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“Holy Spirit Study”
12 Studies in the Holy Spirit Weekly
Last week we talked about the work of the Holy Spirit in the world and the convicting of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment in drawing men to Jesus Christ. Tonight we wish to continue the subject of the work of the Holy Spirit in the world, as we see Him as the restraining force against evil.
The Bible tells us that there is one final, great battle to be fought before Satan is forced to give over the control of the earth to the Lord. And at the present time, Satan is mustering his forces for this final conflict, in which I feel that Satan is deceived into thinking that he is going to win.
In Revelation 19:19, John said,
And I saw the beast [that is, the antichrist], and the kings of the earth, and their armies gathered together to make war against Him [that is, Jesus Christ] that sat on the horse, and against His army.
So there is this one final conflict before the Lord establishes God’s kingdom upon the earth.
In Revelation 13:2, John said,
And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon [or Satan] gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.
This is a reference to the antichrist, the man of sin, the son of perdition, who will soon come on the scene to take over the governments of the world. Satan endows him with his power. He gives to him his throne. And he also gives to him great authority.
Originally the earth was the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. He created it. When God created man and placed him upon the earth, He said, “Let Us make man and give him dominion over the earth” (Genesis 1:26). And so, God gave to man that dominion, or rule, over the earth. But man surrendered that dominion unto Satan in his double action of disobedience to the command of God, and obedience to the suggestion of Satan to eat the forbidden fruit.
Paul said in Romans 6:16,
Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
And when Adam yielded himself in obedience unto Satan, he became a servant of Satan. And, thus, Satan gained dominion over the earth. Adam rebelled against the authority of God and the commandment of God. And it was a double action of disobedience and rebellion to the commandment of God and, by the same token, it was obedience to the suggestion of Satan. Man became a servant of sin unto death and Satan gained the rule over the earth—the dominion of the earth.
Now, God sent His Son in order to redeem the world back to God. And when Satan took Jesus up to the high mountain, he showed Him the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them. And Satan offered them to Jesus if He would just bow and worship him, for Satan boasted, “They are mine and I can give them to whomever I will” (Luke 4:6).
Now this is manifested in Revelation 13:2, when we find that the dragon or Satan gives to the antichrist (the beast), his power, his throne, and great authority. Satan said, “It is mine. I can give it to whomever I will.” Jesus did not dispute that. He recognized that Satan was the prince of this world. He called him such. But Jesus had come to redeem the world back to God. And by His death upon the cross, Jesus paid the price for our redemption. We are redeemed not with corruptible things, such as silver and gold from our vain manner of living, but with the precious blood of Jesus Christ, who was slain as a lamb without spot or blemish.
So Jesus, through the virtue of His death upon the cross, paid the price for the redemption of this world. But in Hebrews 2:8 the writer said,
Thou hast put all things in subjection under his [that is, Jesus’] feet. For in that he put all things in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under Him.
We do not yet see it. He has not yet laid claim to that which He purchased. In the meantime—and we will deal with this more fully at a later discussion—in the meantime, He has sealed us with the Holy Spirit of promise. This is the down payment, so to speak—the earnest of our inheritance until He redeems His purchased possession.
The Lord has redeemed me. I belong to Him. He has not yet claimed me and taken me home. But in the meantime, He has given to me the Holy Spirit to show that He is earnest in His intent to redeem me fully and completely, and to claim me as His own. So, God has put all things in subjection unto Jesus. We do not yet see all things in subjection. He has not yet taken the authority by which He is to reign.
Now in Revelation chapter 5, we find Jesus doing just that—taking authority. We find Him coming, taking the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sits upon the throne, as His worthiness is declared. But that is a yet future event. We do not yet see the world in subjection unto Jesus Christ. In fact, the world lies in the control of the wicked one, even to the present time.
For His own reasons and purposes, God has left Satan in control over the present, evil world system. God intends that during this time in which Satan is still in control, those who desire to serve God, to live with God, can be redeemed from the power of sin through Jesus Christ. They can be sealed with the Holy Spirit, and they can be empowered by the Holy Spirit to live in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ. And so, Christians are then waiting for that day.
We are living in an unredeemed world as yet. However, being redeemed and living in this unredeemed world that is still under the power of Satan, we find ourselves in the midst of a spiritual warfare. And it is becoming more pronounced every day. Satan is mustering his forces for this final battle and he is manifesting his power as never before. Satan is seeking to destroy all of the influence of Jesus Christ from this earth and that also entails the destruction of the Christians and their influence of righteousness.
We are in a battle! Jesus said to His disciples, “You are the salt of the earth. You are to be a purifying influence. You are to prevent the rottenness. But if the salt has lost its savor, it is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out and to be trodden under the foot of man” (cf. Matthew 5:13). We are in a heavy spiritual battle.
Modern technology has brought the darkness of the world right into our homes, by way of television and by way of radio. And the church of Jesus Christ has been extremely weakened by compromise with the world. When Jesus was writing to His faithful church of Philadelphia (and that is the true church in the last days), He said, “Thou hast a little strength” (Revelation 3:8). That is all. We are not a great, mighty force and power for righteousness. Would to God we were. But there has been too much leaven, even within the church. And the church’s position, as far as the world is concerned, has been extremely weakened as a result of so many compromises.
It is Satan’s strategy to bring all of the governments of the earth under the control of one man, who is referred to in the Bible as the man of sin. He is the son of perdition: the one man that Satan will vest with his powers, with his throne, and with his authority. And so, Satan’s instrument to rule the world—and through this man be worshipped by the world—is called by various names in the Bible. “The beast” is the name generally used in Daniel 7 and Revelation 11 and 13. 1 John 2 and 4 refer to him as the “antichrist.” Paul calls him, “the man of sin and the son of perdition” (2 Thessalonians 2:3).
Now as he has been vested with the powers of Satan, he will be able to work all kinds of supernatural signs and wonders by which he will astound the world. He will be able to do miraculous things. InMatthew 24:24 Jesus declared,
For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders, insomuch that if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
Second Thessalonians 2:9 Paul said, “Even him [that is, the antichrist] whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders”—Satan gives him his power. And so he comes with all of these powers and signs and lying wonders.
Revelation 13:11 speaks of the false prophet who will work together with the antichrist.
I beheld another beast [that is, the false prophet] coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, but he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all of the power of the first beast before him, and he causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. (Rev 13:11-13)
Daniel tells us,
And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practice, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify [himself] in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand. (Dan 8:24-25 KJV)
He will be a violent enemy of God. He will speak blasphemous words against God. Daniel 7:25 says,
And he shall speak [great] words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time [or three and a half years].
Daniel 11:36 says,
And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvelous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done.
