Dr. S. Lewis Johnson exposits how the Holy Spirit indwells and changes the person who has accepted Christ.
[Prayer] Father, we thank Thee and praise Thee that we are able to come together in a meeting such as this to study the Scriptures. We thank Thee for the truth that is contained within them, and we praise Thee for the work of the Holy Spirit particularly as he ministers to us who are believers. We thank Thee for the work that he has begun, and we thank Thee for the assurance that he will continue it and complete it.
Enable us Lord, as we consider some of the specific ministries that he has, to understand them and to profit from them as well. We ask Thy blessing upon each one of us present, and may the particular needs that we have be met through the ministry of Thy word. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
[Message] Tonight our subject in the continuation of our series of studies in basic Bible doctrine is, “The Spirit and the Believer.” In our last study we looked at the subject of the Spirit in his ministry toward the world, and considered especially his ministry of convincing the world of sin, of righteousness, and judgment. And after attempting to explain our Lord’s words in John chapter 16 as they pertain to that, we went on to link this with the doctrine of common grace, showing that his was really one of the aspect of common grace.
Now, tonight we turn to the work of the Spirit in the believer. The Holy Spirit, generally speaking, is the executive of the God head, and he has ministries to the church individually and collectively. Individually, he ministers to us in certain ways, and then as a body he also ministers to us. Now, we are going to look tonight at his ministry to individuals who are believers, primarily, and then in our next study, the body of Christ itself and other believers. Now, tonight we want to take a look at just three of the ministries of the Holy Spirit to the believers, three really fundamental ones; probably, I think, the most fundamental ones, excluding the doctrine of sanctification, and the Holy Spirit’s ministry of sanctification. But since we’ve already considered that in the study of sanctification, I think that it’s fair to say that the three ministries we will look at tonight are the three other most important ministries. That is, the work of regeneration, and then the work of baptism, and finally the work of indwelling.
So, let’s look first now at the Holy Spirit’s work of regeneration. As you know, when we talk about regeneration, we are talking about a doctrine about which men have had differing view points. The Roman Catholic church, for example, has had specific views concerning the doctrine of regeneration. They have really often linked this with baptism, thinking that it is by means of the ordinances that one is regenerated. But not only is this true of the Roman Catholic church, but also of some of the Protestant churches who have laid a great deal of stress on water baptism as the means of regeneration.
I think it’s fair to say that some of the other larger denominations have linked up water baptism with regeneration, either affirming that a person is regenerated through water baptism in the sense that water baptism is the means by which they are regenerated. Or that water baptism is an accompanying factor in our regeneration, and that it is through the dispensation of grace in the ordinance of water baptism, that we receive the free grace of regeneration. This is true, I say, of some of our larger Protestant groups, and it is not uncommon at all for people to really think, who think of themselves as Christians and not Roman Catholics, that they are converted when they are baptized in water.
Now, we have talked about that in a number of our studies, and of course, you know that I personally do not hold that that is true, but that regeneration or salvation is not related to the ordinances. The ordinances are designed to represent things that have happened and are not themselves the means by which these realities become ours. It is possible, of course, that a person in the midst of water baptism might believe. That’s possible, but that is not the ordinary thing, and if we just think of some of the illustrations in the Bible, such as the thief on the cross who did not have time to be baptized in water or to undergo any rite or ordinance, we realize that it is not necessary for a person to undergo some even divinely established ordinance in order to be saved. So, there are some then who hold that regeneration, or the bringing of a person from deadness into life is produced by an ordinance.
On the other hand, there are still others who believe that a person is regenerated, or brought from death to life, by virtue of some cooperating choice, which he has originated. In other words, they have generally believed that the work of salvation is the product of God, as well as act of our own free will. The Arminians have believed that, generally speaking. Although, there are two kinds of Arminians, essentially that is what they believe. Even those who profess to believe in free grace, but do believe that we can resist the work of the Holy Spirit, in the final analysis; their doctrine comes to that, too. So, there are some then who believe that regeneration is produced by what Christ did, plus their own cooperating choice. That is, whatever it is in a man that makes him responsive and is not in other men, and therefore they are not responsive, whatever it is that makes a man responsive, makes him cooperate with the grace of God, that plus the work that Christ did are the sources of our salvation.
