God’s Method Of Speaking
The method of imparting instruction by the Holy Spirit was to be an advantage to Christ’s followers. Jesus taught by word of mouth, in set discourses, as well as by ordinary conversation, but His teaching necessarily concerned the general good, and was on subjects of vast import, yet for the most part of general import. And although it is true, that all His teaching is for individuals, yet there are a multitude of lessons that each individual needs to learn that cannot be learned from general instruction.
The human soul is a vast community in itself, and covers a field of needs not represented by any other soul since the world was, nor will it be as long as it shall stand, notwithstanding the fact that we all need much in common. Thus each man must be taught individually, and no person can teach anyone ultimate truth in these vital matters of the soul, but God himself, and it can be done more effectually by the Spirit’s inward voice than by outward instruction.
So it came to pass that Jesus had to leave more lessons to be taught by the Holy Spirit, than He had imparted personally, for said He, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth.” The Holy Spirit is an abiding teacher, dwelling constantly in the heart of the believer, and carrying on His process of tuition day by day, imparting such lessons as the soul may need, and in such a way as it can bear. This, therefore, is the great advantage of the departure of Jesus, and of His new, or changed method of teaching.
The whole tendency of Christ’s teaching is to lead men away from the seen to the unseen, from the material to the spiritual, from leaning upon the senses, to spiritual perception, from walking by sight to a walking by faith in the invisible God.
There is a spiritual man inside of every material man, and the religion of Jesus, while it is for the whole man, is particularly for this spiritual person. It is the privilege of this spiritual man to “See Him who is invisible,” and to be always conscious of the presence of God; to hear the voice of God without the vibration of sound waves, and receive spiritual instruction at the hands of the Master, either with or without the instrumentality of the Bible, just as the Divine Teacher himself may elect.
As was natural, Jesus emphasized the great central truth of his religion; that is, the coming, and the abiding of the Holy Spirit as Comforter, Guide, Teacher and Empowerer, in His last messages. On the night of His betrayal, after supper, and before going to the garden, He delivered that wonderful discourse, the chief topic of which was the Coming One. He repeats it over and over again, in different parts of His address in a variety of ways.
If we analyze what He said about Him, it is something like this, (1) A person was coming to take the Master’s place. (2) This person was a Spirit and therefore not visible to the outward eye. (3) He was to be a comforter to Christ’s followers. (4) He was to be a teacher, and a guide to lead them into all truth. (5) He was to be a revealer of the teachings of Jesus. (6) He was to testify of Jesus, that is, to make Him known then, and in coming generations, for “No man can call Jesus the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” (7) The world, or unspiritual persons were not to be conscious of his presence, for Jesus said, “Whom the world cannot receive because it seeth Him riot.” (8) The spiritual were to be conscious of His presence; “But ye know Him, for He dwell-eth with you, and shall be in you.” (9) He was to be a Spirit of Truth, thus protecting God’s children from the father of lies, the Devil. (10) His presence and administration was to be an improvement upon the personal presence and administration of Jesus, for the Savior said, “It is expedient for you that I go away.” (n) He was to reprove or convince of wrong. (12) He was to witness or approve the right. (13) He was to give clear judgment, so as to discern the Devil and sin. (14) He was to reveal to Christians, the wealth of Jesus and the inexhaustible riches of His Kingdom. (15) The Holy Spirit was not for the Apostles only, as some do vainly say, for He was to abide forever. (16) He was to be sent by the Father as well as the Son, and proceeds from the Father, and therefore, He is their joint representative, and so the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Father and the Son. (17) He was to deliver the message of God to the soul, for He was to speak what He had heard God say. (18) He was to show things to come.
Here are eighteen distinct things that Jesus said, on the eve of His departure, about the Holy Spirit. It was the one great topic, upon His mind and heart, and for this gift to mankind, of God the Spirit, He laid down His life.
Then at the very first meeting of Jesus with the Apostles after His resurrection, in the upper room, on the evening of the resurrection day, He again referred them to the Coming One, saying, “And behold I send the promise of my Father upon you, but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high.”
It was also a most natural thing, that in His parting benediction, with His last words, He commended them to the Holy Spirit. After forty days on the earth between the Resurrection and his Ascension, He led the little band out near Bethany, and on the picturesque slopes, or on the top of Mount Olivet, was enacted one of the sublimest and greatest events in the world’s history.
