The Crisis of Pentecost and the Significance of the Holy Spirit's Coming

by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 3 - "Grieve Not the Holy Spirit"

We ask again, Oh Lord, that in this very time, that same Holy Spirit may be to us the Spirit of revelation, opening the eyes of our hearts anew, and more widely, and showing us Christ... Let it be so, even now, we ask in His Name, amen.

The Lord has led us, dear friends, in this season to occupy ourselves again with something of the significance of the Holy Spirit. We have seen that the Day of Pentecost was one of the four great crises in the history of God's purpose and it was indeed a great turning point. Now, in the very brief time that we have this morning, we are going to look at but a fragment of this Holy Spirit's significance. And I turn you to the Letter to the Ephesians, chapter 1, at verse 13:

"In whom ye also, having heard the word of the truth, the gospel of your salvation, in whom having also believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is an earnest of our inheritance, unto the redemption of God's own possession".

Chapter 4, at verse 13 also: "Till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a full grown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ."

At verse 30 of that chapter, chapter 4: "And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, in whom ye were sealed unto the day of redemption".

In these words of the apostle we have a great depth of meaning as to the Holy Spirit. You will notice that there are three major words in the passage that we read: "who is an earnest" the Spirit is an earnest of our inheritance. Sealed by the Spirit, the Holy Spirit of promise. The three words are earnest, sealed, and inheritance. They are interesting words with a very significant background.

Having believed, you receive the Spirit as an earnest of the inheritance. Today we call that a deposit. The earnest was just something in advance betokening that all the rest would surely follow. It was the guarantee of a completing of the transaction. It was in itself a representation of all that was promised. "The Spirit of promise" the Holy Spirit is called. We have already seen what that means, from the Letter to the Galatians; the promise made to Abraham, the promise of the Spirit in Christ.

The promise to Abraham, as we have seen, was Sonship in Christ, to be made good in the Holy Spirit, or by the Holy Spirit. That is the inheritance. We are told that we are heirs of God, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. The Spirit is the Spirit of that inheritance, of that promise. But it is not just a promise, He is the Earnest of the promise; He is given as a present deposit, in which deposit there resides all the potentialities, all the meaning, all the values of the final fullness of what God is yet going to do for those who believe: an earnest of the inheritance.

Sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise... another business word. In those days, as in our own, a transaction was sealed. It might be a document, when the business was concluded, it was sealed. It might be a consignment; something to be sent away as an earnest of what was to follow. It was sealed as it was sent and the seal was the seal of the one to which it belonged. The seal said: "This belongs to So-and-So. His name, his sign is upon it; it is his. You must not interfere with that, it's not your property, it's his. It's sealed unto him." The Holy Spirit is said to be the Seal, declaring that we belong to the Lord. The Lord has put the Seal upon us in giving us the Holy Spirit. "The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit that we are children of God". So the Spirit is here seen in two of His functions or meanings: He is an Earnest, or the Earnest of all that is yet to be; and He is the Seal by which we are secured unto all that. And then you notice, "unto the redemption of the purchased possession" - that is an aspect of redemption that is future. It is not that aspect which is in the past, "we were redeemed, not with corruptible things as silver and gold", that's the beginning of redemption; but this redemption is that to which Paul refers in his letter to the Romans, the complete redemption of the whole creation, and of ourselves included, the full redemption of all things. That has been purchased, that has been sealed, that has been betokened in the Holy Spirit - wonderful meaning of the gift of the Spirit.

The gift of the Spirit then, is the authentication of Sonship. "Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts" the authentication of Sonship, the seal and the earnest of all that that Sonship is going to mean, as says John, "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be children of God, and such we are". But, "it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know, that if He shall be made manifest, we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is". What better and greater inheritance does anybody want than that! The Spirit given is the earnest of that - the Spirit of Sonship. The Spirit given is the seal of that. Now, right alongside of that we have this exhortation and injunction, "Grieve not the Holy Spirit whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption", the full realisation of that which was given to you in token when you believed.

"Grieve Not the Holy Spirit"

There are two things that very clearly emerge in any consideration of the Holy Spirit. The first is that nothing is possible apart from and without the Holy Spirit. That is made abundantly and unmistakably clear. The Lord Jesus Himself made that clear; nothing possible until the Spirit was come and would not allow any attempt at anything even after His resurrection, until they had received the Spirit. Everything, everything depends upon the Holy Spirit. He has taken over, indeed He has always been in charge from the creation, but in a new way on the Day of Pentecost He took over. He took over the commission to preach the Gospel in the whole creation. He took over everything on that day, and He is wholly and alone in charge of everything. Nothing can be without the Holy Spirit.

And the other thing is the Holy Spirit is always positive in His attitude, in His mind, in purpose and object. That is, He is what we may call "The Going Spirit", we borrow that from Ezekiel, the "going" of the wheels and the cherubim, because the Spirit was in them: going. The Holy Spirit, in His very disposition, is the Spirit of going, of energy, of movement. And there can be nothing more fatal than that the Spirit should stop going in any life, in any place, anywhere. When the Spirit stops going, then nothing more can be, just nothing more at all. It is only as the Spirit is going that there will be anything at all. Hence, "Grieve not the Spirit, the Holy Spirit"; that could be put in another way: Do not arrest the going of the Spirit. Do not allow anything to come up or come in that will impede the movement of the Spirit. Do not allow the Spirit, by any means or in any way, to be obstructed. He is a going Spirit, and it is fatal if He should be stayed.

