FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT
DR. W. A. Criswell
6-6-68 1968 SBC PC
Gerald, you have assigned me a subject, Filled with the Holy Spirit; and I pray the dear Lord, in the moment or two that I have to speak, will help us say things that are right and some things that might encourage us where we are working. Some time ago, I preached through an evangelistic conference in one of our pioneer states; and the conference that year met in the capital city, in the mother church, the first church of that state. And when I stood up to speak, I congratulated the congregation on the large and spacious auditorium. It was beautiful. It was effective. It was new. It was very large. And I said, "I am surprised and happily so to find so magnificent a building in this new state where our Southern Baptist people are now building a great and effective witness."
After the service was over, the pastor of the church introduced me to one of his deacons, who took me out to dinner. And while we were breaking bread together, the deacon said to me, "I could not help but notice your words about our wonderful church and how impressed you were with its spaciousness." Then he added, "But our church is just a shell. Our congregation has been decimated."
Why, I said, "I can’t imagine such a thing. What happened?"
And he replied, "Our pastor, who has left us and carried down the street part of our people, and organized another church just about six blocks away – our former pastor now speaks with tongues."
When I returned home, I received a call from one of our associational missionaries in another state. And he said, "We have a great state university located in our district; and we have planned a tremendous revival meeting for all of this section of our state, and it’s to be held in the football stadium on the campus of our state university. And we’ve planned this and prayed for this for months and months. But," he said, "I don’t know what to do because the team that is to come from a university in your state of Texas, that team is all divided, half of them are speaking in tongues." And he said, "What do you think we ought to do?"
Well, I said, "I don’t quite know." And I couldn’t answer.
About a month later he called me again, and he said, "We’re in great perplexity. We have this university, and we have all of this section of our state, and we’ve asked God for a tremendous outpouring. And we’ve invited a team from this university in your state of Texas, and, as I told you before, half of them are speaking in tongues."
Well, I said, "You asked me before about this and I said I wasn’t able to answer. Why are you calling me again?"
And he said, "I’m calling you again because some of the members of that team who are speaking in tongues are young people out of your church."
Why, I said, "I never heard anything like that, and I don’t believe it. You’ve been misinformed."
"No," he said, "I have found out exactly, and it is true. Some of them are from your church and from your deacons."
Well, I said to him, "I don’t know yet what to say, but let’s ask God." Without my personal inquiry, there came to my study from the university where the team had been put together to conduct this tremendous revival, there came the young leader of it, a brilliant and handsome young man from one of the wealthiest families in Texas.
And he had had the baptism of the Holy Spirit and was speaking in tongues. And on that university campus, he had persuaded other young people to seek a like experience. And apparently they had it. They all were speaking in tongues. So he came up to see me in Dallas and sat there in my study.
So, we began; and I said to him, "Young fellow, I am not able yet to say exactly a final and conclusive word because I haven’t given myself to its study yet. But there’s one thing thus far I know, and that is this: that in my experience as a preacher and in my reading, I have never yet seen that phenomenon but that it is divisive, without exception." I said, "If you had driven from your university up here to Dallas to see me, and said to me, ‘I have been baptized with the Holy Spirit, and ninety percent of all that I have I shall give to God, and I shall live on the ten percent that remains,’ I would say ‘Young fellow, God bless you, amen.’ Or if you had driven up from your university to Dallas to say to me, ‘Pastor, I have been baptized with the Holy Spirit; I have resolved to pray on my knees six hours every day,’ I would say, ‘Amen, God bless you.’ Or had you driven up from the university to Dallas to say to me, ‘Pastor, I have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit; I have resolved to win one soul to Jesus every day,’ I would say, ‘Amen, God bless you young preacher.’ But when you drive up from the university to see me and you say, ‘Pastor, I have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit; I now speak in tongues,’ I say, ‘Oh, dear Lord, what, what?’ It’s divisive!
He said, "Oh, no."
Why, I said, "Already, barring the intervention of God, the tremendous revival encounter and crusade that has been prepared on that university campus, and for all that part of the state where your team was to go, the encounter and the revival, the crusade’s been called off. There is such a divisiveness in your own team and, of course, reflected in our Baptist churches and our Baptist associations."
