Transcript of chapel sermon by Rev. Dwight McKissic
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
August 29, 2006
I’m delighted to be here today to share in this chapel service and, it reminds me, Dr. Patterson, when I came to Southeastern I went looking for a stoic and staid worship service, and it was much alive out there. And I have really appreciated this group of singers today, and that musician – we are looking for a pianist at my church and I want to talk to you afterwards and see if you’re looking for a job. Don’t go away because I need to see you before it’s over today.
I’m grateful for this opportunity to share today and I’m honored and privileged to serve as a trustee of Southwestern. I want to address a subject matter today. When I was asked to come and I asked the Lord about what he wanted me to share, he laid upon my heart a subject matter that took me many, many years in a pastorate to get a handle on. And I trust that this will help some of you who are probably also searching and grappling to get a handle on a subject that I want to address today. So I ask for your prayers as I deliver a message that I believe God has led me to share today.
I invite your attention to Acts chapter one, verse 5. Now I preached twelve minutes last time, so that means ya’ll owe me about thirty minutes today. Acts chapter one, verse five:
The words of Jesus.
He says, “For John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
I want to talk about the baptism and the filling of the Holy Spirit. There are seven passages in the New Testament which speak specifically of the baptism with the Spirit. Five of these passages refer to the baptism with the Spirit as a feature event. Four were spoken by John the Baptist (Mt 3:11; Mk 1:7-8; Lk 3:16; and Jn 1:33). One was spoken by Jesus after his resurrection. We just read it in this text, Acts 1:5. The expression “you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” means that this action was to take place at one particular time.
The KJV tells us that this event was to take place “not many days hence.” John the Baptist and Jesus referred to the baptism of the Holy Spirit as a future, historical event. The sixth time we see this phrase “baptized with the Holy Spirit” is in Acts 11:16, referring to the baptism in the Spirit as a fulfilled promise.
In Acts 11:16, Peter uses the term in reference to Cornelius and his household, who had also receive the Holy Spirit. Peter viewed the Gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit comparable with the Jews receiving the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, thus fulfilling the promises spoken by John the Baptist and Jesus.
The seventh, and last time we see this term, “baptize with the Holy Spirit,” is specifically mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:13. This passage speaks about the wider experience of all believers. We can conclude from these passages of Scripture that the baptism with the Holy Spirit was first of all a prophetic event fulfilled, a promised gift received, and a purposeful experience.
The baptism of the Holy Spirit may be properly defined as that activity of God whereby through his Spirit he brings the believer – at salvation – into a relationship with Christ and simultaneously into a relationship with the Body of Christ, the Church. So I want to raise a question today: Does the baptism in the Holy Spirit occur simultaneous with salvation or subsequent to salvation?
Don’t go to sleep on me now.
In the book of Acts we find four occasions for sure, and possibly five, where the baptism of the Holy Spirit occurred. No one occasion is identical to the other although there were some commonalities. In Acts 2:1-4, the 120 believers experienced the baptism and the filling of the Holy Spirit simultaneously accompanied with tongues at Pentecost. Also at Pentecost there were 3000 who received the gift of the Holy Spirit and salvation under the preaching of Peter, but no mention is made of them speaking in tongues.
The 120 were saved and received the baptism and filling of the Holy Spirit subsequent to salvation. The fact that the experience of the 120 was in two distinct stages was simply due to historical circumstances. They could not have receive the Pentecostal gift before Pentecost.
In Acts 8:12-17, we see where the Holy Spirit was received by the converts in Samaria after their water baptism. Philip preached the good news of the Kingdom of God and in the name of Jesus Christ they were baptized, both men and women. When Philip preached to Samaria, it was the first time that the gospel had been proclaimed outside Jerusalem. Evidently, because Samaritans and Jews had always been bitter enemies.
In Acts 8:16, it explains that although they were believers and had been baptized, the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon them. I believe that in this incidence and Samaria, God sovereignly withheld the Holy Spirit from them until Peter and John arrived so that they might see for themselves that God received even despised Samaritans who believed in Christ. There could be no question about it.
Also in Acts 8:26-40, we see the Holy Spirit directing Philip to go to Gaza to witness to an Ethiopian man. Thank God that the Ethiopians were included. The Ethiopian man, like the 3000 on the day of Pentecost, received the Word of God and was baptized. But there is no mention of tongues, a second baptism, or the laying on of hands. In verse 39 of Acts 8 it says he rejoiced in the Spirit as he got up out of the water when Philip baptized him.
