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Friday, October 28, 2016

Experiencing the Holy Spirit # 8

Experiencing the Holy Spirit # 8

How the Blessing May Be Strengthened

This blessing of Pentecost is entrusted to us as a talent that must be used, and only by us does it become strong. The Lord Jesus, after He was baptized with the Holy Spirit, was perfected by obedience and submission to the leading of the Spirit. Likewise, the Christian who has received the blessing of Pentecost must guard safely the deposit entrusted to him.

When we inquire how we can grow spiritually, Scripture points us to the fact that we can confidently entrust our spiritual life to the Lord. "He is able to keep what I have committed to Him ... That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us" (2 Timothy 1:12, 14). After saying, "Keep yourselves in the love of God" (Jude 21), Jude added the doxology, "To Him who is able to keep you ... be glory" (vv.24-25).

The main secret of success in the development of the blessing is the exercise of a humble dependence on the Lord who keeps us and on the Spirit by whom we ourselves are kept in close fellowship with Him. This blessing, as the manna that fell in the wilderness, must be renewed from heaven every day. The new heavenly life, as with the life we live on earth, must be drawn in every moment in sustaining fresh air from without and from above. Let us see how this ever-abiding, uninterrupted keeping takes place.

Jesus is the Keeper of Israel. This is His name and His work. God not only created the world but also keeps and upholds it. Jesus is not content with merely giving the blessing of Pentecost. He will also maintain it every moment. The Holy Spirit is not a power that in any sense is subordinate to us, entrusted to us, or to be used by us. He is an energizing power that is over and above us, carrying forward His work from moment to moment. Our right place and our proper attitude must always be that of the deepest dependence in our own nothingness and powerlessness. Our chief concern is to let Jesus do His work within us.

As long as the soul does not discern this truth, there will always be a certain dread of receiving the full blessing. Such a one will be inclined to say, "I will not be able to continue in that holy life. I will not be able to dwell on such a lofty plane all the time." But these thoughts only show what a feeble grasp one has of the great reality. When Jesus comes by the Spirit to dwell in my heart and to live in me, He will actually work out the maintenance of the blessing and regard my whole inner life as His special care.

The joy of the blessing of Pentecost, while it can never be relieved of the necessity of watchfulness, is a life that is freed from anxiety and ought to be characterized by continual gladness. The Lord has come into His holy temple. There He will abide and work out everything. He desires only that the soul will know and honor Him as its faithful Shepherd and Almighty Keeper.

Jesus Will Keep the Blessing

The law that prevails at every stage in the progress of the kingdom of God is, "According to your faith let it be to you" (Matthew 9:29). The faith that you had when you first received the Lord Jesus was as small as a grain of mustard seed. It must, in the course of the Christian life, become so enlarged that it will see and enjoy more of the fullness that is in the Lord.

Paul wrote to the Galatians, "It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). His faith was a broad and boundless as were the needs of his life and work.

In everything and at all times, without ceasing, he trusted in Jesus to do all. Paul's faith was as wide and abundant as the energy that flows from Jesus. He had given his whole life to Jesus, and he himself lived no longer. By a continuous and unrestricted faith, he gave Jesus the liberty of energizing his life without ceasing and without limitation.

The fullness of the Spirit is not a gift that is given once for all as a part of the heavenly life. Rather it is a constantly flowing stream of the river of the water of life that issues from beneath the throne of God and of the Lamb (Revelation 22:1). It is an uninterrupted communication of the life and the love of Jesus, the most personal and intimate association of the Lord with His own on the earth. Jesus will certainly do His work of keeping if faith discerns this truth and cleaves to it with joy.

Closer Fellowship with Jesus

Jesus keeps this blessing in fellowship with Himself. The single aim of the blessing of Pentecost is to reveal Jesus as Saviour, so that He may exhibit His power to redeem souls in us and by us here in the world. The Spirit did not come merely to occupy the place of Jesus, but to unite the disciples with their Lord more completely than when He was on earth.

The power from on high did not come as a power that they were henceforth to consider as their own. The power was inseparably bound up with the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Every operation of the power was a direct working of God in them.

The fellowship that the disciples had with Jesus on earth - following Him, receiving His teaching, doing His will, and participating in His suffering - was still to be their experience, only in greater measure.

It is no different with us. The Spirit in us will always glorify Jesus and make it known that He alone is to be Lord. Close communion with God in the inner chamber, faithfulness in searching His Word and seeking to know His will in the Scriptures, sacrificing time and business to bring us into touch with the Saviour are all indispensable for the enrichment of the blessing. He who loves His fellowship above everything will have the experience of His keeping.

For the Obedient

When the Lord Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit, He said three times that the blessing was for the obedient. "If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever" (John 14:15-16). Peter spoke of "the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him" (Acts 5:32).

Of our Lord Himself we read that He "became obedient to the point of death ... Therefore God also has highly exalted Him" (Philippians 2:8-9). Obedience is what God demands. Obedience attains what was lost by the Fall. Jesus came to restore the power of obedience. It is His own life. Apart from obedience, the blessing of Pentecost can neither come nor abide.

There are two kinds of obedience. One that is very defective is like that of the disciples prior to Pentecost. They desired from the heart to do what the Lord said, but they did not have the power. Yet the Lord accounted their desire and purpose as obedience. On the other hand, there is a more abundant life that comes with the fullness of the Spirit, where new power is given for full obedience.

The characteristic of the full blessing of Pentecost is a surrender to obedience in the minutest details. To listen to the voice of Jesus Himself, to the voice of the Spirit, and to the voice of conscience is the way Jesus leads us. The method of making the life of Pentecost within us sure and strong is to know Jesus, to love Him, and to receive Him in the aspect that made Him well-pleasing to the Father - namely, as the Obedient One.

The exercise of this obedience gives the soul a wonderful firmness, confidence, and power to trust God and to expect all from Him. A strong will is necessary for a strong faith, and it is in obedience that the will is strengthened to trust God to the uttermost. This is the only way in which the Lord can lead us to ever richer blessing.

One Body, One Spirit

At the outset of his seeking the full blessing, a Christian may think primarily of himself. Even after he receives the blessing as a new experience, he is still rather disposed to see merely how he can keep it safely for himself. But very speedily the Spirit will teach him that a member of the body cannot enjoy the flow of healthy life in a state of separation from others. He begins to understand that there is one body and one Spirit. The unity of the body must be realized to enjoy the fullness of the Spirit.

This principle teaches us some very important lessons about the condition in which the blessing should be maintained. All that you have belongs to others and must be used for their service. All that they have belongs to you and is indispensable for you. The Spirit of the body of the Lord can work effectively only when the members of it work in unison.

You should confess to others what the Lord has done for you, ask their intercession, seek their fellowship, and help them with what the Lord has given you. You should take to heart the unhappy condition of the enfeebled Christian church in our days. It should not be done in the spirit of judgment or bitterness, but rather in the spirit of humility and prayer.

Jesus will teach you what is meant by the saying that love is the greatest. By the very intensity of your surrender to the welfare of His church, He will increase the blessing in you.

