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Round about 1963–64 I became involved in what is known as the Charismatic movement. It was in its fairly early stages and I became accepted as a teacher on the things of the Holy Spirit. I used to go to conferences and seminars and churches to teach about the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I don’t know how many messages I’ve preached on the importance of speaking in tongues, how to receive the Holy Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit. In the end it became somewhat monotonous. Then the Lord seemed to give us a new emphasis and we began to deal with other areas of truth. In these last years we’ve dealt with areas of truth concerning relationships, fellowship, submission and discipleship which, I believe, for sure has been the way the Lord has been leading us in the outworking of His purposes for us.
But, I do believe it’s time again to place a fresh emphasis on the Holy Spirit. Not so much how to receive the Holy Spirit or the importance of speaking in tongues—though those are still very important themes—but rather on our ongoing relationship to the Holy Spirit because if we ever neglect the Holy Spirit, no matter how Orthodox and sincere and active we may be, we will not get the results that God intends us to have. God has shut us up to being totally dependent on the Holy Spirit. One of the great dangers of the Christian life is that we get so clever and so experienced and know the rules so well that we forget we still cannot do anything apart from the Holy Spirit.
This morning I’m going to bring you a teaching message just bringing out the revelation of the New Testament concerning the place of the Holy Spirit in the Christian life. I’d like to begin by saying that I believe in God as revealed in Scripture. God that combines plurality and unity. There are some people that object to the use of the word “trinity” because it doesn’t actually occur in the Bible. So, I tend to use the phrase “the Godhead” which means all that is God. God in His total nature and fullness, that does occur in the Bible.
In the opening verse of the Bible we have the basic paradox of the revelation of God. The English translation says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” In the first few words we have the kernel of all truth concerning the Godhead. The word for “God” in Hebrew, Elohim, is plural, and is used many times in the Bible in the plural form with a plural verb. But, when we come to the verb that follows it, “In the beginning God created,” the verb created is in the singular form. You have to understand that in Hebrew verbs have both the singular and the plural form. So, we have the paradox of the Godhead in the opening verses of the Bible. “In the beginning God [plural] created [singular] the heavens and the earth.”
The rest of the Bible unfolds that and brings us to the full apprehension of the nature of the Godhead. Right at the end of the Bible in the book of Revelation we have, for example, the statement that “the Lord God and the Lamb are the light of the city.” Two persons are mentioned and the verb that goes with them is in the plural.
I personally accept traditional, Orthodox Christian doctrine in that respect. I believe in one God and three persons. Not three Gods, but one God and three persons. The great statement of faith that is still accepted today among the Jewish people, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.” In the Hebrew there are four words in that statement and three of them are in the plural form. Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad. The only word that’s in the singular form is the word one. All the other three forms are plural.
Also in Hebrew there are two words for one. One is echad and the other is ?yaheed?. One means absolute unity, incapable of any plurality. That’s the word ?yaheed?. The word that’s used of God is ?echad?, the word which combines unity and plurality. For instance, it says of the man and the woman “the two shall be one flesh” where the word is ?echad?, a unity formed out of two.
Now that, by way of introduction, to what I want to say—which is that I believe, in a certain sense, there’s a kind of divine jealousy within the Godhead when it comes to blessing the human race. No person of the Godhead is willing to be left out. I hope you can accept that in a rather human form.
I want to look at the five great interventions of God in redemption in succession and show you that in every case all three persons of the Godhead were directly involved. That’s the incarnation, the ministry of Jesus, His death on the cross, His resurrection, and Pentecost. First of all, let’s look at the incarnation. Without turning to specific Scriptures I think it’s correct and Orthodox to say that God the Father by the agency of the Holy Spirit incarnated Christ the Son in the womb of the virgin Mary. So, the Father, the Spirit and the Son were involved directly in the incarnation.
Then for the earthly ministry of Jesus, if we want to turn to a Scripture we could turn to one Scripture in Acts 10:38. Peter is talking to the household of Cornelius and he says:
“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy [Spirit] and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.”
You see again we have the three persons of the Godhead. God the Father anointed the Son with the Spirit. The result was the ministry of healing and deliverance. That always blesses me because I see the whole Godhead involved in undoing the work of Satan and restoring the human race.
Then we come to the death of Christ on the cross and I’d like you to turn to Hebrews 9:14, just one verse:
“How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
Again, we see all three persons of the Godhead: Jesus the Son through the Holy Spirit offered Himself as the sacrifice for our sins to God the Father. The Son through the Spirit offered Himself to the Father. I believe it’s important that we understand what Jesus did on the cross He could do only by the Holy Spirit. I remember the second time I ever went to a gospel service in a Pentecostal church. At the end of the message I raised my hand and the preacher came to talk to me afterwards and I had absolutely no understanding of what he had been talking about or what was expected of me. He asked me two very pertinent questions. The first one was, “Do you believe you’re a sinner?” I had just spent 7 years at Cambridge University and the theme of my fellowship dissertation was to do with definitions. So, my natural reaction was to quickly go over in my mind all the definitions of a sinner. When I’d done that, every one of them fitted me exactly. So, I said, “Yes, I believe I’m a sinner.” Then he said, “Do you believe that Christ died for your sins?” I thought it over and I remember answering this. “To tell you the truth, I can’t see what the death of Jesus Christ 19 centuries ago could possibly have to do with the sins that I’ve committed in my lifetime.” Really, we left the matter there because he couldn’t answer that one, and I didn’t know what he was talking about. I wasn’t sure that I really wanted to know.
