The Supreme Necessity for the Holy Spirit
by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 1 - The Need to be Filled with the Holy Spirit

"And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: and I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, and in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship" (Exodus 31:1-5).

"But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light..." (1 Peter 2:9).

"That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God" (Eph. 2:7-8).

We are occupied, as we have felt led of the Lord, with the matter of the Supreme Necessity for the Holy Spirit and for a fresh knowledge of the Holy Spirit and His work in this day in which we live. It will be necessary to come closer to the more distinctive features of the Holy Spirit's work, but for a little while we will be taken up again with that inclusive, all-embracing object of the Holy Spirit's presence here in the church in this dispensation. It is a test, of course, for us as the Lord's people, but it is also a setting forth of the great encouragement that we have, to expect the very highest, greatest and best from the Lord.

Now, I have read this portion in Exodus 31:3, in order that we might get into touch with the tabernacle for a moment. You will see that the chapters which precede are occupied with all the details of the tabernacle. From chapter 25 where the Lord commanded Moses to speak unto the children of Israel to bring an offering of "every man whose heart maketh him willing", and then the things which are to be taken as forming not offerings but one offering, "take an offering", the many phases of this offering, the many parts of this one offering. These are mentioned and set forth in that chapter, and then the instructions for the making of this tabernacle are given in the subsequent chapters until you reach chapter 31. And you have a coming back in that chapter; a retrospective word and movement of God. Before any of this can be done there has to be an instrument chosen of God and especially filled with the Spirit of God unto this work, and Bezaleel is appointed. And the Lord says, "See, I have called by name... and I have filled him with the Spirit of God". Now, why that necessity? For the simple reason that the tabernacle was intended to set forth the glories of Christ. It was to be, in every detail, to the most minute point, an unveiling of the Lord Jesus and His glories. Everything was to speak of Him, to show Him, to declare Him, and only the Holy Spirit can do that and we therefore need not wonder at the special endowment and the special supervision of the Holy Spirit in order that every part of this tabernacle might perfectly express the thoughts of God, because here are embodied the thoughts of God concerning His Son and "no one knoweth the mind of God save the Spirit of God" and he to whom the Spirit may reveal those thoughts.

The Spirit alone has a right and an adequate apprehension of the Lord Jesus according to the Divine mind, and so Bezaleel must be filled with the Spirit of God in order that in all the work of the tabernacle there should be a right representation of God's thought concerning the Lord Jesus. Nothing is left to human judgment, nothing is left to man's thought, ability, ideas, surmises, arrangements, apprehensions, scales of values; nothing is left with man in this matter, and would to God it were more so in the church at this time. There is no room whatever for man's thoughts in the things of God. God has never left a place in the church for man naturally. God has filled His own space with the Holy Spirit for a full and perfect revelation of His own thoughts. And so the necessity was that there should be in the executing of this Divine pattern, this Divine plan, an instrument who was not only just externally actuated or helped by the Holy Spirit, but literally filled with the Spirit of God unto everything, and you note how explicit and detailed the Lord is about it, "all manner of workmanship". His devising was by the Holy Spirit, his cutting, his carving, his everything was by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God. It was, as we have said, because the tabernacle was to set forth the glories of Christ.

Now, we linked that with 1 Peter 2:9: "To show forth the excellencies of Him who called you (us) out of darkness into His most marvellous light". Peter deals with present things - his aspect of truth is the present pilgrimage of the church - but Paul goes beyond the earth and the present pilgrimage and sees the church in the heavenlies, and embraces the eternities, and carries this word on into the ages to come. "That in the ages to come He might show forth the exceeding riches of His grace in us", so that the thought is one throughout; the thought that is in Exodus is in Peter and in Paul; one thought: the presentation, the unveiling, the showing forth of the glory and the excellencies of the Lord Jesus. And the one truth underlies that in every case: the absolute necessity for the Holy Spirit to do it, and in order that He may do it, for those concerned to be filled with the Spirit. That comes in in Ephesians. And the showing forth of the exceeding riches, and the excellencies of Him is by the Holy Spirit. That is why the Holy Spirit has come.

Now we look at ourselves and we surely deplore the very little manifestation of His excellencies and we contemplate this requirement perhaps with misgiving, perhaps with despair. But let us reassure our hearts that despite all that we are that we would not be, and all that we are not that we would be, the Holy Spirit has come for this object: His mission is to glorify Christ, and not to glorify Christ apart from the saints, but in the saints and through the saints. His coming into the saints is in order that they might show forth the excellencies of Him who called them out of darkness into His marvellous light. So therein is our hope, assurance, confidence, strength; therein is the certainty that this thing can be.