Second Thessalonians 2:4, speaks of this man of sin (or son of perdition),
Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
Revelation 13:5-6 says,
And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months [three and a half years]. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
And we then read that he will make war against the Jews, who will be known as the saints and God’s elect in that day. The church will already have been raptured out of the world. We will deal with that in a moment.
It was given to him power to make war with the saints,Revelation 13:7, and to overcome them. Power was given to him over all the kindreds and tongues and nations.
Daniel 7:21 says,
I beheld and the same horn made war with the saints and prevailed against them.
Now Jesus spoke of His church in Matthew 16, after Peter’s confession that He was the Messiah, the Son of the living God. Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will build My church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). The church of Jesus Christ, though weak, shall still prevail. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the church will prevail.
However, when the antichrist comes on the scene and makes war with the saints, he will overcome them. He will prevail against them, thus showing that those saints cannot be the church; but they are often called the tribulation saints. And for the most part they are the Jews who will turn to Jesus Christ during this period of great tribulation.
The antichrist will rule over all the earth. Revelation 13:7-8 says,
And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
Daniel 7:24-25 says,
And the ten horns out of this kingdom [that is the final federation of nations, world governing empire, ten kings combining together] are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak [great] words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.
Revelation 17:16-17 again speaks of the ten horns, [the ten kings],
And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, [the false church], shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. For God hath put in their hearts to fulfill His will, and to agree, and to give their kingdom unto the beast.
So, God will put in their (the kings) hearts to turn the world over to the rulership of this man—unto the beast, “…until the words of God shall be fulfilled” (Revelation 17:17).
Now the antichrist will inaugurate a new system of exchange, where money will be done away with and he will usher in a cashless society. Now a few years ago, I used to talk about a cashless society and everybody sort of scratched their heads. They said, “Oh, a cashless society. Whoever heard of that?” Well, who has not heard of that now? If you read the business section of the newspapers, surely you have come across this. If you have read Forbes magazine surely, you have come across this. We are hearing more and more of the cashless society. I noticed just this past week in the grocery store, that it has a sign, “We accept VISA, MasterCard, Discover cards.” I mean, it is all there. And more often I find people standing in the line, who are giving their cards at the registers now. They can take their cards and just sign a little receipt. So, more and more we are moving towards this cashless society.
Listen to what the Bible has to say about this,
And he causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand or in their foreheads. And that no man might buy or sell save that he had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. (Revelation 13:16-17)
At home in my drawer, I have a little plastic device that looks sort of like a squirt gun. But it has a little needle and it is a little device to inject these little transmitters, which are about a half of an inch long and a fraction of an inch wide. And some of them are even smaller. It is used to insert these little chips—microchips or transponders—right under the skin. Now with these and with the use of satellites, they can trace, triangulate, and find anybody anywhere in the world, who has one of these little transmitters. I have one of these devices at home, designed to inject these little transmitters under the skin. This microchip, of course, can have all kinds of information concerning you—your bank balance, or whatever. You say, “I am not worried about that. I do not have any money.”
People are becoming reluctant (and rightfully so!) to carry cash any more because of the fact that crime is really out of control. The ideal answer is to go to computerized transactions. We are already doing it. We are doing it now with cards, but it would be a very simple step to move it to identification that is affixed upon a person’s body, either the right hand or forehead. With this new health program that they are touting, in order to make certain that you have a right for the healthcare, they are talking about everyone receiving a national kind of an identity card or some kind of an identification. Children now, at birth are given social security numbers. I mean, the whole thing is coming down. Where are we?
Well, as we look at the world, it is rapidly moving toward this one-world government. We hear words such as “global community,” “global economy,” “global banks,” and “global action.” I mean, we are hearing it all the time. We are moving towards the global world, a one-world government. These terms are constantly being used in the media until they have become very common for us to hear.
We talk about the necessity of global cooperation. We talk about the necessity of united efforts to go in and stop the war in Bosnia, and how it is necessary to have a global army—a global peace force. And more and more the United States is surrendering its troops to control of the U.N. and the generals and so forth of the U.N.—not necessarily the United States—as we are moving towards this global effort to bring global peace.
With the weapons of destruction that have been developed by modern technology, they realize the only hope for survival of mankind is through global government. There are powerful forces here in the United States known as the Council for Foreign Relations and the Trilateralists, who have as their goal this global government and they are in a position to move our nation into cooperation and submission to the global authority. More and more powers are being given to the U.N. to make laws, world laws, which supercede the laws of the states or the independent governments.
With the crime rate rising, as it is out of control, the only way that can effectively stop all the robberies and the drug dealings, is to get rid of money. It is estimated that the government is losing billions of dollars every year in uncollected taxes. So, if all of the transactions to buy or sell were made by computerized identity numbers, then they will be able to trace everything that you bought or sold and it will eliminate stealing money, because money will be worthless.
I have a five hundred billion dollar bill in my office. It is the largest bill ever printed—five hundred billion dollars! Of course it is Serbian. It is becoming a collector’s item. I am going to keep it. It is worth about eight dollars to collectors now, because it is the largest bill ever printed. And so it is becoming sort of popular with some of the people who collect those kind of things. And so they say it is worth eight dollars now in Germany, as a collector’s item.
The banks are calling for a cashless society. The businesses are moving towards a cashless society. In fact, I am still one of those rare individuals who pay cash and I usually shock them. They say, “Do you want to put this on your charge card?” I say, “No, I will pay in cash. Do you still take it?” “Well yeah, but…”
Things are really pretty much in place for the surrendering to the world system—world government. They are definitely in place to eliminate money as a means of exchange, and to go to the cashless society. That could happen any week. You could at any time pick up the morning paper and read that you have two weeks to turn in all of your cash. After two weeks, it will have no value. In fact, this is being proposed right now and if you turn in more than $5,000 in cash, then you will have to fill out an IRS form and so forth, because they wonder why you have that much cash. And so, this has already been proposed and it could happen over night, and it will happen over night. You will not be given any warning of this. But just one day you will pick up the morning newspaper and it will say that cash is to be eliminated in two weeks. And you will have two weeks to turn in all of your money into the account—the numbered account. Things are in place for this to happen.
What is the delay? What is holding back these powers and forces of darkness that are wanting to take over the full control of the earth? Here we have the work of the Holy Spirit in the world, restraining these powers of darkness and hindering them from inaugurating their final man of power.
Second Thessalonians 2:7 says,
For the mystery of iniquity doth already work. Only he who now hinders will hinder until he is taken out of the way, and then shall that wicked one be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.
