Being Baptized

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. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
~ 1 Corinthians 12:13, Galatians 3:27, Romans 6:8, 1 Peter 3:21, Galatians 2:20-21

Further Reflections on the Baptism of the Spirit, by David Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

We have begun our consideration of certain terms that are used in connection with the work of the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures and with which we have not hitherto dealt. We gave an outline of the biblical teaching with respect to the baptism with the Holy Spirit and then briefly considered the doctrine concerning the filling with the Holy Spirit, and we drew a distinction between the two.

We now come back to the same subject in order to try to give a fuller exposition. Let me preface my remarks by repeating that it is very difficult teaching, and it is because of the difficulties that are inherent in this matter that there are different points of view and different schools of thought. We have already seen this with other doctrines, so it does not surprise us. If these things could be put simply and plainly there would never have been any difficulty about them. In many ways I suppose that this is the most difficult of all the doctrines because it is particularly liable to exaggeration, and people tend to go off at tangents. That was why I put in a little plea earlier that we should try to forget labels and view the statements of the Scripture as dispassionately and with as open a mind as we are capable of commanding.

As we continue, let me repeat that plea. It is essential for this reason: these labels and experiences which we may have had or have encountered in the past tend to drive us to extremes. We are all creatures of extremes. It is most difficult to avoid going either to one extreme or the other. It always seems to be easier to be at an extreme, does it not? It seems clear cut, as people say; you know where you are, you are either here or there! But that is not always right, especially when your extreme has gone beyond the Scripture, or when you have been driven to an extreme in a reaction against another extreme.

Now with regard to this particular doctrine, we all know that there have been excesses. There have been people who have attributed experiences of the baptism of the Spirit to the Spirit, and we have known that what they were claiming as the baptism has sometimes been nothing but animal spirits, and sometimes even evil spirits, because accompanying the great claim there has sometimes been a most unworthy life, in plain contradiction of the Scripture. This doctrine, because it touches with a subject that is experiential, is particularly liable to that kind of excess or violence and that has happened so many times in the history of the Church. The danger then, of course, that at once arises is that in our desire to avoid those excesses and those false claims, we go right over to the other side. We pass the truth, which is somewhere there in the middle, and are again at a non‐scriptural extreme. And I feel that this has been happening during this present century. In their fear of the excesses and the riotous emotionalism that have so often been mistaken for a true work of the Spirit, there are many Christian people, it seems to me, who have been guilty of quenching the Spirit.

There is a classic way of putting this whole point: it all happened in the seventeenth century, in connection with Puritanism. Puritanism, which started as one school of thought, divided up into two schools. On the one hand, you had George Fox and the Quakers, and on the other you had some of those great Puritan teachers such as John Owen, and Dr Thomas Goodwin in London. Now looking back, and reading the story in the light of the Scriptures, I have no doubt that both parties were guilty of going a little too far in the right direction. George Fox was most certainly calling attention to something vital but he went too far. He almost went to the point of saying that the Scriptures did not matter, that it was only this ‘inner light’ and the Spirit within that mattered, and the result of that has been that modern Quakerism— the Society of Friends—is almost entirely non‐doctrinal and, indeed, at times almost reaches the point at which you would query whether it is even Christian. It is a vague general benevolence and a good spirit.

But, equally, let us admit that the other school of thought represented by those great men was animated by a fear of the excesses of the Quakers. It was in constant danger of becoming only intellectual and of developing a kind of new Protestant scholasticism which lost the life and the Spirit.

For those who are interested in biographies, the outstanding contribution of the mighty Jonathan Edwards of America was that he combined both schools. He held on to and insisted upon the doctrinal emphasis of the great Puritan leaders, but also was as alive to the work of the Spirit experientially as were the Quakers. He did not go entirely to one or the other extreme, but kept both together, and that seems to me to be the teaching of the Bible itself.

So let us remember that we must not think in terms of slogans or certain things we once knew or certain terms and epithets. Let us be careful lest we go to an excess of riot and of carnality in the name of the Spirit, but let us be equally careful lest we quench the Spirit and rob ourselves of something that God in Christ intends for us.

