Zachary Taylor Sweeney.

The Spirit and the Word A Treatise on the Holy Spirit in the Light of a Rational Interpretation of the Word of Truth online

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judgment and pronounced a righteous judgment in its place, thus judging
Pilate "the prince of this world." The above three things were
accomplished on the day of Pentecost by the coming of the Spirit. The
Jews were convicted of sin in rejecting and crucifying Christ; they were
also convicted of the righteousness of Christ in claiming to be the Son
of God, and likewise convinced that God had raised up Jesus and made him
both Lord and Christ. In accomplishing this work the Spirit did it
through the instrumentality of gospel preaching, and all subsequent
convictions of sin, of righteousness and of judgment have been
accomplished through the same agency, and will be till the end of time.

This Paraclete continued with the apostles till the end of their
ministry, guiding, leading, and showing them "things to come," bringing
all things to their remembrance that Christ had spoken unto them. Under
this direct and supernatural control they preached the gospel to all the
nations of the earth, and established the church with all its officers,
ordinances, privileges and duties. They wrote the epistles to the
churches and gave to mankind the New Testament, "the perfect law of
liberty." The work of the Paraclete being finished, and his mission
ended, no man has been guided, shown and directed personally by him
since. God does no unnecessary work, and the work of the Paraclete is
not necessary now. His work remains in the teachings and lives of the
apostles. There are many things in the above-mentioned chapters that
rightfully have a universal application, but the special promises
concerning the Paraclete are not included in those things.

"Wherefore he saith, When he ascended on high, he led captivity
captive, And gave gifts unto men.... And he gave some to be apostles;
and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and
teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of
ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ: till we all
attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of
God, unto a fullgrown man, unto the measure of the stature of the
fulness of Christ" (Eph. 4:8, 11-13).




VII

THE SPIRIT AND THE APOSTOLIC CHURCH


That the Holy Spirit sustained a relation to the apostolic church that
it does not sustain to the church of to-day is clearly evident to the
student of the Divine Word. The church of the apostolic age had no New
Testament as we have to-day. Hence the necessity of a more direct and
immediate leading than is necessary to-day. The apostle Paul states the
difference between the two when he says: "For we know in part, and we
prophesy in part; but when that which is perfect is come, that which is
in part shall be done away." This is not a contrast between the
imperfections of our day and the perfection of heaven, but between the
imperfection of the apostolic church and the perfection of the church of
to-day. That which is perfect _has come_; a perfect revelation of
Christian character, a perfect gospel, a perfect "law of liberty," a
perfect New Testament. The apostolic church was limited to knowing _in
part_ and prophesying _in part_. "But to each one is given the
manifestation of the Spirit to profit withal. For to one is given
through the Spirit the word of wisdom; and to another the word of
knowledge, according to the same Spirit: to another faith, in the same
Spirit; to another gifts of healings, in the one Spirit; and to another
workings of miracles; and to another prophecy; and to another
discernings of spirits: to another divers kinds of tongues; and to
another the interpretation of tongues: but all these worketh the one and
the same Spirit, dividing to each one severally even as he will" (1 Cor.
12:7-11).

Now, here was manifestly a condition in the first churches that does not
exist to-day. Here are various direct and supernatural workings that are
manifestations of spiritual power resulting from a direct _gift of the
Spirit_ to members of apostolic churches. Now, there was a purpose to
be accomplished by this special gift of the Spirit. In the fourth
chapter of Ephesians the apostle tells us the purpose of this gift. "And
he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and
some, pastors and teachers; _for_ the perfecting of the saints, _for_
the work of the ministry, _for_ the edifying of the body of Christ:
_Till we all come to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the
Son of God_." This gift of the Spirit accompanied the baptism of the
Spirit on the day of Pentecost.

This brings us to a very-interesting question; viz., Was the promise of
the "gift of the Holy Spirit," referred to by Peter on the day of
Pentecost, a universal one to all who obey the gospel, or was it limited
to those of the apostolic church who received it that they might
manifest it in a supernatural way "to profit withal," or to the profit
of all?

