THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST.
®f|e Spirit tijrougfj tfattfi.
'Christ hath redeemed us from the curse, that upon Ox Gentiles might come the blessing of Abraham in Christ Jesus; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.''— Gal. iii. 13, 14.
THE word faith is used the first time in Scripture in connection with Abraham,. Hia highest praise, the secret of his strength for obedience, and what made him so pleasing to God, was that he believed God; and so he became the father of all them that believe, and the great example of the blessing which the Divine favour bestows, and the path in which it comes. Just as God proved Himself to Abraham the God who quickens the dead, He does to us too, in fuller measure, in giving us the Spirit of His own Divine life to dwell in us. And just as this quickening power came to Abraham through faith, so the blessing of Abraham, as now made manifest in Christ, even the promise of the Spirit, is made ours by faith. All the lessons of Abraham's life centre in this: 'We receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.' If we want to know whit the faith is through which the Spirit is received, how that faith comes and grows, we must study what God has taught us of it in Abraham's story.
In Abraham's life we see what faith is: the spiritual sense by which man recognises and accepts the revelation of his God, a spiritual sense called forth and awakened by that revelation. It was because God had chosen Abraham, and determined to reveal Himself, that Abraham became a man of faith. Each new revelation was an act of the Divine Will; it is the Divine Will, and the revelation in which it carries out its purpose, that is the cause and the life of faith. The more distinct , the revelation or contact with God, the deeper is faith stirred in the soul. Paul speaks of 'trust in the Living God:' it is only as the Living One, in the quickening power of the Divine Life, draws nigh and touches the soul, that living faith will be called forth. Faith is not an independent act, by which in our own strength we take what God says. Nor is it an entirely passive state, in which we only suffer God to do to us what He will. But it is that receptivity of soul in which, as God comes near, and as His living Power speaks to us and touches us, we yield ourselves and accept His word and His working.
It is thus very evident that faith has two things to deal with: the Presence and the Word of tha Lord. It is only the Living Presence that makes the Living Word, so that it comes not in word only but in power. It is on this account that there is so much reading and preaching of the word that bears so little fruit; so much straining and praying for faith, with so little result. Men deal with the word more than with the Living God. Faith has very truly been denned as 'Taking God at His word.' With many this has only meant, Taking the word as God's; they did not see the force of the thought, Taking God at His word. A key or a door handle has no value until I use it for the lock and the door I want to open; it is alone in direct and living contact with God Himself that the word will open the heart to believe. Faith takes God at His word; it can only do this when and as He gives Himself. I may have in God's book all His precious promises most clear and full; I may have learnt perfectly to understand how I have but to trust the promise to have it fulfilled, and yet utterly fail to find the longed-for blessing. The faith that enters on the inheritance is the attitude of soul whidh waits for God Himself, first to speak His word to me, and then to do the thing He hath spoken. Faith is fellowship with God; faith is surrender to'God; the impression made by His drawing nigh, the possession He takes of the soul by His word, holding and preparing it for His work. When once it has been awakened, it watches for every appearing of the Divine Will; it listens for and accepts «very indication, of the Divine Presence; it looks for and expects the fulfilment of every.Divine 'Promise
Such was the faith through which Abraham inherited the promises. Such is the faith by which the blessing of Abraham: i comes upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, and by which we thus receive the promise of the Spirit. In all our study of the work oft the Hely Spirit, and' of' the way in which He comes, from His first sealing us; to His full* indwelling and streaming forth; let us hold fast'this word: 'We receive' the promise of the Spirit by faith;' Whether the believer be striving for,the full consciousness that the Spirit dwells within; for a deeper assuranoe of His shedding abroad'of God's love in: the heart, for a larger growth of all His fruits, fbr the clearer experience of'iHis guiding into all!truth, or for the indUement of power to labour and. i to bless, let? him remember that the law of faith, on which'the whole economy of grace is grounded, herd demands its fullest application: 'According to your faitbj.be it unto you.' 'We receive the promise of the Spirit by faith.' Let us seek for Abraham's blessing in Abraham's faith. ,
Let, in this matter, our«faithi (begin where his began: in meeting God and waiting on God. 'The Lord appeared unto Abraham. . . . And Abraham fell on his, face: and God talked Withhim/ Let'us-lbok up to our God and Father as the Living God, who is Himself, i by: His Omnipotent* Quickening Power, tojdO'thia'Wonderful thingi for us: to fill"u8'with His Holy Spirit. The blessing He has for us is the same He gave to Abraham, but only larger, fuller, more wonderful. To Abraham, both when his own body was now as dead, and later on, wheu his son was already bound on the altar, the prey of death, He came as the Life - giving God. 'He believed God, who quickeneth the dead.' 'He offered up Isaac, accounting God able to raise him up.' To us He comes, offering to fill spirit, soul, and body with the power of a Divine life, through the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. Let us be like Abraham. 'Looking at the promise of God, he wavered not through unbelief, but waxed strong through faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what He had promised, He was "able also to perform.' Let us have our souls filled with the faith of Him who has promised, our hearts fixed on Him who is able to perform: it is faith in God opens the heart for God, and prepares to submit to and receive His Divine working. God waits on us to fill us with His Spirit: oh, let us wait on Him. It is God must do it all with a Divine doing, most mighty and most blessed: let us wait on Him. To read and think, to long and pray, to consecrate ourselves and grasp the promise, to hold fast the blessed truth that the Spirit dwells within us; all this is good in its place, but does not bring the blessing. The one thing needful is, to have the heart filled with faith in the Living God; in that faith to abide in living contact with Him, in that faith to wait and worship before His Holy Presence. In such fellowship with God, the Holy Spirit fills the heart.
