Lecture 4.

The Holy Spirit in the Church — Baptism of the Spirit; Unity of the Spirit; Gifts of the Spirit; Worship by the Spirit.


"O Jesus, Lord, 'tis joy to know
Thy path is o'er of shame and woe,
For us so meekly trod:
All finished is Thy work of toil,
Thou reapest now the fruit and spoil,
Exalted by our God.

Thy holy head, once bound with thorns,
The crown of glory now adorns;
Thy seat, the Father's throne:
O Lord, e'en now we sing Thy praise,
Ours the eternal song to raise —
Worthy the Lord alone!

As Head for us Thou sittest there,
Until Thy members too shall share
In all Thou dost receive:
Thy glory and Thy royal throne
Thy boundless love has made our own,
Who in Thy name believe.

We triumph in Thy triumphs, Lord;
Thy joys our deepest joys afford,
The fruit of love divine.
While sorrowing, suff'ring, toiling here,
How does the thought our spirits cheer,
The throne of glory's Thine."

Unlike the subjects which have in the past two lectures occupied us — the Spirit's work in the individual — we come tonight to look at His work corporately, in the Church as a whole. I may be allowed to make one or two preliminary remarks. It is a sad fact that selfishness creeps into everything with which we have to do. Even spiritual concerns are not exempt from this. So it is by no means an uncommon thing to find Christians taking a deep interest in the Spirit's work in them individually, and yet apparently unconcerned in His work corporately.

And yet one consideration should waken every Christian heart to the keenest interest in the line of truth now before us. It concerns Christ's glory, it occupies His thoughts and His heart. Could there be a stronger inducement to lay aside any want of concern we may have had in this matter, and to search the word of God with the desire and purpose to seek His truth as to His Church, and to walk in that truth? If we approach the subject in this way, without prejudice and indifference, we will find help, I am assured.

Our subject is, "The Spirit in the Church," and I desire first to put before you, as briefly as may be, such scriptures as will enable us to have a distinct conception of what the Church is. Vagueness here will mean vagueness and uncertainty all through. I will give these scriptures exclusively from one brief epistle, that to the Ephesians, thus showing how the Spirit of God has brought these truths together.

"And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the Church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all" (Eph. 1:22, 23), In the verses just preceding, our Lord had been set forth as quickened and raised up from the grave, and then placed at God's right hand, "far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named." It is Christ glorified, after redemption has been accomplished through His death, that is given as Head to the Church which is His Body. Here we have the beginning marked, for the body could not exist without a Head, and Christ was made Head of the Church when He was glorified. We will find this confirmed when we come to the baptism of the Spirit. I merely mention it now. In answering the question, What is the Church, we turn to a glorified Christ at God's right hand and say, There is the Head. The Church is His body, the fulness, or complement of Him who in His divine being fills all things. Think of the link here: how complete, how intimate. We shall find it is so intimate that in one place at least (1 Cor. 12:12) Christ and His Church are spoken of under one name, "So also is Christ." It reminds us of that expression in the book of Genesis, where speaking of the creation of the man and the woman, we read, God "called them Adam."

But if the Church is thus linked with Christ, it partakes of His life in resurrection, it is a part — reverently be it spoken — of Himself, in the sense that its place, portion and destiny as well as life, are indissolubly linked with His. "Because I live ye shall live also." We will speak more of the Body under the baptism of the Spirit, so I leave it for a time and quote another scripture.

"Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ, which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the gospel. . . . And to make all men see what is the fellowship (or dispensation) of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God" (Eph. 3:4-9). Here we are expressly told that what the apostle had received was a mystery, a secret of the heart of God. Particularly we are to understand that it had never been revealed in other ages, in Old Testament times. The prophets here spoken of are not Isaiah and the rest, but the New Testament prophets; for as you notice they are mentioned after, and not before, the apostles. Besides, the connection shows the same thing.

Now what is this wondrous secret which God had reserved till the consummation of the ages? The passage shows us clearly: "That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise by the gospel." This is the Mystery. Old Testament prophets had foretold the time when the Gentiles should receive blessing at the hands of Israel, when "from Mount Zion should go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." But Old Testament prophets say not a word as to what we have here — a joint-body and fellow-heirs, Jews and Gentiles absolutely united and identified and marked out for a heavenly, not an earthly inheritance.* Here then is the setting aside, for the time, of Israel, and the introduction of an entirely new thing. Let this be clearly grasped, or the Church will not be seen.

{*For a full treatment of this subject, the reader is referred to a paper by the late Richard Holden, entitled, "The Mystery"; to be had of the publishers.}

It is in beautiful accord with what we have already seen, that the chosen vessel to reveal this mystery should be the apostle Paul. The very manner of his conversion gave a suggestion of the entire character of his ministry. It was Christ in glory who appeared to him in the noontide of his enmity and persecution. Christ the glorified Head of the Church called to this bitter enemy, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me." Thus at the very moment of his awakening Paul learned two things; that Jesus was glorified, and that His people were in some marked way identified with Him. Those familiar with Paul's subsequent history, and his writings, know how this revelation on the road to Damascus colored his entire after life.

