Brother Sewell, I would like for you to write something on Matthew 3:11, “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.” There is “Holiness” woman preacher holding a meeting here that says that God pours out the Holy Ghost on them like he did on the apostles. They say the apostles made a mistake when they baptized in water. Some of our brethren seem to fall in with them and take a great hand with them. They say John baptized in water; but when his mission ceased, they say they were to be baptized with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.”
This was said of Christ and had reference to the miraculous inspiring power of the Holy Spirit that was to take place at the introduction of Christianity, which was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost and at the house of Cornelius. The apostles and the people at the house of Cornelius are the only ones ever baptized in the Holy Spirit, so far as the New Testament records. Others received gifts of the Spirit, but these are never called a “baptism of the Spirit.” None have been thus baptized in the Holy Spirit since that, so far as anybody knows.
The baptism of fire spoken of in the passage referred to was not connected with, nor was it any part of, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but means the unquenchable fire of eternal ruin, as is plainly shown in verse 12, when all the wicked shall be cast off into eternal punishment. For anyone to claim that the Spirit is poured out on anyone now as it was on the day of Pentecost only shows to what extremes error will lead people. To say the apostles made a mistake in baptizing people in water is to destroy, to set aside, the Holy Spirit and his teaching in the whole New Testament; for the Holy Spirit guided the apostles in teaching people to be baptized in water. Such a claim is based purely upon error, upon the false claim that anyone receives any sort of spiritual endowment now. It proves itself false by setting the word of God through the apostles at naught.
Elisha G. Sewell