Well, because of the way I preach and the heart that I have, there came to me in Dallas representatives of the finest of that movement in America. One of them is an Episcopalian. And he came to Dallas to visit me several times and to teach me the baptism of the Holy Spirit, he and others. And to my amazement, in my study in the church there in Dallas, he spoke with tongues, and I listened and looked. I felt like that fellow who had a big button on his lapel with these initials: "BAIK"; and a guy went up to him and said, "That’s the funniest button I ever saw in my life. What does that mean?"
And he said, "That means ‘boy am I konfused’."
And the fellow said, "Now listen, you don’t spell ‘confused’ with a ‘k’."
And the man replied, "Well, that just goes to show how ‘konfused’ I am."
Oh, these things and others like them that I could recount plunge my soul into an indescribable confusion! So, I set myself to ask of God and to search the mind of the Lord, "Lord, what is this thing they call the baptism of the Holy Spirit? And Lord, is it something that I ought to experience?" And I offered myself under God: " Lord, I shall not be too proud. If the baptism of the Holy Spirit is something that God has for those who love Him and serve Him, and if speaking in tongues is a sign of it, Lord, I offer Thee my soul and my heart. I am not too proud; and if it is something I am to receive from God’s hands, and if it is God’s will for us that we possess it, and that be the sign of it, then, Lord, I offer myself to Thee. Now You show me, and You teach me."
And for two years, for two years I studied, and I prayed, and I preached on the Holy Spirit. As I delivered those sermons in the pulpit of the First Church in Dallas, they were stenographically recorded, and Zondervan published them in the book that I hold in my hands, The Holy Spirit in Today’s World. I never had a greater preaching experience in my life, nor did I ever learn more of what God says of the outpouring, and the infilling, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit than I did in those two years of soul searching and Bible study and pulpit preaching. Now Gerald, we’ll not spend the rest of the evening here, though I’d like to; just a word or two.
Most of what I learned surprised me. For one thing, there is no such thing as the "baptism of the Holy Spirit" in the Bible. It is a nomenclature not found in God’s Book. There is no such a thing as the baptism of the Holy Spirit in God’s Book. It isn’t in it. It’s a phrase invented by man.
And as I studied it, I learned that only in one place in the Bible is the baptism with the Holy Spirit prophesied, and that is the great introductory message of John the Baptist. "I baptize you with water; but He that cometh after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose, He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and with fire" [Luke 3:16]. And Jesus recalled that prophecy to His disciples in the first chapter of Acts [Acts 1:5], before Pentecost in chapter 2 [Acts 2:1].
In what sense then, is Jesus the baptizer with the Holy Spirit? [Luke 3:16]. Only in this sense, that the Pentecostal gift is an ascension gift [Acts 2:1-4]. "If I go not away, He will not come; but if I go away, I will send Him unto you" [John 16:7]. After the death [Matthew 27:32-50], the burial [Matthew 27:57-61], the resurrection [Matthew 28:1-6], and the ascension of Christ [Acts 1:9-10], the Holy Spirit was poured out in keeping with the prophecy in Joel [Joel 2:28-32]. But after the pouring out of the ascension gift [Acts 2:1-4], Jesus in the Bible is no longer as looked upon as the baptizer, but the Holy Spirit is the baptizer, and He baptizes into the body of Christ; 1 Corinthians 12:13: "By one Spirit are we all baptized into the body of Christ!"
"Well, pastor, if the baptism with the Holy Spirit is our induction, our addition to the body of Christ [1 Corinthians 12:13], then what is that that happened at Jerusalem [Acts 2:1-42], at Samaria [Acts 8:15-17], at Caesarea [Acts 10:44-48], and at Ephesus [Acts 19:1-7]? What is that?" Will you take God’s Word for it and not man’s word? In no instance and in no place is it ever mentioned, "baptism"! But there is a word that God uses again, and again, and again, and it is the word "filled"! "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit" [Acts 2:4], again, and again, and again, and again; the filling of the Holy Spirit.
