This question is asked by Holger Neubauer, a preacher for a church of Christ in Michigan (as of the date of publishing), in a video published via social media (between roughly the 3-9 minute marks). At issue is the idea that “the gift of the Holy Spirit” in Acts 2:381 could be anything other than a miracle, akin to what’s recorded in Acts 84 and Acts 195.

After quoting Acts 2:38 and beginning verse 39, Holger Neubauer gives this explanation for Peter’s transition from “the gift” in verse 38 to “the promise” in verse 39, “Now the promise is the promise of salvation, the gift is the sealing or the guarantee of that salvation but the gift is not the promise.” He goes on to quote the rest of verse 39 and says, “Now that’s salvation. The promise refers directly back to the Abrahamic promise of Genesis 12:1-3 and the gift of the Holy Spirit is the confirmation that those promises would be delivered.” He continues to say the apostles laid hands on the 3,000 (*4:06) — something the text never says. He concludes by asking, “Why would God give the non-miraculous gift of the Spirit?!…The idea of a non-miraculous gift of the Spirit? That’s ridiculous!” (*8:35)

It’s a pretty simple answer…

How Scripture answers "Why does God give the non-miraculous gift of the Holy Spirit?"

God gives3,6,8,9,15 the non-miraculous gift of the Holy Spirit because He promised it7,11,12. It was part of His desire to dwell with His people6,11,13 and one of many of God’s great promises comprising man’s redemption1,2,7,9. The sending of His Son was also the Father’s great gift and promise. However, in Acts 2:38-391 it is the promise of “forgiveness of sin”11,12 and the promise of the Holy Spirit9,12,13 (e.g. “the gift of the Holy Spirit”8,9) that Peter directly connects to the great promise of salvation for everyone that’s baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus1,3,4,5,7,9.

Any attempt to disconnect the gift of God’s Spirit (e.g. the personal indwelling of the Spirit) for all “those who obey Him”3 would also require disconnecting “forgiveness of sin”. Doing that is a direct rejection of God’s grace since it is God who gives3,8,9,15 this non-miraculous gift of the Spirit, not an apostle through their laying on of hands! Jesus foretold what Peter announced1 when He said kingdom entrance would require being “born of water and the Spirit”2 – the one baptism14 for all God’s elect.

The bottom line: The non-miraculous gift of the Holy Spirit is foundational to God’s promise(s)6,7,9,11,12,13. God’s gift of the Spirit1,3,8,12,15 through rebirth2,14 (e.g. water baptism) is what makes one holy and sanctified7,10,15 for His dwelling6,11,12,13.

Non-miraculous Gift of the SpiritMiraculous Gifts of the Spirit
For the benefit of whom?The individual1,2,3 for their salvationOthers for their confidence that the message was from God
Administered by whom?God3,8,9,15 when one is baptized in the name of Jesus Christ1,2,9Apostles, when they laid hands on someone4,5
For what purpose?Making one holy for God’s dwelling7,11,12,13 and sanctification of the individual7,10Confirming the authority and words of God’s messengers
In effect when?With the new covenant1,2,11 until He returns9,10Ended once the word was fully confirmed (1st century)
The AD70 doctrine (“Preterism”) is an insidious false doctrine that twists just about every basic principle of the New Covenant. It takes very plain and simple to understand statements and contorts them into a pretzel of confusing rhetoric (which probably explains why they will only substantially engage in a “public debate”).

In this case, it’s the Holy Spirit falling victim to the preterist’s convoluted logic and parsing of scripture. This doctrine robs the modern Christian of their Comforter and Helper. This “other baptism” denies converts of God’s desire and long-promised gift.

A broader set of questions are arranged around this false doctrine, but here are some specific to this misguided preterist’s twisting of Peter’s clear statement in Acts. The following deploy even more scripture, all of which fit together harmoniously to present a proper understanding of the Holy Spirit for a new covenant Christian.

  • What is the promise of the Holy Spirit? – goes hand-in-hand with Holger’s question
  • Where is the Holy Spirit dwelling today? – in every baptized believer, not just those ‘pre-AD70’ as taught by Holger (“Those who are baptized before AD70, and those who are baptized after AD70.”)
  • What does the Holy Spirit do for the Christian today? – all of these forced to be profoundly (and sadly) lacking for today’s Christian with the Preterist’s false doctrine
  • What was the purpose for miracles? – concluded since the word has been fully revealed; together with those miraculous “gifts” of the Holy Spirit (not to be confused with Peter’s “gift” of the Holy Spirit1) they served OTHERS to confirm the word of God’s messengers. The “gift” is for ALL that obey3 and continues today just as it did for those in Acts 2:38-391; the “gifts” were for the benefit of OTHERS and ceased when their purpose was fulfilled.

