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Monday, November 28, 2016

The Letter Killeth

The Letter Killeth

"During the affliction I was brought to examine my life in relation to eternity closer than I had done when in the enjoyment of health. In this examination relative to the discharge of my duties toward my fellow creatures as a man, a Christian minister, and an officer of the Church. I stood approved by my own conscience; but in relation to my Redeemer and Saviour the result was different. My returns of gratitude and loving obedience bear no proportion to my obligations for redeeming, preserving, and supporting me through the vicissitudes of life from infancy to old age. The coldness of my love to Him who first loved me and has done so much for me overwhelmed and confused me; and to complete my unworthy character, I had not only neglected to improve the grace given to the extent of my duty and privilege, but for want of improvement had, while abounding in perplexing care and labor, declined from first zeal and love. I was confounded, humbled myself, implored mercy, and renewed my covenant to strive and devote myself unreservedly to the Lord. Bishop McKendree.

The preaching that kills may be, and often is, orthodox - dogmatically, inviolably orthodox. We love orthodoxy. It is good. It is the best. It is the clean-cut teaching of God's Word, the trophies won by truth in its conflict with error, the levees which faith has raised against the desolating floods of honest or reckless misbelief or unbelief; but orthodoxy, clear and hard as crystal, suspicious and militant, may be but the letter well-shaped, well-named, and well-learned, the letter which kills. Nothing is so dead as a dead orthodoxy, too dead to speculate, too dead to think, to study, or to pray.

The preaching that kills may have insight and grasp of principles, may be scholarly and  critical in taste, may have every minutia of the derivation and grammar of the letter, may be able to trim the letter into its perfect pattern, and illume it as Plato and Cicero may be illumined, may study it as a lawyer studies his textbooks to form his brief or to defend his case,and yet be like a frost, a killing frost. Letter-preaching may be eloquent, enameled with poetry and therefore, sprinkled with prayer spiced with sensation, illumined by genius and yet these be but the massive or chaste, costly mountings, the rare and beautiful flowers which coffin the corpse. The preaching which kills may be without scholarship, unmarked by any freshness of thought or feeling, clothed in tasteless generalities or vapid specialties, with style irregular, slovenly,savoring neither of closet nor of study, graced neither by thought, expression, or prayer. Under such preaching how wide and utter the desolation! how profound the spiritual death!

This letter preaching deals with the surface and shadow of things, and not the things themselves. It does not penetrate the inner part. It has no deep insight into, no strong grasp of, the hidden life of God's Word. It is true to the outside, but the outside is the hull which must be broken and penetrated for the kernel. The letter may be dressed so as to attract  and be fashionable, but the attraction is not toward God nor is the fashion for heaven. The failure is in the preacher. God has not made him. He has never been in the hands of God like clay in the hands of the potter. He has been busy about the sermon, its thought and finish, its drawing and impressive forces; but the deep things of God have never been sought, studied, fathomed, experienced by him. He has never stood before "the throne high and lifted up," never heard the seraphim song, never seen the vision nor felt the rush of that awful holiness, and cried out in utter abandon and despair under the sense of weakness and guilt, and had his life renewed, his heart touched, purged, inflamed by the live coal from God's altar. His ministry may draw people to him, to the church, to the form and ceremony; but no true drawings to God, no sweet, holy, divine communion induced. The Church has been frescoed but not edified, pleased but not sanctified. Life is suppressed; a chill is on the summer air; the soil is baked. The city of our God becomes the city of the dead; the Church a graveyard, not an embattled army. Praise and prayer are stifled; worship is dead. The preacher and the preaching have helped sin, not holiness; peopled hell, not heaven.

Preaching which kills is prayerless preaching. Without prayer the preacher creates death, and not life. The preacher who is feeble in prayer is feeble in life-giving forces. The preacher who has retired prayer as a conspicuous and largely  prevailing element in his own character has shorn is preaching of its distinctive life-giving power. Professional praying there is and will be, but professional praying helps the preaching to its deadly work. Professional praying chills and kills both preaching and praying. Much of the lax devotion and lazy, irreverent attitudes  in congregational praying are attributable to professional praying in the pulpit. Long, discursive, dry, and inane are the prayers in many pulpits. Without unction or heart, they fall like a killing frost on all the graces of worship. Death-dealing prayers they are. Every vestige of devotion has perished under their breath. The deader they are the longer they grow. A plea for short praying, live praying, real heart praying, praying by the Holy Spirit - direct, specific, ardent, simple, unctuous in the pulpit - is in order. A school to teach preachers how to pray, as God counts praying, would be more beneficial to true piety, true worship, and true preaching than all theological schools.

Stop! Pause! Consider! Where are we? What are we doing?Preaching to kill? Praying to kill? Praying to God! the great God, the Maker of all worlds, the Judge of all men! What reverence! what simplicity! what sincerity! what truth in the inward parts is demanded! How real we must be! How hearty! Prayer to God the noblest exercise, the loftiest effort of man, the most real thing! Shall we not discard forever accursed preaching that kills and prayer that kills, and do the real thing, the mightiest thing - prayerful praying, life-creating preaching, bring the mightiest force to bear on heaven and earth and draw on God's exhaustless and open treasure for the need and the estate of man's extreme poverty?

~E. M. Bounds~

(The End)

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Crucified With Christ

Crucified With Christ

"I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).

"God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing nor uncircumcision, but a new creature" (Galatians 6:14, 15).

These last words the Apostle Paul sums up his important letter to the churches of Galatia, and he emphasizes the great sum and substance, the essence and marrow of the Gospel of Christ, and of true Christianity. This is utterly and entirely opposed to the world and to the world's religion. The world is that which is opposed to the Father (1 John 2:16). The world has always been willing to support religion, and even Christianity, provided it has been allowed to alter it, and adapt it, (like watering it down), and put its own marks upon it. And in all ages Christians have been willing to comply with this condition, and have allowed its sacred deposits to be tampered with.

To such Paul says, "As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the Cross of Christ" (Galatians 6:12). It was the fear of the world that constrained Christians to submit to circumcision. They allowed themselves to be made bad Jews lest they should be persecuted for being good Christians. "Marvel not," said Christ, "if the world hate you"; but His followers grew weary of being despised and hated, and so they listened to the world's overtures of peace, and accepted the world's terms to gain for themselves the world's security and laxury. But the world has ever broken its promise, and will yet break it more and more! "The friendship of the world is enmity with God." We cannot purchase peace with the world without losing peace with God. Its last work will be to strip and destroy that church, which has purchased peace at the cost of disobedience to the Lord and by compliance with the requirements of man!

Paul's counsel here is, that mere religion without Christ is nothing, is useless, is worthless. Circumcision is useless without Christ, and uncircumcision is useless without Christ, i.e., the old nature in any shape is nothing. Man's thought ever is that it is something, that something can be made of it. Hence no effort has been spared. In one age restraint has been tried, in another, liberty. In one age discipline cuts it down, in another, indulgence lets it grow. One school advises, and tries monasticism, another believes in the development of man, but no modification of the natural man will suffice; it must be a "new creation" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

We Must Be Made New

Man must be made over again, made new. This is the great point on which the Apostle lays such stress here. He says, "From henceforth let no man trouble!me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus" (Galatians 6:17). There is a double reference in his words, when translated more closely, "Administer not to me your cuts." I need them not, I am crucified with Christ. It is not marks nor brands made by man upon the flesh that we want, but it is the brands of the Lord Jesus. He was crucified for us, "wounded for our iniquities," and those who are crucified with Christ have His marks on them, and to such can be said, "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit (verse 18). This is the cry from Heaven to all who are crucified with Christ, this "grace" in them and with them is the "mark" and "brand" which the world will never countenance and approve.

