"That which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God
manifested it unto them. For the invisible things of Him since
the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived
through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and
divinity; that they may be without excuse" (Rom. 1:19-20).
"And they, when they heard it, lifted up their voice to God
with one accord, and said, O Lord, thou that didst make the
heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that in them is" (Acts
"Worthy are thou, our Lord and our God, to receive the glory
and the honour and the power: for thou didst create all things,
and because of thy will they were, and were created" (Rev.
I want to stand right back from the Bible for a minute, and give
you a word of advice with regard to studying it. You can take any
particular subject that is in the Bible and gather up all that is
said about it, and then ask yourself one question: "Why is that?"
For example, begin with the coming into the world of the Lord
Jesus. Gather up all that is said in the Bible about it and then
ask "Why the incarnation?" Or take the cross and gather up from
the Old and the New Testaments all that is said about it, and then
ask yourself "Why the cross?" Similarly gather up all that you can
find about the church and ask "Why the church?" And we should try
to give the answer in one single statement. The Lord Jesus came
into the world just for this one single purpose. What was it? He
went to the cross just for one reason. What was it? The church was
brought into being just for one thing. What was that? There may be
many aspects of each of these, but they are only aspects of the
one thing. It is most valuable to be able to put your finger on
the one reason and to be able to say, "That is it". That is
a suggestion for Bible study. What we are going to speak about now
will be an example of this.
When we have said all the things that can be said about Him, they
are only different aspects of one thing. So we come to the
question: "Why the Spirit?"
You may not have recognised it, but that one thing was in the
passages which we have quoted.
You will remember that the Holy Spirit initiated all the new
movements of God. At the beginning of the Bible He was the divine
agent in the creation; in Exodus it was the Spirit, as typified in
the pillar of cloud and fire, who led the children out of Egypt to
become a new nation; then in the wilderness the pattern of the
tabernacle was given to Moses and by the Spirit Bezaleel and
Aholiab were equipped to make all manner of things for it. Later
David said that by the Spirit, God had made known to him the
pattern of the temple and lastly, the revelation of the House given
to Ezekiel was all by the Spirit.
Turning to the New Testament we find that the Lord Jesus was born
of the Holy Spirit and was anointed for His ministry by the
Spirit, He was raised from the dead through the power of the
Spirit and the church was born on the day of Pentecost by the Holy
Spirit. These look like many things which the Holy Spirit did, but
really He only did one thing in all of them. What is the one
all-inclusive work of the Holy Spirit? And it is a matter of the
greatest importance for us here to be able to answer that
Why did the Holy Spirit bring the creation into existence? Why
did He bring Israel out of Egypt? Why did He enable for the
building of the tabernacle in the wilderness? Why did He reveal
the pattern of the temple to David? Why did He show the House to
Ezekiel? And then in the New Testament, why did He bring the Lord
Jesus into the world? Why did He anoint Him? Why did He raise Him
from the dead? And why did He bring the church into being? There
is just one answer to all those questions.
Now we must get right back behind all that; we have to get back
behind the creation to look into the heart of God and when we do
so we find one great thing. God wanted to express Himself.
Before that God was somewhere away outside this world and was
unknown here. He had never shown Himself. Then God wanted to put
Himself into expression. He wanted there to be a manifestation of
Himself in a great creation. It was His desire to put Himself into
a manifest creation so that whenever you look at anything that God
made you would see Him. Look again at Romans 1:20: "the invisible
things of Him since the creation of the world are clearly seen,
being perceived through the things that are made". And then in
Revelation 4:11: "Worthy art thou, our Lord and our God, to
receive the glory and the honour and the power: for thou didst
create all things, and because of thy will they were, and were
created". Then turn to the passage in between - Acts 4:24: "O
Lord, thou that didst make the heaven and the earth and the sea,
and all that in them is." I used to wonder why they prayed
like that; and if you look into the Bible you will find that those
words are very often used as an appeal to God: "O Lord, that didst
create the heaven and the earth." I used to think that that was
just an appeal to His power, but I have come to see that it means
something very much more than that.
