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1The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to shew unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by His angel unto His servant John: 2Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. 3Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand. 4John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from Him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before His throne; 5and from Jesus Christ, Who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the Prince of the kings of the earth. Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, 6and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. — Revelation 1:1-6 KJV
Just as Jesus is Lord of the Church, so the Holy Spirit is Lord in the Church. Now about the Holy Spirit, we have a very special announcement in these opening verses: “…and from the seven Spirits which are before His throne” (Revelation 1:4). The interesting thing is that the phrase is repeated later several more times. In Revelation 3:1 Jesus says,
“And unto the angel of the church of Sardis write, ‘These things says He Who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars. “I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest and art dead.”’”
It is again confirmed in Revelation 4:5 where we read,
“And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thundering and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
Then again, in the throne scene in chapter 5, verse 6,
“And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.”
Why is the Holy Spirit called “the seven Spirits of God” in this very symbolic book, the Book of Revelation? Why is He depicted as seven lamps of fire? Why is He shown as seven eyes? You see, there aren’t seven Spirits of God; and yet the Book mentions seven spirits. But if there is only the one Holy Spirit, then why is He called seven Spirits? Let me make it doubly clear—there are not seven individual Holy Spirits. The Holy Spirit is one, but He has a sevenfold nature. He has a perfect nature, and therefore each character, each manifestation is absolutely perfect. But He is a perfection of these sevenfold characteristics. That enables us to depict Him as sevenfold, “the seven Spirits of God.” Every one of those perfect natures of the Holy Spirit, if looked at from a human point of view, is so infinite that we could not understand any increase of them. He is absolute perfection: the Holy One, the Holy Spirit.
When the Word calls Him the seven Spirits of God, God is coming down to our low level to enable us to understand in a better way. How often as children we ask impossible questions of our parents! I distinctly remember asking my father questions that he couldn’t answer. I was only about five or six years of age, but I asked him, an intelligent man, questions that he couldn’t answer. And it wasn’t because of his lack of knowledge; rather, it was my lack, my incapacity to understand in a way which he could describe. He just could not get down to my low level to explain to me what was inexplicable because of my lack of understanding. That is God’s difficulty with us; when God comes down to our low level, He cannot speak in celestial language, for we don’t have a celestial intelligence. So God has to come down to our human capacity and put it in such a form as this phrase, “the seven Spirits of God.”
When I was young in the early 1900s in England, we had trams—electric trolley cars. I asked my father, “What makes the tram go along?” He responded, “Well, I can’t really explain it to you.” And I said, “Please try. I’m sure I’d understand.” And he said, “Well, it’s electricity.” I responded, “What’s electricity?” It’s very difficult for a parent, isn’t it? Then I asked, “When that man who drives the tram car moves that handle, why does the tram go faster?” I was referring, of course, to the rheostat. Now Father couldn’t say, “Well, that’s the rheostat.” He just couldn’t explain it to me, could he? It wasn’t because of his inability, but because of my lack of knowledge and understanding.
I wonder whether you have ever been put on the spot by your child asking you, “Where does the light go when you put the lamp out?” Well, where does it go? How do you explain in a way that your child understands? There isn’t just a little matter of a light going out somewhere; it’s just ceasing to be for the moment. In the same way, our heavenly Father has to bring truth down to the level of our finite minds. That is why God teaches so many things by way of symbolism, including the sevenfold Holy Spirit.
Each one of these seven characteristics, these manifestations of the Spirit, is perfect, and each one is eternal. Nothing could be added, and nothing taken away. Each one is the fullest possible expression of what we know or may have in the tiniest degree—utterly tiny in comparison to His infiniteness. Each aspect of the Holy Spirit is complete in itself, and each one could be viewed as a whole. It is just as if there were a most beautiful diamond and it has seven facets, seven faces. As you look at one face, you say, “I see the diamond”; but turn it around, and there is another face. Now it’s not another diamond; and each of those seven faces does not reveal seven different diamonds; they reveal one diamond with seven faces. So it is with that most blessed and perfect Holy Spirit.
