We want to
remind ourselves that, while the forty days were a parenthesis, they were only a
parenthesis. We want rather to change the emphasis and say that, after all, they
contained more in them than we have seen; yet they were only a parenthesis for
everything was still objective. Whatever they entered into, or whatever happened
to them, was still only by outward help. It says that He opened their
understanding, or, opened their eyes. It was a fleeting thing, transcendent,
something that happened to them for the moment, and it was by an outward act of
His, by something done in that way. It was by His help and if it had all been
left it would only have been another phase of history. If He had left it there
at the end of the time it would have been just something, though very wonderful,
that had happened; something that had taken place; something which had been a
wonderful, amazing, mysterious part of their lives. They would have moved on
from it, and it would have remained as a phase through which they had passed.
There was the phase of the earthly walk, and then there was the phase of the
resurrection. Both would have taken their place in history and become a memory,
and that is all. It was not yet an inward part of their life and their being.
Just as there was the prospective element about the three-and-a-half years of
His movement and His teaching, and His work, so there was the prospective
element in the forty days. Something else was required. It was all pointing to
There are many
prospective features about the forty days if you care to look at them again,
which we have no time to do now; we will content ourselves with but one point
which embraces everything else.
In John 20 we
have these words: "Then he breathed on them and said to them, Receive the
Holy Spirit." This was spoken on one of the occasions of His appearing to
them. Now that was prospective. Not at that moment of His breathing did they
receive the Holy Spirit, we know quite well, but it was a promise and a proviso.
It was a designating of them as responsible to the Spirit when He should come.
It was a securing unto them and of them unto the Holy Spirit. With Him, of
course, the whole matter was timeless, and there is a sense in which there was
no time in this, it was as good as done when He breathed on them, but actually
and literally on the other hand, it was prospective, it was a looking forward;
"Receive the Holy Spirit." In that one inclusive prospective feature of
the forty days you have gathered up the one great need which is essential to
make all those values inward, abiding, permanent and living; turning history into
experience. That is bound up with receiving the Holy Spirit.
We just want to
look at that in its various parts. We have realised our need and confess it. We
have expressed our longing and our desire that all that which has been presented
to us should become a living reality in us. We declare that we believe it
possible, because with Him all things are possible. Then how shall it be? How
can it be? By what means can our desire be realised and His will fulfilled, and
the impossible be made actual? "Receive ye the Holy Spirit" is the
answer. It is all the Holy Spirit's work.
The forty days
do not take the place of those great chapters in John 14 and 16. "I will not
leave you as orphans..."; "I will send you the promise of the Father...";
"When He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth...
He will take of Mine..."; "He will not speak of Himself...". That was
not fulfilled in the forty days. Something that looked very much like it,
something that seemed very much in that realm (and it was) took place, but it
was not the fulfilment. There was a real tasting of it, but it was not the
abiding and established thing that the Lord had promised. The Holy Spirit must
come to abide for the age, to Himself establish and make good all that the Lord
had shown, had revealed, had set before. That is elementary, but I am quite sure
that we are ready to admit that we need a new touch of the Spirit to bring us in
a new way into this. That is what we need, what we must have, but, blessed be
God, that is what He has provided, and what He intends.
Of course a lot
may depend upon what we mean by a touch of the Spirit. Some things that we mean,
the Lord does not mean about that, and the way in which that should happen
according to our minds is not the way in which it actually does happen. Let us
be frank about these things, and not allow any traditional interpretations of
the Holy Spirit's coming and working to lead us astray. There are those children
of God who can fix more or less definitely the time when they consciously
received the Holy Spirit, just as there are those who can fix the hour when they
were born again. There are others who cannot fix that hour in either case, but
who, nevertheless, are born again and have the Spirit. We want to be quite clear
about this, because some people get into trouble if they have not had some
burning experience going through their whole being in a certain moment when they
receive what is called the baptism of the Spirit. The increase of the work of
the Spirit in illumination, in quickening, has often come through suffering, a
dark time, a deep time, a time of total eclipse, a time of great emptying, going
again (as we say) into death, and coming back, not with some new burst of
revelation, but with some fresh secrets. That is the Holy Spirit going on with
His work, doing this very thing. You know when the Lord touches anew, and that
is as real a work of the Holy Spirit as any great cataclysmic burst and
demonstration and sensation. So do not tie this matter up to any given, specific
method. Our Pentecost may be without a sensation, but be very real.