Now, you can see that while many use the term grace that is really not a grace salvation entirely. It’s a salvation produced by what God has done, but also by we ourselves do when we, out of our own free will, make a choice for God. We’re not talking about people who make a decision of the will. Everybody must make a decision of the will. We’re talking about a decision of the will that arises within ourselves, apart from divine enablement. If we say we are saved by what Christ did, plus a decision of the will which is produced by God the Holy Spirit, then we’re talking biblically. Because we don’t deny the doctrine of the will, but we deny the doctrine of free will. That is the will that is able to make a decision either way, and which chooses the divine way of itself, of whatever is within man. I don’t want to mistake that.
Then, of course, there are people who believe we are justified or regenerated, because we’re talking about regeneration, regenerated brought from deadness into life through our good works. For example, one liberal scholar of a generation or so ago, but in the 20th century said, “Let your whole life get warm, glowing, and growing into blossom and coming into fruit in the sunshine of Jesus’ love. That’s the way a person is regenerated,” he said. Well, you can see that that regeneration is something produced by the individual himself.
What does regeneration mean? Well, let’s turn to Titus chapter 3, in verse 5 for a text in which we have the expression “regeneration” in the New Testament. Incidentally the noun, regeneration, only occurs a couple of times in the New Testament. It occurs here in Titus chapter 3, verse 5. And it also occurs in Matthew chapter 19 in verse 28, where it has a slightly different force. But here we read, in Titus chapter 3, in verse 5, the apostle writing to one of his other young apostolic legates, he says, “after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit.”
Now, these are of course figures of speech here. But he says here, by the washing of regeneration.” This is the means by which, Paul says, we are saved. Regeneration is by the very term itself a coming from death into life, and do the person who is regenerated is a person who has been brought from death to life, or to put it another way around positively, it is the communication of spiritual life to individuals who are spiritually dead. That’s regeneration. When the Lord Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Ye must be born again,” he was saying there must be a communication of life to you, Nicodemus, because you are dead. Paul speaks about the Ephesian Christians as being “dead in trespasses and sins,” in Ephesians chapter 2, in verse 1. What they needed, and what they did receive by the grace of God was regeneration. They were brought from that condition of death to life. So, regeneration then means the communication of spiritual life to those who are spiritually dead.
I like the old story, I think it was told by Mr. W.T.P. Wolston first, of a doctor who had a friend who was a minister, and this doctor was a general practitioner and had had a lot of experience ministering to people. But the time came when he realized he himself was not only sick, but dying. And so he called for the minister. And he told him that he realized that he was on his way out of this earthly life, and he would like some word from the minister about how to receive new life. And the minister was unable to give him too much encourage. He said, “After all, you’ve been a very good citizen. You’ve done your work well. You’ve ministered to individuals, and surely your future is perfectly all right, because of the life that you have lived.” But the doctor, who was dying, was not too much impressed by that. He said, “But doesn’t the Bible say something about being born again.” He said, “What I need is to be born again.” And again the minister was unable to answer his question, and finally the doctor said, “Well, now I have brought many children into this life.” And he said, “And as I was carrying on my activity as an obstetrician, and I brought a new life into this life, almost every time that I did that, I thought as I brought this individual into life, this baby has a future, and does not have any past. Now, when the Bible speaks about being born again, that’s what I need. I need a future, and I need the past wiped out.” Well, that of course, is what we do have in the New Testament through the new birth. We have a future, but our past is wiped out by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Regeneration then means the communication of spiritual life to those who are spiritually dead. It’s the washing of regeneration as the apostle puts it here. And further defining the content of it, it’s the renewing of the Holy Ghost. So, it is the Holy Ghost that washes us, that is from the guilt of our sins, and renews us by giving us new life. Now, he goes on to say, “Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Regeneration is something that everyone must possess in order to see the kingdom of God. The Lord Jesus, when he was speaking to Nicodemus in John chapter 3, said more than once to Nicodemus that the new birth was a necessity. In the 3rd verse of the 3rd chapter of John he says to Nicodemus, and John writes the account of the interview, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Verse 7, “Marvel not that I said unto thee, ye must be born again.”