But how is this new thing formed? Judaism had existed from the establishment of the nation and the giving of the law. The very constitution of that nation was based upon a complete separation from the Gentiles. The Passover, the national feast celebrating redemption, was exclusive. "No stranger shall eat of it." The possession of the land, the inheritance promised, necessitated the destruction of the nations occupying it. The whole after-history of the nation is largely a record of their failure to maintain this absolute separation. Any league was absolutely forbidden by the law. All the ordinances emphasized this isolation. The Gentiles were "the uncircumcised"; to associate with them was defilement. The bitterest humiliation to Israel was subjection to a foreign power; their lasting shame was the Babylonian captivity and subsequent Gentile domination, and their brightest hopes were centered about the overthrow of the Gentile, breaking his yoke, and the establishment of the nation in its former glory, as in the days of Solomon.

Now, all this separation was not a human, but a divine, "middle wall of partition." Doubtless prejudice and hatred, never contemplated in the law, came in, for the pride of the natural heart is only too prone to cherish such things. But, apart from all this, Judaism was as distinct and separate from everything Gentile, and that by divine ordinance, as it is possible to conceive.

On the other hand, words fail to describe the state of the Gentile; ignorance of God, gross idolatry, and the grossest moral corruption formed the very fibre of his being. The first chapter of Romans paints the picture in all its blackness, but none too black for the truth. Read the Roman satirists for a description of the moral state of the mistress of the world; study Greek and other mythologies to see whither man's religion led him, and you will see that words fail to describe a state which was the common character of the Gentile world.

But the cross comes in. Jew and Gentile are alike under sin, the Jew with and the Gentile without law. Let us read another passage from Ephesians, — Eph. 2:13-17: "But now in Christ Jesus ye (Gentiles) who sometime were far off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition; having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that He might reconcile both (Jew and Gentile) unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby and came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh."

This remarkable passage confirms what we have just been seeing. The Gentiles were afar off, without God and without hope in the world. The Jews were, in point of privilege, nigh. "For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon Him for?" (Deut. 4:7.) The law of commandments contained in ordinances was the witness of the separation — the enmity — existing between Jew and Gentile. So long as they stood in the flesh they were alienated, and rightly, by this law. But the Jew could not boast, for he needed the death of Christ as much as the Gentile. Grace has reconciled both Jew and Gentile by the cross, that witness of all men's sin, and slain an enmity of sin which separated from God, as well as an enmity by nature with one another. They are reconciled, not merely to one another, but to God, by the cross; and peace is proclaimed alike to Jew, near, and Gentile, afar off.

You notice two expressions, "one new man," and "in one body." The "one new man" is doubtless the new creation in Christ, "where there is neither Jew nor Greek." If any man be in Christ there is new creation; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Cor. 5:17). The cross has swept away the natural man, with natural distinctions, in God's sight, and left nothing but a new creation, where "Christ is all." Further, this reconciliation is in one body," the Church. Jew and Gentile are both in the new man, and thus the one body is formed. All else is set aside by the cross. You will see the bearing of all this a little later. But I must ask you to notice the clearness and beauty of these wondrous scriptures. Surely we can have no question as to what the Church is.

I will ask you to look at two more scriptures in Ephesians, which will, I think, complete the thought of the Church, as there presented. "And ye are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner-stone, in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit" (Eph. 2:20-22). The "body" suggests the link of life with the risen Lord, and the grace that has so united us. It also suggests the vehicle for the activities of divine love. The "house" is looked at, in the passage I have quoted, in two ways. It is built upon the foundation, fitly framed together and growing unto a holy temple in the Lord. It is not yet completed, but will in the glory form this habitation. But it is also spoken of as a present building and a present habitation of God through the Spirit. In this aspect of the Church we have, I think, the side of order, government, discipline the holiness that becometh God's house. Thus the Church is not only the body of Christ, but the habitation of God. What privilege! What responsibility!

"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Eph. 5:25-27; also verses 28-32). Here we have the affections of Christ brought out, and the Church is looked at as His wife. First, He gave Himself for her, and at last He will present her to Himself a glorious Church. The type will then be fulfilled of Adam and Eve. The allusion to this is so evident that I merely refer to it and pass on. In heaven the Church will be displayed as the bride, the Lamb's wife, and this marks the close of the Church period. She will be complete when the Lord comes, for then she will be forever united to Him in glory.

Thus we have seen the Church as body, house and bride. What varied relationships! What a privilege to be a member of that Church! If you have taken in the truths of these passages we have been considering, you have some knowledge, at least, of what the Church is.

This should be sufficient, and one shrinks from descending from these delightful themes to answer a few of the misconceptions as to the Church. These I will consider very briefly under the question, What the Church is not.* It is not, and we have already seen why, Israel in any way. Certain scriptures have been used to teach this, and I will refer you to one or two. With the proper

{*For a full treatment of this and other related questions the reader is referred to a book understanding, it will be seen that they are in perfect accord with all that we have had before us. entitled "The Lord's Coming, Israel and the Church," by T. B. Baines.}

The ordinary teaching is that God's Church is one in all ages; that it began with Abraham and continues through the present dispensation and the Millennium, including every saved soul to the last. It is said that the Jewish church was in a broken and fragmentary condition when our Lord came to earth, but that he repaired and re-established it upon the firm basis of atonement. In proof of this the following scripture is cited, being itself a quotation from the prophet Amos: "After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down, and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles upon whom My name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things" (Acts 15:16, 17).

