and the Baptism of the Spirit
we consider the message of Saint Paul, one word stands out —
justification. His letter to the Romans is the great
beacon light on the doctrine of justification.
The words justify
and justification are legal words, closely related to the
idea of a court trial and judgment. Justification with God implies
that one has stood before the divine court and has been forgiven and declared just,
Being a legal
word, justification is also closely related to law.
The divine court has a holy, just and good law (Rom. 7:12) which must
be reckoned with in the matter of justification. At the outset of
his epistle, the apostle declares," . . . the doers of the law
shall be justified." Rom. 2:13. The law demands perfect obedience,
and unless this demand is met, no man will ever be justified.
The human predicament,
however, is that absolutely no man can render an obedience that will
satisfy the law. "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall
no flesh be justified in His sight: for by the law is the knowledge
of sin." Rom. 3:20. Let a man climb the alpine heights of holy
living, and the law will say, "Not good enough." A man might
just as well reach up and touch the stars as satisfy the law with
his obedience. Not only is it true that "all have sinned,"
but all "continue to come short 1 of the glory of God" (Rom.
Thus does Paul
use the law to level all men and show that a man has to look outside
of his own experience for justification.
Objective Aspects of Justification
of sinners is the work of the Triune God (Rom. 8:33). Just as God has revealed Himself to us in His word as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, so there are three aspects to God's
way of declaring men righteous. It is said to be:
— (the Father)
By Christ — (the Son)
By faith — (the Spirit).
justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in
Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through
faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission
of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God." Rom.
Grace in this context is not a quality infused into man but
is simply God's attitude of favor and mercy toward undeserving sinners.
Justifying grace is qualified by the word freely, which is elsewhere
translated "without a cause." Grace therefore is unearned
and unmerited. The sinner must not look for it in his own heart but
only in the heart of God. Grace means to be accepted in spite of being
Justification is said to be "by Christ" (Gal. 2:17),
or "by the obedience of One" (Rom. 5:19). We have seen that
the law demands perfect obedience. This the sinner owes to the law,
but he is incapable of rendering it. Christ became the sinner's Substitute.
By His doing and dying (His sinless life and atoning death) He satisfied the demands of a righteous law
in the sinner's name. Salvation comes through perfect obedience to
the law of Jehovah – not ours but His. Men are saved by good
works — not theirs but His.
by Christ means that repentant believers are accepted before God by means of a substitute
life. We are accounted righteous because Jesus is righteous. We are
pleasing in the sight of a holy God because Jesus is pleasing.
Faith is created in the sinner's heart by the mighty working of the
third Person of the Godhead. When the gospel is proclaimed, the Spirit
persuades the sinner that it is true, and creates in his heart both
the desire and the willingness to accept the salvation which is in
Acts 20:20-21 I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, 21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
Acts 2:21 21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
John 12:31-33 1 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. 32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. 33 This he said, signifying what death he should die.
John 15:26 26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceeds from the Father, he shall testify of me:
John 16:7-8 7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. 8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
John 16:13 13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.
There is no saving
merit in faith, but faith brings to God the obedience of Jesus Christ,
and the Lord places the obedience of His Son to the repentant sinner's account.
This is how faith is counted (reckoned or imputed) as righteousness
(see Rom. 4:5-6, 9-10, 21-25).
with God comes by an imputed righteousness. The word
impute is very different from the word infuse. Imputed righteousness
means that this righteousness is outside of the believer, in the person
of Jesus Christ. It is, as Luther said, an alien,
foreign, and extrinsic righteousness.
It is not on earth but in heaven. Justification therefore is God's
verdict of righteousness upon the fallen repentant sinner for the sake of Christ
in whom the sinner believes.