The very name of Jesus Christ involves entire consecration to God's work of rescuing souls. It was for this end that He lived on earth and for this cause that He lives in heaven. How can anyone ever dream of having the Spirit of Christ except as a Spirit that aims at the work of God and the salvation of souls? It is an impossibility. Therefore, from the outset we must keep these two aspects of the Spirit's operation closely knit together. What the Spirit works in us is for the sake of what He works by us. We must present ourselves to be used by the Spirit to do His work.

One More Thought

Whenever mention is made of Jesus as our Keeper, it is often difficult to believe that we who are on the earth can really know ourselves to be always, without interruption, in His hands and under His power. How much clearer and more glorious the truth becomes when the Spirit reveals to us that Christ is in us. He is in us, not only as a tenant in a house or as water in a glass, but rather as the soul is in the body, moving every part and never being separated from each other.

Yes, Christ dwells in us, penetrating our entire natures with His nature. The Holy Spirit came for the purpose of making Jesus deeply present within us. The sun is high in the firmament above me and yet, by its heat, penetrates my bones and marrow and quickens my whole life. Likewise, the Lord Jesus, who is exalted high in heaven, penetrates my whole nature by His Spirit until all my willing, thinking, and feeling are moved by Him.

Once this fact is fully grasped, we no longer think of an external keeping through a person outside of us in heaven. We become convinced that our lives are quickened by One who, in a divine manner, occupies the heart. Then we see how natural, how certain, and how blessed it is that the indwelling Jesus keeps the blessing and always maintains the fullness of the Spirit.

Brothers and sisters, is there anyone among you who is longing for this life in the fullness of blessing, yet is afraid to enter into it because he does not know how to persevere? Jesus will make this blessing continuous and sure. Is there any one of you who longs for it and cannot understand where the secret lies? The blessing is this: as Jesus Christ was with His disciples daily in bodily fashion, so He will, by His Spirit, daily live His life in you. No one can fully understand how things look on the top of a mountain until he himself has been there.

Although you do not understand everything, believe that the Lord Jesus has sent His Spirit with no other purpose than to keep you in His divine power. Trust Him for this. Let all burdens be laid aside to receive this blessing from Him as a fountain that He Himself will cause to spring up in you unto everlasting life.

~Andrew Murray~

(continued with # 9 - How Your Blessing May Be Increased

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Experiencing the Holy Spirit # 7

Experiencing the Holy Spirit # 7

How the Blessing Is Obtained By Us

The command to be filled with the Spirit is just as authoritative as the prohibition not to be drunken with wine. As truly as we are not at liberty to be guilty of the vice are we bound not to be disobedient to the positive command. The same God who calls on us to live in sobriety urges us with equal earnestness to be filled with the Spirit. His command is tantamount to a promise. It is a sure pledge that He Himself will give what He desires us to possess. 

With full confidence in this fact, let us ask in all simplicity for the way in which we should live in the will of God, as those who wish to be filled with the Spirit. I suggest to those who really long for this blessing some steps by which they may obtain what is prepared for them.

The First Principle

There are many of God's children who do not believe that the fullness of the Holy Spirit is their inheritance. They imagine that the Day of Pentecost was only the birthday feast of the church and that it was a time of blessing and of power that was not destined to endure. They do not reflect on the command to be filled with the Spirit. The result is that they never seek to receive the full blessing. They remain content with the weak and defective life in which the church of the day exists.

Is this the case with you, my reader? In order to carry on her work in the world, the church requires the full blessing. To please your Lord and to live a life of holiness, joy, and power, you, too, have need of it. To manifest His presence, indwelling, and glory in you, Jesus considers it necessary that you be filled with the Spirit. Believe firmly that the full blessing of Pentecost is a sacred reality. A child of God must have it.

Take time to contemplate it and to allow yourself to be fully possessed by the thought of its glorious significance and power. A firm confidence that the blessing is actually within our reach is the first step toward obtaining it and a powerful impulse in the pursuit.

A Second Step

Admitting that you do not have this blessing is the second step toward it. Perhaps you ask why it should be necessary to cherish this conviction. I will tell you briefly the reason why I consider it of importance.

First, many Christians think that they already have the Holy Spirit, and that all that is required is to be more faithful in their endeavor to know and to obey Him. They think they are already standing in God's grace and that they only need to make a better use of the life they possess. They imagine that they have all that is necessary for continued growth.

On the contrary, it is my deep conviction that such souls are in an unhealthy state and that they have need of a healing. Accordingly, just as the first condition for recovery from disease is the knowledge that one is sick, so it is absolutely necessary for them to acknowledge that they do not walk in the fullness of the Spirit. Being filled with the Spirit is indispensable for them if they are to please God in everything.

Once this first conviction is made thoroughly clear to them, they will be prepared for another consideration - namely, that they ought to acknowledge the guiltiness of their condition. They ought to see that if they have not yet rendered obedience to the command to "be filled with the Spirit", this defect is to be ascribed to sluggishness, self-satisfaction, and unbelief. Once the confession that they have not yet received the full blessing is deeply rooted in them, there will spring from it a stronger impulse to attain it.

Is This Blessing for You?

I have spoken of those who suppose that the full blessing of Pentecost was only for the first Christian community. Others are willing to acknowledge that it was intended also for the church of later times but still think that all are not entitled to expect it. They might quite reasonably say, "My unfavorable circumstances, my unfortunate disposition, my lack of real ability, and similar difficulties make it impossible for me to realize this ideal. God will not expect this of me. He has not destined me to obtain it."

Do not permit yourself to be deceived by such shallow views. All the members of the body, even to the very least, must be healthy before the body as a whole can be healthy. The indwelling, the fullness of the Spirit is the health of the entire body of Christ. Even if you are the most insignificant member of it, the blessing is for you. In this the Father makes no exceptions.

A great distinction prevails regarding gifts, callings, and circumstances. But there can be no distinction in the love of the Father and His desire to see everyone of His children in full health and in the full enjoyment of the Spirit of adoption.

Learn, then, to express and to repeat over again the conviction, "This blessing is for me. My Father desires to have me filled with His Holy Spirit. The blessing lies before me, to be taken with my full consent. I will no longer refuse by unbelief what falls to me as my birthright. With my whole heart, I will say, "This blessing is for me."

Obtain the Blessing

When a Christian begins to strive for this blessing, he generally makes a variety of efforts to search for the faith, obedience, humility, and submission that are the conditions of obtaining it. When he does not succeed, he is tempted to blame himself. If he does not become utterly discouraged, he rouses himself to still stronger effort and greater zeal.

All this struggling is not without its value and its use, however. It does the very work that the law does. It brings us to the knowledge of our entire powerlessness. It leads us to that despair of ourselves where we become willing to give God the place that belongs to Him. This lesson is entirely indispensable. "I can neither bestow this blessing on myself nor take it. It is God alone who must work it in me.

