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

 

Cornelius’ Household

The pattern of two receptions of the Spirit is consistent until the account of Cornelius’ household. An angel instructed Cornelius to send for Peter “who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved” (Acts 11:13-14). Peter came and preached and while he preached the Holy Spirit fell upon them:

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnifying’ God (Acts 10:44-48).

The three previous accounts followed a pattern of the Baptism with the Spirit occurring after salvation. However, at Cornelius’ they occurred simultaneously. This account confirms that the Baptism with the Spirit may occur at salvation. However this account does not prove that the Baptism with the Spirit always occurs at salvation, because in other accounts it occurs after salvation.

Ephesian Disciples

The salvation of the disciples at Ephesus is the final conversion account in Acts which makes reference to the reception of the Spirit. This account presents a unique difficulty because of the confusion over whose disciples they were when Paul asked the question, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:2). Apparently they had only heard of John the Baptist and were only baptized unto repentance. They had not yet heard of Christ nor been baptized into Christ. When they heard about Christ “they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied” (Acts 19:5-6). The difficulty is if they were John’s disciples then the question, “did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” was not addressed to Christians, but to non-Christians.

 

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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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