Scripture Queries and Answers: The Indwelling of the Holy Ghost

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Q. Acts 2; 8:10; 19 Rom. 8, &c.—It being allowed that Acts 2 is the descent of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost to form and indwell the Church, but only taking effect on Jewish believers, would Acts 10:4444While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. (Acts 10:44) be explained of a similar descent upon the Gentiles in such a way as to supplement Acts 2? or should we avoid the word “descent” and call it a manifestation of power to them as from one already present on earth, but not having before formally operated on the Gentiles? I conclude that Acts 8:14-1714Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: 15Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: 16(For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) 17Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. (Acts 8:14‑17) and Acts 19:1-71And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, 2He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. 3And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. 4Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. 5When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. 7And all the men were about twelve. (Acts 19:1‑7) are somewhat different, as in both these instances there was the intervention of the hands of the apostles.
Granting that we have at present no manifestation of the Holy Ghost to expect, such as was exhibited in any of the passages adduced above, ought, nevertheless, a believer to be conscious of the time when the Holy Ghost indwelt him, distinct from and after his regeneration? or is it a matter for his faith, deduced from such passages as Rom. 8? W. H. G. W.
I confess I feel a difficulty in seeing anything more than faith as a condition before receiving the Holy Ghost. Is not Acts 10 the normal mode of that gift to us of the Gentiles? May not the language of Eph. 1:1313In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, (Ephesians 1:13) be owing to the peculiarity of the circumstances of the disciples in Acts 19?
A. It is evident, I think, that the great truth of the presence of the Spirit baptizing the believers was made good at Pentecost, of which Acts 10 records the extension or application to the Gentiles, as in fact none but Jews received Him at the beginning. Acts 8 and 14 appear to me supplementary and special, the one verifying the place of the apostles of the circumcision, as the other maintained Paul, and hence in both these subordinate instances there was imposition of hands. It was the outpouring on fresh souls of the Holy Ghost already sent down from heaven; and whatever difference is to be observed in the manner is due to the variety of the circumstances. But in every instance this gift of the Spirit is distinct from faith and consequent on it. It always supposes the soul born again, whether the interval be as short as the limits of the same discourse, or have days, weeks, months, or years between. That is, the Holy Ghost is given, not in, but after, quickening or the impartation of life. For a soul may have this new nature and no peace, no simple submission as yet to the righteousness of God. There may be a struggle under law, a trying to die to sin, fresh efforts under law to improve self. This often goes on in souls really quickened, as we read in Rom. 7, and may have seen frequently if we did not taste of this experience. The Holy Ghost is given when one rests by faith on the work of Christ. He regenerates the unbeliever, but He seals none till they believe the gospel. There must be life for sealing, and more too—a soul resting on the ground of accomplished redemption. Now souls are often quickened but tried and miserable as yet for some time afterward. So the Jews at Pentecost had repented and were even baptized before they received the Spirit; so the Samaritans believed and were baptized first, not to speak of the disciples of John at Ephesus. Nay, Cornelius himself had been for some time a godly and prayerful man, as his household may have been too. But that many were really first awakened under Peter's preaching, i.e. at Pentecost, I do not contest: only in all cases there is, as I judge, necessarily an interval, let it be ever so brief, between life (or quickening), and the gift of the Spirit which seals the living believer. The possession of peace to them that believe goes along with this reception of the Spirit, as outward power also marked it of old for a sign to unbelievers.