Reuben Archer Torrey (1856-1928) was both an evangelist and Bible scholar. Long associated with D.L. Moody, he became most prominent during world preaching tours in 1902 and 1921, which took him to China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, India, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
His preaching in Wales in 1902 has been noted as one of the causes of the Welsh revivals in early 1900s, and spiritual awakenings followed him throughout his ministry as an evangelist. He became known throughout the world as an authority on the role of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life, and part of this message is an excerpt what he said about the Third Person of the Trinity:
The Holy Spirit is a Person
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, [do not offend or vex or sadden Him], by whom you were sealed (marked, branded as God’s own, secured) for the day of redemption (of final deliverance through Christ from evil and the consequences of sin).” (Ephesians 4:30 AMP)
The Holy Spirit is a Person Who knows the things of God and reveals to us what He himself knows: All these gifts, achievements, abilities] are inspired and brought to pass by one and the same [Holy] Spirit, Who apportions to each person individually [exactly] as He chooses. (1 Corinthians 12:11 AMP) Here the Holy Spirit is presented as a divine Person Who gets hold of us and uses as according to His will.
Yet countless sincere believers are going astray by trying to get hold of some divine power that they can use according to their will. What an evil thought that I might grasp divine power and use it in my foolishness and ignorance! Such is not the way.
But I rejoice that there is a Divine Person Who can capture my heart and use according to His infinitely wise and loving will. Every biblical reference to the Holy Spirit speaks of a divine Person who thinks, feels, and wills. May we so value His presence that we never grieve His infinite heart.
It is impossible to understand the work of the Holy Spirit or get into a right relationship with the Holy Spirit, without first coming to know the Holy Spirit as a Person. One of the most fruitful sources of error and misconception in the treatment of this whole subject is from trying to know the work of the Holy Spirit before we first come to know the Holy Spirit Himself.
The doctrine of the personality of the Holy Spirit is of highest importance from the standpoint of worship. If the Holy Spirit is thought of as impersonal influence or power, as so many do, then we rob Him of the worship that is His due, of the love that is His due and of the faith and confidence and surrender and obedience and worship that are His due.
I pause to ask you, “Do you worship the Holy Spirit?” It is one thing to theoretically acknowledge the Holy Spirit in the doxology, “Praise Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” It is quite another thing to realize the meaning and the force of these words.
It is of the highest importance from a practical standpoint that we know the Holy Spirit as a Person. To think of the Spirit as merely an influence or power, then your thought will constantly be, “How can I get hold of the Holy Spirit and use it? How can I get more of the Holy Spirit?”
But if you think of Him the biblical way, as a Person of divine majesty and glory, your thought will be, “How can the Holy Spirit get hold of me and use me? How can the Holy Spirit get more of me?”
If you think of the Spirit as an influence that you are to get hold of, and then believe you have the Spirit, the inevitable result will be that you will strut around as if you belonged to a superior order of Christians. We see far too much of that today.
If you think of the Spirit as a divine Person of infinite majesty, who comes to dwell in our hearts and take possession of us and use us as He wills, it leads to humility. No great biblical truth more efficiently puts one in the dust and keeps one in the dust than this.
The Baptism with the Holy Spirit
The gift is for you and your children, says Peter to the Jews whom he was immediately addressing and the generations that would follow them which implied all the coming ages of the church’s history to Gentile as well for Jews: and for all who are far off- for all whom the Lord will call and bids to come Himself. (See Acts 2:36-39)
The baptism with the Holy Spirit is for every child of God in every age of the church’s history. God desires each of us to be clothed with power from on high. If I am baptized with the Holy Spirit, then souls will be saved through my instrumentality who would not be saved if I were not so baptized.
If then I am not willing to pay the price of this baptism, I am responsible before God for all the souls who might have been saved but were not saved through me. We may have a very clear call to service, it may be as clear as the apostles had-but the charge is laid upon us, as upon them, that before we begin that service we must be clothed with power from on high.
Anyone who is in Christian work of any type who has not received the baptism with the Holy Spirit should stop his work right where he is and not go on with it until he is. Recall that when the power came upon the disciples they accomplished more in one day than they would have accomplished in years if they had gone in presumptuous disobedience to Christ’s command. The same can be true for us.
How can we obtain the Baptism with the Holy Spirit?
Torrey’s clarity of teaching provided seven biblical steps in obtaining the baptism with the Holy Spirit, that whoever will take these seven steps will, with absolute certainty, enter into this blessing. This statement may seem very positive, but the Word of God is equally positive regarding its outcome.
The first practical question confronts us: How can we obtain the baptism with the Holy Spirit? The Word of God answers this question very explicitly. The seven steps are found in the word repent. What does repentance mean? It means to change your mind.
But a change of mind about what? As determined by the context in this case, the change of mind was primarily about Jesus Christ. Peter brought against his audience the awful charge that they had crucified Him whom God had made both Lord and Christ.
