Copyright © 2009 1
but it's an emblem of the Holy Spirit!2
- There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
- The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
- Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
- Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
- Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
- That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
- Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
- The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
- Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?
- Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?
- Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.
- If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
- And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
- And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
- That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
- For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
- For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
- John 3 KJV
In our study of the Holy Spirit, we now come to the words of Jesus in John 3:8— “The wind bloweth where it listeth and thou hearest the sound thereof and canst not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth; so is everyone that is born of the Spirit.” The wind blows where it lists, that is, where it wants to go. The Lord Jesus is referring to the Holy Spirit. He is using a figure of wind, and likening it to the glorious One, the Holy Spirit, who does as He wills, and is invisible—no one can tell where He is. We only know the Holy Spirit as He manifests His presence by His witness in our hearts. We cannot see Him, nor shall we ever see Him. He is the invisible One. The Father is invisible, the Son visible, and the Holy Spirit invisible. The Son is He who declares the Father, and the Holy Spirit is He who declares the Son, making the Son real to us. Just as sunbeams make the sun real to us, yet of themselves the sunbeams are invisible except as they shine on something, such as the dust or the water vapor in the air, so the Holy Spirit is the One who brings to us the blessings of the Son of God. And just as the sun which we can see in the sky is visible, but the energy which continually fuels the sun in invisible, so the Father is invisible, and is only made visible by the Son. The energy and the sun and the sunbeams, though separate, are all one; you cannot disassociate one from the other. In this, we have a celestial depiction of the truth related in 1 John 5:7—“These three are one.”
This is one of God’s wonderful nature pictures which He has put in all His creation. Before we had a written Bible, there was the unwritten one. Nature is God’s other book, a complete and wonderful book that tells us Truth. See how God teaches us the resurrection in the glory of a butterfly. Once it was a crawling worm. Then it became entombed in an ugly, shriveled-looking, brown or black thing called a chrysalis. Then that ugly chrysalis, which remains so still and looks so dead, splits and opens, and out comes such a glorious creature! You would never have dreamed that a butterfly was encased in that ugly little black or brown thing, or that it once was a crawling caterpillar. That is God’s picture of the resurrection. “Beloved, it doth not yet appear what we shall be” (1 John 3:2). At present, we are all crawling caterpillars. It does not yet appear what we shall be, and (unless God works that great miracle of Christ’s second coming) we will have to pass through the chrysalis stage known as death. This will be one of the wonders of heaven—it will be populated with glorious beings, like God in beauty; our transformation will be so complete that, were it not known that once we had been those limited, earthbound, “crawling caterpillars” known as human beings, it would never be believed that we came from such humble origins. At present, since we are all caterpillars together, we don’t notice that each of us is so limited, because we’re all limited together. But when we come into our fullness, and are one with our Beloved—when He shall appear and we are like Him—then we shall glory in the sight of each other’s beauty. And we shall esteem each other fairer than ourselves.
Similarly, the Holy Spirit is revealed in the Bible through another of these wonderful nature pictures: the figure of wind. I want to open to you this great subject of the Holy Spirit being the breath of God, the wind of God. In fact, this same word, ruach, in the Hebrew can be translated wind or breath or spirit, which is quite appropriate for the invisible One, the almighty power of the living God.
So let us consider wind. Now since God created nature, “super-nature” (which we call the supernatural) and nature both come from the same hand. It is ridiculous to think that physical law, which is natural law, and supernatural law are in opposition. The God who works miracles is also the God who has made nature. And it’s just as marvelous for God to work through natural law as it is to bring in a supernatural law. Unfortunately, we get the idea that unless God works supernaturally, which means “above nature,” He isn’t working at all. I want to remind you that every one of the natural laws—the laws of chemistry, the laws of thermodynamics, the laws of electronics, the laws of electricity and magnetism, all the laws of biology, whatever range of study you consider—they all have their natural laws. In fact, it would be impossible to apply them unless we knew them to be true. And the great study of aerodynamics is entirely a study of its own. But the laws of aerodynamics were in operation before ever man made balloons or airplanes. God created all of the laws of nature. So please take a balanced view of the relationship between “natural” and “supernatural.” Natural law is as much from God as supernatural law. And a miracle is God applying a supernatural law in a specific case where natural law will not meet the need. A thing is as much from God when He works through natural law as when He works through supernatural law.
