Baptism of the Holy Spirit: A Promise?

by Carl A. Allen

Through the years I have talked with, debated with, Pentecostal preachers and it is not uncommon for them to take the position that the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit " is a command. Many have been the times I have cited a passage to prove that the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit" was not a command, but it seems they just do not want to believe what is written in the Bible! Let me put this down and see if you can conclude that the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit" was a command. Consider the following material.

"And, being assembled together with them, he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which said he, ye heard from me: For John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized in the Hoy Spirit not many days hence," Acts 1:4-5. Please observe in this passage that which is to be given is called a "promise." In verse 4 of this text we find that which was promised was the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit," and it is called a "promise."

Through the years of preaching the Gospel of Christ, I have been in contact with many of the Pentecostal persuasion and I have never found one who believes the Baptism of the Holy Spirit was a "promise!" They always said it was a command and you had to have the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit" to be saved, and they further stated that the "speaking in tongues became evidence they had received the Holy Spirit.

I know there are many who remember the days of the "mourner's bench" and those who would spend hours "praying through to God." Some never did get through to the "Holy Spirit" and wondered why God did not give them the Holy Spirit. According to their preachers it was commanded; but one could not have it until God gave it to him. This is the confusion associated with the preaching and teaching and the practicing of Pentecostalism.

Many years ago there was a Pentecostal preacher in Crockett, Texas, that was teaching the necessity of people receiving the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit," and pointed out that it was a "command." As I look back now, I realize that he did not know what a command was. His attitude was: "Brother Allen is like a peg legged sailor that has his wooden leg stuck in a knothole, in the floor, and is just going around and around." I explained that he was the one that had the peg leg. He said one needed to obey the command to be baptized with the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit." I asked what he needed to do to obey the command and he did not know. He just went around and around; thus the peg legged man with his wooden leg stuck in a knothole in the floor. Well the receiving of the Holy Spirit was not a command, it was a "promise," Acts 1:4, "and, being assembled together with them, he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father."

Commands are to be obeyed and "promises are to be received." The promise of the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit" was to the Apostles and they received it, Acts 2:1-4.