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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Holy Spirit # 7

(2) Where the Holy Spirit is, there will always be lively faith in Jesus Christ, as the only Saviour. It is His special office to testify of Christ, to take of the things of Christ and show them to man. (John 16:15). He leads the soul which feels its sin, to Jesus and the atonement made by His blood. He shows the soul that Christ has suffered for sin, the just for the unjust, to bring us to God. He points out to the sin-sick soul that we have only to receive Christ, believe in Christ, commit ourselves to Christ, and pardon, peace, and life eternal, are at once our own. He makes us see a beautiful fitness in Christ's finished work of redemption to meet our spiritual necessities. He makes us willing to disclaim all merit of our own and to venture all on Jesus, looking to nothing, resting on nothing, trusting in nothing but Christ, - Christ, - Christ, - "delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification." (Romans 4:25). He that knows nothing of all this, and builds on any other foundation, is dead before God. He has not the Spirit of Christ.

(3) Where the Holy Spirit is, there will always be holiness of life and conversation. He is the Spirit of holiness. (Romans 1:4). He is the sanctifying Spirit. He takes away the hard, carnal, worldly heart of man, and puts in its place a tender, conscientious, spiritual heart, delighting in the law of God. He makes a man turn his face towards God, and desire above all things to please Him, and turn his back on the fashion of this world, and no loner make that fashion his god. He sows  in a man's heart the blessed seeds of "love, joy, meekness, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, temperance," and causes these seeds to spring up and bear pleasant fruit (Galatians 5:22). He that lacketh these things, and knows nothing of daily practical godliness, is dead before God. He has not the Spirit of God.

(4) Where the Holy Spirit is, there will always be the habit of earnest private prayer. He is the Spirit of grace and supplication. (Zech. 12:10). He works in the heart as the Spirit of adoption, whereby w cry Abba, Father. He makes a man feel that he must cry to God, and speak to God, - feebly,falteringly, weakly, it may be, - but cry he must about his soul. He makes it as natural to a man to pray as it is to an infant to breath; with this one difference, - that the infant breaths without an effort, and the new-born soul prays with much conflict and strife. He that knows nothing of real, living, fervent, private prayer, and is content with some old form, or with no prayer at all, is dead before God. He has not the Spirit of Christ.

(5) Finally, where the Holy Spirit is, there will always be love and reverence for God's Word. He makes the new-born soul desire the sincere milk of the Word, just as the infant desires its natural food. He makes it "delight in the law of the Lord" (1 Peter 2:2; Psalm 1:2). He shows man a fullness, and depth, and wisdom, and sufficiency in the Holy Scripture, which is utterly hid from a natural man's eyes. He draws him to the Word with an irresistible force, as the light and lantern, and manna, and sword, which are essential to a safe journey through this world. If the man cannot read He makes him love to hear: if he cannot hear He makes him love to meditate. But to the Word the Spirit always leads him. He that sees no special beauty in God's Bible, and takes no pleasure in reading, hearing, and understanding it, is dead before God. He has not the Spirit of Christ.

I place these five grand marks of the Spirit's presence before my readers, and confidently claim attention to them. I believe they will bear inspection. I am not afraid of their being searched, criticized, and cross-examined. Repentance toward God, - faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, - holiness of heart and life, - habits of real private prayer, - love and reverence toward God's Word, - these are the real proofs of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in a man's soul. Where He is, these marks will be seen. Where He is not, these marks will be lacking.

I grant freely that the leadings of the Spirit, in some minute details, are not always uniform. The paths over which He conducts souls, are not always precisely one and the same. The experience that true Christians pass through in their beginnings is often somewhat various. This only I maintain, - that the main road into which the Spirit leads people, and the final results which He at length produces, are always alike. In all true Christians, the five great marks I have already mentioned will always be found.

I grant freely that the degree and depth of the work of the Spirit in the heart may vary exceedingly. There is weak faith and strong faith, - weak love and strong love, - a bright hope and a dim hope, - a feeble obedience to Christ's will, and a close following of the Lord. This only I maintain, - that the main outlines of religious character in all who have the Spirit, perfectly correspond. Life is life, whether strong or feeble. The infant in arms, though weak and dependent, is as real and true a representative of the great family of Adam as the strongest man alive.

Wherever you see these five great marks, you see a true Christian. Let that never be forgotten. I leave it to others to excommunicate and unchurch all who do not belong to their own pale, and do not worship after their own particular fashion. I have no sympathy with such narrowmindedness. Show me a man who repents, and believes in Christ crucified, - who lives a holy life, and delights in his Bible and prayer, - and I desire to regard him as a brother. I see in him a member of the Holy Church, not of which there is no salvation. I behold in him as heir of that crown of glory which is incorruptible and fadeth not away. If he has the Holy Spirit, he has Christ. If he has Christ, he has God. If he has God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit, all things are his. Who am I that I should turn my back on him, because we cannot see all things eye to eye?

~J. C. Ryle~

(continued with # 8)

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