Chapter III. — The Holy Spirit Personality — Terms — Views

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15.

Ignorance concerning the Personality and work of the Holy Spirit has resulted in wrong, foolish and unintelligible conceptions. He has been regarded as the source of all kinds of inspiration, as the mysterious influence that inspires poets, musicians and artists, saints and sinners alike, and as a breath that pervades the atmosphere of a religious service. We well remember the illustration used by one who claimed to be a minister of the Gospel when dealing with the subject: "You have watched the musician draw his bow over the strings of the violin, and have been entranced at the exquisite melody produced. You have been enamoured of the paintings that speak with inaudible voice to the human soul, and have taken flight on the wings of poetry to realms of untold bliss. That invisible influence behind the bow, and the brush, and in the poet, is none other than the Holy Ghost."

It did not occur to the preacher that soul-stirring music, entrancing paintings, and fanciful poetry are sometimes produced by sinners of the deepest dye. The work of the Spirit upon such characters is that which produces conviction of sin. This is the only relationship we see between the Holy Spirit and sinners, until they repent and turn to God.

Illustrations such as these but reveal great ignorance, and are calculated to obscure the Personality of the Holy Spirit, and to make sinners believe that His work is not to convict of sin, but to console in sin.

The Holy Spirit is a Person.

This is proved by the application to Him in Scripture of personal pronouns:

But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me. John 15:26.

Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you. And when He is come He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment, John 16:7, 8.

He has personal faculties.

He can speak, see, and hear.

As they ministered to the Ford, and fasted, the Hoy Ghost said, Separate Me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. Acts 13:2.

So they, being sent forth by the Hoy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. Acts 13:4.

He has emotions.

He can be grieved.

And grieve not the Hoy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:30.

He has a will.

He distributes miraculous gifts according to His will.

But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will. 1 Corinthians 12:11.

The Deity of the Holy Spirit is clearly demonstrated by His associations with the Father and with the Son.

He is eternal.

Without beginning and without ending.

How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Hebrews 9:14.

He is omnipotent.

Author of the body of Jesus of Nazareth.

And the angel answered and said unto her, The Hoy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that hoy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. Luke 1:35.

He is omniscient.

Guides into all truth.

I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye 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 shew you things to come. John 16:12, 13.

He is omnipresent.

Dwells with and within believers everywhere.

And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; 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.

Both Old and New Testaments abound with evidence that proves the Deity and Personality of the Holy Ghost.

The Great Need of To-Day.

The great need of believers in particular and the Church in general is an outpouring of the Holy Ghost with power to cope with the inrush of unbelief, worldliness, and indifference that has invaded the professing Church through the avenues of modernistic teaching. The present age is one of materialism, and it can only be effectively dealt with by the demonstration of the power of the essentially supernatural and dynamic forces of the Christian religion. We are convinced that the way to power in the Church is along the lines of the individual baptism of the Holy Ghost. In order to get a right perspective of scriptural teaching it would be well for us to consider the views of the various schools of thought on the subject.

Varied Views Concerning Terms.

Some teachers maintain that each of the following terms used in connection with the operations of the Holy Ghost presents a new aspect of truth and that they are not interchangeable.

(a) Baptism, (b) Indwelling, (c) Gift, (d) Earnest, (e) Filling, (f) Anointing, (g) Sealing, (h) Outpouring.

The four that are definitely mentioned in the first and second chapters of the Acts of the Apostles will suffice for our consideration at this juncture.

They are as follow:

Baptism.

For John truly baptised with water; but ye shall be baptised with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. Acts 1:5.

Filling.

And they were all filled with the Hoy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:4.

Outpouring.

And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

And on My servants and on My handmaidens I will pour out in those days of My Spirit; and they shall prophesy. Acts 2:17, 18.

Gift.

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptised every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Acts 2:38.

There is a simple and decisive way of proving whether these terms are interchangeable or not.

The correct answer to the following question will settle the matter once and for all. Do the terms baptism, filling, outpouring, 2nd gift refer to one and the same experience? If the answer is in the negative, then they are not interchangeable; if the answer is in the affirmative, then the terms are interchangeable.

The baptism of the Spirit.

Let us now put this test to the first term. The baptism that was mentioned by our Lord in Acts 1:5 was most assuredly that which the disciples experienced on the one great day of Pentecost, when He said, "Ye shall be baptised with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” He must have been referring to that Pentecostal experience which actually occurred ten days afterwards. Therefore that Pentecostal experience was termed a baptism.

The filling of the Spirit.

The experience that was termed a baptism by our Lord is now called a filling by the inspired writer of the Acts of the Apostles. Therefore that same Pentecostal experience was termed a baptism and also a filling.

The outpouring of the Spirit.

Peter on the day of Pentecost actually explained that the disciples were experiencing an out of the Spirit in fulfilment of an Old Testament prophecy. Therefore the same Pentecostal experience was termed a baptism, a filling, and an outpouring.

The gift of the Spirit.

The Scripture clearly teaches that up to and during the days of our Lord the Holy Spirit had not been given. It also affirms that the Holy Spirit was definitely shed forth on the day of Pentecost. In the light of these negative and positive affirmations it is only reasonable to conclude that what the disciples experienced on the Day of Pentecost was the gift of the Holy Spirit. Peter in his message to all who would henceforth repent and be baptised confirmed this view when he said,

“And ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." Acts 2:38.

