THE WORK OF THE SPIRIT
Elmer Long

There are some things I would like to say in connection with the work of the Spirit. I know there seems to be a controversy, but most of it stems from the fact that we do not understand what people are trying to say and I would like to clear that up as much as I could. I want to mae this clear, first of all, that I am not in defense of myself. I speak only in the defense of the truth. I must defend the truth. The second statement I would like to make is this: I think and let think. And I do not break fellowship with anyone who may disagree with me. If you disagree with me today, I'll be just as friendly as I ever was. But if you will show me a better way than I have, I will accept it. I want to back up everything I do say by the Word of God and if that is not the truth then I want to know what the truth is. If you can show me scripturally a better way than what I believe I count you as my very dear friend and I will certainly accept it.

Now, to being with, I would like to say, for a number of years I had not light on holiness, that is, what we would call a second work of grace. I think I had light on holiness in this sense, just like all people have who are really saved. It must have its beginning when we are converted and in my heart there was planted a desire to be holy and live like Jesus. I strove with all the powers of my will and prayed to that end and I did not know of a single real convert that is different from that. Now for a time when I did get light on holiness some of the things were wonderful, but some of the things I heart actually put a damper upon what I had.

One of the things was this: while some state it very clear that a man did not receive the Holy Spirit when he was converted, and then those who did not state it just that dogmatically implicate the same, for they would talk about being sanctified and the Holy Spirit coming in to abide. The whole implication was the he had not come in to abide before that time.

Well, this somewhat disillusioned me because i had know what God had done for others and I could not be helped by giving up anything that God had done for me. Anytime anyone offers you any kind of doctrine that you have less than you had to get it is not in harmony with the Scriptures. In fact, one who is pressing toward something else is increasing while he is doing so and it will be a great help to his soul. I would say with John Wesley, even if Christian perfection could not be obtained it would be worth something from the fact that we are pressing toward something beyond what we have and it causes us to increase.

One day I began to pray very earnestly and I said, "Now Lord, if you will show me the truth I'll not use this in any way to abuse or hurt or beat people over the head, but I want to know what the work of the Spirit is and especially this one term the use: "the baptism of the Spirit." they connected this as being the same as entire sanctification. So as I began to read my Bible the first thing I'm struck with is the meaning of the word "baptize" itself. And I thought the Bible would have as good a definition as any. You go to the dictionary and you have a very short definition of what it is. So I thought the Bible would give a good light on this, so I read the statement that John the Baptist made, "I indeed baptize you with water, but one cometh after me who is mightier than I and He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost."

Then Jesus speaking of the same thing came along and said, "You shall receive power when the Holy ghost is come upon you." I soon began to understand that He meant the same thing that John the Baptist meant; the same experience. Then in another place He said, "You shall be endued with power from on high. Tarry ye in Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high."

I began to understand that He was talking about the same thing that John the Baptist was talking about. Then when He made the statement, "Out of your belly shall flow rivers of living water; this He spake of the Holy Spirit that they that believe on Him should receive for the Holy Spirit was not yet given for Jesus was not yet glorified." I began to understand that he was talking about the same thing that John the Baptist was talking about. It was different phrases of the same thing and I began to see that. And this was only different terms meaning the same thing. And when Jesus said to some of the disciples, "There be some of you stand here that shall not taste of death till they see the kingdom of God come with power," he was talking about that spiritual kingdom that was righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost that would come at Pentecost. He was not talking about something way out in the future after Jesus comes; he was talking about that some of you alive here would live to see the outpouring of the Spirit and this new covenant that I have made. That is what he had reference to.

Now when the day of Pentecost was fully come, neither one of the terms that Jesus or John the Baptist had said was used, but it was meaning the same, for we read that they were all there in one accord in one place and suddenly there came a sound of mighty rushing wind and filled all the house where they were sitting and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost. I began to understand now that here is another meaning of the word "baptize." The word "filled" was also added, so I saw how broad this was.

