Brethren and friends, when I say that this Bible Conference and Preachers' Meeting--sponsored by the churches of Christ in the Louisville area--has been and is a spiritual blessing to me, I do honestly believe that every preacher present joins me in like sentiment, and I am taking the liberty just here to express to you my appreciation for the timely program you have arranged, and for the splendid hospitality we are receiving while here in your midst.
The subject which has been assigned to me is "The Holy Spirit." This is a good subject, for it is a Bible subject and, owing to much misunderstanding of the Holy Spirit, it is a timely one. I feel assured that we all want the unadulterated truth on this subject as we do on all Bible doctrines. Now, man may be wrong in his conclusions, but the Bible is right, and it is the truth that shall make us free. Therefore, let us go to the Bible and see what it has to say on this great subject of the Holy Spirit.
In looking at Matt. 28:19 we learn that the Holy Spirit is a part of the Trinity. Here the Bible says, "Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." We think of the three as one, and yet there is a difference. For instance, in John 14:16, we find that Jesus said, "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may be with you for ever." "Another Comforter"--what does He mean? Well, Jesus had for some time been a real comforter to the disciples, but in John 14:2 he speaks of leaving them. He said, "For I go to prepare a place for you." Since then He was going back to the Father, He gave them the assurance that He would not leave them desolate (orphans, John 14:18.) He would send them another Comforter. That this comforter is the Holy Spirit is clearly taught, for (John 14:17) the Comforter is called "the Spirit of truth." "Even the Spirit of truth: whom the world cannot receive; for it beholdeth him not, neither knoweth him: ye know him; for he abideth with you, and shall be in you." Then, in verse 26, the Comforter is plainly called the Holy Spirit. Hear it: "But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you." From this same verse and many others, we also learn that the Holy Spirit is referred to by the personal pronoun "he." We, therefore, think of the Holy Spirit as a person.
Now, with these introductory remarks behind us, and since I cannot cover the entire subject of the Holy Spirit at this time, I call your attention to just two things regarding the Holy Spirit. First, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the believer (Christian), and second, the works of the Holy Spirit.
THE INDWELLING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE BELIEVER
Peter, in that great gospel sermon after the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, stood up on the day of Pentecost and proclaimed to sinners the death and resurrection of Jesus. When the guilty parties of the crucifixion of Jesus were convinced by the preaching of the Word that Jesus was risen from the dead, that they were guilty of that dreadful crime of having Jesus put to death, and that Jesus was in deed and truth the Christ, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?" To this important question Peter replied, "Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT." (Acts 2:38.) Here, the "gift of the Holy Spirit" was promised to those who manifested faith by asking that important question, "What shall we do?"--on the condition that they repent and be baptized.
But some one will say, "Yes, that is what the Bible says, but the gift of the Holy Spirit is not the Holy Spirit himself, but the gift of the Holy Spirit is the Word." Now, I heartily agree that the Word is a gift of the Holy Spirit, for the Word was given as the Holy Spirit guided the apostles. I insist, however, the the "gift of the Holy Spirit" in this passage does not mean the Word of God. Here is the proof: In Acts 2:38, (Look at the passage for yourself.) one had to repent and be baptized in order to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Therefore one did not receive the gift of the Holy Spirit until after baptism. But in Acts 2:41 we read. "They then that received his word were baptized:. . ." Here it is as clear as day that the Word was received before baptism. Get this now, the gift of the Holy Spirit was to be received after baptism, whereas the Word was received before baptism. Hence, I conclude that the gift of the Holy Spirit was not the Word, for the Word had to be received before baptism, and the gift of the Holy Spirit was to follow baptism. Therefore, it should be obvious to all that the "Word" and "the gift of he Holy Spirit" are not identical in this passage.
