Luke — “The Beloved Physician”

(The following is an excerpt from “Yokefellows,” Pastor John LaVier’s book about the companions of the Apostle Paul.)

The account of the heroic lives of these companions of Paul, all of whom were dedicated servants of Christ, ought truly to inspire us. Like the prophets of old it may be said of them, “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples; and they are written for our admonition.” Among the many to be admired, there is none more deserving than Dr. Luke. He was a friend indeed, true to the very end.

The background of Luke is rather obscure. Some think he was a Philippian and others that he was from Antioch in Syria. Whether he was a Jew or Gentile is also a matter of debate. Those thinking he was a Gentile refer to Colossians 4:10-11. Here Paul mentions some “who are of the circumcision” and then a few verses later refers to Luke, and because Luke seems to be distinguished from the others they assume he must be a Gentile. This is rather thin evidence on which to base such a conclusion. It would seem strange that, all the other writers of the Holy Scriptures being Jews, God would make this one exception and use a Gentile. When Paul was at Jerusalem the Jews charged him with bringing a Gentile into the temple and polluting the holy place.

They had seen Trophimus with him and supposed he had brought him into the temple. Now we know Luke was with Paul in Jerusalem at that time and in his company more than any others, yet the Jews did not get upset about Luke, evidently knowing or believing that he was a Jew. It is true that the gospel which bears his name, as well as the book of Acts, were both addressed to Theophilus, a Roman official. But because of his profession as an educated medical man he could very well have been acquainted with many Gentiles in high position. There could have been no one better suited to accompany and serve the apostle to the Gentiles. The following is written by Scofield in his forward to Luke’s gospel and we are inclined to agree with him:

“The writer of the third gospel is called by Paul `the beloved physician’ (Col. 4:14) and, as we learn from the Acts, was Paul’s frequent companion. He was of Jewish ancestry, but his correct Greek marks him as a Jew of the dispersion. Tradition says that he was a Jew of Antioch, as Paul was of Tarsus.”

There is a tradition also that Luke was not only a physician, but also a painter. This may be nothing more than tradition yet he did indeed paint some beautiful word pictures. In his gospel he portrays the miraculous birth and matchless life of the Man among men, the Man Christ Jesus, while in the Acts he gives us a splendid portrait of Christ’s ambassador bearing Christ’s message to all the world. We would know very little about the apostle if it were not for Luke. He accompanied the apostle much of the time but about the only way we sense his presence is by his use of the pronouns “we” and “us.” Also in what he says of Paul and abstains from saying about himself, we see not only his ardent friendship but also his modesty and humility.

Luke joined the other three, Paul and Silas and Timothy, at Troas and is mentioned for the first time in Acts 16:10. This meeting was not happenstance, but most surely providential. In spite of Paul’s untiring zeal and arduous labors we are not to think of him as being strong and robust. It was far otherwise, for he was in bodily presence weak and often subject to the infirmities of the flesh. To read the account of his sufferings in II Corinthians 11:23-33 is to wonder how he survived at all. But his precious Lord, the One who can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, gave him sufficient grace for his need and then in love provided him with a personal physician. That was dear Dr. Luke, a companion whose friendship gave Paul inner strength and whose medical skill contributed to his well-being.

At Troas Paul had the night vision of the man of Macedonia calling for help. We read: “And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel unto them” (Acts 16:10). Notice the word “immediately.” Paul was a man of action. When doors were opened and he discerned the Lord’s leading he wasted no time. It was forward march. Oh that we might be as prompt. We dream of doing something tomorrow or in the future and pass up the doors of opportunity open to us now. It is good to read about our commission in the fifth chapter of Second Corinthians but we shouldn’t stop there. The inspired writer goes right on to the opening verses of Chapter six and says (and we paraphrase): “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ and to us has been given the ministry of reconciliation; so then, as workers together let us not receive the grace of God in vain but let us get busy and what we are going to do let’s do it now, for now is the accepted time, behold, now is the day of salvation.” The Lord said to his disciples, “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest, behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:35).

