One of the most remarkable features of Jesus Christ’s ministry is His silence concerning the Holy Spirit. The occasions when He mentions Him are exceedingly rare, and there is always in the circumstances something that made the reference necessary. To Nicodemus he declared the necessity of being “born of the Spirit” if a man would enter the Kingdom of God. Speaking of prayer He said: “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?” The blasphemy which attributed His ministry of healing to Satanic power wrung from Him the terrible warning against the sin for which there is no forgiveness. In addition to these there were incidental and indirect references to the Spirit, but no definite and explicit teaching concerning Him till the shadow of the Cross fell upon the Savior’s path. And yet Jesus said to His disciples on the eve of His departure, “Ye know Him, for He abideth with you.” Though there had been a marked absence of direct reference to the Spirit, the whole life and ministry of Jesus had been one continual unfolding of the person and work of the Holy Ghost. In Him dwelt the fullness of the Godhead. He made known the Spirit just as truly as He revealed the Father. “Ye know Him” must be placed side by side with the words to Philip, “He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father.” The life they had witnessed was a manifestation of the Spirit as truly as it was a revelation of the Father.
In His parting counsels Jesus spake freely of the Spirit. In the Upper Room the most precious words of human speech fell from His lips, and among them is His promise and teaching concerning the Spirit. In a few pregnant sentences He gathers up all that can ever be said of the Spirit’s relation to the Church, the World, and God. It is a final and complete statement of the doctrine of the Spirit. All that follows simply illustrates, exemplifies, and demonstrates what is here set forth. The sayings should be studied clause by clause, and word by word, for there is no profounder truth in all the word of God.
Three great truths concerning the Spirit underlie all the teaching of these sayings of Jesus.
1. The Spirit comes to take the place of Jesus, to be to the disciples all that Christ had been, and all that He would have become could He have stayed with them.
2. The Spirit here promised to the disciples is the self-same Spirit that dwelt in Christ, and was the explanation of His life and Ministry.
3. The Spirit comes to dwell in the disciple as He dwelt in Christ, that Christ may be reproduced in him, and make him to be in the world all that Christ would have been had He stayed upon the earth and lived where that disciple lives.
He comes to take the place of Christ, to be with us as He was with Christ, to make us to be as Christ in the world.
That the Spirit comes to take the place of Christ is evident from the Name by which the Christ speaks of Him. It is deplorable that our English version mistranslates the Greek Paraclete by the word Comforter. Jesus did not promise another Comforter, but another Paraclete. This was a new name for the Spirit of God. It had never before been applied to a Divine Agent, but it is repeated four times in our Lord’s parting words, and is used with a deliberateness and emphasis that mark its importance. It is impossible to read the four passages in which the word occurs without feeling the inadequateness of “Comforter” for the office He fills. Instruction, witnessing, and conviction are not usually associated with the ministry of consolation. The translation entirely misses the mark, and is responsible for untold mischief in both doctrine and experience; and yet it has prevailed from the days of the Fathers to the latest Version of the Scriptures. It misrepresents the Mission of the Spirit, has led believers to think less of obligation than of comfort, and has associated religion with soothing consolations rather than with conflict. The need is not comfort, but power. The call is not to pampered softness, but to the hardship of service and the strain of battle. The Holy Spirit is not given to be a nursing mother to fretful children, but the captain of a mighty host full of nerve and fire. The chapter opens with the tenderest and divinest consolation ever spoken to sorrowing souls, but the note of consolation soon changes to an inspiriting call to glorious service. The disciples found their consolation not in Pentecost, but in the glory of an Easter dawn. It was not comfort they needed, but assurance, inspiration, guidance, strength; and these are all promised in the Holy Ghost.
