John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
~ John 1:26, Acts 19:4-5
How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?
~ Romans 10:14, Acts 8:29-30
Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
~ Proverbs 1:23, Acts 10:44
And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.
~ Acts 8:37-39
And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
~ Acts 9:17
Baptism and Filling, by David Martyn Lloyd-Jones.
We must now consider aspects of the biblical teaching concerning the doctrine of the Holy Spirit which, hitherto, we have not been able to deal with; and, it seems to me, the most convenient approach is this: there are certain terms with regard to the relationship of the Holy Spirit to the believer which we have touched on in passing, but were not able to go into, in detail, then, and we will look at these now.
They are most important terms, and, in a sense, because they are important, they are not easy. Indeed, I might even say that they are difficult and that they have often led not only to confusion but to a good deal of discussion and disputation. As I have often pointed out before, you always find that when a doctrine is vital, there are generally difficulties, for the obvious reason that the devil, the adversary of our souls, realising the centrality and the importance of the doctrine, concentrates his attention upon it. We saw that in the case of the atonement and the person of our Lord, so it is not surprising if he does it at this point.
The first term, then, is the term baptism, the baptism of the Holy Spirit or the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Now the difficulties, I feel, generally arise because on all sides we are all a little too prone to be dogmatic. The confusion certainly arises because of that. You will find that equally saintly Christians look at these matters and do not say quite the same thing. That is inevitable with certain aspects of truth, but, when that happens, it behoves us not to be over‐dogmatic. We should tread carefully, and with reverence and godly fear. Of course, to come people there does not seem to be any difficulty and you hear them speaking so glibly. They say, ‘Of course, to me there is no problem; one baptism—many fillings, there it is.’ Now to speak like that about such a solemn and sacred subject is almost to deny the total doctrine of the Holy Spirit. It is not a question of how easily and conveniently to our own satisfaction we can classify these terms; the vital questions is: What do these terms represent and what do we know about them experientially?
Let me remind you again that my whole object in going through these biblical doctrines is not simply or primarily to enlarge my own knowledge or yours, certainly not in an intellectual sense. I am concerned about these things for one reason only, and that is that a deep and a real experience of the power of salvation is dependent upon a knowledge of these doctrines—and not a mere intellectual or theoretical knowledge. Anybody who stops at that is courting trouble and asking for disaster. This knowledge is essential on condition that we approach it in the right way, and realise that it is something that will enrich our experience. And that is particularly true over a question like the one we are now considering.
So let us start like this: Where are these terms used, how are they used, and by whom? Well, the term ‘baptism’ is used by John the Baptist. You will find it, for instance, in Luke 3:16–17 and its parallel passages. We are told about the people who listened to the preaching of John at the Jordan, ‘They mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not.’ And John, realising what they were thinking, turned upon them and said, I indeed baptise you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptise you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.
John predicted it. But our Lord Himself also used the same expression. In Acts 1:5 you will find, ‘For John truly baptised with water; but ye shall be baptised with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.’ And He said that ten days before the Day of Pentecost.
Then a number of other terms are used which obviously refer to the same thing, although not all would agree with that statement. For instance, in Romans 6, the Apostle says, ‘Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptised into Jesus Christ were baptised into his death?’ It is very difficult to think that that is a reference to water baptism, because surely baptism in water does not baptise us into Christ’s death. It is by the Holy Spirit we are baptised into Christ and into His death.
And then there is that great passage in 1 Corinthians 12:13: ‘For by one Spirit,’ says Paul, ‘are we all baptised into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles …’ In Galatians 3:27 you get this: ‘For as many of you as have been baptised into Christ, have put on Christ.’ And in Ephesians 4:5: ‘One Lord, one faith, one baptism,’ which is undoubtedly a reference to the baptism by the Holy Spirit, our baptism into Christ.
That, then, is the actual use of the word baptise in connection with the Holy Spirit. But, it is important for us to bear in mind that certain other terms are used, which obviously refer to the same thing. The terms seem to be interchangeable as though more or less synonymous. We are told, for instance, about the Holy Spirit being poured out. That is in the prophecy of Joel which was quoted by the apostle Peter in Acts 2:17. In Acts 8:16 you will find the statement that the Holy Ghost had not yet ‘fallen’ upon the Samaritans. Then there is the question that the Apostle Paul asked the disciples at Ephesus: ‘Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?’ (Acts 19:2). And Peter, justifying his action in admitting Cornelius and other Gentiles into the Christian Church, said, ‘The Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning’ (Acts 11:15). Peter’s argument was that he saw very clearly that the same thing had happened to Cornelius and his household that had happened to him and the other apostles, the hundred and twenty in the upper room, and to others on the Day of Pentecost at Jerusalem. When I saw that, he said, ‘What was I, that I could withstand God?’ (Acts 11:15–17). He could not refuse to baptise them, he said, because the Holy Spirit had fallen upon them.