This scripture occurs in the account of the meeting at Jerusalem regarding the effort made to compel Gentile converts to keep the law. This was rejected absolutely by the assembly. It was shown that even under the law and in the prophets God had purposes of blessing for the Gentiles. The passage quoted from Amos illustrates this. But the passage most clearly refers to the restoration of the Jewish nation under the reign of a king of the house of David. In other words, it looks forward to the Millennium, when the "Gentiles shall come to Thy light." But you find not only here, but in various places throughout the Acts, things looked at from a Jewish standpoint.

As has been frequently noticed, the Acts is not a history of the Church as such, but of the transition from Judaism into Christianity. God patiently waited upon and pleaded with His beloved earthly people. Then, too, when we remember that this decision was reached at Jerusalem — it was before the destruction of the city — we will see the consistency of looking at everything from that standpoint. James is simply showing that the Gentiles have a place in the purposes of God's grace, and must not be debarred from that grace by the law. He does not quote this scripture to prove that the tabernacle of David had been rebuilt — unquestionably it is not yet rebuilt — but to show that Gentiles come within the blessed purposes of God's grace. In other words, the Church is not alluded to in the passage. The same largely applies to the entire book of Acts.

Considerable use is made of another passage, from Romans, — Rom. 11:16-24, the olive tree and its branches. From this it is argued that the olive tree is the Church, the natural branches are Jews, and the wild ones Gentiles. But notice how such handling of God's word obscures all true understanding of Scripture. Are true members of the body of Christ broken off? and in turn is the position of others only conditional upon their faithfulness? So also all that we have been learning from Ephesians would be destroyed or annulled. But how simple it all is when we see not the Church, but the privileges of grace. The olive tree is the line of privilege throughout the world's history. This began with Abraham, was continued in his successors, who, however, were "broken off" because of their unbelief, and has now passed on to Christendom, with multitudes of Gentiles enjoying the privileges to which they had been previously strangers. All is clear. The Church is not touched, but profession and responsibility are. Unfaithful Christendom will be "broken off," and repentant Israel be again restored.

In concluding (for we must hasten to our main theme), I will put side by side two scriptures that give us the destiny respectively of Israel and of the Church. Their absolute unlikeness will surely convince any that Israel and the Church are as distinct in the mind and ways of God as it is possible to conceive.

For Israel: "And it shall come to pass in the last days that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all the nations shall flow unto it. And many peoples shall go and say, Come ye and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many peoples: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning-hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Isaiah 2:2-4).

For the Church: "And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, and I will show thee the Bride, the Lamb's wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God; and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. . . . And I saw no temple therein; for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city hath no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it, for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof" (Rev. 21:9-11, 22, 23).

Such is the destiny of the Church — heavenly glory with Christ. It is for us now to trace the wondrous organism of that Church, in particular connection with our general theme — the Holy Spirit.

We begin with the Baptism of the Spirit. You will remember that in speaking of two characteristic features of the Spirit's work in Christianity we took baptism and indwelling. Indwelling has already occupied us; it now remains to consider baptism.

I think you will find, in taking up the teaching of Scripture upon the subject of baptism, that it nearly always, if not entirely, signifies introduction into a place. "They were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea" (1 Cor. 10:2); that is, they were brought out fully into relationship with Moses as their leader, and the cloud and sea marked this connection. It was in contrast with their previous servitude to Pharaoh. So with all other baptisms. John's was not, as many may think, Christian baptism at all, but the badge of discipleship for those who heard and bowed to his message. They owned their sin and their desert of death, and in token of it were buried by baptism. Thus they were marked as John's disciples (John 4:1). They were not Christians, for they knew not Christ, but their baptism with water set forth discipleship to John, as penitents who bowed to the sentence of death. Acts 19:1-6 shows this was not Christian baptism, for it was repeated, upon the confession of faith in Christ.

But we have water baptism in connection with Christianity. No candid and impartial person who reads intelligently the book of Acts, together with the frequent references throughout the epistles, could fail to see that water baptism has a distinct place in the Christian economy. I quote a sample text from the Acts. "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added about three thousand souls" (Acts 2:41). These were Jews. Later, at Samaria, Philippi and wherever the gospel was received, Gentile converts received water baptism also. You see, this baptism was the badge of discipleship. It marked the new position they occupied of avowed allegiance to our Lord. They were therefore baptized in or unto His name, unto Him.

Coming now to baptism of the Spirit, we have simply passed from the realm of profession to the sphere of reality. "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit" (1 Cor. 12:13). Here the baptism of the Spirit marks our introduction, or, I should better say, effects it, into one body, the Church of which we have been speaking. It has not put us into profession, but into the real Body.

It is the greatest mistake to think of water baptism as putting us into the Church. How could water, dear friends — mere water — put us into a divine position? How empty are the claims of ritualism here! But do not many who abhor ritualism fall into the very same error by claiming that baptism introduces into the Church? Closely connected with this is a similar expression — joining the Church. This is equally unscriptural. Do you think God has left the momentous question of membership in the Church of Christ to the voluntary choice of the young believer? Absolutely impossible.

