God’s Two Gifts

The glory of this dispensation is that God is revealed to us as a giver. The New Testament fully makes this known to us, and this is the glory of the Christian life, that having received eternal life from God, we should go forth and show His grace and His free gifts to others. We should be imitators of God as dear children (Eph. 5:1-21Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savor. (Ephesians 5:1‑2)), walking in love as Christ has loved us and has given Himself for us, an offering and sacrifice to God as a sweet-smelling savor.
In John 3:1616For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) and 4:10 we have God revealed to us in this blessed way. He is the giver of two gifts: first, the giver of His Son; second, the giver of the Holy Spirit. The first gift is a gift to the whole world of sinners, God’s only begotten Son! He who was ever in this relationship with the Father became a man, lived among them, died for them, rose again and now sits on high as the object of faith for any poor sinner who will accept Him. The second gift is only given to those who have accepted the first gift; it is God’s gift to His own who have believed on His Son.
The Lord Jesus had to ascend on high and receive from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, before He could be sent down on the hundred and twenty disciples who had already believed in Christ. These had already been born again, by hearing the Son’s word, and had already become possessors of eternal life in Him by the reception of the first gift. But now they were united to Him by the gift of the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven, made members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. (See Acts 2; compare with Acts 1:4-54And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. 5For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. (Acts 1:4‑5);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); Eph. 5:3030For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. (Ephesians 5:30).) Still this second gift is not too high a thing for a sinner to desire it and, when quickened, to ask for it, as we see in the striking instance in John 4. The great mark of it is that it is a gift, and God is therein revealed as a giver, which is the great revelation of the gospel.
Let us consider God as the giver of His Son. If the Jew had received the law as God intended him to receive it, the law would have taught him the lesson that he was nothing but a sinner. And instead of thinking of being justified by it, he would have fallen down on his face and cried like the poor leper who was put outside the camp of Israel,
For the law not only forbade the bad things he had done, so that he was proved to be a transgressor and guilty in this way, but it was given to unveil the very root of sin. It was to give the knowledge that deep down in the heart there was an evil spring which was continually vomiting forth filth and pollution, and which displayed itself outwardly in the various acts of sin that men commit (Rom. 3:19-20; 8:719Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:19‑20)
7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. (Romans 8:7)
). Thus, if the Jew had learned the real lessons taught him by this wonderful schoolmaster, he would have been thoroughly humbled and broken, confessing himself to be nothing but a lost sinner.
But whether the Jew learned this lesson or not, this was what was proved by God during more than a thousand years of test and trial. When this had been fully made known and man was proved to be guilty as well as a poor creature under the power and dominion of sin which ruled over him like a tyrant, then God began to work from Himself. If the very spring of man’s heart was evil, God must begin from Himself, outside of man in order to save him. And this is the blessedness of the gospel and the blessedness of John 3:1616For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16). We begin with God — God so loved the world!
God was revealed in His only begotten Son. He had been walking about
Jerusalem and had been in the temple, and many, we are told,
If the very spring of man’s heart was evil, God must begin from Himself outside of man in order to save him.
believed in Him when they saw the miracles that He did.
But Jesus did not commit Himself unto them, because He knew all men (John 2:2424But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, (John 2:24)).
In the presence of God’s Son on earth, man was tested afresh, and, as before, he failed under it. Man will believe on Jesus for the miracles. Anything for excitement! If any make a profession, he will follow the leader, but God looks not on the outward appearance; He looks on the heart.
There was no proper response in the hearts of this multitude to Him. The faith produced by the miracles as well as the works of man are utterly worthless. He is lost! He must be born again! There may be some, like educated and refined Nicodemus, who believe in a religious way on Jesus, because of the outward signs of power around, and who thus judge and rightly too that Jesus must have been the Christ. But still the verdict goes forth to all,
Not only the fruit is bad, but the tree is bad. Man, as man, is utterly lost.
If, then, man is to be saved, of necessity God must be a giver. That God working in man by the Spirit was not sufficient to save was shown by all the history of the Old Testament saints up to that time. We see this specially in the instance of Job who, though conscious of inward uprightness, and that, too, testified of by God’s own word, found it insufficient for righteousness when brought into the presence of God at the end of his trial. Yet it is necessary to be born again to enter the kingdom of the Messiah, the highest blessing for which a Jew was looking. God must therefore give His Son! The Son of Man must be lifted up that whosoever believeth in Him might have eternal life (John 3:14-1514And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:14‑15)). There must be a Person given from outside of man, who, in a holy nature, might take upon Himself the penalty due to sin. This Person must be One who would fully glorify God in every quality of His nature as righteousness, love and light.
There was the secret of Jesus walking about this world and showing nothing but love to all around. His birth in the manger, His life of patient toil, even before the crowning act of His death, proclaimed that
His righteousness demanded death as a ransom, therefore the Son of Man had to die. Thus God was fully glorified in His righteousness and in His love. Christ risen from the dead is God’s gift of eternal life offered to the whole world.
God’s Second Gift
Now consider God’s second gift: the gift of the Holy Spirit. There are two necessary things to have in order to get it (see John 4:1010Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. (John 4:10)). First is to have the knowledge of God as a giver:
If thou knewest the gift of God.
Second is to know the person of God’s Son; in other words, to believe on Him. The Lord said,
If thou knewest . . . who it is that saith to thee, Give Me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water (John 4:1010Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. (John 4:10)).