What is God's thought for you, for me? It is a wonderful thought, it is indeed a marvellous fact, that He would take us from all our selfishness, sinfulness, and loathsomeness, and display in and through us the excellencies of His Son. Can we grasp that? Can we believe that? We will see in a moment what that means, but it is God's thought concerning us and God has made all the provision necessary to realise His own thought in you and in me, and that provision is the Holy Spirit. And, as long as we do not frustrate the work of the Holy Spirit, the day will come when all the excellencies of the Lord Jesus will be radiating from you and from me - they will be seen; they will be displayed. That will be the consummation of the Holy Spirit's work, Christ openly set forth to the universe in all His spiritual and moral excellencies in us. The work is going on behind an ugly network of scaffolding just now and we can see very little of what is happening, but it is going on.

Every Divinely permitted temptation, trial, adversity, pain, sorrow, which brings in the activity of the Holy Spirit unto the refining, purifying, mellowing, strengthening, illuminating, and enriching of our souls, is a movement towards a display of the excellencies of the Lord Jesus. You and I are not able, and rightly and properly so, to grasp our own spiritual improvement. The Lord does not allow that and He will very often bring along another spiritual trouble to stop us getting spiritually proud, but He is working in us. The devil says, "You are getting worse". In a sense we are seeing more and more how bad we are, but we are not getting one whit worse than we ever were. We are not getting worse; we are seeing it. But the Lord is doing something, and very often it is an essential to our spiritual growth and development that we see a little more of how bad we are. Sometimes the consciousness of sin is the very pathway to glory.

When you come to this tabernacle and recognise that it was intended to set forth the glories of Christ in every part, of course you want to take up every part and look at it and see what glory of Christ is displayed in it. Let us go back to Exodus 25 to this inclusive offering called a heave offering. It is remarkable that that term is applied to the tabernacle. You can understand that term when it is applied to one of the sacrifices, but when you find that the tabernacle, in all its material, is to comprise one heave offering unto the Lord, it is striking; it is impressive. It means that it is something that is lifted up before the Lord, held before the Lord. Of course, this is Christ in His fulness as presented before the Lord, that with which the Lord alone can be well pleased, and in that we have to find our delight and our pleasure. We have to find our pleasure in that with which the Lord is well pleased and that is the Lord Jesus. And then you break up, so to speak, that whole heave offering of the tabernacle, which is Christ in full exhaustive presentation. You see what it is that you have to delight in, and you see what it is the Father delights in, and then you see what it is that, being the Father's delight and our delight, is to be revealed in us of Christ and you pass from chapter 25 and the earlier phases and you see these various phases and parts of that one heave offering.

We will just remind ourselves of the first three materials. You have brass, silver and gold. Looking at the connections of each we see their significance. We have a brazen altar, for instance, and that is the place where the fires of God are maintained. And the brass speaks to us of judgment and it is the very first thing that you encounter as you enter into the court of this tabernacle. You cannot get anywhere until you have been faced with the question of judgment: the judgment of sin and the judgment of the sinner; where the fires of God have been let loose and have done their work. And in that brazen altar the types of the Lord Jesus are offered in the very fire, the very judgment fires of God. And the judgment fires of God exhaust themselves upon that offering and there is no more judgment of the sinner or of sin under the wrath of God.

Now, that is a brief word upon a large doctrine, but it is something of the excellency of Christ that ought to be displayed in you and in me. Oh, how many of the Lord's people today are going about as though the judgments of God were hanging over their heads! They are still afraid, if not of the great judgment, of some kind of judgment. To put it the other way round, we are not all exulting and rejoicing in our absolute deliverance from condemnation in Christ. We are not; we are bound under legalism that makes us afraid; we allow the accuser to take up things which the blood of the Lord Jesus has dealt with forever, and use them to bring again under condemnation and rob us of our testimony and of the glory of Christ in its display, and take from us His excellencies. I am impressed with how constantly the enemy is trying to get hold of Divine things and turn them to his own use, to his own account.

You notice in these chapters when Moses went up into the mount and God gave him this pattern and spoke about the gold, silver, brass, linen and all these things, because he was away (as the people felt, too long) they revolted. In reality, the devil got in and provoked them to a line of action independently of God and His servant, and you notice what happened. The first thing they did was to bring gold, the earrings and such like of all, to Aaron to make them an image of gold. And it seems to me as though the devil said, in effect, "God shall not have the gold - I will have it". God had said to Moses, "Go and bring a heave offering to Me of gold," and the devil said, "I will have the gold" and he tried to get in first to frustrate God, to anticipate this Divine thing in making impossible an adequate offering of gold, by capturing it himself.