Suppose I were studying ornithology, the science of the study of birds. I could study the eggs of the birds, for each kind of bird in some degree has a different egg. Or I could study the flight of the birds, because each bird has a different kind of flight. I could study the feathers of a bird. Each species of bird has a distinct color and arrangement of feathers; otherwise we couldn’t identify them. Each species has a unique song, so I could identify them by their different songs. I could go on and on like that. But how foolish I would be if I thought of a particular bird as either the singer of a certain song, or as an egg-laying creature with a special egg, or as having a particular conformation and arrangement and coloration of feathers, or as a certain kind of nest-builder, or as a distinct sort of flyer, as though there were several different birds. Not at all! These characteristics are but different manifestations of one bird: the way it builds its nest, the way it lays an egg and what egg it lays, its coloration, its feathers, its flight, and its song. It’s the same bird, but I can look at it from many different points of view. And that is what God is saying when He is talking about the seven Spirits of God—the sevenfold Spirit of God.
Now it is exceedingly important that I understand what God is saying, because when I receive the Holy Spirit, Who am I receiving? I’m receiving one Person, but I’m also receiving the sevenfold Holy Spirit. If we’re not very careful, we only think of the Holy Spirit in one degree, in one attitude, in one way. And so we miss what God is saying about the sevenfold Holy Spirit. A large and constant danger, one to which most Christians are subject, is to look upon the Holy Spirit in only one of His glorious capacities and natures, not even realizing that when we receive the Holy Spirit, we’re receiving a sevenfold Holy Spirit. The Bible tells us about His nature, about these wonderful manifestations, about these glorious characteristics of the Holy Spirit. My purpose is to share with you about the sevenfold character of the Holy Spirit, so that you may at last know Whom you have received, and what you have, and what glories you have because God, the Lord, the Holy Spirit, the Most High indwells you.
The Spirit of Life
First of all, the Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of life. In fact, He commenced everything. When at last God began to create or re-create this earth, whichever view you hold, do you remember the very first thing that happened when “the earth was without form and void”? (That phrase, incidentally, in the Hebrew means in chaos.) What was the very first thing that happened? It was not God saying, “Let there be light.” The very first thing the Bible says is, “And the Spirit of God brooded upon the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2). In the King James Version it reads, “The Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters,” but the Hebrew word means broods, just as a bird broods. So there the Spirit of God was moving on the face of the waters—the very first manifestation of the Holy Spirit of God. Do you remember Psalm 104:30? “Thou sendest forth thy Spirit, they are created.” He is the Spirit of life, the creating Spirit. “By His Spirit,” it says in Job 26:13, “He has garnished the heavens.” Even the very beauties in the heavens, the stars themselves, are there by God’s Holy Spirit. Job again says, “The Spirit of God hath made me” (Job 33:4). He is “the Lord and Giver of life,”3 the Spirit of life. That is why He is the Spirit of regeneration. That is why He is the Spirit of the New Birth. That is why He creates life in believers. That is why He is able to take one dead in trespasses and in sins and create in them life—because He is the Spirit of life.
We receive eternal life through the Spirit of God. Jesus says in John 3:5, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Do you remember how the Lord Jesus speaks about being born of the Spirit? He says it’s even like the wind that you cannot see, yet you hear the sound of it as it rustles and goes along. Because you can’t see it and you can’t see where it starts, you can’t see where it ends. “So is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). When God creates life in you, no one can put you into a box anymore. It’s impossible to denominationalize you. You may belong to a denomination and a church. You may be faithful in attendance and with your support there, but you’re not that only. You may be a Baptist, but if you’re born of God with the Holy Spirit indwelling you, you’ re not only a Baptist. You may be a Roman Catholic, but if you’re born of the Spirit of God, forever after you’re not only a Roman Catholic. You may be a Methodist, but if you’re born of the Spirit of God, no longer are you only a Methodist. There is something different, something higher, something greater that transcends all denominationalism, because you are alive in God. You are partaker of eternal life. You are born into the Kingdom. That is why people can’t put you into a special division and say you’re this or that or the other. They’ll say, “I can’t make him out. I can’t make her out. What does she really belong to? What does he really belong to? What is he really?” So is everyone who is born of the Spirit—you can hear the wind, but you can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going. And that’s just how we are when we’re born of God.