The baptism with the Spirit is one time only, one time. We are baptized into the body of Christ [1 Corinthians 12:13], and if a man can be baptized with the Holy Spirit again and again, it would mean he can be taken into the body of Christ and then taken out of the body of Christ, and then into the body of Christ, and out of the body of Christ, in and out, and in and out! That may be fine Armenian theology, but it isn’t in the Bible! By one Spirit are we all baptized, added to the body of Christ [1 Corinthians 12:13], and that is forever, and ever, and ever [Ephesians 4:5]. "No one is able to take us out of the Father’s hand" [John 10:27-29].
Nor is there any mandate or commandment in the Bible to be baptized with the Spirit, but there is a mandate that we be filled with the Spirit [Ephesians 5:18]. The baptism with the Spirit is positional. The filling of the Spirit is experiential. The baptism of the Spirit by which we are added to the body of Christ is something God does for us [1 Corinthians 12:13], as writing our names in the Lamb’s Book of Life [Revelation 20:12, 15, 21:27]. God does it!
But the filling of the Spirit is experiential, a thing that a man can rejoice in, can feel, can be empowered by again, and again, and again. Even as the text says in Ephesians 5:18, "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is asotia, abandonment; but be ye filled with the Spirit!" Look at that, pleroste, "be ye filled with the Spirit!" Look at that. It is in the imperative mood. "Be ye filled with the Spirit!" we are to be filled, by God’s commandment with the Spirit. Look at that word, pleroste, pleroste; it is present tense. "Be ye continually filled with the Spirit!" [Ephesians 5:18].
Every day is a great day! Every opportunity is a great opportunity for God is with us; a continuing present action. As I daily yield myself to God, the Lord daily fills me with His Spirit! Look at that! It is plural in number, "Pleroste, be ye filled with the Spirit!" [Ephesians 5:18]. All of God’s saints are to feel the experience of the indwelling and the infilling of the Holy Spirit of God! The preacher in the pulpit, God bless him; the man out there in the pew, amen; he’s to be filled with the Spirit!
All of us alike are to be filled with the Spirit, and in that day, God says, "I will pour My Spirit out upon all flesh: And your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams, pleroste," plural [Acts 2:17]. All of us are to be filled with the Spirit. There’s a divine afflatus that is to help the deacon be a good deacon, and the teacher a good teacher, and the WMU president, God bless her, a wonderful WMU president; and all of us servants of the Lord pleroste, all of us to be filled with the Spirit. And it is passive voice, pleroste, that is the subject is acted upon. It is passive voice.
You see, when Paul said, "Be not drunk with wine wherein is asotia, abandonment; but be ye filled with the Spirit" [Ephesians 5:18]; he was not making a contrast between a drunkard over here and a Spirit filled Christian here. But he was making a comparison. For a man who is under the influence of the spirit of alcohol, he’s a new man! He’s a different kind of a fellow! He may be so meticulous and tidy in his clothing, but when he’s under the influence of the spirit of alcohol his tie is awry, his hair is disheveled, he looks like a bum out of the gutter.
Or here is a fellow who is shy and timid but under the influence of the spirit of alcohol, man look at him! He never did sing in his life. He is singing now to the top of his voice! He was afraid to attempt anything. Man, he’d attempt anything now under the influence of the spirit of alcohol. Like those two drunk upstairs in a hotel, and one of them said, "Watch me; I’m going to jump out the window and fly around this building." And the next day when the other one went to see him in the hospital, the guy all busted and broken up said to him, "Why didn’t you stop me?" And the other friend said, "Man, I thought you could do it."
That’s what it means, under the influence of the spirit of alcohol, a man’s one thing. So, if a man is under the influence of the Spirit of God, he’s somebody different. He’s somebody else. And he is bold in the Lord and courageous in the Lord! Attempt anything for God, he will, he will. I know he will. Like the song of the engineers of the Panama Canal:
Don’t send us back to a life that’s tame again
We who have shattered a continent’s spine
Easy work, oh, we couldn’t do that again
Haven’t you something that’s more in our line?
Got any rivers you say are not crossable?
Got any mountains you can’t tunnel through?
We specialize in the wholly impossible
Doing what nobody ever could do.
[from "The Panama Gang," Arthur Mee]
That’s the man filled with the Holy Spirit; attempting for God things he never dreamed of in his own strength and in his own spirit.