Well, now when people saw all the actions of these people they said these people are drunk. Then Peter got up and said, "These men are not drunk as ye suppose, but this is only the fulfillment of the prophesy of Joel. Joel had prophesied, "In the last days I will pour out of my Spirit." And he said under this new covenant "whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." What he was saying was that you would not have to go through the medium of a priest, for Christ has become our high priest and you go personally to him without having to go through any other on earth and that you can be saved by calling upon Him personally and God will do a work in your heart. So, there is the word "pour" that baptize also means. So yo see here how broad the word is.

But when I began to read the epistles I am struck with this: all believers have the Holy Spirit! You cannot be a Christian without the Holy Spirit. "If any man have not the Spirit, he is none of his." Then, if that is true, being baptized with the Spirit, receiving the Spirit, or endued with power from on high is all the same thing and all converted people have that. You may ask are all converted people baptized with the Holy Spirit? They surely are.

Now at this time I did not know what Wesley and Adam Clarke taught about this. I think this was about the year 1946 or 47 this began to open up to me. I didn't say much about it for a while because I knew I would be crossing swords with about everything in the holiness movement.

A person came to me at Clinton Camp the other day and said, "I want to ask you this Brother Long, they tell this all around over the country and I told them I didn't think it was so and I want you to answer so I will know. They say that you are a Calvinist and that you went to a Calvinistic college and that you were instructed in the Calvinistic doctrine."

"Well," I said, "I must might as well confess up. I went through the seventh grade and never saw inside a college in my life and never been to a Bible school a day in my life. I am highly educated having been through the seventh grade."

Now, you say, how did you find this? I saw this reading the Bible. And we would see a lot of things in the holiness movement if we would just study our Bible, which we don't do!

I was struck with this, that all believers have the Holy Spirit. Then I knew what I had when I was saved. We had no doubts about it then. We prayed. We would go out and have prayer meetings and ask God to pour out His Spirit on the people to convict them and He would and numbers of people, scores of people, were saved. And we had never heard a sermon about the second work of grace. Now to go on record here, I believe in a second work of grace. And I believe God gave that afterward, but let's not discredit what God has done.

Now I saw that water baptism was always connected with the initial experience. When a person was converted, to be received into the Church they also administered water baptism. Now don't go out and think they were strictly immersed, for they were not. There had never been a great movement of God where people were strict immersionists. If you doubt it is so, I ask you to read the history of the Church. He made it convenient enough so that people in the desert or people in the home like Paul, could receive it anywhere. The mode is not so import, it's the thing it signifies.

So, when John the Baptist said, "I indeed baptize you with water," it was only symbolic of the baptism that Jesus was to give with the Holy Spirit. And so it is always connected with the initial experience, not with the second work. And so the truth is the only way you could get into the Church was by being baptized in the Christian faith; and the only way you can get into the body of Christ, the true Church, is that Jesus shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost. Paul made this clear by saying, "By one Spirit are we all baptized into one body," and every believer has that if he is a true New Testament Christian.

Now right away, somebody is going to say, "Well, then if that is the case, Brother Long, you teach that the disciples were not saved before Pentecost." But, no I do not teach that. I believe that the disciples had enough faith to forsake their nets and follow Jesus and that if any one of them had died they would have gone to heaven. I teach that they did not have gospel regeneration as we have today, for it had not as yet begun. And they were not in that state. You say, "Why do you say that?" For this reason, the work of faith is as Paul said, "This is the Word of faith we preach, that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." The disciples did not believe in Christ's resurrection at that time.

And another thing is clear that the Bible says that we have the witness of the Spirit when we receive the new birth and the disciples did not have the witness of the Spirit then. "How do you know they didn't?" Jesus said, "At that day (the day of Pentecost), ye shall know that I am in the Father, I in you and ye in me." But they did not know that before. And another things is this, they did not have any clear concepts nor believe in the atonement. And you cannot be born again apart from the atonement of Jesus Christ. How do you know? When Jesus told of his own death, Peter said, "Be this far from thee." This will not happen to you. He said, "Get thee behind me Satan for thou dost not understand the things of God."