Do you remember the Bible says that He is the Spirit of life? “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2). Paul doesn’t mean a law in the sense of a commandment, not a law in the sense of Moses’ law; but a law in the sense of an operating force, in the same way that we speak of the laws of electricity, magnetism, chemistry, or thermodynamics—operating forces. So the operating force of the Spirit of life in me has made me free from the law—the operating force—of sin and death.
Do you remember the words of Nicene Creed?4
I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and giver of life,
Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son,
and Who with the Father and the Son
together is worshiped and glorified,
Who spake by the prophets.
“I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and giver of life.” That is absolutely correct! He is the Lord of life. He is the Spirit of life, of creation, of regeneration, and therefore of revival. No one can have revival in a church, a community, a district, a city, or a nation unless the Holy Spirit Himself energizes it, produces it, and carries it on. He is the Lord of life, and that is why in every revival we make much of the Holy Spirit. It is not that because we do so, there is revival; but because He, the Lord of life, is come and is manifested, and at last we wake up to the fact that this glorious Person of the Trinity Whom we call the Holy Spirit is the living God.
The Spirit of Wisdom
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of wisdom. When you received the Holy Spirit, you received the Spirit of life, but you also received the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. Do you remember in Exodus 28:3, God says, “You shall speak unto all that are wise-hearted, whom I have filled with the Spirit of wisdom”? This is in the making of Aaron’s garments and all of those things associated with the tabernacle; it is associated with Bezalel, the son of Uri, who was filled with the Spirit of wisdom (Exodus 31:1-4), because God had made it so. Think about the words of Deuteronomy 34:9: “And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the Spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him.” There was a transfer of the Holy Spirit from Moses to Joshua; and this tells us that Moses, too, had the Spirit of wisdom, because the same Holy Spirit rested upon him. Consider as well that great text in Isaiah 11:2-3 about the Lord Jesus, that great forecast of Him Who was to come, the Messiah, the Christ: “And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord; and shall make Him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord.” That’s about Jesus, the glorious One, the Christ, which means the Anointed.
Christ is God’s Anointed in the same way, only in a much higher sense, as you are Christ’s anointed. God anointed the Son, and the Son anoints His sons, bringing many sons to glory.5 This is the true and genuine baptism of the Holy Ghost, when we are anointed. And that anointing abides; it is not a thing that comes and goes. I have heard people say, “Oh, well, all I got was an anointing.” But if “all they got was an anointing” of the Holy Spirit, it was a permanent thing. The anointing abides, says the Word of God (1 John 2:27). So you understand that the Spirit of the Lord coming upon you brings to you, because He is the Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. And do you see that up until now you may not have appreciated it or understood it? That is why the scripture says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, Who giveth to all liberally and upbraideth not” (James 1:5). For the Spirit of wisdom is already in you, if in deed and in truth you have received the Holy Spirit in the true New Birth, that transforming, most marvelous and wonderful experience whereby you pass from death unto life. It is not just an idea, not writing in a book in heaven only, but in deed and in truth. It is because you are in life that you’re written in the book.6 It is not because you are written in the book that you are in life, but it is because of the Spirit of God coming into you.
Do you remember that wonderful word in Ephesians where Paul makes so clear this very thing? In Ephesians 1, starting in verse 16, Paul says, “I cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened that ye may know” three things: “what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us who believe” (verses 16-18). This is that wonderful Spirit of wisdom and revelation Whom you have; but His wisdom is not manifested, and God will not manifest it, unless you ask Him to.
