Tom: This is our Understanding the Scriptures segment, and we are currently in the Book of Acts. We just began last week. We’re in Acts:1:4: “And being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father which, sayeth he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”
Dave: Tom, this is a terrific part of the Book of Acts. I mean, it reconfirms what Christ already said. And we mentioned it last week, He didn’t say, “The heart of the gospel that you will preach is that I rose from the dead. And of course I can’t do that, you know, so we’re going to fool people into thinking that I rose from the dead, so what you want to do is get as far away as you can, get up there in Siberia or down in South Africa, and then tell them I rose from the dead. They can’t check up on it.” No, He said, “Begin at Jerusalem.” And as we mentioned last week, it’s a very short walk over to the grave. You can roll that stone back, and expose the body of Jesus. That’s the end of this new thing called Christianity, and as many apologists have pointed out, the Romans would have loved to put His body on display. This is creating some real problems in the empire, and certainly the rabbis would have loved to put the body of Jesus on display. Now, were the disciples so clever that they could steal this body when it’s being guarded by Roman soldiers, and then they can hide it, and then no one of the disciples would buy his life by telling the truth? “Guys, don’t kill me! I’ll tell you the truth: we stole His body and hid it in Peter’s basement,” or wherever, you know? Nobody’s fool enough to die for what he knows is a lie. So we have very powerful evidence that Christ spent this time with these men, proving to them that He had risen from the dead. But then He’s also telling them to not depart from Jerusalem until something happens. They are going to be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
Tom: Now, Dave, explain baptism here. Some people, they just have one idea what that term means.
Dave: Well, Tom, you picked the Book of Acts. Now, you got us into some really controversial stuff. I probably…
Tom: Dave, I’ve been hanging around with you a long time, so it just comes with the territory, I’m afraid. [chuckles]
Dave: …[chuckling] I probably would have backed down and said, “Let’s go for the Psalms or something.” I don’t know. But anyway, Tom—well, look, I’m going to have people who will disagree with me now. It’s very interesting that every time that being baptized with the Holy Ghost or the baptism of the Spirit is mentioned, it is always likened to John’s baptism in water. John the Baptist, for example, said, and I’m quoting from Matthew:3:11: “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but he that cometh after me,” of course, he’s referring to the Messiah, “is mightier than I whose shoes I am not worthy to bear. He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” So, always the baptism into water by John the Baptist is likened to, or is shown to be, a picture of the baptism by Christ into the Holy Spirit. This is not the Holy Spirit baptizing all believers into the body of Christ, which you have in 1 Corinthians 12, but it says—John says, “I baptize you in water, he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, or in the Holy Ghost.” So here we have Jesus in Acts 5 saying, “For John truly baptized with water,” always it’s stated like that.
Tom: You just said Acts 5, did you mean that?
Dave: Oh, Acts:1:5, sorry. So here we have Jesus in Acts:1:5 quoting John or referring to John, saying, “For John truly baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” Now, a little later on in this same chapter, Jesus says, “You will receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you.” That’s verse 8. “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” So, the reason Christ wants them to stay in Jerusalem, not only because that’s where He was crucified and raised from the dead, and it would be easy to disprove the resurrection if it didn’t occur, but also because this is where they would be empowered by the Holy Spirit to be His witnesses. They were not to start out preaching to the world until they received this power from on high.
Tom: So, Dave, what actually takes place? In other words, are these believers then in the sense that we understand? Are they born again, [and are] now receiving the Holy Spirit? How would you describe that? Or is it just an empowerment as you’ve been alluding to?
Dave: Well, let’s jump forward to verse 8 for a moment: “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and ye shall be witnesses unto me.” So, let’s go by contrast, go to 1 Corinthians 12 and see what it says, verse 13: “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free, and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” Here we have the Spirit—the Holy Spirit is immersing or placing or baptizing every believer into the body of Christ, that is, the church. But in Acts 1, Christ is not referring to the Holy Spirit placing the believers into the church, He is saying that He will baptize us in the Holy Spirit. In other words, Christ is going to receive a promise from the Father of power for the disciples, and we will read of that in Acts 2. And always it is likened to John’s baptism in water, because the Greek prefixes are a little bit difficult—does it mean “in,” or “by,” or “of?” If we go to Acts 11, for example, it’s very interesting; always does it say the same thing. Verse 16—now, Peter is on the carpet in Jerusalem. He has gone in to the Gentiles; he has dared to eat with them and be in a Gentile home. That’s not allowed, that’s not kosher for the Jew, and the elders, when he comes back to Jerusalem, they really have taken him to task. And Peter, then, he goes over the whole story: how this sheet was let down from heaven, you know, and God spoke to him in a voice, guided him, “Go with these men,” and he finds that Cornelius—an angel has spoken to him and has told him to send for Peter. It’s a terrific story how the gospel first came to the Gentiles. And as they are speaking, the gift of the Holy Spirit is poured out upon them, notice it says, and Peter is pointing to this as justification. It indicates God’s blessing upon this. And notice verse 16—he says—well, verse 15: “As I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them as on us at the beginning.” Now, that happens in chapter 2, Pentecost, which we will get to, hopefully. Verse 16: “Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. John baptized in water, and you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit.” Tom, we’ve got to come back and talk about that, carry on, next week, I’m afraid.