Answers to Correspondents.: The Holy Spirit; The Lord's Prayer; State After Death?; ECC 3:19-41; 1CO 11:6; Together, not Individual; 1CO 9:27

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H. M.—We published last year three papers on the Holy Spirit which were thought of sufficient interest to justify their reissue in a separate form. Under the title of The Comforter they can be now had, either of our publisher or through any bookseller, for two pence. There the subject of the filling of the Spirit is discussed at greater length than would be possible here. The baptism of the Holy Spirit took place at Pentecost, and by it all believers are united in the membership of the One Body, according to 1 Cor. 12:1313For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:13). We know of no second baptism of the Spirit. In the book sent for our perusal the difference between being born of the Spirit and the subsequent reception of the Spirit by the believing one is clearly defined. The two things are distinct. But the filling of the Spirit does not involve a further reception of the same great Gift, nor does it appear in the instances reported in Acts that this filling was in answer to prayer for that specific object. We understand the filling of the Spirit to mean that the Holy Spirit so takes possession of us that He becomes the spring or source of our thoughts, desires, and aims. This should be the wish of every believer, and assuredly it would be fulfilled in him if everything contrary to the Spirit were laid aside. No doubt when the Lord calls to special service He gives fitness for it, and at times there may be an extraordinary endowment of spiritual power. See an article on "The Sealing and Filling of the Spirit" in our January issue of 1901.
H. A. L.—The more we examine what is commonly called "The Lord's Prayer" the more we are struck with its simplicity, its beauty, and its exceeding breadth. But we doubt whether it was ever intended to be used as a form. "Praying in the Holy Ghost"—a phrase found in Jude's epistle, verse 20—seems rather to run counter to any set form, and so does Rom. 8:2626Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (Romans 8:26). Besides, the position of believers has been greatly changed by the death, resurrection, and ascension to glory of the Lord Jesus, and this necessarily affects their prayers if intelligently offered. In this connection we shall find help in looking at the prayers of the apostle. Paul in Phil. 1:9, 109And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; 10That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; (Philippians 1:9‑10); Col. 1:9, 119For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; (Colossians 1:9)
11Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; (Colossians 1:11)
; Eph. 1:16; 3:14-2116Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; (Ephesians 1:16)
14For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. 20Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. (Ephesians 3:14‑21)
, and elsewhere. These undoubtedly are not intended to be used as forms, but they show the desires awakened in the apostle's heart by the Holy Spirit and what is fitting to pray for now, both for ourselves and others.
As to Matt. 13:44-5044Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. 45Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: 46Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. 47Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: 48Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. 49So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, 50And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13:44‑50), the parables of the treasure and the pearl both exemplify the great grace of the Lord Jesus towards His redeemed. They are the "treasure hid in a field," they are the “pearl of great price.” To secure this treasure, to make Himself possessor of this pearl, He gave up all that He had. "Though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich" (2 Cor. 8:99For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9)). "Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it" (Eph. 5:2525Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (Ephesians 5:25)). This was grace indeed. The parable of the "net that was cast into the sea" shows the outward result of the gospel net being cast into the surging sea of humanity. It gathers of every kind. As with the virgins of Matt. 25 (five were wise and five foolish), so here—all the fish were not good. But there will be a separation. The good fish are gathered into vessels, the rest cast away. There may be a partial present application of this parable—the gathering the good into vessels—but about this we do not dogmatize.
HONEST INQUIRER.—If we understand your letter aright, it 'simply comes to this: Is the state after death, both for just and unjust, a state of unconsciousness Is the soul asleep? The question is answered in Luke 16. The rich man in hades and the poor man in Abraham's bosom were very far from being asleep. Do you object that these are only pictures? Be it so; but they are the Lord's pictures, and intended to teach us something. Certainly they do not teach that the dead are fast asleep, but just the contrary.
The Lord said to the dying thief, "To-day shalt thou be with Me in paradise" (Luke 23:4343And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:43)). Did that mean that he should go fast asleep and know nothing? Paul thought it far better to depart and be with Christ (Phil. 1:2323For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: (Philippians 1:23)). Did that mean that the better thing was to go fast asleep and know nothing? In another passage he speaks of being absent from the body and present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:88We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8)). Does that mean he should be fast asleep and not know whether he was with the Lord or not? Can any honest inquirer suppose that we are to be mocked with such interpretations? If you care to pursue the subject further, we commend to your study two papers by Mr. J. N. Darby—The State of the Soul after Death and The Immortality of the Soul—in which the whole question is exhaustively examined. To those papers we are indebted for our brief answer to your inquiry. They can be had of our publisher.