But, it will be said, we only mean that they should unite with some one of the many branches of the Church of Christ. Pardon me, beloved brethren, where in Scripture do we find such a thought? Where is there provision for many branches of the Church, save, indeed, as each believer is an individual branch? Now, I am not playing upon words when I say that Scripture does not ask or provide for a voluntary joining the Church. Ah, no! God joins us by His Spirit: "He that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit" (1 Cor. 6:17). The moment one believes upon the Lord Jesus he receives the Spirit, and by that very fact is united to the Church, the body of Christ. Thus he is joined — united — to the Lord. How unlike God it would be to leave to the new-born soul anything so momentous as membership in the Church. But it will still be pressed, that the new convert is expected to select some church — some body of Christians — and "unite with the church of his choice." This will occupy us later. I merely ask the question now, how does it happen that there are these various churches, and what about the Church of God's choice? Is not membership in that enough?

Baptism by the Spirit, then, is universal for all saints. It is immediate upon believing. In Acts 2:47 we have it in connection with Jews. "And the Lord added — and this was His manner of adding, as the thirty-eighth verse of the same chapter indicates — to the Church* daily such as should be saved." Cornelius furnishes an example from the Gentiles, "And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that He said, John indeed baptized with water but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost" (Acts 11:15, 16).

{*I retain this clause with strong support from MSS., as it evidently is the meaning, even if we read with other MSS. "added together."}

"Into one Body." We have already seen how this is the characteristic name of the Church. "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling" (Eph. 4:4). Here the unity of the Body, the Church is associated on the one hand with the One Spirit who has formed it, and on the other with the one hope — the heavenly glory to which it is destined.

The entire chapter, the twelfth of first Corinthians, should be read as showing the relation of the Spirit to the Body. Next to its unity, is the diversity of its members and their mutual dependence the one upon the other. Each member has its own function, and how clear it is that each individual is here contemplated. None is so insignificant as to be omitted, and each has his place in the Body according to the sovereign will of the Spirit of God. The more uncomely parts are more essential, and upon them greater care has to be bestowed. A man protects his lungs carefully, while his face is exposed to the air. Sickness in one member means sickness of the body. I do not say, if my lungs or my heart are affected, that this or that special organ is sick, but I am sick. So, if "one member suffer, all the members suffer with it."

The body is the vehicle, we might almost say, for the spirit. So the Church as the body of Christ is the vehicle, — may we not say? — for the activities of Christ. He uses the Church, through the indwelling Spirit, to perform His work in the world, to represent Him. "As My Father sent Me into the world so send I you into the world." It is through His members that the Lord acts in saving souls, in building up saints and nourishing and caring for His Church.

There are three ways of looking at membership in the Body; as linked with Christ, "we are members of His body" (Eph. 5:30); as linked with all saints, "we are members one of another" (Rom. 12:5); as individuals, "we are members in particular" (1 Cor. 12:27). Here we have three lines of truth: connection with Christ, with one another, and individual responsibility.

Every believer is a member of this Body, as we have already seen. There is but one Church — the body of Christ. What awful presumption then to hear persons speaking of this or that organization, even if composed of Christian people, as the Church. Every saint on earth is a member of the Church, and it is nothing but the worst kind of sinful pride to exclude a single one, in our thoughts of the Church.

Thus we see that the baptism of the Spirit means His putting us, when we have believed, into the company of all saints, uniting us to Christ, and giving us our individual place in that one Body. Do you, dear brethren, desire any other church membership?

We come next to the unity of the Spirit, closely connected with what we have been already saying of the unity of the body, but distinct from it. I quote the expression from Scripture: "Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:3). It is by the Spirit that the reality of divine things is brought home to us. Without Him all the precious facts as to the Church the body of Christ, with its various members and their functions, would be meaningless and inoperative. Thus, the unity of the Body is a divine fact, but without the unity of the Spirit, it would have no power in our lives, and there would be no testimony to its truth.

There is a practical unity produced by the Holy Spirit among the people of God. This is when He is permitted to impress the truth of the one body upon us, and to lead us to act in accordance with divine principles. Thus all saints are members of the one Body; no one can question that, no one can undo it. But when we ask Are all saints keeping the unity of the Spirit? our sorrowful answer must be, How few. With most, alas! what concerns the glory of our Lord, and practical obedience in carrying out His will, has little weight. They seem never to have realized that Christ has a Church on earth, established upon principles of His truth and ordered according to His will revealed in His word. As a result they are incapable of entering into the unity of the Spirit. As in the days of the Judges, every one does that which is right in his own eyes.

Is it not a fact that ecclesiastical disobedience is lightly thought of? I mean, a disregard of the truths of God's word as to His Church. The conscience of the saints is shocked, and rightly so, at any moral delinquency, any lapse into fleshly ways, measured by ordinary standards. But are we equally shocked by a deliberate and persistent ignoring of the unity of the Spirit? That blessed One bears patient witness to the oneness of the Church; its heavenly, separate character; its divinely provided order; and saints of God establish churches, devise order, and choose methods according to their own devising. Is that an endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit? But let us take a scriptural example.

"God is faithful, by whom ye were called into the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Now I beseech you brethren by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?" (1 Cor. 1:9-13.)

Now here is an instance of failure to keep the unity of the Spirit. Let us look at it with some care. In the first place, in writing to the assembly at Corinth as representing the entire Church, the apostle uses unequivocal language as to its oneness. "Unto the Church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours." That is, the Church of God is one, composed of all who are in Christ, saints by their calling — including all such in every place.

