Who It Is For
The baptism with the Holy Ghost is for believers only, and is never bestowed upon the unregenerate.
Shortly before Jesus was crucified He promised His disciples that the indwelling, abiding Holy Ghost should be their Comforter. “Even the spirit of truth,” said He, “Whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him.” The term “world,” here refers to the unregenerate, and Jesus says of them that they cannot receive the Holy Ghost.
This fully explains the opposition to the Holy, Ghost, and his manifestations among many professed Christians. They either have never been converted, or they have fallen away into a sinful, cold, formal life, and have ceased to be the true children of the Father. When Jesus came in the flesh to the Jewish church, only those who were Israelites indeed recognized and received Him as the Son of God. The chief priests and scribes could not understand that Jesus was the Messiah even when He healed the sick and raised the dead.
Simeon and Anna, the prophetess, had no trouble recognizing Him, even when He was a helpless babe in His mother’s arms. “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him.” Jesus Himself said of the unbelieving Jews: “He that is of God heareth God’s word: ye therefore hear them. not, because ye are not of God.” John 8:47. Again, in I John 4:6, Jesus says: “He that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”
Just as the unbelieving and godless Jews in the church under the old dispensation rejected Jesus, so do the unconverted and backslidden in the Christian church under the new dispensation reject the Holy Ghost.
There is not only the provision in the Gospel for the gift of the Holy Ghost to purify and comfort believing hearts, but there is in truly regenerated hearts a crying out for the gift of the Holy Ghost, an inward longing for the Comforter. Jesus calls it “hungering and thirsting after righteousness.” It was to this class that He addressed himself on the last great day of the feast, when He said, “If any man thirst let Him come unto me and drink. . . . This spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive. For the Holy Ghost was not yet given.”
Sinners in the church know full well that the Holy Ghost has His place in the Scriptures. They are willing for him to have a place in creeds and confessions. He may even be alluded to in songs and sermons, but they would shut Him out of the hearts of men. They object to His demonstrations and manifestations. This is so, because spiritual things are spiritually discerned, and they have no spiritual discernment. The unregenerate cannot receive the spirit of truth, “because” they “see him not, neither know him.” And now, O reader, if you have not received the Holy Ghost, and have no longing desire for Him, at least at certain periods in your life, without doubt you are in an unpardoned state. And I must close this chapter by addressing you in the language of the Apostle Paul to Simon the Sorcerer: “I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.” May the mercy of God bring thee to a speedy and sincere repentance.