The blessing of Pentecost is a supernatural gift, a wonderful act of God in the soul. The life of God in every soul is as truly a work of God as when that life was first manifested in Jesus Christ. A Christian can do as little to bring the full life of the Spirit to fruition in his soul as the Virgin Mary did to conceive her supernatural child (Luke 1:38). Like her, he can only receive it as the gift of God.

The impartation of this heavenly blessing is as entirely an act of God as the resurrection of Christ from the dead was His divine work. Christ Jesus had to go down to death and lay aside the life He had in order to receive a new life from God. Likewise, the believer must abandon all power and hope of his own to receive this full blessing as a free gift of divine omnipotence. This acknowledgement of our utter powerlessness, this descent into true self-despair, is indispensable if we wish to enjoy this supreme blessing.

The Pearl of Great Price

The full blessing of Pentecost is to be obtained at no small price. He who desires to have it must sell all and forsake all. Every faculty of our natures, every moment of our lives, and every religious work of our bodies, souls, and spirits must be surrendered to the power of the Spirit of God. In nothing can independent control or independent force have a place. Everything must be under the leading of the Spirit. One must indeed say, "Cost what it may, I am determined to have this blessing." Only the vessel that is utterly empty of everything can be full and overflowing with this living water.

We know that there is often a great gulf between the will and the deed. Even when God has endued the willing, the doing does not always come at once. But it will come wherever a man surrenders himself to the will that God has worked and openly expresses his consent in the presence of God. This, accordingly, is what must be done by the soul who intends to be sincerely ready to part with everything, even though he feels that he has no power to accomplish it.

The selling price is not always paid at the moment of the sale; nevertheless, the purchaser may become the possessor as soon as the sale is concluded and security is given for the payment.

Oh, believer, this very day speak the word, "Cost what it may, I will have this blessing." Jesus is surety that you will  have power to abandon everything. Express your decision in the presence of God with confidence and perseverance. Repeat it before your own conscience and say, "I am a purchaser of the pearl of great price. I have offered everything to obtain the full blessing of Pentecost. I have said to God that I must, I will have it. I stand by this decision."

There is a great difference between taking hold of a blessing by faith and the actual experience of it. Christians often become discouraged when they do not at once experience the feeling and the enjoyment of what is promised them. When you have said that you forsake all and count it but loss for the full blessing of Pentecost, then from that moment you have to believe that He receives your offer and that He bestows on you the fullness of the Spirit.

Yet it man easily be that you cannot at that time trace any noticeable change in your experience. It is as if everything in you remained in its old condition. Now, however, is the very time to persevere in faith. Learn by faith to be as sure as if you had seen it written in heaven that God has accepted your surrender of everything as a certain and completed transaction.

In faith look on yourself as a person who is known to God as one who has sold everything to obtain this heavenly treasure. Believe that God has given you the fullness of the Spirit. Regard yourself as on the way to knowing the full blessing in feeling as well as in experience. Believe that God will order this blessing to break forth and be revealed in you. In faith let your life be a life of joyful thanksgiving and expectation. God will not disappoint you.

Wait for the Manifestation

Faith must lead you to the actual inheritance of the promise and to the experience and enjoyment of it. Do not rest content with a belief that does not lead to experience. Rest in God by faith in the full assurance that He can make Himself known to you in a matter that is truly divine. At times the whole process may appear to you too great and too wonderful and really impossible.

Do not be afraid. The more clearly you discern the fact that you have said to God that He may take you and fill you with His Holy Spirit, the more you will feel what a miracle of the grace of God it is. There may be in you things you are not aware of that hinder the breaking forth of the blessing. God is bent on putting them aside. Let them be consumed in the fire. Let them be annihilated in the flame of God's countenance and His love. Let your expectation be fixed on the Lord your God.

He who raised up the dead Jesus to the life of glory will just as miraculously bring this heavenly blessing to fruition in you. Then you may be filled with the Holy Spirit and know, not by reasoning but by experience, that you have actually received the Holy Spirit.

God desires to make you full of the Holy Spirit. He desires to have your whole nature and life under the power of the Holy Spirit. He asks if you really desire to have it. Let there be in your answer no uncertainty, but let all that is within you cry out, "Yes, Lord, with all my heart." Let this promise of your God become the chief element in your life, the most precious, the only thing you seek. Do not be content to think and pray over it, but this very day enter into a transaction with God that will allow no doubt concerning the choice you have made.

When you have made this choice, cleave firmly to the faith that expects this blessing as a miracle of divine omnipotence. The more earnestly you exercise that faith, the more it will teach you that your heart must be entirely emptied and set free from every fetter, to be filled with the Spirit. You may take it for granted that it will surely come.

~Andrew Murray~

(continued with # 8 - How the Blessing May Be Strengthened

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Experiencing the Holy Spirit # 6

Experiencing The Holy Spirit # 6

How the Blessing Is Hindered

"Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it" (Matthew 16:24-25).

Many people earnestly seek the full blessing of Pentecost and yet do not find it. Often the question is asked as to what may be the cause of this failure. To this inquiry more than one answer may be given. Sometimes the solution to the problem points in the direction of one or another sin that is still permitted. Worldliness, lovelessness, lack of humility, and ignorance of the secret of walking in the way of faith, and indeed many more causes, may also be often mentioned in truth.

Many people think they have come to the Lord and sincerely confessed these failures and put them away. Yet they complain that the blessing does not come. It is necessary to point out that there still remains one great hindrance - namely, the root from which all other hindrances have their beginning. This root is nothing less than the individual "self", the hidden life of "self" with its varied forms of self-seeking, self-pleasing, self-confidence, and self-satisfaction.

The more earnestly anyone strives to obtain the blessing and desires to know what prevents him, the more certainly he will be led to the discovery that it is here the great evil lies. He himself is his worst enemy. He must be liberated from himself, and the self-life to which he clings must be utterly lost. Only then can the life of God entirely fill him.

A Full Understanding of the Cross

This is what is taught in the words of the Lord Jesus to Peter. Peter had uttered such a glorious confession of his Lord that Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 16:17). But when the Lord began to speak of His death by crucifixion, the same Peter was seduced by satan to say, "Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!" (v. 22).

The Lord said to him that not only must He Himself lay down His life, but also this same sacrifice was to be made by every disciple. Every disciple must deny himself and take up his cross in order that he himself may be crucified and put to death on it. He who wishes to save his life will lose it, and he who is prepared to lose his life for Christ's sake will find it.

You see, then, what the Lord teaches and requires. Peter had learned through the Father to know Christ as the Son of God, but he did not yet know Him as the Crucified One. Of the absolute necessity of the death on the cross, he as yet knew nothing. It may be so with the Christian. He knows the Lord Jesus as his Saviour; he desires to know Him better, but he does not yet understand that he must have a deeper discernment of the death of the cross as a death which he himself must die. He must actually deny and lose his life - his whole life and being in the world - before he can receive the full life of God.

This requirement is hard and difficult. And why is this so? Why should a Christian be called on always to deny himself, his own feelings, will, and pleasure? Why must he part with his life? The answer is very simple. It is because that life is so completely under the power of sin and death that it has to be utterly denied and sacrificed. The self-life must be wholly taken away to make room for the life of God. He who wishes to have the full, overflowing life of God must utterly deny and lose his own life.

