The Pentecostal Difference
March 19th, 1972 @ 7:30 PM
THE PENTECOSTAL DIFFERENCE
Dr. W. A. Criswell
John 14: 16-17
3-19-72 7:30 p.m.
On the radio of the city of Dallas you are sharing with us the services of the First Baptist Church, and this is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Pentecostal Difference. We are going to turn and read several texts together out of John 14, 15, and 16. In our preaching at night through the Gospel of John we have come to the middle part of the fourteenth chapter. And this is the promise of Christ: that if He goes away, He will send to us the Holy Spirit that He may abide with us forever [John 14:16]. And this promise was fulfilled at Pentecost [Acts 2:1-4], and the title of the sermon is The Pentecostal Difference. How was it before Pentecost and what is the difference now after Pentecost? That is the message tonight.
Now I want you to open your Bible, and we are going to read several passages as I designate them just now. And on the radio, if you can, get your Bible and read this Holy Word out loud with us. First, the fourteenth chapter of John, verses 16 and 17. Have we found the place? Then all of us out loud, let us read it together, John 14, verses 16 and 17; now out loud together:
And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever;
Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
Now let us read in that same chapter verse 26; John 14:26, now together:
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said to you.
In chapter 15 now, we read verse 26; John 15, verse 26. Now out loud together:
But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me.
Now in chapter 16, we read out loud together verses 7 through 14; John chapter 16, verses 7 through 14. Now all of us out loud together:
Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you.
And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
Of sin, because they believe not on Me;
Of righteousness, because I go to My Father, and ye see Me no more;
Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come.
He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you.
Before I begin, could I make a brief comment about those last two verses that you read? “He will not speak of Himself; but He shall glorify Me; He shall receive of Mine, and show it unto you” [John 16:13-14]. There are vast sections of people in Christendom who magnify the gifts of the Spirit and who make much, extremely much of the Holy Spirit, when God in the Book expressly says the Holy Spirit will not draw attention to Himself. He will hide Himself, and He will rather take the things of Christ and glorify the Lord. The emphasis of the Book, the emphasis of the Spirit, the emphasis of the whole revelation of God is upon Christ, to glorify the blessed Jesus.
Now from the passages that you have read, “I will pray the Father, He will send you the Spirit, that He may abide with you forever” [John 14:16]. As I read these passages, as with you, I can easily sense that there is to be a tremendous difference in this world and in the people of God after a certain event. And that event, the Lord said, is the coming, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit of God. And the Lord emphasizes that here in these brief three chapters, how many times does He say it.
And all through His ministry, does the Lord speak of that coming of the Holy Spirit. John the Baptist introduced Him like that: “I baptize with water; but there is coming One after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose; He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and with fire” [Matthew 3:11]. That is the beginning of the Christian dispensation. That’s the introduction of the Lord, speaking of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit of God. And, as the ways develop, our Lord increasingly set in His disciples a deep, earnest expectancy for that tremendous epochal event.
Here in the Gospel of John, the twentieth chapter, the Lord gathered the apostles in that upper room, with the doors shut [John 20:19], and He breathed upon them and said, “Receive ye the Holy Spirit, the breath of God” [John 20:22]. In the seventh chapter of the Book of John, the apostle John there interprets a saying that Jesus had said; the Lord had said, “I am the water of life, and he that cometh unto Me and drinks of this water, out of his heart shall rivers of water flow” [John 7:37-38]. Then John, in parentheses, says, “This spake the Lord Jesus of the Spirit that would be poured out from heaven. For Jesus,” he said, “had not ascended into heaven” [John 7:39]; that is, it is to be an ascension gift. It had not come because, John says in that explanation, Jesus had not been glorified [John 7:39]. He had not been resurrected, slain, resurrected from the dead [John 19:16-20:16]. So in the life of our Lord there was the building of the expectancy in the hearts of the disciples that there was a tremendous differential day that was coming.
Now when the Lord was raised from the dead, and had taught the disciples how to read of Himself in the Books of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms concerning Himself [Luke 24:44-48], then He said to the disciples, “You tarry in Jerusalem until you be endued, until you be clothed with power from on high” [Luke 24:49]. And then the Book of Acts begins, “Tarry in the city of Jerusalem; for John baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence, not many days hence” [Acts 1:4-5]. So as the Lord went away into heaven [Acts 1:9-10], He left with those disciples that same deep earnest expectancy. There is a great epochal event that is to happen in their lives [Acts 1:5].
