The Way to Pentecost
Chapter 6: The Pentecostal Life
When Andrew Murray was led to write on "The Temple of the Holy Spirit," he said with reverential awe: "I will meditate and be still, until something of the overwhelming glory of the truth fall upon me, and faith begin to realize it: I am His Temple, and in the secret place He sits upon the throne." Then, when he had written, this prayer rises like incense: "I do now tremblingly accept the blessed truth: God the Spirit; the Holy Spirit; who is God Almighty dwells in me O my Father, reveal within me what it means, lest I sin against Thee by saying it and not living it."
Hour after hour, since I wrote the headline of this chapter, my mind has been held in the same reverential awe. I have written and preached much on the Holy Spirit, for the knowledge of Him has been the most vital fact of my experience. I owe everything to the gift of Pentecost. It came to me when I was not seeking it. I was about my Heavenly. Father's business, seeking means whereby I could do the work to which He had called and sent me, and in my search I came across a prophet, heard a testimony, and set out to seek I knew not what. I knew that it was a bigger thing than I had ever known. It came along the line of duty, in a crisis of obedience. When it came I could not explain what had happened, but I was aware of things unspeakable and full of glory. Some results were immediate. There came into my soul a deep peace, a thrilling joy, and a new sense of power. My mind was quickened. I felt that I had received a new faculty of understanding. Every power was vitalized. My bodily powers were quickened. There was a new sense of spring and vitality, a new power of endurance, and a strong man's exhilaration in big things. Things began to happen. What we had failed to do by strenuous endeavor came to pass without labor. It was as when the Lord Jesus stepped into the boat that with all their rowing had made no progress, "immediately the ship was at the land whither they went." It was gloriously wonderful.
The things that happened were the least part of the experience. The wind and the fire and the tongues excited most comment, but they vanished, and it was the realities that remained that were most wonderful. The experience gave me the key to all my thinking, all my service, and all my life. Pentecost gave me the key to the Scriptures. It has kept my feet in all the slippery places of all sorts of criticism. The things that are stumblingblocks to so many are steppingstones to me. The inexplicable becomes plain when we recognize the Presence and Law of the Spirit. It balances scholarship, and gives discernment beyond all human learning. Indeed, learning without the Holy Ghost blinds men to the realities of Divine truth. The man who thinks he can know the Word of God by mere intellectual study is greatly deceived. Spiritual truth is spiritually discerned. The soul sees with the eyes of the heart, and they are opened by the Holy Spirit. The knowledge He gives is something more than information it is knowledge that leads to trust, knowledge that brings life, and knowledge that inspires love. The same Spirit gave me a new understanding and experience of prayer, and with these gifts there came a new enduement of wisdom and power. From the first day of my Pentecost I became a seeker and a winner of souls.
A Definite ExperienceThe Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a definite and distinct experience assured and verified by the witness of the Spirit. The disciples who were commanded to "Tarry until they were endued with power from on high" had already received the Spirit for salvation. It is puerile to say they were not already saved. Our Lord places that question for ever beyond doubt in His intercession for them on the eve of His passion. They were His. He had kept them by His power, given them the eternal Word, and they were not of the world even as He was not of the world. Still they were commanded to tarry for the fullness of the Spirit. Of the believers at Samaria it was said that when Peter and John came down they prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost, for as yet He was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the Name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 8:14-17). Of the group of believers at Ephesus, Paul asked: "Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?" The Revised Version renders it, "Did ye receive the Holy Ghost when ye believed?" (Acts 19:2). In any case the receiving of the Holy Ghost was so definite an experience that they were expected to know whether they had received the gift or not. Their answer was an emphatic "No." and they added that they had not so much as heard whether the Holy Ghost was given.
The experience is distinct from that of Regeneration. Of those who had believed and been baptized in the Name of the Lord Jesus, it was said they had not yet been baptized of the Holy Ghost. It is evident, therefore, that a man may be born again of the Spirit and not be baptized with the Spirit. In regeneration there is a gift of life by the Spirit, and whosoever receives it is saved; in the baptism of the Spirit there is a gift of power, and by it the believer is equipped for service and endued for witnessing. In the Corinthian Church there were many believers who were not filled with the Holy Ghost, though they were rich in the gifts of the Spirit. Nevertheless, it is the inheritance of every believer to receive the gift of the Spirit, to be baptized with the Spirit, to be filled with the Spirit; and to this definite experience thousands have testified. They were born again of the Spirit, and afterwards, sometimes a long time after, and sometimes after a little while, there came a conviction of need and an assurance of Faith through the Word of God by which they entered into an experience of sanctification and the abiding fullness of the Spirit.