Why did He create the heaven and the earth? It was in order that
it might be an expression of Himself and if you can put your hand
on the purpose of creation you are in line with the purpose of
God. If you can be one with the purpose of God, you can be one
with the power of God.
Let us go back to the beginning of the Bible again. When God had
created the heavens and the earth, then He created man. Why did He
create man? Perhaps you have often wondered why you were created.
You may have wondered what is the explanation of your having a
being. Well, why did God create Adam? The answer is found in what
God said then, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness"
(Gen. 1:26). If you look at an image or a likeness you expect to
see the person of whom it is an image. When you look at a photo of
a friend, usually you are able to say: "Isn't it just like him or
her?" So God made man in order that in man He might manifest
Himself. So that when you see man as God intended Him to be, you
are able to see what God is like. Of course Adam spoilt the image
and there never has been a man (except One) who showed us what God
When the Lord Jesus was born of the Holy Spirit into the world,
it was to show us what God is like. That was getting right back to
what God intended at the beginning when He made man. That is why
the Holy Spirit brought the children of Israel out of Egypt, that
all the nations round about, in looking at Israel, might see what
God is like. But Israel failed God, just as Adam had done. That is
why the Holy Spirit made the tabernacle in the wilderness. It was
intended to be in all its parts an expression or manifestation of
God. I expect some of you have studied the type of the tabernacle.
Every little part of that tabernacle is a representation of
something about God. God is in the innermost part of it. He dwells
in the most holy place. Everything, from the centre right out to
the outer court, is an expression of something about God. So, you
see, the Holy Spirit made the tabernacle in accordance with God's
great desire to express Himself. And when we look at the
tabernacle, if the Holy Spirit opens our eyes, we see God
The same is true of all the other works of the Holy Spirit in the
Old Testament. It was always to bring God into expression. Of
course, that was all type and symbol, but when we come to the New
Testament, we come to the reality. Jesus is not a type - He is the
real thing. And when we look at Jesus, we truly see God. Not one
of us would know really what God is like if we had not met Jesus.
You know how true that is in your own experience. When you came to
the Lord Jesus, what was the first thing that you experienced? Was
it not this, "Now God is no longer far away so that I don't
understand or know Him. He is right here in my life and He is very
And then again, before we came to Christ, we were very afraid of
God. We thought that He was the great Judge of our sins, a very
terrible Being. But when we came to the Lord Jesus, we discovered
that God was not like that. Now we agree with John when he says
that God is love (1 John 4:8). How many of you can say that? How
did you know that? Only by coming to the Lord Jesus. He has
manifested the Father. He is the answer to God's one eternal
desire to manifest Himself.
Then we come to the next thing in the New Testament. On the day
of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit brings in the church. Why does He do
this? It is for the very same reason that He has done all the
other things - that the church might be a manifestation of God in
this world. This explains all the work of the Holy Spirit.
Now, do you see where that brings us to? If we are born-again
children of God, then we are members of the Body of Christ which
is the church and as members of the Body we receive the Holy
Spirit. And it is that we should be a manifestation of the Lord so
that the work of the Holy Spirit is to make every one of us an
expression of the Lord.
Why are we Christians? Are we Christians just to be saved from
our sins, just to be delivered from judgement, just to receive
forgiveness and eternal life? And then is it just to go to heaven
when we die? Is that why we are Christians? Well, that is not
God's thought about it. All that may be true and included. God is
saying to us, "I have saved you, forgiven your sins, given you
eternal life, for one purpose only - that you should be an
expression of Me". All the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives is
to produce the likeness of the Lord. If we have been forgiven,
given eternal life and if we do a great deal of work for the Lord
and yet the Lord is not manifested in us, we shall have missed the
purpose of our creation. That is why the Lord allows us to suffer,
that the Holy Spirit may make us like Christ through our
sufferings. And is it not wonderful how sufferings make Christians
like Christ? They do not make people of the world like Christ, but
the Holy Spirit uses our sufferings to make us like Christ.
