|Torrey - Holy Spirit -7.3- The Work of the Holy Spirit in the Believer|
III. THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE BELIEVER. Titus 3:5, RV — "Not by works done in righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to his mercy he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost." John 3:3-5 — "Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I saw unto thee, Except a man be born again, he can not see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born again when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he can not enter into the kingdom of God."
Regeneration is the Holy Spirit's work. Regeneration is the impartation of life, spiritual life, to the one "dead in trespasses and sins" ( Ephesians 2:1). It is the Holy Spirit who imparts this life. ( John 6:63 — "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.") In 2 Corinthians 3:6, we are told that the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life. This is sometimes interpreted to mean that the literal interpretation of the Scripture kills, but that the interpretation that gives the spirit of the passage gives life. It means nothing of the kind, as the context shows. This is a favorite perversion of Scripture with those who do not like to take the Bible as meaning just what it says. Still another false interpretation is that the letter means the old covenant and the law. But this is not the thought. The contrast, as is seen in verse 3, is between the mere word written with ink, and the living word written in the heart "with the Spirit of the living God." This much is true in the second interpretation, that the law was "the ministration of death" (v. 7), because it was unaccompanied by the Spirit's power; and the gospel is a ministration of life, because it is a ministration of the Spirit. But the gospel is a ministration of the Spirit and of life only when the gospel is preached "not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power" ( 1 Corinthians 2:4); or as Paul puts it in another place ( Thessalonians 1:5) when the gospel comes "not in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost." The mere letter of the gospel will merely condemn and kill unless accompanied by the Spirit's power. The ministry of many an orthodox preacher and teacher is a ministry of death. It is true the word of the gospel is the instrument God uses in regeneration (Compare James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23; 1 Corinthians 4:15), but it is not the bare word, but the word made a living thing in the heart by the power of the Holy Spirit. No amount of preaching, no matter how orthodox it may be, no amount of mere study of the Word, will regenerate unless the Holy Spirit works. It is He and He alone that makes a man a new creature. This He is ever ready to do when the conditions are supplied.
But just as we are utterly dependent upon the work of Christ for us in justification, so we are utterly dependent upon the work of the Holy Spirit in us for regeneration. Regeneration is the impartation of a new nature — God's nature ( 1 Peter 1:4). It is the Holy Spirit who imparts this to us, makes us partakers of the divine nature (see Luke 1:35). It is done through the Word ( 2 Peter 1:4; 1 Corinthians 4:15). To put it in a word: the human heart is the soil, the preacher or teacher is the sower, the word of God is the seed, the Spirit of God quickens the seed, and the Divine nature is the result.
The Spirit of God dwells in the one thus born of the Spirit. ( Corinthians 3:16 — ''Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?") Some say that it is not the individual believer, but the church who is thus indwelt by the Spirit of God. But Corinthians 6:19 ("What! know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?") shows that Paul conceives of the individual believer as the temple of the indwelling Spirit. In the indwelling of the Spirit we have an advance upon the work of regeneration.
In the indwelling Spirit is an abiding presence ( John 14:17). The Holy Spirit dwells in every one who belongs to Christ ( Romans 8:9 — "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now, if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his").
The Corinthian believers were very imperfect believers, but Paul told them that they were temples of the Holy Spirit even when dealing with them concerning gross immorality ( 1 Corinthians 6:15-19). The Holy Spirit dwells in every child of God.
In some, however, He dwells way back in the hidden sanctuary of their spirit and is not allowed to take possession as He desires of the whole man — spirit, soul, and body. Some, therefore, are not distinctly conscious of His indwelling, but He is there. What a solemn but glorious thought. If we are children of God we are not so much to pray that the Spirit may come and dwell in us; for He does that already. We are rather to recognize His presence, His gracious and glorious indwelling, and give Him complete control of the house He already inhabits, and strive to so live as not to grieve this Holy one, this Divine guest. We shall see later that it is right to pray for "the filling" or "baptism" with the Spirit. What a thought it gives of the hallowedness of life and of the sacredness of the body, to think of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. How carefully we ought to walk as not to grieve Him. How considerately we ought to treat these bodies, and how sensitively we ought to shun everything that will defile them.
