to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were
already kindled! But I have a baptism to be baptized
with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!
Being assembled together with them, he charged them
not to depart from Jerusalem but to wait for the promise
of the Father, which, said he, ye heard from me: for John
indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with
the Holy Ghost not many days hence (Acts 1:4,5).
"Wait for the promise of the Father... not many days
hence." The thought that I want to pass on to you
concerns the positive nature of the Holy Spirit.
We know that the Holy Spirit is the answer to the words
of the Lord Jesus: "I came to scatter fire".
The baptism of the Holy Spirit was a baptism of fire. Now
fire is always positive; and if the Holy Spirit
corresponds to the fire, it means that the Holy Spirit is
also positive. Fire is neither cold nor neutral: fire is
positive. When you touch it, or when it touches you, or
when you get near it, you know that you are in the
presence of an element that is positive.
Spirit Abhors a Vacuum
Now here in
these words at the beginning of this book, which we might
call 'The Book of the Scattered Fire', we have a pause, a
suspense, a kind of parenthesis. The Cross with all its
meaning is an accomplished fact. The work of redemption
is finished. Everything has been done as to the basis of
the future. And everything has been foreshadowed and
foretold as to the purpose. Here it is: "Ye shall be
my witnesses both in Jerusalem... Judaea... Samaria...
unto the uttermost part of the earth" (1:8). Meeting
His disciples after the Resurrection, He had given them
the great commission and told them what was to be their
future ministry and work to the nations, to the remotest
parts of the earth. Everything foreshadowed and foretold,
as to the purpose: and yet, a pause, an interlude, with a
big question hanging over it: a waiting. They can do
nothing, with all that. With all that, it is still
negative, it is still all in suspense, it is still in
this state of question. And the Holy Spirit was the
answer. The Holy Spirit moved right into that 'neutral
zone' and turned it into a positive; changed the whole
thing from negative or neutral or question, into a
mighty, positive affirmative. The rest of this book is
just the story of the positive activity of the Holy
That may seem very simple; it may not strike you as
having very much in it, or being very profound. But in
fact there is a very great deal in that that we ought to
think about, we ought to recognize. Let me say again:
wherever you come upon the Holy Spirit in the Bible, you
will find He is positive. He does not believe in vacuums.
The Bible opens with a vacuum - and immediately it says:
"the Spirit of God". "The Spirit of God
brooded upon the face of the waters". The Spirit of
God is reacting against a vacuum. 'Without form and void
empty... and the Spirit of God...' You begin your Bible
with this very positive characteristic of the Holy
And so it is all the way through. If you run through your
Bible, even from memory, with this thought in mind, when
you come on the Holy Spirit in any expression, whether in
symbol or in action, you will find that He is always
tremendously positive. You have only to recall the
beginning of Ezekiel's prophecies. The living ones, the
wheels, and the Spirit - and they go! They go, and
they go straight forward; they turn neither to the right
hand nor to the left. It is the Spirit who is the Goer;
the Spirit of the positive, who is against all that is
negative, all that is neutral and all that is empty,
always seeking to be on the move forward towards the
great and consummate end. He is the 'Goer-Spirit', if I
may coin that phrase. He is always the executive
of the Godhead, the energy of God in the things of God.
He is always in action. So this book ought to be 'The
Acts of the Holy Spirit', for it is that.
law of the Spirit is the principle of the walk of
the Christian. The walk of the Christian is supposed to
be a walk in sanctification; there must be a sanctified
walk. That is what it means to walk in the Spirit. The
definite statement is: "Walk in the Spirit, and ye
shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh" (Galatians
5:16). Are you struggling, striving, fighting, not to
fulfil the flesh? That is negative; you will get nowhere
along that line. The way not to is to do something
positive. The positive is the answer to the negative.
"Walk by the Spirit, and ye shall not...". It
is a great principle of deliverance. God's way is always
a positive way. We are occupied so much with the
negative, striving and wrestling not to do this, to stop
this and that. And we do not find that we get very far in
that, do we? The provision of the Lord is: "Walk by
the Spirit, and ye shall not...".
What does it mean to walk in the Spirit? Well, it means
to consort with the Spirit. You say, what does that mean?
It is best understood by recognizing what we do. We, by
nature, consort with the flesh: we are all the time
consorting with ourselves - our poor miserable selves;
occupied with ourselves, talking about ourselves, praying
about ourselves; keeping ourselves, our miserable selves
always in front of us. When we are so continually
occupied with what we are in ourselves, that is
consorting with ourselves, is it not? How far do we get
that way? Nowhere at all! We make no progress at all by
consorting with ourselves.
And I am afraid there are some Christians who consort
with the devil. It is not always easy to distinguish
between ourselves and the devil, but you know he is
always talking to us through ourselves. If there is
something that is wrong with us, he lets us know it. If
there is something that troubles us, he adds to the
trouble, he accentuates. Give him a little bit of his own
ground, that he himself created for himself - for he
created that ground of the old fallen Adam for himself
and for his own purposes, to work out his own designs -
give him a little bit of that which he has made for
himself, and see what he will do with it. He will make
everything of it, and it will not be long before people
who do that will find that they are in terrible bondage
to the devil through their own selves - their own make-up
and faults and weaknesses and sinfulness. And that is
consorting with the devil. He comes and accuses, and you
listen; he makes a suggestion, and you take it on - you
almost enter into a discussion with him. You consort with
him, or you consort with yourself: and that is walking
after the flesh.