The enemy is always out to try and take the thing which ought to be for the glory of God, and turn it to his own account. And in this matter of our deliverance from condemnation of the wrath of God, the enemy is always trying to capture that brass, that testimony, and bring us back under condemnation and get worship to himself instead of it coming to God. Remember, every bit of yielding to the accusations of the devil is surrender, worship to him and taking it from the Lord.

There is a right kind of dealing with wrong before the Lord. I am not saying we are to ignore or condone sin, and make light of evil-doing. I do not mean when we are touched by the Holy Spirit as to something that is not according to the will of God, we are to say that it does not matter, but there is an instant place of putting that right and getting free from condemnation. We ought to follow that course immediately the Spirit convicts us of wrong; we ought to get that right, avail ourselves of the value of the precious blood and put that away - if we do not, the enemy will have the right to bring us under a spirit of condemnation. And having done that, let us repudiate his right and not follow up each act of confession, repentance, and adjustment by bringing ourselves under condemnation and so taking from God the worship that is His. We go about, carrying the weight of forgiven sins too often, carrying a condemnation which is altogether unnecessary. Oh, that the Lord would bring us into that excellency of Christ which is that He has borne our sins and He has suffered all the righteous indignation of God against us as sinners, and He has borne the wrath of God for us, and we need not have any fear of God in that sense.

This is an elementary word, but there are so many of the Lord's people today who are not showing forth the excellency of absolute deliverance from condemnation and some of the greatest scandals in Christianity today are children of God who are under a cloud through condemnation. They are simply wrapped up with themselves in this matter and they cannot get free from this accusation which they have taken on from the enemy. Well, there is deliverance from judgment to begin with, and we ought to rejoice in that.

The silver means our redemption unto God. Do not forget that last part of the statement, for that is to me a very valuable part of the whole thing: "And hath redeemed us unto God". It is not simply that we are redeemed, but we are redeemed unto God. "Ye are bought with a price"; "Ye are not your own, you are bought with the precious blood of Christ as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot". "Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things such as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ" - "Redeemed unto God"; "Purchased with His own blood". We belong to the Lord and the Lord can look after His own. That is the strength of this thing that, being the Lord's property, paid for with a great price by Him, He will watch over and look after His own property: that which is His. It is a blessed thing, and not such a terrible thing as some people think, to belong to the Lord. So many who have that presented to them think that they are going to lose everything if they belong to the Lord. It is a case of "giving up" to the Lord; but we surely know the other side of that. It is a very blessed thing to have the Lord as our Owner, and redemption as represented in the silver is unto God.

"He hath redeemed us unto God by His own blood." There is something to rejoice in, an excellency of Christ to be displayed, and it ought to work out in this way: that before others there ought to be a display of the excellency of belonging to the Lord. Oh, our hearts ought to be smitten with shame if we so hesitate to let others know that we belong to the Lord. Then we do not display that excellency among us, "To show forth the excellency of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvellous light". That is the simple gospel, but it is an excellency that is not displayed enough in any of us. You see it brings us here, where the Holy Spirit must fill us unto this. We must be filled with the Spirit, for it is He who is to display the excellency, He it is who is to do the energising unto this manifestation of the Lord Jesus. He is here for that very purpose; we cannot do it. "Be filled with the Spirit" to show forth the glory of deliverance from judgment, to display the excellency of belonging to Christ, redeemed, purchased, and not being our own. Men glory in their self-possession, self-direction, and their powers of control and execution; in what they can do. But for us it should be glorying not in being our own, but in belonging to the Lord, for what He can do.

The gold: that Divine nature. Here is humanity in the acacia wood, but overlaid with pure gold. "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises that we might be partakers of the divine nature having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." There is an excellency to be shown forth, and the Holy Spirit is here to make us partakers of the Divine nature and that the Divine nature should be shown forth. We were speaking of it last night a little. The Divine disposition, the Divine mind, heart, will, is brought into us by the Holy Spirit in new birth, and then developed, made to grow and increase. That is the gold - that which is like the Lord. The Holy Spirit is here for the display of that exellency and we need to be filled with the Spirit unto that display.