This indwelling Spirit is a source of everlasting satisfaction and life. John 4:14 "But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." (From a comparison with John 7:37-39, it is plain that the water here spoken of is the Holy Spirit.) The one who drinks of this water "shall never thirst" or literally shall not thirst unto eternity. He has a fountain within, now with no need to go outside for satisfaction. He is independent of environment for life and joy. Why then do so many professed Christians run to the world for their satisfaction? Romans 8:2 — "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death."
Second Proposition: The Holy Spirit sets the believer in Christ free from the law of sin and death.
The law of sin and death is addressed in Romans 7:9-24. Paul had been aroused by the law of God to see what was holy and just and good. He delighted in this law after the inward man ( Romans 7:22) and strove to keep it. But he found that there was not only this "holy and just and good" law without him, but he found there was another law in his members warring against the law of his mind. This law of sin and death was that when he would do good evil was present (7:21). "To will is present to me, but to do that which is good is not" (v. 18 RV). In this wretched position of approving of the law in his mind, but in servitude to the law of sin and death in his actions, Paul found himself until he discovered in Christ Jesus a third law, "the law of the Spirit of life." This law set him free from the law of sin and death so that now he not only could "will" but also "do," and the righteousness of the law was fulfilled in him who walked not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. ( Romans 8:3). It is the work of the Holy Spirit when we give up trying to live right in our own strength — i.e., in the energy of the flesh — and surrender to the Holy Spirit to live in Him and walk in his blessed power, to set us free from this awful law of sin and death.
There are many professed Christians today experiencing Romans 7:9-24. Some even go so far as to reason that this is the normal Christian life.
But Paul tells us distinctly in verse 9 that this was "when the commandment came," and again in verse 14 that this was his experience as "carnal, sold under sin." In Romans 8:9 he tells us how not to be in the flesh but in the Spirit. In the eighth chapter of Romans we have the picture of the true Christian life, the life that is possible and that God expects from every one of His children — the life where not merely the commandment comes, but the Spirit comes and works obedience and victory; where we not only see the beauty of the law, but where the Spirit imparts power to keep it ( Romans 8:4). We still have "the flesh," but we do not live after it; we "through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body" ( Romans 8:13). We walk after the Spirit and do not fulfill the lusts of the flesh ( Galatians 5:16). We "have crucified the flesh with the passions and lusts thereof" ( Galatians 5:24 RV). It is thus our privilege in the Spirit's power to get daily, hourly, constant victory over the flesh and over sin.
But this victory is not in ourselves, not in any strength of our own. Left to ourselves, deserted of the Spirit of God, we would be as helpless as ever. It is still true that in us, that is, in our flesh, "dwelleth no good thing" ( Romans 7:18). Victory is all in the Spirit's power. The Spirit's power may be so full that one is not conscious of the presence of the flesh — it seems dead and gone — but it is only kept dead by the Holy Spirit. If we try to take one step in our own strength we fail. We must live and walk in the Spirit to have victory ( Galatians 5:16,25).
In John 8:32, it is the truth that sets us free and gives victory over sin, and in <19B911> Psalm 119:11, it is the indwelling word. In this, as in everything else, what in one place is attributed to the Spirit is elsewhere attributed to the word. Ephesians 3:16 RV — That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, that ye may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man."
Third Proposition: The Holy Spirit strengthens the believer with power in the inward man.
The result of this strengthening is seen in verses 17-19 — "That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; to the end that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be strong to apprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled unto all the fulness of God." This work of the Holy Spirit is closely related to that mentioned in the preceding section. It is a carrying out of the former work to completion. Here the power of the Spirit manifests itself not merely in giving us victory over sin, but (a) in Christ's dwelling (a strong word meaning permanently settling) in our hearts, (b) in our being rooted and grounded in love, (c) in our being made strong to apprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, and (d) in our being "filled unto all the fulness of God." Romans 8:14 "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God."
Fourth Proposition: The Holy Spirit leads us into a holy life, a life as sons of God, a godly life.
