THE PERSONAL IN-DWELLING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
A Practical Inquiry
IN the article "Inquire of the Former Age" in The
Disciple for May 1953, pp. i8, i9, it was said:
". . . it is asserted that every believer of this age is a member of the body of Christ, because incorporation into that body is effected by the indwelling of the Spirit of God. Just as the many members of the human body are one living entity because the one spirit of the man pervades the whole organism, so are the members of the body of Christ made such by the indwelling of the one Spirit. Now many assert strongly, as if it were beyond dispute, the plain teaching of Scripture that every regenerate person, simply by the fact of his new birth by the Spirit, is automatically sealed, anointed, and indwelled by the Spirit of God. I have not been able to discover the source of this opinion, but as regards those early teachers, it is a fact that leaders among them repudiated this notion.
In On the Sealing with the Holy Spirit, p. i8, Darby speaks expressly as follows: "that a person may be born again, and not have received the Holy Ghost, is perfectly certain according to the Scriptures." He refers to the fact that the first disciples were born of God while Jesus was with them, for they believed on Him, yet they did not receive the Spirit till the day of Pentecost. He cites also Acts viii, the believers at Samaria, and the case of Paul, who was converted on the way to Damascus, but was not filled with the Spirit till three days afterwards (Ac. ix. 9, 17).
In Vol. X of Things New and Old (1867), p. 198, C. H. Macintosh wrote, " We consider that Acts xix. 1-7 does most clearly show that persons may be 'disciples' and 'believers,' and yet not be sealed with the Holy Ghost."
Arguing at length to the same effect, in The New Testament Doctrine of the Holy Spirit (1867), pp. 161, 162, and contrasting the reception of the Holy Spirit with belief and repentance, William Kelly wrote very strongly:
"It is a subsequent operation; it is an additional separate blessing; it is a privilege founded upon faith already actively working in the heart. So far is it from being true that a man receives the gift of the Holy Ghost the moment that he believes, that it may well be doubted whether there ever was such a case since the world began. I do not mean to deny that the gift of the Holy Ghost may be practically on the same occasion, but never in the same moment" .
It is to be noted that thus three of the very earliest students of these subjects in those years saw so clearly the teaching of Scripture on this matter.
The subject is of importance partly because of the subordinate inferences and arguments of those who affirm that the Spirit indwells every believer. They urge, for example, that every believer on Christ must of necessity be a member of His "body," the church, because, as they hold, His Spirit personally indwells each; and that therefore every believer must necessarily be raised in the first resurrection and share the kingdom and glory of Christ. If the fact is as they affirm their conclusions may seem justified; if it is not so, their scheme loses vital support. With so much at stake some contend very strongly for their opinion.
In the study of Biblical topics, as of all subjects, it is needful to observe first the facts of a subject, and also to weigh the relative importance given to each fact by the Holy Spirit. It is fact that the figure "body" is not the first figure employed to teach concerning the church of God, nor does it receive chief emphasis. The church is first of all a building: "I will build My church" (Mat. xvi. i 11). The figure was not employed by Christ, nor by any apostle but Paul. It therefore has not primary emphasis in the New Testament.
Paul used it first when writing to the Corinthians x. 17; xii. 1227), but already in the epistle he had twice used the figure "house" or "sanctuary" (iii. 16, 17). Writing to the Ephesians he again employs both figures (i. 22, 2: ii. 19-22; v. 22, 23). The Writer of Hebrews gives large place to the figure "house" (iii. i6; viii. ix ; x : xiii. ii) Peter also employs it (I Pet. ii. 5): but neither uses the figure "body." This is true of John also, but he uses the figure of a "building' in several connections, earthly and heavenly (Rev. iii), the "Tabernacle " in this last passage expanding into the larger building, the city.
When this picture of the house is examined with attention it is very noticeable how much truth is connected with it.
(i) The Lord is the builder: (2) God dwells in the house: (3) therefore it is to he kept holy for His use: (4) to defile it brings judgment: and other important truths. These are not simply attached to the figure by the New Testament writers by way of explaining the type, but can all be learned from the Old Testament histories of the houses of God.