The world threatens with loss all who are thus marked as the Lord's. But what says He to such? "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you." "God shall supply all your need." We need not fear about not pleasing the world; Christ takes all excuses away."Take no thought, saying, 'What shall we eat? or 'what shall we drink' or 'wherewithal shall we be clothed?' Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself" (Matthew 6:31, 34). This is godliness, and godliness has the promise of this life as well as of that which is to come.

Thus we see that the Apostle's argument is based on the declaration of our Lord. We see that the only thing we can really glory in is the Cross of Christ, by which we are crucified to the world, because we are crucified with Christ, and this may mean perils and hardships. But there is a very important point connected with this matter -and it is, that it is a very personal and individual concern. The Apostle says, "I and Me." "I am crucified with Christ - He gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20). This is the glory of the Gospel. The world talks about "man," and would deify "man"; but God, while he has condemned "man," saves "men." Men lose themselves in masses, and attempt to hide themselves in the multitude; but so soon as God speaks He separates one from the other, and deals with individual souls.

The Gospel does not deal with the masses as such; it takes out from the masses "a people for His name." The Cross stands out in relation to all who are crucified with Christ. It is not that you have been born in a land where the Cross is honored; it is not I that you have relations with a church that holds forth the Cross; it is not that you wear a cross, but that you are in living vital union with the crucified, so that you may say, "I have been crucified with Christ." Oh, what a wonderful expression! What a mysterious truth, when a lost sinner comes into the vital experience of it!  Then for him these 1,800 years are blotted out, and he counts himself as being on Calvary in Christ. So real is this great truth that the very crucifixion scene becomes part of our experience. In God's sight, in the Divine view, the saved sinner is identified with Christ. Everything he gets from God is in Christ. He is "chosen in Christ," accepted in Christ, redeemed in Christ, and represented by Christ. Not only is this great fact and truth for every saved sinner, but in measure and in part the very experiences of Christ are ours. There is a sense in which they become true in our experience.

Take first, His rejection. He was "rejected of men," not rejected of the Father! No. We must make the distinction which the Scripture of truth makes. Not as is commonly said that the Father hid His face from the Son, but it was God against "man." "Awake, O sword, against ...the man that is My fellow" (Zechariah 13:7) - "against the man," not against "My Son." "The Son of Man" was "rejected of men," and the penitent soul, the sin-convicted sinner, has this experience. The first thought of such as one is, "I am accursed before God." Never before has the sinner known the terrible weight of Divine rejection till the Holy Law of the Holy God is written by the Holy Spirit on the fleshy tables of his heart. He that has been crucified with Christ enters into the real positions and in measure and in part into the experience of the darkness which overspread the heavens when Christ as "man" hung upon the Cross, being made a curse for us. The death due by the law is realized by such a one; conscience is now for the first time awakened; sin now for the first time is seen as that which separates from God; and the sinner loathes himself, as he thus enters into the first experience of what it is to be crucified with Christ.


But, secondly, there is, thank God, another experience. There is another view of the Cross of Christ, a Divine view, that of "acceptance." If at His baptism and transfiguration the testimony of heaven was, "My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased," surely it was so here when that Beloved One was accepted; for the holiness of God was then vindicated, the law of God was then honored, the majesty of God was then magnified, and the same words are pronounced over every sinner who can say, "I have been crucified with Christ." The Father in heaven declares of Him and of every such a one, "My beloved son, in whom I am well pleased," and this, just because he is "accepted in the Beloved." Oh what a mighty reality there is in this great truth! How great the merits of this Saviour who has thus stood in the sinner's place, that the sinner might stand in His! No wonder that of all such the Holy Spirit has written, "There is now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." What a perfect satisfaction do we present! Who can measure the glorious answer to the law, the vindication of God's holiness, which the man (who a little while ago was a poor forlorn outcast sinner) brings before God, as soon as by grace he is enabled to say, "I have been crucified with Christ." Ah, this is light that will dissipate our darkness: all our bondage and fear would be instantly gone if we could only realize what it means to be "crucified with Christ."

His Words Become Ours

But more than this is contained in the truth: not only Christ's acts and position are ours, but "His Words" and utterances become in part ours. We know what it is to cry, "My God, my God, why has Thou forsaken me?" It is our cry of felt helplessness; it says, if God should cast us out for ever, "just and true is He." No reason can we find in ourselves, no ground for our acceptance can we find in our past living or present feelings. If saved at all, it must be by grace, and grace alone; and it shows that even this cry is the result of life which has been given; for though we cry, we say "My God." This is the beginning of the end, all else is assured when we can say "my God." But the full measure of our absolute unworthiness is never experienced by us until this life and light has been imparted. It was when God said, "Let there be light," that ruin and desolation was seen at its worst, and so it is with the sinner. Talk not about repentance or contrition as a preparation for coming to Christ, for if we "have been crucified with Christ," we will surely experience the horror of this great darkness, but it will be coupled with hope. "My God." Then another cry, "It is finished." What a blessed confession is this for Christ and for us! He who is crucified with Christ may take it upon his lips, and claim it as his own. His salvation is finished, the work is complete and perfect, nothing can be put to it nothing can be taken from it. Of course, if we mean to be saved by our own merits it will never be finished, and if we hesitate to say this, it is a proof that we are trusting to our own merits. If we are seeking to be saved by anything we can produce, our rest will always be unrest. But if saved by Christ, in Christ, with Christ, "for Christ's sake," then it is presumption if we do not admit to their fullest extent such statements as these, "He that believeth hath everlasting life," "is passed from death unto life," "shall not come into condemnation." It is not presumption to claim these words, but it is presumption, and unbelief too, if we hesitate as saved sinners to confess them. Come, all ye that are going about to establish your own righteousness, all ye that are seeking some other way to the glory of God, listen to this joyful sound of a finished salvation for all who have been crucified with Christ.

The World and the Crucified

We cannot follow all the other thoughts which gather around "Christ Crucified," but there are two other facts that we must not omit. The Apostle says, "By whom the world is crucified to me, and I unto the world" (Galatians 6:14).

1. What is the relation of the world to the crucified? Ah, it wore a very solemn aspect as the Crucified looked upon it, and he who is crucified with Christ sees it in the same way (in part and in measure). This is more than a figure. What did Paul mean when he said, "If ye be dead with Christ" - and "Ye are dead"? Not that we are actually dead, but "judicially" dead in God's sight, and therefore we are so to "reckon" ourselves. "If ye be dead with Christ," says the Apostle. "If ye then be risen with Christ, set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth, for ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God" (Colossians 2:20; 3:1-3). What does this language imply? We are to be blind and deaf and indifferent to the world, as was Christ upon the Cross. We are "in" the world, indeed, but rejected by it, not "of" it. All the hum and distracting noises fell upon unheeding ears,as they rose from Jerusalem and were wafted by the winds towards Calvary! If we are crucified with Christ we shall know something of this experience; only remember always that it is the "effect" and not the "cause" of being thus crucified. We cannot crucify our selves, we cannot make ourselves dead. How did the Lord Jesus pray? "I pray not that Thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldst keep them from the evil" (John 17:15). "Let me see life,"says the man of the world, and he plunges into sin. "Let me see life,"says the saved sinner, and he separates himself from sin. He only "lives" who is crucified and risen with Christ.