The question of Paul to the converts of Apollos proves that we may be Christians and not filled with the Spirit. There are many Christians of whose devotion and Christian experience there can be no doubt who have never had a Pentecost; and they know it. Sometimes they grieve over their lack and sigh for the blessing. Pentecost is the gift of power. The Spirit fills, vitalizes, and energizes with the power of God. Deliverance from sin, efficiency in service, and effectiveness in witnessing are given with the fullness of the Pentecostal blessing. Power to move the world for God and to win souls for Him is neither intellectual nor social, but is in the fullness of the Spirit of God in the soul. "Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you."
Ye Shall Know Ask...The promises of our Lord concerning the Spirit gather around the centers knowledge, prayer, service. In that day "ye shall know," "ye shall ask," "ye shall do." Certainty, prayer, work. Certainty in knowledge, assurance in prayer, power in service.
The fullness of the Spirit brings the certainty of revelation to the soul. The men of Pentecost knew the things of God. No theological instruction could have given Peter the doctrine he preached concerning Christ's life, death, and resurrection. In that day ye shall know, said Jesus, and when the day came they knew; and they knew the things Jesus had said they should know. They knew the essential relationship between Christ and God. The mystery baffles all investigation, but it was made known to them when the Spirit of the Lord "sat upon each of them." They knew the mysterious union of the believer With Christ, that we are in Christ, as the Son is in the Father. It can never be explained, but there is no uncertainty in the knowledge. The secret is disclosed to the heart, and no one sees the writing but the soul that receives it. They knew that Christ is also in the believer as surely as the Christ and the Father are one. There are no words in the Bible quite so profound as these seven tiny words, "Ye in Me, and I in you"; but the gift of Pentecost reveals their mystery and establishes their certainty. The Spirit-filled KNOW. They have knowledge that does not depend upon intellectual capacity, scholarly training, or even on experience, and their certainty is the secret of their power. They have knowledge that comes not of flesh and blood, but from the Spirit Who knows the deep things of God, for He is Himself God. And the Spirit not only reveals the deep things of God, but gives also illumination for all the practical affairs of life. All questions are answered in Him. The Spirit-filled are not left in uncertainty as to the mind of God. Pentecost brings a pervasive light, according to the words in I John 2:27, "the anointing which ye received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that anyone teach you; but as His anointing teacheth you concerning all things, and is true, and is no lie, and even as it taught you, ye abide in Him."
The Pentecostal blessing makes the believer mighty in prayer. "In that day ye shall ask in My Name, and whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My Name He will give you." Prayer is an impossible task without the Holy Ghost. We know not what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit helpeth our infirmities. There are two kinds of praying. Before Pentecost we pray in the Spirit, after Pentecost the Spirit prays through us. "He maketh intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered." None but the Spirit-filled know that kind of praying. It is the kind that wrought miracles in the Acts of the Apostles, and to this day prevails. It pleads the Name, enthrones the Name, and claims the Name. It prays in His will, presents His promise, and decrees in His Power. Prayer brings Pentecost, and Pentecost makes prayer omnipotent for all the will of God. The Spirit instructs and inspires prayer, gives intelligence and intensity to intercession, and brings reality and joy to communion with God. The Spirit-filled love to pray, and prayer that is in the Spirit must prevail.
Pentecost is always associated with power. The final promise of our Lord was, "Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you." The Spirit of God is the Spirit of Power. Everywhere in the Scriptures He is associated with the might of Almighty God. In the Old Testament He wrought mightily, even though "He was not yet given." In the New Testament He is God's crowning gift of Power. He clothes Himself with sanctified men and women, "that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." The measure of our power is in the energy of the Holy Spirit, working in us and through us. All fullness of life, all resources of vitality, all certainty of assurance, all victory over sin and the flesh, all prevailing power in prayer, all certitude of glory -- all and everything is in the Indwelling Presence and Power of the Holy Spirit of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The Inheritance of the Spirit-FilledRomans 8 is the fullest exposition of the life which comes through "the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus." It is the charter of the believer's inheritance in the Spirit.