This renders invalid the notion that doctrine cannot be learned from types, but can only be illustrated by them. Some insist strongly upon this, apparently because types yield lessons that will not fit their theories. Doctrine is drawn directly from types. That redemption from the penalty of sin requires atoning blood can he seen in the history of the passover night in Egypt. This could be learned from that history even were it not taught elsewhere in Scripture. That almost all cleansing is by blood, and that no remission of sins can be known apart from blood, the Writer of Hebrews draws directly from the facts in the Old Testament.
Doctrinal explanation of types, as given in the New Testament, is of course the standard as to how to use types; but the Spirit-taught mind can see the meaning of types nowhere explained: how otherwise should such types be useful? Andrew Jukes (Types of Genesis) points out that the histories of the seven chief persons given in Genesis are so narrated as to form together a complete consecutive picture of the development of every full Christian course. Thus:
Adam is man fallen through sin.
Abel is fallen man redeemed by sacrifice.
Noah is that redeemed man now regenerate, having passed through death into a new life and world.
Abraham is this new man walking with God by faith.
Isaac shows him enjoying the general quietness of faith.
Jacob is the same man but now shown in the conflicts, failures, and discipline of the life of faith, which both develops defects and removes them.
Joseph teaches the essential feature that the path of faith leads through suffering to glory.
This outline is manifestly accurate and instructive, and it is drawn direct from the typical histories by spiritual understanding, for nowhere in the New Testament is the sequence thus explained. That there has been a vast amount of fanciful and futile dealing with types, calls for soberness in their application, and for bring guided by the New Testament use of types. but it does not lessen the propriety and value of such use of them as is here indicated.
In the New Testament the tabernacle and the temple are viewed as types of the dwelling of God by His Spirit in
(a) a local community of believers (I Cor. iii. 16, 17, and
b) in the body of the individual believer (I Cor. vi. I 9, "your body," the physical body, vv. 13, 15, 18).
The histories throw clear light upon our immediate subject of whether the indwelling of the Spirit is simultaneous with justification and the new birth. The Israelites in Egypt were delivered from judgment by the death of the passover lamb amid the sprinkling of its blood. Forthwith they went out into freedom, and the new walk of faith in God, by crossing the Red Sea. This corresponds to baptism: "they were all baptized into association with Moses in the cloud and in the Sea." And they were spiritual enough to recognize that manna and water had spiritual counterparts: "they drank of a spiritual rock that went with them: and the rock was Christ '' (I Cor. 1-4). Daily were they supplied by God, sheltered under His cloud, guided and protected: but He was not yet dwelling personally in their midst.
Before this dwelling among them could come to pass much preparatory work was required, with much free-will dedication to God of their labour and valuable possessions, leading to the completion of a house for Him to inhabit. All this was in conformity with His word: "Let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them" (Ex. xxv. 8). A whole year from their redemption passed before that sanctuary was ready and "the glory of Jehovah filled the tabernacle" (Ex. xl.17, 34, 35), and "Judah became His sanctuary" (Psm. cxiv. 2). Up till that event they were His redeemed people but were not as a house to Him. Because He dwelled in that visible house in their midst they thereby became as a nation a spiritual house to Him, as the psalm just quoted shows.
After some three centuries the carnality of Israel brought about the captivity of the symbol of Gods presence, the ark; its centre, Shiloh, was destroyed (Jer. vii. 12-15), and with the destruction of that centre God ceased to have a dwelling place in Israel and they ceased to be a house to Him. Yet they remained His people, called by His name. Later David brought the ark to Jerusalem, where it stayed under a tent; but the glory did not descend again until some years later, when, once more after much preparation and dedication, the temple was completed by Solomon and God entered it as His dwelling on earth. Thus Israel became again His house But after four centuries their renewed apostasy brought about the destruction of the temple and again Israel ceased to he a house for God, nor has His glory been seen again amongst them. This typical history teaches
(a) that the indwelling of God may not begin until some time later than redemption amid regeneration;
(b) that the condition on mans side for the indwelling is a wholehearted devotion and dedication to the Lord; and
(c) that pronounced and persistent wickedness by the people of God may cause Him to withdraw His holy presence, whereupon a church or an individual may cease to be to Him a house. But
(d) this fallen state is remediable, yet only upon due repentance and renewed dedication of all to God.