Joy and the Crucified

2. Those who are crucified with Christ know something of His sustaining joy. We are not left to imagine what this was, but we know that "For the joy that was set before Him He endured the Cross, despising the shame" (Hebrews 12:2). Great were His sufferings, but greater still His joy. So it will be with us. This alone will support those who have been crucified with Christ. We shall never know the measure of His sorrow, but we shall know something of His joy. For a joy is set before us, and it will enable us to despise the shame and endure the suffering, and confess that "The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18). "Our light affliction which is but for a moment worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (2 Corinthians 4:17). Only those who have been crucified with Christ can truly say, "I live" (Galatians 2:20), and I have the blessed hope of everlasting life. Can we say this? If we cannot, "What is our life?" Your life which you are living for yourselves? Let us not call this "life." Let us not call our sinful pleasures joy. For what is our experience? Is it not a consciousness of a disappointed present, and a future without hope? Is it not a heart unsatisfied with earthly objects? Is it not a will at cross purposes with God's will? Do we call this "life"? Nay, call it what it is, "death." Not dead with Christ, not dead to sin, but dead in "sins."

May this testimony for the Crucified One quicken us together with Christ, that we may be able to say, "I have been crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now life in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loveth me, and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).

~E. W. Bullinger~

(The End)

Friday, November 18, 2016

Experiencing the Holy Spirit # 13

Experiencing the Holy Spirit # 13

The Key to the Secret

"Then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all" (1 Corinthians 15:28)

When we speak of entire consecration, we are frequently asked what the precise distinction is between the ordinary doctrine of sanctification and the preaching of the gracious work that has begun to prevail in the church in recent years. One answer that may be given is that the distinction lies solely in the little word "all." This word is the key to the secret. The ordinary method of proclaiming the necessity of holiness is true as far as it goes, but sufficient emphasis is not laid on this one point of the "all."

Why, then, is the fullness of the Spirit not more widely enjoyed? That little word "all" suggests the explanation. As long as the "all" of God, of sin, of Christ, of surrender, of the Spirit, and of faith is not fully understood, the soul cannot enjoy all that God wants it to be.

Let us consider the full Pentecostal blessing from this standpoint. Do this in a spirit of humble waiting on God and with the prayer that He will make us, by His Spirit, feel where the evil lies and what the remedy is. Then we will be ready to give up everything in order to receive nothing less than everything.

The All of God

The answer lies in the very being and nature of God that He must be all. "Of Him and through Him and to Him are all things" (Romans 11:36). As God, He is the life of everything. Everything that exists serves as a means for the manifestation of the goodness, wisdom, and power of God in His direct and continuous operation.

Sin consists in nothing but the fact that man determined to be something and would not allow God to be everything. The redemption of Jesus has no other aim than that God should again become everything in our hearts and lives. In the end, even the Son will be subjected to the Father so that God may be all in all. Nothing less than this is what redemption is to secure. Christ Himself has shown in His life what it means to be nothing and to allow God to be everything. As He once lived on the earth, so does He still live in the hearts of His people. According to the measure in which they receive the truth that God is all, the fullness of the blessing will be able to find its way into their lives.

The all of God - this is what we must seek. In His will, His honor, and His power, He must be everything for us. There should be no word of our lips, no movement of our hearts, no satisfying of the needs of our physical lives, that is not the expression of the will, glory, and power of God. Only the man who discerns this and consents to it can rightly understand what the fullness of the Spirit must bring about and why it is necessary for us to forsake everything if we desire to obtain it. God must be not merely something, not merely much, but literally all.

The All of Sin

What is sin? It is separation from God. Where man is guided by his own will, his own honor, or his own power; where the will, the honor, and the operation of God are not manifested, sin must be at work. Sin is death and misery because it is a turning away from God to the creature.

Sin is in no sense a thing that may exist in man along with other things that are good. No, as God was once everything, so has sin in fallen man become everything. It now dominates and penetrates his whole being, even as God should have been allowed to do. Every part of his nature is corrupt. We still have our natural existence in God. All is in sin and under the influence of sin.

The all of sin - some small measure of the knowledge of this fact was necessary even at the time of conversion. This, however, was still very imperfect. If a Christian is to make progress and become fully convinced of the necessity of being filled with the Spirit, his eyes must be opened to the extent in which sin dominates everything within him.

Everything in him is tainted with sin, and therefore the omnipotence of God must take in hand the renewal of everything by the Holy Spirit. Man is utterly powerless to do what is good than what the Spirit actually works in him at any moment. He learns also to see the all of sin just as distinctly in the world around him. Everything must be sacrificed and given over to death.

All of God must expel the all of sin. God must again live wholly and entirely within us and continually take the place that sin usurped. He who desires this change will rightly understand and desire the fullness of the Spirit, and as he believes he will certainly receive it.

The All of Christ

The Son is the revelation of the Father - the all of God is exhibited to our view and made accessible to us in the Son. On this account, the all of Christ is just as necessary and infinite as that of God. Christ is God come upon the earth to undo the all of sin, to win back and restore in man the lost all of God. To this end we must thoroughly know the all of Christ.

The idea that most believing disciples have of the all of Christ is that He alone does everything in the atonement and the forgiveness of sin. This is indeed the glorious beginning of His redemptive work, but still only the beginning. God has given in Him all that we have need of life and grace. Christ Himself desires to be our life and strength, the Indweller of our hearts, who animates our hearts and makes them what they ought to be before God. To know the all of Christ and to understand how Christ is prepared to be everything in us is the secret of true sanctification. He who discerns the will of God in this principle and yields himself to its operation has found the pathway to the full blessing of Pentecost.

Acknowledge the all of Christ in humble, joyful thanksgiving. Confess that everything has been given by God in Him. Receive with firm confidence the fact that Christ is all and the promise that He will work all, yes, all in you. Consent from the heart that this must be so, and confirm it by laying everything at His feet and offering it up to Him. The two things go together: let Him be and do all, and let Him reign and rule over all. Let there be nothing in which He does not rule and operate. It is not impossible for you to accomplish this change. Let Him be everything; let Him have everything in order that by His almighty energy He may fill everything with Himself.

The All of Surrender

Leave all, sell all, forsake all - this was the Lord's requirement when He was here on earth. The requirement is still in force. The chief hindrance of the Christian life is that, because men do not believe that Christ is all, they consequently never think of the necessity of giving Him all.

Everything must be given to Him, because everything is under sin. He cannot cleanse and keep a thing when it is not yielded up to Him so that He can take full possession of it and fill it. All must be given up to Him, because He alone can bring the all of God to its rightful supremacy within us. Even what appears useful or lawful or innocent becomes defiled by the stain of our selfishness when it is held fast in our own possession and for our own enjoyment. We must surrender it into the hands and the power of Christ; only there can it be sanctified.

The all of surrender - it is because Christians are so ignorant of this requirement that all their praying and hearing avail so little. If you are really prepared to turn to God for the fullness of the Spirit and to have your heart purified and kept pure, then be assured that it is your blessed privilege to regard and deal with everything - everything that you have to strive for or do - as given up to Him. The all of surrender will be the measure of your experience of the all of Christ.

