The Ministry of the Spirit
by A. J. Gordon
1  2  3  4     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

E-text prepared by Al Haines

Transcriber's note:

Page numbers in this book are indicated by numbers enclosed in curly braces, e.g. {99}. They have been located where page breaks occurred in the original book. For its Scripture Index and its General Index, a page number has been placed only at the start of those sections.

Footnotes have been renumbered sequentially and moved to the end of their respective chapters. The book's Index has a number of references to footnotes, e.g. the "96 n." entry under "Assyrians." In such cases, check the referenced page to see which footnote(s) are relevant.




With an Introduction by Rev. F. B. Meyer Minister at Christ Church, London

Philadelphia American Baptist Publication Society 1420 Chestnut Street 1894

Copyright 1894 by the American Baptist Publication Society

To the




It is not claimed that in this little volume all has been said that might be said upon the subject treated. On the contrary, the writer has proceeded upon the belief that the doctrine of the Holy Spirit can be better understood by limiting the sphere of discussion, rather than by extending it to the largest bounds. For finite beings, at least, presence is more intelligible than omnipresence. So, though the subject of this book is in itself profoundly mysterious, we have sought to simplify it by dwelling upon the time-ministry of the Holy Ghost without entering upon the consideration of his eternal ministry. What the Spirit did before the incarnation of Christ, and what he may do hereafter beyond the second advent of Christ, is a question hardly touched upon in this volume. We have sought rather to emphasize and to magnify the great truth that the Paraclete is now present in the church: that we are living in the dispensation of the Spirit, with all the unspeakable blessing for the church and for the world which this economy provides. Hence, as we speak of the ministry of Christ {viii} meaning a service embraced within defined limits, so we name this volume the "Ministry of the Spirit," as referring to the work of the Comforter extending from Pentecost to the end of this dispensation.

How deep a subject for a study! What prayer more becoming for those entering upon it than the humble petition that the Spirit himself will teach us concerning the Spirit! Deeply sensible of the imperfection of this work, it is now committed to the use and blessing of that Divine Person of the Godhead of whom it so unworthily speaks.

A. J. G.

BOSTON, Dec., 1894.



It is remarkable how many in these last days have been led to deal with the sublime subject to which this treatise is devoted. Without doubt the mind of the church is being instructed, and her heart prepared for a recognition of the indwelling, administration, and co-operation of the blessed Paraclete, which has never been excelled in her history, and is fraught with the greatest promise both to her and to the world.

Each of these treatises has brought out some new phase in respect to the person or mission of the Holy Spirit, but I cannot recall one that is so lucid, so suggestive, so scriptural, so deeply spiritual as this, by my beloved friend, Dr. Gordon. The chapters on the Embodying, the Enduement, and the Administration of the Spirit seem specially fresh and helpful. But all is good, and deserving of prayerful perusal. Let only such truths be well wrought into the mental and spiritual constitution {x} of God's servants, and there would be such a revival of pure and undefiled religion in the churches, and such marvelous results through them on the world that the age would close with a world-wide Pentecost. And there are many symptoms abroad that this also is in the purpose of God. Nothing else can meet the deepest needs and yearnings of our time.

Christianity is beset with three powerful currents, which insidiously operate to deflect her from her course. Materialism, which denies or ignores the supernatural, and concentrates its heed on ameliorating the outward conditions of human life; criticism, which is clever at analysis and dissection, but cannot construct a foundation on which the religious faculty may build and rest; and a fine literary taste, which has greatly developed of late, and is disposed to judge of power by force of words or by delicacy of expression.

To all of these we have but one reply. And that is, not a system, a creed, a church, but the living Christ, who was dead, but is alive forevermore, and has the keys to unlock all perplexities, problems, and failures. Though society could be {xi} reconstituted, and material necessities be more evenly supplied, discontent would break out again in some other form, unless the heart were satisfied with his love. The truth which he reveals to the soul, and which is ensphered in him, is alone able to appease the consuming hunger of the mind for data on which to construct its answer to the questions of life and destiny and God, which are ever knocking at its door for solution. And men have yet to learn that the highest power is not in words or metaphors or bursts of eloquence, but in the indwelling and out-working of the Word, who is the wisdom and the power of God, and who deals with regions below those where the mind vainly labors.

Jesus Christ, the ever-living Son of God, is the one supreme answer to the restlessness and travail of our day. But he cannot, he will not reveal himself. Each person in the Holy Trinity reveals another. The Son reveals the Father, but his own revelation awaits the testimony of the Holy Ghost, which, though often given directly, is largely through the church. What we need then, and what the world is waiting for, is the Son of God, borne witness to and revealed in all his radiant {xii} beauty of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, as he energizes with and through the saints that make up the holy and mystical body, the church.

It is needful to emphasize this distinction. In some quarters it seems to be supposed that the Holy Spirit himself is the solution of the perplexities of our time. Now what we may witness in some coming age we know not, but in this it is clear that God in the person of Christ is the one only and divine answer. Here is God's yea and amen, the Alpha and Omega, sight for the blind, healing for the paralyzed, cleansing for the polluted, life for the dead, the gospel for the poor and sad and comfortless. Now we covet the gracious bestowal of the Spirit, that he may take more deeply of the things of Christ, and reveal them unto us. When the disciples sought to know the Father, the Lord said, He that hath seen me hath seen the Father. It is his glory that shines on my face, his will that molds my life, his purpose that is fulfilled in my ministry. So the blessed Paraclete would turn our thought and attention from himself to him, with whom he is One in the Holy Trinity, and whom he has come to reveal.


Throughout the so-called Christian centuries the voice of the Holy Spirit has borne witness to the Lord, directly and mediately. Directly, in each widespread quickening of the human conscience, in each revival of religion, in each era of advance in the knowledge of divine truth, in each soul that has been regenerated, comforted, or taught. Mediately his work has been carried on through the church, the body of those that believe. But, alas! how sadly his witness has been weakened and hindered by the medium through which it has come. He has not been able to do many mighty works because of the unbelief which has kept closed and barred those avenues through which he would have poured his glad testimony to the unseen and glorified Lord.

The divisions of the church, her strife about matters of comparative unimportance, her magnification of points of difference, her materialism, her love of pelf and place and power, her accounting herself rich and increased in goods and needing nothing, when she was poor, and miserable, and blind, and naked—these things have not only robbed her of her testimony, but have grieved and {xiv} quenched the Holy Spirit, and nullified his testimony.

We gladly hail the signs that this period of apathy and resistance is coming to a close. The Church which is in the churches is making herself felt, is arising from the dust and arraying herself in her beautiful garments. There is a widespread recognition of the unity of all who believe, together with an increasing desire to magnify the points of agreement and minimize those of divergence. The great conventions for the quickening of spiritual life on both sides of the Atlantic in which believers meet, irrespective of name or sect, are doing an incalculable amount of good in breaking down the old lines of demarcation, and making real our spiritual oneness. The teaching of consecration and cleanliness of heart and life is removing those obstacles that have restrained and drowned the Spirit's still small voice. The fuller's soap and the refiner's fire have been largely resorted to, with the best results. And as believers have become more consistent and devoted, they have grown increasingly sensitive to the indwelling, energy, and co-witness of the Holy Spirit.


If only this glorious movement is permitted to achieve its full purpose, the effect will be transcendently glorious. The church will become as pliant to the Divine Tenant as the resurrection body of our Lord to the impulse of his divine nature. And so the Lord Jesus will increasingly become the object of human hope, the center around which the concentric circles of human life shall circle.

That the Lord Jesus should be thus magnified and glorified through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and with this end in view, that the hearts and lives of believers should be made more sensitive to and receptive of his blessed energy, this treatise has been prepared; and I add my testimony to the beloved author's, that in the mouth of two witnesses, every word may be established; and my prayer to his that the yea of the Spirit to the great voice of the gospel may be heard more mightily and persistently amongst us.







