Be Filled with the Spirit – Part III: It doesn't mean being baptized with the Holy Spirit

Part III

On Sunday mornings at WCC we’re in the middle of our Marriage & Family Series looking at the instruction for husbands, wives and children in Ephesians 5:22 to 6:4. All the instruction flows from the command in Ephesians 5:18 to, “Not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.” Considering the importance of this verse I wanted to spend a few weeks talking about what it means…and doesn’t mean.

In Part II we saw that it doesn’t mean speaking in tongues, and in this post we’ll talk about what else it doesn’t mean: being “baptized with the Holy Spirit”, some supposed experience that takes place after conversion. The idea is you’re indwelt by the Spirit at conversion, but baptized with Him later.

While the word baptism makes us think of water, it means “immerse” and can refer to being baptized – or immersed – in trials (Mark 10:39), or for the Israelites, even baptized in Moses because of their unity with him (1 Cor 10:2). With that in mind Paul’s crucial words are found in 1 Corinthians 12:12-13:

“For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.”

Paul isn’t referring to being baptized – or immersed – in water, but being baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ – or the church – at the moment of conversion.

Paul’s favorite way of referring to believers’ relationships with Jesus is to say we’re “in Christ”, so when Paul says we’re “baptized into Christ Jesus” in Romans 6:1-4 he means we’re spiritually immersed in Him: Galatians 3:27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. This should make sense because we don’t become part of the body of Christ through water baptism, but through faith in Christ; water baptism is simply a physical demonstration of what has taken place spiritually as we identify with Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection when we go under the water and come back up.

Paul’s emphasis in 1 Corinthians 12:12 and 13 is on oneness (the word one occurring six times), and there can be “one body” because we’re all baptized by the Holy Spirit at the moment of conversion and placed into the body of Christ; however, if there was a later baptism that some received while others hadn’t, there would have to be two bodies: one for believers who have been baptized with the Holy Spirit and one for those who haven’t received that experience. Ephesians 4:4-5 There is one body and one Spirit…one Lord, one faith, one baptism. Paul couldn’t say this if some believers were baptized at conversion, but others were then baptized later. The clear understanding is all believers receive one baptism by the Holy Spirit at the moment of conversion.

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