God will not manifest worldly wisdom in you, but the divine wisdom which is not “earthly, sensual or devilish” as human wisdom can often be (James 3:15). Rather, God wishes to manifest His divine wisdom, which He has given you with the Holy Spirit; but He desires that you ask Him to make you wise. Precious wisdom, wonderful, holy common sense, glorious sanctified understanding—how lacking it is in the Church of God today! I would like to give the Lord back half the people who speak in tongues in exchange for people who have a bit more wisdom. Wouldn’t that be wonderful in the Church! I wish more had the word of knowledge and understanding and wisdom and counsel, instead of just jabbering in an unknown tongue. I say that quite honestly and sincerely and frankly, and I’m speaking the mind of God when I say it. Many covet to speak in tongues and think they’ve got everything when they receive that gift, when really they have nothing. “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1).
Do you remember how God manifested the Spirit of wisdom in the Acts of the Apostles? Read through Acts 6:1-8. You will remember there had been trouble in the church. The Hellenists, that is, the Greek-speaking Jewish Christians, who were more educated, cultured, and well traveled, had a running dispute with their brethren, the Aramaic-speaking Palestinian Jewish Christians. The Hellenists were saying that the widows among them were being overlooked and neglected by the Palestinians in the daily food distribution for the poor. So Peter and the rest of the apostles explained that they could not leave their main business, which was to pray and minister the word. “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 6:3). We call the men who were chosen deacons. When you choose deacons in the church, do you seek out men who are “of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom”? “And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost…” (verse 5). Continue on to verse 8, which says, “And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles amongst the people.” As we keep reading through the passage, we learn that Stephen’s opponents, those who were “of the synagogue which is called the synagogue of Libertines,” “were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spake” (verses 9-10). “Full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom”—how precious that is! I say, friends, that we need a new vision of the Glorious One, the Holy Spirit of God, that He would give to us and manifest in us this wonderful Spirit of wisdom.
The Spirit of Truth
The Holy Spirit is also the Spirit of truth. He witnesses to the truth. When you are a rebel sinner, He witnesses to that truth so that you come under what we call conviction. Conviction is the Holy Ghost witnessing exactly what you are. He never ever tells you what you aren’t. He never pretends you’re white when you’re black. He never pretends you’re black when you’re white either. He is absolutely faithful and speaks the truth. So when we are reconciled to God, He witnesses that we are reconciled to God, and we call it assurance. Assurance is the witness of the Holy Spirit of truth: “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Romans 8:15). “I will pray the Father and He will give you another Comforter, that He may abide in you forever, even the Spirit of truth” (John 14:16-17). Isn’t it wonderful that He is the Spirit of truth? Oh, that there were more people who manifested the Spirit of truth! When you’re truly born of God, you don’t tell lies anymore. “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (1 John 3:9). This verse does not mean you are physically or mentally unable to commit sin, but it means that ethically and spiritually and morally you can’t commit sin. If you did tell a lie, you would have no peace until you put the lie right again. That’s not a strange doctrine to you, because the Spirit of truth is come, and He doesn’t tell lies. He hates lying.
In the early Church, two people who told lies in the church dropped dead (Acts 5:1-11). You say, “Well, why don’t people drop dead in our church? There are some that tell lies in our church.” The answer is because the Holy Spirit of truth is not here in the same way He was in the early Church. He is not here as sovereign Lord. When He comes back in revival as sovereign Lord, people will start dropping dead again in the church, as they do in true revival. You can lie to each other, and you can lie to the pastor, but you can’t lie to the Holy Ghost. And that’s just what Peter said: “Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost?” (Acts 5:3) Oh, He’s the Holy Spirit of truth. If people knew what revival was, they’d stop praying for it! In revival there will be more funerals of church members, because you can’t lie to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth.
