The baptism with the Holy Ghost is bestowed subsequent to regeneration; not at, but after pardon.
The above statement is not only abundantly taught in the Scriptures, but is strikingly illustrated in the case of the apostles, and those believers who were with them in the upper room at the time of their receiving the baptism with the Spirit.
I am aware that some persons, when hard pressed in their efforts to prove that the baptism with the Holy Ghost received on the day of Pentecost was not a blessing received subsequent to regeneration, have contended that the apostles and their companions were only converted on that occasion. The fallacy of such reasoning is quite plain when we refer to the following Scriptures.
I call attention first, to Luke 10:20, where Jesus said to the disciples, “Rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.” Now we know that evil spirits are not subject to sinners, but sinners are subject to the evil spirits: but the evil spirits were subject to the disciples; therefore the disciples were not sinners. We know also that sinners names are not written in heaven, but the disciples’ names were written in heaven. Therefore the disciples were not sinners. Now, when we remember that the words of Jesus quoted above were uttered some months before the baptism at Pentecost, we are forced to the conclusion that the disciples were pardoned, regenerated men, long before they received the baptism with the Holy Ghost.
We also read in John 17:12, “While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name; those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition.” If none of them were lost but Judas, then the eleven disciples were saved; but unpardoned sinners are lost, therefore the disciples were not sinners. Judas himself had once been in a pardoned state, for the Scriptures say that, “Judas by transgression fell.” Had this unfortunate man not been in a state of grace, he could not have fallen. In the sixteenth verse of the same chapter, Jesus says, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”
When we remember that all these sayings of our Lord took place some time before Pentecost, we cannot believe any candid mind will ask for further proof that the disciples were regenerated men long before their sanctification by the baptism with the Holy Ghost.
We call attention to the history of the revival at Samaria, held by the Evangelist Philip. This was a genuine work of grace. The people with one accord gave heed to the things which Philip spake.”… “Unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice came out of many that were possessed with them.”… “And there was great joy in the city.” The reader may be sure that the great joy was not among the sinners, who rejected Philip’s message. Those who rejoiced were doubtless of the number out of whom the unclean spirits had been cast, and others who, believing the Gospel message, had forsaken their sins and accepted Christ.
No Bible Christian will question the excellence and thoroughness of the work done in this revival.
“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.” Acts 8:19..
No language will express what followed so well as Luke’s own inspired words. Hence we quote him: “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.” There it is, honest leader. They had received the word, believed in Jesus, the unclean spirits had been cast out of them, they had great joy, and had been baptized. Who will dare say they were not pardoned? But they had not yet received the Holy Ghost. But when Peter and John prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Ghost, and laid their hands on them, they did receive the Holy Ghost. All must agree that this baptism with the Holy Ghost was subsequent to regeneration. Nothing could be plainer.
Now, let us take the case of Cornelius. That this man was a pardoned man prior to Peter’s visit to him, and the falling of the Holy Ghost upon him, we cannot understand how anyone can doubt. The Scripture says of Cornelius that he was “A devout man,….. one that feared God, with all his house,” …”gave much alms,” …and prayed to God alway.” The angel who visited him said, “Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.”
Can anyone doubt this man’s Christianity? Can the reader conceive of a “devout” sinner, “fearing God, with all his house?” This man’s piety had drawn his family with him into the love and service of God.
“The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is his delight.” Prov. 15:8.
Had Cornelius been a wicked man his prayer and alms would not have come up for a memorial before the Lord. But his alms were accepted, therefore he was not a sinner.
“He that turneth away his ear from the hearing of the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.” Prov. 28:9.
But the prayers of Cornelius were pleasing to God, therefore he did not turn away his ear from hearing of the law, but was obedient, devout, upright.
Take the testimony of Peter himself, on his meeting and salutation of Cornelius. “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons. But in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness is accepted with Him.”
What need have we of further proof, that this man is a servant of God, of a very high order?
Sinners do not “fear” God, “and work righteousness,” neither are sinners “accepted with him.” But Cornelius was accepted with the God he feared, obeyed and worshipped, therefore he was not a sinner, but a Christian. His sins had been pardoned, he was justified before God, “accepted with Him.” But he had not yet received the baptism with the Holy Ghost, for this baptism is a blessing bestowed, not before, or at the time of justification, but subsequent to it.
While Peter preached to this “‘devout,” prayerful, charitable, righteous, obedient, God-fearing man, the Holy Ghost fell on him and his God-fearing household, purifying their hearts. We could not wish for a clearer case of sanctification, by the baptism with the Holy Ghost, subsequent to regeneration.
I could give other instances, and quote other Scriptures, but if these Scriptures given do not convince the reader beyond all doubt and cavil that the baptism with the Holy Ghost is bestowed subsequent to regeneration, not at, but after pardon, it seems to me that with such an one an appeal to Scripture is useless.
To every humble, believing heart, I will say, The Comforter is promised you. Tarry at the mercy seat in faithful prayer until you receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Through all the history of the Church of Christ, witnesses can be found who will gladly testify from personal experience, that the promise was not restricted to the few, but was vouchsafed to “all” that were “afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” “Seek and ye shall find, ask and ye shall receive.”