There are some who claim that "the gift of the Spirit" is one that
belongs to all who obey the gospel to-day, that it is independent of the
instrumentality of the gospel, and is the peculiar heritage of those
who repent and are baptized for the remission of sins; that it performs
a work in them other than is performed by the Spirit operating through
the truth. There are others who claim that the "gift of the Spirit" was
a supernatural power and was conferred on persons to qualify them to do
a work or works peculiar to the age of miracles which obtained in the
apostolic church. The only way to settle this is by appealing to (1) the
consciousness of individuals, (2) to the Divine Word.

Before appealing to either of these tribunals, there are a few facts
that we must consider. (1) _This is the only passage in the New
Testament that connects "the gift of the Spirit" with obedience to the
gospel in the preaching of the apostles_. We have remission of sins so
connected on various occasions (see Acts 5:31; 10:43; 13:38; 26:18,
etc., etc.), but nowhere else is this "gift of the Spirit" promised. If
it is to be as universal as "remission of sins," ought it not to have
the same prominence in apostolic preaching? This is an important factor
in settling the matter. (2) In the only instance in which it is promised
it is inexorably connected with _baptism for the remission of sins_. It
is promised to no others, and all others are ruled out by the explicit
terms of the promise.

With these facts before us, let us now _appeal to the consciousness of
the individual_. If we consider numbers, it is safe to say that
ninety-five per cent. of those who to-day claim "the gift of the Spirit"
have never been baptized for the remission of sins. _They have never
performed the conditions upon which the gift was bestowed_. Are they
competent to testify? Of the remaining five per cent., there is not one
who can give any definite reason why he is _conscious_ of the personal
indwelling of the Spirit within him. To demonstrate my statement I
appeal to the consciousness of my readers. Are you _conscious_ of any
influence within you except a holy joy that comes from obedience to the
will of God? If you are not, what evidence have you that the Spirit
personally dwells in you? So much for the argument from consciousness.

_Now let us appeal to the Divine Word_. When the apostle Peter promised
"the gift of the Spirit," he followed it with the words, "_For the
promise_ is to you and to your children, and to all them that are afar
off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." He distinctly states
that the gift of the Spirit is in fulfillment of "the promise." Now, is
there in the Scripture any promise of a personal indwelling of the Holy
Spirit as a _result of obedience_? Let us search the words of the
Master. In Luke 11:13 our Lord says: "If ye then, being evil, know how
to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly
Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" This passage may be
disposed of by saying that in the original it is _a holy spirit_ and
does not refer to _the Holy Spirit_ at all. It represents God's
willingness to give _a holy disposition_. Matthew explains it in the
words "good gifts to them that ask him." In John 7:38, 39 we have
recorded another promise: "He that believeth on me, as the scripture
hath said, from within him 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."
This is evidently a supernatural gift, as he represents the recipient of
it as a fountain from which flows rivers of living water. This is
obviously not true of us to-day. Our Saviour also dates the bestowal as
following his glorification, or on the day of Pentecost. In Mark
16:16-18: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that
disbelieveth shall be condemned. And these signs shall accompany them
that believe: in my name shall they cast out demons; they shall speak
with new tongues; they shall take up serpents, and if they drink any
deadly thing, it shall in no wise hurt them; they shall lay hands on the
sick, and they shall recover." These five things that accompanied the
believers are all supernatural. Of the three promises of Jesus - which
are all that are recorded in the New Testament - only two refer to the
Holy Spirit, and both of these to its _supernatural manifestation_.