The Holy Spirit not only gives us power to live a holy life, a life well pleasing to God when we have discovered what that life is; He also takes us as it were by the hand and leads us into that life. Our whole part is simply to surrender ourselves utterly to Him to lead and mold us. Those who do this are not merely God's offspring, which all men are ( Acts 17:28), neither are they merely God's children: "These are sons of God." Romans 8:16, RV "The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children of God."
Fifth Proposition: The Holy Spirit bears witness together with the spirit of the believer that he is a child of God.
Note that Paul does not say that the Spirit bears witness to our spirit but with it. That is, there are two who bear witness to our sonship; first our spirit bears witness that we are children of God; second, the Holy Spirit bears witness together with our spirit that we are children of God.
QUESTION: How does the Holy Spirit bear His testimony to this fact?
ANSWER: Galatians 4:6 — "And because ye are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." It is only when "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death ( Romans 8:2), and so "the righteousness of the law is fulfilled" in me "who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit" (8:4), and I "through the Spirit of God do mortify the deeds of the body" (8:13), and when I am surrendered to the Spirit's leading (8:14) — it is then and only then that I can expect (8:16) to actually experience the clear assurance of sonship that comes from the Spirit of God testifying together with my spirit that I am a child of God. There are many seeking this testimony of the Holy Spirit in the wrong place (i.e., as a condition of their surrendering wholly to God). Galatians 5:22-23 — "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is not law."
Sixth Proposition: The Holy Spirit brings forth fruit in the believer in Christlike graces of character. (Compare to Romans 14:17 — "For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." Romans 15:13 — ''Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost." Romans 5:5 — "And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.") All real beauty of character, all real Christlikeness in us, is the Holy Spirit's work; it is His fruit. He bears it, not we.
Notice these graces are not said to be the fruits of the Spirit, they are the fruit. There is a unity of origin running through all the multiplicity of manifestation. It is a beautiful life that is set forth in these verses. Every word is worthy of earnest study and profound meditation. "Love," "joy, .... peace," "longsuffering," "kindness," "goodness," "faith," "meekness," "self control." Is not this the life we all long for, the Christ-life? It is not natural to us, and it is not attainable by any effort of the flesh or nature. The life that is natural to us is set forth in the three preceding verses ( Galatians 5:19-21). But when the indwelling Spirit is given full control in the one He inhabits, when we are brought to realize the utter badness of the flesh and give up in hopeless despair of ever attaining to anything in its power — in other words, when we come to the end of self and just give over the whole work of making us what we ought to be to the indwelling Holy Spirit, then, and only then, holy graces of character are His fruit. Do you wish these graces in your character and life? Renounce self utterly and all its striving after holiness, and let the Holy Spirit, who dwells in you, take full control and bear His own glorious fruit. Settle it clearly and forever that the flesh can never bear this fruit, that you can never attain these things by your own effort, that they are "the fruit of the Spirit."
We hear a good deal today about "character-building." That is all very well if you let the Holy Spirit do the building, and then it is not so much building as fruit-bearing. (See, however, 2 Peter 1:5-7.)
We hear also about cultivating graces of character, but we must always bear in mind that the way to cultivate true graces of character is by submitting ourselves utterly to the Spirit to do His work. "This is sanctification of the Spirit" ( 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:13).
There is a sense, however, in which cultivating graces of character is right.
We look at Jesus Christ to see what we ought to be, then we look to the Holy Spirit to make us what we ought to be. John 16:13 RV — "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into all the truth: for he shall not speak from himself: but what things soever he shall hear, these shall he speak: and he shall declare unto you the things that are to come."
Seventh Proposition: The Holy Spirit guides the believer into all truth.
This promise was made in the first instance to the apostles, but the apostles themselves applied it to all believers ( 1 John 2:20,27). It is the privilege of each of us to be "taught of God." Each believer is independent of human teachers — "ye need not that any man teach you." This does not mean, of course, that we may not learn from others who are taught of the Holy Spirit. If John had thought that, he never would have written this epistle to teach others. The man who is most fully taught of God is the very one who will be most ready to listen to what God has taught others. Much less does it mean that when we are taught of the Spirit we are independent of the Word of God. For the Word is the very place to which the Spirit leads His pupils and the instrument through which He instructs them ( Ephesians 6:17; John 6:63; Ephesians 5:18-29; Colossians 3:16). But while we may learn much from men, we are not dependent upon them. We have a divine teacher, the Holy Spirit.
