The Holy Spirit

By W. Graham Scroggie

THE truth never leaves us where it finds us. We either go on or we go back. We shall either be better men and better women after this service or worse. The responsibility is laid upon us. A good hearer may learn more from a poor preacher than a poor hearer from a good preacher. And to be good hearers there are four things we should know:

1. If you would obtain any profit, you must have a teachable spirit;
2. Memory plays a large part in making the message profitable;
3. The Word may be of no effect, because it is not mixed with faith; and
4. "If any man is willing to do My will, willing to do, he shall know" (John 7.17). This is a great prospect and a grand assurance. There must be willingness to do. I am to put my will behind my hearing.

I am no pessimist no Christian should be; but if I had to choose I would rather be an open-eyed pessimist than a blind optimist. We have very largely organized the Holy Spirit out of the Christian Church. It is easier to organize than agonise we are making organisation instead of agonising.

There are seven words in the New Testament which speak about the Spirit's mission and work in the individual believer and the Christian Church. One of the evidences of inspiration in Holy Scripture is the care with which words are used. Words are used suitably in their connection, and anywhere else would be unsuitable. There is evidence of choice and care in the use of language.

There are two things we must give our attention to the intellectual apprehension of truth, and the spiritual experience of it. There are quite a lot of people who are intellectual without being experienced; quite a lot are experienced without being intellectual; quite a lot are neither; and quite a lot are both. In days such as these it is not enough that I have an experience of Christ. I must have such an intellectual apprehension of the truth as to convince others of the truth of the things I believe.

Now, notice the seven words which describe the Holy Spirit's ministry:

1. Acts 2:38. The mission of the Holy Spirit towards the individual and towards the Church. This first passage is the Gift of the Holy Spirit. The Father is the Giver, and the Spirit is the Gift, and the Lord in the Upper Room made His disciples tarry for 10 days for the fulfillment of the promise. Why 10 days? Because the Passover and the Feast were separated by 50 days. The birthday of the Church was the day of Pentecost, bringing the Gift to the united believers. I have heard of people waiting "for the Gift of the Spirit." This has been done. They are 1900 years too late.

If you are a Christian you have got the Holy Spirit, If you have not the Holy Spirit you are not a Christian. God gives to every believer in the moment of his conversion the Gift of the Holy Spirit. "Repent and be baptized and ye shall receive the Holy Spirit" when you repent and turn to God.

In the moment of regeneration the Spirit of God becomes ours; after our regeneration God gives to every believer the Gift of the Holy Spirit. You do not realize it at the time. When you receive a gift you say "Thank you." How many Christians have said "Thank you" to the Father for the Spirit? He is already given when we receive life.

2. Ephesians 4:30. "Grieve not the Holy Spirit." The Holy Spirit is a person, not an influence or an emanation. But He does exercise an influence. The Holy Spirit is not "it," and should not be spoken of as such. You cannot grieve an influence or an emanation; you can only grieve a rational and moral being, and this rational and moral Being is the Divine Gift the "Holy Spirit, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption."

There is a redemption past and a redemption to come. We are sealed who are Christ's. This is the token. Every Christian man and woman is sealed. We have no right to pray for the Gift of the Spirit or for the sealing of the Spirit we have both.

3. 1 Corinthians 3:16. "Know ye not that«ye are temples?" Which indicates that the Holy Spirit is not bound. Christian attainment is important. We have obtained, and we should go on to attainment. He does not say "You need the Holy Spirit," but He does say, "Don't you know that you are the Temple of God and the Holy Spirit dwells in you?" and he means that as the whole argument for going on to know the Lord in attainment. There is a hymn that says "I hate the sins that made Thee mourn and drove Thee from my breast." If you could do that you would cease to be a Christian. You can grieve Him, silence Him, but you cannot drive him out.

There is a doctrine of the body in the Scriptures: it is through our bodies we function. If I had no body I could not speak to you this afternoon; but, having a body, I can function through it, and God wants every living body dedicated to Him, so that He may function through our bodies, and the Spirit of God has taken possession of every Christian; but if we have not dedicated our bodies, how can we function?

4. Ephesians 1:14. "The Holy Spirit of promise which is the earnest of our inheritance." That is one of the words which have changed their meaning. The "earnest" means foretaste and guarantee. The engagement ring is the earnest and guarantee of marriage the promise, token, sample, earnest. The grapes -which the spies brought out of the land of Canaan was an earnest of what was there in super-abundance in the land. God in His infinite grace has given the Holy Spirit as the earnest of our inheritance, and 1 am wondering if the Holy Spirit is the earnest, -what will the inheritance be? That baffles imagination. Every Christian man and woman has the gift, the seal, the indwelling, and the earnest of the Spirit. If we have not, we are not Christians at all.

