"Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all truth." John 16:13.
Possessor of the Saints
"Sin could be resisted and overcome only through the mighty agency of the Third Person of the Godhead, who would come with no modified energy, but in the fullness of divine power. It is the Spirit that makes effectual what has been wrought out by the world's Redeemer. It is by the Spirit that the heart is made pure. Through the Spirit the believer becomes a partaker of the divine nature. Christ has given His Spirit as a divine power to overcome all hereditary and cultivated tendencies to evil, and to impress His own character upon His church."óThe Desire of Ages, p. 671.
Before the cataclysm of the second world war touched off a chain reaction of world tensions and hatreds, man strove to convince himself that he was captain of his fate and master of his soul. Already he had fought a "war to end war," and by the brilliance of his statesmanship and the wizardry of scientific research he proposed to bring about peace, happiness, and prosperity.
Today, with World War III and annihilation breathing down his neck, man still talks grandiloquently about creating life and conquering space; but he does so to create a din that will drown out the frightened pounding of his overstrained heart. He knows that he is rapidly creating in the world an atmosphere unfriendly to progress. He no longer is confident of his relationship with God. Therefore he works frantically to make a way of escape from the intolerable climate. The frightening fact is that wherever he goes he will take with him his own unregenerate heart, and thus re-create for himself the same problems with their inescapable conclusions.
Is it not tragic that man, who has discovered the means to blow the human race to bits, at the same time claims to be on the verge of discovering the secret of life itself? Thus little man completes the cycle begun millenniums ago in Paradise by Lucifer, the creature who aspired to equality with his Creator. The two alternatives which he claims to offer his raceóannihilation or immortalityóare alike outside his realm. These are prerogatives of God, who alone can create and who alone can permit destruction of that which He has created. The word of God assures us that shortly a large segment of the population of this earth will indeed be annihilated, while the rest will receive immortality; but it will be accomplished by the power of God and not of man.
Should man acknowledge this, he would be admitting his own impotence. This he dares not do, since he has lost his sense of the omnipotence of God. So he blunders on down the road to his own destruction, meanwhile kicking up a cloud of dust to keep himself from seeing the yawning chasm at the end.
In the midst of this floundering generation, the Spirit of God works quietly to bring peace and security and assurance into lives which He is permitted to possess. "For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength." "And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever." Isaiah 30:15; 32:17.
Since man has lost his God-given ability to direct his own steps, betrayed and beset by his heredity and his environment, it is necessary that some power outside himself come to his rescue and take over the burden of leadership. "O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." Jeremiah 10:23.
To make such an admission is an affront to oneís pride. It is becoming increasingly apparent that separated from the Spirit of God, man experiences only frustration and defeat; yet it is not natural for him to yield readily to the Third Person of the Godhead. This is a paradox which man finds most difficult of comprehensionóthat in submitting he wins, while in resisting he loses. Ever since Lucifer first gained entrance to our planet the battle has been joined between the forces of evil and good. Since the Day of Pentecost Satan has battled relentlessly with the Spirit of God, who has come to lead to victory those willing to follow under the banner of Christ.
"They are to contend with supernatural forces, but they are assured of supernatural help. All the intelligences of heaven are in this army. And more than angels are in the ranks. The Holy Spirit, the representative of the Captain of the Lordís host, comes down to direct the battle."óThe Desire of Ages, p. 352.
"When Christ was on earth, He stood as the representative of humanity. He was on trial in behalf of man, and the test was made in His experience as to the possibility that humanity could overcome through divine power.... Jesus looked forward to the triumph and joy that man might attain through the agency of the Holy Spirit....It is through the mighty agency of the Holy Spirit that the government of Satan is to be subdued and subjected. It is the Holy Spirit that convinces of sin and expels it from the soul with the consent of the human agent."óReview and Herald, April 25, 1893.
In these references we find that only by allowing the Holy Spirit to take complete possession of our life can we hope to win the struggle against evil in our own nature. This mighty member of the Godhead is the least known of the Three, undoubtedly because He never speaks of Himself. Yet His power is evidenced throughout Scripture since first He appears as an agent in the establishment of order on the first day of the creation. "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." Genesis 1:1, 2.
