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Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Baptism with the Holy Spirit # 1

The Baptism with the Holy Spirit # 1

Had Adam not known the truth and fullness of a divine life from his Creator, then his fall and redemption are equally empty terms about nothing. And what can he be fallen from or redeemed to if mere words have the power of it? Tell me why that burning and shining light, that man who was more than a prophet, should come with his water baptism of repentance; and why the Son of God, Creator of all things, should come with His baptism in the Spirit and with fire, if man neither needed nor could receive a better life or light than that which the letter of Scripture could give?

The fall of divinely created Adam under the power of sin, satan, and hell extinguished that heavenly fire and Spirit which had been his first union with God. Only a renewal of this fire and Spirit from heaven can make fallen men once more in the image of God. If the Son of God took the likeness of our sinful flesh upon Himself, that His Holy nature might come within us; what a poverty of reason it is to sit at feet of a master orator,lettered genius, or Greek scholar who preaches words about the gospel, but who has not himself experienced the power of the Holy Spirit by which alone this divine nature can be made effective in man.

Behold your state, ye ministers, that wait at Christian altars, but who deny this Spirit baptism and fire from above. You have a priesthood and an altar not fit to be named with that which in Jewish days had a holy fire from God descending upon it. That fire from heaven made priest and sacrifice acceptable to God, though only type and pledge of the inward celestial fire which Christ would kindle into a never-ceasing flame in the living temples of His Spirit born children of the New Covenant. Complain then no more of atheists, infidels, and similar open enemies of the gospel; for while you label a Spirit baptism as fanaticism and deny a present faith in this heavenly fire kindled into the same essential life in us as in apostles and early Christians, you do that infidel work within the church which these skeptics do on the outside of it. And through a learned fear of having the same thing done to your earthly reason which was done to Enoch when God took him, you will admit no higher a regeneration, no more reality of a birth of Christ in your souls, than a letter-learned assent to words and doctrine can give.

Our Lord has said, "The kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:21). That is, the heavenly fire and Spirit which are the effective power of the true kingdom and manifestation of God must have their real fruit and dominion within the spirit and soul. In truth, where else can it be? Earthly kings in all ages have proven the hypocrisy of outward professions of allegiance which have often given cover to a rebellious heart. Shall our Lord be pleased with the emptiness of lip profession in His kingdom? Indeed, none shall be in that new creation except those who are themselves new creatures in Christ Jesus, with a new heart and new life. Then let this be told every minister of the gospel as a truth from God: that until heavenly fire and Spirit have a fullness of birth and power within you, you can rise no higher by your most eminent learning and zeal than to be elegant and logical orators and reasoners about words.

Again Christ said, "I will come unto you and manifest myself unto you" (John 14:18, 21): "in that day ye shall know that I am in you" (John 14:20): "and the works that I do shall ye do also and greater" (John 14:12). Suppose that these promises are not literally true, that Christ can only manifest Himself through the letter of sound doctrine. Say that the heavenly power of the Holy Spirit, which Christ promised would flow in rivers of living water from the inner being of those who believe, is only the force of logically arranged words, clever oratory, and acute reasonings. Then your converts will be as good disciples of Christ and as absolutely dead to the kingdom of heaven as a corpse is dead to the kingdoms of this earth, though its coffin be filled with learned and detailed histories of them all.

What a betrayal of faith and contradiction of reason, to preach the necessity of being living members of the body of Christ, and yet to deny in the name of sound doctrine a real and living manifestation of the power of that life in us. "You were dead in trespasses," said Paul "but now you have been made alive" (Ephesians 2:5). And he taught that this life will manifest itself in our mortal flesh. "It pleased God to reveal his Son in me" (Galatians 1:15-16), said the great apostle, and who could deny that this was made abundantly evident each day he lived. "My little children, I travail in birth until Christ is formed in you" (Galatians 4:19), he wrote to those at Galatia. Could anyone believe then that Paul expected their lives to be less Christlike than his, or to manifest less of the power of the Holy Spirit than that which worked so mightily through him? Not from these words: "Be ye followers of me even as I am of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1); "those things that ye have both learned and received and seen and heard in me, do them all, and the God of peace will be with you" (Phil. 4:9). This was to be the evidence in his converts that they had truly believed in that Christ and received the same Holy Spirit that he knew as his inward life, and had preached to them.

Clearly  this birth of Christ in the soul and spirit of man involves a complete inward transformation, wherein "old things have passed away, and behold all things are new" (2 Corinthians 5:17). As a tree is known by its fruit, so the true Christian is known by the life of Jesus being manifest in and through him to the world around. Plainly the child of God is to be as much like Christ after his new birth as his old, natural life resembled earthly Adam's. Yet logic, learning, and criticism are almost everywhere set in high places to pronounce and prove from Scripture truth that to express a real and recognizable experience of this Spirit baptism and fire of Christ in the soul is an extreme that leads to madness and error. What wonder, then, if the old life of sinful Adam in worldliness and lusts of the flesh, pride, deceit, hypocrisy, gossip, envy, divisions, and contentions should continually manifest its power among professing Christians! 

~William Law~

(continued with # 2)

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