The little intrepid band of four did not linger. They got busy immediately and we see them going along the waterfront seeking a vessel bound for Macedonia. Finding such a vessel we watch as with little or no luggage they board the ship. The sails are hoisted and the vessel sails out of the harbor and onto the Aegean Sea on this momentous and historic voyage. What a thrill to be sailing with Paul. This can be the lot of everyone. Dr. Ironside has written: “What is it to sail with Paul? It is to know Paul’s Saviour and to share Paul’s blessings.” All who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as their all sufficient Saviour are then, as sinners saved by God’s grace, sailing with Paul over life’s sea.

We have already taken note of the events connected with their arrival at Philippi. The work there began with a few women meeting for prayer at the river side. These were the first European converts, and this became the church that was so dear to the heart of Paul and which was of tremendous help to him over the years. He wrote of them, “Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving but ye only, for even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity” (Philippians 4:15-16). Paul’s stay at Philippi was comparatively brief, and though accompanied with blessing it was also associated with strife. It was here that Paul and Silas were beaten and jailed and Paul later referred to this as shameful treatment (I Thessalonians 2:2). Luke stayed behind when Paul and the others left and it was about five years later, here at Philippi, that he rejoined Paul and became his constant companion.

In the interim, while Luke was not with him, Paul had visited several places, spending a year and a half at Corinth and three years at Ephesus. His ministry at Ephesus was signally blessed of the Lord. Many miracles were wrought through Paul and we read: “So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed” (Acts 19:20). There was such a work of God that the business of the silversmiths suffered as people ceased buying their idolatrous wares. Among the items they made and sold were silver models of the temple of Diana. Seeing their income being jeopardized they organized a march and caused a great uproar. If they could have found Paul he would have suffered, but his friends had taken him into protective custody. The riot was finally quelled with no great damage being done.

After the uproar at Ephesus Paul again crossed the Aegean and visited the churches in Macedonia, exhorting and encouraging the saints. From there he went south to Corinth for a promised visit, staying with the Corinthian saints for three months. His plan was then to sail from Corinth to Syria on his way to Jerusalem to observe the Passover, but just before sailing it was discovered the Jews had a plan to kill him. Some of them would have been on the same vessel going up to the feast and perhaps they planned to throw Paul overboard when they were at sea. This caused a change in plans and it was decided to go back to Macedonia and Philippi. This time he had plenty of company for there were seven who went with him (Acts 20:4). Arriving at Philippi he was reunited with Luke and they were inseparable during the remainder of the apostle’s life.

The seven took ship from Philippi and went on before to Troas and a bit later Paul and Luke followed them. Let us take a minute and look in on one of the services at Troas as described in Acts 20:6-11. This service is being held in a room on the third floor of a building and the room is quite hot from the many lights being used. The room is filled to capacity. We see Paul standing in a central place. Near him is Doctor Luke. On one side of the room we see Gaius, who had been treated roughly during the riot at Ephesus. In Romans 16:23 Paul refers to Gaius as his host and indicated Gaius had oft entertained him and other Christians in his home at Corinth. Over yonder in the room is Tychicus, whom Paul spoke of as “a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord” (Ephesians 6:21). And there, with eyes fixed on the speaker, sits Timothy, Paul’s own dear son in the faith. Blessed companions all. The room is crowded with the saints of Troas. Paul has much to tell them and will be preaching practically all night, but they sit expectantly, drinking in the Word, for they are not bothered with the ear trouble that afflicts many in the present day. What a delightful spectacle is this, precious in the sight of the Lord, and a far cry from the gatherings that dominate the scene today with all the religious trappings and sensuous programs that people need to satisfy the flesh. How few are content with Paul’s gospel, the rich Word of truth.

We cannot leave this scene at Troas without noting an unusual happening during the service. A young man, Eutychus, was sitting by a window and about the midnight hour went to sleep and fell from the third loft to the ground below. He was taken up for dead but Paul went down and he was restored and they all returned to the upper chamber and resumed their meeting. Now it is unlikely this narrative would be included in Scripture if it was without spiritual significance. What may be learned from it? First of all, we learn that Paul has been preaching long. For almost two thousand years Paul has been preaching. The Lord has been speaking to the world, not through Moses or Peter or any other, but He has been speaking through Paul. Secondly we learn that the church fell asleep under Paul’s preaching and had a great fall.