During the hundred and twenty years while Noah was building the ark and preaching impending doom from a flood in a land that had never known rain, it was the Spirit of God who strove with the impenitent hearts of the antediluvians. "And the Lord said, My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years." Genesis 6:3. "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins....being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: by which also He went and preached unto the spirits in prison; which sometime were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing." 1 Peter 3:18-20.
The Holy Spirit took temporary possession of the ambitious, greedy prophet Balaam. When this renegade sought to curse the people of God to obtain the fame and fortune offered by the Moabitish king, it was the Spirit of God who restrained him. Speaking through Balaamís unwilling lips, He not only spoke blessing to Israel but prophesied of their coming Messiah and the downfall of their enemies. "And Balaam lifted up his eyes, and he saw Israel abiding in his tents according to their tribes; and the Spirit of God came upon him. And he took up his parable, and said: Ö How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel! Ö He couched, he lay down as a lion, and as a great lion: who shall stir him up? Blessed is he that blesseth thee, and cursed is he that curseth thee. Ö I shall see Him, but not now: I shall behold Him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Scepter shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth." Numbers 24:2-17.
It was the Spirit of God who prepared the man Samson and endowed him with awe-inspiring strength that he might intimidate the Philistines and arouse the national spirit within the breast of defeated Israel. Judges 13:24, 25. Such a hero gave them a rallying point about which they might have assembled to bring victory to the cause of God, now suffering defeat at the hand of their contemptuous enemies. How tragic that this divinely endowed man used his God-given powers only to harass the enemies of Israel, while he allowed his uncontrolled appetites to work his own undoing. And at last, in a frenzy of awareness of his own impotence as a man of God, he accomplished the downfall of the Philistines by carrying them with him to destruction. How pitiful that Samson was the best material God could find at the time of national crisis.
The glorious song-poems recorded for our inspiration in the book of Psalms were the product of the Spirit of God. The Spirit had taken possession of Davidís tongue, and as he neared the end of a full life, King David himself is quoted as saying: "Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said, The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and His word was in my tongue." 2 Samuel 23:1, 2.
From the archives of Paradise, then, issued the exalted music of the Psalms which have inspired and comforted the church in the long ages since they were composed by the shepherd boy who had been anointed by the Spirit of God.
With the coming of the long-awaited Messiah, whose miraculous descent to the level of mankind He personally supervised, the Third Person entered into a new phase of His relationship to man and to Godís plan for manís redemption.
"And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." Luke 1:35.
"Wherefore in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people." Hebrews 2:17.
The Holy Spirit acted as go-between for Father and Son that He might demonstrate to us the perfection of Godís plan for our ultimate relationship with Himself. With the Father on the throne of the universe, and the Son on earth to represent the lost human race, the Spirit of God served to maintain the needed communion between Them. Then when Jesus Christ gave the ultimate demonstration of divine love by giving up His life for the human race, it was the Spirit who restored to Him the life He had voluntarily laid down.
"But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you." Romans 8:11.
He took over the direction of the earthly phase of our redemption at Pentecost. Henceforth He works to accomplish in our lives redemption, which Christ provided for us on Calvary, and sanctification. Daily He weaves into the fiber of our yielded lives the lovely threads of which Christís life was woven. These precious threads are seen shining through such passages of Scripture as these:
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace. longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." Galatians 5:22, 23.
"But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace." James 3:17, 18.
"Add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity." 2 Peter 1:5-7.
"It is expedient for you that I go away," said Christ to His incredulous followers, "for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you. And when He is come, He will convince the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment." John 16:7, 8, margin. And so day by day, even moment by moment, the battle goes on for the possession of the mind and the heart of man. "For the passion of the flesh is against the Spirit, and the passion of the Spirit against the fleshóthe two are at issue, so that you are not free to do as you please." Galatians 5:17, Moffatt.
