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HAVE YOU RECEIVED THE HOLY GHOST?

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, September 27, 2009

“Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?” (Acts 19:2).


Our King James Bible has it as “Holy Ghost.” But the word “ghost” has pejorated into a Halloween “spook” today. When the KJV was translated, “ghost” simply meant “spirit.” And that is exactly the way the original Greek has it. The Greek word is “pneuma” and it simply means “spirit.” So, Paul was asking them,

“Have ye received the Holy Spirit since ye believed?”

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Third Person of the Holy Trinity,

“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one”
      (I John 5:7).

When we sing the Doxology in the services we proclaim our faith in the triune God. Sing it!

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! Amen.
   (“Doxology” by Thomas Ken, 1637-1711).

“Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?”
      (Acts 19:2).

Because of the error of Pentecostalism, I must say that the KJV seems to make receiving the Holy Spirit something that happens after one believes. Dr. McGee said that it would be better to translate it, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when ye believed?” (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, volume IV, p. 597). Furthermore, Dr. McGee said that these people, to whom the Apostle spoke,

…had been instructed up to the baptism of John…You see these people were baptized, but they were not saved. They had not received the Holy Spirit because they were not saved. Friend, the moment you trust Christ you are regenerated [born again] by the Spirit of God…This happens the moment you… trust Christ. Paul detected that this had not happened to these people (McGee, ibid.).

“Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?”
      (Acts 19:2).

Without going into further detail, I must say that they believed something! They doubtlessly believed the facts that John the Baptist preached. John the Baptist preached about Christ. He even said,

“Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

They undoubtedly believed those facts about Christ. Yet, as Dr. McGee said, “they were not saved.”

This shows that you can know certain facts about Christ; you can have a certain amount of knowledge about Him, but still not be converted. Many people today are in this condition. They have heard about Christ. They have “come forward” at “decision time.” They have perhaps “raised their hands” and said a “sinner’s prayer,” but they are still not converted. All they did was believe the facts about Christ. There was nothing supernatural about it. It was like a business transaction. They believed certain facts about Jesus, but they were never born again by the Spirit of God! To those who have merely believed the facts of the Gospel, we ask that same question,

“Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?”
      (Acts 19:2).

The question leads us to examine what the Holy Spirit does in real conversion.

I. First, have you received conviction by the Holy Spirit?

Jesus said,

“When he is come, he will reprove the world of sin” (John 16:8).

Yes, this happened on the Day of Pentecost. But the promise of John 16:8 is not restricted to Pentecost. Peter and Thomas and others were convicted of sin before Pentecost. Millions of people have been convicted of sin since Pentecost. So,

“the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call”
      (Acts 2:39).

“When he is come [to you], he will reprove [you] of sin”
      (John 16:8).

George Whitefield said,

Since one great work of the Holy Spirit is to convince us of sin, and to set us upon seeking pardon and renewing grace through [the] crucified Redeemer; whosoever has felt the power of the world to come, awakening him from his spiritual lethargy, cannot but [cry out] “Lord, what wouldst thou have me to do?” Or, in the language of blind Bartimaeus, “Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me” (George Whitefield, M.A., “Marks of Receiving the Holy Ghost,” George Whitefield Sermons, Pietan Publications, 1999, vol. II, p. 85).

Last night I quoted Dr. John Sung, concerning the conviction of the Holy Spirit that he experienced when he was converted. It was the same kind of conviction that fell on Augustine, Luther, Bunyan, Whitefield, Wesley, and Spurgeon. Any of them could have given the same words as Dr. Sung:

My spirit was so weighed down by sin that I felt no peace…I wept and prayed in desperation…the scenes of my own sinful life played out before my very eyes, even those hidden ones… I could also feel the weight of my manifold sins crushing me almost to death (John Sung, Ph.D., The Journal Once Lost: Extracts from the Diary of John Sung, Genesis Books, 2008, page 42).

When you are praying for the Holy Spirit to work in your life, if you are unconverted, remember that you are praying primarily to be convicted of sin, like Dr. Sung. Psalm 139:23-24 is a prayer for God to convict of sin. Stand and sing it.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart:
   Try me, and know my thoughts:
And know my heart.
   Try me and know my thoughts:
And see if there be any wicked way in me,
   And lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).

“Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?”
      (Acts 19:2).

Or is your “belief” only a belief in the doctrines of the Bible? Is it only a mental belief in Christ, without “godly sorrow [that] worketh repentance to salvation?” (II Corinthians 7:10).