We shall never truly know the truth until we are thus taught. No amount of mere human teaching, no matter who our teachers may be, will give us a correct apprehension of the truth. Not even a diligent study of the Word either in English or the original languages will give us a real understanding of the truth. We must be taught of the Holy Spirit. And each and every one of us may be taught by Him.. The one who is taught by the Spirit will understand the truth of God better, even if he does not know a word of Greek or Hebrew, than the one who knows Greek, Hebrew, and all the cognate languages, and is not taught of the Spirit.
The Spirit will guide the one He teaches into all the truth. Not in a day, nor in a week, nor in a year, but step by step. There are two special lines of the Spirit's teaching mentioned: (a) "He shall declare unto you the things that are to come." Many say we can know nothing of the future, that all our thoughts on that subject are guesswork. Anyone taught by the Spirit knows better than that. (b) "He shall glorify me [i.e., Christ], for he shall take of mine, and shall declare it unto you." This is the Holy Spirit's specialty with the believer as with the unbeliever, to declare unto them the things of Christ and glorify Him.
Many fear to emphasize the truth about the Holy Spirit lest Christ be disparaged, but no one magnifies Christ as the Holy Spirit does. We shall never understand Christ nor see His glory until the Holy Spirit interprets Him to us. The mere listening to sermons and lectures, the mere study of the Word, will never allow you to see "the things of Christ." The Holy Spirit must show you, and He is willing to do it. He is longing to do it. I suppose the Holy Spirit's most intense desire is to reveal Jesus Christ to men. Let Him do it. Christ is so different when the Spirit takes the things of Christ and shows them unto us. John 14:26 — "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."
Eighth Proposition: The Holy Spirit brings to remembrance the words of Christ.
Here again we have the teaching of the Holy Spirit, but we have something besides. This promise was made primarily to the apostles, and is the guarantee of the accuracy of their report of what Jesus said; but the Holy Spirit does a similar work with each believer who expects it of Him and looks to Him to do it. He brings to mind the teachings of Christ and the Word, just when we need them for either the necessities of our life or of our service.
How many of us could tell of occasions when we were in great distress of soul, or great questioning as to duty, or great extremity as to what to say to one whom we were trying to lead to Christ or to help, and just the Scripture we needed — some passage we had not thought of for a long time and perhaps never in this connection — was brought to mind? It was the Holy Spirit who did this, and He is ready to do it even more when we expect it from Him. Isn't it significant that in the verse following this promise, Jesus says: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you"? If we will look to the Holy Spirit to bring Scripture to mind just when we need it, we will indeed have Christ's peace. 1 Corinthians 2:9-14 "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."
Ninth Proposition: (a) The Holy Spirit reveals to us the deep things of God which are hidden from, and foolishness to, the natural man; and, (b) The Holy Spirit imparts power to discern, know and appreciate what He has taught.
In these verses we have a twofold work of the Spirit. It is primarily to the apostles that He does this, but we cannot limit this work of the Spirit to them. Not only is the Holy Spirit the author of the revealed written word of God, but He is also the interpreter of what He has revealed. How much more interesting any book becomes when we have its author right at hand to interpret it to us. This is what we always may have when we study the Bible. The author, the Holy Spirit, is right at hand to interpret. To understand the book, we look to Him and the darkest places become clear.
We need to pray often with the Psalmist, "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law" ( <19B918> Psalm 119:18). It is not enough that we have the objective revelation in the written word, we must have the subjective illumination of the Holy Spirit to enable us to comprehend it. It is a great mistake to try to comprehend a spiritual revelation with natural understanding. The foolish attempt to do this has landed many in the bog of "higher criticism." A man who is color-blind might as well expect to appreciate a famous painting because he owns a paint brush, as an unspiritual man to understand the Bible simply because he understands the laws of grammar and the vocabulary of the languages in which the Bible was written. We all need to recognize the utter insufficiency and worthlessness before God of our own wisdom (see, e.g., 1 Corinthians 1:19-21, 26-27). That is perhaps the lesson that this nineteenth century of overweening intellectual conceit needs most of any.