These words were spoken in the power of the Spirit and “they stung (cut) to the heart.” Peter told them that it was time for them to “change their views and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it.” In other words it was time to for them to change their minds from a Christ-crucifying attitude to a Christ- accepting attitude.
Accept Jesus as Christ and Lord—this is the first step toward the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Have you accepted Jesus as Savoir? Are you trusting completely in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary, upon His atoning death for us, as the only ground of your acceptance before God? There cannot be a trace of works righteousness in it, as Paul reminds the Galatians of their experience with the Holy Spirit. (See Galatians 3:2)
The first step toward receiving the baptism with the Holy Spirit is to rest entirely and absolutely upon what Jesus Christ has already done, not on anything we do.
The second is also found in the word repent, a change of mind from that attitude that loves sin and indulges in sin. This is the second step toward the baptism with the Holy Spirit: renounce all sin. Here we touch upon one of the most vital obstacles to receiving the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit, and we must make a clean-cut choice between the Holy Spirit and unholy sin. We cannot have both. It is at this point that many people fail of the blessing. They hold on to something in their inmost hearts that they more or less know is not pleasing to God.
If we are to receive the Holy Spirit, there must be very honest and thorough heart searching. We cannot do satisfactory searching ourselves; God must do it. If we wish to receive the Holy Spirit, we should go alone to God and ask Him to search us thoroughly and bring to light anything that displeases Him.
Search me, O God, 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. (Psalms 139:23-24)
Then we should wait for Him to do it. Often times it is what we are pleased to call “a small sin” that shuts us out of the baptism with the Holy Spirit. In reality there are no small sins. There are sins about small things, but every sin is act of rebellion against God, no matter how small it seems.
Many of us do things that we have persuaded ourselves are perfectly right, but that every time when we get nearest to God, these things come up to trouble our conscience. These must be dealt with in the light of God. If after patient and honest waiting, nothing is brought to light, we may conclude there is nothing of this kind in the way, and proceed to the next steps. But we should not conclude this too quickly. The sin that hinders often appears very small and significant (Hebrews 12: 1-2)
The third step toward baptism with the Spirit is water baptism. It was immediately after Jesus’ baptism that the Holy Spirit descended upon Him.
In Jesus’ baptism, though Himself sinless, He humbled Himself to take the sinner’s place, and then God highly exalted Him by giving the Holy Spirit and by the audible testimony:
You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased. (See Luke 3:21-22)
So we must humble ourselves to make confession before the world of our renunciation of sin and of our acceptance of Jesus Christ, by baptism.
The fourth step is obedience and it is clearly implied in Acts 2:38, but it is brought out more explicitly in Acts 5:32: “And we are witnesses of things, and the Holy Spirit is also, Whom God has bestowed on those who obey Him.”What does obedience mean? It is not merely doing one or two things that God commands, or even doing most of the things, but doing everything He commands. The heart of obedience is the will.
The whole essence of obedience is the total surrender of the will to God. It means that I come to God and say:
Heavenly Father, here I am and I all I have. You have bought me with a price and I acknowledge Your absolute ownership. Take me and I all I have, and do with me whatever You will. Send me where You will; use me as You desire. I surrender myself and I all I possess absolutely, unconditionally, forever to Your control and use.
More people miss the baptism with the Holy Spirit at the point of an unconditional surrender of the will of God, and more people enter into it at this point, than at almost any other. There are many who go a long ways in the matter of sacrificing for Christ, going even so far as to become foreign missionaries, who still stop short of full surrender to God and so stop short of the blessing.
There is absolutely no use of your praying for the baptism with the Spirit if you will not surrender your will to God, holding absolutely nothing back.
In the Old Testament days, it was when the burnt offering—whole, no part held back- was lain on the altar that “there came a fire out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar; and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.”(Leviticus 9:24 AMP)
And it is when we bring ourselves, a whole offering, to the Lord and lay ourselves thus upon the altar that fire comes and God accepts the gift. Many of us are afraid to make a full surrender to God because they fear God’s will.
They are afraid God’s will may be something dreadful, some hard thing. Remember who God is: He is infinite love, and absolute surrender to God is simply absolute surrender to infinite love. Is there anything dreaded in that? And God is our Father.
God’s love is not only wiser than that of any earthly father, but more tender than any earthly mother. “No good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless. (Psalms 84:11) The Amplified says, “For the Lord God is a Sun and Shield; the Lord bestows [present] grace and favour and [future] glory (honor, splender, and heavenly bliss)!
No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. There is nothing to be feared in God’s will. God’s will, will always prove in the final outcome the best and sweetest thing in all God’s universe. Lay your will down and look to your Father to baptize you with the Holy Spirit. (See John 7:37-39)
The fifth step is that within us there must be an intense desire that arises out of our utter need of power to do effective service for God that longs for it at any cost. And it may cost you a good deal. It may take you out of your comfort zone. And your intense desire must spring for the glory of God and not for your own glory.