May I take a leaf out of my own life? I began preaching when I was a teenager, seventeen. And I was called as the pastor of a wonderful rural church, pretty thing, white columns in front of it, a very large, spacious church ground, with a parsonage, and a large tabernacle where they held their summer revival meeting. When the time came for the annual meeting, the people gathered and said, "We want our young pastor to lead the revival, preaching the services." So I said, "God help me, I’ll try."
The day and the evening came, and I took my Bible and went down to that open tabernacle. And as I watched, the people began to pour in from the ends of the earth. That church yard, which comprised several acres, was filled with vehicles, and horses, and buggies, and wagons, and automobiles. People were coming horseback, by foot, in the cars of those days, and it scared me to death.
My throat was dry, and my heart beat fast. And I turned to my singer, and I said, "I can’t do it, I can’t speak. I can’t talk. My tongue is thick and my throat is dry, and my heart is beating out of my body. I am frightened to death. I can’t do it."
He put his arms around me – – he was more experienced in the faith than I – and he said, "Young fellow, come with me over here back of this parsonage." And he took me back of the parsonage, and we sat down on the steps from the door to the ground. And he opened his Bible, and he read to me 1 Peter chapter 5, verse 6: "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due season: Casting all your care upon Him: for He careth for you" [1 Peter 5:6-7].
Then he said, "Now, kneel down here by my side." And I knelt by his side, and he prayed for me, that God would stand by me and help me as I preach God’s message. Say man, you should have been there that night. I felt then for the first time the filling of the Holy Spirit of God as I preached. And a thousand times and a thousand times since have I felt that enduement from heaven, that divine afflatus, God’s breath, God’s Spirit, the moving of the presence in my soul.
One of these men who write these articles but who never speak of what they see said to me, "Do you have services like this in the church all the time?" I said to him honestly, "My brother, most of the times I feel God’s presence so fully, so richly, so deeply that all I can do is cry. I can’t say it in syllable or in sentence, the filling of the Holy Spirit" [Ephesians 5:18].
I don’t speak with tongues. I don’t believe in it, and that’s why I have written it out. Nor do I go through any of those unusual phenomenal healings. I believe in divine healing. I just don’t believe in divine healers doing it for money. But I know, though I don’t speak with tongues and don’t believe in it, but I know what it is to be filled with the Spirit of God as I labor among His people and as I preach the message of that holy and heavenly Word.
And God says that no longer – as Dr. K. Owen White avowed about – is that heavenly benediction just for a Saul, or a Samuel, or a Samson, or a David, or a Jeremiah, it’s for all of us. You, my brother, you can preach in the power of the Holy Spirit. And your people can know what it is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. This is according to the commandment of God, and it is pleasing to our Lord [Ephesians 5:18]. God bless you, my fellow ministers, and God give us an enablement only His blessed and precious hands can bestow, amen.
WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT
conference in pioneer state – congregation decimated
1. Former pastor organized
another church, speaking in tongues
B. Revival cancelled
because half the team speaks in tongues
C. Visited by leaders
of the movement – "BAIK" button
D. For two years I
studied, prayed and preached on the Holy Spirit
II. Baptism of the Holy Spirit
A. Nomenclature not
found in the Bible
1. One place is
baptism with Holy Spirit prophesied(Luke 3:16)
B. In what sense is
Jesus the baptizer with the Holy Spirit?
Pentecostal gift is an ascension gift (John 16:7,
C. After Pentecost, the
Holy Spirit is the baptizer
1. He baptizes
into the body of Christ(1 Corinthians 12:13)
III. The filling of the Holy Spirit
A. The baptism one time
only(Ephesians 4:5, John 10:28)
B. The filling is again
and again (Acts 2:4)
C. We are commanded to
be filled with the Spirit(Ephesians 5:18)
1. Baptism with
the Spirit is positional – added to body of Christ
2. Filling of the
Spirit is experiential
IV. Plerousthe(Ephesians 5:18)
present tense – commanded to be continually filled
– all of us alike are to be filled(Acts 2:17)
voice – the subject is acted upon
Paul’s comparison – abandonment
a. Man under the
influence of alcohol a different kind of fellow
Under the influence of the Spirit he is somebody new, attempting for God things
he never dreamed of
i. Preaching my first
revival(1 Peter 5:6)