The Way to Pentecost
Chapter 7: The Indwelling of the Spirit
Inwardness is the distinctive feature of the Spirit. The Son of God reveals and works from without, but the Spirit of God dwells and works from within. The Son is the Word. He reveals the Living and Eternal Truth and is the express image of the invisible and Glorious God. The Spirit is the secret Presence. He is the source of Life and Truth; the very soul of the universe, and the source of Light and Life, Wisdom and Power. He is behind the Word, within the Strength, the Dweller in the innermost of all secret places.
In all the Old Testament references to the Spirit there is the suggestion of inwardness. At the Creation, God made the heavens and the earth, but the Spirit is said to have brooded over the face of the waters, as if He would beget rather than create. The Son is said to have made the worlds, but there is no suggestion of the Son brooding over Creation. When God threatened to destroy the world for its wickedness, He said, "My Spirit shall not always strive with man." Striving implies an inward contest rather than an outward compulsion. From within He sought to instruct, correct, and save. Again, when God chose Israel to be His peculiar people, Nehemiah says, "Thou gavest also Thy Good Spirit to instruct them." The instruction covered a wide area, from Bezaleel, the craftsman, who was filled "with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship," to the Prophets, who "spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." There is one marginal reading in the Revised Version that is both emphatic and illuminating: "The Spirit of the Lord clothed Itself with Gideon." He did not come upon him like a garment, but the Spirit clothed Himself with Gideon as with a garment.
From "With" to "In"The distinction is patent enough in the New Testament The very first word of Promise concerning the Spirit in the Upper Room emphasizes it. "Ye know Him; for He abideth with you, and shall be in you." The change from with to in marks the transition from one dispensation to another. The very essence of the Christian religion is in the realized Presence of God in the soul, and this Presence is the Pentecostal gift of the Spirit. There is often some confusion in the inter change of terms, and the elimination of the middle factor. The Son comes in the coming of the Spirit, and abides in the soul in the presence of the Spirit; and in the coming of the Son through the Spirit the Father comes and abides also. "He will come... I will come... We will come" all refer to the Coming of the Spirit as promised in our Lord's farewell talk with His disciples (John l4:16-23) "In their relation to the human soul the Father and the Son act through and are represented by the Holy Spirit. And yet the Spirit is not merged in either the Father or in the Son." There is absolute unity with perfect distinction of Persons in the Trinity. They are never confused in the unity nor divided in the distinction. Each is Divine and all are One.
The Spirit works from within, That is the distinction that makes all the difference. There were things Christ could not do that are possible to the Spirit for this very reason. "He that abideth with you shall dwell in you"; and so it came to pass. "The Holy Spirit which dwelleth in us." Auguste Sabatier says:-- "It is not enough to represent the Spirit of God as coming as a help of man's spirit, supplying strength which he lacks, an associate or juxtaposed force, a supernatural auxiliary. There is no simple addition of divine power and human power in the Christian life. The Spirit of God identifies Himself with the human ME into which it enters and whose life it becomes. If we may so speak it is individualized in the new moral personality it creates." The Spirit of God identified with the human Me; the human Me identified with the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God is the Spirit of Christ, and the experience of Gal. 2:20 is the result. That is as our Lord promised. He that is with you, shall be in you. "I in you, and ye in Me."
The Spirit in the SonSt. Paul singles out the fact of our Lord's Resurrection to set forth the work of the Spirit in the mediatorial work of the Son. He selects the Resurrection be cause it was the culminating and representative act, but the same Spirit was in all our Lord's life and ministry. The indwelling Spirit is the key to both His personality and His work. When He became man He emptied Himself of all the prerogatives and privileges of deity. He Himself was unchanged, for He is the same yesterday, today, and for ever, but He laid aside all that belonged to His exalted state and submitted to the limitations of our nature and our lot. But God gave to the self-emptied Son the fullness of His Spirit, and our Lord was in all things dependent upon the Spirit. His body was prepared for Him by the Spirit. He grew in wisdom and in stature under the guidance of the Spirit. His teaching was given to Him by the Spirit, and His miracles were wrought in the power of the Spirit. At the last He offered Himself to God through the Eternal Spirit, and it was the Spirit that brought again our Lord Jesus from the dead. The standard of the Spirit's power is demonstrated in the Son. He is the Spirit's unit of measurement; the standard and sample of what the Holy Ghost can do in and for and through sanctified humanity.