The Holy Spirit is hindering, standing in the way, restraining these powers of evil. Until He is taken out of the way, and immediately the wicked one then shall be revealed. Now it is actually the Holy Spirit in the life of the believers that is the hindering force. Some say, well, it is just the Holy Spirit. No, it is the Holy Spirit in the church—in the life of the believers. And as soon as the church is taken out of this world, there will be no more restraining forces against evil—no more voices against evil. The restraining force of the church will be removed and immediately, once the church is removed, this man of sin will take over using his powers that will be given to him by Satan. And the world will be plunged into darkness such as the world has never seen before, or will ever see again, thank God!
It is only the presence of the Holy Spirit in the church that is keeping Satan from this final thrust to gain absolute control over all the earth and plunging the world into its darkest hour. The mystery of iniquity is already at work. We see it. We see the decaying effects of sin. We see it everywhere. The spirit of antichrist is all around us. Jesus Christ is being mocked, being scorned, being ridiculed and derided.
A cultist is now being defined in governmental circles, as one that believes that the Bible is the inerrant word of God and that Jesus is coming again. If you believe these things, you are now being classified as a cultist. And such belief gained you the title of a religious fanatic. And this is a term—watch for it—for they acknowledge the greatest hindrance to this move towards the absolute control over the world, the greatest hindrance is the religious fanatics. And you hear a lot of groups being termed as religious fanatics. And religious fanaticism has been branded as one of the greatest evils in the world today. One of the greatest threats to peace comes from the religious fanatics. The thing that is holding back the New Age is the religious fanatics. There is a movement towards the eradication of the religious fanatics, in order that there will be nothing to hinder.
Well, there is a master plan to remove a good portion of the religious fanatics and then will the powers of evil have their day. But unbridled evil cannot last long. A society with unbridled evil cannot exist for any length of time. So once the power of the Holy Spirit within the church is removed and no longer restraining, the powers of evil will take over. It will be a quick plunge into the darkest hour of the history of man. It will not last long at all. It will be straight down into the abyss, as far as the world is concerned.
There are powerful men who have been in the media spotlight for many years, who are waging a powerful war against the born again believers. Steve Allen, Carl Sagan, Ed Asner, and Norman Lear, have all been seeking to subvert the faith of many and to make Bible-believing Christians look like people who are bereft of their senses. Oh, how the powers of darkness long to take over the control of the world completely! But they cannot just yet. The Holy Spirit in the church is restraining it. He is that restraining force in the world today, holding back the tide of evil that is building up and ready to flood over the earth.
We are told in the Bible about two witnesses that God is going to send to the Jews in these last days after the church is gone. And they are, quite possibly, Moses and Elijah. We are told how they will be hated by the world. And if a person seeks to hurt either of these two witnesses, fire comes from their mouths and destroys their attacker. Thus, the Scripture says, those who try to hurt these witnesses of God are to be killed.
You remember when Elijah was on the earth before, the king sent out a captain with fifty men to bring him in as a prisoner. And he said, “Oh thou man of God, come down. The king has sent me to arrest you.” And Elijah said, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men.” And fire came down and consumed him with his fifty men. The king sent out another captain with fifty and he said the same thing, “Oh thou man of God, come on down. You are under arrest.” Elijah said, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you with your fifty men.” The third fellow was a little smarter. He said, “I am a family man, sir. And I am under orders of the king. Please, would you mind? Have mercy on me.” But here again, anyone seeking to hurt them, fire comes out of their mouth and destroys them and thus are they killed.
However, the Scripture says, when they have completed their testimony, then the beast will make war against them and overcome them and put them to death. But he cannot do it until they have completed their testimony, until the church has completed its testimony. We are here to be a restraining force against the evil through the power of the Holy Spirit, not through the political processes. That will never work. This is a spiritual battle and it is only through spiritual weapons that we will ever have any hope of success.
Satan loves to draw the Christian into the physical arena because he can make mincemeat out of him. Jesus said, “The children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light” (Luke 16:8). And if you try to go in and fight the political processes, look out—you are going to get just taken care of, but good! God has given us spiritual weapons. We need to use them. They are the only thing that we have of real force in this conflict. God will preserve us until we have finished our testimony. And when the church has finished its testimony, then the Lord will remove His church. The restraining forces will be gone and Satan will take over. Then the powers of darkness will be in full control.
In Revelation 5, John sees the church in heaven rejoicing over the victory of the Lamb. The church is declaring the worthiness of the Lamb to take the scroll and to loose the seals—the title deed of the earth. When Jesus takes the scroll, when He begins to loose the seals in chapter six—first notice the church is in heaven in chapter five. They are rejoicing in the Lamb and declaring His worthiness, because He has redeemed us by His blood out of every nation, tribe, tongue, and people. He hath made us kings and priests unto our God. We shall reign with Him on the earth. But then in chapter six, when He begins to break the seals of this title deed to the earth, the first seal brings forth the antichrist, coming forth to conquer and to destroy.
The power of the Holy Spirit in the world is to restrain the power of the antichrist from taking over. As soon as the Spirit of God within the church is removed, then the powers of darkness move in. So, the Holy Spirit in our lives today is a very important factor in this world that is ready and willing to be taken over by the powers of darkness. The forces of darkness are in control now.
I personally believe that they cannot quite understand why the whole program cannot be culminated. They have been attempting to, but I do not think that they even—well, I think they are beginning to realize it because they are beginning to talk about the religious fanatics that are keeping back the progress of world peace. So they are beginning to realize what it is. But they are ready to move. Me too! I am ready to move. Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!
Father, we thank You for the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. And Lord, we pray that we might be that purifying influence while we are here. Let us be, Lord, a strong witness for You. May we bear faithful testimony to the truth. Lord, we pray that You will hasten the day, that we might complete our testimony. Lord, that You might receive us out of this dark, black world, in order that those powers of sin might have their final day, in order that You might come and establish Your kingdom of righteousness, light, joy, and peace. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
[Unless otherwise noted, all Biblical references are quoted from King James Version.]
We are studying the subject of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This will be part one of three parts that we will examine on the subject of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
In Luke 3:16, we read concerning John the Baptist that,
John answered saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.
In John 1:33, again John the Baptist is speaking his testimony concerning Jesus. He said,
And I knew Him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
So John was prophesying of the one who was coming after him, who was mightier than he was, and who would baptize them with the Holy Spirit and fire. And John now testifies of Jesus, declaring that he really did not know that Jesus was the one until he saw this Spirit of God descending and remaining upon Him. For the one who sent him to baptize, told him that the one upon whom he saw the Spirit descend and remain was the one that would baptize with the Holy Spirit.
In Acts 1:4, Jesus was assembled together with His disciples and He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem but to wait for the promise of the Father, of which, He said,
Ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. (Acts 1:4-5)
What do we learn from these verses? First of all, that there is an experience that is properly called the baptism with the Holy Spirit. John said, “There is One coming after me, mightier than I am. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Luke 3:16) And he testified that Jesus was that one. It teaches us that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is separate and distinct from regeneration. It is one thing to be born of the Spirit, and yet another thing to be baptized with the Holy Spirit.