A natural law, for example, is the Newtonian law of gravitation, that a falling body accelerates as it comes toward the earth at a specific rate of thirty-two feet per second per second. It is the great law that the greater mass has an attractive force on the lesser. And because the earth is so great and we are so small, if we are on a height and fall, we naturally are drawn down toward the greater body, which is the earth. That is an example of the force of gravitation. So God’s natural law is quite good; I don’t know what would happen to us if it weren’t for this wonderful natural law. We’d be flying all over the place or hopping about worse than fleas, if you’ll forgive the expression; there would not be that tendency to keep our feet on the earth. That’s of God.
But if God wants to levitate you, as He did in the case of Elijah, then He operates a supernatural law. That’s a law above nature—which is a miracle. So a miracle is not God doing something that’s impossible to man, because what is impossible to man today may be possible to man in a hundred years’ time. That’s not a miracle. Five hundred years ago men would have said, “It is impossible to fly. It is impossible to create a ship that can go under the water.” They would have declared many things impossible; but those “impossibilities” are taken for granted today. So a miracle is not a human impossibility. A miracle is God bringing in a supernatural law to affect His purpose when one of His own natural laws will not apply.
Now the Holy Ghost, the Glorious One, is completely unlimited. He does as He wills, which is why Jesus likens Him in this instance to the wind: “You cannot tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth.” No weather expert can put up a sign and say, “This is where the wind commences and that’s where the wind finishes.” No one has ever seen the wind; yet it is absolutely real.
Let’s consider the causes of wind, for if we can understand the causes of wind, we will begin to understand the movings of the Holy Spirit. For as I’ve explained to you—oh, believe it!—God works by natural law, and God only suspends a natural law; He doesn’t break and contradict it, because natural law is of God. All moral law is also of God. Natural law and moral law are both from the same source. That is why when you keep on breaking moral laws, you’ll find a reaction in natural laws. That is why, when the Bible says, “In the last days evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse” (2 Timothy 3:13) lawbreakers becoming greater in their disobedience, you also find the latter days increasing in earthquakes, pestilence, and other natural disasters. You see, there’s a reaction in natural law when moral law is broken. When mankind committed the greatest possible breach of moral law by crucifying the Lord of glory, putting to death the Creator, murdering God’s innocent, pure One, there was a natural reaction in physical law. There was darkness over the face of the whole land (Matthew 27:45), and there was a great earthquake (Matthew 27:50-51;28:2). That is why, as mankind grows in wickedness and godlessness, the world will experience corresponding reaction in natural law, with awful things happening on the earth, until the coming of the Just One, our Beloved, the Lord Jesus. So expect it, and remember and know why.
So in order to better understand the movings of the Holy Spirit, let’s look at two major causes of wind, that is, air currents. (Wind is an air current.) The first case is caused by the sun heating a large area. Now where the sun heats a large area, after a time the air above that area will be heated. Hot air has a tendency to rise—it is lighter than cold air, and therefore it rises. So because the area has been heated by the sun, the warm air expands and rises. As it expands and rises, it pushes out the cold air, which causes the cooler air to flow away from its previous location. Then other air has to come in to take the place of the rising air, and so we get air currents.