The spiritual mind could read these lessons in the Old Testament, and could profit by them, even did the New Testament not confirm them, but this it does quite plainly. The apostles and others of the days of our Lord on earth were born of God and received eternal life as soon as they believed on Jesus as the Son of God (John iii 14-18, 36; 24; x. 27-30) Moreover the Spirit who had wrought in them wrought with them so that they preached and also wrought great signs; but He did not come upon them and dwell in them until Pentecost, after the ascension of Christ.
The new birth, progressive sanctification, much service, can be effected by the Spirit, using truth imparted ab extra not necessarily ab intra, that is, acting from without the person and not as a Person dwelling within him. This had been the rule prior to Pentecost, as the Old Testament shows. On the occasion of His first meeting with the apostles after His resurrection the Lord did not say to them "receive ye the Holy Spirit" (John xx. 22). He used the same expression as when a good while earlier He had said "how much more shall your heavenly Father give spirit holy (pneuma hagion) to them that ask Him" (Luke xi. 13). Not the Person of the Spirit of God was in view, but rather the spiritual nourishment (bread, fish, egg) which He imparts, by virtue of which a new, a holy, spiritual life animates and energizes the believer. If this had meant the personal indwelling of the blessed Spirit, then for those who had asked and received there would have been no need of Pentecost, and the Lord would not still have told them to wait for the descent of the Spirit after some days See further the footnote on p. 135
2. Perhaps seven years after the Pentecostal outpouring Saul of Tarsus was brought to acknowledge Jesus as Lord by seeing His glory on the road to Damascus, but it was three days later before he received the Spirit (Ac. ix. 5, 9, 17). That interval was enough to preclude Paul from entertaining the notion that the indwelling of the Spirit is always simultaneous with conversion.
3. About the same time after Pentecost Philip was used by the Spirit to bring to faith in Christ the inhabitants of the city of Samaria, and "there was much joy in that city." But the Spimit did not fall upon them, and they did not receive Him, until Peter and John visited them, prayed for them, and laid their hands upon them (Ac viii. 4-7).
4. Twenty-four years after Pentecost (A.D. 54) Paul preached the city of Ephesus (Ac. xix. 1-7). He found certain disciples. He knew nothing more as to them: they were simply "disciples," but they were that, disciples. He asked the question, "Having believed did ye receive spirit holy" (pneuma hagion), that is, "Were those spiritual gifts and powers imparted which indicate the Pentecostal outpouring?" They said that they had not heard concerning "spirit holy" (pneuma hagion). This did not mean that they had not heard of the Person of the Spirit of God, for being disciples of John they would have heard that he had said that one coming after him would baptize in the Spirit; but they had not heard of the fulfilment of this prophecy of John. Learning from Paul that the fulfilment had come in Jesus they were baptized in water in His name, and consequent upon this dedication of themselves, and Paul having associated them with himself by laying his hands upon them, "the Spirit the holy came upon them," that is, the Spirit in person, and He conferred the pneuma hagion, here certain spiritual and supernatural powers that exhibited His presence, "they spake with tongues and prophesied."
Now, had Paul held the doctrine that every believer receives the Spirit by and at conversion and faith he never could have raised the question he did. No one who so thinks would ask that question, but would rather say, "Ye know that ye did receive the Spirit when ye believed! " But, as noted above, Paul's own experience forbade this idea.
These instances establish that during the first generation after Christ the Spirit did not at conversion automatically take up in every believer His residence as a Person. He could and He did do much in and for and by each believer, but it was sometimes as a person external and not indwelling.
Attempt to break the force of these instances, and to deprive Christians of their value, by the theory that the period in question was only "Interim" or semi-Jewish. and the true Christian age did not set in until Paul's imprisonment in Rome, we reject without discussion here,
The main present point being thus established it is now to be acknowledged that the anointing with the Spirit may be granted by God on the same occasion as one first accepts the testimony of the gospel as to the Son of God. This is shown by the occurrence in the house of Cornelius (Ac.x. xi. 15-1 7: xv 7-9). Yet in these passages the kindling in the heart of faith in Christ and the gift of the Spirit are presented as distinct events, the one following the other.
