The Baptism Of The Spirit (Chap. 2).
The blessed promise that our Lord should baptize with the Holy Spirit has given rise to considerable difference as to the way in which its fulfilment may be expected. This is surely a proof of how much we are lacking its full experience. Where the Spirit is in great power, He would bring His own evidence that we have the Baptism and what it includes. There are specially two diverse views to which much attention has been directed of late. The one maintains that, as every believer receives the Holy Spirit in regeneration, there can be no thought of a Baptism of the Spirit still to be sought for. The promise was fulfilled to the Church in the Gift of Pentecost, and of that heritage of the Church every believer gets his share on believing in Christ. The opposite view hohis that just as Christ's disciples, and Philip's converts at Samaria, and the twelve men at Ephesus, were true believers, and yet needed specially to reci ive the promised Spirit, so now every believer must seek and may expect this baptism subsequent to his conversion. A third view takes somewhat middle ground, and while agreeing with the first, that the Holy Spirit dwells in every believer, it maintains that the believer may from time to time receive very special conscious renewals of the Spirit's presence and power from on high, and that these may justly be regarded as fresh baptisms of the Spirit. I cannot better compare the two former views than by giving extracts from two representative little books: the one—' Be Filled with the Spirit; or, Scriptural Studies about the Holy Ghost,' by Rev. Ernest Boys; the other, 'The Baptism of the Holy Ghost,' by Rev. Asa Mahan.
In his book Mr. Boys goes through the whole of the New Testament, noting all the passages that have reference to the Spirit, to find the answer to the question, 'Whether believers are already possessed by the Spirit in all His fulness and power, as a permanent and abiding presence, or whether they are to" look for some peculiar experience called by some, "the Baptism of the Spirit."' He thinks ihat 'a careful study of the New Testament leads to the conclusion that every true believer is called, not to wait to enjoy the possession of the Holy Spirit in His fulness and power, but is entitled to believe that he already enjoys the glorious privilege, and is to act accordingly.' 'The operations of the Holy Ghost in producing faith and regeneration we believe to be His work on rather than in the heart. How far they involve His actual entrance into the heart it is beyond our power to determine. But of this we are sure—that when there has resulted that faith which makes one the child of God, then there takes place, in the case of every one, a real entrance into, and a permanent abiding indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the heart.' 'Whatever be the believer's attitude and relationship towards the Spirit in matters of Christian life and experience, he is not to spend his time and prayers in seeking a further indwelling of the Spirit. This, in all its fulness, is a glorious fact already. But he is to enter more thoroughly into an intelligent and spiritual perception of what at present actually exists.'
l n speaking of the day of Pentecost, he very strongly urges the thought that in His descent then, He came permanently to dwell on earth. 'In Acts ii. we have the personal descent of the Holy Ghost to take up His abode in the Church on earth, and to "abide with it for ever" (John xiv. 16). As the Son of God became incarnate by union with a really human body, so there is a sense in which the Holy Ghost became incarnate also at Pentecost, uniting Himself with the human bodies of men and women who believed in Christ. He has dwelt in the Church, as the Body of Christ, only by dwelling in the heart of each individual who is a real memb, r of that Body, and thereby uniting him with Christ as the Head. And now, we believe, it is from this earthly dwelling,place, and not, as it were, afresh from heaven, that He communicates Himself afresh to each new member of the spiritual body, working also in and through the believers. Each believer is thus not only an agent, through whom the Holy Ghost manifests and carries home the reality of Divine truth to others, but is also, in a certain sense, a source from which He personally communicates Himself to other hearts' (John xv. 26, 27, vii. 38, 39).
