A Momentous Question
James Smith, 1860
As all real religion begins and is carried on by the Holy Spirit, who renews, sanctifies, and makes us fit for glory — it is a question of the greatest importance, "Have we received the Holy Spirit?" All primitive Christians had, and they knew it, otherwise they could not have been filled with joy and peace — as they were expressly told, that if any man had not the Spirit of Christ, he was none of his. The Spirit comes to claim us for Christ, takes possession of us in the name of Christ, fits us for the service of Christ, and trains us up for the everlasting enjoyment of the presence of Christ. The Spirit is not only in the Church as a body — but he is in every member of that body. Let us therefore press home the solemn question, "Have you received the Holy Spirit?" Acts 19:2.
Consider the CHARACTERS in which the Holy Spirit is to be expected.
He is the QUICKENER. The life-giving Spirit. All spiritual life flows from him. He quickens the dead in sin — quickens us together with Christ. Every divine emotion flows from him. Every holy desire is from him. Every acceptable prayer is from him. He is to the soul, what the soul is to the body; as therefore the body without the soul is dead, so the soul without the Holy Spirit is dead also. Nor is the body more dead to temporal things — than the soul is to spiritual things.
He is the ENLIGHTENER. He enlightens the understanding,
and illuminates the heart. Without the Holy Spirit, all is darkness;
therefore . . .
we do not see the dreadful depravity of the heart,
we do not feel our dangerous state,
we do not perceive the glory of the Savior,
we do not flee from the wrath to come.
It is only in his light, that we can . . .
read the Word of God to profit,
find our way into the presence of the Father, or
see the goings of our God, our King in his sanctuary.
The natural eye, is not more dependent on the sun for light, to see the beauties of creation — than the soul is dependent on the Holy Spirit to see the glories of grace.
He is the COMFORTER.
As the Quickener, he speaks, and we live;
as the Enlightener, he commands, and we see;
but as the Comforter, he comes down nearer to our level. He sympathizes with us in all our losses and crosses, in all our trials and troubles, in all our conflicts and tribulations; and by . . .
revealing the Father,
leading us to Jesus,
unfolding the truth of the Word,
and applying the promises —
he comforts us and often fills us with joy.
The babe is not more dependent on its tender mother for comfort, than we are upon the Holy and ever blessed Spirit.
He is the SANCTIFIER. He sets us apart for God, and
stamps upon us the image of God. He brings us out from the world, separates
us from the ungodly, and by his inward operations conforms us to the will of
God. His power alone is sufficient . . .
to detach us from the world,
to lift us up out of self, and
consecrate us to the service of God.
All holiness flows from the Holy Spirit.
All fitness for glory is the work of the Holy Spirit.
The stone is not more dependent on the mason, to polish and reduce it to the intended form; than we are dependent on the Holy Spirit for the purification of our natures and conformity to Christ.
He is the SEALER. He is the Father's seal, so that when
received into the heart as the testifier of Christ, we are sealed unto the
day of redemption. His gracious work within us . . .
proves that we are Christ's,
confirms our title to the inheritance of the saints in light,
and preserves us unto eternal glory.
He is the pledge of our eternal inheritance. The pledge is a part of the whole. He who has the pledge, is sure of the rest. If therefore we have received the Holy Spirit, as the Spirit of adoption — we have that within us, which assures us, that Heaven with all its glory and joy is ours.
let me experience more of your quickening power;
let me enjoy more of your enlightening influence;
let me receive more of your divine consolations;
let me be more thoroughly, more deeply, sanctified by your grace;
let me be by you, more evidently sealed as the Holy Spirit of promise;
and be in my heart, the pledge of the future inheritance!
What are the EVIDENCES of having received the Holy Spirit?
1. If we have the Spirit now — we know that we had not once. We may not be able to tell when we received the Spirit, or how he commenced his work within us; for "The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." But though we cannot tell exactly when we received the Spirit, or describe his work and operations on the soul — yet we know that a change has passed upon us, for we are not what we were once; and it is such a change as man could not effect, such a change as we could not produce ourselves. If, therefore, it is beyond man's power, and opposed to the nature and designs of Satan — it must be of God, and is an evidence that we have received the Holy Spirit.
2. If we have received the Holy Spirit — the Lord Jesus stands high in our estimation — and our views of ourselves are very humbling. And, just in proportion to the power and depth of the Spirit's work — will be our conceptions of the glory, grandeur, and excellency of the Savior; and our discoveries of the depravity, pollution, weakness, and misery of our own hearts. If, therefore, we have heart affecting views of the glory of Christ and his finished work, and if we lie low in the dust under a sense of our weakness and worthlessness, so that we are brought to depend wholly on Christ, and on Christ alone — we have received the Holy Spirit.