I want to keep the two sides before you all the way through. The one is the great and blessed truth that that is just the very thing for which the Holy Spirit has been given - to reveal the glories of Christ in the saints - and the other side is also our necessity for being filled with the Spirit. Later perhaps the Lord will show us what being filled with the Spirit is, but we are stressing the necessity for it. And if only we could be impressed with the necessity and go to the Lord and say, "Lord, if we have been called for one thing and that is the display of the Lord Jesus Christ and that can only possibly be as we are filled with the Spirit, then Lord, nothing will satisfy me short of being filled with the Spirit and constantly so". That is the attitude that I have in mind for this series of messages, that we will get there and say, "Because of all this that has been shown, I can never rest until I live in the Spirit, walk in the Spirit, am filled with the Spirit - that I know what the Spirit-filled, Spirit-led life is".

You go on to all the rest in chapter 25. The linen, the righteousness imparted; the blue, of the heavenlies; the purple, speaking of royalty; the scarlet, of suffering; the light, of testimony; the incense, the merits of the Lord Jesus; the precious stones, His preciousness to us who believe, for, "unto you who believe He is precious" - the stones of preciousness, and all the rest. The priestly ministry and the functions of the altars, of the table, of the candlestick, and of the mercy seat; all these are different aspects of the Divine excellencies in the Lord Jesus. You say that all that is to have an expression in us, you can come into the spiritual value of all these things that are in Christ, but when you have said it all, you will summarise it all in three words: the display of the excellencies of the Lord Jesus is the display of the: Grace of God. It is all a marvellous story of grace. Isn't that judgment dealt with a story of grace? Is not that redemption unto God by His own blood a story of grace? Is not that impartation of the Divine nature one great work of grace? It is all grace all the way through.

You have five pillars on which to hang everything in the tabernacle and you find grace supports everything. Grace! Why, God has written the very testimony towards man in both hands and both feet, and in your five senses. There is grace on the right hand and grace on the left, grace on the right foot and grace on the left; it is grace. God created man in grace, and redeemed man in grace, and sanctifies man in grace. And it does not matter how much we may be called into vocational responsibility, and called in a vocationary sense to suffering, to endure and labour, even that is by the grace of God. And the excellencies of His grace: "That in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in kindness towards us through Christ Jesus". Oh, that we might display the grace of God more!

The Lord is speaking to my heart about this very much and I believe that is why the Lord often deals with us as He does, to make us see that it is all of grace after all. "You think that your work, your endurance, your suffering merits something? Not a bit of it, there is no merit in you at all. It is all of My grace". When you say, "Lord, after all, You have to deal with me in absolute grace both for life and ministry", then the Lord does things.

Then secondly, holiness: a display of the excellency of the Lord. Much needs to be said about that. The excellencies of His holiness are here presented in the tabernacle. Everything says, "holiness unto the Lord". The Lord wants, by the Holy Spirit, a display of the excellencies of the holiness of the Lord Jesus, "Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness."

And then the third thing is the glory. Everything in the tabernacle speaks of the glory of the Lord, and what is glory when it relates to redeemed humanity represented in the glorified Son of Man? It is not just the place of the intrinsic glory of the Godhead; we shall never have the glory of Godhead, Deity, and yet we are going to be glorified. Glory, simply is just this: the expression of the result of all the redeeming work of God in Christ. You see, when you are delivered from sin and all that the fall has brought about, that thing which hides glory is removed and there is manifested what it is to be saved; that it is to be holy, that it is to be pure, that it is to be according to God's mind - that is glory. It is not a thing that you can take hold of in any way, even define, but it is something that you know.

You see a brother or sister living in a rich, blessed, deep fellowship with the Lord, knowing the Lord, rejoicing in the Lord, and you say, "There is the glory of the Lord in that life", but oh, when every bit of the failing flesh is gone, when redemption is consummated, the glory will be full! In the tabernacle you have a display of the Lord's glory; the glory of the Lord filled it. That which was something altogether according to God's mind with sin put away and perfect fellowship with God established, that led on to the glory and you and I can have that glory in the measure of our walking in the Spirit.

Note all this - the grace, the holiness, the glory - the Holy Spirit has come for this. Bezaleel was filled with the Spirit of God to do everything unto this end: the display of Jesus Christ in His excellencies. The Holy Spirit has come now to fill us unto the display of the excellencies of the Lord Jesus. It is not just to receive the Spirit, but by a total abandonment to be filled with the Spirit. That is, to give the Holy Spirit all the place that He wants. That is what it means to be filled with the Spirit. He will fill all that He can fill and it is for us to see that there is nothing that holds Him up.

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