Bearing that in mind, let us come back and try to make certain definitions. First of all we must emphasise that what we considered in the last lecture is in addition to everything we have learned previously about the work of the Holy Spirit—the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration. This experience, let me repeat, is not regeneration. In Romans 8:9, the apostle Paul says, ‘If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.’ You cannot be a Christian at all without having the Holy Spirit. So I was not referring to that; I dealt with it in an earlier lecture. As we have seen, the Holy Spirit convicts; it is He who give us this new life, brings us regeneration and unites us to Christ.

Take, again, the ‘spiritual man’ whom Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 2 where he contrasts him with the ‘natural man’. That man has obviously received the Spirit, otherwise he could not understand these ‘things that are freely given us of God’ (v. 2); he is a Christian. And then I have emphasised that verse where Paul says that ‘By one spirit (or, in one spirit) are we all baptised into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles’ (1 Cor. 12:13). There is one other piece of evidence which is of tremendous importance, and it is a statement in the Gospel of John. Our Lord is with the disciples in the upper room and, we are told, ‘Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost’ (John 20:21– 22).

Now that, remember, was in the upper room. But going on to Acts 1:4–5, we read, ‘And, being assembled together with them, (Jesus) commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptised with water; but ye shall be baptised with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.’ Now He said that to them after He had breathed upon them and said to them, ‘Receive ye the Holy Ghost.’ So it is not the receiving of the Holy Ghost we are talking about; it is not regeneration; it is not the receiving of the Holy Ghost. Here are men who were regenerate and had received the Holy Spirit as Christ breathed upon them and still He said to them, ‘Ye shall be baptised with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.’ And it happened ten days later.

So I trust that we are all perfectly clear about this. I am not saying that without this particular experience that I am dealing with now you are not a Christian. You can be a Christian, these disciples were Christians, and others have been Christians, it is not that. Let me make this equally plain also: I am not saying that there must however always be a gap between becoming a Christian and this experience; they may happen together and have often done so, but sometimes they do not. So let us keep them distinct.

Then my second statement is that I am also not dealing with sanctification. We dealt with the doctrine of Sanctification in four lectures and it is vitally important that we should not confuse the two. As I understand the situation, nothing has done greater damage during the last seventy years than the constant confusion between sanctification and this experience of the baptism of the Spirit with which we are dealing. It has been prolific of misunderstanding as people have talked, as we saw, about receiving their sanctification in one experience. To start with, they have regarded sanctification as an experience which seems to me to be entirely wrong, and this has always been due to the fact that they have confused sanctification with this baptism. Sanctification, as we have seen, is a process that begins the moment we are regenerate; it begins, indeed, the moment we are justified. You cannot be justified without the process of sanctification having already started.

We saw that still more plainly when we were studying the doctrine of the union of the believer with Christ. If you are joined to Christ, if you are in Christ, then all the benefits of Christ are yours, and this process of sanctification has begun. I repeat, sanctification is not an experience, whereas this baptism to which I am calling attention is essentially an experience, so we must sharply differentiate between them. Experiences help sanctification but they are not an essential part of it. So I am not talking about any so‐called ‘second blessing’ in terms of sanctification or anything like that. Only indirectly has it anything to do with sanctification.

And, in the same way, I must point out again that this experience is not identical and must not be identified with the filling of the Spirit, because, according to the teaching of the apostle Paul, you remember, in Ephesians 5:18, we should always be filled with the Spirit: ‘Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit’—which means, ‘go on being, keep on being, filled with the Spirit’. But what I am trying to describe is not a perpetual condition; it is something much more special than that, something unique. We have also seen that the filling with the Spirit often happens for a special service, for some special task allotted to the children of God.

So, having made those negative statements in order to clear the position, you may well ask me, ‘What is this, then, of which you are speaking?’ My reply would be that it is precisely what our Lord was speaking about in John 14, and especially in John 14:21: ‘He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.’ That seems to me to be the key verse. I am talking about these spiritual manifestations of the Lord Jesus Christ to His own. He does not do it to the world, but to His own. It is something beyond assurance. We have dealt with assurance earlier, so it is not that. I am presupposing assurance, I am suggesting that men and women may be believers and regenerate and have assurance of salvation, and still they have not known this spiritual manifestation of Christ.