3. If we have received the Holy Spirit — we admire the holiness, approve of the demands, and reverence the authority of God's law. We see that it is holy, just, and good. We perceive that it is a reflection of God's moral attributes. We once dreaded its sentence, objected to its strictness, and wished its annihilation. But having heard and received the gospel, which gospel provides for the honor of the law, and presents the sinner with all that is necessary to meet the law's demands — we highly prize the gospel, and deeply reverence the law. Now with Paul we can say, "I delight in the law of God, after the inward man."
If we habitually admire and reverence the law of God, and prize and appreciate the everlasting gospel — we have received the Holy Spirit.
4. If we have received the Holy Spirit, we dread deception; and lest we should deceive ourselves, or be deceived by others, we often examine ourselves, and beseech God to examine us. The cry often ascends from the heart, "Examine me, O God. Search me, O Lord. Never, never let me be deceived, or foster a false hope, or build on an unsafe foundation!"
Connected with this, the soul is in earnest to secure a saving interest in Christ and his finished work. It feels at times as if it could scarcely ever be sure enough, the matter is of such infinite importance. It digs deep, and lays its foundation upon a rock.
Now if we dread being deceived ourselves, and feel determined that we will not deceive others, in reference to our soul's salvation; and if we are determined by all means to secure a saving interest in Christ, cost what it may — we have received the Holy Spirit.
5. If we have received the Holy Spirit — there is in us a deep-rooted, abiding hatred to sin — all sin, especially sin in ourselves. What was once our darling sin has become the object of our hatred — and against that we set a double guard. For nothing do we sigh so often, nothing do we desire so ardently — as holiness. The Holy Spirit always sets the whole soul against sin, and longing for perfect holiness.
True, our old feelings toward sin will sometimes revive — but then we loath ourselves on account of it, mourn over it, and confess it before God. The cry of the soul is, "Holiness, Lord, more holiness! Deep, penetrating, all-pervading holiness!"
Now, if we hate sin everywhere, all sin, and especially the sin that dwells in us; and if we love holiness, admire holiness, pray for holiness, pant for holiness, and strive for holiness — then there is no doubt but we have received the Holy Spirit.
6. If we have received the Holy Spirit — we wish to be useful in the cause of Christ. We want to do something for him — who has done so much for us! We behold transgressors, and are grieved. We long to save souls from death. If the Spirit's work is deep within us, we are willing to do anything, to suffer anything, to go anywhere, or become anything — if we may but honor the dear name, spread the glorious truth, and increase the number of the followers of Christ.
To be useless is to be miserable. To be inactive in the cause of Jesus, while so much is to be done, is execrable. The soul is ready to cry out, "O for a thousand tongues to speak for Jesus!" If the ruling desire of our souls is to be useful in the cause of Christ, on purpose that the Lord Jesus may be glorified — then doubtless we have received the Holy Spirit.
7. Once more, if we have received the Holy Spirit — then we are ruled by God's Word; we do not follow custom, or allow our passions or prejudices to dictate our course. In all times of difficulty, when in any perplexity, something seems to say, "To the law and to the testimony," and to the precepts of the New Testament, we turn.
The Word of Christ is the law of the true believer. Everything short of it, or beyond it, or beside it, or contrary to it — is sin! "Only what Jesus commands, all that Jesus commands, and because Jesus commands," is the language of the soul.
And while we thus make the Word of Jesus our rule — we deny ourselves. We deny our own wills, our own passions, our own desires, our likes and dislikes. We are before Him, as He was before His Father, when He cried out, "Not My will — but may Your be done." If, then, we make the Word of God our guide, and habitually deny ourselves for Christ's sake — we may rest assured, that we have received the Holy Spirit.
Observe, there is no one who has received Christ — who has not received the Holy Spirit. For the Holy Spirit claims the heart for Christ, enters it in the name of Christ, and prepares it for the reception of Christ. The beauty of Christ is never seen, the need of Christ is never felt, the desire for Christ is never realized, the opening of the heart to admit Christ never takes place — but where the Spirit of the Lord is.
8. No one has received the Spirit, who is satisfied with present attainments; for where the Spirit dwells and works — nothing short of perfection will satisfy. Even Paul said, "Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13-14.
9. He who has the Spirit within him always depends upon Christ without him. He never makes the Spirit's work, his foundation or the ground of his dependence — but he builds on Christ alone. Thus the Spirit glorifies Jesus by leading the soul away from himself, and even from his own operations — to rest alone on Christ's precious blood and perfect righteousness.
Let us, then, devoutly seek more of the Spirit's power,
grace, and operations; yes, let us seek to be filled with the Spirit,
then we shall be . . .
deeply sanctified to God,
fully assured of our acceptance with God,
walk so as to please God, and
at death we shall be called up to dwell forever with God, and eternally enjoy God!
Reader, "have you received the Holy Spirit?" Remember, "If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ — he does not belong to Him!" Romans 8:9