THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AS RELATED TO THE WORK OF ENTIRE SANCTIFICATION
A. Mattke, B.D., M.A.
Source: Wesleyan Theological Journal
the process of building the Christian Church, there appears to be ample evidence
in the Scriptures that Jesus Christ was much concerned with that critical period
immediately following His crucifixion. Knowing that His disciples were
approaching a crisis of faith, He sought to instruct them by speaking of the
necessity of His going away. “Nevertheless I tell you the truth,” says He,
“for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart,
I will send him unto you” (John 16:7).
encouragement Jesus gave to His disciples for those perilous days was stated in
terms familiar to any Jew for He spoke of a forthcoming baptism. His words are
these: “For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the
Holy Ghost not many days hence” (Acts 1:5). Jesus is here reiterating a
soon-to-be-fulfilled promise which was made by John the Baptist at Bethabara on
the occasion of Jesus’ own baptism when it was said:
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 (Matthew 3:11;
in his prophetic role takes his turn in projecting the promise of the Father
another step in the on-going history of the Christian Church. Evidently Jesus
repeated this promise frequently, for Luke records that this was done “until
the day in which he was taken up” (Acts 1:2). When the one hundred and twenty
received their fulfillment of the promise on the Day of Pentecost, Peter had no
difficulty tracing the promise (all the way) back to that which was spoken by
the prophet Joel (Acts 2:16).
the disciples accept John’s baptism as a premature fulfillment of the promise,
John the Baptist made it explicitly clear that his baptism was but an initial or
introductory rite. It was but a prelude to the baptism which was to be
administered by Jesus Christ. In the terminology of Paul, John’s baptism might
be spoken of as “the earnest of the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5;
F. Bruce says of John’s baptism that it was “a baptism of expectation rather
than one of fulfillment as Christian baptism now was.”
He adds a further comment concerning those apostles who had been baptized with
appears that their Pentecostal enduement with the Spirit transformed the
preparatory significance of the baptism which they already received into the
consummative significance of Christian baptism.
emphasizing the superiority of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, care must be
taken not to minimize John’s baptism. It fills a very important place in
God’s redemptive plan. Jesus’ submission to John’s baptism is a testimony
to its own merit and validity. It must not be discounted or depreciated.
important as John’s baptism is in its own right, the truth remains that it is
not the ultimate in baptisms; it is not the final baptism in God’s redemptive
order. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the baptism of baptisms; it is the one
baptism spoken of by Paul in company with “One Lord, one faith . . . One God
and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all”
A LONG HISTORY OF DIFFICULTIES
the Scriptures so distinctly and positively declare the importance and reality
of such a baptism it is difficult to understand why there is so little emphasis
placed upon this phase of Jesus’ teaching. Ralph Earle writes:
is difficult to understand the almost universal neglect in the Christian Church
of the baptism with the Holy Spirit. There was nothing particularly unique about
John’s method of water baptism. Judaism baptized new converts with water.
Water baptism is thus not distinctively a Christian rite. The only distinctive
and utterly unique Christian baptism is the baptism with the Holy Spirit. That
cannot be duplicated by any other religion. It is peculiarly Christ’s: “He
shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
careful examination of history seems to indicate that the Church has always had
difficulty coming to grips with the essential significance of baptism, and
certainly our own day is no exception. The whole concept of baptism has either
been neglected or subjected to peculiar perversions, and as a consequence it has
produced its share of theological deviations.
appears that from the very beginning the baptism of John was misunderstood
because Jesus asked the chief priests and the scribes “was it from heaven, or
of men?” (Luke 20:14). The rumor that Jesus made and baptized more disciples
than John evidently did not contribute to the tranquility of
baptism made its contribution to the Corinthian problem. Paul asks, “Were ye
baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:13). With considerable relief
he expresses his thanks that he baptized none but Crispus and Gaius (1
the heresies which plagued the church during the first four centuries, baptism
was a contributing factor of sizeable significance. As a result of the
Diocletian persecution in the third century, the Donatists came into being with
their belief in baptismal regeneration. One of the characteristics of the
Montanists was that they rigidly maintained the invalidity of heretical baptism.
