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

 

Samaritan Revival

Because of the Apostles’ unique relationship with Christ their two receptions of the Spirit might be viewed as unique. The Apostles, unlike all converts after Pentecost, were there on the first day of Christ’s resurrection. They lived through the unfolding of the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ and experienced the uniqueness of each event. Because the day of Christ’s resurrection was unique and the day the church began was unique, it could be reasoned that the Apostles’ two receptions corresponding to these two unique days, were also unique.

Is it possible they received twice, but those who are converted after Pentecost are only to receive once? Only by examining the experience of those converted after the church began can that question be answered. The Samaritan revival is the next major salvation account in Acts. Philip preached Christ to the Samaritans, and Luke, the writer of Acts, records their response: “when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men a women were baptized” (Acts 8:12). The Samaritans believed and were baptized. They were saved.

If the Baptism with the Spirit is an integral part of every Christian’s salvation experience, the Samaritans would not expect to experience a second filling (baptism) with the Spirit. However that is exactly how the Scripture describes their experience:

Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:14-17).

The Samaritans, who were already saved, were later baptized with the Spirit. Just like the Apostles, there were two receptions. The Apostles’ pattern was not unique. It was repeated with the Samaritans.8

The Conversion of Paul

When was Paul Saved?

“If the Baptism with the Spirit is an integral part of every believer’s initial salvation experience then Paul was not saved on the road to Damascus, but was actually saved three days later when he was filled with the Spirit. But is that consistent with Paul’s own confession?”

In the book of Acts, the pattern of two receptions of the Spirit which we have seen with the Apostles and the Samaritans was also repeated with Paul. Paul, who was then called Sh’aul or Saul, journeyed to Damascus when suddenly a light shown around him from heaven. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” “Who are you, Lord?” responded Paul. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads” (Acts 9:4-5). Saul trembling and astonished said, “What shall I do, Lord?” (Acts 22:10). “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do” (Acts 9:5-6). Paul journeyed to the city of Damascus. After three days Ananias arrived and instructed Paul, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you might receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Act. 9:17).

Paul was saved on the road to Damascus, and three days later he was baptized with the Spirit. Paul’s baptism with the Spirit followed the pattern of the Apostles and the Samaritans.

If the Baptism with the Spirit is an integral part of every Christian’s salvation experience then Paul was not saved on the road to Damascus, but was actually saved three days later when he was filled with the Spirit. However, is that consistent with Paul’s own confession? Paul confessed Christ as Lord. The one Paul rejected, he now confessed as Lord. Is it too much to believe that Paul’s words express an inward work of the Holy Spirit? Paul himself wrote, “No one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3). Paul not only confessed Christ as Lord, he sought instructions: “what shall I do, Lord?” (Act 22:10). Are not confession and obedience marks of salvation?  It is not unreasonable to say that Paul was saved on the road to Damascus, and three days later he was baptized with the Spirit. Paul’s baptism with the Spirit followed the pattern of the Apostles and the Samaritans.

 

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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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