"And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour, out My Spirit upon all flesh." Joel 2:28.
Possession of the Saints
"All who consecrate soul, body, and spirit to God will be constantly receiving a new endowment of physical and mental power. The inexhaustible supplies of Heaven are at their command. Christ gives them the breath of His own spirit, the life of His own life. The Holy Spirit puts forth its highest energies to work in heart and mind. The grace of God enlarges and multiplies their faculties, and every perfection of the divine nature comes to their assistance in the work of saving souls. Through co-operation with Christ they are complete in Him, and in their human weakness they are enabled to do the deeds of Omnipotence."óThe Desire of Ages, page 827.
What is this which God designs that all His people have within themselves? How may they recognize beyond a shadow of doubt that they do possess a spirit like Godís? How will its manifestations in yielded lives compare with the life of Christ?
Concerning Christís possession of the Spirit we read: "For God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him." John 3:34. To us also is extended the gracious offer, "That ye might be filled with all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3: 19. With this assurance that Godís method of dealing with His Son is but a token of His plan for the salvation of all flesh, we may go on to examine the results in Christís life of His possession of Godís Spirit.
The fact that Christ "emptied Himself" (Philippians 2:7, R.S.V.) before coming to this earth necessitated an infilling of the Spiritís power. The spotless life of Christ was designed to be a powerful encouragement and incentive to men. If Jesus could in the power of Godís Spirit continue to do the deeds of Omnipotence, then His followers may hope to receive power within themselves to make their lives a blessing both to God and to each other.
The fullness which Jesus received during His earthly ministry must have depended on His capacity to receive. Godís outpouring of heavenís riches could benefit Him only as He made room for it. We may be very sure that there was nothing in the character of Christ which needed displacing. It was not a weakness that led Him to make room for an infilling of Godís Spirit. We read that before the creation of this earth Christ satisfied His Father completely: "Then I was beside Him, like a master workman; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing before Him always, rejoicing in His inhabited world and delighting in the sons of men." Proverbs 8:30,31, R.S.V.
No, He "emptied Himself" of all that would give. Him an advantage over humanity in its struggle against sin. Only thus could He bring hope to the hopeless and inspire in them a confidence that they, too, could overcome in the strength God held out to them. Without such a convincing demonstration as Christ afforded mankind, none would have dared reach up to lay hold of the hand of God. So cleverly had Satan worked in human minds to confuse and discourage with his insinuations of doubt.
The spectacle of Godís Son, sharing with His creatures their inherent weaknesses, deliberately being cut off from such communion with His Father as was not available to them, living a blameless and power-filled life despite Satanís efforts to frustrate and defeat Himóthis was Heavenís demonstration to all who could not be satisfied with words alone. Such a demonstration God had purposed to make in the experience of the nation of Israel. They failed Him, but Jesus came to show man the way.
"This experience may be yours if you, too, will accept the infilling of My Spirit," God has been saying to all mankind since that day. Surely no one in full possession of his reason, and with a knowledge of Godís plan and purpose for his life, would turn his back on so wonderful a possession as a spirit like Christís. What is it that persuades men and women to continue, year after year, so lacking in characteristics that are godlike, content to exist on so low a level, when they might breathe the very atmosphere of heaven? The only answer is SELF. This four-letter word, which is a synonym for an even shorter one, SIN, has been Satanís trump card from the very beginning. A man who is concerned with his own designs and ambitions, or frustrated by his own inability to lead a victorious life in things of the spirit, is incapable of opening up his life to be filled with the fullness of God.
Godís fullness never can be contained in a vessel partially filled with human imperfection. Therefore God, in mercy, does not answer our prayers for the manifestation of the Spirit in the latter rain. He knows that such a manifestation would shatter the earthen vessels still containing selfish designs and considerations, even as the combining of certain chemicals brings about an explosion that wrecks the test tube holding the mixture. Truly there is a solemn work of purging incumbent on every child of God before he will be ready to receive the outpouring of the latter rain.
"In the great and measureless gift of the Holy Spirit are contained all of heavenís resources. It is not because of any restriction on the part of God that the riches of His grace do not flow earthward to men. If all were willing to receive, all would become filled with His Spirit. Ö There is nothing that Christ desires so much as agents who will represent to the world His Spirit and character. Ö All heaven is waiting for channels through which can be poured the holy oil to be a joy and blessing to human hearts. Ö The indwelling of the Spirit will be shown by the outflowing of heavenly love. The divine fullness will flow through the consecrated human agent, to be given forth to others."óChristís Object Lessons, page 419.
