A part of American history had its start with the effects of the Protestant Revolution and also the emergence of the Puritans in 16th-century Britain. As with most denominations, the Bible was the backbone of Puritanism. Mr. Gelernter continued, â€œIt was also central to the emergence of modern Britain in the 16th and 17th centuries--and modern Britain was central in turn to the establishment of the United States of America and in an only slightly lesser sense to the continued development of the whole world.â€
He clearly did not receive and pour out the working of miracles and signs, for as God himself, he already possessed such abilities. He clearly did not receive forgiveness of his sins and then pour that out (though he did supply forgiveness through his death and resurrection), for he had no sins to be forgiven.
But, Peter said what he had received, that Jesus then poured out and that pouring out was “what you now see and hear” (Acts 2:33).
Therefore, what Jesus had received and poured out were the blessings of God, the coming of the promise of the Holy Spirit and kingdom of God as had been promised by the prophets (Isaiah 44, Daniel 7, Zechariah 12:10 — 13:3, and elsewhere). He was then enthroned in heaven “having received a kingdom and dominion,” a kingdom “which shall never be destroyed” (Daniel 7:14, 2:44, also read Revelation 5).
The pouring out of the Holy Spirit then was the glorification of Christ and his giving of the Kingdom of heaven to men, and the return of the blessings of God to spiritual Israel (Hebrews 12 — all, and noting verse 22 particularly). This is what had been prophesied, that is what took place.
At the first, the Holy Spirit of God, in the granting of the return of the Kingdom to the people, and the return of the blessings of God was poured out only upon the Jews (Acts 1:8, 2:22, 23). But in short order it was poured out, as promised, on all flesh.
You may certainly call these events as they are recorded beginning in Acts chapter two, an outpouring, a promise, a baptism, or a gift, and you would be correct in each case as all of those English words are used synonymously of these things (see Luke 3:16; Acts 2:15, 16, 33 and 38; 10:44 and 45, and 11:15 and 16).
This pouring out of the Holy Spirit was the fulfillment of what is generally known as the “nations” promise that God Almighty made to Abraham. The promise was that “…in you (‘in’ Abraham — that is, through, or ‘by your seed’) shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3, Galatians 3:29 and elsewhere)
The fulfillment of God’s promise was accompanied with signs and wonders to herald and to verify the return of God’s favor and confirm the giving of the Kingdom to humanity (Joel 2:28 — 32). Both John and Jesus had taught, “The Kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2, Luke 4:34, and elsewhere). This was the fulfillment of what was taught beginning with John.
Therefore the Holy Spirit of God was poured out upon all flesh beginning that day. Because of this, all may now have access to the blessings of God and partake in his favor and salvation.
As confirmation that the kingdom was being returned, that the doors were being opened to all who would then care to enter, the Holy Spirit was also poured out in a second or different fashion, beginning first with the twelve apostles. This was also called a baptism of the Holy Spirit by both John and Jesus. The apostles had been granted by God, in the fact that they were hand chosen for their positions, that they would exhibit through this outpouring or baptism of the Holy Spirit the powers associated with a personal possession or indwelling of the Holy Spirit. That portion of the baptism of the Holy Spirit was put forth in confirmation of the other and was at that time exclusive to the apostles, and was seen only once more.
In point of time the apostles did, by praying and through the laying on of their hands, dispense some level of this power to other disciples and that level varied from recipient to recipient, with some receiving no gift at all. The purpose was still the same, to confirm the word of God.
So initially these powers, given through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, were for the purposes stated by Christ as granted to his twelve apostles and later to Paul: to “guide” them, to “instruct” them and to give them the correct “words (to) speak.”
The scriptures only mention two occurrences of this particularly identified portion of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Peter compares what had occurred in the home of Cornelius (Acts 10 and 11) to that baptism of the Holy Spirit of which he had been partaker, when the Holy Spirit came upon those gentiles gathered there in the same manner in which it had overshadowed the apostles. The intent of the second baptism was some different. In this case it was to confirm the giving of the Kingdom of heaven to now include those outside of the ancestry of Abraham. This second incident of the baptism of the Holy Spirit also was a herald for those new things, but there is no record of the signs and wonders being on the same level as they were at the first. It was done to identify the completion of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on all flesh, and its primary purpose was to convince Peter and his companions that the events they witnessed that day had the sanction of God.
There is only one record of the power of the Holy Spirit in abundance on a level with that of the twelve apostles (in the working of signs and wonders) and then only in a single person — that person being the apostle Paul; who, as the scriptures stated of the other apostles, was himself also able to transfer a semblance of this power to others (Acts 19: 6).
Finally, on the notion that anyone who possessed such powers or the indwelling of the Holy Spirit for the working of these signs, which was and could only have been given through the hands of one of these apostles, that they could ever transfer these powers to work signs over to anyone else — on this the record is also quite clear. It simply is never mentioned, is never alluded to, was not implied; and therefore, I suggest that it could not be and was not ever done. In fact the scriptures state that this laying on of the hands of the apostles was the only manner in which the gift of working of signs might be transferred (Acts 8:14 — 17).
Following these things to their stated conclusion and to summarize things — the Spirit of God was given and poured forth to herald the coming of the Kingdom of heaven and its attendant blessings through Christ. It was confirmed in part of this outpouring through signs and wonders performed by the menservants and maidservants of God exactly as portrayed by both the prophet Joel and as quoted by the apostle Peter. This was called by both Jesus and the apostles the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
The apostles were the primary medium of this working of signs through their immersion of the Holy Spirit and there is absolutely no record of anyone else being able to work signs on the same level as the twelve apostles and the apostle to the nations at any place or at any time in history since.