Now you have got to the heart of Romans 8.28: "God works good
in all things to them that are called according to His purpose".
What is His purpose? That we should be a manifestation of Himself.
So the Holy Spirit works in everything to bring that about. Now
may I ask you another question? What would you think would be the
greatest good that could come to you? You see, Romans 8:28 says
that God works good in all things. What do you call the
greatest good that you can think of? Now, if I was asked that what
would I say? Well, I could give you an answer quickly right from
my heart. The greatest good that could ever come to me would be
likeness to my Lord. I hate myself. I long to be like Him. What do
you say to that? I am sure that is your answer too. The greatest
good that can come to any one of us is that we should be like our
Lord. That is the good that God is working in all things to them
that love Him. What is the good of my suffering, of all my
difficulties? It is this. The Holy Spirit is using them to make us
I have told you about the two people whom I saw die. The woman of
whom I spoke, was my own mother. Now, she had terrible sufferings
all her life, but do you know, her favourite hymns were all about
the love of God. When I was a small boy and could think about
things and saw her suffering, my wicked little heart used to
wonder how she could possibly sing of the love of God. I thought
that if I were like her, I would never believe that God is love.
But you see, the Holy Spirit was using those sufferings to make
her like her Lord. She would say to me: "My boy, we have to learn
patience. And what a joyful thing the love of God is! Prove how
faithful He is and how He uses all these sufferings to teach us
these lessons." It is not surprising that when she suffered it was
So that is why we belong to the Lord; it is the only reason why
He has brought us to Himself. Then when others look at us, they
should be seeing more and more of the Lord. Do take that to your
hearts. It is true of us as individuals. It is also why the Holy
Spirit brought the church into being. It was not that we should
have meetings and Bible studies and preaching and nice fellowship
together. These things may have been included. The purpose of the
Spirit was that in all places where the Lord's people were, He
might be seen. When people come into touch with any company of the
Lord's children, it should not be that they merely say that they
like the singing or that they are interested in the preaching. No,
it should be that they feel that when they meet that people, they
see what the Lord is like.
So if you belong to any little company in any place on this
earth, the Lord's purpose is that together you should express Him,
that people should know that they can find God in your midst, and
that they might know what God is like through being with you. They
should be able to say that by being with you, they know a little
of what God is like.
Satan will do everything he can to spoil the likeness of the
Lord, and will try always and everywhere to spoil the expression
of God. We should look at everything in the light of that
question: does this express the Lord? If two Christians fall out
of fellowship, the only way to deal with it is to remind them that
they are not expressing the likeness of the Lord. Therefore they
are serving the enemy's purpose of spoiling the expression of what
God is like. If this is true of us individually and of little
local companies, then God intends it to be true of the whole of
the church. What a sad thing it is that it is not generally true,
but God is going to have it like that at the end.
The last picture of the church in the book of Revelation is as
the new Jerusalem. John says: "(He) showed me the holy city
Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory
of God" (Rev. 21:10-11). The last picture of the church is a
church that is full of glory.
So Paul closes one of his great prayers with these well-known
words: "Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly
above all that we ask or think, according to the power that
works in us, unto Him be the glory in the church and in Christ
Jesus unto all generations for ever and ever" (Eph.
3:20-21). Glory in the church for ever and ever. God has at last
got what He intended to have, a wonderful expression of Himself
right at the very centre of the universe.
That is the calling with which we are called. Will you make it a
personal matter? If we do this, then of course the local churches
will be all right, and so will the universal church. So then, the
one purpose of the Holy Spirit and the one business of every
Christian is that the Lord may be seen in us. Will you make that
your concern? Pray earnestly every day, "Oh Lord, make me like
Christ. Not I, but Christ, be honoured, loved, exalted, seen,
heard and known".