Topics in this Q&A: Baptism of the Holy Spirit; Fasting; different kinds of Apostles

Can there be Christians who are not yet baptised by the Holy Spirit?

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is often thought of as a phenomena that happens after conversion some time, and produces a more personal and more expressive form of spirituality (often in terms of heightened worship experiences, prophecy, or speaking in tongues). This is, however, not a teaching from the Word of God. 1 Corinthians 12:13 indicates that all who are in the body of Christ were baptised by the Spirit—and according to the rest of the letter, some of those Christians were still very worldly. The baptism of the Holy Spirit was not something for them to wait for, but something for them to realise so their ministry to each other would be less selfish and more edifying. Romans 6:1-4 also uses the baptism of the Holy Spirit as a call to all believers to battle against sin. Similarly, in Ephesians 4:5 we are told of “one baptism” that characterises all believers. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is our entry into the body of Christ. In other words, every true Christian has been baptised by the Holy Spirit—it was how each have been added to the body of Christ.

So, just like you cannot have a member of the body that is not part of the body, so you cannot have a Christian who is not yet baptised by the Holy Spirit. Many ‘Christian’ teachers have created a distinction among Christians—those who have been baptised by the Holy Spirit, and those who have not—but such teaching is based on either ignorance of the Scriptures, or opposition to the Scriptures. If you have been born again by the Spirit, then you have been baptised by the Spirit. The only occurrences where there was a delay between conversion and the baptism of the Holy Spirit was Jesus ascended into heaven and sent the Spirit (Acts 2, cf John 16:7) and when OT converts first hear about the Lord Jesus (Acts 10 and Acts 19). We know from our conversion experience and Scripture’s historical record that the Holy Spirit is indeed within all who believe in the Lord Jesus since His ascension into Heaven, and that the primary work of the Holy Spirit is our unity and edification, enabling us for daily Christian living.

Should I be fasting?

Fasting is, somewhat understandably, one of the most misunderstood acts of worship. Almost every religion has some form of it, and among Christians it is only really popular among circles who seem to practise it in exactly the ways Scripture warns against. Although going against Scripture’s warnings regarding fasting is inexcusable, it is understandable that fasting is misunderstood. Fasting, though fairly common throughout the Scriptures, is never commanded or regulated (except for some Mosaic Covenant feasts). Additionally, the only clear instructions on fasting (Matt 6:16-18 and Matt 9:14-17) comes in the form of warnings against worldly forms of fasting.

Putting all the examples of fasting, as well as the teachings on fasting together, here are Five Fasting Facts to inform your own mind regarding the Christian practise of fasting.
1) Fasting can be practised many different ways.
2) Fasting is for the sake of humble prayer
3) Fasting is not an objective measurement of godliness
4) Fasting is for times of need, not times of plenty
5) There are more warnings about fasting than commands
(Check out the file below for a worksheet to take some time working through to inform your mind on these Five Fasting Facts.)

To answer your question of “Should I be fasting?”, the answer is:
“You may, but you don’t have to. There no command requiring fasting from Christians, but fasting is common among the believers mentioned in the Bible. Take the warnings seriously, and then fast with humble sincerity.”

What was an “apostle” and does it only refer to the Twelve disciples of Jesus?

The word apostle simply means someone sent on a Gospel mission—a missionary if you will. But, most commonly in the NT, “apostle” is a technical term referring to a very select group of people. To be an “Apostle of Jesus Christ,” according to Acts 1:22 meant that you had to be physically present during Jesus’ earthly ministry—at least from the time of His baptism by John till the time of His post-resurrection ascension into Heaven. Your remember when the eleven disciples were looking for someone to replace Judas to complete the number of twelve apostles, only two people were found that met the “I’ve heard Christ and seen him from his baptism to his ascension” qualification. And then Paul, a thirteenth apostle, was added later in a very unique way according to 1 Cor 15:8. Since he did not hear and see Christ from His baptism to His ascension, Christ appeared in a unique way to Paul and over three years taught Paul the whole Gospel (Gal 1:15-18). Thus in an exceptional, definitely not to be repeated, event, Paul was added as a true “Apostle of Jesus Christ.”. The “Apostles of Jesus Christ” are therefore the Twelve disciples of Jesus, minus Judas who betrayed our Lord, plus his replacement Matthias, plus Paul, thirteen in total.

Then there were “apostles of the Church” like Barnabas (Acts 14:14), Silas, Timothy, and some of the other church leaders like James (Gal 1:19). Perhaps these were all part of the 500 people mentioned in 1 Cor 15 who had seen Christ after His resurrection (v6).

The apostles then, the thirteen plus this larger group, were a group of men specifically given to the church, by Christ, to lay the foundation of the church as a whole, through the preaching of the Gospel and prayer (Eph 2:19-20). The gift of apostleship was given to only a select group of men during the NT time, but they were given to the churches in all the ages including our—after all, like the first Christians (Acts 2:42) we are devoted to the apostles’ doctrine. We are a truly apostolic church if we have the NT apostles as our apostles, and if we commit ourselves to the apostle’s doctrine as the church back then had.