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).
(continued with # 12 - Finding the Blessing