The Pentecostal Difference
June 13th, 1965 @ 10:50 AM
THE PENTECOSTAL DIFFERENCE
Dr. W. A. Criswell
6-13-65 10:50 a.m.
You are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, you who listen to the radio and watch the service on television. This is one in a long series of messages that are being prepared and delivered on the Holy Spirit, and the title of the sermon today is The Pentecostal Difference.
For the years of my life, I have never quite understood the difference that Pentecost made in the coming of the Holy Spirit. How is it any different now than it was had we lived in the days of the Old Testament? Just in what way did the Holy Spirit come at Pentecost, and what is its meaning to us?
I have never understood. I have never had any clear knowledge of that Pentecostal difference. Now, I think I have. At least, it is an answer to my own heart as I study the Word of God, and the sermon today concerns that difference. To begin with, there must have been a tremendous, a colossal, a vast and immeasurable difference between the Holy Spirit in this earth before the days of our Lord and the Holy Spirit in this earth after the days of our Lord. I would know that from several things. One, I would know it from the words of our Lord Himself: He will reiterate, and He adds repetition to the reiteration, that there is coming a great event, one never known before, one never possessed before, one never experienced before, but it is coming. And the Lord will repeat that again and again. In these fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth chapters of the Book of John, He says:
I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Comforter, another Paraclete. He shall give you future.
– then again –
but the Paraclete, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you.
– then I turn the page –
when the Comforter – when the Paraclete –
is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, I will send even the Spirit of truth, He shall testify of Me.
– and again –
it is expedient for you that I go away: if I go not away, the Paraclete will not come:
,but if I depart, I will send Him, I will send Him unto you.
Always future! It is something that is going to happen.. Now, the Lord said that and emphasized that just before His ascension from Mount Olivet [when] He said to His disciples, "Behold, I send the Promise," that’s that promise that He has spoken to the disciples about. "Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem," until He comes, "until ye be endued with power from on high" [Luke 24:].
"There is a great day coming," says the Lord, "and you wait in Jerusalem for that day." Again, you will find it repeated in the first chapter of the Book of Acts, "And, being assembled together with them," on top of Mount Olivet:
Jesus commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the Promise of the Father, which, saith He, ye have heard of Me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence.
"There is a great event coming not many days hence. Now you wait for it," says the Lord, "here in the city of Jerusalem." I would also know that there is something that is coming from an interpretation of the apostle John. In the seventh chapter of the Book of John, he quotes the Lord as saying, "He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of His body shall flow rivers of living water" [John 7:38].
Then there is a parenthesis there. The next verse is a parenthesis. And it is an interpretation of John concerning what Jesus had just said. When the Lord said, "Whosoever believeth on Me, out of his life shall flow rivers of living water," John interprets it – now listen to this interpretation:
But this spake He – but this spake Jesus –
of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Spirit was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.
Isn’t that an amazing thing? "For the Holy Spirit was not yet given." There is an event! There is a great visitation from God that is yet to come! "And the Holy Spirit," when John wrote that, quoting Jesus, "The Holy Spirit was not yet given."
Now I would also know that there is a great event that is to take place, that is to happen, when I read the prophecies. Now here is one in Joel: Joel the second chapter, the twenty-eighth and twenty-ninth verses. "And it shall come to pass" – Now Joel is speaking here of two things: one, he is speaking of a great event that is coming, and then he is speaking also of the consummation of the age as it pertains to Israel. But first, he is speaking of an event coming, a Pentecostal event!
It shall come to pass that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions:
And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids (upon everybody, the lord, the noble, the king, even the butler and the cook in the palace, upon the servants and upon the slaves and upon the handmaidens, upon those who wait) in those days will I pour out My Spirit.
There is a great and marvelous day coming, says Joel, when the Holy Spirit of God will be poured out upon everybody, universal. Well, just how is that? John said in his interpretation of this passage, "This spake Jesus of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Spirit was not yet given."
Now, that makes you pause. Just in what way was the Holy Spirit not given; because the Holy Spirit has been in this world from the creation? The Holy Spirit is in the Old Testament just as He is in the New Testament. It is not something new that the world never saw and never heard of that the Spirit of God should be here in this world today. Yet John says, "For the Holy Spirit was not yet given." What an astonishing thing for the Holy Spirit is in the Old Testament!