Next, he dwells, at the beginning of the passage we have quoted, upon the faithfulness of God, by whom they had been called into this holy fellowship, and who would preserve them unto the end. This is a great comfort in the midst of the abounding unfaithfulness of man — God never fails. But this only brings out into more glaring relief man's unfaithfulness. The apostle had learned, from credible source, that a sad state of contention existed among them, and that so far from keeping the unity of the Spirit, by being perfectly joined together in the same mind and judgment, division threatened. So that he was compelled to entreat them, by the One Name common to all saints, that such a state be brought to an end.

He then goes into details. Corinth, and all Greek cities where philosophy had sway, was familiar with various schools of thought, each with its special leader, and his followers, who would say, "I am of this one, and I of that." Now the saints had transferred this human state of things into the Church of Christ, and were arraying themselves under certain leaders, thus forming parties and sects. Whether they made use of the honored names of Paul, Apollos, and Cephas — against their will and without their knowledge — or whether the apostle added these names by way of illustration, does not affect the point. From 1 Cor. 4:6, it would seem that he had simply transferred the application to himself and Apollos, as examples. The real party leaders were not named — but the principle was held up for examination in the apostles themselves, "that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another."

The lesson is thus made all the clearer. No one could question the devotedness of Paul, Apollos, and Cephas. If forming schools and sects with such worthy names was wrong, then all sectarianism was wrong. When we come then to examine sectarianism, we set aside as already evidently evil, all party-making resulting from envy, jealousy and other petty worldly causes. Such things are, alas, not uncommon, but all would condemn them at once. But many will say that it is wrong to class all sectarianism with spite and quarrels, and with this I agree.

Paul was called and peculiarly gifted of God to unfold the truths of Christianity. No one familiar with his epistles can fail to see this. Doctrines abound throughout all his writings. He was thus the great doctrinal teacher.

Apollos was a man of fervent and devout spirit. He was "an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures" (Acts 18:24). Instead of his bodily presence being weak and his speech contemptible, he was a most convincing preacher. Further, from what we are told of his work, he watered, that is confirmed and established, those newly converted. He was thus a most valuable man.

Cephas, or Peter, stands for church order and pastoral work. He was commissioned thrice to tend and feed the lambs and sheep of Christ's flock. To him, not exclusively, had been committed the keys of the Kingdom of heaven. He thus stands for order and administration.

Now all three of these are divine provision for the Church. It needs teaching and instruction; it needs awakening and establishing; it needs care and shepherding. We can, however, knowing the natural heart of man, understand how certain minds would be more engaged with doctrines, others with the activities of service, and still others with order and government.

But suppose the one who is much engaged with doctrine begins to despise the others; and the one who is devout and earnest speaks contemptuously of doctrine; and the follower of order becomes such a stickler for it that he can see nothing else. What will be the result? "I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas, and I of Christ." Even Christ's holy name would be made a shibboleth.

Is not this the history, largely, of the sectarianism of the present day? As I said, I do not charge the baser motives, of envy and strife — but simply the forcing of any one side of divine truth to the exclusion of all else. Suppose a company of Christians set themselves so exclusively to the study of doctrine, that they not only neglected service and order, but actually excluded all who did not act as themselves. Would they not be a sect? And suppose they draw up a most scriptural statement of doctrine and compelled all to sign that creed; would they not be a sect? What other creed do we need beside the word of God? Is it not gross dishonor to the word of God to prepare a substitute for it, intimating that its statements are not sufficiently clear cut, or definite?

In like manner could not an evangelistic revival be made the basis of a sectarian movement? Everything that would not bend to the methods of work, or that sought to turn saints to the study of Scripture as well as to seeking for souls, would be resented and stigmatized as "not according to us," and therefore a division must result. So also church order might be unduly pressed to the exclusion of all else. Thus the good that God has given, might result — shall I not say has? — in the abuses we see about us, the multitudinous divisions of Christendom.

Do I speak of what is unknown to you? Are not your own hearts burdened with what is our common sorrow and shame? What Christian will seek to defend sectarianism? I am simply, beloved brethren, speaking of what we all deplore. I call it by its scriptural name — a failure to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

As to remedies, I know of but one — obedience to the word of God. Beloved and honored saints have sought, and are seeking, to devise a basis of union upon which all saints may come together. Any would agree to a union on the basis of their own creed or church party; some have suggested a temporary union, a sort of yearly laying aside differences and meeting on the broad basis of evangelical Christianity. But why once a year? if right, why not permanently? Church unions, undenominational societies, — these simply accentuate the sad fact; Christians are divided, else there would be no need to talk of uniting. Let us rather, beloved brethren, cut at the root of it all, by forsaking what is not according to the word of God, and in this endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit, we will find God is ever as good as His word. Our Lord's wish that we might be one, will be realized, and the world will be constrained to own the truth.

You will bear me witness that I speak in love and in no spirit of criticism. These things are too sad to find fault about, and who of us is blameless? It is rather for us to pray one for another, that this precious unity of the Spirit may be understood and kept.

Need I say there is no thought either of the salvation or of the personal devotedness of beloved saints who have ignored this truth? Far, far be such a thought. As a matter of fact the vast bulk of the Church is involved, and salvation rests, thank God, upon the solid Rock, Christ Himself. Multitudes by their devotedness and piety would put to shame others more intelligent, and yet with all their piety and devotedness they seem to take no interest in this most important subject. Why, oh why is this? We have failed to realize the unity of the Spirit — hence these carnal divisions.