The third story from which Eutychus fell reminds us of the third heaven into which Paul was caught up. With the call of Abraham God revealed his purpose having to do with Israel and the earth. When that nation was set aside God was through, for a season, with both Israel and the earth. Then it was through Paul that God revealed his purpose to bring on the scene a called-out company of believers, sinners saved by His grace constituting the Church, the Body of Christ, and this Church would be heavenly in character and have no connection with the earth. This Church is seen as seated in the heavenly places (Gr. epouranious, super-heavenlies) and blessed there with all spiritual blessings. The apostolic age had scarcely ended when the Church went to sleep, insensitive to Paul’s preaching concerning the true character of the Church. The result was a great fall and the Church became just an earthly organization, with an earthly outlook, earthly aims, and even exercising earthly power.

Our friend Eutychus was restored to life by Paul and brought back up to the third story. Thank God, like Eutychus there has been some restoration for the Church. After the long night of the dark ages Luther and the other reformers used Paul’s preaching and justification by faith alone to arouse the Church from its long sleep. Later, men like Darby used Paul’s preaching to awaken Christians to the truth of the One Body of Christ and the Blessed Hope of the Church. But much work remains in getting Christians off the ground and up again to the third story, the heavenlies. How few professing Christians know anything about their heavenly position and heavenly possessions in Christ. How few walk as citizens of heaven, confessing they are only strangers and pilgrims on earth. Read carefully the following, written over a century and a half ago by the beloved C. H. Mackintosh:

“It is of the utmost importance that the Christian reader should understand the doctrine of the Church’s heavenly character….To be soundly instructed in the heavenly origin, heavenly position, and heavenly destiny of the Church, is the most effectual safeguard against worldliness in the Christian’s present path, and also against false teaching in reference to his future hopes. Every system of doctrine or discipline which would connect the Church with the world, either in her present condition or her future prospects, must be wrong, and must exert an unhallowed influence. The church is not of the world. Her life, her position her hopes, are all heavenly in the very highest sense of the word….The doctrine of the Church’s heavenly character was developed in all its power and beauty by the Holy Ghost in the apostle Paul….We must never forget that every tendency of the human mind not only falls short of but stands actually opposed to all this divine truth about the Church. The heart naturally clings to earth, and the thought of an earthly corporation is attractive to it. Hence we may expect that the truth of the Church’s heavenly character will only be appreciated and carried out by a very small and feeble minority.”

After seven days our party of travelers left Troas. The rest of the party went by ship down along the coast, while Paul had decided to go by foot and meet them at Assos, about twenty miles south. It had taken Paul and Luke five days by vessel to cross from Philippi to Troas because of contrary winds and a rough sea, so perhaps Paul had enough sailing for the moment. More likely he just felt the need be alone, and as he walked he was probably thinking of his planned trip to Jerusalem and of the trouble he might encounter there. And as he walked he had a most blessed time talking to the best companion of all.

At Assos, Paul joined the others on the ship. This was probably a mercantile ship that stopped at the various ports along the coast to deliver or pick up cargo. They sailed right by Ephesus, as Paul did not want to be delayed as he desired to reach Jerusalem in time for the day of Pentecost. He did, though, send word for the leading brethren of the Ephesian church to meet him at Miletus, about thirty-six miles to the south. They had such a meeting somewhere along the sea shore, and Paul exhorted and bade a fond farewell to these church elders. Paul had labored in their midst for three years and he reminded them of the untiring effort put forth on their behalf, and how he kept back nothing that was profitable to them and had declared unto them the whole counsel of God. We could look with much profit at this touching farewell message to these men, but such is not the purpose of this account. It would be pleasing to God if every one of His servants would so labor that when leaving a particular field they could repeat these words of the apostle. One verse in this message stands out and this is a verse we often quote. Paul had been warned of the bonds and afflictions that awaited him if he continued to press on. He replied, “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).

In spite of the pleading of his friends and even though he himself knew of the danger, he would not turn back. Just as our blessed Lord “stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51) so did His faithful follower. He was “ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13).

