The Person and Work of The Holy Spirit
by R. A. Torrey
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In the thought of the Holy Spirit as the Paraclete there is also a cure for insomnia. For two awful years, I suffered from insomnia. Night after night I would go to bed apparently almost dead for sleep; it seemed as though I must sleep, but I could not sleep; oh, the agony of those two years! It seemed as if I would lose my mind if I did not get relief. Relief came at last and for years I went on without the suggestion of trouble from insomnia. Then one night I retired to my room in the Institute, lay down expecting to fall asleep in a moment as I usually did, but scarcely had my head touched the pillow when I became aware that insomnia was back again. If one has ever had it, he never forgets it and never mistakes it. It seemed as if insomnia were sitting on the foot-board of my bed, grinning at me and saying, "I am back again for another two years." "Oh," I thought, "two more awful years of insomnia." But that very morning, I had been lecturing to our students in the Institute about the Personality of the Holy Spirit and about the Holy Spirit as an ever-present Friend, and at once the thought came to me, "What were you talking to the students about this morning? What were you telling them?" and I looked up and said, "Thou blessed Spirit of God, Thou art here. I am not alone. If Thou hast anything to say to me, I will listen," and He began to open to me some of the deep and precious things about my Lord and Saviour, things, that filled my soul with joy and rest, and the next thing I knew I was asleep and the next thing I knew it was to-morrow morning. So whenever insomnia has come my way since, I have simply remembered that the Holy Spirit was there and I have looked up to Him to speak to me and to teach me and He has done so and insomnia has taken its flight.

In the thought of the Holy Spirit as the Paraclete there is a cure for a breaking heart. How many aching, breaking hearts there are in this world of ours, so full of death and separation from those we most dearly love. How many a woman there is, who a few years ago, or a few months or a few weeks ago, had no care, no worry, for by her side was a Christian husband who was so wise and strong that the wife rested all responsibility upon him and she walked care-free through life and satisfied with his love and companionship. But one awful day, he was taken from her. She was left alone and all the cares and responsibilities rested upon her. How empty that heart has been ever since; how empty the whole world has been. She has just dragged through her life and her duties as best she could with an aching and almost breaking heart. But there is One, if she only knew it, wiser and more loving than the tenderest husband, One willing to bear all the care and responsibilities of life for her, One who is able, if, she will only let Him, to fill every nook and corner of her empty and aching heart; that One is the Paraclete. I said something like this in St. Andrews' Hall in Glasgow. At the close of the meeting a sad-faced Christian woman, wearing a widow's garb, came to me as I stepped out of the hall into the reception room. She hurried to me and said, "Dr. Torrey, this is the anniversary of my dear husband's death. Just one year ago to-day he was taken from me. I came to-day to see if you could not speak some word to help me. You have given me just the word I need. I will never be lonesome again." A year and a half passed by. I was on the yacht of a friend on the lochs of the Clyde. One day a little boat put out from shore and came alongside the yacht. One of the first to come up the side of the yacht was this widow. She hurried to me and the first thing she said was, "The thought that you gave me that day in St. Andrews' Hall on the anniversary of my husband's leaving me has been with me ever since, and the Holy Spirit does satisfy me and fill my heart."

But it is in our work for our Master that the thought of the Holy Spirit as the Paraclete comes with greatest helpfulness. I think it may be permissible to illustrate it from my own experience. I entered the ministry because I was literally forced to. For years I refused to be a Christian, because I was determined that I would not be a preacher, and I feared that if I surrendered to Christ I must enter the ministry. My conversion turned upon my yielding to Him at this point. The night I yielded, I did not say, "I will accept Christ" or "I will give up sin," or anything of that sort, I simply cried, "Take this awful burden off my heart, and I will preach the Gospel." But no one could be less fitted by natural temperament for the ministry than I. From early boyhood, I was extraordinarily timid and bashful. Even after I had entered Yale College, when I would go home in the summer and my mother would call me in to meet her friends, I was so frightened that when I thought I spoke I did not make an audible sound. When her friends had gone, my mother would ask, "Why didn't you say something to them?" And I would reply that I supposed I had, but my mother would say, "You did not utter a sound." Think of a young fellow like that entering the ministry. I never mustered courage even to speak in a public prayer-meeting until after I was in the theological seminary. Then I felt, if I was to enter the ministry, I must be able to at least speak in a prayer-meeting. I learned a little piece by heart to say, but when the hour came, I forgot much of it in my terror. At the critical moment, I grasped the back of the settee in front of me and pulled myself hurriedly to my feet and held on to the settee. One Niagara seemed to be going up one side and another down another; my voice faltered. I repeated as much as I could remember and sat down. Think of a man like that entering the ministry. In the early days of my ministry, I would write my sermons out in full and commit them to memory, stand up and twist a button until I had repeated it off as best I could and would then sink back into the pulpit chair with a sense of relief that that was over for another week. I cannot tell you what I suffered in those early days of my ministry. But the glad day came when I came to know the Holy Spirit as the Paraclete. When the thought got possession of me that when I stood up to preach, there was Another who stood by my side, that while the audience saw me God saw Him, and that the responsibility was all upon Him, and that He was abundantly able to meet it and care for it all, and that all I had to do was to stand back as far out of sight as possible and let Him do the work. I have no dread of preaching now; preaching is the greatest joy of my life, and sometimes when I stand up to speak and realize that He is there, that all the responsibility is upon Him, such a joy fills my heart that I can scarce restrain myself from shouting and leaping. He is just as ready to help us in all our work; in our Sunday-school classes; in our personal work and in every other line of Christian effort. Many hesitate to speak to others about accepting Christ. They are afraid they will not say the right thing; they fear that they will do more harm than they will good. You certainly will if you do it, but if you will just believe in the Paraclete and trust Him to say it and to say it in His way, you will never do harm but always good. It may seem at the time that you have accomplished nothing, but perhaps years after you will find out you have accomplished much and even if you do not find it out in this world, you will find it out in eternity.

There are many ways in which the Paraclete stands by us and helps us of which we will speak at length when we come to study His work. He stands by us when we pray (Rom. viii. 26, 27); when we study the Word (John xiv. 26; xvi. 12-14); when we do personal work (Acts viii. 29); when we preach or teach (1 Cor. ii. 4); when we are tempted (Rom. viii. 2); when we leave this world (Acts vii. 54-60). Let us get this thought firmly fixed now and for all time that the Holy Spirit is One called to our side to take our part.

"Ever present, truest Friend, Ever near, Thine aid to lend."


There are many who think of the work of the Holy Spirit as limited to man. But God reveals to us in His Word that the Holy Spirit's work has a far wider scope than this. We are taught in the Bible that the Holy Spirit has a threefold work in the material universe.

I. The creation of the material universe and of man is effected through the agency of the Holy Spirit.

We read in Ps. xxxiii. 6, "By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth." We have already seen in our study of the names of the Holy Spirit that the Holy Spirit is the breath of JEHOVAH, so this passage teaches us that all the hosts of heaven, all the stellar worlds, were made by the Holy Spirit. We are taught explicitly in Job xxxiii. 4, that the creation of man is the Holy Spirit's work. We read, "The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life." Here both the creation of the material frame and the impartation of life are attributed to the agency of the Holy Spirit. In other passages of Scripture we are taught that creation was in and through the Son of God. For example we read in Col. i. 16, R. V., "For in Him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through Him and unto Him." In a similar way we read in Heb. i. 2, that God "hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds (ages)." In the passage given above (Ps. xxxiii. 6), the Word as well as the Spirit are mentioned in connection with creation. In the account of the creation and the rehabilitation of this world to be the abode of man, Father, Word and Holy Spirit are all mentioned (Gen. i. 1-3). It is evident from a comparison of these passages that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all active in the creative work. The Father works in His Son, through His Spirit.

II. Not only is the original creation of the material universe attributed to the agency of the Holy Spirit in the Bible but the maintenance of living creatures as well.

We read in Ps. civ. 29, 30, "Thou hidest Thy face, they are troubled: Thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth Thy Spirit, they are created: and Thou renewest the face of the earth." The clear indication of this passage is that not only are things brought into being through the agency of the Holy Spirit, but that they are maintained in being by the Holy Spirit. Not only is spiritual life maintained by the Spirit of God but material being as well. Things exist and continue by the presence of the Spirit of God in them. This does not mean for a moment that the universe is God, but it does mean that the universe is maintained in its being by the immanence of God in it. This is the great and solemn truth that lies at the foundation of the awful and debasing perversions of Pantheism in its countless forms.

