Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 11, 1968
NUMBER 35, PAGE 5b-6

Extraordinary Dosage Of Divine Power (I)

William Wallace

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a dosage of divine power often confused with the lesser dosage referred to as spiritual gifts in I Corinthians 12. The apostles received a dose of divine power not made available to people in general. This power was necessary to equip them for the work which had been assigned to them.

Where Do We Go From Here?

When Jesus ascended to heaven the apostles were not fully equipped for the task set before them would inaugurate the greatest institution ever to be formed in this world. The kingdom of God, the subject of Old Testament prophecy, the object to which the work of Jesus pointed would come into being with the service of the apostles.

When Jesus ascended to heaven the apostles were not ready to fulfill the mission charged to them. But when the time arrived they would be provided with power, fully qualifying them for the work to be done.

After the resurrection of Christ, and even after two personal appearances to the apostles, they still seemed fuzzy in their thinking as regards what to do next. "Where do we go from here?" must have been the question in their minds.

Some of them seemed to be turning back to the fishing business. John 21 records Jesus' impressive lesson to Peter regarding the mission to feed the sheep. This, the apostles were to do. Their occupation would be that of kingdom business. But the business of the kingdom would require more than they had received to date.

The discussion of Matthew 18 about who would be supreme in the kingdom and the question of Acts 1:6 set forth the concern of the apostles about forth-coming kingdom business.

These apostles had been trained, taught and prepared by Jesus for their task and promised a power to guarantee them adequacy in the work assigned to them.

John the Baptist prophesied of a power to come — the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:7-8). Jesus promised the apostles a remembering and guiding power in the person of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 16:13). They were told to await a clothing of power — await in Jerusalem (Luke 24:49). This they did and in Jerusalem they received a unique, miraculous, extra-ordinary and supernatural dose of divine power (Acts 2:1-6). Jesus had said the apostles would be baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8) and thus applied John's prophecy. Acts 2:1-8 is the fulfillment of John's prophecy. What John prophesied is thus applied, fulfilled, and realized in what happened to the apostles on Pentecost. John's prophecy can be understood only in light of the fulfillment of Acts 2. This is true of other prophecies. In the way of illustration, note that Genesis 12:3 and 28:14 prophesy a blessing for all nations in Abraham's offspring. We might think of this as being a blessing in the form of Jewish people as whole, but Galatians 3 verse 16 and verse 29 apply the prophecy to Christ and Christians.

The fulfillment of John's prophecy is found in Acts 2 and the only other account of anything like it is that of Acts 10:44-48. Such scarcity of manifestation of this kind of divine power shows that it was not intended to be of general occurrence. It was a special power for a special purpose. Other receptions of Holy Spirit power or influence as in Acts 4:31 and 5:32 were something less than the clothing with power of Holy Spirit baptism and did not do for recipients what Holy Spirit baptism did for apostles. When the apostles were clothed with the power from on high they became fully equipped for the work assigned to them in the Great Commission. There was no confusion or hesitancy from this time on.

The dose of divine power given to the apostles was administered by Jesus (Matt. 3:11) in fulfillment of prophecy and promise (Mark 1:7-8, John 14:26). This was not something others were taught to expect nor something for which they should pray. After the gospel began to be preached on Pentecost people were not promised Holy Spirit baptism, nor commanded with regard to it. Holy Spirit baptism was not sought by sinners or Christians and the New Testament records only two instances of anything like it. All this should show that Holy Spirit baptism was not something received or experienced by those who were converted to Christ and who served as God's children in the early church.

If Holy Spirit baptism was intended as a qualifying and equipping experience, what did it do for Cornelius and others present on the occasion of Acts 10:44-46? Assuming that Acts 11:15-18 identifies this experience as the baptism of the Holy Spirit, it is shown to be an exceptionally unusual experience by the following factors: (1) There is no account of such an experience since Pentecost (Acts 2), nor is there any such account afterward. (2) Peter's evaluation (Acts 11:1-18) of the event shows that this phenomenon was something he hadn't seen since Pentecost. (3) The purpose of the phenomenon in the case of Cornelius is declared to be that of convincing all concerned of Gentile inclusion in the demands and blessings of the gospel (Acts 11:17-18.) Holy Spirit baptism had no saving or sanctifying effect on either the apostles or Cornelius, and Holy Spirit power of such proportion came upon no others unless it was in the qualifying of another apostle — Paul. Of this we know nothing. After apostles were qualified and Gentiles came to be included as subjects of the gospel invitation there was no place or need for Holy Spirit baptism. That for which it was intended and that which it accomplished did not involve the ordinary need and normal responsibilities of those subject to the invitation. It is to be said again, Holy Spirit baptism was a special miracle for a special purpose. The purpose was accomplished in the experience of apostles and in the event of Acts 10:44-46. There was no need for converts or prospective converts or maturing Christians to be baptized in the Holy Spirit in New Testament times and no reason for anything like Holy Spirit baptism today.

Holy Spirit baptism being a thing of the past, a fulfilled prophecy — any contemporary claim to have received or experienced it is far-fetched and erroneous.

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