When He really comes in the true New Birth, and when you’ve asked the Lord to give you a pure heart, then you’ll stop telling lies. If accidentally you did tell one, if under tremendous pressure you did so, you’d have no peace until you put the whole thing right, and confessed what you’d done to the one you lied to. Then God would forgive you, you’d be reconciled, and the joy and the peace would come back again. All those of us who walk with God know the times that we have had to own up to half-lies that we’ve told, and God would give us no peace until we did.
Now you see what Jesus means when He says, “I will pray the Father and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever, even the Spirit of truth” (John 14:16-17). And again in John 15:26 Jesus says, “But when the Comforter is come, Whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, He shall testify of Me.” Again the Lord says in John 16:13, “When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth.” Oh, blessed assurance; aren’t you glad!? He will guide you into all truth; not into all error, as we’ve seen on every hand. I have said and I’ll say it again: in the charismatic movement you’ll find some error in every corner of it, scattered over it and through it. You will find every error that’s ever been forged in the Church since the time of the Apostles. Something is wrong somewhere. The thing that’s wrong in the charismatic movement is that we’re not teaching holiness. We are teaching way-out doctrines stemming from the pit, like total submission or total praise or total discipleship or total something else—doctrines which are not found in the Bible. We’re binding God’s people who have been set free by the Holy Spirit. But we are not teaching dynamic personal holiness. That’s a fundamental thing that happens to a believer when he gets right with God—God makes him holy. The one thing God wants are holy people. It is what Jesus died for. This is what the Holy Ghost longs to do—to make you holy. And this is not a holiness which comes by your struggle and your effort and your discipline and your fasting, but by faith in Jesus. As Frances Ridley Havergal put it:
Holiness by faith in Jesus,
Not by effort of thine own;
Sin’s dominion crushed and broken
By the power of grace alone.7
So when the Comforter is come, He testifies of Jesus and leads and guides you into all truth. Something is wrong, then, when we find that people are led into every kind of error, and not led into the truth. What is missing is this: they have forgotten that the Holy Spirit has come to make us like Jesus. They are not relying on Him for this.
I have been told that if I believe the Bible (which I do), and read the Bible constantly (which I do), and if I have spent much time in the Bible (which I have), that I will never be led into error. That is completely false, because a look around at some people who do “read the Bible all the time” shows that some of them are in error. There is one man I know who is manifestly teaching error, and I am told that he spends four hours every day studying the Word. Yet what he teaches is false. You know as well as I do that these people who study the Bible can come out with all manner of errors. Their error arises not through studying the Bible, but rather because they do not understand the way of the Cross, whereby the Lord leads us in humility with Him, and whereby He sanctifies us by discipline. These people haven’t realized that our human understanding can never ever teach us the truth, however much of the Bible we learn. It is the Holy Spirit Who leads us into all truth; and we have the promise and God’s guarantee that He will do so. No one has ever been led into error by relying upon the Holy Spirit. But many have been led in error who believe the Bible is true from cover to cover.
Look at how we jaw with each other. What one says is true, and “proves” from the Bible, the other flatly contradicts. One says that only those who have been elected and their names chosen from all eternity are to be saved, and the rest have been chosen to be damned. Another says that God loves every man, and that “God “will have all men to be saved, all to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). They insist that God has not chosen a few to be saved; just the opposite—
The arms of love that compass me
Would all mankind embrace.8
These two opposite views, held respectively by Calvinists and Arminians, are both found by their adherents in the Bible. Obviously both can’t be right! And think of all the different opinions about prophecy—pre-millennial, post-millennial, amillennial; pre-rapture, post-rapture, no rapture; pre-tribulationists and post-tribulationists. I could go on and on, because I know the theories so exceedingly well. This one contradicts the other, and they all prove it from the Bible, and they’ve all studied the Bible deeply, and they’ve spent hours in study to prove their theory. What is the trouble? It isn’t the Holy Ghost teaching them, is it? It is merely human understanding coming to the Scriptures; and God has told us that He has hidden these truths from the wise and prudent and revealed them unto babes.9 Oh, that we would come to Him with the mind of a child, open, without preconceived ideas which He must strip away.