III. But not only is the universe created through the agency of the Holy Spirit and maintained in its existence through the agency of the Holy Spirit, but the development of the earlier, chaotic, undeveloped states of the material universe into higher orders of being is effected through the agency of the Holy Spirit.

We read in Gen, i. 2, 3, "And the earth was (or became) without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light." We may take this account to refer either to the original creation of the universe, or we may take it as the deeper students of the Word are more and more inclining to take it, as the account of the rehabilitation of the earth after its plunging into chaos through sin after the original creation described in v. 1. In either case we have set before us here the development of the earth from a chaotic and unformed condition into its present highly developed condition through the agency of the Holy Spirit. We see the process carried still further in Gen. ii. 7, "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." Here again it is through the agency of the breath of God, that a higher thing, human life, comes into being. Naturally, as the Bible is the history of man's redemption it does not dwell upon this phase of truth, but seemingly each new and higher impartation of the Spirit of God brings forth a higher order of being. First, inert matter; then motion; then light; then vegetable life; then animal life; then man; and, as we shall see later, then the new man; and then Jesus Christ, the supreme Man, the completion of God's thought of man, the Son of Man. This is the Biblical thought of development from the lower to the higher by the agency of the Spirit of God as distinguished from the godless evolution that has been so popular in the generation now closing. It is, however, only hinted at in the Bible. The more important phases of the Holy Spirit's work, His work in redemption, are those that are emphasized and iterated and reiterated. The Word of God is even more plainly active in each state of progress of creation. God said occurs ten times in the first chapter of Genesis.


Our salvation begins experimentally with our being brought to a profound sense that we need a Saviour. The Holy Spirit is the One who brings us to this realization of our need. We read in John xvi. 8-11, R. V., "And He, when He is come, will convict the world in respect of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on Me; of righteousness, because I go to the Father, and ye behold Me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world hath been judged."

I. We see in this passage that it is the work of the Holy Spirit to convict men of sin. That is, to so convince of their error in respect to sin as to produce a deep sense of personal guilt. We have the first recorded fulfillment of this promise in Acts ii. 36, 37, "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?" The Holy Spirit had come just as Jesus had promised that He would and when He came He convicted the world of sin: He pricked them to their heart with a sense of their awful guilt in the rejection of their Lord and their Christ. If the Apostle Peter had spoken the same words the day before Pentecost, no such results would have followed; but now Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit (v. 4) and the Holy Spirit took Peter and his words and through the instrumentality of Peter and his words convicted his hearers. The Holy Spirit is the only One who can convince men of sin. The natural heart is "deceitful above all things and desperately wicked," and there is nothing in which the inbred deceitfulness of our hearts comes out more clearly than in our estimations of ourselves. We are all of us sharp-sighted enough to the faults of others but we are all blind by nature to our own faults. Our blindness to our own shortcomings is oftentimes little short of ludicrous. We have a strange power of exaggerating our imaginary virtues and losing sight utterly of our defects. The longer and more thoroughly one studies human nature, the more clearly will he see how hopeless is the task of convincing other men of sin. We cannot do it, nor has God left it for us to do. He has put this work into the hands of One who is abundantly able to do it, the Holy Spirit. One of the worst mistakes that we can make in our efforts to bring men to Christ is to try to convince them of sin in any power of our own. Unfortunately, it is one of the commonest mistakes. Preachers will stand in the pulpit and argue and reason with men to make them see and realize that they are sinners. They make it as plain as day; it is a wonder that their hearers do not see it; but they do not. Personal workers sit down beside an inquirer and reason with him, and bring forward passages of Scripture in a most skillful way, the very passages that are calculated to produce the effect desired and yet there is no result. Why? Because we are trying to do the Holy Spirit's work, the work that He alone can do, convince men of sin. If we would only bear in mind our own utter inability to convince men of sin, and cast ourselves upon Him in utter helplessness to do the work, we would see results.

At the close of an inquiry meeting in our church in Chicago, one of our best workers brought to me an engineer on the Pan Handle Railway with the remark, "I wish that you would speak to this man. I have been talking to him two hours with no result." I sat down by his side with my open Bible and in less than ten minutes that man, under deep conviction of sin, was on his knees crying to God for mercy. The worker who had brought him to me said when the man had gone out, "That is very strange." "What is strange?" I asked. "Do you know," the worker said, "I used exactly the same passages in dealing with that man that you did, and though I had worked with him for two hours with no result, in ten minutes with the same passages of Scripture, he was brought under conviction of sin and accepted Christ." What was the explanation? Simply this, for once that worker had forgotten something that she seldom forgot, namely, that the Holy Spirit must do the work. She had been trying to convince the man of sin. She had used the right passages; she had reasoned wisely; she had made out a clear case, but she had not looked to the only One who could do the work. When she brought the man to me and said, "I have worked with him for two hours with no result," I thought to myself, "If this expert worker has dealt with him for two hours with no result, what is the use of my dealing with him?" and in a sense of utter helplessness I cast myself upon the Holy Spirit to do the work and He did it.

But while we cannot convince men of sin, there is One who can, the Holy Spirit. He can convince the most hardened and blinded man of sin. He can change men and women from utter carelessness and indifference to a place where they are overwhelmed with a sense of their need of a Saviour. How often we have seen this illustrated. Some years ago, the officers of the Chicago Avenue Church were burdened over the fact that there was so little profound conviction of sin manifested in our meetings. There were conversions, a good many were being added to the church, but very few were coming with an apparently overwhelming conviction of sin. One night one of the officers of the church said, "Brethren, I am greatly troubled by the fact that we have so little conviction of sin in our meetings. While we are having conversions and many accessions to the church, there is not that deep conviction of sin that I like to see, and I propose that we, the officers of the church, meet from night to night to pray that there may be more conviction of sin in our meetings." The suggestion was taken up by the entire committee. We had not been praying many nights when one Sunday evening I saw in the front seat underneath the gallery a showily dressed man with a very hard face. A large diamond was blazing from his shirt front. He was sitting beside one of the deacons. As I looked at him as I preached, I thought to myself, "That man is a sporting man, and Deacon Young has been fishing to-day." It turned out that I was right. The man was the son of a woman who kept a sporting house in a Western city. I think he had never been in a Protestant service before. Deacon Young had got hold of him that day on the street and brought him to the meeting. As I preached the man's eyes were riveted upon me. When we went down-stairs to the after meeting, Deacon Young took the man with him. I was late dealing with the anxious that night. As I finished with the last one about eleven o'clock, and almost everybody had gone home, Deacon Young came over to me and said, "I have a man over here I wish you would come and speak with." It was this big sporting man. He was deeply agitated. "Oh," he groaned, "I don't know what is the matter with me. I never felt this way before in all my life," and he sobbed and shook like a leaf. Then he told me this story: "I started out this afternoon to go down to Cottage Grove Avenue to meet some men and spend the afternoon gambling. As I passed by the park over yonder, some of your young men were holding an open air meeting and I stopped to listen. I saw one man testifying whom I had known in a life of sin, and I waited to hear what he had to say. When he finished I went on down the street. I had not gone far when some strange power took hold of me and brought me back and I stayed through the meeting. Then this gentleman spoke to me and brought me over to your church, to your Yoke Fellows' Meeting. I stayed to supper with them and he brought me up to hear you preach, then he brought me down to this meeting." Here he stopped and sobbed, "Oh, I don't know what is the matter with me. I feel awful. I never felt this way before in all my life," and his great frame shook with emotion. "I know what is the matter with you," I said. "You are under conviction of sin; the Holy Spirit is dealing with you," and I pointed him to Christ, and he knelt down and cried to God for mercy, to forgive his sins for Christ's sake.

Not long after, one Sunday night I saw another man sitting in the gallery almost exactly above where this man had sat. A diamond flashed also from this man's shirt front. I said to myself, "There is another sporting man." He turned out to be a travelling man who was also a sporting man. As I preached, he leaned further and further forward in his seat. In the midst of my sermon, without any intention of giving out the invitation, simply wishing to drive a point home, I said, "Who will accept Jesus Christ to-night?" Quick as a flash the man sprang to his feet and shouted, "I will." It rang through the building like the crack of a revolver. I dropped my sermon and instantly gave out the invitation; men and women and young people rose all over the building to yield themselves to Christ. God was answering prayer and the Holy Spirit was convincing men of sin. The Holy Spirit can convince men of sin. We need not despair of any one, no matter how indifferent they may appear, no matter how worldly, no matter how self-satisfied, no matter how irreligious, the Holy Spirit can convince men of sin. A young minister of very rare culture and ability once came to me and said, "I have a great problem on my hands. I am the pastor of the church in a university town. My congregation is largely made up of university professors and students. They are most delightful people. They have very high moral ideals and are living most exemplary lives. Now," he continued, "if I had a congregation in which there were drunkards and outcasts and thieves, I could convince them of sin, but my problem is how to make people like that, the most delightful people in the world, believe that they are sinners, how to convict them of sin." I replied, "It is impossible. You cannot do it, but the Holy Spirit can." And so He can. Some of the deepest manifestations of conviction of sin I have ever seen have been on the part of men and women of most exemplary conduct and attractive personality. But they were sinners and the Holy Spirit opened their eyes to the fact.