It is interesting to note that Stephen, a bishop in
the sixteenth century Protestant Reformation, the following terms of reproach
are some of those which were indiscriminately applied by Lutherans, Swinglians
and Catholics to all whom they considered to be radicals: “rebaptizers,”
“Anabaptists,” “anti-pedobaptists” and “cata-baptists.”
we turn to the Evangelical Revival in the eighteenth century, we find that the
Wesley brothers and John Fletcher refer to baptism rather sparingly. Worthy of
consideration is the suggestion that Wesley did not want to enter the
controversies associated with this terminology. As he charted a course between
Pietism on the one hand and Anglicanism on the other, the use of such a
vocabulary did not suit his purpose of stressing the practical aspects of
perfect love in the life of a Christian.
his prolific writings on the work of the Holy Spirit, Wesley appears to be
cautious about labeling any experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit by the use
of this particular expression. Dr. Mildred Wynkoop offers the following word of
the very many terms he used for entire sanctification, never did he call it the
baptism of the Holy Spirit or any like term because of the danger of seeking the
Holy Spirit for some accompanying gift or emotion instead of seeking Christ and
His will. Wesley’s ethical insights are seen in the fact that he does not
point us to the gifts of the Spirit but to the fruits of the Spirit.
E. Brown has likewise noted the absence of any significant reference to the
baptism of the Holy Spirit in early Wesleyan literature. He says, “Even the
early Wesleyan theologians were so far misled by the technical theologians that
they failed to put proper emphasis on the baptism of the Holy Spirit.”
our contemporary situation, it would appear that we who support the Wesleyan
-Arminian theological position are found somewhere between two extremes: namely,
between the evangelicals who generalize the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the
pentecostalists who particularize this aspect of the Spirit’s work. While
there seems to be no problem as to the fact of this baptism, theologians do have
difficulties identifying the time when this baptism occurs, describing the
nature of it and finding a suitable terminology that is generally understood.
IDENTIFYING THE TIME
majority of writers in the holiness movement who follow the Wesleyan tradition
substantially agree that the baptism of the Holy Spirit takes place when a
believer is entirely sanctified. The following Scriptures, among others, are
used to document this position. In the revival at
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
apostle Paul was converted on his way to
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 9:17).
Ephesus Paul asked the believers,
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 Jesus Christ. 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 19:3–6).
seems evident enough that they were believers who obediently waited for the Day
of Pentecost, and it is said of these people,
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 (Acts 2:3–4).
all of these instances, there is convincing evidence that the persons thus
baptized with the Holy Ghost were previously converted—were truly regenerated
Jack Ford in the J. D. Drysdale Memorial Lectures entitled, What Holiness People
Believe, accounts for
grounds on which the holiness groups hold their view that the baptism of the
Holy Spirit is but another aspect of the work of entire sanctification, and that
we are sanctified wholly by the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which applies the
merits of Christ’s atonement to the believing heart.
E. Brown says that there has been a recognition of this interval of time between
water baptism (symbolic of regeneration) and the baptism of the Holy Spirit in
the historic Christian Church for nineteen hundred years. In the sacraments of
the Roman Catholic Church, there is an evident time span between water baptism
and confirmation. Brown points out:
ceremony of the reception of the Holy Spirit in the Catholic Church is called
confirmation, following the statement of Paul in 2 Corinthians: “Now he which
stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who hath also
sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts” (l:2l–22).
previously pointed out, Wesley was seemingly reticent about referring to the
work of the Holy Spirit in terms of a baptism. Thus, the search through his
writings for a positive identification of the baptism with the Holy Spirit with
the crisis of entire sanctification has been rather fruitless. Jack Ford says,
is little in Wesley’s writings that can be quoted in this respect. He
depreciates calling “the second change” whereby we are “Saved from all sin
and perfected in love” the “receiving of the Holy Ghost, for,” he says,
“we ‘receive the Holy Ghost’ when we are justified.” But in their manual
of his teaching, entitled Scriptural Holiness as Taught by John Wesley, Page and
Brash state that in his writings “there is no trace of the doctrine of the
baptism of the Spirit as a blessing distinct from that of perfect love.”