If only we would come and lay down our doctrines on His altar, and not pick up anyone else’s! We must give, wholly and totally, all the truth we think we have, entirely to our Beloved, for Him to sort out, and He will lead us and guide us into all truth. You will be amazed at the way He will lead you. What you now think is false, He may show you is perfectly right, because He has hidden these things from the wise and the prudent and revealed them unto babes. Oh, how marvelous it is to have
A humble, lowly, contrite heart
Believing, true, and clean….10
The Lord can teach a humble mind. He can teach one who doesn’t think he will ever get to understand the scriptures because he has no degree in divinity or theology and no years in a Bible college, and he hasn’t studied and studied and learned the Bible all by heart.
I used to think that if you read the Bible through, you would surely get saved. But then I encountered a young man who had only recently been released from prison. He had served time for brutal conduct, because he was a fighter; he would fight anything and anybody. I was speaking in a club and he asked me about salvation. I told him, “You ought to read the Bible.”
He said, “I’ve read the Bible as much as you have.”
I replied, “I can’t believe that.”
“Don’t you believe me?”
I remembered he’d been in prison for fighting, so I calmed down a bit, and I said honestly, “Well, it’s very, very hard to believe, you know, that you say you’ve read it.”
“I’ve read it through and through again and again.”
I confessed, “You really astonish me.”
Then he explained. “While I was in prison, because I fought the warders [the prison officers],11 they put me into the silent cell [solitary confinement]. I was there for weeks on end. I was kept in silence apart from anybody, with nothing to do all day long and all night long. And the only book in the cell was the Bible. So I’d start in the front and read it right away to the back. Then I’d start over again and read all the way through. I read it again and again and again and again.”
Reading and re-reading the Bible hadn’t saved that ex-convict. Do you know why? Because, as Jesus says to the Pharisees, “Ye search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life.” But Jesus told them that what they sought was not in the Scriptures: “They [the Scriptures] are they which testify of Me. And ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life” (John 5:39-40). If I were speaking to that young man today, do you know what I would tell him? I wouldn’t tell him that what he needed was the Bible. I would tell him that what he needed was the Holy Spirit. What he needed was the baptism in the Holy Ghost. And I would be completely right in telling him that. That is what Jesus spoke to the woman at the well. Jesus didn’t say to her, “Read the Bible.” He said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and Who it is that saith to thee, ‘Give me to drink,’ thou wouldst have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water,” and you would never thirst again (John 4:10,13,14). Later, Jesus made a similar offer to an assembled crowd, offering the thirsty among them “living water” (John 7:37,38), and the Apostle John explains that Jesus was offering them the Holy Spirit (v. 39). That is the secret of the Gospel. That’s the great truth. The Holy Spirit guides into all truth.
The Spirit of Burning
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of burning, say the Scriptures. That is the record we find in Isaiah 4:4: “When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the Spirit of judgment, and by the Spirit of burning….” God is talking prophetically about the time that would come when the Holy Spirit would burn out sin from the daughters of Zion, the children of God. “The Lord, Whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple” (Malachi 3:1). And when He comes, “He is like a refiner’s fire,” says Malachi 3:2. He is refiner’s fire. “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire,” John the Baptist says in Luke 3:16, revealing quite clearly what Jesus would do when He came. Jesus would baptize us with the Holy Ghost, Who would come not only as Lord, as the Spirit of life, as the Spirit of wisdom, and as the Spirit of truth, but also as fire. And at Pentecost, down He came upon the disciples in fire, and purified their hearts. The Spirit of burning! Oh, we miss it, and we keep on missing it!
