The Spirit in Fullness

Eph. 5:18.---'Be filled with the Spirit.'

St. Paul, who preached to the nations the gospel of Christ, proclaimed also the gospel of the Holy Spirit. The tow are one. They may be distinguished, but they should never be separated; they supplement and illuminate one another. Through Christ we know God, through the Spirit we know Christ. The gospel of Christ brings the message which alone can save the world, but the only through the Spirit do we understand it and make it our own. A doctrine of God without Christ is a face without an eye; a doctrine of Christ without the Holy Spirit is a body without hand, or a body possessing hands and arms complete, but without life to quicken them and energy to move them. The Apostle who cries out in holy passion, 'Though an angel from heaven should preach any other gospel than this, let him be anathema!' declares also that 'none can say that Jesus is Lord but in the Holy Spirit,' and 'If any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his.'

In the Epistle to the Ephesians there are many references to the Spirit. Two of them are direct commands, and in these commands all our duty to the Spirit is included. The one is, 'Grieve not the holy Spirit of God' [4:30]. The other is our text: 'Be filled with the Spirit.' The one is negative, forbidding everything of the flesh or self that would lead to unbelief or disobedience to Christ Jesus. The other is positive, calling us to yield our whole being in undivided surrender to Him who reveals and maintains the life of Christ within us.

To understand the command, 'Be filled with the Spirit,' we need only turn to the day of Pentecost, when the disciples were all 'filled with the Holy Spirit.' We know what that meant to them. For three years they had lived day and night in closest fellowship with their Lord. His presence had been everything to them. When He spoke of His departure their hearts were sad. He promised that the Spirit would come, not to take His place, but to reveal Himself as their Lord, present with them as much as when He was upon earth, only far more intimately and more gloriously. He would henceforth not be near them and beside them, without the power of enabling them to do what he had taught them, but would live and work in them, even as the Father had lived and worked in Him as man. To be filled with the Spirit would mean to them that Christ on the throne would be to them an ever-present living reality, filling their hearts and life with all His heavenly love and joy. Their fellowship with Him on earth would prove to have been but the shadow of that intense and unceasing union with Him which the Spirit would reveal in power.

What are the conditions of the Spirit's fullness?

SURRENDER.---In all filling we know that two things are needed. The one, that the vessel be clean and empty and ready, even in its posture, to receive the water that is waiting for it; the other, that the water be near and ready to give itself away in full measure to the waiting vessel. In the great transaction between God and man for the filling of the Spirit, man needs first of all to know how complete is the surrender that is needed, and how, even to the death to self and the world, the yielding up of the whole being is indispensable. Then how willing, ready, and able the Holy God is to take possession of our being, and to fill it with Himself.

FAITH.---It is through faith in Christ and in the Father that the Divine fullness will flow into us. Of the same Ephesians to whom the command is given, 'Be filled with the Spirit,' Paul had said, 'In Christ . . . having . .. believed, ye were sealed with the holy Spirit of promise.' The command refers to what they had already received: the fountain was within them; it had only to be opened up and way made for it; it would then spring up and fill their being. And yet not as if this were in their own power. Jesus had said, 'He that believeth on me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.' The fullness of the Spirit is so truly in Jesus, the receiving out of Him must so really be in the unbroken continuity of a real life-fellowship, the cease-less inflow of the sap from Him, the living Vine, must so distinctly be met by the cease-less recipiency of a simple faith, that the upspringing of the fountain within can only be in the dependence on Jesus above.

PRAYER.---For faith in Jesus and hourly and ever-growing upspringing of the Spirit will not dispense with faith in the Father's gift and prayer for the renewed fulfillment of His promise. For these same Ephesians, who had thus the Spirit within them as the earnest of their inheritance, Paul prays to the Father 'that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.' The verbs both denote not a work, but an act, something done at once. The expression 'according to the riches of his glory' indicates something which is to be a great exhibition of the Divine love and power, something very special and Divine. They had the Spirit indwelling. He prayed for them that the direct interposition of the Father might give them such mighty workings of the Spirit, such a fullness of the Spirit, that the indwelling of Christ, and a life in the love that passeth knowledge, and a being filled with the fullness of God, might be their blessed personal experience. When the flood came of old, the windows of heaven and the fountains of the great deep were opened together. It is still so in the fulfillment of the promise of the Spirit: 'I will pour . . . .floods upon the dry ground.' The deeper and clearer the faith in the Indwelling Spirit, and the simpler the waiting on Him, the more abundant will be the renewed down-coming of the Spirit from the heart of the Father direct to the heart of His waiting child.

The saint enjoys the fullness of rapture. History records that Alexander the Great offered a prize to the man who could drink most wine, and that thirty candidates died in the process of the competition. No matter how we may drain the cup of earthly indulgence, we still expire unsatisfied. No snatch of sensual ecstasy, no throb of worldly joy, no dream of power or glow of success can fill the spaciousness of the soul. 'Be ye filled with the Spirit.' As the heaven is filled with light, as ocean's rocky cup is brimmed with the shining tides, so does the Spirit of God pervade the infinity of the soul, and every true believer expresses the sparkle of the sky, the music of the sea. We want life in its fullness. Precisely that is what the faith of Christ gives.

In Christ. timothy. Maranatha