For example, when I open the Book, just open it and start reading it:
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God brooded over the face of the deep. And the Spirit the of God moved upon the face of the waters.
Why, I don’t start reading the Bible until I meet the Holy Spirit in the second verse, in the second sentence in the Bible: "And the Spirit of God brooded over the face of the chaos." And the Spirit of God brought this beautifully ordered symmetrical cosmos. That’s the word you have translated "world." The kosmos is a Greek word for order. Your word "cosmetic" comes from it. "Beautiful," You know, neatened; beautiful, cosmetic, "cosmos." And the Holy Spirit brought cosmetic order, duty, decoration, embellishment, glory out of the chaos. In the beginning the Holy Spirit is the agent of creation. Yet John says the Holy Spirit was not yet given. I turn again here in the Word of the Lord, and I read in 2 Peter 1:21:
For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost!
I turn again to the last letter that Paul wrote in 2 Timothy addressed to the young minister. And he says in the third chapter and the sixteenth verse, "All Scripture is theopneustos." All Scripture is inspired of God – literally "God-breathed." Paul is avowing there, and Peter is avowing there, that all of the revelation of the Old Testament was by the Spirit of God, and all of the inspiration in the New Testament was by the Spirit of God.
Now, the difference between revelation and inspiration is this: revelation refers to the content. For example, in creation, no man was there. Adam wasn’t created until the sixth day. How would you know about creation except God revealed it? Now, that’s revelation. God only knoweth the future. Whenever a man opens his mouth and speaks by the Spirit of God concerning the future, that’s revelation.
Now inspiration is writing it down. The fact that we have an inerrant record of what God has revealed is inspiration. So Simon Peter says that these men of the Old Testament did not invent their message: "But holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit."
God revealed to them the truth. And then Paul avows here to his son in the ministry, young Timothy, that what they wrote is inspired, God-breathed, and was kept from error and was written down just as God wanted it written in the language that God wanted to use, and the vocabulary and the exact words – to the dot of the "i" to the crossing of the "t" – all of it by inspiration of the Spirit of God!
Well, we certainly have the Lord then in the Old Testament. We certainly have the Spirit of God in the Old Testament. If we had time, we would expatiate on that. Many times here in the New Testament, for example, these New Testament writers, the apostles will quote Scriptures saying, "As the Holy Ghost said by Isaiah," or "by David, as the Holy Spirit saith."
Or another thing about the Spirit of God in the Old Testament: [it is] the great restrainer of sin, of iniquity. The flood of vice and corruption that threatens to engulf this world from the beginning, it has been held back; it has been countermanded and interdicted and restrained by the Spirit of God. You have an instance of that in the sixth chapter of the Book of Genesis when the Lord God said, "My Spirit shall not always strive with man. I have given him one hundred and twenty years," says the Lord God, "in which to repent, and if he does not repent, My Spirit will cease striving!" [Genesis 6:3]. And after one hundred and twenty years, the Flood came, and only Noah and his family were saved. The great restrainer of this world against sin is the Holy Spirit of God and has been from the beginning.
You find that same kind of an idea presented in the prophecy of Isaiah, chapter 59 and verse 19: "When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him." Do you sometimes wonder, "Will iniquity overflow this earth? Will corruption and vice and wickedness and violence finally destroy the whole world? Will it?" Well, why doesn’t it? For a very simple reason: there is a boundary that God sets beyond which it will not pass; it will not go.
I have looked at a globe sometimes and there is a way that you can place that thing where the entire earth looks like the Pacific ocean from side to side. I have flown over that Pacific Ocean hour after hour after hour, the droning of that plane and underneath nothing but the illimitable waste of water. And when finally you come to the shore, it looks flat. Sometimes down there when you are standing, the embankment of the ocean may not be higher than that. And that great, illimitable, vast body – that sea, that ocean of water – when you fly over it and come to the land, sometimes you would think, why wouldn’t a hurricane, or why wouldn’t a tidal wave, or why wouldn’t gravitation sometimes just move that vast body of water, and instead of stopping right there, it cover half of the continent? Why doesn’t it? Well, the Bible says that those waves are impounded by the mandate of Almighty God. The Lord says to the seas, "Thus far shalt thou go and no further."
