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The Operation of the Holy Spirit—Now and in the Millennium—Various Descriptive Names of the Holy Spirit, "Spirit of Love," "Spirit of Truth," etc.—In Contrast, the Unholy Spirit, "Spirit of Error," "Spirit of Fear," etc.—Personal Pronouns Applied—The Significance of the Word Spirit—"God is a Spirit"—"The Holy Spirit Was not yet Given"—Gifts of the Spirit—The Transforming Power of the Holy Spirit—The Spirit by Measure and Without Measure—"The Spirit of the World," Antichrist—The Battle Between this and the Holy Spirit—Spirit Fightings Without and Within the Saints—The Spirit that Lusteth to Envy—Taught of the Spirit—The Parakletos, the Comforter—He Shall Guide You into all Truth and into Full Atonement—The Spirit's Supervision None the Less Since the Miraculous Gifts Were Discontinued.
"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God....Ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God." Rom. 8:14-16
"And it shall come to pass, afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh." Joel 2:28
THE GREAT work of the Atonement could not be properly considered, nor clearly understood, if the work of the holy Spirit, in connection therewith, were overlooked or ignored. The holy Spirit has much to do with the presentation of the Atonement—making manifest to the believer the divine forgiveness, as well as guiding him into full reconciliation of heart to God. It was under the begetting influence of the holy Spirit, received by our Lord Jesus at his baptism, at the beginning of his ministry, that his consecrated heart was enabled to see clearly and distinctly the Father's will, the proper course, the narrow way of sacrifice, and to appreciate the exceeding great and precious promises, whose fulfilment lay beyond his humiliation, ignominy and [E164] death at Calvary. By the holy Spirit, therefore, our Redeemer was enabled to perform his great work, being guided thereby to do that which was pleasing and acceptable before the Father, and which provided the ransom for all humanity. Similarly the holy Spirit is identified with the Church: all who have accepted the merits of the great sin-offering, and who have come unto the Father through the merit of the Son's sacrifice, and who have presented themselves living sacrifices, in harmony with the high calling to the divine nature held out to such during the Gospel age, have needed and had the holy Spirit's aid. Only in proportion as any receive the holy Spirit of God are they able to come into proper lines of fellowship with the Father, and with the Son, so as to be able to "prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God," and to do it. Only by the holy Spirit are we guided beyond the mere letter of the divine testimony, into a true appreciation of "the deep things of God," and all those things which God hath in reservation for them that love him, which the human eye hath not seen, the human ear hath not heard, neither hath entered into the human heart to understand and appreciate. 1 Cor. 2:9,10
The holy Spirit's office will be equally important during the Millennial age, in bringing the world of mankind back into harmony with God, under the terms of the New Covenant, through the merits of the dear Redeemer's sacrifice. Accordingly, through the prophet Joel (2:28,29), the Lord has drawn attention to this fact, pointing out that while he will pour his Spirit only upon his servants and handmaidens during this Gospel age, yet "afterward" his holy Spirit shall be generally poured upon the world of mankind, "all flesh."* During the Millennial age, then, the [E165] world's progress will be in full harmony with the holy Spirit; and in proportion as men shall come into full harmony with that holy Spirit will any of them become eligible to the eternal conditions of life and joy and blessing which lie beyond the Millennial age. The fact that the holy Spirit will cooperate with the glorified Church in the blessing of all the families of the earth is also testified by our Lord. After picturing to us the glories of the Millennium and its abundant supply of truth as a mighty river of the water of life, clear as crystal, he says, "And the Spirit and the Bride say, Come! And whosoever will may come, and take of the water of life freely." Rev. 22:17
*The order of this blessing is reversed in the prophetic statement; quite probably, in order to obscure the matter until the proper time, and thus to hide some of the length and breadth and height and depth of the divine plan, until the due time for it to be known and appreciated.
But this subject of the holy Spirit, its office and operation, has been grievously misunderstood by many of the Lord's people for centuries: and only in the light of the rising Sun of Righteousness—in the light of the parousia of the Son of Man—is this subject becoming thoroughly clear and reasonable, as it evidently was to the early Church, and in harmony with all the various Scriptural testimonies pertaining to it. The doctrine of the Trinity, which, as we have seen, began to rise in the second century, and reached a large development in the fourth century, is responsible, in considerable measure, for much of the darkness which blends with the truth on this subject in many Christian minds, much to their disadvantage—confusing and mystifying all religious convictions.
There is consistency in the Scripture teaching that the Father and Son are in full harmony and oneness of purpose and operation, as we have just seen. And equally consistent is the Scripture teaching respecting the holy Spirit—that it is not another God, but the spirit, influence or power exercised by the one God, our Father, and by his Only Begotten Son—in absolute oneness, therefore, with both of these, who also are at one or in full accord. But how different is this unity of the Father, the Son and the holy Spirit from that held and taught under the name of Trinitarian doctrine, which [E166] in the language of the Catechism (Questions 5 and 6) declares—There are three persons in the One God—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost: "these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory." This view suited well "the dark ages" which it helped to produce. The period in which mysteries were worshiped instead of unraveled found a most choice one in this theory, which is as unscriptural as it is unreasonable. How could the three be one in person, in substance? And if only "one in substance" how could they be "equal ?" Does not every intelligent person know that if God is one in person he cannot be three ? and that if three in person there can be only one sense in which the three could be one, and that not in person but in purpose, in mind, in will, in cooperation? Verily, if it were not for the fact that this trinitarian nonsense was drilled into us from earliest infancy, and the fact that it is soberly taught in Theological Seminaries by gray-haired professors, in many other ways apparently wise, nobody would give it a moment's serious consideration. How the great Adversary ever succeeded in foisting it upon the Lord's people to bewilder and mystify them, and render much of the Word of God of none effect, is the real mystery which will probably not be solved until we "know even as we are known," in glory.
The careful student of the preceding chapters has found abundant testimony from the Scriptures, to the effect that there is but one All-mighty God—Jehovah; and that he has highly exalted his First Begotten Son, his Only Begotten Son, to his own nature and to his own throne of the universe; and that next to these in order of rank will be the glorified Church, the Bride, the Lamb's wife and joint-heir—otherwise styled his "brethren." These shall be made associates of his glory, as in the present age they are required to be associates in his sufferings. The students have noticed also, that all scriptures harmonize and agree in the above testimony; and further, that there are no scriptures whatever which, either directly or indirectly, actually or apparently, [E167] conflict with these findings. The question then arises, Who, Where, What, is the holy Spirit?
Let us follow in respect to this question the same course of investigation followed in the others. Let us go to the law and to the testimony of God for all our information. Let us not go to man. Let us not accept the doubts and speculations of good people who are dead, or of good people who are living, nor yet our own. Let us remember the Apostle's declaration that the Word of the Lord is given with the intention—"that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto every good work." (2 Tim. 3:17) Let us place our reliance wholly upon the Lord, and seek to know the meaning of what he declares respecting the holy Spirit, bringing every Scripture testimony into harmony; assured that the truth, and it only, will stand such a searching examination. So doing, prayerfully and carefully, our efforts shall be rewarded. To him that knocketh, the door of knowledge shall be opened; to him that seeketh, the knowledge of the holy Spirit shall be revealed. Isa. 8:20; Matt. 7:7,8
The holy Spirit is variously defined in the Scriptures, and to rightly understand the subject these various definitions must be considered together, and be permitted to throw light upon each other. Notice that the holy Spirit is variously styled—"The Spirit of God," "The Spirit of Christ," "The Spirit of Holiness," "The Spirit of Truth," "The Spirit of a Sound Mind," "The Spirit of Liberty," "The Spirit of the Father," "The Holy Spirit of Promise," "The Spirit of Meekness," "The Spirit of Understanding," "The Spirit of Wisdom," "The Spirit of Glory," "The Spirit of Counsel," "The Spirit of Grace," "The Spirit of Adoption," "The Spirit of Prophecy."
These various titles, repeated many times, and used interchangeably, give us the full, proper assurance that they all relate to the same holy Spirit—indeed, frequently the word "holy" is added in, combined, as for instance, "The holy Spirit of God," "The holy Spirit of Promise," etc. We [E168] must seek an understanding of the subject which will reject none of these appellations, but harmonize them all. It is impossible to harmonize these various statements with the ordinary idea of a third God; but it is entirely consistent with every one of them to understand these various expressions as descriptive of the spirit, disposition and power of one God, our Father; and also the spirit, disposition and power of our Lord Jesus Christ, because he is at one with the Father—and also to a certain extent it is the spirit or disposition of all who are truly the Lord's, angels or men, in proportion as they have come into oneness or harmony, with him.
