The Birth Of The Spirit In The Day Of The Apostles
By G.T. Haywood
From the beginning of the Reformation even down to the days in which we now live, the cry of the hearts of the people of God has been incessantly, “Back to Pentecost.” Every advance truth that forged its way to the front, throwing light on the “path of the just,” has always met with a storm of opposition from those who are supposed to be seeking for a closer walk with God.
The Jews were set in their doctrines that the Lord Himself found it a difficult proposition to lead them into the way of life for which they had sought so long. “No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth the new; for he saith the old is better” (Luke 5:39), is the manner in which He summed up the situation in His day. They were so imbibed in their traditional doctrine that they laid aside, and rejected the commandments of God and made “the word of God of none effect” through their traditions which had been delivered unto them. (Mark 7:5-13.) Even so it is today. We have been so absorbed in our ancestral views concerning the new birth that the Holy Spirit’s work in bringing the people to the knowledge of the truth seems to be a difficult task.
Very few will agree with us on this subject at the first, but if they will lay aside the doctrine of men, and for a moment remove their thoughts from the abnormal state of the present day Christianity, they will find no trouble in grasping the truth as it is now revealed to many of the children of God in these closing days of the Gospel dispensation.
It is our purpose to take up the subject from a Bible point of view to see whether there is an experience in the New Testament scriptures, called the birth of the Spirit, aside from the baptism of the Holy Ghost, according to the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. If we cleave to the Word of God we cannot fail. Neither should we be afraid to declare that the Lord has revealed to us on this matter.
The first scripture that we wish to bring to notice is that of Matt. 11:28. “Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” is one of the most favored texts used in inviting the lost sinner to seek the way of Salvation. No one has ever been known to interpret the “rest” that Jesus offers here to be anything short of the new birth, or full salvation. With this we must all agree, and that “rest” comes in being born again. But the question arises, what has that to do with the baptism of the Holy Ghost?
In turning to Isa. 28:11,12 we find these words, “For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. To whom he said, This is the rest where with ye may cause the weary to rest.” It was on
the day of Pentecost that God spake unto the people “with stammering lips and another tongue.” (Acts 2:4.) From these scriptures it can be plainly seen that the “rest” and the baptism of the Holy Ghost are one and the same thing. Those who have really experienced the full baptism of the Holy Ghost and walked uncompromisingly before God can truly testify to these things, that they have in truth “found rest for their souls.”
BORN OF WATER AND THE SPIRIT
To Nicodemus Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus was a Jew and a Pharisee. His morals were perfect; he was a master of Israel. To him, to be born a Jew was a great favor of God, but his pride was humbled, and he was filled with astonishment when Jesus said unto him, “Ye must be born again.” To be born into the kingdom of the Jews was one thing, but to enter into the kingdom of God was another. In reply to his question, “How can a man be born when he is old?” Jesus answers, “Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” In these words He set about to explain to him what He meant by being born again. Not that it was any different from the salvation that was offered, or to be offered, to the Gentile, but the illustration of a birth would best convey it to the minds of those who boasted in the fact that they were a people of God through being born a Jew.
In fact, it was another way of saying, “He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved.” The statement was most astonishing to that stalwart Pharisee, but Jesus, knowing his thoughts, proceeded to further explain the manner of this new birth, by saying, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but cannot tell whence it cometh, and whither it goes:” So is everyone that is born of the Spirit. The fact that on the day of Pentecost there came a “sound” from heaven as of a rushing, mighty “wind,” an disputedly links the baptism of the Holy Ghost with the experience of “everyone that is born of the Spirit.”
St. John is the only writer in the New Testament who likens salvation unto a birth. St. Peter only mentions it slightly in one place. St. Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, never used such a term in his writings to those whom he had brought “out of darkness into light.” But instead, he used the word “baptize” or its equivalent, more than any other writer. While Jesus spake to Nicodemus concerning being “born of water and the Spirit.” yet there is no record in the Acts of the Apostles that will indicate that his instructions were ever carried out, except by being baptized in water and the Holy Ghost. Not one place in the book of Acts can we find the words “born of water and the Spirit,” or “born again,” but we can find the words relating to “baptism” twenty-seven times. If to be “born of water and the Spirit” is not the baptism of “water and the Spirit,” where is there any record of anyone ever being “born again?”
One dear brother, in his efforts to show that a man is born again without the baptism of the Holy Spirit stated that all the Jews had to be baptized for the remission of their sins before they could be bornagain, and that was the reason Peter told them to “Repent and be baptized for the remission of their sins,” but if we take our brother’s word in this matter, it will strengthen the fact that the birth of the Spirit is the baptism of the Holy Ghost, because what they were to receive after being “baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins” was “the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (See Acts 2:38).
