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Does Holy Spirit Baptism Save Us?

In many cases false teachers will teach that water baptism referred to throughout the Scriptures is referring to baptism of the Holy Spirit. They teach that at the time a person believes and/or prays to receive Christ into their heart (the false doctrine known as the "sinner's prayer"), that at that time the person is baptized by the Holy Spirit. However, the act of Holy Spirit baptism is found only in Acts 1:5 and 11:16 and is referred to as the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the apostles, and on Cornelius and his family, respectively. These were extraordinary instances for specific purposes and neither leads us to the "one baptism" of Ephesians 4:5, nor were they for the purpose of salvation. There is no doubt and hardly and arguable point that the apostles were in fact already saved at the time the Holy Spirit was poured out on them in the upper room at Pentecost. Anyone claiming it was for salvation is guilty of false teaching. The Holy Spirit baptism as it relates to Cornelius and his family may not be quite as clear for some, therefore we will look at what the Scriptures teach us relating to this occurrence.

Something we should all understand is that the ability to speak in tongues and prophesy (miraculous gifts) is not conclusive proof that a person is saved, or that the Holy Spirit is abiding in that person. There are some wicked men who have spoken by the inspiration of God. Balaam prophesied against Balak by the immediate direction of God. (Numbers 23-24) Saul prophesied by the Spirit of God. (1 Samuel 10:10) The prophet Bethel was enabled by the Holy Spirit. (1 Kings 13:11-32) Caiaphas prophesied by the Spirit that Jesus would die. (John 11:47-53) Therefore, the fact that Cornelius and his family were able to speak in tongues cannot prove that their sins were forgiven at that particular time. In fact, Scripture proves that Cornelius and his family were not saved at the time they received miraculous gifts.

Referring to Acts chapters 10 and 11… Cornelius was "one that feared God" and "prayed to God always". (10:2) This is a great example of how praying to God does not save us. Prayer is not the means by which God has commanded salvation. Cornelius apparently believed in Jesus and God, but simply believing that Jesus and God existed did not save him or his family, thus eliminating "faith only" for salvation. Instead of the "sinner's prayer" or "faith only" saving Cornelius and his family, he was told by the angel of God to send after Simon Peter and that "he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do." (10:6) Hence, "faith cometh by hearing". (Romans 10:17) The angel told Cornelius that Peter would be the one "who shall speak unto thee words, whereby thou shalt be saved, thou and all thy house." (11:14) Peter explains, "While Peter yet spake these words," (10:44) and again "As I began to speak the Holy Ghost fell on them as on us in the beginning." (11:15) The "beginning" was when the Holy Spirit fell on the apostles at Pentecost. If it was necessary for Cornelius to "hear" the words "by which to be saved", he could not have been saved by the words until he heard them. It was as Peter "began to speak" at which time the Holy Spirit fell on them, therefore if Peter had only began to speak and he was to "speak unto thee words, whereby thou shalt be saved", it is evident that Peter had to finish speaking "thee words" before they would be saved. Cornelius and his family would also have to believe those words and be baptized in water, just as those were baptized on the day of Pentecost.

We can further prove that hearing, believing and water baptism is what saved them, not the Holy Spirit falling on them, by consider what Peter says in reference to Cornelius and his family in Acts 15:7b, "Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe." Therefore if their sins were forgiven when the Holy Spirit fell on them, as many false teachers will claim, it would mean there sins were forgiven before they had heard and believed. This would also mean their sins were forgiven without faith as well as without baptism. But this was not possible and it is clearly not the case. The Holy Spirit was poured out on them as it was the apostles. In Cornelius and his family's case, it was for the gifts of tongues, not for salvation. Cornelius and his family then heard Peter preach to them and they believed. Peter commanded them to be baptized in water. (10:47,48) Why would Peter command them to be baptized? Because this same Peter that commanded baptism for the forgiveness of sin on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:38) knew that they must be baptized to be saved.

Undeniably, the Holy Ghost neither fell on the apostles nor Cornelius and his family in order to obtain salvation. For the apostles it was the promise that Jesus made to them… to provide them with a comforter. (John 14:16-18) They were already saved… they were disciples of Christ before the Holy Spirit fell on them. For Cornelius and his family it was merely to prove that God made no distinction between the Jew and the Gentiles. (Acts 10:34) It was to cause the Jews to understand that the Gentiles were able to be saved just as they were, there would be no partiality. These were extraordinary and for a specific purpose other than salvation.

We should also understand that the people who were saved on the day of Pentecost were not baptized with the Holy Ghost, they were baptized in water. They were only promised the "gift of the Holy Ghost" (eternal life) and before they received this gift they were commanded to be baptized in water in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins… then and only then would they receive this gift. Remember also the Samaritans, who believed and were water baptized, yet the Holy Spirit had not fell on them until Peter and John went there and prayed for them. (Acts 8:13-16)

Claims of Holy Spirit baptism for salvation are erroneous and false.

God bless you!

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