The Baptism of the Holy Spirit
March 15th, 1964 @ 7:30 PM
THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Dr. W.A. Criswell
3-15-64 7:30 p.m.
On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the evening message entitled The Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Sunday night two weeks ago I preached on The Baptism in Water. Last Sunday night I preached on The Baptism in Fire. Tonight, The Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Now turn with me to the third chapter of Matthew, and let us read beginning at verse 7 through verse 12. The First Gospel, Matthew chapter 3, reading verses 7 through verse 12; we all have it, let us read it out loud together. Matthew 3:7-12:
And when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:
And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
Whose fan is in His hand, and He will throughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the garner; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
And he mentions three baptisms there. “I indeed baptize you with water.” Then, “He that cometh after me, mightier than I, shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” [Matthew 3:11]. Those three baptisms, the baptism in water, the baptism in fire, and the baptism in the Holy Spirit; as I have said for several months now, I am studying and preparing a series of sermons that I pray God will help me deliver on the person, and power, and presence of the Holy Spirit. This sermon tonight is out of place as I look forward to that coming series. Yet, because in preaching through the life of Christ we have come to this passage and because I have spoken of the other two baptisms, I shall speak of this third one.
Now, you’re going to be surprised at the message. For when I tell you, to begin with, that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is filled with such argumentative theological complexities that it is impossible in a sermon such as I prepared tonight to encompass its full meaning. I just point this out to you then we shall go on.
The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a phrase that is used by John the Baptist one time [Matthew 3:11], and that is all. It is repeated by Jesus, quoting John the Baptist [Acts 1:5]. The same sentence is repeated by Peter, quoting John the Baptist [Acts 2:38, 11:16], and that’s all. John the Baptist says it, “He that followeth after me, mightier than I, shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit” [Matthew 3:11]. Matthew quotes it [Matthew 3:11]. Mark quotes it [Mark 1:8]. Luke quotes it [Luke 3:16]. John quotes it [John 1:26-33]. All four Gospels quote what John said in that one sentence. Jesus repeated it [Acts 1:5]. Peter repeated it [Acts 2:38]. And that’s all.
The only other reference that is made in a similar vein is by the apostle Paul in the twelfth chapter of the Book of 1 Corinthians and the thirteenth verse: “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body” [1 Corinthians 12:13]. That’s the only reference to the baptism of the Holy Spirit to be found in the entire Word of God.
Now, I repeat, when time comes for me to preach on that, I shall do so, but it is fraught with the most argumentative theological complexities, and dissertations, and violent differences of any one subject I ever tried to study through in my life. So we shall leave that theological discussion to another time and another hour. Let us see how the Word of God presents this great presence, enduement, endowment from heaven, and how the Bible refers to Him, and what Jesus did in returning to heaven to send Him to us, and what are the signs of His presence among us.
Now hastily, for we must hasten even to begin to sum this message tonight. In the last words of our Lord, as recorded in the Gospel of Luke, He said, “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you: but tarry”—wait, sit—“in the city of Jerusalem, until you be endued”—look at that word—“until you be endued with power from on high” [Luke 24:49]. And that’s the language of our Lord. In the promised coming of the Holy Spirit from heaven, He calls it an enduement with power from on high [Luke 24:49].
Now in the first chapter of the Book of Acts our Lord speaks again,
- “It is not for you to know the times and the seasons when the Lord comes, but ye shall receive power,” those are His words, “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you” [Acts 1:7-8].
- And when I turn the page, this is the nomenclature of the book, “When the day of Pentecost was fully come . . . they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit” [Acts 2:1, 4].
- I turn the page to Acts 4:8, “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said . . .”
- Then I turn to the thirty-first verse, “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spake the word of God with boldness” [Acts 4:31].
- Now I turn to Acts 7:55, the stoning of Stephen, “He, being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven, and saw Jesus on the right hand of Glory.”
- Now I turn to the seventeenth verse of the eight chapter of the Book of Acts, “Then laid they their hands on those Samaritans, and they received the Holy Spirit” [Acts 8:17].
- Now I turn to the story of the conversion of Paul, “And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled, and be filled with the Holy Spirit” [Acts 9:17].
