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Galatians 3:27-29 by Robert Dean
Series:Galatians (1998)
Duration:51 mins 32 secs

The Baptism With the HS; Gal. 3:27-29

The promise is ultimately made to Abraham and his seed (singular) who is identified in v.16 as the Lord Jesus Christ NASB "Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, 'And to seeds,' as {referring} to many, but {rather} to one, 'And to your seed,' that is, Christ." So we see that even though the plural word promises is talking about those promises encapsulated in the Abrahamic covenant they were spoken to Abraham and to his seed (singular). Verse 19 NASB "Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made." There we see that the promise is made to Abraham and his seed, which is the Lord Jesus Christ.

If we are going to understand this passage we must understand what promise means. The promised blessing comes by faith alone in Christ alone, v. 22 "…so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe." The promise in this passage is the promise of God the Holy Spirit, v. 14 NASB "in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." But there are seven distinct ministries of God the Holy Spirit to the believer, so to which one is it referring? We see in vv. 27 & 28 that it is the baptism of God the Holy Spirit.

What exactly is the baptism of God the Holy Spirit? The reason that this is important is that it is critical for understanding the nature and the dynamics of the spiritual life in the church age. There is a tremendous amount of confusion that has entered into Christianity over the last 150 years over identifying what is the nature of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Remember there are seven distinct ministries of God the Holy Spirit: a) Efficacious grace, i.e. when God the Holy Spirit takes the faith of the spiritually dead unbeliever and makes it efficacious for salvation; b) Regeneration. God the Holy Spirit creates and simultaneously imparts to the believer a new human spirit; c) The filling of the Holy Spirit, which is temporary—the believer can lose it, and recover it through the use of 1 John 1:9; d) Sealing of the Holy Spirit; e) Baptizing of the Holy Spirit; e) Bestowal of spiritual gifts at the moment of salvation; f) Indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13) occurs once at the moment of salvation. Every believer is identified with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection and is simultaneously created a new spiritual species capable of utilising divine power. At the moment of salvation the believer is placed into permanent union with Jesus Christ, positionally sanctified, which makes him a member of the body of Christ and positionally higher than the angels. This ministry of God the Holy Spirit is unique to the church age and is not ecstatics, emotional or experiential. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is occurs at the moment of salvation for every believer. It is not an experience, it is not an emotion, and it is not signified by speaking in tongues or any other phenomena. The baptism of the Holy Spirit, just like justification, is known to the believer only by subsequent study of the Word of God. Problem: Is there one baptism of the Holy Spirit or two? (Explained in the previous lesson). 

Galatians 3:27 NASB "For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ." There we have an aorist passive participle. Who performs the action of the verb? It is not stated. 1 Corinthians 12:13 NASB "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…" baptizo [baptizw] is the main verb—ebaptisthemen [e)baptisqhmen] is an aorist passive indicative of baptizo. Passive means that the subject is acted upon by someone. In an active voice the subject performs the action; in a passive voice the subject receives the action. Who is the subject of the verb in this verse? It isn't stated. We just have an agent, "by one spirit." That is a dative clause. So we go back to the very first mention of the baptism of the Holy Spirit in Mark 1:4 NASB "John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins…. [8] I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." The first use of the word "baptize" here is an aorist active indicative. John is performing the action of the verb, but then "he will baptise you" is a future active indicative, and who is the subject of "will baptize you? The subject is "he." Whoever "he" is performs the action of the verb—"he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit," en pneumati [e)n pneumati], the same phrase is in 1 Corinthians 12:13, "by one spirit," which doesn't state the subject of the verb, it states the one through whom the action is performed but not the agent, not the one who performs the action. This may seem like a minor point but the implications are critical for understanding the dynamics of the spiritual life and everything that God has for us. What we see in this prophecy is that John the Baptist is saying that Jesus Christ is the one who performs the action of baptism by means of the God the Holy Spirit.

A statement of the baptism of the Holy Spirit: "This occurs at the point of salvation when the person believes in Christ as their personal saviour. The Holy Spirit brings each believer into union with Christ." Who is the subject of that sentence? What is the verb? The verb is "brings into union." That is the meaning of baptism, to identify us with Christ. The meaning of baptism is always identification. Who performs the action of the verb in that sentence? God the Holy Spirit. Is that what Mark 1:8 says? "He [Jesus Christ] will baptise you with the Holy Spirit." Matthew 3:11 NASB "As for me, I baptize you with [by mean of] water for repentance…" John performs the action. John's baptism was for repentance [e)ij plus the accusative of metanoia] to signify identification of the coming of the messianic kingdom. "… but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He [Jesus Christ] will baptize you [future active indicative] with [e)n pneumati] the Holy Spirit and fire." The picture that John is presenting is that just as he takes somebody and plunges them into water to identify them with the new state of repentance, Jesus is going to take the new believer and metaphorically plunge them into the Holy Spirit—cleansing and identification with Christ—in order to identify them with Himself in terms of retroactive positional truth.

1 Corinthians 10:1, 2 NASB "For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all [the people] were baptized (aorist passive indicative) into (e)ij—what they are identified with) Moses in the cloud and in [en/ e)n clause] the sea." They are identified with by means of the cloud and the sea. This is a very technical formula in the Greek for stating baptism. There is a group who is baptized, someone who performs the action—subject of the active form of the verb—then there is the instrument used to perform the identification, indicated by an en clause, then the new state of identification indicated by an eis clause.

1 Corinthians 12:13 NASB "For by one Spirit [en pneumati—indicating the instrument used to perform baptism] we were all baptized [aorist passive indicative] into one body…" The one who performs the action is not mentioned in this verse at all because the emphasis isn't on Christ doing it. The emphasis that Paul is making in 1 Corinthians 12 is the unity of the body because the Corinthians were all divided and making a big issue out of their different spiritual gifts. "…whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit." Notice the similarity. There is no distinction between slave or free, Jew or Greek; we are all one, we have all partaken of the same thing.

Galatians 3:27 NASB "For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ." The words "into Christ" is our eis clause. That is the new state into which we are identified. We are identified with Christ and we clothe ourselves with Christ. So how do we understand baptism? Just as John the Baptist would use water symbolically to indicate the identification of this person with the new state, so Jesus Christ uses the Holy Spirit. Titus 3:5 NASB "He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit." Here we see how regeneration is related to the baptism of the Holy Spirit. They are not the same thing but they are related. Jesus Christ takes the believer, uses the Holy Spirit in cleansing and in regeneration, and in that process is how He identifies the believer with His own death, burial and resurrection. The result of that is the imputation of the righteousness of Christ.    

The result: Galatians 3:28 NASB "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." In other words, you Galatians have been mislead by the Judaisers and are still making an issue out Judaism. But because of what has happened at the cross and at Pentecost, because of this unique ministry of God the Holy Spirit, there is no longer racial/ethnic distinctions according to the Mosaic Law in the present church age.

Galatians 3:29 NASB "And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise." If you are a believer, then there are two conclusions: you are Abraham's offspring, and because you are Abraham's offspring you are heirs according to the promise. What promise is this? Verse 14 NASB "in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." So according to verse 29 if you belong to Christ you are a believer and an heir according to the promise, i.e. that you have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation. If we go through Acts—1:5; 2 at Pentecost; 11:16; 19:46—we will see that some passages there is speaking in tongues but in others there is the baptism of the Holy Spirit and no speaking in tongues. There is no set pattern in Acts. Acts is an historical book, a transitional book, and you never ever go through a historical or transitional book as the basis for doctrine. You can't go to Acts to find a solution, which is what the Pentecostals say, you go to the epistles.