But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.
1 Corinthians 12:7
Introduction and Warning
In a previous session we considered the practical steps of faith and obedience by which a person may receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Leading on from that is a further practical question: Why is the baptism in the Holy Spirit given? Or, to put it another way, what results does God desire to produce in the life of the believer through baptising him in the Holy Spirit?
Before giving a scriptural answer to this question, however, it is first necessary to clear up common misunderstandings which often trouble people who have newly received the baptism in the Spirit and which thus prevent them from receiving the full benefits and blessings God intended for them through this experience.
The Holy Spirit Is Not a Dictator
The first point which needs to be emphasized is that, in the life of the believer, the Holy Spirit never plays the role of a dictator.
When Jesus promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to His disciples, He spoke of Him in terms such as Helper, Comforter, Guide or Teacher. The Holy Spirit always keeps Himself within these limits. He never usurps the will or the personality of the believer. He never compels the believer to do anything against the believer’s own will or choice.
The Holy Spirit is also called “the Spirit of grace” (Heb. 10:29). He is far too gracious to impose Himself upon the believer or to force His way into any area of the believer’s personality where He is not received as a welcome guest.
Paul emphasizes the freedom that proceeds from the Holy Spirit.
Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty [freedom] (2 Cor. 3:17).
Paul contrasts this freedom of the Spirit-baptised Christians believer with the bondage of Israel to the law of Moses, and he reminds professing Christians:
For you did not receive the spirit of bondage [slavery] again to fear (Rom. 8:15).
It follows, therefore, that the extent to which the Holy Spirit will control and direct the believer is the extent to which the believer will voluntarily yield to the Holy Spirit and accept His control and direction. John the Baptist says:
For God does not give the Spirit by measure (John 3:34).
The measure is not in God’s giving; the measure is in our receiving. We may have as much of the Holy Spirit as we are willing to receive. But in order to receive Him, we must voluntarily yield to Him and accept His control. He will never force us to do anything against our own will.
Some believers make just this mistake when seeking the baptism in the Holy Spirit. They imagine that the Holy Spirit will move them so forcefully that they will be literally compelled to speak with other tongues, without any act of their own will. However, this will never happen. Consider the experience of the first disciples on the day of Pentecost, as recorded in
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and [they] began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
The disciples first began to speak themselves, and then the Holy Spirit gave them utterance. If the disciples had never voluntarily begun to speak, the Holy Spirit would never have given them utterance. He would never have forced utterance upon them without their own voluntary co-operation. In this matter of speaking with other tongues, there must be co-operation on the part of the believer with the Holy Spirit.
Someone has summed up this two-way relationship between the Holy Spirit and the believer as follows: The believer cannot do it without the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit will not do it without the believer.
This co-operation with the Holy Spirit continues to be just as necessary even after receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Here again some believers make a great mistake in supposing that, after they have received the initial infilling of the Holy Spirit, with the evidence of speaking with tongues, thereafter the Holy Spirit will automatically exercise full control of their whole being without any further response or co-operation on their part. But this is far from being true.
We have already quoted Paul as saying, “The Lord is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:17). The Holy Spirit is indeed Lord – just as fully as God the Father and God the Son. But He, like the Father and the Son, waits for the believer to acknowledge His lordship.
In order to make the lordship of the Spirit an effective reality in his daily life, the believer must continually yield to the Spirit’s control every area of his personality and every department of his life. Someone has very truly said that it requires at least as much faith, consecration and prayer to keep filled with the Spirit as it required to receive the initial infilling.
The baptism in the Holy Spirit is not the final goal of the Christians experience; it is an initial gateway leading into a new realm of Christians living. After entering in through this gateway, each believer has a personal responsibility to press on with faith and determination and to explore for himself all the wonderful potentialities of this new realm into which he has entered.
The believer who fails to realise and apply this truth will experience few, if any, of the benefits or blessings which God intended for him through the baptism in the Holy Spirit. In all probability, such a believer will become a disappointment and a stumbling block, both to himself and to other professing Christians.
Utilizing God’s Total Provision
This leads us to another area of misunderstanding which must be cleared up. A careful study of the New Testament makes it plain that God has made full provision to meet every need of every believer, in every area of his being and in every aspect of his experience. As clear proof of this, we may cite two very powerful verses from the New Testament.
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, have an abundance for every good work (2 Cor. 9:8).
His [God’s] divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue (2 Pet. 1:3).
These verses reveal that God’s grace and power combined, through the knowledge of Jesus Jesus, have already made complete provision for every need of the believer. No need can ever arise for which God has not already made a perfect provision through Jesus Jesus.
If we now go on to consider the various parts of God’s total provision for the believer, we find that they are manifold and that one part of God’s provision is not a substitute for any other part. It is here that so many believers make a serious mistake: They try to make one part of God’s provision serve as a substitute for some other part. But God never intended it to be that way, and therefore it does not work.
As a practical example of God’s provision for the believer, we may consider Paul’s list of spiritual amour. Paul says: “Put on the whole armor of God” (Eph. 6:11). And again: “Therefore take up the whole armour of God” (Eph. 6:13).
