The Spirit in Life and Service

The Spirit in Life and Service

Samuel Jardine

The Spirit of God is the One Who I produces Christian character; the One Who reproduces the Christ-life in the believer. And where the graces of the fruit of the Spirit are in evidence, Christian service has truly begun.

E. M. Bounds once said, “The world is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men.” God finds them in the disciples of Christ who know the Spirit’s mastery, and in whom Christ is being formed and expressed.

God sets before us the perfection of service in our Lord Jesus Christ. “Behold My Servant, Whom I uphold; Mine Elect, in Whom My soul delighteth. I have put My Spirit upon Him” (Isa. 42:1). Similarly in Isaiah 11:1-5, Christ’s character is portrayed first and then the effects of His ministry.

John 3:34 refers primarily to the Lord Jesus, but there is also encouragement here for every child of God. “For He Whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure.” God’s giving always honours the greatness of His character — “without measure”.

Our Saviour received the Spirit in fullest measure, being uniquely capable of this. And in the energy of that infilling, He carried out the works of Him that sent Him.

The Spirit, however, has also been given to us, and still without measure. But, of course, the extent of the Spirit’s operation in each case depends on the place we are prepared to give Him. If we make room for Him to the limit of our capacity, He is quite prepared to give Himself to us in His fulness. The little girl prayed wisely who said, “Fill me, Lord. I can’t hold very much, but I can overflow a great deal.”

References to Spirit-filled Christians are frequent in Scripture. Some were characteristically full of the Spirit, while others were specially and temporarily filled.

John the Baptist is an outstanding example of the first, and the man’s ministry proved the prophecy (Luke 1:15). Furthermore, where the Spirit fills, Christ predominates and self abdicates: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).

Soon after the foundation of the Church, Spirit-filled men were needed for a delicate task in Jerusalem. So Stephen and six others were designated to care for the poor widows. Barnabas is in the same category: “A good man and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith” (Acts 11:24). This was his character, and as to service, he was found ministering encouragement to God’s people — a type still needed today — a true “son of consolation”.

The filling of the Spirit is not optional to the Christian; a specific command has been left for each of us: “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18). There must be a continual opening up of the life to the Spirit, in full consistency with the purity of His being, the righteousness of His activities, and the strength of His love. In return, He will bring a new exhilaration, a holy intoxication that will result in song and service glorifying to Christ.

The risen Lord promised His disciples ere He left them that they would receive power with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8), and that furthermore, this would be their power for witnessing to the ends of the earth. If the program was extensive, the power was equal to the task. And we today also need to learn dependence upon Him, to adjust our thoughts and ways to His, and to claim for each fresh service, the in-filling of the Spirit of power.

The thousands who thronged Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost were awakened and subdued because simple Galilean believers were filled with the Spirit and enabled by Him to speak in several languages (Acts 2). This was a remarkable intervention of God, for the launching of the Church.

Shortly after, Peter and John were arraigned before a religious court, but they found special enduement in the hour of crisis (Acts 4:7-8). The Spirit of God took over to meet the demands of the emergency. Similarly, Stephen was specially fortified by the Spirit at his trial and execution (Acts 7:54-60).

In contrast, our lack and leakage of spiritual power in Christian service demands the closest possible investigation. First of all, we need sound teaching about the Person and mission of the Holy Spirit. But in addition, we need to know how to maintain right personal relations with the Spirit, so that His power can be released through us.

Due regard must be paid to the character of the One Who only can give us the desired success in our life and service. The Spirit of God is the Spirit of holiness, and every taint of sin is abhorrent to Him. The Christian can never afford to play with sin. “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30).

We must also take special care to be in line with the Spirit’s program. Plans may be good in themselves but they must be made according to the mind of the Spirit. To those who sincerely wait upon the Lord, there surely comes the indication of His leading, bringing the servant of Christ to his proper sphere of labour.

Another factor adversely affects the success of every child of God who seeks to serve the Lord in any way whatsoever: wrong motives which would rob the Master of His full glory. Pride, for example, operates most insidiously, intruding itself into our holiest moments and “best” efforts for God. A constant process of self-judgement is necessary for happy harmony with the mighty Indweller whose business it is to make us increasingly Christ-conscious rather than self-conscious.

Have we all grasped the divine intention of our amazing partnership with the Spirit of God? The Holy Spirit waits for us to fulfil the duties of this unique partnership. If we respond, He is ready and willing to demonstrate His still-prevailing power to promote love amongst the saints, to propagate the gospel effectively, and to prosper the personal service of every saint who is yielded to His divine influence.