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Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Holy Spirit

"If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His" (Romans 8:9)

The subject of this paper is one of the deepest importance to our souls. That subject is the work of God the Holy Spirit. The solemn words of the text which heads this page demand the attention of all who believe the Scriptures to be the living voice of God. "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is NONE OF HIS."

It is probable that most of those into whose hands this paper will fall, have been baptized? And in what name were you baptized? It was "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

It is probable that many readers of this paper are married people. And in what name were you pronounced man and wife together? Again, it was "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

It is not unlikely that many readers of this paper are members of the Church. And in what do you declare your belief every Sunday, when you repeat the Creed? You say that you "Believe in God the Father, and in God the Son, and in God the Holy Spirit."

It is likely that many readers of this paper will be buried one day with the burial service of the Church. And what will be the last words pronounced over your coffin, before the mourners go home, and the grave closes over your head? They will be, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all" (2 Corinthians 13:14).

Now I ask every reader of this paper a plain question: Do you know what you mean by these words, so often repeated, - the Holy Spirit? - What place has God the Holy Spirit in your religion? What do you know of His office, His work, His indwelling, His fellowship,m and His power? This is the subject to which I ask your attention this day. I want you to consider seriously what you know about the work of God the Holy Spirit.

I believe that the times in which we live demand frequent and distinct testimonies upon this great subject. I believe that few truths of the Christian religion are so often obscured and spoiled by false doctrine as the truth about the Holy Spirit. I believe that there is no subject which an ignorant world is so ready to revile as "can't, fanaticism, and enthusiasm," as the subject of the work of the Holy Spirit. My heart's desire and prayer to God is that about this subject I may  write that truth in love.

For convenience sake I shall divide my subject into four heads. I shall examine in order:

1. Firstly, the importance attached to the work of the Holy Spirit in Scripture.

2. Secondly, the necessity of the work of the Holy Spirit to man's salvation.

3. Thirdly, the manner in which the Holy Spirit works in man's heart.

4. Lastly, the marks and evidences by which the presence of the Holy Spirit in a man's heart may be known.

1. The first point I propose to consider is the importance attached to the work of the Holy Spirit in Scripture.

I find it hard to know where to begin and where to leave off, in handling this branch of my subject. It would be easy to fill up all this paper by quoting texts about it. So often is the Holy Spirit mentioned in the New Testament, that my difficulty is not so much the discovery of evidence as the selection. Eighteen times in the eighth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans Paul speaks of God the Spirit. In fact the place which the Holy Spirit holds in the minds of most professing Christians bears no proportion to the place which He holds in the Word. *

I shall not spend much time in proving the divinity and personality of the Holy Spirit. They are points which are written in Scripture as with a sun-beam. I am utterly at a loss to understand how any honest-minded reader of the Bible can fail to see them Above all, I am unable to comprehend how any unprejudiced reader of the Bible can regard the Spirit as nothing more than "an influence or principle. We find it written in the New Testament, that the Holy Spirit was "seen descending in a bodily shape" (Luke 3:22). He commanded disciples to do acts, and lifted them through the air by His own power (Acts 8:29-30). He sent forth the first preachers to the Gentiles (Acts 13:2). He spake to the Churches (Revelation 2:7). He maketh intercession (Romans 8:26). He searcheth all things , teacheth all things, and guideth into all truth (1 Corinthians 2:10; John 14:26). He is another Comforter distinct from Christ (John 14:16). He has personal affections ascribed to Him (Isaiah lxiii: 10; Ephesians 4:30; Romans 15:30). He has a mind, will, and power of His own (Romans 8:27; 1 Cor. 12:11; Romans 15:13). He has baptism administered in His name together with the Father and the Son (Matthew 28:19). And whosoever shall blaspheme His hath never forgiveness, and is in danger of eternal damnation (Mark 3:29).

I make no comment on these passages. They speak for themselves. I only use the words of Ambrose Serie in saying, that "Two  and two making four, does not appear more clear and conclusive than that the Holy Spirit is a living divine Agent, working with consciousness, will, and power. If people will not be persuaded by these testimonies, neither would they be persuaded though one rose from the dead." 

I repeat that I will not spend time in dwelling on proofs of the Holy Spirit's divinity and personality. I will rather confine all I have to say on this branch of my subject to two general remarks.

For one thing, I ask my readers to remark carefully that in every step of the grand work of man's redemption the Bible assigns a prominent place to God the Holy Spirit.

What do you think of the incarnation of Christ? You know we cannot over-rate its importance. Well! it is written that when our Lord was conceived of the Virgin Mary, "the  Holy Spirit came upon her, and the power of the Highest overshadowed her." (Luke 1:35).

What do you think of the earthly ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ? You know that none ever did what He did, lived as He lived, and spake as He spake. Well, it is written that the Spirit "descended from heaven like a dove and abode upon Him", - that "God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit," that "the Father gave not the Spirit by measure unto Him," and that He was "full of the Holy Spirit". (John 1:32; Acts 10:33; John 3:34; Luke 4:1).

~J. C. Ryle~

* "There is a general omission in the saints of God, in their not giving the Holy Spirit that glory that is due to His person, and for His great work of salvation in us; insomuch that we have in our hearts almost lost this Third Person. We give daily in our thoughts, prayers, affections and speeches, an honor to the Father and the Son. But who directs the aims of his praise (more than in that general way of doxology we use to close our prayers with) unto God the Holy Spirit? He is a Person in the Godhead, equal with the Father and the Son. The work He doth for us, in its kind, is as great as those of the Father or the Son. Therefore, by the equity of all law, a proportionable honor is due to Him." (Thomas Goodwin)

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