The Holy Spirit
The personality of the Holy Spirit stands out on the pages of the Scriptures. Only the quickened minds of the new creatures in Christ are able to see and appreciate this divine personality as they read the one Book which He, Himself, wrote through “holy men of God.”
We see Him in Hebrews 9:14 as the Eternal One, while Psalms 139:7-13 reveals His omnipresence. I Corinthians 2:10 tells us that He is omniscient, and Luke 1:35 proves His omnipotence. This means that He is the uncreated God of glory, who has no beginning and no ending. He is everywhere present at the same time, has infinite knowledge, and unlimited, universal power.
His Incorporeal Existence
The Holy Spirit is incorporeal. That is He doesn’t have a physical body that can be touched or handled. When God the Son became the Son of God, He lived among men in a divinely prepared body (Hebrews 10:5), but God the Holy Spirit lives among men without a body of His own. The Son could not have done His work without a body; the Holy Spirit could not do His work with a body. The Son came to die in His own body that He might deliver us from the guilt and penalty of sin. The Holy Spirit came to live in our bodies that He might deliver us from the power of sin. The fact that the Holy Spirit is incorporeal does not in anyway diminish His personality. His work is distinctively personal. He is not a mere force. He is a distinguishable personality, definitely marked as such by the various attributes ascribed to Him by the Holy Scriptures. He speaks through men; He ministers through His servants; He creates and gives life; He strives with sinners, and He pleads with saints.
His Power to Speak Through Men
David, “The sweet Psalmist of Israel, said, The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and His word was in my tongue” (II Samuel 23:1-2).
The Holy Spirit has no tongue of His own, yet He has spoken His Word to the sons of men. David had no power of his own to speak forth the Word of God, but his tongue could become an instrument for the Holy Spirit to speak through. The same is true of other men who were “moved by the Holy Ghost” (II Peter 1:21) to speak and to write the very words of God.
The prophets are known to have “inquired and searched diligently” into their own prophecies concerning “what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow” (I Peter 1:10-11). In other words, the testimony of the Holy Spirit through the prophets was more than the prophets themselves could understand without the aid of the Spirit. They wrote the message and then the Holy Spirit “revealed” unto them the meaning of the things they had written (I Peter 1:12).
These men were fallen sons of Adam, such as we are. However, during the moments that they were writing down God’s words they were so completely dominated by the Holy Spirit that they were absolutely powerless to exercise their own wills. Therefore they could write only the very words of God, even to the jot and the tittle.
While it is true that God has moved upon the writers of the Bible as He has never moved upon any other man or set of men to write any other book, either before or since, and while it is true the Bible, with its sixty-six books, is the complete Word of God, and not one other syllable can ever be added to it, yet, it is also true that the Holy Spirit is still working and is still using human instrumentality.
The Holy Spirit is not putting His Word into the tongues of the present day men of God. He is not inspiring men of this age to write His Word. However, the Holy Spirit is using the tongues and the pens of present day saints to proclaim and publish the Word which He gave through “holy men of God” in days gone by.
His Plea for Our Bodies
The Holy Spirit, having no body of His own, needs sanctified (set apart) bodies through whom He may minister to the material and spiritual needs of the church and through whom He may preach the gospel to a lost world.
God is able to feed His church today, even as He gave quails to the church in the wilderness; yet, He instructs the churches of Galatia and Corinth to set apart certain offerings “upon the first day of the week,” as God had prospered them, for the benefit of the poor saints ( I Corinthians 16:1-2).
The Holy Spirit was able to interest the Ethiopian eunuch in the 53rd chapter of Isaiah, but He needed Philip to begin at that same Scripture and preach “unto him Jesus” ( Acts 8:26-39). The Holy Spirit, knowing that the “last days” of the church age would be marked by “perilous times” (II Timothy 3:1-7) and that the desire on the part of the people would be for “fables” instead of “truth,” made His appeal for “faithful men” who would “preach the word” and “be instant in season” and “out of season,” reproving, rebuking and exhorting “with all longsuffering and doctrine” ( II Timothy 2:1-2 and 4:1-5).