There is no warrant for inserting in Ac. xi 17 the word "when"and so making Peter say that they received the Spirit at the same time that they had first believed on Christ ("God gave unto them the like gift as He did also unto us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ") The aorist participle pisteusasin simply states that the apostles had at some time put faith on Jesus, but it does not say that it was at the same time that God gave to them the Spirit, and the history shows that the two events were widely separated. This was noted above. Peter's later account of the events at Caesarea indicates the same distinction. He specifies three operations in the hearts of the company gathered: hearing the word, believing, the gift of the Spirit. Hearing and believing may be closely connected in point of time, as on that occasion, but they may be widely separated in time: and it may be thus with believing and being anointed, as on the other occasions mentioned. In either case the operations are distinct. The Spirit, using the word, had excited faith in the heart of the hearer before He came upon and indwelled him.
Another type displays this distinction. The public cleansing of a leper pictures the restoration of a backslidden child of God (Lev. xiv.). Part of the ceremony was that the priest was to take of the blood of atonement and put it upon the ear, hand, and foot of the person. Following this he was to pour oil into the palm of his left hand, with his finger was to put oil upon the blood, and to pour the rest of the oil in his palm upon the head of the person being cleansed. Though all this took place upon the one occasion, the two applications were plainly consecutive, not simultaneous. The laying aside of the vessel with the blood, the taking up of that with the oil, the pouring oil into his palm, all required some interval between the use first of the blood, afterward of the oil. Now the oil pointed to the anointing of the cleansed believer with the Holy Spirit.
Some dependent features in the cases mentioned should be noted.
1. It was a defnite transaction at a definite time. Plainly this was so at Pentecost, Samaria, Caesarea, and Ephesus, as well is in the case of Saul of Tarsus. It is taught equally clearly in the Epistles.
Eph. i.13. The A.V. "after that ye believed ye were sealed" would support the contention that the believing and the sealing were not concurrent: but the translation is not accurate and emphasizes the point. The R.V. "having also believed ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise" is better for though it amounts to the same thing, it does not unduly press the point that the sealing was subsequent to the believing. But the history of Ac. xix shows that the fact was so, when it was "a" when they heard Pauls announcement about Jesus that they "b" baptised into the name of the Lord Jesus and "c" when Paul had laid his hands upon them the holy Spirit came upon them.
The point of importance top be noted here is the use of the aorist, "were sealed",indicating a known event at a definte time.
I Cor. xii.13 Here the AV is definitely wrong and misleading. By the rendering "in one Spirit are we all baptized into one body" the reader is almost compelled to think that the statement applies to all believers at all times; and by the last clause, "we have been all made to drink into one Spirit," that false impression is deepened; and by the perfect tense "have been" it is implied that that universal experience is continuous in the Christian circle.
The fact is that both "baptised" and "drink" are again aorists, which the R.V. renders correctly by "we were all baptised ...we were all made to drink." The "all" here is explained in the verse itself to mean that Jews and Gentiles partook equally in the privilege rnentioned; it does not assert that all believers everywhere in all times know the experience. As with the Ephesian believers so with those at Corinth, the aorist tense points back to a known and definite experience of the persons addressed
From the action of Peter and John at Samaria (Ac. viii) and of Paul at Ephesus it appears that the apostles took steps to see that their converts did receive the anointing. Today too many preachers and teachers assume the point, or they teach definitely that the anointing invariably co-exists with faith and conversion .Not so the apostles. They knew it might not be thus, so they taught and acted accordingly, as we have seen. The modern mistake in this matter is similar to that of those preachers who assume either that all men have in them a spark of divine life by natural birth, or that they have been born again in their sprinkling as infants. Although the results in the first case are not fatal, as in the two latter, they are sufficiently hurtful.
That the Coripthians had in fact received the baptism in the Spirit is clear, not only from this statement in xii. 13, but also from Pauls opening stateraent about them that they were "enriched," "confirmed " and "came behind in no gift "(i. 5-7). Ch. xiv amplifies this by showing that they spake in tongues and prophesied.
Thus these two main scriptures do not lay down general statements as to all believers at all times, but refer back to distinct and known experiences of the persons addressed. On the other hand, concerning the grant of eternal life there are unqualified statements, such as John iii 36 "the one believing on the Son hath eternal life," or v, 24, "the one hearing My word, and believing Him that sent Me, hath eternal life" No statement in this general unrestricted form is made in regard to the anointing and indwelling of the Spirit of God. The statements are historical, referring to known experiences of the persons in view.
Rom. viii. 9 Difficulty is felt as to the words "But if any one hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His." The strict rendering is, "But if any one has not spirit of Christ, this one is not of Him," There is no article before "spirit."