I wish I could have made my church believe this a good number of years ago when I was in England. I was the pastor of a small church in a very big building. The members used to tell me how “in the old days” the church used to be full—the sanctuary could seat nine hundred people comfortably. They told me that the prayer room, which was called “the glory room,” used to be packed so full that people had to kneel in the corridors outside of the prayer room. So they were a church with a history. But I used to try to tell them it was no good being a church with a history; you ought to be a church with a vision. I would like you to tell me not what has happened in the past, but what God has told you He’s going to do in the future. But they dwelt in the past. And then they would expect me, little humble me, to try and fill a church like that, when it was their fault the church was getting smaller and smaller. In fact I had so many funerals in the church, I thought I’d come to bury the church, because they were an older congregation.
Now this vast auditorium was built in Gothic style. It was a great, big, magnificent stone building, and it had a very, very high roof. You could sit there and your mind could soar when the sermon was dry. It was that kind of church. And it was exceedingly difficult to keep the sanctuary warm. I tried to explain to them why, but they could never grasp it. I said, “Don’t you see, it’s because the roof is so high.” They always complained of drafts in the church. It was perfectly true: you’d sit there and a cold draft would whistle around your ears. But they could never understand why. I explained, “The reason is quite clear; it’s only a question of understanding the air currents. As we warm the church from down below” (we had gratings in the church with big hot water pipes underneath), “and as the warm air rises and expands, going up to the top of the ceiling, it displaces the cold air above, which then comes down on you. That’s the draft you’re getting.” But they couldn’t grasp the concept. (I also explained to them the spiritual significance of it, as I will explain to you in a moment.) They insisted, especially the secretary of the church (and he had a following), that the real reason for the draft was that right in the top of the roof there were ventilators, and the draft came through the ventilators. So they wanted to block the ventilators. But I countered, “No, it’s dangerous to block up the ventilators.” However, they insisted on it, and we took up great big cloths and closed up all the ventilators, with the result that the church became full of dry rot. The building eventually had to be pulled down because it was so rotten with dry rot. We had completely blocked out all the ventilation; and Manchester, where the church was, is a very damp city. Once dry rot finds a place where the atmosphere is still and damp, it rips forward like a prairie fire; so fungus soon flourished on the great beams.
I also tried to explain that the dry rot was not only in the church building, but it was also in the church congregation; but they couldn’t understand that, either. In fact, the secretary held on that God had promised the church revival, and he was sure that revival would come to that church. Therefore, he reasoned, the building couldn’t possibly be abandoned, because God had promised revival in the church. However, as one of the deacons pointed out, revival comes to people, not to a building. As a matter of fact, revival did come to us when I was there, but the leaders of the church refused it. When God began to move and pour out His Spirit on us, a leader in the denomination came down and said, “It’s American revivalism,” and squashed it, closing the meeting. Yet people had been getting right with God; old sinners who had been comfortable for years were weeping; but the leader closed the meeting just the same. So I did experience there what God wanted for us. When I went to that church, I went all around the big building with my arm raised, and claimed it for revival for God. And after the revival was squashed, I went all around the building and gave it back to God again. The church building is not there anymore; it was completely razed.
In any event, whether in a church building or in the vast expanse of nature, winds come as a result of an area being heated. Because of the warm air expanding and rising, in comes the rushing wind to fill the void.
I mentioned earlier that there is a second way in which winds are formed, and that has to do with high and low pressure. Where there is a high pressure area and a low pressure area, the air flows from the high to the low, as if it were flowing down. That’s another great cause of wind currents—air flowing from a high pressure area to a low pressure area. So God wants us to understand by these two natural truths how He works spiritually. If we can only see these things physically and grasp the truth, we will be able to apply them spiritually.
Now I do not mean to say that we can produce the effect of God’s spiritual wind, any more than we can produce the currents of air in the natural. We ourselves cannot produce God’s winds; that is, we cannot manipulate the Holy Spirit. Our unholy hands must ever keep off the things of God in His sanctuary. God alone will do as He wills. God the Holy Ghost will do as He wills. What we can do is to cooperate with God in creating the conditions whereby the glorious breath of the Spirit can come. And we can also put ourselves in the way of the Spirit, so that when He comes we can be used of Him.
