The Holy Spirit and the Bride

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In Revelation 22:17 we read these words:

“The Spirit and the bride say, Come.”

Without turning to that text particularly, I want to speak to you tonight about the Spirit and the bride—the relationship between the Holy Spirit and the bride of Jesus Christ, the church. Let me give you just a few Scriptures in opening from the Gospel of John, the 14th chapter beginning at verse 15, John chapter 14 beginning at verse 15, Jesus is talking to His disciples. It’s His last lengthy discourse with them before He is led away to the cross, and He says:

“If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: buy ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”

Jesus is explaining here that He is about to leave His disciples, and they feel that they will be left as orphans without anybody to care for them, bereft, lonely and hopeless. He says, “No, that’s not how it will be. I will go, but in My place I will ask the Father and He will send you another Comforter.” Both those words are important. Another, why does Jesus say another? Because He, as a person, was about to leave and when He had left He explained in His place would come another person. That’s why He says another.

The word that’s translated Comforter in Greek is parakletos. You’ll find, I think, the Catholic versions, the older ones, use the word paraklete. But of course that not really a translation, that’s just writing the words over from Greek to English. The word paraklete means literally “someone called in alongside.” The same word is used in the first epistle of John chapter 2 and verse 1 where the apostle John writes:

“These things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any many sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous...”

The word that’s translated advocate in 1 John 2:1 is the same word that’s translated Comforter in John 14 verse 16. Advocate is much closer, really, to explaining the correct meaning, an advocate is somebody who is called in alongside to help you, to plead your cause, to give you his expert knowledge and to enable you to come out victorious in your trial. In fact, of course, in modern English the word that we think about is attorney. An attorney is an expert. One who’s studied the law, one who comes to you to make sure that you get the rights that are yours, to assert your legal rights on your behalf.

Now, as Christians, we are blessed with two advocates. We have Jesus Christ in heaven, our Advocate with the Father, but on earth we have the Holy Spirit, our advocate called in alongside to help us, to plead our cause, to make sure that we are not cheated out of our legal rights. You see, there’s a kind of battle for an inheritance. Jesus died and by His death He made a New Testament, a new will. Then He rose again from the dead and became the mediator or the administrator of that New Testament. But in order to make sure that we get all that is ours through His death and through the Testament, He sent us heaven’s best lawyer to be at our side and to make sure that that crooked lawyer, that deceiver, the Devil, doesn’t cheat us out of anything that’s our right through the Testament, to make sure that we obtain the whole inheritance. So Jesus says, and we’ll read the verses again now:

“I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another [advocate] [another person called in alongside], that he may abide with your forever...”

Jesus said, “I’ve been with you just three and a half years. I’m leaving you. You’re very distressed but don’t worry. Another one is coming in My place and when He comes He’ll never leave you. He’ll be with you forever.” And then He explains who this other advocate is:

“Even the Spirit of truth [which is one of the titles of the Holy Spirit]; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him...”

The Holy Spirit is not the advocate of the world. He’s only the advocate of the believer.

“... but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless...”

Where the King James says comfortless, the Greek says orphans: I will not leave you behind as orphans without anybody to care for you, to instruct you, to provide for you. The Holy Spirit is coming to do all that for you. Then in the same chapter, a little further on, in John chapter 14 verses 25 and 26, Jesus says to His disciples:

“These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter [the advocate, who] 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.”

Jesus said, “My teaching job is not complete, but it’s not possible for Me to complete it now. You’re not able to receive any more, but when I go I’ll send the Advocate, the Comforter, and He’ll do two things. He’ll teach you all things, all that I have not taught you, and He’ll bring to your remembrance all that I have taught you, so that you don’t forget or lose anything of what I’ve said.” So we could say in virtue of those verses that the Holy Spirit has come to be our teacher and to be our remembrancer, the one who reminds us.

Now in the 16th chapter of John, Jesus comes back to the same thing. In John 16 beginning at verse 5 through verse 7, He says:

“But now I go my way to him that sent me [that’s the Father]; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.”

They were totally desolate. They felt the world had come to an end. All the things they had built their hopes on were crumbling before their eyes. Jesus was leaving them. What could they do? Jesus goes on in verse 7:

Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away [it is in your best interest that I go away]: for if I go not away, the Comforter [the Advocate] will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. You see how very clearly there Jesus points out there’s to be an exchange of persons? In personal presence He was to leave to go back to the Father. But after He’d gone back to the Father then He was to send another person who would take over. And Jesus said, “You’ll be better off with Me in heaven and the Holy Spirit on earth, than you were with Me on earth and the Holy Spirit in heaven.”

