by T. Austin-Sparks
(February 22, 1964 P.M.)
I am going to continue this evening where we left off last Saturday night [19th meeting]. So I would ask you just to turn again to the passages of Scripture which were before us then. In the Gospel by John, chapter sixteen, at verse seven, "Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I go, I will send Him unto you." Verse thirteen, "When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all the truth." Back to chapter fourteen, at verse sixteen, "I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever." And verse seventeen, "The Spirit of truth; Whom the world cannot receive; for it beholdeth Him not, neither knoweth Him; ye know Him; for He abideth with you, and shall be in you" (ASV). And the Book of Acts, chapter nineteen, at verse two, "Did ye receive the Holy Spirit when ye believed?"
So we are going to say a little more about this very important matter of the Holy Spirit. One of the greatest needs of our time is to recover the realization of the greatness of those things with which we are very familiar. There are many things in our ordinary everyday life which are very wonderful things, but we take them for granted. I have in front of me five microphones, and through these microphones, people some miles away might hear what I am saying at exactly the same moment that I am saying them. Although it may not be true of these microphones, yet in this city men can speak into a microphone and be heard at that very moment three to six thousand miles away. It does not take one hour, one half hour, nor five minutes, on the other side of the world, while a person is speaking, other people can hear. Now when I say that to you there is nothing on your faces that makes me feel that you think that is very wonderful. You see, it has become just a common place thing that we take for granted. The same is true about a great many things in everyday life.
I remember the day when the first motor car came onto the street, it traveled at about four miles an hour. It made a terrific noise, and everybody rushed into their houses. Well, now look at our streets today, but we do not think it anything very wonderful. It is so common place that we take it for granted, and so it is with many other things in natural life. Because we are so familiar with them, we have lost the sense of wonder. We never look at the motor car now and say, 'oh! what a wonderful thing!' It is just a motor car, and that is all there is to it. Now you know that this has become true of many of the greatest things in this universe.
In the beginning of the Christian era, the world was startled and shocked by the preaching of the apostles. The things that they said from day to day just shook the world. Some people said, 'The men that had turned the world upside down had come here.' What they said was just turning the world upside down. Of course, we should have said, 'They were putting the world the right side up.' But that is how the people felt about the things that they were saying. We are not shaken by these things, we are so familiar with them, they do not mean to us a turning of everything upside down. We can hear them every day and every week and we are never shaken by them. They are the same things as the apostles said. But they do not affect us as they affected the world in those days. We know them so well. We are so familiar with them. They have lost all the sense of wonder for us. And the world is not shaken by these things when we say them. Perhaps that is because they are not wonderful enough to us.
You see, the things with which we are familiar are things which are the greatest things that have ever come into this universe. But the fact is that Christianity has been made too small, too easy, too cheap, and too popular. We here this evening are just thinking about one of these things. It is one of the most wonderful things that has ever happened in this world. That is the coming from Heaven of the Holy Spirit. You have read the story of the coming of the Holy Spirit, and you know what it meant in those days. We had a great fire here in the last twenty-four hours. All the city is talking about it. Perhaps all the country is talking about it. Perhaps the newspapers of the other parts of the world have got the report of it. But that fire is nothing compared with the coming of the Holy Spirit. This fire was put out in a few hours, bad as its work was, it was finished in a few hours. The fire that came into Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost has never yet been put out for two thousand years, and that fire was not just localized to a little area. That fire had gone all over the world. It is still burning today, and it will go on burning until Jesus comes again.
You see, John the Baptist said about Jesus, "He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and fire." I do not suppose they had any fire engines in the days of John the Baptist. If they had any fire engines then, I think John the Baptist would have added: 'and all the fire engines in the world will never put out that fire.'