Sir, give me this water.
Not that she understood, but it was the first desire that came from her heart! The Lord, in answer, revealed Himself to her as the anointed One, and indeed He was the first gift, so that when the time came for the second gift to be given, she was ready to receive it, having believed in Jesus!
We read in John 7:3939(But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) (John 7:39) that this second gift could not be given till Jesus was glorified. He must die and rise again and go up on high before the Holy Spirit could come down and take up His abode in any believer.
It is simple to see in the four gospels the history of the gift of God’s Son.
The anointed One of God was offered to man and rejected by the world. But He was received by His own, and whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have eternal life. This life was given in the power of resurrection after He rose from the dead.
Then in the Acts we read of His exaltation to the right hand of God and of the descent of the Holy Spirit, the second gift of God by which those who had received the gift of God’s Son were united to Christ and to one another. Thus they had the knowledge given them that He was in the Father, and they in Him, and He in them, and that they had been made members of His body. See John 14:2020At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. (John 14:20) and 1 Cor. 12:12-1312For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13For 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 12:12‑13).
Receiving the Holy Spirit
Now I would ask in all love, every soul who professes to have believed in Christ, but who is still trembling and fearing, not knowing whether he is certainly saved or not, Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed? We have seen that He is certainly a distinct person from the Son and a distinct gift. The Son came into this world at the incarnation; the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost! Both, of course, are divine persons existing from eternity!
Perhaps you answer me, I always thought that both gifts were received at once. Well, let us look at one or two scriptures in the Acts and see. In Acts 2:3737Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? (Acts 2:37), we do not see the Holy Spirit given when they first believed that Jesus was the Christ. But they were convicted divinely and said,
Men and brethren, what shall we do?
The Holy Spirit was given after repentance, and after they were baptized unto
His name and received remission of sins.
In Acts 8, Philip preached in Samaria that Jesus was the Christ, and they believed and were baptized. Yet we read in ver. 16 that as yet the Holy Spirit was fallen on none of them, only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus! The Holy Spirit was given when the apostles laid their hands on them.
Acts 9 gives us a remarkable account of Paul’s conversion. He was converted to God through the revelation to him from the glory of His Son, Jesus. From that time he owned Him as his Lord, and yet for three days was without sight and could neither eat nor drink. It was not till
Can you have God dwelling in you and you not know it?
Impossible!
Ananias, a simple Jewish Christian, came and brought back to his mind the name of the person who had spoken to him and had put his hands on him that he received his sight and was filled with the Holy Spirit.
In Acts 10 we have the remarkable account of Cornelius’s conversion, the first Gentile. Here was a man evidently
a devout man, one that feared God with all his house, and yet Peter had to go and tell him words whereby he and all his house should be saved (Acts 11:1414Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved. (Acts 11:14)). Peter went and preached the gospel of the remission of sins through the Christ crucified by men, but raised from the dead by God. Also He was coming to be the judge of the living and the dead, and Peter testified that to Him give all the prophets witness, that through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins.
This testimony of the gospel he received and was sealed with the Holy Spirit (Acts 36-44).
Have you received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?
They had not even heard of Him. He then put before them the fact that the Christ had already come and died and was risen again and glorified. Then they were baptized unto His name and received the Holy Spirit.
Now we find some believers today in a state somewhat similar to some of these cases. They have never heard a full gospel! Many look upon salvation as a promise in the future, and have had no idea of a present Christ as a gift to be received and possessed consciously as their own. So we have to say to them, “Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed?”
“How am I to know?” they say. My friend, if I came into your house, how would you know I was there? Would it not be by my actual presence? And how are you to know that God dwells in you? My answer would be that it is by His actual presence there! Can you have God dwelling in you and you not know it? Impossible!
But you say, “What am I to believe to receive it?” What did they believe on the day of Pentecost? What did Paul believe? What did Cornelius believe? They believed in the testimony of the remission of sins preached to them in the name of a dead, risen and glorified Christ whose name was Jesus, or Jehovah Savior! They believed not merely in His person as the Christ or even as the Son of God, but in the efficacy of His finished work and in God’s acceptance of it and His glory. Immediately when they believed the gospel, they were sealed with the Holy Spirit!
Thus the Holy Spirit is carefully shown in the Acts to be a distinct person, and a gift distinct from that of the Son, generally, if not always, given at a distinct time. That is, first the sinner believed that Jesus was the Anointed, through hearing the word in his soul. Afterwards, on the reception of the gospel, the Holy Spirit sealed him. This we have in Eph. 1:1313In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, (Ephesians 1:13),
In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.
So God is in every way a giver, no longer a requirer as under the law. He gave His Son and He gave the Holy Spirit. What has any poor, needy creature to do but to receive what God has given, to appropriate all to himself and to thank God for it all? Having the Son, we have eternal life and glory, and it is ours by simple faith. Having the Holy Spirit, we are actually, in spirit, heavenly men. Receiving the gospel, we are in Christ. Receiving the Holy Spirit, Christ is in us.
God is in every way a giver.
What has any poor, needy creature to do but to receive what God has given,
to appropriate all to himself and to thank God or it all?
Thus we are not only forgiven and justified from our sins, but we are in Christ and Christ is in us. Having died with Him and risen again with the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, we know our place as sons while we wait for the redemption of our bodies. Glorious news, glorious portion!
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:55-5755O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:55‑57)).
Christian Treasury, August 1995, pp.202-211.