Answer built on scripture-blocks below

Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, Brothers, what shall we do? And Peter said to them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.

When they heard the preaching of Peter and the rest of the apostles, they were convicted by them and asked what they should do [to be saved].  Peter told them that they each should repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ so that they could receive the remission of their sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.  This “gift” was the promise made for all Jews, but also all Gentiles — everyone whom God calls to himself.

Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost where he recalled several prophetic statements from Joel and David (vss 16-36). By divine inspiration, Peter interpreted these statements to apply their fulfillment to Jesus and the ushering in of the “last days”.

He also specifically refers to the “promise of the Holy Spirit” earlier – given by the Father to the Son (vs 33). More were continuing to be saved and they began meeting together as the Lord’s church (vss 41-47).

Scripture-block application to this question

Peter says to repent and be baptized for the (1) forgiveness of your sins, and (2) gift of the Holy Spirit. Collectively, this is “the promise” of salvation for “everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Himself.” Salvation is both forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. They are a package made available to anyone that obeys2,3 in baptism.

(Holger Neubauer says “The ‘gift’ is not the ‘promise'” (*3:40) but Peter makes no such delineation.)

Jesus answered him, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus said to him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born? Jesus answered, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
Jesus answered him [Nicodemus] with a truism in stating that one must be born again to see the kingdom of God.  Nicodemus didn’t understand and asked how someone who is old could be born again as he couldn’t enter back into his mother’s womb.  Jesus answered by expounding on the same truth adding that unless one is born of water and the Spirit [born again] he cannot enter [see] the kingdom of God.
Jesus is approached at night (in secret) by Nicodemus, a Pharisee and “ruler of the Jews” (vs 1).
Scripture-block application to this question

Jesus tells Nicodemus that in order to see the kingdom of God, one must be reborn. Specifically, they must be “born of water and the Spirit.”

The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.

You [High Priest and Jewish Council] killed Jesus by hanging Him on a cross, but the God of our ancestors raised Him and exalted him at His right hand as Leader and Savior, thereby bringing Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins.  We [apostles], together with the Holy Spirit – who God, the Father, has given to all that obey Him – are witnesses to these things.

In the early days of the Christian movement and God’s establishment of His “new covenant,” the apostles are carrying the message of the gospel across Jerusalem and Judea.  Being confronted by the Jewish leadership (vs 27), as often they were, Peter tells them, “We must obey God rather than men” (vs 29) and witnesses to them about the things he and the others have seen with their eyes.  In this case, Peter may be specifically referring back to witnessing the transfiguration of Jesus documented in Acts 1.

Scripture-block application to this question

God gives His Holy Spirit to all/anyone/everyone that obeys Him.

Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.

The apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God. They sent Peter and John in order to pray and lay their hands on them so they could receive the Holy Spirit — He had not yet fallen on them because they had only been baptized in the name Jesus. So they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. When Simon saw this he offered the apostles money so he too could impart this power.

The disciples scattered from Jerusalem (vss 2,4) following the stoning of Stephen (chapter 7). As a result, there were Samaritans, including a ‘sorcerer’ named Simon, who had been baptized (apparently by Philip from Acts 6). While “the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did” (vs 6), Simon’s magic was apparently a distraction or even a competition. “They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the power of God that is called Great.” (vs 10)

Scripture-block application to this question

The specific issue in question here is the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit, which was only “given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands.” The text is clear that these were baptized believers. Therefore, they had forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit1 (unlike what Paul found in Ephesus5). What they were lacking were the miraculous gifts of the Spirit since an apostle had not yet laid hands on them.

And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. And he said to them, Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? And they said, No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit. And he said, Into what then were you baptized? They said, Into John’s baptism. And Paul said, John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus. On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying.
While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed inland and came to Ephesus. There he found some converts and asked if they received the Holy Spirit when they had believed.  They had not and didn’t even know there was a Holy Spirit.  So Paul asked what they had been baptized into?  They said John’s baptism.  Paul then explained the difference between John’s baptism and Jesus’ baptism – that the former was only of repentance and pointing toward Jesus.  When they heard this, they were baptized into Jesus.  At that point, Paul laid his hands on them which gave them the power of the Holy Spirit – to speak in tongues and prophesy.
Paul is on his third missionary journey in 52AD.

