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Andrew Murray.

The Spirit of Christ : thoughts on the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the believer and the church online

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Online LibraryAndrew MurrayThe Spirit of Christ : thoughts on the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the believer and the church → online text (page 16 of 27)
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we take the different passages in which mention is



THE MINISTRY OF THE SPIRIT. 243

made of the Holy Spirit in the first half of the
Epistle/ we shall see what, in his view, the place
and work of the Holy Spirit in the ministry is, and
what the character of a ministry under His leading
and in His power.

In the Epistle, Paul will have to speak with
authority. He begins by placing himself on a level
with his readers. In his first mention of the Spirit
he tells them that the Spirit that is in him is no
other than is in them. * Now He which stablisheth
lis ivith you in Christ, and anointed us, is God ;
who also sealed us, and gave us the earnest of the
Sjnrit in our hearts' (i. 21, 22). The anoiiiting
of the believer with the Spirit, bringing him into
fellowship with Christ, the anointed One, and reveal-
ing what He is to us ; the sealing, marking him as
God's own, and giving him assurance of it ; the
earnest of the Spirit, securing at once the foretaste
and the fitness for the heavenly inheritance in
glory : of all this he and they are together partakers.
However much there was among the Corinthians
that was wrong and unholy, Paul speaks to them,
thinks of them, and loves them as one in Christ.
' He that stablisheth us with you in Christ, and
anointed us,' — this deep sense of unity fills his soul,
comes out throughout the Epistle, and is the secret
of his power. See i. 6, 10, ii. 3 : 'My joy is the
joy of you all ; ' iv. 5 : * ourselves your servants ; *
iv. 10-12: 'death worketh in us, life in you;'

^ To vi. 10, where lie ends the more general description of his
ministry, and returns to personal appeal.



244 THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST.

iv. 15: 'all things are for your sakes;* vi. 11,
vii. 3 : ' you are in our hearts to live and die with
you.' If the unity of the Spirit, the consciousness
of being members one of another, be necessary in
all believers, how much more must it be the mark
of those who are ministers ? The power of the
ministry to the saints depends upon the unity
of the Spirit ; the full recognition of believers as
partakers of the anointing. But to this end the
minister must himself live as an anointed and sealed
one, making manifest that he has the earnest of the
Spirit in his heart.

The second passage is iii. 3 : ' Ye are an epistle
of Christ, ministered by us, vjritten with the Spirit
of the living God ; not in tables of stone, but in
tables that are hearts of flesh.' As distinct an act
of God as was the writin^r of the law on the tables
of stone, is the writing of the law of the Spirit in
the new covenant, and of the name of Christ on
the heart. It is a divine work, in which, as truly as
God wrote of old, the Holy Spirit uses the tongue
of His minister as His pen. It is this truth that
needs to be restored in the ministry, not only that
the Holy Spirit is needed, but that He waits to do
the work, and will do it, when the right relation
to Him is maintained. Paul's own experience at
Corinth (Acts xviii. 5-11 ; 1 Cor. ii. 3) teaches us
what conscious weakness, what fear and trembling,
what sense of absolute helplessness may be, or ratlier
is, needed, if the power of God is to rest upon us.
Our whole Epistle confirms this : it was as a man



THE MINISTRY OF THE SPIRIT. 245

under sentence of death, bearing about the dying of
the Lord Jesus^ that the power of Christ wrought
in him. The Spirit of God stands in contrast to
the flesh, the world, and self, with its life and
strength ; it is as these are broken down, and tlie
flesh has nothing to glory in, that the Spirit will
work. Oh that every minister's tongue might be
prepared for the Holy Spirit to use it as a pen
wherewith He writes !

Then come the words of our text (iii. 6, 7), to
teach us what the special characteristic is of this
New Covenant Ministry of the Spirit : it 'givetli life'
The antithesis, ' the letter killeth,' applies not only
to the law of the Old Testament, but, according to
the teaching of Scripture, to all knowledge which is
not in the quickening power of the Spirit. We
cannot insist upon it too earnestly, that, even as
the law, though we know it was ' spiritual,' so
the gospel too has its letter. The gospel may be
preached most clearly and faithfully ; it may exert
a strong moral influence ; and yet the faith that
comes of it may stand in the wisdom of men, and
not in the power of God. If there is one thing
the Church needs to cry for on behalf of its mini-
sters and students, it is that the Ministry of the
♦Spirit may be restored in its full power. Pray
that God may teach them what it is personally to
live in the sealing, the anointing, the earnest of the
Indwelling Spirit ; what it is to know that the
letter killeth ; what it is that the Spirit in very
deed giveth life ; and what, above all, the personal



'24:Q THE SPIRIT OF CHEIST.

life is under which the Ministry of the Spirit can
freely work.

