For well over a hundred years advocates of the doctrine of salvation before obedience have tried to use 1 Corinthians 12:13 to deny that immersion in water is the baptism Jesus commanded and which puts one into Christ. Actually this is one of their weakest arguments because the Bible is so specific in what it says about the matter. But remarkably some of our own brethren have taken up that argument and now Al Maxey, who preaches for a church of Christ, has published a book with the above title, evidently thinking he has dug out a brilliant new truth to enlighten the church of Christ people. To see how weak it is in comparison with scripture you only have to look up some expressly stated Bible facts.

The scriptures distinguish clearly between “baptism in the name of Christ” (in water) and baptism in the  Holy Spirit.

Jesus commanded His disciples to preach the Gospel to all the world and said, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved.” He also told them, “You shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:5) It was these apostles who were to be baptized with the Holy Spirit, not the people to whom they preached. The purpose was not to make them disciples but Jesus said it was to enable them to deliver the Gospel to the world. At verse 8 He said they would receive power “and you shall be witnesses to me in Judea, in Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” This is exactly what happened. After the Holy Spirit came on the apostles they carried out this assignment. They never commanded anyone to be baptized with the Holy Spirit.

Look at what happened when this “power” Jesus spoke of came upon them in Acts 2. They did preach and some people were “cut to the heart” and cried out “What shall we do?” Peter said, “Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Notice the sequence. (1) They were baptized in the name of Jesus and then (2) they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Obviously being baptized for the remission of sins and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit are two different things. Receiving the Holy Spirit Himself is yet another.

Then notice in the 8th chapter when they preached the Gospel in Samaria people were baptized. But the text says specifically they had not received the Holy Spirit, again showing that being baptized and receiving the Holy Spirit are two different things. Verse 14 says when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God they sent Peter and John, who prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, “for as yet he had fallen on none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord, Jesus.” Notice, they had received the word of God, they had been baptized in the name of Jesus. But they had NOT received the Holy Spirit. How could it be made any clearer that baptism in the name of Jesus is not baptism in the Holy Spirit?

Yes, the scriptures are quite clear as to what the baptism is that Jesus commanded. In that same 8th chapter of Acts Phillip went to the eunuch in the chariot and “preached Jesus to him.” Then the text says  that as they went along they came to some water. They came to what? Water. And the eunuch said, “Here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” Did Philip say? “No, we’ll have to find a lake that is filled with the Holy Spirit so you can be baptized in that element?” No. He said if you believe with all your heart you may.” Remember, he had “preached Jesus to him.”

Acts 19 demonstrates this truth again. The Ephesians had been baptized according to John’s baptism. Paul taught them correctly and they were baptized in Jesus’ name. Then Paul laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. Note the sequence. (1) They were baptized, (2) Paul laid hands on them, (3) They received the Holy Spirit. Receiving the Holy Spirit is not the baptism of the Gospel. These are two separate things in the scriptures.

“Faith only”people love to argue that the coming of the Holy Spirit on Cornelius meant that he was saved before he was baptized in water. But that case destroys their argument on 1 Cor 12:13 because after the Holy Spirit came Peter said, “Can anyone forbid water that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 10:47-48) Again, notice the sequence.  After they had received the Holy Spirit Peter commanded them to be baptized “in the name of the lord Jesus.” For that he specified  “WATER.” Baptism in the name of Jesus is baptism in water and it was commanded after they had received the Holy Spirit.

Here is the key to their mistake. From whence comes the command to be baptized? How did the apostles know to command baptism and that its purpose was the remission of sins? It is obvious from what these brethren are teaching that human reasoning would not conclude that. They don’t. But Jesus promised his apostles that the Holy Spirit would guide them “into all truth,” (John 16:13) This is the sense in which “by one spirit we are all baptized into one body.” The Holy Spirit directed it. He is the source from which they knew baptism’s purpose and He is the source from which we know its purpose now. The mind of man would not figure that out and take people in that direction.

Also in John 16 Jesus said the Holy Spirit would “convince the world of sin.” How would He do that? He directed the apostles in preaching to the people and that produced the conviction that is attributed to the holy Spirit. By reading the accounts of people being convinced of sin we see exactly how it was done. The same thing is true of baptism into Christ. By reading the accounts of this happening we see exactly how it was done. Every time the element in which they were baptized is specified it is water. It was done at the injunction of the Spirit. Thus “by one Spirit” we are all immersed into Christ. The Holy Spirit is not the element in which we are baptized. He is the provider of the directive that tells us to be baptized. It is a serious mistake to conclude that the Holy Spirit is the element. That mistake turns us from the purpose Jesus assigned to baptism.

Thus Jesus said, “Except a man is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5) This is the one thing Satan does not want you to know and accept. All the good works in the world can not save. But getting into Christ and remaining there does make one saved. Paul said repeatedly that we are “baptized into Christ,” “baptized into His death,” that in doing so we “put on Christ.” Baptism is the only act of which the Bible says this. The promise of Jesus is “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved,” (Mark 16:16) We trust that because we have “faith in the working of God.” (Col. 2:12) Don’t let Al Maxey or anyone else deceive you into placing your faith in what human theory says will bring salvation. Jesus said expressly that merely saying to Him “Lord, Lord,” will not get one into the kingdom but doing the will of the Father will. (Mat. 7:21)



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Acts 2:38: Olan Hicks’ Comments on Baptism | One In Jesus Says:

[…] Hicks is also a blogger. He has recently concluded an exchange with Al Maxey regarding baptism, in which Hicks challenges Maxey’s “salvation before baptism” […]

Arland Pafford Says:

What happened to the hundreds if not thousands of Jews who were promised that Jesus would baptize them in the Holy Spirit by John the Baptist?

Marc Taylor Says:

There is no contradiction that the Gentiles were baptized with the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 11:16) just as 1 Corinthians 12:13 teaches and then later water baptized. Being baptized with the Holy Spirit is the same thing as to drink of the one Spirit.
John 7:37, 39 teaches that drinking of the Spirit and receiving the Spirit is the same thing.
The Gentiles received/drank of the Spirit before their water baptism (Acts 10:47).

Olan Says:

Yes the Gentiles were baptized with the Holy Spirit and it is not a contradiction to say so. But to say that this put them into Christ is a contradiction. In the text, immediately AFTER the Holy Spirit’s coming Peter “commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord” and specified “water.” (Acts 10:47-48)
Thanks for writing.

Olan Says:

The scriptures do not indicate that “hundreds of thousands of Jews” were promised baptism in the Holy Spirt. Two instances of such baptism are recorded, the apostles in Acts 2 and the household of Cornelius in Acts 10. In both cases water baptism was commanded AFTER that had occurred. This baptism was said to be “for the remission of sins.” Holy Spirit baptism is not said to be for that purpose.
Thanks for writing.

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