To understand God's word we must empty ourselves utterly of our own wisdom, and rest in utter dependence upon the Spirit of God to interpret it to us. (Matthew l 1:25 — "At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.") When we have put away our own righteousness, then, and only then, we get the righteousness of God (See Philippians 3:4-7,9 and Romans 10:3).
Emptying must precede filling: self poured out that God may be poured in.
We must daily be taught by the Spirit to understand the word. I cannot depend today on the fact that the Spirit taught me yesterday. Each new contact with the Word must be in the power of the Spirit. That the Holy Spirit once illumined our mind to grasp a certain passage is not enough. He must do so each time we confront that passage. Andrew Murray put this truth well when he said, "Each time you come to the Word in study, in hearing a sermon or reading a religious book, there ought to be, as distinct as your intercourse with the external means, a definite act of selfabnegation, denying your own wisdom and yielding yourself in faith to the Divine teacher." (The Spirit of Christ, p. 221.) 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 — "And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellence of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." 1 Thessalonians 1:5 — "For our Gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance: as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake." Acts 1:8 — "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."
Tenth Proposition: The Holy Spirit enables the believer to communicate to others in power the truth He Himself has been taught.
We need the Holy Spirit in the first place to reveal the truth, and the Holy Spirit in the second place to interpret to us the truth He has revealed, an we need the Holy Spirit in the third place to enable us to effectually communicate to others the truth He has interpreted to us. We need Him all along the line. One great cause of real failure in ministry even when there is seeming success is from attempting to teach by "enticing words of man's wisdom" (i.e., by the arts of human logic, rhetoric and eloquence) what the Holy Spirit has taught us. What is needed is "demonstration of the Spirit and of power." There are three causes of spiritual failure in preaching: 1. Some other message is taught than the message which the Holy Spirit has revealed in the Word — men preach science, art, philosophy, sociology, history, experience, etc., and not the simple word of God as found in the Holy Spirit's Book, the Bible. 2. The Spirit-taught message, the Bible, is studied and sought to be comprehended by the natural understanding — i.e., without the Spirit's illumination. That, alas! is too common even in institutions where men are being trained for the ministry. 3. The Spirit-given message, the Word, the Bible, studied and comprehended under the Holy Ghost illumination, is given out to others with "enticing words of man's wisdom," and not "in demonstration of the Spirit and of power." We are absolutely dependent upon, the Spirit all along the line. He must teach us how to speak as well as what to speak. His must be the power as well as the message.
Jude 20 — "But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost." Ephesians 6:18 — "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints." (Compare to Romans 8:26 — 27 RV.)
Eleventh Proposition: The Holy Spirit helps, guides and gives power to the believer in prayer.
The disciples did not know how to pray as they ought, so they came to Jesus and said: "Lord, teach us to pray." ( Luke 11:1.) We "know not how to pray as we ought," but we have another paraclete right at hand to help ( John 14:16-17). In fact, "The Spirit helpeth our infirmity" ( Romans 8:26 RV). He teaches us to pray. True prayer is prayer in the Spirit — i.e., prayer the Spirit inspires and directs. When we come into God's presence we should recognize our infirmity, our ignorance of what we should pray for, or how, and in the consciousness of our utter inability to pray tightly, look to the Holy Spirit and cast ourselves utterly upon Him to direct our prayers, to lead our desires, and guide our utterance of them.
Rushing heedlessly into God's presence and asking the first thing that comes to mind, or that some thoughtless one asks us to pray for, is not praying "in the Spirit," and is not true prayer. We must wait for the Holy Spirit, and surrender ourselves to the Him. The prayer that God the Holy Spirit inspires is the prayer that God the Father answers. Romans 8:26-27 RV says, "And in like manner the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity: for we know not how to pray as we ought; but the Spirit himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God."