Only one great stumbling block lies in the way of the full blessing of Pentecost. It is the fact that two opposing things cannot at the same time occupy the very same place. Your own life and the life of God cannot fill the heart at the same time. Your life hinders the entrance of the life of God. When your own life is cast out, the life of God will fill you. As long as I myself am still something, Jesus Himself cannot be everything. My life must be expelled; then the Spirit of Jesus will flow in.

Let every seeker of the full blessing of Pentecost accept this principle and hold on to it. The subject is of such importance that I would like to make it still clearer by pointing out the chief lessons that these words of the Lord Jesus teach us.

Self and the Power of Sin

When God created the angels and man, He gave them a separate personality, a power over themselves, with the intention that they would, of their own free will, present and offer up that life to Him in order that He in turn might fill them with His life and His glory. To be a vessel filled with the life and the perfection of God was to be the highest blessedness of the creature.

The fall of angels and men alike consisted of nothing but the perversion of their lives, their wills, and their personalities, away from God, in order to please themselves. This self-exaltation was the pride that cast them out of heaven and into hell. This pride was the infernal poison that the serpent breathed into the ears and the heart of Eve.

Man turned himself away from God to delight in himself and the world. His life, his whole individuality, was perverted and withdrawn from the control of God so that he might seek and serve himself.

You must utterly lose that life before the full life of the Spirit of God an be yours. To the minutest details, always and in everything, you must deny that self-life! "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me."

A deep conviction of the entire corruption of our human nature is an experience that is still lacking in many people. It appears to them both strange and harsh when we say that in nothing is the Christian free to follow his own feelings. Self-denial is a requirement that must prevail in every sphere of life and without any exceptions. The Lord has never withdrawn His words: "Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple" (Luke 14:33).

Is Your Heart Open?

At the time of his conversion, the young Christian has little understanding of this requirement. He receives the seed of the new life into his heart while the natural life is still strong. It was this way with Peter when the Lord addressed to him the above words. He was a disciple but an incomplete one. When his Lord was to die, instead of denying himself, he denied his Lord. But this grievous failure brought him at last to despair of himself and prepared him for losing his own life entirely and for being wholly filled with the life of Jesus.

We must all eventually come to this point. As long as a Christian imagines that in some things - for example, in his eating and drinking, in the spending of his time or money, or in his thinking and speaking about others - he has the right and the liberty to follow his own wishes, to please himself, and to maintain his own life, he cannot possibly attain the full blessing of Pentecost.

My dear readers, it is an unspeakably holy and glorious thing that a man can be filled with the Spirit of God. It demands inevitably that the present occupant and governor of the heart, the individual self, be cast out and everything be surrendered into the hands of the new inhabitant, the Spirit of God. If only we could understand that the joy and power of being filled with the Spirit will come once we comply with the first and principle condition - namely, that He alone be acknowledged as our Life and our Leader.

Who Performs This Transformation?

At no stage of our spiritual careers are the power and the deceitfulness of the individual self and the self-life more manifest than in the attempt to grasp the full blessing of Pentecost. Many people endeavor to take hold of this blessing by a great variety of efforts. They do not succeed and are not able to discover the reason why. They forget that self-will can never cast our self-will and that "self" can never really mortify itself. Happy is the man who is brought to the point of acknowledging his helplessness and powerlessness. He will especially need to deny himself here and cease to expect anything from his own life and strength. He will rather lay himself down in the presence of the Lord as one who is powerless and dead, so that he may really receive the blessing from Him.

It was not Peter who prepared himself for the Day of Pentecost or brought down the Pentecostal blessing from heaven. It was his Lord who did all this for him. His part was to despair of himself and yield himself to his Lord to accomplish in him what He had promised.

It is your part, believer, to deny yourself, to lose your own life, and in the presence of the Lord to sink down in your nothingness and powerlessness. Accustom yourself to set your heart before Him in deep humility, silent patience, and childlike submission. The humility that is prepared to be nothing, the patience that will wait for Him and His time, and the submission that will yield itself wholly so that He may do what seems good are all that you can do to show that you are ready to lose your life.

Jesus summons you to follow Him. Remember how He first sacrificed His will. He laid down His life into the hands of the Father, went down into the grave, and waited until God raised Him to life again. In like manner, you are to be ready to lay down your life in weakness, assured that God will raise it up again in power with the fullest of the Spirit. Forfeit the strength of mere personal efforts and abandon the dominion of your own power. "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit," says the Lord" (Zech. 4:6).

Deny Yourself Daily

You of course say at once, "Who is sufficient for these things? Who can sacrifice everything and die and lay down his life utterly as Jesus did? Is such a surrender impossible?" My reply is that it is indeed so. But "with God all things are possible" (Matt. 19:26). You cannot literally follow Jesus down into death and the grave. That will always remain beyond your power. Never will our individual selves  yield themselves up to death or rest quietly in the grave.

But hear the glad tidings. In Christ you have died and have been buried. The power of His dying, of His willing surrender of His spirit into the hands of the Father, and of His silent resting in the grave works in you. By faith in this working of the spirit and the power of the death and the life of the Lord Jesus, give yourself willingly to lose your life.

For this end, begin to regard the denying of yourself as the first and most necessary work of every day. Accept the message I bring you. The great hindrance in the way of the life of Pentecost is the self-life. Believe in the sinfulness of that life, not because of its gross external sins, but because it sets itself in the place of God. It seeks, pleases, and honors itself more than God.

Recognize your own life as your own worst enemy and as the enemy of God. Begin to see what the full blessing is that Jesus has prepared for you and that He bestowed at Pentecost - namely, His own indwelling. Count nothing too precious  or too costly to give as an exchange for this "pearl of great price" (Matthew 13:46).

Believer, are you really sincere about being filled with the Spirit of God? Is it your great desire to know what hinders you from obtaining it? Take the word of our Lord and keep it in your heart. Go to Him with it. He is able to make you understand and experience it. It is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.

Let everything in you that belongs to "self" be sacrificed to Him. He, who by His death obtained the Spirit, who prepared Peter for Pentecost in "the fellowship of His sufferings" (Phil. 3:10), has your guidance in His hands. Trust your own Jesus. He baptizes with the Spirit beyond doubt or question.

Deny yourself and follow Him. Lose your own life and find His. Let Him impart Himself in the place you have up to this time retained for yourself. From Him there "will flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38).

~Andrew Murray~

(continued with # 7 - How the Blessing Is Obtained By Us

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Experiencing the Holy Spirit # 5

Experiencing the Holy Spirit # 5

How Little the Blessing Is Enjoyed

"My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:4-5)

Paul spoke here of two kinds of preaching and two kinds of faith. The spirit of the preacher will determine the faith of the congregation. When the preaching of the Cross is given only in the words of human wisdom, then the faith of the hearers will be in the wisdom of men. When the preaching is in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, the faith of the Christian people will also be firm and strong in the power of God. Preaching in the demonstration of the Spirit will bring the double blessing of power in the Word and in the faith of those who receive that Word. If we desire to know the measure of the working of the Spirit, we must consider the preaching and the faith that spring from it. In this way alone can we see whether the full blessing of Pentecost is truly manifested in the church.