- I turn now to [Acts 10:44], [Acts 10:44], [Acts 10:44], “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all them which heard his word.”
- Now let’s turn to the thirteenth chapter of Acts and look at verse 9, “Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Spirit, set his eyes on him” [Acts 13:9].
I’ve just chosen those passages to show you the language used by the inspired writers [2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21], in referring to the indwelling, the enduement, the presence of the Holy Spirit. It’s not the baptism. The words are receiving, and filling, and enduement, clothing Himself with us, the Holy Spirit of God.
- Now this is a ministry of our Lord in heaven. This is an ascension gift from our Lord in heaven in these passages.
- In the fourteenth and fifteenth, and sixteenth chapters of the Gospel of John; for example in John 14:16, “I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Paraclete,” one alongside who strengthens, and comforts, and encourages, “that He may abide with you forver; even the Spirit of truth” [John 14:16-17].
- Then in the twenty-[sixth] verse, “But the Paraclete, that Encourager, who is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things” [John 14:26].
- And again in the twenty-[sixth] verse of the fifteenth chapter, “But when the Paraclete is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me” [John 15:26].
Then in the sixteenth chapter, this long, long and earnest discussion of our Lord:
I tell you [the] truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Paraclete will not come; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you.
And when He is come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.
Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: He shall not speak of Himself; whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come.
He shall glorify Me: He shall receive of Mine, and show it unto you. . .
Therefore said I, that He will take of Mine, and will show it unto you.
[John 16:7-8, 13-15]
In a unique and a meaningful way the presence of the Holy Spirit in this earth, in this church, in our hearts, is an ascension gift of Christ. “If I do not go away,” He said, “the Paraclete will not come; but if I go, I will send Him unto you” [John 16:7]. Then we’ve quoted, in the Book of Luke, before He left, “I send that Promise of My Father. You wait until ye be endued with power from on high. Tarry in Jerusalem” [Luke 24:49].
And as they tarried and prayed in the second chapter of Acts:
When the Day of Pentecost was fully come, all with one accord, being in one place.
Suddenly, suddenly, there came the sound from heaven as a mighty rushing wind,
And there appeared fire separating, burning lambent on the head of each one of the disciples,
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them utterance.
Then thereafter you have those divine infillings, and those diving enduements, and enablements repeated again, and again, and again, and again. Never referred to as a baptism, never, but always a divine infilling, an indwelling; the Spirit of power and conviction and conversion.
Now there were three miracles that attended the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The initiation, the beginning, the presence, the new day of grace, this dispensation of the preaching of the gospel of the Son of God; there were three miracles that attended it. On that holy and mighty day when this new age began, the age of the Holy Spirit and the power of the presence of God in the conviction of the Holy Spirit, there were three miracles that attended it. One: there was the miracle as of a sound. It was not a rushing mighty wind but a sound as of a rushing, mighty wind [Acts 2:2].
Second: there was the appearance of a flame of fire, and as it came down from heaven it thwarted and burned lambently upward over the head of each one of the witnesses for Christ [Acts 2:3].
And third: they were given the miraculous gift of speaking in other languages [Acts 2:4] so that at Pentecost the Parthians and the Medes, and the Judeans, and the Cappadocians, the Pontians, the Asians, the Phrygians, the Pamphylians, the Egyptians, the Lybians, the Cyrenes, the Jews, the Romans, all of them [Acts 2:8-9], all of them in that great convocation of the Jews from all over the world at Pentecost, each man heard the gospel in his own language [Acts 2:6], and amazed and astonished said, “Are not these men Galileans? [Acts 2:7]. Then how is it each one of us hears in his own language, the mother tongue in which we were born [Acts 2:8], these marvelous words of grace of God in Christ Jesus?” [Acts 2:11].
What is the purpose of a miracle? The purpose of a miracle is when the necessity of authentication from God arises, God in these instances has performed miracles to authenticate that this is a work of God. May I take one example? In the second chapter of the Gospel of Mark, in the beginning ministry of Jesus, in the city of Capernaum, in a house, He was thronged on every side and the people crowded around the door. And there were four who brought a man palsied, and unable to enter into the house, they climbed on top. They tore open the roof. They let that man down at the feet of Jesus. And the Lord said to him, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee” [Mark 2:1-5].