Then another thing you have to think on is this: that in a close place a Christian may forsake the Lord if His life's in danger, for every one of them did the night He was arrested. And that is not a good standard of New Testament regeneration. Now anyone ought to be able to see that if you're honest. Now later on I found out that John Wesley, John Fletcher, and all the Church fathers taught exactly this. Calvinists and Arminians both did. You say, that sounds like Calvinism. I would like to go on record here and say that not everything that Calvinists teach is wrong. Jonathan Edwards was a Calvinist. Charles Spurgeon was a Calvinist. Matthew Henry was a Calvinist. If I'm fortunate enough to get to heaven, I expect to see every one of those fellows there. They died with wonderful testimonies. Let me go a little further with this and throw it in while I'm doing it "up brown," We would doubtless not be here worshipping this morning were it not for the stand the Baptists take in this country. We wouldn't have the liberty. God forbid that I should bite the hand that feeds me and provides protection for me. The holiness people don't have time to fight communism and the things that are taking the country over because we're busy fighting ourselves. Where is there a holiness group today that isn't filled with strife and division? And why do we have it? Because our people are not really genuinely, New Testamently, converted. Strife and division is listed with fornication and adultery. And it says they that do such a thing shall not inherit the kingdom of God. And we cannot deny we are guilty of all that.

What is actually being taught today is this. We're telling people that they are not actually regenerated until they have a second work of grace. Now we don't say it that way, but that's exactly what it amounts to. For we're telling people that they don't have the Holy Spirit when they're saved. Or we're implicating the same. Some are very strong about it. It's getting worse all the time. but some people are getting their eyes open to the truth. Quite a few are; it cannot be stopped. I glory in that. God, I believe, is going to give a Holy Ghost revival. And that's why they devil's raising himself up - because this is the last thing he wants.

Well, a person said the other day, "If I believed what Brother Long and some of these folks preach, I'd have to say I didn't have anything." that might be the trouble!

Now, can you take the Word of God and read the New Testament and say that all true believers don't have the Holy Spirit? Now I know what we hedge on. Some say, "Well you have the Holy Spirit in part." Or somebody says you have Jesus, but you don't have the Holy Spirit. But can you divide the Trinity? The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are not separated. You can't chop them up in pieces, can you? That is a fact. Well, you want to contend then, Brother Long, that all believers have the Holy Spirit? I most surely do. And I want to read to you what Adam Clarke says. I want to prove it that I'm not preaching something that was foreign to them. This is what he says:

When John came baptizing with water, he gave the Jews the plainest intimation that this would not suffice. That it was only typical of that baptism of the Holy Ghost out of a similitude of fire which they must all receive from Jesus Christ. Therefore, our Lord exhorts that man must be born of water and the spirit; namely, of the Holy Ghost, which represented under the similitude of water cleanses, refreshed and purifies the soul. Reader, hast thou had no other baptism than that of water? If thou has not had any other, take Jesus Christ's word for it, thou canst not in thy present state enter into the kingdom of God. I would not say to thee merely, read what it is to be born of the Spirit; but pray, O pray to God incessantly till he give thee to feel what is implied in it! Remember, it is Jesus only who baptizes with the Holy Ghost. He who receives not this baptism has neither the right nor title to the kingdom of God; nor can he with propriety be termed a Christian, for that which essentially distinguished the Christian dispensation from that of the Jews was that its author baptized all his followers with the Holy Ghost.

Now I know what is preached. We tell how Saul got converted on the road to Damascus. And then he was sanctified wholly down at the house of Ananias. Well, this is absolutely, utterly false. Now, let me quote from John Fletcher. He said there are three states that men go through before they are converted. That is the natural man - he receives not the things of the Spirit of God. But then there is "he that fears God." He gets awakened and convicted and he fears God, but he doesn't love God and he struggles with the weight of his sin.