The place was fitting to the occasion, and to the enactment of the wonderful drama, for they were on historic ground. On this mount, David had fled from his rebellious son, Absalom. Here Christ had wept over Jerusalem, and had given expression to perhaps the most beautiful language in all literature in his pathetic and eloquent lamentation over that city. Here, too, He gave the disciples that wonderful form of prayer called the “Lord’s Prayer” in which more distinct ideas are couched than in any similar number of words in our language. On this mountain, He had delivered some of His most important parables, such as that of the Ten Virgins, the parable of The Talents, also of the Sheep and Goats. He met with His little company for the last time, with Bethany and Jerusalem both in sight, the former just at the foot of the southern slope, and the city of the King a little farther removed to the west; Jesus had selected this spot for the closing of His eventful career on the earth; for the delivery of His last message, and for His ascension to the Father. He had many tender things to say to them at that meeting, and spake words fraught with eternal significance. But what were His last words?
What did He say just as the law of gravitation was ceasing to operate, and His feet were lifting from the ground, while the gates of Heaven were opening to receive Him, at the command of the words sung by an Angelic company: ” Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors: and the King of Glory shall come in,” and the answer comes back from inside the Golden City from a multitude of the Heavenly hosts, ” Who is the King of Glory?” “The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors: and the King of Glory shall come in. Who is this King of Glory? The Lord of Hosts, He is the King of Glory.”
But what were the parting words of the triumphant Savior, on this last momentous occasion? Here they are. “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” And having said these words the heavens received Him out of their sight.
When the Lord had ascended, the Apostles returned to Jerusalem, to carry out their instructions, to await the coming of the Holy Spirit.
The whole company of the disciples gathered day by day in the historic Upper room; in prayer and supplication, with their hearts filled with joy, and daily expected the Person whom Jesus said would come. They were neither waiting for the pardon of their sins, nor for a blessing, for they had both, but they were waiting for Him who was to come to abide with them.
On the appointed day He came; and at His corning there were some wonderful manifestations, as was fitting to usher in so great a dispensation. We need, however, to distinguish between the manifestations and the Person who came; they were no part of Him; but were the attending circumstances of His coming into the world; so far as I know, never to be repeated.
>From that time on, the Holy Spirit was taken by the Apostles as their Guide. He was not treated as an emotion, nor as a sentiment in any way, but as a Divine Person, who was as veritably with them as though they could see Him with their outward eyes; and He became their guide and teacher. All through the Acts of the Apostles, we read of the Holy Spirit telling them to do this, and to leave undone that, to go to one place and not to go to another.
The Holy Spirit told the brethren at Antioch to separate Barnabas and Saul for a special work; and these brethren were sent by the Holy Spirit to Seleucia and from there to Cyprus. In the first council at Jerusalem on the matter of the Jewish law, they settled the question by the dictates of the Holy Spirit; as they said, “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us, to put upon you no greater burden than these necessary things.”
Paul and Silas were forbidden of the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia, though it was evidently their intention to do so. The same Spirit suffered them not to go to Bithynia, after, apparently, they had started for that place. From these sample instances, we see that the Holy Spirit was guide supreme, and they took Him as such.
To the objection that this detailed guidance was for the Apostles only, and not for” the common people, I will refer to the words of Peter, who in addressing the masses said, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is unto you and to your children, and to all that are afar off.”
Then again, Stephen was not an Apostle, but a layman, but he was a man full of the Holy Spirit, and the same thing is true of hundreds of others we read of in the Acts.
It also seems from the Scriptures that not only is the Holy Spirit for everybody, but that some Christians may be in the enjoyment and love of God without knowing the Holy Spirit as a person, or having Him as a conscious Guide and Teacher. And so the New Testament preachers went about asking Christians, if they had received the Holy Spirit since they believed; and when answered in the negative, explained who He was and what He did, and by faith they accepted Him also.
I gather from the Scriptures that God has always had a method of communication with mankind; that spiritual men in all the ages have heard His voice; and that in this last and best dispensation, our privileges in this respect, are greater than ever before.
I have also arrived at the conclusion that this Scriptural doctrine is overlooked, or neglected in modern teaching, so that many of the Lord’s people, through lack of knowledge, do not get the comfort of the Holy Spirit as guide, teacher and empowerer as our Master intended they should.