THE ADVENT OF THE SPIRIT, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17


THE NAMING OF THE SPIRIT, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33


THE EMBODYING OF THE SPIRIT, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51


THE ENDUEMENT OF THE SPIRIT, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65 1. Sealing; 2. Filling; 3. Anointing.


THE COMMUNION OF THE SPIRIT, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97 1. The Spirit of Life: Our Regeneration. 2. The Spirit of Holiness: Our Sanctification. 3. The Spirit of Glory: Our Transfiguration.


THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE SPIRIT, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 127 1. In the Ministry and Government of the Church. 2. In the Worship and Service of the Church. 3. In the Missionary Enterprise of the Church.


THE INSPIRATION OF THE SPIRIT, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 163


THE CONVICTION OF THE SPIRIT, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 185 1. Of Sin; 2. Of Righteousness; 3. Of Judgment.


THE ASCENT OF THE SPIRIT, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 203





"It is evident that the present dispensation under which we are is the dispensation of the Spirit, or of the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. To him in the Divine economy, has been committed the office of applying the redemption of the Son to the souls of men by the vocation, justification, and salvation of the elect. We are therefore under the personal guidance of the Third Person, as truly as the apostles were under the guidance of the Second."—Henry Edward Manning.



In some observations on the doctrine of the Spirit, which lie before us as we write, an eminent professor of theology remarks on the disproportionate attention which has been given to the person and work of the Holy Spirit, as compared with that bestowed on the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. It is affirmed, moreover, that in many of the works upon the subject now extant there is a lack of definiteness of impression which leaves much still to be desired in the treatment of this subject. These observations lead us to ask: Why not employ the same method in writing about the Third Person of the Trinity as we use in considering the Second Person? Scores of excellent lives of Christ have been written; and we find that in these, almost without exception, the divine story begins with Bethlehem and ends with Olivet. Though the Saviour lived before his incarnation, and continues to live after his ascension, yet it gives a certain definiteness of impression to limit one's view to his historic career, distinguishing his visible life lived in time from his invisible life lived in eternity.


So in considering the Holy Spirit, we believe there is an advantage in separating his ministry in time from his ministry before and after, bounding it by Pentecost on the one side, and by Christ's second coming on the other. We have to confess that in many respects one of the best treatises on the Spirit which we have found is by a Roman Catholic—Cardinal Manning. Notwithstanding the papistical errors which abound in the volume, his general conception of the subject is in some particulars admirable. His treatise is called "The Temporal Mission of the Holy Ghost." How much is suggested by this title! Just as Jesus Christ had a time-ministry which he came into the world to fulfill, and having accomplished it returned to the Father, so the Holy Spirit, for the fulfillment of a definite mission, came into the world at an appointed time; he is now carrying on his ministry on earth, and in due time he will complete it and ascend to heaven again—this is what these words suggest, and what, as we believe, the Scriptures teach. If we thus form a right conception of this present age-ministry of the Spirit, we have a definite view-point from which to study his operations in the ages past, and his greater mission, if there be such, in the ages to come.

Now we conceive that the vagueness and mystery attaching in many minds to the doctrine of the Spirit, are due largely to a failure to recognize his {15} time-ministry, distinct from all that went before and introductory to all that is to come after—a ministry with a definite beginning and a definite termination. Certainly no one can read the farewell discourse of our Lord, as recorded by John, without being impressed with the fact that just as distinctly as his own advent was foretold by prophets and angels, he now announces the advent into the world of another, co-equal with himself, his Divine successor, his other self in the mysterious unity of the Godhead. And moreover, it seems clear to us that he implied that this coming One was to appear not only for an appointed work, but for an appointed period: "He shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever"—eis ton aiona. If we translate literally and say "for the age," it harmonizes with a parallel passage. In giving the great commission, Jesus says: "And lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the age." Here his presence by the Holy Ghost is evidently meant. The perpetuity of that presence is guaranteed, "with you all the days"; and its bound determined, "unto the end of the age." Not that it need be argued that he shall not be here after this dispensation is finished; but that there is such a thing as a temporal mission of the Holy Spirit does seem to be implied. And a full study confirms the view. The present is the dispensation of {16} the Holy Ghost; the age-work which he inaugurated on the day of Pentecost is now going on, and it will continue until the Lord Jesus returns from heaven, when another order will be ushered in and another dispensational ministry succeed.

In the well-known work of Moberly, on "The Administration of the Holy Spirit in the Body of Christ," the author divides the course of redemption thus far accomplished into these three stages: The first age, God the Father; the second age, God the Son; and the third age, God the Holy Ghost. This distribution seems to be correct, and so does his remark upon the inauguration of the last of these periods on the day of Pentecost. "At that moment," he says, "the third stage of the development [manifestation] of God for the restoration of the world finally began, never to come to an end or to be superseded on earth till the restitution of all things, when the Son of Man shall come again in the clouds of heaven, in like manner as his disciples saw him go into heaven." And what shall be the next period, "the age to come," whose powers they have already tasted who have been "made partakers of the Holy Ghost"? This question need not be answered, as we have done all that is required, defined the age of the Spirit which constitutes the field in which our entire discussion lies.





"Therefore the Holy Ghost on this day—Pentecost—descended into the temple of his apostles, which he had prepared for himself, as a shower of sanctification, appearing no more as a transient visitor, but as a perpetual Comforter and as an eternal inhabitant. He came therefore on this day to his disciples, no longer by the grace of visitation and operation, but by the very presence of his majesty."—Augustine.




"For the Holy Ghost was not yet," is the more than surprising saying of Jesus when speaking of "the Spirit which they that believe on him should receive." Had not the Spirit been seen descending upon Jesus like a dove at his baptism, and remaining on him? Had he not been the divine agent in creation, and in the illumination and inspiration of the patriarchs and prophets and seers of the old dispensation? How then could Jesus say that he "was not yet given," as the words read in our Common version? The answer to this question furnishes our best point of departure for an intelligent study of the doctrine of the Spirit. Augustine calls the day of Pentecost the "dies natalis" of the Holy Ghost; and for the same reason that the day when Mary "brought forth her first-born son" we name "the birthday of Jesus Christ." Yet Jesus had existed before he lay in the cradle at Bethlehem; he was "in the beginning with God"; he was the agent in creation. By him all things were. But on the day of his birth he became incarnate, that in the flesh he might fulfill his great {20} ministry as the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, manifesting God to men, and making himself an offering for the sins of the world. Not until after his birth in Bethlehem was Jesus in the world in his official capacity, in his divine ministry as mediator between man and God; and so not till after the day of Pentecost was the Holy Spirit in the world in his official sphere, as mediator between men and Christ. In the following senses then is Augustine's saying true, which calls Pentecost "the birthday of the Spirit":

1. The Holy Spirit, from that time on, took up his residence on earth. The Christian church throughout all this dispensation is the home of the Spirit as truly as heaven, during this same period, is the home of Jesus Christ. This is according to that sublime word of Jesus, called by one "the highest promise which can be made to man": "If a man love me he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him" (John 14: 23). This promise was fulfilled at Pentecost, and the first two Persons of the Godhead now hold residence in the church through the Third. The Holy Spirit during the present time is in office on earth; and all spiritual presence and divine communion of the Trinity with men are through him. In other words, while the Father and the Son are visibly and personally in heaven, they are invisibly here in the {21} body of the faithful by the indwelling of the Comforter. So that though we affirm that on the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit came to dwell upon earth for this entire dispensation, we do not imply that he thereby ceased to be in heaven. Not with God, as with finite man, does arrival in one place necessitate withdrawal from another. Jesus uttered a saying concerning himself so mysterious and seemingly contradictory that many attempts have been made to explain away its literal and obvious meaning: "And no man hath ascended up to heaven but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man who is in heaven"—Christ on earth, and yet in glory; here and there, at the same time, just as a thought which we embody in speech and send forth from the mind, yet remains in the mind as really and distinctly as before it was expressed. Why should this saying concerning our divine Lord seem incredible? And as with the Son, so with the Spirit. The Holy Ghost is here, abiding perpetually in the church; and he is likewise there, in communion with the Father and the Son from whom he proceeds, and from whom, as co-equal partner in the Godhead, he can never be separated any more than the sunbeam can be dissociated from the sun in which it has its source.