In John 20:22, we read that Jesus breathed on His disciples and He said unto them, “Receive ye the Holy Spirit.” It was at this point that the disciples did receive that indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
Now I know that there are those who would object and say that the action of Jesus in breathing on them and saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit,” was only symbolic. I would like to suggest that their declaration, that it is only symbolic, is their interpretation of the experience. But they are totally without scriptural warrant in making that interpretation. There is nothing in the Scripture that would indicate that they did not receive the Holy Spirit when Jesus breathed on them and told them to receive the Holy Spirit. In fact, it is sort of hard for me to believe that Jesus could breathe on you and say, “Receive ye the Holy Spirit,” and you not receive it. But the reason why they say it was only a symbolic action is because of their presupposition position, that regeneration and the baptism of the Holy Spirit are one and the selfsame experience.
But from the time that Jesus breathed on them, the Holy Spirit indwelt them. However, in Acts 1:4, Jesus told His disciples that they should not depart from Jerusalem but wait for the promise of the Father. For He said, “John indeed baptized with water unto repentance, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit in a few days.” And Jesus here speaks of and acknowledges two different baptisms. He acknowledges the baptism with John in water and the subsequent baptism of the Holy Spirit that they were to receive in just a few days.
Now in 1 Corinthians 12:13, Paul the Apostle declares that we were all baptized by the Spirit into one body. Note that it is baptism, by the one Spirit, into the body. In that case, it is the Spirit who is the one who is baptizing you into the body of Christ. But Jesus is the one who baptizes you with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit baptizes you into the body of Christ. Jesus baptizes you with the Holy Spirit.
Those who seek to deny that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is separate from regeneration, usually quote from Ephesians 4:3-5, where Paul is encouraging the church to keep the unity of the Spirit. “For,” he declares, “there is one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” Now what they usually do is put these two passages together. One baptism— “And you were all baptized by the one Spirit into the body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:13). When Paul is telling the Ephesian church to endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit and speaks about one Lord, one faith, one baptism, what he is referring to is that there is only one baptism into the body of Christ. There is only one body of Christ.
I believe that Paul was warning about the things that we see happening today, in that we have built up denominational barriers. And each denomination sort of claims its own exclusivity, as far as spiritual things are concerned. So, if you want to join the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church and they ask you if you have been baptized and you say, “Oh yes. I was down at Corona del Mar and I was baptized.” They will say, “Well no, we cannot accept that. Unless you have been baptized as a Lutheran, you cannot really join the church and so you will have to go through your classes and then be baptized by the Lutherans.” They will not accept baptism from Baptist churches or other churches, only their own.
The same is true of the Church of Christ. You may have been baptized by the Lutherans, but the Church of Christ will not accept that, nor will they accept Presbyterians or Baptists. They will only accept baptism by the Church of Christ. But then, if you want to change and you want to be a member of a Jesus Only fellowship, they will not accept that either. They say that a baptism is not valid unless you were baptized into the name of Jesus Only.
So this is just the very thing that Paul was warning about and seeking to guard against, the fact that everyone establishes their own parameters and you have to be baptized by us and into our church. Paul is saying, “No, no. There is only one body—the body of Christ. There is only one baptism.” Do not go around to be baptized by all of the different groups who require baptism by their group in order to be accepted into their fellowships. That is dividing the body of Christ and that is what Paul was speaking against.
We know that there is baptism in water. And the one who baptizes you in water is usually the pastor of the church. He is the one who is baptizing and the water is the element in which you are being baptized.
There is the baptism with the Holy Spirit and Jesus is the baptizer. John said, “He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (John 1:33). And the Holy Spirit is the element in which you are immersed, even as you have been immersed in water. So, to be immersed in the Holy Spirit is the thought and the idea behind the baptism with the Holy Spirit.
Now in the Greek language, there are three prepositions that signify relationship with the Holy Spirit. When Jesus was talking to His disciples the night on which He was betrayed, in John 14, He is encouraging them. Their hearts are discouraged. He is talking about going away and where He is was going they cannot come and they are upset. He seeks to encourage them and comfort them, promising that He would pray the Father who would give to them another Comforter, even the Spirit of truth, that He might abide with them forever. And speaking of the Holy Spirit, Jesus said,
Whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye knoweth him; [Jesus said], for He dwelleth with you and shall be in you. (John 14:17, emphasis added)
So the Holy Spirit, Christ said, is dwelling with you. He is there alongside of you. The Greek preposition is para, but He is also going to dwell in you. He is going to come in and He will indwell you. And I believe that is what transpired in the twentieth chapter of John, when Jesus breathed on them and said, “Receive ye the Holy Spirit.” I believe that the Holy Spirit began to indwell them at that time.
Now prior to your conversion, it was the Holy Spirit who convicted you of your sin. It was the Holy Spirit who revealed Jesus Christ to you as the One who could take care of your sins. It was the Holy Spirit that convinced you to accept Jesus as your Lord. And the minute you accepted Jesus as the Lord of your life, the Holy Spirit came into your life and began to indwell you. But that is not the baptism with the Holy Spirit.
As the Holy Spirit is dwelling in you, He begins that marvelous work of conforming you into the image of Jesus Christ. And we will talk about this in a subsequent lesson, when we are dealing with the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer—conforming him into the image of Jesus Christ. But there is that working of God’s Spirit within me and within every child of God. No man can call Jesus Lord except by the Holy Spirit. Paul said, “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, which is in you.” The Holy Spirit is in every child of God. You are not your own. You have been bought with a price. “If any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” (Romans 8:9). The Holy Spirit indwells every born again believer. You are born again by the Spirit into the body of Jesus Christ.
However, not every believer has the baptism of the Holy Spirit. And in our next lesson we will look at many instances of believers who were not baptized with the Holy Spirit upon their believing in Jesus Christ. But the baptism of the Holy Spirit was a subsequent experience to their believing, which occurred sometimes days later, sometimes weeks later, and sometimes even perhaps years later. We will be looking at these instances in our next lesson.
But we have two prepositions to look at now. He is with you. He shall be in you. And every one of you tonight, who have been born again, have had both experiences. You had the Holy Spirit with you to convict you and to bring you to Jesus Christ. And the moment He came, He began to indwell you. In Acts 1 again, where Jesus told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem—not to depart, but wait there for the promise of the Father—He then said to them, “For you shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” And here He uses the third Greek preposition, which is epi. He comes upon you or He comes over you. And I personally prefer when He overflows you.
