How did John receive the Spirit from the womb before Jesus was glorified?


“Did John receive the Holy Spirit?  If yes I think the scripture has been broken because Jesus was the one who unveiled the indwelling of the Spirit.”


Look at these two statements: 

The sky is grey.

The cat is grey. 

Do these sentences mean the sky is the cat? Does the same description of “grey” make the two objects the same in terms of what they are?  Of course not, but many commit this fallacy when they equate one word or phrase in the Bible to another one appearing elsewhere in Scripture. With this approach, many find themselves in a forest of confusion by failing to reconcile some verses. For example in one place they read “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 Joh.1:5) and He is “dwelling in the light which no man can approach” (1 Tim.6:16), but in another place they find this: “The Lord said that He would dwell in the thick darkness” (1 Kin.8:12).  If the disciples of the Lord had the same misperception of words they would certainly have had prematurely claimed to receive the Baptism of the Holy Ghost when the Lord breathed on them and said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (John 20:20, compare with John 7:39). 

If one is trapped in the ‘Sky and Cat’ analogy error given above, he will read the words “filled with the Holy Ghost” in Acts 2:4 and equate them with the same words found elsewhere in Scripture. For example in Luke 1:41 “Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost” and in Acts 4:31, the disciples, Peter and John and other believers, after a prayer of asking God for boldness “were all filled with the Holy Ghost”. What are we to make of these words? Well, first  we should beware that spiritual things are spiritually discerned – “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor.2:14).

It should not be difficult to see that the infilling of the Holy Ghost that Elisabeth experienced was not the same as the one which occurred on the Day of Pentecost in Acts Chapter 2. It is very clear in John 7:39, and other places in Scripture, that the Baptism of the Holy Ghost could only come after the Lord was glorified. Likewise, Peter and John had already received the Baptism when they got “filled with the Holy Ghost” in Acts 2:4. Later, when their lives were in danger they prayed and the place where they were shook and they “were all filled with the Holy Ghost” (Act. 4:31). Certainly, that doesn’t mean they received the Baptism twice, and because the Baptism of the Holy Ghost is what constitutes the New Birth it also doesn’t mean they were ‘Born Again’ again!

Let us give close attention to the record of John:  “He that believeth on me , as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living  water. (But this He spake of the Spirit , which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given because that Jesus was not yet glorified)” (John 7:38-39). This means that whatever one may read regarding a person being filled with the Holy Spirit prior to the glorification of the Lord Jesus, does not refer to the New Birth experience, which occurs by the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

John 7:38-39 refers to the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, an experience which could only occur after the glorification of the Lord Jesus. The experience is for the conversion of the heart and it is what had been prophesied by Jeremiah and Ezekiel (Jer. 31:33, Eze. 36:26-27, compare with Luke 22:31-32). The experience of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost IS MORE THAN an infilling to give someone boldness to proclaim the Word (Micah 2:8), and it is MORE THAN an infilling to sanctify or cause a fetus to kick in the womb of Elisabeth to give her a testimony of the working of God (Luke 1:41). We are speaking of spiritual things and they are spiritually discerned!

Another very important thing to be aware of is that the experience of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit can never bypass a person’s free-will. The baptism of the Holy Spirit causes the New Birth. With that comes the conversion of a heart, to cause a man to walk in the ways of God – “Repent, and be baptized…and ye shall receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit” (Act.2:38). In the beginning mankind fell into sin when he used his free-will to live by his way. God let him taste of the fruit of his own way (Pro.1:29-31). The Holy Spirit Baptism involves man realizing that his own way leads to death and hence surrendering his will to God’s will. When that man gets Born Again he begins to get led by the Spirit. He goes where the Spirit leads even when he doesn’t understand it – “the wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof , but canst not tell whence it cometh, and wither it goeth, so is everyone that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). So, the Holy Ghost baptism can never bypass the free-will of  a man; a  person has to decide to give up their own will and surrender it to God in order to be led by the Spirit. The act of repenting to surrender one’s own will to God is simply impractical for a fetus. Even the Lord Jesus had to grow in “stature and wisdom” before the Spirit took a hold of Him (Luke 2:52).

God bless.

A Phiri

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