Now this, when the event came, was presented at Pentecost by Simon Peter, as the fulfillment of a prophecy that had been uttered by Joel many centuries before [Joel 2:28-32]. “This is that,” said the apostle Simon Peter, “which is spoken of by Joel when he said, In the latter days, I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” [Acts 2:16-17]. The day of Pentecost had come, and that tremendous epochal difference had come into reality.
What is that difference? Now it is certainly not that the Holy Spirit was not in the world before Pentecost, for He was. In the beginning, in the creation, it says, “And the Spirit of God hovered, fluttered, brooded over the face of the deep” [Genesis 1:2]. The Holy Spirit is in creation, and all through the Old Covenant, there do you find the evidence of the Holy Spirit of God. Simon Peter says that the Scriptures came, those prophets wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit of God [2 Peter 1:21]. The apostle Paul says that the Scriptures came to us by inspiration because they were theopneustos; they were God-breathed by the Holy Spirit [2 Timothy 3:16].
The Holy Spirit is in the Old Testament; very much is He found there. He is the restrainer of sin [2 Thessalonians 2:7]. How the world would be without the impediment of the restraining hands of the Holy Spirit—it is unimaginable to us! In the antediluvian days, the antediluvian days, God said, “My Spirit shall not always strive with man” [Genesis 6:3]; and when the Spirit was withdrawn, the catastrophic judgmental flood came and destroyed all living flesh [Genesis 7:17-24].
In the fifty-ninth chapter of the Book of Isaiah, the prophet says, “When wickedness comes in like a flood, God’s Spirit will lift a standard against it” [Isaiah 59:19]. So, through the ages and through the centuries and certainly the Old Testament, all through the Old Testament, you will find the Holy Spirit.
Now what is that Pentecostal difference? What is the difference that Pentecost made? When Christ said, “If I go back to heaven, I will pour Him out upon you”; it is an ascension gift [John 16:7]. “When He ascended upon high and took captivity captive, He gave gifts unto men” [Ephesians 4:8]. And the ascension gift above all gifts is the gift of the Holy Spirit [Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8]. Now what is that difference? What difference did Pentecost make?
Three things, one: at Pentecost the Holy Spirit found a new home [Acts 2:1-4, 16-18]. In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit came into the curtained tabernacle. It was beautifully wrought, beautifully made, draperies, gold, oh, how many things that were effective and colorful. But it was empty until the shekinah glory of God, the lambent flame of the Lord, until the Holy Spirit filled it [Exodus 40:34-35; 2 Chronicles 7:1-2]. And the home of the Holy Spirit in the days of the wilderness journey was to be found in the tabernacle [1 Chronicles 17:4-5]. Then it was placed in David’s heart to build God an house of stone and of gold [2 Samuel 7:2-5]. And when Solomon brought to pass that glorious and beautiful dream [2 Chronicles 7:11], it still was an empty house until the Holy Spirit filled it. But so gloriously did the Spirit of God fill the house that the priests could not even enter in to minister unto the Lord [1 Kings 8:10-11].
Now, at Pentecost the Holy Spirit has another home, He has another house. It is not one of draperies, nor is it one of stone, nor is it one covered in gold; but at Pentecost the Holy Spirit had another home and another house. He has come into the hearts of the believers [Acts 2:1-4, 16-18]. And His new house and His new home is in the hearts of the believers, the disciples of Christ, both individually and in the church, the corporate assembly of God. The new temple of the Lord is this body in which the believer dwells; and the Holy Spirit dwells with him [1 Corinthians 6:19]. And the other new temple of the Spirit of God is found in the assembly, the corporate convocation of the people of God [1 Corinthians 3:16]. We ought to have the Holy Spirit in our hearts individually, and we ought to feel His presence in the services when we come together. This is the new house, and this is the new home of the Holy Spirit of God since Pentecost.
All right, second: the Pentecostal difference is to be found in that the Holy Spirit is poured out on all flesh, on all of the believers, on all of us! [Acts 2:16-18]. There’s no exception. When we come into the faith of Christ we are baptized into the Holy Spirit, baptized into His church, made a part of the body of Christ; all of us, all of us [1 Corinthians 12:13].
