Life on the Highest Plane
Vol. 3: The Believer's Response to the Holy Spirit's Inworking

Chapter Twenty-Four
The Spirit-filled Life

In our studies so far we have considered God's wondrous plan of salvation as wrought out in the Lord Jesus Christ. We have seen what Christ came to do for us, to be in us, and to work through us. We have faced what life in Christ may be and, therefore, ought to be in every Christian. Let us now honestly face its real worth to us individually.

Is God's salvation in Christ perfect? Can anything be added to it? Can anything be taken from it? Surely the answer will quickly come from any life in vital relationship with the Lord Jesus: Yes, God's salvation is perfect; it provides for every need; it satisfies every desire; it furnishes an all-sufficient Saviour. As I look into my life's deepest need I can think of nothing to add to it nor of anything that could be taken from it. God's salvation wrought out in Christ for me is of infinite worth through its perfection.

But is it practical? Is it possible for an ordinary person to live a life in Christ such as God seems to expect? I can imagine the answer of some to be: The truth regarding a life lived on the highest plane is biblical and logical but it does not match my experience nor the experience of many Christians of my acquaintance. Is not God's plan of salvation too perfect to be practical for such a world as this? Is not life on the highest plane possible only to those who are called into special Christian service?

Everything in God's Word contradicts this suggestion. God's plan of salvation is not only perfect but it is practical and possible for every individual believer. The Good Shepherd spoke concerning every sheep within His fold when He said, "I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly." Whoever has Christ's life in any measure may have it in its fullness.

Colossians 2:9-10, R.V., "For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and in him ye are made full, who is the head of all principality and power."

John the Baptist in two wonderful proclamations declared the entire scope of Christ's work in salvation when he said, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" and "He that sent me to baptize with water, . . . the same is that which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost" (John 1:29, 33). Christ would do a twofold work for those who trust Him as Saviour; He would take away their sin and He would baptize them in the Spirit. Thus John the Baptist states that part of Christ's work is to bring the believer into as definite a relationship to the Holy Spirit as he bears to Christ, although it is to be a different relationship.

What John the Baptist had said Christ corroborated in two remarkable invitations which He gave to sinners to come to Him and drink of the water of life.

John 4:14, R.V., "But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst: but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up unto etternal life."

John 7:37-38, R.V., "Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, from within him shall flow rivers of living water."

Jesus Christ promised to bestow a gift upon the one who believed in Him as Sin-bearer which would bring perfect satisfaction and sufficiency within the believer's inmost life and which would then overflow in rich and abounding blessing into the lives of others. Christ's offer to the Samaritan woman was a gift which would change her source of supplies from a water pot to a well and then convert her life into a channel through which rivers of this living water would flow.

 

THE HOLY SPIRIT — CHRIST'S GIFT TO THE BELIEVER

We are left in no doubt as to what this gift was, for the Lord Jesus states most explicitly that it was the gift of the Holy Spirit.

John 7:39, R.V., "But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believed on him were to receive: for the Spirit was not yet given; because Jesus was not yet glorified."

Please note that in this verse the Lord Jesus tells us three things:

  1. What the gift was — "This spoke he of the Spirit."
  2. To whom it was to be given — "Which they that believe on him were to receive."
  3. When the gift was to be bestowed — "Jesus was not yet glorified."

It is evident from these words that His finished work as Sin-bearer must first be accomplished and then as the glorified Lord in heaven He would bestow this wondrous gift upon every believer which would make real within him that abiding and abounding life which Christ had made possible for him.

Still further light was thrown upon the nature of this gift in Christ's last conversation with the disciples on the eve of His exodus. He told them He was to live in them as an abiding spiritual Presence; that there would be a divine inflow of life supernatural in quality, and a divine outflow of life supernatural in power. They were to live as He lived and to work as He worked. To provide power for such a life He promised that "another Comforter" would come to take up His permanent abode in them.

John 14:16-18, "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever. Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

"Another Comforter" — these words are descriptive and defining and very significant. The "Comforter" (Paraclete) means "one who is called alongside of another to help." "Another" means one just like Himself. Someone was to come to dwell in each of them in perpetual presence and through His indwelling Christ Himself would be brought back to live within them. The One who was to abide in them was the Spirit who had indwelt, infilled and empowered the God-man when He was upon earth. Christ promised that upon His return to glory He would send back this same Spirit to indwell, to infill and to empower them. This He did on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came down to form the Church, the mystic Body of Christ, and to dwell in it on earth. On that day the disciples who tarried in the upper room were baptized in the Spirit.

From that day, as the divine record shows, everyone who through faith in Christ as Saviour, has been organically and vitally united with the living Lord as a member of His Body, has received the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2:38, "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."

Acts 11:15, 17, "And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?"

The moment one receives the Sin-bearer as his Saviour he is "in the Spirit" and the Spirit is in him. Whatever his spiritual condition every Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit as an abiding, perpetual Presence. It is impossible to accept the Son and to refuse the Spirit.

Romans 8:9, "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his."