Now consider how we might apply the conditions of the first cause of wind. We have seen that the greater the extremes of heat, the greater will be the flow of the air. So how would we create a rise of spiritual temperature? By meeting together in fervency of prayer, by meeting together with agony and burden, by meeting together and grieving because we have no burden, because we have no agony of prayer, and seeking God that He would bring it about. A number of people together in a room always increases the temperature of the room. Science tells us that every person in a room contributes forty watts to the temperature of this room. If you number the people and multiply the result by forty, you will understand how rapidly heat can rise. That is why often when we’re crowded together in a room, it becomes so warm. Do you see the spiritual application? If we are all of one accord in one place spiritually, the beautiful, wonderful Holy Ghost can manifest Himself by this simple means, because we are raising the temperature, creating conditions for a flow of air! There’s expansion, and in will come the wind—exactly like what happened at Pentecost, when “they were all of one accord, in one place” (Acts 2:1), and the spiritual heat began to rise. Then there came “the sound of a rushing, mighty wind” (Acts 2:2). The science of physical law is perfectly in accord with what the Bible says. This is exactly what happened—the fervent heat of the prayers of God’s people rose up, and down came the “mighty rushing wind,” the Holy Ghost. That is just an example of what God will do! That is how God sends revival to a neighborhood. That is how God sends revival to a state. That is how God sends revival to a nation—by a few meeting together in fervency.
Would that some of you would read again What Really Happened at Azusa Street in Los Angeles in 1906, when God again poured out His Spirit. Of course, it was a continuation of the Welsh revival that happened in England only a few years before. If you would read that precious book, What Really Happened at Azusa Street, you would get a real blessing. It has been reissued under the name Another Wave Rolls In. Frank Bartleman, the good man who wrote the book, will open your eyes to what really happened, and you will find how far short we are today in Pentecostal circles from what they were in Azusa Street. Did you realize that the man whom God used there, William Seymour, was a poor, black pastor? He only had one eye. He used to pray with his head in an orange box. The furniture of the place was exceedingly poor and shabby. What happened there was the result of fervent prayer. And as Bartleman says, “If you had been there, it would not have been the tongues that you would have noticed, but the tears,” Holy Ghost tears, as they were burdened for the outpouring of God’s Spirit. And God answered those fervent prayers by pouring out His Spirit! The fervency, the passion, the burden brought down the glory, as it ever does. God’s principle is always to start His work in a humble place like a stable. He doesn’t come to the high and the mighty and the rich. Paul tells us what God prefers:
- For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
- But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
- And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
- That no flesh should glory in his presence.
- 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 KJV
The way in which God started His work at Pentecost and in the early church is the way He intends to carry it on. Don’t try to alter God’s principles. It is not true that “back then” it was the poor and lowly men whom God blessed, but today He chooses to bless the highly educated, comfortable, and (often) rich—that’s completely untrue! So much of what we have today is a parody of spiritual things, not the reality. So may God enable us to produce the condition of the rising heat of fervent prayer, that we, too, might experience the true “mighty, rushing wind” of the Holy Spirit.
Now what about the second condition which causes wind, the case in which the currents flow from high to low? Listen to God:
“I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”
“I dwell in the high and holy place”—there we see the high level. “With him also of a contrite and humble spirit”—and there we see the low level. We said that wind currents flow from a high pressure area to a low pressure area. Well, now, we can’t manufacture ourselves into a high pressure area. We can’t reach up, or elevate ourselves; it is God who must reach down. And God will reach down to the lowly, if we get low enough. That’s the word of the Lord—from high to low. The condition, then, is humility, best shown by obedience. The disciples who experienced Pentecost were obedient. Jesus said, “Tarry” (Luke 24:49), and they tarried (Acts 1:10–2:1). “God giveth” the Holy Spirit “to them that obey Him” (Acts 5:32). We can’t direct God, but we can be so lowly and so humble that God will come down to us; and that means it’s all of grace.