The Spirit of Holiness
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of holiness. Now burning gets rid of sin, but it doesn’t bring in holiness. Holiness is not the absence of sin. I astonished my church once by saying I’d seen an absolutely, perfectly, completely holy person, one who had no sin, and wouldn’t commit sin anyway. They were all charmed, because it was a holiness church I was talking to. They thought I’d really hit it in finding such a holy person. I went on to describe this holy person, pleasing them all tremendously by telling them that he didn’t smoke, he didn’t drink, he didn’t go to see films, and he didn’t dance. Yes, I gave them the whole lot, because I knew it would please them immensely. Their idea of holiness was you didn’t do all those things. Then, having described this exceedingly holy person, I explained where I’d seen him—in an undertaker’s shop! It was a marble bust in the window. Their faces fell, and many of them disliked me even more than they had prior to that time. But most of those poor people never could see the difference between the absence of sin and holiness.
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of holiness. I would be insulting God and blaspheming if I simply said that God was without sin. He is holy. Holiness is positive righteousness. Holiness is practical righteousness. Holiness is active righteousness founded on love. We have many holiness churches in America. I’m sure some of them are exceedingly good; but I fear that most of them are legally righteous, rather than holy. Love is absent. I speak from sad experience. I’ve seen my church treasurer kneeling down at the altar at a holiness convention, leading people into holiness; yet he had a grudge against me and hadn’t spoken to me for several days. I don’t call that holiness, do you? Don’t you see that God is holy? He loves, and God’s righteousness is founded on love, not the law. God never has to say to Himself, “I have made a law; therefore I cannot sin or must not sin.” It’s not in His nature to sin. It’s in His nature to be loving and kind and even to make “His sun to rise on the evil and on the good; He sends rain on the just and the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). God is kind to the unthankful and to the holy, because He is holy. What is it that contrite King David prays in his penitential psalm? “Take not Thy Holy Spirit from me” (Psalm 51:11). And remember that it says of Jesus in Romans 1:4, “He was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness.” Thank God, He is the Spirit of holiness! He is a tender Spirit. He is loving and kind.
When you are accused of having sinned, it isn’t the Holy Ghost, but the evil one, who comes with a whip. “There is therefore now no condemnation to those that are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). When you have done anything that has grieved the Lord, you will be moved to tears over it, because He is so tender and pitiful and loving and kind. But the devil comes with a whip. He makes you angry with yourself, doesn’t he? And then you get under awful condemnation. But the Holy Spirit is loving. He’ll lift you up when you’ve fallen. He’ll put His arms around you and take you along sweetly. He has no condemnation for you and no blame. “Neither do I condemn thee; go and sin no more” (John 8:10) is ever the nature of Jesus, is ever the nature of the Father, is ever the nature of the Holy Spirit, is ever the nature of the Godhead. The three Persons of the Trinity are exactly the same in nature. The Spirit of holiness is loving, tender, kind, and dove-like.
The Spirit of Power
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of power. “And Jesus returned…in the power of the Spirit” (Luke 4:14). “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,” says Jesus, the Spirit of power Who works miracles (Luke 4:18). He also says, “Behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). And what is that promise of the Father? “You shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost…ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you…” (Acts 1:5,8).
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of power, and He is manifested in nine supernatural gifts. One of them is the gift of tongues, which, in its proper order and balanced with the other eight gifts, is exceedingly precious. But when the gift of speaking in tongues is singled out, and people have only that gift, you begin to wonder if they have the real gift of tongues or not, especially when their lives don’t match up. That disparity can’t be from the Holy Spirit, for He would bring them under conviction about it. When people who speak in tongues do the dreadful things that some people do, it is manifesting that the gift of tongues they’ve got is not from the Holy Spirit—because He is the Holy Spirit. Also, they should speak with tongues as the Spirit gives utterance (Acts 2:4)—not as they care to turn it on and off like a tap. Those who prophesy are to “prophesy according to the proportion of faith” (Romans 12:6), and so should those who speak in tongues.