Christ's sinless life and atoning death are a finished work that God has done for man, and
must not be confused with what He does within man. As John Bunyan
said, "That man will be at a loss that looketh for a righteousness
in himself, when it is to be found nowhere but in Jesus Christ." ....."Indeed this is one of the greatest mysteries in the world –
namely, that a righteousness that resides with a person in heaven
should justify me, a sinner, on earth." — John Bunyan, Justification
by an Imputed Righteousness (Swengel, Penn.: Reiner Publications,
Thus, the grace
which justifies is outside of us, the doing and dying of Christ which
justifies us is outside of us, and the righteousness which is by faith is that righteousness which is outside of us and which
justifies. There is no room for sentimental subjectivism in Paul's
doctrine of justification by faith.
of God's Justification
The life which
Jesus lived for us and in our name was equal to the broadest demands
of an infinite law. In Him was "all the fullness of the Godhead
bodily" (Col. 2:9) – a life of infinite perfection, a life
superior to sinless Adam or highest angel. Christ's righteousness
was the very righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21), and all this and
nothing less than this is imputed to the believing sinner. The "righteousness
of God" Himself (Rom. 3:21-22), in all its infinite plenitude
and immeasurable totality, is ascribed to the believer in Jesus. God
does not impute His righteousness in degrees but gives it all –
all the accumulated wealth of eternity, all the virtue of Jesus Christ.
The gift of justification is an exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
It cannot be infused into mortal man; it cannot be reduced to an intra-human
experience. But this unspeakable inheritance is put to the believer's
credit in the bank of heaven. In the sight of God and in the verdict
of the supreme Judge of the universe, the believing forgiven sinner is righteous
– as righteous as Jesus Himself. He is faultless, blameless
and perfect (Col. 1:20-22; 2:10; Heb. 10:14). He stands as one who
has perfectly fulfilled the law of God and as one who is in harmony
with all its righteous precepts (Rom. 10:4). The repentant believing sinner has rest for his troubled conscience and assurance before God as he trusts and continues to trust only in the blood of Christ for his forgiveness and acceptance with God and the free gift of eternal life.
God is not playing
make believe in this matter of imputed righteousness. Christ took
humanity unto Himself. The believer's real life is in Christ (Col.
3:3-4), and that life is pure and sinless — indeed, it is the very
righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21). Furthermore, faith unites the
sinner to Jesus. By faith he is "married to Another, even to
Him who is raised from the dead" (Rom. 7:4).
As Luther said
in one of his great passages:
. . . unites the soul with Christ, like a bride with the bridegroom,
and from this marriage, Christ and the soul become one body, as
St. Paul says (Eph. 5:30). Then the possessions of both are in common,
whether fortune, misfortune, or anything else; so that what Christ
has, also belongs to the believing soul, and what the soul has,
will belong to Christ. If Christ has all good things, including
blessedness, these will also belong to the soul. If the soul is
full of trespasses and sins, these will belong to Christ. At this
point a contest of happy exchanges takes place. Because Christ
is God and man, and has never sinned, and because His sanctity is
unconquerable, eternal, and almighty, He takes possession of the
sins of the believing soul by virtue of her wedding ring, namely
faith, and acts just as if He had committed those sins Himself.
They are, of course, swallowed up and drowned in Him, for His unconquerable
righteousness is stronger than any sin whatever. Thus the soul is
cleansed from all her sins by virtue of her dowry, i.e., for the
sake of her faith. She is made free and unfettered, and endowed
with the eternal righteousness of Christ, her bridegroom. Is not
that a happy household, when Christ, the rich, noble, and good bridegroom,
takes the poor, despised, wicked little harlot in marriage, sets
her free from all evil, and decks her with all good things? It is
not possible for her sins to damn her, for now they rest on Christ
and are swallowed up in Him. In this way she has such a rich righteousness
in her bridegroom that she can always withstand sins, though they
indeed lie in Wait for her." — B.L. Woolf, Reformation
Writings of Martin Luther (London: Lutherworth Press, 1952),
Vol. I, pp. 363-364.
illustrates how the sinner may be righteous through faith; and whoever
has this faith is righteous – fully and completely. He is ready
for anything – life, death, judgment, Christ's coming, the day
of wrath, glorification.
being justified by faith, we . . . rejoice in hope of the glory
of God [i.e., the coming of Christ]." Rom. 5:1-2.
now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through
Him." Rom. 5:9. (When "the great day of His wrath is come,"
"who shall be able to stand?" [Rev. 6:17]. Those who are
justified, them He also glorified." Rom. 8:30.
of the Holy Spirit
the greatness and all-sufficiency of God's act of justifying the sinner,
we should be ready to answer the question, "Does God's verdict
of righteousness upon the fallen sinner qualify him to receive the
baptism, or infilling, of the Holy Spirit?" Of course! The justified
forgiven sinner stands before God, not only as if he had never sinned, but
as righteous as Jesus Himself. Is not Jesus righteous enough to receive
the baptism of the Holy Ghost? And we may ask, If God's act of justification
does not qualify the believer to receive the infilling of the Spirit,
what else will?