But, that is a real question, isn’t it? How can the death of Jesus Christ 19 centuries ago have anything to do with the sins that you and I have committed in our lifetime? I mean, it was a genuine, intellectual problem. I was not just raising it for the sake of escaping the issue; I didn’t understand it.
A good many years later when I read in this verse that Jesus “through the eternal Spirit” offered Himself to God, my mind fastened on that word “eternal.” Which means “that which is out of time,” that which is not subject to the limitations of time. I saw that through the eternal Spirit in a realm that transcends time and history, Jesus in that one sacrifice comprehended the guilt and the sin of all men in all races and all ages past, present and future. It was settled once for all there on the cross through the Holy Spirit.
Then we look for a moment at the resurrection, the next great intervention of God. I’d like you to turn to two passages in Romans. Romans 1:4 where it says of Jesus:
“[He was] declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead...”
It’s rather interesting there that Paul uses the phrase “the spirit of holiness.” I think there’s no doubt that he was writing in Greek but he was thinking in Hebrew. Those of you that happen to know Hebrew, the Hebrew word for the Holy Spirit is ?ruach acodesh?, “Spirit of holiness.” They never say anywhere in the Old Testament “the Holy Spirit.” Why? I’m not sure. But I think one reason is that in Hebrew the word for spirit is feminine in gender, grammatically. I think they wanted to avoid putting a feminine adjective with it. So, by using two nouns that’s obviated. Spirit of holiness.
At any rate, whatever may be the reason, in that phrase you have the Hebrew phrase for the Holy Spirit. So, the revelation is that it was by the power of the Holy Spirit that God raised Jesus from the dead. If you want to look in Romans 6:4 you find:
“Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father...”
“The glory of the Father” is the Holy Spirit. So, you have: the Father by the Holy Spirit raised the Son. Again, all three persons of the Godhead are directly involved in the resurrection.
Frequently evangelical theology has more or less stopped at the cross and the resurrection. I want to show you this morning out of the Scripture that that is not the stopping place. The cross is central to the whole redemptive purpose of God but it is not the terminus. We totally miss the real thrust and emphasis of the gospel and of the teaching of Jesus Himself if we’re content to stop at the resurrection. The culmination of the redemptive purpose of God was at Pentecost. The cross and the resurrection were necessary to make Pentecost possible but the aim all the way through from the message of John that prepared the way for Jesus—he said, “This is he who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.” That revelation is contained in all four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
In John we’re also told that Jesus is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” That’s not stated in the other gospels. I don’t mean that it’s unimportant, but I do mean it’s not the ultimate. The ultimate is “the baptizer in the Holy Spirit.” Everything that Jesus did He did in order to become legally, by divine right and authority, the baptizer in the Holy Spirit.
If we look at Pentecost and turn to Acts 2:32–33 we see the emphasis. This is the close of Peter’s address on the Day of Pentecost. He has directed the multitude to the story of Jesus. He has spoken about His crucifixion and His burial and then He says in verse 32:
“This Jesus hath God raised up [from the dead, resurrected], whereof we all are witnesses.”
They were the witnesses of the resurrection. But, it does not stop there. Verse 33 goes on to His exaltation at the Father’s right hand and the purpose for that.
“Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy [Spirit], he hath shed forth [poured out] this, which ye now see and hear.”
Notice, Pentecost was an activity of all three persons: Jesus the Son having fulfilled the conditions of redemption, received His throne gift from the Father; the Holy Spirit, with the unspeakable privilege of pouring out the Spirit upon His waiting disciples. So, the Son received from the Father the Spirit and poured out the Spirit on the disciples.
We have the five great interventions of God.
Incarnation, the Father through His Spirit incarnated the Son.
Ministry, the Father anointed the Son with the Spirit and the result was the ministry of healing and deliverance.
Calvary, Jesus through the Holy Spirit, the eternal Spirit, offered Himself to the Father the sacrifice for sin.
Resurrection, the Father by the Spirit raised the Son from the dead.
And Pentecost, the Son received the Spirit from the Father and poured out the Spirit upon His disciples.
And, when we look at the ongoing relationship of God to His people in this age again there is a direct involvement of all three persons: the Father, the Son and the Spirit. Turn to Ephesians 2 beginning at verse 18.
“For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.”