Now that is perhaps the simplest and clearest way in which I can put it. But it might also be of some help if I gave you some of the great classic examples of this remarkable experience which the Lord promises in John 14:21. Take, for instance, a Puritan called John Flavel. He was not one of the so‐called ‘greatest’ Puritans. He was rather a quiet man, a man who was used of God in a small sphere, in a very striking way. But this is something that happened to John Flavel: he was alone on a journey, his mind greatly occupied with self‐examination and prayer, and thus describes what befell him.

In all that day’s journey he neither met, overtook, nor was overtaken by any. Thus, going on his way, his thoughts began to swell and rise higher and higher like the waters in Ezekiel’s vision, ’til at last they became an overwhelming flood. Such was the intention of his mind, such the ravishing tastes of heavenly joys and such the full assurance of his interest therein, that he utterly lost all sight and sense of this world and all the concerns thereof. And for some hours he knew no more where he was than if he had been in a deep sleep upon his bed.

Arriving in great exhaustion at a certain spring, he sat down and washed, earnestly desiring, if it was God’s pleasure, that this might be his parting place from this world. Death had the most amiable face in his eye that ever he beheld, except the face of Jesus Christ which made it so. And he does not remember, though he believed himself dying, that he ever thought of his dear wife or children or any earthly concernment.

On reaching his inn, the influence still continued, banishing sleep, still the joy of the Lord overflowed him and he seemed to be an inhabitant of the other world. But within a few hours he was sensible of the ebbing of the tide and, before night, though there was a heavenly serenity and sweet peace upon his spirit which continued long with him, yet the transports of joy were over and the fine edge of his delight blunted. He, many years after, called that day one of the days of heaven and professed he understood more of the life of heaven by it than by all the books he ever read or discourses he ever entertained about it. That is it.

But let me give you another example. Let us go from John Flavel to Jonathan Edwards. Now Jonathan Edwards was probably one of the greatest minds—I say it advisedly—that the world has ever known. He is certainly the greatest brain America has ever produced, a brilliant, outstanding philosopher, the last man in the world to be carried away by false emotionalism. Indeed, he wrote a great treatise on the subject, called The Religious Affections, to teach people how to differentiate between the work of the Spirit and the carnality that often simulates the work of the Spirit. So Jonathan Edwards was the last man who was likely to go astray at this point. This is what he says:

As I rode out into the woods for my health, in 1737, having alighted from my horse in a retired place, as my manner commonly has been to walk for divine contemplation and prayer, I had a view, that was for me extraordinary, of the glory of the Son of God as mediator between God and man and His wonderful, great, full, pure and sweet grace and love, and meek and gentle condescension. The grace that appeared so calm and sweet appeared also great above the heavens, the person of Christ appeared ineffably excellent and an excellency great enough to swallow up all thoughts and conceptions, which continued, as near as I can judge, about an hour, which kept me a greater part of the time in a flood of tears and weeping aloud. I felt an ardency of soul to be what I know not otherwise how to express, emptied and annihilated, to lie in the dust and be to be full of Christ alone, to love Him with a holy and a pure love, to trust in Him, to live upon Him, to serve Him, and to be perfectly sanctified and made pure with a divine and heavenly purity. That is Jonathan Edwards.

Then, from Jonathan Edwards we come to a very different man—D. L. Moody, who was not a great brain, not a great philosopher, not a genius in any sense of the term. He always described himself as a very ordinary man, and he was right. But he experienced exactly the same thing. He said:

I can myself go back almost twelve years and remember two holy women who used to come to my meetings. It was delightful to see them there, for when I began to preach, I could tell from the expression on their faces that they were praying for me. At the close of the Sabbath service they would say to me, ‘We have been praying for you.’ I said, ‘Why do you not pray for the people?’ They answered, ‘You need power.’ ‘I need power?’ I said to myself, ‘I thought I had power.’

