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Plain Papers on the Holy Spirit: 3. The Holy Spirit Before And Since Pentecost, Part 2

By C.I. Scofield


      Two of the divisions into which the progressive unfolding of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit falls have been reviewed: the Old Testament stage of that doctrine, and the period covered by the presence of Christ on earth. We now reach:

      Thirdly: The Holy Spirit from Pentecost to the Opening of the Kingdom to the Gentiles.

      Until the day of Pentecost, the disciples, who had received, by the outbreathing of Christ, the indwelling Spirit, waited for His coming "upon" them; and when that day was fully come, with the outward manifestations of sound and flame, He came. They were baptized with the Holy Ghost; and not only baptized, but "filled with the Holy Ghost." Three results of that baptism and filling were at once manifest: (1) gift *--"they began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance"; (2) power **--as Peter preached the hearers were "pricked in their heart," and "there were added unto them about three thousand souls"; and (3) unity***--"and all that believe were together, and had all things common."

      This outward unity was the result, not alone of the fact that they were alike believers in one Lord, and committed to one common destiny, but was the manifestation of a new fact concerning them which had been accomplished for them by the baptism with the Spirit; they had been, by that baptism, vitally united to each other, and to the risen Christ. Then began to be formed that "body" of Christ, of which the Lord Jesus, at the right hand of the Father is the Head, and all regenerate believers at and since Pentecost, are the members. "For as the body is one and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free." 1 Corinthians 12:13-14 (see also: Ephesians 1:20-23

      This was the vital union with the risen and glorified Christ of which our Lord had spoken John 15:1-10, as the union of the vine and the branches. The unity, then, which at and after Pentecost, was manifested outwardly be their being "together" and having "all things commoon," was wrought by the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Gift, or special enduement for distinctive service; power, or the ministry of that gift in Divine energy; and union to the body of Christ, are the results of the baptism and filling with the Holy Spirit.

      From the day of Pentecost, when Peter used the first Key and opened the kingdom to the Jews, to the memorable day when, in the house of Cornelius, he used the second key and opened the door to the Gentiles, the impartation of the Spirit to believers (all Jewish) was marked by two peculiarities which disappear entirely in the case of Gentile converts. These were (1) that commonly an interval of time elapsed between the receiving of Christ by faith, and the baptism with the Spirit. And (2) that commonly the mediation of the disciples, either by prayer or by the laying on of hands, was necessary. Instances may be found by reference to Acts 8:12-17, Acts 9:17 The whole of this period (Acts 2 - 9, inclusive) is peculiar, transitional and Jewish.

      Fourth: The Holy Spirit since the opening of the door to the Gentiles, in His present relationships and offices as defined in the Epistles.

      With the opening of the kingdom to the Gentiles (Acts 10) we reach what may be called the normal experience for this dispensation. It is very simply stated by Luke in Acts 10:44: "While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word." Peter's own account of it is in Acts 11:15: And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning."

      Henceforth, whenever the gospel is believed among Gentiles, the Holy Spirit in the moment when they believe, regenerates and indwells them, and baptizes them into the Body of Christ. To this the Epistles bear constant and unvarying testimony. A few examples of the Epistolary testimony must suffice.

      As to His indwelling: "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God?" 1 Corinthians 6:19.

      It should be remembered that this is said of the most carnal and unsanctified body of believers mentioned in the New Testament. For their low, unspiritual state see 1 Corinthians 1:11-12, 1 Corinthians 6:1. Indeed, the Apostle makes this great truth of the indwelling of the Spirit a basis for exhorting them to abstain from the coarsest sins. They had not attained to the indwelling by acts of obedience, nor by peculiar saintliness. The indwelling was the result of their position as Gentiles saved by grace.

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

      "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. Romans 8:15.

      "And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." Galatians 4:6.

      Briefly, as to the fact of the baptism, note: "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also [is] Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether [we be] Jews or Gentiles, whether [we be] bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. I Corinthians 12:12-13. This also was written to the same "carnal" Corinthians, who, so far from having made great progress in the divine life, thus "attaining" the "second blessing," were "babes in Christ," living upon milk, and not meat.

      Note, farther, in that twelfth chapter, the emphasis upon the universality of this position "in Christ" among believers: "Every man," verse 11; "all the members," verse 12; "all baptized," verse 13; "all made to drink," verse 13; "every one," verse 18; "ye are the body of Christ," verse 27.

      In other words, the body of Christ is formed of individual believers united to Christ, the living Head, by the baptism with the Holy Spirit; and, in this sense, there are no disjecta membra, no "unattached" members of Christ. The idea is wholly absent from the Epistles and would never have entered the mind of man from the reading of the Epistles. The blinding, notion that a Gentile may be a regenerate believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, and yet be destitute of the indwelling and baptizing Spirit, is wholly due to the failure to observe the progress of doctrine in the New Testament concerning the Spirit.

