Those who are thus led by the Spirit of God are "sons of God," that is, they are not merely children of God, born it is true of the Father, but immature, but they are the grown children, the mature children of God; they are no longer babes but sons. The Apostle Paul draws a contrast in Gal. iv. 1-7 between the babe under the tutelage of the law and differing nothing from a servant, and the full grown son who is no more a servant but a son walking in joyous liberty. It sometimes seems as if comparatively few Christians to-day had really thrown off the bondage of law, rules outside themselves, and entered into the joyous liberty of sons.
CHAPTER XV. THE HOLY SPIRIT BEARING WITNESS TO OUR SONSHIP.
One of the most precious passages in the Bible regarding the work of the Holy Spirit is found in Rom. viii. 15, 16, R. V., "For ye received not the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father. The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." There are two witnesses to our sonship, first, our own spirit, taking God at His Word ("As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God," John i. 12), bears witness to our sonship. Our own spirit unhesitatingly affirms that what God says is true that we are sons of God because God says so. But there is another witness to our sonship, namely, the Holy Spirit. He bears witness together with our spirit. "Together with" is the force of the Greek used in this passage. It does not say that He bears witness to our spirit but "together with" it. How He does this is explained in Gal iv. 6, "Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." When we have received Jesus Christ as our Saviour and accepted God's testimony concerning Christ that through Him we have become sons, the Spirit of His Son comes into our hearts filling them with an overwhelming sense of sonship, and crying through our hearts, "Abba, Father." The natural attitude of our hearts towards God is not that of sons. We may call Him Father with our lips, as when for example we repeat in a formal way, the prayer that Jesus taught us, "Our Father, which art in heaven," but there is no real sense that He is our Father. Our calling Him so is mere words. We do not really trust Him. We do not love to come into His presence; we do not love to look up into His face with a sense of wonderful joy and trust because we are talking to our Father. We dread God. We come to Him in prayer because we think we ought to and perhaps we are afraid of what might happen if we did not. But when the Spirit of His Son bears witness together with our spirit to our sonship, then we are filled and thrilled with the sense that we are sons. We trust Him as we never even trusted our earthly Father. There is even less fear of Him than there was of our earthly father. Reverence there is, awe, but oh! such a sense of wonderful childlike trust.
Notice when it is that the Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. We have the order of experience in the order of the verses in Rom. viii. First we see the Holy Spirit setting us free from the law of sin and death, and consequently, the righteousness of the law fulfilled in us who walk not after the law but after the Spirit (vs. 2-4); then we have the believer not minding the things of the flesh but the things of the Spirit (v. 5); then we have the believer day by day through the Spirit putting to death the deeds of the body (v. 13); then we have the believer led by the Spirit of God; then and only then, we have the Spirit bearing witness to our sonship. There are many seeking the witness of the Spirit to their sonship in the wrong place. They practically demand the witness of the Spirit to their sonship before they have even confessed their acceptance of Christ, and certainly before they have surrendered their lives fully to the control of the indwelling Spirit of God. No, let us seek things in their right order. Let us accept Jesus Christ as our Saviour, and surrender to Him as our Lord and Master, because God commands us to do so; let us confess Him before the world because God commands that (Matt. x. 32, 33; Rom. x. 9, 10); let us assert that our sins are forgiven, that we have eternal life, that we are sons of God because God says so in His Word and we are unwilling to make God a liar by doubting Him (Acts x. 43; xiii. 38, 39; 1 John v. 10-13; John v. 24; John i. 12); let us surrender our lives to the control of the Spirit of Life, looking to Him to set us free from the law of sin and death; let us set our minds, not upon the things of the flesh but the things of the Spirit; let us through the Spirit day by day put to death the deeds of the body; let us give our lives up to be led by the Spirit of God in all things; and then let us simply trust God to send the Spirit of His Son into our hearts filling us with a sense of sonship, crying, "Abba, Father," and He will do it.
God, our Father, longs that we shall know and realize that we are His sons. He longs to hear us call Him Father from hearts that realize what they say, and that trust Him without a fear or anxiety. He is our Father, He alone in all the universe realizes the fullness of meaning that there is in that wonderful word "Father," and it brings joy to Him to have us realize that He is our Father and to call Him so.
Some years ago there was a father in the state of Illinois, who had a child who had been deaf and dumb from her birth. It was a sad day in that home when they came to realize that that little child was deaf and would never hear and, as they thought, would never speak. The father heard of an institution in Jacksonville, Ill., where deaf children were taught to talk. He took this little child to the institution and put her in charge of the superintendent. After the child had been there some time, the superintendent wrote telling the father that he would better come and visit his child. A day was appointed and the child was told that her father was coming. As the hour approached, she sat up in the window, watching the gate for her father to pass through. The moment he entered the gate she saw him, ran down the stairs and ran out on the lawn, met him, looked up into his face and lifted up her hands and said, "Papa." When that father heard the dumb lips of his child speak for the first time and frame that sweet word "Papa," such a throb of joy passed through his heart that he literally fell to the ground and rolled upon the grass in ecstasy. But there is a Father who loves as no earthly father, who longs to have His children realize that they are children, and when we look up into His face and from a heart which the Holy Spirit has filled with a sense of sonship call Him "Abba" (papa), "Father," no language can describe the joy of God.
CHAPTER XVI. THE HOLY SPIRIT AS A TEACHER.
Our Lord Jesus in His last conversation with His disciples before His crucifixion said, "But the Comforter which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (John xiv. 26).
Here we have a twofold work of the Holy Spirit, teaching and bringing to remembrance the things which Christ had already taught. We will take them in the reverse order.
I. The Holy Spirit brings to remembrance the words of Christ.
This promise was made primarily to the Apostles and is the guarantee of the accuracy of their report of what Jesus said; but the Holy Spirit does a similar work with each believer who expects it of Him, and who looks to Him to do it. The Holy Spirit brings to our mind the teachings of Christ and of the Word just when we need them for either the necessities of our life or of our service. Many of us could tell of occasions when we were in great distress of soul or great questioning as to duty or great extremity as to what to say to one whom we were trying to lead to Christ or to help, and at that exact moment the very Scripture we needed—some passage it may be we had not thought of for a long time and quite likely of which we had never thought in this connection—was brought to mind. Who did it? The Holy Spirit did it. He is ready to do it even more frequently, if we only expect it of Him and look to Him to do it. It is our privilege every time we sit down beside an inquirer to point him to the way of life to look up to the Holy Spirit and say, "Just what shall I say to this inquirer? Just what Scripture shall I use?" There is a deep significance in the fact that in the verse immediately following this precious promise Jesus says, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you." It is by the Spirit bringing His words to remembrance and teaching us the truth of God that we obtain and abide in this peace. If we will simply look to the Holy Spirit to bring to mind Scripture just when we need it, and just the Scripture we need, we shall indeed have Christ's peace every moment of our lives. One who was preparing for Christian work came to me in great distress. He said he must give up his preparation for he could not memorize the Scriptures. "I am thirty-two years old," he said, "and have been in business now for years. I have gotten out of the habit of study and I cannot memorize anything." The man longed to be in his Master's service and the tears stood in his eyes as he said it. "Don't be discouraged," I replied. "Take your Lord's promise that the Holy Spirit will bring His words to remembrance, learn one passage of Scripture, fix it firmly in your mind, then another and then another and look to the Holy Spirit to bring them to your remembrance when you need them." He went on with his preparation. He trusted the Holy Spirit. Afterwards he took up work in a very difficult field, a field where all sorts of error abounded. They would gather around him on the street like bees and he would take his Bible and trust the Holy Spirit to bring to remembrance the passages of Scripture that he needed and He did it. His adversaries were filled with confusion, as he met them at every point with the sure Word of God, and many of the most hardened were won for Christ.
II. The Holy Spirit will teach us all things.
There is a still more explicit promise to this effect two chapters further on in John xvi. 12, 13, 14, R. V. Here Jesus says, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He shall guide you into all the truth: for He shall not speak from Himself; but what things soever He shall hear, these shall He speak: and He shall declare unto you the things that are to come. He shall glorify Me: for He shall take of Mine, and shall declare it unto you." This promise was made in the first instance to the Apostles, but the Apostles themselves applied it to all believers (1 John ii. 20, 27).
