Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
July 7, 1997
Last Updated :
March 21, 2018
Apostle Paul's Simultaneous Healing Salvation And Baptism, Was Saul Of Tarsus Water Baptized?, God Ordered Ananias To Lay Hands On Paul And Nothing More, God Humbles Saul And Breaks His Pride, Submission To God's Will Brings Down The Holy Spirit, Partial And Full Indwelling Of The Holy Ghost, Does God Ever Remove His Holy Spirit From Us?, King David Sins, Sealed Or Permanently Filled?, Holy Spirit Baptism As A Secondary Experience After Salvation, Holy Ghost Baptism Through The Laying On Of Hands Alone, Multiple Baptisms Or "Re-baptism", Apostle Paul's Experience In Ephesus, Washed Regenerated Transformed And Renewed By The Holy Ghost, We Are New Creatures In Christ, Old Testament Blood Rituals, Sprinkled With The Blood Of Jesus Christ Our High Priest
With all of this additional information, we should now be able to go back and look at the baptism of Paul in a new light. His salvation and baptism of the Holy Spirit was a simultaneous experience. It was not two separate events as in other cases where we see someone accepting the Lord, and then sometime later receiving the Holy Spirit. Looking at Acts chapter nine, we read the following:
"And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus."
Acts 9:17-19, KJV
Notice what it is really saying here. In obedience to the Lord's command, Ananias forsook his own fears of Saul the Christian persecutor, and went directly to the house where Saul was staying and laid his hands on him. He did this for two reasons: to restore Saul's sight, and so that he might be filled with the Holy Ghost. It would seem that this may have been the actual moment of Saul's salvation. The scales falling from Saul's eyes was a physical manifestation of his receiving spiritual sight as well. Perhaps it was also at that moment that the old man Saul became the new man Paul.
Regardless of when the exact moment occurred, this former Christian persecutor was baptized -- or sealed by the Holy Spirit -- in order to perform a very specific task for the Lord as the Apostle to the Gentiles. In a sense, Paul got a "triple-whammy". In other words, he was healed, filled and sealed. All of this appears to have happened just through the laying on of hands by Ananias. That is what Ananias went there to do, and that is exactly what he did, as per God's command to him.
It is important to note that based solely on what is written in the previous verses, the Lord never instructed Ananias to baptize Paul in water. He simply told Ananias to go lay hands on Paul in order to restore his sight, and so that Paul could also be filled with the Holy Spirit. If you doubt that this is so, consider the following verses. There is no mention of water baptism in them:
"And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake. And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost."
Acts 9:10-17, KJV
If this is indeed the case -- as I believe it to be -- then what does the verse mean when it says that Paul arose and was baptized? Does that mean that after Ananias prayed over Paul, that he went over and was immersed in water? It is possible that it does mean that, but let me ask you something. Do you think everyone had a big tub of water sitting in their house two thousand years ago? This was not even Ananias' house. He didn't know what to expect to find there. All he knew is that the Lord sent him to lay hands on Saul. Right after rising up and being baptized, it says Saul sat down to eat. We are told that Saul had been so shaken up by his encounter with the Lord on the road to Damascus, not to mention the fact that he was suddenly afflicted with blindness, that he hadn't eaten during those three days, as we see here:
"And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink."
Acts 9:9, KJV
But let's consider for a minute. What if rising up and being baptized is not a reference to Ananias water-baptizing Saul, as some Christians believe? What if it actually means that right after Ananias had laid his hands on Saul, Saul's sight was restored, and in the act of rising up, he was filled or baptized with the Holy Ghost? I think we can agree that Saul, now Paul, was saved through an act of personal faith when he allowed Ananias to lay hands on him and pray over him. Let's not forget that Paul had hated the Christians with a passion, and that Ananias was afraid of him initially. So this was a great act of faith on both of their parts. Paul could have resisted Ananias, but he didn't. This once-proud pharisee of pharisees humbly submitted himself before God's anointed. His proud spirit had finally been broken.