There was another who did not shrink from danger and that was loyal companion Luke. He went with Paul and faced the howling, blood-thirsty mob at Jerusalem. He stayed with Paul during the two years at Caesarea and while there wrote his gospel. He was a fellow traveler on the long and trying voyage to Rome, suffering shipwreck enroute. From the prison in Rome Paul could write that “Luke, the beloved physician” was with him (Colossians 4:14). In the letter to Philemon, which accompanied the Colossian epistle, Paul referred to him as “Luke, my fellow-labourer” (Philemon 24). Luke was not only a medical man and inspired writer but a preacher as well, standing with Paul and the others and boldly proclaiming the Word of truth.

In the last letter that came from the pen of the aged apostle, his second letter to Timothy, he writes that all in Asia had turned away from him (1:15). He also tells us that at his first trial before the emperor no man stood with him, that all forsook him (4:16). He states that Demas, once a close co-worker, had forsaken him (4:10). How alone he must have felt. But there was one standing by him and he could say, “Luke is with me” (4:11). The following is from the writings of Kenneth Wuest:

“How beautiful it is to see that the beloved physician should feel that his place was beside Paul when the end was approaching. How true to his medical instinct this was; not to depreciate the grace of God moving him in his heart to the same action. What a trophy of God’s grace Luke is. Here is a Greek doctor of medicine, leaving his medical practice to be the personal physician of an itinerant preacher, to share his hardship and privations, his dangers, and toil. The great success of the apostle whom he attended in a medical way is due in some measure, to the physician’s watchful care over his patient….Luke knew all the marks of the Lord Jesus on the body of the apostle, the scars left after the assaults on his person. He had bathed and tended these wounds. Now his patient, grown old before his time, was suffering the discomforts of a Roman cell. He had to be guarded against disease. `Only Luke is with me.’ What a comfort he was to Paul!”

Thank God for friends and companions like Luke, who can be depended upon to stand with you through hard times as well as good. Luke was such a friend. We like to think that loving, caring, faithful Luke was with the great apostle walking by his side to the place of execution, and perhaps caring for the body after Paul’s spirit had soared away to be with the One he loved above all others.

Berean Searchlight – November 2005

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Part 7: The Filling With The Spirit


The majority of believers are very much confused with regard to the Holy Spirit’s work in their lives and the exact extent to which they may expect His help in overcoming sin. This confusion has been brought about mainly by the unscriptural tradition that the present dispensation began with the pouring out of the Spirit at Pentecost. A further word in this connection will therefore be necessary.

Those who hold that Pentecost marks the beginning of the present dispensation should examine carefully those Scriptures which deal with the Holy Spirit and His work. A simple comparison, for example, of His operation at Pentecost with His operation today, as outlined in the Pauline epistles, can lead to but one conclusion: that the baptism with, or in, the Spirit at Pentecost has been superseded by another baptism altogether—that by which believers are baptized into one body—and that the Body of Christ did not exist (except in the mind of God) when the Spirit was poured out at Pentecost. If our Fundamentalist leaders will verify and accept this fact, they will have the answer to the “Pentecostal” fanaticism that is sweeping the country today.


Concerning the one hundred twenty believers gathered in the upper room at Pentecost, we read:

“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4, R.V.).

This, of course, is another way of saying that the Holy Spirit took complete possession of them.1 Those who have come to appreciate the meaning of the Bible word baptism, will see at once the connection with the Lord’s promise that His own should be baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5). Indeed, they were “filled” with the Spirit (Acts 2:4) in fulfillment of the promise that they should be “baptized” with the Spirit.

And the result of this baptism, this filling, with the Spirit, was not only that they possessed miraculous powers, but also that they lived the kind of lives which God’s people prior to that time had failed to live, and this is the particular matter with which we are here concerned.

Mark well: in Acts 2:4 we do not have an exhortation to be filled with the Spirit, as we have later in the Pauline epistles. Rather, we have a simple statement of fact: “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit.”

The one hundred twenty had, of course, been much like any other group of believers in history. They had not all been equally spiritual or devoted or faithful. Some had been more so than others, and where some had excelled in one virtue, others had excelled in another. Yet now they were all FILLED with the Spirit, from the least to the greatest of them.