Paul now proceeds to contrast the two dispen-
sations, and the different characters of those who
live in them.^ He points out how, as long as the
mind is blinded, there is a veil on the heart whicli
can only be taken away as we turn to the Lord.
And then he adds (iii. 17, 18): 'Now the Lord is
the Spirit ; and where the Spirit of the Lord is,
there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face
beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are
transformed into the same image, from glory to
glory, even as from the Lord tJie Spirit.' It is
iDecause God 'is a Spirit' that He can give the
Spirit. It was when our Lord Jesus was exalted
into the life of the Spirit that He became ' the
Lord the Spirit,' could give the New Testament
Spirit, and in the Spirit come Himself to His
people. The disciples knew Jesus long, without
knowing Him as the Lord the Spirit. Paul
speaks of this, too, with regard to himself (2 Cor.
V. 16). There may in the ministry be much earnest
gospel preaching of the Lord Jesus as the Crucified
One, without the preaching of Him as the Lord the
Spirit. It is only as the latter truth is appre-
hended, and experienced, and then preached, that
the double blessing will come that Paul speaks of
here : * Where the Spirit of the Lord is, is liberty.'
Believers will be led into the glorious liberty of the

• * Historically, I may be living in the dispensation of the
Spirit, and yet practically in that of the letter.'



THE MINISTRY OF THE SPIRIT. 247

children of God (Rom. viii. 2 ; Gal. v. 1, 18). 'We
are transformed into the same image, even as from
the Lord the Spirit : ' then will He do the work for
which He was sent — to reveal the glory of the
Lord in 2is ; and as we behold it, we shall be
changed from glory to glory. Of the time before
Pentecost it was written : ' The Spirit was not yet,
because Jes\is was not yet glorified.' But when
He had been 'justified in the Spirit, and received
up in glory,' the Spirit came forth from ' the
excellent glory ' into our hearts, that we, with
unveiled face beholding the glory of the Lord,
might be changed into His likeness. What a call-
ing ! the Ministry of the Spirit ! to hold up the
glory of the Lord to His redeemed, and to be used
by His Spirit in working their transformation into
His likeness, from glory to glory. ' Therefore, see-
ing we have this ministry, we faint not.' It is as
the knowledge and acknowledgment of Christ as
the Lord the Spirit, and of the Spirit of Christ
as changing believers into His likeness, lives in the
Church, that the ministry among believers will be
in Life and Power, — in very deed, a Ministry of the
Spirit.

The power of the ministry on the Divine side is
the Spirit ; on the human, it is here, as everywhere,
faith. The next mention of the Spirit is in iv. 13:
* Having the same Spirit of faith.' After having, in
chap, iii., set forth the glory of the Ministry of the
Spirit, and, iv. 1-6, the glory of the Gospel it
preached, he turns to the vessels in which this



248 THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST.

treasure is. He has to vindicate his aj)parent weak-
ness. But he does far more. Instead of apologizing
for it, he expounds its Divine meaning and glory.
He proves how just this constituted his power,
because in his weakness Divine power could work.
It has been so ordained, ' that the excellency of the
power may be of God, and not of us.' So his perfect
fellowship with Jesus was maintained as he bore
about ' the putting to death of the Lord Jesus, that
the life of Jesus also might be manifested in his
mortal body.* So there was even in his sufferings
something of the vicarious element that marked his
Lord's : ' So then death worketh in us, but life in
you.* And then he adds, as the expression of the
animating power that sustained him through all
endurance and labour : * But having the same Spirit
of faith,' of which we read in the Scripture, * ac-
cording to that which is written, I believed, and
therefore did I speak ; we also believe, and there •
fore we also speak ; knowing that He which raised
up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also with
Jesus, and shall present us with you.*

Faith is the evidence of things not seen. It sees
the Invisible, and lives in it. Beginning with trust
in Jesus, 'in whom, though ye see Him not, yet
believing, ye rejoice,' it goes on through the whole of
the Christian life. Whatever is of the Spirit, is by
faith. The great work of God, in opening the heart
of His child to receive more of the Spirit, is to school
his faith into more perfect freedom from all that
is seen, and the more entire repose in God, eveij



THE MINISTRY OF THE SPIRIT. 249

to the assurance that God dwellelh and worketh
miglitily in his weakness. For this end trials and
sufferings are sent. Paul uses very remarkable
language in regard to his sufferings in the first
chapter (ver. 9) : ' We ourselves have had the
sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not
trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the
dead.' Even Paul was in danger of trusting in
himself. Nothing is more natural; all life is con-
fident of self; and nature is consistent with itself
till it dies. For the mighty work he had to do, he
needed a trust in none less than the Living God,
who raiseth tlie dead. To this God led him by
giving him, in the affliction which came upon him
in Asia, the sentence of death in himself. The
trial of his faith was its strengpth. In our context
lie returns to this thought : the fellowsliip of tlie
dying of Jesus is to him the means and the assur-
ance of the experience of the power of Christ's life.
In the spirit of this faith he speaks : ' Knowing that
He which raised up Jesus shall raise up us also.'

