THE FULLNESS OF THE SPIRIT
the readers of these lines there may be many who are suffering from different
forms of spiritual weakness, all of which are directly attributable to the lack
of the Holy Spirit. Not that they are completely destitute of Him, for if they
were, they would not be Christians at all; but that, being within them, He is
present only as an attenuated thread, a silver streak, a shallow brook. Why
should we be content with this? The Pentecostal fullness, the enduement of
power, the baptism of fire, are all within our reach. Let us be inspired with a
holy ambition to get all that our God is willing to bestow.
is not difficult to point this contrast by analogies drawn from the Word of God.
May we not reverently say that the ministry of our blessed Lord Himself owed
much of its marvellous power to that moment when, although filled with the Holy
Spirit from His birth, He was afresh anointed at the waters of baptism? With
marked emphasis it was said he was filled with the Spirit (Luke 4:1), and
returned in the power of the Spirit unto Galilee (verse 14), and stood up in the
synagogue of His native town, claiming the ancient prophecy, and declaring that
the Spirit of God was upon Him (verse 18). His wondrous words and works are
directly traced to the marvellous operation of the Holy Ghost upon His human
life (Acts 10:38).
you lack assurance? Sometimes you do not, for you feel happy and content. But
anon these happy hours are fled, and your rest is broken, as the surface of the
mountain tarn is overcast and ruffled by the gathering storm. You need a basis
of settled peace, and it is only to be found first, in a clear
apprehension of what Jesus has done for you; secondly, in the sealing of the
Holy Spirit. It is His sacred office to witness with our spirit that we are the
children of God. He is the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father!
you lack victory over sin? This is not to be wondered at, if you neglect the
Holy Spirit. He is the blessed antidote to the risings and dominion of the
flesh. He lusts against the flesh, so that we may not fulfil its lusts. When He
fills the heart in His glorious fullness, the suggestions of temptation are
instantly quenched, as sparks in the ocean wave. Sin can no more stand against
the presence of the Holy Ghost than darkness can resist the gentle, all
pervasive beams of morning light.
however, He Is grieved, or resisted, or quenched, so that His power and presence
are restrained, there is no deliverance for the spirit however bitter its
remorse, or eager its resort to fastings, mortification and regrets. The law of
the Spirit of Life which is in Christ Jesus can alone make us free from the law
of sin and death. But it can, and it will if we only yield ourselves to its
you lack the fruits of holiness? Some whom we know are so evidently filled with
the fruits of righteousness, which are the praise of God, that we are
instinctively drawn to them. Their faces are bright with the presence of the
Lord, though they drink of the cup of His sorrows. Their spirit is tender; their
disposition sweet and unselfish, and their childlike humility flings the halo of
indescribable beauty over their whole behaviour. We lack these graces. There is
little in us to attract men to Christ; much to repel. Our boughs are naked and
bare, as if locusts had stripped them. And the reason is evident. We have not
let the Holy Spirit have HIS way with our inner life. Had the sap of His
presence been mightily within us, we should have been laden with luscious
fruitage; it would have been impossible to be otherwise.
you lack power for service? You have no burning thirst for the salvation of
others. You are not on fire for souls. You have never been in agony over the
alienation of men from God. And when you speak, there is no power in what you
say. The devils laugh at your attempts to exorcise them. The sleeper turns for a
moment uneasily, but soon falls into profounder slumber than ever. The home, the
class, the congregation, yield no results. No hand picked fruit fills your
basket. No finny shoal breaks your nets. No recruits accept your call to arms.
And you cannot expect it to be otherwise till you obtain the power which our
Lord promised when He said: "Ye shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost
coming upon you." It was when the early Christians were filled with the
Holy Ghost that they spake the word of God with boldness, and gave witness with
great power to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
and many other deficiencies would be met, if only we were filled with the Holy
Spirit. There would be a joy, a power, a consciousness of the Lord Jesus, an
habitual rest in the will of God, which would be a joyful discovery to us; if
only we refused to be satisfied with anything less than the full indwelling of
the Holy Spirit.
Spurgeon said once that he never passed a single quarter of an hour in his
waking moments without a distinct consciousness of the presence of the Lord.
When the Spirit fills the heart, Jesus is vividly real and evidently near. What
is He to you? Do you awake in the morning beneath His light touch and spend the
hours with Him? Can you frequently look up from your work and perceive His face?
