The Holy Spirit
As our final study of the Holy Spirit, let us notice His activity with regard to the church or assembly. In the days of Israel God marked out His people nationally. Israel as a nation was in covenant relationship with God (Ex. 35:27). This was evidenced outwardly by the sign of circumcision (Gen. 17:10) and by observing the Law. Actually within the nation of Israel there was only a remnant that truly believed (Rom. 9:6; 11:5). Nevertheless these were not separated outwardly from the nation.
Today Israel as a nation is set aside (Rom. 11:15); she is Lo-ammi, “not my people” (Hosea 1:9). Today God is calling out a people for His Name (Acts. 15:14). National and racial barriers mean nothing to the Spirit of God; they should mean nothing to us.
As souls from these various races and nations find themselves at the feet of the Lord Jesus and hear His blessed words of forgiveness, a miracle takes place. They are all united together in one body by a living, organic union. (This initially took place at Pentecost, but is also the experience of each believer since then). As the fingers and toes of the human body are united together because they share a common life; even so believers are linked together in a vital, permanent union by the common life of the Spirit. This is the baptism of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:12,13). This is not a subjective spiritual experience on the part of a believer, a “second blessing,” but a marvellous work of the Holy Spirit which affects every true believer. “There is one body, and one Spirit” (Eph. 4:4). The human spirit gives life and union to the human body—even so the Holy Spirit to the Church. This blessed truth is the basis of searching exhortations from the Word (Rom. 12:5; Eph. 4:25).
This unity finds outward expression in the local church or assembly. As a part of the whole it manifests the same characteristics. As the whole is “the Body” so also the local company is described as a “body” (1 Cor. 3:16). The local company of believers is the special dwelling place of the Spirit of God. It is fitting that each member behave in a way that will honour and delight this Holy Observer.
It is the Holy Spirit Who fires the soul with conviction concerning the condition of the lost and inspires the work of evangelism through the local testimony. It was after the coming of the Spirit that the believers as a group fearlessly proclaimed Christ with real power (Acts 2:4). Today the Holy Spirit sounds forth “the word of the Lord” (1 Thess. 1:8) from local companies of believers throughout the world, always delighting to glorify Christ.
The Spirit not only empowers and leads in gospel witness, but He desires to energize the assembly meetings, which are for the edification of believers. In these gatherings, which are for teaching, fellowship, the Lord’s Supper, and prayer (Acts 2:42), He delights to have liberty to use each vessel according to His own sovereign will (1 Cor. 12:11; 14:26-33). True, there may be abuses; the Old Man may raise his discordant voice at times. Yet the abuse is to be judged and not the Spirit’s liberty curtailed. He is “the Lord the Spirit.” When His Voice is heard in a meeting there is real exercise of soul and blessing for all.
It is the Holy Spirit Who reveals sin in the assembly and guides God’s people in discipline (Acts 5:1-11). This discipline may be very severe at times, yet the end result is godly fear, a healthy spiritual condition. Believers need to remember that “our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29).
As an assembly grows spiritually the Spirit raises up elders to care for the flock (Acts 20:28). He gives a shepherd’s heart and self-denying spirit and enables the overseer to meet the qualifications needed (1 Tim. 3:1-7). Such are to be acknowledged as elders by the church. (This recognition was assisted by the early evangelists—Acts 14:23).
Then as a work progresses and flourishes He stirs the hearts of some to go forth bearing the good news to those who have not heard. A mature assembly, like a plant sending out runners, is burdened to see God’s work spread. A plant which does not reproduce soon dies itself. The assembly at Antioch reveals true maturity. There is exercised public ministry and a waiting upon the Lord for guidance. It is to such burdened hearts that the Holy Spirit speaks, “Separate Me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them” (Acts 13:2).
This was the beginning of the so-called first missionary journey in about 47 A. D. They went, “sent forth by the Holy Spirit.” No human call or ordination gave them authority; the Lord the Spirit was their authority. He filled them and enabled them to speak bold, convicting words, bringing home Christ’s claims to the heart (Acts 13:9, 46). Their service was unguided by a human board or directors. They looked to the Lord the Spirit and He guided them faithfully (Acts 16:6-10). What a marvellous saga of His leading is the book of Acts! Can He do the same today? The heart of faith responds, “Yes, Lord, lead thou me.”
Through all of the vicissitudes of this age when Satan reigns and fights the cause of God, how blessed it is to have “the Lord the Spirit” with us. He is our “Paraclete,” our Helper in time of need.
If ye are reproached for the Name of Christ, blessed are ye; because the Spirit of glory and the Spirit of God resteth upon you.
1 Peter 4:14.
So that with good courage we may say, The Lord is my helper; I will not fear: What shall man do unto me?
The study of God’s Word, for the purpose of discovering God’s will, is the secret discipline that has formed the greatest characters. —Alexander.
There are three kinds of people in the world, the will’s, the won’ts and the can’ts. The first accomplish everything; the second oppose everything; the third fail in everything.
Time is lent us to be laid out in God’s service, and we cannot be too diligent in it, if we consider that time is precious, short, passing, uncertain, irrevocable when gone, and that for which we must be accountable.