The doctrine of
Paul is that the Holy Spirit fills every soul who is justified by
faith in the doing and dying of Christ, and fills that soul immediately upon his justification:
justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus
Christ . . . the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the
Holy Ghost which is given unto us." Rom. 5:1, 5.
To the Galatians
hath redeemed us from the curse of the law.. .. that the blessing
of Abraham [justification] might come on the Gentiles through Jesus
Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through
faith." Gal. 3:13-14.
Faith in the gospel
not only justifies sinner, but brings to the justified believer the measureless
gift of the Holy Spirit as soon as he believes. Paul challenged the
Galatians, "Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or
by the hearing of faith?" Gal. 3:2. And to the Ephesians he wrote,"
. . . after that ye believed [or literally, having believed), ye were
sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise . . . " Eph. 1:13. This
agrees with the words of Jesus, "He that believeth on Me, as
the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living
water.”(But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe
on Him should receive. . .) John 7:38-39.
In the book of
Romans Paul deals very specially with two gifts: 1.) the gift of justificatiion and the forgivenss of sin
(Rom. 5:17) and 2.) the gift of the Spirit (Rom. 5:5; Rom. 8). The gift
of righteousness is imputed (reckoned) for our forgivenss and justification;
the gift of the Spirit is imparted (infused) for
our renewal and sanctification.
The imputed gift
of righteousness and the imparted gift of the Spirit must not be confused, but must be properly distinguished. Justification is what God does
for us; the infilling of the Spirit is what He does in
us. Our renewal in the Spirit is not the meritorious cause of our justification
in whole or in part. Justification is by imputed righteousness alone – that is, it rests on something completely without us, namely the sinless life and atoning death of Christ. Renewal
and sanctification of the Spirit are the fruit of justification (see
While we must
be careful not to confuse God's work for us (justification) and God's
work in us (the infilling of the Spirit), we must be equally careful
not to divorce one phase of His work from the other. His work for
us (justification and forgiveness) brings the gift and infilling of the Spirit. Indeed,
this gift of the Spirit is the seal, pledge and guarantee that we
have been justified (Eph. 1:13-14; Rom. 8:14-16). Consequently, where
there is no renewal by the transforming power of the Spirit, no fruit
of the Spirit, it is certain that justification has never taken place. Repentance involves both sorrow for sin and a turning away from willful, high-handed dissobedience to the Law of God. The Law of God begins to be written in the heart of the believing repenting sinner.
of the Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts
The book of Acts
amply illustrates what Paul teaches – namely, that the acceptance
of Christ for our justification brings the gift of the Holy Spirit. The book of Acts begins with Jesus' command to His apostles and small
band of followers:
being assembled together with them, 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 baptized with
water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days
hence." Acts 1:4-5.
His disciples to "wait" for the baptism of the Spirit. Waiting
is hardly the posture of heroes, but it does accentuate the truth
that the Spirit is given, not obtained. Jesus did not say, "Pray
for the promise of the Father." Doubtless the disciples did pray,
but the accent is on waiting, because the Spirit, being a promise
and a gift, does not come upon men as a result of their activity.
Then the next
chapter of Acts continues:
the day of Pentecost was fully come, they 2 were all with one accord
in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of
a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were
sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of
fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with
the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit
gave them utterance."
If Luke wanted
to emphasize that prayer or some other activity brought down the Holy
Spirit, he missed a wonderful opportunity. The scripture does not
say that the 120 were praying when the Spirit fell, but that "they
were sitting." There appears to be a definite effort to play
down any great activity on the part of the disciples in connection
with the baptism of the Spirit.
The crowd gathered,
and finally Peter stood up to preach that great Pentecostal message.
In explaining the gift of the Holy Spirit, he did not say, "This
Spirit has been poured out upon us because we have waited for it,
and for many days we have prayed earnestly for it." Never! Peter
made no reference to his activities. Here is what he said:
hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore 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 2:32-33.
