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles,
Philip preached in Samaria, and it is said that "When they believed
Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name
of Jesus Christ, they were baptized" in water, but as yet the Holy
Ghost had fallen on none of them. The apostles came down and prayed that
they might receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost, and these penitent believers,
these baptized Christians, received it.
Take the case in the tenth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, when Cornelius
and his household received the baptism of the Holy Ghost. The disciples
to whom the matter was rehearsed, argued from it that they must have previously
repented unto life and had their faith purified by Christ, as you will
find from the eleventh and fifteenth chapters of the Acts. Suppose I was
to see that a certain thing comes only to a certain character, and I see
that that certain thing is possessed by a certain man. I then argue from
this effect that the previous conditions must have existed in this case.
So they said, when it was reported to them that Cornelius the Gentile had
received the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Then hath God granted unto the
Gentiles repentance unto life, purifying their hearts by faith. Concerning
the Samaritans it is taught expressly that they received that baptism after
Spirit baptism is not conversion, for this reason, which every child can
remember: No man living, certainly not at least in any book I have ever
read or in any speech I have ever heard, affirms that there ever was in
the history of the world, a baptism in the Holy Ghost until the first Pentecost
after Christ ascended into Heaven. In the history of the world that is
the first time that there ever was a baptism in the Spirit. If so, was
nobody ever converted until that time? Was not Abel a Christian? Was not
Enoch? Was not Noah? Was not Elijah, who went up to Heaven in a chariot
of fire? Were not the apostles, who had themselves been baptized in water
and who had been sent out as baptizers? Do you mean to say that the world
was four thousand years old before any soul was ever converted? And yet,
whoever teaches that the baptism in the Spirit is regeneration or conversion,
denies that any soul was saved, even during Christ's lifetime, or John
the Baptist's, or in the time of the prophets, or from the days of the
garden of Eden until the first Pentecost, after the ascension, which is
not only monstrous in itself, but which palpably contradicts the whole
of the Bible.
In the next place, Jesus said at Caesarea Philippi, "On this rock
will I build my church," referring to Himself and the faith
which Peter had expressed in Him. Now, will you affirm that He built His
church upon a foundation that existed prior to salvation, prior to conversion?
The design of regeneration and of the Spirit baptism are widely different.
The object of regeneration is to make a sinner a Christian. The object
of the Spirit baptism is to make a Christian more efficient; to confer
power on him.
Now, the next point negatively, the Spirit baptism is not sanctification.
To say that it is sanctification you have to affirm that no man ever received
sanctification until after that day; that Enoch was not sanctified, nor
Elijah, nor Abraham, contrary to the express declarations of the Lord Jesus
Christ and of the apostles. In the next place, in sanctification the Holy
Spirit is the direct administrator or agent, and in the Spirit baptism
the Spirit is the element and Christ is the direct agent. The design of
sanctification and of the Spirit baptism is widely different. It is the
object of sanctification to make the subject of it a better man. It looks
to his personal purification. The object of the Spirit baptism is to confer
power upon the Christian, in order that he may make other people better.
It was not the design of the Spirit baptism to purify the man who received
it, but it was the design of the baptism of the Spirit to confer power
Third argument. In the first letter to the Corinthians, from the
twelfth to the fourteenth chapters inclusive, we learn that many who had
received the baptism of the Spirit were far from being sanctified. They
were selfish, they were proud, they were magnifying these extra-ordinary
powers which had been conferred upon them, and they were depreciating the
graces of love and faith and hope which in their highest development constitute
It is a pity that every Christian has not studied the twelfth, thirteenth,
and fourteenth chapters of the first letter to the Corinthians. There in
that church were men who possessed the gift of tongues, who could work
miracles, who could interpret tongues, who could heal the sick; and yet
they were exceedingly imperfect Christians who needed the sanctifying Spirit
of God to make them purer and better, and to turn their thoughts away from
mere power to grace in the heart.
My next argument is that sanctification is the heritage of every Christian,
and that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was not conferred upon every Christian,
even in apostolic times, but only upon so many as God called to receive
it; and in the second place, it had never been received by any one prior
to Pentecost; and in the third place, it stopped altogether with that apostolic
day. Whether there be tongues, they shall cease, whether there be prophecies,
they shall fail: but faith, hope, and charity, these abide forever. Now,
having discussed the subject negatively, it is practically discussed affirmatively.
What is the baptism of the Spirit? Let us go back and read the first announcement
in the prophecy of Joel, and while I read it you ask yourselves this: Is
it conversion? Is it sanctification?
"And it shall come to pass afterwards, that I will pour out my Spirit
upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old
men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon
the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my Spirit."
Now, here is Joel's reference to it. What then was it? The baptism in the
Holy Ghost was this; laying aside all images it was this: The conferring
upon such Christians in apostolic times as God might select, every variety
of extra-ordinary miraculous power necessary to accredit them to men as
His messengers, and to empower them to overcome all obstacles in the way
of the propagation of the gospel. That is what it was. First, among the
miraculous powers conferred was that of inspiration; otherwise, how would
we get a canon of the New Testament? Holy men of old spake as they were
moved by the Holy Spirit. Only a man here and there in the long ages of
the past was inspired.