Now that is an identical thing of what this Bible is saying about iniquity. The Spirit of God, however it may turn in this world under a Hitler, or under a Mussolini, or under a Tojo, or under a Genghis Khan, or under a Tamerlane, or anybody past, present or future, the Spirit of God says to any dictator, to any man or any sinful movement, "Thus far shalt thou go and no further."
That’s the Spirit of God in this world, from the beginning of the creation until now and forever. There is only one time in the Bible when that Spirit will be withdrawn, and that is in the second chapter of the second Thessalonian letter at the end time when the tribulation comes [2 Thessalonians 2:7]. In the tribulation, the Spirit of God is going to be withdrawn, and then it is going to come in like a flood, and you have what the Bible describes in the Revelation as the awful time of Jacob’s trouble, and peril, and disaster, and corruption, and darkness.
The Spirit of God in the world, from the beginning, the restrainer of sin; well, I go back. What is this word that John speaks when he says, "This spake the Lord of the Spirit, whom they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Spirit was not yet given"? [John 7:39]. Now, how is it that the Holy Spirit is given, and what is that Pentecostal difference? What change has been made in the dispensation, in the ministry, in the presence of God in this day and in this age in which we live? How is it that the Holy Spirit came in any sense in which He was not already in this world before? What is the meaning? Well, this is the answer to my heart’s content and the quieting of my own spirit as I have done my best to study the Word of God and to prepare the delivery of this sermon. First, the first difference is this: at Pentecost, the Spirit of God moved into a new house, moved into a new domicile, moved into a new temple, moved into a new home; it happened at Pentecost. The Holy Spirit came into a new, a new domicile, a new home, a new house at Pentecost [Acts 2].
You see, it is like this: in the Old Testament, in the old day, and in the old dispensation, back there in the Old Testament, the Lord came and dwelt, the Holy Spirit dwelt in the tabernacle. "Moses," said the Lord God, "you make this exactly after the pattern that I have showed thee in heaven" [Exodus 25:9]. So the Lord laid out the pattern of the tabernacle, and Moses built it just according to the Word of the Lord. But after it was completed and everything marvelously arranged, it was still an empty tent. Then the Book says:
A cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the glory abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.
And you call that the shekinah, presence of God – the Spirit of God. In the nighttime, it looked like a pillar of fire. In the daytime, it looked like a pillar of cloud [Exodus 13:21]. And it burned above the mercy seat, the shekinah glory of God, and so awesome and so marvelous and so glorious was its presence that even Moses couldn’t enter to minister before God.
The Lord making His home, coming in power and glory into the tabernacle: now I turn the page of the Bible again, and Solomon, according to the word and promise of God has built a marvelous temple – most marvelous building the world has ever seen. Somebody estimates that it would take billions of dollars today to duplicate that glorious Solomonic temple. And yet with all of its gold and silver and precious stones and the beautiful outlay, it was just a building; it was just a building of mortar and stone and gold – until something happened!
And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the Holy Place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord.
[1 Kings 8:10-11]
And it is the glory of the Lord, it is the presence of the Lord that made the tabernacle, that made the temple so marvelously great – the shekinah, the burning and the presence of God. That’s the way it was in the Old Testament.
Now, in the New Testament and at Pentecost, the Lord is moving into a new house, into a new tabernacle, into a new temple. And what is that temple? What is that tabernacle into which God moved at Pentecost? My brother, it is the temple first of the congregation of the Lord – the churches of Jesus Christ, the household of faith. And that idea is presented again and again.
(We are) built upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all of the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple of the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
Simon Peter said, he said all of us are living stones and God is building up this temple in which the Holy Spirit is to dwell, and it is a habitation of God for the Holy Spirit [1 Peter 2:5]. That is, that idea is followed through several times. "Know ye not that ye," talking to the church at Corinth, "that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" [1 Corinthians 3:16].
So at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came into a new house and into a new abode – even the churches of the Lord Jesus Christ, the household of faith. And just as the tabernacle was just an empty tent until the Spirit of God filled it, and just as the temple was an empty building until the Spirit of God filled it, so the church was dead, an empty church; like the valley of dry bones until Ezekiel came, and, under the commandment of God, called for the breath of God, the Spirit of God, and they became living men [Ezekiel 37]. That’s what happened at Pentecost.