1 Corinthians 3:16, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?""

In the divine plan there is as definite a purpose in the gift of the Spirit as in the gift of the Son. Through the Son the sinner has life; through the Spirit the believer has life more abundant. Through the Son the sinner leaves the sphere of the natural and enters the sphere of the spiritual. Through the Spirit the believer is lifted to the highest heights of life on the spiritual plane. God has a purpose for every Christian — a life of true, deep, vital, growing spirituality — and the Holy Spirit lives within every believer as God's gracious provision for the accomplishment of this very purpose.

But do not let us think for a moment that the Spirit works apart from the Son. Life more abundant is by the Spirit. He shares with Christ the Head of the Body, His intense desire that the fullness of life in the Head in heaven shall be manifested in the Body on earth. But the believer must know that the fullness is for him, he must desire to have it, and there must be a means of communicating it to him. All this is the work of the Holy Spirit. It is His task to reveal Christ in all the perfection of His heavenly, holy life to the believer; to unfold to him the unsearchable riches which are his as an heir of God in Christ; to create within him a desire to possess his possessions; and then, to act as the channel through which the abundant life of the glorified Lord in heaven is communicated to him.

John 16:14-15, "He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you."

Romans 8:16-17, R.V., "The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him."

It is the Holy Spirit who works within the believer to bring him to make the choice between self and Christ. But as He works He is opposed, thwarted, challenged and resisted every step of the way by that bitter opponent. "The flesh" works as diligently to keep the believer fleshly as the Spirit works to make him spiritual.

Galatians 5:17, "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the fl and we see the Holy Spirit ignored, silenced, thwarted and quenched. Romans 8 records the victory of the Holy Spirit and we see Him victorious, active, regnant and supreme.

We are compelled to believe that some advance in relationship to the Holy Spirit has taken place which has given Him this wonderful victory and we are constrained to ask God to show us what it is.

 

THE SPIRIT-FILLED LIFE

In one terse, concise command God shows us the highest point the believer can reach in his relationship to the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 5:18, "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit."

You, who have the Holy Spirit in you, give Him full right-of-way in your life; let Him dominate your whole being; let Him who dwells within you fill you from the center to the circumference of your life. You are in the sphere of the Spirit, therefore let the Spirit live out his life in you. Through regeneration God has endowed you with Himself and in the Person of the Spirit He dwells within you. Allow Him now to work out His perfect will unhindered through the undivided control of your whole being. Permit Him to energize you with His almighty power through filling you with Himself.

"Be filled with the Spirit" is a command given to every believer. No Christian is refused the blessing of such a precious experience and none is exempt from its responsibilities. As the refusal of life in Christ is the greatest sin of the unbeliever so the refusal of life more abundant in the Holy Spirit's fullness is the greatest sin of the believer. To be filled with the Holy Spirit is not the privilege of a few but it is the prerogative of all believers. Since it is a command, it is not optional, but it is incumbent upon every Christian to be so filled.

Acts 4:31, "And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.

"Be filled with the Spirit" — "Filled."

"Full of the Holy Ghost" — "Full."

"That ye may be filled unto all the fulness of God" — "Fulness."

These words suggest that there is an infinite, exhaustless fullness which the believer may receive according to his receptive capacity. He may be "filled" today yet tomorrow he shall need to be "filled" again so that his life may be habitually "full"; and the process of continuous infillings will need to continue as long as he lives since the source of supply is "all the fulness of God." A life "full of the Holy Ghost" should be and may be the normal life of every believer. "We may be always full, yet ever filling, the first reception of the fulness being a crisis that leads to a process.

Acts 6:3, "Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business."

Acts 11:24, "For he [Barnabas] was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord."

To be spiritual, then, one must be filled and be kept filled with the Holy Spirit. The habitual fullness of the Holy Spirit is the divine provision for a life lived on the highest plane. The Holy Spirit is the divinely appointed means of communication of "the abundant life" of the ascended, glorified Lord in heaven to the believer on earth. There is a threefold manifestation of the Holy Spirit's infilling.

The Realization of Christ's Abiding Presence
Is not the realization of Christ's abiding presence the greatest need as, I dare say, it is the deepest desire of some of us? He said, "I will come unto you" and with our intellect we believe He has come but our hearts cry out for a deeper realization of His blessed presence within. The lives of the early Christians seemed fairly surcharged with such a joyous, vivid consciousness of the presence within them of their living, glorified Lord. He was so real to them that He seemed to be the home of all their thoughts and the horizon of all their affections. Is the spiritual presence of the living Lord such an intense reality to you? Are you occupied with Christ? Are you satisfied in Christ? Can you say from your heart,

"Thou, 0 Christ, art all I want;
More than all in Thee I find"?

To have Christ abiding in us in all His fullness is to have every need supplied, every desire fulfilled, every hunger satisfied, every thirst quenched. It is to have our whole life perpetually refreshed and replete in Him. Such a realization of His abiding presence in its fullness is one of the rich rewards of a Spirit-filled life.