Consider the story of Nicodemus in John 3. Here is a man whose position is quite high up—“a ruler of the Jews.” He came down low to Jesus; but he didn’t come low enough. When Jesus told Nicodemus that he had to come lower, there is no evidence that he did so immediately. But later, he came and followed on, for he was present at the crucifixion, and helped Joseph of Arimathea when Jesus was buried (John 19:38-40). Nicodemus was high, but he had to come low. Jesus said, “You must be born from above.” Now if you can’t understand those words of Jesus, it means you aren’t lowly enough. God must do it. Every new birth is produced by the Holy Spirit, by God coming down and producing that new birth. It’s as though the Lord Jesus were saying to to Nicodemus, “Nicodemus, you’re too high. You’ve got to start all over again. You’ve got to come down low. You’ve got to become a little, innocent baby. You’ve got to be just a little nothing. Oh, Nicodemus, you must be born of the Holy Spirit.” The need of Nicodemus was new birth. Jesus said the same to others, when He took a little child and put him in the midst of His disciples and declared to them:
- Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
- Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
- Matthew 18:3-4
Furthermore, Jesus said to Nicodemus, “You must be born of the Spirit; not of water only, but of the Spirit.” Now the Jews knew something about water. They practiced baptism in water. They knew something about being forgiven for their sins. They believed God forgave them. But they knew nothing about new birth—nothing about the new nature. It is as though Jesus said to Nicodemus, “You ought to know about these things. God has promised it. Hasn’t God said through Ezekiel, ‘I will give you a new heart and a new spirit; I will take away the stony heart out of you and give you a heart of flesh’” (Ezekiel 36:26;11:19)? But Nicodemus, though he was “a teacher in Israel,” knew nothing of these things, nor of the glory of the coming New Covenant whereby God was going to supersede the Old Covenant. This is the greater context of what Jesus means by being born of the Spirit.
So you see that Jesus is saying that we must be born from above. “No man hath ascended into heaven” (John 3:13). Jesus is exploding the idea that we can find our own way there. He’s exploding the thought that you and I by merit can ever reach into heaven.
Finally, let’s consider the wind itself. What an evil, stagnant world it would be without wind! The populations of great cities would be continually breathing in all sorts of foul contagions, until at last the people would die, being poisoned. Have you ever been to Los Angeles when the smog is thick? The first time I endured that smog, I didn’t understand the cause of what was happening to me physically. I said to my wife, “I’m feeling ill.” And she said, “Yes, we must have caught something. I’m feeling the same.” Our eyes were running, our noses were running, our throats were sore, and we felt sick. I was preaching in a certain place, and someone said to me, “Can you feel the smog?” and that opened my eyes. So I said, “It’s all right. We’re not ill; its only smog.” It is dangerous, though. Smog alerts are issued for people who are suffering from emphysema or lung trouble, when smog is thick in Los Angeles. Coming in by plane, you can see the smog like a thick, yellow murk over the city. It’s because of lack of wind currents. If only a wind would come along to blow it out to sea!
But every city would be far fouler than that, giving out their poisons through all sorts of different ways into the air, if there were no wind at all. God in His mercy has sent the wind. If there were no wind, can you imagine what would happen? Ever thick, dark, gloomy clouds would be stationary over tropic seas, with no wind to convey them elsewhere. The heat of the sun would always be drawing water up; and being condensed as it rose into the higher altitudes, the water would be discharged in torrents of rain. The cycle would repeat endlessly in the same location, with no wind to send these clouds across the earth to give a parched land God’s mercy in the form of rain. Thank God for the sweeping, free, fresh breezes that go through the earth, that come especially over our populated land.
