The first outpouring of the Holy Spirit from heaven was with a loud sound of great wind and the visible signs of flashing tongues of fire and we are left with an impression that the work of the Holy Spirit is of great sound and fanfare. We start thinking that the Holy Spirit comes in great power, under a conscious sense of His presence with a great stirring of the emotions, with a great revelation of the glory of God and with great quickening of our power for work. But most often this is not so and we are left wondering about His arrival and dwelling in us since He comes gently like a whisper and starts the process of showering of Divine blessings on and through us on others. The blessed person carries on with his worldly life in the light of the Holy Spirit without creating any waves. It is therefore necessary to understand the work brought about by the Spirit in a person.
What work does the Holy Spirit do in man? – The Spirit is the promised Comforter and He teaches us and reminds us all that the Lord stated during His stay on the earth. He carries out this task in three different ways- He brings the presence of Christ; He gives the likeness of Christ and He works the power of Christ. We may try and understand His modus operandi to realize the work and its importance that is carried out in us.
The Holy Spirit brings the presence of Christ – To the twelve disciples and many others with them the very presence of Jesus was everything. They could turn to Him for solving every crisis and meet every need- be it calming the storm or feeding the thousands when there was nothing available except a few loaves of barley bread and two small fish. His presence was the cure for every sickness and they just had to turn to Him and the cure was available. In a storm they had to just cry out “Master, we perish” and He hushed the storm into absolute stillness. He gave them instruction and guidance He was their source to teach and also for reproof. Even today we also need His daily presence with us to face each and every situation in our daily lives. But how do we get into the presence of Christ?
Christ’s presence was very near and always there then and even today His Holy Spirit manifests His presence in and with us when we seek Him in prayer. I can meet all situations with the consolation that He is with me to help me meet every challenge that I face and I get ready in anticipation and my heart is at perfect rest and great joy. The disciples faced the prospect of His going away to His Father’s house and He comforted them “I will come again” and “I will not leave you comfortless”. He assured them that He would pray to the Father and that He would send the Comforter and that He will manifest Himself and both the Father and Son would abide with them. He promised the holy Spirit and above everything else His abiding presence and that is what the disciples required then and what we need today.
His assured presence for us is akin to the “hand holding presence of a father to a young child” while out in the crowds in unfamiliar circumstances. Lord Jesus gives us such closeness by filling us with the Holy Spirit for the Spirit comes to glorify Jesus. After Jesus was glorified by the Father in heaven after His death, resurrection and ascension, then the Holy Spirit came to show us His heavenly glory. That is why He said to us “He shall glorify Me; He shall receive of Mine ans shall show it unto you” (John 16:14). Holy Spirit is able to fill me with a real deep sense of the presence of Jesus Christ and of His Divine glory and this very presence is one of the essential roots of the Christian life and faith. His presence is like the sunlight that makes everything bright and clear and that is what He Himself desires for us.
How do we live in Jesus presence always? – The general refrain is that I long for this close fellowship with the lord but am unable to do so. He Himself wants it so the barrier must be in us only and we have to break that and confess that “sometimes I have forgotten and forsaken Him while living after my own heart and have lost that warmth of closeness. The Lord wants me and His presence is the only secret of a healthy spiritual life”. I have to admit, confess and receive the fulfillment of God’s promise and purpose to make Lord Jesus present with me always. It is as simple as that- to give up myself and “put on the Lord Jesus” to be in His divine presence in the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit gives the likeness of Jesus – When the Holy Spirit dwells in us, He lights up all the dark corners of our lives making us realize how much more is kept hidden by me that needs to be consecrated and sacrificed. Though the initial consecration took place yet there is much more of the flesh in us yet and the Holy Spirit reveals that to us. The disciples had the presence of the Lord with them but not His likeness- He was humble, they were proud; He was unselfish while were selfish. The Holy Spirit comes to reveal His presence in me not as a separate person but in oneness as one in my heart, disposition and character. He wants to reveal His likeness in Me and nothing less will do.
What is Jesus’ disposition that is revealed by the Holy Spirit? – The chief virtue of Christ is His humility and He maintained “Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29). He washed the disciples’ feet to show that He did not come to be served but to serve and that He was “not the Master and the Words I speak are not My own”. His life on earth was of complete dependence on the Father, to do nothing of Himself but to just let the Father teach Him and work in Him. For He never sought His own honor but the honor of the One who sent Him (John 8:54) and He surrendered His will to the will of the Father. He became nothing and made God be all and in all to work in Him and to show Him. The humility of Jesus is to let God work out His purpose in and through Him and became His Lamb in fulfillment of the Divine will “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; He was led like a lamb to the slaughter…” (Isaiah 53:7).