It is the privilege of each believer in Jesus Christ, even the humblest, to be "taught of God." Each humblest believer is independent of human teachers—"Ye need not that any teach you" (1 John ii. 27, R. V.). This, of course, does not mean that we may not learn much from others who are taught of the Holy Spirit. If John had thought that he would never have written this epistle to teach others. The man who is the most fully taught of God is the very one who will be most ready to listen to what God has taught others. Much less does it mean that when we are taught of the Spirit, we are independent of the written Word of God; for the Word is the very place to which the Spirit, who is the Author of the Word, leads His pupils and the instrument through which He instructs them (Eph. vi. 17; John vi. 33; Eph. v. 18, 19; cf. Col. iii. 16). But while we may learn much from men, we are not dependent upon them. We have a Divine Teacher, the Holy Spirit.
We shall never truly know the truth until we are thus taught directly by the Holy Spirit. No amount of mere human teaching, no matter who our teachers may be, will ever give us a correct and exact and full apprehension of the truth. Not even a diligent study of the Word either in the English or in the original languages will give us a real understanding of the truth. We must be taught directly by the Holy Spirit and we may be thus taught, each one of us. The one who is thus taught will understand the truth of God better even if he does not know one word of Greek or Hebrew, than the one who knows Greek and Hebrew thoroughly and all the cognate languages as well, but who is not taught of the Spirit.
The Spirit will guide the one whom He thus teaches "into all the truth." The whole sphere of God's truth is for each one of us, but the Holy Spirit will not guide us into all the truth in a single day, nor in a week, nor in a year, but step by step. There are two especial lines of the Spirit's teaching mentioned:
(1) "He shall declare unto you the things that are to come." There are many who say we can know nothing of the future, that all our thoughts on that subject are guesswork. It is true that we cannot know everything about the future. There are some things which God has seen fit to keep to Himself, secret things which belong to Him (Deut. xxix. 29). For example, we cannot "know the times, or the seasons" of our Lord's return (Acts i. 7), but there are many things about the future which the Holy Spirit will reveal to us.
(2) "He shall glorify Me (that is, Christ) for He shall take of Mine and shall declare it unto you." This is the Holy Spirit's especial line of teaching with the believer, as with the unbeliever, Jesus Christ. It is His work above all else to reveal Jesus Christ and to glorify Him. His whole teaching centres in Christ. From one point of view or the other, He is always bringing us to Jesus Christ. There are some who fear to emphasize the truth about the Holy Spirit lest Christ Himself be disparaged and put in the background, but there is no one who magnifies Christ as the Holy Spirit does. We shall never understand Christ, nor see His glory until the Holy Spirit interprets Him to us. No amount of listening to sermons and lectures, no matter how able, no amount of mere study of the Word even, would ever give us to see "the things of Christ"; the Holy Spirit must show us and He is willing to do it and He can do it. He is longing to do it. The Holy Spirit's most intense desire is to reveal Jesus Christ to men. On the day of Pentecost when Peter and the rest of the company were "filled with the Holy Spirit," they did not talk much about the Holy Spirit, they talked about Christ. Study Peter's sermon on that day; Jesus Christ was his one theme, and Jesus Christ will be our one theme, if we are taught of the Spirit; Jesus Christ will occupy the whole horizon of our vision. We will have a new Christ, a glorious Christ. Christ will be so glorious to us that we will long to go and tell every one about this glorious One whom we have found. Jesus Christ is so different when the Spirit glorifies Him by taking of His things and showing them unto us.
III. The Holy Spirit reveals to us the deep things of God which are hidden from and are foolishness to the natural man.
We read in 1 Cor. ii. 9-13, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual." This passage, of course, refers primarily to the Apostles but we cannot limit this work of the Spirit to them. The Spirit reveals to the individual believer the deep things of God, things which human eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, things which have not entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. It is evident from the context that this does not refer solely to heaven, or the things to come in the life hereafter. The Holy Spirit takes the deep things of God which God hath prepared for us, even in the life that now is, and reveals them to us.
IV. The Holy Spirit interprets His own revelation. He imparts power to discern, know and appreciate what He has taught.
In the next verse to those just quoted we read, "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor. iii. 14). Not only is the Holy Spirit the Author of revelation, the written Word of God: He is also the Interpreter of what He has revealed. Any profound book is immeasurably more interesting and helpful when we have the author of the book right at hand to interpret it to us, and it is always our privilege to have the author of the Bible right at hand when we study it. The Holy Spirit is the Author of the Bible and He stands ready to interpret its meaning to every believer every time he opens the Book. To understand the Book, we must look to Him, then the darkest places become clear. We often need to pray with the Psalmist of old, "Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law" (Ps. cxix. 18). It is not enough that we have the revelation of God before us in the written Word to study, we must also have the inward illumination of the Holy Spirit to enable us to apprehend it as we study. It is a common mistake, but a most palpable mistake, to try to comprehend a spiritual revelation with the natural understanding. It is the foolish attempt to do this that has landed so many in the bog of so-called "Higher Criticism." In order to understand art a man must have aesthetic sense as well as the knowledge of colours and of paint, and a man to understand a spiritual revelation must be taught of the Spirit. A mere knowledge of the languages in which the Bible was written is not enough. A man with no aesthetic sense might as well expect to appreciate the Sistine Madonna, because he is not colour blind, as a man who is not filled with the Spirit to understand the Bible, simply because he understands the vocabulary and the laws of grammar of the languages in which the Bible was written. We might as well think of setting a man to teach art because he understood paints as to set a man to teach the Bible because he has a thorough understanding of Greek and Hebrew. In our day we need not only to recognize the utter insufficiency and worthlessness before God of our own righteousness, which is the lesson of the opening chapters of the Epistle to the Romans, but also the utter insufficiency and worthlessness in the things of God of our own wisdom, which is the lesson of the First Epistle to the Corinthians, especially the first to the third chapters. (See for example 1 Cor. i. 19-21, 26, 27.)
The Jews of old had a revelation by the Spirit but they failed to depend upon the Spirit Himself to interpret it to them, so they went astray. So Christians to-day have a revelation by the Spirit and many are failing to depend upon the Holy Spirit to interpret it to them and so they go astray. The whole evangelical church recognizes theoretically at least the utter insufficiency of man's own righteousness. What it needs to be taught in the present hour, and what it needs to be made to feel, is the utter insufficiency of man's wisdom. That is perhaps the lesson which this twentieth century of towering intellectual conceit needs most of any to learn. To understand God's Word, we must empty ourselves utterly of our own wisdom and rest in utter dependence upon the Spirit of God to interpret it to us. We do well to lay to heart the words of Jesus Himself in Matt. xi. 25, "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes." A number of Bible students were once discussing the best methods of Bible study and one man, who was in point of fact a learned and scholarly man, said, "I think the best method of Bible study is the baby method." When we have entirely put away our own righteousness, then and only then, we get the righteousness of God (Phil. iii. 4-7, 9; Rom. x. 3). And when we have entirely put away our own wisdom, then, and only then, we get the wisdom of God. "Let no man deceive himself," says the Apostle Paul. "If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise" (1 Cor. iii. 18). And the emptying must precede filling, the self poured out that God may be poured in.
We must daily be taught by the Spirit to understand the Word. We cannot depend to-day on the fact that the Spirit taught us yesterday. Each new time that we come in contact with the Word, it must be in the power of the Spirit for that specific occasion. That the Holy Spirit once illumined our mind to grasp a certain truth is not enough. He must do it each time we confront that passage. Andrew Murray has well said, "Each time you come to the Word in study, in hearing a sermon, or reading a religious book, there ought to be as distinct as your intercourse with the external means, the definite act of self-abnegation, denying your own wisdom and yielding yourself in faith to the Divine teacher" ("The Spirit of Christ," page 221).
V. The Holy Spirit enables the believer to communicate to others in power the truth he himself has been taught.
Paul says in 1 Cor. ii. 1-5, "And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." In a similar way in writing to the believers in Thessalonica in 1 Thess. i. 5, "For our Gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake." We need not only the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth to chosen apostles and prophets in the first place, and the Holy Spirit in the second place to interpret to us as individuals the truth He has thus revealed, but in the third place, we need the Holy Spirit to enable us to effectually communicate to others the truth which He Himself has interpreted to us. We need Him all along the line. One great cause of real failure in the ministry, even when there is seeming success, and not only in the regular ministry but in all forms of service as well, comes from the attempt to teach by "enticing words of man's wisdom" (that is, by the arts of human logic, rhetoric, persuasion and eloquence) what the Holy Spirit has taught us. What is needed is Holy Ghost power, "demonstration of the Spirit and of power." There are three causes of failure in preaching to-day. First, Some other message is taught than the message which the Holy Spirit has revealed in the Word. (Men preach science, art, literature, philosophy, sociology, history, economics, experience, etc., and not the simple Word of God as found in the Holy Spirit's Book,—the Bible.) Second, The Spirit-taught message of the Bible is studied and sought to be apprehended by the natural understanding, that is, without the Spirit's illumination. How common that is, even in institutions where men are being trained for the ministry, even institutions which may be altogether orthodox. Third, The Spirit-given message, the Word, the Bible studied and apprehended under the Holy Ghost's illumination is given out to others with "enticing words of man's wisdom," and not in "demonstration of the Spirit and of power." We need, and we are absolutely dependent upon the Spirit all along the line. He must teach us how to speak as well as what to speak. His must be the power as well as the message.