But we leave this part of our subject, simply entreating you if you have heretofore neglected it, to take it up with the prayerful desire to know and do God's will in this as in all else. What glory to the Lord and what happiness to your own hearts would result, even if it were a cross.

We come now to the gifts of the Spirit, which opens up another most instructive and important subject, demanding our careful attention. "Now there are diversities of gifts but the same Spirit . . …for to one is given, by the Spirit, the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge, by the same Spirit; to another faith, by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing, by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another interpretation of tongues: but all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will" (1 Cor. 12:4–11). The remainder of the chapter, particularly the last few verses, is also helpful here; while we have a similar enumeration in Eph. 4:8-16. There, the gifts are those of the Lord from on high, "He ascended on high and gave gifts unto men"; here, they are bestowed and operated through the Spirit, the Lord's executive upon earth.

There is also this difference, that in Ephesians the enumeration of gifts includes what we may call the ordinary work of gathering in and building up souls, while in Corinthians we have the miraculous element as well. This is in keeping with the operations of the Spirit, who is sovereign and works as and where He sees the necessity. On the other hand the Lord has bestowed the gifts which are of permanent value for the edification of the Church.

In this same epistle (chapter 14) we are told that the gift of tongues is not for ordinary use, but as a special sign. The same is true, I doubt not, with the other supernatural gifts, of miracles and healing. They are the sign-gifts for the special authentication of the messenger. I do not dwell, therefore, at length upon these sign-gifts, not only for the reason already stated, as to their being more particularly connected with the founding of Christianity, but because they, as distinct signs of divine approval, would ill accord with the present state of division in the Church. God cannot authenticate what is contrary to His will; and while I do not doubt He meets faith in the individual, and even heals the sick in answer to the prayer of faith, I do not judge that Scripture warrants us to look for these special manifestations in a day of ruin and declension like this.

And who of us would desire it? Do you covet, beloved brethren, a gift of tongues, or of working miracles? Do you not rather long for a fuller knowledge of the truth of God and greater wisdom and power in declaring it? God's truth abides, and the upbuilding of souls on their most holy faith and the care for Christ's beloved sheep is of more permanent value than the most marvelous sign-gifts, good and needful as those are in their place.

The gifts of the Spirit, then, which more directly concern us are those enumerated in Ephesians: "He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting the saints to the work of the ministry, for the edifying the body of Christ" (Eph. 4:11, 12). Here again the apostles and prophets have done their work in laying the foundation (Eph. 2:20). We have, too, their inspired writings with us. This leaves the normal gifts of the Spirit for ministry classified under the general heads of evangelists, pastors and teachers. The evangelist gathers in souls from the world by the preaching of the gospel; the pastor looks after the lambs and sheep of Christ's flock, and the teacher unfolds the word of God for their instruction.

There is also what I may dwell upon more fully at another time — the ordinary gift of prophesy — the gift of speaking a word in due season, answering to exhortation. Indeed, the gifts are enumerated in even a less formal way in Rom. 12:6-8, where the different gifts of teaching, exhorting, ruling, giving and others are distinguished in a beautifully simple manner.

These, then, are the activities produced in the various members of the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit, dividing to each severally as He will. All have different gifts — different endowments of the Spirit. Another lovely passage occurs in the fourth of Ephesians, where we have each joint and band of the body serving as a link to carry blessing and edification from Christ, the Head, thus making increase of the Body unto the edification of itself in love.

You may not be gifted as a public speaker — comparatively few are — nor would a multiplicity of public speakers be for the profit of the Church. But that is only one channel of service. Who can enumerate the countless varieties of Christian activity? We serve unconsciously when we are holding the Head. Recurring to a former quotation, you may have noticed a slight variation from the ordinary version, "for the perfecting of the saints to the work of the ministry." So Eph. 4:12 should be rendered in accordance with the change of preposition. The general gifts of a more public character are for the purpose of perfecting or preparing saints for their work. Thus the evangelist, when used of God in the salvation of a soul, has by that very act prepared another channel of gospel testimony; the pastor, in caring for a sheep of Christ is preparing that one in his turn to exercise care; the teacher who unfolds God's word is putting the key into other hands, who will pass on the precious things to still others. What a beautiful scene of activity, all actuated and controlled by the blessed Spirit of God, and love, the very bond of perfectness, knitting saint to saint.

I desire to connect with this a passage from I Peter which shows the authority for all ministry. "As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth; that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 4:10, 11). Now, here the possession of the gift is the authority for its use. To have the gift is to be a steward with the responsibility for its faithful use. You know what was said to the man who hid the talent in a napkin. Possession entitles — nay, commands — me to use what has been committed to me. This applies not only to the ordinary ministry of the Word, as oracles of God speaking with conviction, but of all kinds of service. As with Paul, every one of us can say "Woe unto me !" if I fulfil not the service entrusted to me.

When we remember who has endowed us, who dwells in us and in the Church — the blessed Spirit of God — we see the reason for this. He, the sovereign Administrator, is present, in full charge, endowing, sending forth and sustaining His instruments for service. What more do we need?

Let us now place alongside of this the ordinarily accepted theory of ministerial ordination. I begin by the full admission that the apostles and their representatives ordained elders. Acts gives us several instances of this ordination, and Titus 1:3 and the third chapter of I Timothy furnish instruction as to it. But let me state that I do not know of a single passage where ministry of the Word was attended by ordination. Nowhere do we find an evangelist, a pastor or a teacher ordained as such. This is most clear and most important, for the modern idea is that these are the very men to be ordained.