In a preceding chapter we have seen that surrender may be carried out at once and as a whole. Let us not merely think of this, but actually do it. Yes, this very day, let the all of Christ be the power of a surrender on our part that will be immediate, complete, and everlasting.

The All of the Spirit

The all of God and the all of Christ demand as a necessary consequence the all of the Spirit. It is the work of the Spirit to glorify the Son as dwelling in us and by Him to reveal the Father. How can He do this if He Himself is not all and does not penetrate all with His own power? To be filled with the Spirit, to let the Spirit have all, is indispensable to a true, healthy Christian life.

It is a source of great loss in the life of Christendom today that the truth is not discerned that the triune God must have all. Even the professing Christian often makes it his very first aim to find out what he is and what he brings in God in the second place to secure this happiness. The claim of God is not the primary or main consideration. He does not discern that God must have him at His disposal even in the most trivial details of his life in order to manifest His divine glory in him. He is not aware that this entire filling with the will and the operation of God would prove to be his highest happiness. He does not know that the very same Christ, who once lived on the earth entirely surrendered to the will of the Father, is prepared to abide and work in like manner in his heart and life now. It is on this account that he can never fully comprehend how necessary it is that the Spirit must be all and must fill him completely.

If these thoughts have had any influence with you, allow yourself to be brought to the acknowledgment that the Spirit must be all in you. Say from the heart, "I am not at liberty to make any, even the least, exception - the Spirit must have all." Then add to this confession the simple thought that Christ has come to restore the all of God, and the Spirit has been given to reveal the all of Christ within us. Remember that the love of the Father is eagerly longing to secure again His own supreme place with us. Then your heart will be filled with the sure confidence that the Father actually gives you the fullness of the Spirit.

The All of Faith

"All things are possible to him who believes" (Mark 9:23). "Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them" (Mark 11:24). The preceding sections of this chapter have taught us to understand why it is that faith is all. It is because God is all. It is because man is nothing and has nothing good in him except the capacity for receiving God. When he becomes a believer, what God reveals becomes of itself a heavenly light that illuminates him. He sees then what God is prepared to be for him, and he keeps his soul silent before God and open to God. He gives God the opportunity to work all by the Spirit. The more unceasingly and undividedly he believes, the more fully the all of God and Christ can prevail and work in him.

The all of faith - how little it is understood in the church that the one and only thing I have to do is to keep my soul open before God so that He may be free to work in me. This faith, as the willing acceptance and expectation of God's working, receives all and can achieve all. Every glance at my own powerlessness or sin, every glance at the promise of God and His power to fulfill it, must rouse me to the gladness of faith on Christ that God is able to work all.

Let such a faith look on Christ today and move you to renounce every known sin and receive Him as One who purifies you. Oh, that faith might receive the all of Christ and take Him with all that He is! Oh, that your faith might see that the all of the Spirit is your rightful heritage and that your hope is sure that the full blessing has been bestowed on you by God Himself!

If the all of God, the all of Christ, and the all of the Spirit are so immeasurable, if the dominion and power of the terrible all of sin is so unlimited, if the all of your surrender to God and your decision to live wholly for Him is so real, then let your faith in what God will do for you also be unlimited. "He who believes in Me ... out of his heart will flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38).

Reader, there is something that can be done today. The Holy Spirit says, "Today, if you will hear His voice: do not harden your hearts" (Psalm 95:7-8). I cannot promise that you will immediately overflow with the light and joy of the Holy Spirit. I do not promise you that you will today feel very holy and truly blessed. But what  can take place is this: today you may receive Christ as One who purifies, baptizes, and fills you with the Spirit.

Yes, today you may surrender your whole being to Him to be forever wholly under the mastery of the Spirit. Today you may acknowledge and take hold of the all of the Spirit as your personal possession. Today you may submit to the requirement of the all of faith and begin to live only and wholly in the faith of what Christ will do in you through the Spirit.

This you may do; this you ought to do. Kneel down at the mercy seat and do it. Read once more the earlier chapter that deals with what Christ is prepared to do, and surrender yourself this very hour as an empty vessel to be filled with the Spirit. In His own time, God will certainly accomplish it in you.

There is also something, however, that He on His part is prepared to do. Today He is ready to give you the assurance that He accepts your surrender and to seal on your heart the conviction that the fullness of the Spirit belongs to you. Wait on Him to give you this today!

Pay close attention to my last words. The all of God summons you. The all of sin summons you. The all of Christ summons you. The all of the surrender that Jesus requires summons you. The all of the Spirit, His indispensableness and His glory summons you. The all of faith summons you. Come and let the love of God conquer you. Come and let the glorious salvation master you. Do not back away from the glorious tidings that the triune God is prepared to be you all. Be silent and listen to it until your soul becomes constrained to give the answer,"Even in me God will be all." Take Christ anew today as One who has given His life so that God may be all. Yield your life for this supreme end. God will fill you also with His Holy Spirit.

~Andrew Murray~

(The End)

Monday, November 14, 2016

Experiencing the Holy Spirit # 12

Experiencing the Holy Spirit # 12

Finding The Blessing

"Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will ... put a new spirit within you ... I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them" (Ezekiel 36:25-27).

The full Pentecostal blessing is for all the children of God. "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God" (Romans 8:14). God does not give a half portion to any one of His children. To every one He says, "Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours" (Luke 15:31). Christ is not divided (see 1 Corinthians 1:13); he who receives Him receives Him in His fullness. Every Christian is destined by God and is actually called to be filled with the Spirit.

In the preceding chapters I have had in view especially those who are to some extent acquainted with these things and have been already in search of the truth. They have already been led, after conversion, to make a more complete renunciation of sin and to yield themselves wholly to the Lord. But it is quite conceivable that among those who read this book, there may be Christians who have heard little of the full Pentecostal blessing and in whose hearts the desire has arisen to obtain a share in it. They do not, however, understand that they are willing to have pointed out to them where they are to begin and what they have to do in order to succeed in their desire. They are prepared to acknowledge that their lives are full of sin and that it seems to them as if they will have to strive long and earnestly before they can become full of the Spirit.

I would like to inspire them with fresh courage and to direct them to the God who has said, "I, the Lord, will hasten it in its time" (Isaiah 60:22). I would like to take them and guide them to the place where God will bless them and to point to them out of His Word what the attitude must be in which they can receive this blessing.

Putting Away Sin

In the message of Ezekiel, God first promised, "I will cleanse you," and then, "I will put My Spirit within you." A vessel into which anything precious is to be poured must always first be cleansed. So, if the Lord is to give you a new and full blessing, a new cleansing must also take place.

Your conversion was a confession and putting away of sin. After conversion you endeavored to overcome sin, but the effort did not succeed because you did not know the purity and holiness the Lord desired.

This new cleansing must come through new confession and discovery of sin. The old leaven cannot be purged unless it is first searched for and found. Do not say that you already know sufficiently well that your Christian life is full of sin. Sit down in silent meditation with the specific purpose of seeing what your life as a Christian has been. How much pride, self-seeking, worldliness, self-will, and impurity has been in it? Can such a heart receive the fullness of the Spirit? It is impossible.

Look into your home life. Do hastiness of temper, anxiety about yourself, bitterness, harsh or unbecoming words testify to how little you have been cleansed?