In both these verses Paul emphasizes that, for full protection, the Christians must put on the complete armour, not just a few parts of it. In the next four verses Paul enumerates the following six items of armour: the girdle of truth; the breastplate of righteousness; the shoes of the preparation of the gospel; the shield of faith; the helmet of salvation; the sword of the Spirit.
The Christians who puts on all six items of armour is fully protected from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet. But if he omits only one part of the armour, his protection ceases to be complete.
For example, if a Christians puts on all the other five items but leaves off the helmet, he is likely to be wounded in the head. Once wounded there, his ability to make use of the rest of the armour will be impaired. Conversely, a Christians might put on the helmet and all the rest of the armour for the body, but omit the shoes. In this case his ability to march over rough ground would be affected, and thus his total usefulness as a soldier would be impaired. Or again, a Christians might put on all five items of defensive armour but fail to carry the sword. In this case he would have no means of keeping his enemy at a distance or wielding an active attack against him.
We see, therefore, that for full protection a Christians must put on all six items of armour which God has provided. He cannot omit any one piece and expect that another piece will serve as a substitute. God does not intend it that way. He has provided a complete set of armour, and He expects the Christians to put it all on.
The same principle applies to the whole of God’s provision for the Christians. Epaphras prayed that the professing Christians at Colosse “may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God” (Col. 4:12). In order to stand thus perfect and complete in the fullness of God’s will, a Christians must avail himself of all that God has provided for him through Jesus. He cannot omit any part of God’s total provision and then expect that some other part will serve as a substitute for that which has been omitted.
Yet it is just at this point that so many professing Christians go astray in their thinking. Consciously or unconsciously they reason that because they know they have availed themselves of some parts of God’s provision for them, they do not need to concern themselves about other parts which they have omitted.
For instance, some professing Christians lay great emphasis upon witnessing by word of mouth but are neglectful about the practical aspects of daily Christians living. Conversely, other professing Christians are careful about their conduct but fail to witness openly to their friends and neighbours. Each of these types of professing Christians tends to criticise or despise the other. Yet both alike are at fault. Good Christians living is no substitute for witnessing by word of mouth. On the other hand, witnessing by word of mouth is no substitute for good Christians living. God requires both. The believer who omits either one or the other does not stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.
Many other similar instances could be quoted. For example, some believers lay great stress on spiritual gifts but neglect spiritual fruit. Others lay all their emphasis on spiritual fruit but display no zeal in seeking spiritual gifts. Paul says:
Pursue love [that is, spiritual fruit], and desire spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 14:1).
In other words, God requires both spiritual gifts and spiritual fruit. Gifts are no substitute for fruit, and fruit is no substitute for gifts.
Again, in presenting the gospel, there are those who stress only the facts of God’s foreknowledge and predestination; others present only those texts which deal with the free response of man’s will. Often these two different lines of approach lead to some kind of doctrinal conflict. Yet each by itself is incomplete and even misleading. The total plan of salvation contains room both for God’s predestination and for man’s free choice. It is wrong to emphasize either to the exclusion of the other.
This same general principle applies also to the baptism in the Holy Spirit. For those believers who sincerely desire to enter into all the fullness of victorious and fruitful Christians living, the baptism in the Holy Spirit is the greatest single help that God has provided. But even so, it is no substitute for any of the other main parts of Christians experience or duty.
For example, the baptism in the Spirit is no substitute for regular personal Bible study or for a daily life of consecration and self-denial or for faithful participation in a spiritually minded local church.
A believer who is faithful in all these other aspects of the Christians life but who has not received the baptism in the Holy Spirit will probably prove a more effective Christians than one who has received the baptism in the Spirit but who neglects these other aspects of the Christians life. On the other hand, if the believer who is already faithful in these other duties receives the baptism in the Holy Spirit, he will immediately find that the benefits and the effectiveness of all his other activities will be wonderfully enriched and increased by this new experience.
We may illustrate this point by the example of two men, Mr. A and Mr. B, each of whom has the task of watering a garden. Mr. A has the advantage of using a hose attached directly to a tap. Mr. B has only a watering can which he must fill from the tap and then carry back and forth to each place in the garden where water is needed. Obviously Mr. A starts with a great advantage. He needs only to carry the nozzle of the hose in his hand and then direct the water wherever he wishes. Mr. B has the labor of carrying the can to and from the whole time.
Let us suppose, however, that Mr. B has a great superiority of character over Mr. A. Mr. A is by nature lazy, erratic, unreliable. Sometimes he forgets to water the garden altogether. At other times he waters some areas but omits those which need watering most urgently. At other times he takes no care to direct the hose correctly, wasting large quantities of water in places where it is not needed and can do no good.
On the other hand, Mr. B is active, diligent and reliable. He never forgets to water the garden at any time. He never overlooks any areas that urgently need water. He never wastes any of the water from his can but carefully directs each drop where it will do the utmost good.
What will be the result? Obviously Mr. B will have a much more fruitful and attractive garden than Mr. A. However, it would be quite wrong to deduce from this that, as a means of watering a garden, a watering can is superior to a hose.