Many Christians say, “If only I’d lived in the days when Jesus was on earth, then I would really have understood.” But that’s not true. Because you consider the experience of the apostles and the disciples while Jesus was on earth, they understood very little. They were remarkably blind, remarkably slow to believe, they really didn’t get His message. They didn’t understand what He was doing. But the moment that the Holy Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost they were completely changed. Immediately they could stand up and quote passages from the Old Testament, and unfold God’s plan of salvation and His purpose for the close of the age. All this happened only after Jesus had left and the Comforter, the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, had come in His place. So Jesus says, “I’m telling you, you may regret it, you may feel sorry about. But it’s in your best interest, because if I don’t go the Advocate will not come. But if I go then I will send Him to you and you’ll be better off with that arrangement. You’ll understand Me better. You’ll receive more from Me when I’m in heaven and the Spirit is on earth, than right now when I’m physically present with you, but the Spirit is not in you and with you to enable you to receive what I have.”

And then He goes on again in the same 16th chapter of John in verse 12 through verse 15, and I’ll read those and comment briefly. John chapter 16, verse 12, Jesus says:

“I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.”

They could not take any more. They were more or less mentally and emotional paralyzed. They were incapable of receiving any more.

“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all the truth...”

There’s a deliberate breaking of grammar in the Greek text because the word Spirit in gender is neuter—that is to say, the pronoun that should go with it grammatically is it. But Jesus breaks the one that gives us this version of His words, breaks the rules of grammar and says he instead of it, emphasizing that the Holy Spirit is a person.

“... when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all [the] truth...”

The word guide doesn’t really fully bring out the meaning. It means “he will show you the way into all the truth, he will lead you along the way that leads to the 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.”

The Holy Spirit does not talk about Himself. There is no more modest, self-effacing person that the Holy Spirit. When He comes He does not attract attention to Himself. His whole purpose is to lead us into the truth and to reveal and glorify Jesus. So Jesus goes on to say in verse 14:

“He [the Holy Spirit] shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it [or unfold] unto you.”

And then Jesus in turn is equally modest. He says, “I don’t lay claim to anything on My own. When I say ‘Mine,’ I mean what the Father has because what the Father has is Mine. I don’t have anything of My own, but all that the Father has is Mine.” You see the modesty of the Godhead? It really is a tremendous lesson for us. The Holy Spirit doesn’t come to boast about the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes to glorify and reveal Jesus. When Jesus talks He doesn’t talk about all that He has. He says, “I don’t have anything of Myself. But all that the Father has is Mine.”

Let’s read that again.

“He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall [unfold] it to you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.”

Now we could say here, we could add two other words to describe the Holy Spirit—He’s the Revelator and he’s the Administrator. He reveals Jesus in His glory, in His fullness, and then He takes the things that are Jesus’, the inheritance, and administers it to us. So if we are to receive our inheritance we must receive it through God’s appointed Administrator, the Executor, who is the Holy Spirit.

Now the essence of what I’m saying to you is very practical, and it’s this. If you’re a child of God, you’re an heir of God and a joint-heir with Jesus Christ. Jesus’ will and testament has bequeathed to you the entire inheritance. But in order to make sure that you really received your inheritance and that you’re not cheated out of it and left hopeless in this legal battle, Jesus has sent you heaven’s best lawyer, the Holy Spirit. There’s no better lawyer than the Holy Spirit. You’ll never find one. And He is not merely the interpreter but He’s the administrator. So everything you’re going to get from Jesus comes from the Father, first of all, because everything that Jesus has is the Father’s. So everything you’re going to get from the Father and the Son comes to you revealed and administered by the Holy Spirit.