Look into the current life of the church. How much religion is there that is merely intellectual, formal, and pleasing to men, without real humiliation of spirit? It lacks real desire for the living God, real love for Jesus, and real subjection to the Word - things that constitute worship in spirit and in truth.

Look into your general course of conduct. Consider whether the people around you can testify that they have observed, by your honorable spirit and freedom from worldly-mindedness, that you are one who has been cleansed from sin by God. Contemplate all this in the light of what God expects from you and has offered to work in you, and take your place as a guilty, helpless soul that must be cleansed before God can bestow the full blessing on you.

Not in Our Own Strength

Following this discovery is the actual putting away and casting out of what is impure. This is something that you are simply bound to do. You must come with these sins, especially with those that are most strictly your own troublesome sins. You must acknowledge them before God in confession and make renunciation of them.

You must be brought to the conviction that your life is a guilty and shameful life. You are not at liberty to take comfort in the consideration that you are so weak or that the majority of Christians live no higher life than you. It must become a matter of earnest resolution with you that your life is to undergo a complete transformation. The sins that still cleave to you are to be cast off and done away with.

Perhaps you may say in reply that you find yourself unable to do away with them or cast them off. I tell you that you are quite able to do this. You can give these sins up to God. If there happens to be anything in my house that I wish to have taken away and I am unable to carry, I call for men who will do it for me. I give it over into their hands, saying, "Look here, take that away," and they do it. So I am able to say that I have put the thing out of my house.

In like manner, you can give up to God those sins of yours against which you feel yourself utterly powerless. You can give them up to Him to be dealt with as He desires, and He will fulfill His promise: "I will cleanse you from all your filthiness."

There should be a definite understanding between you and the Lord. You on your part must confess your sin and bid it everlasting farewell. Wait on Him until He assures you that He has taken your heart and life into His own hands to give you complete victory.

Experiencing Christ

If the knowledge of sin at conversion is superficial, so also is the faith in Jesus. Our faith, our reception of Jesus, never goes further or deeper than our insight into sin. If since your conversion you have learned to know the inward, invincible power of sin in your life, you are now prepared to receive from God a discovery of the inward, invincible power of the Lord Jesus in your heart as you have never known it before.

If you really long for a complete deliverance from sin, to be able to live in obedience to God, God will reveal the Lord Jesus to you as a complete Saviour. He will make you know that although the flesh, with its inclination to evil, always remains in you, the Lord Jesus will so dwell in your heart so that the power of the flesh will be kept in subjection by Him. Then you will no longer do the will of the flesh.

Through Jesus Christ, God will cleanse you from all unrighteousness so that, day by day, you may walk before God with a pure heart. What you really need is the discovery that He is prepared to work this change in you. You may receive it by faith here and now.

This is what Jesus Christ desires to work in you by the Holy Spirit. He came to put away sin - not the guilt and punishment of it only, but sin itself. He has not only mastered the power and dominion of the law and its curse over you, but He has also completely broken and taken away the power and dominion of sin. He has completely rescued you as a newborn soul from beneath the power of sin. He lives in His heavenly authority and all-pervading presence in order to work out this deliverance in you.

In this power, He will live in you and carry out His work in you. As the indwelling Christ, He is bent on maintaining and manifesting His redemption in you. The sins that you have confessed - the pride, the lovelessness, the worldly-mindedness, and uncleanness - He will by His power take out of your heart.

Although the flesh may tempt you, the choice and the joy of your heart must abide in Him and in His obedience to God's will. Yes, you may indeed become more than a conqueror through Him who loves you (Romans 8:37). As the indwelling Christ, He will overcome sin in you.

What, then, is required on our side? When the soul sees it to be true that Jesus will carry out this work, it will then open the door before Him before Him and receive Him into the heart as Lord and King. Yes, this can be done at once. A house that has remained closely shut for twenty years can be penetrated by the light in a moment if the doors and windows are thrown open. In like manner, a heart that has remained enveloped in darkness and powerlessness for twenty years, because it did not know that Jesus was willing to take the victory over sin into His own hands, can have its whole experience changed in a moment.

When I acknowledge my sinful condition, yield myself to God, and trust the Lord to do this work, then I may firmly believe that it is done and that Jesus takes all that is in me into His own hands. This is an act of faith that must be held fast. When doors and windows are thrown open and the light streaming in drives out the darkness, we discover at once how much dust and impurity there is in the house. But the light shines in order that we may see how to take it away.

When we receive Christ into the heart, everything is not yet perfected. Light and gladness are not seen and experienced at once, but by faith the soul knows that He who is faithful will keep His Word and will surely do His work. The faith that has, up to this moment, only sought and wrestled, now rests in the Lord and His Word.

It knows that what was begun by faith must be carried forward only by faith. It says, "I abide in Jesus; I know that He abides in me and that He will manifest Himself to me." As Jesus cleansed the lepers with a word, so He cleanses us by His Word. He who firmly holds to this fact in faith will see the proof of it.

Preparing Your Soul

The Lord gave the promise, "I will cleanse you." Then He gave the second promise, "I will put My Spirit within you." The Holy Spirit cannot come with power or fill the heart and continue to dwell in it, unless a special and complete cleansing first takes place within it.

The Spirit and sin are engaged in mortal combat. The only reason why the Spirit works so feebly in the church is sin, which is all too little known or dreaded or cast out. Men do not believe in the power of Christ to cleanse; therefore, He cannot do His work of baptizing with the Spirit.

It is from Christ that the Spirit comes and to Christ the Spirit returns again. The heart that gives Christ liberty to exercise dominion in it will inherit the full blessing.

Reader, if you have done what has been suggested, if you have believed in Jesus as the Lord who cleanses you, be assured that God will  certainly fulfill His Word: "I will cleanse you ... [and] put My Spirit within you." Cling to Jesus, who cleanses you. Let Him be all within you. God will see to it that you are filled with the Spirit.

Do not be surprised if your heart does not at once feel as you would like it to feel immediately after your act of surrender. Rest assured that if you present yourself to God as a pure vessel, cleansed by Christ, to be filled with the Spirit, God will take you at your word and say to you, "Receive the Holy Spirit" (John 20:22). He will manifest it to you more gloriously than ever before.

Keep in mind the purpose for which the Spirit is given. God said He would put His Spirit within you and cause you to walk in His statutes and keep His judgments and do them. The fullness of the Spirit must be sought and received with the direct aim that you will now simply and wholly live to do God's will and work on the earth. Yes, you will be able to live like the Lord Jesus and to say with Him, "Behold, I have come... to do Your will, O God" (Hebrews 10:7).

If you cherish this disposition, the fullness of the Spirit may be positively expected. Be full of courage and yield yourself to walk in God's statutes and to keep His judgments and do them, and you may trust God to keep His Word that He will cause you to keep and do them. He, the living God, will work in you. Even before you are aware how the Spirit is in you, He will enable you to experience the full blessing.

Have you been seeking for a long while without finding the fullness of the Spirit? Here you have at last the sure method of winning it. Acknowledge the sinfulness of your condition as a Christian, and make renunciation of it once and for all by yielding it up to God. Acknowledge that the Lord Jesus is ready and able to cleanse your heart from its sin, to conquer these sins by His entrance into it, and to set you free.