1) Pentecost Brings DeliveranceThe law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus makes men free. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. He is the Spirit of Power, and the first demonstration of power is emancipation. He breaks the power of canceled sin. There is no bondage from which He cannot deliver. He breaks the fetters of the soul, and opens the prison doors of the redeemed. Salvation comes with the suddenness of a mighty rushing wind and as with the flash of fire; or it may come as the breath of the morning and the light of the dawn. However it comes, it comes to set men free from all that brings into bondage and condemnation. It is the Gospel of Liberty to all imprisoned life. There is no slave the Gospel cannot save. The greatest deliverance of all is from the moral impotence of the dual personality of chapter 7. The measure of completeness is in the word: "There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." They are delivered from all and everything that brings condemnation.
2) Pentecost Brings Abounding VitalityOur Lord came that we might have abundant and abounding life, and it is found in the Gift of the Spirit of Life. The Gift of God is Living Water, springing up into everlasting life. Living water is the water of vitality from the Eternal Source of Life. The law i. good, but weak through the flesh, ineffective through human infirmity. The Holy Spirit strengthens the inward man. The Spirit of Life dwells in men, permeates their being, sanctifies their nature, quickens their powers, vitalizes their mortal bodies, and radiates their life. They live -- really live! They live the life that is life indeed. Pentecost turned anemic believers into exuberant saints. People said they were drunk, and so they were, but not with wine. They were vivacious with abounding vitality. Pentecost wakens people up. It vitalizes latent powers, and makes the utmost of every faculty and gift. Those who would have Life abounding Life, victorious Life, satisfying Life, glorious Life must get to Pentecost. Life is the best medicine for every kind of sickness. It cures all ills, ends all weariness, and conquers death all the time.
3) Pentecost Brings UnderstandingWhere did Peter get the sermon he preached on the Day of Pentecost? He did not read it from a carefully prepared manuscript. This fisherman Apostle is always surprising us with the things he knows. Who taught him? How did he know the hidden meanings of Prophecy? How did he come to understand the philosophy of history so that he could say with certainty, "This is that"? How came he to understand the meaning of the Cross and to discover the explanation of the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead? Who instructed him in these things? The Master tells how he had come to know that He was the Christ the Son of God; and that one explanation explains the rest. He knew by the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation. The Spirit of Truth guides into all Truth. "In that day ye shall know." We know by the Spirit that we are sons of God and joint-heirs with Christ. The Spirit Himself is our Witness. We know that the world is redeemed, and therefore travails in Hope, waiting for its redemption through "the revealing of the Sons of God"; a new Creation by Regeneration. We know, and do not despair. "We know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to His purpose." We know, and are not as others in the day of adversity. We know God. We know, and we know that we know. We know that at the last we shall be saved, and shall stand approved in Christ at the Throne of God. None shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect. Nothing shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. "In that Day ye shall know." The Spirit is familiar with the deep things of God, and He takes of the things of Christ and reveals them unto those who receive Him. He is the Spirit of Wisdom as well as of Revelation. He leads in practical wisdom, as well as guides into all Truth. He makes men wise with the wisdom that is from above.
4) Pentecost Brings a New Fellowship in Prayer"And in like manner the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity: for we know not how to pray as we ought; but the Spirit Himself maketh intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered; and He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God" That is the secret of prevailing prayer.
5) Pentecost Brings PowerThat was the specific promise of Christ. "Ye shall receive Power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and ye shall be witnesses unto Me." Witnessing prevails over the enemy. "We are more than conquerors," says St. Paul, and St. John ascribes the victory to testimony. "And they overcame him [Satan] because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto death" (Rev. 12:2). The Spirit of Power is given for witnessing. The testimony of Pentecost was mighty. It is always mighty in the demonstration of the Spirit.
6) Pentecost Brings the Fire of GodFire is the chosen symbol of Heaven for moral passion. It is emotion aflame. God is love; God is fire. The two are one. The Holy Spirit baptizes in fire. Spirit-filled souls are ablaze for God. They love with a love that glows. They believe with a faith that kindles. They serve with a devotion that consumes. They hate sin with a fierceness that burns. They rejoice with a joy that radiates. Love is perfected in the Fire of God. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. 7) Pentecost Brings Passion for the Souls of Men The eighth chapter overflows into the ninth. The experience consummates in anguish and tears for the lost. There is no sterner test of Grace than the attitude to the lost. Pentecost leads back to Gethsemane, for it baptizes into Christ's Baptism of Redeeming Passion. Spirit-filled hearts are always tender, and they see men through the tears of a holy compassion.
Continue to Chapter 7: The Indwelling Spirit