DS I was just impressed with the awesome wonder of the coming of the Holy Spirit. My father came from a sect of Russian pacifists, the Doukhobors, and as one of their practices they would bow to one another in recognition of the Holy Spirit in one another. That may be a bit over the top, but I like the idea. It is amazing to think that the Holy Spirit has come and is dwelling in the saints. Maybe we could just look at John 14 in this connection.
Then, thinking of the many effects of the Holy Spirit, here are two: sin is reproved, and Christ is exalted. And we get that in Acts 2.
The Incarnation of Christ is an awesome and wondrous fact, and a reality that we can never get enough of. But the coming of the Spirit is so wonderful, powerful, and has such implications, that I just felt, myself, the need to be expanded in the awesome wonder of His coming. So we have Christ here physically – and you can see Him, but only those who have faith really discern Who He is. Then we have the Spirit, and He is not seen – as it comes out in this section in John 14, we cannot see Him.
Thinking of the very atheistic turn of the world today, perhaps this needs to be met not so much by words, but by that which Paul speaks of in 1 Cor 2:4, “in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” The living of a Spirit-filled life before men is a needed and powerful testimony. Firstly, in the reproof of sin, what a testimony it is of life, living for God! Men are reproved in their actions. You do not have to say a word – the new life is displayed, and conviction comes in. This is very important! And the Church of God is to be here as a Spirit-filled company.
We were in a park some years ago having a picnic, surrounded by other folks having their picnics, when this young man stood up in the middle of the park and said, ‘I would like ten minutes of your time. I want to tell you about the God above Who made the heavens and the earth, and how He has reached to men below.’ Then he simply and powerfully preached the gospel, it was only ten minutes, right there in the park. We were amazed! And he was about 19 years old. So we waved him over after he finished, and said, ‘Why did you do this?’ And he said, ‘Well, I really feel called of God to go overseas to be a missionary, but if I cannot preach right here in Abbotsford, I am not going to suddenly be able to do it when I am overseas!’ And we spoke with him, ‘That is very good. What do you think is the challenge for believers today?’ He said, ‘The Church has ceased to be salt and light.’ What a great answer! So while we might get all upset about what is going on in society around us – and it is upsetting – the root underneath is that this is actually an outward reflection of the state of the Church. This is serious! So, judgement begins at the house of God (1 Pet 4:17), the reproof of sin begins at the house of God. And, even closer, it begins in ourselves, so we have to bring our bodies under control, as Paul says in 1 Cor 9:27.
The Spirit is to have full sway individually and corporately, in view of what ultimately is for God’s glory. What shame has been brought on the testimony when we have not walked in the Spirit of Christ; when we have not acted in the Spirit of Christ! But we can sow to the Spirit (Gal 6:8). We can be marked by His sway.
But I thought, first, just to see the awesomeness of the coming of the Spirit of God. We could maybe enquire into that. I shall be very glad if something could be said; we have got brothers here who can help.
DWB Why does the Lord introduce this section with, “If ye love Me, keep My commandments?”
DS Say something as to your thought as to that.
DWB I wondered whether He was looking to provide the conditions, suitable conditions, amongst His people, with which the Spirit can identify Himself.
DS Yes, that is very fine. He is the Holy Spirit. So we do not want conditions in which He is grieved or set aside, but conditions in which He can be at liberty. What a thing it is! So it is very practical then, “Keep My commandments.”
DWB I was reading in JBS this morning on the new power (Vol 6, p183).
DS Very good.
DWB It is related to this. How little we seem to use it!
DS There is the order that is involved, too – “I will beg the Father, and He will give you another Comforter.” Now, we think of how this would have fallen on their ears as facing the fact that the Lord was going to go away. ‘But it is better that I go away’ (John 16:7) – you know, that was a blessing! Why was it a blessing? That is really something we need to think about.
MJC Do you think, in that connection, it is helpful to see that the Holy Spirit can be everywhere? The Lord, when here below, could be in only one place. We spoke about the Incarnation.
DS Yes. So, the scope of His work is so wonderful. Sometimes you get that sense on Lord’s Day morning, you know, that the praise of all God’s people is going up, it is going up all over the world. Hallelujah! That is wonderful, you know! The scope of the work of the Spirit is incredible! It is a spiritual scene, like the scene in Genesis 1:2, with the Spirit hovering over the waters. The word of God comes, and the Spirit brings it all to life. Do we have that kind of a sense of the awesome power of the Spirit of God?
