The Power of the Spirit in the Life of the Believer.

The Lord Jesus, on the eve of His betrayal, told His beloved disciples that he would shortly be leaving them. As they had truly believed that He was the long-promised Christ, the Messiah, and that He was about to redeem Israel, they were greatly distressed, and sorrow filled their hearts. It seemed to them that all their hopes were to be brought to nothing. But He reassured them, saying that though they would see Him no more, He would not leave them orphans, for He would pray the Father, Who would give them another Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, who would abide with them for ever. This was an entirely new revelation. They knew from their Scriptures that in olden times the Spirit of God had come on men, and filled them, but only for a season; as David said in Psalm 51 "Take not Thy Holy Spirit from me." Moreover the Lord assured them that it was expedient for them that He should go away, for that if He did not go away, the Comforter would not come to them; but that if He departed, He would send Him to them. [The word "Comforter" (Gr. Parakleetos) means one who carries on the cause of any one and helps him. If "solicitor" were not too common, it just answers the sense.] When this Spirit of Truth was come, He would guide them into all truth; He would glorify the Lord Jesus, and speak to them of Him, and remind them of all He had said to them. He would be a divine power working in them, and for that reason the Lord enjoined them not to leave Jerusalem till He had come to them. The Lord further told them that though He Himself was returning to the Father, He would come again, after He had prepared a place for them, and receive them to Himself, that they might be with Him, and that for ever! — Some fifty days after our blessed Lord had revealed all this to His disciples, the wonderful sacrifice on Calvary having taken place, followed by the triumphant resurrection, and the ascension, the amazing coming of that promised Holy Spirit of Truth took place, and the little waiting company of believers at Jerusalem was baptized with the Spirit. Since that day the building of the Church has been going on, and untold millions have been added to that wonderful structure. In the early days of the Church His personality, dignity, and power were well understood, but little by little the great truths about Him, so clearly put forth in the New Testament, have been almost entirely lost, or forgotten.

Let us now look a little at the ministry of the Spirit in the hearts of believers. First, having heard the word of truth, the gospel of our salvation, and having trusted in Christ, the believer is sealed by that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession (Eph. 1). That purchased possession is the Church of God, purchased with the precious blood of Christ, and the promised redemption will take place when Christ Himself will rise up and call all His saints, both those that sleep, together with those that remain unto His coming, to be with Him for ever in glory. In the meanwhile each believer, whose body is now the temple of the Holy Ghost (1 Cor. 3:16; 1 Cor. 6:19) is called to walk in the Spirit, seeing that he lives in the Spirit (Gal. 5:25). God, in His infinite love and grace, has made all believers His children, and has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into their hearts, crying, Abba, Father. They have the first fruits of the Spirit now, Who also helps their infirmities. This word, "helps," is of deep and wonderful meaning; it occurs only twice in the New Testament, in Rom. 8:26, and in Luke 10:40. The word in the Greek (sunantilambano) means to take one end of a burden, and share it with the one at the opposite end. This the blessed Spirit of God does with us; the believer on his path finds many burdens too great for him to bear alone, and gets discouraged, even as Martha with her domestic duties. Let us not forget that there is One ready and able to help us. We know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. But the believer, though now a child of God, and having the Holy Spirit of God dwelling in his body, as in a temple, is still burdened with the flesh. This causes a continual warfare, for the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary the one to the other (Gal. 5:17). In this constant struggle, the believer is exhorted not to give place to the devil, but rather to resist him, as having put off, concerning the former conversation, the old man, and as having put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. He is told especially not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God, whereby he is sealed unto the day of redemption. Among other exhortations he is urged to be filled with the Spirit. Many times in the earlier chapters of the Acts we read of this one and that being filled with the Spirit! If only this were our habitual condition, what power would be manifested in the lives of the humblest Christians! But how is the believer to overcome in this never ceasing struggle? The answer in the Word of God is clear and short: "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh" (Gal. 5:16). Remark how constantly the Christian is urged to prayer. "Pray without ceasing;" "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit;" "Continuing instant in prayer;" "In everything by prayer and supplication, with thanks-giving, let your requests be made known unto God." As we have already seen, the purpose of the Holy Spirit down here is to glorify the Lord Jesus, and to guide believers into all truth. If His work is not hindered by careless walk on our part, and He consequently grieved, what wondrous revelations of our Lord will He not open to us! Read the last few verses of Eph. 3 — "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, … that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God." And notice that this can only be wrought according to the power that worketh in us, that is, the Holy Spirit. How wonderful is the purpose and grace of our God and Father to us-ward who believe! Truly God is the great Giver, Who, having given His own beloved Son, desires us to take now for our present enjoyment all the wealth showered upon us in Him. As our Lord Jesus said: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you; Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full." Does He not in these words present us, as it were, with a signed blank cheque, saying, "Now, fill it in? And what hinders us from doing this, and appropriating what He so freely gives? Nothing but our unbelief. Oh that when God makes us promises we might learn to take them at their face value, remembering that though He is omnipotent, there is still one thing He cannot do; it is impossible for Him to lie! (Heb. 6:18). As one once wrote: "You will find it the very strength of your soul to go before God and say: This is written in Thy Word, and because Thou canst not lie, I know that I have got that thing."

May our Lord Jesus Christ bless these simple meditations for His own glory, and our blessing. G. F. Barlee.