Scripture-block application to this question

Paul finds disciples and wants to determine their saved state. His first question was, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” Unlike the disciples in Samaria4 who had already been “baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus”, these disciples had only been baptized “into John’s baptism”. Paul equates one knowing that they’ve “received the Holy Spirit” with the same initial state of one’s conversion. Since they had “not even heard that there was a Holy Spirit,” Paul “baptized them in the name of the Lord Jesus” (for the forgiveness of their sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit1). Now with his first question properly answered and them being cleansed and made holy, only then does Paul lay his hands on them so that “they began speaking in tongues and prophesying” (e.g. miraculous gifts of the Spirit).

What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”

God’s temple has nothing to do with idols.  We  are God’s temple, just as He said that He would make His dwelling among us and go with us as our God and His people.  Therefore He says we must separate ourselves from idols/the world and touch nothing unclean in order that He will welcome us as a father welcomes his children.

Paul has dealt with numerous issues that have sown division and discord among the Christians in Corinth. In this chapter/section, he addresses yet another problem — apparently, some have negatively influenced the church to the extent that they were false teaching.

Paul cites several passages from the Law and Prophets and combines them together here to apply to first-century Christians (which he has every right to do as an inspired writer). The quotes and references include but are not limited to:

  • Vs 16 – Leviticus 26:12, Exodus 6:7, 29:45, Jeremiah 31:33, Ezekiel 11:20, Zechariah 2:10-11
  • Vs 17 – Isaiah 52:11, Ezekiel 20:34, Zephaniah 3:20
  • Vs 18 – Isaiah 43:6-7, Jeremiah 31:9-10, Hosea 1:10
Scripture-block application to this question

Paul iterates the fact that the Christian individually (and church collectively) is the “temple of the living God” based on “promises”7 made by God through several prophets (including several listed here11,12,13).

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

Brethren, due to these promises let’s remove any sin from our body and spirit in order to perfect holiness in accord with God’s will.

Paul has dealt with numerous issues that have sown division and discord among the Christians in Corinth. In this chapter/section, he addresses yet another problem — apparently, some have negatively influenced the church to the extent that they were false teaching.

This verse concludes the argument Paul was making (6:14-18) about them maintaining fellowship with “unbelievers” (6:14) and that contradicts God’s desire and the promises He made to:

  • “make my dwelling among them” (6:16)
  • “be separate” so that “I will welcome you” (6:17)
  • “be a father to you” (6:18)
Scripture-block application to this question

Continuing his thought6, Paul confirms God’s “dwelling” as a promise from God and integral to a Christian’s motivation to “cleanse ourselves from every defilement”.

And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

God established a fellowship of the saints through Jesus and sealed it by the Holy Spirit, who was given in our hearts as a down payment.

Actually Paul’s third letter (13:1) to the church at Corinth, writing to them defending his apostleship and also rejoicing in their handling of the some of the issues/sin he dealt with in 1 Corinthians (his second letter).

Scripture-block application to this question

Paul testifies to God’s gift of the Spirit (e.g. “anointed us”) in baptism1 and reiterates the promise He made through the prophets11,12,13.

(Holger Neubauer says, “The sealing, and the anointing, and the guarantee are synonymous expressions.” (*4:18) Yes, but “anointing” doesn’t have to mean “miraculous” and Paul makes no such assertion or implication.)

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed of the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
When you [Gentiles] heard the word and believed, you were marked and sealed with the Holy Spirit who had been promised – the believer’s down payment to the eventual inheritance and full redemption.

The opening of Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus ends with a long list of spiritual blessings they have in Christ. The culmination of his list of blessings “in Christ” applies to both Jews (vs 12) as well as Gentiles (“you also”).

Scripture-block application to this question

Paul summarizes the Ephesian Christian’s salvation experience, which is exactly as those in Jerusalem experienced1. They heard the word, believed, and obeyed in baptism (i.e. “they were marked and sealed with the promised Holy Spirit”). This “gift of the Holy Spirit”1 for the saved individual is “the believer’s down payment” for “full redemption” when He returns.

(A passage that’s especially problematic for Holger Neubauer since he must force some kind of interpretation that justifies the preterist’s core belief that Jesus already returned. Note that the conclusion is made before the natural reading of the passage and its perfect harmony with the rest of scripture.)

But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We should give thanks to God [the Father] in the name and authority of Jesus [the Son] since He chose you to be saved through the setting apart by the Spirit and belief in the gospel. This salvation is what He called you to by the gospel message we had preached, and its end is glorification with our Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul’s second letter to the church in Thessalonica where he warns them about coming destructive forces to the faithful – those that succumb even being helped by God who “sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false,”. (vs 11)

Scripture-block application to this question

Those that are saved are those that believed the word (e.g. “truth”) and were set apart or made holy (e.g. “sanctification”) by the Spirit. This salvation is so that one might “obtain the glory of…Christ” upon His return.