The church was there with its ordinances, and with its commission, and with its members, and with its discipline, and with all that it takes to make the church; but there was not the life, and the quickening breath, and presence and power until Pentecost filled it with the shekinah glory of heaven.
Isn’t that the truth? [This is] the first time in my life I have ever had any answer that meant anything to me at all. Look, when the Lord came into the tabernacle, lo, eyes could see it, the glory of God: there it was. When the Lord came into the temple, you could see it! Eyes could look upon it, the glory of God; and when the Lord came to make His dwelling in His church, eyes could see it – the glory of God! It sounded to the ear like a rushing mighty wind, it looked to the eye like a great lowered burning fire, and it parted, cloven, cleave, cleft, split, separated and it parted and lambently flamed above each one of the disciples, the Spirit of God coming at Pentecost upon His church! [Acts 2:2-3].
All right, a second difference: the first difference that Pentecost made was that the Holy Spirit moved into a new house, into a new tabernacle, into a new temple in the congregation of the Lord. You know, I wish we had time to expatiate on some of these things. Do you ever think about things like this? What if I were up here and Sunday by Sunday for twenty-one years now, three times every Sunday, I was expatiating on economics, or upon politics, or upon chemistry, or upon astronomy, or upon anatomy, or upon medicine, or upon philosophy, or upon metaphysics, or just name it. Poetry, English literature, American literature, history; what if any subject that you could ever think of, three times every Sunday, I stood up here and I was expatiating upon whatever that subject was? How many of you would be back to hear me six months from now? You’d say, "I tell you, I get so tired of that poetry stuff." Or, "I get so tired of that history stuff." Or, "I get so tired of that astronomy stuff." "I get so tired, I got it running out of my ears!" Isn’t that right? But the preacher gets up here for twenty-one years, three times a Sunday, and he’s talking about Jesus, and he’s talking about the Bible. And the people say, "Preacher, how about another hour?" That is, some of you; God bless you! Yeah.
Isn’t that remarkable? Never get tired of it. And the more you are introduced to the truth of God, the more it’s meaningful and blessed, and you never get weary. That’s God! That’s the Spirit of God among His people. Whenever the preacher doesn’t preach like that, you will find the people eroding away, eroding away. It is the Spirit of the Lord who came to domicile, make His home in the household of faith among His people. Now that’s the first one.
All right, now the second: we are talking about the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament. The second great difference: the coming of the Spirit of God is among the believers universal, universal. In the Old Testament, the Spirit of God came upon just certain select individuals for certain select, designated purposes. For example, it came upon Bezaleel and Aholiab and gave them artisan genius and craftsman[ship] in order to make all of those wonderful things of the tabernacle. The Bible says, the Scriptures say, that the Holy Spirit came upon those two men, those artisans and gave them wisdom to know how to make all of those glorious things [Exodus 31:1-6]. The Spirit of God came upon Gideon when he blew the trumpet [Judges 6:34]. The Spirit of God came upon Daniel to prophesy.
But upon no people did the Spirit of God come – just select individuals here, there, and there for select purposes, to make a tabernacle, to make the beautiful garments of the high priest, Aaron, or to prophesy or blow the trumpet – just here, there, and there for select purposes. The Spirit of God came upon the seventy that they might have the same administrative genius as God’s Spirit had given to Moses for that particular purpose, and just those few people.
But how different today – every believer today, every believer today, without exception, every believer today has the Spirit of God in His soul, every believer. When you are converted, when you are regenerated, the Spirit of God comes to make His house in your soul, and that idea is presented gloriously in the Bible. "Know ye not," wrote the apostle Paul in the sixth chapter of 1 Corinthians: "Know ye not that your body" – this house of clay; think of it, your body – "is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which you have of God?" [1 Corinthians 6:19].
Every believer now is visited from heaven: not just a Joseph, not just a Daniel, not just a David, not just a Gideon or a Moses, but every child of God today is indwelt by the Holy Spirit from heaven. And this house, mortal, corrupting, aging, dying, this house is the temple of the Holy Spirit of God. All of us, everyone of us, if you have been saved, since the days of Pentecost, the Spirit of God dwells in you.
