Dr. W. A. Criswell
12-6-81 8:15 a.m.
And welcome once again to the great throngs of you who are listening to this hour on radio. This is the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor of the church bringing the message entitled The Moving of the Spirit, The Presence of the Holy Spirit of God. It is one in a series on pneumatology; the “Great Doctrines of the Bible,” and this one on the Spirit of God. In the thirteenth chapter of Judges, the last verse, the last two verses, the wife of Manoah was visited by an angel from heaven:
And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson:
and the child grew, and the Lord blessed him.
And the Spirit of the Lord began to move him at times in the camp of Dan.
“The Spirit of the Lord began to move him at times in the camp of Dan” [Judges 13:25], at times; and that gave rise to the beginning of the message, The Moving of the Spirit of God. In the Old Testament, the Spirit of the Lord, like the striking of the fire of lightning, would fall upon this one, or this one, or this one. We knew not when, did not know where it would fall upon a Samson, or upon a Samuel, or upon a Saul, or upon an Isaiah; just here and there and yon. But there was a great prophecy by Joel, in Joel 2:28-29 there is another and more glorious day coming: “It shall come to pass, that I will pour out My Spirit,” not upon just a Samson or a Samuel or a Saul:
I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, [propheteuō], speak out, and up, and for God, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions: And upon My servants and upon My handmaids in those days will I pour out My Spirit.
There is a marvelous day coming. When I turn to the second chapter of the Book of Acts, the Pentecostal chapter in the Bible:
Then stood Simon Peter in the midst of those that were speaking the praises of God in all the languages of the earth. And Peter said, This is that which was spoken by Joel the prophet; It shall come to pass, I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh: your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: and on My servants and on My handmaidens I will pour out in those days of My Spirit; and they shall [propheteuō], prophesy.
[Acts 2:14, 16-18]
I emphasize that because when we say “prophesy” we think of somebody foretelling something; the Bible meaning has no connotation of that at all. To prophesy meant to magnify the Lord, to lift up voice and heart and hand in the glory of God, to speak out for the Lord.
John the Baptist presented that and echoed that same glorious promise: “He who is coming will baptize you in the Holy Spirit, and in fire” [Matthews 3:11]. And our Lord spoke of that promise in John 14, 15, and 16, and in the last chapter of the Book of Luke; and then beginning this new administration, this oikonomia, this new dispensation, our Lord said, “The day is soon coming,” that was just a few days hence, “when that prophecy of John and of Joel will come to pass. If I go away, I will send Him unto you” [John 16:7]. And the Spirit of God was poured out upon the earth [Acts 2:1-2].
Now in our speaking of that gift from heaven, what the Lord called “the Promise of the Father” [Acts 1:4]; we shall speak of it first as the Spirit of life and of living. In Ephesians 5:18, the apostle wrote a command: “Be ye filled with the Spirit,” all of us. “Be ye filled with the Spirit”; it is in the imperative mode, it is continuous present action, “Be ye constantly being filled with the Spirit.” The carnal worldly man is motivated by fleshly desires and selfish dreams and purposes; but the man of God, the Christian, is to be emptied of self and to be filled with the Spirit of the Lord. In Galatians 5, the apostle wrote, “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other” [Galatians 5:17]. Like an empty cup, we are to be emptied of ourselves and to be filled with the Spirit of God. And in the power and the presence and the moving of the Spirit of God, we are to attempt things we never thought we could achieve, do things we never dreamed we could do, saying things we never thought we could say. We are under command to be filled with the Spirit of God [Ephesians 5:18].
The whole creation has cause to be disappointed in and to be hurt by Christians who are not moved and filled with the Spirit. God has a cause to be hurt and disappointed when His people are fleshly, and carnal, and selfish, and worldly. The preacher has a cause to be disappointed when his members are not filled with the Spirit. And the congregation has cause to be disappointed and frustrated and hurt when their pastor is not a Spirit-filled man. God expects and God commands all of His people to be filled with the Spirit. “In those days I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh” [Acts 2:17], and all of us are to be filled with the Spirit.