While it is the Holy Spirit who convinces men of sin, He does it through us. This comes out very clearly in the context of the passage before us. Jesus says in the seventh verse, R. V., of the chapter, "Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I go, I will send Him unto you." Then He goes on to say, "And when He is come (unto you), He will convict the world of sin." That is, our Lord Jesus sends the Holy Spirit unto us (unto believers), and when He is come unto us believers, through us to whom He has come, He convinces the world. On the Day of Pentecost, it was the Holy Spirit who convinced the 3,000 of sin, but the Holy Spirit came to the group of believers and through them convinced the outside world. As far as the Holy Scriptures definitely tell us, the Holy Spirit has no Way of getting at the unsaved world except through the agency of those who are already saved. Every conversion recorded in the Acts of the Apostles was through the agency of men or women already saved. Take, for example, the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. If there ever was a miraculous conversion, it was that. The glorified Jesus appeared visibly to Saul on his way to Damascus, but before Saul could come out clearly into the light as a saved man, human instrumentality must be brought in. Saul prostrate on the ground cried to the risen Christ asking what he must do, and the Lord told him to go into Damascus and there it would be told him what he must do. And then Ananias, "a certain disciple," was brought on the scene as the human instrumentality through whom the Holy Spirit should do His work (cf. Acts ix. 17; xxii. 16). Take the case of Cornelius. Here again was a most remarkable conversion through supernatural agency. "An angel" appeared to Cornelius, but the angel did not tell Cornelius what to do to be saved. The angel rather said to Cornelius, "Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter, who shall tell thee words whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved" (Acts xi. 13, 14). So we may go right through the record of the conversions in the Acts of the Apostles and we will see they were all effected through human instrumentality. How solemn, how almost overwhelming, is the thought that the Holy Spirit has no way of getting at the unsaved with His saving power except through the instrumentality of us who are already Christians. If we realized that, would we not be more careful to offer to the Holy Spirit a more free and unobstructed channel for His all-important work? The Holy Spirit needs human lips to speak through. He needs yours, and He needs lives so clean and so utterly surrendered to Him that He can work through them.

Notice of which sin it is that the Holy Spirit convinces men—the sin of unbelief in Jesus Christ, "Of sin because they believe not on Me," says Jesus. Not the sin of stealing, not the sin of drunkenness, not the sin of adultery, not the sin of murder, but the sin of unbelief in Jesus Christ. The one thing that the eternal God demands of men is that they believe on Him whom He hath sent (John vi. 29). And the one sin that reveals men's rebellion against God and daring defiance of Him is the sin of not believing on Jesus Christ, and this is the one sin that the Holy Spirit puts to the front and emphasizes and of which He convicts men. This was the sin of which He convicted the 3,000 on the Day of Pentecost. Doubtless, there were many other sins in their lives, but the one point that the Holy Spirit brought to the front through the Apostle Peter was that the One whom they had rejected was their Lord and Christ, attested so to be by His resurrection from the dead (Acts ii. 22-36). "And when they heard this (namely, that He whom they had rejected was Lord and Christ) they were pricked in their hearts." This is the sin of which the Holy Spirit convinces men to-day. In regard to the comparatively minor moralities of life, there is a wide difference among men, but the thief who rejects Christ and the honest man who rejects Christ are alike condemned at the great point of what they do with God's Son, and this is the point that the Holy Spirit presses home. The sin of unbelief is the most difficult of all sins of which to convince men. The average unbeliever does not look upon unbelief as a sin. Many an unbeliever looks upon his unbelief as a mark of intellectual superiority. Not unfrequently, he is all the more proud of it because it is the only mark of intellectual superiority that he possesses. He tosses his head and says, "I am an agnostic;" "I am a skeptic;" or, "I am an infidel," and assumes an air of superiority on that account. If he does not go so far as that, the unbeliever frequently looks upon his unbelief as, at the very worst, a misfortune. He looks for pity rather than for blame. He says, "Oh, I wish I could believe. I am so sorry I cannot believe," and then appeals to us for pity because he cannot believe, but when the Holy Spirit touches a man's heart, he no longer looks upon unbelief as a mark of intellectual superiority; he does not look upon it as a mere misfortune; he sees it as the most daring, decisive and damning of all sins and is overwhelmed with a sense of his awful guilt in that he had not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God.

II. But the Holy Spirit not only convicts of sin, He convicts in respect of righteousness.

He convicts the world in respect of righteousness because Jesus Christ has gone to the Father, that is He convicts (convinces with a convincing that is self-condemning) the world of Christ's righteousness attested by His going to the Father. The coming of the Spirit is in itself a proof that Christ has gone to the Father (cf. Acts ii. 33) and the Holy Spirit thus opens our eyes to see that Jesus Christ, whom the world condemned as an evil-doer, was indeed the righteous One. The Father sets the stamp of His approval upon His character and claims by raising Him from the dead and exalting Him to His own right hand and giving to Him a name that is above every name. The world at large to-day claims to believe in the righteousness of Christ but it does not really believe in the righteousness of Christ: it has no adequate conception of the righteousness of Christ. The righteousness which the world attributes to Christ is not the righteousness which God attributes to Him, but a poor human righteousness, perhaps a little better than our own. The world loves to put the names of other men that it considers good alongside the name of Jesus Christ. But when the Spirit of God comes to a man, He convinces him of the righteousness of Christ; He opens his eyes to see Jesus Christ standing absolutely alone, not only far above all men but "far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world but also in that which is to come" (Eph. i. 21).

III. The Holy Spirit also convicts the world of judgment.

The ground upon which the Holy Spirit convinces men of judgment is upon the ground of the fact that "the Prince of this world hath been judged" (John xvi. 11). When Jesus Christ was nailed to the cross, it seemed as if He were judged there, but in reality it was the Prince of this world who was judged at the cross, and, by raising Jesus Christ from the dead, the Father made it plain to all coming ages that the cross was not the judgment of Christ, but the judgment of the Prince of darkness. The Holy Spirit opens our eyes to see this fact and so convinces us of judgment. There is a great need to-day that the world be convinced of judgment. Judgment is a doctrine that has fallen into the background, that has indeed almost sunken out of sight. It is not popular to-day to speak about judgment, or retribution, or hell. One who emphasizes judgment and future retribution is not thought to be quite up to date; he is considered "mediaeval" or even "archaic," but when the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of men, they believe in judgment. In the early days of my Christian experience, I had great difficulties with the Bible doctrine of future retribution. I came again and again up to what it taught about the eternal penalties of persistent sin. It seemed as if I could not believe it: it must not be true. Time and again I would back away from the stern teachings of Jesus Christ and the Apostles concerning this matter. But one night I was waiting upon God that I might know the Holy Spirit in a fuller manifestation of His presence and His power. God gave me what I sought that night and with this larger experience of the Holy Spirit's presence and power, there came such a revelation of the glory, the infinite glory of Jesus Christ, that I had no longer any difficulties with what the Book said about the stern and endless judgment that would be visited upon those who persistently rejected this glorious Son of God. From that day to this, while I have had many a heartache over the Bible doctrine of future retribution, I have had no intellectual difficulty with it. I have believed it. The Holy Spirit has convinced me of judgment.