And grieving the Spirit is just hindering the Spirit, obstructing the Spirit, arresting the Spirit, delaying the Spirit. That is what they did in the Wilderness. And as you know from the Letter to the Hebrews, it is said, "Forty years was I grieved with that nation... I was grieved..." - the Spirit who is ever a going Spirit. There was a time when they could say, "We are marching unto the Land which the Lord hath given us", but they grieved His Holy Spirit it says. "I was grieved with that nation for forty years." The result? The Spirit could not go through and on, and death came in, as you know... just grieving the Spirit.

We have, dear friends, no time this morning for trying to indicate how the Holy Spirit is grieved. We can only warn ourselves of the possibility and take to heart the injunction: "Grieve not..." but were I to try to encompass this in one way, I would put it like this. Grieving the Holy Spirit is just allowing anything that is contrary to the nature and the purpose of the Holy Spirit. If we just were to take account of His nature, and of His functions, we should immediately see what grieving the Spirit means.

First of all,

He is the Holy Spirit.

And to grieve Him is to allow, or persist in, some unholiness, some unholy way, some unholy thing, in our lives, in our home, in our business, anywhere. Something for which we have responsibility, where, if we only applied ourselves with diligence, we could make a difference. Something not holy. All unholiness grieves the Holy Spirit - that which is contrary to His very nature.

He is the Spirit of Truth.

Wherever there is anything that is not true, not true, that is false, that is a lie, that is an exaggeration... all the forms of untruth... wherever there is anything like that, it is contrary to His nature and it grieves Him. Anything untrue will grieve Him, and He will stop, and say, "I can't go on, I can't go on."

He is the Spirit of Unity.

That has been touched on this morning, it will be touched on more fully probably later, the Spirit of unity in this very letter from which we have read. There are the words, "Give diligence to keep, keep the unity". Give diligence to keep the unity! It seems that many people give diligence to break it, to spoil it. Give diligence to keep it! Are you sure you are doing that? Giving diligence to keep? Not seeking out, or taking up the things which divide and making a lot of them; where you don't agree. Why not be positive and concentrate upon the grounds of oneness and enlarge them? And so we will get over the other. He is the Spirit of unity. The unity of the Spirit... and where there is disunity and division, He is grieved. And mark you, He'll say, "I can't go on. I am stopped. I am arrested." He must have that which answers to His own nature.

He is here in this letter called

The Spirit of Revelation.

Illumination: if the Holy Spirit shows something, gives some light, gives some truth, gives some knowledge, and you and I do not apply ourselves to it, to obey it, and to walk in it, the Spirit is grieved; the Spirit of revelation. And He will say, "I can give no more. I must stop giving; no more until what I have given has been obeyed." He is grieved where He has given light and it is not obeyed.

He is the Spirit of Grace.

I would like to enlarge that word, because it does mean this - He is the Spirit of graciousness. It is true to the Word. For, after all, is not the grace of God His graciousness? How we lack graciousness, don't we? How gracious the Spirit is! All those elements of long-suffering, and patience, and forbearance... what we owe to the Spirit of grace! Brothers and sisters, we shall reveal how much of the Spirit there really is in us by our graciousness.

Make no mistake about it, a Holy Spirit adorned life and governed life, will be a gracious life; patient, forbearing, longsuffering, kindly, and courteous. And courteous... you know, that's a New Testament word, it's not just a word in the book of etiquette, it is a word in the New Testament. Be courteous! It's an aspect of graciousness, being courteous. You must think about what that means. Yes, there are such things as Holy Spirit good manners, good taste, fitness in behaviour and in attitude. He is the Spirit of grace and where there is not graciousness or any of these things that are meant by 'grace', He is grieved. He's grieved! If you and I should be ungracious, discourteous, rude, the Spirit is grieved. You may have got very big, high ideas of what it means to be baptised with the Holy Spirit, but it means that, it means that! It may mean power in service; it may be in being able to give addresses, it may be in many of these public ways, but these you ought to attend to, but not neglect the others. And the others are these: kindly thoughtfulness, and courtesy. They are marks of the Holy Spirit and where they are lacking, He is grieved.

He is the Spirit of Meekness.

Meekness... if we want another word for "meekness", we could well employ the word "brokenness", because there is no meekness without brokenness. It is in brokenness that our pride ebbs away. It is through the brokenness that our conceits and our arrogance and our self-importance go into the sand. It's in brokenness that meekness is revealed. You may be very clever, you may be very able in many ways, but the mark of the Spirit undoubtedly is in the meekness of brokenness. Have you been really broken by the Cross, really broken by the Cross? Are you a broken spirit? Is there a fundamental brokenness in you as a brother or sister in Christ? Really? A brokenness?

Remember: there is no Pentecost until there is a Calvary. There is no Holy Spirit until there has been a Cross, and if the Cross speaks of one thing, it does speak of brokenness, doesn't it? He was broken. He was broken! These men of the New Testament were broken men, broken vessels and meekness adorned them because of that. And the Spirit is the Spirit of meekness. Peter speaks about being adorned with a meek and quiet spirit. Well, so we could go on, but this is enough, surely, to indicate that grieving the Spirit is just contradicting what He is in Himself, and in so doing, putting something in His way so that He can't go on.

"Grieve not the Spirit of God, whereby you were sealed unto..." all that sonship means. And Sonship means all these things that I have mentioned in their full development. Sonship sounds a technical word, I know, and a very theological word, but if you think about it, after all it is only all that Christ is in His fullness. And this creation yet to be, when redeemed from the bondage of corruption, is thus to be filled to the exclusion of all else, filled with what Christ is, reproduced by the Holy Spirit in you and in me. That's Sonship.

May we not put anything in the way of the Holy Spirit, grieve Him. Give Him a way, a clear way, a full way, to remain in us individually, and in us together. The "going" Spirit - always going.

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