I had a large Sabbath school and a large congregation in Chicago. There were some conversions at the time and I was, in a sense, satisfied. But right along the two godly women kept praying for me and their earnest talk about the anointing for special service set me thinking. I asked them to come and talk to me and we got down on our knees. They poured out their hearts that I might receive the anointing of the Holy Ghost and there came a great hunger into my soul, I knew not what it was. I began to cry as never before, the hunger increased. I really felt that I did not want to live any longer if I could not have this power for service. I kept on crying all the time that God would fill me with His Spirit. Well, one day, in the city of New York, oh what a day, I cannot describe it, I seldom refer to it. It is almost too sacred an experience to name. Paul had an experience of which he never spoke to fourteen years. I can only say, God revealed Himself to me and I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask Him to stay His hand. I went out preaching again, the sermons were no different and I did not present any new truths and yet hundreds were converted. I would not be placed back where I was before that blessed experience.

A similar thing happened to the great Baptist preacher, Christmas Evans; it happened to Wesley; it happened to Whitefield.

‘Ah, but,’ you may say, ‘all those men were great preachers and evidently it is something that is intended for men and women who are to perform striking service.’ But I have told you that in the case of John Flavel that was not the case, and there are others—large numbers of ordinary people—who can testify to exactly the same thing.

Indeed, we are told specifically in the Scriptures, are we not, that this is something which all Christians should experience. You remember what the apostle Peter said on the Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem? When the people cried out and said, ‘What shall we do?’, Peter replied and said, ‘Repent, and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call’ (Acts 2:38–39). That statement means that it is an experience which is meant to be quite universal among Christian people.

So what is it? Well, I cannot, let me repeat, identify this with being filled with the Spirit because these men who looked back to this one great occasion were filled with the Spirit many times afterwards. I would describe it like this: it is the initial experience of the filling or, perhaps, it is an exceptionally outstanding experience of it. It is something they describe as being ‘poured forth’—the very terms of Scripture. Finney says that in his case it came wave after wave upon him—a pouring out. It is something unusual, when, say all these people, they seem to be almost lifted up to the heavens. They knew what it was to be filled many times afterwards, but this was something unique and special. It is an occasion in which the reality of divine things becomes plain, in a way that it has never been before and, in a sense, never is again, so that they can look back to it; it stands out in all its glory. And, therefore, this is something which we should seek. But so many, because of their fear of the excesses, have never even sought it and have felt that it is wrong and dangerous to seek it and thereby they have put themselves out of the category that includes these great men of God whose experiences we have just been considering.

Furthermore, this is not something which (according to the current phrase) you ‘believe that you have received by faith’. People say, ‘You go to the Scripture, you read it, you believe it—yes. Well, ask God for it, then accept it by faith, and you believe that you’ve had it. Don’t worry,’ they say, ‘about your feelings at all. You take it by faith and believe you’ve got it.’

But that seems to me to be a complete denial of this teaching. When this baptism happens you do not have to persuade yourself that you have received it, you know that you have received it. When God sheds abroad His love in your heart by the Holy Spirit, you do not have to say, ‘Yes I’ve received it by faith.’ Love is always love and when you love a person you do not have to persuade yourself that you love, you know that you do, your feelings are engaged. And when God sheds His love abroad in your heart, you feel it and know it, and, like those men, you say, ‘God was pouring it into me and I knew it was there and my heart went out in love to Him.’

This has been something which has often been missing from spiritual experience. But if you do love the Lord your God you cannot help knowing it. You say that though you have not seen Him yet you love Him. As Peter writes, ‘In whom … though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory’ (1 Pet. 1:8), feeling is engaged. But we have been so afraid of emotionalism that we have cut out emotion. So people today do not seem to know what it is to have a sense of sin and sorrow for sin. There are people today who are Christians, who have never wept because of their sinfulness. They say, ‘Of course, I don’t believe in emotionalism.’