Take Him now as your Lord, at once and forever. Be assured that He will do it. Permit Him to begin, and let Him do it in you now.

~Andrew Murray~

(continued with # 13 - The Key To The Secret

Friday, November 11, 2016

Experiencing the Holy Spirit # 11

Experiencing the Holy Spirit # 11

How Fully It Is Assured to Us By God

"If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!" (Luke 11:13)

When Jairus came to the Lord Jesus to entreat His help for his dying daughter, he had already learned that she had died. Jesus said to him, "Do not be afraid; only believe" (Luke 8:50). Face to face with a trial in which man was utterly helpless, the Lord called on him to put his trust in Him. One thing could help him: "Only believe."

Thousands of times this word has been the strength of God's children. Where man was concerned, all hope was lost and success appeared to be impossible. Here again, in seeking the full Pentecostal blessing, we have need of this word. The wonder-working power of God can make this exceeding grace a reality within us. Be silent before God. Hear the voice of Jesus saying to us, "Do not be afraid; only believe." God will do it for you."

God will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him much more readily than an earthly father will give his children bread. We must have firm confidence in the Father to give His child His full heritage. "God is Spirit" (John 4:24). He desires in His eternal love to obtain full possession of us, but He can do this in no other manner than by giving us His Spirit. Child of God, as surely as He is God, He will fill you with His Holy Spirit.

Without this faith you will never succeed in your quest for this blessing. This faith will give you the victory over every difficulty. Therefore, "do not be afraid; only believe" (Luke 8:50). Hear the voice of Jesus: "Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?" (John 11:40).

How Does This Blessing Come?

Preliminary questions arise at once in connection with this subject and tempt us to understand everything about it before we expect the blessing.

The first question is, Where does this blessing come from, from within or from above? Some earnest Christians will say at once that it must come from within. The Holy Spirit descended on the earth on the Day of Pentecost and was given to the Christian community. At the moment of conversion, He comes into our hearts. Therefore, we no longer have to pray that He may be given to us. We have simply to recognize and use what we already have. We do not have to seek more of the Spirit because we have Him in the fullness of the gift as it is. It is rather the Holy Spirit who must have more of us. As we yield ourselves entirely to Him, He will entirely fill us from within. The fountain of living water is already there. It has only to be open and every obstruction cleared, and the water will stream forth from within.

On the other hand, a few may say, "No, it must come from above." When, on the arrival of the Day of Pentecost, the Father freely gave the Spirit, He did not give Him away beyond His own control. The fullness of the Spirit still remains in God. God gives nothing apart from Himself to work without or independently of His will. He Himself works only through the Spirit, and every new and greater manifestation of the Spirit's power comes directly from above. Long after the Day of Pentecost, the Spirit came down again from heaven at Samaria and Caesarea. In His fullness He is in heaven still, and it is from God in heaven that the fullness of the Spirit is to be waited for.

Christian, pray. Do not linger until by reasonings of your own you have decided which of these representations is the right one. God can bless people in both ways. When the flood came, all the fountains of the abyss were broken up and the floodgates of heaven were opened. It came simultaneously from beneath and from above. God is prepared to bless people in both of these methods. He desires to teach us to know and honor the Spirit who is already within us. He desires to bring us to wait on Himself in a spirit of utter dependence.

I entreat you not to allow yourself to be held back by such a question as this. God understands your petition. He knows what you need. Believe that God is prepared to fill you with His Spirit. Let your faith look up to Him with unceasing prayer and confidence, and He will give the blessing.

The other question is, Does this blessing come gradually or at once? Will it manifest itself in the shape of a silent, unobserved increase of the grace of the Spirit or as a momentary, immediate outpouring of His power? It must suffice for me to say here again that God has already sent this blessing in both modes and will continue to do so.

There must be a definite resolution, however, to place one's whole life unreservedly under the control of the Spirit and a conviction of faith that God has accepted this surrender. In the majority of cases, this is done at once. Perhaps after a long course of seeking and praying, the soul must come to the place at which it will present itself to God for this blessing in one definite, irrevocable act and believe that the offering is then sanctified and accepted on the altar. Whether the experience of the blessing comes at once and with power or quietly and gradually, the soul must maintain its act of self-dedication and simply look to God to do His own work.

Thus, in dealing with all such questions, the chief concern is this; "Only believe" (Luke 8:50), and rest in the faithfulness of God. Hold fast this one principle: God has given us a promise that He will fill us with His Spirit. It is His work to make His promise an accomplished fact. Thank God for the promise even as you would thank Him for the fulfillment of it. In the promise, God has already pledged Himself to you. Rejoice in Him and in His faithfulness. Do not be held back by any questions whatsoever. Set your heart on what God will do and on Him from whom the blessing must come. The result will be certain and glorious.

More of the Spirit

It is sad that so many in the church are content with things just as they are. They have no desire to know more of this seeking for the reality of the Spirit's power. They point to the present purity of doctrine, to the prevailing earnestness of preaching, to the generous gifts that are made for the maintenance of religious works and the enterprises of philanthropy. They look to the interest manifested in education and missions, and they say that it is better to give God thanks for the good we see around us. Such people would condemn the language of Laodicea and would refuse to say that they were "rich, and increased with goods, and (had) need of nothing" (Revelation 3:17).

Yet there are some traces of this spirit in what they say. They do not consider the command to be filled with the Spirit. They have forgotten the command to prophesy to the Spirit and say, "Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live" (Ezek. 37:9). When you speak of these things, you will receive little encouragement from these people. They do not understand what you mean. They believe indeed in the Holy Spirit, but their eyes have not been opened to the fact that more of the Spirit is the one thing needed for the church.

There are others who will agree with you when you speak of this need and yet will really give you even less encouragement. They have often thought and prayed over the matter, but no benefit has resulted from their effort. They have made no real progress. They urge you to look to the church of earlier times and say that it was not much different than it is now.

These people belong to the generation of the ten spies who were sent to spy out Canaan. The land is glorious, but the enemy in possession is too strong. We are too weak to overcome them. Lack of consecration and of willingness to surrender everything for this blessing is the root of the unbelief and has made them incapable of exercising the courage of Caleb when he said, "Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it" (Numbers 13:30).

If you wish to be filled with the Spirit, do not allow yourself to be held back by such reasonings. Only believe and strengthen yourself in the omnipotence of God. Do not say, "Is God able?" Say, rather, "God is able." The God who was able to raise Christ from the dead (Romans 8:11) is still mighty in the midst of His people and is able to reveal His divine life with power in your heart.

Hear His voice saying to you as to Abraham, "I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless" (Genesis 17:1). Set your heart without distraction on what God has said that He will do and then on the omnipotence that is prepared to bring the promise to accomplishment.

Pray to the Father that He will grant you to be strengthened with might by His Spirit (Ephesians 3:16). Adore Him who is able to do for us "exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask and think" (v. 20, and give Him the glory.

Let faith in the omnipotence of God fill your soul, and you will be full of the assurance that, however difficult, however improbable, however impossible it may seem, God can fill us with His Spirit. "Only believe" (Mark 5:36).

He Will Work It In You

When one prays for this blessing of being filled with the Spirit, the thought will spring up uninvited of what one's life as a Christian has already been. The believer thinks of all the workings of divine grace in his heart and of the incessant striving of the Spirit. He thinks of all his efforts and prayers, of his past attempts at entire surrender,and of the taking hold of faith. He then looks on what he is at the moment, on his unfaithfulness and sin and helplessness, and he becomes dispirited. In the span of many years, little progress has been made. The past testifies only of failure and unfaithfulness.