The Spirit was
given because of Christ's atonement, not the believer's attainment.
He destroyed sin, conquered death and removed every barrier that kept
the Holy Spirit from His people. At Christ's ascension into heaven He was glorified in the presence
of the Father, exalted far above principalities and powers with glory impossible
to describe. But in His exaltation He could not forget His toiling,
struggling ones on earth. He longed to share His glory with those
who believed on Him. Pentecost was Christ sharing His glory –
all that mortal beings could endure – with His disciples. It
was a gift, the fulfillment of a promise, and came upon the fledgling
church solely because Jesus was glorified.
At Pentecost the
gospel was preached under the demonstration and power of the Spirit.
Like arrows from the Almighty, the truth went home to the hearts of
the hearers. They cried out, "Men and brethren, what shall we
said unto them, Repent, and be baptized 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. …Then they that gladly received
his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them
about three thousand souls." Acts 2:38, 41.
Now it is imperative
that we understand how the 3,000 souls received the Holy Spirit. They
were not told to wait. The disciples had waited. But after Pentecost
there is no command or suggestion that believers should wait for the
Spirit. The Spirit had come upon the church in a once-and-for-all
event. Peter did not tell his hearers, "First you be baptized
for the forgiveness of sins. After that you must wait for the Spirit
like we did." No! Since Pentecost, the message of the gospel
is believe and receive. All who believe receive the Spirit.
Not only did the
3,000 have no need to wait, but there is no suggestion that the Spirit
came upon them with a sound of wind, appearance of fire, and speaking
in foreign languages.3 The great inaugural events of redemption –
Christ's death, resurrection, ascension and glorification (Pentecost)
– were attested to by great signs and wonders. At His death
the sun was darkened, at His resurrection there was an earthquake,
angels appeared to the disciples at His ascension, and wind, fire
and tongues were associated with His glorification and the Spirit's
initial outpouring upon the church.
Men are now called upon to identify
and participate in the benefits of Christ's death, resurrection, ascension
and glorification. It would be as wrong to demand wind, fire and foreign
languages to accompany the gift of the Spirit today as to expect to
see the sun darkened when we experience dying with Christ or an earthquake
when we rise to walk with Him in a new life. We are justified by faith,
and by faith (not sight, sound or feelings) we receive the Holy Spirit.
Miraculous demonstrations may or may not accompany the gift of the
Spirit. Faith does not rest on these, however, but rather on the infallible
Word of promise.
Acts 2:38 shows
us that, since Pentecost, the Spirit is given at the time of Christian
initiation. The baptism of the Spirit is associated with the baptism
into Christ. We are not here concerned with the mode of Christian
baptism4but with the principle of baptism. Baptism means that one
is identified with the death and resurrection of Christ (see Rom.
6:3-7). Faith unites and identifies the soul with Jesus. Those who
thereby share in Christ's death and resurrection, share in His glorification
at the right hand of God. This is why the Holy Spirit accompanies
Christian baptism. The book of Acts amply demonstrates that baptism
and the gift of the Holy Spirit belong together.
Jesus to the Gentiles at the home of Cornelius. He said:
anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who
went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the
devil; for God was with Him…To Him give all the prophets witness,
that through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission
of sins. While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell
on all them which heard the Word. And they of the circumcision which
believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that
on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered
Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized,
which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?" Acts 10:38,
What a clear testimony
to the truth that faith in Jesus for justification, or forgiveness
of sins, brings the gift of the Holy Spirit! This is further illustrated
by Paul's visit to Ephesus:
came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed
through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,
he said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?
And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there
be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye
baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. 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. And when Paul had laid his hands
upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues,
and prophesied." Acts 19:1-6.
