“Why Marvel Ye at Sunset?”

Jerry C. Brewer

That personnel of Lubbock’s Sunset School of Preaching (now Sunset International Bible Institute, SIBI) would endorse Terry Rush’s error regarding the Holy Spirit in 1998, came as no marvel to those who have observed Sunset’s teaching for decades. The introduction to Rush’s book, The Holy Spirit Makes No Earthly Sense, was written by Sunset’s director, Cline Paden. Sunset faculty member Richard Rogers wrote his endorsement of the book that was carried on the back cover of the first edition, saying, “An unusual, practical, challenging book. I found it highly provocative and useful.” That was no marvel. As far back as 1968, Rogers said that Holy Spirit baptism was for every Christian:

Read carefully Matthew 3:1-12; Mark 1:1-8; Luke 3:1-9, 15-17; John 1:32-34; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8; 2:1-4, 14-21, 33, 38-39.

The thesis of this author, based on the preceding verses, is that the statement, “Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit” is simply the promise of the outpouring of the Spirit by Jesus on the day of Pentecost one time for all, henceforth available for all men whom God calls through the gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:14). The Spirit then empowered whom he willed to the degree he willed. (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). (Richard Rogers, A Study of The Holy Spirit of God, [MS], Sunset School of Preaching, 1968, p. 45).

Referring to John’s statement regarding Holy Spirit baptism in Matthew 3, Rogers claims, “This passage makes it clear that Jesus would baptize more than twelve men with the Holy Spirit” (Ibid.). Considering his position on the Holy Spirit 52 years ago, it came as no shock that he lent his endorsement to Terry Rush’s error in 1998. Rogers further opined:

Some objections considered.

In Acts 1:4-5 and John 14-17 the promise of the Holy Spirit was given to the apostles and to the apostles alone. Therefore, we are wrong in enlarging the promise.

It is quite true that the immediate hearers of the above verses are the apostles, but this does not necessarily limit the promise to them any more than the books of Corinthians, Thessalonians, Philippians are limited to those to whom they are addressed.

…The above objection is successful only if all the other verses on the subject limit it to the twelve, but this is not the case. Luke 3:15-17 cannot be so understood as to apply only to the twelve. If only the twelve (eleven at the time of Acts 1:4-5 and John 14-17) were promised the gift, then Matthias, Paul, and the household of Cornelius did not receive it, and Joel did not promise it to all flesh. Imagine Jesus seeking to limit the promise to twelve when he had already inspired Joel to promise it to all flesh. (Ibid., pp. 53-54).

John’s statement in Luke 3:15-17 was to a mixed multitude of people. It was a general promise and statement of a future occurrence that did not address particular recipients. If John’s general statement meant that Holy Spirit baptism wasn’t limited to the apostles, logic decrees that the baptism of fire is unlimited as well. The obvious import of John’s statement is that some of those in his audience would receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and others would receive a baptism of fire. It’s a poor rule that won’t work both ways. John presented the thesis—a general statement concerning Holy Spirit baptism. It remained for Jesus to narrow and develop that thesis and apply it only to the apostles. John’s statement applied to a certain class of persons and Jesus designated that class—His apostles. (John 14-17; Acts 1:2-5, 8).

The argument is specious that says, “If only the twelve (eleven at the time of Acts 1:4-5 and John 14-17) were promised the gift” it wouldn’t have applied to Matthias and Paul. Holy Spirit baptism certainly could and did apply to all who were Christ’s apostles. Jesus’ promise in John 14-17 and Acts 1:4-5 was made to His apostles—those whom He chose and prepared and through whom all truth would be revealed (John 16:13). That included Matthias who replaced Judas and Paul who was “one born out of due time.” (1 Cor. 15:8, cf. Gal. 1:11-12).

Holy Spirit baptism had a singular purpose—to reveal the scheme of redemption by empowering the apostles to recall the words of Jesus and to be guided into all further truth (John 14:26; 16:13). Moreover, Rogers assumes that Cornelius received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. If he did, then he knew everything Peter knew by inspiration and had no need for Peter to tell him “words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.” (Acts 11:14).

If Holy Spirit baptism was for all men, we still live in an age of revelation, for that was the sole purpose of Holy Spirit baptism. Moreover, revelation required inspiration and that required miraculous confirmation. Holy Spirit baptism was not promised to “all men” in 33 A.D, 1968, 1998, or 2020.

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Author: Editor

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