1. "Baptized with the Holy Ghost."
"Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence" (Acts i.5). See also Acts xi.16, Matt. iii.11, Mark i.8, Luke iii.16, John i.33. Now, though "baptized" and "filled" are sometimes convertible terms, it is instructive to note that they are not always so. The promise in Acts i.5, "Ye shall be baptized," was fulfilled in Acts ii.4, "And they were all filled," where "filled" is used for "baptized." In Acts iv.8 we read, "Peter filled with the Holy Ghost," and in ver.31, "They were all filled with the Holy Ghost;" where the word "baptized" could not be used instead of the word "filled." The difference is this: the "baptism" is received but once; it is, so to speak, the initiatory rite to the life of Pentecostal service, and fullness, and victory. Life begins at the Cross, but service begins at Pentecost. If there has been no Baptism, there has been no Pentecost; and if no Pentecost, no service worth the name. "Tarry until ye be clothed with power," said the Master (Luke xxiv.49); "Wait for the promise" (Acts i.4); "Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence" (Acts i.5); "Ye shall receive power when the Holy Ghost is come upon you" (Acts i.8). And we see that, in compliance with the commands of their Master, no service of any kind did these men attempt till "the day of Pentecost was fully come" (Acts ii.1).
"Theirs not to make reply!
Their business was simply to obey. With the promised "Baptism" they entered upon a new phase of life, experience, and service, and this "Baptism" need not be repeated; but not so the "Filling." Peter was "filled" in Acts ii.4, again in Acts iv.31. The "Filling" may be, and ought to be, repeated over and over and over again; the "Baptism" need be but once. In support of this, note how frequently the word "filled" is used in the Acts and Epistles compared with the word "baptized." The Baptism which we are considering here must not be confounded with the baptism in 1 Cor. xii.13, the "Being baptized into one body." Paul is speaking there of every believer having been quickened from the dead by the agency of the Holy Spirit, and thus made a member of Christ's mystical body. This is a Pauline way of stating the being "born again" of John iii.7. It was to those who already had been "baptized into one body" that Christ gave the promise, "Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost" (Acts i.5). In view then of this word of Christ, "Ye shall be baptized," and of the word of John the Baptist, recorded in John i.29-33, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world ... the same is He that baptizeth with the Holy Spirit" (the same promise is also recorded by Matthew, Mark, and Luke), it surely cannot be unscriptural for a believer -- painfully conscious that as yet this word has not been fulfilled in his experience, that for him as yet the day of Pentecost has not fully come -- to pray "Lord Jesus, baptize me with the Holy Ghost!" Why should this be regarded as unscriptural, when in view of the word, "Be filled with the Spirit," the prayer, "Lord, fill me with the Spirit," is considered to be in accord with Scripture? Surely the one prayer in its proper place is as scriptural as the other! To know Christ as the Sin-bearer is but half salvation; to know Him also as the great Baptist is full salvation. How many there are who know Christ as their Sin-bearer who have no experimental acquaintance with Him as the Baptizer with the Holy Ghost! One cannot think that it would be grieving to the Holy One that such people should cry for the promised Baptism; but then, when it has been received, let us bear in mind the difference, already pointed out, between "baptized" and "filled;" that now that "the day of Pentecost has fully come," and that he has been baptized with the Spirit, he must not continue praying for the baptism, for that cannot be repeated; whereas he may ask and obtain a fresh filling, a refilling with the Holy Ghost every day of his life.
2. "Rivers of living water."
"He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believed on Him were to receive: for the Spirit was not yet given; because Jesus was not yet glorified" (John vii.38, 39). One may ask, what is it to be "filled with the Spirit"? The Teacher Himself makes answer: It is to have "rivers of living water flowing" from one's soul. See the universality of the promise, "He that believeth on Me;" no believer, even the weakest, obscurest, is outside its magnificent sweep, unless by his unbelief he puts himself there. This is not a promise for the Spiritual aristocracy of the Church, as some, with more heat than sense, maintain. Let us have done with whittling away the vast Godlike promises of the Divine Word, till they come within the cramped limits of our poverty-stricken experience, and let us set to work in earnest to bring our experience abreast of God's promises. This promise is for you. Has it then been verified in your life and experience? If not, why not? Is there not a cause? But note more closely its hugeness, its Godlike vastness, "Rivers!" not a tricklet, or a babbling brook -- by its babbling proclaiming its shallowness -- or a stream, or a river, but Rivers! What Divine prodigality! It is the Brisbane, the Clarence, the Hawkesbury, the Murray, the Murrumbidgee, the Tamar and the Derwent all rolled into one -- Rivers! By the widest, wildest stretch of imagination could it be said of you that "Rivers of living water" are flowing from you -- "flowing," mind you, "flowing"? See the freshness, the freedom, and the spontaneity of the service; no force-pump work about the flowing of the Rivers; none of the hard labor of the "soul in prison" (Ps. cxlii.7). When the "Rivers" begin to flow the worker may sell his force-pump; his prayer has been answered, "Bring my soul out of prison."
