The Holy Spirit in Salvation
This article is the first in a series being written by Samuel Jardine. His previous contributions may be found in the issues of May. June, July and August, 1958.
A wide field of rewarding investigation opens before us as we begin to learn how the Holy Spirit brings a man into salvation and makes his blessings good to him in daily experience.
NECESSITY. Regeneration may be described as the operation of the Spirit in translating a soul from the kingdom of Satan into the Kingdom of God. “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God … Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the Spirit is Spirit” (John 3:3-7).
The simplest definition of “God’s kingdom” is “the realm of God’s rule”. But the natural man is a rebel against God, and therefore a citizen of an alien empire. Man’s paramount need is to be brought into the dominion of God’s will.
However, man can provide no preparation from within himself to enter God’s kingdom. Jesus’ words to Nicodemus are staggering if rightly comprehended: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh.” A man’s nature as received by natural birth can only produce after its kind, and that kind is wholly depraved and degenerate. The flesh is incapable of producing after the Spirit. Nicodemus—with all his wealth, religion, ancestry, and education—is thus classed with the darkest Gentile sinner, requiring a spiritual birth that will automatically transfer him into the realm of God’s rule.
INSTRUMENTALITY. The repenting sinner experiences the second birth by water and the Spirit. In other words, the cleansing power of the Word of truth (Eph. 5:26) is applied in the power of the Holy Spirit to the unregenerate soul.
This is the greatest event whichever can occur in any individual’s earthly life: brought from death unto life, the child of wrath and disobedience becomes a son or daughter of the heavenly Father (1 John 3:1).
SIMPLICITY. We are not asked to comprehend this miracle; just to experience it. Note the unsophisticated terms that tell how it may be known: “He came unto His own, and they that were His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:11-13, R.V.).
“RECEIVED Him” —does that represent a difficulty or a theological intricacy? Hardly! You can receive Him, you can rest upon this divine assurance that you have the right of sonship, the authority to be a child of God.
The outcome of your reception of Christ is explained both negatively and positively. “Born, not of blood”; that is, not by the physical birth which brought you into this world. “Born, not…of the will of the flesh”; that is, not by any personal resolution or mere reformation, “Born, not…of the will of man”; that is, no outside human agency, however good or holy, can assist you to enter the family of God.
“But of God;” here is the origin of life on any plane, and the absolute source of spiritual life. As the sinner trusts the Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit breathes God’s own eternal life into the soul, which then becomes a child of God. (John 3:14-16).
REALITY. Although the second birth is as inexplicable as the wind, its effects are quite as evident. “Thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is everyone that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). The unseen wind is evident by its effects, and where Christ has been welcomed, the manifestations of the God-breathed life will soon be revealed.
The sovereign rule of God will be limited, and some measure of subjection to that will expressed. Sin will become abhorrent. Christ will become precious. God’s people will become the associates of the newly born one. God’s Word will have a new attraction.
Where none of these signs is evident, it may be safely assumed that the wind of God’s Spirit has never been vitally active in that life.
FACT. Contrary to much erroneous teaching, the Scriptures indicate clearly that the Holy Spirit is given to all believers immediately and unconditionally.
“Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having BEGUN in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Gal. 3:2-3). “Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father” (Gal. 4:6). “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” (Rom. 8:9). “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God?” (1 Cor. 6:19).
Could language be clearer to show that the hearing of faith brings the Spirit of God into the life as the beginning of the work of grace, as the evidence of family relationship, and as constituting the believer’s body the dwelling and temple of the Spirit? There can be no such thing as a Christian devoid of the indwelling Spirit: there are no empty temples in this economy of grace. Let this fact be once grasped with all its sublime and hallowing influence, and the child of God can never be quite the same again.
With all their unspirituality, the Corinthian Christians were yet regarded as possessing the Spirit. Their trouble was that the Spirit was not fully possessing them.
PURPOSE. Christ promised His disciples “another Comforter,” i.e., another of the same kind. The promised One would be to the disciples all that Christ Himself would have been if present with them. “His other self” is the descriptive phrase which someone has coined for the Comforter, the Holy Spirit.
How terribly the followers of Christ would miss their absent Lord! but the loving presence and Christ-like functions of the Spirit would relieve and comfort their orphaned hearts. Literally, the Comforter (Paraclete) is “one called alongside to help”, and in every necessary way, the Holy Spirit acts in this wonderful capacity.
The Lord Jesus gave a broad outline of the Paraclete’s comforting, helping ministry, when He declared that “He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26). “He shall testify of Me” (John 15:26). “He will guide you into all truth… He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are Mine: therefore said I, that He shall take of Mine, and shall shew it unto you” (John 16:13-15).
The scope of the Spirit’s resources named here are too important to be lightly passed over. “All things that the Father hath”; this is a wealthy treasure-house, to be explored and enjoyed. It all belongs to Christ, and the Spirit now unfolds to God’s people the limitless wealth of our Lord. When in His light, we see light, what a foretaste of future glory is ours!
“All truth” (John 16:13) has a relation to Him Who said, “I am…the truth” (John 14:6). The vast circumference of truth includes facts that are awe-inspiring and heart-searching, as well as those that are cheering and constructive. God has ordained that every event of time and eternity should revolve around that sacred Person, and so every part of revelation in the completed Scriptures glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ.
He is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe (Col. 1:16-17). He is the Revealer of the Father (Matt. 11:27). He is the Lamb of God, the sacrifice for sin (John 1:29). He is the King Who will bring universal peace and righteousness to this distracted world (Isa. 9:6-7). He is the Judge Who is to be honoured by men, even as the Father is honoured (John 5:22-23).
The apprehension of all this Christo-centric truth is only possible where the blessed Paraclete has come in to renew, to indwell, and to illuminate. However, it remains to remind ourselves that while the great Interpreter dwells within every believer, the secrets of God are shared only with hearts that are prepared and consecrated. It is the pure in heart that see God (Matt. 5:8), and His secret is with them that fear Him (Ps. 25:14).
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If thou art willing to suffer no adversity, how wilt thou be the friend of Christ? — Thomas a Kempis.
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Teach me the glory of my cross. Teach me the value of my storm. Show me that I have climbed to Thee by the path of pain. Show me that my tears have made my rainbows. — George Matheson.
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No more I ask the reason why.
Although I may not see
The path ahead, His way I go;
He’ll choose safe paths for me.