AWGS Is it interesting that the Lord introduces Him as a Comforter?
DS Say more.
AWGS Well, I think in the current day – we have spoken of the current day – a Comforter is much needed amongst God’s people. The Holy Spirit would come in that character. Christ was going, the Lord was going to go away, was He not? And so a Comforter was required.
DS I think practically, too, if we are going to act in the power of the Spirit, it is going to involve reproach, it is going to involve attack. So you have Paul – he acts in the Spirit. He says, ‘I am not going to take the world’s help in doing the work of God, and the offered help of the spirit of Python’ (Acts 16:16‑17). He acts in the Spirit of God. Immediately Satan shows his power: they are beaten and thrust into prison. Then God steps in and shows His power, a power superior to Satan’s power. So too have we to take a stand, each of us individually, in the power of the Spirit. Accept if necessary the attack of Satan, knowing that God’s power will have the final say. To be moving here in the power of the Spirit is to say, ‘Okay, I know that if I take a stand, this guy is going to give me a blast,’ or, ‘This guy is going to fire me from my job,’ or whatever, ‘but this is important enough, I need to stand.’
TRP How is it that the holy God, the blessed Holy Spirit, is able to dwell in me, who am born in sin?
DS Yes, it is good to bring that in. We were impressed in reading Romans with the emphatic statement – in Romans 8:9 it says that “ye are not in flesh but in Spirit, if indeed God’s Spirit dwell in you; but if any one has not the Spirit of Christ he is not of Him.” There is no blurriness in that language. The way I understand it, the reception of the Spirit is consequential on repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. You are given power by the Spirit. So I am glad you raised the matter of the gospel, because that really is prefatory to all this.
TRP And it magnifies in my heart the greatness of the finished work of Christ on the Cross that this was possible.
DS Yes. God always wanted to bless men, you know, He always wanted to bless. And now He has a righteous way in which He can bless men, through the work of Christ. It was Satan who said that God is really holding back something good from you (Gen 3:5). No! God was always wanting to bless men. And indeed, it is His blessing now that can come out to all men. You notice how it narrows in the Old Testament: He would seek to bless all men, and then judgement falls on mankind in the Flood; then He blesses the Patriarchs and the nation of Israel; then it comes down to a king, and blessing depends on the performance of the king, good or bad king – it gets very, very narrow. But then with the finished work of Christ the blessing goes out to all – what a wonderful thing! Awesome!
MSB In confirmation of what you said, it says in Ephesians, “In Whom also, having believed, ye have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, Who is the Earnest of our inheritance to the redemption of the acquired possession” (Eph 1:13‑14). So, as a consequence of believing in Christ we are given this power, are we not?
DS “Believed,” then “sealed.”
MSB We might not realise we have that power straight away, but that is the only power in which the Christian can walk, is it not?
DS Yes. So this idea of some higher level of Christians is not true. Power is connected with making way for the Spirit. I think acting in faith, trusting in the Spirit in our actions, produces spontaneity of worship and service. So you are prepared for the unexpected: a person knocks on your door, a neighbour wants to speak, a person comes your way. You are taking the events of life as ordered by God, and if you feel your weakness, you are seeking the Lord’s help in a specific way: ‘Lord, I cannot really speak, You are going to have to bring the people to me, You are going to have to give me words to speak’ – you know, just totally honest, but, in whatever measure, move in confidence in the power of the Spirit.
MJC That is seen so clearly in the book of the Acts at the beginning. These were considered to be unlettered men (Acts 4:13), and yet they were speaking in power.
DS Yes. The power with which the words – Spirit-guided words – of Peter were falling on men! And I was impressed – we are familiar with the quote from Martin Luther, in which he says, ‘Here I stand, I can do no other,’ but he also said, ‘Do not pray for me, pray that the word of God will prevail.’ Is that not powerful? Let us paint ourselves out of the picture, let us make our lives about the exaltation of Christ, this is the line that the Spirit really is on.
PJW Why is it “the Spirit of truth?”
DS Say more.
PJW I am just thinking how, a few chapters later on, there is a man who asks what truth is (John 18:38).
PJW But the believer has this wonderful resource to know the truth.