The marginal note of the Revised Version gives Advocate and Helper as alternative translations. Either would have been better than Comforter; but it is a pity Paraclete has not been naturalized as other untranslatable words have been. The Latin Advocate is the nearest approach to the Greek Paraclete. An advocate is a lawyer, and while it is true that the calling of a lawyer does not cover the whole ground of the Spirit’s mission, it is nearer the truth to speak of the Holy Spirit as a Lawyer than as a Comforter. The ancient advocate was more than a hired pleader linked only to his client by professional ties. He was counsellor, administrator, and representative as well as champion and vindicator. Both Paraclete and Advocate mean, “to call to one’s side for help, especially against an accuser or judge.” It is more than readiness to help. The person called is at the command of the one who calls. In every time of perplexity and difficulty he is the pledged counsellor and guide. Broadly speaking, that is the ideal position of a lawyer still. In a Court of Justice he stands in his client’s stead, pleads his client’s cause, defends his client’s name. In practical matters he directs and administers his client’s affairs in his name and in his place. The Holy Spirit is an Advocate. He stands in the place of Another, pleads His cause, vindicates His Name, and administers His Kingdom.
Whose ADVOCATE IS HE? If we were asked whose Comforter the Holy Spirit was, the immediate answer would be — Ours. The answer is not so ready when we are asked whose Advocate He is. The Spirit is Christ’s Advocate, not ours. It is Christ’s place He takes, Christ’s cause He pleads, Christ’s name He vindicates, Christ’s Kingdom He administers. Because no one term can contain the whole truth concerning the Spirit, this does not cover the whole ground of the Spirit’s work. He is our Helper given to be with us in the place of Christ, but the Spirit does not plead for us but in us, and His operations in us are all in the interests of Christ’s Kingdom and for the glory of Christ’s Name. “He shall glorify Me” is the sum and end of His mission in the world. The Son is our Advocate with the Father in Heaven; and the Spirit is the Son’s Advocate with us in the world. He is the Representative, Interpreter, and Vindicator of Jesus. To Him is committed the cause and credit of the Son of God. He is Christ’s Other Self.
It is manifest, therefore, that since the Holy Spirit comes to take the place of Christ, He comes to be to the believer all that Christ was to His followers. “The Father will send you another Paraclete.” He had been their Paraclete, but He was going to the Father, and another would take His place and carry on His work. If one Paraclete had not gone away, the other would not have come. He is Another, but He sustains the relationship, and continues the Mission of the One He succeeds. Whatever Christ was to us He will be, whatever Christ did for us He will do. Jesus had been to His disciples Teacher, Witness, Revealer, Defender, and Friend, and the promise concerning the Spirit is that He shall instruct, guide, witness, reveal, and defend.
“He Shall Be In You?”
The Holy Spirit takes the place of Christ with this difference: Christ abode with men, and the Spirit dwells in them. The change in the preposition indicates the change from one dispensation to another. The miracle of Pentecost is that it changed with to in. The Spirit is Christ in us instead of Christ with us. He not only comes to be to us all that Christ was, but to plant Himself as the Representative of Christ at the very seat and center of our souls. As He dwelt in Christ so will He dwell in us. What He did for Christ that will He do for us. What Christ was in the world He became by the Spirit which was given to Him without measure. It was by the Spirit He was born into the world; under the Spirit’s direction He grew to manhood in favor with God and man; the Spirit baptized Him for His ministry; in His wisdom He taught; by His power He wrought mighty works; and finally, through the Eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God. The glory of Christ’s work is not simply that He laid down His life for us, but that He imparts to us the very Spirit in which and by which He lived. It is the miracle of the Incarnation duplicated, multiplied, and perpetuated in Christ’s believing people. For the Son a body was prepared, but the Spirit is incarnate in the believer, and dwells in the bodies of all that believe. The Apostle Paul is very bold. He says, “Know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you?” Nothing can constitute a Temple but an indwelling Deity. The Spirit of God dwells in man, not as a figure of speech, or a holy influence, or a Divine ideal, but literally, truly, and personally He makes man’s heart His home, the centre of His operations, and the seat of His power.