It is strange
how some people will use this scripture in support of a post-conversion
baptism of the Holy Spirit, or "second blessing." It would
be more consistent if they would use the passage to support the idea
of two water baptisms – one to become a Christian, and one more
to get the Holy Spirit. Paul's vital question, "Have ye received
the Holy Ghost since ye believed?" is not to be read as if Paul
were asking if they had gone on to receive the second blessing. The
Revised Standard Version more correctly translates the question, "Did
you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" Paul is really
saying, "If you did not receive the Holy Spirit when you believed,
you have not true Christian faith." That is Paul's doctrine –
the Spirit comes when men believe in Jesus. But these disciples of
John had not shared in the blessing of Pentecost, for they had not
heard about Christ's atonement and glorification. The information
which they lacked was not information about the Holy Spirit as such,
but information on the gospel of Christ. Paul told them about Christ,
baptized them in the name of Jesus, and they shared in the blessing
of Pentecost. Thus, the gift of the Spirit must accompany Christian
baptism, else something is very wrong.
friends will then say, "What about Acts 8? Philip preached the
gospel in Samaria. The people believed and were baptized. But they
did not receive the Holy Spirit until the apostles came down and prayed
the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received
the Word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: who, when they
were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy
Ghost: (for as yet He was fallen upon none of them: only they were
baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands
on them, and they received the Holy Ghost." Acts 8:14-17.
We will admit
that this is an exceptional case. But rather than prove that the Spirit
does not come at the time of conversion, it really proves the opposite.
According to Acts 2:38, the disciples knew that the gift of the Holy
Spirit should accompany baptism. But at Samaria (their first missionary
outreach to non-Jews) it did not. This led them to take immediate
steps to remedy the abnormal situation. That believers should be baptized
without having the gift of the Holy Spirit was unthinkable, a contradiction.
The apostles hastened down, prayed for the Samaritans, and they also
shared the blessing of Pentecost.
Why did God work
this way in Samaria? When we consider the historical situation, the
reason is not difficult to determine. The Jews and the Samaritans
were traditionally hostile to each other. They were divided racially
and religiously. The Lord did not want this division to continue in
the Christian church. If the Samaritans had received the full blessing
of the gospel apart from the church at Jerusalem, they might have
been inclined to have a Christian church of their own. On the other
hand, the apostles were still inclined to be prejudiced against the
Samaritans. The leaders of the church needed to see that God put no
difference between the believing Jews and the believing Samaritans.
Acts 8 shows how the Spirit worked to preserve unity in the developing
The idea of a
post-conversion, second-blessing gift of the Holy Spirit is unknown
in the book of Acts. When Paul preached the gospel to the heathen
Galatians, they believed and received the Spirit (Gal. 3:2). When
Paul and Barnabas returned to them, the apostles did not say, "Last
time we preached to you the gospel. Now we want to give to you the
full gospel." No, for Paul's gospel was only and always the full
gospel — the gospel of Christ. But what did Paul tell them on his
". . .
confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue
in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into
the kingdom of God." Acts 14:22.
There is no second
blessing suggested here. As men received Christ Jesus the Lord, so
they must walk in Him (Col. 2:6). Nowhere in the New Testament are
Christians exhorted to wait for the Holy Spirit; but through the Spirit
they are exhorted to wait, hope and expect the coming of Jesus Christ
in power and great glory (Gal. 5:5; Rom. 5:2; 8:23-24; Heb. 9:28;
1 Thess. 1:10). The coming of Jesus Christ and the glorification of
the saints are the real second blessing of the New Testament.
Pentecostalism Is a Complete Negation of the Truth of Justification
The central thesis
of the Pentecostal movement is that the baptism, or infilling, of
the Spirit is a definite second blessing which comes at a time subsequent
to conversion. This Pentecostal thesis is a complete negation of the
truth of justification by faith. This is a most serious charge, and
we realize that it comes as a great shock to many Pentecostals who
think that they believe in justification by faith. It is true that
sometimes Pentecostals sound quite orthodox when dealing with justification;
but it is impossible to embrace the Pentecostal doctrine and hold
to the primacy, supremacy and all-sufficiency of justification by
faith, for the following reasons:
1. The Pentecostal
idea of a post-conversion baptism of the Spirit implies that God's
act of justification is not sufficient to bring the infilling of the
Spirit. But if God's gift of His own righteousness cannot qualify
the believer for the baptism of the Spirit, what else will? In the
light of Paul's message about the all-sufficiency of justification,
Pentecostalism is an awful error. If God's greatest work for the sinner
does not bring the Holy Spirit's infilling, then man must resort to
his own works — and so there are books and papers which advocate five
steps, seven steps or ten steps to receive the Spirit.
gimmicks, "emptyings," "letting go," "absolute
surrender" and tricky inner doings are supposed to bring the
If Paul were here,
he would ask, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you were
justified (that is, when you believed)?" If our answer were "No,"
Paul would reply, "Then you have not received Christian justification."