Speaking of the prayer in Eph. iii. 14-21, he writes: 'In searching Scripture, we shall find that in no one single case are believers after Pentecost exhorted to ask for the Holy Spirit as a gift not yet received, but that the Holy Spirit, already dwelling in them, may carry on with power His various offices in the inner man.' And in summing up at the conclusion, he says: ,'If language means anything at all, we have the constantly-repeated assurance of the inspired writer.-, that the indwelling of the Holy Ghost is a present rea'ity in every one who is a true child of God. ... It must be confessed, however, that there is very little indication of the Spirit's indwelling to be seen in the lives and conduct ot' a vast number of Christian professors. In view of tilings as they are in the Christian Church, we do not wonder that godly people are looking ab ut for a remedy, and that they turn to the Holy Spirit as they look for this. But we are astonished that men do not Bee that the secret is an open one, and that the remedy is very near them—indeed, already within them. What we want is that same simple childlike faith in the person of the Holy Spirit within us, as we have been taught to exercise in all the work of Christ on our behalf. . . . All spiritual experience springs, in the first instance, from a simple belief in facts which cannot appear real to our consciousness until we simply believe them, in spite of all feelings and appearances to the contrary. Let us bring this simple and childlike faith to bear upon the truth of the Holy Spirit's indwelling in our hearts, and let us start afresh on a life of surrender to His leadings, and in the realization of the Scripture exhortations which have been unfolded in the previous chapters. So shall we find the true secret of happiness. of holiness, of spiritual power—which is, daily and hourly to be tilled with the Spirit.'
I have of set purpose given somewhat full extracts, both because I wish to insist on the deep importance of the aspect of truth here presented, and to indicate how after all it is only one side of the truth. In connection with the former object, I may say that for a Conference held in the course of this year, at which some twentyseven ministers met and spent six days in prayer and study on the work of the Holy Spirit, a copy of Mr. Boys' book had been sent to each member some weeks before. When we met, more than one testified to the blessing that had been received in using it. There was one passage to which one referred as having been made a great blessing to him, and by which others had been struck, as making clear the position we ought to take towards the Holy Spirit, without which our prayers for His workings would avail but little. Mr. Boys writes (p. 29): 'If we were asked very briefly the true meaning of being "filled with the Spirit," we should say that it involved, not, our having "more of the Spirit," but rather the Spirit having more of us. There is a vast difference between the two; and many who earnestly seek this fulness of the Spirit fail to see this. They are longing, waiting, praying for God to give tl em something more; when, in order to be "filled with tl.e Spirit," ihey must give. Him something more than they have given already.' Not many days later a similar testimony was received from one who had been prevented from coming, but who wiote of its having been to him like a new revelation, to see that he had all of the Holy Ghost he needed to have or ever could have. I am certain that there are many Christians, and many ministers in Christ's Church, with whom this is the one thing they lack, the living faith that the Spirit is dwelling within them, equal to every emergency, and only waiting to be admitted to a more entire possession and a more complete control. In our evangelical preaching we need to have every young convert fully instructed in this truth, that the only living assurance of acceptance, the only power of holiness and fruitI'ulness, the only possibility of the enjoyment of Christ's presence and indwelling, are to be found in the faith of the indwelling Spirit.
Let us now turn to the other side. In Dr. Mahan's book, The Baptism of the Spirit, we have an entirely different aspect of God's truih from one who equally desires only to know what the mind of God in Scripture is. A few sentences from the preface to a new edition will make his position clear. Referring to John xiv. 15-17, he writes: 'The Holy Spirit had convinced tl.e disciples of sin, had induced them to believe in Chris', to We Him, and to keep His commandments. Fro,n the hour of their conversion He had been with them, ami their bodies had been His temples. During the ten days th,se disciples waited at Jerusalem, waiting the promise of the Father, the same Spirit was with them still, perfecting their obedience, intensifying their aspirations, unifying their accord, and completing their preparation for the inward enlightenments and intluemi nts of power which were to result from the approaching Baptism. All that preceded Pentecost was preparatory to this Baptism, but no part of it. Their conversion and subsequent preparation were the work of the Spirit just as much as the Baptism, and the former was indispensable to the latter. Had the apostles continued in the preparatory stage of their experience, or had they gone forth to their work prior to the reception of the promise of the Spirit, the world would never have felt their influence. Waiting, on the other hand, "the promise of the Father," and going forth as Christ did, "in the power of the Spirit," they soon turned the world upside down.