It may be helpful to some to notice that there is another spirit mentioned frequently throughout the Scriptures, and in opposite terms, namely, "The Spirit of Fear," "The Spirit of Bondage," "The Spirit of the World," "The Spirit of Error," "The Spirit of Divination," "The Spirit of Antichrist," "The Spirit of Slumber." No one thinks that these various definitions, if unitedly considered, would justify the thought that there are two or more Satans. All naturally and properly enough recognize the meaning of these terms, as signifying in general the wrong spirit—the spirit, disposition or power which has its chief exemplification in Satan; the spirit manifesting itself in all who are in harmony with sin and Satan. Very properly also, none think of these as personal spirits. No more should any one consider the various applications of the word "spirit" in a good sense, as signifying different spirit beings, nor as signifying unitedly another God. These terms, considered unitedly, represent various features of the character, the disposition, the Spirit of our God, Jehovah, and proportionately the spirit or disposition of all who have received his Spirit, become partakers of his disposition and come into harmony with the divine mind.
Certain unscriptural ideas, and therefore false ideas, respecting the spirit of man, which will be examined in a succeeding [E169] chapter, lie close to the foundation of the unscriptural and false view of the holy Spirit, now so generally prevalent. And the wrong thoughts respecting the Spirit of God and the spirit of man have been intensified and deepened by the fact that the translators of our Common Version English Bible have ninety-two times used the phrase "Holy Ghost" without the slightest authority—the original Greek word being pneuma—spirit. And the word "ghost," to the uneducated, has a very vague meaning, which, nevertheless, is very positively identified with the thought of personality. It is worthy of note that in the Revised Version of the New Testament twenty-one of these occurrences of the word "Ghost" were changed so as to read "Spirit," and that the American Revision Committee recorded its protest in respect to the use of the word "Ghost" in the remaining seventy-one occurrences. And yet both the English and American Committees were composed of strict Trinitarians.
There is absolutely no ground whatever for thinking of or speaking of the holy Spirit as another God, distinct in personality from the Father and the Son. Quite to the contrary of this, notice the fact that it was the Father's Spirit that was communicated to our Lord Jesus, as it is written, "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the Gospel." (Luke 4:18) Turning to the prophecy from which this quotation is made, we read there, in the Hebrew, "The Spirit of the Lord Jehovah is on me, because Jehovah hath anointed me to proclaim good tidings to the humble." (Isa. 61:1) And to the same purport we read again, "And the Spirit of Jehovah shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of reverence of Jehovah." (Isa. 11:2,3) Similarly the same Spirit in Christ is referred to as "The Spirit of Christ," the mind of Christ—"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus our Lord." Phil. 2:5
It is urged by some that our Lord's reference to the holy Spirit, recorded in John 14:26, proves that the Spirit is a person, because our Common Version reads this passage thus: "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." But a glance at the Greek text of this passage shows that the translators were influenced by their prejudices on the subject, for there is no ground for the use of the words "whom" and "he." The Diaglott renders this verse thus: "But the helper, the holy Spirit which the Father will send in my name, shall teach you all things and remind you of those things which I said to you."
The same criticism is applicable to the seventeenth verse of the same chapter, which, in our Common Version, reads: "The Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him, but ye know him, for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." Here the expression, "Spirit of truth," is evidently used in contrast with the "spirit of error." The passage has no reference whatever to a person, but to the influence of the truth, and the effect of the same upon the Lord's people. The Diaglott translation of this verse reads: "The Spirit of truth, which the world cannot receive, because it beholds it not, nor knows it; but ye know it; because it operates with you and will be in you."
Take another illustration—"When he the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth; for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear that shall he speak; and he shall show you things to come. He will glorify me, for he shall receive of mine and shall show it unto you." (John 16:13,14) In this passage the Greek word, heautou, is translated "himself," yet the same word is frequently properly translated "itself." In our Common Version this word heautou is rendered in the masculine, feminine, common, and neuter genders. For instance, in the above text it is rendered [E171] in the masculine;* in 1 Cor. 11:5 it is in the feminine gender—"dishonoreth her head"; similarly in Rev. 2:20—"which calleth herself a prophetess"; and again in 1 Cor. 13:5—"Love seeketh not her own." In 1 Cor. 11:31 it is rendered in the common gender—"would judge ourselves "; likewise in 1 Cor. 16:15—"have addicted themselves "; again, Luke 22:17—"divide it among yourselves "; again, John 6:53—"ye have no life in you." As illustrations of the translation of the word heautou in the neuter form, in our Common Version, note the following:
"Let the morrow take thought for the things of itself." Matt. 6:34
"If a kingdom be divided against itself." Mark 3:24
"If a house be divided against itself." Mark 3:25
"As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself." John 15:4
"There is nothing unclean of itself." Rom. 14:14
"The whole body...maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love." Eph. 4:16
"Faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being by itself." James 2:17
Similarly, the word ekinos, rendered "he" in the passage under consideration might with equal propriety, be rendered "that," "this," "those," "the same," "she," "it"; and in our Common Version English Bible it is rendered in all these different forms, and more frequently than as the masculine pronouns, "he," "his," "him." Anyone skeptical on this subject can readily convince himself by consulting a Greek-English Concordance of the New Testament, which shows the various translations of these words. We will give one example of each of these translations of the word ekinos:
"It shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city." Luke 10:12
"She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith." John 20:15
"But know this, that if the goodman of the house." Matt. 24:43
"I do not say that ye shall pray for it." 1 John 5:16
"On one of those days as he taught." Luke 20:1
"The same day was the Sabbath." John 5:9
"The child was cured from that very hour." Matt. 17:18
It is not infrequent, however, to attach to a virtue or quality the gender of the person or thing to which it belongs; thus, for instance, because the heavenly Father is designated as masculine, therefore it would be but proper that his power, his spirit, his every influence and characteristic should be similarly designated in the masculine form. Nor is it rare for things which are neuter of themselves to be designated as masculine or feminine, according as they are strong and active, or passive and delicate. Thus, for instance, the sun is universally referred to as "he," and the moon as "she." Hence, if it were not for the general misconception on the subject, and the prevalent thought that the holy Spirit is a person (and not merely the divine spirit, influence or power—the spirit of the Father), there could be no criticism made of the use of the masculine pronouns in respect to the holy Spirit; because God is recognized as masculine, as the Author and source of life and blessing. So, then, let us not overlook the fact that the use of the personal pronouns does not prove the holy Spirit of God to be another person from the Father and the Son—another God. The holy Spirit or influence is the Father's spirit or influence, and the Son's also, for these are one in purpose and influence.
The question, then properly arises, what senses or meanings attach to the words "holy Spirit" as used in the Scriptures? [E173] What qualities or qualifications of the divine character or power are represented by the word "spirit?" The answer will best be found by first of all examining the strict meaning of the word "spirit," and then examining all the different methods of its use throughout the Scriptures.
(1) The word "spirit," in the Old Testament, is the translation of the Hebrew word ruach, the primary significance or root-meaning of which is wind. The word "spirit" in the New Testament comes from the Greek word pneuma, whose primary significance or root-meaning likewise is wind. But let no one hastily conclude that we are about to attempt to prove that the holy Spirit is a holy wind, for nothing could be farther from our thought. But we desire to present this obscure subject in such a manner as will be helpful both to the learned and the unlearned: hence we begin with the acknowledged root-meaning of these words, that we may ascertain how and why it was used in this connection.
Because the wind is both invisible and powerful, these words, ruach and pneuma, gradually took on much wider meanings, and came to represent any invisible power or influence, good or bad. And since divine power is exercised through channels and by agencies beyond human sight, therefore this word "spirit" came more and more to be applied to all of the Lord's dealings. Naturally also it came into common use in connection with such human influences as are invisible; for instance, to represent the breath of life, the power by which the man lives, which is invisible, designated the "spirit," or "breath of life"; also for the power of the mind, which is invisible, called "the spirit of the mind." Life itself is a power and is invisible, and hence it also was called spirit by the ancients. A few illustrations of these various uses of the Hebrew word ruach and the Greek word pneuma may be helpful.
Ruach in the Old Testament is translated "blast" 4 times, "breath" 28 times, "mind" 6 times, "smell" 8 times, "wind" and "windy" 91 times. In every instance the thought behind [E174] the word is an invisible power or influence. Samples of these translations of ruach are as follows:
"With the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together." Exod. 15:8
"All flesh wherein is the breath of life." Gen. 6:17; 7:15
"In whose hand is the... breath of all mankind." Job 12:10
"They have all one breath: so that a man hath no pre-eminence." Eccl. 3:19
"Which was a grief of mind unto Isaac." Gen. 26:35
"Jehovah smelleth a sweet savor." Gen. 8:21
"Noses have they but they smell not." Psa. 115:6
"God made a wind to pass over the earth." Gen. 8:1
"Thou didst blow with thy wind." Exod. 15:10
"Stormy wind fulfilling his word." Psa. 148:8
"The trees of the wood are moved with the wind." Isa. 7:2
"To give life to the image of the beast." Rev. 13:15
"Forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts." 1 Cor. 14:12
"The wind bloweth where it listeth and ye hear the sound thereof." John 3:8
And let us not forget that all of these various translations were made by Trinitarians. We do not object to these translations—they are quite proper: but we call attention to them as proofs that the words ruach and pneuma, rendered "spirit," do not signify personality, but do signify invisible power or influence.
