The Cross of Calvary # 13
"He shewed unto them His hands and His side ... He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Spirit" (John 20:20-22)
"Christ redeemed us from the curse ... having become a curse for us ... that we might receive the promise of the Spirit" (Galatians 3:13, 14).
These words of the apostle Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, show that the gift of the Holy Spirit is based upon the work of Christ on the Cross of Calvary.
The office of the Spirit was foreshown by he Lord Jesus in His farewell message to His disciples, on the eve of His Cross and passion.
The Spirit of truth, Who proceeded from the Father, would be sent by the Son to each of His redeemed ones, for the special purpose of teaching them the things of God; reminding them of the words of Christ; always and only bearing witness of Christ; guiding each soul into all the truth; not speaking of Himself, but communicating the mind of the Father, and of the Son, to those of whom He had charge; unveiling to them the eternal purposes of God; and glorifying Christ in all His redeemed; taking of all His fullness , and declaring it unto them.
It was in the upper room in Jerusalem, on His resurrection day, that Jesus Himself came and stood in the midst of His disciples; shewing them His hands and His side, with the marks of His Cross upon them", "He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Spirit". Again after the Ascension, being "by the right hand of God exalted", He received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, and poured Him forth upon that waiting group on earth, who had "with one accord" continued steadfastly in prayer, waiting for the "promise of the Father", which the Lord had said should come to them, to equip them for the work, in cooperation with the Spirit, of witnessing to the death and resurrection of the Son of God.
How the Spirit of God taught the disciples, and illuminated to them the words of Christ; how He guided them into truth wholly foreign to their preconceived ideas and environment; how He bore witness to the Christ, and communicated the mind and will of Father and Son to the redeemed on earth; how He glorified the Christ, and took of His fullness and declared it unto them - the book of the Acts of the Apostles sets forth.
Through the Apostle Paul, thus taught by Him, we learn that His dwelling in, and possessing every soul, is on the ground of Calvary alone. "Christ redeemed us," he writes, "that we might receive the ... Spirit." The word "redeemed" takes us back to Calvary, where we were redeemed "with precious blood, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot, even the blood of Christ". Not only so, but the Christ became a curse for us, that we might receive the Spirit! He redeemed us "having become accursed for our sakes (for it is written, 'Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree',) to the end... that through faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit."
The two-fold message of Calvary is thus clearly linked with the gift of the Holy Spirit, for if Christ became a curse for us, then we are the accursed ones on whose behalf He hung upon a tree; and as our Representative He carried us to the tree with Him.
That the Curse of the Cross is associated with the promise of the Spirit is also deeply suggestive of the conditions upon which He can freely work in us. For it is only when we realize in very truth that we are "accursed" in all that we are in ourselves, that we gladly accept the message of Calvary that we are crucified with Him Who died on our behalf, and make room for the full indwelling and outworking of the Holy Spirit
The Cross leads to the Spirit, and the Spirit back again to the Cross. Through the death of Christ alone, can the soul receive the Spirit, and only by the Holy Spirit, thus received, can the believer be vitally united with the death of Christ, so as to know with assurance the indwelling of the Risen Lord, and be able to say with truth, "I have been crucified with Christ". "Christ liveth in me!" Yet again it is true, that only through a still deeper fellowship with Christ in His Cross, can we know the Holy Spirit in fullness and power.
Paul's words to the Galatians illustrate this also, for he appeals to his preaching of Calvary as the ground of the Holy Spirit's work in them, and yet it is evident that, although they had manifestly received the Spirit, they needed a clearer knowledge of the Cross; for if they had seen their death with Christ as fully as Paul had done, they would not have been disposed to return to the old plane of self-effort. The Galatians had not realized the curse of the law, which came upon every soul who failed even in one point of obedience to the law, and so they had not come to an end of all self-reliance. They had begun "in the Spirit", but did not know how to "live" in the Spirit", on that very same ground of faith in the crucified Son of God, which had brought Him into their lives at the beginning.
Paul's words to the Galatian believers come with renewed emphasis today, for many of the children of God also need a clearer vision of the Cross of Calvary, in relation to the Holy Spirit's wording within the soul; for the Holy Spirit works upon the basis of Calvary alone, and the extent of the apprehension of all that the Death of Christ meant for those whom He redeemed, is the extent of His possession of the individual believer.
The Cross leads to the Spirit! Through the atoning work of Christ, every yielded heart may receive the Holy Spirit, and in response to the surrender of the recipient does He take possession, "cleansing the heart by faith."
The Spirit leads to the Cross! This is clearly outlined in the life of the Lord Jesus. The heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit came upon Him at His baptism in Jordan, when He entered the waters of death, and chose to be identified with sinners; but this was not the real Calvary. It was "through the Eternal Spirit" Who came upon Him at Jordan, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, and was enabled to drink the actual cup of death at Calvary. After the Cross, by the Spirit of God He was quickened, and raised from the dead, to receive at the right hand of the Father the anointing above His fellows.
It is even thus with all who will follow His steps. Through surrender to God, and the acceptance of the Cross - typified by Jordan - the Holy Spirit gains possession of the citadel of the heart, and then He seeks to lead the believer into the real fellowship of the Cross, working in steady progression from within to without; from center to circumference; dealing with new departments of the life; unveiling new needs, and revealing the Cross in aspect after aspect as the answer to those needs, by applying the death of Christ as the severing power from the old life, and ministering the life of the Risen Christ for the building up of the new creation.
The believer may be said to be "filled" with the Spirit when he first receives the Spirit, but he is filled only to the extent of his capacity at the time. The capacity may be small, but it will remain small unless he apprehends that the Spirit leads to the Cross, so that the capacity may be deepened, and a greater fullness of the Holy Spirit be truly known.
(continued with # 14)