Very few individuals are prepared to say this is really the case. Everywhere among the children of God, we hear complaints of weakness and sin. Among those who do not complain is reason to fear that their silence is ascribed to ignorance or self-satisfaction. It is important that we concentrate on this fact until we come under the full conviction that the condition of the church is marked by powerlessness and that nothing can restore her except the return to a life in the full enjoyment of the blessing of Pentecost. The more deeply we feel our deficiency, the more speedily we will desire and obtain restoration. It will help to awaken longing for this blessing if we earnestly consider how little it is enjoyed in the church and how far the church is from being what her Lord has power to make her.

Power Over Sin

Think, for example, what little power over sin there is among the children of God.

The Spirit of Pentecost is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God's holiness. When He filled the hearts of the disciples, a transformation was brought about in them. Their carnal thoughts were changed into spiritual insight, their pride into humility, their selfishness into love, their fear of man into courage and fidelity. Sin was cast out by the inflowing of the life of Jesus and of heaven.

The life that the Lord has prepared for His people is a life of victory. It is not victory to such an extent that there will be no temptation to evil or inclination to sin. But there is to be victory of such a kind that the indwelling power of the Spirit who fills us, the presence of the indwelling Saviour, will keep sin in subjection as the light subdues the darkness.

Yet to what a small extent we see power for victory over sin in the church! Even among earnest Christians we see untruthfulness and lack of honor, pride and self-esteem, selfishness and lack of love. How little are the traces of the image of Jesus - obedience, humility, love, and entire surrender to the will of God - even among the people of God! The truth is that we have become so accustomed to the confession of sin and unfaithfulness, or disobedience and backsliding, that it is no longer regarded as a matter of shame.

We make the confession before each other; and then after the prayer, we rest comforted and contented. Brothers and sisters, let us feel humbled and mourn over it! It is because so little of the full blessing of the Spirit is enjoyed or sought that the children of God still commit so much sin and have so much to confess.

Let every sin, whether in ourselves or others, serve as a call to notice how much the Spirit of God is lacking among us. Let every instance of failure, in the fear of the Lord, in love, holiness, and entire surrender to the will of God, urge us to call on God to bring His Spirit to full dominion over the church once more.

Separation From the World

When the Lord Jesus promised the Comforter, He said, "Whom the world cannot receive" (John 14:17). The spirit of this world, which is devotion to the visible, is in irreconcilable antagonism with the Spirit of Jesus in heaven, where God and His will are everything. The world has rejected the Lord Jesus; and, to whatever extent it may now usurp the Christian name, the world is still the same untameable enemy.

For this reason Jesus  said of His disciples, "They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world" (John 17:16). This, too, is the reason why Paul said, "We have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God" (1 Corinthians 2:12). The two spirits, the spirit of the world and the Spirit of God, are engaged in a life-and-death conflict with one another.

This is why God has always called on His people to separate themselves from the world and to live as pilgrims whose treasure and hearts are in heaven. But is this what is really seen among Christians? Who will dare say so? When they have attained a measure of unblamableness  in their walk and assurance of heaven, most Christians consider that they are at liberty to enjoy the world as fully as others. Little is seen of true heavenly mindedness in conversation and walk or in disposition and endeavor. Is this not the case because the search for spiritual excellence is so little enjoyed and sought?

Light drives out darkness. The Spirit of heaven expels the spirit of the world. Where a man does not surrender himself to be filled with the Spirit of Jesus and the Spirit of heaven, though he may be very Christian, he must come under the power of the spirit of the world. Listen to the piercing cry that rises from the whole church, "Who will rescue us from the power of this spirit of the world?" Your answer should be, "Nothing, no one, except the Spirit of God. You must be filled with the Spirit."

Are We Steadfast?

Those who labor for the salvation of souls complain that there are many who are full of zeal for a time and then fall away. When professing Christians enter into another circle of influence and are put to the test of prosperity or temptation, they cease to persevere. What produces this unfortunate result? It comes from preaching with the wisdom of persuasive words rather than in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. Hence their faith also stands in the wisdom and work of men rather than in the power of God.

As long as such people have the benefit of earnest and instructive preaching, they will continue to stand. If they lose it, they will begin to backslide. Because current preaching shows little demonstration of the Spirit, souls are not brought into contact with the living God. For the same reason, far too much of the current faith is not in the power of God.

The Word, preaching, and means of grace will become a hindrance instead of a help if they are not in demonstration of the Spirit. All external means of grace are things that inevitably change and fade. The Spirit alone works a faith that stands in the power of God and so remains strong and unwavering.

Why are there so many who do not continue to stand? The answer of God is a grave lack of the demonstration of the Spirit. Let every sad example serve as a summons to us to acknowledge that the full blessing of Pentecost is lost. This is what we long for and must have from God. Let all that is within us begin to thirst and cry out, "Come from the four winds, Spirit of God, and breathe on these dead souls so that they may live." Think how little there is of power for service among the unconverted.

What an immense host of workers there is in Christian countries. How varied and unceasing is the preaching of the Word. Sunday school teachers are numbered by the hundreds of thousands. Large numbers of Christian parents make their children acquainted with the Word of God and also bring them to the Lord as Saviour. Yet how little fruit springs from all this work.

Many who hear and are by no means indifferent never make a definite choice for salvation. Many who from youth to old age are familiar with the Word of God are never seized by it in the depths of their hearts. They find it good, pleasing, and instructive to attend church, but they have never felt the power of the Word as a hammer, a sword, or a fire. The reason they are so little disturbed  is that the preaching they listen to is so little in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. This is evidence enough that there is a great lack of the full blessing of Pentecost.

Does the blame for this issue belong to preachers or to congregations? I feel it belongs to both. Preachers are the offspring of the Christian community. Through children we are enabled to see whether parents are spiritually healthy or not. Likewise, preachers are dependent on the life that is in their congregations.

When a congregation finds satisfaction in the merely acceptable and instructive preaching of a young minister, it encourages him to go forward on the same path. He should rather be helped by its more advanced believers to seek earnestly the demonstration of the Spirit. When a minister does not lead his congregation to expect everything from the Spirit of God, then he is tempted to put confidence in the wisdom of man and the work of man.

The great cause of all worldliness and impenitence is the lack of the full blessing of Pentecost. This alone gives power from on high that can break down and revive the hard hearts of men.

The Source of Courage

Think how little preparedness there is for self-sacrifice on behalf of the extension of the kingdom of God.

When the Lord Jesus promised the Holy Spirit at His ascension, it was given as a power in us to work for Him. "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8). The aim of the Pentecostal blessing from the King in heaven was simply to complete the equipping of His servants for His work as King on the earth. No sooner did the Spirit descend on them than they began to witness for Him. The Spirit filled them with the desire, impulse, courage, and power to brave all hostility and danger and to endure all suffering and persecution in making Jesus known as a Saviour. The Spirit of Pentecost was the true missionary spirit that seeks to win the whole world for Jesus Christ.