“We both” is Jews and Gentiles. Through Him, Jesus Christ the Son; by the Holy Spirit, we have access to the Father. Through the Son by the Spirit to the Father.
Notice that the end purpose of God is not that we stop at the Son but that we come to the Father. That’s another major error of evangelical emphasis. We’ve placed all the emphasis on Jesus Christ and often acted as though the Father hardly existed. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by me.” If Jesus is the way, it must lead somewhere. A way that leads nowhere is no way. Where does the way lead? To the Father. The ultimate purpose of divine revelation is to bring us to know and to have access to the Father. In my opinion, that’s the supreme revelation that Jesus came to bring. For many of us, for many years we’ve paid very little heed to that revelation.
We do not please the Son by focusing on Him because His aim is to bring us to the Father. But notice that we only have access by the Holy Spirit. It’s not just a question of doctrine or using certain forms of prayer or certain phrases. You can have all the right phrases and all the right forms but if you don’t have the Holy Spirit you have no access to the Father. So often we’ve tended to assume that the Holy Spirit was there and just said our prayers. I tell you, the Holy Spirit is not willing to be assumed, He’s God. We have to treat Him as God and recognize Him and rely upon Him. Otherwise we have no real access; we’re just going through religious activity.
Then we come to the next verse which is beautiful.
“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners [you’re not outcasts], but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of the family of God.”
See? The ultimate purpose of God is to build a family. You can’t have a family without a father. When we come to the Father then we know we belong in the family. Jesus said—and we’ll look at it a little later on in John—“I won’t leave you like orphans. I won’t leave you like people who have no father. I’ll see to it that you’re provided for.”
Then we go on to the end of that chapter, chapter 2, and we notice the other what I could call the return route. We, through the Son, by the Spirit, have access to the Father. But likewise, the Father by the Spirit in the Son relates to us. It says in verse 22:
“In whom [in Jesus Christ] ye also are builded together for an habitation [or a dwelling place] of God through the Spirit.”
How does God indwell us? Through the Spirit on the basis of our being related to Him by the Son. But, without the Holy Spirit there’s no indwelling; there’s just doctrine, theology. Both for our relationship to God and God’s relationship to us, we are totally dependent on the Holy Spirit.
Now, let’s look at some of the statements that Jesus made near the close of His ministry when He was preparing His disciples for His going away and for the coming of the Holy Spirit. First of all, let’s look at Luke 24:46.
“And he said unto them, Thus it is written [in the Scripture], and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things.”
That’s not the end. Then He says:
“Behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye [wait] in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.”
He says, “My purpose will not be complete until you have received the Holy Spirit,” which He calls “the promise of the Father.” I don’t think we’ve dwelt sufficiently on the meaning of that phrase “the promise of the Father.” Somebody has counted there are seven thousand promises of God in the Bible. Out of all the promises of God this is called “the promise of the Father.” It’s the promise, it’s the preeminent promise, it’s the supreme promise, it’s the culminating promise. It’s the promise of the Father. It’s the promise that makes God’s fatherhood real and effective in our lives. Without this promise we may be legally children of God, but experientially we live like orphans.
If you want to turn to Acts 1:4 Jesus used the same phrase there. It may be the same conversation, we don’t really know.
“And, 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.”
Now let us go back and look at what He had told them in the closing chapters of John’s gospel where they had heard already about the promise of the Father. I want to look at two passages. The first is in John 14:15–18. I think you’re aware that I use the King James Version but I amplify it and edit it and so on.
“If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
There’s another possible text reading which says:
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”
Either is a command or a statement. Each is equally true. And, on that basis of your “keeping the commandments”:
“I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter...”
It’s a remarkable thing about the relationship between the persons of the Godhead that Jesus had to ask the Father. I’ve heard people say, “If God wants to give me the Holy Spirit, I don’t need to ask.” My comment on that is if Jesus had to ask the Father, it won’t do you any harm to ask either.” It’s a very remarkable thing. Though there was perfect harmony between the Father and the Son in the Godhead Jesus still had to ask the Father to send the Holy Spirit. He said:
“... and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; even 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. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”
Let’s look at those words for a moment. Jesus said, “I will ask the Father and he will give you another Comforter.” What is the meaning of the word another? What is implied by that? There are two Greek words for other. One means other in kind, the other means other in number. It’s the second word that’s used here. It’s other in number, but similar in kind. One divine person was leaving and in His place another divine person was coming. It’s an exchange of persons. “I’m going; in My place another person will come to take My place as a person.” That’s the emphasis.
“The world cannot receive him because it does not know him.” You already know him, but there’s going to be a new relationship with him in which he will actually dwell in you. “And he may abide with you forever,” Jesus said. That’s important, too, because Jesus was leaving His disciples after He’d been with them just three and a half brief years. They were grief stricken. He said, “I’ve only been with you a little while, but I’m going away and if I go away another person will come and He’ll never leave you. He’ll be with you forever.”
