I decided to read through What the Bible Teaches, by R.A. Torrey again. It’s a great book – you can download a free PDF here – so we’re doing a little Bible study every Thursday. The collection is here. Subscribe over there to make sure you don’t miss anything, but come back and add your voice in the Comments! >>>
Uh-oh. It’s Holy Spirit-Baptism week. Smells like controversy …
Let’s outline Torrey’s Propositions first:
- A number of different expressions (“baptized with the Holy Spirit,” “receive the Holy Ghost,” etc.) are used in the New Testament to describe the same experience.
- The baptism with the Holy Spirit is a definite experience of which one ought to know whether he has received it or not.
- The baptism with the Holy Spirit is an operation of the Holy Spirit distinct from, and subsequent and additional to, His regenerating work.
- The baptism with the Holy Spirit is an experience connected with, and primarily for the purpose of, service.
Then, Torrey breaks it up. It’s a long chapter, so we’ll just look at the General Propositions from here:
- The baptism with the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God coming upon the believer, filling his mind with a real apprehension of truth, and taking possession of his faculties, imparting to him gifts not otherwise his, but which qualify him for the service to which he is called.
- The baptism with the Holy Spirit is absolutely necessary in every Christian for the service that Christ demands and expects of him.
- The baptism with the Holy Spirit was not merely for the apostles, or those of the apostolic age …
- The same disciple is said to have been filled with the Holy Spirit on different occasions.
One part that I love about this chapter is under that first General Proposition:
The man who is filled with the Holy Ghost will not be singing sentimental ballads, nor comic ditties, nor operatic airs while the power of the Holy Ghost is upon him. If the Holy Ghost should come upon one while listening to the most innocent of the world’s songs, he would not enjoy it. He would long to hear something about Christ.
I don’t think Torrey is necessarily condemning secular entertainment, but the sentiment is true – and something that any Spirit-filled believer can testify to.
And I love it because those two sentences explain all the confusion and controversy that ever arose over the theology of salvation by grace, verses by works.
We’re saved by grace, but other passages of scripture put such an emphasis on good deeds, that it seems to say the exact opposite. Non-Christians assume that a life of faith is a dull life of constantly trying to be good. People who call themselves Christians use the term “saved by grace” to justify their sin, and push off anyone who tries to correct them in love.
But it’s not abut any of that. It’s about the Holy Spirit overshadowing me, and leading me into a new nature.
I don’t do good things to earn my salvation, but because of my salvation. This life is not a goose-step, it’s a joy to every day become a little more like my Savior. It doesn’t mean I stop trying, it means I lean on His Spirit to do even better than I could have without Him.
It sounds crazy to anyone who hasn’t experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but Torrey’s statement is true. The Spirit in me wants nothing but Jesus, and I love it.