And the scribes and the Pharisees who were gathered there said, “This Man blasphemes. Why, none can forgive sins but God!” [Mark 2:6-7]. And the Lord, knowing what they said to one another and what they said in their hearts [Mark 2:8], said to them: “Which is easier to say? Thy sins be forgiven thee? Or son, take up thy bed and walk?” [Mark 2:9] You might try it sometime. Let me bring to you a paralytic and let me see you say to him, a man who has been cast down, who is invalid, arthritic, palsied, unable, invalid all of his life, let’s see you speak a word to him, and he be immediately healed and stand up and take his bed. You might try it sometime. That’s what our Lord said to those gainsaying scribes and Pharisees. “Which is easier to say and it be done? Son, thy sins be forgiven thee; or arise, take up thy bed, and walk?” [Mark 2:9].
Then the authentication of the miracle, “Then in order,” said our Lord, “that you might know, that you might know that the Son of God hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then He saith to the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, take up thy bed, and walk!” [Mark 2:10-11] And he that was sick of the palsy arose, healed instantaneously! He took up his bed, and went his way homeward [Mark 2:12].
An authentication; and wherever it is needed, God will give it; anywhere, anytime, any hour, in any age. No different now than it was then. No different then than it was in the days of Elijah. No different then than it was in the days of Moses. No different then than it was in the days of the patriarchs. It’s the same Lord God through all ages and all times. When it is necessary, when it is vital and pertinent for the glory of God to be authenticated in a miraculous appearance or a miraculous work, God will do it. That’s what happened here at Pentecost. There were three miraculous authentications of the coming of the Holy Spirit [Acts 2:1-4]. And we live in this marvelous day even now, even now.
Now briefly and I wish I had an hour to speak of it, now briefly as we look at the Bible and pore over these words, what is it that the Holy Spirit empowers to do? What are the signs of the Spirit of God that the Lord moves in presence among us, that He dwells in our hearts, that He is in our church and congregation? What are these marvelous works of the Holy Spirit of God that He does when He falls upon our people? I have chosen four. I have chosen four here in the Word of God.
The first one: we witness, we witness, and the Lord said, “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me” [Acts 1:8]; witnesses. I one time said to a godly man who belonged to one of my little country churches, I said to him, “You know what? It’s just terrible. It’s just terrible. I just have the hardest time talking to anybody about Jesus. I am so timid, and I am so reluctant, it’s just terrible how hard it is for me to talk to anybody about Jesus.”
You know these farming people sometimes are very plain, very outspoken, and very direct. He said to me, “Do you know what’s the matter with you, young pastor?”
I said, “No.”
He said, “It’s hard for you because you ain’t got any religion.”
Why, I’m his pastor. It made me mad. It made me furious! “You mean to tell me I ain’t got any religion? I’m the pastor of this here church. And I preach the gospel.”
“Well,” he said, “I’m just telling you why it is that it’s hard for you to speak to somebody about his soul, cause you ain’t got any religion.”
I thought of that for thirty-five years since. And every time I think of it, I thank God anew for the honesty and the intrepidity of that unlettered farmer. That’s the Lord’s honest truth.
You search your soul, and if you have difficulty witnessing to Christ, it’s because your heart is empty and your life is shallow! That’s the first thing the power of the Holy Spirit does. It empowers us to witness and to do it in power, effectively [Acts 1:8]. O God, how we need, how we need Thy presence. I must hasten.
The second thing the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit of God among us: there is been in the church a tremendous missionary, missionary, missionary dedication! “And the Holy Spirit of God said while they prayed and fasted; Separate unto Me, Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have sent them. And after they had fasted and prayed, they laid their hands on their heads and sent them away” [Acts 13:2-3]. And there began that first great missionary journey that has blessed this weary, war-torn earth. That’s the second sign of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. There is great interest and great praying for the conversion of lost men and women everywhere in this earth. Not just in this place, but in our missions. And not just with us in our missions, but in our nation. And not just that our nation might come to know Jesus, but that the world might be saved—God, help us to preach the gospel unto them; a great missionary dedication.
