The Holy Spirit : a series of Bible studies on the person, presence and power of the Holy Spirit online

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containing the messages to the seven churches of
Asia set forth that not only is Christ watching
his people, but the Holy Spirit is concerned for
their welfare ;and the seven times repeated " He
that hath ears to hear let him hear what the
Spirit saith to the churches " is but another em-


phatic testimony to the necessity for most hearty
co-operatien between them.

Thus do the Scriptures set forth that the Holy
Spirit controlled the primary inauguration of the
church as an organization ; led and directed in
the choice of her officials; directed her advance
missionary m ovements ; gave to her membership
comfort in times of distress ; edification in times
of doubt and uncertainty ; makes her ordinances
and the preached word witnesses to Christ.

They also set forth that he warns, entreats and
helps ; that he forms the condition of union in
her membership ; that he blesses her ministers in
preaching; and that he abides within her body.
Making thus the church to be Holy in her calling,
work and mission.

No wonder that the apostle recognizing this
relationship, as he looked by prophetie vision
upon the history of the church through all time
until her Lord shall come, should see such a
union of purpose in their work that he could ex-
claim : "The Spirit and the bride say, come.
And let him that heareth say, come. And let
him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let
him take the water of life fre ely." Rev. 22 : 17.
Without the Holy Spirit the church could do
nothing and with the Holy Spirit the church


shall go on in her work winning souls to Christ,
breaking down the bulwarks of sin and building
up all righteousness until the kingdoms of this
world shall become the kingdom of our Lord
Jesus Christ.

"Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and
to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is
now, and ever shall be, world without end.




Our study, so far, has been to ascertain what
the Holy Spirit does from the time when the first
impression is made upon the mind of the sinner
through all the stages- of Christian development
in life and work. We have endeavored to follow
this line of thought through every phase of Chris-
tian life, and in the light of the divine word we
have seen how the Holy Spirit is the one power
without which nothing can be accomplished. But
the gospel recognizes that in every stage of the
Holy Spirit's operation upon the soul, there must be
response to, and co-operation with the Holy Spirit's
influences. Men are not recognized as blocks of
marble, to be taken from the quarry and in the
artist's hand transformed into a divine likeness or
Christ-like image. They are not machines in the
hands of the engineer to be made of service by
moving so many levers. They are not lumps of
clay in the hand of the potter molded without


their volition. They are " not dumb, driven
cattle" coming and going at the owner's will.
In some sense all or any of these illustrations may
be fitting, but not in the complete sense not
absolutely. Men are made a little lower than the
angels, endowed with reason, will, judgment,
memory : faculties implying intelligence and nat-
ural power of action, plan, purpose and desire.
And the Holy Spirit recognizes this in all his deal-
ings with men, and lays upon them the responsi-
bility of co-operation with his work and response
to his holy influences. We have already consid-
ered the negative side of the question in the chap-
ter on sins against the Holy Spirit. We shall
now consider the positive side as it relates to the
duties and obligations laid upon the Christian.
Recognizing that" if any man have not the Spirit
of Christ, he is none of his," Rom. 8 :9, and
that "if any man be in Christ he is a new creat-
ure," AVe shall enquire how is this regenerated
soul to co-operate with, or respond to the influ-
ences of the Holy Spirit.

(a) The first injunction is implied in Paul's
statement: "They that are after the flesh do
mind the things of the flesh, but they that are
after the Spirit, the things of the Spirit." Rom.
8 : 5. Here the teaching is that in obeying the


Spirit we develop spiritual mindedness, or come
to know and possess the mind of the Holy Spirit.
The argument is conclusive. The Christian,
having been born anew, will realize that in all his
mental processes he shall be subject to the will of
God. He must seek to know and do God's will ;
and this implies that he possesses'the mind of the
Spirit which dwells in him. The danger, however,
is, that because of the conflict between the fleshly
and spiritual natures he will be led at times to
obey the impulses of the flesh and so hinder, not
only the work of God in his own soul, but his
power over the souls of others. But seeking to
know the plans and purposes of the Spirit for him,
the Christian will realize his own weakness, and
thereby his dependence upon the Spirit and his
need of a stronger, higher, holier life.. Having
learned from the Spirit the life which is in Christ
Jesus, he will seek to grow in grace and become
more and more Christ-like. The very lowest
possible condition of Christian life admits of won-
derous possibilities. Can there be such a thing
as a Christian life where the soul does not seek
to know the mind of the SDiritand to do the divine
will thus revealed I

