One of Pastor Stam’s favorite jokes went something like this:
Teacher: “Johnny, what’s the difference between a pronoun and a preposition?”
Johnny: “Yeah, that’s what I say, what’s the difference!”
Despite Johnny’s indifference, we know there is a great deal of difference between pronouns and prepositions! These parts of speech are important, especially when it comes to Bible study. For instance, Pastor Stam once wrote:
“Not once does Paul in his epistles teach that members of the Body of Christ are baptized with or in the Spirit.”
In response to this, we sometimes get letters asking about this verse:
“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body…” (I Cor. 12:13).
But a close look will reveal an important difference in the preposition used in each case. The Apostle Paul taught that believers today are baptized “by” the Spirit, but Pastor Stam doesn’t say we’re not baptized by the Spirit, he says we are not baptized “with” the Spirit. No contradiction here!
Speaking of Christ, John the Baptist predicted:
“He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost” (Matt. 3:11).
This prophecy was fulfilled at Pentecost, where “they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues” (Acts 2:4). It is important to notice that Christ is the Baptizer here, and that He baptized people with the Spirit. This is often confused with I Corinthians 12:13, but in this passage the Spirit is the Baptizer, baptizing people into the Body. That’s quite different than what happened at Pentecost, where the Lord was the Baptizer, baptizing people with the Spirit, enabling them to speak in tongues.
This explains why believers today are not able to speak in languages they never studied, as they did at Pentecost, for we do not have their baptism. But if we do not have their baptism, we must also conclude that at Pentecost they did not have our baptism. That is, we are not baptized by Christ with the Spirit, and they were not baptized by the Spirit into the Body of Christ.
We realize this runs contrary to the common teaching that the Church began at Pentecost, where it is said that believers were first baptized into the Body, but we believe the difference in prepositions used in these passages is just one of many evidences that the Body of Christ began later, with the raising up of Paul.
You just can’t get by with mixing with and by!
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
“It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles.”
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you’ll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.