If we go back of the Saviour to the Old Testament, we find a distinct
promise of the gift of the Spirit: "And it shall come to pass afterward,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your
daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young
men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the
hand-maids in those days will I pour out my Spirit" (Joel 2:28, 29).
This promise is the one quoted by Peter to explain the manifestations on
the day of Pentecost to the people drawn together by that wonderful
event. From it he delivers by the Spirit a sermon on the claims of our
Lord. He shows that they had taken the Lord by wicked hands and had
crucified and slain him; that God had raised him from the dead and had
exalted him to his right hand; had given him the _promise of the Holy
Spirit_; that what they _saw_ and _heard_ was the fulfillment of Joel's
promise. This promise was not simply to the apostles, for we read in the
preceding chapter that the apostles, and the women and Mary the mother
of Jesus, and his brethren to the number of one hundred and twenty all
continued with one accord in prayer and supplication. "And when the day
of Pentecost was now come, they were all together in one place. And
suddenly there came from heaven a sound as of the rushing of a mighty
wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there
appeared unto them tongues parting asunder, like as of fire; and it sat
upon _each of them_. And they _were all filled_ with the Holy Spirit,
and began _to speak_ with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them
utterance." This shows that the gift of the Spirit came upon all the
followers Jesus left behind him. When the multitude were convicted by
the apostle's discourse, they "said unto Peter and the rest of the
apostles, Brethren, what shall we do? And Peter said unto them, Repent
ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto
the remission of your sins: and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy
Spirit. _For to you is the promise_, and to your children, and to all
that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call unto
him." What promise! Evidently the promise of God, "I will pour out of my
spirit upon all flesh." There is no other promise in the mind of Peter
and his hearers, and I know of no other promise the reader can have in
mind. This position is amply supported by after-developments. "While
Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all them that
_heard the word_. And they of the circumcision that believed were
amazed, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also
was poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit. For they heard them speak
with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid
the water, that these should not be baptized, who have _received the
Holy Spirit_ as well as we?" (Acts 10:44-47). This was in fulfillment of
the promise not only to the Jews, but the Gentiles, whom the Jews
regarded as "far off." Paul, speaking to Gentiles, says: "But now in
Christ Jesus, ye that were once far off are made nigh in the blood of
Christ" (Eph. 2:13). In this incident "the gift of the Holy Spirit" and
"receiving the Spirit" are the same. And when Peter was taken to task
for baptizing the Gentiles, he defends himself on the ground that God,
who knows the heart, bore witness to them, _giving them the Holy Spirit,
"the like gift as he did also unto us_." In the above instances,
Pentecost and the house of Cornelius, the gift of the Spirit was the
result of the baptism of the Spirit, the baptism of the Spirit was an
outpouring or falling of the Spirit upon the Jews at Pentecost and the
Gentiles at the house of Cornelius, to signify his acceptance of both
Jew and Gentile into the kingdom of Christ. Paul undoubtedly refers to
this when he says: "For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one
body, whether _Jews_ or _Greeks"_ (1 Cor. 12:13). The baptism of the
Spirit ceased when its object - the making of one body out of Jews and
Gentiles - was accomplished, but "the gift of the Spirit" did not cease.
It was conferred by the laying on of the hands of the apostles through
all their lives. A few illustrations may be mentioned from the
Scriptures.

_The Samaritans_. When a bloody persecution arose at Jerusalem,
following the death of Stephen, the disciples were scattered and went
everywhere preaching the Word. Philip went to the city of Samaria and
preached Christ to them. "But when they believed Philip preaching good
tidings concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they
were baptized, both men and women" (Acts 8:12). "For as yet _the Holy
Spirit was fallen upon none of them_: only they had been baptized into
the name of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 8:16). If the gift of the Spirit is to
all baptized believers, why did not the Samaritans receive it? Philip
was not an apostle and did not have the power to confer "the gift of the
Spirit" by the imposition of hands, and, in order that they might
receive this "gift," it was necessary that two apostles, Peter and John,
should go to Samaria and lay hands on them, that they might receive the
Spirit. Here is a clear case of baptized believers receiving the Holy
Spirit by the imposition of hands.

_Disciples at Ephesus_. In Acts 19 Paul met certain disciples that had
received the baptism of John. He showed them that John did not preach a
full gospel, which embraced a belief in Christ. "And when they heard
this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus, and when Paul
had _laid his hands upon them_, the Holy Spirit came on them." This is
another clear case of the Spirit being given by the imposition of hands.

_Timothy_. In 2 Tim. 1:6 Paul tells Timothy: "For which cause I put thee
in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee
through the _laying on of my hands_." This is a third instance of the
gift of the Spirit by the imposition of hands, and they form just _three
more instances_ than can be found of the Spirit taking his personal
"abode in men because they have believed and been baptized."

