Something Different from the New Birth.
This being "filled with the Spirit" is a definite blessing, quite distinct from being "born of the Spirit." It is objected by some that every Christian has the Spirit; quite true, for "if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his" (Rom. viii.9); and "no man can say Jesus is Lord, but in the Holy Spirit" (1 Cor. xii.3); but to "have the Spirit" and to be "filled with the Spirit" are two different things. "Egypt always has the Nile," as some one has said, "but Egypt waits every year for its overflow;" having the Nile is one thing, but having the Nile overflowing is quite another. Now it is the Nile's overflow that is Egypt's salvation, and to overflow it must first be filled. So it is the Christian's overflow that is the world's salvation, and in order to the overflow there must first be the filling.

As far as God is concerned, there is no reason why this filling should not take place at the hour of conversion, of the new birth. See the case of Cornelius and his friends, in Acts x.44-48. They believed, were saved, "received the Holy Ghost," and were baptized with water the same day. But it were a fatal blunder to assert that all men on believing received the Holy Ghost in a similar manner, or were thus filled with the Spirit. Most certainly in Bible times it was not so.

1. Take the case of the Apostles themselves.

In Acts ii.4 we read, "They were all filled with the Holy Spirit," all in the upper room, men and women, including the twelve apostles. Now these men had the Spirit before. When Christ called them to follow Him, when they were converted, they received the Spirit. After His resurrection, but before His ascension, Christ breathed on them and said, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost" (John xx.22), and of course they did "receive" the Spirit then; but it is never said of them that they were "filled with the Holy Spirit" till that morning in the upper room, for the simple reason that it could not be said of them, or "the Spirit was not yet given" (John vii.39). Yet these men were Christians before that morning.

2. Take the case of the Samaritans.

In Acts viii.5-13 we find that under the preaching of Philip the evangelist there was a work of grace in the city of Samaria, the people believed and were baptized. These people, then, were Christians, but they were not "filled with the Spirit" till Peter and John came down and prayed for them, thus perfecting the work Philip had been doing (Acts viii.15-17).

3. Take the case of Paul himself.

Saul was converted when the omnipotent, omnipresent Christ, standing as Picket-guard for that little church at Damascus, unhorsed him, and took him prisoner on the Damascus road. "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" That question sounds like conversion, surely. For three days he lay in darkness in Damascus, a surrendered, believing man, and therefore a Christian man; but it was not till Ananias came to him that he was "filled with the Holy Ghost" (Acts ix.17). And who was this Ananias through whom this man Saul, destined to prove himself the truest, bravest, grandest servant the Lord Jesus ever had -- through whom even Saul received the greatest of the New Testament blessings? He was an obscure obedient believer, of whom we know nothing else than that he did this service for Saul. Here is the ministry of the saints. So it may be to-day, some big Paul may be blessed through the ministry of some little Ananias.

4. Take the case of the Ephesians in Acts xix.1-6.

Here were twelve men who were disciples, they had been believers for some time when Paul found them; in other words, they were saved, they were Christians. But Paul's first question to them was, "Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?" Plainly showing that Paul thought it possible for them to have been believers and yet not to have received the Holy Ghost. Indeed, in this case, what Paul deemed a possibility turned out to be a fact; they had not yet "received" the Spirit. Of course, in a certain sense, they had the Spirit; it was by the Spirit they had believed, and if they had not the Spirit of Christ, they were none of His; but for all that, they had not yet "received" the Spirit in the Pentecostal sense of the word, in the sense in which Paul meant it. They had not yet come to their Pentecost. In the R. V., Paul's question is rendered, "Did ye receive the Holy Ghost when ye believed?" Proving (1) that it is possible to "receive" the Holy Ghost at the moment of believing, and (2) that it is possible to believe without "receiving," as has already been pointed out from the rendering of the A.V. After Paul had instructed them more fully in the word and way of the Lord, we read that "the Holy Ghost came on them." From this we gather that these men of Ephesus obtained a blessing subsequent to their conversion, spoken of here as "receiving" the Holy Ghost, as the Holy Ghost "coming" on them. This is in strict accord with what Paul himself says of this event when writing to the Ephesians in Eph. i.13, "After that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise." First they "believed," and then, some time after "believing," they were "sealed," they "received," they were "filled." From these four cases -- (1) Apostles, (2) Samaritans, (3) Saul, (4) Ephesians -- we conclude that in New Testament times men actually lived as Christians, were saved, converted men, and yet knew nothing of the "Filling" with the Spirit -- this knowledge, this blessing coming to them some time after their being born again. Yet this is the very thing some to-day deny! Whom are we to believe? These objectors or the Sacred Record? The Divine Word declares it, and there is then no room or need for argument. So we affirm that it is equally possible for believers, for saved, converted men, to live in our own time, as well as in Bible times, without the "Fullness;" nay more, it is possible for them to live for years, then die and go home to Heaven to be there for ever with the Lord, and to have known nothing on earth of what it was to be "filled with the Spirit." But what a loss they have suffered! Eternal, irreparable loss! So we conclude it is abundantly plain from Scripture, that for the regenerate soul there is in Christ another blessing over and above the being born of the Spirit, spoken of as "the Fullness of the Spirit." "I am amazed at a man like you going to these Conventions," said a man to his minister once. "What new thing can these Convention speakers tell you? it is all in the New Testament." "Yes," he replied, "that's the trouble; and we have left these things in the New Testament; whereas we want to get them out of the New Testament; and into our hearts and lives." In Jesus Christ, God's Treasury, our share of Pentecost's blessing has been deposited for each of us by our Father God. Have we claimed and received our share? Not likely, if we are not aware that there is such a blessing for us; but once we recognize the fact that it is there, we surely will not rest till we have made it our own. The Scottish bankers have published the fact that they have lying in their vaults a sum of L40,000,000 in unclaimed deposits. Some of those who owned a share of this money may have died in the workhouse; some of them may be living to this moment in direst need, and they might have their money for the claiming; but they do not know that it is theirs. What vast unclaimed deposits are lying in God's Treasury, Christ! Some of His people have died spiritually poor; some are living to-day in spiritual penury, a hand-to-mouth existence, with such "untrackable riches" lying "at call," at deposit in their name. What have we done with our deposit? We are responsible for its use and disuse. Remember! the reckoning day is coming (Matt. xxv.19).

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