What a joy it was last weekend to see upturned faces, bright shining eyes and people freshly filled with the Holy Spirit. I had the joy of speaking to about 200 students and 20s at a house party and taking one session on the theme of being baptised in the Holy Spirit.
Last week Adrian Warnock’s blog reminded us of Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ great statement about our need to receive the Spirit beyond our experience of regeneration (see Adrian Warnock, 23rd February). How inspirational the Doctor was. How very challenging to the teaching that says we have received everything at conversion.
My only concern with the Doctor’s wonderful teaching is that he gave no place to the laying on of hands, which was so manifestly part of the outpouring of the Spirit upon people in the book of Acts (8:17; 9:17; 19:6), and indeed was a foundation doctrine referred to in Hebrews 6:3.
I remember speaking to Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones about my having been filled with the Spirit. He was very happy to know that I had enjoyed such an experience but he tended to emphasise the place of God’s sovereignty in the coming of the Spirit upon people. He used to quote many of the famous stories of men like Moody and Finney, and others who knew phenomenal experiences of the Spirit. But the Scripture actually shows new Christians receiving the laying on of hands resulting in the Spirit coming upon them.
It was my joy to lay hands on several on Sunday, and probably a couple of dozen people responded and were filled with the Spirit, many of them praising God in new tongues and very excited about how God’s presence had become so fresh and intimate to them.
I was fascinated to note that John Piper exonerated Dr Lloyd-Jones’ view of the baptism of the Holy Spirit but asked the question, ‘Where were the Doctor’s hands?’ He went on to answer, ‘Probably in his books.’
Quenching the Spirit
The Doctor is urgent in saying, ‘There is nothing, I am convinced, that so quenches the Spirit as the teaching which identifies the baptism of the Holy Ghost with regeneration.’ I found it a joy to spend an hour teaching from the Word of God and helping these young people to anticipate that God would give the Spirit, as He did in the book of Acts.
Some have argued that you do not develop doctrine from narrative passages, but the Scripture itself says that, ‘All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine,’ (2 Tim 3:16) and indeed we derive much doctrine from narrative. Paul tells us, ‘All these things happened to them as examples and were written down for our instruction on whom the end of the ages has come’ (1 Cor. 10:11). So here Paul plainly teaches that narrative is not only exemplary but also instructive.
By hearing with faith
As people heard clear instruction on Sunday morning their faith was stimulated, their expectation lifted and they came and received. As Paul asks in Galatians 3:2, ‘Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?’ Adding, ‘Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law or by hearing with faith?’ (Gal. 3:2 & 5 ESV). As my young friends listened with faith, hearts were opened and they received the Holy Spirit with great joy.