John Bunyan (1628-1688) was under such conviction from the Holy Spirit that he said,

My original and inward pollution…that was my plague and my affliction…I was more loathsome in my own eyes than was a toad; and I thought I was so in God’s eyes too; sin and corruption, I said, would as naturally bubble out of my heart, as water would bubble out of a fountain…I fell, therefore, at the sight of my own vileness, deeply into despair…and thus I continued for a long time (John Bunyan, “Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners,” The Works of John Bunyan, The Banner of Truth Trust, 1999 reprint, volume I, p. 16).

Since there were no “decisionists” in Bunyan’s time, no one even thought of leading him in a quick “sinner’s prayer,” and then giving him false assurance. He was left with God, under conviction of sin, until he experienced a real conversion. Note that all the months he was under conviction he already mentally believed the Gospel, and already mentally believed the doctrines of Christ. But the Holy Spirit kept him under conviction until he experienced salvation in Jesus.

“Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?”
      (Acts 19:2).

Sing Psalm 139:23-24 again!

“Search me, O God, and know my heart:
   Try me, and know my thoughts:
And know my heart.
   Try me and know my thoughts:
And see if there be any wicked way in me,
   And lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).

II. Second, have you received Christ by the Holy Spirit?

Jesus said,

“He [the Holy Spirit] shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you” (John 16:14).

Commenting on that verse, Spurgeon said,

Now I hear a poor soul say, “But I cannot even get to Christ; I am blind…If I could get to him, he would open my eyes…if I could get to him he would give me strength; but I lie as one [who is] dead. I cannot see Christ, or tell where to find him.” Here comes in the work of the Holy Spirit…It is his office to take the things of Christ, and show them unto…sinners. We cannot see [the things of Christ] but we shall see them fast enough when he shows them to us…The Holy Spirit comes and takes the veil away from our hearts, and then we see Christ. It is the Holy Spirit’s office…to lead us to Christ (C. H. Spurgeon, “The Holy Spirit Glorifying Christ,” The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1978 reprint, volume L, pp. 517-518).

In these days of “decisionism” we often hear people say that they “led a man to Christ.” If it was really them that “led” the sinner I fear he is still unconverted! The Spirit of God must be the one that leads a lost soul to Christ. As Spurgeon said, “It is the Holy Spirit’s office…to lead us to Christ.” Then, as Spurgeon said, “we see Christ.”

“He shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you”
      (John 16:14).

Is not this what happened to our Baptist forefather John Bunyan? He said,

But one day, as I was passing through the field…suddenly this sentence fell upon my soul, “Thy righteousness is in heaven,” and [I thought] I saw, with the eyes of my soul, Jesus Christ at God’s right hand; there, I say, as my righteousness…for my righteousness was in Jesus Christ himself…Now did my chains fall off…I was loosed from my afflictions and irons…Christ! Christ! there was nothing but Christ that was before my eyes (Bunyan, ibid., p. 35).

Who but the Holy Spirit could lead John Bunyan to Christ? And who but the Holy Spirit can lead you to conviction of sin and to the Saviour?

“He shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you”
      (John 16:14).

And, as it was with John Bunyan, so it was with John Sung. While under “crushing” conviction, Dr. Sung suddenly said,

There was the Lord, hanging high on the Cross and blood was oozing from His hands…I dropped to my knees…and pleaded with the Lord to cleanse me with His precious Blood from all unrighteousness. Then the Lord said, “Son, your sins are forgiven” (John Sung, ibid., pp. 42-43).

Oh, may you experience both works of the Holy Spirit! May He convict you of sin! May He show Christ to you! May He draw you to the Saviour for cleansing in His precious Blood! Sing “There Is a Fountain.” It’s the last song, number 8, on your song sheet.

There is a fountain filled with blood Drawn from Immanuel’s veins;
   And sinners, plunged beneath that flood, Lose all their guilty stains:
Lose all their guilty stains, Lose all their guilty stains;
   And sinners, plunged beneath that flood, Lose all their guilty stains.

The dying thief rejoiced to see That fountain in his day;
   And there may I, though vile as he, Wash all my sins away:
Wash all my sins away, Wash all my sins away;
   And there may I, though vile as he, Wash all my sins away.
(“There Is a Fountain” by William Cowper, 1731-1800).

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers’ sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Acts 19:1-7.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Ye Must Be Born Again” (by William T. Sleeper, 1819-1904).


THE OUTLINE OF

HAVE YOU RECEIVED THE HOLY GHOST?

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?” (Acts 19:2).

(I John 5:7; John 1:29)

I.   First, have you received conviction by the Holy Spirit? John 16:8;
Acts 2:39; Psalm 139:23-24; II Corinthians 7:10.

II.  Second, have you received Christ by the Holy Spirit? John 16:14.