Now in the Old Testament, in the old dispensation, the Holy Spirit came upon select few people at select few circumstances for select few assignments. The Holy Spirit came upon Moses, and the Holy Spirit came upon Joseph, and the Holy Spirit came upon Samson, and the Holy Spirit came upon Samuel, and the Holy Spirit came upon David and Saul, and the Holy Spirit came upon Daniel. But in each instance the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of those selected Old Testament saints was for a specific purpose.
But in the New Testament dispensation, after Pentecost, the Holy Spirit is poured out upon all of us! And there is no single one of us, however humble or unlettered or unlearned, however we may be, God’s Spirit can be poured out upon us without measure [John 3:34]. Any man, any child, any youth, any woman, any soul can have the Holy Spirit of God in him, in her, without measure today. God pours out His Spirit upon us, just as much as we will let Him have us! As we make less and less room for us, and more and more room for God, God’s Holy Spirit will come in like a tide. And there’s no difference, male or female, bond or free, black or white. Anywhere in the earth that a man will open his heart to God today, there God will bestow upon him the Holy Spirit without measure!
Some of the most remarkable things I’ve ever seen in my life have I found in the lives of those where I least expected the great, moving, enabling, empowering Spirit of God. May I take just one leaf out of my own life in that? When I was pastor at Muskogee, Oklahoma, we built four miles east of Tahlequah—on the Illinois River, on the highway that goes from Tahlequah to Fayetteville, Arkansas—we built there a great assembly ground for the Cherokee nation. For many, many years, for over centuries they’d had their associational meetings, attended by the whole nation, by thousands of them, and they were outside. They had no place to meet. Their church houses were very small. So we got together, and we built for them a great tabernacle that’d seat about three thousand people, and an assembly ground, so that when they came together in the fall, they could have a glorious time in the Lord.
Well, during those days when I was pastor there, the Southern Baptist Convention met in Oklahoma City. Now the Women of Virginia, Virginia’s WMU had provided the money for no small part of the building and construction of that assembly ground for the Cherokee nation. So the women from Virginia, great group of them, who’d come to attend the convention, wanted to get a bus and come to Tahlequah and to see the Cherokee nation in their new tabernacle.
Well, I had had a large part in the creation of that assembly ground and the building of that tabernacle, so nothing would do but that I would preach that night. And I said, “Oh, these women from Virginia have come here for two thousand miles or whatever, and they don’t want to come over here and hear me preach. Man, get something else going.”
Well, they said, “We’ll add to it, you just go ahead and prepare to preach. That’s what we want you to do. And we’ll put on the rousements in other ways, and all these other things, and you just prepare to preach. And then we’ll get an interpreter to interpret the message for the Cherokee people who don’t understand English.” Well, I said, “All right.”
So I prepared my message. And I was there in the pulpit by that Cherokee interpreter, a full blooded Cherokee Indian preacher by the name of Jim Pickup. Well, as I sat down, I’d been in other countries where I’d preached in other languages, people who understood in other languages, so every time I’d ever preached in my life through an interpreter, I’d say a sentence or two then the interpreter would say it in his language, then I’d maybe speak a paragraph, and the interrupter would put it in a paragraph, and I’d go through just like that, sentence at a time, paragraph at a time.
So I was telling Jim Pickup there about how we would do. I would stand up there, and I’d say a sentence or two, and then he could translate it into Cherokee. And you know what that full blooded Cherokee Indian said to me? He said to me, “Listen, don’t you stop. You preach your whole sermon. And when I get up, I’ll preach that whole sermon in Cherokee.”
I said, “Man, there’s not a, there’s not a mind in this earth that could remember a man’s sermon just as he preaches it! And you don’t have any time to study it, and you don’t have any time to get ready to interpret it.” He said, “You go ahead and preach, and I’ll do it.”
Well, I couldn’t believe my ears when he said that. So I said, “All right.” I stood up there in that pulpit in that tabernacle before those three thousand Indians and guests, and I preached the entire sermon from start to finish. And when I got through that full blood Cherokee Indian stood up, and he translated that sermon word for word into Cherokee!
And somebody asked me, “Now how did you know whether he translated that sermon in Cherokee or whether he had some other sermon of his own he was preaching in Cherokee? How’d you know?” Well, here’s how I knew.
