Growth In The Knowledge Of The Spirit (Chap. 8).
In the following extract from Dr Saphir's Christ Cruet fied: Lectures on 1 Corinthians ii., the thought is put very distinctly, that as a rule the believer in the first stage of the Christian life hardly knows that he owes his faith and the power of the Christian life to the direct working of t he Holy Spirit. As a consequence of this ignorance there very often comes a time of darkness, with the very view of wakening him up to seek for the reason of his failure, and the power of restoration and abiding growth. The discovery of the work and indwelling of the Third Person, the Holy Spirit, is what he needs, to see how all that is in Christ can in very deed be his in continuous experience. I am sure that clear teaching in regard to this advance in the knowledge of the Christian, and the proclamation to the very feeblest of God's children that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is their privilege and their strength, is just what is needed in the Church in our day, and cannot fail of bringing light and blessing to many.
'We read that the Apostle Paul found disciples in Ephesus, whom he asked, "Have ye received the Holy Ghost since you believed?" And their reply was, "We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost." As the Lord Jesus said to Philip, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me 1" so may the Holy Ghost say to some truf and sincere believers, "Have I been so long with you, revealing unto you the truth as it is in Jesus, working in you faith, shedding abroad in your hearts N God's love, comforting you in your sorrow for sin, helping your infirmities in prayer, opening to your understanding wonders out of God's word, ami yet have you nut known me?" This ignorance arises, td some extent, from the fact that the Spirit testifies not of Himself, bet of the Father and the Son. It is His to glorify Christ. As when in the dark night a bright light is concentrated on «me point, the light-bearer himself remains uu,een: so the blessed Spirit, unperceived by the awakened sinner, causes all light to fall on the crucified Saviour and the loving Father. The soul exclaims: How great
is the love of God! How marvellous is the grace of Jesus! He who has kindled the light, who has opened the eyes of the heart, who has renewed the soul, is as yet unknown and unobserved. John the Baptist compared himself with the friend of the bridegroom, who standeth and rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice. In like manner does the Spirit direct the soul to Christ, and fills the heart with joy in believing Jesus, while as yet He does not reveal His own love and work.
'Another reason why the young believer knows little of the Spirit is because the Holy Gliost is so gentle. His approach is so soft, His adaptation to our peculiarities of character so perfect, His influences so deep and penetrating, that we think our own reason, imagination, will, conscience, have been acting of their own accord and with perfect spontaneity.
'How little do we know that the Holy Ghost has been influencing every faculty, every emotion, every mental process; so noiselessly, so quietly, so lovingly, so inwardly has the great Spirit been working, preparing, and chiselling', and fitting every stone of the building— thus at the building of Solomon's temple no sound was heard. With perfect knowledge and with infinite love the Holy Ghost deals with our spirits, and when the creative fiat goes forth, it is mostly as the still small voice which came to Elijah after the earthquake and the tempest and the fire.
'Yet the believer knows that he has experienced Divine grace and power. God has revealed to him Christ. God has created him anew. It is a super, natural influence of which he is conscious; and as it is unique, so it brings with it the assurance cf its truth. There is a testimony within his heart that the true light now shineth. "I know whom I believe." Now, we ourselves know. Yet "the reason why we ourselves know is that our knowledge is not of ourselves but of God." Hereby we know that we know Him, by the Spirit He hath given to us. And this light is sweet. There is a blessedness in this knowledge of the Father and the Son, a peace and joy which satisfy the heart and fill the immortal soul, so that there is perfect rest. Whence is this] Because the Holy Ghost, who is God, has revealed to us the things which are freely given us of God, because by the Spirit we call the Father Abba, and Jesus, Lord.
'As the believer progresses, and his path becomes more complicated, he is taught more about the Spirit, for he needs this doctrine increasingly for his comfort and growth. His faith is not so strong and unwavering as he imagined; the ardour of his love soon vanishes; the power of sin, which at first he fancied was utterly broken, makes itself felt again; prayer becomes languid, and joy seems to have taken flight. In other words, God leads him into the valley, and lest he should make a Christ of his faith, and a well-spring of a cistern, he is taught something of himself. Who does not know of this second stage in the Christian life, at first so painful, so humiliating, and filling the soul with perplexity? It is thus that we learn that the Spirit wlio has renewed our hearts must also sustain the new life; that we depend entirely on Divine grace and power, not merely to bring us to Christ, but to keep us in Him.
'Thus, as in all God's dealings, there is progress in ever-increasing, widening, and deepening cycles. The believer experiences again in a more enlarged and profound manner what he was taught at his first conversion. He sees now more clearly the guilt and helplessness of man, our utter dependence on a Father to love us, on a Saviour to save us by the shedding of His blood, and on a Divine Spirit to quicken and enlighten the soul, and fill it with the love of God. He feels now with deeper humility and truer joy that salvation is of God, that Divine grace lays the foundation and performs the good work in us until the day of Christ. Then he beholds the gift and the indwelling of the Holy Ghost. Thus was it that the first disciples, after a season of childlike peace and joy in the presence and companionship of Jesus, lost the Suviour; and with Him the garden of the soul, trees and flowers and songa of birds, vanished, and all was winter, cold, silent, and dead. And then He returned unto them never to leave them; and, on the day of Pemecost, He, in the person of the Comforter, descended and made all things new; and it was summer, full of fragrance and brightness. They had to lose Jesus for a while, to long for the Spirit, and to rejoice in His coming.
'The gift of the Holy Ghost is the most precious gift of that love which the Father has towards us for the sake of His dear Son, and because we love Him, and believe that He came from God. It is the gift in which the purposes of God towards us are fulfilled and consummated.
'The Messiah and the Spirit always go together; and the gift of the Spirit is the great purpose of the Messiah's coming and the first-fruits of His work ' (pp. 116-123).
'I shall never forget the gain to conscious faith and peace which, in my own experience, came not at, but after, a first decisive and appropriating view of the Crucified One as the sinner's sacrifice of peace—came from a clearer and more intelligent hold upon the personality of that Spirit through whose mercy the soul had seen that blessed view. It was a new development of insight into the love of God; a new contact with the inner ami eternal movements of redeeming mercy; a new discovery of Divine resources. Gratitude and love and adoration found a new, a newly-realized reason, and spring, and rest. He who had awakened, who had regenerated, shone before, the soul with the smile of a personal and eternal kindness and friendship, standing side by side in union unspeakable, yet not in confusion, with Him who had suffered and redeemed, and with Him who had given His Son, who had laid the eternal plan of grace, and willed its all-merciful success.'—Rev. H. C. G. Moule.