In the early church the apostle’s passed on the ability (the working of signs) to other disciples; however the recipients of this passed gift themselves could not then pass it on to anyone else.
There is absolutely no record of anyone other than the apostles performing signs and wonders in the beginning days of the church. When they did in time pass these gifts on to others, those who received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the ability to perform spiritual gifts by their hands, received that gift in the only way that it could be had, and they could not pass this gift of the Holy Spirit and this power on to anyone else — ever.
The Kingdom was given this one last time to the world and this through the blood of Christ, and once established and consigned, the working of all the attendant wonders ceased.
What all that means to us today is this:
We have the gift of salvation which is the outpouring or baptism of the Holy Spirit. We can be safe calling it a baptism or pouring out of the Holy Spirit, or the gift and promise of the Holy Spirit, as these phrases are used interchangeably. It has nothing at all to do with being physically overtaken by an indwelling of God or of the Spirit of God. God does not dwell physically and continuously within our bodies — he has said so.
The scriptures state that the blessings of God came with the giving of the Spirit and in confirmation of this portion of the plan of salvation. That is the part of things that all are to recognize and lay hold to, as our salvation depends on believing these things.
The signs and wonders were granted to specific servants of God to herald the giving of life through the word of God, and once all was accomplished and the gospel had been given “once for all” then all of those things ceased to occur. We are not those servants and those days are gone.
Therefore, no one can now possess these miraculous powers since the apostles left this earth long ago. The signs were worked to confirm the blessings of God as having been returned to humanity, and once that purpose had been met and completed those things ended, as nothing more remained to be accomplished in the heavenly plan of salvation.
Then no one has the ability to heal, to speak in unknown foreign languages, to raise the dead, to cast out demons coming through a baptism of the Spirit of God — because there were only two occurrences of that specific baptism and it did not have a thing to do with us today or even in the remote past beyond the days when these things first occurred. We are not those menservants and maidservants of God. That’s all folks.
There is no mention of this type of phenomenon anywhere else in the Bible excepting those two occurrences. Therefore, the purpose for those things has been fulfilled.
These gifts were present then to guide and to confirm the work and gift of the Holy Spirit. So says the word of God.
Today there is no one around that can work signs and wonders, as the apostles are all long dead and long gone to their stated reward. Those who the Son of God indicated would be baptized with the Holy Spirit were indeed so baptized with the same and performed their given duties, and those who they each ordained and to whom they had passed these things to complete are also long dead.
The purpose for these signs has been accomplished as it was also ordained to be when Christ sent out his apostles to establish his Holy Church and to present the Kingdom of God before men.
The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all flesh has been once and forever accomplished.
Recall that nowhere in the scriptures is there a promise to all believers of a baptism of the Holy Spirit attendant with the working of miracles, signs and wonders attached — that promise of a baptism of the Holy Spirit was made only to the apostles and after that it was given only one other time to the first gentile converts, but even there with a slightly different force and dispensation.
It was never said that all would prophesy, or that all would dream dreams. God only said “all” when He said that the Spirit of God would be poured out on “all flesh,” and that was also accomplished just exactly as it had been stated by God in the Word of God.
All can come to know Christ though all will not prophesy. All who hear can come to Christ though all have not spoken and will never speak in any unknown foreign language through the Spirit of God. This is exactly the argument and the language that Paul uses to explain this very notion in First Corinthians chapter 12 (the entire chapter deals with this idea, and in particular verses 28 and 29).
The Holy Spirit’s duties have been long ago concluded and finished on earth just as God Almighty finished his part of the plan here and the Son of God his. I would also suggest that in your heart that you should know that this is the truth and that if you study these things you will find that this is clearly substantiated by the Word of God. Emotion is one thing; the truth of the word of God is another.
The Holy Spirit has confirmed that the Kingdom has been given to humankind and so his duty, as it was with the rest of the Deity, has been completed. There is no need for and there is no such personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit today as was evidenced in these examples so long ago.
There are only three occurrences of the phrase “baptized with the Holy Spirit” found in the scriptures. Two are found in Acts first in c. 1, in the promise of Christ and the second in Peter’s comparison to that event in Acts c. 11 in the noting of the similarity to the events in Caesarea. Although John the immerser mentioned that those standing with him that day would be baptized by the Christ with the Holy Spirit and with fire (which is the first mention of the phrase chronologically), Jesus also told them they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit before his ascension. Peter remembered when Christ made that remark, and he was also present at the baptism of Jesus when John had said the same thing (the scriptures clearly state that all twelve apostles had been present at the baptism of Christ – see Acts 1:21, 22).
Peter stated that the events in the conversion of the people in the home of the centurion had taken place in the same fashion as when the apostles received that first baptism of the Holy Spirit. He made a spiritual comparison and concluded both events had their beginnings and confirmation in point from God and that they were similar in import but not necessarily identical in action.
All of these things were done for a particular purpose and that purpose was forever fulfilled.
But most importantly, the apostle Peter had said on that Pentecost day, “Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
The gift of the Holy Spirit is in the opening up of the Kingdom of Heaven to us and the granting of entrance to all flesh, and with it the coming of the saving grace of the gospel of Christ and its attendant offer of salvation. That is the outpouring and baptism of the Holy Spirit Peter mentioned then, and about which you and I must learn and of which we need to lay hold. And the baptism in water to put on Christ is the immersion in which we must all participate in order to be saved from our sin and in order to walk with Christ, the King of Kings, in glory.
If we read the word of God, subject ourselves to the authority of Christ and undertake to do what he commands, our entrance into the heavenly kingdom is guaranteed.
“For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to those who are afar, as many as the Lord our God shall call.”