The Gift of the Spirit
When Christ gave His disciples the promise of the Spirit, He was
nearing the close of His earthly ministry. He was standing in the shadow
of the cross, with a full realisation of the load of guilt that was to
rest upon Him as the Sin Bearer. Before offering Himself as the
sacrificial victim, He instructed His disciples regarding a most
essential and complete gift which He was to bestow upon His
followers--the gift that would bring within their reach the boundless
resources of His grace. "I will pray the Father," He said,
"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 14:16, 17. The
Saviour was pointing forward to the time when the Holy Spirit should
come to do a mighty work as His representative. The evil that had been
accumulating for centuries was to be resisted by the divine power of the
What was the result of the outpouring of the Spirit on the Day of
Pentecost? The glad tidings of a risen Saviour were carried to the
uttermost parts of the inhabited world. As the disciples proclaimed the
message of redeeming grace, hearts yielded to the power of this message.
The church beheld converts flocking to her from all directions.
Backsliders were reconverted. Sinners united with believers in seeking
the pearl of great price. Some who had been the bitterest opponents of
the gospel became its champions. The prophecy was fulfilled, "He
that is feeble. . . shall be as David; and the house of David . . . as
the angel of the Lord." Zechariah 12:8. Every Christian saw in his
brother a revelation of divine love and benevolence. One interest
prevailed; one subject of emulation swallowed up all others. The
ambition of the believers was to reveal the likeness of Christ's
character and to labour for the enlargement of His kingdom.
"With great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection
of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all." Acts 4:33.
Under their labours were added to the church chosen men, who, receiving
the word of truth, consecrated their lives to the work of giving to
others the hope that filled their hearts with peace and joy. They could
not be restrained or intimidated by threatenings. The Lord spoke through
them, and as they went from place to place, the poor had the gospel
preached to them, and miracles of divine grace were wrought. So mightily
can God work when men give themselves up to the control of His Spirit.
The promise of the Holy Spirit is not limited to any age or to any
race. Christ declared that the divine influence of His Spirit was to be
with His followers unto the end. From the Day of Pentecost to the
present time, the Comforter has been sent to all who have yielded
themselves fully to the Lord and to His service. To all who have
accepted Christ as a personal Savior, the Holy Spirit has come as a counselor,
sanctifier, guide, and witness. The more closely believers have walked
with God, the more clearly and powerfully have they testified of their
Redeemer's love and of His saving grace. The men and women who through
the long centuries of persecution and trial enjoyed a large measure of
the presence of the Spirit in their lives, have stood as signs and
wonders in the world. Before angels and men they have revealed the
transforming power of redeeming love.
Those who at Pentecost were endued with power from on high, were not
thereby freed from further temptation and trial. As they witnessed for
truth and righteousness they were repeatedly assailed by the enemy of
all truth, who sought to rob them of their Christian experience. They
were compelled to strive with all their God-given powers to reach the
measure of the stature of men and women in Christ Jesus. Daily they
prayed for fresh supplies of grace, that they might reach higher and
still higher toward perfection. Under the Holy Spirit's working even the
weakest, by exercising faith in God, learned to improve their entrusted
powers and to become sanctified, refined, and ennobled. As in humility
they submitted to the molding influence of the Holy Spirit, they
received of the fullness of the Godhead and were fashioned in the
likeness of the divine.
The lapse of time has wrought no change in Christ's parting promise
to send the Holy Spirit as His representative. It is not because of any
restriction on the part of God that the riches of His grace do not flow
earthward to men. If the fulfillment of the promise is not seen as it
might be, it is because the promise is not appreciated as it should be.
If all were willing, all would be filled with the Spirit. Wherever the
need of the Holy Spirit is a matter little thought of, there is seen
spiritual drought, spiritual darkness, spiritual declension and death.