When man recognizes the forces contending to take possession of him, and voluntarily submits his will to the divine Spirit of God, then the transformation of character known as sanctification can take place.
"Having brought conviction of sin, and presented before the mind the standard of righteousness, the Holy Spirit withdraws the affections from the things of this earth and fills the soul with a desire for holiness....The Spirit will take the things of God and stamp them on the soul. By His power the way of life will be made so plain that none need err therein."óThe Acts of the Apostles, pp. 52, 53.
"When one renounces sin, which is the transgression of the law, his life will be brought into conformity to the law, into perfect obedience. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. The light of the word carefully studied, the voice of conscience, the strivings of the Spirit, produce in the heart genuine love for Christ, who gave Himself a whole sacrifice to redeem the whole person, body, soul, and spirit."óTestimonies, vol. 6, p. 92.
"When the Holy Spirit controls the minds of our church members, there will be seen in our churches a much higher standard in speech, in ministry, in spirituality, than is now seen."óibid.,vol. 8, p. 211.
While it is the privilege of Godís people to be wholly possessed by the Third Person of the Trinity, so that their every thought will be Godís thought, they are by no means the exclusive recipients of His attentions. "Wherever there is an impulse of love and sympathy, wherever the heart reaches out to bless and uplift others, there is revealed the working of Godís Holy Spirit. In the depths of heathenism, men who have had no knowledge of the written law of God, who have never even heard the name of Christ, have been kind to His servants, protecting them at the risk of their own lives. Their acts show the working of a divine power. The Holy Spirit has implanted the grace of Christ in the heart of the savage, quickening his sympathies contrary to his nature, contrary to his education."óChristís Object Lessons, p. 385.
"God has many thousands who have not bowed the knee to Baal, many who long to understand more fully in regard to Christ and the law, many who are hoping against hope that Jesus will come soon to end the reign of sin and death. And there are many who have been worshiping Baal ignorantly, but with whom the Spirit of God is still striving."óProphets and Kings, p. 171.
"There are many who have not yet heard the testing truth for this time. There are many with whom the Spirit of God is striving. The time of Godís destructive judgments is the time of mercy for those who have had no opportunity to learn what is truth."óTestimonies, vol. 9, p. 97.
The ugly fruitage of bigotry and intolerance stems not from seeds of the Spiritís planting, whether it develops in the heart of civilized man or savage, whether in Christís church or among atheists. The unspeakable atrocities of the Inquisition were perpetrated by Christians, so-called, and in the name of Christ. The Puritans, fleeing from the spirit of intolerance in the Old World, brought it in their own unregenerate hearts to the New World. Roger Williams, who founded the colony of Rhode Island, had been compelled by fellow church members to flee from the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the dead of winter because his theology differed from theirs. He took refuge among the Indians. Later, when offered the opportunity to return, he refused, saying that he preferred the society of the Christian savages of Rhode Island to that of the savage Christians in Massachusetts.
Yet, while man seems bent on barring from the kingdom of God all who do not fit into his preconceived views of its exalted standards, the Spirit of God goes on wooing and winning all who will listen to His teaching, whether it be by formal lessons from the Scriptures for those privileged to live in lands touching Christian culture, or by the more informal book of nature, which, after all, was Godís first textbook. God is bent on bringing people into His kingdom, not on keeping them out. How much more might have been accomplished by God had receptive minds and hearts in non-Christian lands had the benefit of all the light God has bestowed on Christians and commissioned them to share with their less fortunate brothers and sisters, only eternity will disclose. How much more peace and happiness might have reigned in their hearts had they only known all we could have shared with them of Godís love and protection over His own.
But the Spirit has been watching for eyes turned heavenward. If only the heart is teachable, that the divine qualities of kindness and pity and love may be impressed hereon, there will be opportunity enough throughout eternity for the study of doctrine. And the same Spirit detects when the proud and complacent heart, secure in its possession of truth, closes its ears to the revelation of its own weakness and need. For such a one, He can do no more.
"For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another." Romans 2:14, 15.
"He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination." "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more." Proverbs 28:9; Luke 12:48.
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