Now it is said in the last days, after Jesus Christ ascends into Heaven,
and is enthroned and invested with all power in Heaven and on earth, that
He will inspire multitudes of men; instead of partial and occasional inspiration,
it shall now be abundant enough to be called a baptism. He will endow multitudes
of men with power to work miracles, and to heal the sick, and to speak
in different languages. That is what it means. And with that view of the
subject, it being a demonstration of the divinity of Jesus Christ, it being
given for that special and temporal purpose, a purpose which had its limitation
in time as well as in subject, is it not painful, absolutely painful, for
men to take such a glorious doctrine as that, given for such a purpose,
to take it and wrest it out of its connection, and confound it with water
baptism and conversion and sanctification? I do not know when, maybe it
will be ten years before I shall have occasion to refer to this subject
again, but I do want you Christian people to be instructed in the teaching
of the word of God.
Now, I have only one other point before I make my last application. The
baptism in the Spirit was a figurative baptism. I mean the word baptism
is used in a figurative and not in a literal sense. If I refer to the Duke
of Clarence, who was dipped in a hogshead of liquor until he was drowned,
that is a literal baptism in wine or in ale. But if I say a man who has
been drinking for six weeks, until he is saturated with ardent spirits,
soaked in them, filled with them; if I say that man is baptized in wine,
or baptized in whisky, that is a figurative use of the word. I do not mean
that he has been literally immersed in whisky, but I mean that he is absolutely
and altogether under its influence.
If I immerse one in a creek or baptistery, that is a literal baptism; but
if I see a friend of mine in distress, in deep anxiety, groaning, sighing,
weeping, full of pain, no ease, no peace, no hope, I say he is baptized
in suffering. That is figurative. Just as the Lord Jesus Christ said, "I
have a baptism to be baptized in, and how am I straitened till it be accomplished?"
I have sufferings to pass through so deep and overwhelming that you may
compare the sufferings to an immersion in suffering. That is a figurative
use of the word. If one dips another in a tank of oil, that is a literal
baptism, a literal use of the word. But if it be one whose notes of hand
are all over the community, whose property is all mortgaged, who has no
realty that is not already encumbered, I say that man is baptized in debt;
that is a figurative use of the word. He is overwhelmed in debt.
Now, when John the Baptist says, "I baptize you in water, "that
is a literal baptism, "but Jesus will baptize you in the Holy Ghost,"that
is a figurative use of the word. The Holy Ghost is not a liquid element,
but you may use the word figuratively; when they are in the house, and
the sound that indicates His presence fills that house, and they themselves
are filled with the Spirit, permeated throughout by the indwelling Spirit
of God, figuratively, you say that is a baptism in the Holy Ghost. That
figurative use of the word is one of the commonest known to the Greek classics.
I could cite you a hundred instances of it. So that the baptism in water,
that is the literal; the other, that is the figurative. And because the
literal is a burial, a sinking out of sight, so an overwhelming influence
may figuratively be said to be a baptism in that influence.
Before we go away from here today I want to impress this upon you. You
will hear, as I have heard ever since I was a child, such expressions as
this: "Oh, I have received the Spirit baptism, which is the main thing."
You may always question that statement and demand Scriptural proof. You
may always question the conclusion designed to be drawn from the statement,
which is, "I have received the Spirit baptism; therefore the other is unimportant."
You may also sometimes hear men pray, "Baptize us in the Holy Ghost." Be
sure you understand what that means before you ever offer that prayer.
Ask yourself this question: Why should I pray for it? Why should I wish
to speak with tongues? Why should I wish to be invested with miraculous
power? Why should I wish to have the power to heal the sick by word? Why
should I? Those things were for a sign. They were to accredit the gospel.
They were to close up and finish the book of Revelation. Now, do you want
to write a new book of the Bible? If you do, it means that you think what
is here is not sufficient and it means that you take precisely the position
of the spiritualists when they say: "We want a fresh gospel." Now, if you
would not know what to do with this when you get it, if there is no reason
why you should have it, if merely that you ask for it reflects upon the
record which is here, then why should you ask for it?
God help you to study His book, to study it profoundly, to allow no floating
proverb to set aside the plain "Thus saith the Lord." Oh, that men who
bow to the name of Jesus Christ, would bow to the truth of Jesus Christ,
and let Him be the Word as well as Saviour; let His word settle every question
of Christianity; and that book, and that book only, be regarded as the
truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
Here is what you need, brethren and sisters. You need more love, more faith,
more hope, more of the grace and less of the miraculous endowments of the
past. You need submission to the Lord Jesus Christ as your King. You need
to say: Jesus, whatever you tell me to do I will do it. I will not stand
here and cavil at thy words; I will not try to shun them. I will not take
one passage of God's word and try to sponge out another with it. Oh, for
the spirit of obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ!
Now, here is the last thing I have to say. It has been said that you make
too much of baptism, you Baptists. Let me make this statement for you today:
You are the only people called Christians on the face of the earth that
require salvation before baptism. There are no others on the earth today
who take that position. Instead of making baptism essential to salvation
you are the only ones who demand in every case that its subjects must be
saved before they are baptized. That is what you make of it. You bring
the people to Christ first; salvation first, then baptism. Arm yourselves
therefore with God's truth to fight lying proverbs. Decapitate them with
the sword of the Spirit. Explode one small charge of inspired dynamite
under these sunken rocks and you will upheave them, making a safe passage
to all unwary ships seeking the harbor of truth.
AND LIFE SKETCH, 1893 Edition, pages 315-326).
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