Now, it is absolutely essential, the Bible tells us, for entrance into heaven that we be born again. One of the reasons for this is that heaven is a place of holiness. Heaven is a place in which the unclean cannot enter. You cannot enter heaven as you are now. As I’ve often said, Dr. Barnhouse used to say, “If we went to heaven as we are now, we’d wreck the place.” And Mr. Spurgeon used to like to say, “If thieves were taken to heaven the first thing that they would want to do, without a change of life, would be to pick the pockets of the angels.” There has to be a change of character, a change of life. That’s one of the reasons Jesus said, “Ye must be born again.” Heaven is a holy place. And then to turn it around and look at us, we of course, are sinful. And because we would defile the place, we must be born again if we are to enter into heaven.
Now, let’s think for just a moment about the nature of the work itself. Now, we have said in our introduction, and we have implied by the things that we said about others’ view of regeneration, that it is a work of God. It’s something God does primarily. Well, Paul says that specifically in Ephesians chapter 2, verse 10, so let’s turn over there where the apostle, speaking about our salvation, points out that it is something that is traceable to God. Now, he’s talking about salvation in Ephesians chapter 2, and here we have the famous text that we all know, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” But in the 10th verse he says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” This new birth, this creation is something that is done by God, and it is his workmanship. In the original text there’s a great deal of stress on that, his workmanship are ye. So, regeneration is God’s work.
Another thing that we can say about regeneration is that it is instantaneous. It’s not something that we experience. It’s something that occurs instantaneous. You cannot point to the precise time when you were born again. You do not feel it. It is something that is instantaneous, and it occurs without outward means. So, it’s instantaneous, it’s nonexperiential, it’s without outward means. There are people who confuse the understanding of the Bible with regeneration. They will say, “Ah, there finally came to me some light from on word of God, and then I was regenerated.” No, no. You’ve got it reversed. The reason that you understood and saw some light is because new life had already come. New life results in the new light, not the other way around. If you just think for a moment about 1 Corinthians 2:14, you would see that. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God. They are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned.” So, an individual, as long as he is in the flesh, as long as he lost, cannot understand. So, when he understands, it is obvious something has already transpired in his life. So, you don’t say, “I saw, and I was born again.” But rather, “I was born again, and I saw.” Now, you didn’t feel that being born again, you actually felt the results of it when you believed. You saw something from the word of God. That’s the product of life. It’s already there.
Paul said, “The mind of the flesh is enmity against God. It’s not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Jesus said, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh.” “Neither indeed can be,” so “they that are in the flesh,” Paul says, “cannot please God.” They cannot see or understand. They cannot please God. Then he says of the believers, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be the Spirit of God dwell in you.” So, what happens is the work of the Holy Spirit works upon an individual, brings new life to him, and then he repents and believes unto salvation. It’s all so simple, but we tend to confuse things by not paying attention first to the word of God, and then analyzing by our experiences rather than what the Bible says. So, regeneration is God’s work, it’s instantaneous, it’s something produced without means, it’s the work of the Holy Spirit working directly upon the spirit of man creating new life there, and the first response of the new life is to repent and believe. That’s the first response, that’s not what procures regeneration, that’s the product of regeneration.
The Holy Spirit renews the will, that’s the opening of the mind. Remember when Paul preached the gospel for the first time on the continent of Europe to those ladies that were gathered out in the prayer enclosure. And Lydia was among them, and the text of Acts chapter 16 describes what happens, the apostle began to preach the things that had to do with the Lord Jesus Christ evidently, that was his custom, and the text says that the Lord “opened the heart of Lydia that she attended unto the things that were spoken by Paul.” So, she was hearing the word of God, and the Holy Spirit, I think this is the reference here, God through the Holy Spirit opened her heart with the result that she attended. That is, that she believed the things that were spoken by Paul. So, regeneration then is God’s work, it’s instantaneous, it occurs without means, it is the Holy Spirit renewing our rebellious wills, and transforming them, making us willing to respond to the message concerning the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, you can say this, when the Holy Spirit works, and renews the will, instantaneously, without means, so that a man exercises faith, that is accompanied by the preaching of the word. That occurs during the preaching of the word. What transpires, we’ve been trying to analyze, but it’s in the context of the preaching of the word. Because the Bible says we’re also born again through the word. So, what happens objectively is that a person is sitting in the audience, and he’s listening to the word of God, for “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Subjectively, the Holy Spirit works directly upon his will, and creates new life with the result that he believes the message that is being given to him. He doesn’t understand all of that yet. He’s not able to stand up and give you some facts about the doctrine of regeneration. He’s looking at it purely from the standpoint of his experience. And he will look at it, and explain it in the language of his experience until he reads in the word of God what really happened to him.