(A passage that’s especially problematic for Holger Neubauer since he must force some kind of interpretation that justifies the preterist’s core belief that Jesus already returned. Note that the conclusion is made before the natural reading of the passage and its perfect harmony with the rest of scripture.)

Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, Know the Lord, for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

The Lord says there is a time when He will make a new covenant with the Israel and Judah, unlike the covenant made with their fathers after coming out of Egypt.  They broke that one, even though they entered it with God.  The new covenant coming in later days will be written on their hearts.  It will be known that He is their God and they are His people.  He will forgive their sins, and remember them no more.

Jeremiah’s book of prophecy as the people of Judah (the northern tribes of Israel already long lost to Assyrian captivity) are faced with Babylonian captivity.  Jeremiah’s main message (from God) is that they should not resist and they will be there for seventy years.  However, for this specific question the context around this passage is critical and actually begins back in chapter 30.  It’s there where several references to these “last days” are referenced by the prophet:

  • “For behold, days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will restore the fortunes of my people, Israel and Judah, says the Lord, and I will bring them back to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall take possession of it.” (30:3)
  • “And it shall come to pass in that day, declares the Lord of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off your neck, and I will burst your bonds, and foreigners shall no more make a servant of him. 9 But they shall serve the Lord their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.” (30:8-9)
  • “The fierce anger of the Lord will not turn back until he has executed and accomplished the intentions of his mind. In the latter days you will understand this. At that time, declares the Lord, I will be the God of all the clans of Israel, and they shall be my people.” (30:24-31:1)
  • “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and the seed of beast. 28 And it shall come to pass that as I have watched over them to pluck up and break down, to overthrow, destroy, and bring harm, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, declares the Lord.” (31:27-28)
  • In those days they shall no longer say: ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’ But everyone shall die for his own sin. Each man who eats sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge.” (31:29-30)
  • “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when the city shall be rebuilt for the Lord from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate. And the measuring line shall go out farther, straight to the hill Gareb, and shall then turn to Goah. The whole valley of the dead bodies and the ashes, and all the fields as far as the brook Kidron, to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be sacred to the Lord. It shall not be uprooted or overthrown anymore forever.” (31:38-40)
Scripture-block application to this question

The promise of a new covenant between God and His people when He will put His law “within them” and it will be written “on their hearts.” He also promises the forgiveness of sins.

I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

I will sprinkle clean water on you to remove all sin and idols from you. And I will give you a new heart and a new spirit that I will put in you, removing the heart of stone from you.  And I will put my Spirit inside you to execute/govern (Heb: “cause”) your walk in my covenant.

Ezekiel spoke God’s words during the Babylonian captivity – after the destruction of Jerusalem and Solomon’s temple.  Interspersed with his encourage and preaching to God’s people of that day are many references to a time that God promises a true shepherd to care for them (34:13-15), a return of “my servant David” (34:23-24, 37:24), a convenant of peace (34:25), a gathering of a single nation to their land (36:24, 37:14, 22).

Scripture-block application to this question

God through Ezekiel promises a time when He will put His Spirit in His people – specifically, those that “obey My rules.”

Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for behold, I come and I will dwell in your midst, declares the Lord. And many nations shall join themselves to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people. And I will dwell in your midst, and you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you.

Sing and rejoice, daughter of Zion, because I [God] will dwell among you. All people from all nations will join themselves to Me in that day and shall be My people. I will dwell in your midst, and you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent Me to you.

Zechariah prophesied to those Jews that returned to the land after the seventy years of Babylonian captivity.

Scripture-block application to this question

God promises through the prophet Zechariah that He will dwell among His people which will include “many nations” (e.g. Gentiles).

There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

There is one body and one Spirit.  Likewise, you were called to one hope that is your calling.  There’s also only one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of all who is over, through, and in all.

Paul is turning to urge the brethren to be unified and to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling”  to which they were called (vs 1).  He is encouraging them to do so humbly and in love (vs 2) while remembering the grace that has been given to each one (vs 7).

Scripture-block application to this question

There is only one baptism that belongs to or is part of God’s call.

For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

God has called us to be holy and not to be impure.  Therefore, whoever chooses to disregard this is disregarding the very God that has given his Holy Spirit to you.

Paul is giving his final admonitions in his letter to the Thessalonians and imploring them to remain sanctified especially avoiding sexual immorality (vs 3).

Scripture-block application to this question

God is the one that gives the Holy Spirit.

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