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Sermon #3162

Faith and Experience

A Sermon on Romans 8:16


Romans 8:16 ESV KJV
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, (ESV)

Sermon Description

When does the believer receive the Holy Spirit? Is it at the moment of adoption into the body of Christ through faith or is it sometime later? Often after accepting the gift of salvation, one may not feel the flooding nature of spiritual baptism. Others may feel the Spirit immediately. In this sermon on Romans 8:16 titled “Faith and Experience,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones comments on this phenomenon in this message of assurance and unity. The sermon also surveys other examples in the New Testament where the Spirit is received. He provides context into the sealing of the Spirit, as well as context into the translation of the word. He answers the question: Who baptizes with the Spirit? Dr. Lloyd-Jones elaborates on what rights a believer has, both before and after receiving the Spirit. He delves into the wide scope of Puritan writers, as well as other Christian perspectives, concerning this theological argument in order to further expand this topic and solidify its interpretation. Listen as the power of the Spirit is unraveled and opened to the believer in its ability to unify the church body of Christ across its many differences to do His good work in the world.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. The passage under consideration is Romans 8:16 - The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.
  2. This is a statement of the highest assurance and glory that can be attained in this life.
  3. The terms "spirit" and "witness" were defined in the previous sermons. The Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit.
  4. This witness is usually given through the Word or preaching but can come independently. It gives absolute certainty of our sonship.
  5. This witness is the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the sealing of the Spirit. They give the same assurance.
  6. The question addressed here is "When is this witness given?" Some say it happens to all Christians at regeneration but this view does not fit Scripture or experience.
  7. Acts 2, 8, 10 and 19 show that believing and receiving the Spirit are separable. The apostles were believers before Pentecost.
  8. Ephesians 1:13 shows that believing precedes the sealing of the Spirit. The correct translation is "having believed, you were sealed".
  9. 1 Corinthians 12:13 refers to the Spirit baptizing us into the body of Christ, not the baptism with the Spirit. All Christians experience the former.
  10. The witness of the Spirit is usually given after an interval, not at the moment of belief. But it can be nearly simultaneous, as with Cornelius.
  11. The experiences of great Christians like John Flavel, George Whitefield, John Wesley, and Charles Finney confirm this. They were believers first, then received the Spirit's witness.
  12. The Puritans, like John Preston, John Owen, and Thomas Brooks, taught that faith precedes the Spirit's witness.
  13. Other teachers like Charles Simeon, Robert Haldane, J. C. Philpot, and C. H. Spurgeon confirm this. Spurgeon preached on it in 1882.
  14. In summary, believing always precedes the Spirit's witness, though the interval may be short. But the two can be separated, as Scripture and experience show.

The Book of Romans

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.