Now I’m firmly convinced that this is one main reason why so many Christians who should be living like the children of a King, are living like orphans. Because Jesus said, “If you don’t get to know the Holy Spirit, if you don’t give Him His rightful place, if you don’t listen to Him, if you don’t allow Him to reveal and interpret and administer that which is Mine, you’ll be living like orphans.” And why are so many of God’s people in such desperate need—sick, afflicted, demon-tormented? Why? Because they’ve never made friends with the Lawyer. They don’t spend enough time in His office. They don’t listen to Him as He unfolds the inheritance and says, “This is yours, and this is yours, and this yours.” They don’t walk with Him as He leads them on the way that brings them into the truth and into their inheritance. In other words, if you want all that the Father and the Son have for you, you’re going to get it by the Spirit. And if you don’t get acquainted with the Spirit and take time with the Spirit, and listen to the Sprit, and open up to the Spirit you’ll go on living like an orphan, because you’re not availing yourself of heaven’s provision.

Let me show you one other passage which says the same thing and that’s in 1 Corinthians chapter 2, 1 Corinthians chapter 2, beginning at verse 9 and reading through verse 13. First Corinthians chapter 2 beginning at verse 9 reading through verse 13. I’ll read these verses and comment on them as I read. In essence, these verses are saying the same as Jesus said. Jesus was looking forward to what the Holy Spirit would do. Paul is looking back to what the Holy Spirit has done, so they meet at that point. Verse 9:

“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”

All right. Sense knowledge does not reveal our inheritance. You can’t see it with your natural eye, you can’t hear it with your natural ear, and it hasn’t entered into the heart of man. All your processes of imagination and reasoning will not discover for you the things that God has prepared—notice they’re already prepared—for them that love Him. So what? How can we know? The next verse tells us:

“But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit [the Revelator]: for the Spirit [capital S, the Holy Spirit] searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.”

Even the depths of God’s wisdom and knowledge and grace and love and power and peace are available to us through the Holy Spirit—the deep things of God. And then Paul goes on to say:

“For what man knoweth the things of man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.”

The Spirit of God is the only Revelator and the only Administrator of the things of God. There is no other way that you can come to know them. Verse 12:

“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God [the Holy Spirit. Why have we received the Holy Spirit? The second part of the verse tells us:]; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.”

When you get into the third area of the tabernacle, the realm of the Spirit, you don’t have theories, you don’t have doctrine, you don’t have theology, you have knowledge. The Holy Spirit gives direct knowledge. You don’t think, you don’t hope, you don’t wish, you don’t theorize, you know. Now we have received the Spirit which is of God that we might know. Then the King James says, “the things that have been freely given to us of God.” The word freely is an attempt to render the word that means grace. The things which God’s grace has made available to us. Notice that everything we ever need has already been made available. The entire inheritance is legally ours by God’s grace, but we don’t know it. We’re far from it. It’s remote, it’s alien, it’s unreal, until the Holy Spirit reveals it to us. So we have received the Spirit, which is of God, that we might know all the things that have been given to us by the grace of God through Jesus Christ. And amongst those things, my dear brothers and sisters, is healing and health. But if we don’t receive the revelation of the Holy Spirit we will not enter into our inheritance. In simple language, get friendly with the Holy Spirit.

Some people criticize us as Charismatics and say we spend too much talking about the Holy Spirit. We ought to talk about Jesus. But that’s not a valid criticism. Because we press upon people the importance of the Holy Spirit; He’s the only one that can reveal Jesus. So it’s not that the Holy Spirit is the end in Himself, but He is the Revelator. He is the Administrator, He’s the one that imparts to us the things that belong to the Father and the Son.

Now I’m going to take a little time to illustrate this from one of the most beautiful stories of the Old Testament which is found in the 24th chapter of the book of Genesis. It won’t be exactly necessary for you to follow me unless you wish to, but I’m going to turn to this chapter—chapter 24 of Genesis which is a very long chapter. It contains—how many verses—sixty-seven verses. Now I’m not going to read the whole chapter. Just going to give you an outline of the thought and then I’m going to pick out a few verses to emphasize the point.

Historically, this chapter relates the story of how Abraham obtained the bride for his son Isaac. Abraham and Isaac were residents in the Land of Promise, in the inheritance. But Abraham was determined that his son Isaac, who was the heir of everything, would never marry one of those Canaanite women. He was to marry somebody from the old stock, back in the homeland, in Mesopotamia where Abraham had come from. This, of course, is very typical of the Oriental attitude about finding a bride for your son. So Abraham called his senior servant and placed a very solemn oath upon him. That he would go back to Mesopotamia and find a bride for Isaac.