If all his praying and believing of earlier days have been of so little avail, why should he now dare to hope that everything is to be transformed at once? He presents to himself the life of a man full of the Holy Spirit, and alongside it he sets his own life as he has learned to know it. It becomes impossible for him to imagine that he will ever be able to live as a man full of the Spirit. For such a task he is unfit and feels no courage to make the attempt.

Christian, when such thoughts as these crowd in on you, there is only one bit of advice to follow, and that is, "Only believe." Cast yourself into the arms of your Father who gives His children the Holy Spirit much more readily than an earthly father gives bread. Only believe and count on the love of God. All your self-dedication and surrender, all your faith and integrity, are not works by which you have to move God or make Him willing to bless you. Far from it.

God desires to bless you and will Himself work everything in you. God loves you as a Father and sees that, to be able to live in perfect health and happiness as His child, you have need of nothing but this one thing - to be full of His Spirit. Jesus has by His blood opened up the way to the full enjoyment of this love.

Enter into this love, abide in this love, and by faith acknowledge that it shines on and surrounds you, even as the light of the sun illuminates and animates your body. Begin to trust this love. I do not say trust in its willingness, but in its unspeakable longing to fill you entirely with itself. Your Father's love waits to make you full of His Spirit. He Himself will do it for you.

And what does He crave at your hands? Simply this, that you yield yourself to Him in utter unworthiness, nothingness, and powerlessness to let Him do this work in you. Taking charge of all the preparatory work, God will help you by His Spirit. He will strengthen you with might in the inner man, silently and hiddenly, to abandon everything that has to be given up to receive this treasure. He will help you to rest in His Word and to wait for Him in faith. He will hold Himself responsible for all the future. He will make provision that you will be able to walk in the fullness of this blessing.

Perhaps you have  already formed a very high idea of what a man must be who is filled with the Spirit of God, and you see no chance of your being able to live in such a fashion. Or it may be that you have not been able to form any idea of it whatsoever and are, on that  account, afraid to strive for a life that is so unknown to you. Christian, abandon all such thoughts. The Spirit alone, once He is in you, will Himself teach you what that life is, for He will work it in you. God will take upon Himself the responsibility of making you full of the Spirit, not as a treasure that you must carry and keep, but as a power that is to carry and keep you. Therefore, "only believe" (Mark 5:36). Count on the love of your Father.

His promise of the blessing and the power of the Spirit, the Lord Jesus always pointed to God the Father. He called it "the promise of My Father" (Luke 24:49). He directed us to the faithfulness of God. "He who promised is faithful" (Hebrews 10:23). He directed us to the power of God. The Spirit was, as power from on high, to come from God Himself (Acts 1:8). He directed us to the love of God. It is as a Father that God is to give this gift to His children.

Let every thought of this blessing and every desire for it only lead us to God. Here is something that He must do, that He must give, that He, He alone, must work. Let us in silent adoration set our hearts on God. Let us joyfully trust in Him. He is able to do abundantly above all praying and thinking.

His love will willingly bestow a full blessing on us. God will make you full of the Spirit. Say humbly, "Behold the servant of the Lord. Let Him do to me what is good in His sight. Be it unto me according to Your Word." (Luke 1:38). "He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it" (1 Thess. 5:24).

~Andrew Murray~

(continued with # 12 - Finding the Blessing

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Experiencing the Holy Spirit # 10

Experiencing the Holy Spirit # 10

In Search of the Full Manifestation

"For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 3:14)

Paul, in writing to the church at Ephesus, wished to make it clear to them that he desired several things for their spiritual growth. Thus, he wrote, "I bow my knees to the Father," for the following reasons:

"That He would grant you ... to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man" (Ephesians 3:16).

"That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith" (v. 17).

"That you, being rooted and grounded in love, may ... know the love of Christ which passes knowledge" (v. 17-19).

"That you may be filled with all the fullness of God" (v. 19).

Every blessing God gives is like a seed with the power of an indissoluble life hidden in it. Do not imagine that to be filled with the Spirit is a condition of perfection that leaves nothing more to  be desired. In no sense can this be true. After the Lord Jesus was filled with the Spirit at His baptism, He had to go forth to be still further perfected by temptations and the learning of obedience (Matthew 4:1-11).

When the disciples were filled with the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, this equipping with "power from on high" (Luke 24:49) was given to them so that they might have victory over sin in their own lives.

The Spirit is the Spirit of truth, and He must guide us into it (John 16:13). He will lead us into the eternal purpose of God, into the knowledge of Christ, into true holiness, and into full fellowship with God. The fullness of the Spirit is simply the full preparation for living and working as a child of God.

When we consider the matter from this point of view, we see at a glance how entirely indispensable it is for every child of God to aim at obtaining this blessing. We also understand why Paul offered this prayer on behalf of all believers without distinction. He did not regard it as a spiritual distinction or special luxury that was intended only for those who were prominent or favored among the children of God. No, he prayed for all, without distinction, who at their conversion had by faith received the Holy Spirit.

His request was that, by the special work of the Spirit, God would bring them to their true destiny - to be "filled with all the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:19). Paul's prayer is regarded as one of the most glorious representations of what the life of a Christian ought to be. Let us endeavor to learn what the full revelation and manifestation of this blessing of the Spirit may become.

Strengthened with Power

That these Christians had received the Spirit when they believed in Christ is clear from a previous statement in the epistle. But Paul saw that they did not yet know or have all that the Spirit could do for them. He realized there was a danger that, by their ignorance, they might make no further progress.

Hence he bowed his knees and prayed without ceasing on their behalf, that the Father would strengthen them with might by His Spirit in the inner man. This powerful strengthening with the Spirit is equivalent to being filled with the Spirit, and it is indeed another aspect of this same blessing. It is the indispensable condition of a healthy growing,and fruitful life.

Paul prayed that the Father would grant this gift. He asked for a new, definite operation of God. He requested that God would do this according to the riches of His glory. It is surely not any common, trifling thing that he asked. He desired that God would remember and bring into play all the riches of His grace and strengthen these believers with might by His Spirit in the inner man.

Oh, Christian, learn at this point that your life daily depends on God's will, on God's grace, and on God's omnipotence. Yes, every moment God must work in your inner life and strengthen you by His Spirit; otherwise, you cannot live as He desires you to live. Just as no creature in the natural world can exist for a moment if God does not work in it to sustain its life, so the gift of the Holy Spirit is the pledge that God Himself is to work everything in us from moment to moment.

Learn to know your entire, blessed dependence on God. Recognize the claim you have on Him as your heavenly Father to begin in you a life in the mighty strengthening of the Spirit and to maintain it without the interruption of a single moment.

Paul told these believers what he prayed for on their behalf in order that they might know what they had need of and ask for it themselves. Expect everything from God alone. Bow your knees, ask, and expect from the Father His manifestation to you of the riches of His glory. Ask and expect that He will strengthen you with might by His Spirit who is already in you as an unknown, hidden, and slumbering seed.

Let this become the desire and confidence of your soul: "God will fill me with the Spirit; God will strengthen me through the Spirit with His almighty energy." Let your whole life be daily permeated by this expectation.

What Is God's Aim?