All right, a third and last one – and we must hasten – a third and a last difference: in the old Bible, in the old dispensation, in the old days, the Spirit of the Lord withdrew from these who disobeyed, who didn’t follow after the true command and calling of the Lord. The Spirit of God withdrew and left them. And on the pages of those Old Testament books are the saddest of all the stories that you could find in literature: Samson, Samson! And the Scriptures say, "And the Spirit of God moved Samson at times in the camp at Dan" [Judges 13:25]. And the Scriptures say, in the Book of Judges – and the Scriptures say, "and the Spirit of God came upon [Samson], and he tore that [lion] asunder as a man would tear a kid" [Judges 14:6]. And it says the Spirit of God came upon Samson, and he slew with his hands those Philistines. "The Spirit of God came upon him at times" [Judges 15:14], and then it says [that] when his head was shaved and his seven locks were cut off – he was a Nazarite dedicated to God all of the days of his life, "And when they shaved off the seven locks of his hair, he stood up and shook himself" [Judges 16:20], says the Bible.
And he said as before times, "I will go out and slay mine enemies." "But he wist not," the Book says, "that the Lord had departed from him." God had left him. The Holy Spirit had forsaken him. And they took Samson and they put out his eyes and they bound him, and he did grind like an ox at the prison mill" [Judges 16:20-21]. The withdrawing of the Spirit of God: oh, the tragedy of these stories in the Old Testament!
Another one: "And the Holy Spirit came upon" Saul, and God gave him a new heart, and Saul prophesied, "Wherefore that saying went forth (unto this present day): ‘Is Saul also among the prophets?’" [1 Samuel 10:12]. The Spirit of God came upon giant Saul, so much so that he prophesied in the power and presence of the Lord. And then in his disobedience, the Book says, "And the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil Spirit from the Lord troubled him" [1 Samuel 16:14]. God left him. God forsook him. The Spirit of God departed from him – big, giant Saul, forsaken of God. And that’s why the fifty-first penitential Psalm of David, the eleventh verse, when David cried before God, "O, cast me not away from Thy presence; and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me" [Psalm 51:11].
Why did he pray that? "And take not Thy Holy Spirit from me." Why? He had seen Saul. He had watched Saul. Saul, God’s anointed, God’s chosen, giant Saul, the king of Israel by whom the Lord delivered His people from their enemies, giant Saul, and David saw the Spirit of God leave him, and an evil spirit from the Lord trouble him. And David took his harp, and he played and he sang to allay, to ameliorate the troubling of the evil spirit; David saw that. And he prayed, "O God," in this penitential fifty-first Psalm, "O God, cast me not away; and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me." That is the Old Testament.
Today, today, do you pray that prayer? Do you? No, no, for today God never withdraws His Holy Spirit, never. "I will pray the Father, He will give you another paraclete, that He may abide with you forever" [John 14:16]. And aren’t you glad? If you lived a perfect life, sinless, without blemish, you could say, "O God, I have a right to expect the Holy Spirit to live in my soul." But do I find anyone here, anyone here, anyone going to stand up and say, "I have a spotless, unblemished life before God, and I am the perfect temple for the Holy Spirit of God"? Anybody going to stand up and say that? On the contrary, you and I are like this: "O God, O God, the blemish that stains my life, and the shortcomings that daily afflict me, and the old nature that drags me down, and the evil that dogs my heels." Aren’t you glad the Holy Spirit is never withdrawn, never withdrawn?
We may grieve Him, we may quench Him, we may hurt Him; in fact there are lots of things that we do to the Lord God who lives in our souls, but He is never withdrawn from us. And He keeps us and He saves us to the end. And if you have ever been regenerated, if you’ve ever been born again, if you’ve ever been saved, the Holy Spirit will be with you; however much we may batter and buffet and beat Him; the Holy Spirit will be with you to the end of the way. Oh, what a Pentecostal difference! How we thank God for the love, and the mercy, and the forgiveness, and the grace that attends us to the end of our days!
Now we must sing our song, and to come in confession of faith to the Lord, to come by baptism, to present your life in the presence of Jesus, to take Him as your Savior; a couple of you to come, a family, however the Spirit of God shall lead in the way and say the word, and open the door, and press the appeal, make it now: "Here I come, preacher." In the balcony round, down one of these steps, at the front or the back, come. In this lower floor, down one of these aisles and to the front: "Here I am, pastor, and here I come." While we sing this song and make this appeal, make it now. On the first note of the first stanza, when you stand up, stand up coming: "Here I am, pastor, here I am," while we stand and while we sing.