The most striking figure of this indwelling Divinity is found not in the New Testament, but the Old. In the story of Gideon we are told it was by the Spirit of the Lord coming upon him that he became a valiant soldier and a conquering leader of Israel. But the margin of the Revised Version reads, “The Spirit of the Lord clothed Itself with Gideon.” It did not come upon him as a garment, nor fall upon him as an anointing, but finding Its way to the very center of Gideon’s being, the Spirit took possession of Gideon’s faculties, and put on the man as a garment. He dwelt in the man, thinking through his brains, feeling through his soul, working with his hands. It was thus He dwelt in Christ, and in like manner He comes to be in us. He becomes the soul of the soul, and the life of the life. Disturbing no faculty, destroying no part of the personality, He dwells and works in the heart, vitalizing, permeating, sanctifying, directing, empowering, and firing every part of man’s being. This is consecration; this is the secret of power for godliness and service; this is Christianity; to be filled, fired, and possessed of the Spirit of God. “The Spirit of Christ dwelleth in you. But if any man hath not the Spirit of Christ he is none of His.” The trouble with many religious people is that their Christianity is outside themselves. From a dinner to the profoundest things in the world, it makes all the difference whether a thing is inside or outside a man. All things are divisible into things inside and things outside. It is the things within that live, and thrill, and sway, him. You can never get out of a man what is not in him before you start. There must be poetry in a man before you can make a poet of him, music before you can make a musician, and art before you can make an artist. Making is misnamed, for we cannot make; the utmost that can be done is to discover and guide. What a difference between a copyist and a living soul! Precision is not life. It is the man whose being throbs with the consciousness of an indwelling, dominating presence, that sends forth things that live. Religion above all things is an inward reality. It is not a code of rules hung up for the guidance of life. The list of prohibitions and permissions may be strictly Biblical, authorized by tradition, and hallmarked by the Elders, but it does not make a Christian. The law of Christian living is written not on tablets and tables, but in the heart. Neither is it an ideal of character after which men are called to strive. A Christian is not a copyist. To set up even Christ as an external ideal to which you laboriously strive is pagan. It is not by imitating Christ but by receiving Him we become Christian. It is not Christ on the Cross, nor Christ in Heaven, but the living Christ in the soul in the person of His Spirit, that saves. “He shall be in you.” That is the greatest word and the mightiest work of God. Sinful men the Temple of the Living God! Every believer is an Incarnation of the Holy Ghost, a medium and a messenger of the indwelling Divinity. The world is sick of imitators and echoes; it wants life, which is the life of God.
The Work of the Spirit In Us.
The Spirit takes up His abode in the soul to continue the ministry and work of Christ. What the Master had been to the disciples is indicated in the work outlined for the Spirit, the difference between the two being that One was with them and the other in them.
Jesus Had Been Their Teacher.
They called Him Rabbi and themselves disciples. The task of instruction had been difficult and disappointing. They never understood Him, but it is to their credit that in after years they neither excused nor concealed their slowness of apprehension. Their minds were steeped in the traditions of their race, and they were constantly looking for the wrong things. They scarcely ever spoke without revealing the great gulf that lay between His ideals and their own. He held them by the charm of His personality and they followed Him, not because they understood Him, but because they loved Him. He was a constant wonder and a daily mystery to them. When He talked they listened, and went away to ask each other what He meant. They misinterpreted both His speech and His spirit. The leaven of the Pharisees they mistook for bread, and blundered almost every time they moved. Their denseness was a burden upon Him. He called them fools and slow of heart to believe, and sighed that after all His pains they still failed to understand. The things He longed to communicate He had to withhold, because they could not receive them. As we watch Him during those last days, the impression is irresistible that He laid down His work as Teacher with a sense of disappointment. They had failed to discern so much that He had hoped to make them see.