Don't consort with the flesh, don't consort with the
devil, have no truck with them at all! Consort with the
Spirit! The Spirit is the One who has come alongside: the
very meaning of His Name, 'Advocate' or 'Comforter' (Gk. parakletes)
is One who is called alongside. Consort with the One
alongside. Have your communion with the Spirit. Challenge
yourself, and challenge the enemy, on this: Is this
really of the Spirit, does this correspond to the Word of
God, is this true according to the gospel of grace? If
the answer is: No, of course it is not! then repudiate
it! That is consorting with the Spirit, always moving on
the ground of grace, the Spirit of grace.
That is a very simple beginning, but it indicates that
the Holy Spirit is positive. All that other is negative:
it is pulling back, it is draining, dragging; it is all a
big 'No'. The Spirit never comes on that ground; He is
against anything like that. As in the first creation He
moved against the void, so in the new creation He has
nothing to do with, and no interest in, vacuums, voids,
or anything that is negative. Take positive ground, and
you will find the Holy Spirit is with you. Forsake your
negative ground in your spiritual life.
the next place, is the law of service, or testimony.
Notice quite simply: "Ye shall receive power, when
the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be my
witnesses...". The principle of service or testimony
is being positive. How many Christian lives get tied up
in knots because they do not testify! They do not
witness, they do not let their light shine; they are just
negative. They are all the time thinking of what people
will think or say, what the reactions from others will
be. All sorts of considerations come in, in that way, and
they just neutralize us, get us all tied up - and what
poor specimens of Christians we are then!
Now note here: "They therefore that were scattered
abroad upon the tribulation that arose about
Stephen..." (11:19) went everywhere, testifying.
There was no ordination service, no putting on of special
uniform, or a badge - 'Christian Worker!' It was
spontaneous, because the Holy Spirit is positive, always.
And again, while this may be very simple, I know of many
lives which are tied right up on this very thing: they
are not positive; they are negative, or they are neutral.
The Holy Spirit is therefore not moving on His own normal
and natural basis in their life; they are limiting Him.
Be positive, and you will find the Holy Spirit is with
you, and you will get surprises. Just take notice! That
is what is in this very book of the Acts: 'the Spirit
said...' (10:19, 13:2), 'an angel of the Lord spake...'
(8:26), and the men responded. When Philip responds to
the Spirit, when Peter responds to the Spirit, oh, what
tremendous things happen! - to their surprise, to their
amazement! The Spirit is positive. You be positive, and
you will find that He is positive, He is with you in
this is the principle of fellowship. The fellowship of
the Spirit is the spirit of fellowship: but,
again, it is positive. Fellowship is not a passive thing:
it never can be a passive thing, because all the hosts of
hell are out against it. If there is one thing that hell
is against, it is the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, the
fellowship of the people of God. Unceasingly, by any and
every means, those evil powers will seek to destroy that
fellowship, because that fellowship spells their final
undoing. Therefore fellowship can never be a neutral,
passive kind of thing. You have got to fight for it, you
have got to stand for it, you have got to be positive
about this. Let some rift go on, and just see the havoc
that delay over putting that right will work!
If you have the Spirit - and of course I am addressing
those who are supposed to have the Spirit - you should
know that, if you are out of joint with another member of
the Body of Christ to which you belong, it is, as it is
with a dislocation in the natural physical body: there is
an ache, a perpetual ache. The Holy Spirit sets up this
ache in the spiritual Body, where there is a dislocation.
And you know what happens in the natural body if that is
not attended to. Two things happen. One is that the
longer you leave it, the more difficult it becomes to put
it right; and the other is that adhesions set in -
something extra. Extra things begin to come in and
complicate the whole situation, so that it is no longer a
straightforward thing to put that joint back. The same
thing is true in the spiritual. If you let it go on, it
becomes very much more difficult and more complicated.
All sorts of other things - accretions and adhesions -
have bound themselves round that thing, to make it a very
complicated thing now. The inflammation is there and the
ache goes on.
By that inflammation and ache the Holy Spirit is giving a
positive witness against this thing. But if you go on
long enough, the Holy Spirit will withdraw and leave you
to it, just because He is positive. He will not brook
persistent negatives on these things; He just will not
have it. He is going on and saying: 'All right, if you
are determined to stay there, you can do so. I am going
on.' And there arises a very, very serious situation.
That is, of course, grim and terrible. But it all gathers
round this truth that the Holy Spirit is positive on the
matter of fellowship. The Spirit says: 'Forsake not the
assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some
is, but so much the more...' (Hebrews 10:25). That is not
a legal thing - that you must, under legal obligation,
attend all the meetings, and so on. That is your very
life, that is a spiritual thing, that is the way of the
Holy Spirit. You are violating the very movement of the
Spirit, if you detach yourself and live an independent
kind of life. That which you call 'legal', which you are
seeking to throw off, is really spiritual. There is a
liberty which is not the liberty of the Spirit - it is
the licence of our own souls.
If the Spirit is inactive, quiescent, not doing anything,
not moving; if there are marks and signs that the Spirit
is not at work, that is an abnormal situation. It means
that, from the standpoint of the Spirit of God, there is
something wrong, something is not right. If everything
were right, the Spirit would be active; He would be
doing, going; there would be movement.
The Spirit will always be positive if He has His own
ground. And what is His ground? It is the Cross - it is
the cup. The cup and the fire, the fire and the cup, go
hand-in-hand. The mighty energy of the Spirit, that
positive element in the Spirit that is like fire - you
know it when it comes near, or when you touch it; it is
alive - that positive element of the Spirit goes
hand-in-hand with the cup, which rules you out and rules
me out in nature. His ground is the Cross applied deeply
to us. If the Spirit has that, then He goes on, then He
moves. His ground is always the Cross.
We must challenge our hearts about this. The Holy Spirit,
normally, is always positive - I could almost say
aggressive. He is never negative, He is never neutral. If
He has to pause, it means that He is waiting for
something; for it is not His nature to do that - He would
go on. May the Lord fill us with the mighty energy of His