In the Preface to his translation of the New Testament J. N. Darby says:
The use of a large or small "s" is of extreme difficulty in the case of the word "Spirit"; not in giving it when the Holy Spirit is simply spoken of personally. There it is simple enough. But as dwelling in us, our state by it, and the Holy Spirit itself, are so blended as to make it then very difficult: because it is spoken of as our state, and then as the Holy Ghost. If it be put large, we lose the first; if small, the Spirit personally.
In a footnote to the first clause of the verse before us he adds: Another instance of the difficulty of putting a large or small "s" It is clearly the state and characteristic of the believer; but it is so by the presence of the Spirit. See too verse 15.
The absence of the article in verses 8 and 9 is to be noted: "and those in flesh existing (ontes) are not able to please God. But ye are not in flesh but in spirit, if at least spirit of God dwells in you. But if any one has not spirit of Christ, this one (houlos) is not of Him."
1) "In flesh"or "in spirit" are the two possible states of experience. The former being plainly impersonal, so will the latter be, and the person of the Spirit is not in view. Neither state is the person himself, but each a state in which the person may be. And that only a believer is in question is certain from the fact that an unbeliever cannot be "in spirit but only "in flesh." A Christian may be in either. See I Cor. iii. m, 3, where " carnal " is the adjective of the same noun "flesh "and equals "fleshly".
(2) "if at least spirit of God dwells in you." If this be taken to refer to the Spirit of God, it indicates the possibility that the Spirit of God may not personally indwell a believer, thus being the force of eiper "if at least" Thus Hermann in Grimms Lexicon: "It is used of a thing which is assured to him, but whether rightly or wrongly is left in doubt." Therefore upon this place Moule (Cambridge Bible for Schools) writes: "The Greek particle is more than merely 'if ' which often equals 'since' or 'as', and suggests just such doubt and enquiry as would amount to self-examination." So Alford. Doubt and enquiry upon this point can only arise as to the regenerate, for in the case of one unregenerate it is quite certain that the Spirit of God does not dwell in him, and the eiper would not apply.
It seems preferable, and is certainly allowable, to take "spirit" here in the sense in which a son may he said to have the same gracious or courageous or humble spirit as his father, Nor does it sound quite reverent for a man to speak of having or holding or possessing the Divine Spirit as a Person, as if He were an article one may take or hold. Rather is it He who owns and holds the believer in whom He dwells. But there is no objection to the idea of a man possessing and being animated by the same spirit as was seen in Christ.
(3) "He is not of Him" The rendering "none of His" is certainly too wide. In my Firstfruits and Harvest, 22 and 83-89, this genitive "of Him" is examined at length, including this passage, and it is seen that the force is that of being a member of an intimate and privileged circle attached to a sovereign, his entourage, as distinct fmom the larger body of his loyal subjects.
In the light of the other places considered this will mean that one not ruled by the same spirit that animated Christ is not of that company which He owns as His circle, His household. "He is not His (belongs not to Him in the higher and blessed sense of being united to Him as a member of Him." Thus this statement in Rom. viii. "belongs not to Him in the higher and blessed sense of being united to Him as a member of him" (Alford)
Thus this statement in Rom 8 cannot be rightly extended to mean that the person in question is unregenerate and lost; and whether it be taken to refer to the blessed Spirit as a Person, or to the generating by Him in the believer of the same spirit that animates Christ, in neither case does it teach that the anointing and indwelling of the Spirit necessarily coincides with conversion and the new birth.
2. The experience of the baptism or anointing was known consciously by the subject of it. Yet not always with equal dramatic force or supernatural signs. Not all the baptised spoke with a tongue or healed the sick or palsied. This is settled by I Cor. xii. 28-30, where each of the series of questions requires a negative answer. But each knew that the event itself had taken place.
How could it be otherwise under the circumstances described? Could the leper be healed, washed, sprinkled, and anointed and not know it? Could the glory of God descend and fill the tabernacle or temple and it not be known? Can the living God, the King of moral glory, enter and inhabit a house and His Royal advent be unrecognized! Can one be immersed, or made to drink, or be copiously annointed with flagrant oil, and he unaware of it?