That the Spirit was imparted to many Christians in a similar way is
clear. Paul tells the brethren at Borne: "For I long to see you, that I
may impart unto you some _spiritual gift_, to the end that ye may be
established." It was not necessary that he see these brethren to the
end that he might proclaim the gospel unto them; but it _was necessary_
that he see them that he might lay hands on them and _impart the gift_
of the Spirit.

In Mark 16:17, 18 Jesus concludes the commission as follows: "And these
signs shall accompany them that believe: in my name shall they cast out
demons; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents,
and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall in no wise hurt them; they
shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." Here is clearly
the promise of supernatural power which he calls "signs." Signs of what?
There is but one answer that can be given: signs of the indwelling of
God's Spirit by which alone they could work these signs. Are these signs
in existence to-day? No thoughtful reader will so affirm. If the
manifestations of the Spirit have ceased, is it not reasonable that the
"gift" has also ceased? If not, we have the remarkable fact of the
Spirit dwelling in man and not being able to _manifest any signs_ of his
indwelling.

We are now enabled to reach two conclusions of importance: First, the
"gift of the Spirit" was a supernatural gift for the purpose of enabling
the "believers" in apostolic days to work the "signs" which Christ said
should accompany them that believe, and ceased when the signs ceased.
Second, many of the exhortations of the New Testament writers were to a
church whose members were filled with the supernatural power of the
Spirit, and should be interpreted in the light of that fact. We give a
few examples that fall under this head: "Declared to be the Son of God
with power, according to the spirit of holiness" (Rom. 1:4). "But ye are
... in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you"
(Rom. 8:9). "Ourselves also, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit"
(Rom. 8:23). "My conscience bearing witness with me in the Holy Spirit"
(Rom. 9:1). "Now I beseech you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ, and
by the love of the Spirit" (Rom. 15:30). "Now he that wrought us for
this very thing is God, who gave unto us the earnest of the Spirit" (2
Cor. 5:5). "Ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is an
earnest of our inheritance" (Eph. 1:13, 14). "Through him we both have
our access in one Spirit unto the Father" (Eph. 2:18). "Be filled with
the Spirit" (Eph. 5:18). "If there is therefore any ... fellowship of
the Spirit" (Phil. 2:1). "Therefore he that rejecteth, rejecteth ...
God, who giveth his Holy Spirit unto you" (1 Thess. 4:8). "For God gave
us not a spirit, of fearfulness; but of power and love and discipline"
(2 Tim. 1:7). "He saved us through the washing of regeneration and
renewing of the Holy Spirit" (Tit. 3:5). "God also bearing witness with
them, both by signs and wonders and by manifold powers, and by gifts of
the Holy Spirit" (Heb. 2:4). "Doth the spirit which he made to dwell in
us long unto envying?" (Jas. 4:5). "Ye have an anointing from the Holy
One" (1 John 2: 20). "The anointing which ye received of him abideth in
you" (1 John 2:27). "He hath given us of his Spirit" (1 John 4:13).

All the above Scriptures become clear if we understand them to apply to
a people through whom God was manifesting his presence by supernatural
demonstrations, but many of them lack meaning when applied to people of
God who no longer exhibit these supernatural powers.




VIII

THE SPIRIT AND THE WORLD


Hitherto we have been treating the Holy Spirit in terms of the past, but
now we come to the present tense. Is the Holy Spirit a power in the
present age? If so, what kind of a power? Is he making an issue with men
as a direct power and working upon them immediately, or is he working
through an instrumentality, and, if so, what is the instrumentality?

The Spirit is undoubtedly dealing with two classes of persons in his
work to-day.

First, those who are not believers, and therefore unconverted and
"aliens from the commonwealth of Israel."

Second, those who have believed and obeyed the gospel, and are therefore
children of God.

We shall devote this chapter to the influence of the Spirit upon the
unbelieving world.

