IN THE LIGHT OF THE BIBLE / Part Two
By Erwin H. W. Luimes; adapted from, “Fire From Heaven.”
The Seal Of The Holy Spirit
When someone is converted he receives the Holy Spirit as a seal. A seal is like a stamp, an imprint which reveals that the person is the property of God. But a seal goes further than a simple stamp. A stamp can perhaps be rubbed out, but with a seal no one is allowed to break it. In this way the tax authorities or the police can seal an office or a house and there is no one who then has the right to enter it. In the same way the Holy Spirit is a seal on the believer: His indwelling guarantees the fact that the believer is saved and that he is the property of the Lord Jesus for eternity. Only someone who is stronger than God would be able to change this – and no such person exists (read Ephesians 1:13, 4:30; John 10:28)!
The Anointing With The Holy Spirit
Every person who is converted and believes the gospel of salvation, putting his trust in the Lord Jesus, receives the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit comes to live in him. But God’s Word also speaks of our being anointed with the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 1:21; 1 Jn. 2:20,27). This is another aspect of the one, same fact. The anointing emphasizes that God’s Spirit is given to us because we are chosen by God and that His Spirit is now leading us into the full truth. It goes so far that those who are born of God, according to 1 John 2:20, now know all things. This is a consequence of our position in Christ; it is our ability, in principle, to know everything through the help of the Holy Spirit and without the need for the “new light” offered by the false teachers the apostle John was warning about – it is our ability, even though at the same time we still have to learn many things in practice.
Baptism With The Holy Spirit
On the day on which he is sealed with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13), the believer is added to the Church, the Body of Christ, which has existed for twenty centuries now. The Church was formed on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, when the believers at the time were baptized with one Spirit to form one new Body, an entity and unity unknown until then and to which all believers ever since have been added. This is the only event in the Bible which is mentioned in connection with baptism with the Holy Spirit (Mt. 3:11; Acts 1:5,8, 11:16; 1 Cor. 12:13).
Some people would like to be baptized “with the Holy Spirit and with fire,” but they do not understand that they are asking for something impossible. In Matthew 3:11-12, which speaks about this, it is also explained that baptism with the Holy Spirit is for believers. Likewise, Acts 1 only mentions that within a few days the disciples would be baptized with the Holy Spirit, but not with fire!
Why? Because baptism with fire indicates something terrible: submersion in the fire of God’s judgment. Every tree which does not bear fruit (every person who does not live to the glory of God) will be cut down and thrown into the eternal flame; even the ax is ready, very close to the root (v.10)! Equally close is the judgment of God for those who reject God and shall be thrown into the inextinguishable fire! So “baptism with the Holy Spirit and with fire” can never happen to the same person; you cannot receive the Spirit of God and at the same time go into the eternal fire. This is why the expression “baptize with fire” is never used in reference to believers.
But it goes even further. Nowhere in the Bible do you find that believers today must pray to receive the Holy Spirit or to be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Only in Luke 11:13 does the Lord Jesus tell His twelve disciples (the apostles) that the Father will give them the Holy Spirit when they ask Him. This is a promise which we see fulfilled in Acts 1 and 2. When the Lord Jesus had gone up into heaven, the disciples met together in a room and persevered in prayer while they were waiting for the coming of the Comforter, who is the Holy Spirit. The promise was fulfilled and their prayers were answered when a short time later, in Acts 2, the Holy Spirit came upon them. The Lord Jesus came to the earth once, not time and again; and in the same way the Holy Spirit came to the earth once and will continue to live here in the Church until the Church is taken up into glory. This one time “outpouring of the Holy Spirit” on this group of individual believers, in the Bible, is called “baptism with the Holy Spirit.”
Nowhere else in the Bible do you read about baptism with the Holy Spirit. Nowhere do we find a believer in the Bible who prayed to be baptized with God’s Spirit, and neither do we read about a church that was praying for this.
If your experience and emotions show you something else, you must simply mistrust your experience because the Bible is the ultimate authority for a child of God. Otherwise you are in danger of being misled by your emotions, through which Satan works, and of believing in something that is plainly contradictory to God’s Word.
Negative: To Grieve Or Quench The Holy Spirit
When a believer sins the Holy Spirit is not taken away from him.* But God’s Spirit is grieved (Eph. 4:30). When a believer continues to ignore warnings and admonitions by the Spirit through his conscience and the Word of God, the working or activity of the Holy Spirit in this believer (or collectively, in the assembly life) is quenched (1 Th. 5:19). This continues until he confesses his sin and can again enjoy complete fellowship with the Father and the Son (1 Jn. 1:9).
