Andrew Murray.

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

. (page 23 of 27)
Online LibraryAndrew MurrayThe Spirit of Christ : thoughts on the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the believer and the church → online text (page 23 of 27)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

actual existence, this Life Kingdom of Truth ? This
question compels every honest thinker to come out of
his own isolated self, and in this objective world (it
may be the inner one, as far as it has an actual objective
existence) to seek for the revelation of Truth, that he
may open to it his spirit and reproduce what it has set
before him. And so faith is the substance of Christian
truth, which enters into man as his spiritual property,
and in living power becomes immanent within him. As
a faith Christianity is neither idea, nor law, nor feeling,
but a life, a d«ep, penetrating, and all-pervading life. '

It is of this Life Kingdom of Divine Truth, of actual
Divine Life, that Jesus came to earth as the embodi-
ment. It is of this Truth that the Holy Spirit is the
animating principle, the very life. And when He comes
out of Christ who has said, ' I am the Truth,' He comes
as the bearer of all there is in Christ to make Him Truth
within us, an actual living possession. It is only as we
thus possess Christ the Truth that our knowledge of
the doctrine-truth will be living and profitable. The
Spirit of Truth gives us life-truth in the inmost part,
thence He leads it into truth of conduct and character.
And only as we yield to Him in this, is the doctrinal
truth we hold really the Truth of God to us. The
Church or the individual has only so much of the Truth
of God as we have of the Spirit of God.


On the Mission of the Spirit (Chap. 9).

* Love Revealed : MedHafions on the Parting Words
of Jesus with His Disciples in John xiii. to xvii. By
George Bo wen.' Such is the title of a book from which
I give some extracts, in which the thought is put with
great clearness and force that many Christians are living

NOTES. 345

on an ante-pentecoi^tal level, and that the promise of
Christ to reveal His Power to the world hy His presence
among His people, made manifest through the Spirit, is
Btill waiting its fulfilment in our experience. To those
who are not yet acquainted with this hook I can most
confidently recommend it as full of spiritual instruction.

* " / will love himj and will manifest myself to him "
(John xiv. 21).

'If we wish, therefore, to sound the depths of tliis
promise, " I will manifest myself to him," we must
honour Christ and the Father and the Spirit hy believing
in the power of the Spirit. To have faith in Christ and
not to have faith in the Spirit seems to be a great
contradiction, yet we submit it for the judgment of
candid inquirers if this contradiction is not strikingly
exhibited in the case of almost all who profess to be
followers of Christ. To know the Father we must know
the Son ; to know Christ we must know the Sjnrit. " He
shall glorify me," said Christ. Believest thou this ? Is
this thy conception of Christ's glory, that it is a glory
that the Spirit of God can enable thee to behold ? When
the omni])Otent Spirit has been allowed by our faith to
go to the full extent of His resources in the revelation of
Christ, it will be time enough for us to turn away irom
Him to some more perfect way of bringing Christ near
to us.

' Our Lord Himself tells us that he that is least in the
kingdom of heaven — the kingdom that He came to
establish — was greater than any of the prophets that
had been in the world before His advent. Greater?
Why 'i Because he is a habitation of God through the
Spirit, because that magnificent gift which Christ died
to ol)tain for us has been bestowed.

'Now all these views of the glory of the present dis-
jien^ation seem to vanish into night when we subject
ihem to a comparison with the actual experiences of
Christians in general. But we do them foul injustice
in this way. We are rather to submit the experiences

346 NOTES.

of Christians to the test of Scripture. When we do so,
does it not appear that tlif' Chiircli lias fallen hack into
an ante-pentecostal state ? — that it has slipped out of
its own dispensation? There was a measure, a feeble
measure, of spiritual infiu nee enjoyed by the disciples
before the death and resurrection of Christ, else would
they not have been able to call Jesus Lord ; but it was
nothing in comparison with what they recles were before Pentecost. But it
should be borne in mind that when truths have once
been fully revealed and been made a part of orthodoxy,
the holding of them does not necessarily imply an
operation of the Spirit of God. We deceive ourselves,
doubtless, in this way, imagining that, because we have
the whole Scripture and are conversant with all its great
truths, the Spirit of G-od is necessarily working in us.
We need a Baptism of the Spirit as much as the apostles
did at the time of Christ's resurrection ; we need that
the unsearchable riches of Christ should be revealed to
us more copiously than they were to Isaiah in the