In the very nature of things, the work of the Spirit is to make
believers out of unbelievers, and convert the perverted. We all believe
this. We believe that all believers are made by the power of the Spirit.
We differ about whether he exercises that power directly from himself to
the individual soul, or whether he exercises that power through the
gospel, through the apostles and through Christ's word of truth. Reason,
philosophy and experience exhausted themselves in discovering but two
methods by which one spirit can exercise an influence over another.

First, a direct mechanical, immediate influence taking possession of the
will and influencing the mind of and controlling the speech and actions
of the subject. This takes place in hypnotism and is supposed to take
place in clairvoyance and clairaudience.

Second, a rational moral influence exerted by ideas impressed upon the
mind by teaching and words that represent ideas.

There is, there can be, no third way by which one spirit can influence
another. You may study till you are gray-headed or bald-headed, for
that matter, and you will discover no other way.

The Holy Spirit has used both of these methods in the past.

1. In the case of the apostles and prophets, he immediately,
mechanically and directly controlled their actions and speech, so much
so that Jesus told them that under the influence of the Spirit they
should take no thought what they should say. "For it is not ye that
speak, but the Holy Spirit" (Mark 13:11). "And they were all filled with
the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit
gave them utterance" (Acts 2:4).

2. In the case of the men to whom the apostles preached on the day of
Pentecost, the Spirit used a rational moral influence through the words
of Peter's sermon, which conveyed ideas that swayed their minds and
hearts. It is claimed by some that both of these methods are used by the
Spirit to-day. The modern teaching concerning the first of these
influences is well set forth in the following selection from a widely
known book by L.B. Dunn, entitled "The Mission of the Spirit": "Even
where the light of the gospel does not shine, and the institutions of
the gospel are not enjoyed, there the Spirit acts directly upon man's
heart and conscience, writes the law of God upon his mind, gives him the
sense of sin and the need of forgiveness. Hence, wherever man is, there
the Comforter is at work upon his heart and mind. The divine influence
is imparted _unconditionally_ and _irresistibly_. The Holy Spirit is
ever employed to bring man back to God; and _whether he desires it or
not_, whether he is _willing_ or _unwilling_, still the Comforter comes
to him with his heavenly illumination, his divine influence, convincing
him of sin, and his consequent need of the mercy of God. May I not truly
say that man really _has no choice_ in the matter as to whether he will
or will not have this divine influence upon his soul? _He is, he must
be_, enlightened and convinced, _whether he will hear or forbear_,
whether he _will be saved or damned_. He _can not prevent_ the entrance
of the Spirit into his heart."

In connection with the above we quote also from a sermon in "The
Baptist Pulpit," by Rev. J.W. Hayhurst: "God has given us no means by
which the conversion of sinners, or the general revival of religion, can
be effected, irrespective of the _direct_ agency of the Spirit. The
gospel itself _will not do it_."

These quotations give us a pretty clear and explicit statement of the
theory of the direct mechanical and _immediate_ operation of the Holy
Spirit upon the human spirit.

The second method is aptly stated by an editorial which appeared in the
_Sunday School Times_ during the year 1908: "It is a strange fact that,
notwithstanding the _explicitness_ and _uniformity_ of the New Testament
teachings on this subject, there is a widespread popular opinion that
the Holy Spirit's work is directly and immediately on or in the heart of
the unbeliever, without the intervention or agency of the Christian
whatever. To hear what is said in the sermons, or sung in the hymns, or
prayed in the prayers of many Christians, one might believe that the
Holy Spirit is sent directly to the unbelieving sinner, to strive with
him, to show him his sin, and to point him to, the Saviour; and that
therefore the Christian preacher or teacher has rather to wait the
results of this work of the Spirit, than to be the instrument or the
avenue of this work. Many a Christian seems to think that the Holy
Spirit's work is that of a _revival preacher_, in moving sinners to
repentance by a _direct appeal_ to their consciences and understandings,


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Online LibraryZachary Taylor SweeneyThe Spirit and the Word A Treatise on the Holy Spirit in the Light of a Rational Interpretation of the Word of Truth → online text (page 4 of 6)