The third state is when he becomes the son of God and God sends the Spirit to his heart crying, "Abba, Father" and makes him a new creature. He said Paul went through this same thing. Paul was a very religious man; he lived in good conscience. He was a Pharisee, and he thought what he was doing was God's service. So he persecuted the Church because he did it ignorantly. And he thought he was doing God a service. But on the road to Damascus, he said God struck him down and showed him he was only a painted sepulchre. He said, "then he entered into this second stage." He was three days and nights in the pangs of the new birth, praying for the pardon of his sins. But Fletcher said so severe were his pains that God did not leave him there alone, for he soon sent deliverance and he came into that place where the Holy Spirit came into his heart and he was saved and the Lord made him a son of God. Well, friends, that has been the doctrine of the Church through the ages.

One of the strong arguments they try to use is this phrase, "purifying their hearts by faith." I'd like to deal with that. And it has reference to the time when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the house of Cornelius. But, friends, this was when Cornelius' household was saved; this was the first outpouring we have anywhere on the Gentiles. And it was when they were converted.

You say, how do you know? Well, I take the Bible. He said when Cornelius was praying, he did fear God and he worked righteousness. And, as Wesley and Charles G. Finney both said, he might be in a measure accepted, but he was not a son of God. So he said, "Send for Peter, and he'll tell thee words whereby thee and thy house shall be saved." How dare I say sanctified if the bible says saved? The Bible says what it means and means what it says. It doesn't need me to add a word to it. So when Peter came, what did he preach. He preached remission of sins. Now that would be strange to people seeking a second work. And when the church at Jerusalem heard about it what did they say? that God had granted to the Gentiles Sanctification? Not repentance unto life! And repentance unto life is the new birth.

Now I believe with all my heart that the epistles taught a second work of grace. And, further, it's taught in the Gospels. And that's the privilege of all believers. But let's not do away with the first work of grace while we do it. We have no foundation to build on while we seek something else until we've cleared this up. Now, I deal with people all the time and this alarms me, and I cannot tell you all that I have seen because you wouldn't receive it. but the majority of people in the churches (Calvinistic or whatnot, and I've had some meetings in Calvinistic churches this past year) are not in the clear as to where they stand with God and have the clear witness of the Spirit that they are saved. And they're being honest enough to say that. And why is this So? Why do we have such weak converts? It's because we have not insisted on this. Now, a person doesn't have to know an ounce of theology to have what I'm talking about. If a person knows he's a sinner, he'll come to Jesus and plead the merits of His blood, and repent of his sins and pray until God sends that peace into his heart and gives him power over his sin and power over his old habits, that person has the Holy Spirit and God will help him to live the life and if he doesn't know an ounce of theology he'll make it to heaven. It's like Brother Brush's son-in-law said: "I was preaching the witness of the Spirit before I knew anything about it doctrinally." He said, "I would tell people, pray till you know you got it!" And they would and that's it. It's that simple.

Now some people are going to say, "Brother Long, all Christians have the Holy Spirit; but it's a different thing from being baptized with the Spirit." No. According to the words of John the Baptist, being filled with the Spirit and being baptized with the Spirit is all the same. Now, it's impossible for you to be sound in your doctrine and preach what holiness preachers preach about Pentecost and at the same time say all believers have the Holy Spirit. The disciples could not have been a standard of Christianity today; even though they were on their way to heaven and disciples of Jesus Christ. And we have to be careful how we take Old Testament characters and make them a standard for today. For if we do we're going to get into trouble.

One fellow said, "I don't make that distinction between the first and second covenant that you do." Well, I said, "Then how do you interpret the Scripture in the book of Hebrews? If the first had been faultless, there had been no place for the second." And I said, "Do you believe that David was a Christian?" He said he certainly did. I asked if he believed Abraham was. He said he did. I said, "Do you believe you could do what they did and have as many wives as they did and be a Christian?" They couldn't and you couldn't be justified and do what they did. Why? Because you live in a different dispensation. Greater privileges, and we have greater requirements. And there will be greater responsibilities. I think anybody ought to be able to see that. What we need is to return to a New Testament standard of Christianity and contend for that.