Then he says in verse 18, “I will not leave you comfortless.” The Greek word is “orphans.” I won’t leave you like orphans without a Father, without anyone to care for them and teach them and provide for them. In the person of the Holy Spirit all your family needs will be met. You’ll be members of the family.
Then He said, “I will come to you.” In John 14 Jesus says, “I will come,” twice. I think we need to look at each place. In verse 3 He says:
“If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”
“I will come and receive you.” I believe that clearly refers to what we usually call the second coming, the personal return of Jesus to receive His prepared people for Himself.
But, when He says in verse 18, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” I don’t believe that’s the second coming. That’s His return in the person of the Holy Spirit. So, it’s through the Holy Spirit that Jesus comes to us as we are now in this present age awaiting His second coming in person.
You see, the emphasis all the way there is on the fact that the Holy Spirit is to come as a person. We need to understand that.
Now, let’s look in John 16:6–15.
“But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.”
He had told them He was leaving and they were perplexed and distraught, they just couldn’t imagine how any good could come out of that. It seemed to them the ultimate disaster. Verse 7: Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away [it’s in your best interest that I go]: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
I think that verse, more clearly than any other, demonstrates there’s to be an exchange of persons. “I’m going to go away as a person,” Jesus says. “When I’ve left I will send you the other Comforter, the other person, the Holy Spirit.” He says, “If I don’t go, He won’t come.” I don’t claim to understand all the arrangements of God, but it seems as though only one person of the Godhead could actually be resident on earth at one time. Jesus says, “If you want the Holy Spirit to come, you’ve got to let Me go because if I don’t go He won’t come.”
Then He said, “You’ll be better off with Me in heaven and the Holy Spirit on earth than you are with Me on earth and the Holy Spirit in heaven.” I think the subsequent record of the New Testament demonstrates that fact. While Jesus was with the disciples on earth in person they understood remarkably little about Him or His purpose. But, when He went and the Holy Spirit came, instantly there was a flood of illumination. Peter could never have preached that sermon on the Day of Pentecost one moment before the Holy Spirit came. Suddenly he was flooded with understanding. And yet, he’d been remarkably slow to appreciate the whole purpose of the death of Jesus and the promises of the coming of the Spirit.
So, understand. Many people say, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we lived in the days of the disciples with Jesus actually present with us walking by our side on earth?” I’m not saying that there wouldn’t be much that’s wonderful about that. But, Jesus says, “You’re better off now with Me in heaven and the Holy Spirit on earth than you would be if I came back to earth and the Holy Spirit went back to heaven.” See how He emphasizes the importance and the necessity of the coming of the Holy Spirit as a person.
Then He goes on to say in verse 8 and following:
“When he is come...”
And here, and in various other places, the rules of Greek grammar are broken because the word for spirit in Greek is a neuter word but the pronoun “he” is in the masculine form. So, there’s a deliberate breaking of the laws of grammar to emphasize the fact that the Holy Spirit is a person. Not just an “it” but a “he.”
I would like to say this. I believe the Holy Spirit is both “it” and “he.” This is a mystery. We don’t have anything in our natural experience which combines both personality and impersonality in the one. But, I have a theory that everything that’s in the universe has its origin in the nature and being of God. There’s nothing in the universe that doesn’t somehow relate to what’s in God eternally. And, in the universe we have both the impersonal and the personal. We have “it”—things, and we have “he’s” and “she’s”—persons. I believe that corresponds to the nature of the Godhead that in the Godhead there is both personality and impersonality. There are many pictures of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament which are distinctly impersonal, where it’s appropriate to use the word “it.” He’s pictured as fire, water, wind, rain, dew, oil. All those things are “it”s. That’s not a mistake. The Holy Spirit is an “it,” but He’s also a “he.” That’s one of the great revelations of Scripture.
But, coming back now to this, verse 8 of John 16.
“When he [the Holy Spirit, has] come, he will reprove [or convince, convict] the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment...”
Bear in mind those are the three eternal realities on which all true religion is based. Sin, righteousness and judgment. Whenever the Holy Spirit comes on the scene and gets our attention, we’re reminded of three things: sin, righteousness, and judgment. We need to live in the light of those three facts. Sin is a fact, righteousness is a fact, and judgment is a fact. Judgment is going to be based on sin and righteousness.
Going on to verse 12, Jesus says:
I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come [notice again we have the he], he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. Anything that can hear and speak is automatically personal. It’s a sufficient mark of personality to be able to hear and speak.
“He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.”
That’s most important. Notice that the Holy Spirit is the Administrator of the total inheritance of the Father and the Son. What belongs to the Father belongs to the Son but it’s the Holy Spirit that makes it ours. And again we see that without the Holy Spirit we can be heirs of the King and live like beggars because we don’t have the only means of access to the riches of the Father and the Son.