2. Again: The Holy Spirit, in a mystical but very real sense, became embodied in the church on the day of Pentecost. Not that we would by any {22} means put this embodiment on the same plane with the incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity. When "the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us," it was God entering into union with sinless humanity; here it is the Holy Spirit uniting himself with the church in its imperfect and militant condition. Nevertheless, it is according to literal Scripture that the body of the faithful is indwelt by the divine Spirit. In this fact we have the distinguishing peculiarity of the present dispensation. "For he dwelleth with you and shall be in you!" said Jesus, speaking anticipatively of the coming of the Comforter; and so truly was this prediction fulfilled that ever after the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit is spoken of as being in the church. "If so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you" is the inspired assumption on which the deep teaching in Romans eighth proceeds. All the recognition and deference which the disciples paid to their Lord they now pay to the Holy Spirit, his true vicar, his invisible self, present in the body of believers. How artlessly and naturally this comes out in the findings of the first council at Jerusalem: "It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us" runs the record; as though it had been said: "Peter and James and Barnabas and Saul and the rest were present, and also just as truly was the Holy Ghost."

And when the first capital sin was committed in the church, in the conspiracy and falsehood {23} of Ananias and Sapphira, Peter's question is: "Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost?" "How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Holy Ghost?" Not only is the personal presence of the Spirit in the body of believers thus distinctly recognized, but he is there in authority and supremacy, as the center of the assembly. "Incarnated in the church!" do we say? We get this conception by comparing together the inspired characterizations of Christ and of the church. "This temple" was the name which he gave to his own divine person, greatly to the scandal and indignation of the Jews; and the evangelist explains to us that "he spoke of the temple of his body." A metaphor, a type! do we say? No! He said so because it was so. "The Word was made flesh and tabernacled among us, and we beheld his glory" (John 1: 14). This is temple imagery. "Tabernacled" (eschenosen) is the word used in Scripture for the dwelling of God with men; and the temple is God's dwelling-place. The "glory" harmonizes with the same idea. As the Shechinah cloud rested above the mercy-seat, the symbol and sign of God's presence, so from the Holy of Holies of our blessed Lord's heart did the glory of God shine forth, "the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth," certifying him to be the veritable temple of the Most High.

After his ascension and the sending down of the {24} Spirit, the church takes the name her Lord had borne before; she is the temple of God, and the only temple which he has on earth during the present dispensation. "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" asks the apostle. This he speaks to the church in its corporate capacity. "A holy temple in the Lord, in whom ye also are builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit," is the sublime description in the Epistle to the Ephesians. It is enough that we now emphasize the fact that the same language is here applied to the church which Christ applies to himself. As with the Head, so with the mystical body; each is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and thus is God in some sense incarnated in both; and for the same reason. Christ was "the Image of the Invisible God"; and when he stood before men in the flesh he could say to them, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." Not otherwise than through the incarnation, so far as we know, could the unknown God become known, and the unseen God become seen. So, after Christ had returned to the Father, and the world saw him no more, he sent the Paraclete to be incarnated in his mystical body, the church. As the Father revealed himself through the Son, so the Son by the Holy Spirit now reveals himself through the church; as Christ was the image of the invisible God, so the church is appointed to be {25} the image of the invisible Christ; and his members, when they are glorified with him, shall be the express image of his person.

This then is the mystery and the glory of this dispensation; not less true because mysterious; not less practical because glorious. In an admirable work on the Spirit, the distinction between the former and the present relation of the Spirit is thus stated: "In the old dispensation the Holy Spirit wrought upon believers, but did not in his person dwell in believers and abide permanently in them. He appeared unto men; he did not incarnate himself in man. His action was intermittent; he went and came like the dove which Noah sent forth from the ark, and which went to and fro, finding no rest; while in the new dispensation he dwells, he abides in the heart as the dove, his emblem, which John saw descending and alighting on the head of Jesus. Affianced of the soul, the Spirit went oft to see his betrothed, but was not yet one with her; the marriage was not consummated until the Pentecost, after the glorification of Jesus Christ."[1]

3. A still more obvious reason why before the day of Pentecost it could be said that "the Holy Ghost was not yet," is contained in the words, "Because that Jesus was not yet glorified." In the order of the unfolding ages we see each of the persons of the Godhead in turn exercising an earthly {26} ministry and dealing with man in the work of redemption. Under the law, God the Father comes down to earth and speaks to men from the cloud of Sinai and from the glory above the mercy-seat; under grace, God the Son is in the world, teaching, suffering, dying, and rising again; under the dispensation of election and out-gathering now going on, the Holy Spirit is here carrying on the work of renewing and sanctifying the church, which is the body of Christ. There is a necessary succession in these Divine ministries, both in time and in character. In the days of Moses it might have been said: "Christ is not yet," because the economy of God-Jehovah was not completed. The law must first be given, with its sacrifices and types and ceremonies and shadows; man must be put on trial under the law, till the appointed time of his schooling should be completed. Then must Christ come to fulfill all types and terminate all sacrifices in himself; to do for us "what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh," and to become "the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." When in turn Christ had completed his redemption-work by dying on the cross for our sins, and rising again from the dead for our justification, and had taken his place at God's right hand for perpetual intercession, then the Holy Ghost came down to communicate and realize to the church the finished work of Christ. {27} In a word, as God the Son fulfills to men the work of God the Father, so God the Holy Ghost realizes to human hearts the work of God the Son.

There is a holy deference, if we may so say, between the Persons of the Trinity in regard to their respective ministries. When Christ was in office on earth, the Father commends us to him, speaking from heaven and saying: "This is my beloved Son, hear ye him"; when the Holy Ghost had entered upon his earthly office, Christ commends us to him, speaking again from heaven with sevenfold reiteration, saying: "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."[2] As each Person refers us to the teaching of the other, so in like manner does each in turn consummate the ministry of the other. Christ's words and works were not his own, but his Father's: "The words which I speak unto you I speak not of myself, but the Father that dwelleth in me he doeth the works."[3] The Spirit's teaching and communications are not his own, but Christ's: "Howbeit when he the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth; for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear that shall he speak; and he will show you things to come." "He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine and show it unto you."

This order in the ministries of the Persons of {28} the Godhead is so fixed and eternal that we find it distinctly foreshadowed even in the typical teaching of the Old Testament. Many speak slightingly of the types, but they are as accurate as mathematics; they fix the sequence of events in redemption as rigidly as the order of sunrise and noontide is fixed in the heavens. Nowhere in tabernacle or in temple, shall we ever find the laver placed before the altar. The altar is Calvary and the laver is Pentecost; one stands for the sacrificial blood, the other for the sanctifying Spirit. If any high priest were ignorantly to approach the brazen laver without first having come to the brazen altar, we might expect a rebuking voice to be heard from heaven: "Not yet the washing of water"; and such a saying would signify exactly the same as: "Not yet the Holy Ghost."

Again, when the leper was to be cleansed, observe that the blood was to be put upon the tip of his right ear, the thumb of his right hand, and the great toe of his right foot; and then the oil was to be put upon the right ear, the right thumb, and the right foot—the oil upon the blood of the trespass-offering (Lev. 14). Never, we venture to say, in all the manifold repetitions of this divine ceremony, was this order once inverted, so that the oil was first applied, and then the blood; which means, interpreting type into antitype, that it was impossible that Pentecost could have preceded Calvary, or {29} that the outpouring of the Spirit should have anticipated the shedding of the blood.