The thoughtful student of Scripture will, of course, ask why all these believers were now filled with the Holy Spirit. Was it, perhaps, because they, as a group, had been more godly than those before them? The gospel records prove that this is not so. Peter boasted, Thomas doubted, James and John sought personal gain, and when our Lord was taken prisoner, “they all forsook Him and fled.” Was it then because they had prayed long enough or earnestly enough for the Spirit to come upon them and take control? No; they had been instructed to go to Jerusalem, not to pray for the Holy Spirit to come, as some suppose, but to “wait for the [fulfillment of the] promise” regarding the Spirit (Acts 1:4,5)—and right here is the answer to our question. The believers at Pentecost were filled with the Holy Spirit, not because they had prayed long or earnestly enough for the Spirit to come, but because the time had arrived for the fulfillment2 of the divine promise. The Old Testament prophets and the Lord Jesus had promised that the Holy Spirit should some day come to take control of God’s people, and that day had come. They were filled with the Spirit because God, according to His promise, had baptized them with the Spirit.


The Apostle Paul never anywhere says that all the members of the Body of Christ are filled with the Holy Spirit. It is surely clear from the record that the Corinthians and the Galatians, for example, were not filled with the Spirit, for Paul’s letters to these churches contain much of rebuke and correction. And it is also evident that believers today are not—even the best of them—wholly filled with the Spirit. The filling with the Spirit is now a goal, an attainment, which the apostle, by inspiration, sets before us. We are not all filled with the Spirit as a matter of fact, as were the Pentecostal believers. While the Spirit does indeed dwell within us by God’s grace, we must daily appropriate His help and blessing by faith.

Hence the apostle now exhorts believers: “Be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18) just as he exhorts them and prays for them, that they may be “filled with the fruits of righteousness” (Phil. 1:11); “filled with the knowledge of His will” (Col. 1:9); “filled with all the fulness of God” (Eph. 3:19).

But why are not we automatically filled with the Spirit as the believers were at Pentecost? We will proceed to answer this question, but let the reader not fail to first recognize the fact that while the believers gathered in the upper room at Pentecost were all filled with the Spirit, the believers under Paul, since that time, have not all been filled with the Spirit. Moreover, while it is distinctly stated, again and again, that the Pentecostal believers were, or were to be, baptized with the Spirit, not once does Paul in his epistles teach that members of the Body of Christ are baptized with the Spirit.3 Instead he exhorts them to appropriate God’s grace by faith so that they may be filled with the Spirit.


The prophesied work of the Holy Spirit in connection with His people Israel should be clearly understood if we would understand His work today, in connection with the members of the Body of Christ. In Joel 2:28,29 God promised to supernaturally cause them to prophesy, etc., but in Ezekiel 36:26,27, He also promised to supernaturally cause them to do His will:

“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.

“And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.”

Thus God would show that the only way in which even His own people can perfectly obey Him is when He takes possession of them and causes them to do His will. Indeed He is still demonstrating this. Though we today have all the advantages and blessings of the dispensation of Grace, and though we desire most earnestly to obey and serve God as we ought, we still continually fall short. This is because, contrary to popular opinion, none of us has been baptized with the Spirit.


At Pentecost the time had come, so far as prophecy was concerned, for the fulfillment of the promise concerning the Holy Spirit. “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come…they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:1,4).

We must be careful to notice the immediate change that took place in the behavior of these believers, now that the Holy Spirit had come to take possession of them. Not only did they speak with tongues and prophesy and work miracles, but they all began living for one another.

“And all that believed were together, and had all things common;

“And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need” (Acts 2:44,45).

“And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul; neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.”

“Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,

“And laid them down at the apostles’ feet; and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need” (Acts 4:32,34,35).

Never before had the disciples of Christ even approached such a spirit of utter selflessness and love for one another. In spite of the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount and our Lord’s repeated exhortations to sell and distribute their earthly goods and live for one another, they—even the twelve—had heretofore been fully as human and selfish as those who had gone before them.

One day James and John came to ask a special favor of Christ: that they might occupy the first places in the kingdom, sitting, the one at Christ’s right hand and the other at His left! (Mark 10:37). Modest fellows! And the other ten were really no different at heart, for we read: “When the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James and John” (Ver. 41). We can almost hear them exclaim to each other: “Who do James and John think they are!” Nor was this the first time the apostles had “disputed among themselves who should be the greatest” (Mark 9:34).