DS Yes. I think especially for students at school, so much of what these courses are based on is a lie, or a false worldview, or a false structure, or false assumptions going forth. And you really need God’s help and discernment, because they put in all these propaganda courses with the regular courses, and much is a lie, much is false. But how do we discern what is true and what is false? Well, there has to be what is absolute, there has to be absolute truth, there has to be a standard outside of ourselves. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was distinct by itself (Gen 2:9,17). There has to be something outside of man, as opposed to whatever the present world says is the most important thing. What is the most important thing for man?
And the hierarchy of our values too – this is important, because whatever you deem most important in your life will determine the relative importance of everything else in your life. If the glory of God is the bright goal before you, then all the responsibilities of life are seen in their proper proportion. No other person and no other object is worthy of the first place in all things. So the Spirit of truth keeps us in a right channel. Scripture speaks about a different Spirit, a different gospel, a different Christ (2 Cor 11:4) – you know, there it is; the seriousness of the day that we are in really, I think, highlights the need of the Spirit of truth.
PJC I wondered if you could say something for us as to how we get to know the Holy Spirit. The Scripture says here, “Ye know Him” (v17). But tell us, practically, how we learn to know the Holy Spirit.
DS Do you not find yourself challenged when persons in the Acts say something like, “Having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak” (Acts 16:6), ‘It seemed good to us and the Holy Spirit’ to do this and that (Acts 15:28)? No, sorry, I do not have that kind of a link – that is what I just have to say myself. I desire it; it is possible, and in some measure I think we all do prove something of the Spirit’s leading.
Coming over to England I felt led to speak to this woman on the plane. She was telling me all about sailing, and how she was going to Britain to get certification of sailing. I asked her if she would mind my reading her a sailing story from the Bible, and she agreed. So I read to her about Paul’s journey in Acts 27, and the hurricane; it speaks all about the lee of an island, the storm, throwing the cargo overboard, frapping the ship, and of being driven before the wind. And she goes, you know, ‘I am really amazed that this kind of thing would be in the Scriptures. I did not know this was in the Bible.’ But it gets to that incredible part where Paul says, “For an angel of the God, Whose I am and Whom I serve, stood by me this night, saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must stand before Caesar; and behold, God has granted to thee all those that sail with thee” (vv23‑24). I stressed the known link and confidence he had in God and His word, and how she could have this too.
So, how to be in the Spirit? That is a difficult question. Maybe you have some thoughts yourself.
PJC I would like to be able to say more, but I believe the indwelling of the Spirit is like a little voice that is telling us the way to go, and we have to learn to know it and trust it, and we have to realise that it is God Himself speaking to us, perhaps in that soft, gentle voice (1 Kings 19:12). But I think what you have raised is very helpful and needful. The Spirit does dwell in us, but we have to learn to know His character and His Person dwelling in us, I think, and make good use of it – not to quench the Spirit (1 Thess 5:19), not to inhibit the work of the Spirit in us, but make way for it. It is a challenge, I think.
DS I think we learn by negatives, too. We fall on our face and crash – ‘well, obviously that was not the Spirit of God,’ and it is very embarrassing! But even that can be made fruitful. Peter acted very spontaneously – “Let us make three tabernacles” (Luke 9:33). But he had to be corrected, as that was not the mind of the Spirit. Much is made of spontaneity in what is called Christian worship; sadly, some is of the character of strange fire (Lev 10:1).
JB The Spirit has one object, does He not? “He shall glorify Me” (ch 16:14). He has come for that purpose, has He not? That Christ should be made the Object of our hearts.
DS Yes. So, when Peter and John say, “Why do ye gaze on us as if we had by our own power or piety made him to walk?” (Acts 3:12), you can see they are moving in the power of the Spirit. That is the kind of demonstration of the Spirit’s power that the world cannot match.
TRP Is not the answer to our brother’s question in the Lord’s words, “another Comforter?” When the Lord was here, the disciples were free to talk to Him – they enjoyed His company, they asked Him questions, there was an intimate link between them and Him. And the Spirit has come to take the Lord’s place, and I believe we should have the same intimacy with Him as the disciples had with the Lord. Is that right?
DS That is very good.
DWB It says here, “He shall teach you all things, and will bring to your remembrance all the things which I have said to you.” He teaches us, as we know by what has come out in the history of the Recovery. That is the Spirit’s teaching.
