BEFORE my next article on "Absolute Surrender" I feel it necessary that I set forth the Bible teaching on what is commonly known as "the baptism of the Holy Ghost." Those of us who speak or write on the subject which is now engaging my efforts are often charged with being one and the same with the "second blessing" folk. This is not true, but it is true that we have let those who label and institutionalize experiences with God keep us from seeking those deeper experiences which make us fruitful.
Certainly the "second blessing" does not mean, to those who support that doctrine, that it is the second blessing they receive from God. They continue to receive many blessings along the way. But to them the "second blessing" is a second work of grace, which they claim advances them to a position in experience where sin is no longer active within them. In fact, some have gone so far as to make three stages in the work of grace: The first, salvation; the second, sanctification, in which there is no desire to sin any longer; the third, the baptism of the Holy Ghost, in which the whole carnal nature is removed and there is no longer any presence of sin. This last-named experience also is said to bring with it certain powers of miracle, tongues, healing, and so on.
My own answer to those who contend for these as "their experience" is that I think they are misinterpreting experiences. There is no correct interpretation of experience which does not immediately coincide with the Word of God. The "second blessing" people, I believe, have mistaken the first "being filled with the Spirit" to mean a second experience, when it is only the exercise of the Holy Spirit within us, He having come into us when we were saved. This will all be evident as we get on to the main idea in this article.
THERE is not in Scripture one mention of the "second blessing." Furthermore, there is no mention of "the baptism of the Holy Ghost" except as it relates to a historical fact. The "baptism of the Holy Ghost" is an historical event, and took place at Pentecost. A complete fulfillment of it carried over to subsequent occasions, namely when He exercised this baptism upon the Gentiles, and when, through the Apostle Paul, He came upon the disciples of John who had not known of His BEING (that is, that He had come).
After this, there is no incident of His baptism.
Now, let us examine the Scriptures, and we will find that there is no mention of the "baptism of the Holy Ghost" except as it refers to the prophecy of John the Baptist. John said (Matthew 3:11) "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me . . . shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire." It is at once evident that the Holy Ghost is the means and the fire is the manner. The baptism was to be attended by the signs of fire, not water. The baptism of John was with the symbol of water; the baptism of the Holy Ghost was by the symbol of fire. Water and fire express visibly what was done spiritually. The water signifying death to sin and resurrection to a new life; the fire signifying the endowment of the believer with power and purity.
This same passage is given in Mark, Luke and John in connection with the same incident in the story (Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33).
Now, mind you, that is all that is said in the Gospels about the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Later, in the Acts of the Apostles, we find Peter vindicating his ministry to the Gentiles. Here he says (Acts 11:15, 16), "And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that He said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost."
BRETHREN, be not confused longer about the "baptism of the Holy Ghost." All the references in Scripture (and with the exception of possibly one, I have recorded them all) concerning the "baptism of the Holy Ghost" mean simply the event which was fulfilled at Pentecost. The baptism of the Holy Ghost is not an experience which comes to every Christian. It is a historical event in the beginning of this dispensation, and took place only once. The Bible says nothing more about it, never refers to it as a common experience to a believer, and we have no grounds to interpret it as such an experience.
A baptism takes place from the outside. The Spirit came down, as John had said, and fell upon the disciples. His coming into the world to take up His office work as the representative of Christ on earth was attended by the symbol of fire, which identified that event as the fulfillment of the prophecy of John the Baptist. At no other time was fire in evidence, and at no other time was there, or has there been a baptism of the Holy Ghost.
Every other reference to the Holy Ghost's power in the believer is referred to as a filling, not a baptism.
Frequently you read it, "They were filled with the Holy Ghost;" "being filled with the Holy Ghost." Now, this filling did not take place just once. It was no second work of grace. It was the operation of the Holy Spirit who had come in the beginning of this church age upon the believers who were to carry on the work of Christ under the power of the Spirit. Having come in baptism upon the world of believers, and having demonstrated His presence by the symbol of fire, so that there could be no mistake. He took up His office work as the representative of Christ in the world. From then on He was born (or incarnated) in the life of every believer, and filled the believer with His holy power on many occasions.
I believe that the first experience of "filling," which produces a holy feeling, has been misinterpreted as the experience of "baptism." Such an experience as common to all believers is not taught anywhere in the Scriptures.
Now, the filling of the Spirit is not designed just to make men "feel good." It is for two purposes: First, to purify the life, burn out the dross, and give victory over sin. It comes as an experience when we are tempted to sin and turn to the Holy Spirit for help. He is available for help in bearing trouble or temptation, and to yield to Him will bring the filling which strengthens us to overcome. Second, to give us power to perform the supernatural work of God. Not necessarily by miracle, but in God's own way as He leads us.
When we need power to overcome sin, power to do the work of the Lord, we can yield to the Spirit and find the help of God. This is His work in us, and He fills us when we need greater power.
THUS it does not follow that we shall be always on a high plane of spiritual feeling. Faith walks many a mile without feeling, but it is just as steadfast as if it were riding the high tide of spiritual feeling. It is when we come to the hill of burden or temptation or duty or hard task for God that the Spirit fills us.
The Spirit is in us all the time, but fills us when we need power. He is like electric power in a machine, always there but not always used. In many a believer He is quenched and wounded so much that the life of the believer gives no evidence of spiritual power at any time. God doesn't waste supernatural power on nothing; it is only when we are doing supernatural tasks that the Spirit is available. This may be in fighting sin, growing in grace, or fighting to establish the work of God. But there is no need for Him to turn on His great power when we are doing nothing and going nowhere. Consequently, most believers know nothing about such power.
What happens in a good revival meeting? People confess sin, get interested in God's work, yield to the Spirit. What is the result? They are filled with the Spirit. He was there all the time, but they weren't doing anything in which He was needed. The Spirit is in us to do God's work, not to pet and pamper us and make us feel good. Only when we are engaged in the things that please Him will we need or know the Spirit's power.
So, there is no baptism of the Holy Ghost for any believer. That was an event which took place at the beginning of this dispensation. No other is taught in Scripture, nor known to the experience of man, other interpretations to the contrary. But the filling of the Spirit is a joyful experience which comes again and again as we need Him to do the work of God, to overcome sin, to grow in grace.
Having set forth the doctrinal aspect of this great truth, my next article will deal with the question of how to make the surrender.
[From Victor I. Masters, editor, the Western Recorder, January 2, 1941, pp. 12, 13. Transcribed and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
How to Make the Surrender
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