Again, we are to receive the gifts of the Spirit, what Paul calls in 1 Corinthians 12, “the pneumatika,” and in the fourth verse, “the ta charismata, ta pneumatika ta charismata,” the grace gifts of the Spirit [1Corinthians 12:4]. We are to receive them as from His mighty omnipotent hands, and to use them for His glory. All of the work of the church is to be done in the fullness and in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, all of the work. All of us have diversified, and multiplied, and differing gifts, all of us. There is no one without his gift. There is no one without her gift. And what we do in the church is to be done in the presence and moving power of the Holy Spirit of God.
My dear people, there is a way to open a door that glorifies our Lord. There is a way to show a stranger to a seat that opens his heart to the message from heaven. There is a way to greet one another that brings us into the presence of the Lord. There are gifts of car-parking, of handing out a program at the church. When it’s done in the Spirit of the Lord, there is a way to cook, and to teach, and to preach, and to evangelize, and to do a thousand other ministries in the church. We’re not all preachers, we’re not all greeters, we’re not all teachers, we’re not all car-parkers, we’re not all cooks, we’re not all of the many, many ministries in the church; but each one of us has a gift, and when we dedicate it to God in the moving fullness of the Spirit, the church is full-orbed and infinitely blessed.
Well, you say, “Preacher, that sounds foolish to me. You mean that we have in our church a man with a gift of preaching, and he’s just on the same level with a man who has the gift of cooking or the gift of car-parking or of opening the door? That sounds foolish to me.”
Well, let’s see what God says. That’s what we want to know: what does the Lord say? Now in the beautiful translation of the King James Version of the Bible, it isn’t seen because the words are translated graciously and beautifully. But I want to translate it just exactly as it is written in the Bible. “It shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” [Acts 2:17]. All right, does God stop there with our fine, noble, wonderful people and their young daughters and young men who are coming along in the power and strength of young manhood and young womanhood? Now you listen to Him: “And on My ho doulos and on My ha doula will I pour out in those days of My Spirit” [Acts 2:18] Well, translated here, “On My servants and on My handmaidens,” sounds beautiful here in the King James Version of the Bible, doesn’t it? You know what those words mean? The lowest menial caste, category, life and living in the Greco-Roman Empire were the slaves, the slaves; and Christianity, among a multitude of other things, was a religion of the slaves. “And on My men-slaves and on My women-slaves will I pour out of My Spirit in those days” [Acts 2:18]. You just sit down and think through all the menial tasks of the slaves in those days; and they were to be filled with the Spirit [Acts 2:18]. What they did was to be done in the power of the Holy Spirit. That’s why I say we’re all alike. Some of us may be filled with the Spirit of God to preach, some of us filled with the Spirit of God to evangelize, some of us filled with the Spirit of God to teach, some of us filled with the Spirit of God to open a door or to park a car or to cook a meal, or in a thousand other humble ministries. It makes the church beautiful, rich, full-orbed. There is a way to do a thing in the Spirit of God that is marvelously blessed.
There was a man walking down the streets of the big city of New York, and he met another fellow, and this stranger as he passed by, they spoke to one another, which is unusual in New York; they spoke to one another. And this man walking that way said, “God bless you, sir.” That’s all, “God bless you, sir.”
“How do you do? Hello,” said the other one. The other replied, “God bless you, sir.” And after they’d parted, walking in opposite directions for just a few feet, this man turned around and ran and caught the other man and said, “Sir, do you know God?” And the man said, “I do.” Well he said, “I desperately need Him. Could you show me how to find God?” And they sat down on the curb; this man led him into the knowledge of the Lord.
The reason that little story stayed in my mind was because of something that happened over there at the Y, Dick. There’s a man over there that I spoke to—had no idea who he was. And after we’d exercised just a little while, he came over by me and began to unburden a heavy heart. And while he was talking to me, I said to him, “Do you know who I am?” I was amazed at the man and I broke in and said, “Do you know who I am?”
He said, “No, I have no idea who you are.”
Well I said, “I’m pastor of the church right across the street, and I thought maybe it was because I was a preacher that you’re talking to me as you are.”