Indirectly the matter is established by the argument in Gal. iii. The question is whether righteousness is reckoned by God to one who works out salvation or to him who sets faith on Christ. Paul's argument comes to this: Let the point he determined by one single consideration: Did you receive the Spirit as God's response to works of Law or to faith in the message concerning Christ? Now if they had not know at what time or upon what ground they had received the Spirit the question would have been pointless, for they could not have a answered it and the arguement must have been without force.
The foregoing establishes that there may be subsequent to conversion a definite and known reception of the Spirit to indwell the believer. The question now arises whether such definite and known experience is indispensable to the indwelling, or whether this may become fact without such conscious reception at a given hour. Are the instances cited from Acts the necessary and only type without which the anointing has not been known? Or does Scripture admit other proof of the indwelling without the more striking accompaniments?
1. The principal purpose of the baptism and anointing as stated by the Lord was power to witness for Him (John XV. 2 Ac. i. 8). Therefore if that power is working through a believer, so that by his witness men are convicted of sin and brought to faith in Christ this would argue that the Spirit is upon him, as also if his ministry edifies and sanctifies believers.
2. The discussion concerning the Spirit found in I Cor. xii -xiv. is governed by the words of ver. 7, ch .xii, "the manifestation of the Spirit is given." What makes manifest the presence of the Spirit? In verse 3 it is the confession of Jesus as Lord. Of course this did not mean a mere verbal acknowledgment of the fact. To confess Jesus to he the LORD meant at that time a public renunciation of idol worship, an open repudiation of the gods as being demons, a withdrawal from the State religion with the dangers involved. For "Lord" was a title of the gods-"my lord Jupiter" The confession meant also a refusal of the claim of the Emperor to receive worship, which was the keystone to the State religion. For "Lord "was an oflicial title of the Emperor, as an embodiment of some god-"my lord Augustus.''
Therefore to declare that Jesus was the only Lord meant, as the law construed it, both blasphemy and treason, and was legal ground for imposing on Christians the death penalty. The one who was faithfull and brave enough thus to risk torture and death must have received such inner energy from the Holy Spirit who had energized Christ to be the faithful witness
3. In ve. 8-11 of ch. xii nine signal manifestations of the Spirit are detailed, The presence of any one or more of these will certify the indwelling of the Spirit. It has been a vast and hurtful mistake to take one of these "speaking with tongues" as the indispensable evidence of the anointing. Any other one of these nine gifts is equal proof, for no one of them could be produced but by the Holy Spirit.
4. Then (ver. 3i) the apostle says: "a still more excellent way (of manifesting the Spirit) show I unto you,"and their follows the necessity for and superiority of Divine love So perfectly described in ch. xiii. When such love dominates a child of God it is the highest of all proof that a spirit other than the human spirit fills the believer, for only by the Spirit of God is the love of God shed abroad in the heart of man (Rom. v. 3.
Those who have experienced the anointing later than conversion listen with pain and pity to the dogmatic assertion that this is not possible because everything possible was received at conversion and only needs developing. I am among those who are amazed at positive assertions upon an experience the dogmatist admits he has not had. When the denial is made with heat of spirit it is also made evident that the speaker much needs the very experience he reprobates. I know the place and time when I accepted pardon and peace in Christ. It was in my eighteenth year, I know the time and place when I accepted the promise of God concerning the anointing with the Spirit. It was in my thirtieth year. Why should my testimony on the one point be accepted, and on the other point be denied?
It is dangerous to tell the professor that he is regenerate when his conduct belies it: it is injurious to tell the regenerate that he has received the Spirit when carnality or feebleness deny it. Each is encouraged to go on as he is, instead of the former seeking life and the latter life abundant.
But many have no knowledge of when and where they first received pardon through Christ, but they know they are forgiven: they cannot say definitely when they were born again, but they know they are alive unto God. In the same way, it would seem, a believer may not know of a precise hour when the blessed Spirit took up His abode in him, yet character, life, and service may show His presence and power. Sometimes this proof begins at the very hour of conversion, sometimes at a later and known crisis, sometimes it is by quiet and gradual growth.
Yet even as there are certain definite advantages from knowing the time of ones conversion, so there are from a conscious reception of the Spirit. If one is in doubt of salvation, let him take no risks, but definitely accept Christ: if a believer is in doubt as to the anointing, sealing, and baptizing in the Spirit, let him take hold of the promises as to this distinct and advance experience.
