Anyone considered Spirit-filled has at least a basic understanding of what happened in the Upper Room (Cenacle) on the Day of Pentecost. It was in this place that Jesus had washed the feet of His disciples. There also the Last Supper had been served. It served as both hotel and church to the innermost circle of Christ's followers. On the Day of Pentecost, however, many followers were gathered for a more specific purpose.
Days before, in Luke 24:49, Jesus revealed that purpose and delivered the following directions to His disciples.
"And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven."
Notice that Jesus spoke these words to believers. This promised power was not available to unbelievers. Notice also that Jesus never attached salvation to one's obedience to the directions, nor did He consider the people who had followed Him for three and a half years unsaved unless and until they followed through.
Some would have you believe that prior to Pentecost the disciples were headed for hell. In their mind the baptism of the Holy Spirit poured out on that day changed the disciples' standing with God. This stands in contrast to solid Bible evidence. Jesus promised power, not salvation, to those who were willing to go Jerusalem and wait.
Again, and for emphasis, Luke 24:49 states that the Holy Spirit would "fill them with power from heaven." What was the purpose of that power? Why was it given?
Luke, who also wrote the Book of Acts, clarifies in Acts 1:4.
"Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, "Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before."
A few verses later, in Acts 1:8, Luke clarifies the purpose of the power.
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And YOU WILL BE MY WITNESSES, telling people about me everywhere--in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
I believe in, and have experienced, the power of Pentecost. Now, however, I better understand its purpose. Previously I believed the Upper Room experience was salvation. Now I understand it is given to empower us to speak about the Means of Salvation-Jesus.
In light of this consider how misplaced it is to preach Spirit baptism to unbelievers. There is no New Testament evidence that the disciples ever preached Spirit baptism first. Their first emphasis was preaching Jesus. After all, that was the specific direction He gave..."ye shall be MY witnesses." Any person who claims to be "Apostolic" should do the same.
I am no longer a Oneness Pentecostal because the Oneness Pentecostal soteriology (doctrine of salvation) stands upon three faulty pillars.
1. A misinterpretation of John 3:5 which incorrectly identifies water as baptism and Spirit as speaking in tongues.
2. A flawed understanding of Acts 2:38 which views Spirit baptism as a work instead of a gift.
3. A distortion of the purpose of Spirit baptism which leads to the view that pre-Pentecost all disciples were hell-bound and that all current believers who haven't spoken in tongues are, too.
Spirit baptism is a supernatural empowerment to witness about Jesus. In the Acts record, timid and frightened followers became bold and outspoken oracles at Pentecost. The same Spirit that fills empowers us to preach, teach and endure the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Read part nine here.
This writing is the copyright of E.L. Anglin and is reprinted on this site by permission. View all of his available articles here.