Then let us reflect, that not only the order of these two great events of redemption was fixed from the beginning, but their dates were marked in the calendar of typical time. The slaying of the paschal lamb told to generation after generation, though they knew it not, the day of the year and week on which Christ our Passover should be sacrificed for us. The presentation of the wave sheaf before the Lord, "on the morrow after the Sabbath"[1] had for long centuries fixed the time of our Lord's resurrection on the first day of the week. And the command to "count from the morrow after the Sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering, seven Sabbaths,"[4] determined the day of Pentecost as the time of the descent of the Spirit. We sometimes think of the disciples waiting for an indefinite period in that upper room for the fulfillment of the promise of the Father; but the time had been fixed not only with God in eternity, but in the calendar of the Hebrew ritual upon earth. They tarried in prayer for ten days, simply because after the forty days of the Lord's sojourn on earth subsequent to his resurrection, ten days remained of the "seven Sabbaths" period.

To sum up what we are saying: The Spirit of God is the successor of the Son of God in his {30} official ministry on earth. Until Christ's earthly work for his church had been finished, the Spirit's work in this world could not properly begin. The office of the Holy Ghost is to communicate Christ to us—Christ in his entireness. However perfectly the photographer's plate has been prepared, there can be no picture until his subject steps into his place and stands before him. Our Saviour's redemptive work was not completed when he died on the cross, or when he rose from the dead, or even when he ascended from the brow of Olivet. Not until he sat down in his Father's throne, summing up all his ministry in himself,—"I am he that liveth and was dead, and behold I am alive forevermore,"—did the full Christ stand ready to be communicated to his church.[5] By the first Adam's sin, God's communion with man through the Holy Ghost was broken, and their union ruptured. When the second Adam came up from his cross and resurrection, and took his place at God's right hand, there was a restoration of this broken fellowship. Very beautiful are {31} the words of our risen Lord as bearing on this point: "I ascend to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God."[6] The place which the divine Son had won for himself in the Father's heart, he had won for us also. All of acceptance and standing and privilege which was now his, was ours too, by redemptive right; and the Holy Ghost is sent down to confirm and realize to us what he had won for us. Without the expiatory work of Christ for us, the sanctifying work of the Spirit in us were impossible; and on the other hand, without the work of the Spirit within us, the work of Christ for us were without avail.

"And when the day of Pentecost was fully come." What these words mean historically, typically, and doctrinally, we are now prepared to see. The true wave sheaf had been presented in the temple on high. Christ the first-fruits, brought from the grave on "the morrow after the Sabbath," or the first day of the week, now stands before God accepted on our behalf; the seven Sabbaths from the resurrection day have been counted, and Pentecost has come. Then suddenly, to those who were "all of one accord in one place," "there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all {32} the house where they were sitting, and there appeared unto them cloven tongues, like as of fire, and sat upon each of them, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost." As the manger of Bethlehem was the cradle of the Son of God, so was the upper room the cradle of the Spirit of God; as the advent of "the Holy Child" was a testimony that God had "visited and redeemed his people," so was the coming of the Holy Ghost. The fact that the Comforter is here, is proof that the Advocate is there in the presence of the Father. Boldly Peter and the other apostles now confront the rulers with their testimony, "Whom ye slew and hanged on a tree . . . Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins; and we are his witnesses of these things; and so also is the Holy Ghost, whom God, hath given to them that obey him." As the sound of the golden bells upon the high priest's garments within the Holiest gave evidence that he was alive, so the sound of the Holy Ghost, proceeding from heaven and heard in that upper chamber, was an incontestable witness that the great High Priest whom they had just seen passing through the cloud-curtain, entering within the veil, was still living for them in the presence of the Father. Thus has the "dies natalis," the birthday of the Holy Spirit, come; and the events of his earthly mission will now be considered in their order.

[1] "The Work of the Holy Spirit in Man," by Pastor Tophel, p. 32.

[2] See epistles to the seven churches: Rev 2: 11.

[3] John 14: 10.

[4] Lev. 23: 11-16.

[5] "Christ having reached his goal, and not till then, bequeathes to his followers the graces that invested his earthly course; the ascending Elijah leaves his mantle behind him. It is only an extension of the same principle, that the declared office of the Holy Spirit being to complete the image of Christ in every faithful follower by effecting in this world a spiritual death and resurrection,—a point attested in every epistle,—the image could not be stamped until the reality had been wholly accomplished; the Divine Artist could not fitly descend to make the copy before the entire original had been provided."—Archer Butler.

[6] John 20: 17. "Because though he and the Father are one, and the Father his Father by the propriety of nature, to us God became a Father through the Son, not by right of nature, but by grace."—Ambrose.





"The name Paraclete is applied to Christ as well as to the Spirit; and properly: For it is the common office of each to console and encourage us and to preserve us by their defense. Christ was their [the disciples'] patron so long as he lived in the world; he then committed them to the guidance and protection of the Spirit. If any one asks us whether we are not under the guidance of Christ, the answer is easy: Christ is a perpetual guardian, but not visibly. As long as he walked on the earth he appeared openly as their guardian: now he preserves us by his Spirit. He calls the Spirit 'another Comforter,' in view of the distinction which we observe in the blessings proceeding from each."—John Calvin.




The Son of God was named by the angel before he was conceived in the womb: "Thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins." Thus he came, not to receive a name, but to fulfill a name already predetermined for him. In like manner was the Holy Ghost named by our Lord before his advent into the world: "But when the Paraclete is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father" (John 15: 26). This designation of the Holy Spirit here occurs for the first time—a new name for the new ministry upon which he is now about to enter. The reader will find in almost any critical commentary discussions of the meaning of the word, and of the question of its right translation, whether by "Comforter," or "Advocate," or "Teacher," or "Helper." But the question cannot be fully settled by an appeal to classical or patristic Greek, for the reason, we believe, that it is a divinely given name whose real significance must be made manifest in the actual life and history of the Spirit. The name is the person himself, and only as we know the person can we interpret his name. Why {36} attempt then to translate this word any more than we do the name of Jesus? We might well transfer it into our English version, leaving the history of the church from the Acts of the Apostles to the experience of the latest saint to fill into it the great significance which it was intended to contain. Certain it is that the language of the Holy Ghost can never be fully understood by an appeal to the lexicon. The heart of the church is the best dictionary of the Spirit. While all the before-mentioned synonyms are correct, neither one is adequate, nor are all together sufficient to bring out the full significance of this great name, "The Paraclete."

Let us consider, however, how much is suggested by the literal meaning of this word, "the Paracletos" and by all that our Lord says concerning him in his last discourse. "To call to one's aid," is the meaning of the verb, parachaleo, from which the name is derived. Very beautiful therefore is the word in its application to the disciples of Christ at the time when the Spirit was given. They had lost the visible presence of their Lord. The sorrow of his removal from them through the cross and the sepulchre had after three days been turned into joy by his resurrection. But now another separation had come, in his departure to the Father after the cloud had received him out of sight. In this last and longer bereavement, what should they do? Their beloved Master had told them beforehand {37} what to do. They were to call upon the Father to send them One to fill the vacant place, and he who should be sent would be the "Paraclete," the "one called to their help."[1]

But what deep questionings must have arisen in their hearts as they heard the Saviour's promise: "If I go not away the Paraclete will not come unto you; but if I depart I will send him unto you." Did they begin to ask whether the mysterious comer would be a "person"? Impossible to imagine. For he was to take the place of that greatest of persons; to do for them even greater things than he had done; and to lead them into even larger knowledge than he had imparted. The discussion of the personality of the Holy Ghost is so unnatural in the light of Christ's last discourse that we studiously avoid it. Let us treat the question, therefore, from the point of view of Christ's own words, and try to put ourselves under the impression which they make upon us. To state the matter as simply and familiarly as possible: Jesus is about to vacate his office on earth as teacher and prophet; but before doing so he would introduce us to his successor. As in a complex problem we seek to determine an unknown quantity by the known, so in this paschal discourse Jesus {38} aims to make us acquainted with the mysterious, invisible coming personage whom he names the "Paraclete" by comparing him with himself, the known and the visible one. Collating his comparisons we may find in them several groups of seeming contradictions, and just such contradictions as we should expect if this comer is indeed a person of the Godhead. Of the coming Paraclete then we find these intimations.[2]

1. He is another, yet the same: "And I will pray the Father and he shall give you another Comforter" (John 14: 16). By the use of this expression "another" our Lord distinguishes the Paraclete from himself, but he also puts him on the same plane with himself. For there is no parity or even comparison between a person and an influence. If the promised visitor were to be only an impersonal emanation from God, it would seem impossible that our Lord should have so co-ordinated him with himself as to say: "I go to be an Advocate for you in heaven (1 John 2: 1), and I send another to be an Advocate for you on earth."


