Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?
GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): I shall lay down some Scripture marks whereby we may know whether we have thus received the Holy Ghost or not…First I shall mention, is our having received a spirit of prayer and supplication; for that always accompanies the spirit of grace. No sooner was Paul converted, but “behold he prayeth.” And this was urged as an argument, to convince Ananias that he was converted. And God’s elect are also said to “cry to Him day and night.”
MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Regenerating grace evermore sets people on praying; you may as soon find a living man without breath as a living Christian without prayer; if breathless, lifeless; and so, if prayerless, graceless.
GEORGE WHITEFIELD: A second Scripture mark of our having received the Holy Ghost is not committing sin. “Whosoever is born of God sinneth not, neither can he sin, because his seed remaineth in him,” I John 3:9. Neither can he sin. This expression does not imply the impossibility of a Christian’s sinning, for we are told, that “in many things we offend all,” James 3:2. It can only mean thus much, that a man who is really born again of God, does not wilfully commit sin, much less live in the habitual practice of it, for how shall he that is dead to sin, as every converted person is, live any longer therein?
ROWLAND HILL (1744-1833): The Holy Ghost first enlightens us, and then makes us abhor sin as detestable and odious. No child of God, no heir of heaven can love sin, or live in it. He groans under it, and looks on the right hand, and on the left, for a way of escape. As I never can reconcile my flesh to allow a hot burning coal to be applied to it; so, if I be a child of God, I never can be reconciled to the power of sin in my soul.
GEORGE WHITEFIELD: It is true a man that is born again of God may, through surprise, or the violence of a temptation, fall into an act of sin: witness the adultery of David, and Peter’s denial of his Master. But then, like them, he quickly rises again, goes out from the world, and weeps bitterly; washes the guilt of sin away by the tears of a sincere repentance, joined with faith in the blood of Jesus Christ; takes double heed to his ways for the future, and to perfect holiness in the fear of God.
ALEXANDER COMRIE (1706-1774): Believers are holy―godly―not perfect; the best have their faults.
JOHN OWEN (1616-1683): Holiness indeed is perfected in heaven: but the beginning of it is invariably confined to this world.
GEORGE WHITEFIELD: A third mark whereby we may know, whether or not we have received the Holy Ghost is our conquest over the world. For whosoever is born of God―says the apostle―overcometh the world, I John 5:4. By the world, we are to understand, as John expresses it, all that is in the world: the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. And by overcoming of it is meant our renouncing these, so as not to follow, or be led by them: for whosoever is born from above has his affections set on things above: he feels a divine attraction in his soul, which forcibly draws his mind heavenwards.
J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): Sin, the world, and the devil must be actually mortified, resisted, and overcome. This is the road that saints of old have trodden in, and left their record on high…What was the secret of their victory?—their faith. They believed on Jesus, and believing were made strong. They believed on Jesus, and believing were held up. In all their battles, they kept their eyes on Jesus, and He never left them nor forsook them. “They overcame by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of their testimony,” Revelation 12:11, and so may you…Resolve, by the grace of God, to be an overcoming Christian.
GEORGE WHITEFIELD: A fourth Scripture mark of our having received the Holy Ghost is our loving one another. We know we are passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren, I John 3:14. And by this―says Christ Himself―shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one towards another, John 13:35…By this love we are not to understand a softness and tenderness of mere nature, or a love founded on worldly motives―for this a natural man may have; but a love of our brethren, proceeding from love towards God: loving all men in general, because of their relation to God; and loving good men in particular, for the grace we see in them, and because they love our Lord Jesus in sincerity…Fifth Scripture mark―loving our enemies. I say unto you―says Jesus Christ―love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to those that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you, Matthew 5:44.
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): It is the Christian alone who can rise to this. Your natural ethics and morality can make a passive resister; but the Christian is a man who positively loves his enemy, and goes out of his way to do good to them that hate him, and to pray for them that use him despitefully and malign him.
GEORGE WHITEFIELD: Many other marks are scattered up and down the Scriptures, whereby we may know whether or not we have received the Holy Ghost: such as, “to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace,” Romans 8:6. Now the fruits of the Spirit are joy, peace, longsuffering, meekness, with a multitude of texts to the same purpose. But as most, if not all of them, are comprehended in the duties already laid down, I dare affirm that whosoever, upon an impartial examination, can find the aforesaid marks on his soul, may be as certain, as though an angel were to tell him, that his pardon is sealed in heaven. As for my own part, I had rather see these divine graces, and this heavenly temper, stamped upon my soul, than to hear an angel from heaven saying unto me, “Son, be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee.”
ROWLAND HILL: Examine your Christianity by your Bibles; and remember the way to do that is, to see whether the precious graces of the Spirit of God are to be found dwelling within your hearts, and written upon your consciences.
J. C. RYLE: When the Holy Ghost raises a man from the death of sin and makes him a new creature in Christ Jesus, the new principle in that man’s heart requires food, and the only food which will sustain it is the Word of God…Just as a child born into the world desires naturally the milk provided for its nourishment, so does a soul “born again” desire the sincere milk of the Word, I Peter 2:2,3. This is a common mark of all the children of God—they “delight in the law of the Lord,” Psalm 1:2.
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: If you don’t enjoy the Bible at all, then I make free to suggest that you’re not a child of God at all.