There is a text I think we ought to look at. And so, let’s look at that right now, because it says a great deal of what I’ve been just saying to you. 1 Peter chapter 1, and verse 22 and 23, 1 Peter chapter 1, verses 22 and 23, the Apostle Peter is speaking, and he says to those who are reading him in this epistle, verse 22, 1 Peter 1, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” Now, looking at this in the original text, you notice that the apostle says here, “Being born again, not from corruptible seed, but from incorruptible.”
Now, that is not the word of God. He uses two different prepositions here. People read this mistakenly. They often read it this way, “Being born again, not of corruptible sees, but of incorruptible, that is the word of God.” But Peter is telling us that we are the products of two things, the incorruptible sees, and the word of God. What is the incorruptible seed? Well, the incorruptible seed is the life implanted by God. It’s the spiritual semen by which life is given to an individual. It’s the same thing that John speaks about in 1 John chapter 3 in verse 9, where he says, “Whosoever is born of God doth not practice sin; for his seed,” that is God’s seed, “remains in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” God has implanted spiritual life within him through the word of God.
Now, all that one has to do is look at that in the Greek text, because the two different prepositions are found right here, “being born again not of corruptible sees, but of incorruptible” and then the “by” represents the Greek preposition through, “through the word of God.” One of these, the Greek preposition ek is a word that indicates source. Dia, translated “by” here indicates means or instrumentality. So, the source of this new birth is the incorruptible seed of God, life from God. The means is the word of God. So, it is through the preaching of the word of God that God, the Holy Spirit works, implants his life in an individual, and they believe.
Now, they don’t know when that life is implanted any more than you know when you were conceived in you mother’s womb. That is something that is beyond your consciousness. You just know that it happened, and so here the new birth is something that is not of corruptible seed, it’s of incorruptible. It’s from the source of the incorruptible seed that is from God, through his word, which liveth and abideth forever. Regeneration then is the supernatural communication of spiritual life to individuals who are dead, so that they inevitably repent and believe unto salvation.
William GT Shedd, one of the great theologians of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th said, “A dead man cannot assist in his own resurrection. This is something that God does for individuals who are dead. The new life is not implanted because man sees the truth, man sees the truth, because new life hasn’t been implanted. Man is not regenerated because be believes, but he believes because he has been regenerated.” That should be very plain, but it’s not plain to a lot of people. Those texts that are so important in presenting that are Romans chapter 8, verse 7 and 8, and we’ll refer to some others in a moment, too.
What are the evidences of regeneration? Well, from the standpoint of the individual himself, internally, the first evidence of his regeneration is that he believes. That’s the first evidence. Now, mind you, let me make one thing clear, because there is a group of people, we don’t have many of them around Dallas, but there is a group of people, they’re called Primitive Baptists. They believe that it is possible for a person to be regenerated and not saved, and so they conceive of people who are, well you maybe brush shoulders with somebody at Safeway who has been regenerated but has not yet been saved. Well, the Bible does not teach that there is a period of time between a person’s regeneration and faith. And we assume, from what the Scriptures teach, that what we are talking about is the order of coming to faith, not chronology. So, we should not conceive of a person having been born again 1936, and then in 1943 coming finally to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We’re talking about logical order, not chronological order when we talk about these things.
But now, the first evidence of being born again is then, the exercises of faith in the word of God that is being preached. Of course, another response inwardly is love for the Lord Jesus Christ. But let me show you one of the texts, first, that expresses the idea of faith being the first response of those who have been born again, or the evidence I should say, not first but just simply the evidence of being born again. 1 John chapter 5, verse 1 says, “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” Now, I want you to look at this text very carefully, because it contains a rather important truth. Now, you know the difference between a present tense and a past tense. It so happens that in the Greek text the word “believeth” is in the present tense, and the word “is born” is in the perfect tense. So, let’s just look at it from that stand point. “Whosoever believes that Jesus is the Christ,” that’s a present expression of faith. “Whosoever believes that Jesus is the Christ, has been born of God.” “Whosoever believes has been born of God.”
