The Holy Ghost: No. 2

Acts 2:33  •  12 min. read  •  grade level: 8
What an infinitely blessed work must Jesus have accomplished so that the Holy Ghost could come down from heaven, and act and dwell here, in a way He had never done before, as the other Comforter!
We are told that in order to His thus coming, Jesus must be first "glorified." Then those who believed on Him would receive the Holy Spirit; "for the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified." The coming of the Holy Ghost then is the witness of two things: first, of the eternal efficacy of the blood of His cross, and secondly, of the Son of man being glorified. As to the former, the Holy Ghost is a witness to us by the word of God saying "Their sins and iniquities I will remember no more;" and, concerning the latter, His presence here proves that He who is at the right hand of God received the promise of the Father, and shed it forth at the time appointed—Pentecost. It was then the Holy Ghost came. He was sent down from heaven. Christ having suffered for our sins, risen out of death and gone into heaven as Man, the Holy Ghost could come down and indwell those who had been washed from their sins in the Savior's blood. (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); Acts 2:3333Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. (Acts 2:33).)
Prior to this there were true believers who had been born again, had their sins forgiven, were children of God, to whom Jesus could say, " My Father and your Father, My God and your God," and they also had risen life breathed into them by the risen Savior; but they were not sealed, not anointed, not in liberty, and not members of the body of Christ. The contrast is strikingly seen between the state of these saints in the first of Acts, and their state a few days after in the second of Acts. What an amazing change the gift of the Holy Ghost produced! And when you consider who the Holy Ghost is, is it surprising that it should be so?
It is not only that the Son of God has come, but that the Holy Ghost has come. But when the Son came, He took flesh, and was found here in fashion as a man. Not so, however, the Holy Ghost. He did not take flesh; He is not seen and known as Jesus was, and this is why the unconverted know nothing of Him—" Whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." (John 14:1717Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. (John 14:17).) But the importance of the Holy Spirit being here, and given of God to all them that obey Him, can scarcely be over-estimated. This is why, after the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, you do not find in scripture such an idea as the Lords people praying for the Spirit. Such a thought as " Come Holy Spirit, Heavenly dove," has no place there; because He has come. Before He came it was right enough to pray for the Spirit, for our Lord had said, " how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him יי (Luke 11:1313If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? (Luke 11:13)); and He commanded His disciples to tarry in Jerusalem until they were " endued with power from on high;" they were to wait for the promise of the Father. That the Spirit when He came taught them to cry " Come, Lord Jesus," in the consciousness of having redemption in Christ and through His blood, and the earnest of the Spirit, is quite true; but for such to be praying for the Spirit, after He had come, would surely be subversive of the foundation principles of Christianity. Hence the uncertainty and confusion of mind of many believers in our days.
But what was the coming of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost? Was it the coming of a divine Person, or of an emanation from God, or of a measure of the Spirit, or of an influence, or what? Scripture, as we have seen, speaks of Him as a Person, having personal qualities and personal actings. Some of His sovereign actings we have already noticed. But though the Holy Ghost be a divine Person, yet He is not the Son, for the Son took flesh and died for us, and the Holy Ghost did neither. Nor is He the Father, for He was "the promise of the Father," and was sent by the Father, as Jesus said, " whom the Father will send in my name." And yet He is a Person.
The personal qualities and actings of the Holy Ghost are largely set forth in scripture. He is described as speaking, leading, guiding, teaching, bearing witness, showing, searching, interceding, appointing to office, abiding with us forever, and yet, as we have seen, this holy Person is divine. Hence, too, there is that on earth, which is God's habitation through the Spirit—" the house of God."
The gift of the Holy Ghost, then, is not merely an influence, though He does influence, not an emanation from God, though He was sent by the Father and the Son; for Jesus said, " whom the Father will send," and " whom I will send;" but He is a Person who carries out His will, "dividing to every man severally as he will," and though not the Father, nor the Son, yet One in the mysteriously divine essence of One God—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. It was He who spake by the mouth of His holy prophets, which have been since the world began. It was He who " moved upon the face of the waters " before it was said; "Let there be light, and there was light." It was the same Spirit which strove with men before the flood. It was the same Spirit of God who filled and qualified Bezaleel with wisdom and understanding to make those things for the tabernacle which were types and shadows of Jesus. It was the same Spirit by which the holy scriptures were given by inspiration of God, so that the writers could say, " Thus saith the Lord/' " The word of the Lord came," " The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue;" for holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. It was the same Holy Ghost who came upon Mary when it pleased God to send His Son into the world born of a woman. It was the same Spirit who spake of Christ by Mary, Elizabeth, Zechariah, Simeon, and Anna. It was the same Spirit which John saw descending like a dove and remaining on the sacred, spotless Person of Jesus when He was baptized. It is of Him, too, it is said, u How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost: who went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him." It was by the same eternal Spirit that He offered Himself without spot to God; and when He was raised from among the dead, we are told that He was " quickened by the Spirit." Again, we are told, that after His resurrection and going in and out among His disciples, it was through the Holy Ghost He gave commandments unto the apostles whom He had chosen: and bade them wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father, for they should be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. And when He, as Man, was glorified at the right hand of God, He received the Holy Ghost and gave to His waiting saints on earth. " Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear." (Acts 2:3333Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. (Acts 2:33).) Then the Holy Ghost came, He was "sent down from heaven; " and, blessed be God, here He is still, and will abide with us forever.