' We profess to love Him. We profess, there ''ore — the
inference is unavoidable — to desire to enjoy higher and
more satisfactory manifestations of Him than have been
yet vouchsafed unto us. It follows, then, that we ought
to feel very greatly the pressure of the obligation to seek
the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Blessed be God ! the
Holy Spirit is being poured out in many churches, and
many Christians are at this very hour enjoying such
views of Christ as fill them with a preternatural joy

NOTES. 347

and love and strength. But we have not yet entered
into the fulness of this glorious dispensation. If we
love Christ, we will press deeper into it, believing that
Omnipotence will find ways of revealing itself in the
spiritual world of which we have as yet no conception.

* ^^Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is expedient for you
that I go away : for if I go not away, the Cortfoiier will not
come unto you ; hut if I depart, I ivill send Him unto you "
(John xvi. 7).

'Strange and scarcely credible though the announce-
ment may appear to you, I nevertheless tell you but the
simple truth when I say that it will be for your advan-
tage that I ascend unto the Father and send to you the
Holy Ghost, the Comforter, to be your perpetual guide.
And when I say that it will be for your advantage, I do
not mean that the Holy Spirit is greater than I am, or
that He will prove a truer friend to you. In fact, the
special office of the Spirit will be to bring you and my-
self into a more intimate and a more blessed union than
has yet been revealed to your consciousness. Though
you have journeyed Avith me during these latter years
of my earthly pilgrimage, yet there is no use in dis-
guising the fact that a moral chasm yawns between us.
You yourselves must often have felt the deepest pain
in reflecting upon the very feeble amount of influence
exerted upon you by One who is manifestly God in the
likeness of men. You have mourned that the words
and acts of One who was proclaimed the Only-Begotten
of the Father, who was transfigured before you, was
served by angels, who spake unto the winds and the
waves and they obeyed Him, — you have mourned that
the discourse and acts of such a One should have
wrought so feebly in your hearts. The desire for sancti-
fication exists in you, but the new and elevated con-
ception of holiness, which has been introduced into your
minds, only makes you the more sensible of your gre.»t
moral deficiencies. If miracles could have given you the
victory over your sins, you would now be the holiest of

348 NOTES.

men. Since that hour when one of you fell at My feet,
exclaiming, "Depai-t from mo, for I am a sinful man,"
how many glorious displays of my power liave you
witnessed ! Yet are you still sadly aware that pride,
ambition, worldliness, have authority over yoiL

'Surely you must have admitted to yours'dves that if
three and a half years of such fetupendous exhibitions of
power have left you the unsanctified men you are, ten
years of such displays would nob give you the victory
over your evil natures. For three and a half years you
have listened to a greater than Solomon, — to one who
spake as never man s})ake, to the wisdom of God ; and
you have enjoyed sucli opportunities as never before
were enjoyed by mortal man to know the mind of God
concerning the way in which He would be served, and
what is the result ? You yourselves are constrained to
admit that the result is very unsatisfactory.

' Ah, if all that man needed were to have a teacher,
were to have lessons of Divine wisdom set before him in
the most intelligible and most expressive forms, then
would you now be incomparably the holiest of men,
proof against all temptation, superior to ad eaithly
influences. But what is the fact 1 Was it not necessary
that I sliould this very evening begin the work of
instruction over again, as it were, by washing your feet?
Have you not this very evening been disputing among
yourselves who shall be the greatest ? Are you not
this very night to make even the unprofessing woild
astonished by deserting me in my hour of trial 1

'Why do I now dwell upon these things? Simply
that you may be assisted to recognise that my life on
earth, however marvellous and glorious as part of the
Divine system by which God is bringing you to Himself,
is yet of itself unable to eflect your spiritual redemption.
It is one thing that the image of God should have been
placed before you ; it is a very different thing that you
should be changed into that image. Man foolishly
asserts that he only needs to know the true, the good,

NOTES. 349

the beautiful, to be liimse'f the embodiment of truth
and goodness and beauty. Heaven has come down to
earth ; the very King of Heaven has tabernacled amoni!:
men ; He whom Isaiah saw in the temph^, high and
lifted up, adored by seraphim, has come down from His
throne, dismissed the seraphim to heaven, and dwelt
with the people of Isaiah year after year, yet it is not
seen that the men so amazingly distinguished have been
rendered seraphic in holiness and love. Something else,
then, is necessary that men may not only be made
acquainted with the image of God, but changed into
the same.

