A Study of Biblical Basis of Spirit Baptism and Spirit-fullness/Herrick P. Liu

Herrick P. Liu 廖炳堂








Since the growth of the Pentecostal and Charismatic Movement is rapid around the world, it is important to re-examine the biblical basis of one of its central teaching: the doctrine of Spirit-Baptism/Fullness.

In this paper we argue that Luke did not intend to present patterns in Acts for formulating theological norms. The methodology of Pentecostals is in fact only a kind of induction from a sample of incidents from Acts. It is arbitrary to restrict the database to the so-called “five key passages. ” We demonstrate that when more incidents are taken into consideration, the conclusion on the nature, conditions and evidences of Spirit- Baptism/Fullness has to be completely different.

Second, it is important for evangelicals to consider more fully the Pentecostal claims on the independent status of Lukan theology on its own. Yet we still affirm that the foundation of Lukan theology rests on its didactic portions. The empowerment for ministry, although possible yet not necessary in supernatural mode, is normative for us to pursue. On the other hand, while Lukan incidents in Acts are not normative for us today, they are legitimate and anticipatory for us in some cases.

Third, Spirit-Baptism is different from Spirit-Filling in both Luke’s and Paul’s teaching. While Spirit-Baptism is given once-for-all at conversion-initiation, Spirit-Filling can be repetitive throughout the Christian life. The latter is a more biblical concept in interpreting any subsequent empowerment experience. While sometimes Spirit-Filling is an unconditional gift from God in special occasions, prayer, learning God’s truth and living by it will help us in experiencing Spirit-Fullness.

Lastly, both Luke’s and Paul’s teaching affirm the varieties in the manifestations of Spirit-Filling. The ultimate measurement of the maturity of our spiritual life is not on any specific mode of these manifestations, but on the extent of the fullness of Christ in us. Christ’s life, in its totality in both ethical-spiritual and functional dimension, is our unchangeable goal of spirituality.