He said, “No, it just seemed to me when I looked into your face and when I heard your voice of greeting to me, it just seemed to me you were somebody who might know God.”
Filled with the Spirit, there’s a way to cook that glorifies God. There’s a way to have a party down here that glorifies God. There’s a way to decorate that glorifies God. There’s a way to shake somebody’s hand that glorifies God. There’s a way to live, and to walk, and to talk, and to do that glorifies God. It’s a wonderful thing that has happened in this dispensation, in this oikonomia. This is the age of the fullness of the Spirit, and all of us can have Him without measure [John 3:34]. Our gifts are diversified, they are many-faceted, but that makes the church glorious.
Again, the comfort of the Spirit: in the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth chapters of John, you will read many things that our Lord says about the paraklētos. You can’t translate that word into English, so finally in many of the versions of the Bible, they just call Him the Paraclete; they just take the Greek word paraklētos and spell it out in English, Paraclete. You could call Him the Comforter; that’s what it’s translated in the King James Version of the Bible. You could call Him the Encourager, you could call Him the Fellow Pilgrim, you would call Him the One who walks alongside. Oh, it’s just endless ways to describe the Holy Spirit of God. And the Lord said, “It is needful, it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I do not go, He will not come; but if I go, He will come [John 16:7], that He may abide with you forever” [John 14:16]. And they call Him the Paraclete, the Comforter [John 16:7]. What an unusual name for God; He is the great helper and encourager and Comforter.
Well, don’t we need Him more than anything else in the world? What God can do for us. Last night, in talking to a man in our church, whose boy at Baylor, a senior at Baylor, was killed in a car accident, and the memorial service for the boy will be here in this sacred place at two o’clock tomorrow afternoon, I thought of a man, a father, that I prayed with in the Second World War. His boy had been killed; he didn’t know where, he didn’t know when, and he didn’t know how, and he never learned. The boy’s life was just lost somewhere in the war. And the father was so strong in the faith; he comforted and strengthened me in the comfort and strength of the Holy Spirit. Well, this father was like that, that I talked to last night. He said, “Pastor, when we have the memorial service, we want a celebration, a triumphant, victorious hour; for our boy is in heaven.” The comfort, the promise, the presence of the Holy Spirit of God in our hearts; and I thought last night, of this verse: “And the churches of Judea and Galilee and Samaria were edified, walking in the comfort of the Holy Spirit” [Acts 9:31]. Isn’t that a beautiful thing? The churches walking in the encouragement and the strength and the presence of the Holy Spirit of God.
And last, the salvation of the Holy Spirit, the salvation we have in the Holy Spirit. We are regenerated, we are born again, we are born into the family of God, we are made members of God’s redeemed kingdom by the Holy Spirit [Romans 8:15]. And He does it like this: the Lord Jesus said, “He will not speak of Himself; but He will take of Mine and show it unto you; and He shall glorify Me” [John 16:13-15]. The work of the Holy Spirit is to take us to Jesus, “Here He is.” The work of the Holy Spirit is not to magnify Himself, but always to take us to the blessed Lord. Then Paul will write, in 1 Corinthians 12:3, “I want you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God can call Jesus anathema; and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit.” Oh, there’s a depth of meaning in that for us. “No one, no one speaking by the Spirit of God can say, Anathema Iesus, cursed be Jesus; and no one but by the Holy Spirit can say, Kurios, the Lord Iēsous is Jesus” [1 Corinthians 12:3]. Now we look at that just for a moment. That is a remarkable thing! Somehow, some way, Jesus must be revealed to us as our Savior if we are ever saved. We can’t do that in ourselves. If a man does that in himself, he will be a limping, maim, crippled, weak, anemic sort of a member of the church, that’s all. For a man to be strong, and well, and vigorous, and alive in the work of the Lord, he has to know Jesus as his Savior; and the Holy Spirit must reveal that to him. It is a remarkable thing that a man can’t save himself. All of the teachings of human life, and thought, and philosophy, and science, and education, all of it is based upon the persuasion that the man can deliver himself, humanity can find its own answers. But the Word of God is diametrically opposite: we can’t do that ourselves; God has to help us. “No man can call Jesus Lord except by the Spirit of God” [1 Corinthians 12:3].