I have not gone out anywhere and militated against a person; I have not lifted my voice against any preacher and told people not to get him for revivals. I know they're doing me that way all over the country; that's all right. I'm not going to use the same weapons they do because what I've got works better than theirs. When I got saved, I knew I couldn't down my brother; I loved everybody. I love those that disagree with me. But I am going to be just as bold in contending for the truth as they are in what they're preaching. And if they don't want to hear, don't send for me.

I've seen a number of people, young people, really get established in grace because they say they want the real thing. A lot of people are giving up their old professions. They say, "I'm glad to get rid of this and know there's something better than what I've got."

Let me read you a little something about what Wesley says about Cornelius so you won't have any mistake about where he stood. He mentions here "thy prayers and alms will come up before thee." He said, "Dare any man say that these were only splendid sins or that they were an abomination before God and yet it is certain in a Christian sense, Cornelius was an unbeliever. He had not then faith in Christ." but you say, "Was their heart not purified by faith?" And so are all believers. As Brother Brush made very clear last night, when a person is converted he is not only forgiven of all his sins, but he is sanctified from all those acquired depravities that he acquired himself. the original sin is still there. This is very clearly set forth. In most of the places in the New Testament where the word "sanctification" is mentioned it has no reference whatsoever to a second work of grace.

The church at Corinth, he mentioned a list of sins and he said, "Such were some of you, but ye are washed. But ye are sanctified. But ye are justified." What did he mean? He meant they were not only forgiven and justified, but they were cleansed from all those things that they had accumulated. And set apart and dedicated to be God's. And that is true of all believers.

I want in my life everything that the Bible says I can have. And I know when I began to see this truth and I began to preach it, they said, "Well, Brother Long, you got the standard too high." But I said, "I believe God can give me the same grace that he gave Wesley and Finney and all the rest of them. I'm not looking to be one of them. I'm not striving for that. I had to learn to be just me."

I knew there'd be people that I'd preach to, hillbillies and rooster-fighters, and berry-hunters, that nobody else would touch. God didn't make me for looks; he made me for wear. But I said I can have in my heart everything that they had as far as grace is concerned for God is not respecter of persons and I will not be satisfied with less than that. And I lived to prove it was so and God did that work in my heart. And he stands to do it in your heat today if you'll let him. Nowbear this in mind, you do not have to know much theology to enjoy the fullness of God's great grace.

But if I am to be consistent with myself, if I'm going to preach that all Christian have the Holy Spirit (and I have to preach that if I preach the Bible), then I can no longer be consistent with myself and preach what the holiness people preach. If we believe that men are not baptized with the Spirit until they have the second work of grace, then we are being inconsistent if we offer water baptism to people before that time. Because water baptism is always connected with the new birth. If Saul of Tarsus had been born again on the road to Damascus, he would have received Christian baptism then. But the Bible says he received baptism three days later. It said, "Arise and be baptized and wash away they sins." It proves that that's when he was born again. And if you will read the epistles you will find out what he was praying. He was praying during those days that he might be found in God pouring contempt on all his own righteousness and seeking that which is of faith. And the whole implication of the Scripture there proves that this actually was what he was praying. And heaven was listening to him and you listen to any sinner's prayer and he prays the prayer of repentance. He may deal with them a while, but sooner or later they will come through.