Wind is one of the mightiest forces of creation: hurricanes, typhoons on the seas, tornadoes on the land. How awful they are! What a scourge a tornado is in the “tornado belt.” I was down in Texas once during tornado season. Though I never endured a tornado, I was very interested in the sight of the clouds—those thick, murky, smoky-looking, agitated clouds. It looked like anything could happen; and only a few miles away tornadoes did appear, but they didn’t come in our direction. When the clouds are churning and the wind is swirling, the very atmosphere grows more and more ominous. Then something like an elephant’s trunk comes down—the tornado funnel! If the tornado should touch down, there would be destruction; but often the funnel is drawn back up again. If it comes down and progresses, only a mountain range can withstand the wind force. No human building can withstand it. No wonder people build themselves tornado shelters down in Texas!
God once showed Elijah the awful force of wind, when it rent the rocks in pieces (1 Kings 19:11). Though wind can be a scented, summer zephyr, it can also be an awful, howling, raging hurricane at eighty, ninety, one hundred miles an hour or more, and yet all unseen. Only the results of it are seen—just like God.
In fact, the most consistent and mighty force in nature is wind. Think of the trade winds, and the Roaring Forties.3 God has blessed us on the earth with wind. Winds can be named. The Bible even tells you the name of one great wind, Euroclydon,4 known as the khamsin or the scirocco at the present day. It is the same wind as in Bible days, still causing awful trouble in the same area of the world. God Himself alone knows about the wind. We know what causes it, but we cannot tell whence it comes and whither it goes. And it says in Job that God makes “a weight for the winds” (Job 28:25). That’s the principle under which we make a barometer—a weight for the wind. Atmosphere has weight, and it is lighter or heavier according to the amount of moisture in the air. That’s how we use an aneroid or mercury barometer; but the Bible spoke about that years before man ever thought of creating a barometer.
The wind can whisper itself into silence, then in an hour be roaring at sixty miles an hour. So is the Holy Ghost, whispering comfort to a dying saint, or blasting an unrepentant sinner with conviction till he cries out to God for mercy and feels he’s dropping into Hell. The Holy Spirit is the mightiest force in the universe, and yet He is available to the weakest saint. Every one of you may receive that blessed Holy Spirit, Who in you can be the tender dove, but to the wicked can be a blast that hastens them on to Hell. The Holy Ghost is the Comforter to you and me, the wonderful Comforter. Listen to Harriet Auber’s lovely hymn:
Our blest Redeemer, ere He breathed
His tender, last farewell,
A Guide, a Comforter bequeathed
With us to dwell….
* * *
And His that gentle voice we hear,
Soft as the breath of even,
That checks each thought and calms each fear
And speaks of Heav’n.
And every virtue we possess,
And every victory won,
And every thought of holiness
Are His alone.
Spirit of purity and grace,
Our weakness pitying see:
Oh, make our heart Thy dwelling place
And worthier Thee!
[Click on the link for the complete words of Auber’s
Our Blest Redeemer, Ere He Breathed.]
“Our blest Redeemer, ere He breathed His tender, last farewell, a Guide, a Comforter bequeathed with us to dwell.” He is that blessed One, the Holy Spirit.
So those two great conditions in natural phenomena can be repeated in spiritual phenomena, for the Holy Ghost is the wind of God. And we cannot create the wind, but we can, under God, create the conditions for the wind to blow. We can be that people with a burden for revival, who long to see God’s Holy Spirit, that glorious One, working upon sinners, blasting them into repentance, and comforting them into salvation. We can come down so low by God’s grace that He can come down upon us. “I dwell with him that is lowly and of contrite spirit.” God only dwells with the humble. “God resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5; James 4:6). How many men and women have been used of God, used in a wonderful way, and then they got conceited, uppish, and proud, and thought they could manipulate God! Then God had to set them aside. They became broken vessels because of their pride. God cannot dwell with the proud. He resists the proud and gives grace to the humble.
