George P. Pardington
In regeneration God gives us a "new spirit." In sanctification He puts within us the Holy Spirit. ("My Spirit;" Ezekiel xxxvi. 26, 27.) Regeneration is the result of the gracious inworking of the Holy Spirit. Sanctification is the result of the personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Consequently, after regeneration the Holy Spirit is with us; but after sanctification He is within us. Now, the experience of sanctification through the indwelling Christ is realized in connection with the definite reception of the gift of the Holy Spirit by full consecration and living faith. Indeed, it is through the Holy Spirit that we come to see the hopelessness of struggling against sin; it is through the Holy Spirit that we catch a glimpse of the cross with its promise and potency of deliverance; it is through the Holy Spirit that the revelation of the indwelling Christ breaks with comforting cheer upon our despairing hearts; and it is through the Holy Spirit that we are enabled to die unto sin and live unto God.
First, the Reception of the Gift of the Holy Ghost.
In the experience of the Apostolic Church, as recorded in the book of Acts, there were three things that were closely connected, namely: Conversion, Baptism and Reception of the Holy Ghost. Thus on the Day of Pentecost Peter declared:
Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
For the 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 ii. 39, 40)
Now, in this passage of Scripture three facts would seem to be clear: First, conversion (here described as the remission of sins), baptism, and the reception of the gift of the Holy Ghost, are three separate and distinct things; second, these three things, while separate and distinct, are yet closely related both as doctrines and as experiences; and third, these three things are here stated in their normal order and Scriptural relationship. When a sinner is converted he should seek baptism as the open confession of his faith in Christ as Saviour and Lord, and as the sign and seal of his identification by faith with Christ in His death and resurrection. Then he should definitely receive the Holy Ghost, Who by His indwelling and infilling will become the enabling for a life well pleasing to God and the equipping for a life of fruitful service to man.
The relation of the reception of the Holy Ghost to the experience of conversion in the Acts of the Apostles is an interesting study. A careful examination of the book leads to two conclusions, namely: First in some instances the Holy Ghost was received at the time of conversion; and second, in other instances the Holy Ghost was received subsequent to conversion.
1. In some instances the Holy Ghost was received at the time of conversion. This was the case on the Day of Pentecost and in the house of Cornelius.
From the language of Peter, already quoted (Acts ii. 39, 40), we learn that on the day of Pentecost conversion, baptism and the reception of the Holy Ghost went together; that is, while these three things were separate and distinct experiences, yet no interval of time elapsed between conversion and baptism on the one hand, or between conversion and the reception of the Holy Ghost on the other.
Then they that gladly received the word were baptized; and the same day the Lord added unto them about three thousand souls. (Acts ii. 41.)
The case of Cornelius and his household is recorded in Acts x. 44-48:
While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them that heard the word.
And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water that these should be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?
And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.
Here also, as on the day of Pentecost, conversion is connected with the reception of the Holy Ghost, although the two experiences were separate and distinct. On this occasion, it will be observed, the reception of the Holy Ghost preceded baptism.
2. In other instances the Holy Ghost was received subsequent to conversion. This was true of the Samaritan disciples and the Ephesian disciples.
The case of the Samaritan disciples is recorded in Acts viii. 12-17:
But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
Then Simon himself believed also; and when he was baptised he continued with Philip and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.
Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John; who, when they were come down, prayed for them, 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.)
Then they laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
Now, observe that under the preaching of Philip the Samaritans "received the word of God." That is, they were converted, or saved. Moreover, they received Christian baptism-"they were baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus." But at a later date, or subsequent to their conversion, they received the Holy Ghost, under the joint ministry of Peter and John. It is interesting to note that the Holy Ghost was given to the Samaritan disciples through prayer and the laying on of hands by the apostles.
The case of the Ephesian disciples is recorded in Acts xix. 1-6:
And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus; and finding certain disciples,
He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost, since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard, whether there be any Holy Ghost.
And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptised? and they said, Unto John's baptism.
Then said Paul, John verily baptised with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on Him which should come after him, that is, Jesus Christ.