Scripture will interpret scripture if we seek to rightly divide the word of truth. To be born of “water and the Spirit,” and “believe and is baptized” (John 3:5 and Mark 16:16), are proven to be synonymous terms expressing the one and self-same thing, by reading, or comparing the words of Jesus in John 10:9 . All three of these expressions are spoken by the same Person. In the first’ mentioned scripture He says that if a man is not born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God, while in the second, He says that he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. But in the third, He combines the thoughts of the first and second by saying, “I am the door, by ME if any man enter in he shall be saved. A man that enters in it is certain that he shall be saved; and no man shall be saved unless he enters in.
THE HOUSEHOLD OF CORNELIUS
We take to record the household of Cornelius as a proof that the birth of the Spirit, or full salvation, in the days of the Apostles, was the baptism of water and the Holy Ghost. Cornelius was not saved! (Acts 11:14.) He was a devout man and feared God with all his house, but he was not “born again.” And as Peter began to tell him words whereby he should be saved, the Holy Ghost fell upon them and they spake with tongues and magnified God. And Peter later declared that the Spirit fell upon them as it did upon the Jews “at the beginning” (Acts 10:44, 46; 11:15). Then answered Peter, “Can any man forbid water that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.”
It was God’s plan that they be “born of water and the Spirit,” but because of the doubts in the minds of the six men, that were with Peter, as to the Gentiles being accepted, God, being sovereign, baptized them before they were baptized in water, in order to convince the Jews of their acceptance. The Apostle, recognizing this to be a fact, remembered the words of the Lord, how that He said, “John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost,” and immediately commanded them to be baptized in water in the name of the Lord. From the foregoing facts it can be clearly seen that it is utterly impossible for one to conceive the idea that the birth of the Spirit is separate and distinct from the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
WAS THE CHURCH AT ROME BORN OF THE SPIRIT?
While no one will deny that the church at Rome was born of the Spirit, yet there is not a word in the whole book that states the manner in which they received it apart from the record in the sixth chapter, where it says, “Know ye not, that so many of us as are (margin) baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore, we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in the newness of life (which is the new birth).” (Rom. 6:3,4.)
IN CHRIST JESUS, THE CHURCH
That they were in Christ Jesus is plainly stated in the eighth chapter. There is no way for a man to be in the Church, apart from being in Christ Jesus, for the Church is His body. (Eph. 1:22,23; Romans 12:5.) The body is Christ (I Cor. 12:12,13,27.) And the only way to get into the body is “by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body.” The Galatians were of the same body, and in writing to them the Apostle declares, “As many of you as have been baptized into Christ (the body) have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:26.) In other words, “as many as have not been baptized into Christ, have not put on Christ.” And with this we must all agree, that no man can enter into Christ without being “born again,”
THE CHURCH AND THE KINGDOM OF GOD
A strong point to consider is that the church which is the body of Christ, and the Kingdom of God are synonymous. A man must be born of water and Spirit, in order to enter into the Kingdom of God, and he must be baptized into Christ in order to put on Christ. Upon first reading this it may sound somewhat foreign to some, but if it will be prayerfully considered, I am sure that all will agree that these things are so. The Church is the body of believers baptized in the Holy Ghost. The Kingdom of God is in righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost (Romans 14: 17.) When the Pharisee desire to know when the Kingdom of God should come Jesus answered, “the Kingdom of God is within (margin, among you) you,” that is, in their midst (Luke 17:20,21.) It was Christ who was “among” or in the midst” of them, but they could not see it (John 3:3), because it came “not with observation.” To enter into the Kingdom of God one must be born of water and the Spirit, or, to enter in Christ, the Church, one must be baptized in water and the Holy Spirit.
WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES
In reading the Bible carefully it will be seen that its principal mission is to restore man to his Maker, and that this can only be done by the “washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5). The foregoing scripture, or expression, is merely another way of expressing the thoughts conveyed in John 3:5;Mark 16:1; John 10:9; Acts 2:38; Gal. 3:27.
No man who really reads the Bible will ever say that a man can be born of God without being baptized with the Holy Ghost. “The Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Christian, Episcopalian, Adventist and all others know that the Bible teaches this beyond dispute. If you confront them about the baptism of the Holy Ghost they will not hesitate to tell you that they have it, and that they received it when they were born of the Spirit. Furthermore, they will tell you that a man could not be born of the Spirit without being baptized with the Holy Ghost. And that is just what the Bible teaches.