Think about your own salvation. What was the year of your regeneration? Well, let’s just say you were regenerated in 1964, so in 1964, let’s say in the month of August, the 10th of August at 8:30 at night, as the word of God was being preached, the light flashed and you were converted. And that moment you believed that Jesus was the Son of God. Well, according to this text, everyone that believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God. So, at that very moment that you came to believe that Jesus was the Christ, you had been born of God, which comes first according to the text that John used here. It’s clear the new birth comes first. Everyone who believes has been born.
I was speaking with someone one time, he was a very good theologian, he didn’t want to admit this. He said, “Where do you get the idea that regeneration precedes faith?” I started to say, “Well, all of the good theologians in 18th, 19th, 17th centuries have taught this. It’s not anything new.” But I knew that he probably knew that and had probably just for the moment forgotten it. I said, “Well, what about 1 John chapter 5, verse 1? “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” He said to me, “Well, that’s just a statement to the effect that every believer has been born again.” Well, I said, “I think it’s more than that. And let me ask you a question, if it’s just simply a statement that every believer is born of God, was it true of you yesterday?” He said, “Yes.” And then he saw what I was going to say, because I was just going to go all the way back to the time he was converted. I was going to say, “All right, was it true of you at the point of your conversion? Is this text true? Everyone that believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God?” Well, he didn’t answer my question.
So, the next time I talked to him I thought I’d try another tact, so this time I said, “By the way, does faith please God?” He said, “Oh yes, faith pleases God.” I said, “Well, then you believe that they that are in the flesh can please God, because it’s if you believe that you can exercise faith before you are regenerated, then you believe the exact opposite of what Paul says in Romans 8.” “They that are in the flesh cannot please God,” he says. But if faith pleases God, and faith comes before regeneration, then they that are in the flesh can please God. But they that are in the flesh cannot please God, thus faith cannot come before regeneration. So here, “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” That’s one of the signs of regeneration, that’s one of the evidences. If an individual truly believes that Jesus is the Christ, well you can say he has one of the inward signs of regeneration.
Now, the Lord Jesus also says that those who are properly related to him will love God. In chapter 8, and verse 42 of the Gospel of John, we read these words, “Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.” “If God were your Father, ye would love me.” So, a love for Jesus Christ is one of the internal evidences of regeneration. Now, of course there are some external signs, too. There are the good works that are mentioned in Ephesians chapter 2, verse 10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” So, our creation in Christ is for the purpose of good works, therefore good works are the evidences of the fact of regeneration. In 1 John 2, in verse 29, John there writes about good works as the expression of one’s new birth. He says, “If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.” So, one of the evidences of regeneration is that we do good works.
There are other things that a person might say are evidences. For example, even such a thing as being baptized. Now, in the case of Lydia’s conversion, what happened after the Lord opened her heart, and she gave attendance unto the things that had been spoken by Paul, probably the exposition of Old Testament Messianic Scripture, we read, “And when she was baptized and her household.” So, one of the evidences of her new birth was that she desired to please the Lord by being baptized in water. That was not the means of her new birth; that was the product of her new birth. So, some of the products, some of the evidences then are internally faith and love for Jesus Christ, and externally good works, works of righteousness, loving the brethren, and even such simple things as desiring to be baptized in water.
Regeneration, that’s the communication of spiritual life to those who are spiritually dead. It results in repentance and faith or the fullness of salvation. That’s one of the works of the Holy Spirit towards the believer. It’s the initial work by which we are brought into relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ. Have you been born again? I’m not asking you did you feel it, or even that you know exactly when it occurred, but have you been born again? Do you have spiritual life? Well, you can ask yourself; do I believe that Jesus is the Christ? If I do, I have been born of God, and you can test your faith by the other things that have been mentioned in the word of God.
Now, the second work that I want to say a word about is the work of baptism. But now, I’m using the word baptism now not of water baptism, but of the baptism by the Holy Spirit, because we’re talking about the work of the Spirit toward believers. There’s a great deal of confusion over the baptizing ministry of the Holy Spirit. It is frequently, with the charismatic people, associated with the gift of tongues. And speaking in tongues is supposed to be the sign that we have been baptized by the Holy Spirit. It is generally speaking, this is not true of every charismatic, but it’s been their general teaching that this is something that occurs after one’s regeneration and salvation. Later on, at a particular point where there is a certain measure of additional subjection to the word of God, there comes the reception of the Holy Spirit in baptism, and the result is that they speak in tongues.