When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues and prophesied.
Paul's question in verse two, in the Revised Version, reads: "Did ye receive the Holy Ghost, when ye believed?" Rotherham translates: "And he said unto them: Holy Ghost received ye, when ye believed?" Now, whichever of these three renderings be preferred, four facts stand out clearly: First, the Ephesian disciples were Christians; yet at the time Paul met them, they had not received the Holy Ghost. Second, conversion, therefore, and the reception of the Holy Ghost are separate and distinct experiences. Third, the Holy Ghost may be received at the time of conversion. And fourth, the Holy Ghost may be received subsequent to conversion. On this occasion, it will be observed, Christian baptism was administered some little time after conversion; and further, that the Holy Ghost was received in connection with Christian baptism and the laying on of hands by Paul.
The case of the Apostle Paul does not seem to be altogether clear. The record in Acts ix. 17-18, reads:
And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house: and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way, as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest be filled with the Holy Ghost.
And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.
Now, it does not appear to be altogether clear just at what time Paul was converted--whether on the road to Damascus, or during the three days of darkness. Consequently there is an uncertainty as to whether the apostle received the Holy Ghost at the time of conversion, or subsequent thereto. In the latter event, the interval was very brief--amounting to only a few days. On this occasion, it will be observed, the Holy Ghost was received before Christian baptism.
Surely, from this brief study of the experience of the Apostolic church, as recorded in the book of Acts, we may learn that God is sovereign in His operations, and that doctrinal distinctions made by man cannot shut Him up to set ways of working. At the same time four things seem to be clear: First, conversion and the definite reception of the gift of the Holy Ghost are separate and distinct experiences. Second, conversion may occur without the experience of receiving the Holy Ghost. Third, the Holy Ghost is often received at the time of conversion. And fourth, the Holy Ghost is often received subsequent to conversion.
Now, in the light of these facts we believe that conversion and the reception of the Holy Ghost should go hand in hand, so to speak; that is, while they are distinct experimentally, they should not be separated chronologically. But in the lives of few Christians today, comparatively speaking, is this true. John Wesley tells of a man who was converted one hour, sanctified the second hour, and glorified the third hour. The man died three hours after he was saved. Indeed, where there is right Scriptural teaching no interval of time need occur after conversion before the Holy Ghost is received. Unfortunately, however, this is seldom the case. Generally an interval of time--and often it is a long period--does occur. Indeed, some true hearted children of God never seem to know from experience the personal indwelling of the Holy Ghost. But this interval, where it occurs, is filled in with the weary marches and dreary experiences of the wilderness of Sinai, and with the ceaseless struggles and discouraging defeats of the seventh chapter of Romans. We cannot refrain from saying that we believe God never intended that there should be a barren waste of Christian experience between regeneration and sanctification, but that conversion should be immediately followed by a life of victory over sin and self in union with the indwelling Christ and through receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost.
We have studied the experience of the Apostolic Church, with reference to the definite reception of the Holy Ghost, as recorded in the book of Acts. Now, let us turn to the teaching of the Epistles.
Let us cite a few passages which refer to the possession of the Holy Spirit or to the indwelling of the risen Christ. These two classes of passages may be grouped together, for it is the baptism of the Holy Ghost which brings to our hearts the revelation of the indwelling Christ.
1. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His. And if Christ dwell in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. (Romans viii. 9-10.)
2. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy, for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. (I. Corinthians iii. 16-17.)
3. For by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether ye be bond or free, and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. (I. Corinthians xii. 13.)
4. Know ye not your own selves how that Jesus Christ is in you except ye be reprobates? (II. Corinthians xiii.5.)
5. This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? (Galatians iii.2.)
6. My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you. (Galatians iv. 19.)
7. For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ of Whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man;
That Christ may dwell in your heart by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. (Ephesians iii. 14-19.)
