THE INDWELLING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
E. Norman Brush
The current idea abroad in many circles that the believer doesn't have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit has led many to profess to be real Christians without His presence and to seek Him as a second work of grace.
That there is a definite work of grace wrought by the Holy Spirit in a true believer's life after regeneration there is no doubt. This is called being "sanctified wholly" (1 Thessalonians 5:23) or entirely. But to say that believers do not have the presence of the Holy Spirit is to say less than the Scriptures.
That many have received the witness of the Spirit years after they first professed to be saved means only that they were living in a similar state as Old Testament believers (John 7:38) or as Jesus mentioned about John the Baptist (Matthew 11:11; see also John Wesley's sermon #11, ¶ 8, 10, 13).
The Scriptures are very plain to show us that the qualifying marks of all New Testament believers is that they all have received the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9). Not only are the Scriptures clear, but so were the early Methodists.
Let us take one of the Methodist writers, Adam Clarke, to illustrate their teaching. His comments on the following passages are exceptionally clear:
- Romans 8:9 "And this is absolutely necessary to our present peace and final salvation is proved from this: that if any man have not the Spirit of Christ - the mind that was in Him, produced there by the power of the Holy Ghost - 'he is none of His'; he does not belong to the kingdom, flock, or family of God."
- Ephesians 1:13 Speaking on the phrase "in whom also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise," Adam Clarke says, "that is the
Holy Spirit, which is promised to them who believe on Christ Jesus, was given to you, and thus you were ascertained to be the children of God. God has no child who is not a partaker of the Holy Ghost, and he who has this Spirit has God's seal that he belongs to the Heavenly Family."
- Acts 1:4b In reference to the coming baptism with the Holy Ghost, Clarke says, "every pious soul that believes in Christ crucified is made partaker of the Holy Spirit."
- Acts 9:17c Clarke's comments on Saul's conversion, baptism, "and be filled with the Holy Ghost." "To say that it would be degrading to an apostle is a very
flimsy argument against the evidence which the text affords that Saul did receive the Spirit by the ministry of Ananias; besides, Saul was not an apostle at this time; he was not even a Christian; and the Holy Ghost, which he received now, was given more to make him a thorough Christian convert than to make him an apostle."
- Acts 10:47b "These had evidently received the Holy Ghost and consequently were become members of the mystical body of Christ."
- Acts 11:16 On the words "but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost," Clarke comments, "That is, all that will believe on me, shall be baptized with the
Holy Ghost - not many days hence, i. e., in a short time this Spirit shall be given, which is to abide with you forever. Hence we learn that the promise of the Holy Spirit is given to the whole body of Christians - to all that believe on Christ as dying for their sins, and rising for their justification."
John 3:5 Speaking of being "born of water and of the Spirit," Clarke states that this birth of the Spirit is the same as the baptism of the Spirit, for he comments, "Reader, hasn't thou never had any other baptism than that of water? If thou hast not had any other, take Jesus Christ's word for it, thou canst not, in thy present state, enter into the kingdom of God. I would not say to thee merely, read what it is to be born of the Spirit; but pray, O pray to God incessantly, till He gives thee to feel what is implied in it! Remember, it is Jesus only who baptizes with the Holy Ghost; see John 1:33. He who receives not this baptism has neither right nor title to the kingdom of God; nor can he with any propriety be termed a Christian, because that which essentially distinguishes the Christian dispensation from that of the Jews was, that its author baptizes all His followerswith the Holy Ghost."
- Also in Clarke's Christian Theology he says of the experience of entire sanctification, "What then is this complete sanctification? It is the cleansing of the
blood of that that has not been cleansed; it is washing the soul of a true believer from the remains of sin; it is the making one who is already a child of God more
holy, that he may be more happy, more useful in the world, and bring more glory to his heavenly Father.... And does not the blood of Christ cleanse from all
unrighteousness? Arise, then, and be baptized with a greater effusion of the Holy Ghost, and was away thy sin, calling on the name of the Lord" (p. 206). Clarke
is here unconsciously saying that justification included a baptism or affusion of the Holy Spirit.
It is clear to candid readers that Adam Clarke, that scholarly Methodist who succeeded Wesley and Fletcher, accepted as normal than all Christians have the Holy
Spirit indwelling and empowering them.