I had prepared that sermon, and I knew exactly what was in it and what I was doing. At certain places in it, I’d turn to a certain text in the Bible. At certain places in it I’d roar. At certain places in it I’d pound the pulpit. At certain places in it I might kneel and pray. At certain places, then I’d get soft-spoken, which is very unusual for me. I just did all kinds of things in that sermon. Well, how come me to know Jim Pickup was doing the same thing? At the spot in my sermon where I read the text, he read the text. At a spot in that sermon where I’d roared, he roared. And at a spot in that sermon where I pounded the pulpit, where I had pounded in English, he pounded it in Cherokee. Why, it was an astonishing thing! God’s Holy Spirit poured out upon all flesh! [Acts 2:16-18]. There are no people who under God today but that can be filled with the Holy Spirit!
Some of the most fervent men that I’ve ever shared the pulpit with are those black men in Africa! And some of the finest, most marvelous interpreters in evangelistic services I’ve ever preached through have been those little fellows in Japan, and then some of them in Hong Kong and in China. There is no difference today. The Holy Spirit can be poured out upon all flesh! [Acts 2:16-18].
In one of these books on homiletics, I read where some of the finest homiletical scholars in America say that the greatest preacher that America has ever produced is––and wouldn’t you have thought they’d said Jonathan Edwards? Wouldn’t you have thought they’d have said Dwight L. Moody or Billy Sunday? It was before the day of Billy Graham I read these books. Wouldn’t you have thought he said George Truett or Philip Brooks? Wouldn’t you? You know what they said, those books said, “Doubtless, the greatest preacher that America has ever produced is John Jasper,” who was a slave in a tobacco warehouse in Richmond, Virginia! There is no choice of God. It’s on all flesh. Anyone can have the Holy Spirit to the height and the depth that he’s willing to open his heart to receive Him [John 3:34; Acts 2:16-18].
All right, the third Pentecostal difference: not only does He have a new house and a new home, He is in our hearts now [1 Corinthians 6:19], and He is in our churches [1 Corinthians 3:16]; and not only does He have no limit to the choice of the heart in which He chooses to dwell, it can be anybody, and we can have Him without measure [John 3:34]; third, the Pentecostal difference, He is never taken away from us, never. “I will pray the Father, He will give you the Holy Spirit, that He may abide with you for ever” [John 14:16]. Now how is that a Pentecostal difference? Because, in the Old Testament, when the Holy Spirit was bestowed, there were times when He was taken away, He was withdrawn. That was so in the life of Samson; “Samson wist not that the Spirit of God had left him” [Judges 16:20]. It was so in the days of Saul; “For the Spirit of God departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubleth him” [1 Samuel 16:14]. And that’s the penitential psalm of David in Psalm number 51; he says, “O God, do not take Thy Holy Spirit from me” [Psalm 51:11].
Now, is that possible today? Would God take the Holy Spirit away from us today? It is a promise of heaven, after Pentecost, when you are saved and God gives you His Holy Spirit, you are saved forever and forever! [John 10:27-28]. God never ultimately withdraws the Holy Spirit from you. He never does. He never does. That does not mean we cannot grieve the Holy Spirit; many times we do [Ephesians 4:30]. That does not mean we cannot quench Him; many times we do [1 Thessalonians 5:19]. We stifle the still small voice [1 Kings 19:11-13]. That does not mean we can’t buffet Him and disappoint Him and bring sorrow and hurt to Him. But He is never taken away from us, not ultimately [John 14:16]. If you’ve ever known the Lord, and if you’ve ever had the Holy Spirit given to you in faith in Christ [Romans 8:16], there is something in you that never dies. It never dies.
I saw that so poignantly in a man one time, that the people wanted me to go see. He was a gifted fellow, young fellow; had a wife and family, but he was out there in one of those nightclub places. And he had given his life in those years of young manhood, he had given them to debauchery, and wickedness, and sin, and compromise, and evil, and iniquity.
And when they asked me to go see him, well, I said, “Well, I can’t imagine that! How in the earth would you expect me to succeed with a man who’s running a nightclub, with all of the things that go with it; the drunkenness, the debauchery, the harlotry? How do you expect me to speak to a man?”
And they said, “But you don’t understand, he is the son of one of the finest Christian families ever, and we think, we think that he was genuinely saved, that he was a Christian. And if you will go talk to him, we believe that you will find a response in his heart.”
