Partial Fulfillment Of The Prophecies Of Joel And John

Baptism in the Holy Spirit and fire cannot find its fulfillment at Pentecost. Why did Luke include the word fire in his Gospel (Luke 3:16) and omit it in Acts 1:5? In his account in Luke, he was speaking of Pentecost as a partial fulfillment, pointing to the remote complete fulfillment. Whereas in Acts, he spoke only of Pentecost, at which time there was baptism in the Holy Spirit but no fire. Many use Acts 2:3—"And there appeared to them tongues being distributed as fire, and it sat on each of them" (translation)—as a proof text to substantiate their opinion that this is the fulfillment of the fire mentioned in Matthew 3:11 and Luke 3:16. However, the statement describing the phenomena at Pentecost, "like as of fire," of Acts 2:3 is not the same as the word "fire" in the accounts of Matthew and Luke in their Gospels. This was similar to fire but not actually the fire in John's prediction.

The infant assembly was baptized in the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. This was predicted in Acts 1:5 where the word fire is omitted. The aorist passive indicative of the verb baptidzo used in I Corinthians 12:13 signifies that the baptism in the Spirit took place in the past at Pentecost. The indicative is the mood of reality; therefore, it actually took place at that time. The ones assembled with one accord in one place of Acts 2:1-4 were the 120 disciples of the Lord waiting in the upper room for the partial fulfillment of the promise by John which is recorded in Acts 1:5. (See Acts 1:12-15.) Since Christians were baptized, this baptism could not be regeneration. There is a difference between being born of the Spirit and being baptized in the sphere of the Spirit. We are born of the Spirit, and those born of the Spirit were all baptized in that infant assembly. Therefore, our baptism in the Spirit was in that baptism.

The feast of Pentecost, which is called the feast of weeks in Deuteronomy 16:9-16 and II Chronicles 8:13, is described in Leviticus 23:16-22. This feast was observed by Israel fifty days after the feast of passover when the children of Israel brought a sheaf of the firstfruits (Lev. 23:10). The sheaf foreshadowed Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. The sheaf, like Christ, needed no preparation. He was absolutely holy. The feast of weeks harmonizes with what took place at Pentecost.

The three parts to baptism in the Spirit at Pentecost were foreshadowed in the feast of weeks—Pentecost—to which there were three parts. "And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD your God" (Lev. 23:22). In this verse, note the three parts of Pentecost foreshadowed: (1) "Ye" refers to the Jews who are associated with the "harvest." (2) The "poor" designates the non-Jews who are connected with the "corners of thy field." (3) The "stranger" calls attention to non-Jews who are related to the "gleaning of thy harvest."

This feast was partially fulfilled in the three parts of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came on Jews—Acts 2, Samaritans—Acts 8, and Gentiles—Acts 10, but not on "all flesh [mankind]" (Joel 2:28). (1) Acts 2—The Jews assembled in the upper room in Jerusalem were baptized in the Holy Spirit to correspond with "ye" in Leviticus 23:22. (2) Acts 8—The Samaritans in Samaria were baptized in the Holy Spirit in answer to the "poor" in Leviticus 23:22. These were not full-blooded Jews. (3) Acts 10—The Gentiles in the end of the earth (Acts 1:8) were baptized in the Holy Spirit to correspond with the "strangers"—non-Jews—in Leviticus 23:22. These were the three parts of Pentecost when these three groups received a foretaste of that which shall be completely fulfilled in the future.

Baptism in the Spirit at Pentecost empowered the infant assembly, which is made up of Jews and Gentiles between whom the middle wall of partition is broken down, for witnessing during the assembly age: "but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth" (Acts 1:8 NASB). Jesus Christ is the cornerstone (Matt. 16:18), and the apostles became the foundation of the assembly (Eph. 2:20). The age of the assembly, which began with Christ and His apostles, experienced a foretaste of what John predicted for Israel (Matt. 3:11; Luke 3:16).

Jesus Christ, not the Holy Spirit, is the Agent in baptism in the Spirit. There are only seven references to baptism in the Spirit (Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33; Acts 1:5; 11:16; I Cor. 12:13). The first five references are prophetical, and the last two are historical. Five look forward to the day of Pentecost, and two are historical of what took place at Pentecost. There is no such thing as any individual being baptized in, with, or by the Holy Spirit today. Let us consider the last historical reference: "For indeed in one Spirit we were all baptized [ebaptisthemen, aorist passive indicative of bap-tidzo] into one body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether slaves or free; and we were all made to drink one Spirit" (I Cor. 12:13—translation). The indicative mood is the mood of reality, and the passive voice means the Lord Jesus was the Agent of this baptism. Is that not what John said? "...He [Jesus Christ] shall baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire" (Matt. 3:11b—translation). The Holy Spirit is the sphere into which Jesus Christ baptized the infant assembly. The passive voice signifies that the infant assembly did not participate in it. It is historical. It has been fulfilled. Born again people have been baptized by Jesus Christ into the sphere of the Holy Spirit.