The longings which the Holy Spirit begets in our hearts are often too deep for utterance, too deep apparently for clear and definite comprehension on the part of the believer himself in whom the Holy Spirit is working. God Himself must "search the heart" to know "what is the mind of the Spirit" in these unuttered and unutterable longings. But God does know what is the mind of the Spirit. He knows what those Spirit-given longings mean, even if we do not; and these longings are "according [to the will of] God." He grants them so it comes to pass that "He is able to do exceedingly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us" ( Ephesians 3:20). 1 Corinthians 14:15 — "What is it then? I will pray with the Spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the Spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also." There are other times when the Spirit's leadings are so clear that we "pray with the Spirit and with the understanding also." Ephesians 5:18-20 RV — "And be not drunken with wine, wherein is riot, but be filled with the Spirit; speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father."
Twelfth Proposition: The Holy Spirit inspires the believer to, and guides him in, praise and thanksgiving.
Not only does He teach us to pray, He also teaches us to render thanks.
One of the most prominent characteristics of "the spirit-filled life" is thanksgiving. (Compare to Acts 2:4,11.) True thanksgiving is "to God, even the Father," through or "in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ," in the Holy Spirit. The same is true of prayer. (Compare to Ephesians 2:18 RV.) Philippians 3:3 RV — "For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God, and glory in Christ, and have no confidence in the flesh."
Thirteenth Proposition: The Holy Spirit inspires worship on the part of the believer.
Prayer is not worship, thanksgiving is not worship. Worship is a definite act of the creature in relation to God. Worship is bowing before God in adoring acknowledgment and contemplation of Himself. Someone has said: "In our prayers we are taken up with our needs, in our thanksgiving we are taken up with our blessings, in our worship we are taken up with Himself."
There is no true and acceptable worship except that which the Holy Spirit prompts and directs. "Such doth the Father seek to be His worshippers" ( John 4:23 RV). The flesh seeks to enter every sphere of life. It has its worship as well as its lusts. The ownership which the flesh worships is an abomination unto God.
Not all earnest and honest worship is worship in the Spirit. A man may be very honest and very earnest in his worship, and still not have submitted himself to the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the matter, and so his worship is in the flesh. Even when there is great loyalty to the letter of the Word, worship may not be "in the Spirit" — i.e., inspired and directed by Him. To worship aright we must "have no confidence in the flesh," we must recognize the utter inability of the flesh — i.e., our natural self — to worship acceptably. We must realize also the danger there is that the self may intrude into our worship. In utter self-distrust and self-abnegation we must cast ourselves upon the Holy Spirit to lead us aright in our worship. Acts 13:2,4 "As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus."
Fourteenth Proposition: The Holy Spirit calls men and sends them forth to definite lines of work.
The Holy Spirit not only calls men in a general way into Christian work, but selects the specific work and points it out. "Shall I go to China, to Africa, to India?" many a believer is asking (and many others ought to ask).
You cannot rightly settle that question for yourself, neither can anyone else settle it rightly for you. Not every Christian is called to China or Africa, or to the foreign field at all. God alone knows whether He wishes you in any of these places. He is willing to show you.
How does the Holy Spirit call? The passage before us does not tell us. It is presumably purposely silent on this point, lest, perhaps, we think that He must always call in precisely the same way. There is nothing to indicate that He spoke by an audible voice, much less that He made His will known in any of the fantastic ways in which some profess to discern His leading (for example, by twitchings of the body, or by opening the Bible at random and putting a finger on a passage that may be construed into some entirely different meaning than the inspired writer intended)t. But the important point is, He made His will clearly known and He makes His will clearly known to us today.
We have plenty of men and women whom men have called and sent forth.
And we have many who object strenuously to being sent forth by men, by any organization; but they are immeasurably worse — they are sent forth by self. The great need in Christian work today is men and women whom the Holy Spirit calls and sends forth.
How shall we receive the Holy Spirit's call? By desiring it, seeking it ,waiting upon the Lord for it, and expecting it. "As they ministered to the Lord and fasted,'' the record reads. Many a Christian is saying in selfjustification for staying out of ministry, "I have never had a call." How do you know that? Have you been listening for it? God speaks often in a "still small voice." Only the listening ear can catch it. Have you offered yourself to God to send you where He will? While no one should go to China or Africa unless clearly and definitely called, we ought to definitely offer ourselves to God for this work, to be ready for a call and to be listening sharply that we may hear it when it comes. No educated Christian man or woman has a right to rest easy out of the foreign field unless he has definitely offered himself to God for that work, and is clear no call from God has come. Acts 8:27-29 — "And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, was returning, and sitting in his chariot reading Esaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot." Acts 16:6-7 — "Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, after they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia; but the Spirit suffered them not."
