Baptism and Regeneration of the Spirit

Regeneration and the baptism of the Holy Spirit are inseparable and always simultaneous. Everyone who is regenerated is at the same time baptized by the Spirit into the Body of Christ, the Church—yet the two operations are distinct.

A careful consideration will show that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is not regeneration. The Spirit’s baptizing work places the believer “in Christ” (Rom 6:3, 4; Gal 3:27; 1Cor 12:13; Collossians 2:12), whereas regeneration results in Christ in the believer (John 17:23; Col 1:27; Rev 3:20). Regeneration imparts life. The baptism with the Spirit unites the life-possessing one to Christ and to those who possess life in Him. Did not the Lord Jesus refer to a distinction between these two operations of the Spirit as “Ye in Me” (baptism with the Spirit) and “I in you” (regeneration—John 14:20)?

The baptism with the Holy Spirit and regeneration are thus two complementary and yet distinct works of God, simultaneously and eternally wrought in the believer the moment he exercises saving faith in the Savoir. By regeneration the soul is quickened from death unto life (Eph 2:1-4). By the Spirit’s baptizing work the quickened soul is organically united to Christ as Head (Eph 1:22, 23) and to all other believers as members of one Body (God’s ecumenical Church—1Cor 12:12-27).

By regeneration the one exercising saving faith becomes a child of God (John 1:12, 13), is made a son in the Father’s house (Gal 3:26), becomes a partaker of the “divine nature” (2Pet 1:4), and becomes an heir of God and a joint-heir with Christ (Rom 8:16, 17). By the Spirit’s baptizing work the believing one is taken out of the old creation Adam, and placed eternally in the new creation in Christ (2Cor 5:17), the new federal Head, and all that Christ is and has done is imputed to the believer.

Like regeneration, the indwelling with the Spirit occurs simultaneously with the baptism with the Spirit, and yet is a distinct ministry of the Spirit.

The sealing with the Spirit, likewise, is a distinct operation, and occurs simultaneously with regeneration, the baptism and indwelling. Every child of God has been sealed with the Spirit into the time of full redemption and glorification of the body (Eph 1:13; 4:30; 2Cor 1:22), and is also anointed with the Spirit (2Cor 1:21; 1John 2:20, 27). The Spirit, as the Indweller, is the seal. The figure of the seal speaks of the stamp of the divine ownership as a result of the new creation in Christ Jesus, and it is the badge of eternal security. Those whom God stamps as His own, He pledges to keep as His own (John 10:28, 29 -NC).

By regeneration He gives us His own very life (Col 3:4 -NC). By the Spirit’s baptism He unites us indissoluble and vitally to Himself. By the indwelling He grants us His continual presence (Heb 13:5 -NC). By sealing He stamps us as His very own for all eternity (Rom 11:29 -NC).

- M F Unger

Devotional by Miles J Stanford