When our Lord was talking to His disciples on the night before His crucifixion of the Comforter who after His departure was to come to take His place, He said, "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall bear witness of Me: and ye also bear witness, because ye have been with Me from the beginning" (John xv. 26, 27, R. V.), and the Apostle Peter and the other disciples when they were strictly commanded by the Jewish Council not to teach in the name of Jesus said, "We are witnesses of these things, and so is also the Holy Ghost" (Acts v. 32). It is clear from these words of Jesus Christ and the Apostles that it is the work of the Holy Spirit to bear witness concerning Jesus Christ. We find the Holy Spirit's testimony to Jesus Christ in the Scriptures, but beside this the Holy Spirit bears witness directly to the individual heart concerning Jesus Christ. He takes His own Scriptures and interprets them to us and makes them clear to us. All truth is from the Spirit, for He is "the Spirit of truth," but it is especially His work to bear witness to Him who is the truth, that is Jesus Christ (John xiv. 6). It is only through the testimony of the Holy Spirit directly to our hearts that we ever come to a true, living knowledge of Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Cor. xii. 3). No amount of mere reading the written Word (in the Bible) and no amount of listening to man's testimony will ever bring us to a living knowledge of Christ. It is only when the Holy Spirit Himself takes the written Word, or takes the testimony of our fellow man, and interprets it directly to our hearts that we really come to see and know Jesus as He is. On the day of Pentecost, Peter gave all his hearers the testimony of the Scriptures regarding Christ and also gave them his own testimony; he told them what he and the other Apostles knew by personal observation regarding His resurrection, but unless the Holy Spirit Himself had taken the Scriptures which Peter had brought together and taken the testimony of Peter and the other disciples, the 3,000 would not on that day have seen Jesus as He really was and received Him and been baptized in His name. The Holy Spirit added His testimony to that of Peter and that of the written Word. Mr. Moody used to say in his terse and graphic way that when Peter said, "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ (Acts ii. 36), the Holy Spirit said, 'Amen' and the people saw and believed." And it is certain that unless the Holy Spirit had come that day and through Peter and the other Apostles borne His direct testimony to the hearts of their hearers, there would have been no saving vision of Jesus on the part of the people. If you wish men to get a true view of Jesus Christ, such a view of Him that they may believe and be saved, it is not enough that you give them the Scriptures concerning Him; it is not enough that you give them your own testimony, you must seek for them the testimony of the Holy Spirit and put yourself into such relations with God that the Holy Spirit may bear His testimony through you. Neither your testimony, nor even that of the written Word alone will effect this, though it is your testimony, or that of the Word that the Holy Spirit uses. But unless your testimony and that of the Word is taken up by the Holy Spirit and He Himself testifies, they will not believe. This explains something which every experienced worker must have noticed. We sit down beside an inquirer and open our Bibles and give him those Scriptures which clearly reveal Jesus as his atoning Saviour on the cross, a Saviour from the guilt of sin, and as his risen Saviour, a Saviour from the power of sin. It is just the truth the man needs to see and believe in order to be saved, but he does not see it. We go over these Scriptures which to us are as plain as day again and again, and the inquirer sits there in blank darkness; he sees nothing, he grasps nothing. Sometimes we almost wonder if the inquirer is stupid that he cannot see it. No, he is not stupid, except with that spiritual blindness that possesses every mind unenlightened by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. ii. 14). We go over it again and still he does not see it. We go over it again and his face lightens up and he exclaims, "I see it. I see it," and he sees Jesus and believes and is saved and knows he is saved there on the spot. What has happened? Simply this, the Holy Spirit has borne His testimony and what was dark as midnight before is as clear as day now. This explains also why it is that one who has been long in darkness concerning Jesus Christ so quickly comes to see the truth when he surrenders his will to God and seeks light from Him. When he surrenders his will to God, he has put himself into that attitude towards God where the Holy Spirit can do His work (Acts v. 32). Jesus says in John vii. 17, R. V., "If any man willeth to do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it be of God, or whether I speak from Myself." When a man wills to do the will of God, then the conditions are provided on which the Holy Spirit works and He illuminates the mind to see the truth about Jesus and to see that His teaching is the very Word of God. John writes in John xx. 31, "But these are written (these things in the Gospel of John) that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name." John wrote his Gospel for this purpose, that men might see Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, through what he records, and that they might believe that He is the Christ, the Son of God, and that thus believing they might have life through His name. The best book in the world to put into the hands of one who desires to know about Jesus and to be saved is the Gospel of John. And yet many a man has read the Gospel of John over and over and over again and not seen and believed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. But let the same man surrender his will absolutely to God and ask God for light as he reads the Gospel and promise God that he will take his stand on everything in the Gospel that He shows him to be true and before the man has finished the Gospel he will see clearly that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and will believe and have eternal life. Why? Because he has put himself into the place where the Holy Spirit can take the things written in the Gospel and interpret them and bear His testimony. I have seen this tested and proven time and time again all around the world. Men have come to me and said to me that they did not believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and many have gone farther and said they were agnostics and did not even know whether there was a personal God. Then I have told them to read the Gospel of John, that in that Gospel John presented the evidence that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God. Oftentimes they have told me they have read it over and over again, and yet were not convinced that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God. Then I have said to them, "You have not read it the right way," and I have got them to surrender their will to God (or in case where they were not sure there was a God, have got them to take their stand upon the right to follow it wherever it might carry them). Then I have had them agree to read the Gospel of John slowly and thoughtfully, and each time before they read to look up to God, if there were any God, to help them to understand what they were to read and to promise Him that they would take their stand upon whatever He showed them to be true, and follow it wherever it would carry them. And in every instance before they had finished the Gospel they had come to see that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God, and have believed and been saved. They had put themselves in that position where the Holy Spirit could bear His testimony to Jesus Christ and He had done it and through His testimony they saw and believed.

If you wish men to see the truth about Christ, do not depend upon your own powers of expression and persuasion, but cast yourself upon the Holy Spirit and seek for them His testimony and see to it that they put themselves in the place where the Holy Spirit can testify. This is the cure for both skepticism and ignorance concerning Christ. If you yourself are not clear concerning the truth about Jesus Christ, seek for yourself the testimony of the Holy Spirit regarding Christ. Read the Scriptures, read especially the Gospel of John but do not depend upon the mere reading of the Word, but before you read it, put yourself in such an attitude towards God by the absolute surrender of your will to Him that the Holy Spirit may bear His testimony in your heart concerning Jesus Christ. What we all most need is a clear and full vision of Jesus Christ and this comes through the testimony of the Holy Spirit. One night a number of our students came back from the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago and said to me, "We had a wonderful meeting at the mission to-night. There were many drunkards and outcasts at the front who accepted Christ." The next day I met Mr. Harry Monroe, the superintendent of the mission, on the street, and I said, "Harry, the boys say you had a wonderful meeting at the mission last night." "Would you like to know how it came about?" he replied. "Yes." "Well," he said, "I simply held up Jesus Christ and it pleased the Holy Spirit to illumine the face of Jesus Christ, and men saw and believed." It was a unique way of putting it but it was an expressive way and true to the essential facts in the case. It is our part to hold up Jesus Christ, and then look to the Holy Spirit to illumine His face or to take the truth about Him and make it clear to the hearts of our hearers and He will do it and men will see and believe. Of course, we need to be so walking towards God that the Holy Spirit may take us as the instruments through whom He will bear His testimony.


The Apostle Paul in Titus iii. 5, R. V., writes, "Not by works done in righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost." In these words we are taught that the Holy Spirit renews men, or makes men new, and that through this renewing of the Holy Spirit, we are saved. Jesus taught the same in John iii. 3-5, "Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto Him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."

What is regeneration? Regeneration is the impartation of life, spiritual life, to those who are dead, spiritually dead, through their trespasses and sins (Eph. ii. 1, R. V.). It is the Holy Spirit who imparts this life. It is true that the written Word is the instrument which the Holy Spirit uses in regeneration. We read in 1 Pet. i. 23, "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever." We read in James i. 18, "Of His own will begat He us with the Word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of His creatures." These passages make it plain that the Word is the instrument used in regeneration, but it is only as the Holy Spirit uses the instrument that the new birth results. "It is the Spirit that giveth life" (John vi. 63, A. R. V.). In 2 Cor. iii. 6, we are told that "the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life."(1) This is sometimes interpreted to mean that the literal interpretation of Scripture, the interpretation that takes it in its strict grammatical sense and makes it mean what it says, kills; but that some spiritual interpretation, an interpretation that "gives the spirit of the passage," by making it mean something it does not say, gives life; and those who insist upon Scripture meaning exactly what it says are called "deadly literalists." This is a favourite perversion of Scripture with those who do not like to take the Bible as meaning just what it says and who find themselves driven into a corner and are looking about for some convenient way of escape. If one will read the words in their context, he will see that this thought was utterly foreign to the mind of Paul. Indeed, one who will carefully study the epistles of Paul will find that he himself was a literalist of the literalists. If literalism is deadly, then the teachings of Paul are among the most deadly ever written. Paul will build an argument upon the turn of a word, upon a number or a tense. What does the passage mean? The way to find out what any passage means is to study in their context the words used. Paul is drawing a contrast between the Word of God outside of us, written with ink upon parchment or graven on tables of stone, and the Word of God written within us in tables that are hearts of flesh with the Spirit of the living God (v. 3) and he tells us that if we merely have the Word of God outside us in a Book or on parchment or on tables of stone, that it will kill us, that it will only bring condemnation and death, but that if we have the Word of God made a living thing in our hearts, written upon our hearts by the Spirit of the living God, that it will bring us life.(2) No number of Bibles upon our tables or in our libraries will save us, but the truth of the Bible written by the Spirit of the living God in our hearts will save us.