CHAPTER XVII. PRAYING, RETURNING THANKS, WORSHIPPING IN THE HOLY SPIRIT.
Two of the most deeply significant passages in the Bible on the subject of the Holy Spirit and on the subject of prayer are found in Jude 20 and Eph. vi. 18. In Jude 20 we read, "But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost," and in Eph. vi. 18, "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints."
These passages teach us distinctly that the Holy Spirit guides the believer in prayer. The disciples did not know how to pray as they ought so they came to Jesus and said, "Lord, teach us to pray" (Luke xi. 1). We to-day do not know how to pray as we ought—we do not know what to pray for, nor how to ask for it—but there is One who is always at hand to help (John xiv. 16, 17) and He knows what we should pray for. He helps our infirmity in this matter of prayer as in other matters (Rom. viii. 26, R. V.). He teaches us to pray. True prayer is prayer in the Spirit (i. e., the prayer that the Holy Spirit inspires and directs). The prayer in which the Holy Spirit leads us is the prayer "according to the will of God" (Rom. viii. 27). When we ask anything according to God's will, we know that He hears us and we know that He has granted the things that we ask (1 John v. 14, 15). We may know it is ours at the moment when we pray just as surely as we know it afterwards when we have it in our actual possession. But how can we know the will of God when we pray? In two ways: First of all, by what is written in His Word; all the promises in the Bible are sure and if God promises anything in the Bible, we may be sure it is His will to give us that thing; but there are many things that we need which are not specifically promised in the Word and still even in that case it is our privilege to know the will of God, for it is the work of the Holy Spirit to teach us God's will and lead us out in prayer along the line of God's will. Some object to the Christian doctrine of prayer; for they say that it teaches that we can go to God in our ignorance and change His will and subject His infinite wisdom to our erring foolishness. But that is not the Christian doctrine of prayer at all; the Christian doctrine of prayer is that it is the believer's privilege to be taught by the Spirit of God Himself to know what the will of God is and not to ask for the things that our foolishness would prompt us to ask for but to ask for things that the never-erring Spirit of God prompts us to ask for. True prayer is prayer "in the Spirit," that is, the prayer which the Spirit inspires and directs. When we come into God's presence, we should recognize our infirmity, our ignorance of what is best for us, our ignorance of what we should pray for, our ignorance of how we should pray for it and in the consciousness of our utter inability to pray aright look up to the Holy Spirit to teach us to pray, and cast ourselves utterly upon Him to direct our prayers and to lead out our desires and guide our utterance of them. There is no place where we need to recognize our ignorance more than we do in prayer. Rushing heedlessly into God's presence and asking the first thing that comes into our minds, or that some other thoughtless one asks us to pray for, is not praying "in the Holy Spirit" and is not true prayer. We must wait for the Holy Spirit and surrender ourselves to the Holy Spirit. The prayer that God, the Holy Spirit, inspires is the prayer that God, the Father, answers.
The longings which the Holy Spirit begets in our hearts are often too deep for utterance, too deep apparently for clear and definite comprehension on the part of the believer himself in whom the Spirit is working—"The Spirit Himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered" (Rom. viii. 26, R. V.). God Himself "must search the heart" to know what is "the mind of the Spirit" in these unuttered and unutterable longings. But God does know what is the mind of the Spirit; He does know what these Spirit-given longings which we cannot put into words mean, even if we do not, and these longings are "according to the will of God," and God grants them. It is in this way that it comes to pass that God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us (Eph. iii. 20). There are other times when the Spirit's leadings are so clear that we pray with the Spirit and with the understanding also (1 Cor. xiv. 15). We distinctly understand what it is that the Holy Spirit leads us to pray for.
II. The Holy Spirit inspires the believer and guides him in thanksgiving as well as in prayer. We read in Eph. v. 18-20, R. V., "And be not drunken with wine, wherein is riot, but be filled with the Spirit; speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father." Not only does the Holy Spirit teach us to pray, He also teaches us to render thanks. One of the most prominent characteristics of the Spirit-filled life is thanksgiving. On the Day of Pentecost, when the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, and spoke as the Spirit gave them utterance, we hear them telling the wonderful works of God (Acts ii. 4, 11), and to-day when any believer is filled with the Holy Spirit, he always becomes filled with thanksgiving and praise. True thanksgiving is "to God, even the Father," through, or "in the name of" our Lord Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit.
III. The Holy Spirit inspires worship on the part of the believer. We read in Phil. iii. 3, R. V., "For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God, and glory in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." Prayer is not worship; thanksgiving is not worship. Worship is a definite act of the creature in relation to God. Worship is bowing before God in adoring acknowledgment and contemplation of Himself and the perfection of His being. Some one has said, "In our prayers, we are taken up with our needs; in our thanksgiving we are taken up with our blessings; in our worship, we are taken up with Himself." There is no true and acceptable worship except that which the Holy Spirit prompts and directs. "God is a Spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and truth; for such doth the Father seek to be His worshippers" (John iv. 24, 23). The flesh seeks to intrude into every sphere of life. The flesh has its worship as well as its lusts. The worship which the flesh prompts is an abomination unto God. In this we see the folly of any attempt at a congress of religions where the representatives of radically different religions attempt to worship together.
Not all earnest and honest worship is worship in the Spirit. A man may be very honest and very earnest in his worship and still not have submitted himself to the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the matter and so his worship is in the flesh. Oftentimes even when there is great loyalty to the letter of the Word, worship may not be "in the Spirit," i. e., inspired and directed by Him. To worship aright, as Paul puts it, we must have "no confidence in the flesh," that is, we must recognize the utter inability of the flesh (our natural self as contrasted to the Divine Spirit that dwells in and should mould everything in the believer) to worship acceptably. And we must also realize the danger that there is that the flesh intrude itself into our worship. In utter self-distrust and self-abnegation we must cast ourselves upon the Holy Spirit to lead us aright in our worship. Just as we must renounce any merit in ourselves and cast ourselves upon Christ and His work for us upon the cross for justification, just so we must renounce any supposed capacity for good in ourselves and cast ourselves utterly upon the Holy Spirit and His work in us, in holy living, knowing, praying, thanking and worshipping and all else that we are to do.
CHAPTER XVIII. THE HOLY SPIRIT SENDING MEN FORTH TO DEFINITE LINES OF WORK.
We read in Acts xiii. 2-4, "As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate Me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed into Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus." It is evident from this passage that the Holy Spirit calls men into definite lines of work and sends them forth into the work. He not only calls men in a general way into Christian work, but selects the specific work and points it out. Many a one is asking to-day, and many another ought to ask, "Shall I go to China, to Africa, to India?" There is only one Person who can rightly settle that question for you and that Person is the Holy Spirit. You cannot settle the question for yourself, much less can any other man settle it rightly for you. Not every Christian man is called to go to China; not every Christian man is called to go to Africa; not every Christian man is called to go to the foreign field at all. God alone knows whether He wishes you in any of these places, but He is willing to show you. In a day such as we live in, when there is such a need of the right men and the right women on the foreign field, every young and healthy and intellectually competent Christian man and woman should definitely offer themselves to God for the foreign field and ask Him if He wants them to go. But they ought not to go until He, by His Holy Spirit, makes it plain.
The great need in all lines of Christian work to-day is men and women whom the Holy Ghost calls and sends forth. We have plenty of men and women whom men have called and sent forth. We have plenty of men and women who have called themselves, for there are many to-day who object strenuously to being sent forth by men, by any organization of any kind, but, in fact, are what is immeasurably worse, sent forth by themselves and not by God.
How does the Holy Spirit call? The passage before us does not tell us how the Holy Spirit spoke to the group of prophets and teachers in Antioch, telling them to separate Barnabas and Saul to the work to which He had called them. It is presumably purposely silent on this point. Possibly it is silent on this point lest we should think that the Holy Spirit must always call in precisely the same way. There is nothing whatever to indicate that He spoke by an audible voice, much less is there anything to indicate that He made His will known in any of the fantastic ways in which some in these days profess to discern His leading—as for example, by twitchings of the body, by shuddering, by opening of the Bible at random and putting his finger on a passage that may be construed into some entirely different meaning than that which the inspired author intended by it. The important point is, He made His will clearly known, and He is willing to make His will clearly known to us to-day. Sometimes He makes it known in one way and sometimes in another, but He will make it known.
