The Baptism With the Holy Spirit # 3
Would you know the mysteries of nature, the relation and connection between the visible and the invisible, how the things of time proceed from and depend upon the powers of eternity? Would you know the mysteries of grace and salvation, the intimate, heavenly communion of the soul with its Creator and Redeemer? Then you must know, in the power of the Spirit, that divine love of Christ passing all temporal knowledge, which began and carries on all that works in truth and life for eternity. Would you go forth as a faithful and effective witness of gospel truths? Tarry then until this fire of divine love has had its perfect work within you. For without a real birth of this divine love in the depths of your soul, be as learned and polite as you will, your heart is but the dark heart of fallen Adam, and your knowledge of eternal truth will be no better than that of murdering Cain. For everything is murder but that which love does.
As in former ages, so today the great battle between good and evil involves essentially the lies of satan in opposition to the truth as it is in Jesus. The hearts and minds of those who are truly baptized in the Spirit have been gripped by the truth, and their words and works are a "manifestation of the truth that powerfully affects every man's conscience in the sight of God" (2 Corinthians 4:2). For, said Christ, "The Spirit of Truth ... will lead you into all truth" (John 16:13), and you will thereby be liberated. Those who are thus set free by the Son of God are free indeed from the bondage of sin, and delivered from the dead letter of the law to serve God with joy and gladness in the power of the Holy Spirit. This is the man who has entered into the truth as it is in Jesus.
To be in the truth as it is in Jesus is to be free from the blindness and delusion of your own natural reason, and free from forms, doctrines, and opinions which others would impose upon you. This truth sets man free from the veil of earthly opinions and shadows of God's earlier dispensations, which would never have begun but that they might end in a Christ spiritually revealed and essentially formed in the soul. So that now, in this last dispensation of God, nothing is to be thought of, trusted to, or sought after, but God's immediate, continual working in the soul by His Holy Spirit. For this Christ who came in the flesh is now come by His Spirit to manifest His life in our flesh through the quickening again of that first lost life of God in the soul.
"As truly as John baptized with water," said Christ to His disciples after His resurrection, "you shall in a few days be baptized in the Holy Spirit" (Acts 1:5). Though they had been baptized in water, had followed Christ with zeal, and had heard His doctrines from His lips and done wonders in His name, the disciples yet stood only near the kingdom of God and preached it to be close at hand. Therefore they were commanded to stand still and not act as His ministers in His new glorified state till they were endued with power from on high. This power they then received when the Holy Spirit with His cloven tongues of fire came down upon them, filling them with all the fullness of God, enthroning Christ in their hearts, by which they became the illuminated instruments that were to diffuse the light of His gospel and kingdom over all the world.
On that day began gospel Christianity, as thoroughly distinct from all that was before it as life is from death, because it was the ministration of the Holy Spirit bringing the life, light, and love of Christ into the dead spirits of men. Its ministers, who were men not of word only but of power, called the world to nothing but gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit, to look for nothing but spiritual blessings, to trust and hope and pray for nothing but the life of the risen Christ active and ruling in them as the living power of this newly-opened kingdom of God. No one could join himself to them or have any part with them but by dying to the wisdom and light of the flesh that he might be baptized in and live by the Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ who had thus called him to His kingdom and glory. For the truth and power of Christianity is the Spirit of Christ living and working in it; and where this Spirit is not the life of the church, there the outward form is but like the outward carcass left behind by a departed soul.
When Jesus, the last Adam, was glorified at the right hand of the Father in heaven as Lord and Christ, His heavenly resurrected life in the comfort, power, and presence of the Holy Spirit was the gift which He gave to His followers whom He had left upon earth. The Holy Spirit's descent on the day of Pentecost marked the beginning of a new and miraculous power of salvation in the human spirit that was as different from all previous dispensations of God which had pointed to it as the possession of a thing differs from the desire to have it. Hence the apostles were new men, enlightened with new light, inflamed with new love, living in the daily experience of a new kingdom come down from heaven. They preached not some absent or distant thing, but Jesus Christ as the wisdom and power of God, present and enthroned within their hearts, manifesting His words and works through their mortal flesh: and ready through the life-giving Spirit to be communicated as a new birth from above to all who would repent and believe in Him. It was to the manifest miracle in them of this new life and indwelling Spirit, bringing certain, immediate deliverance from the power of sin, possessing and governing by gifts and graces of a heavenly life, that men were then called.
"This that you see and hear is for you and your children, and as many as the Lord our God shall call" (Acts 2:39), are the words that first drew men to true Christianity. And the preachers of it bore witness, not to a thing that they had heard or read about or apprehended in their minds - but to a power of salvation, a renewal of life, a birth of heaven, a flaming divine love, a sanctification of the Spirit which they themselves had received and continually experienced. Sinner of all sorts that felt the burden of their evil nature were in a state of fitness to receive these glad tidings. And the Lord added daily to the Church those who were being saved, until soon there was a multitude of believers, living in love and joy of the Holy Spirit, a witness to heavenly beings of the wisdom and power of God.
When, however, that baptism in the Spirit was no longer preached or believed, the heavenly fire being extinguished in the Church, Christianity lost its first glory and appeared no longer as a divine life awakened and displayed among men. Instead of the gifts and graces of Christ by the manifestation and power of the Holy Spirit, heathenish learning and temporal power and carnal strife after earthly honor became the sad mark of an apostate body of water-baptized religionists. Only when men are called again to that same manifest presence of the risen Christ that was "seen and heard" (1 John 1:1) in the first disciples; only then can there be a revival of that first life and light and love. Once again multitudes will be baptized in the Holy Spirit, having submitted themselves to Christ as Lord enthroned in their hearts. Then His divine love, as a heavenly fire, will burn up the dross, purify every motive, and illuminate living sacrifices as a light of witness to a full salvation in a world of darkness and sin.