Now Acts 2 is often referred to as the Jewish Pentecost, and Acts 8 is referred to as the Ethiopian Pentecost and the Samaritan Pentecost.
In Acts 10, verses 44-48, while Peter was preaching to Cornelius – the Italian, a Gentile – and his family and friends, the baptism and the gift of the Holy Spirit fell on this Gentile. Unlike at Samaria when the Holy Spirit was given after water baptism, these Gentiles were baptized with the Holy Spirit while Peter was yet preaching.
In other words, you can’t put God in a box. He does things like he wants to when he wants to. He’s the sovereign God. There is no formula.
In Acts 19:1-7, we find an encounter of Paul with the disciples of John the Baptist in Ephesus. Paul asked them, in verse 3, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” Behind the question is the assumption that this was usually when it happened – when you believe, when we believe, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, according to Ephesians 1. They pled ignorant of the Holy Spirit, stating that they had been baptized into John’s baptism.
Paul related John’s baptism to the ministry of Jesus, and they were baptized in water a second time and received the gift of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Now to summarize this point: It is my belief that you cannot look to Acts for a fixed formula or a definite pattern as to how one receives the gift of the Holy Spirit. No one has the Spirit of God in a box. It is my belief that Pentecost instituted the Church, then all that remained was for Samaritans, Gentiles, Ethiopians, and Jews who were unaware of the gospel to be brought into the church representatively. This occurred in Acts 8 for Samaritans and Ethiopians; Acts 10 for Gentiles; and Acts 19 for the belated believers from John’s baptism. Once this representative baptism with the Holy Spirit had occurred the normal pattern applied. Baptism with the Spirit at the time that each person, of whatever background, believed on Jesus Christ. Baptism with the Holy Spirit is the initial experience of every believer at conversion.
Eph 1:3 says that “we have been blessed with spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” And one of those spiritual blessings, whether we realize it or not, that we received when we were saved is the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Now the question that many of you will have to deal with when you pastor and people join your church from various backgrounds, influenced by television ministries and what have you, is the question, “Is speaking in tongues the evidence of being baptized with the Holy Spirit?”
That’s the question that every future pastor here will have to deal with. It’s something you will have to work out in your own theological pilgrimage. And the answer to that question, based on biblical authority, as far as I’m concerned, is “no.” Speaking in tongues is not the evidence of being baptized with the Holy Spirit.
However, I believe it is not the gift of the Holy Spirit, but the Bible makes it clear that for some it is a gift that God chooses to give to believers.
Now it was in 1981, on this campus, when I took a class from Dr. Jack Gray, a missions professor, that he was teaching on spiritual formations in the spiritual foundations class at the time. And I probably bought almost 1500 books, Dr. Patterson, just trying to figure out the Holy Spirit. Well over a $1000.00, and every book I would read would influence me and I would change my mind with every book.
I was a young preacher, a young pastor, called to a church at 21 years of age, and I was having to work through this issue. And Dr. Gray had a 50cent booklet in class that, had I purchased that book first, it would have answered all my questions for me.
He spent a whole week speaking on the Holy Spirit, and he made this statement in class one day, and it changed my life. He said, “Up until 11 years ago I knew the Holy Spirit as a doctrine, then I met him as a person.”
[That’s right, Amen!]
He said, “I knew him as a doctrine, but then I met him as a person.” That statement riveted me that day. We also had a week of study and prayer in that class, and we would use Peter Lord’s 21/59 prayer guide, and I grew up in a traditional Baptist church that was very anti-tongues.
I remember when the tongues movement broke out in our church, my pastor preached a sermon against tongues. He said that Jesus never spoke in tongues, and he never commanded anybody to speak in tongues. He took a hard stand, and so I adopted the position of my pastor until I got to Southwestern Seminary and Dr. Gray passed out this booklet on the gifts of the Holy Spirit that validated the gifts. And I studied Jack MacGorman’s book on the Holy Spirit, and Billy Graham’s book on the Holy Spirit. I’ve even looked at Dr. Patterson’s First Corinthians commentary where not all Baptists believe that the gift of tongues went out with the completion of the New Testament.