Now look at one of the passages which we read, Jesus said, "It is expedient for you that I go away, if I go not away, the Holy Spirit will not come." Do you recognize what that means? It was of tremendous importance that Jesus Himself came into this world. It was of tremendous importance that He spent thirty-three and a half years on this earth. But do you notice, He said, 'It is far more important that I go away.' Now, if Jesus were on the earth today, if He were living in Palestine, you know the people from over the world would be making pilgrimages to go and see Him. People would go from every country of the world to get His help. Well, you say, that makes Him very important. It would be a very important thing for Jesus to be here on this earth. But Jesus Himself said, 'It is far more important that I go away.' Just think about that! 'It is far more important that I go away, because if I do not go away, the Holy Spirit will not come.' Therefore, it must be much more important that the Holy Spirit could come, than that Jesus should stay here in the flesh.
Jesus, while He was here on the earth was always using one phrase, the phrase was this, "In that day." He was constantly saying, "In that day, in that day." He put tremendous emphasis and importance upon what He called, "that day." And, if you look to see what He meant, you will see "THAT DAY" was the day when the Holy Spirit would come. It was not only a day of twelve or twenty-four hours. It was not only the day of Pentecost. The day of Pentecost only began that day. The sun has never gone down on that day yet. That day is not closed yet. The day to which Jesus referred was the day which will last from the day of Pentecost, till Jesus comes again (John fourteen through sixteen).
It was not only a matter of time; it was a matter of a "new order." So Jesus constantly said, "In that day, in that day, in that day." And He said tremendous things about that day. Do you realize that we are now living in that day? That day has come! It came when Jesus went back to the Father. We are living in that wonderful day of the Holy Spirit. THE COMING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT BROUGHT IN A NEW AGE AND A NEW ORDER. The coming of the Holy Spirit was the first thing in Christianity. And Jesus said that He would be with you, and He will be in you, and He will abide with you for the age. This wonderful Holy Spirit, more important than Jesus being here in the body, is in you. I am looking at your faces to see if you see how wonderful the thing is that we are living in. We are living in the most wonderful age of the history of this world. I say that to you on the authority of Jesus Christ Himself. "It is necessary that I go away in order that the Holy Spirit may come." You know we ought to get up and go away feeling tremendously impressed with the day in which we are living. Why is it so wonderful that the Holy Spirit should come? What is this great importance of the coming of the Holy Spirit? For this reason, among others, but this is the first reason, because the Holy Spirit makes a new creation, because the Holy Spirit when He comes into us makes different creatures of us.
Forgive me for asking you a very impersonal question. Do you know the difference between a vegetable and an animal? I expect you will say, of course we do. We know the difference between a cabbage and a dog. Let us go further, Do you know the difference between an animal and a human being? Well, if you had any doubt, you people who love music, get your dog by the piano, and then begin to play one of the great composers - a Beethoven or a Chopin or someone like that. Then say to your dog, 'Now do you hear this? I am interpreting to you Beethoven or Chopin.' And you tell him all about it, and then you look at your dog, and the poor fellow looks terribly bored. The look on his face is, 'I do not know what you are talking about. That may be all right for human beings, but that is not all right for dogs.'
Now we know the difference between a vegetable and an animal. Now we know the difference between an animal and a human being. Do you know the difference between a human being and a child of God? It is just as big a difference between a child of God and an ordinary human being, as there is between a cabbage and a dog. The word says, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: the old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." And that is why the Holy Spirit came to make such a difference in us that we are a new and different kind of creature. You so often hear about being born again, you know the word of the Lord to Nicodemus, "You must be born again." Perhaps you have heard that a hundred, or a thousand times, you know it so well. But do we really know what that means? When we are born naturally, when we come in this body of ours into this world for the first time, we come into a new world that we have never been in before. The little baby has come into a new world. It does not understand everything. It does not know what everything is. It is quite a new world.
You must be born again, which means that the Holy Spirit brings us into an altogether new world. Now do test the work of the Holy Spirit in your life by this. Do test your Christian life by this simple fact. When you came to the Lord Jesus, when you gave your life to the Lord Jesus, when you believed that the Lord Jesus came into your life, your first realization was this: That you have come into an altogether new world. You have come not just into a world where people are called Christians, not just into a world or a system called Christianity, but for you in your consciousness, everything was new. The Holy Spirit said, "Behold, I make all things new." You did not understand everything, and you do not understand everything now in that new world. But we, by the work of [the] Holy Spirit have come into another world altogether. A whole new world had opened to us.