It is often said in our days that the missionary spirit is on the increase. Yet when we reflect carefully how little effort is expended on the missionary enterprise in comparison with the time spent on our own interests, we will see at once how feebly this question is still kindled in our hearts: "What more can I still sacrifice for Jesus? He offered Himself for me. I will offer myself wholly for Him and His work."

I has been well said that the Lord measures our gifts not according to what we give, but according to what we retain. He who stands beside the treasury and observes what is cast into it still finds many who, like the widow, cast in their entire living. (Mark 12:41-44).

So many people have given only what they could never miss and what costs them little or no sacrifice. How different it would be if the full blessing of Pentecost began to flow in. How the hearts of men would burn with love for Jesus and, out of sheer joy, be impelled to give everything so that He might be known as Saviour and so that all might know His love.

Brother or sister, contemplate the condition of the church on earth, of the Christian community around you,and of your own heart. Then see why there is grave reason for the cry, "The full blessing of Pentecost - how little it is known!" Ponder the present lack of sanctification, of separation from the world, of steadfastness among professing Christians, of conversions among the unsaved, and of self-sacrifice for the kingdom of God. Let the sad reality deepen in your soul the conviction that the church is at present suffering from one great evil, and this is her lack of the blessing of Pentecost. There can be no healing of her breaches, no restoration from her fall, and no renewing of her power except by this one remedy - namely, her being filled with the Spirit of God.

Never cease to speak, think, mourn, and pray over this trouble until this one necessary thing becomes the one thing that occupies our hearts. Restoration is not easy. It may not come all at once. It may not come quickly. The disciples of Jesus required every day with Jesus for three long years to prepare them for it.

Let us not be unduly discouraged if the transformation we long for does not take place immediately. Let us feel the need and take it to heart. Let us continue to be steadfast in prayer. Let us stand fast in faith.

The blessing of Pentecost is the birthright of the church, the pledge of our inheritance, and something that belongs to us here on earth. Faith can never be put to shame. Cleaving to Jesus with purpose of heart can never be in vain. The hour will surely come when, if we believe perseveringly in Him, out of our hearts "will flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38).

~Andrew Murray~

(continued with # 6 - How the Blessing Is Hindered

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Experiencing the Holy Spirit # 4

Experiencing the Holy Spirit # 4

How The Blessing Was Bestowed From Heaven

"If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever; the Spirit of truth." (John 14:15-17)

A tree always lives according to the nature of the seed from which it grew. Every living being is always guided and governed by the nature that it received at its birth. The church received the promise and her growth by the Holy Spirit on the day of her birth. It is important for us to turn back often to the Day of Pentecost and not to rest until we thoroughly understand, receive, and experience what God did for His people on that Day. The hearts of the disciples were ready to receive the Spirit. Now we know what we must do to enjoy the same blessing. The first disciples serve as our examples on the way to the fullness of the Spirit.

What enabled them to become the recipients of these heavenly gifts? What made them acceptable vessels for the habitation of God? The right answer to these questions will help us on the way to being filled with the Holy Spirit.

A Personal Relationship

First, the disciples were deeply attached to the Lord Jesus. The Son of God came into the world in order to unite the divine life, which He had with the Father, with the life of man. In this way, the life of God could penetrate the life of the creature. When He had completed the work by His obedience, death, and resurrection, He was exalted to the throne of God on high. This was done in order that, in spiritual power, His disciples and church might participate in His very own life. We read that the Holy Spirit "was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified" (John 7:39). In was only after His glorification that the Spirit of the complete indwelling of God in man could be given. It is the Spirit of the glorified Jesus that the disciples received on the Day of Pentecost. His Spirit penetrated all the members of His body.

If the fullness of the Spirit dwells in Jesus, a personal relationship with Him is the first condition for the reception of the full gift of the Comforter. It was to attain this end that the Lord Jesus kept the disciples in close fellowship with Himself. He desired to attach them to Himself. He wanted them to truly feel at one with Him. He wanted them to identify themselves with Him, as far as this was possible. By knowledge, love, and obedience, they became inwardly knit to Him. This was the preparation for participating in the Spirit of His glorification.

The lesson that it taught here is extremely simple, but it is one of profound significance. Many Christians believe in the Lord, are zealous in His service, and eagerly desire to become holy, yet they do not succeed in their endeavor. It often seems as if they could not understand the promise of the Spirit. The thought of being filled with the Spirit exercises little influence on them.

The reason is obvious. They lack the personal relationship to the Lord Jesus, the inward attachment to Him, the perfectly natural reference to Him as their best and nearest Friend, as the beloved Lord, that was so characteristic of the disciples. This is absolutely indispensable. Only a heart that is entirely occupied with the Lord Jesus and depends entirely on Him can hope for the fullness of the Spirit.

They Left All For Jesus

"Nothing for nothing." This proverb contains a deep truth. A thing that costs me nothing may nevertheless cost me much. it may bring me under an obligation to the giver and so cost me more than it is worth. I may have so much trouble in taking hold of it and keeping it that I may pay much more for it than the price that should be asked for it. "Nothing for nothing."

This maxim also holds good in the life of the kingdom of heaven. The parables of the "treasure hidden in a field" (Matt. 13:44) and the "pearl of great price" (v. 46) teach us that, in order to obtain possession of the kingdom within us, we must sell all that we have. This is the renunciation that Jesus literally demanded of the disciples who followed Him. This is the requirement He so often repeated in His preaching: "Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple" (Luke 14:33).

The two worlds between which we stand are in direct conflict with one another. The world we live in exercises such a mighty influence over us that it is often necessary for us to withdraw from it. Jesus trained His disciples to long for what is heavenly. Only then could He prepare them to desire and receive the heavenly gift with an undivided heart.

The Lord has left us no outward directions as to how much of the world we are to abandon or in what manner we are to do so. In His Word He teaches us that without sacrifice, without a deliberate separation from the world, we will never make much progress in grace. The spirit of this world has penetrated into us so deeply that we do not observe it. We share in its desire for comfort and enjoyment, for self-pleasing and self-exaltation, without our knowing how impossible these things make it for us to be filled with the Spirit.

Let us learn from the early disciples that, to be filled entirely separate from the children of this world or from worldly Christians. We must be willing to live as entirely different people, who literally represent heaven on earth, because we have received the Spirit of the King of heaven.

Recognizing Your Enemies

Man has two great enemies by whom the devil tempts him and with whom he has to contend. The one is the world outside, and the other is the self-life within. This last, the selfish ego, is much more dangerous and stronger than the first. It is quite possible for a man to have made much progress in forsaking the world while the self-life retains full dominion within him.

You see this fact illustrated in the case of the disciples. Peter could say with truth, "See, we have left all and followed You" (Matt. 19:27). Yet how manifestly did the selfish ego, with its self-pleasing and its self-confidence, still retain its full sway over him.

