The Baptism With the Holy Spirit in the eyes of the Doctor.
I mentioned a couple of blogs ago that one of my favourite "top ten" books was "Joy Unspeakable" by Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones. It really is an outstanding book, full of doctrinal proofs yet arguing so strongly for the absolutely distinct and unarguably experiential baptism of the Spirit. I have been reading it again and came to a key chapter where the Doctor goes through certain "proofs" (his words) for why he argued so strongly that there is a difference between regeneration and the baptism of the Spirit. I want to reproduce the flow of his argument and key quotes for those who don't have time to read the whole book. Terry Virgo wrote a stunning commendation for this reprint of the book. He said: "This is no age to advocate restraint; the church today does not need to be restrained, but to be aroused, to be awakened, to be filled with the Spirit of glory. I for one rejoice that this clarion call can still be heard".
Sermon: The Baptism of the Spirit and Regeneration.
Text: John 1: 26, 33
"Perhaps the greatest danger of all for Christian peope is the danger of understanding Scripture in the light of their own experiences. We should not examine Scripture in light of our own experiences but we should examine our experiences in the light of Scripture".
"The ... danger then is that of being satisfied with something very much less than what is offered in Scripture, and the danger of interpreting Scritpure by our experiences and reducing its teaching to the level of what we know and experience. And I would say that this ... is the greater danger ... at the present time".
"Look at the New Testament Christian, look at the New Testament church and you see it vibrant with a spiritual life and of course it is always life that tends to lead to excess. There is no problem of discipline in a graveyard; there is no problem very much in a formal church. The problems arise when there is life".
"We discover the following things: there are obviously steps and stages in the Christian life".
1. Principle of Sermon:
"Here is the first principle: It is possible for us to be believers in the Lord Jesus Christ without having received the baptism of the Holy Spirit".
"I am suggesting that this is something which is therefore obviously distinct from and seperate from becoming a Christian, being regenerate, having the Holy Spirit dwelling within you".
2. First Proof: The Old Testament Saints.
"They were as much children of God as you and I are".
"If you think that the Old Testament saints were not children of God you are denying the whole of the Scripture. They were. But they had not been baptised with the Holy Spirit".
"But what about John the Baptist himself? ... John the Baptist is a son of God, he is a child of God and yet John was not baptised with the Holy Spirit".
3. Second Proof: The Apostles Themselves.
"Surely it is quite obvious that the apostles were regenerate and were children of God before the Day of Pentecost".
"These men are not only believers, they are regenerate men, the Holy Spirit has been breathed upon them (John 20) yet they have not been baptised with the Holy Spirit".
4. Third Proof: The Apostle Paul.
"It is so vital that we should start with Scripture, not with our prejudices, not with what we think, not what we are afraid of. "Ah" you may say, "Now you have said that tongues are alright". I am sure many are thinking that. You wait a minute; I shall deal with the question of gifts when it comes to the right place. You do not start with that". - I love that quote! I can just imagine the Doctor saying it! But his point is particularly vital for all of a Third Wave persuasion. You don't start with the gifts. We must be primarily concerned with receiving the Spirit in His Person.
Re: Ananias: "He does not instruct him (Paul) on the way of salvation. He is sent to heal him and to fill him with the Holy Spirit, to give him the baptism of the Holy Spirit ... You can, you see receive the Holy Spirit before you are baptised (in water) or the other way round - it does not matter at all".
5. Fourth Proof: Apollos and Cornelius.
"It seems to me this is the only adequate explanation of the story about him. This was the thing that Priscilla and Aquila recognised as lacking in Apollos and about which they told him and it made all the difference to him".
"It is possible for a man to be baptised with the Holy Spirit virtually simultaneously with his belief. Take the case of Cornelius and his household. You remember we are told in Acts 10 that as Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon them. There it seems that the baptism with the Holy Spirit happened 'as they were believing'".
"Now there is an absolute proof that you can be a true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and still not be baptised with the Holy Spirit; that incident proves it. The question at the beginning and what actually happened subsequently. The important point is that there is a difference, there is a distinction between believing and being baptised with the Holy Spirit".
6. Final Proof: Ephesians 1:13
"It is only the believer who is baptised with the Spirit or receives the seal of the Spirit. It is the same order again. The believing is the first thing but being baptised is something that does not of necessity happen at the same time. It may - it may not. But it is distinct and seperatem so the Apostle does seperate them".
"All I am trying to establish is this: that you can be regenerate without being baptised with the Holy Spirit".
"The Scriptures that I have adduced to you show quite clearly that to say, as so many have said and are still saying, that every man at regeneration is of necessity baptised with the Holy Spirit, is simply to fly in the face of this plain, explicit teaching of the Holy Scriptures".