Now this is the Word of God. This is why the Holy Spirit came. Is that true for all of us here tonight? We know that we have come into a world where we never were before, and in Christ all things are new for us. We have a new consciousness. What is our consciousness? We use the Word of the Scripture, "We have passed from darkness into light." Just as truly as if we put all these lights off now, and then we were in total darkness, we could see nothing and no one. We would have to try and find our way out, all is dark. Then someone puts all the lights on, and we said, 'Now I can see, my consciousness now is that I am in the light.'
You know that is the simple truth of the beginning of the Christian life. It is not just a doctrine of Scripture, it is an experience. As a new creature we have the consciousness of having come into the light. THE REIGN OF DARKNESS IS FINISHED FOR US. But again, the Scripture puts it in this way, it is the consciousness of having passed from death into life. Of course, the darkness and light illustration is a simple one, and easy to understand.
Now no one here tonight has been actually, literally dead. You have not been a corpse in a coffin, with the life having gone right out, and you had someone come along and raise you from the dead, so that you could really say, "Well, I was dead, but now I am alive." But the Bible says that is how it is outside of Christ, we are dead. It says, we are dead, as dead as any corpse to God. In Christ we are made alive, and the consciousness is, I am alive now. The most wonderful thing is: I know I am alive, but it is another kind of Life. It is God's Own Life. It is not just natural life, it is another Life that has come to me from God Himself. The point is that I have a consciousness, I am alive. I am alive with a new Life which I never had before.
Now there is another thing about this new consciousness. You see, we are following a little baby. A little baby comes into this new world. A little baby comes from darkness to light. A little baby comes from death to life. What is the next thing about the little baby? I tell you a secret. I had a new little grandson two or three weeks ago, and I am told that he is a very big boy. And the difficulty about this new baby is that he never can be satisfied. He is shouting all the time for more food. He was born with a great new desire, a wonderful new appetite. Well, you understand that about the baby, do you not? You know one of the first things they do is to scream for food. They have a strong desire for something.
Now I have been very simple, for the sake of the young people, but no matter how old we are, we can test our Christianity by this. The Holy Spirit creates in us a tremendously strong desire for everything that God has. What the Bible calls, hungering and thirsting after righteousness. The Psalmist cried, "My soul thirsts for God" (Psa. 42:2). Have we all got this consciousness of a wonderful new desire and craving for everything that the Lord has to give us? These are simple tests as to whether we have the Holy Spirit.
Now because my time is gone, I have got to finish there. I have got a lot more to say to you about this. We will hold it over for the time being, but, dear friends, these are the simple basic facts about the Holy Spirit. These are wonderful things. You know a little baby is a wonderful thing. You look at a little baby, you look at his eyes, his little fingers, his little fingernails, you say, that is a wonderful thing. Well, to be born again is much more wonderful. It is a very wonderful thing that the Holy Spirit has come to do. HE HAS COME TO MAKE A NEW CREATION OF US.
We all know this teaching, so I go back to where I started because we are so familiar with it, a great deal of the wonder of it has been lost. Shall we all ask the Lord to bring back the wonders of our salvation? And make us realize what a marvelous thing it is to be born again. How great a thing it is that the Lord has made us new creatures. Then we shall realize something of what He meant. It is very important that the Holy Spirit comes. When Jesus was here, He could only mend broken bodies, He could just heal physically sick people. The Holy Spirit has come to mend broken souls, but IT is the same Person - IT is the Spirit of Jesus. IT is Jesus Who is coming in the Holy Spirit, but is just changing the nature of His work. When He was in the flesh, His work was outward. Now that He is in the Spirit, His work is inward. And the inward is very much more important than the outward.