Now the story in itself is beautiful. I’m sure many of you have read it and probably heard it in Sunday school. But apart from it being a beautiful historical story, it is also a very, very beautiful parable of the very things that I’ve been talking to you about. And it’s as a parable that I want to interpret it to you tonight. And the parable is very, very simple in its basic application.

There are four main persons in the story: Abraham, the father, who was a type or a picture of God the Father; Isaac the only begotten son, who is a type of Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of the Father; the chosen bride, whose name was Rebekah, who is a type of the church. We’ve got theologians here tonight; now there’s one other, in fact the main character in the story is nameless—he’s just called The Servant. Whom does he represent? The Holy Spirit. And can you see again the modesty of the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is the author of Scripture. So He presents Abraham the father, Isaac the son, Rebekah the bride, by name. And all He calls Himself all the way through is The Servant. But He takes the part of the Holy Spirit. And in order to appreciate the story you have to study the activity of The Servant. And I’m just going to point out to you certain things, all of which relate to the principles that I’ve been seeking to unfold to you about the Holy Spirit as Administrator of our inheritance.

Just picking out the verses—chapter 24 verse 2:

“And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had...”

You notice that? The servant administered the entire wealth of Abraham (the father) and Isaac (the son). And that’s true of the Holy Spirit. He rules over all that the Father and the Son have. It’s all under the control and administration of the Holy Spirit. Unless you come to the Holy Spirit, you don’t get any because He controls it all.

So off goes The Servant having taken the oath and in verse 10 we read this. If only I can make it live to you tonight it is so vivid. Verse 10:

“And the servant took ten camels of the camels of his master, for all the goods of his master were in his hand...”

You notice again, the emphasis everything that Abraham owned was under the control of The Servant. And, bless God, he took ten camels. You know a camel carries a lot. In Arabic the word for the camel’s load is a cantah (?). And when we lived in Palestine in 1946, 7 and 8, my wife had a stove that burned wood. And she was always complaining that I was always putting wood into it. And we’d got the wood from the camel, so we were dependent upon the camel. And the camels had bells around their necks which were quite distinctive. So when we’d hear the sound of a camel’s bell out in the street, the children would come running in and say, “Mama, Mama, the camels.” And we’d go out and by a cantah of wood off the camel’s back for me to shovel into the stove.

So you picture these ten camels with their bells and this big, big load setting off for Mesopotamia. Now let’s go a little further—verses 12 through 14. When The Servant arrived there, he said in prayer to God, he said, “I want to know which is going to be the right girl.” And he said, “I’ll give you the way that I’m going to pick the right girl out.” So in verses 12 through 14:

“And he said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham. Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water [from the well]: and let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master.”

Now he chose a specific sign. He was going to wait until one of the young women that went out to draw water came, and he was going to ask her for water. Now in the East and desert countries she was absolutely under a social obligation to lower her pitcher off her shoulder and give him water. But he wanted more than that. He wanted a girl of a really generous, responsive, willing spirit. So he said, “I want the one that’s chosen for Isaac that’s going to be a real blessing to him in his home, not merely to give water to me, but spontaneously to give water to my ten camels. That’s going to be the mark.”

This is very significant because remember Rebekah is a picture of the bride, the church. So in verses 17 through 20 we read how Rebekah turned up. She was seen coming along and she was very beautiful.

“And the servant ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher. And she said, Drink, my lord: and she hasted [everything Rebekah did she hasted], and let down her pitcher upon her hand [she took it down off her shoulder onto her hand], and gave him drink. And now comes the most critical moment in Rebekah’s life. This is what settled her destiny.”

And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking. And she hasted [notice that], and emptied her pitcher into the trough, and ran again unto the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels.

Now you can read that without appreciating all that’s involved. But they say, and I’m not vouching for the absolute accuracy, they say that when a camel has gone a long way through desert country and its water supply is used up, it will drink as much as forty gallons of water. So ten camels drinking forty gallons is four hundred gallons of water. And when you’re drawing the water out of a well with a bucket on the end of a rope, drawing four hundred gallons of water is very hard, hot work. Now that’s what I call faith plus works. And I cannot tell you how significant it is to me.