'The same holds true of all believers, the least as well as the greatest, under the present dispensation,,—the dispensation of the Spirit. As with the apostles and their associates, so with every believer in Jesus. After inducing repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, the Spirit abides with and works in him, as He did in them prior to Pentecost, and this for the one purpose, 10 perfect his love and obedience and inward preparation, that "the Holy Ghost may fall on him as He did on them at the beginning." If the convert stop short of this consummation, and if he does this especially under the belief that he did receive the Baptism of the Ho'y Ghost in conversion, he will almost inevitably remain through life in the weakness and darkness of the Old, instead of going forward to his life-work under the induement of power and spiritual illuminations peculiar to the New Dispensation.
'Here this great doctrine is met by the counter one, that every new-born soul does receive the promised Baptism of the Spirit, and all accompanying induements of power at the time of his conversion. In confirmation of this doctrine such passages are adduced as those whieh affirm that "all have been baptized into one body," and that the bodies of all believers are "temples of the Holy Ghost." All this, we teach, is true of every convert now, and has been true of every converted person since the fall The apostles must have had the Spirit of Christ, or they could not have been His. Yet, in the Ne Iv Testament pense of the word, "the Holy Ghost was not yet given," and they were not "baptized with .the Holj Ghost" until Pentecost bad fully come. So, of all converts in this dispensation, they have the Spirit of Christ, and their bodies are His temples. This was true of all the converts in Samaria before Peter and John came there. Yet the Holy Ghost had not fallen upon one of them. How any person can contemplate the revealed results of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, and then affirm, in presence of palpable facts, that every such convert has received the "induement of power" included in "the promise of the Spirit," is a mystery of mysteries to us. Language is without meaning if "the promise of the Spirit" does not await the believer after he has entered into a state of justification, and then in a state ot' " love and obedience," and supreme consecration to Christ, "tarries" before God until he is "endued with power from on high."'
In this statement of Scripture truth we have perfect agreement with the previous one on the one great point, that every believer has the Holy Spirit dwelling in him, that he ought to know this, and believe that the Spirit will work in him what he needs for further growth and strength. The difference arises when the question comes to the way in which the believer is to attain the full expeiience of all that the indwelling of the Spirit implies. While the former answer is, Kelieve that He is within you, open up and surrender your whole being to Him, He will fill you; the second speaks, Wait before the Throne for this filling as a special distinct gift, the fulfilment, of the Father's promise.
Let me say at once, th,t if it be maintained in connection uith this second view that every believer must consciously seek and rtceive, as a distinct experience, such a Baptism, this does not appear to me what the Word of God teaches. But if it be put in this way, that in answer to believing prayer many believers have received, and those who seek it will often receive, such an inflow of the Spirit of God as will to them indeed be
notlvng less than a new Baptism of the Spirit, I cannot but regard it as in harmony with the teaching of Scripture. I have already expressed my deep sense of the truth and value of the positive part of the teaching in Mr. Boys' book, but with the extent to which he goes in denying that we should still pray for the Spirit I can hardly agree, and am anxious to point out how, as it appears to me, there are aspects of the truth in God'e word by which his view must still be supplemented.
There is one truth of which I cannot but think he has somewhat lost sight. In a passage quoted above, he speaks very strongly about the Spirit having come to this earth, and taken up His abode in the Body of Christ, the Church; so much so, that all communications of the Spirit to the unconverted come through believers. This is an aspect of the truth of the utmost importance, and far too little realized. But there is another aspect that must not be lost sight of. The Spirit is the Spirit of God. He is not only in the Church, but also in the Father and the Son. The Father, t! e Son, and His Body the Church: the Spirit is the one life in which these have their fellowship. God has not given His Spirit to believers, in the sense of parting with Him; or as if, by once giving, He did not now need any more to give.1 By no means. All Divine giving is in the power of the Eternal Life, the power of a continuous life-flow from God through Christ to His people. And it is therefore consistent with the fullest acknowledgment of the Spirit dwelling in us that the believer calls for more. That there is a great deal of prayer in which the presence of the Spirit is forgotten, is ignored, I admit and deplore; and I deeply feel the loss which the Church suffers by it. And yet it would be falling into the other extreme, if,
1 ' We arc not to think of the "giving " of the Spirit as an isolated deposit of what, once given, is now locally in possession. The first "gift" is, as it were, the first point in a series of actions, of which each one may also be expressed as a gift.'—Moule on Bph. i. 17.
