Open as PDF
THE Holy Spirit is the special promise of the Father, made to those who are one with his Son by a living faith. "Wait," said our Lord, "for the promise of the Father, which ye heard from Me"; and immediately on his exaltation to the right hand of God He received the promise of the Holy Spirit, which He poured forth upon the suppliant Church. That promise is still open to as many as the Lord our God shall call (Act_2:39). If, then, thou art among the called, thou mayest claim that most precious gift for thyself, and know by blessed experience "the Holy Spirit of Promise."
HE IS THE SEAL AND EARNEST OF OUR INHERITANCE. (Ephesians 1:14)
Upon the yielded soul the blessed Spirit descends, bearing with Him the likeness of Jesus, which He imprints and fixes, as a stamp will leave its die upon the softened wax. Only melted gold is minted; only moistened clay is moulded; only softened wax receives the die; only broken and contrite hearts can take and keep the impress of heaven. If that is thy condition, wait beneath the pressure of the Holy Spirit; He shall leave the image of Jesus upon thee, and change thee into his likeness, from glory to glory.
This gracious operation is God's seal of authentication. It is as though by an act that could not be mistaken, He said: This soul is mine--redeemed and appropriated for my own possession; and it shall be mine in the day when I make up my jewels. We place our seal on that which is unmistakably our own, and deem to be of value; so the likeness of Jesus wrought on us by the Spirit is the sign that God counts us his, and reckons us to be his peculiar treasure.
It is also the earnest of our inheritance. The love, and joy, and peace, which are wrought in us by the Blessed Spirit, are fragrant with the scent and beautiful with the hues of Paradise. They are the grapes of Eshcol; the peaches and pomegranates of the Homeland; the first notes of angelic symphonies; the first flowers of the everlasting spring; the herald rays of a morning that shall rise to the meridian glory of a nightless day. We know that there is a land of pure delight, because we have tasted its fruits; just as Columbus knew that he was drawing near land, when the land-birds alighted on his ship, and the drift of the waves told of human habitations.
Nay, more: we know, as we experience the gracious work of the Holy Spirit, the quality, though not the infinite measure, of the blessedness of heaven. The Spirit's work is not only the pledge; it is the specimen of our inheritance.
HE IS THE INSPIRER OF PRAYER. (Ephesians 2:18)
However diverse the saints are, in national birth or religious customs, they become one in the exercise of true prayer. Because as suppliants they pass into the presence of the Father through the One Mediator; and because their prayers emanate from the same Holy Paraclete.
There are two Advocates or Paracletes: one is on the throne--Jesus Christ the righteous; the second is in our hearts--the Holy Spirit (1Jo_2:1; Rom_8:26). And because He pervades all holy hearts, as the wind the variety of organ-pipes, He makes them one. Men as wide apart as Jew and Gentile have access by one Spirit unto the Father. They are therefore no more strangers, but fellows.
"If two of you agree on earth," said our Lord. The Greek word is symphonise. A symphony is a consonance or harmony of sounds in which there is perfect agreement. Not necessarily the same notes if different keys, but different notes in the same key. Struck by a master hand, they make delightful music. So when souls are touched by the Holy Spirit, though in many respects they differ, yet they may accord in the same prayer. Peter and Cornelius, Saul of Tarsus and Ananias, though far apart and totally diverse in temperament, respond to each other in perfect harmony. And such accord indicates the purpose of God.
HE INDWELLS THE CHURCH. (Ephesians 2:21-22)
Other passages clearly teach that He indwells the individual believer. He does this, that each several Christian community, fitly framed together, may grow into a holy temple in the Lord (see R.V.). The High and Holy One, who inhabits Eternity, makes his home with humble and contrite hearts. He tenants thee and me, if only we could realize it. But, in addition to this, when a company of believers is gathered in the name of Jesus, there is a habitation of God. "There am I in the midst of them."
This gives each company of disciples the mysterious power to bind and loose. Their acts receive Divine sanction, and achieve eternal results, because they are determined beneath the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and therefore in the presence of the living Saviour. The Spirit conveys the will of God to the saints, and bears back their prayers and decisions to God. Thus the Church keeps in step with Heaven, and utters, though sometimes unconsciously, the purposes of God.
HE IS THE SPIRIT OF REVELATION. (Ephesians 3:5)
There are deep things of God, mysteries, hidden things, of which the apostle Paul often speaks.
