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

Premiere Issue: Pneuma Review Fall 1998

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.



What distinguishes charismatics from noncharismatics? The Baptism with the Holy Spirit which is a baptism of power (Acts 1:5-8) is what distinguishes charismatics from noncharismatics. Charismatics affirm it is possible to be a Christian without being baptized with the Holy Spirit. “It is possible for us to be believers in the Lord Jesus Christ without having received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit,”1 wrote Martin-Lloyd Jones. Noncharismatics affirm that at conversion every Christian is baptized with the Holy Spirit. “Spirit baptism is actually an integral part of every Christian’s salvation experience,”2 wrote John MacArthur. That is the difference.

The differences between these two views raises the question: Is the Baptism with the Spirit distinct from salvation? The answer to that question is discovered by looking at the New Testament accounts of salvation experiences as seen in the book of Acts. Let us examine the accounts that make direct or indirect reference to salvation and the Baptism with the Spirit and then compare these passages with the teaching of the epistles and historic Christianity.


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Category: Fall 1998, Pneuma Review, Spirit

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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