Now, the subject of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is one, of course, that we could devote a lengthy period of time to if we were to cover it completely and thoroughly, but let me just point to the essential things. John the Baptist prophesied that there would come a baptizing ministry of the Holy Spirit in the 3rd chapter of the gospel of Matthew, and in the 11th verse. We read these words, “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 Spirit, and with fire.”
Now, those promises are repeated in the gospels, and finally in the Book of Acts in chapter 1, and verse 5 we have a reiteration of this promise and prophecy. Let me read those verses, Acts chapter 1, verse 5, really I guess 4 and 5, but we’ll just concentrate on five. “For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Now, you’ll notice that our Lord links up his words with the words that John the Baptist spoke, and he says, “John baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Now, you can see from this that this time reference, “not many days from now,” that we should look for a particular time. Well, there is no time in the context here other than the day of Pentecost that satisfies. We would expect that to be true, because on the day of Pentecost, chapter 2, 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 Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
Now, it would seem that that “not many days hence” can only refer to the day of Pentecost, which was a very significant event in the history of the salvation found in the Bible. Now, there are a couple of things about this passage, however, that might be a little confusing. In the first place, the term baptism is not used in Acts chapter 2. In the second place, the term filling is, but now we’re not interested in filling now, so we’ll drop that for the moment. We’re interested in baptizing. Did the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit occur here? Well, now let’s skip over a few chapters for our answer. Remember when Cornelius gathered his friends together, and finally Peter came and preached the gospel to them. The Holy Spirit fell upon them, and Peter then said, “Who then can forbid water that these should be baptized, because they have received the Holy Spirit as well as we.” That tells you that the coming of the Holy Spirit is not dependent on water baptism. But now, when Peter goes up to Jerusalem in the 11th chapter of the Book of Acts, and begins to tell what happened in Cornelius’ house, let’s begin reading, he’s describing things that happened, verse 12 of Acts chapter 11, “And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man’s house: And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter; Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.”
Now, Peter’s describing what happened in Cornelius’ house. He said, “And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.” What is he talking about? Well, he’s talking about the day of Pentecost “as on us.” The same thing happened, he said. And then he says, “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 Spirit.” So, Peter here in Acts chapter 11, says that what happened on the day of Pentecost was the fulfillment of Acts chapter 1, verse 5. It was the time when the baptism of the Holy Spirit took place. He goes on to say, “Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?” Notice that that condition for the receiving of the Holy Spirit is not some special spiritual experience, but simply believing. Those that believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, that is what made it possible for the Holy Spirit to fall upon them, and in that the baptism of the Holy Spirit to take place. So, you can see then that there is a prophecy our Lord gives. He confirms it again in Acts chapter 1. He says on the day of Pentecost, there the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit took place, and later Peter explains doctrinally, that was it. And that’s what also happened in Cornelius’ house.
Now, that’s an interesting thing, because it’s commonly believed that the baptizing ministry of the Holy Spirit, I say, is something that occurs when we are especially dedicated to the Lord, or when we are down at the front in a building praying through or having some special spiritual experience. And then at a certain time the Holy Spirit falls upon us, and it feels like either icicles running up and down your spine, or else a hot poker, one of these, and then you are baptized by the Holy Spirit and you speak with tongues. Now, that is all so contrary to what we have here. It’s just amazing that people should fall into that error, and particularly that they should think that the reason that the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost is because of some spiritual condition that existed in the lives of these individuals.
I remember a story, and I’ve told it before in contexts like this, of Dr. Ironside who said that he met a man some years ago in his ministry, in which the man said to him that he had just come from a great tarrying meeting in San Jose. Well, Dr. Ironside said, “Why were tarrying in San Jose.” He said, “Well, the Holy Spirit said, did he not, in Luke chapter 24, ‘tarry ye in Jerusalem until ye be indued with power from on high.'” He said, “We’ve been tarrying in San Jose, waiting for the Holy Spirit to fall upon us.” And Dr. Ironside said, “It seems to me that you’ve confused locations and times.” He said, “Jesus said tarry in Jerusalem, you’re tarrying in San Jose. That’s ten thousand miles away.” [Laughter] And furthermore he said, “To do that then, and you’re doing it eighteen hundred or nineteen hundred years later. It seems to me that you’re confusing times and places.”
