The Baptism With The Holy Spirit

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:

  1. 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.
  2. The baptism with the Holy Spirit is a definite experience of which one ought to know whether he has received it or not.
  3. The baptism with the Holy Spirit is an operation of the Holy Spirit distinct from, and subsequent and additional to, His regenerating work.
  4. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. The baptism with the Holy Spirit is absolutely necessary in every Christian for the service that Christ demands and expects of him.
  3. The baptism with the Holy Spirit was not merely for the apostles, or those of the apostolic age …
  4. 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.

What was your favorite part of this chapter?


  1. […] here’s a topic you can sink your spirit into. Immerse yourself in Lex’s post and make some topical comments. This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. […]

  2. I’m glad you got this chapter and not me. There are some things in this chapter I agree with and some perhaps not so much. Again maybe the age of the text and the society in which he wrote is the culprit. Is it really possible that “man may be regenerated by the Holy Spirit and still not be baptized with the Holy Spirit”? Isn’t that really what being Born Again is all about?

    What is not in dispute is that as Torry says, “every true believer has the Holy Spirit.” Its what that believer does with that Holy Spirit that tells the tale. Sometimes, in some of us, it ebbs and flows, and sometimes it takes a while for our eyes to really be open to the fullness of truth to what this world is all about and what our Lord is all about, and what we should be all about in Him. But He’s usually patient and keeps guiding us in His own way.

    1. I think Torrey provides a lot of scripture to support the idea that the rebirth is not the same as the baptism in the Holy Spirit. 2 Corinthians 5 tells us that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. And we know, from the general testimony of the New Testament, that all we have to do to be saved – born again – is believe on Jesus.

      Yet throughout the New Testament, we meet people who are born again, but have not yet been baptized in the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ own disciples, as Torrey points out. He also cites Acts 8 and 19 as examples.

      There are fewer examples of the opposite – that the Holy Spirit is poured out at the point of salvation. The only one I can think of is Acts 10, when Peter preaches to the Gentiles for the first time. There, it may easily be concluded that God poured out His Spirit as proof that salvation was also for the Gentiles (since that was the response, and since even though He did they still had a hard time believing it).

      It makes one wonder if this isn’t part of the reason that the Church in the West is relatively powerless. If we don’t understand the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and, thus, don’t seek it as a subsequent experience to salvation, we live our lives saved … but without the benefits of a baptism in fire.

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