"The dispensation in which we are now living is to be, to those that ask, the dispensation of the Holy Spirit. Ask for His blessing. It is time we were more intense in our devotion. To us is committed the arduous, but happy, glorious work of revealing Christ to those who are in darkness. We are called to proclaim the special truths for this time. For all this the outpouring of the Spirit is essential. We should pray for it. The Lord expects to ask Him. We have not been wholehearted in this work."—Testimonies to Ministers, pages 511, 512.
Throughout this world today there are many earnest Christians, singly and in groups, praying in harmony with the above instruction for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the experience of the latter rain. Yet most of them have little idea what they are asking for, and are unprepared to receive what they so earnestly seek. Not only are most of them doomed to frustration because God seemingly does not hear and answer their prayers; there is an even greater danger that the prayers may be heard and answered, but not by God.
We are living in a time when Satan is rallying forces to make a final attempt to thwart God's plan for our redemption. Supernatural powers make themselves evident as they have not done in times past. The forces of evil are becoming bolder in their bid for world allegiance. Not only is Satan's might on display among non-Christian religions; today it is displayed in the citadel of Protestant Christianity. Ever since Pentecost, Satan has sought to counterfeit the mighty force unleashed by Heaven in behalf of God's own. He has succeeded only too well among those whose minds are not fortified with Bible truth. How tragic were he to deceive at last the very people to whom God has entrusted the last warning message for mankind!
One church of my acquaintance still shudders at the recollection of a past experience in praying for the Holy Spirit. A group of devout women under the guidance of the pastor met to beseech God for the promised outpouring of divine power, as they had read in Scripture and the spirit of prophecy. They pledged themselves not to "let go the arm of the Lord" until they received the experience which they sought. They had an experience, all right—one which nearly frightened them out of their wits. The minister who had encouraged them hurriedly separated himself from the project and sought to disclaim any responsibility for what took place. In fact, very few people ever knew exactly what did happen, since the women steadfastly refused to talk about it. One of their group spent a number of years in a mental institution as a direct result of the occurrence. As you may well expect, the subject of the Holy Spirit was taboo in that church for years to come. You could not interest these Christians in the real thing because they had been deceived by a counterfeit—all because no one had taught them the difference between the two. Those who seek an experience of their own conception instead of what God would send them, open their minds to receive an experience from the deceiver.
Yet this is the age when the Spirit of God is dispensing God's gifts to the church. Why is there such widespread ignorance or misinformation in this vital area of Christian thinking? Why is it that the Holy Spirit is the topic of so few sermons from Christian pulpits today? Is it perhaps because ministers fear that they might invite a manifestation of this counterfeit spirit if they give publicity to the topic?
Is it not time that the Bible and the spirit of prophecy were searched for God's truth in this vital field? How can the church be fully armed with the "sword of the Spirit" when she does not rightly know what this weapon is, nor how to wield it if she had it? And all the while time is a wasting and all heaven waits for the "bride" to make herself ready. This book is dedicated to the exploration of all of God's revealed truth concerning the personality and the work of the Holy Spirit. It is an attempt to make a little clearer the who and the what of the Third Person of the Godhead, our least-understood Ally and our most important Possession.
It seeks to prove that man does not know the name of the Third Person of the Trinity. The various names that are given to Him throughout Scripture divulge nothing of His personality. They show instead His office and work, the relationship which He maintains between God and man in the plan of salvation. He is known variously as the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit of Christ, and the Comforter. All these are New Testament appellations of Him. Throughout the Old Testament He is known as either the Spirit of God or the Spirit of the Lord. Twice only does Isaiah refer to Him as Holy Spirit.
This is no more His personal name than is the Word of God the personal name of the Second Person of the Godhead. Just as Word is used to suggest Christ's unique position as mouthpiece for the Invisible God "whom no man hath seen, nor can see" (1 Timothy 6:16), so does Holy Spirit designate the One who supervises the implanting of God's own nature in the lives of His sons and daughters elect. Through this agency God's own character is imparted to those preparing for citizenship in the kingdom of heaven. Thus our spirits become holy as His is, and we are enabled to worship God "in spirit and in truth." John 4:24.
Because the authors of the Bible speak indiscriminately of the Person of the Holy Spirit on one hand and of His work on human lives on the other, there is confusion in those two areas of thought. Some thoughtful students reject the idea of the Trinity because they consider absurd the concept of a person's being "poured out" (Acts 2:17) or dwelling within (John 14:17) human beings. Others have concentrated on the obvious evidences of personality of the Holy Spirit, His work as teacher (John 14:26), as witness of Christ (John 15:26), as guide unto all truth and revealer of coming events (John 16:13), and have concluded that Scripture reveals only His objective work in the plan for man's redemption, entirely missing the subjective phase of His office. The purpose of this book is to explore both fields, that the church may come to an understanding concerning her mightiest Ally in the last battle for control of men's minds and hearts.
The other angel of the eighteenth chapter of the Revelation cannot complete the work God has assigned him until the church is ready. The entire universe is waiting to witness this closing chapter of earth's history. Why must it wait longer?
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