DS And so, it is viewing us as needing to be taught. That is the place we want to take. There is a beautiful hymn,
Low at Thy feet, Lord Jesus,
This is the place for me;
Here I have learned deep lessons,
Truth that has set me free.
(1932 tune book appendix, No. 18).
AVW The Spirit is also very sensitive, is He not? Would that reflect on us? We should be sensitive in our walk.
DS Right. It is not something that is imposed on us, is it? It is simply that He is seeking conditions to dwell in our lives.
AVW Yes. I think it is a great thing really, in Christianity, this sensitiveness about what is right. Otherwise it can be very harmful, really. We might say something, or act, in a way which gives the lie to Christianity, really. I am sure that a lot of us are insensitive.
DS I think what you say about ‘giving the lie to it’ is very important, because you can profess to be a Christian, but practically you can act like an atheist. Or you can say, ‘I really believe in the Holy Spirit,’ but practically there is little evidence of one trusting Him. I was thinking about implications – if we believe the Holy Spirit is here, indwelling ourselves, in God’s people, then that has certain implications. That has certain consequences in our life. One of the things, I think, is respect for others.
AVW I often wonder if we really believe things as we say we do. It is a challenge, if we think about it – the immense things we have been given in Christianity, the immensity of being given the Spirit, and the truth. Do we really believe it? It is a challenge to me – I do not know about others.
DS Yes, I agree.
SML The Spirit is power, is He not? He is power from on high. The Lord said to the disciples to wait until they were clothed with it (Luke 24:49). But in practice we are often afraid and scared and hesitant as Christians. Why is that?
DS We were speaking the other night – the Philistines spread themselves out – how does it say?
DWB “Spread themselves” (2 Sam 5:18).
DS Yes, made themselves really impressive and imposing. You know, as a student that is quite intimidating, if you are in a class, teachers coming on strongly, mocking the Bible account or what is true. But God will give you strength to raise your hand, and say, ‘Actually, I do believe.’ For example, we know this young nurse who, while in training, had to face a propaganda course, called ‘Women’s studies,’ which was based on a host of false assumptions. So she wrote a paper on the life of her godly aunt, which overturned every one of the false assumptions. The teacher was not going to accept it, so she said to her: ‘You said, we were not to make assertions only, but to back up our assertions with facts.’ The teacher finally accepted her paper and gave her in the end a good mark. Colleges or universities can be a very intimidating environment. So, yes, I feel for a younger person. I cannot speak as an example in this area, because in school I was a ‘secret service Christian’ – only the Lord and I knew. My main thought was just to blend in and hide my Christianity so that I would not be ridiculed. It was a bad choice. It is much better to be open as to our faith. A friend of mine was just that, he confessed Christ really openly; and he became known as ‘the preacher,’ and he got lots of arrows; but the arrows helped him, because “greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
AWGS So the Spirit is referred to in Romans 8:26 as adding help to our weakness, which I think is what our brother is saying.
DS That is it.
ADB Do you think we sometimes actually forget the Spirit is within us?
DS Yes, sure. I think if you are moved to thoughts of self, and then you think, ‘Well, I cannot do this’ – you are right, you cannot do it. But there has been made divine provision. And a lot of the time we never know what the Spirit can do because we never step out there and trust Him in a situation! The Spirit would make a real difference. We all have our own sphere of influence: we have friends, we have acquaintances, we have all this. You do not know what the Spirit could do in that situation. It is awesome!
A young couple in Alberta had an idea: ‘Let us set up a Christian literature table by the exit of a Walmart store.’ Well, some Hutterite farmers were really thirsty for the word of God – they do not really have the gospel in their Amish-like colony, at least not a gospel of assurance. They came across gospel material, stressing the truth of the knowledge of assurance. The Lord started to work. Through this young couple and their knowledge of thirsty souls in many of the colonies all over Alberta, over a two-year period, about ten years ago, 450 folks were saved and left the colonies. Who would have known what setting up a gospel literature table could enable the Spirit of God to do?
MJC Do you think the company in Acts 13, at the beginning in Antioch, demonstrate what the Spirit of God can do? “They were ministering to the Lord and fasting,” and the Holy Spirit spoke to them (v2).
DS That is a very instructive order of events. That is very helpful. “As they were ministering to the Lord.” So, really, there needs to be the exaltation of Christ. How important is ministering to the Lord to us? Is that important to us? Is that really something we set aside time for? It is not just when the saints come together.