There is a third sign, an amazing one I never thought of it. There’s an amazing third sign of the power and presence of the Holy Spirit: “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spake the Word of God with boldness” [Acts 4:31]. What did I say? “To witness; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spake the word of God with boldness” [Acts 4:31]. And, and, and what? And?
And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and one soul: and no man said what he owned was his own, what he possessed was his own, but they brought to the disciples feet and laid down at the disciples’ feet what each man possessed, that they might have a blessing over all of the church and the household of faith in Jerusalem.
[Acts 4:32, 35]
Liberality, liberality; when you see an old skinflint hanging on to those dollars until he pulls the tail feathers out of the eagle, he is a dry desert! For one of the signs of the Holy Spirit of God is liberality. And as he described, Paul described the church of Macedonia, “their poverty abounded unto their liberality” [2 Corinthians 8:2]; the poorer they were, the more they gave.
You know, I heard this thing kind of as a joke, but it happened right back there in the baptismal room. There was a man that was going down into that baptistery to be baptized. And when he got his feet wet he said, “Wait a minute, preacher, wait a minute. Wait a minute,” he said. “I forgot to take out my pocketbook.” You know what I said to him up there, I said, “Brother, you come right on down. For one time in my life, I’d love to baptize a man and his pocketbook.” A sign of the Holy Spirit of God, liberality, liberality! And I hasten now to the last.
And the last that I’ve chosen out of a multitude I could have: the last is joy, and gladness, and victory. Like in the thirteenth chapter and the last verse, “And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Spirit, filled with joy, and the Holy Spirit” [Acts 13:52]. And as Paul writes in the Galatian letter, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, kindness, faith, meekness, temperance” [Galatians 5:22-23]. These are the signs of the Holy Spirit in a man’s life.
May I revert to my country preaching? Don’t forget I preached out there ten years. [I] don’t ever forget it and I don’t ever get away from it. Out there in the country there was a man that cussed. Oh, he was a vile, vile sinner, and he expressed it in his cussing! And when he’d milk the cow and she’d kick over the bucket, he’d beat her, and cuss, and beat.
Well, he got saved in a revival meeting. He got saved, and all the neighbors were a-wondering, “What’s he going to do when that cow kicks over the milk bucket? What’s he going to do? What’s he going to do?” Well, bless your life, and if you know anything about milking cows, it is an inevitable. That thing is a-coming as sure as I, she’s going to put her, she’s going to her put her foot in the milk bucket, and she’s going to kick it clear out of the barn. Now it happened. After this fellow was saved, it happened! And you know what he did? He pulled out his handkerchief, and he undid his handkerchief, and as he began to wipe the milk out of his eyes, and off of his face, and off of his clothes, he was a-singing, “Tis’ so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His Word.” And the cows being the only audience, it wasn’t anything bad. Everybody rejoiced in the Lord, including the cows. Isn’t that great? Isn’t that great? Isn’t that marvelous? Isn’t that marvelous?
My brother, I tell you this for my sake, and I’m preaching to me; when I’m down and discouraged and defeated, I’m no good example of a Christian. Man, the Spirit gives joy, and victory, and longsuffering, and when I’m in the Spirit my heart sings, and my soul is exalted, and I’m praising God. Whether like Paul in a jail [Acts 16:23-25], or whether like John on an exiled isle of Patmos [Revelation 1:9-10], or whether like James with my head on the block [Acts 12:1-2], or with Peter fast in stocks and chains [Acts 12:6], that’s what it is to be filled with the Spirit, to be blessed with the overcoming life, the gift, the ascension gift of our Lord from heaven [John 7:39].
Thank you, radio, for allowing us to finish the sermon. God bless you dear people, praying through the message from God’s Book. And as we sing our song of appeal, somebody you to give his heart to Jesus; somebody you to put his life in the fellowship of the church; in the great balcony round, on the lower floor, down a stairway, into the aisle, to the front, “Here I come, preacher, I’m making it now,” while we stand, and while we sing.