He would not take us on to higher things; he would take us back to
2. The Pentecostal
teaching implies (and sometimes states explicitly) that the experience
of being baptized in the Spirit is something greater and beyond the
justification which comes by faith. Out of the abundance of the heart
the mouth speaks. Luther talked about justification most because to
him it was the chief doctrinal jewel of the Bible. Pentecostals talk
about their experience more than anything else simply because they
feel it is greater than the gift of justification.
is the gift of God's righteousness, in all its totality, to the believing
sinner. In God's act of forgiveness, the entire inheritance of Jesus
Christ, the exceeding and eternal weight of glory, is given to the
believer. This gift can never be superseded, for in it God gives absolutely
all the accumulated treasure of eternity. So far from being greater,
the experience of being filled with the Spirit is called the "firstfruits"
(Rom. 8:23), guarantee or down payment (Eph.1:13-14) of that infinite
It is as if a
man, journeying abroad, finds himself in need. A benefactor gives
him $30 million — a sum so large that it cannot be contained
on the traveler's person. So it is deposited to his account at home.
In the meantime, however, he draws $100 from the account as spending
money on the way. As he extol Is the goodness of his benefactor, which
does he talk about most — the $30 million or the $100?
The grace which
is above us is always infinitely greater than the grace that is within us. Justification is like the whole ocean of water that
covers and surrounds the little shell. The experience in the Spirit
is like the bit of water the shell contains.
would make it appear that the down payment of the inheritance is greater
than the inheritance, that the $100 is more wealth than $30 million,
that the shell full of water is more than the ocean. In all this it
represents a serious distortion of the gospel message.
presents an unfortunate dichotomy of receiving Christ and receiving
the Holy Ghost. Not only is the impression often left on minds that
the Holy Spirit gives a greater and richer blessing than the blessing
of the Savior, but Christ is not presented as a complete gift. The
Pentecostal doctrine declares that there is more to the gospel than
simply receiving Christ as a Savior. In fact, Pentecostal literature
often speaks demeaningly about those who only know Christ as a Savior.
But we are glad to affirm our faith in the all-sufficiency of Christ.
To know and receive Him as Savior is to receive all that God has to
give. He is both the power and wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:24). To have
Jesus is to have all wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption
(1 Cor. 1:30). It is not only vain, but a positive denial of the gospel,
to look for a fullness that is outside or beyond Him. This was the
heresy that threatened the church at Colosse. But Paul affirmed before
the church the absolute all-sufficiency of Christ. "In Him dwelleth
all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete [made
full) in Him…” Col. 2:9-10.
possess Christ is to possess all of the Godhead in Him. The Spirit
in all His infinite plentitude is given to every believer in Jesus.
Everything Christ has belongs to those who are "married"
to Him. Therefore, the gospel of Christ is the full gospel; and anything
that offers Christ plus something else is Judaising with another gospel.
makes two different events of the baptism into Christ and into the
Spirit. It proposes that the church is composed of ordinary ("carnal")
Christians and Spirit-filled Christians – as if the church were
like one of those passenger ships with first- and second-class berths.
But the church is a one-class ship. There is "one Lord, one faith,
one baptism" (Eph. 4:5).
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." 1 Cor. 12:13.
therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of
the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost . . .” Matt.
Christian baptism is therefore the baptism of the Father, it is the
baptism of Christ, and it is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. In proposing
another baptism and another experience, Pentecostalism goes beyond
the gospel of Christ and confesses that neither Christ nor His justification
is a complete gift of the Father.
1 In the Greek, the verb is in the present
2 About 120 souls in all (see Acts 1:15).
3 The gift of tongues at Pentecost was the supernatural
ability to communicate the gospel in a foreign tongue (see Acts 2:4-8).
4 The mode of baptism is not the vital point of discussion
here, although this matter could very well be discussed later in Present