I’ve lived in quite a number of countries where the women regularly draw water. One of them was Africa. I don’t think there’s ever been grown up an African woman that didn’t know how to draw water. And I was teacher, I was a principal of a college for training African teachers in Kenya, in East Africa. And I used to like the inner workings of my student’s mind. So one day I was walking along with one of my male students and I fired a question at him. I forget what his name was. It was something like Ebenezer or Abednego or something like that. All my students had fancy Bible names. If I had a class of thirty, I had a Jeremiah, Ezekiel, a Daniel and all sorts like that. So I said to him—I don’t think it was Abednego but anyhow we’ll call him Abednego. I said, “Abednego, what kind of girl you want to marry?” And he obviously must have given prolonged careful thought to that question. So he didn’t hesitate a moment. He said, “She must be brown and muscular.” And that is the African ideal of a wife, particularly the muscular.

I’ve taught a lot of those girls, and if you ever brush against the arm of an African young woman, her muscles are like iron. There’s just no flabby muscles in those arms. How do they get that way? Well, apart from drawing water they till, they sow, they carry. What do the men do? Well the men go out and sit with a spear somewhere and gossip with one another. The roles are reversed.

So at any rate, Rebekah came along, she passed the test. She was now identified by her response to The Servant as the chosen bride. Bear this in mind. It will be your response to the Holy Spirit that will determine your destiny. And as soon as she qualified, things began to happen. Verse 22:

“And it came to pass, as the camels had done drinking, that the man took a golden earring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold.”

The King James says “earring,” but I don’t believe it was an earring because it was only one jewel and only hippies I think wear earring in one ear and not in the other. It was probably a jewel that went in the center of her forehead—a beautiful, brilliant glorious jewel. So the moment she qualified The Servant began to open the packs of the camels and you know what they were laded with? Gifts. Praise the Lord! Think of ten camels worth of gifts. And she was instantly marked out by something on her forehead that glowed, then her arms were singled out by the beautiful golden bracelets. She was sealed in her forehead by the Holy Spirit. Her mind had been opened. She was ready to receive revelation. And her hands were set apart to do the will of God. The strength of arms was now marked out by the appropriation of the Holy Spirit through His gifts. But that wasn’t all. The Servant then said, “Do you have room in your house? I’ve got to spend the night somewhere.” And she said, “Certainly.” She said, verse 25:

“She said moreover unto him, We have both straw and provender enough, and room to lodge in.”

And she went running home and a little while later her brother, Laban, came out to meet this man, interested to know who was the man who’d come to the well and given his sister such beautiful jewelry. And in verse 31 he said to the stranger—that’s The Servant:

“And he said, Come in, thou blessed of the LORD; wherefore standest thou without? for I have prepared the house, and room for the camels.”

Well, this is another phase of Rebekah’s response. Not merely had she drawn water for the man and his camels, she’d made room in the house for the man and his camels. And that, I believe, corresponds to receiving the Holy Spirit in the baptism. She’d made room. You know, ten camels take up a lot of room. But she set aside anything else and opened up her whole dwelling for The Servant and his camels. Some people get acquainted with the Holy Spirit at the well, but they never invite Him home in the baptism. The baptism is inviting Him in and saying, “I’ll make room. And anything that might get in the way I’ll find another place for.”

So The Servant came in and when Rebekah received this gracious stranger, not only was she blessed, but her whole family were blessed. When you open up to the Holy Spirit, all the people round about you get blessed. Verse 53, moving on in the story says:

“And the servant brought forth jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment [and clothing], and gave them to Rebekah: he gave also to her brother and to her mother precious things.”

The whole family were showered with the blessings and the gifts that the stranger had brought on his ten camels.

Now comes the next critical decision in Rebekah’s life. He explains the reason why he’s come. He says, “Will you let your daughter come with me? Will you give her to me to become the bride of my master’s son?” And they said, “Ask her.” And so the question is put to her in verse 58:

“And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go.”

They suggested that she tarry quite a while, but The Servant said, “No, I’ve got to start off immediately. My journey is urgent.” And again when the Holy Spirit comes He says, “Will you come now?” And you have to say, “Yes, now. This is more important than anything else. I’ll go wherever you lead me.”

And then we read the beautiful blessing that came upon her from her family when she said, “I will go and be the bride.” And really this brings tears to my eyes. I wonder whether you’ve noticed this blessing. It’s the most extraordinary unusual blessing. It’s in the 60th verse:

“And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions [isn’t that tremendous?], and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them.”

