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