But if Christ thus distinguishes the Comforter from himself, he also identifies him with himself: "I will not leave you orphans: I will come to you" (John 14: 18). By common consent this promise refers to the advent of the Spirit, for so the connection plainly indicates. And yet almost in the same breath he says: "The Comforter whom I will send unto you" (John 14: 26). Thus our Lord makes the same event to be at once his coming and his sending; and he speaks of the Spirit now as his own presence, and now as his substitute during his absence. So what must we conclude but that the Paraclete is Christ's other self, a third Person in that blessed Trinity of which he is the second.

2. The Paraclete is subordinate yet superior in his ministry to the church. "For he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear that shall he speak. He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine and show it unto you" (John 16: 13).

Well may we mark the holy deference between the persons of the Trinity which is here pointed out. Each receives from another what he communicates, and each magnifies another in his praises. As Bengel concisely states it: "The Son glorifies the Father; the Spirit glorifies the Son." What then is the office of the Holy Ghost, so far as we can interpret it, but that of communicating and applying the work of Christ to human hearts? If he convinces of sin it is by exhibiting the {40} gracious redemptive work of the Saviour and showing men their guilt in not believing on him. If he witnesses to the penitent of his acceptance it is by testifying of the atoning blood of Jesus in which that acceptance is grounded; if he regenerates and sanctifies the heart it is by communicating to it the life of the risen Lord. Christ is "all" in himself, and through the Spirit "in all" those whom the Spirit renews. This reverent subjection of the earthly Comforter to the heavenly Christ contains a deep lesson for those who are indwelt by the Spirit[3] and makes them rejoice evermore to be witnesses rather than originators.

With this subordination of the Holy Spirit to Christ, how is it yet true that such a great advantage was to accrue to the church by the departure of the Saviour and the consequent advent of the Spirit to take his place? That it would be so is what is plainly affirmed in the following text: "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 depart I will send him unto you" (John 16: 7). If the Spirit is simply the measure of the Son, his sole work being to communicate the work of the Son, what gain could there be in the departure of the one in order to {41} the coming of the other? Would it not be simply the exchange of Christ for Christ?—his visible presence for his invisible?

To us the answer of this question is most obvious. It was not the earthly Christ whom the Holy Ghost was to communicate to the church, but the heavenly Christ,—the Christ re-invested with his eternal power, re-clothed with the glory which he had with the Father before the world was, and re-endowed with the infinite treasures of grace which he had purchased by his death on the cross. It is as though—to use a very inadequate illustration—a beloved father were to say to his family: "My children, I have provided well for your needs; but your condition is one of poverty compared with what it may become. By the death of a kinsman in my native country I have become heir to an immense estate. If you will only submit cheerfully to my leaving you and crossing the sea, and entering into my inheritance, I will send you back a thousand times more than you could have by my remaining with you." Only in the instance we are considering, Christ is the "testator" as well as the heir. By his death the inheritance becomes available, and when he had ascended into heaven he sent down the Holy Spirit to distribute the estate among those who were joint heirs with him. What this estate is, may be best summarized in two beautiful expressions of frequent recurrence in the {42} epistles of Paul, "The riches of his grace" (Eph. 1: 7), and "The riches of his glory" (Eph. 3: 16). On the cross "the riches of his grace" was secured to us in the forgiveness of sins; on the throne "the riches of his glory" was secured to us in our being strengthened with all might by his Spirit in the inner man; in the indwelling of Christ in our hearts by faith, and in our infilling with all the fullness of God. The divine wealth only becomes completely available on the death, resurrection, and ascension of our Lord; so that the Holy Spirit, the divine Conveyancer, had not the full inheritance to convey till Jesus was glorified.

Observe therefore, in the valedictory discourse of our Lord, the frequent recurrence of the words: "Because I go to the Father," one of the sayings which greatly perplexed his disciples. In the light of all which Jesus says in this connection, let us see if its meaning may not be clear to us. "If ye loved me ye would rejoice because I go unto the Father; for the Father is greater than I" (John 14: 28), he says in the same connection. We cannot here enter into the deep question of the kenosis, or self-emptying of the Son of God in his incarnation. It is enough that we follow the plain teaching of the Scripture, that though "being in the form of God, he counted it not a thing to be grasped to be on an equality with God; but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant" (Phil. 2: {43} 6, 7, R. V.). What now does his going to the Father signify but a refilling with that of which he had been emptied, or a resumption of his co-equality with God? The greater blessing which he could confer upon his church by his departure seems to lie in the fact of the greater power and glory into which he would enter by his enthronement at God's right hand. As Luther pointedly puts it: "Therefore do I go, he saith, where I shall be greater than I now am, that is, to the Father, and it is better that I shall pass out of this obscurity and weakness into the power and glory in which the Father is." In the light of this interpretation the meaning of our Lord's words above quoted does not seem difficult. The Paraclete was to communicate Christ to his church,—his life, his power, his riches, his glory. In his exaltation all these were to be very greatly increased. "All things that the Father hath are mine" (John 16: 15), he says. And though he had for a time voluntarily disinherited himself of his heavenly possessions, he is now to be repossessed of them. "Therefore said I, that he shall take of mine and shall show it unto you" (16: 15). Christ at God's right hand will have more to give than while on earth; therefore the church will have more to receive through the Paraclete than through the visible Christ. What obvious significance then do the following sayings from this farewell sermon of Jesus have: "Verily {44} verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me the works that I do shall he do also; greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto the Father" (John 14: 12). The earthly Christ is equal only to himself thus conditioned; and if the Holy Spirit shall communicate his power to his disciples, they will do the same works that he does. But the heavenly Christ is co-equal with the Father, therefore when he shall ascend to the Father, and the Spirit shall take of his and communicate to his church, it will do greater works than these. The stream of life, in other words, will have greater power because of the higher source from which it proceeds. Very deep are the mysteries here considered, and we can only speak of them in the light which we get by comparing Scripture with Scripture. Did the risen Christ breathe on his disciples and say to them: "Receive ye the Holy Ghost"?[4] "It is enough, Lord, that we have received the Spirit from thee," they might well have said. Yet it was not enough for him to give; for looking on to the day of his enthronement, he says: "But when the Paraclete is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me" (John 15: 26). When Jesus hath ascended "on high," then can the {45} Holy Ghost communicate "the power from on high." Therefore it is expedient that he go away.

As with the power which Christ was to impart to his church through the Paraclete, so with the righteousness which he was both to impute and to impart; its highest source must be found in heaven: "And when he, the Comforter, is come, he will convince the world of righteousness; . . . of righteousness because I go to my father, and ye see me no more" (John 16: 8-10). We may say truly that the righteousness of Christ was not completely finished and authenticated till he sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high. By his death he perfectly satisfied the claims of a violated law, but this fact was not attested until the grave gave back the certificate of discharge in his released and risen body. By his resurrection he was "declared to be the Son of God in power, according to the Spirit of holiness" (Rom. 1: 4). But the fact was not fully verified till God had "set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named" (Eph. 1: 20, 2l). Now in his consummated glory he is prepared to be "made wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption" to his people. He who had been "manifest in the flesh" that he might be made sin for us, was now "justified in the Spirit" and "received up into glory," that he might be made {46} righteousness to us, and that "we might be made the righteousness of God in him." Christ's coronation, in a word, is the indispensable condition to our justification. Till he who was made a curse for us is crowned with glory and honor we cannot be assured of our acceptance with the Father.[5] How deep the current of thought which flows through this narrow channel—"Because I go to the Father."