(6) One of the most difficult problems pre-
sented to the Christian is to do God's will ; move


steadily on and l>y faith grasp the promises. Or in
other words, to wait for God to work out his own
plans for us and in us. So repeated injunctions
lay upon us the necessity of patience in our work.
The apostle recognizes that the Spirit will do his
own work in his- own way and at his own time
and it is ours to bide his time, doing our part faith-
fully. And so Paul declares that " we through
the Spirit by faith wait for the hope of right-
eousness." Gal. 5:5. It sometimes requires
more grace to do our duty and wait for the Spirit
to reward than in almost any other line of Chris-
tian service. One of the striking characteristics
of the apostles in their labors was their willing-
ness to wait on the Holy Spirit to direct, to con-
trol and to reward. Very much of the force of
the eighth chapter of Romans turns on this Chris-
tian duty of waiting on the Holy Spirit to do his
own will and to bring to us the consummation of
Christian hope in the glorious resurrection from
the dead. Shall the church, or the ministry, or
the believer in any position be less vigilant, or
earnest or zealous, or make less sacrifices, or en-
dure less burdens because the Spirit waits the con-
trol of the eternal mind rather than of our finite
plans? Nay, it is ours to serve, waiting for his
wisdom to determine the times and seasons for


harvest and the nature and character of the re-

(c) As we have seen the Holy Spirit is the in-
tercessor at the throne of our hearts in prayer.
It becomes the Christian to recognize this and in
seeking to do God's will make his petitions known
at the great throne of mercy under the control
of the Spirit. Hence the injunction to pray in
the spirit: "With all prayer and supplication,
praying at all seasons in the Spirit and watching
thereunto." 18. Again: "But ye, be-
loved, building up yourselves on your most holy
faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves
in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our
Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." Jude
20:21. This same doctrine in recognized by
Paul when he says: "We are the circumcision
who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in
Christ Jesus." Phil. 3:3.

This language is emphatic and plain. TheChris-
tian who would approach the author of all blessings
must come in the Spirit, led by him, controlled by
him, inspired by him, taught by him. Here is the
condition of successful prayer. Here is the con-
dition of power with men and power with God.
The heart under the control of the ever-present
Spirit has power to send its petitions to the throne


of the Eternal and will receive answers from him.
(cZ) One of the chief blessings of the Holy
Spirit to the world has been in the inspiration of
the Holy Scriptures ; but this implies that the
Christian must use them. The inspired revela-
tion of God would be of little value, either to
saint or sinner, shut up in cloisters. The sinner
may realize his condition as lost. The Christian
may know his own need of direction and comfort
and they will remain unblessed so long as the
Bible remains a closed book. But the open Bible,
proclaimed, enforced, taught, is the giant power
in the hands of Christians for the destruction of
sin. The world calls preaching foolishness, and
it is,to them that perish not to the saved. The
power of evil may ask, what is the Church going
to do with the Bible? But, stripling though she
seems to be, she can sever the giant's head.
"The Word of God is quick and powerful ; sharper
than any two-edged sword." Hear inspiration
then in the command to the Christian, that in his
conflict with the organized forces of evil he must
" take the sword of the Spirit which is the Word
of God." Eph. 6:17. The disciples of the
Lord Jesus must recognize their obligation to use
this weapon of God which he has put into their


hands and without which their best endeavors will
be but significant failures.