Ephesians 3:16-17, 19, R.V., "That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, that ye may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. That ye may be filled unto all the fulness of God."

The Reproduction of Christ's Holy Life
The reproduction of Christ's holy life within the believer is another speakably precious benefit of the Spirit-filled life. Who of us has ever had a real vision of the Lord Jesus who has not abhorred his own sinfulness and longed passionately for Christ's holiness? Who has ever really seen the King in His beauty and not longed intensely to be like Him? But His is a life that defies imitation. No counterfeit is ever so quickly detected and so heartily detested as a counterfeit of the Christ. There is no possibility of likeness to the character seen in Jesus Christ except through the reproduction of His life in us.

To communicate the life of the living Head in heaven to the Body on earth, making the visible part of Christ of the same character as the invisible part, is the work of the Holy Spirit. To reproduce the life of the Lord Jesus in us in a growing perfection is the mission of the Holy Spirit and His ability to perform this task is in proportion to the freedom given Him to do it. The Spirit-filled Christian is the one who is most like his Lord.

2 Corinthians 3:18, R.V., "But we all with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit."

Galatians 5:22-23, R.V., "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control: against such there is no law."

Compressed into these nine exquisite graces is a marvelous word-picture of the character of Jesus Christ in its essential beauty, symmetry and perfection. Such character can never be produced through human effort for it is not the product of human nature but the fruit of the divine nature. Only the divine can produce the divine. "As without the sun the photographic image cannot be printed upon the sensitized film, so apart from the Holy Spirit, the moral glories of the Lord Jesus can never become ours in any sense save that of desire." But, when the Holy Spirit is permitted to fill us, He brings forth His own fruit in a character of growing likeness to that of our Lord.

The Reenactment of Christ's Supernatural Power Through Us
The reenactment of Christ's supernatural power through us is the third outstanding mark of a Spirit-filled life. All power belongs unto God and He has delegated this power to His Son and the Son in turn transmits that power to the one whose life is united with His. When He gave that last commission to the disciples He said, "All power hath been given unto me in heaven and upon earth, go ye therefore and make disciples of all the nations." The "therefore" fully implies that, as He sent them forth to accomplish such a superhuman task, He promised to endue them with supernatural power. Just before His ascension He told them to wait until they were "endued with power from on high" and in giving this command He reiterated His promise to send forth to them the Holy Spirit upon His return to glory (Luke 24:49). So their enduement with power and their. reception of the Holy Spirit evidently had a vital connection. The last words He spoke, as He was lifted up out of their sight, declared this.

Acts 1:8, "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."

A study of the book of Acts shows us that those who were filled with the Holy Spirit were full of power. They had power to suffer and to sacrifice; to teach and to preach; to witness and to work. Thousands of souls were born into the Kingdom of God and blessed through their ministry. But this work of grace was not wrought through human energy, zeal, wisdom or eloquence, but through the power of the ascended Lord poured forth through Spirit-filled lives.

Have you the power of the Holy Spirit? Through you is He working mightily to convict men of sin, to constrain them to believe in Christ, and to conform them to the image of the Lord Jesus? If not, is it because you are not filled with the Holy Spirit? Wherever He is in fullness He manifests Himself in power. "In order to have the Holy Spirit's competency we must have His control."

One day while rowing I noticed a break in the bank and a veritable river was flowing out of the lake through the adjoining fields, making everything round about rich in foliage and fruitage. Inquiring of one of my companions why with such a continuous outflow of water the lake did not go dry, he replied, "Oh! there are innumerable springs in the bottom and as much water as flows out through the river flows in through the unseen springs." Such inflow and outflow symbolizes a Spirit-filled life.

"In him a well." The Holy Spirit in His fullness is Christ's gift to every believer. He dwells within, a well of living water, a continuously upspringing fountain. With Him within there is no need for dearth. The promise is he "shall never thirst." The supply will be commensurate to the need. Satisfaction and sufficiency characterize the Spirit-filled life.

"Out of him rivers." The inflow demands and provides an outflow. Satisfaction in Christ means the overflow of Christ. The Holy Spirit in complete, continuous control is a well of living water within us, constantly springing up in ever increasing fullness until there are rivers of living water flowing into other lives. Thus the Spirit-filled life is one of perennial freshness, fragrance, fullness and fruitfulness.

Is such a life yours? If not, do you desire it? It is available; it is obtainable; it is for you if you thirst. "If any man thirst." Do you know there is more of the Holy Spirit for you than you have yet claimed? Have you enough of Him to make you want more? Then listen to the invitation freely extended to you. "If any man thirst let him come unto me and drink." Drink until you are satisfied, until you are full, yes, until you are overflowing. The fullness of the Holy Spirit is for everyone who thirsts for it and who will meet God's simple and clearly stated conditions.

"Our blest Redeemer, ere He breathed
   His tender, last farewell,
A Guide, a Comforter, bequeathed
   With us to dwell.
And every virtue we possess,
   And every victory won,
And every thought of holiness,
   Are His alone."

 

Chapter Twenty-Five

 

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