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Questions & Answers II
About Baptism
Copyright © Tim Warner  01-05

James Wrote:
I can't thank you enough for the time and effort you have taken in order to both pursue and preach the true teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Pristine Faith Restoration Society has been so must of a blessing to myself, as I too am sincerely seeking the original, solo teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. I have a question though, and ask for your help.

You state that in water baptism, one receives the gift of the Holy Spirit. Now, I truly believe this as your help and guidance have lead me to such a conclusion. But how do we get around the account, written in Acts 10, where the audience received the gift of the Holy Spirit before being water baptized?

Our Reply:
First of all, It is a mistake to put God in a box, and suppose that He must do things according to a formula in every case. The promise in Acts 2:38 is quite plain. God WILL remit the sins of those who repent and are baptized, and WILL give them the Spirit. But a promise of this kind does not lock God into a formula. It only locks Him into giving the Spirit to those who repent and are baptized. The Great Commission, "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved..." is also a promise. And we can count on it when we present the Gospel to people. But again, it is God who saves, not us, and not baptism. While He WILL save all who believe and are baptized, He is still free to forgive sins and give the Spirit to whomever He chooses. Baptism was given as the NORMAL means of responding to the Gospel in a tangible way. Baptism is an AID to salvation, not salvation itself. It is the occasion where God is bound by His promise to give the Spirit. But, He can and occasionally does give the Spirit on other occasions, as He sees fit. Just because He says He WILL give the Spirit at baptism does not mean He cannot also give the Spirit under other circumstances.

In Acts 10, it is obvious from the context that Peter and the Jewish brethren with him were NOT prepared to baptize Gentiles into the body of Christ. In fact, when explaining his actions to the Jerusalem church in the next chapter, that he had broken with Jewish tradition and actually gone into the house of a Gentile, Peter indicated that it was God who had literally forced him into this situation. He said, "who was I that I could withstand God?" What happened in Acts 10 is that the Spirit of God had to act in such a manner as to get Peter up to speed with what He was doing. Look at Peter's reaction when the crowd received the Spirit! He said, "Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?" Why do you suppose he used this language, "can anyone forbid water...?" Who was the "anyone" he was referring to, and why would they "forbid" baptism to Gentiles? It was his Jewish companions. In essence, Peter was saying, "we [Jews] can no longer forbid baptism to the Gentiles since it is obvious that they have received the Spirit just like us!" Peter and the other Jewish believers came to the realization that God's Spirit was being poured out, not only on the Jewish nation, as His quote of Joel 2 in his Pentecost sermon indicated, but also to the Gentiles. God simply had to force this realization onto Peter and the Jewish brethren by giving the Spirit before baptism. They then immediately responded by doing what they should have been ready to do in the first place, baptize them in water.

Since those in Acts 10 received the Spirit before being baptized, it is possible that others also have received the Spirit apart from baptism. Perhaps, some even in our day. Why? Maybe the Gospel was presented incorrectly, yet they responded to it in faith and repentance. It is the heart that God searches. And He saves those whom He knows have truly believed and repented. But, baptism is that tangible act whereby we can have assurance, and know for sure that God has fulfilled His promise for us. We should not condemn those who have not been properly baptized as unsaved. We have no way of knowing that, because the Bible does not explicitly condemn those who are not properly baptized. It only condemns those who refuse to believe. But, neither does it PROMISE salvation to the unbaptized. It is not sufficient to simply HOPE that God has saved us despite our not being baptized. We need a concrete promise in which to anchor our assurance. So, it is best to simply say that one who was not properly baptized should get baptized in order to be sure of his salvation.

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