The great need of the hour in the church of this age is a yielding, on the part of both preachers and people alike, to the tender appeal of the Holy Spirit as set forth in Romans 12:1-2—”I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
His Creative Work
“The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” which once covered the earth upon which we now live (Genesis 1:2 with II Peter 3:7). And God said, “Let there be light” and there was light (Genesis 1:3).
First, the moving (brooding) of the Holy Spirit; then, the “Word of God” enters, and then, light takes the place of darkness, order takes the place of chaos and the earth becomes a fit dwelling place for man. So it is with the “new creation.” The Holy Spirit moves or broods over the confused soul of the benighted sinner and draws him to Jesus Christ, the Word of God, and, as the sinner believes, the “light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God,” shines forth in his soul. He becomes a “new creature” in Christ: “Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (John 3:5-8 with Psalms 119:130, II Corinthians 4:6 and II Corinthians 5:17).
His Daily Ministry
The Spirit of God is constantly “striving” with sinners. However, He “shall not always strive with man” (Genesis 6:3).
God loves every unsaved soul and His “longsuffering to us-ward” proves that He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9). He shall not always strive with mankind. One day He shall give His last gospel message and declare an end to the day of salvation forever. But as long as the door of salvation by grace is open to any, it is open to “whosoever” will accept the invitation. He never ceases to strive with the individual sinner of this age.
The saved person who is out of harmony with God is a source of constant grief to the indwelling Spirit (Ephesians 4:30-32). He is always striving with the weak and sinning child of God, trying to bring about growth in grace, usefulness in service, and a walk that is worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called (Ephesians 4:1-7).
Dear reader, are you unsaved? If so heed the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. Let Him conduct you to the cross of Calvary where you may behold the “Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.” Just obey His voice and His written Word. He will see you through to complete salvation. Read John 3:16-18 with Romans 10:9-10.
If you are saved, just remember that “your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own. For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Corinthians 6:19-20). He wants you, and He wants all that you have. He will use you for His glory, and He will make “all things work together for good” to you and yours as you abide in Him and in the calling wherein ye are called (Romans 8:28).
The ministry of the eternal Spirit of God is definitely different from that of the Father or that of the Son, yet the three persons of the God-head always work together.
A Dispensational Study
of the ministry of the Holy Spirit is absolutely necessary in order to understand His work during the present age. So far as the unsaved are concerned the work of the Holy Spirit never varies with the crossing of dispensational lines. He has always striven with sinners, He is now striving with them, and He will continue the same work during the future tribulation period. However, His ministry in behalf of the saved cannot be understood unless it is viewed dispensationally. We are going to examine His ministry with the saints under the law dispensation of the past; His present work under grace; and His future ministry in the days of the great tribulation.
In the Law Dispensation
of the past, the Holy Spirit often came upon or entered into certain men of God performed a certain piece of work, and then departed from them. He did not enter into the Old Testament saint to abide with him forever.
Take David, for example; even though he was a “man after God’s own heart” we find him pleading with God in Psalms 51:11 saying, “Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me.” Imagine the Apostle Paul praying such a prayer in the light of his positive teaching—”Ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14).
In David’s day, under the dispensation of the law, the Holy Spirit did oftentimes leave the believer when grieved because of his sin. However, Paul admonishes the believer of this age saying, “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30).
The Present Dispensation
of grace is a time during which the Holy Spirit abides within the heart of every saved person. Just before the Lord Jesus ascended into glory He gave these positive words of assurance to those who believed on Him and were left behind—”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 know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:16-17).
The Holy Spirit did not come to abide in believers until after the death, resurrection, and glorification of the Lord Jesus Christ. This truth is clearly brought out in the testimony of the Lord Jesus as recorded in John 7:38-39—”He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But, this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given: because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)”
After Christ finished the earthly ministry of His first advent, arose from the grave and ascended into glory, He sent the Holy Spirit to the earth. The present day ministry of the Holy Spirit, so far as the world is concerned, was suggested by the Lord Jesus just before He left earth for glory. In John 16, verses 8 to 11, speaking of the Holy Spirit, He said “When he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment; of sin, because they believed not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.” In verses 12 to 14 of the same chapter He said to His beloved disciples, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but you cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.”
