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The baptism of the Great Commission was a command for everyone in all the world who would choose to believe (see Mark 16:15,16; Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Romans 6:3,4; Galatians 3:27; 1 Peter 3:21). It is administered by men for salvation from sin. Each individual must choose for himself whether or not to receive it. As such, it is still essential to every person today. The element in this baptism is water (Acts 8:35-39; 10:47,48).
The element in Holy Spirit baptism is, of course, the Holy Spirit. A study of Acts 1:3-8 shows the following points about Holy Spirit baptism: It was promised to only a few; it was never a command, but a promise. It was never offered to all people but only to a few. Only two Bible accounts are called Holy Spirit baptism: the apostles on Pentecost (Acts 2) and Cornelius' household in Acts 10. God determined who would receive it; it was not up to men to choose whether or not they would receive it. It was not administered by men, but was sent directly from the Lord in heaven. It was never necessary to salvation, but was given in the age before the Bible was completed for the purpose of bestowing miraculous gifts to enable men to speak God's word by direct revelation and/or to confirm inspired revelation by means of miracles. Whenever it was given, apostles were always directly involved. Since there are no apostles today (Acts 1:21.22), it cannot be received today by anyone. Now that the Bible has been completed, Holy Spirit baptism has fulfilled its purpose and ceased.
It follows from the above information that the baptism of the Great Commission is water baptism and is the "one baptism" still in effect (Eph. 4:4-6). Every accountable individual on earth needs to receive it. But Holy Spirit baptism has ceased to be practiced and no one on earth can receive it today.
(c) Copyright David E. Pratte, 3/2007
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Scripture quotations are generally from the New King James Version (NKJV), copyright 1982, 1988 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. used by permission. All rights reserved.