Some of the foremost leaders and thinkers and theologians among Baptist life believe tongues is a valid gift for today. And at 12noon, Dr. Gray challenged us to establish a daily time of praying through Peter Lord’s prayer plan, and I was at Ft. Worth dormitory here. Twelve noon was my 29/59 prayer time, and every day I let nothing interfere with that.
I wasn’t seeking the baptism of the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues. I didn’t even believe in speaking in tongues. I was just going through my regular prayer time.
But I literally, on this campus, in the dormitory for the first time in my life, as I was praying, some strange words began to come out of my mouth. And I began to pinch myself and say, “what is this,” and the more I prayed I didn’t understand what I was saying. I said, “this must be what people call speaking in tongues.”
Now, I don’t believe that tongue-speaking is the evidence of the filling of the Spirit. Most of the religious scandals of our time have been led by men who practiced speaking in tongues. They certainly were not living a life that showed the evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit.
But I think it’s tragic in Baptist life when we take a valid, vital gift that the Bible talks about and come up with a policy that says people who pray in tongues in their private prayer lives cannot work in certain positions. That to me is contrary to what many of our foremost Baptist thinkers and leaders think.
Well you can understand I’m not the most popular man in the world, but at my age I don’t preach for popularity or applause, I preach what I believe is the truth of the Word of God.
So, I don’t believe it’s the evidence, but I’m here to say that as the Spirit gives me utterance I pray in tongues in my private prayer life, and I’m not ashamed of that. I’m thankful for that. I don’t believe it makes me spiritual or superior or inferior to anybody. I have no prejudice or bias against tongues; however, I must stand on biblical truth and not popular opinion.
I do believe that all spiritual gifts listed in Scripture are operable today, and by the grace of God some Christians will experience the gift of tongues when filled with the Holy Spirit, although the teaching that all Christians should experience speaking in tongues as evidence of being baptized in the Holy Ghost is unscriptural. The Scripture does not preclude speaking in tongues for some when they are filled with the Holy Spirit.
As the Spirit rushes into the corners of their lives, awakening new desires for prayer and praise, speaking in tongues will naturally flow forward in some. Whatever your spiritual gift is, if you are filled with the Holy Spirit, that gift will be used to the maximum.
Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 12:13 that all believers are baptized by the Holy Spirit, but he also makes it clear 1 Corinthians 12:30 that all do not speak with tongues. Now since all Christians do not speak in tongues, it cannot be the proof of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
There is only one baptism in the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:5). “One Lord, one faith, one baptism.” And I believer that’s referring to Holy Spirit that occurs at salvation. Being baptized is equated with being a child of God. Believers are never commanded in Scripture to be baptized, but to be filled with the Holy Spirit. As Dr. W.A. Criswell used to say, “one baptism, but many fillings.”
There is the ongoing filling ministry of the Spirit for power. There is only one baptism but many fillings. But all born-again believers are baptized in the Holy Ghost. All born again believers, who have experienced Jesus Christ as Lord, whether you’ve ever had a tongues speaking experience or not – you may never have one; that may not be God’s will for your life – but you have been baptized in the Holy Spirit. And the purpose of this baptism is to place believers in the Body of Christ.
Even carnal Christians are seen in 1 Corinthians 12 as having been baptized in the Holy Spirit.
The filling of the Spirit means the whole control of the Spirit, then enthronement of Jesus as Lord. When a person receives salvation, baptism with the Spirit, or the gift of the Spirit, I believe the Holy Spirit is resident. But when you’re filled with the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit is then president.
The filling with the Holy Spirit makes one experience Jesus as complete Lord. It is God-intoxication. Not drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit. Paul wrote of bringing every thought captive to Jesus Christ, to acknowledge his authority in 2 Corinthians 10:5. The fullness of the Spirit is for that specific purpose and service to bring every thought captive.
The promise in Acts 1:8 was power. And the service was witnessing. The report in Acts 2:4-11 was that they were “all filled” and unbelievers heard them telling in their own tongues of the mighty works of God. In Acts 4:31, believers were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the Word of God boldly. In Ephesians 5:18-21, the result of being filled with the Holy Spirit was that they would give thanks to God, that they would have submission in their lives, and they would acknowledge one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.
The fruit of the Holy Spirit is the evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit, not one of his gifts. The gift of the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit himself.
In conclusion, where does the Bible teach that all Christians are to speak in tongues as the evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit?
