Baptized “By One Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13) – Doug Post

Doug Post

I do believe in evolution, but the evolution I am speaking of is the evolution of false doctrine. Since 1994, Mac Deaver has been evolving his teaching on the Holy Spirit, and for over a decade he has also advocated the false doctrine of modern-day Baptism in the Holy Spirit. In his recent publication he put forth the idea that 1 Cor. 12:13 is referring to Holy Spirit baptism. Deaver writes,

As you, I was taught that there are three measures of the Spirit among men (while there actually are none—John 3:34), and that baptism in Spirit was a miracle. But this was all wrong, so sadly wrong, and these mistakes affected all of our biblical interpretation of passages that mentioned the Spirit and his relationship to us (“Baptism In One Spirit, Per 1 Corinthians 12:13” Biblical Notes).

Due to his myopic view, Mac does not know what he is speaking about here. There are measures of the Spirit and they refer to the miraculous. Jesus had all power. And the apostles were afforded the same. However, first century Christians received individual miraculous gifts from the hands of the apostles (Acts 8:14-17). There were, indeed, varying degrees or measures of miraculous power from this standpoint. The sign of an apostle was not just the ability to work a miracle. How would that be any different from others, who were not apostles, who also worked miracles? The difference was that the apostles had all power, whereas individuals typically had one gift. Also, you could distinguish an apostle from others by the apostle’s ability to transfer miraculous power to others. Only the apostles could do such a thing. Therefore, that was the “sign of an apostle.”

Mac Deaver writes:

Think about the words in 1 Corinthians 12:12-13: “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of the body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ. For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free; and were made to drink of one Spirit.” Please go immediately to Galatians 3:26-29 for the language of Paul there. And please return to John 7:37-39 immediately for the language there. Do you see concept and language connection?

Interesting that Mac tells us to go Galatians 3:26-29 to buttress 1 Cor.12:13. Paul says we are children of God through the faith in Christ Jesus. Here, the faith is the doctrine of Christ—His word, the Gospel, which are said to be “in Christ.” While Christ’s teachings were in His mind and heart, Paul is referring to the realm of Christ, not so much the Person of Christ, just as we are “in Christ.” Now, why does Mac not see this point when he comes across such phrases as “in Spirit”? It is selective hermeneutics. Paul is discussing the realm of the Spirit—His teaching and power—and not so much the mere Person of the Holy Spirit. As for John 7:37-39, this refers to miraculous power from the Spirit given to the apostles. The idea of the Spirit being given is metonymy. Power was given by the Spirit to the apostles—literally the now “obeying Him ones” prior to Christ’s glorification. He is not referring to all people.

Mac continues bloviating:

But, because (1) we all knew there was only one baptism, and because (2) we all knew that water was for the remission of sins, we concluded that we must “interpret” 1 Corinthians 12:13 to mean that we were baptized “by” the Holy Spirit (usually taken to mean by the teaching of the Holy Spirit). How many times have you heard this “interpretation”? We were told that we were baptized in water in harmony with the teaching of the Holy Spirit. My, my! This was an honest but ignorant and unintentional interpretive mistake that we made. But most of us made it. Think! Is there any other passage in the New Testament that supports the claim that the Spirit is an agent who baptizes anyone? No! However, we do have passages that claim that Jesus Himself would be the agent who baptized in the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11; Luke 3:16).

Deaver’s arrogance is once again unleashed. We are all considered ignorant, but he—and he alone—is the savior of the 21st century church. He is on par with the change agents who claimed they had discovered grace for all of us and we all just need to shut up and thank them. Today, we have some younger folks parroting the same pablum.

John 3:3 says, “out of water and out of Spirit”, which is explained by John 6:63 and Ephesians 5:26. The Spirit’s teaching concerned baptism, and within the realm of the Spirit is the inspired teaching of Paul, which also includes teaching on baptism (Gal. 3:26-27). In fact, this is how the Spirit bears witness with our spirit (Rom. 8:16), through His instruction (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

As for Deaver’s argument of “agency.” Joel records that it was God the Father who would “pour out from His Spirit,” which had to do with miraculous power from the Spirit, not some spatial residence within human flesh referred to as “indwelling” (Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:17-21). The agency involved here begins with the Father, then Christ, then the Spirit. This is the same process of revelation and inspiration (John 3:31-35; 16:14-15). The fact is, the Spirit was given by the Father to Christ the Son, who would give the Spirit: “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me” (John 15:26-27). Moreover, Jesus specifically said the Spirit would give the apostles testimony. He would testify through them. The apostles would both speak and perform miracles by the Spirit to confirm what they preached. This has everything to do with supernatural power from the Godhead, not Mac’s fanciful imagination of “indwelling.”

Moreover, within the same context, most translations recognize the instrumental case, translating it as “by one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12: 3, 9). Mac is ignoring the context while continuing to evolve his dogma.

EDITOR’S NOTE: False teaching is a spiritual virus and, like all viruses, it must continually mutate to survive.

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