"The church members need to know from experience what the Holy Spirit will do for them. It will bless the receiver, and make him a blessing. It is sad that every soul is not praying for the vital breath of the Spirit; for we are ready to die if it breathe not on us. Ö
"Some have treated the Spirit as an unwelcome guest, refusing to receive the rich gift, refusing to acknowledge it, turning from it, and condemning it as fanaticism. Ö
"They are not willing to be deprived of the garments of their own self-righteousness. They are not willing to exchange their own righteousness, which is unrighteousness, for the righteousness of Christ, which is pure, unadulterated truth."óTestimonies to Ministers, pages 64, 65.
"As the plant takes root in the soil, so we are to take root in Christ. As the plant receives the sunshine, the dew, and the rain, so are we to receive the Holy Spirit. … So the divine Husbandman looks for a harvest. He is seeking to reproduce Himself in the hearts and lives of His followers, that through them He may be reproduced in other hearts and lives."óEducation, page 106.
On Pentecost, when the apostles gave a great demonstration of the power of the Spirit, their personalities were so different from what they had been before that they were accused of being drunk. Peter explained that they were not drunk, but that their personality change resulted from an infilling of the Holy Spirit, quoting Joel 2:28: "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions."
Contemplation of a last-day fulfillment of Joelís prophecy forces us to consider what our own reaction would be to a genuine infilling or "outpouring" of the Holy Spirit.
The very thought of being filled with a power not his own forces from man the admission that he is not adequate, that his hand alone on the controls is not sufficient to guide his life safely. This is damaging to his natural pride, and its implications are terrifying. Suppose this power to which he surrenders himself should lead into an experience which he would not choose to have. Suppose he is made to appear undignified, even ridiculous, in the eyes of his fellow men. Why was it that Peter felt it necessary to assure his audience that he and his companions were not drunk?
No, the typical twentieth-century Christian is not yet ready for the outpouring of Godís Spirit. There is a humbling which must be completed first. The roughnesses and imperfections of the clay vessels must be smoothed and refined before the rich fragrance of the holy oil will be received gratefully, eagerly. Only when the vessels have placed themselves unreservedly in the hands of the Potter will they be so prepared. Only thus can they cease to be so aware of their innate unloveliness and thus to shrink from contact with purity.
"We have now only a little time in which to prepare for eternity. May the Lord open the closed eyes of His people and quicken their dulled senses, that they may realize that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to them that believe. May they see the importance of giving so pure and righteous a representation of God that the world shall see Him in His beauty. May they be so filled with the Spirit that dwells in Him that the world will have no power to divert them from the work of presenting to men the wonderful possibilities before every soul who receives Christ."óTestimonies, vol. 7, pp. 11, 12.
Thus is the human body to become "the temple of the Holy Ghost" (1 Corinthians 6:19) when the spirit which is in man is truly a reproduction of Godís Spirit. Only thus can you "glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are Gods." Verse 20. In the exact proportion that the entire selfóbody, soul, and spiritóis yielded to Gods possession, will this take place. This truly is the new-covenant experience when God will put His "laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts." Hebrews 8:10. Then only can man be called "the epistle of Christ, Ö written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart." 2 Corinthians 3:3.
The effect of such a work of grace in the heart of man is truly a miraculous blossoming of the fruitage of the Spirit in his everyday life.
"God will impart warmth and moisture to our souls. As we seek God for the Holy Spirit, it will work in us meekness, humbleness of mind, a conscious dependence upon God for the perfecting latter rain. If we pray for the blessing in faith, we shall receive it as God has promised."óTestimonies to Ministers, page 509.
"God can use every person just in proportion as He can put His Spirit into the soul-temple. The work that. He will accept is the work that reflects His image. His followers are to bear, as their credentials to the world, the ineffaceable characteristics of His immortal principles."
"Joy in the Holy Spirit is health-giving, life-giving joy. In giving us His Spirit, God gives us Himself, making Himself a fountain of divine influences, to give health and life to the world."óTestimonies, vol. 7, pp. 144, 273.
And what will be the effect upon the world of the presence of such Spirit-filled men and women? Those who have tarried in the presence of God until they receive the infilling of His Spirit will accomplish far more of the work He has set for the church to do than has been done through all the bustle and flurry of activity which occupies the church today.
"As those who have been cleansed and sanctified through a knowledge of Bible truth engage heartily in the work of soulsaving, they will become indeed a savor of life unto life. And as daily they drink of the inexhaustible fountain of grace and knowledge, they will find that their own hearts are filled to overflowing with the Spirit of their Master, and that through their unselfish ministry many are benefited physically, mentally, and spiritually. The weary are refreshed, the sick restored to health, and the sin-burdened relieved."óProphets and Kings, page 234.
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