But He laid it down with a full assurance that what He had failed to accomplish Another would fulfill. He was handing them over to His own Instructor, who would dwell in them as He had dwelt in Him. “He shall teach you all things”; and so He did. Those Apostles learned more within twenty-four hours of Pentecost than they had in all the three years at the feet of Jesus. Why? Because Jesus was with them, and the Spirit was in them. Every teacher knows what a difference that makes. He tries by analogy, illustration, argument, and repetition to get truth into the intelligence, and if there be no answering mind from within, it is a hopeless task. How different when the springs of intelligence are touched from within! What a gulf there is between the things we laboriously learn by rote, and the things we know by intuition or learn under the spell of inspiration.
God’s Spirit teaches from within. He does not din at the senses to find a way to the consciousness: He illumines and inspires. There is no teacher like Him. He teaches all things, brings all things to remembrance, and guides into all truth. He searches the deep things of God, and reveals them even unto babes. This Divine Teacher dwells in the soul of every true follower of Jesus. He shall be in you, and shall teach you all things. “Ye have,” says St. John, “an anointing from the Holy One, and ye know all things.” “And as for you, the anointing which ye received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any one teach you.” This is the glorious charter of Christian freedom. Every man may find the Word of God within his own soul. He that wills to find the truth has God the Spirit for his teacher and guide. It is safer to seek the mind of the Spirit than the judgment of men. He is the Paraclete, Christ’s interpreter and arbiter in the soul. Bring your questions to Him, and as God is in the Heavens an honest heart shall not fail to find guidance and light; questions about business and home, amusements and work, diet and dress. Do not make men the dividers and rulers of your life; bring everything to God. Lay all things frankly and fully before Him, and wait for His reply. Nothing is too trivial for His attention, and nothing too complicated for His wisdom. He is given to instruct us in the truth and to interpret to our souls the mind and will of God. The Sons of God are taught and led of the Spirit.
Jesus Was Witness As Well As Teacher.
Truth brings error into judgement, and that which is straight is the condemnation of all crooked things. The Servant of the Lord was sent to declare Heaven’s judgement upon the earth; to bring Heaven’s standard of measurement to the things of the world. He witnessed against evil and died for His testimony. The Spirit is given to witness for Christ. The world slandered Him, misjudged Him, condemned Him, crucified Him; but He took refuge in this: “When the Paraclete is come…He shall bear witness of Me; and ye also bear witness because ye have been with Me from the beginning.” The Spirit vindicates the Name of Christ and bears witness in the conscience for righteousness, purity, and truth. No man need go outside his own heart if he has received the Spirit to find the sure word of prophecy concerning right and wrong. The Spirit is God’s witness in the soul. The conscience bears witness in the Holy Ghost. Jesus was the Revealer of God to men, and the Spirit dwells in the soul as the Revealer of Christ. He speaks not for Himself nor from Himself, but takes of the things of Christ and declares them unto us. No man knoweth the Father save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son willeth to reveal Him; and no man can say Jesus is Lord save by the Holy Ghost. He is the Custodian of all things belonging to Christ. The secrets of the Most High are with His Spirit, and He alone is privileged to reveal Jesus and show us things to come. He interprets the Word in our hand, witnesses to the path of our feet, and lifts the veil of hidden glory to the soul. Surely it was expedient for Jesus to go away, for by His going each receives Christ to dwell in his own heart.
The Spirit’s Work Through Us.
He dwells in us that He may work through us. He takes the place of Christ, is within us as He was in Christ, is in the heart as Christ, and the purpose of His indwelling is the Kingdom and glory of Christ. The end of His work in us is to reproduce Christ in our lives, and by us accomplish the mission of Christ in the world. Fellowship of Spirit results in correspondence of temper, disposition, and character. If we have the Spirit of Christ, we shall be like Christ. That is the first thing the Spirit seeks to accomplish. He comes to live in us, not to shut Himself up in us a hermit-guest apart from our interests and activities. He lives in our life, expresses Himself through our powers, directs and dominates all we have and are. Yet He is not apart, but in us and of us; the breath of our breathing, the thought of our thinking, the soul of our feeling, and the life of our living. Wherein He dwells He transforms, and the standard of His glory is Jesus Christ, so He comes to change us into the image of our Lord. He takes nothing from any man’s personality, destroys no man’s temperament, but He fills each and all with the spirit of Christ. In his own sphere and according to his capacity, every one becomes a representative of Jesus, living His life, revealing His spirit, and doing His work. A Christian is Christ’s man and Christlike.