Let me just deal with a few successive thoughts. I want to suggest to you some main purposes for which the Holy Spirit came. I want to emphasize these are not all the purposes. I want to mention three briefly. The first one is to complete the ministry of Christ. This is very important. Jesus left His earthly ministry incomplete and He was very specific about that. Let’s look at just two passages quickly. John 14:26.
“But the Comforter, which is the Holy [Spirit], whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”
If you look at verse 25 above it He says:
“These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.”
“That’s what I’ve told you now, but there’s a lot more to come. And when the Holy Spirit comes, He’ll complete the job. He’ll do two things. He’ll remind you accurately of all that I’ve already said.” So, we do not depend merely upon human memory for the record of the New Testament. And, “He’ll lead you into all the truth that I was not able to lead you into.”
In John 16:12–13, we’ve looked at them but we’ll look at them again.
“I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.”
How important it is we don’t tell people more than they can bear. That’s been one of my big mistakes. I wanted to give everybody everything all at once. How patient and how wise Jesus was that He didn’t take the disciples beyond their ability to follow Him at any point. Then He goes on to say:
“Howbeit when he, Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth...”
He said, “I know I’ve left My teaching ministry incomplete. You haven’t heard and you haven’t learned all you need. But, I can’t give you any more. But, when the Holy Spirit comes, He’ll finish the job off.” Again you see how incomplete we will be if we don’t receive the Holy Spirit.
To me, that’s also a pattern of our relationship with one another. In the relationship that we could call discipleship. I believe we have to recognize when we disciple others, there’s a limit to what we can teach them. The Holy Spirit has to finish the job. Again, one of our big mistakes is trying to do it all ourselves.
Another thing that blesses me with the relationship of Jesus to His disciples is not strictly relevant to this. It’s that He said about those who followed Him, He said, “The works that I do shall he do also, and greater works than these shall he do.” I think that’s a test of motive. How many of us will be happy if our disciples excel us and do greater works than we can do? I know that’s been a test in my life at times. I thank God I think I’ve won the test. I think I can say sincerely this morning I’m happy if anybody that’s ever learned from me is ten times as successful as I am. I will rejoice. But, that’s not natural and you will notice that preachers that operate in the natural are very jealous of their success and very reluctant to pass their secrets on to others.
The second purpose for which the Holy Spirit came, I believe, was to form the corporate body of Christ, the entire body. Just as the Holy Spirit formed the actual physical body of Jesus in the womb of Mary so I believe He’s back here on earth to form the corporate body of Christ. I think the forming of Christ’s corporate body depends as much on the Holy Spirit as did the forming of the body of Jesus in the womb of Mary. I think the one is just as much supernatural as the other. I do not believe any program or any system can ever produce the body of Christ any more than it could have produced the miracle of Jesus in the womb of Mary.
The third purpose for which the Holy Spirit came was to prepare the bride of Christ. I believe in recent years we’ve had very little emphasis on that. I suggest that at the close of the age there’s going to be a much greater emphasis on preparing the bride for the bridegroom. And, it will be the ministry of the Holy Spirit to do it.
The next thing I want to touch on is the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps I haven’t made it sufficiently clear that as I see it, right now the Holy Spirit is the resident person of the Godhead here on earth. The Father is in heaven, the Son is in heaven but the Spirit resides on earth. He’s the resident representative personal member of the Godhead here on earth right now. Very few Christians, I think, have that clearly in their mind. Where does He reside, what’s His dwelling place? The Scripture reveals two that are, in a sense, one. They’re both revealed in 1 Corinthians, 1 Corinthians 3:16–17. Paul is rebuking the Corinthians at this point rather severely for their ignorance or their unawareness.
“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God...”
The Greek word is naos, and it’s a word that means specifically “the dwelling place of a god.” It’s not used really of other kinds of persons.
“You are the [dwelling place] of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”
Which person of the Godhead dwells in us? The Spirit. Then he goes on to say:
“If any man defile the temple of God [that’s the corporate temple], him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.”
So, the first dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, the first temple, is the corporate body of Christ. It’s plural. “Ye are the dwelling place of the Spirit.”
In connection with that, Paul says something very, very serious. He says, “If anybody defiles that temple, God will destroy him.” I’ve always had a sincere desire to avoid two things: ever harming a church or a family. I would never want to have to answer to God for either of those two acts. I believe we should take it very seriously, the person who harms, defiles, damages the church, God will destroy. That’s the collective body.
Then in 1 Corinthians 6:19–20 we have what I call the individual temple. This is not inconsistent, they go together.
“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy [Spirit] which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”
You see, to be redeemed means “to be bought back.” If you’ve been redeemed you’ve been bought, and if you’ve been bought, you don’t belong to yourself. If you belong to yourself you’re not redeemed. You cannot have it both ways.
“For ye are bought ...”
You see, that’s Paul’s point.