The gift of the Holy Spirit in this passage was the Holy Spirit himself. Yes, that's right. Turn with me to the conversion of Cornelius in Acts 10. Let us read verses 44-48. "While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all them that heard the word. And they of the Circumcision that believed were amazed, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid the water, that these should not be baptized, who have received the Holy Spirit as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days." This is a special case where the Holy Spirit fell on all them that heard the word, and mark you, this time it came before baptism, but there is a Bible reason for the Holy Spirit's coming upon them that heard the word before baptism. I will not, however, discuss that reason in this lesson. Your attention is directed to verse forty-five to the phrase, "the gift of the Holy Spirit," which are the identical words used in Acts 2:38. Now the question: What was "the gift of the Holy Spirit?" The answer is found in Acts 10:44, where we find that that which fell on the people is called the Holy Spirit, and in verse forty-five it is called the "gift of the Holy Spirit." Is it not evident that the "Holy Spirit," and "the gift of the Holy Spirit" are used interchangeably in these two passages of scripture? We safely say that in Acts 2:38, the Holy Spirit is promised to penitent, baptized believers.
The Bible bears witness that Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:8); that Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:5; 7:55); that Barnabas was full of the Holy Spirit (Acts 11:22, 24); that Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:9); and that the Holy Spirit dwelleth in us. (2 Tim. 1:14)
You may rest assured that God keeps His promises. In Acts 5:32, we read, "And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God hath given to them that obey him." From this passage we learn that the giving of the Holy Spirit is a fact. If you obey God He is certain to give you the Holy Spirit. Christians should claim and appreciate the marvelous gift from God, "and grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, in whom ye were sealed unto the day of redemption" (Eph. 4:30.) Brethren, never let the devil tempt you to doubt by someone's telling you that the Holy Spirit was received only by the apostles and is not for us today. The Book says, "Therefore he that rejecteth, rejecteth not man, but God, who giveth his Holy Spirit unto you" (1 Thess. 4:8). "Or know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have from God? and ye are not your own; for ye were bought with a price: glorify God therefore in your body" (1 Cor. 6:19, 20). Certainly we have been made "partakers of the Holy Spirit" (Heb. 6:4)
I have a fear that there is, on the part of some, a tendency to scoff at the idea of the indwelling of the Spirit in the believer. If this fear is justified, then we need all the more to stress the fact that the Spirit does dwell in the believer. Woe to that person who thinks he is a Christian, but does not have the Spirit of God within him; for it is written, "But ye are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you. But if any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his" (Rom. 8:9). And just to teach this is not sufficient; we must brethren, live as God would have us to live that the Spirit of Christ will continue to dwell in us.
WORKS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Let us now note the work of the Holy Spirit as He is related to the apostles, and then we will study His work as related to Christians. "For in one Spirit We Were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free: and were all made to drink of one Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13). Yet Paul tells us, "Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit,. . . but all these worketh the one and the same Spirit, dividing to each one severally even as he will" (1 Cor. 12:4, 11). Is it not obvious from these scriptures that all are made to drink of one Spirit, but that there are different gifts of that one Spirit? Now undoubtedly the apostles received a gift, or gifts of the Holy Spirit that you and I do not receive today, for Paul said (2 Cor. 12:12), "Truly the signs of in apostle were wrought among you in all patience, by signs and wonders and mighty works." Get this, "the signs of an apostle," certainly indicate that the apostles had something that the Christians at large did not have. If all Christians had every gift the apostles had, then the apostles would have not the "signs of an apostle." It would have ceased to have been "signs of an apostle." To illustrate: The red and white stripes on a pole so often seen at the barber shops are a sign of a barber shop, but if clothing stores, blacksmith shops, shoe stores, and shipyards all used the red and white stripes on a pole as do the barber shops, then the barber sign would cease to function as such, because when one saw the red and white stripes on a pole, he would not know whether it was a barber shop, or a blacksmith shop, or a shipyard, or a shoe shop. We conclude, therefore, that the apostles had some special power that could be termed "signs of an apostle," which was not common to all Christians.
