John G. Lake (1870-1935) was an evangelist, missionary, and Pentecostal pioneer. He’s one who usually requires no introduction, but if you’re unfamiliar with him, we’ve got a short biography available on a separate page.
Lake’s writing have been among the most influential in the Pentecostal movement. His teachings on healing, on tongues, and on the Holy Spirit have endured for generations. While some have distanced himself on some points (most especially on healing), many still believe that he was one of the most straight-forward teachers of his day.
We’ll be sharing his four-part teaching on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in the following blog posts. We’ll accelerate our schedule until these are complete, and then scale back to our usual routine.
This series, and many other sermons, are available in our book The Selected Sermons of John G. Lake: Volume 1. This volume is available in print, but is also available as a free download through NoiseTrade. If you like it, you can purchase volumes 2 and 3 in print, or you can download our complete collection as an eBook (via Amazon, iBooks, B&N, and Kobo).
We’ve got a large collection of Lake’s writings and sermons, and hope that you’ll enjoy them.
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit: Part 1
The Baptism of the Holy Ghost is a most difficult subject to discuss with any degree of intelligence, for though we may not care to admit it, the fact remains that the density of ignorance among the people, and the ministry, on this subject is appalling. To view this subject with any degree of intelligence we must view it from the standpoint of progressive revelation. Like Christian baptism, the operation of the Holy Ghost must be seen (comprehended) in its various stages of revelation. Otherwise we shall be unable to distinguish between the operations of the Spirit in the Old Testament dispensation and the Baptism of the Holy Ghost in the New Testament.
As we approach the threshold of this subject it seems as if the Spirit of God comes close to us. A certain awe of God comes over the soul. And it is my earnest wish that no levity, satire, or sarcasm be permitted to enter into this discussion. Such things would be grievous to the tender Spirit of God.
In the beginning of this revelation after the deluge, it seems as if God was approaching man from a great distance, so far had sin removed man from his original union with God at the time of his creation. God seems to reveal Himself to man as rapidly as man by progressive stages of development is prepared to receive the revelation. Consequently we see that the Baptism was a further revelation of God’s purpose in purifying the heart from sin than was the original ceremony of circumcision; so the Baptism of the Holy Ghost is a greater, more perfect revelation of God than were the manifestations of the Spirit in the Patriarchal or Mosaic dispensations.
Three distinct dispensations of God are clearly seen, each with an ever-deepening manifestation of God to man. A preceding dispensation of God never destroys a foregoing richer revelation of God. This is manifestly seen in looking at the Patriarchal, Mosaic, and Christian dispensations. In the Patriarchal dispensation we see God appearing to man at long intervals. Abraham furnishes the best example, for to him God appeared at long intervals of 20 and 40 years apart; so with the other patriarchs. Under the Mosaic dispensation there is a deeper and clearer manifestation of God. God was ever-present in the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire. He was present also in the tabernacle where the Shekinah Glory overshadowed the Mercy Seat. This is a continuous, abiding revelation of God. It was God with man not to man as was the Patriarchal dispensation. God was leading, guiding, directing, forgiving, sanctifying and abiding with man. But the revelation of God under the Christian Dispensation is a much deeper and truer revelation of God than this. It is God in man. It is the actual incoming of the Spirit of God to live in man. This brings us then to where we can see the purpose of God in revealing Himself to man in progressive steps of revelations.
Man by progressive stages through repentance and faith is purified, not alone forgiven his transgressions, but cleansed from the nature of sin within that causes him to transgress. This cleansing from inbred sin, the nature of sin, the carnal mind, the old Man, and so on, is the actual taking out of our breast the desire for sin, and all correspondence with sin in us is severed. The carnal life is laid a sacrifice on the altar of Christ in glad surrender by us. This inner heart cleansing that John and the disciples of Christ demanded is the work of the Holy Spirit by the blood and is necessary if maturity in Christ is to be achieved. A holy God must have a holy dwelling place. Oh wondrous salvation, wondrous Christ, wondrous atonement, man born in sin, shaped in iniquity, forgiven, cleansed, purified outside and inside by the blood of Jesus and made a habitation of God. It was that man once created in the likeness of God should again become the dwelling place of God. That is what the atoning blood of Christ provided (Galatians 3:13-14). Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; for it is written, “Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree,” that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ that they might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. This reveals to us God’s purpose by the blood of Jesus Christ for us now to become the habitation of God: “In whom ye also are builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:22). Again in 1 Corinthians 6:19, we see Paul in astonishment saying, “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost?” Let us now see where we are and we will better understand how to go on.