But there must be emotion! If you have seen the plague of your heart and know what sin is, you will feel it, you will bemoan it and you will weep like a Jonathan Edwards, and like all the saints. And your love for Christ will not be light and glib but your heart will be moved; your feelings will be engaged; a profound emotion will sweep through your being. It happened to the apostle Paul; it happened to these people in the New Testament; it happened to those men whose experiences we have quoted and they are but representative of thousands of others.

Do we know something about this? This is a lecture on biblical doctrine and some people seem to think that that means it is as dry as dust. But it is preaching! I am simply asking you whether you know anything about the reality of Christ and have you felt your heart going out to Him in a love that you cannot understand and that has amazed you? As Christian people, we have no right to stop at anything less than that. If we really knew Him we would love Him like this. Has He manifested Himself to you?

But beware of the counterfeit. Beware lest Satan come in and, as you seek this, try to pass to you something that is not the true experience. How do we recognise that? Here is the final test, always. Seek not an experience, but seek Him, seek to know Him, seek to realise His presence, seek to love Him. Seek to die to yourself and everything else, that you may live entirely in Him and for Him and give yourself entirely to Him. If He is at the centre, you will be safe. But if you are simply seeking an experience; if you are looking for thrills and excitement, then you are opening the door to the counterfeit—and probably you will receive it.

Let me try to help you at this point by quoting something else. Here is a man who again had this very experience. He writes,

You, entertaining a certain conception of the Spirit, ask for the Spirit. And suppose that His influences will all correspond with the conception that you have formed. You expect Him, for instance, to be to you a Spirit of consolation and compass you about with the ambrosial airs of Paradise. You understand that He is to lift you up into a super mundane ethereal sphere where poetic visions of the islands of the blest shall come flashing upon you, upon the right hand and upon the left. But the Spirit is truth and He must come in His own true character or not at all. You have solicited His ministrations and they are not withheld, but how surprised you are when He takes you by the hand and you prepare for a rapturous ascent into the empyrean to find that He has taken you by the hand for the purpose of conducting you down into some deep dark dungeon‐like chambers of imagery. In vain you shudder and draw back; you only discover thereby what an iron grasp He has. He bids you look upon those hideous images and observe how they body‐forth the great features of you past life.

One abominable statue is named selfishness and its lofty pedestal is completely carved with inscriptions of dates. You look at those dates, your guide constrains you to and you are appalled to find that what you regarded as the most beautiful and consecrated hours of your past life are there, even there.

There is a repulsive image also called covetousness and you say boldly, ‘I am sure that no date of mine is inscribed there.’ Alas, there are many and some that you thought golden, connecting you with heaven. Anger, wrath, malice. See how the odious monsters seem to wink at you from their seats as at a well‐known comrade. How the picture of your past life is made ugly on their pedestals.

You look unbelief in the face and, frowning, tell him that you know him not. Whatever your faults, you have never been an unbeliever. The Spirit constrains you to observe that unbelief claims, and justly claims, the whole of your past life. A profound humiliation and a piercing sorrow possess your heart.

At least, you say, standing opposite the image of falsehood, ‘I am no liar. I hate all falsehood with a perfect hatred.’ The Spirit of God points you to the fatal evidence. You examine the dates and you see that some of them refer even to your seasons of prayer. At length, altogether humbled, dispirited and conscience stricken, you acknowledge that here in these damp subterranean galleries and in the midst of these abominable images is your true home. You will remember with shame the ideas with which you had greeted the Spirit and you fall at His feet, confessing all your folly. There, in that condition, does He raise you and lead you out into the open air beneath the blessed canopy of heaven and you find a chariot in which you may, unforbidden, take your place beside the Spirit and visit the places of joy that are above the earth.

There it is. The work of the Spirit is always humbling and humiliating. It brings us to the end of self, it reveals sin to us. We want to have the power of the Spirit as we are, and the great experiences, but we shall not have them that way. We must submit entirely to Him and He takes us through those galleries first; and when we feel utterly hopeless, He then, as we are told here, provides this amazing chariot for us which takes us to the very heavens and gives us this glorious experience of the reality of the Son of God, the manifestation of Christ according to His promise, which moves us and grips us to the depths of our being and we are lost in a sense of wonder, love and praise.