It wasn't the actual prayer or the laying on of hands that saved Saul. That couldn't save him any more than water could, even if we assume that Saul was water-baptized by Ananias. It was at the moment that he stopped resisting the testimony of the Holy Ghost; and accepted the necessity of Jesus' death on the Cross; and believed in his heart that he needed the Lord; that Saul was saved and sealed by God. Perhaps that is why the Lord had to leave Saul blind for three days. Maybe He had to soften up Saul a bit first so that he really saw his need to be saved. Whether it was on the road to Damascus, or when Ananias prayed over him, we really can't be too sure. But one thing we do know is that it was at the moment in which Saul really believed, that God's Spirit cloaked over his sins as I explained previously.
While we all know that Jesus was water baptized by John, was it the act of physically being immersed in water that brought down the Holy Spirit upon Him? Of course not. A close look at the following verse will show otherwise. As with Paul, I am convinced that it was the act of Jesus' opening Himself up to His Father's will which brought down the Holy Ghost. Just as Paul submitted himself to Ananias for the laying on of hands, Jesus likewise humbly submitted Himself to John and then rose up out of the water, just as Paul rose up after being prayed over by Ananias, as we see here:
"And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:"
Mark 1:10, KJV
It is this rising up part which intrigues me. Could this rising up to meet the Spirit after humble submission to God be the mechanism which triggered the outpouring of the Holy Ghost in both of these cases? In Acts chapter eight we see a clear example where receiving the Holy Ghost had nothing to do with water baptism. It was all a matter of faith and prayer and a laying on of hands:
"Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,"
Acts 8:14-18, KJV
Can you see that? It was prayer and the laying on of hands alone which resulted in those Disciples receiving the Holy Ghost. There is no mention of water baptism whatsoever. The previous verses also suggest that there may be a difference between being sealed by the Holy Ghost at the moment of our Salvation, and actually being indwelled by the Holy Ghost. Maybe the latter is a secondary experience. In other words, perhaps we are all sealed by the Holy Spirit -- signifying that we now belong to Christ -- but only certain people who have been called to a specific ministry and certain task for the Lord are actually filled -- or indwelled -- with the Holy Spirit on a more permanent basis.
In direct contrast to the above, is it possible that the Holy Spirit can actually be removed from our lives once we have received it? While such a question may shock some of my readers, there is in fact Scriptural evidence to suggest that under the right conditions, this can happen. A case in point is King David. As many of you will already know, David committed both adultery and premeditated murder when he took Bathsheba -- his general Uriah's wife -- to bed, and then in an attempt to cover his sin, he intentionally had Uriah sent to the hottest part of the battle, so that the general would be slain, which in fact happened. However, there was one big problem with King David's wicked plan, as we see here:
"The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good."
Proverbs 15:3, KJV
God knew exactly what King David had done, and so He sent the Prophet Nathan to expose and rebuke David. It was during his act of repentance, that David wrote the beautiful Psalm of repentance, Psalm 51. In that Psalm, the repentant king writes the following heartfelt lines:
"Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit."
Psalms 51:11-12, KJV
As you can see, King David was very concerned that the Lord might just totally cast him out, and remove His Spirit from him, due to his grievous sins. Thus, from these verses, it certainly appears that the Holy Spirit can fall upon us, and then be lifted again just as easily, if we foolishly resist it, or displease the Lord in a serious way. But even after reading the previous two verses, I still had a little bit of doubt. I was still wondering if the "holy spirit" in those verses is the same as THE Holy Spirit. Maybe it just meant David's anointing as king. So, I looked up the two original Hebrew words which are used in that verse, and sure enough, it is the phrase "qodesh ruwach", or the Holy Spirit.
As I thought about King David's situation, I was reminded of some other verses which likewise speak of God's Spirit rising and descending. For example, consider what John the Baptist had to say in the Gospel of John:
"And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost."
John 1:33, KJV
Do you see the implication there? It appears that John may be suggesting that God's Holy Spirit does not always descend and necessarily remain upon a person. In other words, it can be drawn back if God so desires. So, in my view, this appears to be a confirmation that King David was in fact talking about the very Holy Spirit being withdrawn from his life due to his sins. As I thought further on this issue, one more verse came to mind which I will now quote. Consider what Jesus said to Nathanael:
"And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man."
John 1:51, KJV
While this may seem like a bit of a stretch to some of you, if Angels could ascend and descend upon Jesus -- and let's not forget that they are Spiritual Beings too -- is it not possible that God's Holy Spirit can do the same thing as needed or required?