The Holy Ghost is the Spirit of God. His purpose is to dwell in man after man’s perfect cleansing from sin through the blood of Jesus Christ. His coming was definite, just as definite as was the advent of Jesus. When Jesus was born, his birth was proclaimed by an angel voice and chanted by a multitude of the heavenly host praising God (Luke 2:9-14). Equally so was the Holy Spirit’s advent attested by His bodily form as a dove (Luke 3:22), and by His sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind and by cloven tongues of fire upon each of them (Acts 2:2-3). Heavenly dove, tempest roar, and tongues of fire crowning the hundred and twenty were as convincing as the guiding star and midnight shout of angel hosts. The coming of the Holy Ghost upon the hundred and twenty is found in Acts 2.
At the Last Supper when Jesus addressed the disciples, He said to them, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you. And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:7-8). As the disciples were together at Jerusalem after the resurrection, when the two who had walked with him to Emmaus were conversing with the eleven disciples, Jesus Himself stood in their midst. He said unto them, “Peace be unto you.” They were affrighted, believing they had seen a spirit. Jesus addressed them and said, “And, behold, I send the promise of the Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). Then in Acts 1, we find that the one hundred and twenty tarried in prayer in the upper room ten days. Thus between the crucifixion of Jesus and Pentecost is 53 days.
There was a crucifixion day. It was necessary. And now, we the children of God, must be crucified with Christ and freed from sin, our old man nailed to the cross. We die to sin, a real act, a genuine experience; it is done. So we are made partakers of Christ’s death. But there was a resurrection day. He arose as a living Christ, not a dead one. He lives! He lives! And by our resurrection with Him into our new life, we leave the old sin life and the old man buried in baptism (Romans 6), and are made partakers of His new resurrection life. The life of power, the exercise of the power of God, is made possible to us by Jesus having elevated us into His own resurrection life by actual spiritual experience.
Then comes His ascension, just as necessary as the crucifixion or the resurrection. Jesus ascends to heaven and sits triumphant at the right hand of the Father. And according to His promise, He sent upon us the Holy Ghost. This experience is personal and dispensational. The Holy Ghost descends upon us, entering into us, for the Baptism of the Holy Ghost is the Holy God, the Spirit of Jesus, taking possession of our personality, living in us, moving us, controlling us. We become partakers of His glorified life, the life of Christ in glory. So it was with the hundred and twenty (see Acts 2:2-4): “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind.” (Suppose we heard it now. What would the audience think?) “And it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” It was the Spirit that spoke in other tongues. What spirit? The Holy Ghost who had come into them, who controlled them, who spoke through them. Listen! Speaking in tongues is the voice of God. Do you hear God’s voice? They spake as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Now we have advanced to where we can understand God’s manifestations. Not God witnessing to man. Not God with man, But God in man. They spake as the Spirit gave them utterance.
At this point the Spirit of God fell on Brother Lake causing him to speak in tongues in an unknown language. The audience was asked to bow their heads in silent prayer for the interpretation of the words spoken in tongues. As they prayed the interpretation was given as follows:
“Christ is at once the spotless descent of God into man and the sinless ascent of man into God. And the Holy Spirit is the agent by which it is accomplished.”
He is the Christ, the Son of God. His atonement is a real atonement. It changes from all sin. Man again becomes the dwelling place of God. Let us now see one of the most miraculous chapters in all the Word of God, Acts 10. A man, Cornelius, is praying. He is a Gentile centurion. An angel appears to him. The angel speaks. The angel says to send to Joppa for Peter. Peter is a Jew and he is not supposed to go into the home of a Gentile. He has not learned that salvation is for the Gentiles. God has to teach him. How does God do it? Peter goes up on the housetop to pray, and as he prays he is in a trance. Think of it! A trance. He falls into a trance. Suppose I was to fall on the floor in a trance: nine-tenths of this audience would be frightened to death. They would instantly declare that my opponent had hypnotized me. Why? Because of the ignorance among men of how the Spirit of God operates. But listen, listen! As he lays on the roof in a trance he sees a vision, a sheet let down from heaven caught by the four corners full of all manner of beasts and creeping things. And a voice—what voice?—the Lord’s voice said, “Rise, Peter, kill and eat.” But Peter said, “Not so, Lord. I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” But the Voice said, “What I have cleansed that call thou not common.” Peter obeyed. He went with the messengers. Now see the result. As he spake the Word “the Holy Ghost fell on all them that heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the Holy Ghost.” How did they know? “They heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.” Then answered Peter, “Can any man forbid water that these should not be baptized which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?” And so it all ended in a glorious baptismal service in water of all who had been baptized in the Holy Ghost.