And this epi baptism of the Holy Spirit is the empowering of the believer for service. Dwelling within me, He empowers me to be like Jesus. It is an inward work. It is a subjective work of the Holy Spirit within the believer, but the baptism is an outward working of the Spirit. It is the flowing forth from my life in the dynamis (the dynamic)—the power of God’s Spirit working through my life in touching those around me. It is one thing to have the Holy Spirit with you—para. It is another thing to have the Holy Spirit in you, but even more to have the Holy Spirit upon you, or over you.
Now, if I should have an empty glass up here on the pulpit, and next to it a large pitcher of water, and the pitcher of water was setting here and the empty glass next to it here, this pitcher of water would bepara—with the glass. If I start pouring the water from the pitcher into the glass, then the water is now in this glass—this vessel. Now, as the glass gets filled with water and I continue to pour water out of the pitcher, it now begins to overflow. It now is upon, or overflowing from, the glass and it is the epi at this point. So, you started out with thepara, as it is setting beside it. Then it is in it. And now it is overflowing it. And so it is with the Holy Spirit. Our life is like a vessel. The Holy Spirit is with us. He begins to dwell in us. But then the Lord continues to pour into us, until the Holy Spirit flows from us—the epi, or overflowing experience of the Holy Spirit.
Many Christians have the Holy Spirit in them, but the Holy Spirit is not flowing forth out of their lives. In John 7:37-38—and we will be covering this also in a subsequent lesson—Jesus, on the last day of the feast, stood and cried to the people saying,
If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
And John tells us that this He was speaking of the Spirit. He is speaking of this third relationship, the overflow or gushing forth from their lives like torrents of living water— that overflowing of the Spirit manifesting the real dynamic of the Spirit through your life.
Certainly, God wants us to be filled with the Spirit. In fact, that is a command of the Scripture. When Paul was writing to the Ephesians, he said, “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be ye [and he uses the present perfect tense] being filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18)—or be continually filled with the Spirit.
But God also wants us to be overflowing with the Spirit. So many people have the Spirit just all bottled up inside and there is no flowing forth of the Spirit from their life. They are content to just be nominal Christians, just participating but never to overflowing. But it is God’s desire, God’s purpose, and God’s will that your life be overflowing with the Spirit.
On the Day of Pentecost, the people gathered because of the supernatural phenomena, and Peter stood up and preached that message of Jesus Christ to them. The Holy Spirit brought conviction to the hearts of the people who were listening to Peter’s message. And inActs 2:37-39, they cried out and said, “Men and brethren, what shall we do, seeing that we have crucified the Lord of glory?” They recognized their sin—what they had done wrong. “What shall we do?” And Peter said, “Repent first. Secondly, be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins.” You see, the Holy Spirit was with them. They were convicted under the conviction of the Holy Spirit and they were crying out, “What shall we do?” Peter said, “Repent and be baptized.” That is when the Holy Spirit will come into your life and begin His indwelling.
And then thirdly, he went on to say, “And you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” That would be the epi, the overflowing, this glorious gift of God’s power for service. And then Peter said,
For this promise is unto you and to your children and to those who are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. (Acts 2:39)
So, there is no thought or indication that this gift of the Holy Spirit would cease at the close of the apostolic age, with the death of the last of the apostles. No thought of that at all; in fact, the opposite is indicated. This promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit is to you, to your children, and then to those that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. So in reality the promise is for us today, in this day.
I am convinced that the greatest need in the church today is a renewal of the teaching on the subject of the Holy Spirit, in order that the church might come into the fullness of the Spirit. We need a renewal of teaching on the baptism with the Holy Spirit, where your life will be empowered to go into this world in which we live and be a witness for Jesus Christ. I believe that the only hope for our nation today is a spiritual awakening that will begin in the church with a fresh movement of the Holy Spirit upon the lives and the hearts of the church, who is seeking, who is thirsting, who is asking.
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? (Luke 11:13)
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. (Matthew 5:6)
Now, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not the end all of all experiences that God has for you. It is just the opening of the door into this vast new dimension of power. After the baptism of the Holy Spirit, there is then the necessity for the walk in the Spirit. There is the need to be led by the Spirit, and to be constantly being filled with the Spirit, being controlled by the Spirit, and being empowered by the Spirit. And we will see as we go through and look at the examples of the apostles in the Book of Acts, how they were directed, guided, led, and warned by the Spirit as they were walking in the Spirit and after the Spirit.
Oh, how desperately we need that today! We need it for survival. We are living in those perilous days that the Scripture said would come. We are living in those days when the love of many is waxing cold. We are living in a day when, you can hardly dare to watch TV because of the filth and the smut that is aired, that can be planted into your mind. How we so desperately need to just wait upon God, to be overflowing with the Spirit of God, that the church might be a powerful witness and turn back the tide of evil that is engulfing our society and our community.
I am praying that as we study the subject of the Holy Spirit, God will give you such a hunger and such a thirst, that this series will end with the whole church waiting on God and being empowered by the Spirit of God. I am praying that there would be a fresh, new outpouring of God’s Spirit upon His church and upon His people. If this does not happen, it is only a matter of time until we will find ourselves crushed by the degraded world around us.
Let us pray.
Father, we thank You for the promise of the Holy Spirit, this wonderful gift of Your Holy Spirit, Lord. The promise that is to us, far off down the centuries from those first days, yet we are called of Thee. Lord, when we read of the power of the early church, we recognize, Lord, that we are very weak. But Lord, we also recognize how desperately we need that power of Your Holy Spirit tonight. Lord, how our hearts long to just be empowered by Your Spirit. And so, Lord, whatever it is that is holding back our lives from Your fullness, we pray that Your Spirit will reveal it. And Lord, we pray that we might see that sovereign work of Your Holy Spirit, dividing to each man severally at He wills, of the gifts of the Spirit, that Your church might be empowered, Lord, to be Your witness in these last days. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
[Unless otherwise noted, all Biblical references are quoted from King James Version.]
I would like to continue tonight in our study on the baptism of the Holy Spirit. First of all, we will look at the promises of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. In Matthew 3:11, John the Baptist 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.
And then Jesus gave the promise of the baptism with the Holy Spirit inActs 1:4.
Being assembled together with them [the disciples], 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. (Acts 1:4-5)
So that promise of John the Baptist and that promise of Jesus was fulfilled. And in Acts 2:1-4 we read:
And when the Day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
I have no doubt that this experience in Acts chapter 2 is the fulfillment of the promise of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Here it is declared that they were all filled with the Holy Ghost. And the word “filled” with the Holy Ghost seems to be used interchangeably with the term “baptism” of the Holy Ghost.