(2) "God is a Spirit"; that is to say, he is a powerful but invisible being; likewise the angels are called spirits, because they also, in their natural condition, are invisible to [E175] men, except as revealed by miraculous power. Our Lord Jesus, while he was a man, was not designated a spirit being, but since his exaltation it is written of him, "Now the Lord is that Spirit"—he is now a powerful and invisible being. The Church of this Gospel Age is promised change of nature, to the likeness of her Lord, as it is written, "We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." The Church is spoken of as being spiritual, inasmuch as she is in harmony with the Lord and is declared to be begotten again by the Spirit to a new nature, a spirit nature, with the assurance that that which is begotten of the Spirit will, in the resurrection, be born of the Spirit. This use of the word spirit, it will be perceived, is related to personality—spirit beings. 2 Cor. 3:17; 1 John 3:2; John 3:6
(3) Another use of the word spirit is in the sense of generative power or fecundity, as in Gen. 1:2, "And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters"—that is to say, the power of God, his vehicle of energy, fecundated waters, or rendered them fruitful, prolific. Similarly, "Holy men of old spoke and wrote as they were moved by the holy Spirit," the holy influence or power of God fecundated their minds, causing them to bring forth thoughts such as God wished to have expressed. (2 Pet. 1:21) Similarly, the skilled workmen whom Moses selected to prepare the paraphernalia of the Tabernacle were brought under the influence of the divine power, to the energizing or quickening of their natural faculties, without affecting them in any moral sense, even as the waters of the great deep were not affected in a moral sense. Thus it is written:
"The Lord hath called by name Bezaleel...and hath filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, in all manner of workmanship, and to devise curious works; to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass; and in covering of stones, to set them; and in carving of wood, to make any manner of cunning work. And he hath put in his heart that he may teach, both he [E176] and Aholiab,...them hath he filled with wisdom of heart to work all manner of work, of the engraver and of the cunning workman, and of the embroiderer." Exod. 35:30-35; 28:3; 31:3,4
Likewise, we are informed that Jehovah God put upon Moses and the elders of Israel his Spirit, with special power for judging in Israel's affairs, preserving order, etc. (Num. 11:17-26) After the same manner God's Spirit was with the kings of Israel, so long as they were loyal to him. Notice, for instance, the case of Saul (1 Sam. 11:6); and that this Spirit of wisdom or judgment pertaining to the government of Israel departed from Saul, and was conferred upon David, whose discreetness thereafter is specially noted. (1 Sam. 16:13,14) Thereafter, instead of the Spirit of wisdom and courage and confidence, as a servant of the Lord, Saul had an evil spirit, more literally a spirit of sadness, of dejection, loss of confidence, in the realization that he was no longer recognized as the Lord's representative on the throne. And this spirit of dejection, which brooded on calamities, is said to have been from the Lord—probably in the sense that it resulted from the Lord's dealings, in removing from Saul his recognition and sustaining power and direction in the affairs of Israel.
But no manifestation of the Spirit of God, prior to the first advent of our Lord Jesus, was exactly the same as the manifestation and operation of the Lord's Spirit upon our Lord Jesus, from the time of his baptism until his crucifixion, and upon the Church of Christ from the day of Pentecost until now—until the very end of this Gospel Age, and the completion of the Church's course in the first resurrection. In harmony with this we read, "The holy Spirit was not yet given [except to our Lord Jesus], because Jesus was not yet glorified." John 7:39
The operation of God's Spirit during this Gospel Age is [E177] widely different from its operation in previous times; and this difference is expressed in the words "Spirit of adoption," "Spirit of sonship," "Spirit of holiness," "Spirit of truth," and kindred expressions. As we have already seen, after Adam's fall none of his posterity were accepted as sons of God prior to the first advent: the very highest title given to the father of the faithful, Abraham, was that of friend: "Abraham was called the friend of God." But, as the Apostle John explains, when the Logos was made flesh, he presented himself to his own people, Israel, and to as many as received him (then and since) gave he power (privilege, opportunity) to become the sons of God; and these, he declares, were begotten of God—begotten of the Spirit, as "that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." John 1:12,13; 3:3-8
The holy Spirit, in this sense of the word, is guaranteed only to the house of sons; and the house of sons was unknown until the Beloved Son was manifested in the flesh and redeemed the world, and granted to those who accept him the opportunity to receive the adoption of sons. (Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:5) This adoption, as the Apostle informs us, primarily was the inheritance of Israel, but since there was not a sufficient number in Israel ready to complete the predestinated number to be adopted, therefore, after accepting Israel's remnant, "God did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name," to be the sons of God, joint-heirs with Christ, and this was foreknown and foretold through the prophets. Rom. 9:4,29-33; Acts 15:14
But in what respects does this manifestation of the divine power, influence or Spirit, during this Gospel age, differ from the manifestation of it in previous times? The Apostle Peter answers this question, assuring us that the ancient worthies, although highly honored of God, and moved upon by his holy Spirit, spoke and wrote things which they did not understand. God used them as his servants to write out things not due to be understood by them, but which in due time would be revealed to us, the house of sons, by the operation of the same holy Spirit or holy power of God [E178] upon those begotten of his Spirit. In the past the Spirit's operation was chiefly mechanical: to us its operation is chiefly explanatory and sympathetic, expounding the divine plan through apostles and teachers specially "set in the Church" from time to time, the object being to enable the sons "to comprehend with all saints the length and breadth, the height and the depth" of the divine wisdom and goodness, as exemplified in the divine plan and its revelation. Indeed, from the Apostle's language, it is evident that even the angels (who were sometimes used of the Lord as his channels in communicating with the prophets, the mediums of his holy Spirit) were not permitted to understand the meaning of their communications, any more than were the prophets who wrote out the revelations for our benefit. Note the Apostle's words:
"Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that would come unto you: searching what [time] or what manner of time [literal or symbolic] the spirit of Christ which was in them did signify when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed that not unto themselves but unto us they did minister the things which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the holy Spirit sent down from heaven: which things also the angels desire to look into." 1 Pet. 1:10-12; 2 Pet. 1:21
"There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit, as there are differences of administration, but the same Lord; there are divers operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But a manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man [in the Church] to profit withal. For to one is given, by the [E179] Spirit, the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge, by the same Spirit; to another faith, by the same Spirit; to another, the gifts of healing, by the same Spirit; to another, the working of miracles; to another, prophecy; to another, discernment of spirits; to another, divers kinds of tongues; to another, the interpretation of tongues; but all these worketh that one and selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will." 1 Cor. 12:4-11
Here are enumerated some of the gifts given by the holy Spirit to the Church, but we are to distinguish sharply between the holy Spirit itself and these gifts or manifestations granted in the early Church. As they were not to understand that different spirits were operating in the different members of the Church, because of the differences of their gifts, so they were not to understand that it was a different Lord or Master that gave these gifts, but all were to be identified as of the one holy influence shed forth by the one Lord, the representative of the one God over all, Jehovah; and to be explained as "differences of administration," or of operation. Not only so, but the Spirit of God, the holy Spirit, has varied its administration in the Church: so that, whereas "gifts" of the kind here mentioned were general in the early Church, the day came, as the Apostle explained it would come, when prophecy would fail, tongues would cease, and special inspirations of knowledge would vanish away. (1 Cor. 13:8) All of these "gifts" were evidently necessary at the inauguration of the Church, at the start of the new age, but became unnecessary after the Church had been established and the canon of the inspired writings had been completed. These, the Apostle declares, are sufficient, "that the man of God may be thoroughly furnished unto all good works." 2 Tim. 3:17
True, not all of these gifts have vanished away or ceased; nor does the cessation of those which have been discontinued prove that the Lord has less power today than he had eighteen centuries ago; nor do they prove that the [E180] Lord's people are less worthy or less favored of the Lord. On the contrary, they indicate a "diversity of manifestation," and imply that God's people no longer have need of those cruder methods of instruction and proofs of their acceptance with the Lord. Now, instead of having such gifts miraculously bestowed, the operation of God's Spirit or power seems to be upon each of his consecrated people—partly in proportion to their natural qualifications, and partly in proportion to their zeal for his service. And hence we find that the apostle, in this connection, and in later epistles, incites the Church to seek to develop spiritual gifts, powers, abilities, in and for the service of the Lord and his people and his Truth.
These personally developed gifts are to be esteemed more highly than these miraculously bestowed; and hence the Apostle says, "I show unto you a more excellent way"; "follow after love and desire [cultivate] spiritual gifts, especially that ye may prophesy [publicly expound]." (1 Cor. 12:31; 14:1) The Apostle points out that the speaking with tongues was merely for "a sign," that the attention of the unbelievers might be drawn to the Church and her methods. (1 Cor. 14:22) And this gift, therefore, which was highly esteemed by some of the Corinthians, he points out as being one of the least spiritual—adapted less to the development of the spiritual Church, and chiefly useful in connection with the unregenerate world. This gift, and others of a somewhat similar class, quickly disappeared from the Church after she had obtained a footing, and a recognition in the world.
