I understand that the Bible says that you must repent and be baptized to
get the forgiveness of sins and the Holy Spirit, but my friend who is
studying the Bible believes that he was saved and received the Holy Spirit
when he was Pentecostal even though he didn’t believe in a “biblical
baptism” because in Acts chapter 2 and chapter 10, these people received
the Holy Spirit without being baptized. The only thing I know is that both
times were extremely significant because it was the first time Jews
(Acts2) and gentiles (Acts10) got God’s Holy Spirit to dwell in them like
we do today. But there is no scripture that I have seen that clarifies
this issue. All I can tell him is NOW we must repent and be baptized. but
he feels that he was saved and that some people in his old church may be
saved even though they teach a false doctrine of salvation and he knows
this, because “God is merciful”. Any insight on that baptism issue would
be a monumental help. Thanks

Let me give you the short version as I see it from my own Bible study. I
suggest you study this issue out for yourself to deepen your own

The events in the first several verses of Acts 2: were the fulfillment of
what Jesus had prophesied, “in a few days you (the apostles) will be
baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:5). The outpouring (note;
outpouring, not receiving) of Holy Spirit occurred in Acts 2:1-13 as well
as in Acts 10:44-46. The first occasion validated the first gospel sermon
of Peter, while the second event validated to Peter that Gentiles could be
saved. Note that on both occasions, after the miraculous outpouring,
people were baptized by immersion in water for the forgiveness of sins and
to receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38, Acts 10:47,48). Peter, in
explaining himself, told the apostles and other church leaders that the
Spirit had been poured out at Cornelius’ house “as it had come on us at
the beginning” (Acts 11:15), a clear reference to Acts 2:1f.

One can conclude from all this that the pouring our of the Holy Spirit in
the form of a massive outpouring of miraculous power is an event which
occurred only two times we know of from the Biblical record. There is no
evidence that the people on whom the Spirit was poured in either case was
saved by the Spirit falling on them. In fact, in both cases, the hearers
were admonished to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness and to
receive the (indwelling, promised, not the outpouring) Holy Spirit. The
Bible never suggests that the gift of the Holy Spirit who is a deposit
guaranteeing our salvation (Ephesians 1:13,14) is granted in any other way
except through baptism in water of a repentant disciple of Jesus. Acts
5:32 makes it clear that the Holy Spirit is given to those who obey the
command of God. What command of God is ever connected with a promise to
receive the Holy Spirit, if it is not Acts 2:37,38?

Having said all that, I believe you should be patient and understanding
with your friend. I would assume from experience that his belief that he
was saved is not based on Bible knowledge, but it is based on personal
experience and powerful emotion, as well as teaching of some people whom
he may respect deeply. I would keep pointing my friend back to the Bible
without getting into unhelpful arguments over whether his experiences are
genuine. As Jonathan Swift said, “It is impossible to reason a person out
of something which they were not reasoned into in the first place.”
Fortunately, with God, all things are possible.

John Oakes, PhD

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