On January 13, in the online publication Biblical Notes, Weylan Deaver published an article entitled, “The Fog is Lifting.” A better title for the article would be “The Fog Is Getting Thicker.” A long time ago, Biblical Notes was a sound paper, but now it is dedicated to defending the erroneous position of Mac Deaver, a once faithful gospel preacher but now a peddler of his false doctrine on the Holy Spirit.
There is so much error in the article, based on assumptions that are clearly false, that it would take much more space than I have here to deal with it all. There are also better men who are better qualified to deal with this error than I, and I am sure they will. But I feel compelled to make a few observations regarding it in the mean time.
First, on the one hand, brother Deaver tries to argue that the expression “baptism of the Holy Spirit” is just a different way of saying that we are saved. He writes, “when we found different words used about the Holy Spirit’s connection to saved people, we completely missed the point…” He tries to argue that the expression “baptism of the Holy Spirit” is an equivalent term for salvation just as there are different terms used to describe the church. He writes:
“We knew it was called the church, but also referred to as a kingdom. Nobody insisted that the church and kingdom must be separate entities. We knew that the church was called the body of Christ, but also his bride, and even God’s house. And no one claimed that the body must be something other than the bride, or that the body cannot be the church, or that God’s house cannot be his kingdom, etc. We all understood these various terms were descriptive of the same institution. The church was the kingdom and also the body and also the bride and also the house of God. They were all the same thing, despite different terminology. However, when we found different words used about the Holy Spirit’s connection to saved people, we completely missed the point…Our coherent approach to passages on the church became a muddled effort on passages about the Spirit.”
He clearly means to imply that since the church was described by different terms, then salvation can also be described by different terms. And surely it can be and is! “Remission of sins” is one expression for salvation just as being “in Christ” is another. Both of them refer to the same thing under different figures. But then he tries to say that the expression “baptism of the Holy Spirit,” which he says is equivalent to “receiving the Spirit,” and other similar expressions, is an expression equal to expressions denoting salvation, including the references to water baptism.
But later in the same article he says “Peter calls on hearers to repent and be baptized so they can receive ‘the gift of the Holy Spirit.'” If they are the same thing, then how can one come before the other? He writes of Cornelius in Acts 10, “In his case, the Spirit baptism preceded the water baptism…” How can that be if “they were all the same thing, despite different terminology” as he claims? If he is not equating “baptism of the Holy Spirit” with water baptism, then what was the point of his comparison with terms denoting the church?
But the truth is the baptism of the Holy Spirit was only promised to the apostles (Acts 1:1-4). He would guide the apostles into all truth and bring to their remembrance the things the Lord had taught them (John 14:26; 16:13). Receiving the miraculous power from the Spirit (Acts 1:8), the apostles could then pass those powers to others through laying their hands on them (Acts 8:18). The Deavers cannot do this, were never promised the Spirit, were not in Jerusalem when the Spirit was given and never had an apostle to lay their hands on them to receive the gift of the Spirit.
A second point. He makes much of the supplied words “unto Him” in John 3:34. He says we in the church have been teaching that God gives the Spirit by measure when the Text says that God does not give the Spirit by measure. He writes, “There is no ‘baptismal measure.’ There is no ‘laying on of hands measure.’ There is no ‘ordinary measure.’ There are no measures.”
First, his view goes against the views of the commentators. Gill wrote, “Still meaning Christ,..For God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him, as he did to the prophets of the Old Testament, and to the apostles of the New; and to the ordinary ministers of the word, who have gifts differing one from another; to one is given one gift of the Spirit; and to another, another gift, as the Spirit pleaseth; and to everyone is given grace, or gifts of grace, according to the measure of the gift of Christ, Ephesians 4:7.”
The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown commentary states, “Here, again, the sharpest conceivable line of distinction is drawn between Christ and all human-inspired teachers: ‘They have the Spirit in a limited degree; but God giveth not [to Him] the Spirit by measure.'”
Matthew Henry wrote, “John knew that Jesus came from heaven as the Son of God, while he was a sinful, mortal man, who could only speak about the more plain subjects of religion. The words of Jesus were the words of God; he had the Spirit, not by measure, as the prophets, but in all fulness.”
Brother Coffman wrote, “Christian disciples receive merely “an earnest” of the Holy Spirit, and not even the apostles possessed the Spirit in the total sense that Jesus did.”
Barnes: “The prophets were inspired on particular occasions to deliver special messages. The Messiah was continually filled with the Spirit of God.”
Robertson’s Word Pictures: “That is God has put no limit to the Spirit’s relation to the Son. God has given the Holy Spirit in his fulness to Christ and to no one else in that sense.”
Furthermore, the context makes it clear that John is speaking of Christ. John said that Christ came down from heaven and is above all (John 3:31). What Christ saw and heard is what He testified (John 3:32). Verse 34 speaks of Him who God hath sent, which is Jesus. And the reason that He speaks the word of God is because God does not give the Spirit by measure to Him. It makes no sense, contextually or otherwise, to say that this applies to all. We do not speak with the same authority the Son does. Finally, verse 35 says that God has given all things into His hand. This He has not done to any other human being.
It is sad to see the Deavers descend into this kind of error. I had great respect for brother Roy Deaver, and once had respect for Mac Deaver. But his torturous defense of his error is embarrassing. I pray that the fog will one day soon lift from his eyes.
Eric L. Padgett