But how shall we receive the Holy Spirit's call? First of all, by desiring it; second, by earnestly seeking it; third, by waiting upon the Lord for it; fourth, by expecting it. The record reads, "As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted." They were waiting upon the Lord for His direction. For the time being they had turned their back utterly upon worldly cares and enjoyments, even upon those things which were perfectly proper in their place. Many a man is saying to-day in justification for his staying home from the foreign field, "I have never had a call." But how do you know that? Have you been listening for a call? God usually speaks in a still small voice and it is only the listening ear that can catch it. Have you ever definitely offered yourself to God to send you where He will? While no man or woman ought to go to China or Africa or other foreign field unless they are clearly and definitely called, they ought each to offer themselves to God for this work and be ready for the call and be listening sharply that they may hear the call if it comes. Let it be borne distinctly in mind that a man needs no more definite call to Africa than to Boston, or New York, or London, or any other desirable field at home.
The Holy Spirit not only calls men and sends them forth into definite lines of work, but He also _guides in _ the details of daily life and service as to where to go and where not to go, what to do and what not to do_. We read in Acts viii. 27-29, R. V., "And he (Philip) arose and went: and behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was over all her treasure, who had come to Jerusalem for to worship; and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah. _And the Spirit said_ unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot." Here we see the Spirit guiding Philip in the details of service into which He had called him. In a similar way, we read in Acts xvi. 6, 7, R. V., "And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, _having been forbidden of the Holy Ghost to speak the word in Asia_; and when they were come over against Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia; and _the Spirit of Jesus suffered them not_." Here we see the Holy Spirit directing Paul where not to go. It is possible for us to have the unerring guidance of the Holy Spirit at every turn of life. Take, for example, our personal work. It is manifestly not God's intention that we speak to every one we meet. To attempt to do so would be to attempt the impossible, and we would waste much time in trying to speak to people where we could do no good that might be used in speaking to people where we could accomplish something. There are some to whom it would be wise for us to speak. There are others to whom it would be unwise for us to speak. Time spent on them would be taken from work that would be more to God's glory. Doubtless as Philip journeyed towards Gaza, he met many before he met the one of whom the Spirit said, "Go near, and join thyself to this chariot." The Spirit is as ready to guide us as He was to guide Philip. Some years ago, a Christian worker in Toronto had the impression that he should go to the hospital and speak to some one there. He thought to himself, "Whom do I know at the hospital at this time?" There came to his mind one whom he knew was at the hospital, and he hurried to the hospital, but as he sat down by his side to talk with him, he realized it was not for this man that he was sent. He got up to lift a window. What did it all mean? There was another man lying across the passage from the man he knew and the thought came to him that this might be the man to whom he should speak. And he turned and spoke to this man and had the privilege of leading him to Christ. There was apparently nothing serious in the man's case. He had suffered some injury to his knee and there was no thought of a serious issue, but that man passed into eternity that night. Many instances of a similar character could be recorded and prove from experience that the Holy Spirit is as ready to guide those who seek His guidance to-day as He was to guide the early disciples. But He is ready to guide us, not only in our more definite forms of Christian work but in all the affairs of life, business, study, everything we have to do. There is no promise in the Bible more plainly explicit than James i. 5-7, R. V., "But if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing doubting: for he that doubteth is like the surge of the sea driven by the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord." This passage not only promises God's wisdom but tells us specifically just what to do to obtain it. There are really five steps stated or implied in the passage:
1. That we "lack wisdom." We must be conscious of and fully admit our own inability to decide wisely. Here is where oftentimes we fail to receive God's wisdom. We think we are able to decide for ourselves or at least we are not ready to admit our own utter inability to decide. There must be an entire renunciation of the wisdom of the flesh.
2. We must really desire to know God's way and be willing at any cost to do God's will. This is implied in the word "ask." The asking must be sincere, and if we are not willing to do God's will, whatever it may be, at any cost, the asking is not sincere. This is a point of fundamental importance. There is nothing that goes so far to make our minds clear in the discernment of the will of God as revealed by His Spirit as an absolutely surrendered will. Here we find the reason why men oftentimes do not know God's will and have the Spirit's guidance. They are not willing to do whatever the Spirit leads at any cost. It is he that "willeth to do His will" who shall know, not only of the doctrine, but he shall know his daily duty. Men oftentimes come to me and say, "I cannot find out the will of God," but when I put to them the question, "Are you willing to do the will of God at any cost?" they admit that they are not. The way that is very obscure when we hold back from an absolute surrender to God becomes as clear as day when we make that surrender.
3. We must definitely "ask" guidance. It is not enough to desire; it is not enough to be willing to obey; we must ask, definitely ask, God to show us the way.
4. We must confidently expect guidance. "Let him ask in faith nothing doubting," There are many and many who cannot find the way, though they ask God to show it to them, simply because they have not the absolutely undoubting expectation that God will show them the way. God promises to show it if we expect it confidently. When you come to God in prayer to show you what to do, know for a certainty that He will show you. In what way He will show you, He does not tell, but He promises that He will show you and that is enough.
5. We must follow step by step as the guidance comes. As said before, just how it will come, no one can tell, but it will come. Oftentimes only a step will be made clear at a time; that is all we need to know—the next step. Many are in darkness because they do not know and cannot find what God would have them do next week, or next month or next year. A college man once came to me and told me that he was in great darkness about God's guidance, that he had been seeking, to find the will of God and learn what his life's work should be, but he could not find it. I asked him how far along he was in his college course. He said his sophomore year. I asked, "What is it you desire to know?" "What I shall do when I finish college." "Do you know that you ought to go through college?" "Yes." This man not only knew what he ought to do next year but the year after but still he was in great perplexity because he did not know what he ought to do when these two years were ended. God delights to lead His children a step at a time. He leads us as He led the children of Israel. "And when the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle, then after that the children of Israel journeyed: and in the place where the cloud abode, there the children of Israel pitched their tents. At the commandment of the LORD the children of Israel journeyed, and at the commandment of the LORD they pitched: as long as the cloud abode upon the tabernacle they rested in their tents. And when the cloud tarried long upon the tabernacle many days, then the children of Israel kept the charge of the LORD, and journeyed not. And so it was, when the cloud was a few days upon the tabernacle; according to the commandment of the LORD they journeyed. And so it was, when the cloud abode from even unto the morning, and that the cloud was taken up in the morning then they journeyed: whether it was by day or by night that the cloud was taken up, they journeyed. Or whether it were two days, or a month, or a year, that the cloud tarried upon the tabernacle, remaining thereon, the children of Israel abode in their tents, and journeyed not: but when it was taken up, they journeyed. At the commandment of the LORD they rested in the tents, and at the commandment of the LORD they journeyed: they kept the charge of the LORD, at the commandment of the LORD by the hand of Moses" (Num. ix. 17-23).
Many who have given themselves up to the leading of the Holy Spirit get into a place of great bondage and are tortured because they have leadings which they fear may be from God but of which they are not sure. If they do not obey these leadings, they are fearful they have disobeyed God and sometimes fancy that they have grieved away the Holy Spirit, because they did not follow His leading. This is all unnecessary. Let us settle it in our minds that God's guidance is clear guidance. "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all" (1 John i. 5). And any leading that is not perfectly clear is not from Him. That is, if our wills are absolutely surrendered to Him. Of course, the obscurity may arise from an unsurrendered will. But if our wills are absolutely surrendered to God, we have the right as God's children to be sure that any guidance is from Him before we obey it. We have a right to go to our Father and say, "Heavenly Father, here I am. I desire above all things to do Thy will. Now make it clear to me, Thy child. If this thing that I have a leading to do is Thy will, I will do it, but make it clear as day if it be Thy will." If it is His will, the heavenly Father will make it as clear as day. And you need not, and ought not to do that thing until He does make it clear, and you need not and ought not to condemn yourself because you did not do it. God does not want His children to be in a state of condemnation before Him. He wishes us to be free from all care, worry, anxiety and self-condemnation. Any earthly parent would make the way clear to his child that asked to know it and much more will our heavenly Father make it clear to us, and until He does make it clear, we need have no fears that in not doing it, we are disobeying God. We have no right to dictate to God how He shall give His guidance—as, for example, by asking Him to shut up every way, or by asking Him to give a sign, or by guiding us in putting our finger on a text, or in any other way. It is ours to seek and to expect wisdom but it is not ours to dictate how it shall be given. The Holy Spirit divides to "each man severally as He will" (1 Cor. xii. 11).