But there are nine spiritual gifts, and how precious and wonderful they are! How marvelous it is to know that in the Church of God we have supernatural manifestations that put spiritualism into the shade; and all of it is done in the light, all in the open; all can be investigated. We don’t have to hold hands in the dark and feel a table rock. We’re completely open, for “all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:13). How marvelous that wonderful gift of the word of knowledge is, and how it puts to shame and in the shade the spirit of divination which seems to operate in a similar way. But one is holy, and the other is unholy. Oh, thank God for those precious nine gifts of the Spirit! He can operate any one of the nine through you as He will. I thank God that when someone is truly baptized in the Holy Ghost, some of the gifts of the Spirit are sure to operate. He won’t leave any of us dry; we all “receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon” us, every one of us (Acts 1:8). Praise God for His glorious manifestations!
The Spirit of Love
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of power. But He is also the Spirit of love. “Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit,” says Romans 15:30. “God is love” (1 John 4:7, 16). “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:5). You cannot have the baptism in the Holy Ghost and not have the love of God shed abroad in your heart.
Love is a key manifestation of the Spirit, because “the fruit of the Spirit is love…” (Galatians 5:22). When the Comforter has come, you feel that you love everybody. As our souls are purified “in obeying the truth through the Spirit,” He brings about an “unfeigned love of the brethren” so that we may “love one another with a pure heart fervently” (1 Peter 1:22). Nor is the Spirit of love content that you should only “love them which love you” (Matthew 5:46). You have new love, and if you operate in it and grow in it, God will so expand that love that you will “love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). That is always true of those in the Holy Ghost. Oh, the preciousness of it! How wonderful it is!
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of expressed love; that is compassion. He is the Spirit of active love; that is called charity in the Bible. There is a difference in feeling compassion, which is of the Holy Ghost, and actively doing something about it. The true love of God makes you feel deeply compassionate for others. But God’s love moves us beyond mere feeling. It is very practical. Consider the words of John, called the “Apostle of love”:
16Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 18My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. 19And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.
1 John 3:16-19
There is but one Spirit (Ephesians 4:4), that blessed Third Person of the Trinity. Yet God, in His infinite wisdom, in order to make His Spirit more readily understandable to our finite, childlike minds, reveals Him as “the seven Spirits of God, sent forth into all the earth” (Revelation 5:6). The Scriptures speak of Him as the Spirit of life, the Spirit of wisdom, the Spirit of truth, the Spirit of burning, the Spirit of holiness, the Spirit of power, and the Spirit of love. And as we ponder the Holy Spirit in these seven characteristics, these seven manifestations, we are, with Charles Wesley, moved to worship and praise:
The Father shining on His throne,
The glorious co-eternal Son,
The Spirit one and seven,
Conspire our rapture to complete;
And lo! we fall before His feet,
And silence heightens Heaven.12
(Many thanks to Joan Carlson for the original transcription.)
- Copyright © 2009 Finest of the Wheat Teaching Fellowship, Inc. Annotated by Jim Kerwin. Co-edited with Denise Kerwin. ↩
- Image licensed from bernardojbp / 123RF Stock Photo. ↩
- From the Nicene Creed, quoted more fully further on in this article. ↩
- The Nicene Creed was the early Church’s formal declaration of faith and orthodoxy. It was the work of 318 Church leaders who met in Nicea in 325 a.d. The Creed as we now have it (the version from which Pastor Gutteridge quotes) is a result of revision and expansion by the First Council of Constantinople in 381 a.d. ↩
- The allusion is to Hebrews 2:10. ↩
- This is the book variously called “the book of life” and “the Lamb’s book of life,” referred to in Revelation 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27; and 22:19. ↩
- From Havergal's hymn, Church of God, Beloved and Chosen ↩
- From Charles Wesley's hymn, Jesus, the Name High Over All. ↩
- The allusion is to Matthew 11.25 ↩
- From Charles Wesley's hymn, O for a Heart to Praise My God! ↩
- Warder: a British term for a prison guard; not to be confused with the American idea of a prison warden (though, of course, the root is the same). ↩
- From Wesley's hymn, Come On, My Partners in Distress ↩