Are you constantly seeking from Him power, grace, direction? If He is but a
fitful vision, you have not realized the first mark of the Pentecostal gift.
consecration to the service of the Lord Jesus is a great step in advance of the
experience of most Christians; but even that is not enough. It is often largely
negative; but we require something strongly positive, to meet the necessities of
our hearts and of our times. And this is to be sought in our entire possession
by that mighty Spirit whose advent at Pentecost has dated a new era for the
Church and the world.
course He was always in the world. It was the Holy Spirit Of Pentecost who
brooded over chaos, and spoke in prophets and holy men, and nerved the heroes
and saints of the Old Testament time. The day of Pentecost did not introduce a
new Spirit into the world, but it inaugurated an era in which the weakest and
meanest of the saints might possess Him in the same measure as they did who
lived upon its farther side. Before that momentous day His fullness was the
prerogative of only the few, the elite, the Elijahs, and Isaiahs and Daniels,
but since that day He has been shed forth in all His plenitude on the many on
women and children; on obscure thinkers and hidden workers; on hand maids and
servants; on all and any who were prepared to fulfil the conditions and to abide
by the results. Why not on us?
are willing to admit that the special gifts of the Holy Ghost belong to the
Apostolic age. Given for a special purpose, they are now withdrawn; though it Is
a serious question whether they might not have been continued, if only the
Church had been more faithful to her sacred trust. But the special gifts of the
Holy Ghost are altogether apart from His blessed fullness. That is not the
exclusive right of any age. Confined to no limited era or epoch in the history
of the Church, it pours its tide of light and power around us, as the Nile in
flood; nor is there a single plot or garden ground, however remote, into which
it will not come, to fertilize and enrich, if only the channel of communication
be kept cleansed and open.
that many think that the Almighty, like some bankrupt builder, constructed the
portico of his Church with marble, and has finished it with common brick!
filled with the Spirit " is an injunction as wide reaching in its demands
as "Husbands, love your wives," which is found on the same page. It is
a positive command, which we must obey at our peril, and all God's commands are
enablings. In other words, He is prepared to make us what He tells us to become.
Moreover, on the day of Pentecost, in words which are the charter of our right
to the fullness of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Peter told the listening crowds
that the fullness which had suddenly come on them from the ascended Lord and
which was a direct fulfillment of the ancient prophecy was not for them only, or
for their children; but for as many as were afar off, even for them whom the
Lord God shall call. Are you one of His called ones? Then rejoice because that
fullness is for you! Be not faithless, but believing! Lay claim at once
to the covenanted portion, and thank God for having cast your lot in an age of
such marvellous possibilities.
it is not enough to have a fitful and inconstant desire, which flames up today,
but will remain dormant for months and years. There must be a steady purpose,
able to stand the test of waiting (if need be) for ten days, and to bear the
rebuff of silence or apparent denial.
yet the flame of desire needs fuel. We must muse before that fire can burn. And
it becomes us, therefore, to stir up the gift that is within us by a quiet
consideration of all that is meant by becoming Spirit filled.
is no book which will so move us in this direction as the Acts of the Apostles.
It is perfectly marvellous to see what this fullness did for those who first
received it. Cowards became brave. Obtuse intellects which had stumbled at the
simplest truths, suddenly awoke to apprehend the Master's scheme. Bosoms that
had heaved with rivalry and suspicion and desire for earthly power, now thought
each better than himself and sought to excel in humble ministry to the saints.
Such power attended their words that crowds became congregations, Christ's
murderers became His worshipers and friends. Councils of clever men were not
able to withstand the simple eloquence of indisputable facts. Towns and
countries were shaken, and yielded converts by the thousand to the unlearned but
fervid preachers of the cross.
this was simply attributable to the power which had become the common property
of the whole Church. And there is not a fragment of reason why it should not do
so much for us. And, as we contrast that triumphant success to our halting
progress, shall not we be filled with uncontrollable longings that He should
work similar results by us?
may still further secure the same results by studying the biography of saintly
men belonging to recent centuries. Happy the man within reach of a library, the
shelves of which are well lined with books of holy biography! He will never,
never be in want of additional stimulus as he reads the story of McCheyne and W.
C. Burns, of Brainerd and Martyn, of Jonathan Edwards and others. He will not
envy or repine; but he will constantly lift eye and heart to Heaven, asking that
as much may be done through himself.