What we want to
recognise is that it is the result, not the method, that matters. The question
before us is not: Did we, in receiving the Holy Spirit, have certain particular
and peculiar sensations and accompaniments in any realm? but: Have we the
evidences of having received the Spirit? Do we know the Lord Jesus in this
resurrection way, this living way? Do we know the opening of the eyes? Are the
results of the Spirit's activity known?
desires to make this good in the case of everyone, and perhaps He may do so in a
different way with everyone. Please do not feel that you may have missed the
reality because you have not gone by a certain prescribed course. It is always
dangerous to confine the movements of God to one line.
We must seek to
break this up a little, and work from its beginning. "He breathed on them and
said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit'." I can never read that without
somehow my mind linking it with the beginning of the book of Genesis, "He
breathed into his nostrils the breath of life". I think it is quite a true
and right link and association. In the first place in Genesis you have the old
creation by the breath of God, and all that came in with that creation required
that breath of God in man to make its values and its meaning of practical
account. God may have a world, a universe, but for that universe to be turned to
practical account He must have a living man. He brought in man, and breathed
into him the breath of life in order that His already created world might be
turned to practical account. By the breathing everything was given its real
meaning and turned to value.
Pass that over
to the new creation, and here is the Head of the new creation - or the Creator
Himself - on the ground of new creation breathing, and, in effect, saying, "You,
the church, are the new creation man, to occupy this new world which has come in
with resurrection, with all its new values, all its new potentialities". This new
world of the resurrection requires a new man to give it its practical meaning.
So He must bring in the men, and He breathes on them, and the church is the one
new man inbreathed.
If this is the
new creation, its very name presupposes the end of an old. Of course, we always
come up against that sooner or later, somehow or other. It is quite useless for
us to contemplate the Holy Spirit on the positive side, with all the new values
and meaning, until we have looked squarely in the face the end of the old
creation. We have seen it in the case of these very men, and that they had with
them for evermore this knowledge, which they could always declare as a positive
thing in their history. There was a day when, in spite of all my good desires,
intentions, professions, protestations, in spite of all that I knew about the
Lord Jesus, in spite of all that I tried to do for Him, there was a day when I
died, and all that died with me, as a hopeless, unprofitable thing; a day when I
came to see that in men, even in a religious way, dwells no good thing.
Each one of us
must be in the place where we can say, "I know, not as having been taught it, not
as having read it, not as having come by it as a part of a system of teaching
with which I have become associated, but I know, written deep down in my own
heart, as a part of my own spiritual history, that nothing is possible apart
from Christ risen". All is unprofitable. That is not all done at once. It is only
done in parts, and there will always be more to be done in that way, but there
is that which is sufficient to make us know in our hearts that that is true. We
may yet have to discover through futile attempts, that that is more true than we
had realised. We may yet have to discover how utterly unfruitful and
unprofitable we are, more than we ever thought, because this flesh is a
"die-hard"; it takes a long time to really give up the ghost. It clings to its
own ability to do something, and to know something, but nevertheless, however
long-drawn-out that may be, and it may be lifelong, there is that from which it
begins, where it comes home to us in some way which is a foundational thing,
that the old creation is, so far as we are concerned, ruled out as unprofitable
to God, and lies under His ban as a worthless thing.
Have you got a
cross in your history? Have you got a grave in your history? If you have not
then you are dwelling in the shadows. You may get flashes and touches, but they
will be fleeting, transient, coming and going. If you have a cross and a grave
in your experience, in your history, the Holy Spirit has got what He requires,
and it is blessedly possible for you to have the abiding of this risen life in
which all these values are made good, and growingly good.
What is the new
creation? With it there comes first of all a new consciousness. You are
conscious that things are new, and things are different. It is a new
consciousness as to the Lord. You are alive to that to which you were never
alive before; in every realm things are the same, yet entirely different.