Now the issue that arises is whether the disciples were converted before the experience in the second chapter of Acts? Were they born again prior to this experience? You see, whether or not the baptism, the gift, or the filling of the Holy Spirit—which are all interchangeable terms—whether or not that is subsequent to and separate from conversion is a matter of debate within the church. And it is my belief that this baptism with the Holy Spirit, this filling of the Holy Spirit, was an experience that was subsequent to conversion.
In John 20:22, when Jesus breathed on His disciples and said to them, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost,” the question arises: did anything happen at that time? Now there are those who say that was only a symbolic action by Jesus. His breathing on them and saying, “Receive the Holy Ghost,” was just a symbolic action and that they did not receive the Holy Spirit at that time. That would be a very hard position to support or to prove with the Scriptures. It must be acknowledged that it is purely suppositional to say that nothing happened when Jesus breathed on them and said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” It is hard for me to think that Jesus could breathe on me and say, “Receive the Holy Ghost,” and nothing would happen.
You see, the promise of the baptism of the Holy Spirit by Jesus came after this event. It would perhaps mean, that when Jesus breathed on them and said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost,” that at that time they were born again by the Spirit. Jesus had said that we have to be born again. We have to have a spiritual birth. We have had the fleshly birth, but that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. And it could be that at that time when He said, “Receive ye the Holy Spirit,” that that was the time when they were actually born again of the Spirit, or converted.
Earlier Jesus had said to Peter, “When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren”(Luke 22:32). After this event, we find Peter in the position of strengthening the brethren. As we look at the first chapter of the Book of Acts, when Jesus ascended into heaven, Peter began to take a leadership role in the church. Peter began to be more or less the spokesman within the church, strengthening the brethren.
Now according to biblical interpretation—the laws of biblical interpretation—they say that the obvious meaning is usually the correct meaning. And that makes sense to me. I believe that God meant what He said and said what He meant. And thus, as you go through the Scriptures, it is best not to try to read something into the Scriptures or to find some kind of subtle hidden meaning to the Scriptures. But the obvious meaning is usually the correct meaning.
Now if Jesus breathed on them and said, “Receive ye the Holy Spirit,” then the obvious understanding would be that they received the Holy Spirit. That at that point the Holy Spirit began to indwell them. But they were not yet baptized with the Holy Spirit, which was a subsequent experience that took place on the Day of Pentecost. Thus, the baptism with the Holy Spirit was subsequent to conversion and their receiving the Holy Spirit as an indwelling presence and power within their lives.
Now let us take a look at the Book of Acts to see if this interpretation is not born out by the subsequent events of believers and the filling, or the baptism, or the gift of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 2, after Peter had preached to the multitudes, who had gathered because of the supernatural phenomena that took place with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the people were convicted of their sin. And they said, “Men and brethren, what shall we do, seeing we have crucified the Lord of glory?”
And Peter said,
Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For this promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. (Acts 2:38-39)
Thus, the threefold command: repent, be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins, and then the third—”and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” It seems that it would also be an experience that would be subsequent to their repenting and being baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of their sins. Then you shall receive—subsequent to that, the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Now of course, I admit that it is not an airtight kind of an argument. It is again, just looking at what seems to be obvious. However, as we go on to Acts 8, we find that Philip had gone to Samaria as the result of the persecution. And he was preaching Christ unto them, and many believed the preaching concerning the kingdom of God and they were baptized, both men and women. So, they believed the preaching of the gospel by Philip and they were baptized. But then we read that, when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John, that they might receive the Holy Ghost. “For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 8:16).
So, here they are believing and had been baptized in the name of Jesus, but they had not yet received this gift of the Holy Spirit. So, the church in Jerusalem sent Peter and John that they might receive this subsequent experience of the baptism with the Holy Spirit. In believing and being baptized in the name of Jesus, the Holy Spirit would, of necessity, be residing in them, because no man can call Christ, “Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
And yet, there was a relationship with the Holy Spirit. He had not yet come upon them. And this is that preposition epi. We dealt with epi in our last lesson as we looked at the threefold relationship with the Holy Spirit demonstrated by the three Greek prepositions, para, en, andepi. He is with you (para). He shall be in you (en). And you will receive power when He comes upon you (epi). They had not yet had the epiexperience. They had the with—they were convicted. They had the in—the Holy Spirit had come within them because they were baptized in the name of Jesus. But they had not yet had the epi, the overflowing (or baptism) with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit had not yet fallen upon (epi) any of them.
And so we read that Peter and John prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit. “And they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit” (Acts 8:17).
Now there must have been some visible or audible evidence that they had received the Holy Spirit; why else would Simon the sorcerer ask to purchase the power that he saw manifested? Because he wanted to go around and lay hands on people that they might receive the Holy Spirit also. He desired that power—offered to buy it. There must have been some kind of audible or visible evidence, though it is not recorded, by which they knew that they were receiving a special gift from God. I would assume that it was their speaking in unknown tongues, but that is only an assumption. The Bible does not tell us.
As we look next at Acts 9, we read that Paul, who was then known as Saul of Tarsus, was on his way to Damascus to imprison those who were calling on the name of the Lord. Suddenly, there was a bright light from heaven about noontime, but it was brighter than the noonday sun. And Paul fell on the ground and he heard a voice saying unto him, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?” And he responded, “Who are you, Lord, that I might serve You?” And the answer came, “I am Jesus of Nazareth.” And then he asked, “What would You have me to do, Lord?” (Acts 9:6).
Now, I do not believe that anyone can question that Paul was converted at that moment on the road to Damascus. I believe that when a man submits himself to the lordship of Jesus Christ, that is a definite sign of conversion. It is also a definite sign of the Holy Spirit. No man can call Christ, Lord, except by the Holy Spirit. And here he is saying, “What would You have me to do, Lord?” (Acts 9:6). And so the Lord told him to go into a town and what he was to do would be shown to him. So, Paul came to Damascus blinded as a result of his experience. Being led into Damascus, he was taken to the house of a man whose name was Judas, who lived on the main street in town. It was called Straight street.
Now there was a certain disciple in Damascus whose name was Ananias and he had a vision. The Lord appeared to him in a vision and told him that he was to go to the street called Straight, to inquire at the house of Judas for a certain man, Saul of Tarsus. The Lord said, “Behold he prayeth.” Ananias was hesitant and argued with the Lord. He said, “Lord, I have heard about this fellow, how he has wrecked the church and has even come to Damascus to imprison those who call upon Your name.” But the Lord assured Ananias that He knew what He was doing and commanded him to go and pray for Paul that he might receive his sight and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. And so, Ananias came to Paul and he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus that appeared to you on the way, has sent me to you that you might receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And here again, Paul’s filling with the Holy Spirit was subsequent to and separate from his conversion on the road to Damascus.
