Holy Spirit Baptism – Subsequence Defended

Jesse PhillipsJesse Phillips has kindly given me permission to share here an article he wrote on what he calls subsequence. This is the notion, as I prefer to describe it, that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is distinct to conversion. I prefer to describe this as distinct for the simple reason that the receiving of the Holy Sprit need not be delayed for months or years after conversion. This may sound like a minor point, but it is crucial to our expectations. Anyway, I loved what Jesse said about Peter’s inspired comments on the day of Pentecost. You may not agree with everything he has to say in his complete article, since there are so many finely nuanced positions that Christians can take on this subject, but I commend it as well worthy of a read, as this quote demonstrates.

“The disciples had received the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). In 2:39 Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, proclaims this same promise (“this promise is for you”), the promise of the Father, namely the gift of being clothed with power from on high in the Spirit, is available not just to the current generation (“you and your children”) but future generations (“all who are far off”).

What promise is Peter extending? Is he extending the promise of regeneration? He is making available to all what they had just experienced, which did not include regeneration. The “promise of [the] Father” was anointing and power (Luke 24:49) in the Spirit. Those who repent and believe (2:38) can receive the enabling spirit of promise (2:39). Therefore, the biblical precedent for using the Acts 2 narrative for doctrine is Acts 2:39, the first apostolic decree in the history of the church. Peter’s first apostolic decree was that the Pentecost reception of the gift of the Spirit was to be the continuing standard throughout all generations of the church. The charismatic promise of the Father is available for all! Based on this inspired interpretation of Pentecost and apostolic pronouncement of continuance, we are on safe ground interpreting this initial second blessing (and its outworking in Acts 8, 9, 10 and 19) as normative for today. Not only are we on safe ground, we are required to view it this way, if we are to be submitted to apostolic decree, even if we cannot point to any parallel event in our own experience. It may be that God has yet more for us to experience in accordance with the testimony of the early church.”

— Jesse Phillips, Subsequence

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