5. Acts 1:5. The baptism of the Spirit. What is the teaching of the New Testament touching the baptism of the Spirit There are thousands of Christian people who -will most sincerely pray for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Have you any scripture warrant for praying for the baptism of the Holy Spirit? None whatever. There is a baptism of power and love we need them both but there is no exhortation or injunction to pray for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. What is the baptism of the Holy Spirit? In Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts 1, the baptism is pointed forward to; in Acts 2 it is pointed back to. By one Spirit baptized into one body. What an opportunity for the Spirit to use! You need this baptism of the Holy Spirit. By one Spirit ye were baptized into one body it points back. Where? At this meeting, in Acts 2, on the Day of Pentecost. The baptism of the Holy Spirit inaugurated a new dispensation and by that baptism of the believing units there were hundreds of them hundreds of Christians that were believing units by baptism; they -were constituted the Church of God.

We have our share in this. When do we have that share? In the moment of regeneration you became a member of Christ's body, and belonging to the Church of God. You may be a member of a Christian Church without being a member of the Church of God. That is not something we have an experience of, but something we are to be taught.

The Christian life is a life of endless progress, not only in time, but through eternity. Now abides faith, hope, love. There will never come a time when we can do without any of these.

We can never exhaust God, therefore our progress "will never come to an end. God -will not hold us back because we are not intellectually clear on the subject. There is no New Testament warrant for praying for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. What should we seek, what may we have?

6. Ephesians 5:18. "Be filled with the Spirit." This is an exhortation to Christian people. If every saved man or woman is filled, then the injunction has no point. It would seem that a vast majority of Christians are not filled with the Spirit. It has been said there is no difference between baptism and fullness of the Spirit. I would have you understand they are exactly opposed figures. If I were to take a vessel and seal it, and put it into a bucket of -water, it would be baptized in the water; but I unseal it, and the water is in it. What is the meaning of the fullness of the Spirit?

The fullness of the Spirit is the recognized mastership in the life, as distinct from acceptance of Jesus as my Saviour. He can be my Saviour, without being my Master. In order to accept I must have faith, but in order for Him to be my Master I must obey. The Spirit of God is in us in fullness when we let Him minister the authority of Jesus Christ in us, and when we unquestionably obey Him.

Is every Christian filled with the Spirit? Does every Christian recognize Christ as Lord in every phase of their life, in their thinking and doing? I think not, or there would not be this exhortation in Ephesians, "Be filled with the Spirit." That is an experience possible to you and to me. Too often the experience comes long years after, if it comes at all. We may be filled in the hour of our regeneration, and I believe that many would be if those who led them to Christ told them of this thing that could be accomplished.

I have a right, a New Testament warrant, to pray for, seek, and receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit. I cannot render Him my life service properly unless I have the fullness of the Spirit.

When a person asks God to fill him with the Holy Spirit, he says, "I do acknowledge Thee to be my Saviour, and now I render Thee unquestioning obedience." So long as such a one lives in that attitude, there is fullness of the Spirit. Our gifts are all right as far as they go, but when we give these gifts to Him, and give them to Him with unquestioning obedience, there is the fullness of the Holy Spirit taking each of the natural endowments and gifts and consecrating them to Him. Have we received the fullness 'of the Holy Spirit? Have you? Have you ever sought it Church member, class leader, office-bearer, Sunday School teacher, Endeavourer, Minister are all ministers filled with the Holy Spirit? I would they -were; there are some controversies we should never hear of.

Every Christian has the gift, the sealing, the indwelling, but every Christian has not the fullness of the Holy Spirit, and every Christian has not the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

7. 2 Cor. 1:21. "And hath anointed us." The Spirit of God came upon Jesus when He was baptized. There never was a time when He was not filled with the Holy Spirit when He did not perfectly obey. Then what was it He received? It was an anointing for service. Everyone that goes forth to spread the Gospel should see that they receive this anointing everyone who goes to teach the Word or everything, and every one of our most carefully prepared discourses must prove futile. I do not speak of great preaching, of past days there is great preaching to-day. It is learning, oratory, everything there but the one thing that would make it dynamic that is, the anointing of the Holy Spirit and I could never go forward to look into the faces of a congregation but for this fresh anointing for this afternoon, and fresh anointing for this evening let it cover my soul.

This anointing came upon Him, and then drove Him into the wilderness to be tested, and He came out of the wilderness in the power of the Spirit. Do we always come out in the power of the Holy Spirit, or broken, beaten to the ground? We must first have an infilling, and then an anointing for service. Where do you stand in relation to this? Are you anointed? Do you win souls? We should obtain the infilling, the anointing for service by dedication, consecration, that will make our least word powerful and fruitful.