I will give you this about Adam Clarke and his conversion. He had no light on things doctrinally at that time. But he sought God earnestly. And I have been reading it this week since I've been here, his biography. He tells how he went out to work and he was so distressed about his soul. He prayed till he got so weak he could hardly stand up. And he fell down there praying and suddenly he saw his only hope was the merits of Jesus' blood. And it appeared to him that Christ had died for him and he could be saved from sin. And a great light filled his soul. And his whole countenance was lifted. And so much so that his strength came back to him. His bodily weakness was gone. He got up, but he didn't know what had happened. but he knew he was unspeakably happy. And it was the deepest peace that he had ever know. I think it was the second day after that that a minister, a Baptist preacher, came and they were talking and they got to this place where he prayed and he told about his agony and what had happened and this man took off his hat and began to weep. And he said, "Adam, you have favor with God and He has notified you that you are a child of God, that you have been saved, that you have been justified by faith." In that moment he knew what had happened to him. But friends he went through the same process that he bible speaks of. He had been united to the body of Christ, and he had received from Christ that which had joined him to Him, and had put his Spirit in his heart, crying "Abba, Father" and he went forth from that time to live for God a new life and he had victory over sin.

There was a boy who went to Bible school, sang in the quartet, traveled all over the country. He went to the altar in almost all the camps. Part of the time he would have "victory." You'd see him and he'd testify and next time he wouldn't have it. One of these up and down sort of things. And he heard his daddy-in-law preaching on the witness of the Spirit. And he said you mean you can have a work in your heart and know about it? And his daddy-in-law said, "Well you most surely can." He said, "Well, I never had that." That's why his life's been up and down. When he found that out then he found the answer to a lot of his problems. Our great need today, and I believe in entire sanctification with all my heart and I advocate it, but our great need to day is first of all we shall be clear in this one thing: Am I a Bible Christian? Do I have gospel regeneration in my heart? And when we get that settled and build on that foundation, you will have no trouble with the second work.

Somebody asked this question, "Why would a hillbilly like you who didn't know anything and never went to school before, why would God show that to you?" Well, one reason was this; I didn't have anything to unlearn. I would say this. I took a lot of their doctrine to start with and preached it till I saw it wouldn't work. I heard all this stuffy, different things you know, and I thought that would make good preaching. And I tried to preach it, but when I began to be real honest with the Bible, I couldn't take it. It was like all this stuff about the coming of Jesus. I always believed Jesus was coming back to earth again, just as much as He came the first time. But there are so many different phases of it, and books and charts about it, I couldn't take it all. And I began to look for this in the Bible and I couldn't find it. Course you can't either. You think you have. But take the Bible and don't read anything into it and don't take anything out of it; you won't see all the things that people say is there, because you can't find it.

One lady wrote to a radio preacher who was preaching along the line of prophecy. She said, "I want to know about this rapture business, about the Church and all." She said, "Where's that in the Bible." He said, "You keep on searching; you'll find it." So a couple of weeks later she wrote back and said, "I haven't found it yet." He said, "Keep on searching." Well, I could tell her she could keep on searching and she may be searching yet and she hasn't found it. The reason she hasn't found it; it isn't there to find. People think that's almost blasphemy. No, friends. We need to come back to the Word. Jesus is coming again. I believe that with all my heart. but all these different things about His coming; we better be careful. I've asked these people, "Where do yo find that in the Bible?" One person sat down and undertook to show me, and when they got through they said, "Well, you know, the bible tore my doctrine all to pieces." He admitted it! And since that time he's been going strong with the Word. He had all these charts and all these lessons, but when he came down to prove this by the Word, it was a different thing. And after all the Word is what you make it bow down to. I don't know that much about it; that way I don't have to argue about it. I just say, I tell what it will take to be ready and ask everybody to get that and keep it and if it doesn't turn out like I thought it was and I'm saved, it doesn't make any difference. I always liked surprises anyhow, especially good surprises. If I'm going to get a gift, I don't like to know what's in it before I get it. I like to guess, you know. I wouldn't think of opening a gift before Christmas time. I want to have all those days of wonder. I still got the boy in me. I wonder what's in there. I might kind of shake it, but I wouldn't dare open it. And there are a whole lot of things about the coming of Jesus I don't think any of us know. For it says, "God has not put it in our power to know the times and seasons...." That's not our business. Our business is to be ready. I want to say with Vance Havner, "I'm a pan-millenialist." They ask him what he meant. He said, "Well, if I just live right and stay in the will of God, everything will pan out all right when He comes." And that's the kind I am.


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