Well, the facts are that the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost, because it was the time in the soteriological program of God for the Holy Spirit to come. It had been prophesied in the Old Testament under the figure of the feasts of Jehovah, that fifty days after the resurrection, the Lord Jesus would come. So, that we have a specific time. That’s why it’s called the day of Pentecost. It’s the fulfillment of the Old Testament. The Holy Spirit came, just like our Lord was crucified at a certain point in history, not because people were ready. Not because anyone was ready, but God was carrying out his program sovereignly. And he carried out his program with reference to the Holy Spirit. Sovereignly, he came sovereignly on the day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit would have come on the day of Pentecost if all of the disciples had been down at Beersheba’s place, at Abe’s place shooting pool. [Laughter] He would have come right then. [Laughter]
Now, I know that doesn’t sound right for a person to say that, but I’m trying to make a point which is true. That is, his coming did not depend on the condition of heart of the apostles or the disciples. He was coming according to prophecy. Now, of course, the Holy Spirit prepared these men, and they went up to the place of the temple, and there they were when the Holy Spirit came. But it did not depend on their inward condition of heart. It wasn’t because they were having a great tarrying meeting. But they were told to tarry there, because God was going to do something at a specific time.
Now, there is a doctrinal passage in 1 Corinthians chapter 12, in verses 12 and 13 that we should notice. This passage is very important, particularly for those who are inclined to listen to the charismatics when they claim that speaking in tongues is a sign of the possession of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12, verse 12 and 13, that Apostle Paul writes, “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit”
What does the baptism of the Holy Spirit do? What does it do here? Well, it says that we have been baptized by one Spirit into one body. What is the body? Well, the context makes it very plain that the body is the body of Christ or the church. So, what does the work of the Holy Spirit do in baptizing us? He takes us and places us in the body of Christ. That’s the work of the Holy Spirit in baptism. It’s to take the believer and place him in the body of Christ, “For by one Spirit were we all baptized into one body.” So, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is the incorporation by the Spirit into the one body of Christ. It occurs at regeneration. It is universal among Christians. Notice, he says, “For by one Spirit were we all baptized into one body.” He doesn’t say, “For by one Spirit were we all, spiritual believers, baptized into the one body.” Or “were we all Baptists baptized into the one body,” or Presbyterians, or whatever the case may be.
Furthermore, this all is inclusive of all of the Corinthians, is it not? And if you’ll just in your mind go back to the 2nd and 3rd chapters of the Epistle to the Corinthians, this first one, you’ll remember that the apostle calls them carnal. He says, “I couldn’t speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, as unto babes in Christ.” And yet, they are included here. “For by one Spirit were we all,” both spiritual believers and unspiritual believers; both mature believers and also babes in Christ, all have been baptized into one body. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is not something that occurs after our conversion as a result of some special dedication to the Lord, or some special experience, the sign of which is speaking in tongues. It is something that occurs in the life of every Christian. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you have been baptized by the Holy Spirit. Never in the New Testament, properly, are we told, “Be baptized by the Holy Spirit.” Because all believers have been baptized by the Holy Spirit, this is in the past tense. “For by one Spirit were we all baptized into one body.” The birth, the new birth, brings us into the family of God. The baptism of the Holy Spirit brings into the body of Christ. We are united to him, and to all who are in him. So then, there is no such thing as a second blessing, unless we think of a second blessing, a third blessing, a fourth blessing, a fifth blessing, and so on as long as we live.
Now, there is one final work that I want to say just a word about before we close, and that’s the work of indwelling, the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I wonder if the recognition of this is not the missing ingredient in spiritual life. This, incidentally, is the result of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. When we have been regenerated and planted in the body of Christ, united to Jesus Christ, and united to fellow Christians in the one body of the church, then as a result of that, we are permanently indwelt by the Holy Spirit. And the recognition of that fact, in our daily life, may be the key to a true fruitful spiritual life.