MJC And then there is the fasting too.
DS Yes. I cannot speak of that one, so skip it and go on – no! I know what you mean – there is the relinquishing of what is natural.
MJC Well, when you see some of the persons there, they were clearly from different backgrounds, and maybe even different parts of the world, and yet there they were together.
DS Yes. This is corporate. That is good, too. There is this corporate side of them “ministering” together.
MJC It raises the question, does it not, whether everything I do with my local saints is ministering to the Lord?
DS Yes. That, I felt, was a real result of the indwelling of the Spirit. We treat not only our local saints but other believers with respect. We come to them too to learn from them, and I must say that over the years, we have been enriched by God’s people in a wider circle too. So this underlying respect for one another is needed; you cannot really build if there is no respect.
DWB That is what the apostle had to remind the Corinthian saints about. “Do ye not know … that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor 3:16). He is really raising the challenge as to the dignity that belongs to the circle of the saints.
MJC Do you think it is possible, because of the present situation and the ruin of the Church, that we can overlook what has just been raised? We tend to think that because everything is ruin and in breakdown – and it is true, it is – these things cannot be worked out.
DS I think that is where faith comes in. Yes, it is broken, not just amongst the saints we know but amongst many companies. So, we just seek to encourage fellow believers to stand by their scriptural convictions in faith. And some may take a ‘hold the fort till the Lord comes’ type of approach – ‘I will be a turtle and I will just pull in my head and my legs, and wait until the Lord comes’ – but no, that is the wrong approach. I love playing chess, and the important thing is that the initiative is kept. The Lord has never lost the initiative, and He is moving today by the Spirit in many ways.
AM I am often impressed by 1 Cor 2:12: “But we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God, that we may know the things which have been freely given to us of God.” Can you say something about the things that have been given freely to us?
DS I was tempted to read that one too. I mean, it is really good! What really jumped out to me there is the phrase, “Thus also the things of God knows no one except the Spirit of God” (v11). That is really powerful stuff! Wow! Then I really need to be cultivating links with the Spirit of God, to know the mind of God. And then, “That we may know the things which have been freely given to us of God.” Perhaps one of the things given to us is the inheritance. Can you help us out here?
DJB I am not sure that you can put a limit to it, can you? It is whatever God has been pleased to make known to us. Especially the glory of the Lord, and the desire of God to have those who would love Him and serve Him. But that is only a little.
DS Yes. What you said about ‘limit’ is good, not limiting things. Who are we to put limits on what the Spirit can do? So, if such an idea comes into our thoughts, it would limit the Spirit, and then we act with a limited view of the Spirit. But I think, if we have a sense of the wonder of all that God has given to us, such as sonship, the Spirit would enlarge its reality to us.
AM You spoke earlier about the importance of the glory of God, and I really like the way this chapter ends. It says, “But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:16). Does the mind of Christ help us to come to a point where we can glorify God?
DS Yes. The big battle today is for our minds. The big battle is – how do we actually think? Have our minds been renewed (Rom 12:2)? Because so many things flow from that. And our affections too – we should not make everything of the mind, it is the affections too. We should be refusing words that boost up the flesh. And what is this soft, gentle voice saying? Well, it might be reproving me of evil; and this is the other side of the ministry of the Spirit – He is reproving me of evil, absolutely! And calling things what they are – not beating around the bush. First of all, with ourselves.
DJB Do you think that in the eighth chapter of Romans the Spirit is presented from at least two standpoints? One is His power, and grace as leading the believer, leading the saints. But there is also my responsibility to rely upon the Spirit, walking in the Spirit (v4), and by the Spirit putting to death the deeds of the body (v13). I have to act on the responsibility that God has put into my hand, and given me power for.