Ordination applied only to rule. It was an apostolic act conferring, by divine direction, special authority of oversight and rule upon elder men in the various assemblies. This was connected, let it be always remembered, with the prerogative of an apostle. In one sense they are right who claim no true ordination without apostolic succession. The difficulty is, who and where are the successors of the apostles? Rome claims lineal descent from Peter, and insists that all that was committed to him is now hers to administer through the pope. I do not enter into the blasphemy of their claim for the pope. Peter himself was never the "vicar of Christ." The Holy Ghost is the only vicar of Christ, and it comes perilously near blasphemy against Him for any one to arrogate to himself such a title.

But Rome is consistent in so far as she claims that apostolic authority alone can ordain. And, as a matter of fact, every one who pleads for ordination unconsciously makes the same claim. For what is ordination but derived authority? One man receives his authority from his predecessor, he in turn from the one who preceded him, and so on back to — where? Most certainly the only established succession is through Rome. Do you covet the authorization of the woman upon the scarlet-colored beast?

It matters not whether this succession comes through individual bishops or through presbyteries, the principle remains the same. Ordination and succession are indissolubly linked. More than this, man's ordination is a flagrant denial of the precious fact we are considering. The Holy Spirit, a living divine person, dwells in and presides over the Church of Christ. He especially inspired apostles for the work of establishing assemblies. Who now is going to claim apostolic authority?

Oh, when we think of His sovereign will, His mighty power exercised in selecting, calling, equipping, sending forth and sustaining a servant of Christ in His ministry, and then think of man putting his approval upon this by ordination! Is it not solemn? The moment you put man, no matter how able and gifted, between the Spirit of God and the Church, you deny the great fact of Christianity — the presence of the Spirit in the Church. The greater always approves what is done by the lesser, but this would be to make man approve what the Spirit does.

But let me be careful to say that I am not here raising the question of personal piety and devotedness in those who exercise the prerogatives of ordination. Without doubt there are many consecrated men who firmly believe they are carrying out the will of God in perpetuating this system — men who could well command our respect and admiration for their zeal and piety. This is not a personal matter; it is far higher than that. Is the blessed Spirit of God to be ignored and set aside under the plea that many godly men have failed to see the truth?

I know, too, that the plea of "regularity" and "order" will be raised; but, again, is God the author of confusion? Can the Spirit not be trusted to maintain the dignity of God's house, in which He dwells? Ah! beloved brethren, unbelief lies at the root of most of this human arrangement. David's new cart and Uzzah's restraining hand were well-meant devices to secure the orderly procession of the ark to its place, but they did not secure what they were intended for. Let us trust more implicitly — let us prove our gracious God — and we will ever find the presence of His Spirit a blessed reality.

But I take up the last phase of what we shall speak of at this time — the Spirit in connection with the worship of the Church. Of individual worship I do not now speak, though it is closely connected with corporate worship. The Spirit of adoption, of prayer, of joy, is surely the Spirit of praise, whether in the individual or in the company of saints. There are five features of worship to which I wish briefly to call your attention — the place of worship, the power for worship, the manner of worship, the material for worship, and the time for worship. Let it be remembered that special reference is not to the individual, but to the Church.

"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest, by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He has consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh, and having a high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith" (Heb. 10:19-22). The epistle to the Hebrews is, as you know, chiefly devoted to bringing out the contrast between the Jewish and Christian economies. Under the law there was a class priesthood and a worldly sanctuary. We have just seen that a special class of men with special prerogatives is unthought of in Christianity; so also is the thought of a special sanctuary. Now Christ is the substitute for the Aaronic priesthood. What takes the place of the temple? Let the same epistle answer. "For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us" (Heb. 9:24). In the passage previously quoted it is declared that we have boldness to enter into the holiest, that is, into heaven.

But we are upon earth; how can we enter into the holiest? It is by the power of the Spirit of God, who has come down and makes real for faith all that Christ has secured for us. But what a priceless boon is this! Boldness to enter into a place of worship whither Christ has gone for us — to enter into the presence of God by the Holy Spirit ! Yes, such is the happy privilege of every saint.

Now, let us put this fact alongside the thought of the vast majority of the Lord's beloved people. I dismiss the superstition of Rome and its imitators in ritualism who profess to believe that God indeed dwells in their buildings made with hands, and who, in wretched consistency, have their altars and perpetual fires — yea, and sacrifices. I say we dismiss all that as unworthy the consideration of a sober-minded Christian. But what is the ordinary thought about the place of worship? Is it not in some sense the house of God? Is it not consecrated, and is it not more or less sacrilege to use it for any other purpose? I say not a word about neatness and comfort, but if there is not something peculiarly sacred in the building, why this resemblance to Rome in the architecture? Why this constant reference to the place of worship? Is it in accord with the divine fact that our place of worship is by the Spirit of God in the very sanctuary? Do we need anything to accentuate that fact, and, if so, is it to be adornment and reminders of an earthly sanctuary?

Does all this sound forced? Ah! brethren, what is the tendency of all this church architecture? Does it make us more heavenly? Does it suit our pilgrim profession? Does it impress the world that we go to the holiest for worship? The beauties that attract us are seen by the eye of faith alone, and they are the glories of a sanctuary which no human hand has built. Let nothing mar our thought of that. Let the places where we assemble for worship be simple and unpretentious and which can in no way convey the impression that there is such a thing as an earthly sanctuary.