To put the matter of regeneration in another way; regeneration is the impartation of a new nature, God's own nature to the one who is born again (2 Pet. i. 4). Every human being is born into this world with a perverted nature; his whole intellectual, affectional and volitional nature perverted by sin. No matter how excellent our human ancestry, we come into this world with a mind that is blind to the truth of God. ("The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." 1 Cor. ii. 14.) With affections that are alienated from God, loving the things that we ought to hate and hating the things that we ought to love. ("Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like." Gal. v. 19, 20, 21.) With a will that is perverted, set upon pleasing itself, rather than pleasing God. ("Because the mind of the flesh is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be." Rom. viii. 7, R. V.) In the new birth a new intellectual, affectional and volitional nature is imparted to us. We receive the mind that sees as God sees, thinks God's thoughts after Him (1 Cor. ii. 12-14); affections in harmony with the affections of God. ("The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." Gal. v. 22, 23); a will that is in harmony with the will of God, that delights to do the things that please Him. (Like Jesus we say, "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work." John iv. 34; cf. John vi. 38; Gal i. 10.) It is the Holy Spirit who creates in us this new nature, or imparts this new nature to us. No amount of preaching, no matter how orthodox it may be, no amount of mere study of the Word will regenerate unless the Holy Spirit works. It is He and He alone who makes a man a new creature.

The new birth is compared in the Bible to growth from a seed. The human heart is the soil, the Word of God is the seed (Luke viii. 11; cf. 1 Pet. i. 23; Jas. i. 18; 1 Cor. iv. 15), every preacher or teacher of the Word is a sower, but the Spirit of God is the One who quickens the seed that is thus sown and the Divine nature springs up as the result. There is abundant soil everywhere in which to sow the seed, in the human hearts that are around about us upon every hand. There is abundant seed to be sown, any of us can find it in the granary of God's Word; and there are to-day many sowers: but there may be soil and seed and sowers, but unless as we sow the seed, the Spirit of God quickens it and the heart of the hearer closes around it by faith, there will be no harvest. Every sower needs to see to it that he realizes his dependence upon the Holy Spirit to quicken the seed he sows and he needs to see to it also that he is in such relation to God that the Holy Spirit may work through him and quicken the seed he sows.

The Holy Spirit does regenerate men. He has power to raise the dead. He has power to impart life to those who are morally both dead and putrefying. He has power to impart an entirely new nature to those whose nature now is so corrupt that to men they appear to be beyond hope. How often I have seen it proven. How often I have seen men and women utterly lost and ruined and vile come into a meeting scarcely knowing why they came, and as they have sat there the Word was spoken, the Spirit of God has quickened the Word thus sown in their hearts and in a moment that man or woman, by the mighty power of the Holy Spirit, has become a new creation. I know a man who seemed as completely abandoned and hopeless as men ever become. He was about forty-five years of age. He had gone off in evil courses in early boyhood. He had run away from home, had joined the navy and afterwards the army, and learned all the vices of both. He had been dishonourably discharged from the army because of his extreme dissipation and disorderliness. He had found his companionships among the lowest of the low and the vilest of the vile. When he would go up the street of a Western town at night, and merchants would hear his yell, they would close their doors in fear. But this man went one night into a revival meeting in a country church out of curiosity. He made sport of the meeting that night with a boon companion who sat by his side, but he went again the next night. The Spirit of God touched his heart. He went forward and bowed at the altar. He arose a new creation. He was transformed into one of the noblest, truest, purest, most unselfish, most gentle and most Christlike men I have ever known. I am sometimes asked, "Do you believe in sudden conversion?" I believe in something far more wonderful than sudden conversion. I believe in sudden regeneration. Conversion is merely an outward thing, the turning around. Regeneration goes down to the deepest depths of the inmost soul, transforming thoughts, affections, will, the whole inward man. I believe in sudden regeneration because the Bible teaches it and because I have seen it times without number. I believe in sudden regeneration because I have experienced it. We are sometimes told that "the religion of the future will not teach sudden miraculous conversion." If the religion of the future does not teach sudden miraculous conversion, if it does not teach something far more meaningful, sudden, miraculous regeneration by the power of the Holy Spirit, then the religion of the future will not be in conformity with the facts of experience and so will not be scientific. It will miss one of the most certain and most glorious of all truths. Man-devised religions in the past have often missed the truth and man-devised religions in the future will doubtless do the same. But the religion God has revealed in His Word and the religion that God confirms in experience teaches sudden regeneration by the mighty power of the Holy Spirit. If I did not believe in regeneration by the power of the Holy Spirit, I would quit preaching. What would be the use in facing great audiences in which there were multitudes of men and women hardened and seared, caring for nothing but the things of the world and the flesh, with no high and holy aspirations, with no outlook beyond money and fame and power and pleasure, if it were not for the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit? But with the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, there is every use; for the preacher can never tell where the Spirit of God is going to strike and do His mighty work. There sits before you a man who is a gambler, or a drunkard, or a libertine. There does not seem to be much use in preaching to him, but you can never tell but that very night, the Spirit of God will touch that man's heart and transform him into one of the holiest and most useful of men. It has often occurred in the past and will doubtless often occur in the future. There sits before you a woman, who is a mere butterfly of fashion. She seems to have no thought above society and pleasure and adulation. Why preach to her? Without the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, it would be foolishness and a waste of time; but you can never tell, perhaps this very night the Spirit of God will shine in that darkened heart and open the eyes of that woman to see the beauty of Jesus Christ and she may receive Him and then and there the life of God be imparted by the power of the Holy Spirit to that trifling soul.

The doctrine of the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit is a glorious doctrine. It sweeps away false hopes. It comes to the one who is trusting in education and culture and says, "Education and culture are not enough. You must be born again." It comes to the one who is trusting in mere external morality, and says, "External morality is not enough, you must be born again." It comes to the one who is trusting in the externalities of religion, in going to church, reading the Bible, saying prayers, being confirmed, being baptized, partaking of the Lord's supper, and says, "The mere externalities of religion are not enough, you must be born again." It comes to the one who is trusting in turning over a new leaf, in outward reform, in quitting his meanness; it says, "Outward reform, quitting your meanness is not enough. You must be born again." But in place of the vague and shallow hopes that it sweeps away, it brings in a new hope, a good hope, a blessed hope, a glorious hope. It says, "You may be born again." It comes to the one who has no desire higher than the desire for things animal or selfish or worldly and says, "You may become a partaker of the Divine nature, and love the things that God loves and hate the things that God hates. You may become like Jesus Christ. You may be born again."


The Holy Spirit takes up His abode in the one who is born of the Spirit. The Apostle Paul says to the believers in Corinth in 1 Cor. iii. 16, R. V., "Know ye not that ye are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" This passage refers, not so much to the individual believer, as to the whole body of believers, the Church. The Church as a body is indwelt by the Spirit of God. But in 1 Cor. vi. 19, R. V., we read, "Know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have from God?" It is evident in this passage that Paul is not speaking of the body of believers, of the Church as a whole, but of the individual believer. In a similar way, the Lord Jesus said to His disciples on the night before His crucifixion, "And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever; Even 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" (John xiv. 16, 17). The Holy Spirit dwells in every one who is born again. We read in Rom. viii. 9, "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ (the Spirit of Christ in this verse, as we have already seen, does not mean merely a Christlike spirit, but is a name of the Holy Spirit) he is none of His." One may be a very imperfect believer but if he really is a believer in Jesus Christ, if he has really been born again, the Spirit of God dwells in him. It is very evident from the First Epistle to the Corinthians that the believers in Corinth were very imperfect believers; they were full of imperfection and there was gross sin among them. But nevertheless Paul tells them that they are temples of the Holy Spirit, even when dealing with them concerning gross immoralities. (See 1 Cor. vi. 15-19.) The Holy Spirit dwells in every child of God. In some, however, He dwells way back of consciousness in the hidden sanctuary of their spirit. He is not allowed to take possession as He desires of the whole man, spirit, soul and body. Some therefore are not distinctly conscious of His indwelling, but He is there none the less. What a solemn, and yet what a glorious thought, that in me dwells this august Person, the Holy Spirit. If we are children of God, we are not so much to pray that the Spirit may come and dwell in us, for He does that already, we are rather to recognize His presence, His gracious and glorious indwelling, and give to Him complete control of the house He already inhabits, and strive to so live as not to grieve this holy One, this Divine Guest. We shall see later, however, that it is right to pray for the filling or baptism with the Spirit. What a thought it gives of the hallowedness and sacredness of the body, to think of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. How considerately we ought to treat these bodies and how sensitively we ought to shun everything that will defile them. How carefully we ought to walk in all things so as not to grieve Him who dwells within us.