On the contrary, the "fruits of the Spirit" are to be encouraged, to be cultivated more and more, that they may yield the full, perfect fruitage of love to God, to each other, and the love of sympathy toward the world. These fruits of the Spirit are designated by the Apostle to be "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." (Gal. 5:22,23) The word "fruit," it will be noticed, [E181] conveys a double thought, that it is a gift, but of gradual development and maturity, and the result of labor. So with the gifts of the Spirit: "Every good gift and perfect gift cometh down from our Father," but such-like fruits are not miraculous gifts but gradual and indirect gifts, inspired by our Father's promises, and by our Lord's instructions through the apostles and prophets. They are wrought out in us in proportion as we come into harmony and obedience of thought and word and deed with the Spirit of our Father, by which we are begotten, and by which, if obedient, we are having developed more and more of the fruits of holiness, or fruits of the holy Spirit or disposition in likeness of God's dear Son, our Lord and Redeemer. Thus, under the ministration of the holy Spirit of the Truth, the faithful are being fitted to be "born of the Spirit" in the first resurrection, spirit beings; as they were begotten of the Spirit at the moment of consecration. Thus perfected as spirit beings, the Church will be heirs of God, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ, our Lord, in fulness of unity and fellowship with the Father and with the Son, complete in him, who is the head of all principalities and powers, and the Father's associate in the Kingdom, and full of the Spirit of the Father and of the Son—the holy Spirit.
It will be seen from the foregoing general views of the subject that the same Spirit or power of the heavenly Father, Jehovah, which operated in the creation of the world, and which operated differently upon his servants of the past, is, during this Gospel age, operating still differently, for the development of the Church, in the bringing of the Church into harmony with God, and in fitting and preparing it as the "Body of Christ" for a joint share in the Kingdom. And it will be the same holy Spirit or influence of God that will operate still differently during the Millennial age, through Christ and the Church glorified, to bring the world into harmony and unity with the principles of righteousness, and with the King of kings and Lord of lords. [E182] Nothing connected with this work in any sense or degree makes necessary another God. Quite the contrary. The fact that it is the one God who is operating under various circumstances and conditions, and by various means, for the accomplishment of his one purpose, gives us all the more assurance that all his good purposes shall be accomplished, and that, as he declares, "The word that goeth forth out of my mouth, it shall not return unto me void, but shall prosper in the thing whereto I send it." Isa. 55:11
From the foregoing we perceive that a broad definition of the words "Spirit of God," or "holy Spirit," would be—the divine will, influence, or power, exercised any and everywhere, and for any purpose in harmony with the divine will, which, being a holy will, implies that the steps and operations of the holy Spirit will be in harmony with holiness. God exercises his Spirit or energy in many ways, using various agencies in accomplishing various results. Whatever is accomplished by the Lord through either mechanical or intelligent agencies, is as truly his work as though he were the direct actor, since all those agencies are of his creation. Just as, amongst men, the contracting builder may not be actually working on every part of the construction, but every workman is his representative and under his control: the work, as a whole, is the contractor's work, though he may never have lifted a tool upon it. He does it with his materials and through his representatives and agents.
Thus, for instance, when we read, "Jehovah God created the heavens and the earth" (Gen. 2:4), we are not to suppose that he personally handled the elements. He used various agencies—"He spake and it was done [he gave orders and they were promptly executed]; he commanded, and it stood fast." (Psa. 33:6,9) Creation did not spring instantly into order; for we read that time was used—six days or epochs. And while we are distinctly informed that "All [E183] things are of the Father"—by his energy, his will, his Spirit, yet that energy, as we have previously seen, was exercised through his Son, the Logos.
The transforming power of God's holy Spirit, as it operates during this Gospel dispensation, to bring his people into full at-one-ment with himself, is a more abstruse, a less easily understood operation, than the exercise of his power mentioned in Genesis 1:2. It deals with a higher subject—with mind and free will instead of senseless matter.
(b) This power may be an energy of life, a physically creative power, or a power of thought, creating and inspiring thoughts and words, or a quickening or life-giving power, as it was manifested in the resurrection of our Lord, and will again be manifested in the resurrection of the Church, his body.
(c) The begetting or transforming power or influence of the knowledge of the Truth. In this aspect it is designated "The Spirit of Truth." God rules his own course according to truth and righteousness; hence, God's Word, the revelation of his course, is called Truth—"Thy word is Truth." Similarly, all who come under the influence of God's plan of Truth and righteousness are properly said to be under the influence of the Spirit or disposition of the Truth: they are properly described as begotten of the Truth to newness of life.
The Father draws sinners to Christ through a general enlightenment of the mind, a conviction of sin and of their need of a Redeemer. Those who accept Christ as their Savior and Advocate, and come to the point of full consecration to God, through Christ, are said to be begotten of God, "begotten by the word of truth," begotten by the [E184] Spirit of God to a newness of life. That is to say, having come into harmony with divine conditions and regulations, God accepts this consecrated attitude as the proper one, and passing by or covering the weakness of the flesh with the robe of Christ's righteousness—justification by faith, he accepts such as "new creatures in Christ Jesus," whose desire is to be guided by his Spirit into all truth, and to be led by that holy disposition or Spirit into full obedience to the extent of self-sacrifice, even unto death. Such are said to have received "the Spirit of adoption," because from thenceforth God, through Christ, enters into a special covenant with these as sons. And the Father, through the Captain of their Salvation, guarantees to such that if they abide in the Spirit of the Truth he will cause that all the affairs and incidents of life shall work together for good to them—to the development in them of more and more of the spirit of righteousness, truth, peace, joy; they shall have more and more of the holy Spirit, as they progress in obedience to the Spirit of Truth. Hence the exhortation to such is, "Be ye filled with the Spirit," "walk in the Spirit," "let the Spirit of Christ dwell in you richly and abound, and it shall make you to be neither barren nor unfruitful." This holy Spirit operating in the believer from the time of his full consecration to the Lord, is the same holy Spirit or disposition of the Father which operated in our Lord Jesus Christ, and hence it is also styled "the Spirit of Christ," and we are assured, "if any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his." Rom. 8:9
Our Lord Jesus was begotten of the holy Spirit at his baptism, his consecration; and so likewise the members of his body, his Church, we have seen, are "begotten" at their "baptism into his death," at the moment of their full consecration: but there is a distinction to be always remembered; [E185] viz., that our Lord Jesus, the Head of the Church, received the holy Spirit without measure, unlimitedly (John 3:34), while his followers receive it by measure, or limitedly—a measure of the Spirit is given to every man (in the Church). (1 Cor. 12:7; Rom. 12:3) The reason for this difference is that our Lord was a perfect man, while we, his followers, although accepted as reckonedly perfect (justified by faith), are actually very imperfect. The perfect man as the very image of God could be in fullest harmony with God and with his Spirit of holiness, in every and all particulars; but in proportion to the degradation through the fall, our harmony with God and with his Spirit of holiness has been impaired, though it is the duty and privilege of each to thoroughly seek to know and to do the Lord's will and to have no will in opposition to his; yet no member of the fallen race is capable of receiving the Lord's Spirit to the full—to be in absolute harmony with God in every particular. And hence, amongst those who believe, and who consecrate themselves, and who receive the holy Spirit of adoption, we find it possessed in different measures, these measures depending upon the degree of our fall from the divine image, and the degree of grace and faith attained since coming into the body of Christ. And the rapidity with which we may acquire more and more of the holy Spirit, coming into fuller and fuller knowledge and accord with every feature of the divine plan, is dependent largely upon our realization of our own imperfections, and the degree of our consecration to the Lord—to the study of his will, in his Word, and to the practice of the same in the affairs of life.
To the extent that the consecrated believers resign themselves to the Lord, and, ignoring their own wills and preferences, seek to walk in his way, they are "led of the Spirit," "taught of the Spirit," and can "serve the Lord in newness of Spirit." To continue under this leading and instruction they must have a "Spirit of meekness" (Gal. 5:22,23; 6:1), so that the "God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory," can give unto them the "Spirit of wisdom and revelation, [E186] in the knowledge of him; the eyes of their understanding being enlightened, that they may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints." Eph. 1:17,18
In these various presentations of the work of the holy Spirit, and in many others which will come to the attention of Bible students, nothing can be found to necessitate another God. Quite the contrary: a proper conception of the one God shows that his omnipotent power and resources are abundantly sufficient, and that he who said to Israel, "Hear, O Israel, Jehovah thy God is one," is not in need of assistance. Indeed, to be consistent, those who claim that another God is necessary to attend to matters referred to as the operation of the holy Spirit of God, might with equal consistency claim many spirit Gods—a spirit of adoption, spirit of meekness, spirit of Christ, spirit of the Father, spirit of love, spirit of justice, spirit of mercy, spirit of holiness, spirit of truth, spirit of patience, spirit of glory, spirit of knowledge, spirit of grace—a separate God for each department. But, as the Apostle explains, all these variations of operation belong to the one Spirit of the one omnipotent Jehovah.