When we have taken up this position, let us keep in it; we are then in the right state for the Spirit, in such measure as He already has had access to us, further revealing what God has prepared for us.1 As we then think of some special manifestation of the Spirit, of which the conviction of need has been wrought, or go to the promises of the word to be led into all the Will of God concerning the life of the Spirit in us, we shall be kept in that humbling sense of dependence out of which childlike trust is most surely begotten. We shall be preserved from that life of strain and effort which has so often led to failure, because in the very attempt to serve God in the Spirit we were having or seeking confidence in the flesh, in something we felt, or did, or wished to do. The deep undertone of our life, in listening to the word or asking God to listen to us, in silent meditation or public worship, in work for God or daily business, will be the assurance that overtowers every other certainty: 'How much more will the Heavenly Father give,' has He given, and will He always be giving, 'the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him.'
Such a faith will not be without its trials.
Isaac, the God-given, faith-accepted life of Isaac,
had to be given up to death, that it might be
received back in resurrection-type, as life from the dead. The , God-given experience of the Spirit's working many a time passes away, and leaves the soul apparently dull and ,dead. This is only until the double lesson has been fully learnt; that a living faith can, rejoice in a Living God, eyen when all feeling and experience appear to contradict the promise; and that the Divine life only enters as the life of the flesh is given to the death. The life of Christ is revealed as His death works in us, and as in weakness and nothingness we look to Him. We receive the promise of the Spirit through; faith. As faith grows larger and broader, the receiving of the promised Spirit will be fuller. and : deeper. Each new revelation of God to Abraham made his faith stronger and his acquaintance with God more intimate., When his God drew near, he knew what to expect; he knew to trust Him even in the most unlikely appearances, when asking the death of his son. It is the faith that waits every day on the Living God to reveal Himself; the faith that in ever-increasing tenderness of ear and readiness of service yields fully to Hini and His Presence; the faith that knows that only :as He wills to reveal Himself can the blessing come, but that because He always does love to reveal Himself, it will surely come;—this faith receives the promise of the Spirit. It was in God's Presence that this , faith was wakened and strengthened in Abraham and the saints of old. It was in .Jesus'"Presence on earth that unbelief was casti; out,,and that little faith became strong. It was in the Presence of th« Glorified One that faith received the blessing of Pentecost. The Throne of God is now opened to us in Christ; it is become the Throne of God and the Lamb: as we tarry in humble worship, and walk in loving service before the Throne, the river of the water of life that flows from under it will flow into us, and through us, and out of us. 'He that believeth, rivers of water shall flow out of him.'
1 S«.' .u tniVingth' Spirit, JnleO,
Ever-blessed God! who dost in Thy Divine Love and Power reveal Thyself to each of Thy children as far as he 'can possibly bear it, increase Within us, we pray Thee, the faith through which alone we can know or receive Thee. Whether Thou comest as the Almighty, or the Redeeming, or the Indwelling God, it is ever faith Thou seekest, and according to faith we receive. O Father! convince us deeply that we have just as much of the Spirit as we have of faith.
Our Holy God! we know that it is Thy Presence wakens and works the faith in the soul that yields to Thee. Draw us mightily, we pray Thee, yea, irresistibly into Thy Holy Presence, and keep us waiting there. Oh, deliver us from the terrible fascination of world and flesh, that Thy Divine Glory may be our all-absorbing desire, and our whole heart emptied to receive the Holy Spirit's revelation of Christ within. We desire to take Thy words, and let them dwell richly in us. We desire in stillness of soul to be silent unto God and wait for Him; to trust and believe that the Father hath given us His Spirit within us, and is in secret) working to reveal His Son. O God! we do livetho life of faith; we do believe in the Holy Spiiiti Amen.
1. Faith ls the one thing that pleases God. in all worship and wM fjic& is acveptable to God in Christ Jesus, it is faith that reveives the teriitAO^ that we are well-pleasing to Him. And why? Because faith gve? wr? cf self, gives God alone the glory, only looks to God's Son, and is reveptive of God's Spirit. Faith is not merely the positive conviction that God'* word or promise is true: this confidenve there may be, even in the power o'f the flesh. Faith is the spiritual organ of the soul, through which it waits on the Living God, listens to Him, takes His words from Himself, has communion with Him. lt is as this habit of soul is cultivated, as the whole life we live is by faith, that the Spirit can enter freely and flow fully. 'He that believeth, rivers shall flow out of him.'
2. 'The Spirit is called (1 Pet. l. 21) the incorruptible seed, because He is east into the soul with the Word, as its prolific virtue: the Word is the seed materially, but the Spirit is the seed virtually.'—Goodwin.
3. You long for the power cf the Holy Spirit to keep you ever looking to Jesus, to reveal Jesus as ever present as a Saviour from sin—'only believe.' Begin each day with a quiet act of meditation and faith. in quiet selfcollectedness turn inward, not to see the work the Holy Spirit dves, but to yield your spirit to Him who dwells there in secret. Say in deep humility: l have within me, small and hidden, the Seed of the Kingdom, the Seed of the Eternal Life. l have found the Seed of the Living Word, the Seed of God, within me. l know now where it dwells. Bow before God in fear ind trembling, because He worketh in you, and let faith take time before Him to become confident and fully conscious: l have the Holy Spirit within me this day.
4. 'His seed abideth in him, and he cannot sin.' Go out into daily life in the strength of the faith that the Holy Spirit dwells within, and that the Father will grant that He works effectually to keep you from sinning. Pause frequently, in holy self-recollection, to let the Spirit remind you that you are God's Holy Temple. And say with holy trembling: l bear within me the Living Seed of the Life of God.
6. As individual believers enter into this life of faith and walk in it, then will be power to pray for the Spirit coming from above in power on ail flesh.