This testimony of the Lord Jesus separates the present day ministry of the Holy Spirit to the world from that which He renders to the church.
His Mission and Ministry to the Saints
in this church age calls our attention to at least seven words:
- The Baptism (Acts 1:5)
- The Indwelling I Corinthians 3:16)
- The Gift (Acts 2:38)
- The Sealing (Ephesians 4:30)
- The Earnest (Ephesians 1:14)
- The Anointing (II Corinthians 1:21)
- The Fullness (Ephesians 5:18)
This seven-fold mission and ministry of the Spirit will continue until the very last member is added to the Body of Christ, the church. After which, the church will be presented to Christ in glory, where Christ, the Head, and His Body, the church, will be united together never to be separated again. After the Holy Spirit conducts the church into the presence of Jesus Christ, His present work within the membership will be completed. However, His earthly ministry will not, at that time, be completed. The church which is His Body, having been glorified, the Holy Spirit will then turn His attention to the tribulation saints.
During the Tribulation Period
the Holy Spirit will begin working in behalf of God’s chosen people, national Israel. So far as God’s time is concerned, He will begin with them at the close of the sixty-ninth week of Daniel, chapter 9. This period of His earthly ministry will begin the seventieth week of Daniel’s prophecy. Between these two weeks of years, set forth by the prophet Daniel, God has not and will not count time on national Israel.
During this future seventieth week, the Holy Spirit will strive with the unsaved on the basis of the “kingdom message.” It will be a time when the Israelites shall be afflicted and many shall be killed because they will be hated by “all nations.” Many false prophets shall arise, and “because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:9-14).
This will be the time when the Holy Spirit will speak through His messengers to the seven churches of Revelation, chapters 2 and 3, saying:
“To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” (2:7)
“He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.” (2:11)
“To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna.” (2:17)
“And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron.” (2:26-29).
“He that overcometh the same shall be clothed with white raiment; and I will not blot his name out of the book of life.” (3:5)
“Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and He shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is the new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God.” (3:12)
“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame and am set down with my Father in His throne.” (3:21)
I also call your attention to verses 16 and 17 of the closing chapter of Revelation—”I, Jesus, have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches, I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the Bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.”
Such is the testimony of the risen and glorified Christ just before “His enemies be made His footstool.” In giving this testimony through the Holy Spirit, He was preparing the way for His glorious appearing and millennial reign. Note His closing words in the Revelation: “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so come Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit
is a subject that is receiving considerable attention at the present time. The “gift of tongues” and “anointing with oil” are closely associated with Holy Spirit baptism among certain ranks of believers. These people, and many of them are sincere, God fearing Christians, are making great claims with respect to their “sanctification” and their ability to “heal the sick.” These claims are usually based upon the manifestations in connection with the work of the Holy Spirit at “Pentecost” and during the transition period covered by the book of Acts when God bore witness “both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will.”
A careful application of II Timothy 2:15 to the work of the Holy Spirit in the different dispensations will help the honest, open-minded, searcher of the Scriptures to understand the Scriptural meaning of the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit.” He was ministering among men before the ascension of Christ, and He will minister among men after the return of Christ to the earth, but this past and future ministry was not and will not be the same as that which He is performing in this dispensation of grace between the ascension and the revelation of our Lord.
In this particular study we are going to examine the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” from three different view points, namely the Prophetic viewpoint, the Doctrinal viewpoint, and the Historical viewpoint.
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit
About eight hundred years before Christ, Joel prophesied to Israel saying, “And it shall come to pass afterwards, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call. For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land” (Joel 2:28-3:2).
Another Old Testament prophet by the name of John the Baptist spoke to the same people on the same subject saying, “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” (Matthew 3:11). He goes on to say in John 1:29-34—”Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore I am come baptizing with water. And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.”