For the method of reception is the same as for all heavenly bestowments: God promises, man accepts, God fulfils. The fulfilment may be immediate, with signs or with ecstasy of joy: it may not be so accompanied yet be equally real and effective. Even as the Spirit is sovereign in the new birth, like the wind not subject to the dictation of man (John iii. 8), so is He sovereign in the anointing and indwelling: "He divideth to each one severally even as He will" (I Cor. xii. ii). There is lack of submission and reverence when one insists that he must have this gift and not that as proof of the indwelling.
The assumption is not warranted that, because on three occasions the baptism was accompanied by speaking with tongues (Ac. ii; x; xix.), therefore it was so accompanied in every other case in the apostolic age. The assumption is not warranted that because, in the instances cited above, the anointing was known and conscious therefore it must always he so. Faith is always to rest assured of the fulfilment of the promise of God, but the circumstances must always be left to His ordering.
Neither is it warranted nor needful that, because the first disciples were told to tarry in Jerusalem until the Spirit descended, therefore believers now must hold "tarrying meetings": for then the Spirit had not been given and was not available, whereas now He is here and available, and it is for faith to appropriate and rest, leaving to the Lord the manner and signs of the enduement. The law of reception of all things promised is, "According to your faith be it unto you," not according to your tarrying, weeping, groaning, striving, and emotion. God does not require to be press-ganged into bestowing His proffered benefits. If fond earthly parents know how to give good gifts unto their children, how much rather the Father Who out of heaven will give most readily every holy spiritual gift* to them that ask Him in faith (Luke xi. 13).
A fine Egyptian student in Cairo had just accepted Christ and had found peace and joy in believing. He then said: " But what am I to do in my home and school? " I knew what was in his mind. In both spheres language and conduct would be gross and defiling. I inquired how it was that he knew anything at all about Christ. He replied, From the Bible," "Yes," I said, "the Bible it is that tells about the Son of God and His redeeming death and promises peace and joy to those who believe the message. You have believed and the promise of the Book has been fulfilled in your heart." He replied with emphasis, "Yes, it has been this evening."
Now," I continued, "the same Book speaks of another Divine Person having come to the earth, the Holy Spirit of God, You will not see Him, but neither have you seen the Son of God, but the Book says He came, and that He came for certain definite purposes. He did not come to atone for sin, for the Son of God had completed that work; but the Spirit is here to dwell in our body and fill the soul with strength to be holy." This matter I explained sufficiently and then said: "If you will accept the promises of the Book regarding the Spirit of God as you have accepted those concerning the Son of God, the former will be fulfilled in your experience as definitely as the latter have been." He thought quietly for a time and then said: "Yes, that meets my case," and he went away to prove the reality.
It has been remarked above that twice in the history of Israel the visible house of God was destroyed and that thereupon Israel as a people ceased to have Him dwelling among them. Psa. lxxviii. 56-61, stresses that the idolatries of Israel angered their God, "so that He forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which He had placed among men, and delivered His strength into captivity, and His beauty into the adversarys hand," whereupon the people themselves were destroyed by fire and sword. The order is to be noted: first God forsook the house, then followed its destruction and that of the people.
Four centuries later this terrible double event was used by Jeremiah to warn the then people that their sins would bring a like recompense of reward and wrath: "Go ye now to My place which was in Shiloh, where I caused My name to dwell at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of My people Israel" (Jer. vii. 12; xxvi. 6). Though wicked they are still acknowledged by God as His people. Ezekiel saw the fulfilment of this warning (x. 18, xi. 23). Reluctantly, by stages, the presence of God withdrew from the temple and the city, and destruction followed.
It were impossible, inconceivable, that Philistines could have destroyed the tabernacle or Chaldeans the temple so long as the God of glory was in residence. It is equally inconceivable that Satan could have destroyed the body of the incestuous brother at Corinth, or other carnal Christians there, so long as the Spirit of God was in residence in them I Cor, v, 5; xi. 30). Types and histories agree to teach a withdrawal of the Spirit followed by the destruction deserved. Twice it is affirmed in the Epistles that covetousness is idolatry (Eph. V. 5, Col. iii. 5). Covetousness is simply the longing to have more, whether much or little more being immaterial to the nature of the Sin, It implies dissatisfaction with the present ordering of God. Shall this idolatry be less offensive to the holy and loving Father than that other form of idolatry that provoked His anger against lsrael?