H. J. W.—Ecclesiastes 3:19-41.—This passage has been seized upon by materialists, and is constantly put forth as the stronghold of their doctrine. They endeavor to prove from it that man and beast both have spirit, and that the spirit of both is one and the same. "Man hath no pre-eminence above a beast," and when the breath leaves them they but lie down in the dust, being alike but dust—nothing more.
Has, then, man NO pre-eminence above a beast? Has he not mind, conscience, responsibility, moral qualities? Can these be predicated of the beasts that perish? "But," you will say, “these are the very words of Scripture.” Yes, but many things are recorded in the Scriptures which are not intended to be received as true. They are recorded for our admonition. Lies of the evil one, false conclusions drawn from certain circumstances, rash sayings, lying predictions of prophets who were no prophets, all these are a part of Scripture, and the record of them has been given by inspiration of God and is profitable for us. But God does not place the seal of divine truth on the falsehoods of either men or devils. Now in the passage before us Solomon tells us what he once "said in his heart" (v. 18). It is not divine revelation, but human doubt-the questioning of man's mind when speculating upon the mystery of existence. "Who knoweth?" says he. It is the language of one who had "given his heart to search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven" (chap. 1:13), and who had "said in his heart" (chap, 2:1), " Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth, "and who had" sought in his heart to give himself to wine" and "to lay hold on folly, that he might see what was that good for the sons of men, that they should do under heaven all the days of their life" (v. 3). Mirth! wine! folly! These are not the pursuits of a Spirit-taught man. In no such paths does the Spirit of God lead. No wonder that the grave into which all go was to him at that time an impenetrable mystery. Men die as the beast dies; they go to the dust alike, and as to what is beyond no human knowledge can penetrate it. Such is the conclusion to which human wisdom comes. But, and note it well, this is the uncertainty of mere human knowledge. The Spirit of God could not doubt or question. It is by the Spirit, surely, that we are given this history of human searching after wisdom and after good, so that we might know that by human searching he could attain neither the one nor the other. Listen to Solomon's own explanation of this as he comes out into the light: "As thou KNOWEST NOT what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou KNOWEST NOT the works of God who maketh all" (chap. 11:5). But he has something to say now about his former thoughts, for he says, finally and conclusively, that the spirit of a man does not go downward to the earth. "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: but the spirit shall return to God who gave it" (chap. 12:7).
Our limited space will not allow of more. This and kindred subjects are closely considered in Facts and Theories as to a Future State, from which many of our remarks have been drawn,
E. H. W.—1 Cor. 11:66For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. (1 Corinthians 11:6).—These instructions concerning the covering of the head were probably called for by the custom of those days according to which women inspired by demons had their hair flowing out in a wild, loose way. We hardly suppose the apostle is directing this sign of subjection to be worn always and everywhere. It is a question of what is comely and modest, and where there is a sound mind, both nature and grace will teach what is suitable. The spirit of the whole passage is much more important than rigid conformity to the mere letter. We fear the little answer to prayer of which you speak is to be attributed to something more serious than the omission of this sign.
H.—When we are gathered together to wait upon God, either for prayer or with some other object in view, it is assuredly no time either for turning over the leaves of the hymn-book or reading to ourselves a chapter out of the Bible. Each heart should be engaged with the One in whose presence we sit, and on whom we profess to wait. Where this distracting habit prevails, it may indicate the need of instruction; if not, we fear it betrays a listless, uninterested state, out of which it will be a mercy to be aroused. The realized presence of the Lord is a great corrective.
SEEKER.—1 Cor. 9:2727But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (1 Corinthians 9:27).—This passage betrays no fear on Paul's part of his ultimate salvation. Scores of other passages forbid its being read in that light. A man might preach to others and be castaway. Judas was such a one. But no man can have faith in Christ, receive the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Ghost, and yet perish everlastingly. Get Fallen from Grace—to be had of our publisher, price two pence—where this very passage and others of a kindred nature are examined. It will help you.