In Acts 10, Peter had been called by the Lord to go to Caesarea, to the house of the Centurian whose name was Cornelius. And as Peter came to the house of Cornelius, Cornelius had assembled a lot of his friends. And Peter began to share with them the truth of Jesus Christ. And as he shared with them the truth of Jesus Christ, we read that the Holy Spirit fell upon (epi) all who were hearing the Word. And those who came with Peter were surprised that the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the Gentiles. They realized that the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out upon them because they heard them speaking in tongues and magnifying God.
Now in this instance, the gift of the Holy Spirit was associated with their believing in Jesus Christ and took place before their baptism in water. In fact, it was decided that it was alright now to baptize Gentiles, seeing that God had given them the gift of the Holy Spirit. It would appear in the case of the house of Cornelius, that the filling with the Spirit and their conversion was a simultaneous experience and that, indeed, with their conversion, they were filled with the Spirit.
Now Peter was explaining to the Jews in Jerusalem what had happened when he went to the house of a Gentile, since he was sort of called on the carpet because of this experience. As he was explaining to them what had happened, he was not wanting to accept any responsibility for it. Peter said,
And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell upon 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.” (Acts 11:15)
So Peter said, “I was just talking to them and while I was talking, the Holy Spirit just fell on them. I did not do anything. I mean, the Holy Spirit just did it. And when it happened, then I remembered the words of Jesus, ‘John indeed baptized you with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit’—I remembered then those words of Jesus.” So what had happened to them was the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Peter relates it to that. It talks about their being filled with the Spirit, and thus again, these terms—gift of the Holy Spirit, baptism of the Holy Spirit, and filled with the Holy Spirit—are all describing the same event and they seem to be used interchangeably.
Now in Acts 19, Paul had come to Ephesus. And just the other day, I visited Ephesus, and it is indeed an extremely remarkable city. The ruins of the city of Ephesus are probably the most extensive ruins of any of the ancient cities of the ancient world. It has awesome marble streets that go for blocks and blocks, many of them. The remains of the temples and the buildings and all are phenomenal. It was the major commercial city of Asia Minor. It was the gateway to Asia. All of the goods coming from Asia to Europe passed through Ephesus and vice versa. It was a bustling city when Paul came to it, but Paul was not the first one to come to Ephesus with the gospel.
When Paul had taken the gospel to Corinth, because he was a tentmaker, he got a job with a couple whose names were Priscilla and Aquilla. And when he left Corinth to go back to Jerusalem, they came with him on his journey as far as Ephesus. They remained in Ephesus, as Paul went back to Jerusalem for the Jewish holiday. While they were there, there was a certain Jew, a brilliant man and an eloquent man, whose name was Apollos. He was a man who was well-versed in the Scriptures and a man who was able to prove by the Scriptures, that Jesus was the Messiah.
And Apollos was preaching to the Jews in Ephesus, showing by the Scriptures—proving by the Scriptures—that Jesus was the Messiah. However, there were certain parts of his theology that were not complete. So, Priscilla and Aquilla upon hearing him, took Apollos aside and shared with him the truths that they had learned from Paul. As a result, he had an even more complete grasp of the life and the nature of Jesus. Many people believed in Jesus Christ in Ephesus as a result of this ministry by Apollos.
Now, there was something that was lacking. It is possible to meet believers in Jesus Christ, and as you begin to relate to them a bit and are around them a bit, you can discern that there is just something that is lacking in their experience. There is a lack of joy. They say they are Christians, but you would never know it by looking at their faces. They seem to be so sober and almost angry with the world. There is a lack of love. They are cutting and critical. They have a lack of fervency and are neither hot nor cold, but just sort of lukewarm. There is no fervency in their experience.
And so, as Paul met these believers in Ephesus, he noted there was something that was lacking in their experience and relationship with the Lord. And Paul was seeking to get hold of the problem: What is wrong here? And so he asked them the question,
Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? (Acts 19:2)
“Have you had this subsequent relationship? You have believed, but did you receive the Holy Spirit?” Now the Greek scholars say that should be translated, “did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed,” rather than “since you believed.” It really does not matter how you translate it, if you use the word since or when, it still has the same implications. And that is, that the receiving of the Holy Spirit, this gift or baptism or filling, is subsequent to believing.
And one can believe without receiving this filling or baptism of the Holy Spirit. If one asks, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit since you believed?” of course, the quite obvious implication is that the receiving occurs subsequent to belief. And if one asks, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” the question would indicate that you could believe yet not receive. So however it should properly be translated into English, it has the same effect, in that both cases show that this baptism or infilling of the Spirit is subsequent to believing.
Now they responded,
We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. (Acts 19:2)
They were totally ignorant. “Holy Spirit? What is that?” And Paul said, “Well, how were you baptized?” In other words, when Jesus commanded the disciples to go into all the world and to teach all nations, He said, “Baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” It was there in the baptismal formula. So, Paul’s question was: “You have not heard of the baptism of the Holy Spirit? Well, how were you baptized? Were you not baptized in the baptismal formula that Jesus commanded—in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit?” They answered, “No! We were baptized with John’s baptism.”
Now John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance from sin. And so they were then baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. And then we read that when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came “epi” upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. So again, it was an experience that was subsequent to their believing and their conversion. Paul laid his hands upon them, and they then received this gift of the Holy Spirit, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.
It is interesting that there is some confusion that has been generated over the baptismal formula. It is true that in the Book of Acts, we do not find any mention of baptizing in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. We do read, however, “And they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 8:16). Yet Paul’s question would indicate that it was generally accepted practice to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Now as we have looked at these cases in the Book of Acts, what we have observed is that there was a variety of experiences, methods, and ways by which the people received the gift of the Holy Spirit, or the filling of the Holy Spirit, or the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
In Acts 2, they were all sitting there, when suddenly there was a noise from heaven that sounded like a mighty rushing wind filling all the house. There were cloven tongues, like as of fire, sitting upon each of them. And they all began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them the ability.
In Acts 8, the gift of the Holy Spirit was imparted by the laying on of hands by Paul and by John. It is interesting that this was not done by Philip, who was an evangelist and used mightily of God in working miracles. But Philip was not used of God in the imparting of the Holy Spirit. And we will talk about that in subsequent lessons.
In Acts 9, the Holy Spirit was imparted to Paul by an average believer. Ananias? Who is he? He was not an apostle. He was just a certain disciple in Damascus, but really not of any spiritual hierarchy. Ananias was just a common believer in Damascus.
Now the Holy Spirit was imparted to those in Samaria when Peter and John laid their hands on them. Yet there is no mention of any supernatural phenomena accompanying their being filled. However as we pointed out, there obviously was something that occurred, though the Scripture does not record it; or else Simon would not have sought that power.