The superiority is not that of the watering can over the hose, but that of Mr. B’s whole character over Mr. A’s. This is proved by the fact that if Mr. B now changes over from the watering can to the hose and continues as faithful with the hose as he was previously with the can, the results he will be able to achieve with the hose will far excel those which he previously achieved with the can. Furthermore, he will save himself a great deal of time and effort, which he will be free to devote to other useful purposes.
Let us now apply this little parable to the experience of the baptism in the Spirit. Mr. A, with the hose, represents the believer who has received the baptism in the Spirit but who is lazy, erratic and unreliable in other main aspects of Christians duty. Mr. B, with the watering can, represents the believer who has not received the baptism in the Spirit but who is active, diligent and reliable in other areas of Christians duty.
In all probability Mr. B will prove to be a more fruitful and effective Christians than Mr. A. However, it would be quite illogical to conclude from this that there is anything amiss with the baptism in the Spirit as Mr. A received it. The fault lies not in the experience itself but in the failure of Mr. A to make the right use of it in his daily life.
Furthermore, although Mr. B’s general faithfulness of character already makes him an effective and fruitful Christians, the same faithfulness, when enriched and empowered by the baptism in the Spirit, would enable him to become even more fruitful and effective than he was previously.
However much we may admire Mr. B’s faithfulness, we still cannot deny that he is foolish not to seek and receive the baptism in the Spirit. He is foolish not to exchange the watering can for the hose.
We see, then, that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is not just an unusual and isolated phenomenon which can be detached from the whole context of Christians experience and duty as revealed in the New Testament. On the contrary, the baptism in the Spirit will only produce the benefits and blessings which God intends when it is joined together in active Christians service with all the other main parts of God’s total provision for the believer. Isolated from the rest of Christians life and service, it loses its true significance and fails to achieve its true purpose.
In fact, to seek the baptism in the Spirit without sincerely purposing to use the power thus received in scriptural service for Jesus can be extremely dangerous.
A New Realm of Spiritual Conflict
One reason for this is that the baptism in the Spirit does not merely lead into a realm of new spiritual blessing; it leads also into a realm of new spiritual conflict. As a logical consequence, increased power from God will always bring with it increased opposition from Satan.
The Christians who makes sensible, scriptural use of the power received through the baptism in the Spirit will be in a position to meet and overcome the increased opposition of Satan. On the other hand, the Christians who receives the baptism in the Spirit but neglects the other aspects of Christians duty will find himself in an exceedingly dangerous position. He will discover that the baptism in the Spirit has opened up his spiritual nature to entirely new forms of satanic attack or oppression, but he will be without the God-appointed means to discern the true nature of Satan’s attack or to defend himself against it.
Quite often such a Christians will find his mind invaded by strange moods of doubt or fear or depression, or he will be exposed to moral or spiritual temptation which he never experienced before receiving the baptism in the Spirit. Unless he is forewarned and forearmed to meet these new forms of satanic attack, he may easily succumb to the wiles and onslaughts of the enemy and fall back to a lower spiritual level than he was on before he entered this new realm of conflict.
The life of Jesus provides a graphic example of this truth. At His baptism in the Jordan the Holy Spirit descended on Him in the form of a dove and remained on Him. Immediately after this the Holy Spirit led Him to a direct personal encounter with Satan.
Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil (Luke 4:1-2).
Luke emphasizes at this point that Jesus was now “filled with the Holy Spirit.” This was the very cause of His being thrust into direct conflict with the devil at this stage in His ministry.
In the next eleven verses Luke records how Jesus met and overcame the three successive temptations of Satan. He concludes:
Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee (Luke 4:14).
Notice the new phrase Luke uses here: “in the power of the Spirit.” When Jesus went into the wilderness, He was already “filled with the Spirit.” But when He came out of the wilderness, He came “in the power of the Spirit.” This represents a higher level of spiritual experience. The full power of the Holy Spirit was now freely at His disposal for use in His God-appointed ministry. How had He entered into this higher level of experience? By meeting and overcoming Satan face-to-face.
Furthermore, in overcoming Satan, Jesus used one weapon, and only one – “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17). Each time Satan tempted Him, Jesus began His answer with the phrase “It is written.” That is, He encountered Satan with the direct quotation of God’s written Word. Against this weapon Satan has no defence.
This part of the experience of Jesus is a pattern for all those who will follow Him into the Spirit-filled life and ministry. In the life of every believer it is God’s unchanging purpose that the fullness of the Holy Spirit should be joined together with the regular, effective use of God’s Word. Only by this means can the believer expect to come victorious through the new spiritual conflicts which the baptism in the Holy Spirit will inevitably bring upon him.
Since the Word of God is called “the sword of the Spirit,” it follows that the believer who does not use God’s Word automatically deprives the Holy Spirit of the main weapon which He desires to use on the believer’s behalf. As a result, the believer’s whole spiritual protection becomes inadequate. On the other hand, the believer who at this stage faithfully studies and applies God’s Word will find that this weapon is now being wielded on his behalf by a power and a wisdom far greater than his own – the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit Himself.