“For ye are bought with a price [What’s the price? The precious blood of Jesus Christ.]: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
So, what is the temple of the Holy Spirit there? Our physical body. To me that is as breathtaking a revelation as there is anywhere in Scripture—that God Himself in person has ordained and desired to dwell in my physical body. That makes the gospel totally different from any other kind of religion or revelation I’ve ever come across. It’s breathtaking. Again, I think the majority of Christians don’t fully appreciate it. Jesus said in John 7:
If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, ... out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (This he spake of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: ...) I remember as a boy sitting in the Anglican church in England where the lessons were regularly read and every time they read that lesson and I heard the word “belly,” I thought, “That’s really not very nice to talk about the belly in church.” When I received the Holy Spirit do you know what I discovered? It started in my belly. That’s as sure as anything. I felt it there and I thought, “What’s coming next?” Do you know what came next? I spoke in tongues. I had no conception of any connection between what happened in my belly and speaking in tongues.
The word that Jesus uses there for belly is a word that means “a hollow place.” It’s directly related in Greek to the word for “heaven.” So, the concave of heaven and the concave that’s in our body are, in a certain sense, related. I do believe there is a specific area of the physical body which is set apart for the residence of the Holy Spirit. You can put your hand on it, it’s there. You know, you can feel it.
Generally speaking, when we read the word “heart” in classical literature—and many times in the New Testament—we do not need to think of the physical organ that pumps the blood. That isn’t what it’s talking about. All classical literature recognize that there was an area somewhere inside man which was decisive in his whole life. When Solomon said, “Keep thy heart with all diligence,” though the heart is very important, that’s not what he’s talking about. He says, “Out of it are the issues of life.” Everything that’s in your life comes out of that area of you. When that area is filled and taken over by the Holy Spirit your life will go right. When it’s under any other control you’re going to have problems.
It’s very interesting that Paul, when he speaks about the collective temple of the church he says, “If any man defiles that, God will destroy him.” Then he speaks about the individual temple of the physical body but he doesn’t say, “If anybody defiles that God will destroy him,” because there would be a lot of destroyed Christians. Many, many Christians defile the temple of the body in many ways by misuse and abuse. If you had, let me say, even a Mercedes Benz or a Rolls Royce, you would take a lot of care of that car. A Rolls Royce costs about $32,000 today, a Mercedes Benz costs about $17,000 or $18,000. Why? Because they’re expensive, very intricate, very delicate, very wonderful piece of mechanism. But in your body you have something you couldn’t buy for a million dollars. Do you know that there are about three million working parts in the human eye alone? How do we treat our bodies? Far less carefully than we treat a Rolls Royce—most of us.
God is merciful, He doesn’t say, if you defile your body, He’ll destroy you. But, in a certain sense, you’re destroying yourself. Christians need to give many times more care to the treatment of their body than most of them are doing. It matters what you eat. Not to make you holy, not as a set of religious laws but because you need a healthy body.
In 1962 when I returned from the mission field in East Africa the Lord spoke very personally to me. I can’t go into details but He challenged me. He said, “Are you satisfied with where you are, or do you want to go forward?” In my ignorance and pride I didn’t really know if there was anything beyond where I was! So I took a little while to think that over, and then I told God I was ready with my answer and if there was anything further I was willing to go further. That was one of the decisive moments of my life. If I hadn’t said that, I don’t know where I’d be today. The Lord answered me very practically and said, “There are two conditions if you want to go forward. First of all, all progress in the Christian life is by faith. Unless you go forward in faith you cannot go forward. Secondly, if you are to fulfill the ministry which I have for you, you need a strong, healthy body. And, you’re putting on too much weight.” I thank God He told me that. I thank God I gave heed to it. If you want to know how much I weigh, I weigh just a little over 170 pounds. And that’s plenty. I check my weight carefully. I’ll certainly have to say God’s prediction proved correct. When I was in South Africa, sometimes I would have one meeting for ministers which would last two or three hours and a teaching/healing ministry which sometimes lasted nearly five hours. Then I would have to get up early the next morning and fly to another city and go all through that again. For two whole weeks or more I fought a very heavy cold. You want to try preaching when you’re coughing at people all the time, it’s unpleasant. But, I had enough stamina, enough physical reserve, to go through that without missing just one meeting—just one meeting I missed.
The condition of your body matters. Your body is sacred, because it’s the dwelling place of God in the person of the Holy Spirit. That’s where He’s ordained to dwell. “Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?” If you really would meditate on that, I believe it would change some of the things you’re doing.
I heard about a Jewish businessman who was probably an atheist. But, he was a smart man. He was talking to another businessman once about the food he ate. He patted his stomach and said, “Nothing but the best is good enough for this.” That’s pretty sensible. Why fill it with trash? When I see people downing soft drink after soft drink, I wince. I better not say any more.