Two things are evident from what has been said about the work of the Holy Spirit. First, how utterly dependent we are upon the work of the Holy Spirit at every turn of Christian life and service. Second, how perfect is the provision for life and service that God has made. How wonderful is the fullness of privilege that is open to the humblest believer through the Holy Spirit's work. It is not so much what we are by nature, either intellectually, morally, physically, or even spiritually, that is important. The important matter is, what the Holy Spirit can do for us and what we will let Him do. Not infrequently, the Holy Spirit takes the one who seems to give the least natural promise and uses him far beyond those who give the greatest natural promise. Christian life is not to be lived in the realm of natural temperament, and Christian work is not to be done in the power of natural endowment, but Christian life is to be lived in the realm of the Spirit, and Christian work is to be done on the power of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is willing and eagerly desirous of doing for each one of us His whole work, and He will do in each one of us all that we will let Him do.
CHAPTER XIX. THE HOLY SPIRIT AND THE BELIEVER'S BODY.
The Holy Spirit does a work for our bodies as well as for our minds and hearts. We read in Rom. viii. 11, R. V., "But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwelleth in you, He that raised up Christ Jesus from the dead shall quicken also your mortal bodies through His Spirit that dwelleth in you."
The Holy Spirit quickens the mortal body of the believer. It is very evident from the context that this refers to the future resurrection of the body (vs. 21-23). The resurrection of the body is the Holy Spirit's work. The glorified body is from Him; it is "a spiritual body." At the present time, we have only the first fruits of the Spirit and are waiting for the full harvest, the redemption of our body (v. 23).
There is, however, a sense in which the Holy Spirit even now quickens our bodies. Jesus tells us in Matt. xii. 28 that He cast out devils by the Spirit of God. And we read in Acts x. 38, "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power, who went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil." In James v. 14, the Apostle writes, "Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord." The oil in this passage (as elsewhere) is the type of the Holy Spirit, and the truth is set forth that the healing is the Holy Spirit's work. God by His Holy Spirit does impart new health and vigour to these mortal bodies in the present life. To go to the extremes that many do and take the ground that the believer who is walking in fellowship with Christ need never be ill is to go farther than the Bible warrants us in going. It is true that the redemption of our bodies is secured by the atoning work of Christ but until the Lord comes, we only enjoy the first fruits of that redemption; and we are waiting and sometimes groaning for our full place as sons manifested in the redemption of our body (Rom. viii. 23). But while this is true, it is the clear teaching of Scripture and a matter of personal experience on the part of thousands that the life of the Holy Spirit does sweep through these bodies of ours in moments of weakness and of pain and sickness, imparting new health to them, delivering from pain and filling them with abounding life. It is our privilege to know the quickening touch of the Holy Spirit in these bodies as well as in our minds and affections and will. It would be a great day for the Church and for the glory of Jesus Christ, if Christians would renounce forever all the devil's counterfeits of the Holy Spirit's work, Christian Science, Mental Healing, Emmanuelism, Hypnotism and the various other forms of occultism and depend upon God by the power of His Holy Spirit to work that in these bodies of ours which He in His unerring wisdom sees that we most need.
CHAPTER XX. THE BAPTISM WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT.
One of the most deeply significant phrases used in connection with the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures is "baptized with the Holy Ghost." John the Baptist was the first to use this phrase. In speaking of himself and the coming One he said, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire" (Matt. iii. 11). The second "with" in this passage is in italics. It is not found in the Greek. There are not two different baptisms spoken of, the one with the Holy Ghost and one with fire, but one baptism with the Holy Wind and Fire. Jesus afterwards used the same expression. In Acts i. 5, He says, "For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence." When this promise of John the Baptist and of our Lord was fulfilled in Acts ii. 3, 4, R. V., we read, "And there appeared unto them tongues parting asunder, like as of fire; and it sat upon each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit." Here we have another expression "filled with the Holy Spirit" used synonymously with "baptized with the Holy Spirit."
We read again in Acts x. 44-46, "While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God." Peter himself afterwards describing this experience in Jerusalem tells the story in this way, "And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that He said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as He did unto us who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?" (Acts xi. 15-17). Here Peter distinctly calls the experience which came to Cornelius and his household, being baptized with the Holy Ghost, so we see that the expression "the Holy Ghost fell" and "the gift of the Holy Ghost" are practically synonymous expressions with "baptized with the Holy Ghost." Still other expressions are used to describe this blessing, such as "receive the Holy Ghost" (Acts ii. 38; xix. 2-6); "the Holy Ghost came on them" (Acts xix. 2-6); "gift of the Holy Ghost" (Heb. ii. 4; 1 Cor. xii. 4, 11, 13); "I send the promise of My Father upon you;" and "endued with power from on high" (Luke xxiv. 49).
What is the baptism with the Holy Spirit?
In the first place _the baptism with the Holy Spirit is a definite experience of which one may and ought to know _ whether he has received it or not_. This is evident from our Lord's command to His disciples in Luke xxiv. 49 and in Acts i. 4, that they should not depart from Jerusalem to undertake the work which He had commissioned them to do until they had received this promise of the Father. It is also evident from the eighth chapter of Acts, fifteenth and sixteenth verses, where we are distinctly told, "_the Holy Spirit had not as yet fallen upon any of them_." It is evident also from the nineteenth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, the second verse, R. V., where Paul put to the little group of disciples at Ephesus the definite question, "Did ye receive the Holy Ghost when ye believed?" It is evident that the receiving of the Holy Ghost was an experience so definite that one could answer yes or no to the question whether they had received the Holy Spirit. In this case the disciples definitely answered, "No," that they did not so much as hear whether the Holy Ghost was given. They did not say what our Authorized Version makes them say, that they did not so much as hear whether there was any Holy Ghost. They knew that there was a Holy Ghost; they knew furthermore that there was a definite promise of the baptism with the Holy Ghost, but they had not heard that that promise had been as yet fulfilled. Paul told them that it had and took steps whereby they were definitely baptized with the Holy Spirit before that meeting closed. It is equally evident from Gal. iii. 2 that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is a definite experience of which one may know whether he has received it or not. In this passage Paul says to the believers in Galatia, "This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" Their receiving the Spirit had been so definite as a matter of personal consciousness, that Paul could appeal to it as a ground for his argument. In our day there is much talk about the baptism with the Holy Spirit and prayer for the baptism with the Spirit that is altogether vague and indefinite. Men arise in meeting and pray that they may be baptized with the Holy Spirit, and if you should go afterwards to the one who offered the prayer and put to him the question, "Did you receive what you asked? Were you baptized with the Holy Spirit?" it is quite likely that he would hesitate and falter and say, "I hope so"; but there is none of this indefiniteness in the Bible. The Bible is clear as day on this, as on every other point. It sets forth an experience so definite and so real, that one may know whether or not he has received the baptism with the Holy Spirit, and can answer yes or no to the question, "Have you received the Holy Ghost?"
