CHRIST'S TWO RECEPTIONS AND TWO BESTOWALS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
Section 1. The Two Receptions of the Spirit.
Jesus on the day of His baptism by John received the Holy Spirit in a manner which indicated that it was a permanent and not a transitory gift, for the Spirit descended and abode upon Him. A Second reception of the Holy Spirit took place after His ascension (Acts 1 33). The differences of these receptions we may not be able to point out. But since the earthly life of Jesus is an example for His disciples, it is important to know just what the Spirit did for Him and whether we may expect Him to do the same for us.
We now come to the question, What did the first reception or anointing of the Spirit do for Jesus as a man? It certainly was not His entire sanctification, for He was perfectly sinless. It was something more than a visible consecration or setting apart for the work of the world's redemption. God does not do merely spectacular deeds. The form of a dove was designed for human spectators, but the reality, the descent of the personal Holy Spirit and His permanent abiding, was an uplift in the life of the Son of God on the earth and a special enduement for the work of redemption. From that hour He went forth in the power of the Spirit. His perfect manhood needed this enduement for the successful accomplishment of His mission. If this be true, does not every man and woman need, in addition to perfect purification, the same empowerment for life's mission? For we believe with Dr. Bushnell, that God has a plan for every person's life, a work for every one to achieve. Moreover, we believe that this plan, if realized, will secure two ends, God's highest glory and our highest happiness. What a prerogative of personality it is that 1, a creature, may advance the glory of the infinite Creator by reflecting His moral attributes and by giving a race of sinners a more worthy conception of His character! This can be done by the fulness of the Holy Spirit exalting, intensifying and guiding our mental and moral faculties. Even entirely sanctified souls cannot depend on their unaided natural energies. Such souls are like the telegraph wire along which the lightning can flash, and not like a storage battery of electrical power. By the baptism of the Spirit, Jesus became such a battery. Many a Christian worker has failed to put on power or has lost both native and divinely imparted power, by erroneously trusting to himself as a reservoir. The truth cannot be too strongly accentuated, that only when the human spirit is indwelt by the divine Spirit does it attain that clear insight, that emotional fervor, that spontaneity and maximum energy of will for which his Maker designed him. It is possible to avail ourselves of a power not of ourselves and to do things Impossible to ourselves. We cannot stand in Boston and with the aid of our natural voice converse with a friend in Chicago. But by utilizing a subtle and mysterious power called electricity I can perform that miracle. My speaking into the telephone and placing the receiver to my ear, thus connecting me with that unknown force, is an act of faith. It is impossible for me by my own energy to transport myself from Boston to New York in five hours. But I can by entering an express car subject myself to a power to do the impossible. This is an act of faith.
"All things are possible to God" and to him who is linked to God. Faith is the link. Hence "all things are possible to him who believeth." Hence I am accountable not only for what I can do, but also for what I plus available omnipotence can do. I attain my maximum power and answer the end of my creation only when I am to my utmost capacity filled with God by the fulness of the Holy Spirit. This important truth many fail to realize.
In the reception of the Holy Spirit by Jesus there are three notable stages. The first was the work of the Spirit in the creation of His humanity, in the miraculous conception which obviated the possibility of contracting any transmitted corruption from Adam, for He was the second Adam, the first term in a new series, while He was, by His birth from Mary, within the human family as a kinsman – Redeemer. The fact that "the child grew and waxed strong, filled with wisdom, and that the grace of God was upon him," is a sufficient proof that He was filled with the Spirit, as Luke ii. 40 intimates, which in His early years imparted the consciousness of His divine Sonship and redemptive mission.
The second and enlarged reception of the Spirit was at His baptism or anointing for His public office of Messiah. Hem was an external manifestation of the Three Persons of the Trinity: the voice of the anointing Father was heard; the anointed Son and the unction, the anointing oil, the dove symbolizing the Holy Spirit, were seen. The abiding of the dove on the bead of Jesus is noted by John the Baptist as the fuIfilment of a prophetic sign, "the Spirit of Jehovah shall REST upon him" (Isa. xi. 2). As the Son of God He may not have needed this anointing. But as the Son of man, made like unto His brethren to fit Him for His mediatorial work, which included a perfect example for His disciples, that unction was requisite for His complete qualification to be the Saviour of the world.
It is worthy of remark that this visible display of the Trinity, and especially this descent of the Holy Spirit, took place while Jesus was praying to his Father probably for the greatest gift that He could send or that men could receive, the long-promised prophetic gift of the Spirit (Luke iii. 21).