Whenever minor matters occupy the attention, the divine power which is
necessary for the growth and prosperity of the church, and which would
bring all other blessings in its train, is lacking, though offered in
Since this is the means by which we are to receive power, why do we
not hunger and thirst for the gift of the Spirit? Why do we not talk of
it, pray for it, and preach concerning it? The Lord is more willing to
give the Holy Spirit to those who serve Him than parents are to give
good gifts to their children. For the daily baptism of the Spirit every
worker should offer his petition to God. Companies of Christian workers
should gather to ask for special help, for heavenly wisdom, that they
may know how to plan and execute wisely. Especially should they pray
that God will baptize His chosen ambassadors in mission fields with a
rich measure of His Spirit. The presence of the Spirit with God's
workers will give the proclamation of truth a power that not all the honor
or glory of the world could give.
With the consecrated worker for God, in whatever place he may be, the
Holy Spirit abides. The words spoken to the disciples are spoken also to
us. The Comforter is ours as well as theirs. The Spirit furnishes the
strength that sustains striving, wrestling souls in every emergency,
amidst the hatred of the world, and the realization of their own
failures and mistakes. In sorrow and affliction, when the outlook seems
dark and the future perplexing, and we feel helpless and alone,--these
are the times when, in answer to the prayer of faith, the Holy Spirit
brings comfort to the heart.
It is not a conclusive evidence that a man is a Christian because he
manifests spiritual ecstasy under extraordinary circumstances. Holiness
is not rapture: it is an entire surrender of the will to God; it is
living by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God; it is doing
the will of our heavenly Father; it is trusting God in trial, in
darkness as well as in the light; it is walking by faith and not by
sight; it is relying on God with unquestioning confidence, and resting
in His love.
It is not essential for us to be able to define just what the Holy
Spirit is. Christ tells us that the Spirit is the Comforter, "the
Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father." It is plainly
declared regarding the Holy Spirit that, in His work of guiding men into
all truth, "He shall not speak of Himself." John 15:26; 16:13.
The nature of the Holy Spirit is a mystery. Men cannot explain it,
because the Lord has not revealed it to them. Men having fanciful views
may bring together passages of Scripture and put a human construction on
them, but the acceptance of these views will not strengthen the church.
Regarding such mysteries, which are too deep for human understanding,
silence is golden.
The office of the Holy Spirit is distinctly specified in the words of
Christ: "When He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of
righteousness, and of judgement." John 16:8. It is the Holy Spirit
that convicts of sin. If the sinner responds to the quickening influence
of the Spirit, he will be brought to repentance and aroused to the
importance of obeying the divine requirements.
To the repentant sinner, hungering and thirsting for righteousness,
the Holy Spirit reveals the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the
world. "He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you,"
Christ said. "He shall teach you all things, and bring all things
to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." John 16:14;
The Spirit is given as a regenerating agency, to make effectual the
salvation wrought by the death of our Redeemer. The Spirit is constantly
seeking to draw the attention of men to the great offering that was made
on the cross of Calvary, to unfold to the world the love of God, and to
open to the convicted soul the precious things of the Scriptures.
Having brought conviction of sin, and presented before the mind the
standard of righteousness, the Holy Spirit withdraws the affections from
the things of this earth and fills the soul with a desire for holiness.
"He will guide you into all truth" (John 16:13), the Saviour
declared. If men are willing to be moulded, there will be brought about
a sanctification of the whole being. The Spirit will take the things of
God and stamp them on the soul. By His power the way of life will be
made so plain that none need err therein.
From the beginning, God has been working by His Holy Spirit through
human instrumentalities for the accomplishment of His purpose in behalf
of the fallen race. This was manifest in the lives of the patriarchs. To
the church in the wilderness also, in the time of Moses, God gave His
"good Spirit to instruct them." Nehemiah 9:20. And in the days
of the apostles He wrought mightily for His church through the agency of
the Holy Spirit. The same power that sustained the patriarchs, that gave
Caleb and Joshua faith and courage, and that made the work of the
apostolic church effective, has upheld God's faithful children in every
succeeding age. It was through the power of the Holy Spirit that during
the Dark Ages the Waldensian Christians helped to prepare the way for
the Reformation. It was the same power that made successful the efforts
of the noble men and women who pioneered the way for the establishment
of modern missions and for the translation of the Bible into the
languages and dialects of all nations and peoples.