There’s just a couple more things I want to say before I close this morning. I want to emphasize and reemphasize our total dependence on the Holy Spirit. He didn’t come as a visitor, He didn’t come as an inspector, He didn’t come as a foreman; He came as Lord to dwell in us and walk in us. We often confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and it’s glorious to do that. But, remember the Scripture says the Lord is that Spirit. The Holy Spirit is every bit as much Lord as Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is Lord over the church; the Holy Spirit is Lord in the church. But, it’s no good saying that Jesus Christ is Lord over the church if we don’t acknowledge the lordship of the Holy Spirit in the church, because everything Jesus does in the church He does by the Holy Spirit.
Let’s look at that for a moment. In Romans 1:4 we saw that it was the Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. Then in Romans 6:4 we saw that the Holy Spirit is called “the glory of the Father.” Let’s look at that verse again for a moment.
“Therefore we are buried with him [Jesus Christ] by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
I want you to see that Jesus was totally dependent upon the Father and the Spirit for His resurrection from the dead. He did not resurrect Himself. He trusted the Father to do it at the appointed hour. If the Father had not resurrected Jesus, He would have remained dead. That’s an amazing fact. It’s a picture of total dependence on God’s faithfulness and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Then it says, “like as Christ was raised from the dead, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” What does that mean? It means that we have to be as totally dependent for our new life in Christ upon the faithfulness of the Father and the power of the Spirit as Jesus was for the resurrection. There is no other way to lead that new life but in total dependence on the Holy Spirit. Every day, every hour and every moment. We cannot do it without.
Another interesting fact in Acts 1:2. Jesus was not temporarily dependent and thereafter independent.
Acts 1:2 says about the day in which Jesus was taken up, in which He ascended:
“... After that he through the Holy [Spirit] had given commandments unto [his] apostles whom he had chosen: ...”
I always wondered why it said that Jesus gave commandments through the Holy Spirit to His apostles. It seemed to be almost unnecessary. But, I came to see that, from the moment Jesus was resurrected by the power of the Holy Spirit, He was forever dependent on the Holy Spirit. He never did anything apart from the Holy Spirit. And, He never does anything apart from the Holy Spirit. Everything that Jesus has done ever since and ever does in the church He does by the Holy Spirit. If we resist the Holy Spirit, we cannot have the activity of Christ in our lives.
Then we look again in Romans 8:14–15 for a moment.
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”
The verb “are led” there, is in the continuous present form. As many as are being continually led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. It’s a continuing activity, the leading of the Holy Spirit. That alone marks us out as sons of God. By the new birth we become the sons of God but by the leading of the Holy Spirit we live like the sons of God. Many people who are born again do not live like children of God because they are not being led by the Holy Spirit. The only way to live like a child of God is to be led by the Holy Spirit.
“Then Paul says in the next verse: For ye have not received the spirit of [slavery] again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.“
Paul says there are only really two possible relationships. You can be a son or you can be a slave. The Spirit came to make you a son and to give you the cry, Abba, Father. But, if you don’t live like a son by the leading of the Holy Spirit, you’re going to go back to living like a slave under fear. Really, that’s true. There are just two options. Live like a son or live like a slave. Many Christians who should be sons are really living like slaves. The only thing that can make our sonship effectual is the Holy Spirit.
Then I want to look in Galatians for a few moments. I just want to point out to you the problem of the Galatian church because I think it’s very relevant to what can happen to us. Look in Galatians 3 for a moment beginning at the first verse.
“O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?”
Notice Spirit-baptized Christians can be bewitched. That’s a fact. I took over a church as pastor once. The congregation was bewitched. They were bewitched by the wife of the previous pastor. I won’t go into details, but it’s a fact. My wife and I were together and it was one of the toughest assignments we ever had. I never knew how to deal with it till I read that verse, “Who has bewitched you?” I saw whatever your opinions may be, it’s possible for Spirit-baptized Christians to become bewitched.
They became bewitched by a false teaching which did away with the continual dependence on the Holy Spirit and put them back under the law. That was a kind of witchcraft. Paul uses the word bewitched. Then he says, “All I want to know is, did you receive the Holy Spirit by keeping the law or by the hearing of faith?” The answer is they didn’t have to get circumcised or observe the Sabbath or the Passover to receive the Holy Spirit. They received the Holy Spirit through believing. Then he says, “Having begun in the Holy Spirit are you now going back to the law to be made perfect?” How foolish can you be? And yet, there are multitudes of Christians. I wouldn’t attempt to give a numerical estimate but I could believe that fifty percent of professing Christians today are somehow involved in the Galatian Error—having begun in the Spirit they’re now trying to make themselves perfect by rules and regulations and systems and methods. Notice what Paul says in Galatians 5:4.
“Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.”
Those are very solemn words. I don’t believe Paul meant that they were eternally lost. I think what he meant was, as far as their daily lives were concerned they were no longer living in the grace of God. Christ was of no benefit to them any longer. Why? Because they’d gone back from reliance on the Spirit to reliance on a legal system. I don’t know, but I would venture to say as I’ve already suggested that it could be at least fifty percent of professing Christians have that problem.