Henceforth His "commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen were given through the Holy Ghost" (Acts i. 2). His miraculous activity dates from His baptism with the Spirit. "The Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" may be regarded as the source of all His actions, and especially of that wonderful symmetry and balance of character, combining in perfection the most opposite qualities – boldness and meekness, self-assertion with deep humility, piety and impenitence, omnipotence and non-resistance, as described in Dr. Horace Bushnell's celebrated tenth chapter of his "Nature and Supernatural institution."
The third reception of the Holy Spirit by Jesus Christ was after His ascension: "Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost" -that is, the promised Holy Ghost -"he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear" (Acts li. 33).
This final reception of the Paraclete and His bestowment on all believers demonstrates several vital truths:
1. It is a fulfilment of prophecy. It is true that the Old Testament prophets speak so obscurely of the resurrection of the Messiah that the Jews did not, before the fact, interpret them as relating to that event (Ps. ii. 7; xvi. 10; Isa. Iiii. 10; Hosea vi. 2). But that glorious event is implied in the clear and undoubted predictions of the ascension gift, the reception of which is so distinctly foretold in Ps. x1v. 7: "Therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows." The anointing oil typifies the Holy Spirit. The ascension gifts are more clearly foretold in Ps. 1xviii. 18: "Thou hast ascended on high, . . . thou hast received gifts for men;" to the world the spirit of conviction, and to believers the Spirit of adoption and sanctification, the Spirit of love made perfect and the fountain of joy, an artesian "well of water springing up unto eternal life." We are told in John vii. 37-39 that the "rivers of living water" so frequently foretold by Isaiah as breaking out in the desert figuratively describe the Spirit, whose joyful and abundant effusion awaited the glorification of the ascended Christ.
2. It is a vindication of His righteous character. On earth He was accused of sin, of Sabbath breaking, of associating with sinners, of blasphemy, of non-conformity to the Jew's religion. They condemned Him to die with malefactors. What a reversal of that sentence it would be if news should come down from heaven that the condemned culprit of Calvary had been received in the court of heaven and had been crowned Lord of all the heavenly hosts! The descent of the Paraclete promised by Jesus when He should have gone to the Father is a positive proof that He has reached the throne of the universe and has been glorified. The gift of the Holy Spirit is a certificate of His holiness while on the earth. His going to the Father demonstrates His righteousness (John xvi. 10).
3. It is a reward for His self-sacrifice. "Looking unto Jesus, . . . who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."
4. As a credential of His Messiahship and supreme divinity. Previous to His resurrection the Spirit had been bestowed as a personal gift. Now the power to bestow Him upon others, held in abeyance till after His resurrection and ascension, has full exercise – "a blessing so momentous that it may be described as that in which all other blessings are included."
None but God can fathom God. But "the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. The things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God" (1 Cor. ii. 10, 11). This omniscience of the Holy Spirit argues His divinity. Hence the power and prerogative of imparting Him demonstrates the Godhead of the Giver. This is the culminating proof of the divinity of our Saviour, even towering above His resurrection from the dead. What scriptural proof have we that the coronation gift, as a credential of divinity, was the Paraclete, or rather the power to bestow Him upon men? In the first place, we have the assurance that the Son would "pray the Father for the gift of another Paraclete" for His disciples. This implies that the Comforter was not then communicable. In Heb. i. 8, when the Son of God is anointed above His fellows -all other kings – "he is addressed twice, at least once, in the vocative as God" (Delitzsch): "Thy throne, 0 God, is forever. -. . Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest iniquity; therefore, 0 God, hath thy God anointed thee," etc.
5. "Declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead" (Rom. i. 4), The weight of scholarly exegesis is that the spirit of holiness is not the personal Holy Spirit, but the divine nature of our Lord. But it seems very much like a Hebraism for the Holy Spirit, whose effusion after Christ's resurrection supplied the most conclusive evidence of His supreme divinity. "The effusion of the Spirit on the apostles and on the Church terminated the controversy whether He was the Son of God. The communication of the Holy Spirit -a gift competent to no created being – proved Him to be the Messiah and the Son of God, according to His own claim" (John v. 19). * Our position in reference to this text is strongly confirmed by Paul's declaration that a personal Pentecost is an experience necessary to the reception of the doctrine of the Godhead of Christ. "No man can say that Jesus is Lord, but in the Holy Spirit" I Cor. xii. 3).