3. The Paraclete teaches only the things of Christ; yet teaches more than Christ taught: "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all the truth" (John 16: 12, 13). It is as though he had said: "I have brought you a little way in the knowledge of my doctrine; he shall bring you all the way." One reason for this saying seems plain: The teaching of Jesus during his earthly ministry waited to be illumined by a light not risen—the light of the cross, the light of the sepulchre, the light of the ascension. Therefore until these events had come to pass, Christian doctrine was undeveloped, and could not be fully communicated to the disciples of Christ. But this is not all. The "because I go to the Father" still gives the key to our Lord's meaning. "But what things {47} soever he shall hear, these shall he speak, and he shall declare unto you things to come" (John 16: 13, R. V.). Very wonderful is this hint of the mutual converse of the Godhead, so that the Paraclete is described as listening while he leads, as having an ear in heaven attentive to the converse of the Father and the glorified Son, while he extends an unseen guidance to the flock on earth, communicating to them what he has heard from the Father and the Son. And we may reverently ask, Has not the glorified Christ more of knowledge and revelation to communicate than he had in the days of his humiliation? Of "the things to come" has he not secrets to impart which hitherto may have been hidden in the counsels of the Father? To take a single illustration from the words of Christ. Speaking of his second advent, he says: "But of that day or that hour knoweth no one, not even the angels in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father" (Mark 13: 32[6]). It is best that we should interpret these words frankly, and instead of saying, with some, that he did not know in the sense that he was not permitted to disclose, admit it possible that while in his humiliation and under the veil of his incarnation, this secret was hidden from his eyes.

But is it not presumptuous for us to reason, that {48} therefore he does not now know the day of his coming? How constantly is that text quoted as a decisive and final prohibition of all inquiry into the proximate time of our Lord's return in glory. But they who so use this saying simply remand us to the childhood of the church, to the spiritual nonage of the ante-Pentecostal days. Have we forgotten that since our Lord ascended to the Father he has given us a further revelation, that wondrous book of the Apocalypse, which opens and closes with a beatitude upon those who read and faithfully keep the words of this prophecy? And one characteristic feature of this book is its chronological predictions concerning the time of the end, its mystical dates, which have led many sober searchers of the word of God to inquire diligently "what and what manner of time" the Spirit did signify in giving us these way-marks in the wilderness. This being so, we may ask: If we are not irreverent in concluding with many devout expositors that our Saviour meant what he said in declaring that he did "not yet" know the time of his advent, are we presumptuous in taking literally the opening words of the Apocalypse?: "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants the things which must shortly come to pass." It was because of his going unto the Father that greater works and greater riches were to attend the church after Pentecost. Why may we not assign to the same {49} cause also the fuller revelation of the future and the leading into completer truth concerning the blessed hope of the church? In other words, if we may think of Christ as entering into larger revelation as he returns to the glory which he had with the Father must we not think of larger communications of truth by the blessed Paraclete?

Have we not learned something of the nature and offices of the Spirit by this study of his new name, and of all that the departing Lord says in the wondrous discourse wherein he introduces him to his disciples? At least the study should enable us to distinguish two inspired terms which have been needlessly confounded by not a few writers, viz.: the words "Paraclete," and "Parousia." The latter word, which constantly occurs in Scripture as describing our Lord's second coming, has been applied in several learned works to the advent of the Holy Spirit; and since Christ came in the person of the Spirit, it has been argued that the Redeemer's promised advent in glory has already taken place. But this is to confuse terms whose use in Scripture marks them as clearly distinct. Observe their difference: In the Paraclete, Christ comes spiritually and invisibly; in the Parousia, he comes bodily and gloriously. The advent of the Paraclete is really conditioned on the Saviour's personal departure from his people: "If I go not away the Paraclete will not come to you" (John 16: 7). {50} The Parousia, on the other hand, is only realized in his personal return to his people: "For what is our hope or joy or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?" (1 Thess. 2: 19.) The Paraclete attends the church in the days of her humiliation; the Parousia introduces the church into the day of her glory. In the Paraclete, Christ came to dwell with the church on earth: "I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you" (John 14: 18). In the Parousia, Christ comes to take the church to dwell with himself in glory: "I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am there ye may be also" (John 14: 3). Christ prayed on behalf of his bereaved church for the coming of this Paraclete: "And I will pray the Father and he shall give you another Paraclete." The Holy Spirit now prays with the pilgrim-church for the hastening of the Parousia. "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come" (Rev. 22: 17). These two can only be understood in their mutual relations. Christ, who gave the new name to the Holy Spirit, can best interpret that name to us by making us acquainted with himself. May that name be for us so real a symbol of personal presence that while strangers and pilgrims in the earth we may walk evermore "in the paraclesis of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 9:31).

[1] The word parakletor is used in the Septuagint (Job 16:2) with the meaning of "Comforter," and the term parakletos occurs in the Talmud, signifying "Interpreter."

[2] The most obvious reason for concluding that the Holy Spirit is a person is that he performs actions and stands in relations which belong only to a person, e. g.: He speaks (Acts 1: 16); he works miracles (Acts 2: 4; 8: 39); he sets ministers over churches (Acts 20: 28); he commands and forbids (Acts 8: 29; 11: 12; 13: 2; 16: 6, 7); he prays for us (Rom. 8: 26); he witnesses (Rom. 8: 16); he can be grieved (Eph. 4: 30); he can be blasphemed (Mark 3: 29); he can be resisted (Acts 7: 51, etc).

[3] If the Holy Spirit may not speak of himself as preacher, how canst thou draw thy preaching out of thyself—out of thine head or even out of thine heart.—Pastor Gossner.

[4] Let it be observed that in this communication of the risen Christ it is not said, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost"—the article being significantly omitted—Labete Pneuma agion (John 20: 22).

[5] How righteous must he be, who will go to the Father from the cross and the grave! Thus will the Holy Spirit convince the world that he is a righteous man, and truly righteous for man.—Roos.

[6] "Neither the Son": "It is more than neither; it is not yet the Son," says Morrison the commentator.





"But now the Holy Ghost is given more perfectly, for he is no longer present by his operation as of old, but is present with us so to speak, and converses with us in a substantial manner. For it was fitting that, as the Son had conversed with us in the body, the spirit should also come among us in a bodily manner."—Gregory Nazianzen.




"The church, which is his body," began its history and development at Pentecost. Believers had been saved, and the influences of the Spirit had been manifested to men in all previous dispensations from Adam to Christ. But now an ecclesia, an outgathering, was to be made to constitute the mystical body of Christ, incorporated into him the Head and indwelt by him through the Holy Ghost. The definition which we sometimes hear, that a church is "a voluntary association of believers, united together for the purposes of worship and edification" is most inadequate, not to say incorrect. It is no more true than that hands and feet and eyes and ears are voluntarily united in the human body for the purposes of locomotion and work. The church is formed from within; Christ present by the Holy Ghost, regenerating men by the sovereign action of the Spirit, and organizing them into himself as the living center. The Head and the body are therefore one, and predestined to the same history of humiliation and glory. And as they are one in fact, so are they one in name. He whom God anointed and filled with the Holy Ghost {54} is called "the Christ," and the church, which is his body and fullness, is also called "the Christ." "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is the Christ" (1 Cor. 12: 12). Here plainly and with wondrous honor the church is named o Christos, commenting upon which fact Bishop Andrews beautifully says: "Christ is both in heaven and on earth; as he is called the Head of his church, he is in heaven; but in respect of his body which is called Christ, he is on earth."