And you know the New Testament Scripture for that? Matthew 16:18:

“…upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

So by that decision Rebekah became a picture and pattern of the church, which was to become so fruitful that thousands of millions would come into the kingdom of God and when that church went out against God’s enemies the gates of hell would not be able to keep the messengers of the gospel out. Please understand that rightly. Jesus didn’t say, “You’ll be inside a beleaguered city and all hell’s forces will batter at the gates but not be able to break them down.” That’s the wrong picture. Jesus said, “You go out and attack the gates of hell to liberate the captives that are inside and the gates of hell will not be able to keep you out.” And that’s the promise here.

“…be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them.”

And we are told in Galatians 3 that the seed is Jesus Christ. So here is the promise of the inheritance of Rebekah: become the mother of millions and millions of believers to become the type of the victorious, irresistible church of Jesus Christ going forth in battle against the enemies of God and liberating the captives that Satan has held bound.

Now all that was determined by one thing, which was what? Rebekah’s response to The Servant. And the whole destiny of the church is determined by its response to the Holy Spirit. Going further.

For you as an individual believer, your destiny, the measure in which you enjoy God’s inheritance for you will be determined solely by one thing—the measure of your response to the Holy Spirit. How blessed it is to recognize the Holy Spirit, open up to Him and expose our whole being and life and personality and say, “Take over. It’s all yours. Come in with all your camels.” And, bless God, when the camels come in they’re all laden with beautiful gifts. How foolish to keep the camels out. How sorry I feel for people that don’t have the gifts. Struggling along, leading good conscientious Christian lives, but they just don’t know what’s inside those big packs on the camel’s backs.

All right. Now let me give you a little application. When I was training teachers in Africa, we used to teach them how to make their lesson plans and they had all the sort of things; aim, apparatus, approach. Everything began with “A”. I don’t know why. But the last little item on the lesson plan was application. And application was to check and see if the pupils had learnt the lesson. So now I’ll give you the application of the truth. And then we’ll have a yet more practical application—we’ll minister to you by the Holy Spirit, and what you receive here tonight will depend on how you respond to the Holy Spirit. We’ll do it in practice.

All right. Now then, let me just point out all these things are implicit in what I’ve already said, but let me just make them explicit. And you, as I speak about Rebekah, remember I’m talking about the church and you.

Number one—Rebekah’s response to The Servant determined her destiny. What a dramatic moment when she stood there at the well and she said, “Yes, I’ll give you water, and I’ll give it to your camels.” And then she said, “Come in. We’ve got room in the home for you and the camels.” Camels are pretty ungainly, awkward things in many ways. And I believe when the Holy Spirit comes, He comes with camels. You know what I mean? They’re the test of your willingness. There’s always a camel in every situation. You say, “Well, that’s all right. I’ll have you, but please keep your camel…” The Holy Spirit says, “I’ll find somewhere else.”

I’ve discovered there’s two things that never suit my convenience. God’s calling and God’s judgment. Never. And when I minister only in my own convenience I don’t minister from the Lord. Have you ever noticed that? The real challenge to ministry always comes just when you’re tired, or you’re going to go to bed, or you want to talk to your wife or something like that, and you have to deny that self and then the Holy Spirit moves on the scene.

Number two—she drew the water both for The Servant and for his camels. That’s faith and works. She was not lazy. You search the Bible and see if you can find one good word about laziness anywhere in it. There isn’t one. Laziness is much more severely condemned in the Bible than drunkenness. And I’ll tell you, the bride is not lazy.

Point number three—The Servant’s gifts marked Rebekah out as the chosen bride. The one who received the gift and wore them where they could be seen was the one who was the bride. And that’s true of the church. It’s the gifts of the Holy Spirit that will visibly mark out the church as the bride.

Number four—Rebekah made room for The Servant and his camels. I think we’ve dealt enough with that. It was not her convenience. That did not come first on the list.

Number five—By receiving The Servant, Rebekah brought blessing to her whole family. Everybody got blessed. And when you really yield to the Holy Spirit everybody around you will get some of the blessing.

Number six—The Servant was Rebekah’s only source of knowledge concerning the Father, the Son and the Inheritance. That’s rather searching. She never saw with the fleshly eye the man she was to marry until she had made the long journey and was totally committed to him. How did Rebekah get to know what the Father was like, what the Son was like and what the inheritance was like? There was only one revelator. Who was that? The Servant. How does the church get to know what the Father’s like, what the Son is like and what our inheritance is? The Holy Spirit. If we don’t listen to Him, we don’t know.