Well, I went out to his place, met him, introduced myself, told him why I had come. He took me back into the back part of his club, and I sat down at a table with him. And here’s what the young fellow said to me, he said to me, “I have been prospering in this club. I make lots of money. But,” he said, “I am the most miserable somebody you ever looked at in your life. I am miserable. I am wretched.”
Well, I said, “Why are you miserable and wretched? Man, aren’t you having a big time? Isn’t this thing flourishing and growing and going, and aren’t you making lots of money?”
He said, “Yes, yes, but,” he said, “I’m miserable in my heart, and I am wretched in my heart.”
Well, I said, “Let me ask you something, back there in that Christian home in which you lived, back there, were you genuinely saved?”
He said, “I was genuinely converted, I was.”
“And you gave your heart to Jesus?”
He said, “I did!”
“Well,” I said, “That’s exactly what’s the matter with you. You’ll never be happy no matter how much money you make, no matter what programming of good time you have. You’ll never get away from the Spirit of God that pleads with you in your heart. He never dies. He is never withdrawn. And no matter who you are, if you have ever been genuinely saved, if you’ve ever opened your heart to Jesus, then the Spirit of the Lord is in you. He never dies! He is never withdrawn! [John 14:16]. And you’ll never ultimately find peace and happiness in your heart until you come back to God.”
That’s a glorious thing. When we’re saved, we’re saved forever [John 10:27-28]. We may drift. We may backslide. We may be prodigal. We may fall. We may buffet the Spirit. We may quench Him. We may grieve Him and hurt Him; but He never leaves us. “I will pray the Father, He shall give you the Spirit, that He may abide with you forever” [John 14:16].
And that is the sweetest comfort that any Christian could ever know. God’s unchanging hand holds us forever [John 10:28-29]. We are never ultimately and finally lost, never, never. We cannot be, for He who has saved us and holds us is greater than he that would destroy us and attack us [1 John 4:4]. It is God who justifies [Romans 4:25]. It is God who saves [John 14:6; Acts 4:12], and it is God who keeps. And when God does it, He does it forever and ever [John 10:28-30]. Blessed be His glorious name.
Now we’re going to sing our hymn of appeal, and while we sing it, somebody you to open his heart to Jesus. Maybe a somebody you to come back to the Lord; maybe a family you to put your life with us in the circle of this dear church, a couple you, as the Spirit of the Lord shall press the appeal to your heart, make it now, answer now, come now. In this balcony round, the throng of people there, there’s a stairway at the back and the front and on either side, and there’s time and to spare; if you’re seated on the topmost row, come tonight. Listen to the call of the Spirit of God who speaks. He can speak as clearly to you, and clearer than I can. Listen to the voice of the Spirit of God and answer with your life. “Here I am, and here I come.” The press of people on this lower floor, into that aisle and down to the front, “Here I am, pastor, I make it now. I decide for God now, and here I come.”
Make the decision in your heart now, do it now. And on the first note of that first stanza, come. When you stand up, stand up answering God’s call. Into that aisle, down to the front, God bless you and angels attend you in the way as you come, while we stand and as we sing.
I. A difference in the world and people
of God after outpouring of Holy Spirit
the Lord’s own words (John 14:16-17, 26, 15:26,
introduced Him like that (Matthew 3:11, Mark
Lord increasingly set in His disciples an expectancy for that event (John 20:22, 7:37-39, Luke 24:, Acts 1:4-5)
of Joel (Acts 2:16-17, Joel 2:28-29)
II. In what way was the Holy Spirit not
given? (John 7:39)
A. He was in Old
Testament from the beginning
B. Active in creation (Genesis 1:1-2)
C. Active in revelation,
inspiration (2 Peter 1:21, 2 Timothy 3:16)
D. Restrainer of sin (Genesis 6:3, Isaiah 59:19)
III. The Pentecostal difference (Ephesians 4:7-8)
A. Entrance into a new
1. Tabernacle (Exodus 40:34)
2. Temple of
Solomon (1 Kings 8:10-11)
of the Lord (Ephesians 2:20-22, 1 Corinthians
B. To indwell all
believers (1 Corinthians 6:19)
nation assembly ground – Jim Pickup
C. The gift a permanent
indwelling, never withdrawn (John 14:16)
1. In the Old
Testament, it was temporary
a. Samson (Judges 16:20)
b. Saul (1 Samuel 16:14)
c. David (Psalm 51:11)