Cox defends Wesley’s position by saying,
Wesley feared that using the term “receiving the Holy Ghost” exclusively for
the second experience would lessen its meaning for regeneration. Never did
Wesley want to lower the content of regeneration to make room for entire
Fletcher is much more explicit in his explanation of the Holy Spirit’s work in
both regeneration and entire sanctification when he makes the following
distinction: In regeneration he calls the Holy Spirit a “Monitor” and in
entire sanctification he calls the Holy Spirit a “comforter.” The following
are his words:
you mean a believer completely baptized with the Holy Ghost and with fire, in
whom he that once visited as a Monitor now fully resides as a Comforter, you are
right; the enmity ceases, the carnal mind and body of sin are destroyed, and
“God is all in all” to that just man “made perfect in love.”
John Fletcher more properly identifies the baptism of the Holy Spirit with
entire sanctification is seen in his discussion of the degrees of spiritual
life. There are six degrees in his list and the sixth degree is stated as
still more abundant life, the life of the adult or perfect Christian, imparted
to him when the love of God, or power from on high, is plentifully shed abroad
in his believing soul, on the day that Christ baptized him with the Holy Ghost
and with fire, to sanctify him wholly and seal him unto the day of redemption.
which do not include an emphasis upon the second crisis aspect of entire
sanctification naturally place the baptism of the Holy Spirit at the time of
conversion. The theology of Leon Morris would be representative when he comments
on l Corinthians 3:1.
baptism in question obviously refers not to a supreme experience somewhere along
the Christian way, but to the very beginning of Christian experience. In the
words of Rene Pache, it is “the act whereby God gives to the believer his
position in Jesus Christ . . . All that we subsequently become and receive
springs from that position in Christ, which the Spirit’s baptism confers upon
representative in this school of thought would be Donald Grey Barnhouse, who
one may ask a believer whether he has been baptized with the Spirit. The very
fact that a man is in the body of Christ demonstrates that he has been baptized
of the Spirit, for there is no other way of entering the body.
sum up our findings with regard to the time when the baptism of the Holy Spirit
takes place, those who adhere to the reformed theological position (would) say
that it happens at the time of conversion. Traditionally, Wesleyan-Arminians
have identified this baptism with the second crisis experience. There may be
further evidence that we in the Holiness Movement have at times over-emphasized
the crisis aspect of entire sanctification at the expense of the process of
sanctification. Is it not within the realm of possibility that the Holy Spirit
initiates a baptism in regeneration which is consummated in entire
sanctification? Or as it is sometimes stated, all Christians are born of the
Holy Spirit; all may be baptized or filled with the Spirit, subsequently.
POWER AND/OR CLEANSING
relating the baptism of the Holy Spirit to the work of entire sanctification, it
soon becomes evident that there is not only a bifurcation as to when the
respective experience occurs in the Christian life but also as to the precise
accomplishment of that experience. In those circles where the term “entire
sanctification” is used the predominant emphasis is upon the cleansing of the
heart from all sin. Where the baptism of the Holy Spirit is stressed, the result
expected is largely that of power for service.
A. Torry says unequivocally that
Baptism with the Holy Spirit has no direct reference to cleansing from sin. It
has to do with gifts for service rather than with graces of character. The
Baptism with the Holy Spirit is not in itself either an eradication of the
carnal nature or cleansing from an impure heart. It is the impartation of
supernatural power or gifts in service, and sometimes one may have rare gifts by
the Spirit’s power and few graces.
appears that it was this kind of polarization of which Wesley was fearful and
for this reason he chose his words carefully. He was genuinely afraid of gifts
exercised apart from the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
the positive side, it is well to remember that the terminology Wesley developed
in preaching the doctrine of entire sanctification resulted from a very
penetrating insight into the nature of sin. Consequently, he amassed a
considerable amount of scriptural evidence that the sin in believers could be
is quite unlikely that there was the same ambivalence between cleansing and
power in Wesley’s time that exists in our own day. It is most unfortunate that
this kind of tension has been building up through the years. Both Reformed and
Wesleyan-Arminian scholars must share the responsibility for neglecting the law
to this point, Paul S. Rees recently said of Thomas Carlyle that
discerned that in much of life it is dangerous to settle for an either/or
position. It is the insight of both/and that is authentic. To exclude one or the
other is to miss the wholeness of things.
Fletcher, likewise, was sensitive to this possibility and wrote:
are prone to run into extremes. The world is full of men who always overdo or
underdo. Few people ever find the line of moderation, the golden mean; and of
those who do, few stay long upon it. One blast or another of vain doctrine soon
drives them east or west from the meridian of pure truth.
the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the work of entire sanctification be at peace
within our theological vocabularies? Do not these terms refer to a work of God
in the soul which includes both a cleansing from sin and an enduing with power?
