Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 21, 1951

Moses Lard And Holy Spirit Baptism

Robert H. Farish, Tarrant, Alabama

This is not intended, as the heading might be construed to suggest, to be an appeal to any human authority in religious matters but should serve as a warning to those who lean too heavily upon such authority.

Moses Lard has been claimed by some as believing and teaching that all Christians receive the "baptism of the Holy Spirit"—that the indwelling of the Spirit is the same thing that is called an immersion in the Spirit. Some today have wandered off into such error causing confusion and division and raising questions in the minds of brethren as to their safeness as preachers of the Word. If it be claimed that good has come of it by causing brethren to re-study and apply their minds to gaining more knowledge of the subject, I still doubt that the good accomplished offsets the harm done. The gain or loss occasioned by this discussion however is not the thing that I am interested in discussing in this article. This is written to prove that Lard did not believe that 1 Cor. 12:13 teaches that all Christians receive the Holy Spirit baptism.

It is certainly understandable that brethren today would think that Lard did believe and teach that all the righteous receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit in this life, if they have nothing to go on but his article called "Baptism in One Spirit,' which appeared in his quarterly. In this article he presents vigorous arguments favoring the view. But in the same issue there is a masterful article by brother J. W. McGarvey under the title "Immersion in the Holy Spirit." This article, to my mind, is a complete answer and refutation to the views set forth by brother Lard. Every one that has been confused by this revamped theory based on Lard's article should read brother McGarvey's article. But to the point that Lard did not understand 1 Cor. 12:13 to teach what he argues in his articles. These quotations from the collection of McGarvey's writings called "Biblical Criticisms" should throw enough light on this matter to make it clear. The article is found on page 253 and is dated Nov. 13, 1897.

"In One Spirit' "

"I answer the following question:

I read, years ago, your article in Lard's Quarterly on "By one Spirit are we all baptized into the one body,' etc. J. J. Haley claims for the Holy Spirit baptism. Have you changed your view, or do you believe now as you did then? —W. C. Rogers.

I remember the article referred to, but I long ago gave away the copy of the Quarterly which contained it, and I can not now consult it. The article had rather a sinful origin. Brother Lard and I agree (Emphasis mine, R.H.F.) as to the meaning of the passage; but he had some misgivings about it, so he made the proposal that I should write a defense of our interpretation; that he should make under an assumed name the strongest objections to it that he could, and that I should then make a short rejoinder. It has been so long since I read my article that I cannot now recall all the course of my argument, and I am not sure that I did not say some things that I would not now repeat; but my understanding of the apostle's meaning has undergone no change, and I will try to set it forth in brief.

As given in the Revised Version, the language of the text is this: "For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free; and were all made to drink of one Spirit.' (1 Cor. 12:13) Two facts in the past experience of the disciples are here set forth; first, that in one Spirit they had all been baptized into one body; and, second, that they had all been made to drink of one Spirit. I think that it will not be denied that the word "drink,' in the latter clause, is a metaphor for the enjoyment of the Holy Spirit; and that the reference is to that gift of the Holy Spirit promised to all who repent and are baptized. This enjoyment of the Spirit, which begins of course with its reception, is represented by the apostle as being preceded by the other fact that all had been in one Spirit baptized into one body. In other words, being baptized into the one body had preceded being made to drink of the one Spirit. Can the baptism then mean the baptism in the Holy Spirit? I think not; for he who is thus baptized begins in the act to drink of the Spirit, and this drinking would not be spoken of as a subsequent and separate experience.

It is well known that Paul, in a few instances, uses the expression, "in the Spirit,' for the state of one in whom the Spirit dwells; but it is also used to indicate the controlling guidance of the Holy Spirit; and the latter usage is more frequent than the former. What is more to the point, the latter usage is the one which prevails throughout the context of he passage under discussion. The introductory remark of the context is this: "Wherefore, I give you to understand that no man speaking in the Spirit of God saith Jesus is anathema; and no man can say Jesus is Lord, but in the Holy Spirit.' (v. 2) Now a man can say Jesus is Lord without being in the Holy Spirit in the sense of having the Holy Spirit dwelling in him; but he can not say it without the Holy Spirit as his guide to a knowledge of Jesus. The Spirit's guidance in the matter is exercised through the word of truth. Farther on the apostle adds: "For to one is given through the Spirit the word of wisdom; and to another the word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit; and to another the gift of healing, in the same Spirit' (vs. 8, 9); where the expressions "through the Spirit,' "according to the same Spirit,' and "in the same Spirit,' are equivalents, and all specify the action of the Holy Spirit in the several instances, and not the state of being in the Holy Spirit. If there could be any doubt of this, it would be removed by verse 11, which is a summary of the preceding specifications of the Spirit's work: "But all these worketh the one and the same Spirit, dividing to each one severally even as he will.' In such a connection, when the apostle adds, "in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body,' it appears incontrovertible that he is adding another specification of what the Holy Spirit does—that by its guidance, which was known to be exercised through the preached Word, the disciples had been baptized into the one body. The baptism could be understood by his readers only as the same by which they were baptized into Christ, and into his death; that is, the baptism in water.'

The exchange between Lard and McGarvey began to appear in the year 1864. This article from "Biblical Criticism' from which these portions are reproduced was written in 1897. Thirty three years intervened between the two. Thirty three years after the exchange occurred, J. J. Haley is confused and "claims for it Holy Spirit Baptism' and now, 54 years this side of the "explanation" we have brethren who "claim for it Holy Spirit Baptism.' For those so claiming, a re-reading of the entire article in "Biblical Criticism' is recommended.

What about the "debates' conducted at some of the colleges today? In these debates some deliberately take a false position—a position that they do not believe—and put forth great effort to uphold such in debate. Frequently those selected to "defend' error are men of aggressive personalities, carrying great weight and speaking with much assurance. Such is bound to impress young minds and could cause grave injury to the faith of some.