Jerry C. Brewer
Everything the Holy Spirit did in and upon men in the first century was for the accomplishment of His mission on earth. When that mission—the complete revelation of the plan of salvation and God’s will for His people in this age—was accomplished, the Holy Spirit ceased to directly function on earth. Jesus had told His apostles that the Spirit would guide them into all further truth than He had taught them and would miraculously recall to their minds what He had taught them (John 16:12-13; 14:26). It was for that purpose that the apostles received Holy Spirit baptism (Acts 2:1-4).
Holy Spirit baptism was promised, and given, only to the apostles. It was the apostles to whom Jesus said, “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). “…and, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me” (Acts 1:4-5). When Matthias was chosen to take the place of Judas as an apostle, the scripture says, “…and he was numbered with the eleven apostles” (Acts 1:26). Then, the next chapter of Acts says,
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:1-4).
It is to be observed that the last word of Acts 1:26 is, “apostles”, and Acts 1:1 says “they were all with one accord…” A pronoun has a noun as its antecedent, and the antecedent of the pronoun they is the noun, apostles in the last verse of Acts 1. They can mean no others. Acts 2:2 says, “where they were sitting”, Acts 2:3 says, “…there appeared unto them, cloven tongues”, and Acts 1:4 says, “they were all filled with the Holy Ghost” and the “Spirit gave them utterance” (All Emph. JCB). No other persons before or since that day had—or have been—recipients of Holy Spirit baptism. Holy Spirit baptism was an overwhelming of the apostles in power (Mark 9:1; Acts 1:8), and that was God’s chosen way to qualify them to reveal to man every truth necessary to please Him and go to heaven. He who claims he has Holy Spirit baptism today should be able to demonstrate that power as did the apostles, but no one can.
When John came preaching in the Judean wilderness, vast numbers of people from Jerusalem, Judea, “and all the region round about,” came out to hear him, “and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins” (Matt. 3:56). But others came who were not baptized. Those were the rebellious Pharisees and Sadducees (Matt. 3:7ff). To that mixed multitude of those who had been baptized, and those who had not, John said, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire…” (Matt. 3:11). John’s was a general statement. He did not specify the individuals who would be baptized with either the Holy Spirit or fire.
The baptism of fire was to be the destruction of the wicked and rebellious, symbolized by the destruction of fleshly Israelism when Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D.
It remained for Jesus to specify who would receive Holy Spirit baptism in His last instructions to his apostles before his ascension.
…and, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith 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 (Acts 1:4-5).
John’s general thesis in Matthew 3 was defined and narrowed by Jesus in Acts 1. John had referred to those in his audience who would be apostles and it was those to whom Jesus promised Holy Spirit baptism. No man before that time, or since, was ever promised Holy Spirit baptism, and none but the apostles, before or since, ever received it. Holy Spirit baptism was a promise made only to the apostles. It was never a command to them or anyone else. No promise is a condition of salvation, and, hence, can never be obeyed. Therefore, the baptism of the Great Commission, which men must obey in order to be saved (Mark 16:16), is not Holy Spirit baptism.
Those who claim Holy Spirit baptism today should be able to work “the signs of an apostle” as Paul did (2 Cor. 12:12), and should be able to infallibly recall everything Jesus taught while He was on earth (John 14:26). Those are the things Holy Spirit baptism empowered the apostles to do and any person today who makes such a claim should be able to do everything the apostles of Jesus Christ did in the New Testament. Do not be deceived by their phony claims.