The Lord led the disciples to the point of forsaking their outward possessions and following Him. He also began to teach them that a disciple must deny himself and lose his own life if he wishes to be worthy of receiving His life. It was mans love for his self-life that hindered the Lord Jesus from doing His work in mans heart. It cost man more to be redeemed from the selfish ego within him than to withdraw from the world around him. The self-life is the natural life of sinful man. He can be liberated from it by nothing except death - that is, by first dying to it and then living in the strength of the new life that comes from God. [or, forget "self", just forget pleasing "me". Let Christ be our life]

The forsaking of the world began at the outset of the three years discipleship. At the end of that period, at the Cross of Jesus, dying to the self-life first took place. When they saw Him die, they learned to despair of themselves and of everything on which they had previously based their hope. Whether they had thought of their Lord and the expected redemption or of themselves and their shameful unfaithfulness toward Him, they tended to be filled with despair over everything. Little did they know that this despair would break up their hard hearts, mortifying their self-life and confidence in themselves. This death to self enabled them to receive something entirely new - namely, a divine life through the Spirit of the glorified Jesus in the innermost depths of their souls.

Oh, that we understood better that nothing hampers us as much as secret reliance on ourselves. On the other hand, nothing brings as much blessing as entire despair of ourselves and all that is on the earth, teaching us to turn our hearts wholly to heaven and partake of the heavenly gift.

The Unheard Of Wonder

The disciples received and held fast the promise of the Spirit given by the Lord Jesus.

In His farewell address, Jesus comforted His disciples in their sorrow over His departure with one great promise - namely, the mission of the Holy Spirit from heaven. Better than His bodily presence among them, it would be to them the full fruit and the power of His redemption. The divine life - He Himself with the Father - was to make its abode within them. They were to know they were in Him and He in them. At His ascension from the Mount of Olives, this promise of the Spirit was the last subject He addressed to them.

It is evident the disciples had little idea of what this promise signified. But however defective their understanding was, they held it fast; or rather, the promise held them fast and would not let them go. They all had only one thought: "Something has been promised to us by our Lord; it will give us a share in His heavenly power and glory; we know for certain that it is coming." What the thing itself was or what their experience of it was to be, they could give no account. It was enough for them that they had the word of the Lord. He wold make it a blessed reality within them.

The same disposition is needed now. To us also, even as to them, has the word of the Lord come concerning the Spirit who is to descend from the throne in the power of His glorified life.

"He who believes in Me ... out of his heart will flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38). For us also the one thing needed is to hold fast to that word, to set our whole desire on the fulfillment of it, and to lay aside all else until we inherit the promise. The word from the mouth of Jesus concerning the reception of the Spirit in such measure that we be endued with power from on high, must fill us with strong desire and with firm, joyful assurance.

They waited on the Father until the fulfillment of the promise came and they were filled with the Spirit.

The ten days of waiting were for them days in which they were continually praising and blessing God and continuing in prayer and supplication. It is not enough for us to try to strengthen desire and to hold fast our confidence. The principle thing is to set ourselves in close and abiding contact with God. The blessing must come from God; God Himself must give it to us. We are to receive the gift directly from Him. What is promised is to us is a wonderful work of divine omnipotence and love. What we desire is the personal occupancy and indwelling of God the Holy Spirit. God Himself must give this personally to us.

A man gives another a piece of bread or a piece of money. He gives it away and has nothing further to do with it. It is not so with God's gift of the Holy Spirit. No, the Spirit of God. God is in the Spirit is the most personal act of the Godhead. It is the gift of Himself to us. We have to receive it in the closest, personal contact with God.

The clearer the insight we obtain into this principle the more deeply we will feel how little we can do to grasp the blessing by our own desiring or believing. The goodness of God alone must give it. His omnipotence must work it into us. Our disposition must be one of silent assurance that the Father desires to give it to us and will not keep us waiting one moment longer than is absolutely necessary. Every soul that persists in waiting will be filled with the glory of God.

Every tree grows from the root out of which it first springs. The Day of Pentecost was the planting of the Christian church, and the Holy Spirit became the power of its life. Let us turn back to that experience and learn from the disciples what is really necessary. Attachment to Jesus, the abandonment of everything in the world for Him, despair of self and of all help from man, holding onto the word of promise, and then waiting on the living God - this is the sure way of living in the joy and power of the Holy Spirit.

~Andrew Murray~

(continued with # 5 - How Little The Blessing Is Enjoyed

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Experiencing the Holy Spirit # 3

How Glorious The Blessing Is

"They were all filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:4)

Whenever we speak of being filled with the Holy Spirit and desire to know precisely what it is, our thoughts always turn back to the Day of Pentecost. How glorious the blessing is that is brought from heaven by the Holy Spirit!

One fact makes the great event of the Day of Pentecost doubly instructive - namely, that, by their three-year relationship with the Lord Jesus, we have learned to know intimately the men who were then filled with the Spirit. Their weaknesses, defects, sins, and perversities all stand open to our view.

The blessing of Pentecost brought about a complete transformation. They became entirely new men, so that one could say of them with truth, "Old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17). Close study of them and their example will help us in more than one way. It shows us to what weak and sinful men the Spirit will come. It teaches us how they were prepared for the blessing. It teaches us also - and this is the principle thing - how mighty and complete the transformation is when the Holy Spirit is received in His fullness. It lets us see how glorious is the grace that awaits us if we diligently search for spiritual excellence through the full blessing of Pentecost. 

Blessings of the Pentecostal Life

The ever-abiding presence and indwelling of the Lord Jesus is the first and principle blessing of the Pentecostal life. In the course of our Lord's dealings with His disciples on earth, He spared no pains to teach and train them or to renew and sanctify them. In most respects, however, they remained just what they were. The reason was that, up to this point, He was still nothing more than an external Christ who stood outside of them and from the outside sought to work on them by His Word and His personal influence.

With the advent of Pentecost, this condition was entirely changed. In the Holy Spirit, He came down as the indwelling Christ to become the life of their lives. He had promised this in the words, "I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you ... At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you" (John 14:18, 20).

This was the source of all the other blessings that came with Pentecost. Jesus Christ, the Crucified, came in spiritual power to impart to them the ever-abiding presence of their Lord in a way that was intimate and all-powerful. Him whom they had had in the flesh, living with them on earth, they now received by the Spirit in His heavenly glory within them. Instead of an outward Jesus near them, they now obtained the inward Jesus with them.

From this first and principle blessing sprang the second: the Spirit of Jesus came into them as the life and the power of sanctification. Often the Lord had to rebuke the disciples for their pride and exhort them to humility. It was all of no avail. Even on the last night of His earthly life, at the table of the Holy Supper, there was strife among them as to which of them should be the greatest (Luke 22:24).

The outward teaching of the outward Christ, whatever other influences it may have exercised, was not sufficient to redeem them from the power of indwelling sin. This could be achieved only by the indwelling Christ. Only when Jesus descended into them by the Holy Spirit did they undergo a complete change. They received Him in His heavenly humility and subjection to the Father and in His self-sacrifice for others. From that point, all was changed. From that moment on, they were animated by the spirit of the meek and lowly Jesus.