It seems to me, therefore, that all these terms clearly point to the same thing and, therefore, we face the question: What is the baptism of the Holy Spirit? Now there are some, as we have seen, who say that there is really no difficulty about this at all. They say it is simply a reference to regeneration and nothing else. It is what happens to people when they are regenerated and incorporated into Christ, as Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 12:13: ‘By one Spirit are we all baptised into one body.’ You cannot be a Christian without being a member of that body and you are baptised into that body by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, they say, this baptism of the Holy Spirit is simply regeneration.
But for myself I simply cannot accept that explanation, and this is where we come directly to grips with the difficulty. I cannot accept that because if I were to believe that, I should have to believe that the disciples and the apostles were not regenerate until the Day of Pentecost—a supposition which seems to me to be quite untenable. In the same way, of course, you would have to say that not a single Old Testament saint had eternal life or was a child of God. But we have seen very plain teaching of the Scripture to the effect that they were regenerate and that all of us when we become regenerate become children of Abraham. We have seen, too, that nothing happens to us apart from them and that we are sharers in the same blessing, because there is only one great covenant, this covenant of salvation and redemption.
We would also have to say that the Samaritans, to whom the evangelist Philip had preached, were not regenerate until Peter and John went down to them. As you read the eighth chapter of Acts, you will find that Philip evangelised in Samaria, and many believed and were baptised into the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. But we are told that they did not receive the Holy Spirit until the advent of Peter and John who came down and prayed for them and laid their hands upon them so that they received or were baptised by the Holy Spirit. But it seems to me that the whole chapter denies that supposition. They were regenerate, but they had not received the Holy Spirit. And the same thing, of course, can be argued, in a sense, in the case of the Ethiopian eunuch who was spoken to by Philip. So I cannot accept the idea that baptism is simply a reference to regeneration.
What, then, is it? Well, it is clear that this is what John the Baptist and our Lord had both predicted. This is what Peter calls ‘the promise of the Father’, a term that is often used. ‘Therefore,’ says Peter, ‘being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear’ (Acts 2:33). And the term is used elsewhere ‘the promise of my Father’ (Luke 24:49). This was something to which the Children of Israel had been taught to look forward, it is the fulfilment of that promise.
What, then, is it? Well, when we were dealing with this doctrine of the Holy Spirit right at the very beginning, I emphasised that what happened on the Day of Pentecost was primarily that the Christian Church was instituted and proclaimed as the body of Christ. There were believers, there were regenerate persons—yes. But they only became the body of Christ at Pentecost when they were baptised into the one body by the Holy Spirit, by the one Spirit. And that is undoubtedly the primary meaning of Pentecost.
But it seems to me that we must not stop at that. If that is what it is in its essence, there is also the subsidiary meaning. It includes also the consciousness of that fact. I say that for this reason: go back again to the question put by the apostle Paul to those people at Ephesus: ‘Did ye receive the Holy Ghost when ye believed?’ Now the fact that he asked that question implies that it is a question one can answer, that people know when they have received the Holy Spirit—whether they have or whether they have not. But then the Apostle put almost exactly the same question to the Galatians: ‘Received ye the Spirit,’ he writes, ‘by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?’ (Gal. 3:2). In effect, Paul was saying to the Galatians, ‘You’ve received the Holy Spirit and you know that; now did you receive the Holy Spirit as the result of your works of righteousness, works under the law, or by the hearing of faith?’ They knew that they had received the Spirit, otherwise Paul’s question was pointless. Indeed the whole teaching about the sealing and the earnest of the Spirit must lead in the same direction. The Apostle also refers to ‘ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit’ (Rom. 8:23); we know that we have received them.
What, therefore, do I mean when I say that this baptism includes the consciousness of being baptised into the body of Christ? It is at this point that the confusion tends to come in, because some friends would confine this only to certain gifts of the Spirit and they say the one and only proof that we have received the Spirit is that we manifest these gifts. They would base that on 1 Corinthians 12, but that very chapter itself teaches that all do not have the same gifts, one person has one gift and one another. So we must never say that unless we have one particular gift we have never been baptised with the Holy Spirit or have never received the Spirit. That very chapter denies that. It asks the question, ‘Do all speak with tongues? Do all prophesy? Have all the gifts of healing?’ and so on, and the answer is obviously ‘No’.