We now give attention to a special gift that the apostles had, which was not common to all. Turning to John 14:26, we read, "But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you." For some time, perhaps about three and a half years, the apostles had been under the tutorship of Jesus, the master Teacher. They had learned much, and they were to continue to learn, for the Holy Spirit "shall teach you all things," says the record. Mankind is prone to forget, and with Jesus Christ back at the Father's right hand, and the apostles on earth preaching the gospel, it would have been so human-like for them to forget some of the things that Jesus had taught them and for some of the great truths to have become hazy, if they were not endued with some special power. Hence Jesus said to them after His resurrection, "But ye shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit it is come upon you: and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8). Jesus knew the weakness of the human mind. He knew the greatness and the power of the gospel message. He knew that it would not do to let this mighty message leave the fountain polluted by the weakness of the human mind. The gospel, "the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek," must be pure. Therefore the Holy Spirit was given to bring power to them in teaching and in bringing to their "remembrance all that I (Jesus) said unto you (apostles)." How wonderful! The Holy Spirit would be a constant reminder of all that Jesus had taught them. The Holy Spirit was destined to bear witness of Jesus, for it is written, "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall bear witness of me" (John 15:26). And if at any time a special problem should arise that would have baffled the apostles' intellect, there was the ever present Spirit that would guide them "into all the truth." It is written, "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into all the truth: for he shall not speak from himself; but what things soever he shall hear, these shall he speak: and he shall declare unto you the things that are to come" (John 16:13). Not only then was the Spirit to teach, bring to their remembrance all that Jesus had said, bear witness of Him, guide them into all the truth, but the Spirit would also enable them to look into the future, and "declare unto you (them) things that are to come." Thus, the apostles were enabled by the power of the Holy Spirit to teach accurately of the past, present, and future. Marvelous power!
The day of Pentecost came and the apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit. Power was demonstrated by their teaching, and signs and wonders were performed. Several hundred years have now passed since the apostles left this earth to be with Jesus, but they left behind the great gospel message in the Holy Scriptures. You and I, therefore, need not expect God to reveal a special message, separate and apart from the Word, that runs counter to the Bible. Beware of false pretenders--men that call themselves apostles but are not. We have the Scriptures, and we are to study them and "learn not to go beyond the things which are written" (1 Cor. 1:6). Paul said, "Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness: that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work" (2 Tim. 3:16, 17). Brethren, if a thing is complete one iota added thereto mars it. We must, therefore, abide at all times in the teaching of the Holy Scriptures, and therein we will be following the teaching of God, and of Christ, and of the Holy Spirit.
Next, let us consider a few points with reference to the work of the Holy Spirit as related to Christians. We have already seen that Christians have the Holy Spirit. Some folk, however, contend that the Holy Spirit does nothing for us today except what we get from the Bible. Proponents of this false doctrine have quite an imagination. Where the Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit does something for us, they tell us that the Holy Spirit does it through the Scriptures. For example let us take Acts 9:31. This scripture declares. "So the church throughout Judaea and Galilee and Samaria had peace, being edified, and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, was multiplied." Here they would give us a very plausible explanation. They would say that the Holy Spirit gives us comfort, because He guides the writer in giving us the Word of God, and when we read the Bible we are comforted. Well, they are right this far: First, that the Bible was given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Second, that Christians are comforted by the Word of God. But this explanation overlooks the fact of the indwelling Holy Spirit within the Christian, and what He does for the Christian. Because one is comforted by the Word of God does not invalidate the Holy Spirit within the Christian giving him comfort any more than God's love for us would not invalidate Christ's love for us. Who would think of trying to prove that God does not love us because Christ loves us? Both God and His Son love us, and both have demonstrated their love. The Bible gives us comfort, and the Holy Spirit gives us comfort.
If their argument were true, the more Holy Scripture one had stored up In his head, the more the Holy Spirit would comfort that one. But here their argument falls down. I had a college professor who was an avowed agnostic, yet he was very proficient in quoting the Holy Scriptures. Did the Holy Spirit comfort Him? Why, he didn't even have the Holy Spirit and could not have the Holy Spirit until he forsook his doubt and became a Christian, for, in John 14:17, we learn that the world cannot receive Spirit of truth.