8. To whom (the saints) God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians i. 27.)
A careful examination of the above and similar passages discloses two striking facts, namely: First, in some instances the baptism or possession of the Holy Spirit is closely identified with regeneration or conversion; and second, in other instances these experiences are separated in point of time. But this is just the conclusion which we reached from our study of the book of Acts. Thus the experience of the Apostolic Church and the teaching of the Apostolic writings agree: and, indeed, this must be so; for the Holy Spirit was the Inworker of the one as He was the Inspirer of the other. In fact, the words of Peter, on the day of Pentecost--Acts ii. 39-40--give us the key, which explains the teaching of the New Testament on this vitally important theme. There we learn, as we have seen, that the remission of sins or conversion and the reception of the gift of the Holy Ghost, while closely related, are yet separate and distinct both doctrinally and experimentally. When this principle of interpretation is clearly understood and firmly grasped, two resulting facts will be readily admitted, namely: First, the Holy Ghost may be received at the time of conversion; and second, the Holy Ghost may be received subsequent to conversion.
The baptism of our blessed Lord with the Holy Ghost was a spiritual crisis in His life; it marked alike the beginning of His encounters with Satan and the opening of His public ministry of teaching and healing. As a Babe Jesus was born of the Spirit in Bethlehem of Judea:
The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. (Luke i. 35)
Moreover, as a Child and Youth the Spirit of God was with Jesus of Nazareth. Luke gives us two exquisite pictures, one of the boyhood and the other of the early manhood, of the Saviour:
And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.
And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. (Luke ii. 40, 52.)
Thus, the life of Jesus, during the silent years of the home training in Nazareth, was the object of the Holy Spirit's special and peculiar care. The growth and symmetrical development of His spirit, mind and body were under the influence of the Holy Spirit. It was, furthermore, through the Holy Spirit that "the grace of God was upon Him," and that He "increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man." But at thirty years of age a marked crisis came in the life of our Lord. It was then, at the river Jordan, that Christ was not only baptized in water by John the Baptist, but also baptized with the Holy Ghost by His Heavenly Father. Thus we read:
Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,
And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, This is My beloved Son; in Thee I am well pleased. (Luke iii. 21,22.)
What, then, was the significance of this marked crisis in the life of Christ? From His birth till His baptism the Holy Spirit was with Christ; but from His baptism till His passion the Holy Spirit was within Him. After the crisis at the River Jordan two Divine Personalities were inseparably united--Jesus of Nazareth and the Spirit of God. From that hour the life of Christ was wrought out in absolute dependence upon the Holy Spirit. Thus it was through the Holy Spirit that Christ met and overcame the Devil in the wilderness; it was through the Holy Spirit that Christ uttered His matchless words and performed His wondrous deeds; it was through the Holy Spirit that Christ offered Himself as sacrifice on the cross; and it was through the Holy Spirit that Christ was raised from the dead and declared to be the Son of God with power. The great difference, therefore, between the private life and public ministry of Jesus Christ is explained by His baptism at the Jordan and the incoming and indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Now, the Apostle John tells us that "as He is, so are we in this world." (I John iv. 17). In this experience, therefore, as in all other things, Christ is our Divine Pattern. So, after we have been born of the Spirit--and it should not be long afterwards--we must be baptized with the Spirit. It is then in connection with taking Christ as our sanctification that we receive the Person of the Holy Ghost as our indwelling and abiding Comforter. When once He comes into our hearts, He never leaves us. We may indeed grieve Him, but we can never grieve Him away. (Ephesians iv. 30.)
On one occasion Christ closed His instruction concerning prayer with these words:
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 xi. 13.)
Here our Lord was addressing His followers, among them manifestly being some who were saved; yet He gives them the promise of the Holy Spirit, to be received in answer to prayer.
Again in the upper room, just before His betrayal, the Master gave His disciples very explicit and definite teaching concerning the Holy Spirit. One of His parting messages was:
If ye love Me, keep My commandments.
And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever;
Even the Spirit of Truth; Whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him; but ye shall know Him; for He dwelleth with you and shall be in you. (John xiv. 15-17.)