because God has given and we have received the Spirit, we were no longer to pray for more of Him.
It is often said, But how can you ask for that which you have 1 The answer is a very simple one. The fingers that hold the pen with which I write are as full of blood as can be in perfect health; and yet, if they could speak, would we not continually hear them calling to the heart, Oh, send in the fresh blood, without which we cannot live! The branch that hangs full of fruit is as full of sap as it can hold, and yet it unceasingly offers its emptiness and need to the vine for that unceasing supply without which the fruit could not be ripened. The lungs are full of breath, and yet call for a fresh supply every moment Just so with the believer who understands that he has not the Spirit as a power he can use or dispose of, or as a Person who renders him independent of the Son, but as His Spirit, who brings into living connection with Him and increasing dependence; his whole life of prayer will be the harmony of a faith that praises for the Spirit that has been received, and yet always waits for His fuller inflow out of Him in whom His fulness dwells.
We see this union of having and asking in the life of the Son. He knew that the Father had given Him all things, yea, that the Father was in Him, and yet He felt the need of prayer. He had had the indwelling Spirit from His birth, and yet His receiving the Spirit from above at His Baptism was a real Divine transaction; as He prayed, the heavens opened, and the Spirit descended. We see it too in Paul's Epistles. He had just reminded the Ephesians that they had been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, when he told them that he prayed for them that God might give them 'the Spirit of wisdom and revelation.' He not only asks that the Spirit in them may make them wise; he is not afraid to pray for ' the Spirit of wisdom.' And so later on, when he asks that the Father would, 'according to the riches of His glory,' as something very wonderful and Divine, 'strengthen them with might by the Spirit,' he indicates to us how it
is not enough that we know and believe that the Spirit is in us, but that it is in prayer to the Father that the men ase of the Spirit's power will come, and we be filled with Him. His interchange of the expression, 'Give 3rou the Spirit of wisdom,' and 'Give you to be strengthened with the Spirit,' gives us liberty to ask in either way, if we only realize that the Spirit is already in us, and that it is only in the prayer of faith to the Father where the Spirit is, that the increased inflow of His presence and power can come. The faith that He is in us, the assurance that He wants more of us, and that if He only has us wholly will fill us, will just urge us to prayer to the Father, whose it is, unceasingly and evermore, in the power of the endless life, to give the Spirit through the Son. It would indeed be sad if a believer, on once having received the Spirit, were to feel that Christ's precious word, 'How much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him,' was something he had now outgrown, and that this chief of blessings He need now no longer ask. No, as the anointing with fresh oil is a daily need, it is daily received in living fellowship with the Father through Him in whom the fulness ever abides. And just so the thought of Jesus baptizing with the Spirit is not a remembrance of what is now a past thing, done once for all, but a promise of what may be a daily, continuous experience. The faith that we have the Spi'it within us, even when it has almost come like a new revelation, and filled us with joy and strength, will lose its freshness and its power except as the inflow is maintained in living fellowship with the Father and the S in. The lesson of Pentecost holds good for all ages. As our Lord i? seated on the Throne in the glory to give the Spirit, the footstool of the Throne remains the place where the Spirit is received. The deeper our faith becomes that we have the Spirit, the more continuous will be our prayer that the Father grant us His mighty workings. It is only in the living intercourse with the Father and the Son, in the worship and prayer of faith, that the Spirit will work mightily.