But let us continue with our study of the Holy Spirit's work in behalf of the Christian. The Holy Spirit imparts hope. In Rom. 15:13 we read, "Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit."
The Holy Spirit imparts the love of God. In Rom. 5:5, we read, "And hope putteth not to shame; because the love of God hath been shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which was given unto us."
The Spirit produces good fruit. In Gal. 5:22-25, we read, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control; against such there is no law. And they that are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts thereof. If we live by the Spirit, by the Spirit let us also walk." It seems that some have done just exactly what the Bible said do not, for there is a manifest lack of the fruit of the Spirit in the church today, and Paul said (Eph. 4:30), "And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, in whom ye were sealed unto the day of redemption." In 1 Thess. 5:19, we have Paul saying, "Quench not the Spirit."
The Spirit strengthens with power the inward man. Hear it from the Word. "That he would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, that ye may be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inward man" (Eph. 3:16).
Again, the Spirit helpeth our infirmity and maketh intercession for us. It is written in Rom. 8:26, 27, "And in like manner the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity: for we know not how to pray as we ought; but the Spirit himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered; and he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God."
And again (but this time the suggestion I offer may create quite I commotion among some; but I cannot help that if God wants this said), does not the Spirit lead Christians to certain fields of labor? You say, "No!" Well, wait a minute, before you disfellowship me. To illustrate, let us suppose that we have two devout Christians before us, men who are willing to sacrifice their lives for Christ. They both read in the Bible that Jesus said, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned." The Word, given by the Holy Spirit, says go preach. One goes to Africa; the other goes to India. Now I ask, "Why did they go to different fields?" Perhaps you will answer that common sense and circumstances led them to their respective fields of labor. Well, I must agree that such answer sounds reasonable and logical. However. I read in Acts 16:6, 7 this statement: "And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden of the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; and when they were come over against Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia; and the Spirit of Jesus suffered them not." After the vision that followed, they concluded that God wanted them to preach in Macedonia, and to Macedonia they went and preached. Wonder why God didn't let them use their common sense and circumstances? "Oh," you say, "Paul was an apostle." Right you are; he was. But don't you think Paul had as much common sense as we have today? Remember Paul said, "If we live by the Spirit, by the Spirit let us also walk." Paul was walking by the Spirit, and he bids us do likewise.
Brethren, if we had more preachers that walked less by common sense and more by the Spirit there would be much more missionary work in the homeland and foreign lands. In the apostolic days when Christians were filled with the Spirit and walked by the Spirit great sacrifices were made to get the gospel to all. But what do we have today? Well, you know I speak the truth when I say that some of our young men upon finishing college, if they studied for the ministry, look for a pulpit that will give them prestige and a fat purse. Now, do you think that the Spirit leads men in one direction only--namely, to big churches and big salaries? What about the preacher who receives three invitations to preach; one church offers him four hundred dollars, another three hundred dollars, and another two hundred dollars, and he accepts the call that pays four hundred dollars a month? Then in about two years another church offers him five hundred dollars a month, and he accepts their call. Then, in about another year a church offers to pay him six hundred dollars a month, and he accepts that call. Is such a preacher led by the Spirit, or is he led by dollars? Why, friends, such a man would be weighing circumstances and using common sense. He, in most cases, is anxious to make himself a name, and give his family the best. What we usually call common sense seldom leads a man to make a real sacrifice for the cause of Christ. Such hirelings are afraid to stand for the truth. If an issue comes up in the church, they study to find the popular side, the side that will give them the most meetings with the most money and with the most prestige. Such cowards! They are using common sense, whereas they should be walking by faith and being led by the Spirit. The church today is being filled with professional preachers, but what we need is Spirit filled and Spirit led preachers.
In conclusion, let me urge all Christians to so live that we will be Spirit filled and Spirit led, walking by faith with God. Pray for the preachers that we will have the courage and the faith to die for the truth if the need arises, and that we "may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God."
Living Messages, Delivered at the Louisville Bible Conference, September 6'€'10, 1948. Louisville, KY: Word and Work, . Pp. 70'€'83.