Somehow or other you move in the same surroundings, and touch the same people,
but there is something new. There is a new consciousness. Things have become
You know how
true this is in conversion. When you are born again truly, you go back to your
business and it is the same business, and you are with the same people, and the
same old routine, but you are different, and you have got a different
consciousness, and you have, therefore, a different consciousness about you.
There is a new aliveness that comes in with the new creation to what was so dark
and dead before. Take just the matter of the object of being alive. Before you
did not know why you were alive, but now there comes a sense of a new purpose.
You may not even yet know what it is, but you have a new sense that there is
purpose in your being here in this world. We have often said one of the blessed
marks of new birth is that there is a new consciousness of having been born for
a purpose. What is it that makes the new convert want to do something in
relation to Christ? It is the new consciousness of purpose. This is the work of
the Holy Spirit.
I believe that
when the Holy Spirit really has His way He makes remarkable differences in this
direction, that we see people differently. Before we saw them for what they are
in the flesh, and found them exceedingly awkward and difficult and impossible.
Somehow or other when the Holy Spirit really gets hold of us there is a new
consciousness as to people, our relationships, and we see something that we
never saw before in people. Things are very much more possible than they were.
You and I need the Holy Spirit in this direction. Whether you are able, out of
experience, to follow what we are saying, it makes no difference to the fact. If
you have got an impossible person to work with, and the Lord has called you
alongside of that impossible person, what you need is the Holy Spirit to enable
you to have a consciousness and to see something more than just the natural
condition, to lift above that level. The Holy Spirit does give this new
Not only do we
have a new consciousness, but we have a new capacity. The Holy Spirit gives
capacities that none of us have by nature. We may by nature be very limited in
our capabilities. By the anointing of the Holy Spirit we may have capabilities
that the best men and women of this world without the Holy Spirit have not got.
A truly Spirit-indwelt child of God has capabilities and capacities that no one
else has. This very breathing carries with it capacity. Until Adam was breathed
into he had no capacities for all that he was intended to do; but when he became
a living soul by the breath of God he had capacities for knowing, for doing, for
understanding. The new creation is like that, with new capacities, capabilities
for knowing, for understanding, for doing, that we never had before. No child of
God ought ever to settle down and finally accept the position that they "cannot"
in any particular. We should never say in any matter that is presented to us in
the will of God, "I cannot". The presence of the Holy Spirit means capability and
capacity for doing things which we could never do before. We ought to prove the
Lord in that way.
creation, then, is the result of the Holy Spirit, it is by the Holy Spirit, but
that means that all things have to be of Christ. In the new creation all things
are of Christ. The Holy Spirit sees to it, and keeps us in accordance with that.
In the forty
days the disciples were making wonderful discoveries about Christ, and the Holy
Spirit comes to make known to us the meaning and values of Christ. That is the
very nature of the new creation, that all things are of Christ and we are
forbidden to have anything else. The Holy Spirit calls upon us to regard
everything just in the light of Christ. How far is that Christ? How far does
that accord with Christ?
Let us remember
that we are thinking about the great values of Christ risen. We have said that
these are our desires, our longings, our needs. We have reached out. Very well,
the Holy Spirit can make it all good, but the Holy Spirit will require, in order
that He may make it good, that we have all things according to Christ. If you
and I are according to ourselves, according to one another, according to nature,
according to the world, according to anything that is not Christ the Holy Spirit
does not operate. He does not operate in the matter of life.
judgements of one another. I do not know what your experience is, but I am quite
sure that not a few know the Holy Spirit's checking up in the matter of talking
about other children of God. You do not need to be told by anyone that it is
wrong, and you have made a mistake when you have been criticising some children
of God, when you have been speaking of their faults, and what they are, and
really bringing out what is there of imperfections, making something of it, or
doing them any kind of injury. You know quite well that you feel miserable
afterwards, and you make up your mind that you are never going to do it
again, but, of course, you will do it again. Then we try to cover up our tracks
by perhaps finding a few good things about them, and mentioning those, but we
know quite well something has happened, and we have a bad time. That is not
according to Christ. We have all much to learn in this way. Everything of the
new creation is of the risen life of the Lord, and it is necessary to have
everything according to Christ. If you and I can frustrate the Holy Spirit's
activity in eye opening, illumination, revelation, life-giving, or in any other
of the great values and benefits of Christ risen, we can frustrate His work by
indulging in something that is not Christ. We have got to allow the Holy Spirit
to be here, and to govern in our hearts; when He would say, not in words, but in
the very feelings that He causes to come into us: Now that was not Christ, that
is not Christ, therefore it must go, we have to adjust to Christ, and then the
Holy Spirit will make good to us and in us these resurrection values.