So soon as the Holy Ghost was sent down from heaven this great work of his embodying began, and it is to continue until the number of the elect shall be accomplished, or unto the end of the present dispensation. Christ, if we may say it reverently, became mystically a babe again on the day of Pentecost, and the hundred and twenty were his infantile body, as once more through the Holy Ghost he incarnated himself in his flesh. Now he is growing and increasing in his members, and so will he continue to do "till we all come in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of fullness of Christ." Then the Christ on earth will be taken up into visible union with the Christ in heaven, and the Head and the body be glorified together. Observe how the history of the church's formation, as recorded in the Acts, harmonizes with {55} the conception given above. The story of Pentecost culminates in the words, "and the same day there were added about three thousand souls" (Acts 2: 41). Added to whom? we naturally ask. And the King James translators have answered our question by inserting in italics "to them." But not so speaks the Holy Ghost. And when, a few verses further on in the same chapter, we read: "And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved," we need to be reminded that the words "to the church" are spurious. All such glosses and interpolations have only tended to mar the sublime teaching of this first chapter of the Holy Spirit's history. "And believers were the more added to the Lord" (Acts 5: 14.) "And much people were added unto the Lord" (Acts 11: 24.) This is the language of inspiration—Not the mutual union of believers, but their divine co-uniting with Christ; not voluntary association of Christians, but their sovereign incorporation into the Head and this incorporation effected by the Head through the Holy Ghost.

If we ask concerning the way of admission into this divine ecclesia, the teaching of Scripture is explicit: "For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body" (1 Cor. 12: 13). The baptism in water marks the formal introduction of the believer into the church; but this is the symbol, not the substance. For observe the identity of form between the ritual {56} and the spiritual. "I indeed baptize you in water," . . . said John, "but he that cometh after me . . . shall baptize you in the Holy Ghost and in fire" (Matt. 3: 11). As in the one instance the disciple was submerged in the element of water, so in the other he was to be submerged in the element of the Spirit. And thus it was in actual historic fact. The upper room became the Spirit's baptistery, if we may use the figure. His presence "filled all the house where they were sitting," and "they were all filled with the Holy Ghost." The baptistery would never need to be re-filled, for Pentecost was once and for all, and the Spirit then came to abide in the church perpetually. But each believer throughout the age would need to be infilled with that Spirit which dwells in the body of Christ. In other words, it seems clear that the baptism of the Spirit was given once for the whole church, extending from Pentecost to Parousia. "There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Eph. 4: 5). As there is one body reaching through the entire dispensation, so there is "one baptism" for that body given on the day of Pentecost. Thus if we rightly understand the meaning of Scripture it is true, both as to time and as to fact, that "in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free."

The typical foreshadowing, as seen in the church in the wilderness, is very suggestive at this point: "Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be {57} ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea" (1 Cor. 10: 1). Baptized into Moses by their passage through the sea, identified with him as their leader, and committed to him in corporate fellowship; even so were they also baptized into Jehovah, who in the cloud of glory now took his place in the midst of the camp and tabernacled henceforth with them. The type is perfect as all inspired types are. The antitype first appears in Christ our Lord, baptized in water at the Jordan, and then baptized in the Holy Ghost which "descended from heaven like a dove and abode upon him." Then it recurred again in the waiting disciples, who besides the baptism of water, which had doubtless already been received, now were baptized "in the Holy Ghost and in fire." Henceforth they were in the divine element, as their fathers had been in the wilderness, "not in the flesh but in the Spirit" (Rom. 8: 9); called "to live according to God in the Spirit" (1 Peter 4: 6); to "walk in the Spirit" (Gal. 5: 25); "praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit" (Eph. 6: 18). In a word, on the day of Pentecost the entire body of Christ was baptized into the element and presence of the Holy Ghost as a permanent condition. And though one might object that the body as a whole was not yet in existence, we reply that neither was the complete church in {58} existence when Christ died on Calvary, yet all believers are repeatedly said to have died with him.

To change the figure of baptism for a moment to another which is used synonymously, that of the anointing of the Spirit, we have in Exodus a beautiful typical illustration of our thought. At Aaron's consecration the precious ointment was not only poured upon his head, but ran down in rich profusion upon his body and upon his priestly garments. This fact is taken up by the psalmist when he sings: "Behold how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. It is like the precious ointment upon the head that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard, that went down to the skirts of his garments" (Ps. 133: 1, 2). Of our great High Priest we read: "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power" (Acts 10: 38). But it was not for himself alone but also for his brethren that he obtained this holy unction. He received that he might communicate. "Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining on him, the same is he that baptizeth in the Holy Ghost" (John 1: 33). And now we behold our Aaron, our great High Priest, who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, standing in the holiest in heaven. "Thou didst love righteousness and didst hate iniquity," is the divine encomium now passed upon him, "therefore God, thy God, anointed thee with the oil of gladness {59} above thy fellows" (Heb. 1: 9). He, the Christos, the Anointed, stands above and for the Christoi, his anointed brethren, and from him the Head, the unction of the Holy Ghost descended on the day of Pentecost. It was poured in rich profusion upon his mystical body. It has been flowing down ever since, and will continue to do so till the last member shall have been incorporated with himself, and so anointed by the one Spirit into the one body, which is the church.

It is true that in one instance subsequent to Pentecost the baptism in the Holy Ghost is spoken of. When the Spirit fell on the house of Cornelius, Peter is reminded of the word of the Lord, how that he said: "John indeed baptized in water, but ye shall be baptized in the Holy Ghost" (Acts 11: 16). This was a great crisis in the history of the church, the opening of the door of faith to the Gentiles, and it would seem that these new subjects of grace now came into participation of an already present Spirit. Yet Pentecost still appears to have been the age-baptism of the church. As Calvary was once for all, so was the visitation of the upper room.

Consider now that, as through the Holy Ghost we become incorporated into the body of Christ, we are in the same way assimilated to the Head of that body, which is Christ. An unsanctified church dishonors the Lord, especially by its incongruity. A noble head, lofty-browed and intellectual, upon a {60} deformed and stunted body, is a pitiable sight. What, to the angels and principalities who gaze evermore upon the face of Jesus, must be the sight of an unholy and misshapen church on earth, standing in that place of honor called "his body." Photographing in a sentence the ecclesia of the earliest centuries, Professor Harnack says: "Originally the church was the heavenly bride of Christ, and the abiding place of the Holy Spirit." Let the reader consider how much is involved in this definition. The first and most sacred relation of the body is to the head. Watching for the return of the Bridegroom induces holiness of life and conduct in the bride; and the supreme work of the Spirit is directed to this end, that "He may establish our hearts unblamable in holiness before God our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints" (1 Thess. 3: 13). In accomplishing this end he effects all other and subordinate ends. The glorified Christ manifests himself to man through his body. If there is a perfect correspondence between himself and his members, then there will be a true manifestation of himself to the world.[1] Therefore does the Spirit abide in the body, that the body may be "inChristed," to {61} use an old phrase of the mystics; that is, indwelt by Christ and transfigured into the likeness of Christ. Only thus, as "a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people," can it "shew forth the virtues of him who has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light." And who is the Christ that is thus to be manifested? From the throne he gives us his name: "I am he that liveth and was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore" (Rev. 1: 18). Christ in glory is not simply what he is, but what he was and what he is to be. As a tree gathers up into itself all the growths of former years, and contains them in its trunk, so Jesus on the throne is all that he was and is and is to be. In other words, his death is a perpetual fact as well as his life.