* But not only must you be sensible that you have
little remembered, little learned, little obeyed, of all
that 1 have told you and shown you ; you must be
keenly cogn'sant of the fact that your influence as my
servants and the expounders of my gospel is all but
nothing. In presence of a perverse and reb-llious race
your hearts sink within you, and you ask yourselves.
How shall we ever be able to bring men over to our
views of Christ 1 You feel your need of some unknown
poAver by which the minds of men mny be rendered
obedient to the truth. You find yourselves utterly at a
loss to communicate your deepest convictions. You are
ready to ask. Is there not something beyond miracles
even ? something beyond tii« power of a holy life ? Is
there not in the resources of God some means of
reaching the hearts of men, and subduing that hostility
by which they are hindered from receiving the testi-
mony of a holy life and a blessed gospel 1 There is. I
die that you may have life, and that you may have it
more abundantly. I ascend on high that the Comforter
may come unto you. Then shall you be strengthened
with a strength of which you have hitherto had no
consciousness. Rivers of living water, even of the water
of life, shall flow forth from you. Then the wilderness
shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the

350 NOTES.

' " And when He is come, He unll reprove the world of sin,
and of rif/hteousness, and of judgment'' (John xvi. 8).

'"When He." "He" in the original is emphatic.
It might be rendered "that one." He it is who,
coming, will convince mankind of sin. His very advent
will revolutionize their ideas of sin, being a te^itimony
from heaven more striking than that of the voice from
heaven at the baptism of Jesus, to the fact that Jesus
the crucified is none other than Christ the glorified.
By the simple fact that the world has placed itself in
opposition to Jesus, testimony to Jesus will be testimony
against the world. Observe that the promise of the
Spirit was unto the disciples : " I will send Him unto
you ; " and the change here intimated as to be wrought
in the sentiments of men generally was to be in con-
sequence of the descent of the Spirit of God upon the
disciples. The gospel is preached to convince men of
sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. The disciples of
Christ are in the world that they may make known the
sin of men, the judgment of God, and the means of
escaping that judgment by means of the righteousness
of Christ. But here we are told that the work of intro-
ducing the new convictions on these subjects into the
minds of men is to be accomplished by the Sj^irit of
God. Accordingly the apostles speak of themselves as
having preached the gospel with the Holy Ghost sent
down from heaven.

'What is here promised, then, is such an outpouring of
the Spirit of God as shall not only reveal itself in the
consciousness of the disciples, but substantiate itself as
an undeniable and wonderful fact to the apprehensions
of the onlooking world. And such was the advent of
the Spirit on the day of Pentecost. "He hath shed
forth this which ye now see and hear," said Peter to the
multitude. That which they both saw and heard did
what all the miracles, the incomparable words, the
irreproachable life of Jesus, had failed to do. Let us
say that these mii'acles began now to be seen, thogu

NOTES. 351

Divine words began now to he heard, for the first time.
By the outpouring of tlie Holy Spirit upon the disciples
the people of Jerusalem bf^gan to look upward, and see
Jesus at the right hand of the Majesty on high. They
saw their own sin, heinous beyond all conception; saw
the righteousness of Him whom they had put to death, the
Prince of Life ; saw it to be such a righteousness that in
comparison the entire race of man stood fortli apparelled
in darkest iniquity ; and they saw the judgment of God,
inevitable and dire, against all who should be found in
opposition to Christ. It was as though they had been
taken up into heaven, and had seen the judgment-seat,
the books opened, and their own deeds manifested in
the unerring light of that tremendous scene. Sublime
arrangements of Him whose wisdom is unsearchable !
Are the people of God at all awake to all that is implied
in the promise of the Spirit 1 Is it enough that they
languidly recognise their obligation to make known the
gospel to their fellow-men, and take various stej)S to
have it preached ? Is not the great thing wanted this
— that the Spirit of God should be so poured out upon
Christ's people that men should be made aware of His
presence with them, and of the presence of Christ at the
right hand of God 1 so poured out that there should be
a coming together, in som-e sense, of the blessed God and
of the world which has boparatcd itself from Him ; that
the powers of the world to come should take hold upon
men, and constrain them to cry out, " Men and brethren,
what must we do ? "