It is so easy
for us to get up and talk about receiving the Holy Spirit and everything will be
right, all will be well if only you get the baptism, the filling, the anointing
of the Holy Spirit, and that what you need is the Holy Spirit. Everybody knows
that. We have got the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, His person and His work, what
He is for, and all that. We know that. We ask the Lord for the Holy Spirit, and
cry for the Spirit, and we want to get more inward over this matter, and that is
what we are trying to do. The Holy Spirit demands new creation
conditions, and new creation conditions are that all things are of Christ. And
if you and I in the simple things of everyday life, are not according to Christ,
we frustrate the Holy Spirit, but in so far as we adjust the details of daily
life to Christ in our talk, in our dress, and in every other way, then He is
able to do His work. The Lord seeks to get rid of things that are not according to His mind, and if we do not follow the suggestion of the Lord, we can
say goodbye to all our talk about the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the mighty
working of the Holy Spirit. The whole thing is held up by conformity to Christ
or failure in conformity to Christ. If you want to know resurrection values,
listen to the Spirit on details. Do not get great, vast, sweeping ideas, but
listen to the Holy Spirit on details as He is trying to get conformity to
Christ in our speech, in our dress, in some conduct of ours, to put us right in
line with Christ, in Christ-likeness, humility, selflessness, and a thousand and
one other things.
The Spirit speaks so quietly, but, oh, what is bound up with that quiet voice!
Our very life, our very growing knowledge of the Lord is bound up with it.
So Pentecost (that is a great word, and how the very word carries people off
their feet) may be a matter of your having your lips crucified, your desire to
be taken notice of crucified. Pentecost may just be that for you or for me. The
whole of Pentecost may hang upon that. The Holy Spirit is very careful, and very
particular. He overlooks nothing.
Far be it from us to make the Christian life difficult. The Lord trains us
steadily, and spreads His training over a long enough time for us to learn
without getting into distress. Nevertheless, in the end the Lord Himself in us
and our life and our knowledge of Him, and everything else meant for us, depends
entirely upon how we respond to the Spirit's requirement that things should be
according to Christ. Do you believe that? You can get to your Pentecost that
way. You can get to the knowledge of the Holy Spirit that way. You can get to
this marvellous new consciousness and capacity and illumination and all else
simply by recognising that everything now has to be of Christ, according to
Christ. That is the first demand.
Then the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the new creation, being breathed, constitutes
the Body. The Body is constituted by the Breath, just as in Ezekiel 37 the
scattered bones by the breath of the Lord came together and became articulate,
living bodies, so the Breath of the Spirit constitutes and forms the one Body.
He is the
Spirit of the
one Body, and it is a violation of the Holy Spirit when there is anything about
us which is other than according to the meaning of the one Body - schisms,
divisions, personal separations on spiritual grounds, or as affecting our
spiritual life because natural elements come in. That is a frustration of the
Holy Spirit; that is a violation of the Holy Spirit.
speaking about the church, the House of God. Let us remember that it was for
this that Christ died, and the church, His Body, is His Bride, and that is the
issue of the Cross and the resurrection, the object of it all. Calvary in all
its range had its supreme meaning in the church, His Body, His Bride. "The
church of Christ which He purchased with his own blood". Now if that was the
supreme object of Calvary, if that is the issue of the
resurrection, the Holy Spirit has that as the supreme thing, the one Body. If
you and I are going to be Holy Spirit governed, it will work both ways. It will
mean that we shall have growingly this Body consciousness, there will be the
development of a fellowship-with-saints spirit in us. One of my problems (and I
do not think that the existence of this contradicts what we have just been
saying) is how people who profess to have received the fulness of the Spirit can
criticise other people of God, and be governed by suspicion and prejudice. It
seems to me to be a great contradiction. It shows that somehow the Holy Spirit
is, after all, very definitely in subjection to something other, and that
"something" is not in subjection to Him. The judgement is not in subjection. A
full way for the Spirit must issue in fellowship, and if that fellowship is not
spontaneous, is not with us, we may take it that the Holy Spirit is not being
able to go on with His work for some reason or other.
