The Spiritual Basis of the Christian Life (continued)
The Sovereignty of the Spirit
"The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the voice thereof, but knowest not whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." A sovereign act of the Spirit. That takes us back to this other fragment: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh", and to that earlier fragment in this Gospel by John, which makes it so clear, so emphatic: "... which were born, not of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (1:13). This is something in the sovereign hands of the Holy Spirit and taken right out of the hands of men. You cannot convert yourself, you cannot convert anyone else; you cannot make yourself into this other creature, this new creation, and you can never make anyone else yourself, or for anyone else. All that is a matter of the sovereign Spirit. If the wind decides to blow, it does not give you notice a day beforehand! It just blows, and when it blows, you cannot say, 'You are out-of-date, you have come at the wrong time - this is not a convenient moment!' It blows, and that is all there is to it.
Now here you are touching a principle: the sovereignty of the Spirit, as represented by the sovereignty of the wind. You know quite well that is useless to stand up against the wind when it really decides to blow. Carry that principle over further into the New Testament, and you will read three times: "And the Lord added to the church those that were being saved ...", "there were added unto them ...", "there were added to the Lord ..." Who added? Did the apostles add? Not at all. The Lord added. There is all the difference between our being told to go and join a church, and the call of a church, and the Lord adding to Christ, or between our joining what we call a church, and being added to Christ. We cannot join Christ at our own will, just when we want to, or think we will decide to, because being added to Christ involves being re-constituted on a different principle, and that is not in our power at all. It is the Lord Who must do it, so that the adding is His sovereign act: and when He decides to do it, it is wonderful, is it not? And if He does not decide to do it, you can work yourself to death, and nothing will happen. This is the work of the Lord.
Look at the day of Pentecost. The wind blew then - a mighty rushing wind. Was it sovereignty? "And there were added unto them in that day about three thousand souls." This was the sovereignty of the Spirit. How wide and far-reaching is the application of that! Oh, that Christianity were on that fundamental basis today - the absolute sovereignty of the Holy Spirit! Why is it not so? Because of the present sovereignty of the natural, because of the intrusion into Christianity of the natural man.
(continued with # 62 - (A New Faculty)