The question may arise, “What is the difference between the view we take and that of these denominations above mentioned?” Let us say right here that there is as much difference between our views as there is
between a millionaire and a pauper. The pauper talks about wealth, but the millionaire possesses it. The other denominations talk about the baptism of the Holy Ghost, but we believe in possessing it as they did at Pentecost. If everyone who called themselves Christians possessed the baptism of the Holy Spirit as they did in the days of the Apostles there would be no argument at all over the matter of the birth of the Spirit.
A MISCONSTRUED EXPLANATION
Recently we heard a strange interpretation given to verses 12 and 13 of the first chapter of St. John in a feeble effort to prove that a man is born of God before he receives the Holy Ghost. The twelfth verse says
that “as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become sons of God.” Our contention (Jude 3) was that the “power to become sons of God” was the baptism of the Holy Ghost, and this we proved by referring to Acts 1:8. But to avert a sudden collapse of this argument the expounder attempted to prove this statement by putting special stress on the word, “Which were born…of God” The fact that the word “were” was in the past tense seemed to give him a strong point in his favor, that they were born of God before they received power to become sons of God. If they had to be given power to become sons of God. “O, consistency thou art a jewel.”
The words, “Which were born,” have no reference to their state before receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost, and for one to attempt such an explanation is to misconstrue the scriptures. But instead, it was to show that those who had been given power to become sons of God were not made so by being born “of blood,” or “the will of the flesh,” or the “will of man,” but that they became sons of God by being born of God (the Spirit).
BEGOTTEN AND BORN
Everyone with ordinary understanding knows that there is a difference between “begettal” and “birth.” The begettal is from the father side while conception and birth is from the mother side. (Matt. 1:1-16, also note verses 16, 20, 25). In those scriptures it will be seen that the father “begat” the child, while the mother “conceive” and “born.” A child of God is first “begotten” by the Word (I Cor. 4:15) of the Gospel before he can be born of the Spirit. The disciples were “begotten” unto a lively hope by the resurrection, but they were “born of the Spirit” on the day of Pentecost (I Pet. 1:3).
No child can ever be born until it is first begotten, but there are many who have been begotten, but were never born into the world. So it is in the Spirit. Many may have been begotten by the word but have never been born of the Spirit. There are multitudes who are in that state today. They have been begotten, but the church has had no “strength” to bring them forth. (Isa. 37:3; 52:1). In the fifty-second chapter of Isaiah the church is exhorted to awake and put on her “strength,” because of the lack of “strength,” many had come into her “uncircumcised and unclean.” But when she would put on her “strength” (see Isa. 28:5, 6; Gal. 3:27; Rom. 14:17; Neh. 8:10) no more would there come into her the “uncircumcised and the unclean.” No congregation can bring the people to the “birth of the Spirit” except it is itself a congregation of Spirit-baptized believers. And when such a congregation enters into soul-travail she will surely bring forth, for God with send forth the Spirit of His Son into their hearts, crying “Abba,” (interpreted “Father” Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6). Thus was the birth of the Spirit manifested in the days of the Apostles.
CIRCUMCISION OF THE HEART
“Circumcision of the heart” is not a different experience from the new birth, but rather another way of conveying the same thought. That to be born of water and Spirit, and circumcision of the heart are one and the same experience can be seen by reading Col. 2:11, 13, where the Apostle unmistakably connects it with baptism of water and Spirit by saying, “Buried with Him by baptism; wherein ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God….And you…hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven in all your trespasses.” They were “buried” in water, and “quickened by the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:11.)
ARE THE UNBORN LOST?
The one question that is so often asked is, “are all those people who thought they were born of the Spirit, and were not, lost?” No, not by any means. They shall be given eternal life in the resurrection if they walked in all the light that was given them while they lived. God is a just Judge, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. But those who refuse to walk in the light shall be overtaken with darkness. (John 13:35,36; see also John 15:22-24.)
It is often asked whether Wesley, Luther, Whitefield and other mighty men of God were baptized in the Holy Ghost according to the Acts of the Apostles. That is more than we can say. They may have been, and they
may not. They lived up to the light of their day. We must live up to the light of our day. Their light will not do for us today, neither could they have walked in the light that we now embrace.
The evening time has come, and the true light now shineth. If we compromise, God will raise up another people who will carry His word.
Many other words could be written upon this subject, but time and space will not permit. Yet if any man will follow these lines with an open heart and Bible in hand, he will be made to see that the birth of the Spirit, in the days of the Apostles, was a baptism of water and the Holy Ghost. If it were so then, why is it not so today? When, where and by whom was the change authorized? We await the answer.
(The Life of G.T. Haywood from Apostolic Book Publishers, P.D. Dugas, Editor)
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4. Shall not perish like the rich man, but have everlasting life like Lazarus.
5. Shall not perish like the devil, but have everlasting life like Christ,
(The above material was published by Calvary Tabernacle.)
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