When Paul received the Holy Spirit, there was the healing of the blindness that took place at the same time. But there was no mention of any other supernatural phenomena accompanying his receiving the Holy Spirit. However, it should be mentioned that later when Paul was writing to the Corinthians about the gifts of the Spirit, he declared that he did speak in tongues more than all of them.
In Acts 10, Peter did not get a chance to lay hands on them. While he was speaking, suddenly his message was interrupted by the Holy Spirit, who just fell upon them and they began to speak in tongues. As Peter was speaking to them, there was just that sovereign move of God’s Spirit, and this empowering, this filling of the Spirit.
In Acts 19, when Paul was there in Ephesus, again he laid his hands on them and they spoke in tongues, and they prophesied. So that in all of the illustrations that we have of the infilling of the Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts, there are no two identical experiences. There was not a repeated experience recorded. In every scriptural passage that was identified, the closest thing was perhaps the experience of the house of Cornelius with the disciples. But there was no mighty rushing wind and no cloven tongues of fire. They were just speaking in tongues, which says to me, that God is not bound by a particular method or by a particular way.
God can do things as He wants to do them and we are wrong in trying to pattern our experience after somebody else. We are wrong to look for the same kind of an experience that someone else has had. And I think that there is a real danger of this in the church. God deals with us as individuals according to our own nature and according to our own temperaments. You cannot formulize God and say, “Well now, do this and lay your hand there, and touch this spot. I mean, there is no formula. God is sovereign.
There are people who have testified of their experiences and I accept their testimony as legitimate. I am not going to disclaim what they are saying. Finney described these waves of liquid love that just kept flowing over and over him, until he had to shout out to God crying, “God, stop! I cannot take any more.” Now that is wonderful, and that is glorious, and that is how Finney experienced the baptism with the Holy Spirit. But it does not mean that is the way you are going to experience it or that I am going to experience it. And you see, the danger is to hear someone else’s experience or to read about someone else’s experience and think that such an experience is what happens or that is how you are going to feel.
I have heard people talk about how they felt like there was electricity going through their body from the top of their head and out through their toes or something. Well, that is great. I have never experienced that. I was struck by lightening once and I felt like there was electricity going through me, but I would not attribute that to the Holy Spirit. It was a bolt of lightening and I was laid on the ground by it. But their experience is wonderful!
I am not discounting the experience of others, but I am saying that not everybody has that experience and it is wrong to look for a particular experience. Because when you are looking for a particular experience, then the tendency is to put your faith in the experience rather than in the promise of the Word of God. And so often, when you are looking for a particular experience that someone else had—because God does not follow a pattern—it may be that you will not have that kind of an experience. This does not mean that God is not working in your life. It does not mean that you are not filled with the Holy Spirit because you did not have the similar experience that someone else had.
And so God shows us in the Book of Acts that there is a wide variety of ways by which He operates in the lives of individuals. And it does not follow a consistent pattern all the way through; rather there seems to be a total inconsistency of the way God did it all the way through the Bible. Experiencing the gift of the Holy Spirit was never exactly the same; and thus, the testimony of scripture leaves room for you to experience God in your own personal way. God is not bound to a formula.
Thus, my suggestion to you is just to be totally open to whatever and however God wants to work in your life. You should not look for a particular sensation, not look for a particular gift, not look for a particular reaction or a response. But just be open to let God work and to do however He desires through the imparting of this glorious gift upon your life. It may be that it will be through the laying on of hands by someone—one of the pastors, or one of the laymen in the church, as it was with Paul. It may be that no one will lay their hands on you, as was the case in Acts 2, when the believers were just all sitting together—and notice they were sitting. And I have heard of people who were standing, and I have heard of people who were lying on the floor. It does not matter—even lying in bed. God is not bound to one particular way.
And just open your heart. As Peter was preaching in the house of Cornelius, the hearts of the people were opened by the Spirit. The Spirit was bearing witness of the truth to their hearts. And as their hearts were opened by faith, they were receiving the Word of God. And as they were receiving the Word, the Holy Spirit just came upon them and it was beautiful!
So just be open. Do not try to pattern God. Do not look for a particular experience, but just receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Receive that power—that dynamic power in your life to be what God wants you to be. Receive the power to be a true witness for Jesus Christ in this world.
Shall we pray?
Father, we need, we desire, and we long for the power of Your Holy Spirit in our lives. And we thank You that You have promised that if we ask anything according to Your will, then we have received those things that we have asked of You. We know that it is Your will that we be filled with the Spirit, because it is Your command. And thus, Lord, we ask that we might receive. We seek that we might find that power—that dynamic. And as You work Lord, in Your own sovereign, special way, may we be open and may we receive, even in this moment. In Jesus’name. Amen.
[Unless otherwise noted, all Biblical references are quoted from King James Version.]
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In the Latter Days that we live in, we are told Knowledge would increase. In this the Last Generation before Jesus return; knowledge is happening so fast that only pieces of wisdom can be communicated and so much is happening too fast few take the time to verify facts; or “be there” for those who will err and makes mistakes.
“Saving a Soul is easy; living with it is Hard”
Jesus said His People are known by thier love; so while we cannot find many who will love His Body as we do; we do glean and share the best of Chrisitiantiy and the Heritage of God providing the material and inspiration God has given to;
Prepare His People to Come Home
Yes! We are Going Home!
In none of the Authors presented is anyone without error or perfect religion or faith. All are men and women of God and as such are flawed. That is the gift God allows in us in our imperfections we perfectly fit each other if we find the Way, the Truth and the Life; which is Jesus. In Him our flaws; debates; differences and dissertations mean nothing, for in Him is everything. By Him We Love One another as Jesus Love us.
We will help to prepare the Bride by giving her the freedom to be who she is, as she is in these Networks and words of the Men and Women of God. We will build and bless, encourage and exhort, pray and seek peace in the violent and violence of the age we live in. We pray for the Soon return of the Prince of Peace because untill He do the only Peace we will have is inside our hearts as we dwell in Him.
The Rest of the World is headed for Hell as fast as it can get there; and we are those who seek to save to the Uttermost any who are Lost.
God so Loved the World and He alone can save it; He alone will judge it.
We see our role as the Fringes on the Bottom of the Garment that adorns the Bride Jesus is coming for. We know we will at times cause some to turn away inadvertently because of personal preference. That is as it should be. Some will walk away, some draw closer to Jesus.
We love them all, but we leave how a person is led to the person that is leading them.
All I can say is God be with you and God Bless You for all we do is present these Networks for Learning of Jesus and God our Father; Your relationship with Jesus is your own and your dynamic in God between you and Him.
Our function is to provide, we ask nothing in return.
If we do it well, it is enough.
Yes! Jesus is Coming!
(and for some of us, we just can’t wait)