Doctrine of the Holy Spirit (part 5)

August 06, 2012     Time: 00:21:47

In our lesson, we have been considering the ministry of the Holy Spirit. By way of review, we saw in our last lesson that what corresponds to the temple in the Old Testament is our bodies in the New Testament. As a result of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit is given to believers as their permanent possession whereas in the Old Testament the Holy Spirit would come upon a person to anoint that person for a special task temporarily.

Baptism of the Holy Spirit

Now, as a result of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit is the permanent possession of the believer to dwell in us and empower us. The way in which this occurs is through what the New Testament calls the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Let me read a couple of passages additionally on this because we did not read all of those the last time. This connects with the prediction by John the Baptist recorded in Luke 3:16, “John answered them all, ‘I baptize you with water; but he who is mightier than I is coming, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.’” So John says, “I am baptizing you with water but there is one coming, namely Christ, who will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” Now flip over to the book of Acts, which of course is the sequel to the Gospel of Luke, specifically Acts 1:5. Here Luke is going to pick up this as yet unfulfilled promise by John the Baptist. The risen Jesus tells the disciples to tarry in Jerusalem and “to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, ‘you heard from me, for John baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’”[1] In Luke’s thinking, this promise has not yet been fulfilled but it is going to be fulfilled soon. This is clearly a reference to Pentecost. So at Pentecost, the disciples are baptized in the Holy Spirit inaugurating the new covenant. If you turn over to Acts 11:15-17 [2], you will see the same concept is applied to what happened to the household of Cornelius when the Gentiles receive the Holy Spirit for the first time. Acts 11:15-17, this is Peters account:

As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, “John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?

Then we looked at, through the book of Acts, how the gift of the Holy Spirit is given sequentially following the pattern laid down in Acts 1:8, first in Judea and Jerusalem to the Jews, then to the Samaritans and then finally to the Gentiles in the uttermost parts of the Earth.

So it is by being baptized in the Holy Spirit that one is incorporated into the body of Christ. Therefore, although I think there is such a thing as the baptism of the Holy Spirit, it is not a second work of grace as our Pentecostal brethren would have us believe. It is not something that happens later in the life of a regenerate Christian. Rather this is an initiatory act by which one is placed into the body of Christ. As you look at these examples in Acts 2, Acts 8, Acts 10-11, and Acts 19, every single one is an initial experience with the Holy Spirit, not a second experience.[3] So anyone who is a regenerate Christian has been baptized in the Holy Spirit. If you haven’t been baptized in the Holy Spirit, you haven’t been regenerated; you haven’t received the Holy Spirit and are not born again. So every Christian is baptized in the Holy Spirit.

Fullness of the Holy Spirit

But that brings us then to what I want to talk about today – the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Where our Pentecostal and Charismatic brethren are right, I think, is that not every Christian enjoys the fullness of the Holy Spirit in his life. Although every Christian is baptized in the Holy Spirit and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, not every Christian experiences the fullness of the Holy Spirit in his life. There are several points to make here.

First, number one, the Scriptures teach that every Christian is indwelt by the Spirit of God. Romans 8:9-10, Paul says,

But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness.

So spiritual life comes through being indwelt by the Spirit of God. If you don’t have the Spirit then he says you don’t belong to Christ and you are not a regenerate Christian. Also, 1 Corinthians 3:16, Paul says, “Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?” Here again we see how we, our bodies, are the temple of the Holy Spirit – the analog to the temple in the Old Testament. We are the dwelling place of God; his Spirit dwells in us.

Every Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit but not every Christian is filled with the Holy Spirit. What do I mean by that? That is the second point. To be filled with the Holy Spirit means to be controlled and empowered by the Holy Spirit. It is just as when we say someone was filled with rage we mean they are controlled and dominated by that emotion. Or when someone is filled with jealousy, that jealousy dominates and motivates them. Similarly, to be filled with the Holy Spirit means to be so under the control of the Holy Spirit that he empowers and controls one’s life. The sad testimony of Scripture is that not all Christians are filled with the Holy Spirit. We can grieve the Holy Spirit through sin; we can quench the Holy Spirit through disobedience. When Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, he says he couldn’t address them as spiritual men. Look at 1 Corinthians 2:14-3:3; Paul says,

The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. But I, brethren, could not address you as spiritual men, but as men of the flesh, as babes in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food; for you were not ready for it; and even yet you are not ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving like ordinary men?

Here Paul describes people who, though Christians (they are indwelt with the Holy Spirit; they are born again), they are still under the domination of the old sin nature – what Paul calls the flesh which is characterized by things like infighting and jealousy and dissention and all the other problems that were so rife at Corinth.[4] So he said “I can’t talk to you as spiritual people, you are immature like babies in Christ. You are behaving like ordinary men of the flesh dominated by that sinful human nature.” Such a person is not going to accrue great reward for his works in this life because his works are done in the flesh and are, therefore, futile and worthless.

Look what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:11-15,

For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw

[Notice there the first three are really valuable things – gold and silver and jewels that can survive the refiner’s fire. But then the last three – wood, hay, straw – are things that are combustible. He continues . . .]

each man's work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.

[The person who has gold, silver or precious stones – those will survive and he will receive a reward. But he says . . .]