The spirit of the world is the opposite to the Spirit of God. Since the whole world is in a fallen condition, and is under the blinding and seducing influences of the Adversary, its spirit or disposition necessarily is in constant conflict with the holy, the true, the just, the loving Spirit or disposition of God: in conflict therefore with the holy Spirit received by his people through his Word, and all his holy influences variously exercised upon them. As Satan's spirit of selfishness, hatred, envy and strife works in and largely controls the children of this world, so the holy Spirit of God, [E187] the Spirit of love, gentleness, meekness, patience, goodness, brotherly kindness, works in and largely controls the children of God. And these two spirits or dispositions, the one of love and goodness, the other of selfishness and evil, are in conflict continually, and wholly irreconcilable.
The Scriptures speak of this spirit which is working in the world in opposition to the holy Spirit, as "the spirit of Antichrist"—the spirit or disposition which is opposed to Christ. First, it desires to ignore him entirely, to dispute that he ever came into the world; then if unsuccessful in this, it will claim that our Lord Jesus was a mere man, a sinful man; if this position be disproved, it will still claim that anyway he accomplished nothing, or that he was merely an example, and not a Redeemer. Hence we are enjoined by the Scriptures to test, to try, to prove the spirits (the doctrines that present themselves to us, claiming to be of the spirit of truth). We are to test them, not merely by their outward appearance and claims, but by the Word of God. "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits, whether they are of God...and know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error." 1 John 4:1,6
God's perfections of character are the standards for holiness, righteousness and truth for all his creatures. Every thing and every creature opposed to or not in full accord with the standards is unholy, untrue, unrighteous. These adverse influences are sometimes credited to Satan because he is the arch-enemy of God and was the first conspirator against righteousness—the originator of error, "the father of lies" and deceptions. But we are to distinguish between evil spirit beings and evil spirit influences just as we do between holy spirit beings and holy spirit influences. The trend of evolutionary thought among educated people who neglect the Bible (including so-called Higher Critics), is to ignore [E188] the personality of Satan and his associated wicked spirits in exalted positions (Eph. 6:12), and to claim that there is no evil influence per se, and that man merely contends with his own ignorance and misdirection of his own good qualities. Similarly, others, still farther advanced (in error), still more highly educated (in untruth), and still further panoplied with philosophies (falsely so called), are reaching the conclusion that there is no personal God but merely good influences which they claim inhere in man and are gradually being evolved to perfection.
But we are giving heed to the oracle of God, his Word, which the Apostle assures us is able to make wise unto salvation, and which we have found to contain a fountain of life and light and holy Spirit of truth with which human theories and lights cannot compare. It shows us that God is a holy Spirit (being) and that his holy Spirit (influence) is always exercised in harmony with righteousness, and that all who are in harmony with God and in at-one-ment with him must have his Spirit of holiness—The Only Begotten Son in whom dwells the fulness of the divine Spirit—the holy angels who have no other will than the Father's holy will or Spirit—the Church from among men who have some measure of the mind or Spirit of their Head (else they are none of his), and who are seeking to be more and more filled with this Spirit of holiness and divested of all unholy disposition and influences. Likewise the Word teaches that Satan is a spirit (being) and has an unholy spirit, mind, disposition; and exercises an unholy spirit or influence through various channels and agents. The fallen angels, also spirit beings, fell by losing their spirit of holiness and devotion to God and his righteous standards, and are now of unholy spirit or disposition, and exercise an evil influence or spirit as they have opportunity.* And the world of mankind, falling through Adam, have become servants of sin: some sin voluntarily for the pleasures of sin; some involuntarily, [E189] though "feeling after God," and blinded and deceived by the Adversary, and controlled by the spirit of error.
Mankind—the minds or "hearts" of men—is the battle ground on which the holy spirit of light, love, justice, truth, holiness, the Spirit of Jehovah and of his Son, man's Redeemer, contends with the evil spirit of Satan, sin, darkness, untruth, hatred, envy, malice, etc. Sold under sin, by our first parent, Adam, his family became "slaves of sin" "through frailty," through the weakness of heredity. (Rom. 5:12,21; 6:16-23; 7:14; 8:20,21) In this captive condition they have been blinded by the god (ruler) of the present evil world (condition) who puts evil before their minds as good, and darkness for light (2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 6:12; Isa. 5:20), and having thus perverted the vast majority, and made it easy to do evil and difficult to do good, and having ranged all the advantages of the present time on the side of evil and made it impossible to attain these except by conforming to his unholy spirit, which is "the spirit of the world," he has general control, first of the masses through ignorance, and secondly, of the more intelligent through pride, selfishness, etc.
The battle did not begin until our Lord's first advent; for the Spirit of Truth came first upon our Lord Jesus and at Pentecost upon his Church.* The world was dark when our Lord Jesus appeared in it filled with the Spirit of God, the light of divine truth, which constituted him "The Light of the world"; and at once the battle began; the true light, the holy Spirit, since Pentecost, being represented, not by the nominal churches, but by the true members of Christ's [E190] body, possessors of the holy Spirit of their Head. The battle could not commence sooner because none of mankind (all being sinners) could be the channels of God's holy Spirit, his representatives, ambassadors for righteousness and truth, soldiers of the cross. Atonement for man's sin must first be made before there would be any mission for the holy Spirit to perform—before there would be anything to battle for. Mankind was sentenced to death—to everlasting destruction, as enemies of righteousness: why battle for the doomed? why try to influence them to righteousness, when no hope of reward for their efforts could be held out? Properly therefore the ransom came first; and it was as a result of the acceptance of that ransom by the Father that the holy Spirit was granted to those adopted into his family as sons through Christ.
*The battle of the Law of Righteousness was confined to the one little nation, Israel, and as God foresaw "The Law made nothing perfect "—none of the fallen race could or were expected to win in that fight. It was really to manifest Christ Jesus, the only Law-keeper, as the channel of divine mercy; and incidentally to discipline a people and make "a remnant" of them ready for the Spirit Dispensation and its conflicts by pointing them to Christ.
But some one may observe that the battle, ever since it began, seems to be against the holy Spirit and in favor of the spirit of evil—since the servants of sin today by natural increase of population are many times more numerous than they were when the battle began, and are still increasing much more rapidly than even nominal Christianity, though the battle has been in progress for nearly nineteen centuries.
Furthermore the spirit of evil and malice and error triumphed against the holy Spirit in our Lord to the extent of crucifying him: and similarly it has triumphed against all the faithful members of the body of Christ—misrepresenting, slandering and evilly entreating them, variously, according to time, place and circumstances. The object of these attacks of the spirit of evil and its servants upon the Spirit of holiness and its faithful is ever the same—to undermine the influence of the Spirit of the truth; to make the holy appear unholy; to cause that the pure and unselfish shall appear selfish and impure; to put darkness for light. Nor do the servants of unholiness always realize what they do: becoming imbued with the spirit of evil, the [E191] spirit of hatred, malice, envy, strife, it blinds them so that they "know not what they do," and often, evidently, "verily think that they do God service." Why this defeat of the Spirit of holiness? Will it always be thus?
We answer that this defeat of the Spirit of holiness is merely a seeming defeat and not an actual one. Actually the Spirit of holiness has been triumphing ever since the battle began. Its twofold mission during this Gospel age has been well accomplished.
(1) It was to be in God's people according to the degree of their consecration and zeal toward God and his righteousness, and by reason of the prevalence and power of the spirit of evil in the world about them was to prove a test of their characters, present conditions demanding that whosoever would live godly in this present time must suffer persecution—must be willing to have "all manner of evil" falsely spoken against them and yet take it patiently, as did their Master, continuing, nevertheless, faithful to the Lord and his cause at any cost—counting not their earthly lives dear unto them. 2 Tim. 3:12; Matt. 5:11; 1 Pet. 2:23; Acts 20:24
(2) The light of the Spirit of holiness in God's people was to so shine forth upon the world that it would attract all not thoroughly blinded by the perverse spirit of the Adversary. It was to shine into the darkness of sin reprovingly—witnessing against all unrighteousness; thus awakening the conscience of even the blinded to a realization of responsibility to God and a future day of reckoning. Thus our Lord instructed his followers that after receiving the holy Spirit they were to witness to the Truth amongst all nations—whether the people hear or whether they forbear.
