Who Are Eligible
The baptism with the Holy Ghost Purifies believers’ hearts and empowers them for service.
Uncleanness remains in the hearts of pardoned believers. This is clearly taught in the Scriptures and sadly experienced by Christians; not only by the early followers of Jesus, but all who come into the kingdom of God by faith, find remaining within themselves a root of bitterness, a strong tendency to evil, a proneness to wander from the God they love.
Paul calls this remaining uncleanness, “Sin that dwelleth in me,” “The carnal mind, “Our old man” and, “The body of death.”
This “filthiness of flesh and spirit” remaining in believers greatly impedes their Christian growth, and hinders their usefulness. It manifests itself in unholy pride, vicious tempers, covetous desires, unclean thoughts and imaginations. The soul struggling with this inward enemy is often made to cry out: “Oh wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”
Only those who are truly justified, and are striving to live a New Testament life in look and thought, are acquainted with these internal conflicts with the “Old man.”
The unregenerate and the backslidden in the churches are so under the dominion of this evil nature, the “Old man,” that they have no conflict with him but are under the sway of his dominion, humor his whims, gratify his lusts and feed his appetites. It is those who have passed from death to life, and are striving after holiness in heart and practice, who find within themselves “a law that, when” they “would do good, evil is present with” them. They learn to their sorrow that the carnal mind is within them, and that “the carnal mind is enmity against God.” Writing to the Corinthians in the first verses of the third chapter, Paul declares the situation very plainly: “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat; for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal!”
The reader will notice that these Corinthians were “Brethren.” Yes, they were “Babes in Christ.” But they yet had the carnal mind in them. “For ye are yet carnal,” says the apostle.
What clearer testimony could the Holy Ghost give than this to the fact. that the carnal mind remains in those who have been born again. These brethren could not have been babes in Christ if they had not been born again. But they were babes in Christ so without doubt they had been born again, born of the Spirit, yet they were carnal, the carnal mind remained in them.
How true to experience are the inspired statements found in Romans 7:21, 22, 23: “I find then a law, that when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man. But I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind.”
Observe here that the inward man delights in the law of God. The sinner has no inward man except the “old man,” and you may be sure the “old man” does not delight in the law of God. The inward man spoken of here is the regenerated man, the new man, imparted by the grace of God to the penitent sinner by regenerating grace, at the time of his justification. This new “inward man,” delights in the law of God, but the “old man” remaining in the nature makes war on the new man, and when the new man would do good, the “old man,” (evil) is present with him, to hinder him in carrying out his good intentions.
The Christian reader will at once recognize the undoubted truthfulness of these Scriptures for they are corroborated by the everyday experience of believing souls, who, struggling against the “old man,” have often been made to cry out. “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death.” The baptism with the Holy Ghost casts out the “old man.” And the casting out of the “old man,” the plucking, up of the root of bitterness, the destruction of the body of sin, the eradication of the carnal mind, the purging out of “the sin that dwelleth in me,” are all one and the same thing, which is accomplished by the instantaneous baptism with the Holy Ghost, purifying the heart by faith. This is entire sanctification.
This purifying of hearts took place with the disciples on the day of Pentecost, when they received the baptism with the Holy Ghost. Not only do their after lives, as contrasted with their former behavior, manifest this to be true, but Peter bears testimony to this fact in relating his experience with Cornelius and his household. “And God, which knoweth the hearts, bear them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as He did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.” Acts 15:8, 9. Peter is here referring to the baptism with the Holy Ghost, which fell upon the household of Cornelius and the exact similarity between it and the baptism received by the disciples on the day of Pentecost. The one important feature of the baptism to which he calls attention was the PURIFYING of their HEARTS.
When Jesus was present with the disciples assembled in Jerusalem after His resurrection, and commanded them not to depart out of Jerusalem until they received the promise of the Father, He said unto them: “But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.”
This enduement of power was to especially qualify them, not only for their life work, but for personal victory over Satan and sin. This enduement of power which is to be obtained only by the baptism with the Holy Ghost, is the great need of the church in the times in which we live, not only for those who stand in the sacred desk, but for those who sit in the pews also. The work of winning souls from sin to Christ is not shut up alone to ministers of the Gospel, but it is the duty and privilege of all. saved souls so win lost souls to the Savior. It seems like a dangerous and arrogant presumption to undertake the work of Christ and, at the same time, refuse to apply to Him for that Power which He has definitely promised, and which we so manifestly need. It is a sad sight to see an institution claiming to be the church of God undertake to do with organizations, entertainments and festivals the work that can only be done by the enduement of power which comes with the baptism with the Holy Ghost. No natural gifts, mental developments or scholastic training can possibly take the place of the divine energy and unction which alone can be imparted to men by the gift of the Holy Ghost. “We wrestle not,” says the apostle Paul, “against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
Reader, shall we go forth to do battle against these mighty foes in our strength, or shall we tarry in humble, faithful prayer for the coming of the Holy Ghost, and the Power which His coming brings? If we wait in humble prayer until we receive Him, then doubtless it can be said of us, “Greater is, He that is that is in you, than he that is in the world.” If we must go forth to war against devils and mighty evil spirits! If we must meet in combat the prince of the power of the air, let us meet them endued with the power of the indwelling Holy Ghost.
When men enlist as soldiers in the services of the kingdoms of this world, the government for which they fight is expected to furnish them with arms and ammunition. Those who enlist in the services of the King of kings may be sure that He will not ask them to go to war without equipment, and that equipment will be an “enduement of power from on high,” received in the baptism with the Holy Ghost.