Positive: Being Filled With The Holy Spirit
When the Holy Spirit has every opportunity to guide us, He will lead us into complete truth (Jn. 16:13). We will be filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18) – and this will become evident. But this is not revealed through ecstasy, as is customary in certain religions or paganism when someone is possessed by higher (occult) powers. No, it is revealed through a life in fellowship with the Lord, a life of prayer, worship and thanksgiving, a life in which as believers we encourage one another to follow the Lord faithfully (Eph. 5:18-21; Col. 3:16-17).
For What Purpose Does The Holy Spirit Dwell In The Believer And In The Church?
The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is a special and unique blessing for the believers of our time only; it was not known in the dispensations before. Though the Holy Spirit from the very beginning was working in souls and came upon some of them for special purposes and tasks, He only came to live in the believer and in the Church as a whole from the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 and after (see John 7:39; Acts 1:5; 1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22).
As we have already seen, He came to cause us to worship the Father and to glorify the Son. The Spirit does not glorify Himself and He definitely does not bring about the glorification of any person, however spiritual he or she may seem to be or however great his gifts may seem to be in the eyes of people (Jn. 4:23-24, 16:13-14)!
This is why the singing of Christians and the Spirit-led thanksgiving and worship of believers should never be an endless repetition of superficial phrases without substance, accompanied by rhythmic or even ecstatic music as has been customary among pagans since the days of Cain’s descendants (Gen. 4). Words which are (or seem to be) Christian but which are accompanied in this way are a mixture of Christianity and paganism – characteristic of Babylon, the great harlot in Revelation 17:1.
Many contemporary Christian songs have hardly any spiritual depth and do not reflect the abundance of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge that are hidden in Christ. They tend to be like the mantras of some religions or other forms of paganism, which seem to have found their way into certain forms of gospel music as well.
No, Christian worship is something spiritual, something which is brought about in our spirit by the Spirit of God through reflection on the glory of the Person and the work of Christ. This is expressed in a spiritual way, not with overt pomp and circumstance or features which appeal to the flesh. We do not come to adoration or true worship through drumming or rhythmic clapping and dance which is meant to lead us into ecstasy and to cause us to lose self-control, as is sometimes the case in what is supposed to be worship.
No, it is the Holy Spirit who leads us to live soberly, righteously and godly (Ti. 2:12) – and this applies to our worship too. Outwardly, this is calm and solemn, but it rises up from the depths of our hearts to God and is brought about through His Spirit. This worship is the believer speaking openly to his Savior, Jesus Christ, and to his Father in heaven, to glorify Him because of His great love and because of the majesty of His Person.
Let us not use idle repetitions of little substance, as pagans still do. God’s Word warns us expressly about this in Matthew 6:7 and Ecclesiastes 5:2. Some believers have the habit in their prayers and songs of endlessly repeating the same question or remark. They sing twenty-five times or more that Jesus has saved us. They pray endlessly, “Will You please do this?” This endless repetition is far from adoration or worship. Let us be realistic: Would we speak in this way to our father or mother? They would consider this to show a lack of respect or trust. How much less should it be that a child of God address God with such an ill-considered, repetitive sentence?
As we draw to an end, let us take note that when people are glorified for their gifts, whether it is a vicar, pastor, priest or church denomination, when authority is wielded by people and everything is centered around a person, when nothing can be done without the agreement of a person, whatever his title may be (3 Jn. 9-10) – then it is abundantly clear that this is a work that is not brought about by God’s Spirit because He did not come to the earth to glorify people.
May we follow the exhortation presented by God Himself through the apostle Paul, “Do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31 NKJV). “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Eph. 3:20-21).
* Bible passages such as John 14:16 and 1 John 2:27 show clearly that the Holy Spirit remains in the believer eternally. The case of David in Psalm 51:11 was very different. Firstly, David was an Israelite under the law; he lived long before the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 and hence long before the Holy Spirit came to the earth to live in believers. At the time of the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit worked on earth but did not live here in any person or company. Then He was not known as a divine Person (the truth of God’s trinity is only clearly taught in the New Testament). This means that the translation “Do not take Your spirit of holiness from me” is more accurate than “Do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.” The apostle John tells us that the Holy Spirit could be with Old Testament believers, but in the future would be in them (from Acts 2 on, as explained).