The holy Spirit has triumphed in both the objects for which it was sent. It has selected a faithful "little flock" of "overcomers," followers of the way of righteousness—Jesus the Captain and his faithful band of soldiers of the cross, all [E192] of whom consecrated "even unto death"; and to whom the Kingdom reward will soon be given—when the last members have been fully tested and made perfect through sufferings for righteousness' sake. It has also triumphed in respect to witnessing to the world. Our Lord foretold that the effect of the witnessing would be to convince the world of sin, of righteousness and of a coming day of righteous judgment, in which evil deeds of the present life will have a just retribution, according to the degree of light enjoyed by the transgressor.
This witness has gone far and near, and today the world as a whole recognizes these three items which the Spirit of holiness in the Church has set before it—sin, righteousness and judgment. True, the world has not clear and correct ideas of righteousness, nor of sin, nor does it understand the character and object of the coming judgment—nor that it will be a thousand-year day: nor does the world understand clearly the Church's call during this age, to escape judgment with the world and to become its judges in that judgment day by now voluntarily sacrificing earthly interests for righteousness' sake—following in the footsteps of the Redeemer. It is not necessary for the world to know these particulars—they do not concern it. These are among "the deep things of God," which none can appreciate except as they become heartily obedient to the Lord's call to righteousness, and consecrating themselves receive of the Spirit of the Father, and as sons are thus made acquainted with the minutiae of the divine plan. 1 Cor. 2:10,11
In reply to the query, Will it always be thus? we answer, No. As soon as this age has developed the "little flock," called to be joint-heirs with Christ, it will cease. The next operation of Jehovah's holy Spirit or power will be the establishment of that Kingdom: and with its establishment the holy Spirit's operation will be along the Kingdom lines—establishing judgment and justice in the earth. It will lay judgment to the line and justice to the plummet, and falsehood and deception of every kind will give place to [E193] clear knowledge of the Truth. Instead of longer witnessing to the world a "judgment to come," it will witness to it that judgment has commenced and that every transgression will promptly receive a just recompense of punishment. Instead of witnessing to the Church, "Judge nothing before the time," it will witness to the contrary that they as God's instruments have been specially qualified to judge the world with a righteous judgment. Instead of those in harmony with God and possessed of his Spirit of righteousness and truth being required to suffer for righteousness' sake they will be crowned kings and priests of righteousness and commissioned to reign over the earth for its blessing and restitution to perfection, to righteousness, and the "cutting off from life," in "everlasting destruction" of all who wilfully reject the opportunities of the blessed day of judgment secured by the love of God through the ransom given by our Lord Jesus. Thus shall the great Jehovah and his Spirit of holiness and all who ally themselves thereto finally triumph, and sin and Satan and the spirit of evil shall be forever extinguished and there shall be no more curse. Isa. 28:17; 1 Cor. 4:5; 6:2; Acts 3:23; 2 Thess. 1:9; Rev. 22:3
We have considered the battle as a whole: let us glance at some of its present phases. While it may be considered as the Church's conflict it is nevertheless an individual conflict with sin. While the Church will come off conqueror, it will be composed only of the individual victors. And as the victory in the Church is a victory of God's holy Spirit, power or influence against the spirit of evil, of unrighteousness, it is the same in the individual saint.
The majority of Christian people (nominal Christians, even including so-called "spirit wrestlers," "sanctificationists," etc.) know little about the real spirit battles and victories, because the majority have never made the proper [E194] consecration, and have never received the holy Spirit of the Truth. Some have consecrated themselves to a sect, and have received a sectarian spirit of love for the sect, devotion to the sect, service and sacrifice for the sect, etc. Others have recognized one or more moral principles and have consecrated themselves never to violate those moralities: these receive the spirit of moralities, a self-satisfied spirit, a self-righteous spirit. Others have singled out some virtue which they worship and whose spirit they receive—for instance, patience—and they are fully satisfied when they have attained a good degree of patience and its spirit. Others consecrate themselves to "work" for Jesus and seem satisfied only when they are in a bustle of exciting activity; it matters little to them what kind the work is, so that it is not openly serving Satan and so that there is plenty of it and they have a prominent place: it is not so much results they seek as work, and hence they are quite content to "beat the air," hoping that in the end they will find that they have not done much harm. For these to take time to study God's Word and to ascertain the kind of workmen he seeks, and the kind of work he desires to have done, would be to them a violation of their covenant of consecration—for they consecrated themselves to work and are satisfied of heart only when they are in a fever of excitement. Others more wise, but not truly wise either, consecrate themselves to a particular kind of service for God and man—the service which they think needs them most. If they consecrate to "temperance work," they receive the spirit of that work and have whatever blessing comes with it. Or if they consecrate to social reform work they get the spirit of social reform and its blessings.
All of these consecrations, and the spirits or dispositions resulting, have both good and evil influences. Any of them is far better than a consecration to evil and its spirit of evil. Any of them is far better even than consecration to self and the spirit of selfishness accompanying it. Any of them is far better even than an aimless life consecrated to nothing. But [E195] none of these can compare in any sense to the consecration taught in the Scriptures and exemplified in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the world, the exemplar of his body, the Church. This, the true consecration, alone brings to the heart the holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Truth, which the world cannot receive.
This true proper consecration differs from all others. It has but the one shrine at which it bows: it bows to Jehovah's will, surrendering self and self-will a living sacrifice on the Lord's altar, a reasonable service. It makes no stipulations or reservations. The language of the Chief Priest is that of each member of the "royal priesthood": "I came not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." "Lo I come (as in the volume of the book it is written of me) to do thy will, O God." Such are made partakers of the holy Spirit.
Those who have consecrated their wills, and accepted unreservedly the Word and will of God, through Christ, are said to be heavenly or spiritually minded. These are so transformed, so entirely different from what they were in their former earthly condition, that they are called New Creatures, and this name would not be inappropriate to them if it signified nothing more than the radical change of heart or will which they have experienced. But it does mean more; it means that these who are now being selected from the world by the holy Spirit of Truth, and who are approaching God through the new and living way which was opened up by the great sacrifice for sins, are really embryo new creatures, whose perfection in the divine nature only waits for the resurrection change, in the end of this age, conditioned wholly upon their faithfulness as new creatures to the leadings of the holy Spirit.
However, this new mental creation, or transformed mind, the embryo of the new creature, which shall come fully into being in the resurrection, is still identified with a human body, and thus the Apostle says of this class, "We have this treasure [the new mind, the new nature] in earthen [E196] vessels." (2 Cor. 4:7) Speaking of the same thing, the Apostle assures us that when the earthly house is dissolved, sacrificed, dead with Christ, we shall, nevertheless, have a building of God, a new house, a glorious body, in harmony with and in every way fitted for the indwelling of the new mind and its Spirit of holiness (2 Cor. 5:1), if we are of the faithful overcomers who continue to the end of the pilgrimage of the narrow way, walking in the footsteps of our Captain.
The word holy is derived from the word whole and signifies completeness; hence the holy Spirit is a whole or a complete spirit. And thus we see without surprise that those who have received the holy Spirit or complete spirit in any good measure are thereby rounded out on all sides of their characters—better balanced than ever before in their judgments—they have "the Spirit of a sound mind," however the enmitous blinded spirit of the world may declare of them, "Thou hast a devil and art mad"; because they live for, labor for and enjoy the things unseen as yet, everlasting in the heavens. 2 Tim. 1:7; John 10:20; 6:27
Individually considered, one of the most serious foes of those who have been begotten to holiness of spirit through the divine counsels and promises, is the evil spirit of fear. It would persuade us that probably there is some mistake: either that God did not inspire the exceeding great and precious promises, or that they are not for us, or that for some reason we can never attain them. All of God's people are liable to attack from this wrong spirit of doubt and fear—some more and some less persistently; and all have need to fight down this evil spirit courageously and to destroy it, lest it kill the fruits of the holy Spirit and finally quench it—drive it out of us entirely.
Yet "the spirit of fear" is neither a spirit god nor a spirit devil that has gotten into our hearts: it is simply a mental influence natural to every fallen human being of humble mind. It is begotten of the realization of personal imperfection and unworthiness of divine favors. The antidote for [E197] this spirit of fear is the holy Spirit of Truth, and its instructions accepted and held in full assurance of faith. The Spirit of Truth tells us that there were good reasons for our entertainment of the spirit of fear; but that those reasons no longer exist since we have come into Christ as new creatures. It points us away from our unintentional weakness to the great Atonement accomplished by our Lord Jesus, and cites us to the words of the inspired Apostle:
"If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up [to death] for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things [needful]? Who shall lay anything to the charge of those whom God chooses? It is God that justifieth. Who could condemn these? It is Christ that died [paying their penalty—making good all their deficiencies], yea, rather that [glorified and highly exalted Christ who] is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." Rom. 8:31-34
If the "Spirit of faith," one of the phases or operations of the "Spirit of holiness," the "Spirit of the Truth," thus comes forward and is accepted and supported by the new creature, the victory over the spirit of fear is speedily won, and peace and joy in the holy Spirit of faith and love and confidence in God results. Nevertheless, these battles must be fought time and again in every Christian's experience. And, indeed, the "spirit of fear" may be made a valuable servant of the new creature, while it cannot be tolerated as a master, nor as a friend and a resident of the heart. Make it the watchdog, and kennel it just outside the door of the heart, and it may serve a very useful purpose in calling attention to thieves and robbers who approach stealthily to rob us of our treasures of holiness, joy, peace, love and fellowship with our Father and with the brethren. As the Apostle urges, "let us fear" attacks from without after we have gotten all right with God by casting out all opposing influences and receiving his Spirit into our hearts. Let us fear lest as those who are ready to go forth with the Bridegroom [E198] in the early morning any of us should be overcome with a spirit of slothfulness, a spirit of carelessness, a spirit of slumber, and so, like the "foolish virgins," be unprepared for the great event—"the marriage"—for which all our preparations have been made.