This indwelling Spirit is a source of full and everlasting satisfaction and life. Jesus says in John iv. 14, R. V., "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up unto (better 'into' as in A. V.) eternal life." Jesus was talking to the woman of Samaria by the well at Sychar. She had said to Him, "Art Thou greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank thereof himself, and his children and his cattle?" Then Jesus answered and said unto her, "Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again." How true that is of every earthly fountain. No matter how deeply we drink we shall thirst again. No earthly spring of satisfaction ever fully satisfies. We may drink of the fountain of wealth as deeply as we may, it will not satisfy long. We shall thirst again. We may drink of the fountain of fame as deeply as any man ever drank, the satisfaction is but for an hour. We may drink of the fountain of worldly pleasure, of human science and philosophy and of earthly learning, we may even drink of the fountain of human love, none will satisfy long; we shall thirst again. But then Jesus went on to say, "But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst, but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." The water that Jesus Christ gives is the Holy Spirit. This John tells us in the most explicit language in John vii. 37-39, "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive.)" The Holy Spirit fully and forever satisfies the one who receives Him. He becomes within him a well of water springing up, ever springing up, into everlasting life. It is a great thing to have a well that you can carry with you; to have a well that is within you; to have your source of satisfaction, not in the things outside yourself, but in a well within and that is always within, and that is always springing up in freshness and power; to have our well of satisfaction and joy within us. We are then independent of our environment. It matters little whether we have health or sickness, prosperity or adversity, our source of joy is within and is ever springing up. It matters comparatively little even whether we have our friends with us or are separated from them, separated even by what men call death, this fountain within is always gushing up and our souls are satisfied. Sometimes this fountain within gushes up with greatest power and fullness in the days of deepest bereavement. At such a time all earthly satisfactions fail. What satisfaction is there in money, or worldly pleasure, in the theatre or the opera or the dance, in fame or power or human learning, when some loved one is taken from us? But in the hours when those that we loved dearest upon earth are taken from us, then it is that the spring of joy of the indwelling Spirit of God bursts forth with fullest flow, sorrow and sighing flee away and our own spirits are filled with peace and ecstasy. We have beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness (Isa. lxi. 3). If the experience were not too sacred to put in print, I could tell of a moment of sudden and overwhelming bereavement and sorrow, when it seemed as if I would be crushed, when I cried aloud in an agony that seemed unendurable, when suddenly and instantly this fountain of the Holy Spirit within burst forth and I knew such a rest and joy as I had rarely known before, and my whole being was suffused with the oil of gladness.

The one who has the Spirit of God dwelling within as a well springing up into everlasting life is independent of the world's pleasures. He does not need to run after the theatre and the opera and the dance and the cards and the other pleasures without which life does not seem worth living to those who have not received the Holy Spirit. He gives these things up, not so much because he thinks they are wrong, as because he has something so much better. He loses all taste for them.

A lady once came to Mr. Moody and said, "Mr. Moody, I do not like you." He asked, "Why not?" She said, "Because you are too narrow." "Narrow! I did not know that I was narrow." "Yes, you are too narrow. You don't believe in the theatre; you don't believe in cards; you don't believe in dancing." "How do you know I don't believe in the theatre?" he asked. "Oh," she said, "I know you don't." Mr. Moody replied, "I go to the theatre whenever I want to." "What," cried the woman, "you go to the theatre whenever you want to?" "Yes, I go to the theatre whenever I want to." "Oh," she said, "Mr. Moody, you are a much broader man than I thought you were. I am so glad to hear you say it, that you go to the theatre whenever you want to." "Yes, I go to the theatre whenever I want to. I don't want to." Any one who has really received the Holy Spirit, and in whom the Holy Spirit dwells and is unhindered in His working will not want to. Why is it then that so many professed Christians do go after these worldly amusements? For one of two reasons; either because they have never definitely received the Holy Spirit, or else because the fountain is choked. It is quite possible for a fountain to become choked. The best well in one of our inland cities was choked and dry for many months because an old rag carpet had been thrust into the opening from which the water flowed. When the rag was pulled out, the water flowed again pure and cool and invigorating. There are many in the Church to-day who once knew the matchless joy of the Holy Spirit, but some sin or worldly conformity, some act of disobedience, more or less conscious disobedience, to God has come in and the fountain is choked. Let us pull out the old rags to-day that this wondrous fountain may burst forth again, springing up every day and hour into everlasting life.


In Rom. viii. 2 the Apostle Paul writes, "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." What the law of sin and death is we learn from the preceding chapter, the ninth to the twenty-fourth verses. Paul tells us that there was a time in his life when he was "alive apart from the law" (v. 9). But the time came when he was brought face to face with the law of God; he saw that this law was holy and the commandment holy and just and good. And he made up his mind to keep this holy and just and good law of God. But he soon discovered that beside this law of God outside him, which was holy and just and good, that there was another law inside him directly contrary to this law of God outside him. While the law of God outside him said, "This good thing" and "this good thing" and "this good thing" and "this good thing thou shalt do," the law within him said, "You cannot do this good thing that you would;" and a fierce combat ensued between this holy and just and good law without him which Paul himself approved after the inward man, and this other law in his members which warred against the law of his mind and kept constantly saying, "You cannot do the good that you would." But this law in his members (the law that the good that he would do, he did not, but the evil that he would not he constantly did, v. 19) gained the victory. Paul's attempt to keep the law of God resulted in total failure. He found himself sinking deeper and deeper into the mire of sin, constrained and dragged down by this law of sin in his members, until at last he cried out, "Oh, wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me out of the body of this death?" (v. 24, R. V.). Then Paul made another discovery. He found that in addition to the two laws that he had already found, the law of God without him, holy and just and good, and the law of sin and death within him, the law that the good he would he could not do and the evil he would not, he must keep on doing, there was a third law, "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus," and this third law read this way, "The righteousness which you cannot achieve in your own strength by the power of your own will approving the law of God, the righteousness which the law of God without you, holy and just and good though it is, cannot accomplish in you, in that it is weak through your flesh, the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus can produce in you so that the righteousness that the law requires may be fulfilled in you, if you will not walk after the flesh but after the Spirit." In other words when we come to the end of ourselves, when we fully realize our own inability to keep the law of God and in utter helplessness look up to the Holy Spirit in Christ Jesus to do for us that which we cannot do for ourselves, and surrender our every thought and every purpose and every desire and every affection to His absolute control and thus walk after the Spirit, the Spirit does take control and set us free from the power of sin that dwells in us and brings our whole lives into conformity to the will of God. It is the privilege of the child of God in the power of the Holy Spirit to have victory over sin every day and every hour and every moment.