      Doubtless, also, the strange notion that the experiences through which the personal disciple of our Lord passed from their position as mere Jews in the flesh, to their ultimate place in the body of Christ, must be followed by all subsequent believers, whether Jew or Gentile, is in part responsible for the error. The startling experience of the household of Cornelius should have sufficed to dispel it. That experience shook the apostolic church to its foundation, and was the determining fact in the decision of the Jerusalem council Acts 15:7-10, which, under God, emancipated the Gospel from its Jewish fetters.

      Instead of teaching believers to-day that they are destitute of the Spirit unless they have passed through some experience subsequent to conversion; or that they may obtain the Spirit by asking the Father, as in the interregnum between the baptism and crucifixion of Christ; or that many must be with one accord in one place, "on their faces before God" if they would receive the Spirit; or that they cannot receive the Spirit until they are "entirely consecrated," or "fully yielded;" they should be solomnly charged with the responsibility which rests upon them as those whose bodies are already "temples of the Holy Ghost"; as those who are "members in particular" of the sacred body of Christ. They should be exhorted: "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." (Ephesians 4:30); and they would be shewn the glorious possibilities of blessing latent in those facts.

      No more transforming thought can be received into a believer's mind than that his body is already indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and that he is now a member of the body of Christ.

      The misleading opinion that it is possible to be a true believer and yet to remain for a time destitute of the Spirit is sometimes justified by the case of the "disciples" whom Paul found at Ephesus, of whom he asked--not, as in the Authorized Version, "Received ye the Holy Spirit when ye believed?" Acts 19:2 As to this case it is sufficient to say:

      (1) The very form of the apostle's question indicates that, normally, they should have received the Holy Spirit when they believed (literally, "upon believing").

      (2) The question developed the true state of the case, they were not Christ's disciples at all, but John Baptist's. This marks them as Jews or Jewish proselytes. They were in the precise state of John's disciples before he pointed to Jesus, "the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world," as the alone object of faith.

      (3) That they had not the Spirit was due, not to their ignorance of His advent at Pentecost, but to the fact that their faith was not in Christ crucified, but only the proper Jewish expectation of a coming Messiah. (Verse 4)

      (4) That they were not Christians previously to this interview with Paul, is proved by the fact he added Christian baptism to the mere preparatory rite of John Baptist. (Verse 5)

      But, while it is true that every regenerate believer is indwelt by the Spirit, and by the Spirit baptized into Christ, it is of the very deepest moment to note that the Acts and Epistles discriminate between possessing the Spirit, and being filled with the Spirit. An example of this discrimination may be seen in Ephesians. In Ephesians 4:30 the believer is reminded that he is sealed with the Spirit; in Ephesians 5:18 he is commanded to be " filled with the Spirit." Doubtless, many believers are filled with the Spirit when, (in the moment of conversion), He regenerates, indwells and baptizes them. The disciples at Pentecost were both baptized and filled with the Spirit. Acts 2:1-4. After describing the physical manifestations attending their baptism, the account adds: "and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost."

      That all believers are not "filled with the Spirit" when He takes up His abode in them, and baptizes them into Christ is due to the fact that they have complied with the condition for the receiving of the Spirit, which is simply faith in Christ (John 7:39, Galations 3:2), but have not complied with the conditions for the filling with the Spirit. These will be set forth in the following chapter.

      It should be added here that, while the filling with the Spirit is as definite an act of devine power as the baptism with the with the Spirit, the filling, unlike the baptism, may be many times repeated. The true formula is: "one baptism; many fillings" (W.J. Erdman). The sealing is "unto the day of redemption," and therefore need not to be repeated. Ephesians 1:13-14, Ephesians 4:30. "The anointing which ye have received of him abideth." 1 John 2:27.

      An illustration, both of the distinction between the baptism and the filling, and of the difference between possessing the Spirit and being filled with the Spirit, is found in the comparison of Acts 2:1-4 and Acts 4:23-31. Here the same disciples who were both baptised and filled with the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, were again filled with the Spirit. Had they lost their seal? Surely not, for they were sealed unto the day of redemption." Ephesians 4:30. Had they become unbaptized out of the body of Christ? Surely not. They had become afraid of the Sanhedrin:--"Lord, behold their threatenings,"-- ****and thus were quenching the Spirit, and the remedy was re-filling. "The place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness." *****

      It should be added that in the Acts and Epistles it is not the facts of the indwelling and baptism with the Spirit which are accounted as bestowing blessing in life, and power in service, but the state of being filled with the spirit. Not men having the Spirit are sought for service, but men filled with the Holy Ghost.

Back to C.I. Scofield index.

See Also:
   Introductory
   1. The Holy Spirit As A Divine Person
   2. The Holy Spirit Before And Since Pentecost
   3. The Holy Spirit Before And Since Pentecost, Part 2
   4. The Filling With The Holy Spirit
   5. The Filling With The Holy Spirit Is Indispensable

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