DS Yes. The Spirit has equipped us to act responsibly. There is a scriptural principle of fulfilled responsibility. You know, David has his job as a shepherd. You think, ‘I am just little, I am just a young person.’ Well – fulfil that well! Do the best job as a son or a daughter! ‘I am just a student.’ Well, do the best job for the teacher, and fulfil that responsibility! ‘I am just doing corporate work.’ Do that well. As a believer fulfils responsibility, he gets more, and more, and more. And you never know what will open up. They did not know, in the beginning of the Book of Daniel, where things were going. They were answering responsibly to the light that God had given them. How wonderfully God blessed them! But had they not cared about what you may consider the ‘little things’ in life, early on, keeping themselves pure, keeping themselves from what is of the world, they would have taken themselves out of the area of God’s blessing. Yes, they had to go to university too, and they were given Babylonian names, but it did not matter because they were confident in their identity. They were put into Babylonian schools to train for what you would call government service. So, off they go to university, with their new names. But when it came to the eating of what God had said was unclean, they would not compromise, and they made a stand. God honours the stand they take and gives them the wisdom they need to do their jobs. So at graduation here are four young men who are not just better than the other students, they are better than the best professors and all the wise men of Babylon! They got way more! Why? They responsibly fulfilled their place in a school setting. It mentions their Hebrew names at the end (v19), which is significant. It has been suggested to mean that their identity – in type, who they are in Christ – is preserved. Do you know who you are in Christ?
MJC It says, “God gave them … wisdom,” and so on (Dan 1:17). Having made that stand, God gave them what they needed.
DS That is it. This is stepping out in faith. This is proving what the Spirit can do – very practical.
DJB You made a reference earlier to sowing to the Spirit (Gal 6:8). What would you understand by that?
DS If a farmer goes out and he just flicks a few seeds into the fields when he goes outside, and he comes back home and says, ‘I have done the work for today,’ his wife says, ‘No, sorry, that is completely insufficient. That does not cut it.’ No, we should be liberal – both in evangelism, in service, in what we are doing for God, I believe. And it does take time. I was in sales, and many new guys would come on board, work hard knocking on doors and making proposals, then quit after three months and miss all the orders that came in the next six months. It takes perseverance. And this is sowing to the Spirit – my impression, anyway, is that sowing to the Spirit needs to be done, like, every day, in our calling, in what we are doing, in our relations to everyone – sowing to the Spirit. And pretty soon things start to pop, and this is when it gets exciting. The fruit starts to show.
JB If you sow, then there is reaping. And if you reap, you reap eternal life.
DS But it is exciting, the sowing and the reaping. I mean, reaping through the Spirit. The contrast there is the sowing to the flesh – oh, that is so painful! I sometimes walk along the street and hold my head in my hands because I remember something I said to someone that was so awkward, so wrong. It can be painful! There are actual consequences for sowing to the flesh. A friend of mine spoke of ten years in which he had a detour in his spiritual life. There was something on a false line that appealed to him. So you really want to be kept in the Spirit, sowing to the Spirit. He is there to encourage even the littlest bit.
DWB Do you think the apostle John is a good example for us?
DS In what way?
DWB He “became in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day” (Rev 1:10), and he had a wonderful Lord’s Day!
DS Yes. He is able just to put all the circumstances aside, and everything that is around here, all the day-to-day stuff – able to put that aside and just enjoy the Lord.
DWB “Come up here” (Rev 4:1).
TRP We sow in faith, do we not? Because it is God Who gives the seed the life.
DS That is true. And just have confidence in the word of God. Have confidence in the good seed. I know another story: this lady, she wanted to witness for the Lord. She sees her neighbour come outside and joined her on a walk. As they go down the street, it gets dark, and the neighbour says, ‘Oh, I love darkness!’ And before the lady can even think, she says, “And men have loved darkness rather than light; for their works were evil” (John 3:19). Talk about a conversation stopper! They walk back without a word. This lady thought this was her worst witnessing experience. But then, ten years later, this other lady goes, ‘Hi, I am your old neighbour. Do you remember you spoke about darkness?’ She said, ‘Oh, do I ever!’ ‘Well,’ she said, ‘actually that word never left me, and for years and years I fought it, but I came to be in agreement with that word – my deeds were evil. Why it irritated me, was because it was true!’ And she came to it, ‘Yes!’ And then she saw her need of a Saviour. So, one little Scripture, okay? That is not too hard!