Well, now, what can we do? We can trim our sails to catch the breeze. We can be like a vessel that’s on the ocean, a sailing vessel, a yacht. We can trim our sails to catch the breeze. If there is no breeze, you cannot sail. If there is a breeze, you still have to trim your sails. That’s faith. Faith is the trimming of the sails. If there is a breeze, it is no good having bare mast poles; you won’t make any progress. You’ll have to hang your sails and put your sails in the right spot to catch the breeze in order to go in the right direction. Faith needs to trim its sails to catch the breeze; and that’s what the Lord asks us to do. Faith hoists the sails. If we are humble, lowly, meek vessels, with sails hoisted, looking to God, He will not deny us. If a church will make their chief consideration the downpouring of God’s Spirit, refusing all the manipulation, ignoring those who tell them how easy it is to work things up, then I can tell you that God will pour out His Spirit. You’ll wait His time, but He will come, He’ll not deny you; He is going to do it. Such a church can be one of those churches that experiences the glory of the Lord. “So is everyone that is born of the Spirit.” Everyone who is born of the Spirit is like the Spirit. You cannot tell whence such a believer comes or whither he goes.
Dearly beloved brothers and sisters, are you born of the Spirit? And are you living as the Holy Spirit would have you live? Then may the Lord in His mercy make you one of those whom others cannot put in a box or a watertight compartment. People will say to you, “Well, what denomination do you belong to?” I’m always being asked that. It’s very difficult, because at present I don’t belong to any one. So I say, “Well, you see, actually I don’t belong to any one, but I preach in them all.” And they think that’s so remarkable, it leaves them rather gasping, “Well, how’s that then?” They seem to think that they can’t make me out. “What do you really belong to, then?” they ask. I say, “Well, to be honest, I’m just a disciple of Jesus, that’s all.” I’m not against belonging to a denomination, but in my present position, having to preach around in so many, I can’t just align myself up with only one. I love them all a little bit. Oh, brothers and sisters, I’ve seen the glory of the Lord in Episcopal churches, amongst the Roman Catholics, and in Methodists, say what you will. Isn’t it wonderful? Well, the Holy Spirit is no respecter of persons. The Holy Ghost is not the monopoly of any denomination. He goes as He wills, which is what the Scripture says. “The wind bloweth where it listeth…so is everyone that is born of the Spirit.”
It is right that we should belong to a local assembly and be loyal to it. But God forbid that we should think it’s the last expression of God’s truth on earth, because it isn’t; no assembly is. Yet God wants us to be loyal to that one. But it will be difficult to pigeonhole you, because when you’re truly born of the Spirit and walking in the Spirit, observers cannot possibly line you up with all these who are walking in a human path. It’s a sheer impossibility.
The Holy Spirit is the wind of God, which “bloweth where it listeth.” Knowing now the conditions which bring about wind in nature, may the Lord empower you to “raise the temperature” around you through prayer, and may He enable you to come down low, humble, so that His great wind can come upon you. May God also enable you to be in the way of the Spirit. May God grant to you that in the great move of the Spirit which is coming, you may be in the way of the Spirit, and be caught up with it, and be of some use for God in it. Amen.
(Many thanks to Joan Carlson
for the original transcription.)
- Copyright held by Finest of the Wheat Teaching Fellowship, Inc. Edited and annotated by Jim Kerwin. Co-edited by Denise Kerwin. ↩
- Image of the wind-blown cloud formation is copyright by and used under license from https://www.123rf.com/profile_sondem. ↩
- The Roaring Forties are the strong, prevailing westerly winds encountered between latitudes 40 degrees south and 50 degrees south, where few land masses slow the wind’s progress. Their discovery played a key role in the development of clipper-ship routes between England and the East Indies, Australia, and New Zealand. ↩
- This wind (called Euroquilo in more modern translations) is the tempestuous, driving force of the story in Acts 27, especially verses 14-44. ↩