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Sermon #1091

Testing the Spirits (1)

A Sermon on John 1:26-33


John 1:26-33 ESV KJV
John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing. The next day he …

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Sermon Description

What does one do if confronted with miraculous spiritual events? In this exposition of John 1:26–33 by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones titled “Testing of the Spirits (1),” he begins the discussion of how to process and test the spirits. First, Dr. Lloyd-Jones notes that, throughout history, revival (which he deems as “many people being baptized in the Holy Spirit”) may or may not be accompanied by miraculous gifts, and is actually more often than not lacking these miraculous occurrences. However, in light of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, Dr. Lloyd-Jones notes several errors. First, some people say that the baptism always has to be accompanied by the miraculous gifts, but it is arrogant to say the Holy Spirit has to work that way. Next, there are those who deny the miraculous gifts and quench the Spirit. This, too, according to Dr. Lloyd-Jones, is unbiblical. Lastly, there are those who accept all things without testing anything, which Dr. Lloyd-Jones argues can be dangerous. The Christian must accept and test. In light of this, Dr. Lloyd-Jones states that they must not rely solely on feelings, nor the credibility of people, but should examine what is being taught. The Christian must not be surprised if Satan attacks those closest to the Lord.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. The sermon is focused on the doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts.
  2. The sermon opens by examining John 1:26 and 33 which discuss Jesus baptizing with the Holy Spirit.
  3. The sermon then discusses how some dismiss spiritual gifts as only for the early church while others say they should always be present. Dr. Lloyd-Jones says both views are unscriptural.
  4. Spiritual gifts are under the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit - they may or may not be given. We should be open to them but not expect them always.
  5. Revivals are outpourings of the Spirit and often involve spiritual gifts. While gifts are possible in revivals, they are not always present. This shows baptism of the Spirit and gifts are distinct.
  6. There are two dangers: quenching the Spirit by dismissing gifts and uncritical acceptance of claimed gifts. We must avoid extremes.
  7. We must not accept every claimed gift uncritically. Scripture and church history warn us evil spirits can counterfeit gifts. We must "test the spirits."
  8. Examples of counterfeited gifts include: the magicians in Egypt, claimed miracles in the Roman Catholic church, the French Prophets movement, Irvingism, and various cults.
  9. Evidence from spiritism and psychology shows phenomena like tongues, healings, etc. can be counterfeited. We must not base faith on phenomena alone.
  10. To test spirits, don't rely only on feelings, reports from others, or the character of people involved. Prove all things and hold fast to what is good.

The Book of John

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.