John implies the same idea in I John ii, 18-20, where he predicts that many antichrists, or deniers of Christ's divinity, will come. Then he says, the same as to predict that the persons addressed would hold fast to that fundamental truth, "But ye have an unction (or chrism) from the Holy One," in contrast to the antichrists who left Christ and became antichrists because they had not the sanctifying chrism, the Holy Spirit.
One acquainted with the original tongues of the Bible has a perpetual memorial of Christ's fulness of the Holy Spirit in the Hebrew title "Messiah," and in Greek, "Christ the Anointed." He very early in His ministry makes a brief allusion to the future gift of the Spirit to the individual believer, in the words which Dr. Pope styles "the dawn of Pentecost," "How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him. Matthew reports the same saying of Christ, except that "good things" are instead of "the Holy Spirit." The two reports are harmonized by the idea that the Holy Spirit comprises all spiritual blessings.
6. As a complete endowment of Christ's mystical body, the Church. The reception of the Spirit by Jesus on the banks of the Jordan was for His personal equipment for His earthly mission. His reception of the Paraclete at the right hand of the Father, enthroned as the world's Redeemer, in answer to His prayer (John xiv. 16), is for the conditional full equipment of His Church as an army commissioned to conquer the whole world. The condition is that faith which bears the fruit of love and obedience (John xiv. 15-17). Says Dr. C. H. Parkhurst: "There were no completed Christians till Pentecost, and there can be no completed Christians with the cessation of Pentecost. There was no Church till Pentecost, and a Church without a Holy Spirit is as much a delusion as a Church without a Christ."
Section 2. Christ's Two Bestowals of the Spirit.
As there were two receivings of the Holy Spirit by Jesus, so there were two impartations to His disciples, one on the evening of the day of His resurrection and the other on the day of Pentecost. The exact import of these two receptions and bestowals has not been revealed. Yet it seems desirable that the two gifts of the Spirit to the disciples should be brought into harmony with each other and with the apostolic doctrine of the offices of the Spirit in the present dispensation. Clearness of doctrine is intimately related to unity of faith and uniformity in practice.
We cannot accept the theory that the breath of Christ did not in any sense communicate the Spirit, but rather that is was a symbol and prophecy of the future Pentecostal gift. We prefer to say that something real was imparted, but far less than the fulness of the Spirit. "To understand John xx. 22 as the outpouring of the Spirit, the fulfilment of the promise of the Comforter, is against all consistency, and most against John himself; see vii. 39 and xvi. 7." (Alford.) To understand it rightly, we have merely to refer to that great key to the meaning of so many dark passages of Scripture, the progress of doctrine in the New Testament. Christ's presence in that hour was a slight fulfilment, an earnest, of His manifest coming, and permanent abiding in them by His representative, the Paraclete. This corresponds to the witness of adoption as stated in Paul's epistles, especially Rom. viii. 16 and Gal. iv. 6. It is quite evident that the apostles were previous to this hour in a state of salvation, but as servants rather than sons crying "Abba, Father." In the high-priestly prayer in John xvii. they are spoken of as given to Christ, as having kept I-Us word, as having all been kept, except the son of perdition, and as being "not of the world, even as I am not of the world," twice declared. This manifestly demonstrates that they were in a state of acceptance with God, but like all the Old Testament saints, destitute of the gospel blessing of the direct witness of the Spirit to divine adoption, the special prerogative of New Testament believers (John i. 12). That the disciples were already born again and were then in possession of spiritual life, may be inferred from the words of Paul, "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit," and the declaration of Christ Himself respecting the Spirit of truth, "whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: BUT YE KNOW HIM."
Bengel well says that this bestowment of the Spirit is "the earnest of Pentecost." "It belongs to the peculiarities of the miraculous intermediate condition in which Jesus was, that He, the bearer of the Spirit (John ill. 34), could already impart a special first fruit, whilst the full outpouring, the baptism of the Spirit, remained attached to His exaltation." (Meyer's Commentary.)
It is not derogatory to the apostles to say that they were up to this hour servants rather than conscious of sonship to God. Says John Wesley, who spoke from experience: "There may be foretastes of joy, of peace, of love, and these not delusive, but really from God, long before we have the witness in ourselves; yea, there may be a degree of longsuffering, of gentleness, of fidelity, meekness and temperance (self-control, not a shadow thereof, but a real degree, by the preventing, preceding sonship, grace of God), before we 'are accepted in the Beloved,' and, consequently, before we have the testimony of our acceptance: but it is by no means advisable to rest here; it is at the peril of our souls if we do."