In the second place it is evident that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is an operation of the Holy Spirit distinct from and additional to His regenerating work. This is evident from Acts i. 5, "For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence." It is clear then that the disciples had not as yet been baptized with the Holy Ghost, that they were to be thus baptized not many days hence. But the men to whom Jesus spoke these words were already regenerate men. They had been so pronounced by our Lord Himself. He had said to them in John xv. 3, "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you." But what does clean through the word mean? 1 Peter i. 23 answers the question, "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever." A little earlier on the same night Jesus had said to them in John xiii. 10, R. V., "He that is bathed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean but not all." The Lord Jesus had pronounced that apostolic company clean—i. e., regenerate men—with the exception of the one who never was a regenerate man, Judas Iscariot who should betray Him (see verse 11). The remaining eleven Jesus Christ had pronounced regenerate men. Yet He tells these same men in Acts i. 5, that the baptism with the Holy Spirit was an experience that they had not as yet realized, that still lay in the future. So it is evident that it is one thing to be born again by the Holy Spirit through the Word and something distinct from this and additional to it to be baptized with the Holy Spirit. The same thing is evident from Acts viii. 12, R. V., compared with the fifteenth and sixteenth verses of the same chapter. In the twelfth verse we read that a large company of disciples had believed the preaching of Philip concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, and "had been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus" (v. 16, R. V.). Certainly in this company of baptized believers there were at least some regenerate persons. Whatever the true form of water baptism may be, they undoubtedly had been baptized by the true form, for the baptizing had been done by a Spirit-commissioned man, but in the fifteenth and sixteenth verses we read, "When they (that is Peter and John) were come down, they prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: for as yet He was fallen upon none of them: only they had been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus." Baptized believers they were; baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus they had been; regenerate men some of them most assuredly were, and yet not one of them as yet had received, or been baptized with, the Holy Ghost. So again, it is evident that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is an operation of the Holy Spirit distinct from and additional to His regenerating work. A man may be regenerated by the Holy Spirit and still not be baptized with the Holy Spirit. In regeneration, there is the impartation of life by the Spirit's power, and the one who receives it is saved: in the baptism with the Holy Spirit, there is the impartation of power, and the one who receives it is fitted for service. The baptism with the Holy Spirit, however, may take place at the moment of regeneration. It did, for example, in the household of Cornelius. We read in Acts x. 43, that while Peter was preaching, he came to the point where he said concerning Jesus, "To Him bear all the prophets witness, that through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins," and at that point Cornelius and his household believed and we read immediately, "While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost." The moment they believed the testimony about Jesus, they were baptized with the Holy Ghost, even before they were baptized with water. Regeneration and the baptism with the Holy Spirit took place practically at the same moment, and so they do in many an experience to-day. It would seem as if in a normal condition of the church, this would be the usual experience. But the church is not in a normal condition to-day. A very large part of the church is in the place where the believers in Samaria were before Peter and John came down, and where the disciples in Ephesus were before Paul came and told them of their larger privilege—baptized believers, baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus, baptized unto repentance and remission of sins, but not as yet baptized with the Holy Ghost. Nevertheless the baptism with the Holy Spirit is the birthright of every believer. It was purchased for us by the atoning death of Christ, and when He ascended to the right hand of the Father, He received the promise of the Father and shed Him forth upon the church, and if any one to-day has not the baptism with the Holy Spirit as a personal experience, it is because he has not claimed his birthright. Potentially, every member of the body of Christ is baptized with the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. xii. 13), "For in one Spirit, we were all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit." But there are many believers with whom that which is potentially theirs has not become a matter of real, actual, personal experience. All men are potentially justified in the atoning death of Jesus Christ on the cross, that is justification is provided for them and belongs to them (Rom. v. 18, R. V.), but what potentially belongs to every man, each man must appropriate to himself by faith in Christ; then justification is actually and experimentally his and just so, while the baptism with the Holy Spirit is potentially the possession of every believer, each individual believer must appropriate it for himself before it is experimentally his. We may go still further than this and say that it is only by the baptism with the Holy Spirit that one becomes in the fullest sense a member of the body of Christ, because it is only by the baptism with the Spirit that he receives power to perform those functions for which God has appointed him as a part of the body.
As we have already seen every true believer has the Holy Spirit (Rom. viii. 9), but not every believer has the baptism with the Holy Spirit (though every believer may have as we have just seen). It is one thing to have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, perhaps dwelling within us way back in some hidden sanctuary of our being, back of definite consciousness, and something far different, something vastly more, to have the Holy Spirit taking complete possession of the one whom He inhabits. There are those who press the fact that every believer potentially has the baptism with the Spirit, to such an extent that they clearly teach that every believer has the baptism with the Spirit as an actual experience. But unless the baptism with the Spirit to-day is something radically different from what the baptism with the Spirit was in the early church, indeed unless it is something not at all real, then either a very large proportion of those whom we ordinarily consider believers are not believers, or else one may be a believer and a regenerate man without having been baptized with the Holy Spirit. Certainly, this was the case in the early church. It was the case with the Apostles before Pentecost; it was the case with the church in Ephesus; it was the case with the church in Samaria. And there are thousands to-day who can testify to having received Christ and been born again, and then afterwards, sometimes long afterwards, having been baptized with the Holy Ghost as a definite experience. This is a matter of great practical importance, for there are many who are not enjoying the fullness of privilege that they might enjoy because by pushing individual verses in the Scriptures beyond what they will bear and against the plain teaching of the Scriptures as a whole, they are trying to persuade themselves that they have already been baptized with the Holy Spirit when they have not. And if they would only admit to themselves that they had not, they could then take the steps whereby they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit as a matter of definite, personal experience.
The next thing which is clear from the teaching of Scripture is that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is always connected with, and primarily for the purpose of testimony and service.
Our Lord in speaking of this baptism which they were so soon to receive in Luke xxiv. 49 said, "And behold I send the promise of My Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high." And again He said in Acts i. 5, 8, "For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.... But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." In the record of the fulfillment of this promise of our Lord in Acts ii. 4, we read, "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance." Then follows the detailed account of what Peter said and of the result. The result was that Peter and the other Apostles spoke with such power that three thousand persons that day were convicted of sin, renounced their sin and confessed their acceptance of Jesus Christ in baptism and continued steadfastly in the Apostles' doctrine and fellowship and in the breaking of bread and in prayers ever afterwards. In the fourth chapter of Acts, the thirty-first to the thirty-third verses, we read that when the Apostles on another occasion were filled with the Holy Spirit, the result was that they "spake the word of God with boldness" and that "with great power gave the Apostles their witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus." And in the ninth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, we have a description of Paul's being baptized with the Holy Spirit. We read in the seventeenth to the twentieth verses, "And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. And when he had received meat, he was strengthened.... And straightway, he preached Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God," and in the twenty-second verse we read that he "confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is the Christ" (R. V.). In 1 Cor. xii. we have the fullest discussion of the baptism with the Holy Spirit found in any passage in the Bible. This is the classical passage on the whole subject. And the results there recorded are gifts for service. The baptism with the Holy Spirit is not primarily intended to make believers happy, but to make them useful. It is not intended merely for the ecstasy of the individual believer, it is intended primarily for his efficiency in service. I do not say that the baptism with the Holy Spirit will not make the believer happy; for as part of the fruit of the Spirit is "joy," if one is baptized with the Holy Spirit, joy must inevitably result. I have never known one to be baptized with the Holy Spirit into whose life there did not come, sooner or later, a new joy, a higher and purer and fuller joy than he had ever known before. But this is not the prime purpose of the baptism nor the most important and prominent result. Great emphasis needs to be laid upon this point, for there are many Christians who in seeking the baptism with the Spirit are seeking personal ecstasy and rapture. They go to conventions and conferences for the deepening of the Christian life and come back and tell what a wonderful blessing they have received, referring to some new ecstasy that has come into their heart, but when you watch them, it is difficult to see that they are any more useful to their pastors or their churches than they were before, and one is compelled to think that whatever they have received, they have not received the real baptism with the Holy Spirit. Ecstasies and raptures are all right in their places. When they come, thank God for them—the writer knows something about them—but in a world such as we live in to-day where sin and self-righteousness and unbelief are so triumphant, where there is such an awful tide of men, women and young people sweeping on towards eternal perdition, I would rather go through my whole life and never have one touch of ecstasy but have power to witness for Christ and win others for Christ and thus to save them, than to have raptures 365 days in the year but no power to stem the awful tide of sin and bring men, women and children to a saving knowledge of my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
The purpose of the baptism with the Holy Spirit is not primarily to make believers individually holy. I do not say that it is not the work of the Holy Spirit to make believers holy, for as we have already seen, He is "the Spirit of Holiness," and the only way we shall ever attain unto holiness is by His power. I do not even say that the baptism with the Holy Spirit will not result in a great spiritual transformation and uplift and cleansing, for the promise is, "He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire" (and the thought of fire as used in this connection is the thought of searching, refining, cleansing, consuming). A wonderful transformation took place in the Apostles at Pentecost, and a wonderful transformation has taken place in thousands who have been baptized with the Holy Spirit since Pentecost, but the primary purpose of the baptism with the Holy Spirit is efficiency in testimony and service. It has to do rather with gifts for service than with graces of character. It is the impartation of spiritual power or gifts in service and sometimes one may have rare gifts by the Spirit's power and yet manifest few of the graces of the Spirit. (See 1 Cor. xiii. 1-3; Matt. vii. 22, 23.) In every passage in the Bible in which the baptism with the Holy Spirit is mentioned, it is connected with testimony or service.
We shall perhaps get a clearer idea of just what the baptism with the Holy Spirit is, if we stop to consider what are the results of the baptism with the Holy Spirit.
WHAT ARE THE RESULTS OF THE BAPTISM WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT?