In summation, based on what I have shared here, it seems that there may be a difference between being sealed by the Holy Spirit for Salvation -- thus making us a purchased possession -- and actually being permanently filled with it, as occurred in the cases of John the Baptist, Jesus, The Twelve, Paul and others. It also seems that in some cases the actual permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit may be a secondary event after one is initially saved and sealed by the Spirit. The latter actually fills our very beings, to give us that extra power for witnessing through the particular ministry which the Lord has given to each of us. While these thoughts are my personal speculation, the previous verses do seem to present a strong case for it, in my view.
One thing which the previous Scriptures from the Book of Acts do make certain, is that those people had been baptized in the Name of the Lord -- meaning that they were already saved -- but they had not yet received the full anointing of the Holy Spirit. Of course, I realize that people who support water baptism will probably say that this means they had been water-baptized in Jesus' Name. This may indeed be true; for as I have also said, I believe it took the first Disciples a while to grasp the idea that it was no longer necessary.
As I pointed out in part three, this is why, in my view at least, when Peter had matured more in the Spirit, he made his previous remark regarding "not the putting away of the filth of the flesh" in his first Epistle. I believe that Peter came to the full realization of what baptism really means; and it is all about the Baptism with fire of the Holy Spirit. There is really nothing physical about it. As we learned in part four, the Apostle Paul likewise encouraged his readers to move on, to move forward spiritually into the much deeper things of the Spirit when he wrote the following:
"Therefore LEAVING the principles of the doctrine of Christ, LET US GO ON UNTO PERFECTION; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the DOCTRINE OF BAPTISMS, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit."
Hebrews 6:1-3, KJV
Regarding what happened in Acts chapter eight where receiving the Holy Spirit was a secondary experience for the Disciples, I am reminded of another example of what we can refer to as "re-baptism" if you will. In Acts 19:1-6, we have Paul coming to certain Disciples in the city of Ephesus. Here is the text of that encounter in its entirety:
"And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied."
Acts 19:1-6, KJV
Now, for those people who may insist that these verses are saying that the Apostle Paul water-baptized these Disciples, these verses present a real challenge. After all, the verses very clearly say that these Disciples were baptized with the baptism of John. In other words, they were ALREADY baptized in water. Yet, like The Twelve, they had not yet received the Holy Spirit. It then goes on to say that Paul laid hands on them, and baptized them in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and they received the Holy Ghost. So, at the very least, we have a water baptism by John, and also a spiritual baptism by Paul through the laying on of hands to receive the Holy Ghost.
However, if we read these verses a different way, that is, as a person who still believes in the necessity of water baptism, then we can understand these verses to be showing THREE separate baptisms: a water baptism by John, a second water baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ by Paul, and then Paul laying hands on them for the third baptism of the Holy Ghost. At the very least, we are saying that we all have to be baptized TWICE -- if you look at the laying on of hands and being baptized in the name of the Lord as the same event -- if not THREE times -- if you view the last two actions as separate events.
It is possible that double baptisms, or "re-baptism", may have been happening in the Gospels and throughout the Book of Acts. It is evident that some, if not all, of Jesus' own Disciples, were water-baptized by John. In the Book of Acts we also find people, such as in the above example, who were likewise baptized by John. But similar to The Twelve, they required a second SPIRITUAL BAPTISM to receive Salvation through the Name of Jesus and to be sealed by the Holy Ghost. In fact, if we consider that Christianity was just getting off the ground in those days, it was necessary for followers to not just be sealed by the Holy Ghost, but also filled by the same, because every single one of them was needed for the initial growth of the Christian Church.
But you see, as a result of their own confusion and lack of spiritual clarity at the time -- or perhaps merely out of a sense of tradition -- initially, Jesus' own Disciples were re-baptizing John's disciples after they came to know Jesus. I believe that this may be why we read that Jesus' Disciples baptized, while Jesus Himself did not. Here again are those verses from part one to refresh your memory:
"When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)"
John 4:1-2, KJV
So as I have already stated a few times now, it is my belief that it was not until sometime later that the Apostles Peter and Paul and the rest of the Disciples began to realize that the laying on of hands accomplished the same purpose, without any need for water whatsoever. It must have blown their minds when they understood that the baptism with fire totally did away with the physical need for baptism with water. However, it really shouldn't have surprised them. After all, John the Baptist had prophesied that this would happen years before.