I did want to touch on Acts. I like the idea of how this leads to freshness in worship and freshness in service, the thought of the indwelling of the Spirit. So it starts off in an individual way – the woman with an alabaster flask, she comes up, and she spontaneously expresses her appreciation of Christ. And it really does not matter about size, because even a pair of pigeons was enough for God in the Old Testament. So you say, ‘I am just a young Christian; at the morning meeting I do not have anything much to say,’ but even one impression in freshness is meaningful to God. In the Song of Songs 2:14, the Lord asks, “Let Me see thy countenance, let Me hear thy voice.” So, do not come up empty. If you have proved God in some measure this week, you have something to express. But this freshness and liberty marks Spirit-filled service. We are not thinking, ‘What is everybody going to think of me?’ – that maybe is a thing that does limit spontaneity, if there is peer pressure or a feeling of inadequacy – but, ‘What would the Lord want me to do at this time?’ Just get up and give the Lord something!
DWB We “worship by the Spirit of God, … and do not trust in flesh” (Phil 3:3).
DS Yes. So you have instances of spontaneity of worship all through Scripture. And it is a wonderful thing! And, you see, all of these things make the Christian life attractive. Being filled with the Spirit is setting forth individually, in your family life, that which is attractive. That is not the purpose you are doing it for, but it does have that effect: you are seeking to exalt Christ. And as we are seeing, that is just what the Philistines did not want – David got to be king in Hebron, and the Philistines immediately spread out in the Valley of Rephaim in preparation to attack (2 Sam 5:17‑18). This shows how Satan is adamantly opposed to the exaltation of Christ, and the work of the Spirit.
AND When the Lord’s name is magnified and lifted up in worship, individually and collectively, does it give us the power to go out and witness to the world? I was thinking about the power that there is when the Lord’s name is magnified and lifted up.
DS It is like overflowing. It is like the lepers that went into the tents and got all that food and said, ‘Can we keep this to ourselves?’ (2 Kgs 7:8‑9). No way! Your heart is so full, it has to come out into expression. And otherwise it even hinders you – we harm ourselves by not sharing the good news.
AVW We might mention the fruit of the Spirit, too.
DS Go on.
AVW I think I have just learnt to recite them in Galatians 5:22‑23!
AVW They are very different from the works of the flesh.
DS Yes. Patience, and love, long-suffering, joy.
AVW Peace and kindness.
DS It is what nature cannot produce.
AVW What a wonderful Person He is!
DWB The new nature does produce this fruit!
DS So, we have spontaneity of worship, but there also is spontaneity of service. Think of the dear saints in Thessalonica, just new in the faith really, not long converted, but they are already showing these features that are so wonderful (1 Thess 1:5‑10). He says, ‘I do not have to tell you, the word has gone out. All you saints here, we can really fire up one another on these lines too, this is a great thing.’ “For our glad tidings were not with you in word only, but also in power” – that is interesting, that it brings that thought of power in again. “And in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance; even as ye know what we were among you for your sakes: and ye became our imitators” – the importance of modelling: it is good to have older kids as good examples for younger kids, and it is good to have young couples, for those who are thinking about getting married. It is good to have older couples modelling what it should look like for the younger couples. “And of the Lord, having accepted the word in much tribulation with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that ye became models to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia: for the word of the Lord sounded out from you” – there it goes out – “not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place your faith which is towards God has gone abroad, so that we have no need to say anything.” This is the power! And we are in the Spirit – it is not something that a person is trying to make an effort to do. The word has its effect, because it is the word of God. The exaltation of Christ has its effect, because it is of the Spirit.
PJW In Church history, I think it is right that every revival has been also marked by a fresh recognition of the Person of the Holy Spirit.
DS Yes. And the way it has often showed up is in the matter of prayer, and often in the sisterhood. If you check the history, you find godly women in prayer. And we think we live in dark days sometimes, but sometimes there have been other days just as difficult. But God’s people in the past got on their knees, acknowledged the broken condition, pleaded to God to move – not in a sectarian way, but just move – in relation to His people, and come in, and owned their brokenness; and God moved, in a marvellous way.
JB So after the spontaneous preaching of Peter where you read in Acts, in the next section 3000 were converted!
JB But that was after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It just shows what He can do, does it not?
TRP Does not what you say illustrate what the Lord brings out about the fountain of living water springing up into eternal life (John 4:14)? The fountain is what everybody can see, but the source is hidden.
DS That is wonderful! And, as we prove it ourselves, I think it comes back to the boldness issue, or the hesitancy issue. As we prove these things, as we know it works for ourselves, and as we prove the blessed support of the Spirit, then, yes, we are bold! Peter is a changed man, he is bold! Not in his self-confidence, but in the Lord.
18 October 2014