All that means
that the resurrection values of the Lord Jesus are for the Body in the intention
of God, by the Holy Spirit, and that we can only have them altogether. We cannot
have them as our own personal and private property. You cannot take these values
and walk away with them, and have them just alone. You need the thing that the
Lord has appointed for the enjoyment of resurrection Life. It requires the
assembly for the fuller enlightenment. The individual does not get the same
enlightenment as the assembly, and the larger enlightenment comes through the
assembly, and so also the larger Life. If we want personal accession of Life we
shall get it in fellowship. As scattered individuals our life is limited, and
sometimes it is crushed down. If we come together as the Lord's people, then
there is an accession of Life, and we go away refreshed. The Holy Spirit
requires the assembly, because that is His object. He is the Spirit of the one
Body, and it is in true Spirit fellowship that the Lord's people come into the
values of Christ risen.
Just as Thomas will not get the benefits while he goes wandering about on his
own, but he gets those benefits when he comes into fellowship with the others,
so it is always the case. If you want to lose joy, and the life and values of
Christ risen, just break away from the Lord's people in spirit, and go and live
on your own as spiritually detached. Spiritual detachment, for any reason at
all, is the enemy's great chance for contradicting the testimony of the risen
Lord, and doing great harm to the work of the Holy Spirit. He is the Spirit Who
constitutes the one Body.
The Holy Spirit means, of course, a great deal more than we have said. All this
applies to every part.
It is the Lord's
desire, the Lord's will, that everyone of His own to the least, even to the
youngest, should live in the values of the anointing Spirit. When there is a
place where there are many gatherings, and there is a great volume of speech,
there is a danger, especially to the younger people, of regarding that as their
Life; and it is: "Does So-and-so say this or that? And if Mr. So-and-so says it,
then it must be right; that we accept!" That is all very good, but the Lord wants
you to have the anointing yourself, and there is a right sense (please do not
take this wrongly) in which the anointing makes us independent, makes us an
individually responsible being, one that has spiritual intelligence. It is a
great thing when you find those who have their own personal knowledge of the
Lord and the things of the Lord, which they have got from the Lord, and with the
Lord in their own life with the Lord, and they are not going out to others and
giving out what they have got from meetings or from their teachers, but are able
to speak of their own walk with God, of their own knowledge of the Lord, and
what the Lord has shown to them. The Lord would have it like that.
Do you believe that you personally can be taught of the Lord? You can be taught
of the Lord now. You can be an intelligent one, with spiritual intelligence. You
can know in your own heart the truth. The Lord would have it like that, and only
if it is like that will there be a true growth. The other, after all, is a false
truth, it is not real, and that falsehood will at some time be disclosed,
discovered; we shall find that we have got a
top-heavy structure, and it will come down. We have a building on the sand, and
when the storm comes, down crashes our building of teaching and religious
knowledge and spiritual instruction. The Lord would secure us against anything
like that, by telling us that the Holy Spirit Himself would be our personal
teacher, and we have to have dealings with the Lord over things. Believe it
first of all. Do not rule yourself out of that realm, but believe that the Holy
Spirit can give you new faculties, these spiritual faculties, these capacities.
Believe that they may be developed by use until you know just as well as the one
whom you now think knows the Lord better than anyone else.
have the values of the anointing, and should have very definite dealing with the
Lord about it. Be precise in the matter, and say, "Now, Lord, you have given the
Holy Spirit, Who You said shall guide us into all truth, reveal Your things to
us. As one who knows, who believes, who trusts You, one who is abandoned to You,
one who accepts all the meaning of the Cross for the setting aside of nature, I
definitely count on You in all faithfulness and truth to make this true in my
case, that the anointing teaches me, and I am taught." The Lord will have His own
ways of teaching. They will differ. He will use many means for teaching, but how
He does it does not matter so much; the thing is that you and I come more and
more to the place where we know, and say, "We speak that we do know, and
testify that which we have seen, and (in a spiritual sense) our hands
The Lord make
that good to us.