Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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Who is the Body of Christ?
It is the clear, consistent teaching of the earliest community of believers that conversion does not precede the baptism of the holy Ghost. The receiving of the Spirit of God is the same as the baptism of the Spirit of God. In our time, the baptism of the Spirit is usually taught to be an experience subsequent to the new birth, making it sound heretical to declare the simple truth: the disciples were not converted before the day of Pentecost.
The Samaritans did not receive the Spirit until Peter and John came to lay their hands upon them so that they might be baptized with the holy Ghost. Paul was not converted on the road to Damascus; he was convicted of his sin on the road to Damascus. He was converted when Ananias came to him and laid his hands on him that he might receive the baptism of the Spirit.
Cornelius’ conversion and Spirit-baptism were also simultaneous. And when Paul met a group of disciples who had not received the Spirit, Paul’s response was “unto what then were you baptized?” He did not begin to explain to them that, because they had believed the gospel message, they already had the Spirit and now they must “release the power that’s already in you,” as some teach today. Paul asked them about baptism!
It is incontrovertibly Paul’s hallmark, his cross he bore for the body of Christ in his time, that by nothing but the baptism of the holy Ghost is any person a member of the body of Christ: “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body” (1Cor. 12:13). In other words, we are baptized into the body of Christ by the holy Ghost. “Baptized into Christ” is not a rare phrase for Paul to use, and for good reason; it is simply not true that we are converted before we are baptized into Christ. How can men teach that a person is saved before they are baptized with the holy Ghost, when Peter wrote that baptism is what saves us?
This knowledge of when a person is born again is fundamental to discerning the Lord’s body. This comes first. Before we can rightly see who is who within the body, we must know who is, and who is not in the body. There are countless Spirit-baptized believers today looking to non-Spirit baptized men to guide them and teach them. To say this another way, there are multitudes of born-again believers looking to unbelievers to guide them and teach them. This is the first cause of spiritual weakness, sickness, and premature death in the body of Christ.
When believers receive a person as being born again when he is not, they are failing to discern the body of Christ. That is being done by all but a few of God’s children today. Not knowing that the holy Ghost baptism is the new birth, most believers today receive those without the baptism as being brothers in Christ. This fellowship, this union of Christ and Belial, this mingling of light and darkness, produces most of the confusion, division, and sickness among the people of God today.
The truth about when a person receives the Spirit and is born again is the most important truth God’s people need to be taught at this time in history. It is their way out of the confusion and division of which they are now a part.