The Baptism in the Holy Spirit, by Witness Lee


The baptism in the Holy Spirit has already been accomplished, as seen in 1 Corinthians 12:13. “In one Spirit we were all baptized into one Body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free.” Notice that the verb is in the past tense. The baptism of the whole Body of Christ in the Holy Spirit is something which is already accomplished and still exists. It is not to be accomplished in the future or even in the present, but it has already been accomplished and still exists. It is the same principle as that which applies for the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus. If we would believe in Him, we need not ask Him to die again for us, because His redeeming death has already been accomplished. It is the same with the baptism in the Holy Spirit. This baptism has been thoroughly completed upon the Body and now exists upon the Body, ready for us to take. We need not ask the Lord to do something again to baptize us in the Holy Spirit. We have already been baptized by the Lord in the Holy Spirit in and with the Body. What we need to do now is simply to take what has already been accomplished!

The incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Christ are all accomplished facts, as well as His descension in the Spirit. The Lord has not only ascended to the heavens, but He has also descended upon His church in the Spirit. The real meaning of His descension is the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Ten days after His ascension, He descended in the Spirit to clothe His Body. Before this time the church was without authority and power. But now this wonderful Christ—who was incarnated, crucified, and resurrected—ascended to the heavens and was there enthroned. Everything was finished and accomplished, so He descended in the Spirit to clothe His Body as authority and power. The church was baptized in the Holy Spirit by this ascended and descended Christ. This is the baptism in the Holy Spirit which was accomplished on the day of Pentecost and in the house of Cornelius upon the Body of Christ. We must realize that we were all there! This baptism in the Holy Spirit is ours because we are members of this baptized Body. We need to read 1 Corinthians 12:13 again. “In one Spirit we were all baptized.” We have all been baptized already!

The Scripture tells us plainly that Christ died for our sins. And we are told just as plainly that we were already baptized in the Spirit. We know that the Scripture, as the Word of God, is called the Old and New Testaments. The Scripture is the testaments of God. The word testament really means “will,” and a will, or a testament, is more than a covenant. A covenant is similar to an agreement or a contract. In a contract certain things are promised if certain conditions are met. However, in a will everything is already accomplished. The Bible is not only a covenant telling us that God will do many things for us, but it is also a testament telling us that He has already done everything. All has been finished and accomplished, and He has put all in a will and now leaves it to us. A will can only be in force if the giver is dead. Christ, the Giver of the will, not only has died to make the will good, but as the resurrected Christ, He is also the Executor of the will. He was the Giver, and now He is the Executor! Everything in the Bible has already been accomplished; it is a will, a testament.

We know that Christ has died for our sins because in this will (the New Testament) we are told, as one of the items, that He has already died and all our sins were laid upon Him. We do not need to pray for several days and nights in order to be saved. No, we can be saved immediately by simply taking what the Lord has already accomplished and itemized in the will (the testament) of God. How may we know that we have been baptized in the Holy Spirit? By the same principle, there is another item in the will telling us, “In one Spirit we were all baptized.” The baptism in the Holy Spirit has not only been accomplished, but it has been passed on to us through the will. It is an item of the will that has been given to us. We need only take it.


Some Christians always insist that speaking in tongues is a necessary manifestation of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. But with two of the five cases in Acts—the Samaritans and Saul of Tarsus—nothing is mentioned about speaking in tongues. Students of the Scripture admit that many times what God does not mention is more meaningful than what He does mention. With two of these five cases, no specific manifestation is mentioned. This is an indication that tongue-speaking is not the only or the necessary manifestation of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Even with the other cases, there is no proof that all the believers spoke in tongues. Acts 19:6 states, “When Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.” Did every one of the twelve both speak in tongues and prophesy? It is possible but not probable. It is more probable that some did one and some did the other. So even here, tongues are not the only manifestation. Then Acts 2:4 says, “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues.” Not even this verse proves they all spoke in tongues. For example, when we say, “We all came to the meeting and began to pray,” do we mean that we all prayed? No! This is the same kind of composition. They all were filled with the Holy Spirit, but it is doubtful whether they all spoke in tongues. First Corinthians 12:29-30 asks, “Are all apostles? Are all prophets?...Do all speak in tongues?” The automatic answer to this question is that some do and some do not. Not all are apostles; neither do all speak in tongues. The Christians who insist on this matter interpret this verse as referring only to the exercise of the gifts. In the initial manifestation, they say, everyone must speak in tongues. But this is not logical! How could one speak in tongues as an initial manifestation but not in the exercise of the gifts?

The facts of history also have much to say about this matter. There have been many powerful and deeply spiritual persons over the centuries who have never spoken in tongues. Brother Watchman Nee has never spoken in tongues. Once, he sent me a cable with only the words, “Not all speak in tongues.” He has studied the Word very thoroughly. I have never met a man so well versed in the Scripture as he. He has found it unmistakably clear that “not all speak in tongues.” To insist that all must speak in tongues is unscriptural, but to say that speaking in tongues is dispensationally over is also wrong.

In the entire New Testament only a small proportion is given to speaking in tongues. It is not mentioned at all in Romans, one of the basic books of the Christian life. Neither is it mentioned in 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, or Colossians. It is not in 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2, and 3 John, Jude, or Revelation. In all of the Epistles of the New Testament it is only mentioned in 1 Corinthians. If our attitude is fair, we will admit that even in 1 Corinthians the apostle Paul speaks of tongues in the sense of limitation, adjustment, correction, and discouragement. In the very beginning of the book, he declares that Christ is our portion. Christ crucified is God’s power and wisdom, and God has made Him wisdom to us: both righteousness and sanctification and redemption. This means that He is our everything. Then in chapter 2 he says that he determined to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified. He tells the Corinthian believers that they all had the gifts (1:7), yet their spiritual condition was babyish and carnal, that is, fleshly and even fleshy (3:1-3). When he reaches chapter 13, he tells them of the “most excellent way” (12:31), the way of love. He says that even if we speak in the tongues of angels, without love—that means without life, because love is the expression of life—we become sounding brass. We make the sound, but we do not have the life. In chapter 14 Paul encourages us to seek the gifts which are most profitable for the building up of the church. If we read the entire book, we see that the matter of tongues is not touched in a positive way, but rather the contrary. Of course, in the Scripture, ground is given to the gift of tongues, but it is very limited.

(The Baptism in the Holy Spirit, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)