But the danger is to think of the baptism of the Holy Spirit only in terms of gifts rather than in terms of something much more important, which is this: the mark, ultimately, and proof of whether we have received the Spirit or not is surely something that happens in the realm of our spiritual experience. You cannot read the New Testament accounts of the people to whom the Spirit came, these people upon whom He fell, or who received as the Galatian Christians and all these others had done, without realising that the result was that their whole spirit was kindled. The Lord Jesus Christ became real to them in a way that He had never been before. The Lord Jesus Christ manifested Himself to them spiritually, and the result was a great love for Christ, shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Spirit.
Now this, surely, is something which should cause us to pause for a moment and meditate very deeply and very seriously. This is an experience, as I understand this teaching, which is the birthright of every Christian. ‘For the promise,’ says the apostle Peter, ‘is unto you’—and not only unto you but—‘to your children, and to all that are afar off’ (Acts 2:39). It is not confined just to these people on the Day of Pentecost but is offered to and promised to all Christian people. And in its essence it means that we are conscious of the incoming, as it were, of the Spirit of God and are given a sense of the glory of God and the reality of His being, the reality of the Lord Jesus Christ, and we love Him. That is why these New Testament writers can say a thing like this about the Christians: ‘Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory’ (1 Pet. 1:8). And they did. They rejoiced in Him, they gloried in Him, they accounted it an honour to suffer for His name’s sake. For Him they would suffer any persecution; they would even be turned out of their homes and their families. Why? Oh, not simply because they had a head knowledge of certain doctrines or truths. No, but because the Lord Jesus Christ had become so real to them and so dear to them and so lovely in their sight, that He was their all in all.
And that, as you read these accounts, is the invariable result of this baptism of the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, you will find that this is something to which the saints of the centuries have testified. Everybody remembers the story of how this happened to John Wesley in Aldersgate Street in London in 1738, but many people have never heard of it as it happened in a still more striking manner to George Whitefield before that. We have heard of it in the case of Moody, walking down the street in New York City one afternoon, when suddenly he became aware of the glory of God in such an overwhelming manner that he felt that even his strong body was on the point of being crushed, and he held up his hands and asked God to stop. It is true of Finney and Jonathan Edwards and David Brainerd. It is something to which many ordinary Christians, whose names we do not know, have testified and for which they have thanked God: this sense of the glory of God, the reality of the Lord; this love towards Him; this indescribable experience of these things.
A definition, therefore, which I would put to your consideration is something like this: the baptism of the Holy Spirit is the initial experience of glory and the reality and the love of the Father and of the Son. Yes, you may have many further experiences of that but the first experience, I would suggest, is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The saintly John Fletcher of Madeley put it like this: ‘Every Christian should have his Pentecost.’
‘This is life eternal,’ our Lord prayed, ‘that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent’ (John 17:3). And it is only the Spirit who can enable us to know that. The baptism of the Holy Spirit, then, is the difference between believing these things, accepting the teaching, exercising faith—that is something that we all know, and without the Holy Spirit we cannot even do that, as we have seen—and having a consciousness and experience of these truths in a striking and signal manner. The first experience of that, I am suggesting, is the baptism of the Holy Spirit, or the Holy Spirit falling upon you, or receiving the Spirit. It is this remarkable and unusual experience which is described so frequently in the book of Acts and which, as we see clearly from the epistles, must have been the possession of the members of the early Christian Church.
Now there is no essential difference between the Church today and that early Church, and you cannot read the New Testament account of the early Church without seeing that these were spiritual people, people with a spiritual reality. They were not just formal Church members, there was a living Spirit, and they knew in whom they had believed, and they rejoiced in these things. Without any hesitation you could put the question to them, ‘Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? (Gal. 3:2). What if I put that question to you at this moment? Can you answer it? This is the experience which is for you and for your children and for them that are afar off: this blessed knowledge of the reality of God and of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit, the spiritual manifestation of the Son of God in the heart of the believer.
Let us then consider briefly the second term which always goes with this term and which, in a sense, is complementary to it. It is the term filling. You notice that after that great event on the morning of Pentecost, we are told this: ‘And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues …’ That is Acts 2:4, and if you go on to Acts 4:31 you will find that it was repeated: ‘And when they had prayed, 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.’ Who were they? The disciples, the apostles, the same people. They were filled on the Day of Pentecost and they were filled just a few days later in exactly the same way. And we also have another instance in Acts 13:9, where the apostle Paul is dealing with Elymas the sorcerer. We are told: ‘Then Saul … filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him.’