The risen Lord, Himself, prophesied, according to Acts 1:5, saying, “For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”
On the day of Pentecost the Holy Ghost came in fulfillment of the three above mentioned prophecies. He manifested His presence and power by causing them which were filled with the Holy Ghost to “speak with other tongues.” Peter explained to the amazed multitude the full meaning of this sudden appearance of the Holy Spirit when He said, “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel” and then quoted Joel 2:28-32. Carefully read Acts 2:1-21. It is easy to see that this Pentecostal demonstration was the fulfillment of prophecy and not the “mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints. Compare Acts 2:16-21 with Colossians 1:24-29.
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit
We know that only “Jews ” and “Proselytes” were present on the day of Pentecost. It is generally agreed that an uncircumcised Gentile could not have gotten into the fellowship of those who received the Holy Spirit on that day. One only has to read Acts 2, verses 14, 22 and 36 to see that Peter’s message was addressed to Israelites only. As we carefully compare Acts 8:1-4 with Acts 11:19 we see that the members of the Jerusalem church who were “scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria “went forth preaching the word to none but Jews only.”
Naturally the question arises—”What did the baptism of the Holy Spirit mean to these believing Jews and Proselytes of the Pentecostal period?” As I understand the Word, the baptism of the Holy Spirit was the act of God which added the individual believer to the church of Acts 2:47, and this was equivalent to adding the said believer to the Lord (Acts 5:14).
Thousands of believing Jews and Proselytes were thus added to the Lord between the 2nd and the 10th chapters of Acts. However, Cornelius and his household were the first uncircumcised Gentiles to be added to this Jewish church (Acts 10:1-48). A careful study of Acts 11:15 with Acts 15:7-11 certainly suggests that these newly converted Gentiles received the Holy Ghost just as circumcised Jews had received Him on the day of Pentecost. The testimony of Simeon, recorded in Acts 15:14-18, further suggests that the bringing in of these Gentiles was according to prophecy, and that their calling was in connection with the building again of the “Tabernacle of David.” Again I call your attention to the need of referring once more to Paul’s testimony in Colossians l:24-29. The Gentiles of Acts 15:14-18 were brought in according to prophecy, those of Colossians 1:24-29 are being brought in “according to the dispensation of God” which was given to Paul to “fulfill the Word of God; even the mystery which hath been hidden from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints.” The Gentiles of Acts 15:14-18were identified with the “Tabernacle of David, “an earthy proposition, while the Gentiles of Colossians 1:24-29 are identified with the Body of Christ, a heavenly company. The Gentiles referred to in Acts 15:14-18 were brought in through Peter, who had the “keys to the kingdom of heaven,” but the Gentiles of Colossians 1:24-29 are being brought in through the testimony of Paul, who was made a minister according to the dispensation of the “Mystery.”
Following the conversion of Cornelius, the Apostle Paul was sent forth as the apostle and preacher and teacher of the Gentiles. However, it is definitely understood that his testimony was “to the Jew first and also to the Gentile.” He followed this program to the Jew first until the setting aside of national Israel, according to Acts 28:28. During his Acts period ministry, he recognized the “middle wall of partition” between the believing Jew and the believing Gentile. (Acts 21:18-26). During this period the believing Jews were “zealous of the law” and the believing Gentiles were to “observe no such things.”
Even though Paul recognized his own freedom from all men, yet he made himself servant unto all, that he might gain the more. During that transition period, he became a Jew unto the Jews and under the law to them that were under the law. He was made “all things to all men” that he might by all means save some (I Corinthians 9:19-22). It was during this transition period that Paul gave the following doctrinal statement concerning the baptism of the Holy Spirit—”For by one spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one spirit” (I Corinthians 12:13).
In the 27th verse of this same chapter, Paul addresses these baptized ones saying, “Now ye are the Body of Christ, and members in particular.” Paul continues this same doctrine in Galatians 3:27-28, Romans 6:3-4, Ephesians 4:4-6, and Colossians 2:9-15.