moreover the promises of the Scriptures are enough to incite us to the
uttermost. That rivers of water should flow from us; that we should never need
to be anxious about our words, because they would be given; that we should be
taught all things, and led into the whole circle of truth; that we should know
Christ, and be changed into His image; that we should have power all this is so
fascinating that it is impossible not to glow with a holy desire to be charged
with the Holy Ghost, as a jar with electricity. And, if needs be, we shall be
prepared to bear the test of long waiting, as the faithful few did in the upper
will not find water for us to use for turning our own water wheels. He will do
nothing to minister to our pride. He will not give us the Holy Spirit to enable
us to gain celebrity, or to procure a name, or to live an easy, self contented
we seek the Holy Spirit merely for our happiness, or comfort, or liberty of
soul, it will be exceedingly unlikely that He will be given. His one passion is
the glory of the Lord Jesus; and He can only make His abode with those who are
willing to be at one with Him In this. "Can two walk together except they
be agreed?" But if you are actuated simply by by the desire that the Lord
Jesus may be magnified in you, whether by life or death; if you long, above all,
that men should turn away from you to Him, as they did from John the
Baptist then rejoice, because you are near blessing beyond words to
describe. If your motives fall below this standard, trust in Him to enlighten
and purify them, and offer Him a free entrance within. It will not then be long
ere there shall be a gracious response; and the Lord, whom you seek, shall
suddenly come to His temple, and He shall sit as a refiner of silver, that the
sons of Levi may offer an offering in righteousness.
must not be content with the Spirit without the Word, or with the Word without
the Spirit. Our life must travel along these two, as the locomotive along the
parallel metals. The word is the chosen organ of the Spirit; and it is only by
our devout contact with it that we shall be enabled to detect His voice. It is
by the Word that the Spirit will enter our hearts, as the heat of the sun passes
into our chambers with the beams of light that enter the open casement.
need a widespread revival of Bible study. These mines of Scripture, lying
beneath the surface, call loudly for investigation and discovery; and those who
shall obey the appeal, and set themselves to the devout and laborious study of
the inner meaning of the Word, shall be soon aware that they have received the
filling that they seek.
is no such way of communing with God as to walk to and fro in your room or in
the open air, your Bible in hand, meditating on it and turning its precepts and
promises into prayer. God walks in the glades of Scripture, as of old in those
is our position before God in this respect? We have chosen Jesus as our
substitute; but have we also chosen Him by the Holy Spirit as our Life? Can we
say, like the Apostle: "Not I, but Christ liveth in me"? If so, we
must be prepared for all that it involves. We must be willing for the principle
of the new life to grow at the expense of the self life. We must consent for the
one to increase, while the other decreases, through processes which are painful
enough to the flesh. Nay, we must ourselves be ever on the alert, hastening the
processes of judgment, condemnation and crucifixion. We must keep true in our
allegiance to the least behest of the Holy Spirit, though it cost tears of
perpetual filling of the Holy Spirit is only possible to those who obey Him, and
who obey Him in all things. There is nothing trivial in this life. By the
neglect of slight commands, a soul may speedily get out of the sunlit circle and
lose the gracious plentitude of Spirit power.
A look, a word, a refusal, may suffice to grieve Him in ourselves, and to
quench him in others. Count the cost; yet do not shrink back afraid of what He
may demand. He is the Spirit of love; and He loves us too well to cause grief,
unless there is a reason, which we should approve, if we knew as much as He.
the conditions already named; wait quietly but definitely before God in prayer,
for He gives His Holy Spirit to them that ask Him: then reverently appropriate
this glorious gift, and rise from your knees and go on your way, reckoning that
God has kept His word, and that you are filled with the Spirit. Trust Him day by
day to fill you and keep you filled. According to your faith, so shall it be
done to you.
may not be at first the sound of rushing wind, or the coronet of fire, or the
sensible feeling of His presence. Do not look for these, any more than the young
convert should look to feeling as an evidence of acceptance. But believe, in
spite of feeling, that you are filled. Say over and over, "I thank Thee, O
my God, that Thou hast kept Thy word with me. I opened my mouth, and Thou hast
filled it; though as yet, I am not aware of any special change." And the
feeling will sooner or later break in upon your consciousness, and you will
rejoice with exceeding great joy; and all the fruits of the Spirit will begin to
you are conscious of leakage, when the exhaustion of service has been greater
than the reception of fresh supplies, when some new avenue of ministry, or
freshly discovered talent, or new department of your being has presented itself,
go again to the same source for a refilling, a recharging with spiritual power,
a re-anointing by the holy chrism.
tenses are used in the Acts of the Apostles of the filling of the Spirit, which
have their counterparts still:
a sudden decisive experience for a specific work (Acts 4:8).
being filled: the imperfect tense, as though the blessed process were always
going on (Acts 13:52).
the adjective, indicating the perpetual experience (Acts 6:8).
is, of course, more in the doctrine of the Holy Spirit than is at all realized
by the writer of these feeble lines. The fiery baptism of the Holy Spirit may be
something far beyond. Let us not then be content to miss anything possible to
redeemed men; but, leaving the things that are behind, let us press on to those
before, striving to apprehend all for which we have been apprehended by Christ