Now, the basis of the indwelling is a question that no doubt would arise in the minds of many of us, how is it possible for the Holy Spirit, his very name suggests this, but how is it possible for the Holy Spirit to indwell unholy individuals? “What the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.” The only way in which the Holy Spirit can take up his place of dwelling in an unholy being is by making some provision for the unholiness of that unholy being. That has been done by the work of Jesus Christ. He has taken our unholiness and has borne the penalty of our unholiness, and as a result of that, the Holy Spirit can now take up his dwelling in individuals who are themselves sinners and unholy. That’s the God-ward side of this. From the man-ward side, as we’ve been saying, this takes place upon the one condition of faith.
The Apostle John says this in another place. We’ve already seen that in Acts chapter 11, but on the great day of the feast when Jesus stood and cried saying, this is John 7:37-39, “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.” John adds these words, he says, “But this spake he, Jesus, of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive.” That is belief is the one term by which the Holy Spirit takes up his residence in the life of a believer. It’s not tarrying in a tarrying meeting. It’s not some special dedication, some special act after we have been converted, but “they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.” So, from the divine side it is the saving work of Jesus Christ. From the human side, the one condition for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit permanently in the life of the believer is simply, believing.
The extent of the indwelling, well we’ve talked about that, because we have seen that the baptizing word touches all, but the indwelling work also touches all. It is universal among believers. The Holy Spirit indwells all, from the carnal babe on to the mature adult. All are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. That is evident by the fact that even the carnal possess the Holy Spirit. That same carnal group in 1 Corinthians, the apostle refers to in 6th chapter by saying, “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” So, in 1 Corinthians 6:19 he says that these carnal believers have the Holy Spirit. Of course, we would know that if we just thought about it for a moment, because the conduct standard of the New Testament demands divine enablement. If we are to live according to the New Testament, “walk by the Spirit,” and carry out the other things that are set forth in the New Testament as our responsibility, we must have divine enablement. Even in the Old Testament that was clear, for even in Zachariah we are told that it is impossible for us to do anything apart from the Holy Spirit. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.”
Why the permanent indwelling? Aside from doing the will of God, well essentially, John says in John 14, when he’s talking about this, giving the Lord’s account in the upper room discourse, John says in the 20th verse of the 14th chapter that Jesus said, “At that day,” the day of Pentecost, “ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.” So, if the Holy Spirit in his baptizing work unites us to Jesus Christ, by his permanent indwelling he continues this relationship of union with out Lord Jesus Christ forever. Notice verse 16 of John chapter 14, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.” So the Holy Spirit is forever with believers.
You know, the Bible says we have two advocates. The Bible says we have an advocate at the right hand of the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ. It says also we have an advocate within our heart, the Holy Spirit, translated “The Comforter” here. “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter,” well really, he’s a discomforter, isn’t he? If we are responsive to him, he’s a discomforter, because he does point out so many things in our life that are subject to the sanctifying ministry that he has. But he is an advocate, and he is our discomforter, and he indwells us, and that is the purpose of his indwelling, to be God contemporary with us, and to give us also, and to give us also an interest toward those without, because the love of God is poured abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
About ten years ago I was preaching in Tennessee in a Bible Conference, and at the conclusion of one of the meetings, as I came downstairs from the auditorium, this was a large building, and a lady met me, and she said, “I’ve been listening to your lessons, and I thought you might be interested in what my little son just said.” They were having children’s meeting while the adults were having meeting upstairs in the main auditorium. And this little by was standing beside her, and she said, “He was converted this morning. He got saved.” And said, “He came to me, and the first thing that he said to me was, ‘Mom is Dad saved?'” That’s just a little boy, like this, and just out of this new conversion, through the Holy Spirit shed abroad in his heart, as Paul says in Romans chapter 5, verse 5, he’s already expressing one of the purposes of permanent indwelling, the concern and love for others. “Mom, is Dad saved?” That’s one of the signs of conversion.
You know, we sing in our churches often, the Gloria, “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. I never sing the Gloria, we don’t sing it in Believers Chapel, but I never sing the Gloria that I don’t think about the ministry of the Holy Spirit to believers. He’s regenerated me. He’s baptized me into the body of Christ. He permanently indwells me. He is…
[RECORDING ENDS ABRUPTLY]