It was not a measure of the Spirit, but the Person of the Holy Spirit. We read that " He giveth not the Spirit by measure." (John 3:3434For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. (John 3:34).) The idea is entirely subversive of the great truth of God the Holy Ghost being in us and with us. A moment's consideration of the thoughtful Christian is sufficient to make this clear. Then was the baptism of the Holy Ghost, for we read u By one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles." (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).) It was the formation of " one body " on earth, of which Christ is the Head in heaven. Wondrous work! Who but a divine Person could be sufficient to unite all believers on earth to Christ the Head in heaven, and to one another in " one body "? It was done by the coming of the Holy Ghost. Precious mystery of divine grace, and power, and wisdom! If, then, it be so, that the Holy Ghost Himself is here, and in us, and we have seen that He giveth not the Spirit by measure, how could we ask for a further measure of the Spirit? Impossible that an intelligent God-fearing soul could do so! And if the scripture teaching of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is the formation on earth of all believers into one body, how could we ask for a fresh baptism of the Spirit? Could the " one body" be formed by " one Spiritיי over and over again? Far be the thought! Could we, then, we ask with all solemnity, be approaching God with reverence and godly fear to express such a desire? This was the Pentecostal blessing, and when the body was formed by the baptism of the Holy Ghost, we know what wonderful power accompanied the gospel testimony, so that thousands were converted in one day.
Yes, the Holy Ghost is here on earth, and, blessed be God, those who have believed on the Son of God and received remission of sins, are indwelt by Him. We are sealed, anointed, have an unction of the Holy One, and the earnest of our inheritance, and all this until when? Let us not fail to mark " until the redemption of the purchased possessionיי—"until the day of redemption," when we shall bodily enter into heavenly glory. Yes, to abide with us forever, as Jesus said, u I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever: the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him, for he dwelleth with you and shall be in you." (John 14:16, 1716And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. (John 14:16‑17).)
We must be careful not to confound the work of the Spirit in us when we were brought as sinners to a Savior—born anew—and received eternal life, with the gift of the Holy Ghost, the other Comforter to take up His abode in us. They are two distinct lines of scripture teaching. That a man must be born again to " see " or " enter into the kingdom of God," was clearly laid down by our Lord Himself. But when such have been born again, and have remission of sins, then the Holy Ghost is sent into our hearts. In Ephesians it is, " After that ye believed ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise; " and in Galatians it is said, " Because ye are sons [sons first] God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying Abba Father." Thus we see the Spirit is given to believers, to children of God, not to• sinners in their sins, but to those who have remission of sins—" to them that obey him."
The promise of the gift of the Spirit formed a prominent point in the preaching of the apostles. On the day of Pentecost, Peter's reply to those Jews who were awakened with a deep sense of their guilt was, " 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 Ghost." (Acts h. 38.1 Again, at Caesarea? when Peter addressed quickened Gentiles who were told by an angel that they would hear words of Peter whereby they would be saved, we can understand that the moment God's way of peace was proclaimed they would receive it. And so it was. Looking with intense interest at the apostle for the very words which would give them salvation, the moment he spoke of remission of sins the Holy Ghost was given to them, and they all spake with tongues, so that Peter's preaching was stopped. But it is important to see that in both these instances the gift of the Holy Ghost was connected with remission of sins; and Christ at the. right hand of God, who had been crucified, was presented to the hearers as the Object of faith.
As has often been remarked, the twofold testimony of the Baptist was that Jesus was " the Lamb of God" and the One which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost." This John knew Him to be by the Spirit descending and remaining on him." The Son was thus declared to be so spotless and pure that the Father could seal Him as man; the Holy Spirit could remain on Him and anoint Him in virtue of His own intrinsic excellencies. Not so us. Before the Spirit could seal and anoint us, we needed to be washed from our sins in the blood of Christ. Now dwelling in us, He makes us know that we are children of God, that we are in Christ and Christ in us, and the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts.
Η. H, S.