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