But now, suddenly, all this was changed! Now each one put self aside and placed others first. And, as Jeremiah had predicted, this came from the heart. Mark well, it was of a multitude numbering more than five thousand (Acts 4:4) that we read that they were all of one heart and of one soul, and sold their lands and houses and brought the proceeds to the apostles for distribution among the needy. Imagine the freedom and joy and blessedness that must have prevailed among the disciples under these conditions! These were indeed “the days of heaven upon earth”!

God’s children in this present dispensation—the so-called Pentecostalists included—have never lived together as the believers at Pentecost did. Imagine even suggesting having all things common among believers today! Those who cry “Back to Pentecost” would not, we fear, be the first to step up and hand over their hard-earned investments as Barnabas and all the believing property owners did at Pentecost. Indeed, it would be wrong if we did this today, for the Spirit’s instruction for this present evil age is:

“If any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (I Tim. 5:8).


Pentecost was an earnest of the kingdom reign of Christ, when peace and prosperity will prevail on earth and men will not need to lay up store for the future. But as Israel stubbornly rejected the King and His kingdom and judgment seemed imminent, God graciously intervened and ushered in the dispensation of Grace, under which we now live.

During this present dispensation God is doing a thing never once mentioned in Old Testament prophecy: forming a body of believers composed of Jews and Gentiles, reconciled to Himself by the Cross (Eph. 2:16). This body is called “the body of Christ,” since its members are eternally and inseparably united to Christ by one divine baptism. This baptism, in turn, is something altogether separate and distinct from the baptism with the Spirit at Pentecost, and has superseded it. This is evident from the following facts:

At Pentecost the Lord Jesus Christ was the Baptizer, and He baptized the believers with, or in, the Holy Spirit.

Matt. 3:11: “He [Christ] shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost…” (cf. Luke 3:16).

John 15:26: “The Comforter…whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth…shall testify of me.”

John 16:7: “If I depart, I will send Him unto you.”

Today, under the dispensation of Grace, however, the Holy Spirit is the Baptizer, baptizing believers into Christ and His Body.

I Cor. 12:13: “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body….”

Gal. 3:27,28: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

To those who would trace the Body of Christ back to Pentecost, we ask: Where in early Acts do we read of the Holy Spirit baptizing Jews and Gentiles into one joint body, the Body of Christ? Until Cornelius, the disciples preached the Word “to none but unto the Jews only” (Acts 11:19) and surely the reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles to God in one body could not be preached until the Jews as well as the Gentiles had been alienated from God. This is why we read of “the casting away of them [Israel]” in connection with “the reconciling of the world” (Rom. 11:15).

“For God hath concluded them ALL in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all” (Rom. 11:32).

Certainly God had not yet cast Israel away or concluded her in unbelief at Pentecost, for at Pentecost, and for some time thereafter, God still dealt with Israel as a nation, pleading with her to repent, so that her Messiah might return and bring the long-promised times of refreshing (Acts 3:19-21).

To those, on the other hand, who would bring Pentecost into the present dispensation, we ask: Where is the Scriptural warrant for the continuance of a Pentecostal experience in this dispensation? It is clear from Acts and from Paul’s epistles that the Pentecostal program has been suspended because of the rejection of Christ and His kingdom. Certainly the gifts of prophecy, tongues and (supernatural) knowledge have passed away (I Cor. 13:8). And so with the gifts of healing (Rom. 8:22,23; II Cor. 4:16-5:4; I Tim. 5:23; II Tim. 4:20, etc.). Paul himself, who had been saved during the Pentecostal era and had possessed miraculous powers at least as great as those of the twelve, writes concerning his own illness:

“For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

“And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness…” (II Cor. 12:8,9).