Galatians reminds us of the example of Abraham. When Paul wants to talk about the difference between the works of the law and the hearings of faith—the flesh and the Spirit—he goes back to the household of Abraham for his example. He chooses Ishmael as an example of the flesh and the works of the law and Isaac as an example of the Spirit and the result of faith. So, just to close this message I want to take you back for a moment and find out three facts about Abraham that are brought out in the Scripture. There hardly is a more important character in the Old Testament than Abraham. He’s called “the father of all them that believe.” Spiritually he’s our father, to all of us. He’s the pattern of faith. He was a man who was called “the friend of God.” And yet, he made some amazing mistakes. Isn’t it good to know you can be a friend of God even if you make some mistakes?
I think the thing that made him a friend of God was that really his heart was after God and God’s promises. When you look at some of the people that God blessed in the Old Testament—how about some of the people that God blesses in the church today?—you have to wonder. You say, “God, why did You bless Jacob?” I’ve come to this conclusion. The thing God blesses is not so much our moral or virtuous character, though that’s important. It’s having a determination to receive the promise of God. I think that’s more important ultimately than most of the things religious people focus on. If you look at those people, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the other men that God blessed, they have one thing in common— they were not going to settle for less than God had promised.
What was the big mistake of Esau? Just eating a bowl of soup. What’s wrong with that? Nothing wrong with soup, it’s very healthy. What was the problem? He settled for less than the promise. Never do that. Make your mistakes, go through your problems, but never settle for less than God offers. God will see you through. You’ll make mistakes, you’ll have problems, you may fail, but as long as you have that objective God will take responsibility for you. God was not ashamed to be called their God. That’s a moving thought. In fact, He said when Moses asked Him, He said, “I’m the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. That is My name and that is My memorial to all generations. I never want to be known in any other way but as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Why? Because they were such virtuous characters? No. Because they cared about what God had to offer. Never sell your birthright. Never settle for a little mess of porridge. I’m not talking about immorality, there’s no immorality in eating porridge. It’s just settling for less than God has. For my part, I’m never going to do it.
Now let’s look at Abraham very briefly and we’ll close. The reason tears came to my eyes is simply because I think of the faithfulness of God. Every time I think of the faithfulness of God it melts my heart. I want to point out three facts about Abraham. The first is a little unusual, people don’t dwell on it. I think sometimes we need to dwell a little more on it. He was very slow to realize that his inheritance depended as much on Sarah as it did on himself. When you study Abraham’s behavior in relation to his wife, you need grace to take it. Twice he was willing to let her go into a Gentile monarch’s harem to save his own skin. Each time God got him out. It’s an amazing story. God threatened both those Gentile monarchs with death if they didn’t let Sarah go. They’d done no wrong. Abraham was the one who’d done wrong. God used those Gentile monarchs to bless Abraham financially. Each one of them sent him away rich. That’s amazing.
But, the truth of the matter is, until Abraham gave Sarah her right place in his life he couldn’t achieve the inheritance. I think that’s a lesson a lot of men need to learn today. Probably most of you wouldn’t let your wife go into a Gentile harem, but you may not appreciate and value your wife in the way that will enable God to give you your inheritance. Peter says that man and wife are “heirs together” of the grace of life. And that phrase “heirs together” means neither can inherit separately. Let’s ponder on Abraham’s mistake and, if we made it, let’s repent.
Secondly—and this is where Ishmael is typical of what I would call legalism—he was the result of the very best that Abraham and Sarah could achieve by their own planning, their own method and their own power. There was nothing immoral in the way Ishmael was born, it was perfectly legitimate in those days. But, it left God out. They could do it all without God. I want to tell you anything you can do without God is not worth doing. You’re going to regret it. If ever there’s a lesson in Scripture and history it is, Don’t beget an Ishmael because Abraham’s descendants today, their main problem is the descendants of Ishmael. Four thousand years that mistake has gone on.
You know, God forgives us, but He doesn’t always set us free from the consequences of what we’ve done. “God, You’ve forgiven me. Why do I have to go on suffering?” God says, “I’ve forgiven you, but you’ve got to learn something. You’ll remember this lesson.”
The third fact, and this I close with but it’s really interesting—at least to me because I’m interested in languages. Before the child that God wanted them to have could come along both Abraham and Sarah had to have a change of name. We always dwell on the change of Abraham’s name but remember that Sarah had to have a change of name, too. Their original names were Abram and Sarai. In each name a new letter was inserted, the same letter in each. The letter H. The H is the breath letter. You cannot say H without breathing. So, it’s a little parable. What God is saying is you can’t have your inheritance until you let me put the breath letter in your name. Abram becomes Abraham, Sarai becomes Sarah. When they received the breath, they could have the child. What is God telling us? Apart from the Holy Spirit you’ll never achieve your inheritance. Amen.