It is worth noting the gradation in John iii., iv., vii. In John iii.7 we have "Life" in its beginnings -- the new birth. In John iv.14 we have "Life abundantly" -- "a well of water springing up." The secret of the perennial upspringing is in the word "drink-e-t-h;" "he that drinketh" -- not takes a drink, but drinks and drinks and keeps on drinking, is in the habit of drinking -- that man never thirsts; for how can a man's soul be dry and thirsty with a well of water in it? Many people are living in the third of John, -- they have "Life," but it is not strong and vigorous; they are suffering from deficient vitality, -- when Jesus wants them to be in the fourth, enjoying "Life abundantly." The difference between the two experiences is well illustrated in the case of Hagar. In Gen. xxi.14 we read that Abraham gave Hagar "a bottle of water" and sent her away. As she wandered in the wilderness "the water was spent in the bottle" (ver.15). But in ver.19 "God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water." There are "bottle" Christians, and there are "well" Christians. 'Tis a painful experience wandering in the wilderness with an empty bottle and a dying child! Alas! that there should be so many acquainted with the pain, when all the time God wants us to be independent of any bottle, to be abundantly satisfied with a well of water within us, fed from the hills of God. He wants us to be independent of all but Himself. The "well" is in every Christian, though it is not "springing up" in every one that has it. The very well, on the side of which Jesus, weary with His long journey from Eternity, once sat, has to-day no thirsty men or women coming to it with their empty pitchers, for the well is dry. How? why? Because so much rubbish has fallen in that the well is choked. Clear out the well, and the water will spring up again as in Christ's day. So with many a child of God. The water is within them, the well is there, but it is choked; the water is not springing up, and so they are reduced to dependence on a bottle! Oh! for an anointed eye in our head to see the rubbish, and for grace in our hearts to deal with it, to judge it and to cast it out; and then we would soon have an eye to "see the well of water." May He break every "bottle," and open every eye to see "the well." Now let us contrast the "well" of the fourth chapter with the "rivers" of the seventh. The "well" is for the supply of all possible local needs; but since the Christianity of Jesus is essentially an unselfish thing, He has made ample provision for the supply of surrounding needs; "out of him" in whom is the "well" -- "out of him" who is abundantly satisfied with Christ -- "shall flow rivers of living water," bearing life and satisfaction and gladness into the abounding death and destitution and dreariness that exist on every hand; for "everything shall live whithersoever the river cometh" (Ezek. xlvii.9). Does your Church, your neighborhood feel the vivifying, fructifying, refreshing influences of your presence? Most certainly, if John vii.38 is your experience; in other words, if you have been "filled with the Spirit." But remember we must go through the fourth of John to get into the seventh! In John iii. we have the Indwelling, in John iv. the Infilling, and in John vii. the Overflowing.
3. "The Promise of the Father."
"Wait for the promise of the Father" (Acts i.4). See also ii.33, ii.39, Gal. iii.14, Luke xxiv.49. There are many promises in the Divine Word given us by the Father; but there is only one promise spoken of as "The promise," giving it a pre-eminence among all the other "exceeding great and precious promises." What that "promise" was is ascertained by comparing Acts i.4, "Wait for the promise," with Acts i.5, "Ye shall be baptized," and Acts ii.4, "They were all filled." To whom does "the promise" of the Father belong? surely to all the Father's children without favor or distinction. Since then "the promise is unto you," the question for "you" to settle is, Have you "received" the promise? A promise never made use of is like a check never cashed, and is of little use to the one who gets it. Have you cashed the check? If not, why not? the fault is with the child and not with the Father.
4. "Pouring Forth."
"I will pour forth of My Spirit upon all flesh" (Acts ii.17). See also Acts ii.18, Joel ii.28, 29, Isaiah xliv.3, Acts ii.33, Acts x.45. From this expression we may learn still more clearly the copiousness of the blessing.
5. "The gift."
"And ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost" (Acts ii.38). See also Acts viii.20, Acts x.45, Acts xi.17. From this expression may we not learn the freeness of the blessing? In this connection ponder carefully the "how much more" of Luke xi.13.
"And they received the Holy Ghost" (Acts viii.17). See also, "Ye shall receive power" (Acts i.8); "Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?" (Acts xix.2); Acts viii.15, John xx.22, Gal. iii.14. Floods of light will be thrown upon the whole subject if we grasp clearly the full force of this expression, "receive." "Receiving" is the correlative of "The Gift." A gift will not profit one until it is received. It is just here, at the appropriating, that we have come short. God has not failed in His "giving," but we have failed in our taking, in "receiving." "Receiving" is a distinct, definite act on our part. Have we "received"? If not, why not? God is "giving."
"For as yet he was fallen upon none of them" (Acts viii.16). See also Acts x.44, Acts xi.15. From this expression may we not learn the "suddenness" with which the blessing sometimes comes, and comes consciously, too? Compare Acts ii.2, "And suddenly there came from heaven a sound."
"The Holy Ghost came on them" (Acts xix.6). See also Acts i.8, John xv.26. John xvi.7, 8, 13. From this expression may we not learn the personality of the Holy Ghost? "Christ Jesus came into the world," and "the Holy Ghost came on them," are two parallel expressions. If Christ is here a person, why should the Holy Ghost be a mere influence?
"Ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise" (Eph. i.13). See also 2 Cor. i.22. This "sealing" in Eph. i.13, is the "receiving" of Acts xix.2; the "coming on them" of Acts xix.6; for here, in this epistle, Paul is evidently referring to the incident related in Acts xix.1-7. In Eph. i.13, "In Whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in Whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise," we see the successive stages through which the Ephesians passed in their spiritual history. (1) There was a time when they had not heard the Gospel; they were living in the darkness of heathenism. (2) Then came the day when they "heard the word." (3) Then they "believed." (4) Succeeding this they were "sealed," "after that ye believed ye were sealed;" a very distinct and definite blessing this for the Ephesians, as definite as their salvation when they believed. And yet, in face of this, some will affirm that there is no such thing as a Christian receiving a new distinct blessing after his conversion! If these Ephesians had this experience, why may not believers still?
When a Christian is "sealed" by the Holy Ghost, "sealed" as the property of his Master, there will be no need to ask, "Whose Image and superscription is this" upon the "sealed" one? The King's, of course. Any one can see the Image. Of what use is a "seal" if it cannot be seen? Is the King's Image visibly, permanently stamped upon us? It is on every Spirit-filled "sealed" believer.