Many Christians keep their minds occupied only with the external Christ on the Cross. They wait for the blessing of His teaching and His working without understanding that the blessing of Pentecost brings Him into us. This is why they make so little progress in sanctification. Christ Himself is our sanctification (1 Corinthians 1:30).

Living the Life of Love

A heart overflowing with the love of God is also a part of the blessing of Pentecost. Next to pride, a lack of love was the sin for which the Lord had often rebuked His disciples. These two sins have the same root: the desire for pleasing self. The new commandment that He gave them, by which all men would know that they were His disciples, was their love for one another.

This was gloriously manifested on the Day of Pentecost when the Spirit of the Lord poured out His love in the hearts of His own. Romans 5:5) "The multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul" (Acts 4:32). All things they possessed were held in common. No one said that anything he had was his own. The kingdom of heaven, with its life of love, had come down to them. The spirit, the disposition, and the wonderful love of Jesus filled them because He Himself had come into them.

The mighty working of the Spirit and the indwelling of the Lord Jesus are bound together with a life of love. This appears in the prayer of Paul on behalf of the Ephesians. He asked that they might be strengthened with power by the Spirit in order that Christ might dwell in their hearts (Ephesians 3:17). Then he quickly made this addition: "That you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints ... the love ... which passes knowledge" (vv. 17-19).

The filling with the Spirit and the indwelling of Christ bring a life that has its root, its joy, its power, and its evidence in love because Christ is love. If the filling with the Spirit was recognized as the blessing that the Father promised us, the love of God would fill the church, and the world would be convinced she has received a heavenly element into her life.

Obtaining Courage and Power

We know how Peter denied his Lord and how all the disciples fled and forsook Him. Their hearts were really attached to the Lord,and they were sincerely willing to do what they had promised and go to die with Him. But when it came to the crisis, they had neither the courage nor the power. After the blessing of the Spirit of Pentecost, it was no longer a matter of willing apart from performing. By Christ indwelling in us, God works both the willing and the doing (Phil. 2:13).

On the Day of Pentecost, Peter preached about Jesus to thousands of hostile Jews. With boldness and in opposition to the leaders of the people, he was able to say, "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). With courage and joy, Stephen, Paul, and many others were enabled to encounter threats, suffering, and death. They did this triumphantly because the Spirit of Christ - the Victor, Christ Himself - had been glorified and now dwelt within them. The joy of the blessing of Pentecost gives courage and power to speak for Jesus because it fills the whole heart with Him.

The blessing of Pentecost makes the Word of God new. We see this fact distinctly in the case of the disciples. As with all the Jews of that age, their ideas of the Messiah and the kingdom of God were external and carnal. All the instruction of the Lord Jesus throughout three long years could not change their way of thinking. They were unable to comprehend the doctrine of a suffering and dying Messiah or the hope of His invisible spiritual dominion. Even after His resurrection, He had to rebuke them for their unbelieving spirit and their inability to understand the Scriptures.

With the coming of the Day of Pentecost, an entire change took place. Their ancient Scriptures opened up before them. The light of the Holy Spirit in them illuminated the Word. In the preaching of Peter and Stephen and in the addresses of Paul and James, we see how a divine light had shone on the Old Testament. They saw everything through the Spirit of this Jesus who had made His abode within them.

So it will be with us. It is necessary to meditate on the Scriptures and keep the Word of God in our thoughts, hearts, and daily walks. Let us, however, constantly remember that only when we are filled with the Spirit can we fully experience the spiritual power and truth of the Word. He is "the Spirit of truth" (John 16:13). He alone guides us into all truth when He dwells in us.

Power to Bless Others

The divine power of the exalted Jesus to grant repentance and the forgiveness of sins is exercised by Him through His servants. The minister of the Gospel who desires to preach repentance and forgiveness through Jesus and have success in winning souls must do the work in the power of the Spirit of Jesus. Much preaching of conversion and pardon is fruitless because these elements of truth are presented only as doctrine.

Some preachers try to reach the hearts of their audience in the power of mere human earnestness, reasoning,and eloquence. But little blessing is won by these means. The man whose chief desire is to be filled with the Spirit of the indwelling Christ can be assured that the glorified Lord will speak and work in him. He will obtain the blessing - not always in the same manner, but it will always certainly come.

In preaching and in the daily life of a servant of Christ, the full blessing of Pentecost is the sure way of becoming a blessing to others. Jesus said, "He who believes in Me ... out of his heart will flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38). This refers to the Holy Spirit. A heart filled with the Spirit will overflow with the Spirit.

It is the blessing of Pentecost that will make the church what God wants her to be.

I have spoken of what the Spirit will do in individual believers. Think of what the blessing will be when the church as a whole answers her calling to be filled with the Spirit and exhibits the life, the power, and the very presence of her Lord to the world. We must not only seek and receive this blessing, each person for himself, but we must also remember that the full manifestation of the blessing cannot be given until the whole body of Christ receives it. "If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it" (1 Corinthians 12:26).

If many members of the church of Christ are content to remain without this blessing, the whole church will suffer. Even in individual  disciples, the blessing will not come to its full manifestation. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that we not only think of what being filled with the Spirit means for ourselves, but also consider what it will do for the church.

Will You Separate Yourself?

Recall the morning of the Day of Pentecost. At that time, the Christian church in Jerusalem consisted only of  one hundred and twenty disciples, most of them poor, uneducated fishermen, tax collectors, and humble women, an insignificant and despised gathering. Yet it was by these believers that the kingdom of God had to be proclaimed and extended, and they did it.

By them and those who were added to them, the power of Jewish prejudice and of pagan hardness of heart was overcome, and the church of Christ won glorious triumphs. This grand result was achieved simply and only because the first Christian church was filled with the Spirit. The members of it gave themselves wholly to their Lord. They allowed themselves to be filled, consecrated, governed, and used only by Him. They yielded themselves to Him as instruments of His power. He dwelt in them and used them for all His wondrous deeds.

It is to this same experience that the church of Christ in our age must be brought back. This is the only thing that will help her in the conflict with sin and the world. She must be filled with the Spirit.

Beloved fellow Christians, this call comes to you and the whole church of the Lord. This one thing is needed: we have to be filled with the Spirit. Do no imagine that you must understand it all before you seek to find it. For those who wait on Him, God will do more than they can imagine. You must taste the happiness and know by personal experience the blessedness of having Jesus in your heart. Then His Spirit of holiness and humility, of love and self-sacrifice, and of courage and power will become as natural as your own spirit.

If you have the Word of God in you, you will be able to carry it as a blessing to others. If you desire to see the church of Christ arrayed in her first splendor, then separate yourselves from everything that is evil, cast it out of your hearts, and focus your desire on this one thing: to be filled with the Spirit of God. Receive this blessing as your rightful heritage. Take hold of it and hold on to it by faith. It will certainly be given to you.

~Andrew Murray~

(continued with # 4 - How The Blessing Was Bestowed From Heaven