And as to Pentecostal conduct in this dispensation: where, even among the “Pentecostalists,” do we find it? The early chapters of Acts record neither sin nor blunder in the lives of the believers at Pentecost,4 but there is plenty of both, not only among the “Pentecostalists” as a group, but in each individual “Pentecostalist.” And as to selling all and living for one another, many of their leaders are rich and increased in goods while those under them suffer need, both rich and poor bearing witness that the Pentecostal program has broken down and passed away. Indeed, it passed away during Paul’s lifetime, for whereas in Acts 4:34 we read: “Neither was there any among them that lacked,” we later find Paul taking up collections for “the poor saints at Jerusalem” (Rom. 15:26). This is because the King and His kingdom were refused, but “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Rom. 5:20) and today we enjoy even greater blessings, the blessings of “the dispensation of the grace of God” (Eph. 3:2). The Pentecostal believers lived pleasing to God because the Spirit took control of them. For us there are moral and spiritual victories to be gained, as we appropriate by faith what God provides by grace.


Grace and faith are the characteristic features of the present dispensation. Not only is salvation now declared to be by grace, through faith, but the Spirit also operates in the believer by grace, through faith. He does not take possession of us and cause us to do what is right, but dwells within each believer (I Cor. 6:19) to provide needed guidance and the strength to withstand temptation, and we may avail ourselves of this provision by faith.

We have already seen how the Spirit, who first imparted life to us will also impart strength to withstand temptation and overcome sin. In our inability to even pray as we ought, “the Spirit…helpeth our infirmities” and “maketh intercession for us” (Rom. 8:26). In our weakness we are “strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man” (Eph. 3:16) and God even stoops to “quicken [our] mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in us” (Rom. 8:11).

“Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh” (Rom. 8:12).

The implication from the above passage is that though sorely tempted we are debtors to the Spirit who dwells within and provides overcoming power.

The question, in times of temptation, is generally whether we truly desire to overcome, for we may overcome in any given case by grace, through faith. In the present dispensation it is not true that it is not possible for the believer to sin, but it is blessedly true that in any situation it is possible for him not to sin, for the Spirit is always there to help.

If we go to the Scriptures and claim, by faith, the Spirit’s help in overcoming our sins, we enter into the enjoyment of the fulness of spiritual life and blessing. If we fail to do so, we wither and die—as far as our spiritual experience is concerned. We can never lose our salvation, of course, for “everlasting life” was obtained by faith in Christ, not by walking in the Spirit. This is confirmed by the fact that the same apostle who pleads: “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God,” hastens to add: “whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30).

But failure to appropriate God’s gracious provision for victory over sin does result in death as far as our Christian experience is concerned. This is what the apostle means, when he says, by the Spirit:

“For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Rom. 8:6).

“For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (Rom. 8:13).

To the careless Corinthians, the Apostle Paul exclaimed:

“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

“For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Cor. 6:19,20).

This passage perhaps describes our relationship to the Holy Spirit better than any other. God, by His Spirit, dwells within us, and our bodies are meant to be shrines, temples, where He is worshipped. In the measure that He is given His rightful place and is truly worshipped within—in the measure that our bodies are given over to His glory—in that measure sin will be overcome, God exalted, and we blessed. True, the world, the flesh and the devil all clamor for a place too, but we should thank God for the testings that arise from this. We praise God for the privilege of toiling, suffering and sacrificing for Him now, since that privilege will forever be gone when we are caught up to be with Him. Let us then also praise Him for the temptations that daily beset us, for each temptation overcome will gain for us a rich reward.

God does not—He cannot—say of us: “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit,” but He does set before us the glorious objective: “Be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18). And as we seek, by faith, to realize this objective, rich, deep blessings are already ours, to say nothing of the rewards to come. What a challenge to faith!

It was no particular victory for the Pentecostal believers to be filled with the Spirit, for the Spirit simply took possession of them according to His own sovereign will and promise. But great spiritual victories are ours as we, through the Spirit, mortify the deeds of the flesh in order that our bodies may be the temples of God indeed. May God grant us many such victories as we take Him at His Word!

“Grieve not the Holy Spirit” (Eph. 4:30).

“Walk in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16).

“Be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18).


1. Much as whatever takes possession of the mind is said to fill it.

2. Some look upon Pentecost merely as a foreshadowing of the promised Millennial blessing. We believe it was the beginning of the fulfillment of the promise, but that the complete fulfillment was interrupted by the dispensation of Grace. Note: “This is that…” (Acts 2:16).

3. Not even in I Corinthians 12:13.

4. Ananias and Sapphira tried to join the company by deceit, but were stricken dead.

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