It was not until Jesus had died that the Spirit
of life could break forth from Him. The life of
Jesus was born out of the grave : it is a life out of
death. It is as we daily die, and bear about the
dying of Jesus ; as flesh and self are kept crucified
and mortified ; as we have in ourselves God's sen-
tence of death on all that is of self and nature, — -
that the life and the Spirit of Jesus will be mani-
fest in us. And this is the Spirit of faith, that in
the midst of weakness and apparent death, it counts



250 THE SPIRIT OF CHPJST.

on God that raiseth the dead. And this is the
Ministry of the Spirit, when faith glories in infir-
mities, that the power of Christ may rest upon it.
It is as our faith does not stagger at the earthi-
ness and weakness of the vessel, as it consents
that the excellency of the power shall be, not from
ourselves, or in anything we feel, but of God alone,
that the Spirit will work in the power of the living
God.

We have the same thought in the two remaining
passages. In chap. v. 5, he speaks again of 'the
earnest of the Spirit ' in connection with our groan-
ing and being burdened. And then in chap. vi. 6,
the Spirit is introduced in the midst of the men-
tion of his distresses and labours as the mark of his
ministry. * In everything commending ourselves,
as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflic-
tions, . . . in the Holy Ghost, ... as dying, and
yet, behold, we live ; as chastened, and not killed ;
as sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing ; as poor, yet
making many rich.' The Power of Christ in the
Holy Spirit was to Paul such a living reality, that
the weakness of the flesh only led him the more to
rejoice and to trust it. The Holy Spirit's dwelling
and working in Him was consciously the secret
spring and the Divine power of his ministry.

We may well ask. Does the Holy Spirit take
the place in our ministry He did in Paul's ? There
is not a minister or member of the Church who
has not a vital interest in the answer. The
ijuestion is not whether the doctrine of the absolute



THE MINISTRY OF THE SPirJT. 251

need of the Holy Spirit's worlving is admitted ; but
whether there is given to the securing of His
presence and working that proportion of the time
and hfe, of the thought and faith of the ministry,
which His place, as the Spirit of the Lord Jesus
on the Throne, demands. Has the Holy Spirit the
place in the Church which our Lord Jesus would
wish Him to have ? When our hearts open to the
inconceivably glorious Truth that He is the Mighty
Power of God, that in Him the Living Christ
works through us, that He is the Presence with us
of the Glorified Lord on the Throne, we shall feel
that the one need of the ministry and the Church is
this : to wait at the footstool of the Throne with-
out ceasing for the clothing with the Power that
comes from on high. The Spirit of Christ, in His
love and power, in His death and life, is the Spirit
of the ministry. As it possesses this, it will be
what the Head of the Church meant it to be, the
Ministry of the Spirit.

Blessed Father ! we thank Thee for the institu-
tion of the Ministry of the Word, as the great
means through which our exalted Lord does His
saving work by the Holy Spirit. We thank Thee
that it is a Ministry of the Spirit, and for all the
blessing Thou hast wrouglit through it in the
world. Our prayer is, most Blessed God ! that
Thou wouldst increasingly and manifestly make it
throughout Thy Church what Thou wouldst have
it be — a Ministry of the Spirit and of Power.



252 THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST.

Give Thy servants and people everywhere a deep
sense of how much it still comes short of Thy
purpose. Eeveal how much there is in it of trust in
the flesh, of man's zeal and strength, of the wisdom
of this world. Teach all Thy true servants the
holy secret of giving place to the Spirit of Christ,
that He may use them. May the conscious
presence of Christ in their hearts by the Holy
Spirit give them great boldness of speech. May
tfie power of the Holy Spirit in their whole life
make them fit vessels for Him to use in teaching
others. May Divine Power in the midst of weak-
ness be the mark of their public ministry.

Teach Tliy people to wait on their teaching, to
receive it, to plead with Thee for it as a Ministry
of the Spirit. And may the lives of believers
increasingly be, in the power of such a ministry,
those of men led and sanctified by the Holy Ghost.
Amen.



7. Christ needed to be made perfect through suffering, it was through
suffering He entered the glory out of which the Spirit was sent. 'He was
crucified through weaf


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Online LibraryAndrew MurrayThe Spirit of Christ : thoughts on the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the believer and the church → online text (page 16 of 27)