(e) Step by step we are led to see that the
religion of the Lord Jesus is a practical religion.
While much of mystery gathers around the work
of the Holy Spirit in regeneration and Christian
growth, yet the practical duties are so plainly en-
forced as to leave but little room for doubt as to
their importance. The disciple of the Lord
Jesus is to recognize the divine Master as an en-
sample in every phase of life, and if to this end
he is " led by the Spirit " and " strengthened by
the Spirit," it follows that he must yield obe-
dience to the Spirit. Hence the injunction to the
disciple: "But I say, walk by the Spirit and
ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the
flesh lusteth against the Spirit and the Spirit
against the flesh." Gal. 5: 16, 17. " If we live
by the Spirit, by the Spirit let us also walk."
Gal. 5 : 25. " For what the law could not do in
that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending
his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for
sin, condemned sin in the flesh, that theordinance
of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not
after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Rom.
8 :3, 4. Thus the conflict of the dual natures is
made an assured victory by the subjection of the


believer to the Holy Spirit's control, so that in
all things the master- force in the soul is not the
carnal nature, but the Spirit, under whos.e hallow-
ed influences the whole way of life is walked.

(f) But again, the Christian is confronted
with the fact that not only his feet are to be
directed by the Holy Spirit, but the doing of his
hands are likewise to recognize the supremacy of
the Holy Spirit over his entire life. The busi-
ness of life, the investments of power, whether
that power be in gold and silver, or education, or
social influence, or habits of life, or decisions, or
plans, or endeavor, or whatever it be which calls
for effort, in this also he must recognize his al-
legiance to God. Hence the warning : " Be not
deceived ; God is not mocked ; f or whatsoever a
man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that
soweth unto his own flesh shall of the flesh reap
corruption ; but he that soweth unto the Spirit
shall of the Spirit reap eternal life." Gal. 6 : 7, 8
How forcible the apostle's conclusion : " So then
as we have opportunity, let us work that which is
good toward all men." This means then the
whole life consecrated to the divine will, and since
God has consecsated so much to us, why should
not the disciple be thus fully consecrated.

(</) That this is implied in the very fact of


being such Christians as Christ, his church and
the world needs, is seen in the final injunction,
" 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
the Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father ;
subjecting yourselves one to another in the fear of
Christ." Eph. 5: 18-21. Such a Christian life
of joy and gladness as is implied in these words
is not possible to one who is not " filled with the
Spirit." And if the holy men of old were not
able to do God's will on the earth except as they
were filled with the Spirit, how can we? If our
blessed Lord himself must, as the Son of man, be
filled with the Holy Spirit; if prophet, patriarch
and priest were also filled with the Holy Spirit ;
if John, the Harbinger of our Lord, was also filled
with the Holy Spirit; if martyrs, whose blood
has been the seed of the Church, were filled with
the Holy Spirit, does not the Church to-day need
to heed this imperative command if she would in
her membership carry out the great commission
of our blessed Lord I Mark well the divine teach-
ing at this point. We are not to pray for the Holy
Spirit. He is here. We are not to seek the bap-
tism of the Holy Spirit. That has been accom-


plished according to the Lord's promise. We
are not to look for his coming, he has come. He
dwells in the believer. He is in the world doing
his promised work in the Church. He is here.
This is his dispensation. This is his day of power.
This is his day of sovereign control. This is his
time of preparation in the Church for the return
of our blessed Lord. What are Christians to do?
How are they to recognize his presence and his
power? The answer is seven-fold. 1. Mind the
things of the Spirit. 2. Wait for the direction
and reward of the Spirit. 3. Pray in the Spirit.
4. Use the sword of the Spirit. 5. Walk by the
Spirit. 6. Sow to the Spirit. 7. Be filled with
the Spirit. Such is the blessed privilege of the
Christian. Yea more, such is the imperative
duty of the Christian. With such high and holy
co-operation realized in every beliving soul the
tiipe of the triumph of Christ would not be far
distant. The duty of believers toward the Holy
Spirit is clear. He waits he works. Oh, that
a weak and wearied church would realize the
source of her strength ! Would awaken to her
duty ! Would arouse to her high privilege and
enter into her real life I Then would her Lord
come. Then would the darkness give place to


light, and sadness to rejoicing. May Christians
hasten to their duty.

" Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and
to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning,
ia now, and ever shall be, world without end.




fto other interest is BO vital as the soul's
eternal welfare. Concerning this no one can af-
ford to make any mistake. But in view of the
bitter antagonism waged by Satan against Christ
it is not strange that the enemy of men's souls
seeks to deceive and delude them. To hush the
voice of conscience in the awakened sinner. To
soothe and flatter him with false hopes and mis-
taken experiences. To weaken the power of the
Christian and even to produce in some a counter-
feit experience and so not only hold some souls in
delusion, but if possible to deceive the very elect.
Emotions of mind and heart are subject to vari-
ous influences. Mental and physical experiences
change with varying conditions of health and
climate and temperature. The laws of mind and
Spirit are very imperfectly understood. And
with his devices, of which we are not ignorant,
Satan may and no doubt often does awaken false


grounds of confidence and so keep the deceived
soul in the bonds of iniquity.

But as if anticipating these very facts we are
not left by the inspired word in necessary doubt
as to whether the Holy Spirit does dwell in the
believer as to whether we are regenerated or
not and so of course as to whether we are saved.
God has given us certain infallible tests by which
we can determine whether the experience we have
is begotten by the Holy Spirit or not. The
Apostle John says : ' * And hereby we know that
he abideth in us by the Spirit which he gave us."
1 John 3 : 24. And then as if anticipating the
very difficulties we have suggested and to help
the Christian to know the truth and to believe no
lie, he adds: "Beloved, believed not every
spirit, but prove the spirits whether they are of
God, because many false prophets are gone out
into the world." 1 John 4:1. He then pro-
ceeds to give seven certain and infallible tests,
which taken as a whole make a perfect chain of
proof of the experience of the true believer as
begotten in the soul by the Holy Spirit so that
any one by testing his own experience by this
means can know whether he is born of God or
not. And be it remembered that the witness of
the Spirit constitutes one of the means by which


we can know whether we are saved or not.
" For we know that he abideth in us by the
Spirit which he gave us."

(a) The first proof of the genuine witness of
the Spirit is in the personal confession of Christ
before men. " Hereby know ye the Spirit of
God : every Spirit which confesseth that Jesus
Christ is come in the flesh is of God ; and every
Spirit which coufesseth not Jesus is not of God :
and this is the Spirit of the anti-Christ, whereof
ye have heard that it cometh ; and now it is in
the world already." Vs. 2 and 3. These words
demand the soul's recognition of Christ the Son
of man, as thfe only Savior of man. They com-
pel the believer in the Man of sorrows to confess
before men allegiance to him as the Lord Jesus.
No salvation is implied here upon moral or ethi-
cal grounds. It is the Christ who came as the
son of man, who was crucified, and died for our
sins. It is he who is the sinner's confession. In
him the true disciple glories. This is but a repe-
tition of the Master's own words when he
promised : " Every one therefore who shall con-
fess me before men, him will I confess before
my father who is in heaven. But who ever shall
deny me before men, him will I also deny before
my Father who is in heaven." Matt. 10 : 32, 33.


Hence if the Holy Spirit is abiding in us he will
lead us to confession of Christ and whatever
would hinder us from such confession is not part
of the witness of the Spirit, but is anti-Christ.

No trouble here then to determine of what
Spirit ye are. He that is ashamed of Jesus, yea,
he who will not confess Jesus, can know that he
has not the life within his soul which will stand
the test at the great judgment. No matter what
it may be that would hinder, the language is em-
phatic that the first test of the abiding Spirit is
the willingness of the soul to stand in alignment
with all the marked soldiers who battle under the
blood-stained cross of the crucifiedChrist.

(6) But the disciple who thus confesses will
go still further; he will not only overcome the
spirit of anti-Christ in himself, but in all his sur-
roundings. The power of victory is a necessary
result of the indwelling Spirit. Hence the lan-
guage of the second test: "Ye are of God,
little children, and have overcome them ; because
greater is he that is in you than he that is in the
world." V. 4. The Spirit of him who raised
up Jesus from the dead is in the true believer,
and that same power is not there to surrender
the soul to the power of darkness. He must be
a conquerer. Every form of antagonism to


Christ, whether in the heart or in the flesh or in
the world or in the devil will be mastered by him
whose dwelling is in his soul, the all conquering
Spirit of Christ.