There are many professed Christians to-day living in the experience that Paul described in Rom. vii. 9-24. Each day is a day of defeat and if at the close of the day, they review their lives they must cry, "Oh, wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me out of the body of this death?" There are some who even go so far as to reason that this is the normal Christian life, but Paul tells us distinctly that this was "when the commandment came" (v. 9), not when the Spirit came; that it is the experience under law and not in the Spirit. The pronoun "I" occurs twenty-seven times in these fifteen verses and the Holy Spirit is not found once, whereas in the eighth chapter of Romans the pronoun "I" is found only twice in the whole chapter and the Holy Spirit appears constantly. Again Paul tells us in the fourteenth verse that this was his experience as "carnal, sold under sin." Certainly, that does not describe the normal Christian experience. On the other hand in Rom. viii. 9 we are told how not to be in the flesh but in the Spirit. In the eighth chapter of Romans we have a picture of the true Christian life, the life that is possible to each one of us and that God expects from each one of us. Here we have a life where not merely the commandment comes but the Spirit comes, and works obedience to the commandment and brings us complete victory over the law of sin and death. Here we have life, not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, where we not only see the beauty of the law (Rom. vii. 22) but where the Spirit imparts power to keep it (Rom. viii. 4). We still have the flesh but we are not in the flesh and we do not live after the flesh. We "through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body" (v. 13). The desires of the body are still there, desires which if made the rule of our life, would lead us into sin, but we day by day by the power of the Spirit do put to death the deeds to which the desires of the body would lead us. We walk by the Spirit and therefore do not fulfill the lusts of the flesh (Gal. v. 16, R. V.). We have crucified the flesh with the passions and lusts thereof (Gal. v. 24, R. V.). It would be going too far to say we had still a carnal nature, for a carnal nature is a nature governed by the flesh; but we have the flesh, but in the Spirit's power, it is our privilege to get daily, hourly, constant victory over the flesh and over sin. But this victory is not in ourselves, nor in any strength of our own. Left to ourselves, deserted of the Spirit of God, we would be as helpless as ever. It is still true that in us, that is in our flesh, dwelleth no good thing (Rom. vii. 18). It is all in the power of the indwelling Spirit, but the Spirit's power may be in such fullness that one is not even conscious of the presence of the flesh. It seems as if it were dead and gone forever, but it is only kept in place of death by the Holy Spirit's power. If for one moment we were to get our eyes off from Jesus Christ, if we were to neglect the daily study of the Word and prayer, down we would go. We must live in the Spirit and walk in the Spirit if we would have continuous victory (Gal. v. 16, 25). The life of the Spirit within us must be maintained by the study of the Word and prayer. One of the saddest things ever witnessed is the way in which some people who have entered by the Spirit's power into a life of victory become self-confident and fancy that the victory is in themselves, and that they can safely neglect the study of the Word and prayer. The depths to which such sometimes fall is appalling. Each of us needs to lay to heart the inspired words of the Apostle, "Wherefore, let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall" (1 Cor. x. 12). I once knew a man who seemed to make extraordinary strides in the Christian life. He became a teacher of others and was greatly blessed to thousands. It seemed to me that he was becoming self-confident and I trembled for him. I invited him to my room and we had a long heart to heart conversation. I told him frankly that it seemed as if he were going perilously near exceedingly dangerous ground. I said that I found it safer at the close of each day not to be too confident that there had been no failures nor defeats that day but to go alone with God and ask Him to search my heart and show me if there was anything in my outward or inward life that was displeasing to Him, and that very often failures were brought to light that must be confessed as sin. "No," he replied, "I do not need to do that. Even if I should do something wrong, I would see it at once. I keep very short accounts with God, and I would confess it at once." I said it seemed to me as if it would be safer to take time alone with God for God to search us through and through, that while we might not know anything against ourselves, God might know something against us (1 Cor. iv. 4, R. V.), and He would bring it to light and our failure could be confessed and put away. "No," he said, "he did not feel that that was necessary." Satan took advantage of his self-confidence. He fell into most appalling sin, and though he has since confessed and professed repentance, he has been utterly set aside from God's service.

In John viii. 32 we read, "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free." In this verse it is the truth, or the Word of God, that sets us free from the power of sin and gives us victory. And in Ps. cxix. 11 we read, "Thy Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee." Here again it is the indwelling Word that keeps us free from sin. In this matter as in everything else what in one place is attributed to the Holy Spirit is elsewhere attributed to the Word. The explanation, of course, is that the Holy Spirit works through the Word, and it is futile to talk of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us if we neglect the Word. If we are not feeding on the Word, we are not walking after the Spirit and we shall not have victory over the flesh and over sin.


It is a wonderful and deeply significant prayer that Paul offers in Eph. iii. 16-19 for the believers in Ephesus and for all believers who read the Epistle. Paul writes, "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, that ye may be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inward man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; to the end that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be strong to apprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length, and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled unto all the fullness of God" (R. V.). We have here an advance in the thought over that which we have just been studying in the preceding chapter. It is the carrying out of the former work to its completion. Here the power of the Spirit manifests itself, not merely in giving us victory over sin but in four things:

I. In Christ dwelling in our hearts. The word translated "dwell" in this passage is a very strong word. It means literally, "to dwell down," "to settle," "to dwell deep." It is the work of the Holy Spirit to form the living Christ within us, dwelling deep down in the deepest depths of our being. We have already seen that this was a part of the significance of the name sometimes used of the Holy Spirit, "the Spirit of Christ." In Christ on the cross of Calvary, made an atoning sacrifice for sin, bearing the curse of the broken law in our place, we have Christ for us. But by the power of the Holy Spirit bestowed upon us by the risen Christ we have Christ in us. Herein lies the secret of a Christlike life. We hear a great deal in these days about doing as Jesus would do. Certainly we ought as Christians to live like Christ. "He that saith he abideth in Him, ought himself so to walk even as He walked" (1 John ii. 6). But any attempt on our part to imitate Christ in our own strength will only result in utter disappointment and despair. There is nothing more futile that we can possibly attempt than to imitate Christ in the power of our own will. If we fancy that we succeed it will be simply because we have a very incomplete knowledge of Christ. The more we study Him, and the more perfectly we understand His conduct, the more clearly will we see how far short we have come from imitating Him. But God does not demand of us the impossible, He does not demand of us that we imitate Christ in our own strength. He offers to us something infinitely better, He offers to form Christ in us by the power of His Holy Spirit. And when Christ is thus formed in us by the Holy Spirit's power, all we have to do is to let this indwelling Christ live out His own life in us, and then we shall be like Christ without struggle and effort of our own. A woman, who had a deep knowledge of the Word and a rare experience of the fullness that there is in Christ, stood one morning before a body of ministers as they plied her with questions. "Do you mean to say, Mrs. H——," one of the ministers asked, "that you are holy?" Quickly but very meekly and gently, the elect lady replied, "Christ in me is holy." No, we are not holy. To the end of the chapter in and of ourselves we are full of weakness and failure, but the Holy Spirit is able to form within us the Holy One of God, the indwelling Christ, and He will live out His life through us in all the humblest relations of life as well as in those relations of life that are considered greater. He will live out His life through the mother in the home, through the day-labourer in the pit, through the business man in his office—everywhere.

II. In our being rooted and grounded in love (v. 17). Paul multiplies figures here. The first figure is taken from the tree shooting its roots down deep into the earth and taking fast hold upon it. The second figure is taken from a great building with its foundations laid deep in the earth on the rock. Paul therefore tells us that by the strengthening of the Spirit in the inward man we send the roots of our life down deep into the soil of love and also that the foundations of the superstructure of our character are built upon the rock of love. Love is the sum of holiness, the fulfilling of the law (Rom. xiii. 10); love is what we all most need in our relations to God, to Jesus Christ and to one another; and it is the work of the Holy Spirit to root and ground our lives in love. There is the most intimate relation between Christ being formed within us, or made to dwell in us, and our being rooted and grounded in love, for Jesus Christ Himself is the absolutely perfect embodiment of divine love.

III. In our being made strong to apprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge. It is not enough that we love, we must know the love of Christ, but that love passeth knowledge. It is so broad, so long, so high, so deep, that no one can comprehend it. But we can "apprehend" it, we can lay hold upon it; we can make it our own; we can hold it before us as the object of our meditation, our wonder, and our joy. But it is only in the power of the Holy Spirit that we can thus apprehend it. The mind cannot grasp it at all, in its own native strength. A man untaught and unstrengthened by the Spirit of God may talk about the love of Christ, he may write poetry about it, he may go into rhapsodies over it, but it is only words, words, words. There is no real apprehension. But the Spirit of God makes us strong to really apprehend it in all its breadth, in all its length, in all its depth, and in all its height.

IV. _In our being _"_filled unto _ALL_ the fullness of God._"_ There is a very important change between the Authorized and Revised Version. The Authorized Version reads "Filled _with_ all the fullness of God." The Revised Version reads more exactly "filled _unto_ all the fullness of God." It is no wonder that the translators of the Authorized Version staggered at what Paul said and sought to tone down the full force of his words. To be filled _with_ all the fullness of God would not be so wonderful, for it is an easy matter to fill a pint cup with all the fullness of the ocean, a single dip will do it. But it would be an impossibility indeed to fill a pint cup _unto_ all the fullness of the ocean, until all the fullness that there is in the ocean is in that pint cup. But it is seemingly a more impossible task that the Holy Spirit undertakes to do for us, to fill us "unto all the fullness" of the infinite God, to fill us until all the intellectual and moral fullness that there is in God is in us. But this is the believer's destiny, we are "heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ" (Rom. viii. 17), _i. e._, we are heirs of God to the extent that Jesus Christ is an heir of God; that is, we are heirs to all God is and all God has. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to apply to us that which is already ours in Christ. It is His work to make ours experimentally all God has and all God is, until the work is consummated in our being "_filled unto all the fullness of God_." This is not the work of a moment, nor a day, nor a week, nor a month, nor a year, but the Holy Spirit day by day puts His hand, as it were, into the fullness of God and conveys to us what He has taken therefrom and puts it into us, and then again He puts His hand into the fullness that there is in God and conveys to us what is taken therefrom, and puts it into us, and this wonderful process goes on day after day and week after week and month after month, and year after year, and never ends until we are "filled _unto_ all the fullness of God."