In verse seventeen an important distinction is made in the use of the prepositions "with" and "in." With is the Greek para, and means "by the side of." In is the Greek en and means "within." As we have seen there is a vast difference between having the Holy Spirit with us, and having Him within us. In the one case He is a presence outside; in the other case He is a Person inside. Plainly, the meaning is that before Pentecost the disciples had the Holy Ghost with them; but after Pentecost they were to have Him within them. This view of the Saviour's words is supported by the discriminating way in which the tenses of the verbs are used. "Dwelleth" is the present tense and refers to the time of Christ's speaking. "Shall be" is the future tense and refers to a coming time. Evidently, the Day of Pentecost was in the mind of the Master.
Once again, after His resurrection, Christ referred very definitely to the approaching advent of the Holy Ghost:
And, behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you; but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. (Luke xxiv. 49.)
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth. (Acts i. 8.)
Here the passage in the Acts of the Apostles explains the passage in the Gospel of Luke. There is no enduement of power apart from the incoming of the person; and we know that on the Day of Pentecost the Person of the Holy Ghost, the Gift alike of the Father and of the Son, was received by the company of one hundred and twenty disciples waiting in the upper room. The experience of these waiting disciples, therefore, teaches us the necessity of distinguishing between salvation by the blood of the crucified Christ and sanctification by the indwelling of the risen Christ. They were saved men and women; yet until they had received the Holy Ghost, they were not enabled for a life of holy obedience, nor equipped for a ministry of abiding fruitfulness. So today after the cleaning blood of the cross comes the enduing power of the upper room. Calvary is not sufficient; we must have our Pentecost.
Beloved, we have crossed the River Jordan. We have passed out of the "waste, howling wilderness" and are "over in the Land of Canaan." The seventh chapter of Romans with its ceaseless struggles and discouraging defeats is in the past and we are living in the eighth chapter with its grateful rest and welcome deliverance. The vision of victory has been transformed into a glorious reality.
Now, when a radical and revolutionary transformation like this takes place in our hearts and lives we shall certainly know it. Moreover, we may expect the Holy Spirit to witness as definitely and as distinctly to His work of sanctification as He does to His work of regeneration. But while this is true, the witness in every case will not be the same either in kind or in degree. There are of course temperamental differences in people; and there are varying types of Christian experience, corresponding to these differences, which a knowledge of psychology helps us to understand and explain. For example, there are demonstrative persons; and when such persons experience sanctification, the witness of the Spirit is quite likely to take the form of exalted feeling or even exalted emotion. On the other hand, there are dispassionate persons; and in their case there is apt to be little, if any, feeling; but they will have a deep, quiet sense of spiritual satisfaction. But however this may be, the point to be emphasized is that in every instance of sanctification the witness of the Spirit, both in kind and degree, should be satisfactory to the believer himself who is sanctified. Moreover, a truly sanctified life will "bring forth fruit unto God;" and this fruit--"the fruit of the Spirit"--will be manifest to all.
It is not necessary for a Christian worker to notify a sinner when he is saved. The new light on the countenance, the new song on the lips, the new spirit of prayer, the new love for God--these and many other similar evidences of conversion will be seen and known of all men. Furthermore, God has promised to give to each regenerated heart the witness of its acceptance. In like manner, it will not be necessary for a Christian worker or a fellow believer to notify a child of God when he has received the Holy Ghost and taken Christ as his sanctification; indeed, spiritual injury has been done to many a soul by this practice. Beloved, if the Holy Ghost has really come to your heart to abide forever, He will surely let you know it. Nor will He keep you long waiting. Do not be satisfied with anyone's assurances upon this point. Resolve to hear direct from heaven for yourself. Of course you must take the Holy Spirit by faith; but it is your privilege soon to have your claim of faith sealed by the certainty of personal knowledge. A failure at this point now will only mean perplexity of mind and disappointment of heart later on. Therefore, take your Bible, and go alone with God, and continue to wait upon Him until you get an answer and are sure that you can say "Yes" to the vital important question which Paul asked the disciples of Ephesus:
Have Ye Received The Holy Ghost Since Ye Believed?
* Living Truths 6(Sept. 1906): 533-41, 543-46.