The Cross & the Baptism in the Holy Spirit


Christ is the centre of the Christian faith. More specifically, according to the apostle Paul, it is Christ crucified who is at the centre (1 Cor. 1:23; 2:2). This means that Christ and His Cross is the source of all the blessings of the Christian life. Every aspect of the Christian life links back to Christ and the Cross. This is certainly true of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Afterall, the role of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Christ (Jn. 16:14), and Christ is glorified in multiple ways by the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, both in its giving and its receiving.

Christ is the Giver

On the Day of Pentecost, not only were Christians baptized in the Holy Spirit for the first time, but a theological explanation was also given for the events that were witnessed that day. In his sermon, Peter declared:
This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear’ (Acts 2:32-33).
It was the Lord Jesus Christ Himself who was responsible for the day’s events. Christ received from His Father the authority to pour out the Holy Spirit on believers, and this He did, beginning on that day of Pentecost. In fact, this is exactly what John the Baptist had prophesied (e.g. Jn. 1:33). So Christ is the giver of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit!

Of course, as we have seen, the ultimate source of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is God the Father. The Father has given to the Son, who now pours out the Spirit on us. So the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a work of the Triune God: each of the three persons of the Godhead is involved. Yet the focal point in our receiving of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is that we receive directly from Christ. That means that in seeking and receiving our attention is turned to Christ; Christ is glorified in His very pouring out of the Holy Spirit on His people.

Peter’s speech does not only tell us that Christ has ‘received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit’ (Acts 2:33) to pour out, but also why the Father has given this authority to Him. In the preceeding verses (Acts 2:22-32) Peter has spoken of the death and resurrection of Christ. He then continues: ‘Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit …’ (Acts 2:33). This authority which the Father has given to Christ is linked with His exaltation to the right hand of God, which in turn is a consequence (note the word ‘therefore’) of Christ’s death and resurrection. So, it's because Christ had died as the atoning sacrifice on the cross and had risen again that the Father gave Him ‘the promise of the Holy Spirit’. This means that the fact that we can be baptized in the Holy Spirit rests firmly upon the fact of Christ’s death on the Cross. The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is only possible because of the Cross! All the blessings of God’s grace come to us through Christ alone, and they all come because of the Cross.

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