The logic is irresistible. If the believer is
Christ's and Christ's Spirit dwells in him they
are one in motive, purpose, and plan ; and that
Spirit which filled the Lord so that he cast out
the legions of demons which possessed men, even
when they cried out against him, can to-day
overcome every spirit of anti-Christ. The Spirit
of Christ and of anti-Christ can not dwell in the
same soul at the same time, and if the Spirit of
Christ dwell there the Spirit of anti-Christ is
cast out ; and if he is cast out the redeemed soul
has power to and will overcome all evil, all sin,
all unholy plans and purposes.

.(c) The third test is couched in these words :
" They are of the world : therefore speak they as
of the world, and the world heareth them. We
are of God ; he that knoweth God heareth us ;
he who is not of God heareth us not. By this
we know the Spirit of trufh, and the Spirit of
error." Verses 5 and 6. This test implies
not simply attention to the inspired teachings
of the apostles, but obedience as well. And
this test is based on fundamental truth. As Christ


came into the world to do the will of the Father,
so the disciple in whom dwells the Holy Spirit is
in the world to hear and obey Christ. "If ye
love me keep my commandments," said the

And so from the moment that the Holy Spirit
takes up his abode in the regenerate soul, on
through his whole eternal existence the one ab-
sorbing question is "Lord what wilt thou have
me to do?" "I am Christ's and he is mine,"
is the voice of the true believer, and no deception
is possible here. Not only must the hands be the
hands of the desired son, but the voice will be
his also, and obedience becomes the test. The
Spirit which ignores, or rejects, or slights, or
disobeys the will of the Lord is anti-Christ.

(cZ) The obedience of the soul in whom
dwells the Holy Spirit is not the obedience of. a
slave but of a free born child. Hence all true
obedience springs from love. But the Master
has plainly taught his disciples that service ren-
dered to Him must take the form of service be-
stowed upon his chosen and needy ones. The
apostle then makes the fourth test of the indwell-
ing of the Holy Spirit to consist in love to one
another and a love that knows no limitations to a
needed service. "Beloved, let us love one an-


other ; for love is of God ; and every one that
loveth is begotten of God, and kuoweth God.
He that loveth not knoweth not God ; for God is
love." Verses. 7,8. And then the apostle de-
terminesthe nature and character of this love in
the light of Christ's love for us.

The love which becomes the test of the witness
of the Holy Spirit in the soul looks at duty in
the light of Calvary. Tt is not a sentiment, it is
a life revealed -in service. It is not a profession,
it is a consecration. No stronger argument can
be used than the apostle's, who leads the Chris-
tian where he can see the manifestation of God's
love to us in the sacrifice of Calvary, and then
says: "Beloved, if God so love us, we also
ought to love one another. No man hath seen
God at any time ; if we love one another, God
abideth in us, and his love is perfected in us,
hereby know we that we abide in him, and he in
us, because he hath given us of his Spirit."
Verses 11-13. And this love thus revealed in
our efforts for others becomes a test that the
Spirit is not of anti-Christ but is the Holy Spirit.
A careful distinction should be made here be-
tween simply a benevolent disposition which
gives of ones' abundance, and the spirit of sac-
rificing love, which allows nothing to stand be-


tween the need and the ability to supply. The
former may exist without the latter. The latter
must always include the former, and it is the
spirit of self-sacrificing love which constitutes
the evidence of the indwelling of God's Holy
Spirit and is the Christian spirit.

(e) The highest type of Christian love is that
which seeks to bring to other souls the knowledge
of Christ and of salvation. And this love will, by
faithful witnessing to Christ seek to glorify him
among men and in the salvation of souls. We
have already seen that the first duty is in con-
fessing Christ as the one "come in the flesh" as
the Son of man, but the apostle introduces a new
form of confession here which will recognize in
a living testimony Christ Jesus as the Son of
God. Lifting us thus up before the world as be-
lievers in a divine Christ whom the whole world

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Online LibraryPastorThe Holy Spirit : a series of Bible studies on the person, presence and power of the Holy Spirit → online text (page 7 of 10)