Man must humble himself and become nothing before God to fully return to Him. Our Lord came from heaven to be ‘The Lamb of God’ in littleness, meekness, gentleness and humility and Apostle Paul exclaimed “He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8). The Holy Spirit wants to bring this dependence on God in us in place of pride, selfishness, self-seeking and unloving. Lord Jesus attained His place of glory on the throne by first going into the grave- deep down into death and nothingness. A man must set his whole soul upon the price to buy ‘that rare pearl of great value’ and I cannot do this on my own. The Holy Spirit bring s me to that place of utter despair to lead me to cry out “Lord here I am, on my own I can do nothing”. The Holy Spirit then works out the likeness of Christ in us.
The Holy Spirit brings us in presence and likeness of Jesus to be in the power of Jesus- The Lord proclaimed before his ascension to heaven “All power is given unto Me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18) and “All power belongs to God, now and forever” (1 Peter 5:11). We always pray to God to give us power to do His works and complain about its lack in our lives. In a factory a great machine moves the spindle to spin but on getting detached from the machine it loses its power. Christ is the great source of power and His power cannot mesh with me till I have any power of my own moving me in any direction. As the spindle gets the power through momentary connection with the machine so must my soul be in momentary connection with Lord Jesus for the power is in Him and He wants to work through me.
Apostle Paul understood the message when blinded by the ‘great brightness of the light from heaven’ (Acts 9:3), the message of the Lord “The Father works in Me” and declared it to all that he was “striving according to His working, which works in me mightily” (Colossians 1:29). In effect what Paul is saying that I strive or I can strive for God is working in me, mightily for there is no other way that one could suffer and also achieve so much- even to rejoice in stocks in the jail after having been scourged. We Christians have been given a very clear command by our Lord “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” none excepted and we have a long way to go yet. And our work is not only outside but also inside the Church- millions who have yet to know the Lord and millions of nominal Christians who have a form of religion but no power working in them.
How do we get this spiritual power? – We have seen that all power and authority has been given to the Lord and in Him alone can we operate in this authority. Once the Holy Spirit reveals Christ within me, my heart will be strengthened and I will learn to love souls more and really care for them and communicate with them in His power. It is not within my heart to love others- even my enemies, on my own power and express real love towards them- for me it is impossible but with God everything is possible. When I am attached fully to the ‘true vine’ there will be fruits in me also. To have this power working in me and to bear much fruit I must get filled with the Holy Spirit and only then can the Lord work in me. My longing for power and wisdom can only be met once I am attached to the source of all power- Lord Jesus and from nowhere else can I draw this power. Getting linked to Him in faith for He is the ‘Alpha and Omega’ the beginning and the end and only He has the authority to rule the hearts and minds of people we reach out to. Moses was directed to meet the Pharaoh repeatedly with the message about a new plague but every time he was told beforehand “I have hardened the heart of Pharaoh”. By remaining attached to Him and through the filling of the Holy Spirit can the power operate in us.
As with every other gift of God, the gift of the Holy Spirit is available to all living on the earth for God the Father loves each and every one of His creation equally and He does not discriminate. But this ‘pearl of unimaginable value’ is available only through the Son of God and we get filled with the Holy Spirit when we allow Him complete possession of ourselves through humble submission. The first step is to accept the Lord Jesus as the Savior and only then is the filling and empowerment possible. He is ready and waiting to get full possession and no one can force Him or grasp Him but only through lying down at the Divine feet and saying “Father, I am ready- fill me with Your Holy Spirit”. Lord Jesus surrendered Himself fully to the Father’s will to get in to the lowliness of the grave and then received His glory and the Holy Spirit to give to us. In like manner we have to sink down into nothingness to be filled with the Spirit.
While working in the power of the flesh I can neither know Him nor lead anyone else to His throne of grace and it is only possible through the power of the Holy Spirit. When we try and overcome our sinful nature on our own we keep on failing and may one day give up trying altogether. But when we surrender ourselves to God He is ready and waiting to lead us to that righteousness that is His and come from and through Him. And in that state of humility, believe in Him and His Word for He is faithful and true to His Word. He desires that all His children be filled with the Holy Spirit and become His personal ambassadors moving in His light and power to reveal His Son to all corners of the world. Trust God for it, wait expectantly with your whole heart and look up to Him and He will definitely bless.
The ‘evil one’ will make all out efforts to lead us away from this blessed state through various lies and distractions, through unbelief and hopelessness. Like our Lord did in Gethsemane, the more He was attacked the more earnestly He prayed and surrendered Himself before the Father for fulfillment of His will in Him. Let us bow down in nothingness and meekness and be filled with the Divine Spirit to our inheritance.
(Adapted from Andrew Murray’s The Spiritual Life)