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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Having the Spirit # 3

"Having not the Spirit" (Jude 19)

This is a deep subject, and one that must be handled with reverence. But where the Bible speaks with decision, there we may also speak with decision; and the words of the Bible have no meaning if the work of the Holy Spirit be not just as needful in order to make a man a true Christian, as the work of the Father or the work of the Son. "No man," we are told, "can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit." (1 Corinthians 12:3). True Christians, we are taught in Scripture, are "born of the Spirit." They live in the Spirit; they are led by the Spirit; by the Spirit they mortify the deeds of the body; by one Spirit they have access through Jesus unto the Father. Their graces are all the fruit of the Spirit; they are the temple of the Holy Spirit; they are a habitation of God through the Spirit; they walk after the Spirit; they are strengthened by the Spirit. Through the Spirit they wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. (John 3: 6; Gal. v. 25; Romans 8: 13, 14; Eph. 2:18; Gal. v. 22; 1 Corinthians v. 19; Eph. 2:22; Rom. 8:4; Eph. 3:16; Gal. v. 5) These are plain Scriptural expressions. Who will dare to deny them?

The truth is that the deep corruption of human nature would make salvation impossible if it were not for the work of the Spirit. Without Him the Father's love and the Son's redemption are set before us in vain. The Spirit must reveal them, the Spirit must apply them, or else we are lost souls.

Nothing less than the power of Him who moved on the face of the waters in the day of creation can ever raise us from our low estate. He who said, "Let there be light, and there was light," must speak the word before any one of us will ever rise to newness of life. He who came down on the day of Pentecost, must come down on our poor dead souls, before they will ever see the kingdom of God. Mercies and afflictions may move the surface of our hearts, but they will never reach the inner man. Sacraments, and services, and sermons may produce outward formality, and clothe us with the skin of religion, but there will be no life. Ministers may make communicants, and fill churches with regular worshipers: the almighty power of the Holy Spirit alone can make true Christians, and fill heaven with glorified saints.

Let this also be written in your memory, and never forgotten. No Holy Spirit, no true Christianity! You must have the Spirit in you, as well as Christ for you, if you are ever to be saved. God must be your loving Father, Jesus must be your known Redeemer, the Holy Spirit must be your "felt" Sanctifier, or else it will be better for you never to have been born.

I press the subject on the serious consideration of all who read these pages. I trust I have said enough to show you that it is of vital importance to your soul to "have the Spirit." It is no abstruse and mysterious point of divinity; it is no nice question of which the solution matters little one way or another. It is a subject in which is bound up the everlasting peace of your soul.

You may not like the tidings. You may call it enthusiasm, or fanaticism, or extravagance. I take my stand on the plain teaching of the Bible. I say that God must dwell in your heart by the Spirit on earth, or you will never dwell with God in heaven.

"Ah," you my say, "I do not know much about it. I trust Christ will be merciful. I hope I shall go to heaven after all." I answer, No man ever yet tasted of Christ's mercy who did not also receive of His Spirit - No man was ever justified who was not also sanctified - No man ever went to heaven who was not led there by the Spirit.

2. Let me, in the second place, point out the great general rule and principle by which the question may be decided, whether we have the Spirit.

I can quite understand that the idea of knowing whether we "have the Spirit" is disagreeable to many minds. I am not ignorant of the objections which satan at once stirs up in the natural heart. "It is impossible to know it," says one person: "it is a deep thing, and beyond our reach." "It is too mysterious a thing to inquire into," says another: "we must be content to leave the subject in uncertainty." "It is wrong to pretend to know anything about it," says a third: "we were never meant to look into such questions. It is only fit for enthusiasts and fanatics to talk of having the Spirit." I hear such objections without being moved by them. I say that it can be known whether a man has the Spirit. It can be known, it may be known, it ought to be known. It needs no vision from heaven, no revelation from an angel to discern it; it needs nothing but calm inquiry by the light of God's Word. Let us enter upon that inquiry.

All men have not the Holy Spirit. I regard the doctrine of a inward spiritual light enjoyed by all mankind as an unscriptural delusion. I believe the modern notion of universal inspiration to be a baseless dream. Without controversy, God has not left Himself without a witness in the heart of fallen man. He has left in every mind sufficient knowledge of right and wrong to make all men responsible and accountable. He has given to every child of Adam a conscience: but He has not given to every child of Adam the Holy Spirit. A man may have good wishes like Balaam, do many things like Herod, be almost persuaded like Agrippa, and tremble like Felix, and yet be as utterly destitute of the grace of the Spirit as these men were. Paul tells us that before conversion men may "know God" in a certain sense, and have "thoughts accusing or excusing one another." But he also tells us that before conversion men are "without God" and "without Christ," have "no hope," and are "darkness" itself (Romans 1:21; 2:15; Eph. 2:12). The Lord Jesus Himself says of the Spirit, "The world seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him, for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." (John 14:17).

~J. C. Ryle~

(continued with # 4 - "All Members of Churches and Baptized Persons have NOT the Spirit")

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