The Scripture records the solemn case of Simon the magician who desired the Holy Spirit out of his unholy desire. Be careful at this point. Get alone with God and ask Him to show you whether you desire the Holy Spirit that you may glorify God as you should. (See Acts 8:18-23)
The sixth step toward the baptism with the Holy Spirit is to simply ask God for it. Ask God definitely for the definite blessing. (See Luke 11:13) With the first steps behind you, believing prayer is to be offered for the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is sincerely contended by some that we should not pray for the Holy Spirit.
The line for reasoning is that the Holy Spirit was given to the church at Pentecost as an abiding gift, so why pray for what you have already received? While it is true that the Holy Spirit was given to the church as a whole at Pentecost, each individual must still appropriate the gift for himself, and God’s way of appropriation is prayer.
But it is argued still further that every believer has the Holy Spirit, and this is certainly true. “And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9) It is quite possible to have some of the Spirit’s presence and work in the heart and yet come short of that special fullness and work known in the Bible as the baptism or filling with the Holy Spirit. We have an example given by Norman Grubb’s classic biography of Rees Howells during the Welsh Revival:
The Revival proved what the Holy Ghost could do through a company of believers, who were of one spirit and of one mind as on the day of Pentecost…..Whole congregations were melted, and people were crying out in agony of soul, “What must we do to be saved?” Multitudes experienced the power of the Blood of Jesus Christ to cleanse from all sin. But the real problem arose as the Revival proceeded and thousands were added to the churches. There were more children born than there were nurses to tend them.
The establishing of the converts became the greatest need, which if not met would be the most dangerous weakness of the Revival. As enthusiasm abated, there were bound to be many who had depended more on feelings, and not yet learned to have their faith solidly based on the word of God. The devil took advantage of this, some became cold and indifferent and the spiritual conflict began.
Those like Rees Howells, young in the Spirit though they were, but at least a bit more advanced than the converts in the Revival, were needed to be intercessors and teachers, to take the burden of new-born babes, and pray and lead them on. But these young intercessors soon began to find how mighty the enemy of our souls is, and that a conflict, not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers of the darkness of this world, cannot be fought with carnal weapons. They needed what they themselves had not yet received the enduement of the Holy Ghost for service.
Again, as Rees Howells later said:
The intercession of the Holy Ghost for the saints in this present evil world must be made through believers filled with the Holy Spirit.”(Romans 8:26-27) It was this that brought him and others to feel their need of the fullness. Just like many of us (italics mine) nothing had been lacking in the joy and satisfaction which Rees had found in the Saviour for his own personal life, but he did not know the secret of power for service.
“Many blamed the young converts for backsliding,” he said, “but we blamed ourselves, because we were not in a position to pray them through to victory. Oh, the tragedy, to be helpless in front of the enemy, when he was sifting young converts like wheat! In Isaiah 59 we read that God saw there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor, and this was just our case. Many of us felt the need of being “endued with power from on High.”
We were in the same position as those disciples whom the Lord told to tarry until they were endued. The record goes on to say that “they worshipped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.” They had the joy before they had the power, so that joy was no proof of enduement of the Spirit. We had that same joy in the Revival, in the knowledge of a risen Christ and the assurance of eternal life—unspeakable joy—but at the same time we felt the lack of power for service.
Besides we have the plain, unquestionable utterance of Jesus Christ that we are to ask Him for the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13). We also have the accounts of Acts 4:31 and 8:14-17, where those who prayed for the Holy Spirit did indeed receive the Holy Spirit. Against all inferences is this clear teaching of the Word of God, by precept and example that the Holy Spirit is given in answer to prayer.
It was so at Pentecost, it has been since. Torrey testifies that those he met who give most evidence of the Spirit’s presence and power in their lives and work believe in praying for the Holy Spirit.
It had been his (Torrey’s) unspeakable privilege to pray with many ministers and Christian workers for this great blessing, and later to learn from them of the new power that had come into their service, none other the power of the Holy Spirit.
The seventh and last step, in some respects the simplest of all and yet to many the most difficult, is faith. For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will [get it]. (Mark 11:24 AMP)
God’s most positive and unqualified promises must be appropriated by faith.”But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord.” (James 1:6-7)
Unless we believe the promise and confidently expect God to do what He has so definitely promised to do, our prayer will bring no result. Here is where countless seekers fail: they do not confidently expect the blessing.
But there is a faith that goes beyond expectation, a faith that just puts out its hand and takes the very thing it asks of God—“ believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you” “And this is the confidence (the assurance, the privilege of boldness) which we have in Him: [we are sure] that if we ask anything (make any request) according to His will (in agreement with His own plan), He listens to us and hears us. (1 John 5:14 AMP).
Image credit: Wikipedia