The work of the Spirit and the work of the believer are one, and the work of both is the work of Christ. Christ came to teach, witness, reveal, and save; the Spirit comes in His place to teach, witness, reveal, and save; and the Christian inspired by the indwelling Spirit is in the world “instead of Christ” to teach, witness, reveal, and save. The Church is Christ’s Body indwelt by His Spirit, and sanctified for His service. It is called to be what Christ was and is. Every place where the Church is planted ought to be conscious of the presence of a living, healing, and saving Christ in its midst. The work of the Church is to live the Christ-life, teach His word, witness to His person and His work, reveal the character of God and declare the things to come, to the saving of the world. That is our Mission: to realize Christ’s purpose in the world. We are in the world “instead of Christ,” called to do Christ’s work. Is the Mission being fulfilled? The Spirit has not failed, though there is much over which to mourn. Notwithstanding much that is pagan, it is the Church that holds the lamp of truth, the standard of righteousness, and the vision of God. Through the medium of His people, Christ by His Spirit is still the Teacher, Witness, and Revealer of God among men, to the salvation of the world.
The Mission of All is the Mission of Each.
In the sphere where we live and work it ought to be as if Christ were in our place. He died for us, and we live for Him. By our life and service we have to be God’s teachers, the embodiment of His righteousness, and the revealers of His love and mercy. We are Christ’s epistles. His truth finds its best expositor and advocate in Christliness of temper and service. The ungodly will never know God unless we reveal Him. It is for us to so live in the Spirit that He may be able to shine through us into their souls, and He will transform us into the image of our Lord.
Every man who looks at Christ and the limitations of human life declares this life impossible of attainment. It is certainly impossible to a people destitute of the Holy Ghost. Churches that are unbelieving, worldly, ease-loving, and gold-worshipping, can never do the work of Christ. Neither can individual Christians, who resist the Spirit and covet the flesh, ever fulfill the purpose of the Holy Ghost. But no natural weakness of our own, or antagonism around us can make it impossible, for the indwelling Spirit is the power of God. If we fail, it is because we hinder the Spirit’s work in our life.
A man who was present at a meeting manifestly under the influence of the Spirit was greatly moved. Speaking with a friend some days after, he said, “I was never so blessed and lifted up in soul in my life. It was like being in Heaven in that meeting. But,” he went on, “unfortunately I had to be at work at six o’clock next morning, and before eight o’clock I had come to the conclusion the preacher did not know what he was talking about, and I would like to know what he would say about living a Christlike life if he had to be in our factory at six o’clock in the morning.” The preacher may have been ignorant of what a factory is like at six o’clock in the morning; but whether factory or shop, college or home, if the Gospel of this Book does not stand the strain of a working life, it is an idle tale and an empty dream. It is the gospel of life for living men in all places and under all conditions. It is not a passing emotion, but an abiding Presence. The life is impossible to the soul that has had no Pentecost, but it is not impossible to the man strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inward man.
The last word of Jesus is, Go back! Back to the city; back to the place of waiting, and tarry, tarry, tarry till ye be endued with power from on high. But the world is dying! Let it die. But men are hungry! Let them hunger. But souls are being damned! Let them be damned, rather than go forth to attempt a Divine work without a Divine baptism. Go back! Back to that Upper Room, back to your knees, back to the searching of heart and habit, thought and life; back to pleading, praying, waiting, till the Spirit of the Lord floods the soul with light, and you are endued with power from on high. Then go forth in the power of Pentecost, and the Christ-life shall be lived, and the works of Christ shall be done. You shall open blind eyes, cleanse foul hearts, break men’s fetters, and save men’s souls. In the power of the Indwelling Spirit, miracles become the commonplace of daily living.
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