If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

This carnal Christian – this Christian who is under the domination of the flesh – he is saved, he gets in, but only with the smell of smoke on his clothing so to speak. His works are all burned up as worthless as mere wood, hay and stubble. So not every Christian is a Spirit-filled Christian. Many Christians, Paul says, are still carnal Christians under the domination of the flesh.

What is the evidence of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Spirit filled Christian? Well, it is the fruit of the Spirit that Paul mentions in Galatians 5:22-23. The fruit of the Spirit is the evidence of the Spirit-filled life. In Galatians 5:22-23, Paul says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law.” So the person who is under the domination of the Holy Spirit rather than the flesh should find these virtues characteristic of his life. These virtues should increasingly abound in his life as he walks in the power of the Holy Spirit and logs time in the Spirit.

In addition to that, this person will be an effective witness for Christ. Acts 1:8 says this is why the Holy Spirit is given. Acts 1:8 says, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” So the Holy Spirit is the source of power to bear witness to the truth of Jesus Christ; to share the Gospel confidently and without fear.

Therefore, if we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we should be manifesting these Christian virtues of the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our life and we should be involved in sharing the Gospel in witnessing for Jesus Christ.

How then can one be filled with the Holy Spirit? It seems to me that the key to this is Romans 12:1-2. There isn’t any sort of simple recipe that a person can follow to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Rather, I think that what Paul describes in Romans 12:1-2 is the key to the Spirit-filled life. What Paul says in Romans 12:1-2 is that we are to be fully surrendered to God as living sacrifices, body and soul. Both our mind and our physical body are surrendered to God completely.[5] He says,

I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

So the person who is fully surrendered to Christ – body and soul transformed by the renewal of his mind and his body, presented as a living sacrifice – that person is exercising his proper spiritual worship of God and will be able to know the will of God in his life – what is good and acceptable and perfect. This is obviously not just a sort of one-time decision. It is not like going forward at the altar and saying, “OK, I am filled with the Holy Spirit.” This is a call for a life of surrender that Paul is talking about.

Of course, the difficulty with a living sacrifice, as it has been said, is that it tends to crawl off the altar. So it needs to be continually re-presented to God. Every day when you get up say to the Lord before your feet hit the floor, “Lord fill me today with your Holy Spirit. I surrender to you. Guide and control and direct my life to you. I want to live in full surrender to you.” As we do that over time the Bible calls this walking in the Spirit. As you are daily filled with the Holy Spirit and log time in the Spirit you walk in the Spirit. This is what Paul says in Galatians 5:16, 25, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. . . . If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” So the Spirit-filled life is one that is a daily walk as we trust God to fill and control and guide us day by day as we live for him. This is something that we all need to challenge ourselves with. We need to reassess ourselves and ask “Lord, where am I in this? Are the desires and works of the flesh dominating my life or am I fully surrendered to you as a living sacrifice?” When we sense that we’ve crawled off the altar, we need to come to him in prayer, confess it, ask him to forgive us, to cleanse us and to fill us again and then continue to log time in the Spirit.

That completes what I wanted to share with you about the person and work of the Holy Spirit.


Question: This to me is one of the most important messages I personally need to hear because with as much Spirit as I’ve got I’m full of holes; it leaks out constantly! Every time I look up it’s gone and I think where did it go? But I do have a question. Back in Romans 12:3 it says, “God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” Would that be a different measure of faith for different people or is it a certain amount for everyone or is that just speculating?

Answer: Romans 12:3 says we are not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to but “with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith which God has assigned him.” Faith is one of the gifts of God. It is not something that we just crank up and manufacture ourselves. I do think that saving faith is something that we exercise ourselves but faith as a Christian virtue is something that is a gift of God; a gift of the Holy Spirit. It will be given in different measures to different people just as other spiritual gifts. Some Christians may excel in the ability to give comfort or show mercy or others to love. Others may be men and woman of great faith. I would take it that that is talking about the degree to which the Holy Spirit can produce faith in different persons in different degrees.

Followup: I would agree with that. I think probably it is the demand that is made on us for that faith. He will supply us with what we need to reach that demand.

Answer: That is a good point. It may be different in different circumstances; for example, when we go through times of persecution or difficulty.[6] It may be that in those times we would have a greater measure of faith given to us.

Question: I really like your comments today. A personal insight here – what helps me get back on the altar is realizing Christ loves me completely just as I am and as you get on the altar he wants to help you quit opposing yourself. He wants to give you more life and that life is in his will and his desire – so come on back in!

Answer: Amen. That is such a good emphasis. As Christ looks at you, he loves you just as you are with all your warts and ugliness and problems. Jan and I were talking about this on our recent trip. One of the speakers at this conference said “What would Christ say about you? What would he think of you?” And Jan said to me after the meeting, “What he would say is ‘I see you clothed in the robes of my own righteousness. You are sanctified and holy before me.’” That is the way Christ sees you. Of course he knows our struggles and our imperfections but we are redeemed in him and he loves us completely. So we don’t need to be ashamed or hide ourselves from him when we fall and fail as we so often do.[7]


[1] Dr. Craig is actually starting from Acts 1:4b then continues to verse 5.

[2] Dr. Craig says verses 15-16 but he actually will read through verse 17.

[3] 5:10

[4] 9:55

[5] 14:50

[6] 19:59

[7] Total Running Time: 21:47 (Copyright © 2012 William Lane Craig)