The “Spookification” of the Spirit
I hope the title of this article does not scare you off (pun intended), but hopefully, this will intrigue you into reading the rest of the article. I want to start a series of articles that are entitled, “Baptist Vice.” I am just finishing up 3 decades of ministry and it is interesting some of the vices that Independent Baptist have allowed to become almost on the same level as Bible doctrines. Here’s a few interesting titles that I hope to address through this series of articles: Christian Marxism; In war, there are no rules; Baptist Gnosticism; The “robot” syndrome – these are just a few that I hope to deal with through this series. In this first article, I would like to address the “spookification” of the Spirit.
There are many opinions and belief systems throughout the world of religion. Some may find some similarities between certain sects of religion. For instance, the Catholics and the Protestants would both say that there is one God and there is a demand for holy living. The Protestants and the Baptists would both adhere to salvation through Christ and that there must be a payment for sin. We could show a few others, but hopefully this point makes sense.
However, there are some differences between religions that many would come to sharp disagreement on. One of these is the disagreement of the work of the Holy Spirit. The Charismatic and Pentecostals have a very different understanding of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit in comparison to those in Bible believing Baptist churches. Here’s a couple of differences. Many in the charismatic movement claim that salvation is through the filling of the Spirit and if someone does not experience this filling then they cannot be saved. You can find this teaching through older Charismatic teachers such as ???? and ????. Another common difference between Charismatic and Baptists is the outflowing results exhibited by the filling of the Spirit. You can read of older evidence of this in the 1960’s and 1970’s at some of their campaigns which have been described as the “laughing” revivals and even in the last two decades with folks such as Benny Hinn doing “healing” services. These are just a few of the differences that can be found in some of the teachings and practices.
Yet, even in the ranks of Independent Baptists, you will find some differing opinions on the theology of the Spirit. I would like to consider some of the differences and consider some Scripture in regard to what the Bible seems to indicate in regards to the work of the Spirit in a believer’s life. One teaching that has been somewhat prevalent over the last few decades is the misconception of when a believer receives the Holy Spirit and how much of the Holy Spirit he gets at salvation. There seems to be some folks that believe that at the point of salvation, a believer does not receive all the Holy Ghost but there is some type of partial filling. This is where I get the idea of the “spookification” of the Spirit. I believe this idea must have developed from a misconstrue of Ephesians 5:18 where the believer is commanded to be filled with the Spirit.
Here’s the Scriptural references that indicate that upon salvation, a believer receives the Holy Ghost in his life.
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13)
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. (John 3:5-8)
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:38)
But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. (Rom. 8:9-11)
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? (1 Cor. 3:16)
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Cor. 6:19-20)
For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. (1 Cor. 12:12-13)
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; (Titus 3:5)
As you can see, there are many verses which indicate that the Holy Spirit is engaged in the salvation process. He is the agent of regeneration. Regeneration in salvation is the idea of man becoming a new creature (1 Corinthians 5:17). As Titus 3:5 points out, the combination of the Word of God with the Spirit of God does this regeneration work at Salvation. This is a Divine work not man’s work. From this point of salvation, the Holy Spirit resides in the believer. He is baptized into the body of Christ as the book of Corinthians points out. We then have all the Holy Spirit that is possible to have within us at the time of conversion. The Bible indicates that the Holy Spirit is the one given to the believer to assure him of salvation (2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 4:30).
So, now we come to the next hard teaching regarding the Holy Spirit. This is the understanding of Ephesians 5:18 – so what is the filling of the Spirit. I always say that context is very important so what is the context of the book of Ephesians. The context of Ephesians is that a believer is “in Christ.” You will find this or some form of this phrase in the first three chapters of Ephesians close to 15x. You will also find that there are numerous references to the work of Holy Spirit in relations to this new life in Christ. The Holy Spirit has been given as an “earnest” to the believer. He is there to strengthen the inner man. So, it is understood that the believer has the Holy Spirit and as we saw already, the believer has all of the Holy Spirit. What seems to be the point is how much will you allow the Holy Spirit to mold and shape you? Also, how much will you allow the Holy Spirit to have access to every area of your life? An illustration of this would be somebody who is allowed to purchase a home, but is not given all the keys to the property. I have had this experience, personally. I have had to try to find the right keys and then get keys made so that I would have all the access. Yes, not a perfect illustration because we are not dealing with the physical realm, but it does help us to start to see some of the point. I am not in danger of losing the Holy Spirit if I am saved, but I am in danger of not allowing the Holy Spirit to fill me to the uttermost in His ability to change, mold and make me into the image of Christ.
I call this a Baptist vice because saying that the Holy Spirit is not completely given to the believer at salvation is dangerous. This can create a mysterious, gnostic quality to this doctrine. By that, who then knows how to get all of it; what is the formula for obtaining this; How do I maintain more or less of the Spirit. By allowing this idea into teaching, we create doubt in the authenticity and authority of Scripture.
Yes, we have all the Holy Spirit upon salvation. We are sealed with the Holy Spirit unto the day of redemption. However, a believer may not take advantage of this person of the godhead who resides within the believer (1 Cor. 6:19). Let’s be accurate in our understanding and presenting of crucial doctrines. Let’s also allow the Holy Spirit to be in control of every area of our lives. Let’s walk in the Spirit. This close walk will produce a peaceable fruit of righteousness.