The baptism at Pentecost was collective. It included Christ's body, that is, His assembly. There is not one reference to an individual being baptized in the Holy Spirit. The assembly as a whole was baptized in the sphere of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. This was not the Holy Spirit being poured out on all flesh in the kingdom. That is future. The disciples knew nothing of a kingdom having been set up. Israel as a nation did not enter the events of Pentecost. They knew the nature of the kingdom but not the time of its establishment. Pentecost was a foretaste of what will yet be experienced by God's people as a whole. The Holy Spirit led Luke to include fire in John's prediction in Luke 3:16 and to omit it from Acts 1:5 when he predicted what would take place in a few days. He made no reference to fire in the latter reference, because what fire represents would not be fulfilled in a few days. The terrible "day of the Lord" would not take place at Pentecost. Pentecost would be only a partial fulfillment of Joel's prophecy.

The present work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer is recorded in Ephesians 5:18—"And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit."

Being filled with the Spirit means being continually controlled by means of the Spirit. There is no baptism in the Spirit since Pentecost. The elect are born of the Spirit (John 3:8), sealed with the Spirit (Eph. 1:13), possess the guarantee of our inheritance (Eph. 1:1,14), and have the Spirit as our guide (Rom. 8:14) and as our teacher (I John 2:20,27). As all the elect who constitute the assembly died with Christ at Calvary, we were all baptized by Christ into one body at Pentecost. As we were legally in Christ before regeneration, we were legally in the body before we were born of the Spirit.

The reverse of the Holy Spirit being poured out on all flesh at Pentecost is demonstrated throughout Acts, and it has been demonstrated for nearly 2,000 years. When the Holy Spirit is poured out on all flesh, the glory of God shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. Men will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, and there will be no more war, confusion, or chaos. Hence, the very opposite of all flesh being immersed in the sphere of the Spirit is proved by what followed Pentecost. Christians are persecuted; there are wars; there are apostates; etc.; and many prophecies have not yet been fulfilled.

The apostle Paul told believers that they possessed the earnest of the Spirit (II Cor. 1:22; 5:5; Eph. 1:13). Believers are presently able to realize through the personal indwelling agency of the Holy Spirit as an earnest what this same Spirit will perform in the day of the Lord Jesus Christ. God's final outpouring is not to be confined to the saints who have the earnest, because it extends to the Jewish remnant, to the Gentiles, and to all the earth of which Pentecost was a publicly manifested pledge. It is sad when men rashly antedate the Spirit, making baptism in the Spirit present when it is future. A person is incorrect to take a prophecy, apply it to his personal life, and claim its fulfillment in himself. One is incorrect to refer to this dispensation as the dispensation of the Spirit. It is the age of grace when the Holy Spirit is operating and calling out a people for Jesus Christ.

Miracles to confirm the word have ceased. If truth were perpetuated today in the assemblies of Christ by miracles without any intermission, the baptism in the Spirit would have failed in its significance as a pledge of its future fulfillment. To falsely assign such signs proceeding from the Holy Spirit vilifies the mighty Agent through whom the covenant shall be fulfilled. The miracles at Pentecost were God-given signs of the kingdom as a pledge, and the baptism in the Spirit was an earnest of that which is yet to come.

Israel's rejection was crystallized in the first part of Acts. Therefore, signs and wonders have been withdrawn until the coming kingdom. Since Joel does not refer to the assembly of Christ, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost could not be the complete fulfillment of Joel's prophecy. The kingdom and the gospel were first proclaimed to the Jews, but they rejected the spiritual requirements of the kingdom— repentance and faith—and even crucified the King in fulfillment of prophecy. This crucifixion was ordained by God for the purpose of redemption and to effect a worldwide proclamation of the gospel for the conversion of the elect.

Peter did not identify the events. He identified the power, as the Lord had predicted in Acts 1:8. Baptism in the Spirit at Pentecost was designed for the bestowal of supernatural power. The infant assembly was baptized into the realm of the Spirit—the sphere of power—to accomplish the purpose for which Christ appointed the assembly. The Spirit who formerly dwelt with His people dwells in us since Pentecost.

Another proof that the Holy Spirit did not come on all flesh at Pentecost is Joel's term "afterward [after this]" of Joel 2:28. After what? After God's statement that He has received Israel back: "And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed" (Joel 2:27). The outpouring of the Spirit in those days will extend to all flesh. It cannot be restricted to Israel who shall be born in a day before the establishment of the kingdom, but it will include everyone in the kingdom. "All flesh" includes elect Jews and Gentiles— the body of Christ which is now being built (Matt. 16:18). We will all be in the kingdom, and the baptism in the Spirit will be universally experienced. Baptism in the Spirit at Pentecost was an additional blessing to what the recipients already possessed. When the Spirit is poured out universally, it will be another added blessing to God's people. The experience at that time will be greater than the experience at Pentecost.

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