Stating The Case
In discussing the important doctrine of the Baptism with the Holy Ghost, I wish first of all, to state the case; then I shall introduce the inspired witnesses and argue the case from the testimony given by them.
(1) In the great scheme of human redemption God has provided that all of His children may receive the baptism with the Holy Ghost.
(2) The baptism with the Holy Ghost is bestowed subsequent to regeneration; not at, but after pardon.
(3) The baptism with the Holy Ghost is for believers only, and is never bestowed upon the unregenerate.
(4) The baptism with the Holy Ghost purifies believers’ hearts, and empowers them for service.
(5) The Holy Ghost dwells in, abides with, comforts and teaches those who receive Him.
(6) The rejection of the Holy Ghost is fatal to Christian experience.
It will be appropriate just here to call attention to the fact that the Holy Ghost is a person.
He is the third person in the Trinity, and is one with the Father and the Son, equal with them in eternity, holiness and honor.
This fact is plainly taught in the Scriptures, especially in administering the rite of baptism, and in the apostolic benediction. See Matt. 28:19: “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
In the closing verse of the last chapter of his second epistle to the Corinthians, St. Paul fully recognizes the equality of the Holy Ghost with the Father, and the Son, in these impressive, beautiful words of benediction: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.”
All of Christ’s sayings about the Holy Ghost, prove His personality. Take for example, John 16:7. “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.” Notice here the pronoun-Him.
It is never proper or scriptural to speak of the Holy Ghost as a thing, but always as a person. Then let us bear in mind that the Holy Ghost is as essentially a person as is Jesus Christ, and that as certainly as Jesus made His advent into the world in Bethlehem, the Holy Ghost made His advent into the world at Jerusalem, on the day of Pentecost, and that the times in which we live are especially the dispensation of the Holy Ghost.
We will now consider the first proposition in the statement of the case. “In the great scheme of human redemption, God has provided that all of His children may receive the baptism with the Holy Ghost.”
When John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness, the burden of his message was the coming Christ, and the baptism he would bestow. Only those who believed John’s message, received John’s baptism, and all of them were assured that when Christ came they should receive from Him another baptism.
“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 Ghost and with fire.” Matt. 3:11. John administered water baptism with the distinct understanding that the baptism he gave was but a preparation for the greater baptism of the Holy Ghost, which Christ would administer when He came. I have never been able to understand how it is that persons can receive John’s testimony with regard to water baptism, and reject it with regard to the baptism with the Holy Ghost, for as certainly as John administered the one, he promised that Christ should administer the other.
So far as John’s testimony is concerned, the baptism with the Holy Ghost is Christ’s prime credential, proving His Messiahship. After John’s definite declaration that Christ would bestow the baptism with the Holy Ghost, if Christ had not bestowed him, John’s testimony would have fallen to the ground. Let us suppose that an intelligent, though sinful Jew, attends upon the ministry of the great wilderness preacher. As John speaks his awful denunciation against sin, crying, “Oh, generation of vipers,” and declaring that the “ax is laid unto the root of the trees,” and that every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit shall be hewn down and cast into the fire, this Jew is made to tremble because of his sins. He believes the message, the Messiah is coming. He forsakes his sins, and with faith in the Christ that John is preaching, he asks baptism at the hands of John. John baptizes him and says to him, “He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.”
Could this Jew ever forget the promise of John? Would he not say to his friends, “John has baptized me with water, but, he has promised me another and greater baptism, which I shall receive from Christ who is greater than John!” Would not that Jew naturally believe that in proportion as Christ is greater than John, the baptism with the Holy Ghost, which Christ administers, is superior to the baptism of water, which John administers? When Jesus appears, will not this Jew, if he be a true believer in John, follow Jesus, expecting to receive from Him the baptism with the Holy Ghost? Most assuredly he will. That is exactly what they did do. John fully understood the situation. John willingly gave up his disciples that they might follow Jesus. He said: “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
These disciples of John had been instructed by him that he was only a herald of the coming King, that Jesus was the true Messiah, and He it was that should baptize them with the Holy Ghost and with fire; and they followed Jesus with no other expectation than that they should receive from Him this baptism; and they were not disappointed.
After the promise made by John, if Jesus had said nothing of the baptism with the Holy Ghost, those who followed Him, full of faith and expectation, would have been forced to the conclusion that John was a false prophet, and that Christ was not the true Messiah; but they were not doomed to disappointment.
John was a true prophet, and Christ was the Son of God, and what John promised, Christ graciously bestowed.