And his church is predestined to be like him in this respect, since it not only heads up in him, as saith the apostle, that ye "may grow up into him in all things which is the Head, even Christ," but also bodies itself forth from him, "from whom the whole body, fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, . . . maketh increase of the body" . . . (Eph. 4: 16). If the church will literally manifest Christ, then she must be both a living and a dying church. To this she is committed in the divinely given form of her baptism. "Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his {62} death; therefore we were buried with him by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Rom. 6: 3, 4). And the baptism of the Holy Ghost into which we have been brought is designed to accomplish inwardly and spiritually what the baptism of water foreshadows outwardly and typically, viz., to reproduce in us the living and the dying of our Lord.

First, the living. "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death" (Rom. 8: 2). That is, that which has been hitherto the actuating principle within us, viz., sin and death, is now to be met and mastered by another principle, the law of life, of which the Holy Spirit of God is the author and sustainer. As by our natural spirit we are connected with the first Adam, and made partakers of his fallen nature, so by the Holy Spirit we are now united with the second Adam, and made partakers of his glorified nature. To vivify the body of Christ by maintaining its identity with the risen Head is, in a word, the unceasing work of the Holy Ghost.

Secondly, the dying of our Lord in his members is to be constantly effected by the indwelling Spirit. The church, which is the fullness of him that "filleth all in all," completes in the world his {63} crucifixion as well as his resurrection. This is certainly Paul's profound thought, when he speaks of filling up "that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh, for his body's sake, which is the church" (Col. 1: 24). In other words, the church, as the complement of her Lord, must have a life experience and a death experience running parallel.

It is remarkable how exact is this figure of the body, which is employed to symbolize the church. In the human system life and death are constantly working together. A certain amount of tissue must die every day and be cast out and buried, and a certain amount of new tissue must also be created and nourished daily in the same body. Arrest the death-process, and it is just as certain to produce disorder as though you were to arrest the life-process. Literally is this true of the corporate body also. The church must die daily in fulfillment of the crucified life of her Head, as well as live daily in the manifestation of his glorified life. This italicised sentence, which we take from a recent book, is worthy to be made a golden text for Christians: "The Church is Christian no more than as it is the organ of the continuous passion of Christ." To sympathize, in the literal sense of suffering with our sinning and lost humanity, is not only the duty of the church, but the absolutely essential condition to her true manifestation of her Lord. A {64} self-indulgent church disfigures Christ; an avaricious church bears false witness against Christ; a worldly church betrays Christ, and gives him over once more to be mocked and reviled by his enemies.

The resurrection of our Lord is prolonged in his body, as we all see plainly. Every regeneration is a pulse-beat of his throne-life. But too little do we recognize the fact that his crucifixion must be prolonged side by side with his resurrection. "If any man will come after me let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." The church is called to live a glorified life in communion with her Head, and a crucified life in her contact with the world. And the Holy Spirit dwells evermore in the church to effect this twofold manifestation of Christ. "But God be thanked, that ye have obeyed from the heart that pattern of doctrine to which ye were delivered," writes the apostle (Rom. 6: 17). The pattern, as the context shows, is Christ dead and risen. If the church truly lives in the Spirit, he will keep her so plastic that she will obey this divine mold as the metal conforms to the die in which it is struck. If she yields to the sway of "the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience," she will be stereotyped according to the fashion of the world, and they that look upon her will fail to see Christ in her.

[1] "The Holy Spirit not only dwells in the church as his habitation, but also uses her as the living organism whereby he moves and walks forth in the world, and speaks to the world and acts upon the world. He is the soul of the church which is Christ's body."—Bishop Webb, The Presence and Office of the Spirit, p. 47.





"To the disciples, the baptism of the Spirit was very distinctly not his first bestowal for regeneration, but the definite communication of his presence in power of their glorified Lord. Just as there was a two-fold operation of the one Spirit in the Old and New Testaments, of which the state of the disciples before and after Pentecost was the striking illustration, so there may be, and in the great majority of Christians is, a corresponding difference of experience. . . When once the distinct recognition of what the indwelling of the Spirit was meant to bring is brought home to the soul, and it is ready to give up all to be made partaker of it, the believer may ask and expect what may be termed a baptism of the Spirit. Praying to the Father in accordance to the two prayers in Ephesians, and coming to Jesus in the renewed surrender of faith and obedience, he may receive such an inflow of the Holy Spirit as shall consciously lift him to a different level from the one on which he has hitherto lived."—Rev. Andrew Murray.




We have maintained in the previous chapter that the baptism in the Holy Ghost was given once for all on the day of Pentecost, when the Paraclete came in person to make his abode in the church. It does not follow therefore that every believer has received this baptism. God's gift is one thing; our appropriation of that gift is quite another thing. Our relation to the second and to the third persons of the Godhead is exactly parallel in this respect. "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son" (John 3: 16). "But as many as received him to them gave he the right to become the children of God, even to them that believe on his name" (John 1: 12). Here are the two sides of salvation, the divine and the human, which are absolutely co-essential.

There is a doctrine somewhat in vogue, not inappropriately denominated redemption by incarnation, which maintains that since God gave his Son to the world, all the world has the Son, consciously or unconsciously, and that therefore all the world will be saved. It need not be said that a true evangelical teaching must reject this theory as utterly {68} untenable, since it ignores the necessity of individual faith in Christ. But some orthodox writers have urged an almost identical view with respect to the Holy Ghost. They have contended that the enduement of the Spirit is "not any special or more advanced experience, but simply the condition of every one who is a child of God"; that "believers converted after Pentecost, and living in other localities, are just as really endowed with the indwelling Spirit as those who actually partook of the Pentecostal blessing at Jerusalem."[1]

On the contrary, it seems clear from the Scriptures that it is still the duty and privilege of believers to receive the Holy Spirit by a conscious, definite act of appropriating faith, just as they received Jesus Christ. We base this conclusion on several grounds. Presumably if the Paraclete is a person, coming down at a certain definite time to make his abode in the church, for guiding, teaching, and sanctifying the body of Christ, there is the same reason for our accepting him for his special ministry as for accepting the Lord Jesus for his special ministry. To say that in receiving Christ we necessarily received in the same act the gift of the Spirit, seems to confound what the Scriptures make distinct.[2] For it is as sinners that we accept {69} Christ for our justification, but it is as sons that we accept the Spirit for our sanctification: "And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father" (Gal. 4: 6). Thus, when Peter preached his first sermon to the multitude after the Spirit had been given, he said: "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 2: 38).

This passage shows that logically and chronologically the gift of the Spirit is subsequent to repentance. Whether it follows as a necessary and inseparable consequence, as might seem, we shall consider later. Suffice that this point is clear, so clear that one of the most conservative as well as ablest writers on this subject, in commenting on this text in Acts, says: "Therefore it is evident that the reception of the Holy Ghost, as here spoken of, has nothing whatever to do with bringing men to believe and repent. It is a subsequent operation; it is an additional and {70} separate blessing; it is a privilege founded on faith already actively working in the heart. . . I do not mean to deny that the gift of the Holy Ghost may be practically on the same occasion, but never in the same moment. The reason is quite simple too. The gift of the Holy Ghost is grounded on the fact that we are sons by faith in Christ, believers resting on redemption in him. Plainly, therefore, it appears that the Spirit of God has already regenerated us."[3]

Now, as we examine the Scriptures on this point, we shall see that we are required to appropriate the Spirit as sons, in the same way that we appropriated Christ as sinners. "As many as received him, even to them that believe on his name," is the condition of becoming sons, as we have already seen, receiving and believing being used as equivalent terms. In a kind of foretaste of Pentecost, the risen Christ, standing in the midst of his disciples, "breathed on them and said, Receive ye the Holy Ghost." The verb is not passive, as our English version might lead us to suppose, but has here as generally an active signification, just as in the familiar passage in Revelation: "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Twice in the Epistle to the Galatians the possession of the Holy Ghost is put on the same grounds of active {71} appropriation through faith: "Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith?" (3: 2). "That ye might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith" (3: 14). These texts seem to imply that just as there is a "faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" for salvation, there is a faith toward the Holy Ghost for power and consecration.

1  2  3  4     Next Part
Home - Random Browse