I also believe that non-Pentecostal evangelicals must recognize that the gift of tongues is a legitimate spiritual gift – that it always has been and will be a part of the church until Jesus returns. Some believers will experience the gift of tongues, and some will not. Pentecostals need to recognize that tongues is not a sign of spiritual power, although it does edify the one who is speaking (1 Cor 14:4). Baptists and other evangelicals need to recognize the Spirit-filled life and the fact that the Holy Spirit desires to have intimate fellowship with us daily for empowerment, fellowship, service, comfort, and guidance.
Now for what most Pentecostals refer to as a baptism of the Holy Ghost, I refer to as the filling of the Holy Spirit. However, regardless of what terminology we use, we both agree we need the fullness of the Holy Spirit to render effective service for Christ for our families, and even on our jobs.
Now as I hurry to my seat, how to be filled with the Holy Spirit?
Dr. Gray, in his booklet has several suggestions.
You need to remember that the Holy Spirit lives in you now. Thank God for his presence. We refer to the Holy Spirit as an it but he’s a person. He shouldn’t be referred to as “it” but rather “he.”
Know that he will never leave you, according to Hebrews 13:5. We’ve been sealed with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13-14). We need to get on our knees before God and thank him that he lives in our hearts now. We need to rejoice in him that he lives in us and he will never leave us. There is no complex formula given in the Bible or a certain order as to what do you do first, second, and third in order to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The Bible says ask and you shall receive. It’s God simple word to his children. There is nothing to fear in being filled with the Spirit. God blesses, Dr. Gray says, not blasts. He helps, not hurts.
To be filled with the Spirit is good, and will result in your good and God’s glory. It is as simple as this, and I’m not just preaching this for an academic purpose. I’m not just preaching this so that we’ll know more about the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. I agree with Dr. Gray. What I need, what you need, is to know him as a person.
When Paul said, “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection.” That same power that raised Christ Jesus from the dead, that was the Holy Spirit. I need to know him intimately. I need to know him experientially. I need to know him deeply. So to be filled we need to request him to fill us.
We need to repent of our sins as he directs. When I asked him recently to fill me afresh and anew with the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit reminded me of a thank you letter I refused to send to my uncle because I was upset about something that had happened in my family, and the Lord made it clear to me that until I repented of that sin and sent him that thank you letter I would never enjoy his fullness.
And enjoying his fullness meant more to me than holding onto a grudge.
There may be some sin. There may be some insensitivity. There may be some issue in your life and in my life that keeps us from being filled. Ask the Lord to point that out to you. Ask him to search your heart, to try you, and if there be any wicked way in you, to lead you into a way everlasting. Believe him to fill you. Receive his filling. And we should do this daily.
Here’s what Jesus said if we want to be filled with the Holy Spirit. If you’re hungry, eat.
I love reading through a book of the Bible in chapel every day. That’s eating the Word of God. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst. If you’re thirsty, drink! Jesus said you’ll be satisfied, that you’ll never thirst again.
He says come unto me all you that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will do what? Give you rest!
I believe I was filled with the Holy Spirit the day I was saved. I believe I was filled with the Holy Spirit when I was 17 years of age, and I never spoke in tongues that time. I didn’t believe in speaking in tongues. But God got ahold of my life when I was planning on going to the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville to study political science. I wanted to join my brother’s law practice and become a lawyer. But I fasted for three days seeking God’s will for my life, and he called me into the ministry and led me to Ouachita Baptist University. It totally changed my life and my outlook on life and gave me new direction in life.
I believe I was filled with God’s precious Holy Spirit when I preached my first sermon at St. Paul Baptist Church in March of 1974. I believe that at different times in my life, God has filled me and anointed me for a specific purpose and a specific task. But I believe God also filled me with the Holy Spirit even in a dormitory room on this campus just crying out to God to be in the center of his perfect will. As the song-writer said:
Like the woman at the well, I was seeking.
Sometimes for things that could not satisfy.
But then I heard my Savior speaking,
Draw from the well that never shall run dry.
If you want to be filled today, all you have to is cry out:
Fill my cup, Lord.
I lift it up, Lord.
Come and quench this thirsting of my soul.
Bread of Heaven, feed me till I want to more.
Fill my, cup.
Fill it up, and make me whole.
One baptism…but many fillings.
Jesus said, “If you being evil will give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him.”