In the light of these Scriptures it seems clear that the church which is the Body of Christ was certainly in the making during Paul’s Acts period ministry. Indeed it was revealed as an organism in the above testimony of Paul to the Corinthian believers. This can be true and still not contradict Paul’s testimony concerning the “mystery, which hath been hid from ages and from generations” as recorded in Colossians 1:24-29. However, it does seem to me that it would be difficult to establish a doctrine which begins the Body of Christ at Pentecost. Such a doctrine seems to be contrary to the teachings of Paul’s emphatic statements in Ephesians 3:1-7 and Colossians 1:24-29.
Another question must be dealt with by those who would believe that the Body of Christ did not begin until the days of Paul’s ministry. The question is: “Into what company of saints did the Holy Spirit baptize the believers between Pentecost and Paul’s ministry?” If He baptized them into the Lord would they not be members of His Body? Strange as it may seem, this last question can be Scripturally answered—”Yes” and “No.”
We are told that Christ has a “Body.” We are told also that Christ has a “Bride.” Just for argument’s sake, let us say that the Body and the Bride are two different companies of saints. (We can easily do this because many of our outstanding Bible teachers are not agreed on the question). Then the Body of Christ, when completed, will become the “perfect man” of Ephesians 4:13, and will, therefore, be the Body of the Bridegroom when He comes in glory. The Bride, on the other hand, is spoken of as the “great city, the Holy Jerusalem” (Revelation 21:9-10). When she is joined to the Bridegroom, she will be one with Him. This is in keeping with Genesis 2:24 and Ephesians 5:31. Thus we see that the Body is of Christ and the Bride is of Christ. Therefore, to be added to the Bride is to be added to the Lord; and to be added to the Body is to be added to the Lord, but this would not make the Body and the Bride one and the same organism. Let me illustrate. My wife and I are one, yet she has her separate body and is now about her work in our home at 1125 S. Adams Street; I have my separate body, and I am here in my office at 615 College Avenue dictating this Bible message. The fact that we are one in the sight of God does not alter the fact that we are separate organisms and functioning in different capacities for the glory of the Lord.
If this be true, and it is, then the Lord could have baptized the believers of the Pentecostal period into the Bride of Christ, and the believers of a later date into the Body of Christ. Even though it may seem difficult to establish a definite Scriptural date for the beginning of the Body of Christ, it is very consoling to know that, beyond any shadow of a doubt, the believers of our present day are certainly members of it and that we will be in that number when the Body is caught into glory and changed into the glorious likeness of our Lord and Head.
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit
Four historical records of the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” stand out in the Book of the Acts. I am listing the four passages of Scripture covering these records, and suggest that you study them in the light of II Timothy 2:15:
- “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4). These believing Jews here received that which the risen Christ promised in Acts 1:5, therefore it can Scripturally be called the Baptism of the Holy Ghost.” They also spoke with “other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
- “Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost” (Acts 8:17). These were Samaritans who had “believed Philip preaching the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ” and had been “baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus:” yet, they did not receive the Holy Ghost until two of the Jerusalem Apostles, Peter and John, came down and prayed for them and laid their hands on them (Acts 8:4-17). There is no record that the Holy Spirit gave these believers any utterances in “other tongues.”
- “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost, for they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God” (Acts 10:44-46). These uncircumcised Gentiles received the Holy Spirit while they were hearing the words of the gospel given by Peter. They spoke with tongues and magnified God to the utter astonishment of the Jewish Christians who were present. Peter declares that “The Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning” (Acts 11:15). It seems that it was not necessary for Peter to lay his hands on these believers before they received the Holy Ghost.
- “And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them and they spake with tongues, and prophesied” (Acts 19:6). These are “certain disciples” which Paul found (not made) in the upper coasts of Ephesus. They had been baptized “unto John’s baptism,” but they had “not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.” After that Paul had explained to them the meaning of John’s “baptism of repentance” they were baptized again. This second time they were “baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Then, after that Paul had laid his hands upon them, they received the Holy Ghost.
Now, let us go back and carefully study the contents of these four different passages of Scripture, endeavoring to find out if they offer to us a working basis for the present-day church.