This gift of assurance by the initial gift of the Holy Spirit was very timely. The day of Pentecost was seven weeks distant in the future. Suddenly bereft of the constant companionship of their Teacher and Lord, they needed special strength to keep them from fainting in spirit during this interval. Moreover, they needed the capacity to lay aside their worldly conception of the Messiah's kingdom and to begin to take in the new and spiritual view of that kingdom. The witness of the Spirit would enable the disciples to mount up with wings as eagles, to run and not be weary, and to walk and not faint, during this period of transition and suspense before the Spirit in His fulness should be poured out. "This gift," says Alford, "belongs to the Church in all ages, and especially to those who by legitimate appointment are set to minister in the churches of Christ, not by successive delegation from the apostles, of which fiction I find no trace in the New Testament. That no formal gifts of apostleship were now conferred, is plain by the absence of Thomas, who in that case would be no apostle in the same sense in which the rest were."
The experts are divided in their decision respecting the tense of the verb to be In John xiv. 17. Meyer insists that "the preponderance of witnesses favors the future as in our Authorized Version, 'and shall be in you.'" These witnesses include the two uncial MSS., the Sinaitic and the Alexandrine; also the Parisian, the Vulgate, and the critical editions of Tischendorf, McLellan and Dr. B. Weiss. Westcott and Hort put a doubtful present tense, "is in you." The only uncial (M S.) which has this reading is the Codex Vaticanus; critical editions of Lachmann and Tregelles also have the present tense. But we are inclined to the reading of the future, "and shall be in you." How the Spirit was with the disciples and not in them may be explained by the fact that Christ, whose infinite capacity monopolized the Spirit, was with them, and so the Spirit was with them in His person. But the monopoly Christ did not carry to heaven in His ascension. "He breathed on his disciples, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost." This they needed to sustain their faith in the interval between His resurrection and the full outpouring of the Spirit at the coming Pentecost.
Some writers assert that the work of the Holy Spirit In the human nature of Jesus Christ is the norm or pattern of His work in the believer. This is true only in part. His humanity was endowed at His baptism by the Spirit with strength to do the redemptive work of suffering and death to which He was called (Heb. ix. 14). Thus the disciples at Pentecost were begirded with strength to unfold and proclaim the remedial scheme in the face of persecution and martyrdom at the hands of both Jews and Gentiles. But here the parallel ends, for the first great work of the Spirit in men is the destruction of sin, from which Jesus was perfectly free. He was sanctified in the sense of being consecrated, or set apart by the Father, to atone for the sins of the world, but He was never purified from sin through sanctification of the Spirit, because He never sinned. They who urge believers to seek the baptism of the Spirit for service, as Jesus received it, are doing a good service to the Church; but they who proclaim this baptism for entire sanctification first and then as a full equipment for effective labor act more wisely, because the natural and scriptural order is cleansing before filling.
The liberalists make a similar mistake when they sum up the whole duty of man in imitating the example of Jesus. The example of Christ does not include the sinner's first and second duty, repentance of sin and seeking and finding forgiveness arid the new birth. A regenerated soul's first need is inward entire purification, then strength for service.
A sinner's first need is newness of life imparted by the Holy Spirit, the Lord of life, before he can walk in the footsteps of Christ. In the plan of salvation there is a divine order which must be followed in order to attain the best results. In this order purity normally precedes power. This proposition implies that purity is not power. Jesus was perfectly pure and sinless during the thirty years preceding His baptism, but there was no miracle, no astonishing wisdom revealed to the people of Nazareth. He was known only as a blameless young man and a good carpenter. But when filled with the Spirit, "Many hearing him were astonished, saying, Whence hath this man these things? What is the wisdom that is given unto this man? and what mean such mighty works wrought by his hands?"
If even Jesus needed "the power of the Spirit," and did not enter on His work till He received it, surely every Christian needs the same power to do the public or private work to which he is called. But let him follow the divine order for its attainment: life before service and purity before power. We do not deny that there are cases of effective service without newness of life, and the gift of power in the absence of purity. But these are abnormal cases foretold by Christ in Matt. vii. 22, 23, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in thy name? and in thy name cast out devils? and in thy name do many wonderful works? Then will I say unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
* Professor Smeaton Cunningham, "Lectures," 1882, page 72.