In Acts 22:12, Paul tells of Ananias coming to see him, but how did Ananias know Paul was there? See Acts 9:10-19. “And there was at Damascus a certain disciple named Ananias and to him the Lord said in a vision, go into the street called Straight and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus.” Now let us see that as we would see it today. The Lord said, “Ananias, go down into Straight Street to the house of Judas and ask for a man named Saul of Tarsus for behold he prayeth.” And now the Lord tells Ananias what Saul had seen (Acts 9:12): “and hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hands on him that he might receive his sight.” Here Ananias talks with the Lord. Do you know anything of such communion or talks with God? If not, get the Baptism of the Holy Ghost like the early Christians, and their knowledge and experiences afterward can be yours, and you will see as we do the operation of the Lord upon saint and sinner by the Holy Ghost. Men say to us, “Where do you men get your insight into the Word?” We get it just where Paul and Peter got it: from God by the Holy Ghost. (Galatians 1:11-12)
Beloved, read God’s Word on your knees. Ask God by His Spirit to open it to your understanding. Read the Word with an open heart. It is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.
Ananias went as the Lord had directed him and found Paul. And Paul was healed of his blindness and was baptized in the Holy Ghost and was also baptized in water and spoke in tongues “more than ye all.” (1 Corinthians 14:18)
Now see again Acts 22:14. Ananias is speaking to Paul, and he said, “The God of our Fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldst know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldst hear the words of his mouth. For thou shall be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard.” Say, what about the people who say, “Don’t tell these things to anyone.” “And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins calling upon the name of the Lord.” You see, as with Peter at Cornelius’ house, all this work of the Spirit ended in salvation and baptism.
Now God through Ananias promised Paul that he should know “His will and see that Just One and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth,” (Acts 22:14). When did that come to pass? Three years after when Paul returned to Jerusalem. “Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem,” (Galatians 1:18). “And it came to pass that when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance” (Acts 22:17). Think of it, the intellectual, wonderful Paul, the master theologian of the ages, the orator of orators, the logician of logicians in a trance. Bless God for that trance. It was the fulfillment of what Ananias had said to him three years before. “And saw him (Jesus) saying unto me, Make haste and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me.” Now what is a trance? A trance is the Spirit taking predominance over the mind and body, and for the time being, the control of the individual is by the Spirit; but our ignorance of the operations of God is such that even ministers of religion have been known to say it is the devil.
Let us see where Paul got his commission to preach and instructions about what he was to preach, and what his condition and attitude were when Jesus gave him his commission.
See Acts 26:16-18. He was lying on the road on his way to Damascus. Now if we were to see someone lying on the road talking to an invisible somebody, no doubt in our ignorance we would send for an ambulance or for the police. But this is where the glorified Christ spoke to Paul and gave him definite instructions about what he should preach; and the purpose of his preaching was to be the salvation, not the entertainment, of others. “But rise, stand upon thy feet: for I (Jesus) have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee.” Jesus promises to appear to Paul again, and that was fulfilled while he lay in a trance in the temple three years later (Acts 26:16).
Now the object of his preaching was “to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified (present experience) by faith that is in me (Jesus). Whereupon, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision” (Acts 26:18-19).
From this we see and are able to understand the operations of God by His Spirit. And now, is the Holy Ghost in the Church today? Verily, yes; but you say, “We do not see Him work in this way. Why is it?” Because you say all these things were for the Apostolic days. You can not take the Word of God and find one place where the gifts of the Holy Ghost were withdrawn.
The nine gifts of the Holy Ghost are found in 1 Corinthians 12:8-11: “For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit, to another discerning of spirits, to another divers (different) kinds of tongues (languages) (not an acquirement but by the Spirit), to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the same Spirit.” Oh, praise God for the discovery of the gifts of the Holy Ghost and especially for the gift of healing. May we all learn to know Christ not alone as our Savior but as our sanctifier and healer, too.
Now I will go over these gifts on my fingers: 1st, wisdom; 2nd, knowledge; 3rd, faith; 4th, healing; 5th, miracles; 6th, prophecy; 7th, discerning of spirits; 8th, divers kinds of tongues; and 9th, the interpretation of tongues. We have seen that the Holy Ghost came into the Church at Pentecost and the gifts are in the Holy Ghost; consequently, if the Holy Ghost is in the Church, the gifts are, too. Because of the lack of faith we do not see them exercised in the ordinary Church. We stand for the obtaining of the gifts of the Holy Ghost through our personal baptism in the Holy Ghost and the enduement of the Holy Ghost power as promised by Jesus, yea, commanded by Him in Acts 1:8: “Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you…”
People ask, “What is tongues?” Tongues is the voice (or operation) of the Spirit of God within. When the Holy Ghost came in He spoke, Again, in Acts 10:44-48, when the Holy Ghost fell on them, Peter demanded the right to baptize them in water, saying, “Can any man forbid water, that these would be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost?” See verse 46, “for they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.” Tongues is the evidence of the baptism of the Holy Ghost by which Peter claimed the right to baptize them in water. Again in Acts 19:1-7, Paul at Ephesus met twelve men whom John had baptized unto repentance, but now Paul re-baptized them by Christian Baptism. In verse 5 we read that when they heard this, they were baptized (water baptism) in the Name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Ghost came on them and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. “Tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not.” (1 Corinthians 14:22)