Let us remember, then, that however useful as a servant, the spirit of fear is not of God, and must never be admitted within the castle of the Christian heart, which must be fully given over to the occupancy of the various members of the holy Spirit family—love, joy, peace, etc., for perfect love casteth out fear as well as all the members of the unholy spirit family—anger, malice, hatred, jealousy, fear, discontent, pride, worldly ambitions, etc. The Apostle declares—"God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but the Spirit of superhuman strength, and of love, and of a sound mind." 2 Tim. 1:7
Sometimes the attack comes from the rear and not from the front—fear for friends, fear for the world, etc., an unwillingness to trust God for others though willing to trust him for one's self. This is a serious matter, too; for it largely drives out the spirit of peace and joy and misdirects the energies. The "spirit of fear" says, It is a great mistake to think that Christ died for all; and it is a great presumption to believe that all must eventually obtain some blessing of opportunity for life, as a result of the ransom. Or, if fear fail to win us, its evil companion, the "spirit of error," may attempt to lead in the opposite direction, to get us to believe in universal salvation to eternal life—suggesting pride on God's part, that would hinder him from destroying the wilfully wicked.
The "spirit of error" assumes to be wiser than the Word of God, and suggests to human reason that it should judge God according to its own standards, rather than correct its own standards by the Word of divine revelation. Thus, in various ways, the spirit of error, the spirit of fear, and the spirit of bondage, which are all elements of the spirit of the Adversary, the unholy Spirit, give the lie to the statements [E199] of the Spirit of Truth, which declare that "Christ Jesus by the grace of God tasted death for every man," and that the blessed opportunity of coming into harmony with God, under the conditions of the New Covenant, shall ultimately be extended to every creature; and that when each one is brought to a knowledge of the Truth he is judged thereby, and either approved unto everlasting life, or condemned to everlasting destruction, the second death. "Hereby discern we the Spirit of Truth from the spirit of error." 1 John 4:5,6; Acts 3:23
The Spirit of God, the Spirit of holiness, is a spirit of joy and peace in all who receive it, in proportion as they receive it—in proportion as they come into accord with the heavenly Father and with the Redeemer, who has the same mind or disposition. The Spirit of the Lord leads to faith in God's promises; the spirit of error leads in the contrary direction, to unbelief in the promises of God, and to human speculations and credulity and superstition—to the believing of things which God has not spoken, and which are unreasonable to those who have the "holy Spirit," "the Spirit of a sound mind." The Spirit of Truth leads to activity and energy in the divine cause, appreciating the privilege of being a co-worker together with God to any extent; the spirit of error, on the contrary, is a "spirit of slumber" and of carelessness in heavenly things, and of carefulness for earthly things—of carelessness for the true Church and its bond of love, and of carefulness for human organizations and their creed-bonds. Rom. 11:8
As already noted, God's consecrated children—spirit-begotten "new creatures" are at present dual beings; the new not fully developed, not yet "born," and having no body suitable, lives in the old body of flesh reckoned dead—captured by the renewed will for its use and service during the [E200] period of its development. (This however does not imply that Christians are of two natures, for such a thought is contrary to the science of the Bible.) The new spirit, the mind of Christ, the holy disposition or will, alone is recognized by God, and should alone be recognized by the "holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling:" nevertheless there is a continual warfare between this new disposition begotten by the Word of God and the old will, spirit or disposition of our fallen flesh. Sometimes in Scripture the contrary will or disposition of our flesh is spoken of as our spirit, as when we read, "Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us ['In our flesh dwelleth no perfect thing.'] lusteth to envy?" James 4:5
The new spirit, the new creature, that begotten of the holy Spirit of love, does not envy; as it is written, "Love envieth not, is not puffed up, etc." (1 Cor. 13:4) Whenever, therefore, we find the spirit of envy, hatred, strife or vainglory in any degree controlling our actions or words or thoughts, it is a sure sign that our former evil spirit is gaining a victory over us as new creatures. And proportionately as we can and do put away all these and are filled with the elements of the holy Spirit—gentleness, goodness, meekness, brotherly kindness, love—we are growing in the image of Christ, who is the image of the Father—in that proportion we are being filled with the holy Spirit. Not filled with a spirit person, but filled with the spirit, influence or will of a person, even of our Father Jehovah—the same spirit which was and still is in the Only Begotten Son.
The Apostle Paul also writes respecting this same battle between the spirit, disposition or mind of our flesh and the new spirit, disposition or mind to which we have been regenerated. But he treats the subject from the reckoned standpoint—as though our flesh were no longer we but our enemies, and we recognized only as new creatures and the holy Spirit our only spirit or disposition. He says: "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit and ye shall not fulfil the lust [desire] of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth [desires] against the [E201] Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye [new creatures] would"—the continual opposition and deceitfulness of the flesh being a hindrance to perfect deeds, though by God's grace this does not hinder our acceptance with God as "new creatures," whose hearts, spirits, intentions, are holy and acceptable to the Father in the Beloved One. Gal. 5:16,17
From what we have learned respecting the Spirit of the Lord, and its operation upon his people, through its enlightening influence upon their minds, its removal of errors, and its illumination of the Word giving the living truth, we are prepared to understand and appreciate the Apostle's words: "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man [the natural man], the things which God hath in reservation for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." (1 Cor. 2:9,10) That is to say, having submitted our wills to the Lord, that we might be taught of him, and walk in his way, we have come into harmony with his will, mind, Spirit; and we are prepared, from this new standpoint—the standpoint of a new mind, rightly directed—to see things in a new light—all things become new to us. The new mind, the new will, prompts us to search into the deep things of God, to study the Word of God, that we may know and do his will, as obedient sons. Having the mind or Spirit of our Father, we will take heed to his instructions, in every detail, and seek to walk in harmony with him. "For what man knoweth the things [mind, will, plan] of a man, save the spirit [mind] of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God." (1 Cor. 2:11) That is to say, as no man can know another man's mind and plan, except [E202] as they are revealed to him, so no one can understand the divine mind and plan, except he come into harmony with the divine mind—receive the holy Spirit.
"Now we have received the Spirit [mind, disposition or will] of God, that we might know the things that are freely given unto us of God...but the natural man receiveth not the things of God, for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." They are understood only by those who have the Spirit or mind of God, the Spirit of his plan, the Spirit of the Truth. All such must have dispositions in harmony with righteousness and truth, so far as they understand these principles, and must daily seek to know more of the mind of God, the will of God, and to have more of his Spirit, disposition. Such obedient sons are more and more "filled with the Spirit" of Truth, and the spirit of obedience to it. But they do not gain this condition by comparing spiritual things with natural things, as the natural man is disposed to do, but by following the divine counsel, and "comparing spiritual things with spiritual." (1 Cor. 2:13) "He that is spiritual [who has received the holy mind or Spirit] judgeth all things [he is able to understand and to properly estimate both human and spiritual things in the light of the divine plan], yet he himself is judged of no man." No natural man can understand or rightly judge the motives which prompt the spiritually minded "new creature" to willingly sacrifice things valuable to the natural man, for hopes and prospects which, to the latter, seem unreal and unreasonable. Hence, the followers of the Lord are "counted as fools" by the worldly-minded, by those who have the spirit of the world. 1 Cor. 2:12-16; 4:10
Parakletos is rendered Comforter in John 14:16,26; but the thought usually conveyed by the word comfort (namely [E203] to soothe, to pacify) is not here the correct one. The correct thought is that of help, encouragement, assistance, strengthening. Thus our Lord's promise implied that the holy Spirit which the Father would send in Jesus' name and as Jesus' representative would be near his followers, a present help in every time of need—the holy power by which he would guide and direct his people and enable them to "walk by faith and not by sight." Indeed, our Lord gives us to understand that all the ministrations of the Spirit are his own ministrations, saying, "I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you" (vs. 18): he thus identifies the holy Spirit with himself. "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his"—and has not the parakletos, the divine aid.
This power of God is with the whole Church, yet each receives his share of the holy influence personally—by individual connection with channels of the Spirit. The Truth itself is the main channel of the Spirit of the Truth; but all who are closely connected with the Truth and have its Spirit are to that extent also channels through which the Spirit aids and influences others.
