Chapter IV. — The Spirit of Christ and the Holy Spirit

Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of His. Romans 8:9.

Have ye received the Hoy Ghost since ye believed? Acts 19:2.

Seldom are our minds directed to the difference between the Spirit of Christ and the Holy Spirit, yet it is impossible to have an intelligent understanding of the New Testament Scriptures without recognising such a difference. The way to a right conclusion of the matter is by comparing scripture with scripture, and thus allowing the inspired commentary to explain itself. Before doing so, it would be well for us to look briefly at the views of some who are not disposed to agree with such a difference. Some Christian teachers maintain that the scripture in

Romans 8:9, "Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.”

emphatically declares that it is impossible to be a believer without having the Holy Spirit. The gift of the Holy Spirit, they say, is identical with regeneration. We maintain that there is a difference, and that the scripture in Romans 8:9 refers to the Spirit of Christ, and not to the Holy Spirit. We teach that the former takes up His abode in the believer at regeneration, and that the latter can only be received by those already regenerated. The correct answers to the following questions should decide the matter without difficulty.

Firstly, does the Scripture state the fixed time when the outpouring of the Holy Ghost first took place? The answer is given by the inspired writer of the Acts of the Apostles, and by the preacher of Pentecost:

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. …

And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:1, 4.

Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: for these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh. … Acts 2:14-17. Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs. … Ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain. … This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Hoy Ghost, He hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. Acts 2:22, 23, 32, 33. By negative assertion as well as positive the Scriptures emphasise the time when the Holy Spirit was given. Our Lord clearly stated in the Gospels that the Holy Spirit had not been given even during His earthly ministry; it was an event reserved for future days.

In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink. He 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 Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) John 7:37-39.

Thus the answer to the first question is in the affirmative. The Holy Spirit had certainly come upon exceptional individuals for specific purposes before the day of Pentecost, but He was not given in the general sense until that day.

Secondly, were there regenerated persons on earth before the Holy Spirit was given on the day of Pentecost? The answer to this question is also in the affirmative, for the evidences of regeneration are seen in the disciples before the day of Pentecost.

Spiritual relationship established.

Regeneration, which establishes the spiritual family relationship between seekers and God, was experienced by the mere acceptance of Christ as Saviour long before the dispensation of the Holy Ghost.

He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name. Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:11-13.

All who received Him were born of God, and it does not say that they had to wait for regeneration until the Holy Ghost would be given on the day of Pentecost. At the beginning of His public ministry, our Lord met Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. During his conversation with him He points to the one door through which all that enter His spiritual kingdom must pass, namely, the new birth.

The door was there, ready to be opened by faith. Not a word is mentioned about waiting some three years until the Holy Spirit should be given. Let us now look for evidences of true regeneration in the lives of the disciples who lived on the earth before the Holy Spirit was given:

They were not of the world.

I have given them Thy Word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. John 17:14.

Their standing in the world had altered; some remarkable change in each person of the company prayed for had been brought about by the regeneration of their souls. They had been born of the last Adam; they were in the world, but not of it; affections that were once set on things below had been transferred to things above.

They were spiritually clean.

Now ye are clean through the Word which I have spoken unto you. John 15:3.

They had not always been considered thus; like others, in their unsaved state they were likened unto an unclean thing, whose righteousness was as filthy rags. These garments had been discarded for the righteousness which is of faith, the garment woven in the mind of God before the foundation of the world, on the looms of Bethlehem and Calvary.

As part of the true Vine they were to bear fruit.

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me. I am the Vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing. John 15:4, 5.

Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be My disciples. John 15:8.

Unless they were branches of the true Vine, bearing fruit would be an impossibility. One would as well expect to see a lily growing out of a thistle seed, as to find the fruit of the Spirit in the lives of the unregenerate. But these disciples were in Christ; they had their life, and drew their sustenance from Him, and it was quite natural for them to produce the fruit of the Spirit — love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; for they were of the Lord's planting.

They were commissioned to evangelise.

As Thou hast sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. John 17:18.

Who could imagine for a moment that those ordained by our Lord as ministers of the Word to others were unsaved? Those entrusted with the Gospel message should certainly give proof of its transforming power in their own lives. These disciples were to ring out a message of life to a dying world; they were to carry words of creative power, by which they had themselves been born again.

They were taught how to pray.

And He said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father, which art in heaven. Luke 11:2.

The ground of prayer was their relationship to God. If they had not been born into His family, the Master would not be found instructing them in prayer. With Him they shared what is the privilege of every true believer. It was not merely a matter of framing sentences, and going through some prescribed form. They were in touch with the Divine; in His presence they poured out the unutterable gushings of their full hearts, and breathed in the life that would sustain them.

Christ was glorified in them.

And all Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine, and I am glorified in them. John 17:10.

Surely Christ could not be glorified in unregenerated followers; only consecrated beings could have become vessels containing heavenly treasure. They were by this time yielded servants of obedience unto righteousness, and their bodies were temples for God to dwell in.

They had fellowship with the risen Christ.

To whom also He shewed Himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. Acts 1:3.

Our Lord only revealed Himself to believers after the Resurrection. The last glimpse unbelievers had of Him was upon the cross. No unregenerate soul saw Him after the heart-rending scenes of the Crucifixion. The privilege of fellowship and communion with Him is ever confined to those who are prepared to be identified with Him in His death.

They were promised another Comforter.

And I will pray the Father, and He shall send you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of Truth; whom the world cannot receive. John 14:16, 17.

By "the world is meant the unregenerate.

