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Sermon #3158

Knowing You Have Received

A Sermon on Romans 8:15


Romans 8:15 ESV KJV
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (ESV)

Sermon Description

Within certain streams of popular Bible teaching, the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit is significantly diminished. Some have emphasized the responsibility to “take” the Holy Spirit by faith. In other words, God wants to give the Spirit, one just needs to “lay hold of” Him. In this sermon on Romans 8:15 titled “Knowing You Have Received,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones finds this teaching unbiblical and troubling. In order to refute this defective teaching, he patiently works through all the New Testament references to the word “receive” and draws proper theological conclusions about the Holy Spirit and faith. Dr. Lloyd-Jones reminds that as the blessed third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit is a sovereign Lord. One must never talk as if they control Him. Nor should they, he warns, think they can simply use “faith” to “lay hold of” or “take” the Spirit. As Paul teaches in Romans 8:15, the Christian merely “receives” the Spirit of adoption. This is the consensus of the Scriptural witness. Watch how Dr. Lloyd-Jones models the proper way to handle Christian doctrine and engage those who teach heterodox views. Moreover, listen to Dr. Lloyd-Jones teach the true nature of the Spirit’s sovereignty and how He comes to the believer.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. The exact meaning and connotation of the word "received" is important to understand in Romans 8:15.
  2. The word "received" can have an active or passive sense. In the active sense, it means to take or grasp something. In the passive sense, it means to gain, get or obtain something that is given.
  3. The context of Romans 8:15 indicates the passive sense is intended. It is inconceivable that "received the spirit of bondage" could have an active sense. By implication, "received the spirit of adoption" also has a passive sense.
  4. All other New Testament statements about receiving the Holy Spirit teach the passive sense.
  5. Luke 3:16, the foundational statement, emphasizes baptism by the Holy Spirit as something done to believers, not something believers do.
  6. Acts 1:8 teaches power comes after the Holy Spirit comes upon believers. Believers do not take the Holy Spirit.
  7. In Acts 2, the Holy Spirit fills believers and gives them utterance. They do not take the Holy Spirit.
  8. Acts 8:15-17 indicates the apostles prayed for and laid hands on believers so they would receive the Holy Spirit. This shows the Holy Spirit is given, not taken.
  9. Acts 10:44 shows the Holy Spirit fell on believers as they listened to Peter. They did not decide to take the Holy Spirit.
  10. Acts 10:47 shows believers received the Holy Spirit just as the apostles did at Pentecost. This was something done to them, not something they did.
  11. Acts 19:2 shows believers received the Holy Spirit when Paul laid hands on them, demonstrating the Holy Spirit is given, not taken.
  12. The laying on of hands suggests the importance of the giving of the gift, not the taking of the gift.
  13. The take it by faith teaching does not acknowledge the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit.
  14. Even justification is given by God, not taken by faith. Faith is the instrument, not the actor.
  15. True faith is never "bare" but accompanied by feeling and works. Mere intellectual assent is not saving faith.
  16. In Scripture, receiving the Holy Spirit is always accompanied by feeling and transformation that is evident to others. It is not taken by "bare" faith.

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.