1. The specific manifestations of the baptism with the Holy Spirit are not precisely the same in all persons. This appears very clearly from 1 Cor. xii. 4-13, "Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kind of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit." Here we see one baptism but a great variety of manifestations of the power of that baptism. There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. The gifts vary with the different lines of service to which God calls different persons. The church is a body, and different members of the body have different functions and the Spirit imparts to the one who is baptized with the Spirit those gifts which fit him for the service to which God has called him. It is very important to bear this in mind. Through the failure to see this, many have gone entirely astray on the whole subject. In my early study of the subject, I noticed the fact that in many instances those who were baptized with the Holy Spirit spake with tongues (e. g., Acts ii. 4; x. 46; xix. 6) and I wondered if every one who was baptized with the Holy Spirit would not speak with tongues. I did not know of any one who was speaking with tongues to-day and so I wondered still further whether the baptism with the Holy Spirit were for the present age. But one day I was studying 1 Cor. xii. and noticed how Paul said to the believers in that wonderfully gifted church in Corinth, all of whom had been pronounced in the thirteenth verse to be baptized with the Spirit, "And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healing, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Have all the gift of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?" So I saw it was clearly taught in the Scriptures that one might be baptized with the Holy Spirit and still not have the gift of tongues. I saw furthermore that the gift of tongues, according to the Scripture, was the last and the least important of all the gifts, and that we were urged to desire earnestly the greater gifts (1 Cor. xiii. 31; 1 Cor. xiv. 5, 12, 14, 18, 19, 27, 28). A little later I was tempted to fall into another error, more specious but in reality just as unscriptural as this, namely, that if one were baptized with the Holy Spirit, he would receive the gift of an evangelist. I had read the story of D. L. Moody, of Charles G. Finney and of others who were baptized with the Holy Spirit, and of the power that came to them as evangelists, and the thought was suggested that if any one is baptized with the Holy Spirit will not he also obtain power as an evangelist? But this was also unscriptural. If God has called a man to be an evangelist and he is baptized with the Holy Spirit, he will receive power as an evangelist, but if God has called him to be something else, he will receive power to become something else. Three great evils come from the error of thinking that every one who is baptized with the Holy Spirit will receive power as an evangelist.
(1) The evil of disappointment. There are many who seek the baptism with the Holy Spirit expecting power as an evangelist, but God has not called them to that work, and though they really meet the conditions of receiving the baptism with the Spirit, and do receive the baptism with the Spirit, power as an evangelist does not come. In many cases this results in bitter disappointment and sometimes even in despair. The one who has expected the power of an evangelist and has not received it sometimes even questions whether he is a child of God. But if he had properly understood the matter, he would have known that the fact that he had not received power as an evangelist is no proof that he has not received the baptism with the Spirit, and much less is it a proof that he is not a child of God.
(2) The second evil is graver still, namely, the evil of presumption. A man whom God has not called to the work of an evangelist or a minister oftentimes rushes into it because he has received, or imagines he has received, the baptism with the Holy Spirit. He thinks all a man needs to become a preacher is the baptism with the Holy Spirit. This is not true. In order to succeed as a minister a man needs a call to that specific work, and furthermore, he needs that knowledge of God's Word that will prepare him for the work. If a man is called to the ministry and studies the Word until he has something to preach, if then he is baptized with the Holy Spirit, he will have success as a preacher, but if he is not called to that work, or if he has not the knowledge of the Word of God that is necessary, he will not succeed in the work, even though he receives the baptism with the Holy Spirit.
(3) The third evil is greater still, namely, the evil of indifference. There are many who know that they are not called to the work of preaching. If then they think that the baptism with the Holy Spirit simply imparts power as an evangelist, or power to preach, the matter of the baptism with the Holy Spirit is one of no personal concern to them. For example, here is a mother with a large family of children. She knows perfectly well, or at least it is hoped that she knows, that she is not called to do the work of an evangelist. She knows that her duty lies with her children and her home. If she reads or hears about the baptism with the Holy Spirit, and gets the impression that the baptism with the Holy Spirit simply imparts power to do the work of an evangelist, or to preach, she will think "The evangelist needs this blessing, my minister needs this blessing, but it is not for me"; but if she understands the matter as it is taught in the Bible, that while the baptism with the Spirit imparts power, the way in which the power will be manifested depends entirely upon the line of work to which God calls us, and that no efficient work can be done without it, and sees still further that there is no function in the church of Jesus Christ to-day more holy and sacred than that of sanctified motherhood, she will say, "The evangelist may need this baptism, my minister may need this baptism; but I must have it to bring up my children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."
2. While there are diversities of gifts and manifestations of the baptism with the Holy Spirit, there will be some gift to every one thus baptized. We read in 1 Cor. xii. 7, R. V., "But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit to profit withal." Every most insignificant member of the body of Christ has some function to perform in that body. The body grows by that "which every joint supplieth" (Eph. iv. 16), and to each least significant joint, the Holy Spirit imparts power to perform the function that belongs to him.
3. It is the Holy Spirit who decides how the baptism with the Spirit shall manifest itself in any given case. As we read in 1 Cor. xii. 11, "But all these worketh the one and the selfsame Spirit dividing to each one severally, even as He will." The Holy Spirit is absolutely sovereign in deciding how, that is, in what special gift, operation, or power, the baptism with the Holy Spirit shall manifest itself. It is not for us to pick out some field of service and then ask the Holy Spirit to qualify us for that service. It is not for us to select some gift and then ask the Holy Spirit to impart to us this self-chosen gift. It is for us to simply put ourselves entirely at the disposal of the Holy Spirit to send us where He will, to select for us what kind of service He will and to impart to us what gift He will. He is absolute sovereign and our position is that of unconditional surrender to Him. I am glad that this is so. I rejoice that He, in His infinite wisdom and love, is to select the field of service and the gifts, and that this is not to be left to me in my short-sightedness and folly. It is because of the failure to recognize this absolute sovereignty of the Spirit that many fail of the blessing and meet with disappointment. They are trying to select their own gift and so get none. I once knew an earnest child of God in Scotland, who hearing of the baptism with the Holy Spirit and the power that resulted from it, gave up at a great sacrifice his work as a ship plater, for which he was receiving large wages. He heard that there was a great need of ministers in the northwest in America. He came to the northwest. He met the conditions of the baptism with the Holy Spirit and I believe was really baptized with the Holy Spirit, but God had not chosen him for the work of an evangelist, and the power as an evangelist did not come to him. No field seemed to open, and he was in great despondency. He even questioned his acceptance before God. One morning he came into our church in Minneapolis and heard me speak upon the baptism with the Holy Spirit, and as I pointed out that the baptism with the Holy Spirit manifested itself in many different ways, and the fact that one had not power as an evangelist was no proof that he had not received the baptism with the Holy Spirit, light came into his heart. He put himself unreservedly into God's hands for Him to choose the field of labour and the gifts. An opening soon came to him as a Sunday-school missionary, and then, when he had given up choosing for himself and left it with the Holy Spirit to divide to him as He would, a strange thing happened; he did receive power as an evangelist and went through the country districts in one of our northwestern states with mighty power as an evangelist.
4. While the power may be of one kind in one person and of another kind in another person, there will always be power, the very power of God, when one is baptized with the Holy Spirit. We read in Acts i. 5, 8, "For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.... But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." As truly as any one who reads these pages, who has not already received the baptism with the Holy Spirit, seeks it in God's way, he will obtain it, and there will come into his service a power that was never there before, power for the very work to which God has called him. This is not only the teaching of Scripture; it is the teaching of religious experience throughout the centuries. Religious biographies abound in instances of men who have worked along as best they could, until one day they were led to see that there was such an experience as the baptism with the Holy Spirit and to seek it and obtain it and, from that hour, there came into their service a new power that utterly transformed its character. In this matter, one thinks first of such men as Finney, and Moody, and Brainerd, but cases of this character are not confined to the few exceptional men. They are common. The writer has personally met and corresponded with hundreds and thousands of persons around the globe, who could testify definitely to the new power that God has granted them through the baptism with the Holy Spirit. These thousands of men and women were in all branches of Christian service; some of them are ministers of the Gospel, some evangelists, some mission workers, some Y. M. C. A. secretaries, Sunday-school teachers, fathers, mothers, personal workers. Nothing could possibly exceed the clearness and the confidence and the joyfulness of many of these testimonies.
I shall not soon forget a minister whom I met some years ago at a State Convention of the Young People's Society of Christian Endeavour at New Britain, Conn. I was speaking upon the subject of personal work and as I drew the address to a close, I said that in order to do effective personal work, we must be baptized with the Holy Spirit, and in a very few sentences explained what I meant by that. At the close of the address, this minister came to me on the platform and said, "I have not this blessing you have been speaking about, but I want it. Will you pray for me?" I said, "Why not pray right now?" He said, "I will." We put two chairs side by side and turned our backs upon the crowd as they passed out of the Armoury. He prayed and I prayed that he might be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Then we separated. Some weeks after, one who had witnessed the scene came to me at a convention in Washington and told me how this minister had gone back to his church a transformed man, that now his congregations filled the church, that it was largely composed of young men, and that there were conversions at every service. Some years after, this minister was called to another field of service. His most spiritually-minded friends advised him not to go, as all the ruling elements in the church to which he had been called were against aggressive evangelistic work, but for some reason or other, he felt it was the call of God and accepted it. In six months, there were sixty-nine conversions, and thirty-eight of them were business men of the town.