The Spirit in the BelieverThe believer's fellowship with the Son is as absolute as the Son's fellowship with the Father. He has no more reserves in His partnership than in His renunciation. He has made possible to us whatever was or is accessible to Him. The gift of His Spirit includes all His inheritance just as the Father gave all in His Son, "He shall be in you." The very same Spirit that was in Him shall be in us. All that He had been to Him He comes to be to us. The Spirit dwells in the believer as He dwelt in the Son. There is no other interpretation to be put on such sayings as these: "Know ye that your body is the Temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you?" (I Cor. 6:19).
"Ye are the temple of the living God, as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them" (II Cor. 6:16).
"Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be the Spirit of God dwell in you" (Rom. 8:9).
"But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwelleth in you, He that raised up Christ Jesus from the dead shall quicken also your mortal bodies through His Spirit that dwelleth in you" (Rom. 8:11).
What does it mean exactly to say "He dwelleth in you"?
Christian teachers are often disposed to interpret the language of the Scriptures as a strong figure of speech. Dying with Christ, fellowship in His Resurrection, and the mutual indwelling of the believer and our Lord are attempts to express the experience of the soul in its relation to spiritual life and power. They argue that these expressions are not to be taken literally, but as types of great spiritual realities in the soul. What saith the Scripture? The New Testament abounds with teaching and testimony that demand a deeper explanation if the terms used do not involve personality, there is an end of intelligible speech. The indwelling is that of a real, personal, spiritual Presence. It is not a gift that can be located somewhere in the brain or heart of a man, but a personal Spirit that indwells another personality; a personality within a personality by which the Spirit becomes the life of my life, the soul of my soul; an indwelling that secures identity without confusion and possession without absorption. "He that is Christ's not merely has the Spirit of Christ ruling in him, leading him, guiding him, sanctifying him, preparing him body and soul for glorification; but has Him also as the new animating Soul of his soul, Spirit of his spirit, repeating in himself the mystery of the union of two natures in one personality."
That is the mystery of grace that passeth all understanding, and the miracle of grace by which the incarnation is perpetuated in the Body of Christ. That is the mystery of the ages. "In that day ye shall know that I am in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you" (St. John 14:20). Of course it is a mystery; a truth that can never be discovered and is known only by revelation. What is promised transcends human clothed Himself with Gideon." Spirit clothing itself achievement and human understanding. "It is a work of Divine Omnipotence and love. The gift of the Holy Ghost is the most personal act of the Godhead. It is the goodness of God alone that must give it. It is His omnipotence that must work it in us. The blessing of Pentecost is a supernatural gift, a wonderful act of God in the soul. It is an unspeakably holy and glorious thing that a man can be filled with the Spirit of God."
The Incarnation of the SpiritThe marginal reading of Judges 6:34 (Revised Version) will help us here again, especially if we read it in the light of New Testament experience: "the Spirit clothed Himself with Gideon." Spirit clothing itself with humanity is the miracle of the incarnation. A body is as necessary to the Spirit as to the Son. For the Son a Body was prepared by the Spirit; for the Spirit a Body is made possible by the Son. The Spirit lived in and through Gideon. The life of Gideon became the life of the Spirit. The man was endued and the Spirit was clothed. The Spirit thought through Gideon's brain, felt through Gideon's heart, looked through Gideon's eyes, spake through Gideon's voice, wrought by Gideon's hands, and yet all the time Gideon was still Gideon and the Spirit was still the Spirit.
The same Spirit quickens our mortal bodies by dwelling in them. Romans 8:11 is a present experience. Calvin says by "mortal bodies" he means "whatever remains in us that is still liable to death. The customary usage is to apply this term to the more material part of us, therefore the word is used, not of the final resurrection, which takes place in a moment, but of the continual operation of the Spirit, which, quickening the flesh, sets up the heavenly life within us." The Spirit that dwells in us quickens our mortal bodies. It does not create new faculties, but it awakens the dormant and develops the latent. The natural endowments of a man are the basis of the Spirit's energy, but there is no part of a man's being that is not vitalized and strengthened by His power. The Spirit gives fullness of life He gives health as surely as He gives life. There is truth at the back of all the vagaries of health movements in the name of the Christian faith, and fear of extremes must not be allowed to frighten us from the truth. Sickness may be and is in the will of God for some of His children, but even in them strength is made perfect in weakness. Faith health is better than faith healing, and the quickening Spirit makes for vitality and vigor as surely as He makes for sanity and spiritual power. The Spirit redeems the material through the spiritual. Creation groans for deliverance through the Spirit, and for social redemption there is no other way of salvation. The Spirit dwells in men, clothes Himself with consecrated humanity, and accomplishes extraordinary things through quite ordinary people on the simple conditions of abiding surrender, implicit obedience, and simple faith.
Continue to Chapter 8: The Communion of the Holy Ghost