Fifteenth Proposition: The Holy Spirit guides in the details of daily life and service, as to where to go and where not to go; what to do and what not to do.
It is possible for us to have the unerring guidance of the Holy Spirit at every turn of life. For example, in personal work it is manifestly not God's intention that we witness to every one we meet. There are some to whom we ought not to speak. Time spent on them would be taken from work more to God's glory. Doubtless Philip met many as he journeyed toward Gaza before he met the one of whom the Spirit said: "Go near, and join thyself to this chariot." So He is ready to guide us also. So also in all the affairs of life, business, study, everything, we can have God's wisdom.
There is no promise more plain and explicit than James 1:5: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."
How shall we gain this wisdom? James 1:5-7 — "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering: for he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord."
Here are; really five steps: 1. We "lack wisdom." We must be conscious of and fully admit our own inability to decide wisely. Not only the sinfulness, but the wisdom of the flesh must be renounced. 2. We must really desire to know God's way, and be willing to do God's will. This is implied in asking if the asking is sincere. This is a point of fundamental importance. Here we find the reason why men often do not know God's will and have the Spirit's guidance. They are not really willing to do whatever the Spirit leads. It is "the meek" whom He guides in judgment and "the meek" to whom "He will teach his way" ( Psalm 25:9). It is he that "willeth to do his will" who shall know, etc. ( John 7:17 RV). 3. We must "ask," definitely ask guidance. 4. We must confidently expect guidance. "Let him ask in faith, nothing doubting" (verses 6-7 RV). 5. We must follow step by step as the guidance comes. Just how it will come no one can tell, but it will come. It may come with only one step made clear at a time. That is all we need to know — the next step.
Many are in darkness about guidance because they do not know what God will have them do next week, next month, or next year. Do you know the next step? That is enough. Take it and He will show you the next.
GOD'S GUIDANCE IS CLEAR GUIDANCE
Many are tortured by leadings they fear may be from God, but of which they are not sure. You have a right, as God's children, to be sure. ( John 1:5 — "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.") Go to God.
Say, "Here I am, heavenly Father. If this is thy will I will do it, but make it clear if it is so." He will do so, if it is His will, and you are willing to do it; and you need not, and ought not to do that thing until He does make it clear. We have no right to dictate to God how He shall give His guidance: by shutting up every other way, or by a sign. It is ours to seek and expect wisdom, but it is not ours to dictate how it shall be given.
Two things are evident from what has been said thus far about the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer: First. How utterly dependent we are upon the Holy Spirit at every turn of Christian life and service. Second. How perfect is the provision for life and service that God has made, and what fulness of privilege is open to the humblest believer through the Holy Spirit's work. It is not so much what we are by nature, intellectually, morally, spiritually, or even physically, that is important, but what the Holy Spirit can do for us, and what we will let Him do. The Holy Spirit often takes the one who gives the least natural promise and uses him beyond those who give the greatest natural promise. Christian life is not to be lived in the realm of natural temperament, and Christian work is not to be done in the power of natural endowment, but Christian life is to be lived in the realm of the Spirit, and Christian work is to be done in the power of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is willing and eagerly desirous to do His whole work. He will do for each of us all that we let Him do. Romans 8:11 — "But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you."
Sixteenth Proposition: The Holy Spirit quickens the mortal body of the believer.
This, as the context shows, refers to the future Resurrection of the body.
This is the Spirit's work. The glorified body is from Him. It is a spiritual body. We now have the first fruits of the Spirit, but are waiting for the full harvest, the redemption of the body. ( Romans 8:23 — -"And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.") There is a sense in which the Spirit even now quickens our bodies. Matthew 12:28 — "But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you." Acts 10:38 — "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil: for God was with him." James 5:14 "Is any sick among you: let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord." God by His Holy Spirit does impart new health and vigor to these mortal bodies in the present life. Compare <19A429> Psalm 104:29-30 — "Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and are returned to the dust. Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth."
Other pages in this section
|< Prev||Next >|