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