There is a singular charm, a charm that one can scarcely explain, in the words of Paul in Gal. v. 22, 23, R. V., "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance." What a catalogue we have here of lovely moral characteristics. Paul tells us that they are the fruit of the Spirit, that is, if the Holy Spirit is given control of our lives, this is the fruit that He will bear. All real beauty of character, all real Christlikeness in us, is the Holy Spirit's work; it is His fruit; He produces it; He bears it, not we. It is well to notice that these graces are not said to be the fruits of the Spirit but the fruit, i. e., if the Spirit is given control of our life, He will not bear one of these as fruit in one person and another as fruit in another person, but this will be the one fruit of many flavours that He produces in each one. There is also a unity of origin running throughout all the multiplicity of manifestation. It is a beautiful life that is set forth in these verses. Every word is worthy of earnest study and profound meditation. Think of these words one by one; "love"—"joy"—"peace"—"longsuffering"—"kindness"—"goodness"—"faith" (or "faithfulness," R. V.; faith is the better translation if properly understood. The word is deeper than faithfulness. It is a real faith that results in faithfulness)—"meekness"—"temperance" (or a life under perfect control by the power of the Holy Spirit). We have here a perfect picture of the life of Jesus Christ Himself. Is not this the life that we all long for, the Christlike life? But this life is not natural to us and is not attainable by us by any effort of what we are in ourselves. The life that is natural to us is set forth in the three preceding verses: "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousies, wraths, factions, divisions, heresies, envyings, drunkenness, revellings and such like" (Gal. v. 21, R. V.). All these works of the flesh will not manifest themselves in each individual; some will manifest themselves in one, others in others, but they have one common source, the flesh, and if we live in the flesh, this is the kind of a life that we will live. It is the life that is natural to us. But when the indwelling Spirit is given full control in the one He inhabits, when we are brought to realize the utter badness of the flesh and give up in hopeless despair of ever attaining to anything in its power, when, in other words, we come to the end of ourselves, and just give over the whole work of making us what we ought to be to the indwelling Holy Spirit, then and only then, these holy graces of character, which are set forth in Gal. v. 22, 23, are His fruit in our lives. Do you wish these graces in your character and life? Do you really wish them? Then renounce self utterly and all its strivings after holiness, give up any thought that you can ever attain to anything really morally beautiful in your own strength and let the Holy Spirit, who already dwells in you (if you are a child of God) take full control and bear His own glorious fruit in your daily life.

We get very much the same thought from a different point of view in the second chapter and twentieth verse, A. R. V., "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me."

We hear a great deal in these days about "Ethical Culture," which usually means the cultivation of the flesh until it bears the fruit of the Spirit. It cannot be done; no more than thorns can be made to bear figs and the bramble bush grapes (Luke vi. 44; Matt. xii. 33). We hear also a great deal about "character building." That may be all very well if you bear constantly in mind that the Holy Spirit must do the building, and even then it is not so much building as fruit bearing. (See, however, 2 Pet. i. 5-7.) We hear also a great deal about "cultivating graces of character," but we must always bear it clearly in mind that the way to cultivate true graces of character is by submitting ourselves utterly to the Spirit to do His work and bear His fruit. This is "sanctification of the Spirit" (1 Pet. i. 2; 2 Thess. ii. 13). There is a sense, however, in which cultivating graces of character is right: viz., we look at Jesus Christ to see what He is and what we therefore ought to be; then we look to the Holy Spirit to make us this that we ought to be and thus, "reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord, we are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit" (2 Cor. iii. 18, R. V.). Settle it, however, clearly and forever that the flesh can never bear this fruit, that you can never attain to these things by your own effort that they are "the fruit of the Spirit."


The Apostle Paul writes in Rom. viii. 14, R. V., "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God." In this passage we see the Holy Spirit taking the conduct of the believer's life. A true Christian life is a personally conducted life, conducted at every turn by a Divine Person. It is the believer's privilege to be absolutely set free from all care and worry and anxiety as to the decisions which we must make at any turn of life. The Holy Spirit undertakes all that responsibility for us. A true Christian life is not one governed by a long set of rules without us, but led by a living and ever-present Person within us. It is in this connection that Paul says, "For ye received not the spirit of bondage again to fear." A life governed by rules without one is a life of bondage. There is always fear that we haven't made quite rules enough, and always the dread that in an unguarded moment we may have broken some of the rules which we have made. The life that many professed Christians lead is one of awful bondage; for they have put upon themselves a yoke more grievous to bear than that of the ancient Mosaic law concerning which Peter said to the Jews of his time, that neither they nor their fathers had been able to bear it (Acts xv. 10). Many Christians have a long list of self-made rules, "Thou shalt do this," and "Thou shalt do this," and "Thou shalt do this," and "Thou shalt not do that," and "Thou shalt not do that," and "Thou shalt not do that"; and if by any chance they break one of these self-made rules, or forget to keep one of them, they are at once filled with an awful dread that they have brought upon themselves the displeasure of God (and they even sometimes fancy that they have committed the unpardonable sin). This is not Christianity, this is legalism. "We have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear," we have received the Spirit who gives us the place of sons (Rom. viii. 15). Our lives should not be governed by a set of rules without us but by the loving Spirit of Adoption within us. We should believe the teaching of God's Word that the Spirit of God's Son dwells within us and we should surrender the absolute control of our life to Him and look to Him to guide us at every turn of life. He will do it if we only surrender to Him to do it and trust Him to do it. If in a moment of thoughtlessness, we go our own way instead of His, we will not be filled with an overwhelming sense of condemnation and of fear of an offended God, but we will go to God as our Father, confess our going astray, believe that He forgives us fully because He says so (1 John i. 9) and go on light and happy of heart to obey Him and be led by His Spirit.

Being led by the Spirit of God does not mean for a moment that we will do things that the written Word of God tells us not to do. The Holy Spirit never leads men contrary to the Book of which He Himself is the Author. And if there is some spirit which is leading us to do something that is contrary to the explicit teachings of Jesus, or the Apostles, we may be perfectly sure that this spirit who is leading us is not the Holy Spirit. This point needs to be emphasized in our day, for there are not a few who give themselves over to the leading of some spirit, whom they say is the Holy Spirit, but who is leading them to do things explicitly forbidden in the Word. We must always remember that many false spirits and false prophets are gone out into the world (1 John iv. 1). There are many who are so anxious to be led by some unseen power that they are ready to surrender the conduct of their lives to any spiritual influence or unseen person. In this way, they open their lives to the conduct and malevolent influence of evil spirits to the utter wreck and ruin of their lives.

A man who made great professions of piety once came to me and said that the Holy Spirit was leading him and "a sweet Christian woman," whom he had met, to contemplate marriage. "Why," I said, in astonishment, "you already have one wife." "Yes," he said, "but you know we are not congenial, and we have not lived together for years." "Yes," I replied, "I know you have not lived together for years, and I have looked into the matter, and I believe that the blame for that lies largely at your door. In any event, she is your wife. You have no reason to suppose she has been untrue to you, and Jesus Christ explicitly teaches that if you marry another while she lives you commit adultery" (Luke xvi. 18). "Oh, but," the man said, "the Spirit of God is leading us to love one another and to see that we ought to marry one another." "You lie, and you blaspheme," I replied. "Any spirit that is leading you to disobey the plain teaching of Jesus Christ is not the Spirit of God but some spirit of the devil." This perhaps was an extreme case, but cases of essentially the same character are not rare. Many professed Christians seek to justify themselves in doing things which are explicitly forbidden in the Word by saying that they are led by the Spirit of God. Not long ago, I protested to the leaders in a Christian assembly where at each meeting many professed to speak with tongues in distinct violation of the teaching of the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul in 1 Cor. xiv. 27, 28 (that not more than two or at the most, three, shall speak in a tongue in one gathering and that not even one shall speak unless there was an interpreter, and that no two shall speak at the same time). The defense that they made was that the Holy Spirit led them to speak several at a time and many in a single meeting and that they must obey the Holy Spirit, and in such a case as this were not subject to the Word. The Holy Spirit never contradicts Himself. He never leads the individual to do that which in the written Word He has commanded us all not to do. Any leading of the Spirit must be tested by that which we know to be the leading of the Spirit in the Word. But while we need to be on our guard against the leading of false spirits, it is our privilege to be led by the Holy Spirit, and to lead a life free from the bondage of rules and free from the anxiety that we shall not go wrong, a life as children whose Father has sent an unerring Guide to lead them all the way.

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