Just as no engine can run without power, no chisel can carve without the hand of the craftsman, no book can be written without an author, so no man can call Jesus Lord, can come to Christ as Savior, except in the drawing, and wooing, and convicting, and regenerating of the Holy Spirit of God [John 6:44]. God has to do something. I’ve said a thousand times in this pulpit: when a least child is brought to me, I mean the littlest child, and the child wants to be saved, you never saw anyone so helpless in your life as I am. I cannot convert or save or regenerate the heart of the smallest littlest child. All I can do is like the Holy Spirit: point to Jesus, and just pray, “Lord, come into the heart of that child. May he realize what You have done, loving, dying, saving, forgiving” [John 3:16; Ephesians 1:7]. All I can do is just point to Jesus. The Spirit of God has to regenerate, has to convert [Titus 3:5]. We can just witness and testify and point, and we can say what He has done for us; but it is God, the Holy Spirit, that must save, must regenerate [Titus 3:5].
And it is a wonderful thing what happens when the Holy Spirit does that in the human heart. “By the Holy Spirit of God,” Paul writes, “do we say, kurios Iēsous, Jesus is Lord” [1 Corinthians 12:3]. If you read Roman history, you will find that most poignantly demonstrated and illustrated in the days of persecution. All those early Christians had to do in order to be delivered was to say, “Anathema Iēsous, cursed be Jesus”; but they couldn’t frame the words to say it, even to save their lives. And they were fed to the lions because when the words came out, it was, “Kurios Iēsous, Jesus is Lord.”
Well, what about us here in Dallas, here in America? We just so glibly say, “Yes, Jesus is Lord,” and we do it indifferently, and we do it casually, and we do it summarily, and we do it flippantly. That’s not what he’s talking about. What Paul is talking about is, “Jesus is Lord,” said by the Holy Spirit of God, and the man is a new creation [2 Corinthians 5:17], he’s filled with the Spirit, he’s walking in the way of our blessed Savior. And that’s a wonderful way to walk. When Satan accuses him, he says, “Jesus is Lord” [1 Corinthians 12:3], and he’s forgiven. When he faces trial and duty, he says, “Jesus is Lord” [1 Corinthians 12:3], and he has strength and encouragement. When he’s bewildered, he says, “Iēsous kurios, Jesus is Lord” [1 Corinthians 12:3], and he has light for the way. When he’s bowed down with sorrow, he says, “Jesus is Lord” [1 Corinthians 12:3], and he is comforted and blessed with infinite hope. It’s a wonderful thing God has given to us in the fullness and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our lives [Galatians 5:22-23].
In my invitation may I point out, did you know every marvelous universal gift of God is free? Did you know that? Every one of them, all of them. What price would you pay for the sun to shine? God just does it, and pours out His sunshine upon us. What price would you pay for breath? God just gives it to us. What price would you pay for the vernal showers? God just sends them upon us. What price would you pay for the outpouring and fullness of the Holy Spirit? God just gives Him to us without measure [John 3:34]; and we just open our hands to receive Him, we open our hearts to receive Him. God fill us, save us, bless us, endow us, endue us, use us; God have us. It’s a beautiful, marvelous, wonderful way to walk, and to live, and to work, and to die, and to be received up into glory.
Now may we stand together?
Dear Lord, bless the words from God’s Holy Book we’ve listened to this morning. Master, that it might be less and less of us and more and more of Thee until there was nothing of us and everything of Thee; walking in the Spirit, loving Jesus, taking from Thy gracious hands any gift You bestowed upon us, and to use it for Thy blessedness and Thy glory and Thy kingdom. And our Lord, in this moment that we tarry, may these who have been drawn by the Spirit of God come to Thee and to us. Thank Thee for the gift, in Thy marvelous name, amen. Wait just for a moment, pray just for this moment, then we’ll be dismissed to our Sunday school classes in just a moment. But while we all wait and pray, down an aisle, down a stairway, “Pastor, we’re coming to the Lord and to this dear church.” Do it now, while we sing, while we sing.