The disciples had not followed Jesus long until He confirmed John’s testimony concerning Himself. It was on 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 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.
From these Scriptures we learn that the Holy Ghost was to be given to those who believe on Christ. This gift of the Spirit was not limited to the apostles. Notice the breadth of the promise: “If any man thirst, . . . He that believeth on me, . . . They that believe on Him should receive.” This promise takes in all believers. It is a narrow and unscriptural view that limits the baptism with the Holy Ghost to the apostles only. These plain words of Jesus, “Any man,” “Him that believeth,” “They that believe,” sweep away all barriers that men would erect between God’s children and the baptism with the Holy Ghost, and teach unmistakably that this divine baptism is for all of God’s children. We notice that Christ repeats the promise of the gift of the Holy Ghost in John 14:16.
Jesus had just said to His disciples, “Whither I go ye cannot come.” This filled their hearts with sorrow, and He comforted them with those immortal and sure words of promise, found in John 14. “Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”
But God had provided still more fully for their comfort, and Jesus said to them: “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 know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”
In the twenty-sixth verse of the same chapter, Jesus tells the disciples that this Comforter, whom the Father will send, is the Holy Ghost. It was after the resurrection, and just before His ascension, that Jesus further confirmed the prophecy of John, and the promises which He had previously made his disciples. See Acts 1:4, 5. “And being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith He, ye have heard of me: For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost, not many days hence.”
These words are plain and easy of comprehension. Command and promise could not be more specific.
The pledge of the gift of the Holy Ghost, of which the disciples have heard so much, in which they are bound to be so deeply interested, is vouchsafed in unmistakable language.
In obedience to the commandment, and with faith in the promise, the disciples tarried at Jerusalem. The protracted waiting in the upper room while ten days passed by, shows an obedience and faith in the early disciples which modern, impatient professors of discipleship will do well to imitate.
No doubt in these long days of waiting by the faithful hundred and twenty, there is a valuable lesson for us. There must be in the disciple of Christ a spirit of genuine submission, obedience, and faith, that will tarry in patient waiting so long as the Lord may see fit to tarry in His coming.
When Christ gives a commandment to wait and promises a blessing for those who do wait, we must learn to wait, and to wait without murmur or complaint, until the promised blessing comes. The disciples waited, and not in vain; for, “when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.” How fortunate they were “with one accord.” No rebellious spirit, or unbelieving heart, broke the harmony of that glad, humble, patient group, who waited in the upper room.
There is a peculiar blessing in the mutual faith of those who love the Lord. In Rom. 1:11, 12, Paul says, “For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established. That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.”
Those who do not believe in, or seek for the Holy Ghost, but rather oppose those who do, will not know the damage they have done the church, or the hurt they have been to the cause of Christ, until the books are opened at the last day.
The inspired record says, “And suddenly” (reader, mark that word suddenly). It is thus that the Spirit comes upon believers. “There came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues, like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost.” John’s prophecy was fulfilled, and Christ’s promise was kept, in this wonderful baptism with the Holy Ghost. Without doubt John was a true prophet, and Jesus of Nazareth is the true Messiah, the world’s Redeemer. The disciples are confirmed, the world is convinced, sinners are convicted, and three thousand souls are converted on the spot.
Lest some one should say this baptism with the Holy Ghost was only a temporary gift to the church, or a special gift, to the early Christians, God, in His wisdom, put in Peter’s mouth words that are plain and unmistakable. “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized, 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.
These words of Peter were addressed to the three thousand who, being, pricked in their hearts, had said, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
St. Peter encourages them with the following words of assurance: “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.”
Could a promise be stated more plainly, or be more comprehensive?
The baptism with the Holy Ghost was for the eleven apostles, for the one hundred and nine persons in the upper room with them, for the three thousand to be bestowed after they had received remission of sins, for the children of the three thousand, for ALL that are afar off, even as MANY as the Lord our God shall call. The word “call” here evidently means convert, or pardon, or regenerate. Even as many as God shall regenerate, have the promise of the baptism with the Holy Ghost.
Beloved reader, with these plain Scriptures before us there is but one reasonable conclusion at which we can arrive, and that is, that in the great scheme of human redemption, God has provided that all of His children may receive the baptism with the Holy Ghost.
Permit me to close this chapter, by addressing to you the words of the Apostle Paul to the young converts at Ephesus:
“Have ye received the Holy Ghost SINCE ye believed?” If not, it is not because there is not abundant provision made in the atonement, and oft-repeated promises of such a baptism contained in the Scriptures.