After attending in Montreal some years ago an Inter-provincial Convention of the Young Men's Christian Association of the Provinces of Canada, I received a letter from a young man. He wrote, "I was present at your last meeting in Montreal. I heard you speak upon the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. I went to my rooms and sought that baptism for myself and received it. I am chairman of the Lookout Committee of the Christian Endeavour Society of our church. I called together the other members of the committee. I found that two of them had been at the meeting and had already been baptized with the Holy Spirit. Then we prayed for the other members of the committee and they were baptized with the Holy Spirit. Now we are going out into the church and the young people of the church are being brought to Christ right along."
A lady and gentleman once came to me at a convention and told me how, though they had never seen me before, they had read the report of an address on the Baptism with the Holy Spirit delivered in Boston at a Christian Workers' Convention and that they had sought this baptism and had received it. The man then told me the blessing that had come into his service as superintendent of the Sunday-school. When he had finished, his wife broke in and said, "Yes, and the best part of it is, I have been able to get into the hearts of my own children, which I was never able to do before." Here were three distinctly different lines of service, but there was power in each case. The results of that power may not, however, be manifest at once in conversions. Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit, but as he witnessed in the power of the Holy Spirit for his risen Lord, he saw no conversions at the time. All he saw was the gnashing of the teeth, the angry looks and the merciless rocks, and so it may be with us. But there was a conversion, even in that case, though it was a long time before it was seen, and that conversion, the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, was worth more than hundreds of ordinary conversions.
5. Another result of the baptism with the Holy Spirit will be boldness in testimony and service. We read in Acts iv. 31, "And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness." The baptism with the Holy Spirit imparts to those who receive it new liberty and fearlessness in testimony for Christ. It converts cowards into heroes. Peter upon the night of our Lord's crucifixion proved himself a craven coward. He denied with oaths and curses that he knew the Lord. But after Pentecost, this same Peter was brought before the very council that had condemned Jesus to death, and he himself was threatened, but filled with the Holy Ghost, he said, "Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, if we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by Him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts iv. 8-12). A little later when the council commanded him and his companion, John, not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus, they answered, "Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard" (Acts iv. 19, 20). On a still later occasion, when they were threatened and commanded not to speak and when their lives were in jeopardy, Peter told the council to their faces, "We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him" (Acts v. 29-32). The natural timidity of many a man to-day vanishes when he is filled with the Holy Spirit, and with great boldness and liberty, with utter fearlessness of consequences, he gives his testimony for Jesus Christ.
6. The baptism with the Holy Spirit causes the one who receives it to be occupied with God and Christ and spiritual things. In the record of the day of Pentecost, we read, "They were all filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not these which speak Galileans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God" (Acts ii. 4, 7, 8, 11). Then follows Peter's sermon, a sermon that from start to finish is entirely taken up with Jesus Christ and His glory. On a later day we read, "And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. And with great power gave the Apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.... Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, if we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by Him doth this man stand here before you whole" (Acts iv. 31, 33, 8-10). We read of Saul of Tarsus, that when he had been filled with the Holy Spirit, "Straightway in the synagogues he proclaimed Jesus" (Acts ix. 17, 20, R. V.). We read of the household of Cornelius, "While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on them who heard the Word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God." Here we see the whole household of Cornelius as soon as they were filled with the Holy Spirit magnifying God. In Eph. v. 18, 19, we are told that the result of being filled with the Spirit is that those who are thus filled will speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in their hearts to the Lord. Men who are filled with the Holy Spirit will not be singing sentimental ballads, not comic ditties, nor operatic airs while the power of the Holy Ghost is upon them. If the Holy Ghost should come upon any one while listening to one of the most innocent of the world's songs, he would not enjoy it, he would long to hear something about Christ. Men who are baptized with the Holy Spirit do not talk much about self but much about God, and especially much about Christ. This is necessarily so, as it is the Holy Spirit's office to bear witness to the glorified Christ (John xv. 26; xvi. 14).
To sum up everything that has been said about the results of the baptism with the Holy Spirit; the baptism with the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God coming upon the believer, filling his mind with a real apprehension of truths, especially of Christ, taking possession of his faculties, imparting to him gifts not otherwise his but which qualify him for the service to which God has called him.
THE NECESSITY OF THE BAPTISM WITH THE SPIRIT.
The New Testament has much to say about the necessity for the baptism with the Holy Spirit. When our Lord was about to leave His disciples to go to be with the Father, He said, "And, behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high" (Luke xxiv. 49). He had just commissioned them to be His witnesses to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem (vs. 47, 48), but He here tells them that before they undertake this witnessing, they must wait until they receive the promise of the Father, and were thus endued with power from on high for the work of witnessing which they were to undertake. There is no doubt as to what Jesus meant by "the promise of My Father," for which they were to wait before beginning the ministry that He had laid upon them; for in Acts i. 4, 5, we read, "And being assembled together with them (He), commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith He, ye have heard of Me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence." It is evident then that "the promise of the Father" through which the enduement of power was to come was the baptism with the Holy Spirit. He went on to tell His disciples "Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost shall come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts i. 8). Now who were the men to whom Jesus said this? The disciples whom He Himself had trained for the work. For more than three years, they had lived in the closest intimacy with Himself; they had been eye-witnesses of His miracles, of His death, of His resurrection, and in a few moments were to be eye-witnesses of His ascension as He was taken up right before their eyes into heaven. And what were they to do? Simply to go and tell the world what their own eyes had seen and what their own ears had heard from the lips of the Son of God. Were they not equipped for the work? With our modern ideas of preparation for Christian work, we should say that they were thoroughly equipped. But Jesus said, "No, you are not equipped. There is another preparation in addition to the preparation already received, so absolutely necessary for effective work that you must not stir one step until you receive it. This other preparation is the promise of the Father, the baptism with the Holy Spirit." If the Apostles with their altogether exceptional fitting for the work which they were to undertake needed this preparation for work, how much more do we? In the light of what Jesus required of His disciples before undertaking the work, does it not seem like the most daring presumption for any of us to undertake to witness and work for Christ until we also have received the promise of the Father, the baptism with the Holy Spirit? There was apparently imperative need that something be done at once. The whole world was perishing and they alone knew the saving truth, nevertheless Jesus strictly charged them "wait." Could there be a stronger testimony to the absolute necessity and importance of the baptism with the Holy Spirit as a preparation for work that should be acceptable to Christ?
But this is not all. In Acts x. 38 we read, "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and power; who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him." To what does this refer in the recorded life of Jesus Christ? If we will turn to Luke iii. 21, 22, and Luke iv. 1, 4, 17, 18, we will get our answer. In Luke iii. 21, 22, R. V., we read that after Jesus had been baptized and was praying, "The heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily form, as a dove, upon Him, and a voice came out of heaven, Thou art My beloved Son; in Thee I am well pleased." Then the next thing that we read, with nothing intervening but the human genealogy of Jesus, is "And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness" (Luke iv. 1). Then follows the story of His temptation; then in the fourteenth verse we read, "And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and a fame went out concerning Him through all the region round about." And in the seventeenth and eighteenth verses, "And there was delivered unto Him the book of the prophet Isaiah. And He opened the book, and found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach, etc." Evidently then, it was at the Jordan in connection with His baptism that Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit and power, and He did not enter upon His public ministry until He was thus baptized with the Holy Spirit. And who was Jesus? It is the common belief of Christendom that He had been supernaturally conceived through the Holy Spirit's power, that He was the only begotten Son of God, that He was Divine, very God of very God, and yet truly man. If such an One "leaving us an example that we should follow His steps" did not venture upon His ministry, for which the Father had sent Him, until thus definitely baptized with the Holy Spirit, what is it for us to dare to do it? If in the light of these recorded facts we dare to do it, does it not seem like the most unpardonable presumption? Doubtless it has been done in ignorance by many of us, but can we plead ignorance any longer? It is evident that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is an absolutely necessary preparation for effective work for Christ along every line of service. We may have a very clear call to service, as clear it may be as the Apostles had, but the charge is laid upon us as upon them, that before we begin that service we must tarry until we are clothed with power from on high. This enduement of power is through the baptism with the Holy Spirit.