This is the glorious fruit of the divine strengthening with might in the inner man by the Spirit. The great work of the Father in eternity is to bring forth the Son.

In Him alone the good pleasure of God is realized. The Father can have no fellowship with the creature except through the Son. He can have no joy in it except as He behold His Son in it. His great work in redemption is to reveal His Son in us so that our lives will be visible expressions of the life of Jesus.

This indwelling of Christ is not like that of a man who abides in a house and is in no sense identified with it. No, His indwelling is a possession of our hearts that is truly divine, quickening, and penetrating our innermost being with His life. The Father strengthens us inwardly with might by His Spirit (Ephesians 3:16), so that the Spirit animates our wills and brings them, like the will of Jesus, into entire sympathy with His own.

The result is that our hearts, like the heart of Jesus, then bow before Him in humility and surrender, seeking only His honor. Our entire souls thrill with desire and love for Jesus. This inward renewal makes the heart fit to be a dwelling place of the Lord. By the Spirit He is revealed within us, and we come to know that He is actually in us as our Life in a deep, divine unity - He is one with us.

Believer, God longs to see Jesus in you. He is prepared to work mightily in you so that Christ may dwell in you. The Spirit has come, and the Father is willing to work mightily by Him so that the living presence of His Son may always abide in you. Jesus loves you dearly and longs intensely for you. He cannot rest until He makes His abode in your heart. This is the supreme blessing that the fullness of the Spirit brings you.

By faith, you receive and know the indwelling of the Spirit and the operation of the Father by Him. By faith, which discerns invisible things as clearly as the sun, you receive and know the living Jesus in your heart. As constantly as He was with His disciples on earth - yes, even more constantly than with them - He will be in you and will grant you the enjoyment of His presence and His love.

Dear reader, pray that the Father will strengthen you with might by the Spirit and open your heart for the fullness of the Spirit. Then at last you will know what it means to have Christ dwelling in your heart by faith.

Love Is ....

"That you, being rooted and grounded in love, may ... know the love of Christ which passes knowledge" (Ephesians 3:17-19). Here is the glorious fruit of the indwelling of Christ in the heart. By the Spirit, the love of God is poured out in the heart (Romans 5:5). By Christ, who dwells in the heart, the love with which God loved Him comes into us. Just as life in God - between Father, Son, and Spirit - is only infinite love, so the life of Christ in us is nothing but love.

Thus we become "rooted and grounded in love." We are planted in the soil of love, and we strike our roots into heavenly love; henceforth, we have our being in it and draw our strength from it. Love is the supreme element in our spiritual lives. The Spirit in us and the Son in us b ring us nothing but the love of God.

Love is the first and the chief among the streams of living water that are to flow from us.

"Love is the fulfillment of the law"; it "does no harm to a neighbor" (Romans 13:10). It "does not seek its own" (1 Corinthians 13:5). It causes us to "lay down our lives for the brethren" (1 John 3:16). Our hearts become ever larger and larger.

Our friends, our enemies, the children of God, and the children of the world are worthy to be loved. Those who are the hated, the ransomed and the lost, the world as a whole, and every individual creature in particular are all embraced in the love of God.

Our happiness lies in sacrificing our honor, our advantage, and our comfort in favor of others. Love takes no account of sacrifice. It is blessed to love.

We are able to love only because the Father, with His Spirit, works mightily within us and because His Son dwells in us. He, who is crucified love, has filled our hearts completely with Himself. We are rooted in love. In accordance with the nature of the root, God produces the fruit - love.

Dear readers, listen to the Word: "God is love" (1 John 4:8). He has provided everything so that you may know love fully. It is with this aim that Christ desires to have your whole hearts. Begin to pray that the Father will strengthen you with might by the Spirit, and that you may know the love of Christ.

Filled with Fullness

Filled with fullness of God - this is the experience to which the fullness of the Spirit is intended to bring us and will bring us.

God has made provisions for our enlightenment. In Christ Jesus we see a man full of God, a man who was perfected by suffering and obedience, filled with all the fullness of God. He was a man, who in the solitariness and poverty of an ordinary human life, with all its needs and infirmities, has nevertheless let us see on earth the honor, enjoyed by the inhabitants of heaven. The will and the honor, the love and the service of God were always visible in Him. God was everything to Him.

When God called the world into existence, it was in order that it might reveal Him. In it His wisdom, might, and goodness were to dwell and be visibly manifested. We say continually that nature is full of God. God can be seen in everything by the believing eye. The seraphim sing, and "the whole earth is full of His glory" (Isaiah 6:3). When God created man after His own image, it was in order that He Himself might be seen in man, that man would simply serve as a reflection of His likeness. The image of a man never serves any other purpose than to represent the man. As the image of God, man was destined simply to receive the glory of God in his own life, to bear it and make it visible. Man was to be full of God.

This divine purpose has been frustrated by sin. Instead of being full of God, man became full of himself and the world. Sin has blinded us to such an extent that it appears an impossibility ever to become full of God again. Even many Christians see nothing desirable in this fullness. Yet Jesus came to redeem us and bring us back to this blessing. God is prepared to work mightily within us by His Spirit. This is no less the result for which the Son of God desires to dwell in our hearts and which He will bring to accomplishment.

Yes, this is the highest aim of the Pentecostal blessing. To attain this, we can count on the Spirit to make sure of our reaching it. He will open the way for us and guide us in it. He will work in us the deep humility of Jesus, who always said, "I can of Myself do nothing" (John 5:30); "not to do My own will" (John 6:38); "the words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority" (John 14:10). Amid this self-emptying and sense of dependence, He will work in us the assurance and the experience that, for the soul that is nothing, God is surely "ALL". By our faith He will reveal Jesus to us, who is full of God. He will cause us to be rooted in the love in which God gives all, and we will take God as all. Thus it will be with us as with Jesus: man is nothing, and God's honor, His will, His love, and His power are everything.

Christians, I beg of you by the love of God not to say that this is too high an experience for you or that it is not for you. No, it is in truth the will of God concerning you - the will of His commandment and of His promise. He Himself will work it out. Today, in humility and faith, take this word, "Filled with all the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:19), as the purpose and the watchword of your life, and see what it will do for you.

It will become to you a mighty lever to raise you out of the self-seeking that is quite content with only being prepared for blessing. It will urge you to enter into and become firmly rooted in the love of God. It will convince you that nothing less than Christ Himself dwelling in your heart can keep such a love abiding in you. It will make the fullness of God a reality within you.

Go down on your knees and summons to your aid the wealth of God's glory. Continue to do this until your heart is able to utter the response, "Yes, being filled with the fullness of God is what my God has prepared for me."

With this glorious prospect before you, join with the apostle in the doxology: "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us (the power of His might), to Him be glory" (Ephesians 3:20-21). Desire nothing less than these riches of the glory of God. Today, if you have never done it before, "be filled with all the fullness of God" (v. 19).

When God said to Abraham, "I am God Almighty" (Genesis 35:11), He invited him to trust His omnipotence to fulfill His promise. When Jesus went down into the grave, it was in the faith that God's omnipotence could lift Him to the throne of His glory. That same omnipotence waits to work out of God's purpose in those who believe in Him to do so. Let our hearts say, "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think ... to Him be glory" (Ephesians 3:20-21).

~Andrew Murray~

(continued with # 11 - How Fully It Is Assured To Us By God