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Baptism in the Spirit: Is it Normal to Receive At or After Conversion?


Pastor Michael Peters looks at the Baptism with the Spirit in light of the whole salvation experience.


Editorial Introduction

This article is a chapter from Michael Peter’s book In Defense of Charismatics. In Defense was written as a response to John MacArthur’s book Charismatic Chaos and as a defense of charismatic beliefs and teachings. Peters wrote in the introduction to his book:

There is a lot of good among charismatic Christians that is worth defending. But, whenever God uses human instruments there are failings; therefore some criticism is justified. My purpose is not to defend every charge against individuals, but to defend charismatic teaching.

Because the emphasis is upon defending charismatic teaching, any number of noncharismatic authors could have been quoted. However, MacArthur’s book includes all the significant doctrinal differences, therefore his is the primary author quoted. The reader should not assume that MacArthur has a vendetta against charismatics or that charismatics do against him.

MacArthur has provided a service to the body of Christ by expressing his concerns and beliefs. It affords the opportunity to respond. Some would rather keep such doctrinal differences concealed. But Paul taught that we are to speak truth in love so that we can grow up in Christ (Eph. 4:15). If we cannot openly address differences we are destined to immaturity.

My hope and prayer is that upon reading this book, charismatics will become deepened in their convictions, and that noncharismatics will grow in their appreciation of charismatics by understanding that we too only want scriptural Christianity.


The Baptism with the Spirit—Distinct from Salvation? by Michael D. Peters


doveLinda had been a Christian for three years but felt something lacking. She couldn’t explain it except to say she needed more of God. Her praying and witnessing had diminished, and she didn’t feel as tender in heart toward God. She continued to attend meetings, and as the leader spoke on being closer to God, she listened. When he called for those to come forward who wanted more of God, she went. In a matter of minutes she was speaking in tongues. She didn’t go forward for tongues, but for God. Later, some told her that she was baptized with the Holy Spirit. She thought that she already had the Spirit but simply wanted to get closer to God. She continued to attend her family’s Lutheran church and to go to charismatic meetings. The Lutherans taught her that it was normal for Christians to receive the Spirit at conversion. The charismatics taught her that it was normal to receive the Spirit at the Baptism with the Spirit. She wondered which was normal? Or, we might ask, what is the normative Christian experience?


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Category: Spirit, Summer 1999

About the Author: Michael D. Peters has ministered among charismatic and noncharismatic Christians for over twenty-five years. For the past 14 years (as of Fall 1998) he has pastored Christ the King Covenant Church in Webster Groves, Missouri. He hold a Masters in Theology from Covenant Theological Seminary and is presently pursuing a doctorate in historical theology at Saint Louis University.

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