If the believers of Acts 2:4 were baptized into the same church that we are members of, namely, “the church, which is his body,” then the “last days” of Israel as prophesied by Joel would have to be the beginning, or the first days of the church which is Christ’s Body (Acts 2:16-21). This would make our present dispensation a subject of Old Testament prophecy and contradict the statement of Paul in Colossians 1:24-26.
The believers of Acts 10:44-46 are certainly the same Gentiles spoken of in Acts 15:14-18. Their calling was in perfect agreement with the “words of the prophets.” This makes them saints of a “prophetic” period and not of the “dispensation of the mystery.” Therefore Colossians 1:24-26rules them out of the Body of Christ.
The believers of Acts 8:17 could not receive the Holy Spirit until the hands of an apostle were laid on them. The gift promised through the prophets was mediated through either the twelve apostles of the New Testament church or through the Apostle Paul, while he was still an able minister of the “New Testament.” The order was—first believe, then be baptized in the name of the Lord, then receive the laying on of hands, and then receive the “baptism of the Holy Spirit.”
The One Baptism
of Ephesians 4:5 could not be the “water baptism” of Acts 2:38, 8:12 or 19:5. This would break the “sevenfold spiritual unity” of Ephesians 4:4-6. It certainly cannot be both the water baptism and the spiritual baptism suggested in these passages of the Book of Acts. That would make “TWO” baptisms in place of one. It must be the “baptism of the Holy Spirit.”
This one baptism as preached by Paul in I Corinthians 12:13, Romans 6:3-4, Colossians 2:12, Ephesians 4:5 and kindred Scriptures is the “baptism of the Holy Spirit” which baptizes the believer into the death of Christ and raises him into a newness of life in his Saviour’s Body, which is the one and only Scriptural church of this dispensation.
The believing sinner is saved from the guilt and penalty of sin through faith in the finished work of Christ on Calvary; he is baptized by the Holy Spirit into the church, which is the Body of the risen Christ, he is kept by the power of the advocating Christ, and he will be glorified soon by the returning Christ—Halleluiah, what a Saviour!
The Sin Against the Holy Ghost
is spoken of by our Lord. His testimony on this subject is recorded in Matthew 12:31-32 where He speaks of sins that “shall be forgiven” and one certain sin that “shall not be forgiven.” Before quoting this text, let us briefly examine the context in the same chapter. The Pharisees were planning to “destroy Him” (verse 14), but the “multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all” (verse 15). He charged the multitude “that they should not make Him known” (verse 16). This was done that Isaiah’s prophecy concerning Him might be fulfilled. Then He quoted from Isaiah 42:1-4:
“Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.”
Doctor C. I. Scofield has given us some helpful dispensational truth concerning the reference to the “Gentiles” in this passage. In footnote No. 2 at the bottom of page 1012 in the Scofield Bible, he says—”This too is significant. The rejected King of Israel will turn to the Gentiles (cf. Mt. 10:5,6); in fulfillment, this awaited the official rejection, crucifixion, and resurrection of Christ, and the final rejection of the risen Christ (Luke 24:46,47; Acts 19:15; 13:46; 28:25-28; Rom. 11:11).”
In this note Dr. Scofield has very Scripturally called our attention to the fact that the final rejection of Christ as King of Israel was not made until Acts 28:28. This fact is very significant in the study of the unpardonable sin referred to in our text. How could Israel or anyone else commit the unpardonable sin of “blasphemy against the Holy Ghost” before the Holy Ghost was given? (John 7:39).
The context of Matthew 12:31-32 will certainly prove that Christ was addressing Jews and not Gentiles as He taught them concerning the sins that were pardonable and the one sin that was unpardonable.
The Pardonable Sins
were the “all manner of sin and blasphemy” of verse 31 and the sin “against the Son of Man” of verse 32. Paul speaks of the “Jews: who both killed the Lord Jesus and their own prophets and have persecuted us; and they pleased not God, and are contrary to all men: forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost” (I Thessalonians 2:14-16).
Notice the language used by the Lord Jesus as He rebuked the Jews saying, “Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (Matthew 23:31-33). In the 38th verse of this same chapter we have these words— “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.”
