"If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His" (Romans 8:9)
What do you think of the vicarious sacrifice of Christ on the Cross? Its value is simply unspeakable. No wonder Paul says, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross." (Galatians 6:14). Well it is written, "Through the eternal Spirit He offered Himself without spot to God" (Hebrews 9:14).
What do you think of the resurrection of Christ? It was the seal and topstone of all his work. He was "raised again for our justification" (Romans 4:25). Well it is written that "He was put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit" (1 Peter 3:18).
What do you think of the departure of Christ from this world, when He ascended up into heaven? It was a tremendous trial to His disciples. They were left like a little orphan family, in the midst of cruel enemies. Well what was the grand promise wherewith our Saviour cheered them the night before He died? "I will pray the Father and He shall give you another Comforter, even the Spirit of truth" (John 14:16, 17).
What do you think of the mission of the apostles to preach the Gospel? We Gentiles owe to it all our religious light and knowledge. Well they were obliged to tarry at Jerusalem and "wait for the promise of the Father." They were unfit to go forth till they were "filled with the Holy Spirit," upon the day of Pentecost (Acts 1:4; 2:4).
What do you think of the Scripture, which is written for our learning? You know that our earth without a sun would be but a faint emblem of a world without a Bible. Well we are informed that in writing that Scripture, "Holy men spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 2:21). "The things which we speak," says Paul, we speak in the words which the Holy Spirit teacheth." (1 Corinthians 2:13).
What do you think of the whole dispensation under which we Christians live? You know its privileges as far exceed those of the Jews as twilight is exceeded by noonday. Well we are especially told that it is this "ministration of the Spirit" (2 Corinthians 3:8). *
I place these texts before my readers as matter for private meditation. I pass on to the other general remark I promised to make.
I ask you then to remark carefully, that whatever individual Christians have, are, and enjoy, in contradistinction to the worldly and unconverted, they owe to the agency of God the Holy Spirit. By Him they are first called, quickened and made alive. Of Him they are born again, and made new creatures. By Him they are convinced of sin, guided into all truth and led to Christ. By Him they are sealed unto the day of redemption. He dwells in them as His living temples. He witnesses with their spirit - gives them the spirit of adoption, makes them to cry Abba Father, and makes intercession for them. By Him they are sanctified. By Him the love of God is shed abroad in their hearts. Through His power they abound in hope. Through Him they wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. Through Him they mortify the deeds of their bodies. After Him they walk, In Him they live. In a word, all that believers have from grace to glory, - all that they are from the first moment they believe to the day they depart to be with Christ, - all, all, all may be traced to the work of God the Holy Spirit (John 6:63; 3:8; 16:9, 10; Ephesians 4:30).
I may not tarry longer on this branch of my subject. I trust, I have said enough to prove that I did not use words without meaning, when I spoke of the importance attached in Scripture to the work of the Spirit of God.
Before I pass on let me entreat all who read this paper to make sure that they hold sound doctrine concerning the work of the Holy Spirit. ** Give Him the honor due unto His name. Give Him in your religion the place and the dignity which Scripture assigns to Him. Settle it in your minds that the work of all three Persons in the blessed Trinity, is absolutely and equally needful to the salvation of every saved soul. The election of God the Father, and the atoning blood of God the Son, are the foundation stones of our faith. But from them must never be separated the applicatory work of God the Holy Spirit. The Father chooses. The Son meditates, absolves, justifies, and intercedes. The Holy Spirit applies the whole work to man's soul. Always together in Scripture, never separated in Scripture, let the offices of the three Persons in the Trinity never be wrenched asunder and disjoined in your Christianity. What God hath so beautifully joined together let no man dare to put asunder.
* I would not for a moment have any one supposed that I think Old Testament believers had not the Holy Spirit. On the contrary I hold that there has never been a whit of spiritual life among men, excepting from the Holy Spirit - and that the Holy Spirit made Abel and Noah what they were no less really than He made Paul. All I mean to assert is, that the Holy Spirit is so much more fully revealed and largely poured out under the New Testament than under the Old, that the New Testament dispensation is emphatically and peculiarly called the "ministration of the Spirit." The difference between the two dispensation is only one of degree.
** To give the Holy Spirit divine worship, if he be not God, is idolatry; and to withhold it, if He is God, is a heinous sin. To be well informed on this point, is of great importance.
~J. C. Ryle~
(continued with # 3)