The Pentecostal symbols of fire and wind give an affirmative answer.
THE USE OF A SUITABLE TERMINOLOGY
it comes to developing an effective terminology for communicating the gospel we
are humbled in the presence of our human limitations. It is difficult enough to
put ideas and concepts into words but it is a more demanding task when we
attempt to verbalize the action of God in the human soul.
conclusion is reinforced by this limited study of two terms commonly used in
theological discussion. In the process of relating them, we have found them to
be scriptural terms having a historical tradition. As is frequently the case,
tradition has a tendency to weaken the total impact that God’s word would make
the light of this fact, necessity is laid upon us to constantly keep our
traditions under surveillance. At the same time we need to be discerning but
teachable and charitable with others whose terminology comes out of a tradition
different from our own.
necessary task is that of sharpening our own definitions. For instance, the
baptism of the Holy Spirit is oftentimes equated with the scripture phrase
“filled with the Holy Spirit.” These two phrases as they appear in Scripture
do not always have the same meaning. After acknowledging his indebtedness to
Daniel Steele, Delbert Rose says, “There were fulnesses of the Spirit before
the Day of Pentecost, but these were not the Pentecostal baptism with the Holy
first example is that of a “Charismatic Fulness” which preceded the Day of
Pentecost. The angel said of John the Baptist, “He shall be filled with the
Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15). Luke writes that both
Elizabeth and Zacharias were “filled with the Holy Ghost” (1:41, 67) in a
second type is called an “Ecstatic Fulness.” This is a temporary emotional
fulness which is characterized by a fulness of joy such as Jesus mentioned in
“fulness” which Daniel Steele equates with the baptism of the Holy Spirit is
an “Ethical Fulness.” When Peter reports the Jerusalem-Pentecost and the
Caesarean-Pentecost he emphasizes the fact that in both cases the result of the
baptism was the “purifying their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:8–9).
study by the help of the Holy Spirit does aid us to perfect our terminologies to
the point where our words can relate the message of salvation. Luke tells us
that “Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in
words and in deeds” (Acts 7:22).
truth needs to be complemented with a further word from the Apostle Paul, “and
my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in
demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Corinthians 2:4).
F. F. Bruce, Commentary on the Book of Acts,
“The New International Commentary on the New Testament.” (Grand Rapids:
William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1954), p.386.
 Ralph Earle, The Gospel According to Mark (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1957), p.30.
Mildred B. Wynkoop, Foundations of
Wesleyan-Arminian Theology (Kansas City, Mo.: Beacon Hill Press, 1967),
 Charles E. Brown, The Meaning of Sanctification (Anderson, Indiana: The Warner Press, 1945), p.114.
The following authors hold to this position:
Asbury Lowrey, Possibilities of Grace (Chicago: The Christian Witness Co.,
1884), pp.344–49; D. Shelby Corlett, The Meaning of Holiness Kansas City:
Beacon Hill Press, 1944), pp.70–72; 5. A. Keen, Pentecostal Papers
(Chicago: Christian Witness Co., 1885); J. A. Wood, Purity and Maturity
(Boston: Christian Witness Co., 1899), pp. 72–73; E. T. Curnick, A
Catechism on Christian Perfection (
Jack Ford, What the Holiness People Believe
Brown, op. cit., pp.112-13.
Ford, op. cit., p.43. also see: Wesley’s Works
XII, 416; VI, 10–11; Sangster, Path to Perfection, (Nashville, Abingdon-Cokesbury
Press, 1943), p.83.
Cox, op. cit., p.124.
Fletcher’s Works, 4 vols. (New York: Carlton and
Porter, 1851), I, 167.
 Ibid., I, 160.
Leon Morris, Spirit of the Living God (London:
Inter-Varsity Fellowship, 1960), pp. 91–92.
 Ibid., p.92.
Rueben A. Torrey, What the Bible Teaches (Chicago:
Fleming H. Revell Co., 1898-1933), p.273.
 Paul S Rees, “The Myth of Exclusivism, “World Vision Magazine, Vol.12, No.9, p.48.
 Fletcher, op. cit., I, p.274.
 Delbert R. Rose, “What the Fulness of the Spirit Really Means,” The Herald, Vol.80, No.20, p.9.