Unless they were translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God's dear Son, they were in no fit condition to receive the Holy Spirit. He will only come to abide in sanctified vessels. These disciples had experienced their spiritual translation and had already yielded themselves to the service of their Lord, because they were not of the world. Therefore they were commanded to tarry until the Comforter should come.

Long before the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, there were those who had experienced the new birth. We look back into Old Testament times and find prophets who were indwelt by the Spirit of Christ, and so of course must have been regenerated. Peter testifies to this fact (1 Peter 1:11): "The Spirit of Christ which was in them [the prophets] did signify when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow'. "Long before His blood was shed upon Calvary there were individuals who had accepted God's way of salvation, and were born from above.

The first creation being marred had to be remade before man could have fellowship and oneness with God.

At the entrance of the garden from which the first Adam was expelled, we see the Cherubim and the flaming sword, guarding the way to the tree of life. Between God and the fallen creation was the weapon to pierce and slay. If reconciliation and oneness was to be brought about, it had to come by the Lord passing through the sword and fire to reach the fallen ones. Here we see a picture of Calvary's Cross drawn by the unerring hand of the Holy Spirit. The outcasts were brought face to face with the fact that life could only come to them as a result of death.

Someone had to be pierced and bruised in order to forge the link that could unite them to God.

Here veiled in type was Christ, the promised Redeemer. Through death there was the possibility not only of being reinstated in an earthly paradise, but of possessing Divine life, something that they had never experienced before. Here was the door leading into the realms of the new creation. They could, by accepting God's way, become the children of God, having the Spirit of His Son shed abroad in their hearts.

In the lamb offered as a sacrifice by Abel, their son, we see prefigured the One who, of His own will, left the brightness of His Father's glory and passed, when the fullness of time was come, through death on Calvary, in order that all who would believe might be saved. Abel, we are told in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, obtained witness that he was righteous. He had to come to God through the righteousness of Christ, which the sacrificial lamb foreshadowed. Being righteous, he must have been born again — only a regenerated person could be termed righteous — and if born again, he must have become a son of God, and if a son, he must have possessed the Spirit of God's Son.

"Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of His." Romans 8:9.

Persons who believed God, before the work of redemption was actually accomplished at Calvary, were regenerated through the Redeemer, to whom the types pointed forward. Those who believe God on this side of the Cross are regenerated through the crucified Christ, of whom the breaking of bread and drinking of wine is a reminder 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. Christ, and He alone, is the Door that leads into the spiritual realm.

Are we to suppose for a moment that the disciples, who were our Lord's bosom friends and companions, were un-regenerated persons? Are we to conclude that the first breaking-of-bread service was celebrated by un-regenerated disciples? Speaking reverently, are we to believe that the holy virgin, who was privileged to bring into the world the offspring of God and the Saviour of mankind, was unregenerate? No! No! Let men take time to think before they are entangled in the meshes of flimsy and illogical conclusions.

In the scriptures considered we have abundant evidence of the new birth before the Holy Ghost came to take up His abode in temples not made with hands. What Christians receive at regeneration is the Spirit of Christ.

God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Gather. Galatians 4:4-6.

The son of the first Adam comes burdened to the Cross. He pleads for pardon through One who in the fullness of time came to bear away his sin. He is forgiven and is immediately conscious of his new relationship. He is suddenly awakened to the fact that he is, there and then, made a son of God. The Spirit of Christ is shed abroad in his heart, and cries, "Abba, Father." There are also instances in the Acts of the Apostles where the Holy Spirit was received subsequent to regeneration after the day of Pentecost. These I have dealt with in other chapters of this book. If the disciples in Acts 8. had not received the Spirit of Christ until hands were laid upon them in Acts 8:17 they must have been previously baptised in the Name of the Lord Jesus when they were "none of His.” If the disciples in Acts 19. had not received the Spirit of Christ until Paul laid his hands upon them in Acts 19:6, they too must have been baptised in the Name of the Lord Jesus when they were "none of His.”

In conclusion let me draw your attention to the change in metaphor used by our Lord when speaking of regeneration first, and later on, of the baptism of the Holy Ghost. You all know the story of the woman at the well of Samaria John 4:4-42. The words: "He must needs go through Samaria,” reveal the deep longing in the Lord's compassionate heart to satisfy the soul thirst of even one sinner. Under the burning Eastern sun, He wended His way to the city, passing en route the ancient well of Jacob. Being wearied with His journey, He sat on the well, and a poor sin-burdened woman came along at a most unusual hour, carrying her water-pot. His request for a drink is met with "How is it that Thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria, for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans:" Using water as a symbol of everlasting life, Jesus immediately showed her the blessedness of having the thirst of the soul quenched. Note carefully His reply, "If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give Me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water. "Every careful reader of the Word will admit that the Lord was speaking of eternal life which could only be obtained as a gift. It was likened unto a well springing up, whose gushing waters kept the soul in perpetual satisfaction.

Later on in John 7:37, 38, we find our Lord's last public utterance: "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying: If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of him shall flow rivers of living water." He is speaking here of the gift of the Holy Ghost which believers alone could receive. He likens this gift unto rivers of living water flowing from the innermost part of the being. It is clearly stated that this blessing could only be received at a future time, thus proving conclusively that there is a difference between receiving the Spirit of Christ, and receiving the Holy Ghost. It was a well of living water in John 4; here, in John vu, rivers of living water.

The gift of eternal life when the Spirit of Christ comes in to abide was experienced by the disciples before the day of Pentecost. The gift of the Holy Spirit was experienced by these same disciples on the day of Pentecost.

God's great gift to the unregenerate is the Spirit of Christ. God's great gift to the regenerate is the Holy Spirit.