And today God is still using His church to make known His purpose in
the earth. Today the heralds of the cross are going from city to city,
and from land to land, preparing the way for the second advent of
Christ. The standard of God's law is being exalted. The Spirit of the
Almighty is moving upon men's hearts, and those who respond to its
influence become witnesses for God and His truth. In many places
consecrated men and women may be seen communicating to others the light
that has made plain to them the way of salvation through Christ. And as
they continue to let their light shine, as did those who were baptised
with the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, they receive more and still
more of the Spirit's power. Thus the earth is to be lightened with the
glory of God.
On the other hand, there are some who, instead of wisely improving
present opportunities, are idly waiting for some special season of
spiritual refreshing by which their ability to enlighten others will be
greatly increased. They neglect present duties and privileges, and allow
their light to burn dim, while they look forward to a time when, without
any effort on their part, they will be made the recipients of special
blessing, by which they will be transformed and fitted for service.
It is true that in the time of the end, when God's work in the earth
is closing, the earnest efforts put forth by consecrated believers under
the guidance of the Holy Spirit are to be accompanied by special tokens
of divine favour. Under the figure of the early and the latter rain,
that falls in Eastern lands at seedtime and harvest, the Hebrew prophets
foretold the bestowal of spiritual grace in extraordinary measure upon
God's church. The outpouring of the Spirit in the days of the apostles
was the beginning of the early, or former, rain, and glorious was the
result. To the end of time the presence of the Spirit is to abide with
the true church.
But near the close of earth's harvest, a special bestowal of
spiritual grace is promised to prepare the church for the coming of the
Son of man. This outpouring of the Spirit is likened to the falling of
the latter rain; and it is for this added power that Christians are to
send their petitions to the Lord of the harvest "in the time of the
latter rain." In response, "the Lord shall make bright clouds,
and give them showers of rain." "He will cause to come down .
. . the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain," Zechariah
10:1; Joel 2:23.
But unless the members of God's church today have a living connection
with the Source of all spiritual growth, they will not be ready for the
time of reaping. Unless they keep their lamps trimmed and burning, they
will fail of receiving added grace in times of special need.
Those only who are constantly receiving fresh supplies of grace, will
have power proportionate to their daily need and their ability to use
that power. Instead of looking forward to some future time when, through
a special endowment of spiritual power, they will receive a miraculous
fitting up for soul winning, they are yielding themselves daily to God,
that He may make them vessels meet for His use. Daily they are improving
the opportunities for service that lie within their reach. Daily they
are witnessing for the Master wherever they may be, whether in some
humble sphere of labour in the home, or in a public field of usefulness.
To the consecrated worker there is wonderful consolation in the
knowledge that even Christ during His life on earth sought His Father
daily for fresh supplies of needed grace; and from this communion with
God He went forth to strengthen and bless others. Behold the Son of God
bowed in prayer to His Father! Though He is the Son of God, He
strengthens His faith by prayer, and by communion with heaven gathers to
Himself power to resist evil and to minister to the needs of men. As the
Elder Brother of our race He knows the necessities of those who,
compassed with infirmity and living in a world of sin and temptation,
still desire to serve Him. He knows that the messengers whom He sees fit
to send are weak, erring men; but to all who give themselves wholly to
His service He promises divine aid. His own example is an assurance that
earnest, persevering supplication to God in faith--faith that leads to
entire dependence upon God, and unreserved consecration to His
work--will avail to bring to men the Holy Spirit's aid in the battle
Every worker who follows the example of Christ will be prepared to
receive and use the power that God has promised to His church for the
ripening of earth's harvest. Morning by morning, as the heralds of the
gospel kneel before the Lord and renew their vows of consecration to
Him, He will grant them the presence of His Spirit, with its reviving,
sanctifying power. As they go forth to the day's duties, they have the
assurance that the unseen agency of the Holy Spirit enables them to be
"labourers together with God."