These remarks may have prepared the way for what appears to me the scriptural light in which the prayer fnr the Baptism of the Spirit may be offered, and an answer expected.
1. To the disciples the Baptism of the Spirit was very distinctly not His first bestowal for regeneration, but the definite communication of the Presence in power of their glorified Lord.
2. Of this Spirit, with which the Church of Christ was baptized, every believer is made a partaker; he has the Spirit of Christ dwelling in him.
3. Just as there was a twofold operation of the one Spirit in the Old and New Testament, of which the state of the disciples before and after Pentecost was the most striking illustration, so there may be, and in the great majority of Christians is, a corresponding difference of experience. This difference between the bare knowledge of His presence and His full revelation of the indwelling Christ in His glory, is owing either to ignorance or unfaithfulness.
4. When once the distinct recognition of what the indwelling of the Spirit was meant to bring is brought home to the soul, and it. is ready to give up all to be made partaker of it, the believer may ask and expect what may be termed a Baptism of the Spirit. Praying to the Father in accordance with the two prayers in Ephesians, and coming to Jesus in the renewed surrender of faith and obe<li, nee, he may receive s;:ch an inflow of the Holy Spirit as shall consciously lift him to a different level from the one on which he has hitherto lived.
5. The wav in which the Baptism comes may be very different. To some it comes as a glad and sensible quickening of their spiritual life. They are so filled with the Spirit that all their feelings are stirred. They can speak of something they have distinctly experienced as a gift from the Father. To others it is given, not to their feelings, but to their faith. It comes as a deep, quiet, but clearer insight into the fulness of the Spirit in Christ as indeed being theirs, and a faith that feels confident that His sufficiency is equal to every emergency that may arise. In the midst of weakness tliey know that the Power is resting on them. In either case they know that the blessing has been given fiom above, to be maintained under obedience and deep dependence on Him from whom it came.
6. Such baptism is specially given as power for work. It may sometimes be received before the believer fully underitands his calling to work, and while he is chiefly occupied with his own sanctification. It cannot be maintained except as the call to witness for the Lord is obeyed. The baptism of Pentecost was distinctly given as preparation for work. The baptism of Cornelius and his praying company, as God's seal to their faith, and their full participation in the blessings of the kingdom of God, at once opened their mouths to speak. We must beware of laying down fixed rules. God's gifts and love are larger than our hearts. Every believer who longs, up to the light he has, to be surrendered fully to the glory of his Lord, may come and claim the fulness of the gift. It will prove its own power to open the mouth and bring forth testimony for God.
7. The preparation for the baptism is ever the same as with the first disciples. Having called them to forsake all for Him, our Lord had first kept them three years in His school, training them into the knowledge and love and obedience to His will. Great personal attachment to Jesus was the first requisite. He had then led them, in the fellowship of His death, to give up all hope in themselves, or in His outward appearance, all confidence in the flesh. As they were thus taught the utter insufficiency of the flesh, either in their own good purposes or His bodily presence, to conquer sin or give deliverance, the need was awakened for something
higher. And last of all, He kept them, first the forty days, and then again the ten days, in waiting expectancy, looking to Himself to give them something above what they could ask or think. With great diversity of mi'de and degree, every believer will have to pass 'through some preparation not entirely different. Blessed they who allow the Master Himself to take them into His Baptism class, to regulate their course of training, and rest content with nothing less than to be full of the Holy Ghost. To some it comes without any idea of a baptism at all; in intense devotion to their Lord, they know that He dwells in them, and has them wholly as His own.
Whatever difference there still may be in our way of expressing what we seek, let us remember that our Father understands each of His children better than they do themselves. Let us rejoice, even amid varying modes of expression, that the desire is growing among God's people to have nothing less than what God meant by His promise of a Baptism with the Holy Ghost and with fire. Let us be faithful to the Spirit, as He dwells within us. Let us stir up ourselves and each other to wait for, from our God, who is able to do above what we ask or think, an experience of His mighty inworking and His overflowing fulness in believers and the Church, Bucb as we can form no conception of.