Now, please consider the fact that by the time we reach Acts chapter nineteen in the previous set of verses, the Apostle Paul has already been in the ministry for quite a few years. He is no longer a fresh recruit of the Lord. By this time he is very well aware of the fact that John's water baptism was just a foreshadow of things to come. He knows that once the Holy Spirit had been given following Jesus' Ascension into Heaven, John's water baptism had became obsolete, and was to be done away with.
Now, because I believe that Paul possessed this knowledge by Acts chapter nineteen, I am not convinced that he baptized those Disciples a second time in water. His concern for them is clearly expressed in his first question to them: "Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?" They plainly told him that they knew John's baptism already. Even if Paul still embraced water baptism, I still do not believe that he would have water baptized them a second time. In short, I remain convinced that Paul simply laid his hands on them, prayed over them in Jesus' Name, and they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. No water required.
At this point in our discussion, consider the following sets of verses and their spiritual significance, as written by the Apostle Paul, and explained through the words of Jesus and other of His followers. As you read this section, please bear in mind that the Bible is self-interpreting in many places. I have said this many times before. Don't rely upon your carnal wisdom. Just connect the dots, and join the verses to get the complete picture of what is actually being said:
"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;"
Titus 3:5, KJV
In this first verse, notice Paul's reference to "washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost". What is this "washing" he is referring to? Is Paul talking about water baptism, or is the phrase "washing of regeneration" really synonymous with the last part of his statement "renewing of the Holy Ghost"? Before answering my question, consider what Paul said in a few other places in his Epistles:
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."
2 Corinthians 5:17, KJV
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
Romans 12:1-2, KJV
It now seems rather evident -- at least to me -- that this "washing of regeneration" really is synonymous with "renewing of the Holy Ghost". In other words, Paul is not talking about water baptism. The Apostle is talking about being spiritually washed, regenerated, transformed and renewed in our minds and spirits. This doesn't happen by being dunked in water because it is a spiritual process. It occurs when God zaps us with the fire of the Holy Spirit.
As I point out in articles such as "Are You Crucified With Christ?", and as we already discussed in part two of this series, when we accept Jesus as our Savior, we in essence become new creatures by the Spirit. We are reborn. God begins to re-wire our circuits so-to-speak so that we begin to see things with our eyes of the Spirit instead of with our carnal minds of human understanding. We crucify the old man of the flesh, in order that the new man of the Spirit may live and thrive in us.
As I have mentioned to you a few times now, the Old Testament is literally filled with foreshadows and archetypes in the form of Levitical rituals which would ultimately be fulfilled in a much more permanent and everlasting way in the life and ministry of Christ. For example, you will recall that in part one of this series, we discussed different forms of water baptism, including the Genesis Flood, the crossing of the Red Sea, the parting of the Jordan River, etc.
However, in similar fashion, the Old Testament also contains ample examples of a kind of baptism by blood. If you conduct a deep study of the Books of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers, you will discover that God required Aaron and his sons -- and the later priests as well -- to sprinkle animal blood on the Altar, on the Mercy Seat, on Aaron and his sons and their priestly garments, before the vail of the sanctuary, on the Books of the Law, on the tabernacle, on the ministry vessels, on the congregation, and even on people who were struck with the plague of leprosy.
Of course, we all know that the most well-known example of the sprinkling of blood in the Old Testament occurred when the Israelites were commanded by the Lord to sprinkle their door posts with the blood of the Passover lamb, in order that the Angel of Death would recognize them and spare them. Again, all of these ancient rituals pointed like a string of beacons to what Jesus would eventually do when He died on the Cross for the sins of the world. Consider the following group of verses which connect the Old Testament with the New Testament:
"But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and WITHOUT SHEDDING OF BLOOD IS NO REMISSION."
Hebrews 9:11-22, KJV
"Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water."
Hebrews 10:22, KJV
"By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them."
Hebrews 11:24-28, KJV
"But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel."
Hebrews 12:22-24, KJV
"Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied."
1 Peter 1:1-2, KJV
Please go to part eight for the continuation of this series.
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