He made the promise because the Holy Spirit had been given that day. This is further confirmed by Peter's statement in Acts 11:16, 17, where the figures, baptism and gift, are shown to be identical, for they were both used to describe the one experience at Pentecost. Therefore that same Pentecostal experience was termed a baptism, a filling, an outpouring, and a gift.

Different Views Concerning The Time Of Reception Of The Spirit.

There are two main schools of thought. One maintains that the gift of the Holy Spirit is identical with the gift of eternal life, and that a person cannot be in a regenerated state without the gift of the Holy Spirit. The other affirms that the gift of the Holy Spirit is quite distinct from the gift of eternal life, and that a person can be in a regenerated state without possessing the gift of the Holy Spirit. Here again we have a simple yet decisive way of settling the question. If there is any record in the Acts of the Apostles to show that persons were saved who subsequently received the gift of the Holy Spirit, then the view of the second school is maintained. We believe that the Samaritan revival in the eighth chapter of the Acts proves the case for the second school of thought without a doubt, as the following facts will demonstrate.

Philip the Evangelist at Samaria.

Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. Acts 8:5.

The attitude of the people.

And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. Acts 8:6.

Miracles and signs were in evidence.

For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. Acts 8:7.

Joyousness was one of the characteristics.

And there was great joy in that city. Acts 8:8.

The converts passed through the waters of baptism.

But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the Name of Jesus Christ, they were baptised, both men and women. Acts 8:12.

Up to this point the Holy Ghost had not fallen, for Peter and John were with the Apostles at Jerusalem.

Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John. Acts 8:14.

Peter and John arrive at Samaria.

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 baptised in the Name of the Lord Jesus). Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. Acts 8:15-17.

There are other cases in Scripture which will come up for careful consideration in due course.

Different Views Regarding The Purpose For Which The Holy Spirit Is Given.

There are two mam schools of thought concerning the purpose for which the Holy Spirit is given to individual believers. One holds that the definite reception of the Spirit after conversion is identical with an experience called sanctification, or the experience of a clean heart. They believe that at conversion eternal life is received as a gift, and the person is delivered from his sins. But at the reception of the Spirit the same person is delivered from what is called inbred sin. The other school of thought claims that at conversion the person is made a new creature in Christ, that he is cleansed from all sin by the blood of Christ, and that he receives the subsequent gift of the Holy Spirit to empower him for service. We belong to the second school, for our contention is that the Holy Spirit does not deliver or cleanse from sin of any kind. The Holy Spirit convicts of sin, but it is the Blood that cleanses.

But if we walk in the light, as lie is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin. 1 John 1:7.

Those who teach, that until believers receive the gift of the Holy Spirit they are in an unsanctified state, must, in order to be consistent, teach that the mother of our Lord was in an unsanctified state when Jesus was born, for she was one of the one hundred and twenty who received the gift of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost.

Diverse Views As To The Effect Of The Spirit On The Mortal Body.

In this connection there are three mam schools of thought. The first teaches that every person who receives the gift of the Holy Spirit will have the sign of speaking in tongues; the second, that everyone who receives should have some definite supernatural manifestation of the Spirit in the mortal body, not necessarily the sign of the speaking in tongues; while the third stands for the reception of the Spirit by faith without any outward physical sign. The second view is the scriptural one; it safeguards against the possibility of a seeker after the gift of the Spirit missing the blessing, and also against the extravagances that might be entailed by a mere reaching out for an initial sign of speaking in tongues, which the Scriptures do not warrant. Tongues, or glossolalia, in Acts 2:1-4, as well as in every other instance in the Acts of the Apostles, is a gift as well as a sign, proved conclusively by the fact that it is not in the aorist but in the imperfect tense, which shows that it is to be repeated.

The reason why persons who receive this gift at the baptism of the Spirit do not afterwards speak in tongues is occasioned by the lack of its exercise. It is impromptu at the baptism, but afterwards almost entirely under the control of the speaker.

The following scripture confirms this view —

1 Corinthians 12:30, "Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?"

Speaking in tongues was as frequently given as a sign at the baptism of the Spirit in the days of the Apostles as it is to-day, but the silence of Scripture on the question of it being the initial sign negatives the claim that it must necessarily follow in every case. When we come to the Samaritan revival the Scripture positively declares that the converts received the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the Apostles' hands, yet there is no mention of the sign of speaking in tongues. Insistence upon this particular sign for every seeker, in face of these positive and negative affirmations of Scripture on the subject, means the violation of the reasonable and logical law that should govern the right dividing of the Word of truth. The claim based upon precept and example that tongues is the initial sign of the Baptism is not valid, because it is not stated to be the example in Acts 4, nor in Acts 8. Even if tongues were mentioned in both these scriptures it would not be a sound method to build doctrines on example. But if the speaking in tongues is not mentioned in the account of the Samaritan revival, there was undoubtedly some kind of physical manifestation as a result of the reception of the Holy Spirit, for Simon saw the effect of the laying on of the Apostles' hands. It would be most difficult to harmonise the view, that the gift of the Holy Spirit can be received by faith apart from any physical effect, with the declaration of our Lord in the seventh chapter of John:

If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. lie that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of him shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Hoy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified). 

Comments