The other use of the term ‘filling’ is found in Ephesians 5:18, where we are told, ‘Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.’ And then you will find references to it in Acts 6:3–5: ‘Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business’—the appointment of the deacons in the Church—‘… And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost.’
So the question which arises is: What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit? Clearly, there are two things, at any rate, which obviously go with this term. It is something that happens which gives authority and power and ability for service and witness. The apostles were given it there at the very beginning, and the result was that they began to speak with other tongues, and Peter, filled with the Spirit, preached his sermon. Then again, after they had prayed, they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness. And when Paul was confronted by the opposition of that clever man, the magician Elymas, he was filled especially with the Spirit in order to pronounce a judgment, and the judgment fell upon the man. So it is clear that the filling with the Spirit happens for the sake of service; it gives us power and authority for service.
Let me emphasise this. This filling is an absolute necessity for true service. Even our Lord Himself did not enter upon His ministry until the Holy Spirit had descended upon Him. He even told the disciples, whom He had been training for three years, who had been with Him in the inner circle, who had seen His miracles and heard all His words, who had seen Him dead and buried and risen again, even these exceptional men with their exceptional opportunities, He told to stay where they were, not to start upon their ministry, not to attempt to witness to Him, until they had received the power which the Holy Spirit would give them.
This is something, therefore, which is vital to our witness. It was the whole secret of the ministry of the apostle Paul. He did not preach with enticing words of human wisdom, but preached, he said, ‘in demonstration of the Spirit and of power’ (1 Cor. 2:4). He was filled with the Spirit for his task. Is this not something which causes us all to pause? Whatever the form of our ministry, it is only of value while we are filled with the power of the Spirit. So we should realise the necessity of seeking this filling of the Spirit and of power before we attempt any task, whatever it may be.
Let me put it like this: there is all the difference in the world between being a witness and being an advocate. Men and women can be advocates of these things without the Holy Spirit. I mean that they can have an understanding of the doctrine; they can receive the truth, and can present it, argue for it and defend it. Yes, they are acting as advocates. But primarily, as Christians, we are called upon to be witnesses, to be witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God and as the Saviour of the world, as our own Saviour, as the Saviour of all who put their faith and trust in Him. And it is only the Holy Spirit who can enable us to do that. You can address people and act as advocates for the truth but you will not convince anybody. If, however, you are filled with the Spirit, and are witnessing to the truth which is true in your life, by the power of the Spirit that is made efficacious. So this filling is essential to all our Christian service.
But also it is equally clear that the infilling of the Spirit is essential to true Christian quality in our life. That is why we are commanded to be filled with the Spirit. It is a command to every single Christian: ‘Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit’ (Eph. 5:18). We are exhorted to be filled with the Spirit. And this is commanded in order that our graces may grow, in order that the fruit of the Spirit may develop in us and may be evident to all. It is as we are filled with this life that the fruit and the graces of this life will be manifest. Indeed, the filling of the Spirit is essential to a true act of worship. Did you notice how Paul uses that commandment of his in that very connection? He says, ‘Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit’—and then he goes on at once—‘speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and our Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.’
So the way to test whether we are filled with the Spirit is to ask: Are we full of thankfulness? Are we full of praise? Do we sing to ourselves and to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs? Do we make melody in our hearts? Do we praise God when we are alone? Do we delight in praising Him with others? Do we delight in praising Him in public as well as in private? Are we full of the spirit of praise, of thanksgiving, of worship and adoration? It is an inevitable consequence of being filled with the Spirit. This is something that can happen many times. The baptism, I suggest, is the initial experience, the filling is an experience that can often be repeated.
So there are those two great terms: to be baptised with the Spirit and to be filled with the Spirit. Surely, no subject is more important for us all than just this. What is a revival? It is God pouring out His Spirit. It is this tremendous filling that happens to numbers of people at the same time. You need not wait for a revival to get it, each of us is individually commanded to seek it, and to have it, and indeed to make sure that it is there. But at times of revival God, as it were, fills a number of people together, they almost describe it as the Spirit falling upon them. That is a revival, and that is the greatest need of the Church today. And it is only as you and I, as individuals, know the reality of these things, and know their power and their glory, and are concerned about being always filled with the Spirit, that we shall not only thank God but also pray to Him for revival and ask Him to come upon the Church again, as He has come in ages past, and fan the smouldering embers into a mighty flame of life and power. It is the greatest need of all, and it is only as we understand the teaching of the Scriptures with regard to these blessed matters that we truly enter into these things and become intercessors and pleaders with God to revive His work. May He open our eyes by His Spirit to the truth of the baptism of the Spirit and the infilling of the Holy Spirit.