"To whom it was revealed, that not to themselves but to you they ministered those things, which have now been announced to you by those who have declared to you the glad tidings by [the] Holy Spirit, sent from heaven, which angels desire to look into." 1 Peter 1:12
Wednesday, April 18, 2018
THE HISTORIC AND INDIVIDUAL WORK OF THE SPIRIT
THE HISTORIC AND INDIVIDUAL WORK OF THE SPIRIT
The Spirit's revelation of the Christ has been INDIVIDUAL and HISTORIC. He commenced His work with individuals, and then for the sake of the generations to come, proceeded, in cooperation with such individuals, to prepare for the future. By personal revelation of Christ to individuals: He prepared men for the creation of a written record concerning Christ. (1 Pet. 1:11-12) He then through men thus prepared became the Author of the new record. That record being completed, He has given an exposition of it through the centuries, in constant cooperation with men. The Spirit commenced His work when upon the day of Pentecost He baptized the company of waiting souls into new union with God in Christ. In tracing His work therefore, it is necessary to begin with the Acts of the Apostles, while of course in a study of His revelation, the structure of the New Testament is the true order. In the Acts of the Apostles, the Spirit is seen communicating life to individual men, and then directing them definitely and immediately in all the affairs of their life. One of the special notes of the narrative of the early Church is that of how men were specifically led by the Spirit, and yet, it is always to be observed that their action under His guidance is that of loyalty to Christ. The Spirit hinders, or impulses, but they are restrained when He hinders, or go forward when He impulses, as loyal to Christ. Thus it is evident that while these men were conscious of the immediate interference of the Spirit, they recognized that that interference was an interpretation to them of the will of their crowned Lord.
Eventually, for the consolidation of the Church in its relation to Christ, and for the continuity of its consciousness of Christ, it was necessary that such record of Him as a Person in HISTORY, as should form a perpetual basis for the Spirit's interpretation, should be written. Out of this necessity came what are known now as the New Testament Scriptures. In these writings the Spirit's one subject is Christ. In the Gospels there are recorded such facts concerning His Person and teaching, as are necessary. In them He is seen very largely in splendid loneliness, separated from, while yet in the midst of men; glorious in true Kingliness, as Matthew's story shows; patient in unceasing service, as Mark's record reveals; ultimate in the realization of the Divine ideal of humanity, as Luke's evangel demonstrates; and mysterious in the essential majesty of Deity, as John's writings declare.
Then follows that treatise in which Christ is manifest in new union with men, continuing the work commenced in loneliness, in cooperation with such as are united to Him by the Holy Spirit. This record has to do almost exclusively with Christ as He calls outsiders to Himself for the remission of sins, for the renewal of life, for the restoration of the lost order. Passing from this the Spirit in the great writings that teach revealing Christ as realized in the believer, and as expressing Himself through the Church. While in the Acts He is almost exclusively seen calling the outsider, in the epistles He is seen again almost exclusively in His relation to those who have come in obedience to His call. Then in the Apocalypse to a man who is "in the Spirit” there is granted Christ's own vision of His coming victory, and the consummation of all the purposes of God concerning men, realized in Christ.
At this point the writings being complete, the Spirit did not cease His work, but rather commenced it, in all its fullness and beauty. Through the centuries of the Christian era, there may be traced an ever-broadening and deepening apprehension of Christ, due invariably to the Spirit's revelation to the Church of Christ, a revelation constantly proceeding in harmony with the inspired Writings, so that nothing has been revealed in addition to the facts recorded therein, while yet in an ever-enlarging understanding of their meaning, there has come this ever-increasing appreciation of the Christ.
It may safely be affirmed that the Person and work of Jesus are more perfectly understood than they have ever seen, and that He, by the Spirit, is demanding and receiving a larger and profounder loyalty, than has ever been the case before. This statement is made with a very keen recognition of the fact that the conflict which has been going forward in the outworks of the Christian revelation, is gathering around the central citadel of the Person of Christ. In view and in presence of that conflict, there is no fear in the heart of such as are conscious of the continued presence and work of the Spirit. The issue must be a new vindication of the Personality of the God-man, and a new appreciation of that concerning Him which will ever be beyond the possibility of formulated statement on the part of man.
Thus it is seen that the Holy Spirit of truth, through processes of infinite patience, whether it be to the individual, or in the history of the race, continues His sacred work of revealing Christ, interpreting His Word, and administering His work.