The Way to Pentecost
Chapter 3: The Spirit of Promise
The Divine Spirit is called "the Holy Spirit of Promise." The expression looks both backward and forward. He is the Spirit given in fulfillment of promise, and in Him is the earnest of the promise as yet unfulfilled. The gift of Pentecost fulfills the crowning promise of the Father. The Spirit is the Promised One. Our Lord spoke of Him as "the promise of the Father," and on the day of Pentecost the Apostle Peter, in explanation of the descent of the Holy Spirit, declared: "This Jesus did God raise up, whereof we all are witnesses. Being therefore by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He hath poured forth this, which we see and hear." Pentecost was God's seal upon the Messiahship of Jesus, and the fulfilling of His promise to Israel. Fulfillment brings new promises. Attainment inspires new hopes. The Spirit comes to the believing disciples, as the earnest of inheritance through sonship and the pledge of our resurrection in Christ the Risen Lord and Saviour. He is the Spirit of Promise in fulfillment, and the Spirit of Promise in assurance through faith.
The Promise of the FatherThroughout the development of the Old Testament revelation the promise of the Spirit is always closely identified with the Person and Ministry of the Messiah. In the earlier stages He is conceived as a Power rather than as a Person, but in Him is always revealed a Person who is an active Agent, and not a mere influence emanating from God. There was little knowledge of Him as a distinct Person with whom man could hold personal intercourse, but in slow stages there emerged a Living Person in whom was the fullness of Divine wisdom and power. In Him was the secret of the redemptive and sovereign power of the Servant of the Lord who should save Israel, and through Israel redeem the world.
Our Lord claimed that these promises concerning the Spirit were to be fulfilled in Him. John the Baptist baptized with water, but the Christ came to baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire. He claimed the fulfillment of prophecy in the gift of the Spirit to Him in Jordan, and He claimed it also in the gift of the Spirit to the world. There are few incidents more illuminating than that recorded of "the last day of the Feast," in John 7:37-39. The Feast was the Feast of Tabernacles. The Feast proper lasted seven days, during which all Israel dwelt in booths. Special sacrifices were offered and special rites observed. Every morning one of the priests brought water from the pool of Siloam, and amidst the sounding of trumpets and other demonstrations of joy the water was poured upon the altar. The rite was a celebration and a prophecy. It commemorated the miraculous supply of water in the wilderness, and it bore witness to the expectation of the coming of the Spirit. On the seventh day the ceremony of the poured water ceased, but the eighth day was a day of holy convocation, the greatest day of all. On that day there was no water poured upon the altar, and it was on the waterless day that Jesus stood on the spot and cried, saying: "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink." Then He added these words: "He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, from within him shall flow rivers of living water." The Apostle adds the interpretive comment: "But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him were to receive: for the Spirit was not yet given; because Jesus was not yet glorified."
"As the Scripture hath said." There is no such passage in the Scripture as that quoted, but the prophetic part of the water ceremony was based upon certain Old Testament symbols and prophecies In which water flowed forth from Zion to cleanse, renew, and fructify the world. A study of Joel 3:18 and Ezekiel 47 will supply the key to the meaning, both of the rite and our Lord's promise. The Holy Ghost was not yet given," but He was promised, and His coming should be from the place of blood, the altar of sacrifice. Calvary opened the fountain from which was poured forth the blessing of Pentecost. The descent of the Spirit depended upon the. ascent of the Son.
The Promise of the SonThe promise of the Father becomes explicit in the promise of Jesus.
For the greater part of His ministry He rarely mentioned the Spirit. On the eve of His Passion He spoke of Him with amazing fullness. Until then there had been no need to speak of Him, except to warn those who were in danger of "eternal sin" through their blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. Neither were they ready to hear of Him. When the time came for the Son to return to the Father, it was necessary that His own should know about the Comforter whom He would send to them. The promise is complete. It summed up all the teaching of prophecy, and anticipated all the development in experience. Those who would know the doctrine and work of the Spirit should study carefully the words spoken about Him in the Upper Room. They should be underlined, searched into, read over and over again, and prayed through till they are received into the mind and made the possession of the heart. There are seven fundamental statements about the Spirit in the promise of the Son.
1) That the self-same Spirit that had been given to the Son would be given to them
2) That He would be to them all that He had been to Him
3) That He would be to them all that the Son had been to them and more
4) That He would be in them as the Son' had been with them
5) That they would gain in Him more than they would lose in the departure of Christ
6) That He would be the Paraclete, or Other Self of the Christ, and through His indwelling the Christ would live in them
7) That His Mission was to glorify the Son by taking of the things of Christ and making them available to us
Jesus called the Holy Spirit the Paraclete. It is unfortunate that "Paraclete" should have been translated "Comforter," for the ministry of consolation hardly enters into Christ's promise. The margin of the Revised Version suggests the Latin word "Advocate" as the nearest equivalent to Paraclete, and if "Advocate" is substituted for "Comforter" in St. John 14 to 16, it is astonishing how illuminating it becomes. The Spirit is not our Advocate, but Christ's. An advocate appears as representative of another, and the Holy Spirit comes to represent Christ, interpret and vindicate Christ, administer for Christ in His Church and Kingdom; to be to the believer all that Christ Himself was, and is -- with this difference, that the Christ was with His disciples and the Spirit is in them.
The Promise of the SpiritSt. Paul speaks of "the supply of the Spirit." All the promises of God are made possible by the Holy Spirit. All our wants are met in His supply. He is the all-inclusive gift. In Him, and by Him, and through Him is the supply of all our need. He is the Spirit of Truth and Life, of wisdom and might, of grace and love. He knows the deep things of God, and teaches the heart the secret of prayer. He takes of the things of Christ, and makes them known to both mind and heart. He is the source of Divine energy and power, and through Him the inner man receives strength. "The supply of the Spirit" fulfills every need.
The Church is the Minister of Supply. The measure of our usefulness is the measure of the supply of the Spirit which we bring. The work of God is not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Living God. It is useless to attempt in the energy of the flesh what can be accomplished only in the power of the Holy Ghost. The promise of the Spirit covers every present need, and guarantees the consummation of redeeming grace. He is both seal and earnest. He secures us to God for an inheritance for His own possession; and He secures to us a glorious, complete, and eternal inheritance in God. That is why the gift of the Spirit always sets the heart singing. Its confidence is unwavering, its power is invincible, and its joy unspeakable.
Have ye received the Holy Ghost? There are many who have believed of whom the words of St. John are still true: He is "not yet given," and the reason is the same, for the Coronation gift always comes when the King is crowned.
Continue to Chapter 4: Pentecost