Number seven—Rebekah had no map. She had to take a long, dangerous journey through a wilderness. She didn’t plan it out with a map. She had someone to lead her all the way. And if you’re going to get into the inheritance you’ll never do it by the map. You need a personal guild. Romans 8:14:

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the [children] of God.”

That’s definitive. That marks out God’s children. They’re the ones who allow the Holy Spirit to lead them.

And finally, point number eight—Rebekah went to meet the bridegroom wearing his gifts. And I am convinced, without any shadow of doubt, that the church that goes to meet the Lord Jesus Christ at the rapture and the bridal supper will be adorned with His gifts. It is incredible to me that a church that rejects the gifts will ever meet the Bridegroom. This is very solemn but I believe if you’re with me you’ll see the logic of it. I’m a logician by background. I’m not talking on an emotional basis. I am simply convinced by logic and Scripture that the church that becomes the bride will be adorned with the gifts. Suppose that a young man loved a young lady. In fact my mind is in Africa, I’ll illustrate it with an African story. When I once begin to tell about this my mind goes back and I jump about fourteen years and I’m back there in Kenya.

Well about the second year that I was principal of this college we took what was considered to be a very rash step—we made it a mixed college, co-ed. And the African and missionary opinion was that, You’re asking for trouble. They said, “When you get the girls, you get the trouble.” I said, “No. All that happens is when you get the girls you know you’ve got the trouble, because it’s in the girls the trouble shows.” So I said, “We’ll take the risk.” And mind you, we did have our share of troubles. There’s no doubt about that.

So we had mixed college—co-ed. One of my ministries, and I really was a servant to that college, I would have to say that. One of the things I used to do was go down to the post office, which was in the city seven miles away—the city of Kisumu on the northeast tip of Lake Victoria Nianza, and fetch the mail for the students and everybody. Well you know mail is a thrilling thing to everybody. So one day I picked up a little slip at the post office addressed to a student whose name was Rose Kiguli. And this little slip indicated that there was a registered parcel for her. Well in order to pick the parcel up I had to take the slip to Rose, get her to sign the slip and go back to the post office and pick up the parcel with her signature.

So I went to Rose and she signed and the next trip into Kisumu I went to the post office and picked up this parcel. Well, it was pretty rare for our students to get parcels, and I was more than a little curious, I confess. Well, the parcel was wrapped in brown paper and tied with string and you didn’t have to have the gift of discernment to know what was inside. It was a pair of shoes. Well, most of our students didn’t have shoes, and if you’ve never been without shoes you don’t know how you feel with shoes. But the Song of Solomon says that when you’ve got shoes on your feet you feel like a prince’s daughter. And that was one real step up when our students got shoes. So I was pretty interested in who was sending Rose a pair of shoes.

So when I arrived I said to Rose, “Looks like shoes.” And she said, “Yes.” I said, “Do you mind my asking who’s sending you shoes?” Well she said, “Please don’t tell my father, but it’s a young man and his name is Elijah.” Well the African parents are somewhat old-fashioned about their ideas about relationship between young ladies and young men. I said, “All right. I’ll say nothing to your father” (who was a pastor). So next Sunday when the students went off to church there was Rose in a pair of bright red plastic sandals. She received the young man’s gift. Guess what happened? Can you guess? When they graduated she married him. Now could you believe that Rose would have received that package of shoes, written a letter and said, “Dear Elijah, I love you, but I don’t want your shoes!” Do you think they’d have ever have got married? Never.

And the church that says, “Dear Jesus, I love You, but I don’t want Your gifts!” is not headed to be the bride. It’s totally inconsistent with anything we know about the nature of ? . If I’m a young lady and a young man saves up for six months because he loved me, puts all he has into it, buys me a beautiful diamond engagement ring, do you think I’m going to say to him, “George, I love you, but I don’t want your ring”? I know what George would say. “You don’t want my ring, you don’t want me. Good-bye.” This is really solemn. The church that rejects the gift just is not qualified to be the bride. There’s a totally wrong relationship involved.

All right. That’s the story of Rose and Elijah, Rebekah and the Servant, the church and the Spirit.

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