The eyes of the natural man cannot discern, nor his ear detect, nor his heart conceive them. Deeper than the azure depths above us, or the fathomless lakes beneath, they defy the wise and prudent of this world. But they are revealed to babes--not in the land of light and glory, but here and now, through the grace of the Holy Spirit. "God hath revealed them unto us by the Spirit."
This is what Jesus promised, that when He, the Spirit of Truth, was come, He would lead us into all the truth, and take of the things of Christ and reveal them unto us. Let us be apt pupils of so transcendent a Teacher. Be willing to do, and you shall know.
HE IS THE SOURCE OF SPIRITUAL STRENGTH. (Ephesians 3:16)
There is no limit to the spiritual power we may receive and exercise. It is said of the Gadites that came to David, whilst he was in the hold, that the least was equal to a hundred, and the greatest to a thousand (1Ch_12:14). And this might be typically true of each of us. We might, like Micah, be "full of power by the Spirit of the Lord, and of judgment, and of might" (Mic_3:8).
There is one preliminary condition, however, which we must fulfil. We must be weak enough--willing to abjure the use of those sources of success on which others boast themselves; content that the thorn in the flesh, or the test of the stream, or the wrestle at the Jabbok-ford, should reveal our utter helplessness, that the power of Christ should rest upon us. When we are weak, we shall be strong. When we are worms, God will make us new sharp threshing instruments. When we are among things that are not, God will use us to bring to nought things that are.
HE IS THE SECRET AND SOURCE OF UNITY. (Ephesians 4:4)
There is one body, the mystical body of Christ; and as the human body, in all its different organs and members, is one living unit by reason of the spirit of life that pervades it, so the Church, with its manifold diversities of organization and belief, is one, because animated by the one Holy Spirit.
Many earnest and holy men refuse outward fellowship with those who do not belong to their communion; but they are still one with them, since the Holy Spirit is in them all. And they will recognise this on the shore of Eternity.
WE MUST WATCH CAREFULLY OUR OWN ATTITUDE TO THE HOLY SPIRIT. (Ephesians 4:30, Ephesians 5:18)
He is not merely an influence; He is a person, and may easily be grieved. The Dove of God is very tender and gentle; and if there are thorns in the nest, He cannot remain. The things that grieve Him are instantly recognised by the holy soul by an immediate veiling of the inner light. They are enumerated here as bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, railing, with all kinds of malice. There is no secret of the inner life more necessary than to retain the inner presence of an ungrieved Spirit.
But let us also seek to befilled by Him. We have drunk of Him, as Jesus has placed the pitcher to our lips; but we should never rest till He has become in us a spring of water, leading up to eternal life. The Holy Spirit is in every believer; but He cannot be said to fill each. There is all the difference possible between a few drops at the bottom of a bucket and a brimming well; between a few stray flowers scattered sparsely through the glade, and the myriads that make it blue with hyacinths or yellow with primroses.
To be filled with the Spirit was the blessing of Pentecost; but it awaits us all. Indeed, we are here bidden to be Spirit-filled. It is a positive command. We have no option than to obey it. Mentioned in the same paragraph with the love of husband to wife, and the obedience of child to the parent, it is as obligatory as either. Let no reader of these lines rest without seeking and receiving by faith this blessed gift, which God is able to make abound towards us. Receive it without emotion by faith: reckon it is yours: and act as if you felt it.
HE IS EQUALLY NEEDFUL IN SERVICE AND PRAYER. (Ephesians 6:17-18)
In conflict with Satan, whether in our own experience or in the attempt to rescue souls from his accursed thrall, there is no weapon so useful as the Spirit's sword, which is the Word of God. Our blessed Lord parried the devil's attacks by "It is written"; and we shall not improve on his method. The armour of the enemy is impenetrable to all blades save that which has been forged in the celestial fires of the Holy Spirit.
And if you would acquire the habit of intercessory and earnest prayer, so as to be able to watch thereunto, and to persevere, pouring out supplications and entreaties for all saints, you can only do so "in the Spirit." He alone can teach this holy art, or give this eager temper of soul, or perpetuate its practice. Let us earnestly seek it at his hand; for there is nothing that so refines or ennobles, purifies or strengthens the spirit, as this constant breathing out of prayer and breathing in of the fulness of God.