The language of the Holy Spirit directed to these same Jews on the day of Pentecost is of an entirely different nature. The Spirit speaking through Peter reminds the men of Israel that they “denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto them.” He also tells them that the “Prince of Life” whom they killed had been raised from the dead, and that he and his fellow disciples are witnessing in the name of the risen Christ (Acts 3:12-16). Note the tenderness in the message of Peter recorded in Acts 3:17-18—”And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.” The Jews who blasphemed the name of the “Son of Man” were called “serpents” and a “generation of vipers” by our Lord before His death on the cross. These same Jews were called “brethren” by the Holy Spirit after the finished work of Christ on the cross.
It seems clear that their blasphemy against the Son of Man was forgiven them. The prayer of Jesus, “Father, forgive them: for they know not what they do,” was in behalf of the Jews, who with “wicked hands” crucified their King. The Scripture says both the Jewish nation and the “princes of this world” were ignorant of what they were doing when they crucified the Lord of glory (Acts 3:17, I Corinthians 2:7-8). Both Jew and Gentile ignorantly fulfilled the Scriptures when they crucified the one who was “delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23). According to the prayer which Christ prayed while hanging on the cross, this terrible sin was forgiven, and therefore, the Holy Spirit could appeal to those, who before were serpents and vipers, as brethren. This He very tenderly did on the day of Pentecost and throughout the book of Acts. But national Israel stubbornly rejected their King.
Just as they had rejected the Father in the days of Samuel, and the Son in His day, so they rejected the Holy Spirit during His dispensation to them.
The Unpardonable Sin
spoken of in Matthew 12:31-32 was the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. Christ declared that this sin would not be forgiven in this world, neither in the world to come. The word “world” means “age” or “dispensation.” Christ was living in the law dispensation when He gave this teaching. The “this world” referred to the law dispensation. The “world to come” referred to the following age or this present dispensation of grace. Christ declared that the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost would not be forgiven in the law dispensation or in the age of grace, but He did not say that this terrible sin of Israel would not be forgiven in the yet future dispensation of the kingdom.
The Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost making His appeal to national Israel on a basis of the kingdom message. The “times of refreshing” spoken of by Peter in Acts 3:19 had reference to kingdom blessings during the earthly reign of the soon coming King, and not to heavenly blessings which the Body of Christ will enjoy after the rapture. He declared that the risen Christ must remain in heaven “until the times of the restitution of all things, which God had spoken by the mouth of all His Holy prophets since the world began.” We know that God has never spoken through the mouth of the prophets concerning the dispensation of the mystery—the present age was committed to the Apostle Paul and not to men of other ages (Colossians 1:24-27). Therefore, we are quite sure that the Holy Spirit limited His ministry to Israel in the opening chapters of the book of Acts.
Israel’s response to the Holy Spirit is clearly seen in the testimony of Stephen—”Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers” (Acts 7:51-52).
In Acts 18:5-6, we have another testimony concerning the attitude of Israel—”Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. And when they opposed themselves and blasphemed he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles.”
In Acts 28:17-25, we have the final rejection of the Holy Spirit’s offer of the kingdom message to Israel. Paul pronounced the final judgment upon the nation in verses 25-28 of this same chapter. Israel had committed her final sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and, as a nation, she was set aside. She had committed the sin that could not be forgiven in the age of the law or in the age of grace, but will be forgiven when “The Spirit of grace and supplications” is poured out upon the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem and “they shall look upon him whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son” (Zechariah 12:10). This will be the time when a nation shall be “born at once” (Isaiah 66:8).
“Justified by Faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). Justification means more than forgiveness or pardon. It means that our standing before God is as though we had never sinned.
“God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). This means that Christ has taken the sinner’s place, borne the guilt and penalty of his sin in His own body on the tree and has died, the Just One for the unjust. This is why that God can “Be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Romans 3:26). The believing sinner of this age is justified from all sin. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and all other sins are removed as far from the sinner as the east is from the west when that sinner exercises simple, child-like faith in Jesus Christ as his sin bearer.
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved and thy house” (Acts 16:31).