Nor can it be questioned that upon many a once Spirit-energized life there stands the dread notice "Ichabod," the glory is departed (I Sam. 4. 21 ). As with an individual Christian so with a church. To the Laodiceans the Lord speaks as from outside the house knocking for admission (Rev. iii. 20). The Ephesians were warned of impending destruction as a church: "I come unto thee" (so that He was not then dwelling among them), "and will move thy lampstand out of its place, except thou repent "(Rev. ii. 5)
Except thou repent - therefore restoration was possible as it was to Israel of old, when national repentance warranted the return of the glory of God, As Israel was still owned by God as His people, so a decadent church is still addressed and chastened as being beloved: "As many as I love I reprove and chasten," which shows that it is real children of God who are thus reproved and chastened in order that they may "become zealous and repent" (Rev. iii. 19). Carnal churches have been quickened and backslidden individuals have been restored, whereupon the Spirit of God has re-occupied the house and beautified it afresh.
All these features are facts, undeniable facts of both Scripture and experience. Woe is unto him who refuses facts to save a theory, such as a dispensational scheme concening the "body" and the resurrection of the dead. That comes true in theology which Huxley said of scientific notions, that many a beautiful theory has been killed by an ugly fact.
A note of caution must be sounded. The anointing and indwelling of the blessed Spirit does not guarantee sudden perfection of knowledge, character, or walk. It will lift the believer on to a far higher level of holiness and service, but nothing diminishes the need and duty to watch and pray. Peter was anointed in Jerusalen, but years later he failed badly at Antioch. But his sad lapse did not prove that he never had been indwelled by the Spirit. Thus had the Corinthian Christians been lifted out of the filth of heathendom (I Cor. vi. ii), but were in danger of returning to wallow in the mire (ch. v.). The Spirit had done much in them, but much fuller sanctification was required.
The holy Dove may be grieved, the heavenly lamp may be quenched (I Thess. 5: 20). The disciple may be filled today and need to he filled again tomorrow (Ac. iv. 31). For each task and each duty he must drink of the Book in the Way, so its to press on with head erect (Psa. cx. 7). It is only he who drinks repeatedly, of the Water of life that shall never thirst, but find his own being to become the well in which the heavenly Water springs up perpetually (John ii. I 4). In that same word to the Galatians (ch. iii) Paul shows this very clearly. In ver. 2 he reminds them of the past: "received ye the Spirit?" In ver.5 he brings them down to the present : "He therefore that supplieth to you the Spirit and worketh signs, etc."
The chief present work of the Spirit of God is to glorify Christ, even its the Lord said, ''He shall glorify Me* (John xvi. 14). Man glorifies himself, the Spirit glorifies Christ. Whoever, therefore, desires the fulness of the Spirit let him devote himself unreservedly to the work the Spirit is here to do, for then the effective co-operation of the Spirit is assured; that is, let him dedicate his body, mind, and spirit, his whole personality to the single all-inclusive end of living to the glory of Christ. This will carry with it the watchful use of time, the thoughtful use of seconds, the unrestricted dedication of all possessions, the ordering of business, of home, of children, the concentration of life entire to the honour of the Son of God
If this dedication is deliberate and complete, so that the believer can use honestly Paul's words For to me to live is Christ (Phil. i. 21), then will the anointing, sealing, in-dwelling, empowering of the Spirit be the Fathers response, for the honour of the Son is the governing principle of the Father (John V. 22, 23).
This unreserved dedication of all unto God brings to perfection the dedication by Israel of the vast possessions given willingly to the preparing of the house of God of old. The response of God was that He graciously made that house His dwelling. The same response is assured to the one who devotes himself wholly to the interests of Christ, by serving Him in the building of His church. Let such an one ask for this purpose and he shall receive, shall receive in such abundance that his joy shall be full; for that is true here which Evan Roberts said when asked the secret of the 1904 revival in Wales: " There is no secret: it is only, Ask and ye shall receive." To such an one this world shall indeed be more than ever a wilderness, but he shall know the power of that word, " The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad; and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose (Isa. xxxv. i); he shall share the deep dual experience of Paul, "as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things " (II Cor. vi. 10).
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