The power or Spirit of God is invisible to men; but its effects are tangible and visible. This may be illustrated by the electric current in the copper wire; it is invisible, but the moment the car, properly supplied with a motor, touches the wire with its arm or "trolley" the power is manifest in the movement of the car. The same current by another arrangement lights the car, and by still another device furnishes it with heat, and by yet a different device communicates by telegraph or telephone. All these are its blessings under favorable arrangements, yet it may so be arranged as to be a death-dealing influence, as in the electrocution chair. So the holy Spirit is the spiritual energy or power of God—it moves, enlightens, warms and instructs all who, having the proper conditions in themselves, are brought into connection with it through its proper channels; and it may bring death—Second Death, to all wilful sinners. How needful, then, that each of the Lord's people have the [E204] proper equipment and the proper connections in order to be filled with the Spirit and made active unto all good works!
Nothing connected with this reference to the holy Spirit as another comforter or helper or strengthener implies that another God is meant or another person of a trinity of Gods. The connections show on the contrary that the comforting or strengthening holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Father and the Spirit of the Son. In verses 18 and 23 the Father and the Son are referred to as the ones who strengthen and guide and comfort the Church—through the Spirit. Thus again our Lord declared, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age"—by the holy Spirit, not in flesh.
It should be remembered that the words he, him, himself, used in referring to the parakletos, might with equal propriety be translated she, her, herself, or it, itself. Heautou, rendered himself in this connection, is rendered itself nine times in our Common Version Bibles. Ekinos, rendered he in this connection, is much oftener rendered that and those. Ekinos is rendered it in 1 John 5:16—"I do not say that ye shall pray for it [the sin unto death]."
Our Lord indicated the channel through which this power of God, "the Spirit of the Truth," would come to his people, saying, "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life." That is to say, My words express the mind, the will, the Spirit of God. Hence we have continually set before us, as necessary to our victory, the study of the Word of Truth. We hear our Lord's injunction, "Search the Scriptures." We hear the Apostle Paul commending the Bereans' noble conduct, in that "they searched the Scriptures daily." We hear him again saying that "we ought to take the more earnest heed to the words which we have heard"; and we have his exhortation to Timothy, which assures us that "the Word of God is profitable, that the man [E205] of God may be thoroughly furnished unto every good work." We hear the Apostle Peter also urging that "we have a more sure word of prophecy [of divine revelation], to which we do well that we take heed." John 5:39; Acts 17:11; Heb. 2:1; 2 Tim. 3:17; 2 Pet. 1:19
The promise of being "filled with the Spirit" or mind of God is not to those who merely possess the Word of God, nor to those who merely read the Word of God, but is to those who search it earnestly, seeking to understand it; and who understanding it are willing, nay, anxious to obey it. If we would be filled with the Spirit of God, we must drink deeply of the fountain of Truth—his Word. And since our earthen vessels are imperfect, leaky, it is easy to let spiritual things slip (Heb. 2:1); in which case the spirit of the world, which surrounds us constantly, quickly rushes in to fill the vacuum. Indeed, there is a constant pressure of the spirit of the world upon the Lord's people, tending to displace the new spirit, the new mind, the Spirit or disposition of holiness. Therefore it behooves all of the Lord's faithful new creatures to live very close to the fountain of Truth, the Lord, and very close to his Word, lest the Spirit of God be quenched, and we be filled instead with the spirit of the world.
It seems expedient to caution some that although a knowledge of the Truth, a knowledge of the Scriptures, is important, essential to the possession of the Spirit of the Truth, nevertheless, one might have much knowledge of the Word of God without having any of its Spirit. To receive the Spirit of the Truth is to come into heart harmony with the Truth, to come into mental accord and cooperation with the Divine will expressed in the Word. This condition can be attained in one way only: by first accepting the Lord Jesus as our Redeemer and Justifier, and secondly, consecrating ourselves unreservedly to seek to know and to do his will.
But this "Spirit of the Truth" this "holy Spirit" or mind in harmony with God and his righteousness, should not be [E206] confounded with the "gifts of the Spirit," nor yet with the "fruits of the Spirit," though its possession always yields the latter, "the peaceable fruits of righteousness," meekness, patience, gentleness, brotherly kindness, love. The Spirit of the Truth must be ours before it can produce such fruits in our daily lives: and in some the period of developing mature fruits, of good size and flavor, is longer than with others; but each should remember our Lord's words, "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit—so shall ye be my disciples." We should remember also his parable of the Vine, in which the branches represent severally his consecrated disciples. Of these he declares, "Every branch in me that beareth fruit the Father purgeth [pruneth] it, that it may bring forth more fruit, and every branch that beareth not fruit he taketh away." John 15:2
The Christian is a branch from the moment of his consecration, and is a partaker of the sap from the root, a partaker of the holy Spirit, and yet it is not to be expected that he will instantly bear all the fruits of the Spirit, nor any of them in their perfection. The first evidences of the relationship to the Church-Vine will be an association with the other branches, a connection with the root, and evidences of life. Next there will be the feelers or tendrils, by which progress will be sought and attained. Next will come the leaves, or professions; and next to be looked for should be the flower, and later the fruit. But the fruit is extremely small at first, and sour; it requires time to develop grapes of size and flavor acceptable to the great Husbandman. Such are "the fruits of the Spirit" of Christ expected in every "branch" of the Vine—in every member of the body of Christ, the Church. Unless in due time these fruits of the Spirit—meekness, gentleness, patience, brotherly kindness, faith, hope, love—appear, the branch will cease to be considered a branch, and as a "sucker" will be cut off from further affiliation and privilege.
We have already seen that "the gifts of the Spirit" granted at the beginning of the Gospel age, for the establishment of [E207] the Church, differed from "the fruits of the Spirit." The "gifts" were conferred by the laying on of the hands of the apostles: they came spontaneously only in exceptional cases (Acts 2:4; 10:45): Simon Magus, though baptized and granted a gift for his own use, was unable to confer the gifts to others and was reproved by Peter for offering money to obtain this purely apostolic power. (Acts 8:13-21) And the same account makes clear that even Philip the Evangelist, though able to perform "signs and great miracles," could not confer the gifts of the Spirit, but was obliged to send for the apostles to do this for his converts. All this agrees fully with the statement of the Apostle Paul that many of the gifts would "fail," "vanish away:" it was necessarily so when, all the Apostles having died, all those upon whom they had conferred those "gifts" died also. The gifts of faith, hope and love which the Apostle declared would abide were not miraculous gifts but growths—"fruits" as he elsewhere describes them. 1 Cor. 13:8; John 15:16
Amongst the gifts of the Spirit the Apostle specifies—(1) apostles, (2) prophets, (3) teachers. We still have with us the gift of apostles, in that we have their teachings in the New Testament, so full and complete as to require no addition; and hence the twelve apostles have no successors, and need none, since there are but "twelve apostles of the Lamb"; they are "the twelve stars," the crown of the Church; they are the "twelve foundations" of the Church glorified, the New Jerusalem. (John 6:70; Rev. 12:1; 21:14) We have also still, in the Church, the gifts of prophets or expounders and teachers, servants of God and his Church speaking various languages; but no longer does the Spirit supply these instantly and miraculously without education and talents by the laying on of the apostolic hands. Such miracles are no longer necessary and no longer employed—assuredly not to the same extent as formerly. Instead, the Lord generally makes choice of some who by natural qualifications and education are fitted to his service: nevertheless we are to remember that the condition of [E208] the heart is far more important in the Lord's sight than all other qualifications combined; and that he is fully able to use those whom he chooses (because full of his Spirit) to be his special servants and ambassadors: he can providentially supply them with assistance in any manner he may please; as, for instance, to Moses—his special servant who was slow of speech—he gave Aaron to be a mouthpiece.
The Lord's people are not to forget that, although the administration or method has changed, the same Lord by the agency of the same holy Spirit is still guiding the affairs of his Church—less manifestly, less outwardly discernible, but no less really, no less carefully, and in every detail of its affairs. And all of the Lord's flock led of his Spirit, and taught of his Word, are to judge discriminatingly respecting those who seem to be teachers and evangelists, presenting themselves as such. The Lord's people are not to receive as such all who profess to be teachers and evangelists, but only those whom they discern to be marked of the Lord as having these gifts; and one of the tests is in respect to their fidelity to the Word of God—that they preach not themselves, but Jesus Christ, and him crucified—the power of God and the wisdom of God to every one that believeth. If any man come unto us with any other gospel, we are instructed particularly that we are not to receive him as a teacher of the Truth, but to consider him as a servant of error, whether knowingly or ignorantly so.
Thus does the Spirit or influence of God, the holy Spirit or influence of the Truth, instruct his people, guiding them (directly or indirectly) into a knowledge of God. Thus it is the channel of at-one-ment now to the Church, and somewhat similarly it will be the channel of at-one-ment to the world in the coming age, when "the Spirit and the Bride [the glorified Church] shall say, Come, take of the water of life freely." Rev. 22:17