' Tlie Greek is wonderfully felicitous in that it does
not represent the Spirit of God as coming once for all,
but as persistently coming. He it is who, coming, shall
convince. He comes as the rain from heaven, that must
still come and come again ; as the wind, that must still
blow and blow again. We are not to look back for our
Pentecost. The Pentecost of the Acts is simply given
to make the Church of Christ acquainted with the
privileges belonging to this dispensation. It is only the

352 NOTES.

first step in a ladder of Pentecosts by which the world
and the kingdom of Christ are to be brought together.
It is the specimen to accompany the promise, that we
may be stirred up to plead the promise with the greatest

' Oh, it were unpardonable if, in a day when God is
doing so much to inspire us with lofty conceptions of
the power of the Holy Spirit, we should still refuse to
apprehend the glorious illimitableness of this promise.
Consider it. We are to look at the work here assigned
to the Holy Spirit, in order that we may obtain a just
view of His power. Look abroad upon the earth, and
see the nations, tribes, and tongues refusing to be con-
vinced by all that God in His Providence has taught
them during thousands of years ; by all that mission-
aries are teaching them, at this eleventh hour, of sin,
of righteousness, of judgment ; form an estimate of the
wickedness which envelopes the earth like a dense and
deadly atmosphere, scarce suffering any of the rays of the
Sun of Righteousness to penetrate it ; then consider that
the Spirit of God, for whose effusion we are taught to
pray, is pledged to rain conviction upon the world, and
anticipate for a most sublime and blessed end the final
judgment by leading men to look to the righteousness
of Christ, the Desire of all nations.

' ^^ These things I have spoken unto you in proverhs, hut the
time Cometh when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs,
but 1 shall show you plainly of the Father" (John xvi. 25).
When figures are made use of in speech, there is an
outside meaning and an interior meaning. As the shell
conceals and yet protects the kernel, so a truth conveyed
tropically may be unperceived at first. Afterward, when
additional light is given, it becomes manifest, and the
saying ceases to be a riddle. The gospel is full of
parables that could very little be understood until
Christ had suffered and entered into His glory. When
the Spirit of God was poured out upon His disciples,
the veil which had been over the words of Jesus dis-

NOTES. 353

appeared, and the interior truths flashed forth upon
them in all their lustre. Christ Himself was such a
proverb. Once His Divine glory had flashed forth upon
their astonished gaze, but tiiat was by way of anticipa-
tion, it very little dissipated the confusion of their
minds. Nothing about Christ could produce its legiti-
mate and full effect upon them until they had been
brought out of the restricted and depressed valley of
Judaism, and placed upon the elevated platform of the
New Dispensation.

' The Spirit of God inundates the minds of men with
truths which previously had no meaning to them.
Now it appears to us that an observation of no little
importance may here be made. Truths which the Holy
Ghost has taught us may be retained in the mind by the
mere natural power of memory. Are we not thus in
dancjer of deceivino; ourselves as to the measure of
spiritual power enjoyed by us ? We might have as
scanty a measure of the Spirit's influence as the disciples
had in the days preceding the death of Christ, and yet
be immensely in advance of them in respect to the
amount of our knowledge of the way of life. Is it not
to be feared that in those portions of the Church which
have not yet been visited by a true revival, Christians
are to be compared with the first disciples, not as they
were on the day of Pentecost, but as they were previ-
ously — compared, we mean, as regards the actual divine
influence enjoyed by them ? Because they have the truth,
they imagine they have the Spirit oj truth. Perhaps the
word of Christ to them is : " Tarry ye in Jerusah-m until
endued with pov/er from on high." We are baffled,
bewildered, confounde

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 23 25 26 27

Online LibraryAndrew MurrayThe Spirit of Christ : thoughts on the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the believer and the church → online text (page 23 of 27)