What is the power for worship? "We are the circumcision who worship by the Spirit of God" (Phil. 3:3, R.V.). "God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). You remember that our Lord in this memorable conversation with the poor, sinful Samaritan woman set aside both "this mountain" (Gerizim) and Jerusalem as places of worship. In their place he put nothing of earth; only spirit and truth was to mark all worship — it was to be according to the nature of God. This connects, therefore, with what we have already said as to the place of worship.

Now, the Spirit not only introduces us into the heavenly sanctuary by faith, but He is Himself the power for all worship. We worship by the Spirit of God. In Judaism, under the law, there was an elaborate ritual, with minutely prescribed forms. All this has been set aside. The one sacrifice of Christ has forever displaced the many offerings of the law, and in place of incense, priestly robes, timbrels, harps, and all manner of instruments, we have the Holy Spirit as the power for all our worship, which is in spirit — not form — and truth.

Need I enumerate how much this displaces? If we say everything of the flesh, it will surely not be too strong. Does not every Christian feel sad at the thought of unsaved, worldly persons, who spend the week in singing at places of worldly amusement, coming and for hire leading the praises of saints? Can Pharaoh or his hosts assist Israel in celebrating a deliverance to which they must be strangers? But, along with such glaring abuse, much else will fail to stand the test of divine truth. I do not specify — God forbid that I should hold up these things which are our common sorrow. Fain would I weep over all this ignoring of the blessed One who is patiently waiting to lead on our praises without help from the flesh. Your own conscience can make further application. Let us pray for one another, that we may know more of this worship by the Spirit of God.

As to the manner of worship, time forbids scarcely more than the quotation of a single verse, which, however, is quite clear enough: "How is it, then, brethren? When ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying" (1 Cor. 14:26). The entire chapter is devoted to the spiritual manifestations and operations in the assembly. Incidentally, as we might say, the subject of worship and the manner of it is brought in. No mention is made of one presiding. Everything is left free for the Spirit of God to use whom He will. If there is no provision for ordaining a special class of men for ministry, still less is there for worship. We are all priests — a holy and a royal priesthood. For one or several persons to preside at the worship of an assembly of saints is to lose sight of the ever sufficient presence of the blessed Spirit. We need not fear confusion. If faith and obedience are tested, that is always well and who that has tasted the sweetness of simply letting the Spirit lead our praises through whomsoever He will, would return to the constraint of using but one man, no matter how gifted and devoted, under the plea of order? Do not all Christians feel the need of liberty for the Spirit, and are not meetings "thrown open" just because of this felt need? Why should any meeting of an assembly of saints be "closed"? I say nothing of a meeting which an individual teaches or evangelist may call on his own responsibility at that, of course, he must preside to give out his message. But when the assembly meets, none but the Spirit of God should be free to use whomsoever He may please. He gathers the saints, not to worship under human leadership, but to offer their own worship in the holiest.

I do not exactly like the expression "material for worship," and yet it will not be misunderstood. Under the law, the material for worship was the sacrifice. Now the sacrifice has been once offered, and all that we can render is the fruit of our lips, confessing the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I quote a Scripture which I believe to be the guide here, furnishing us with the center around which worship clings, and from which it radiates: "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread (or loaf) and one body, for we are all partakers of that one loaf" (1 Cor. 10:16, 17). Just as all Israel's feasts of joy centered around the sacrifice, so do all ours around the memorial of our Lord's one finished sacrifice. The Lord's Supper is not the "means of grace" we would selfishly make of it, though most blessedly does it ripen and mature the Christian character when rightly entered into; nor is it in any sense the sacrifice ritualism would make of it. But it is the only feast of Christianity. We have set before us the emblems of our Lord's death, and as we recall that death we have Him before us — His person, His love, His grace — all the infinite fulness of Himself. As we thus dwell upon Him, led of the Spirit of God, praise finds its impulse and ascends as a sweet savor of Christ unto God.

Thus the Lord's Supper furnishes, if we may so speak, the material for worship. I do not limit that worship, but do claim, according to Scripture, that it should have the commanding place. Is it not unscriptural to relegate it to a secondary place, after the morning sermon? Does not this grieve the Holy Spirit, who would ever make Christ first?

One word must suffice as to the time of worship. Here again I speak only of what is characteristic. "And upon the first day of the week, when they came together to break bread" (Acts 20:7). Here was an apostle, yet they came together, not primarily to hear him, but to break bread. It was on the first day of the week, their usual time for thus remembering the Lord. It is no inference, but a simple statement that they met on the first day of the week to break bread. In other words, the weekly worship of the saints of God clusters around the Lord's table. Here is no room for superstition. Its frequency (every week) does not — cannot — make it common, for where the Spirit of God leads there must be perennial freshness. Thus He would make Christ chief, and on the day that recalls His resurrection would lead out our hearts in happiest praise. Ah, brethren, do not think it is in a spirit of pride or consciousness that I speak thus. But oh! that the Lord's precious people entered into these things more fully! What joy, what power — above all, what honor to Him would result!

I have now gone over our assigned subject in its various departments. How fragmentary and incomplete it is, I well know. But I commend to your prayerful study this entire subject of the Spirit in the Church. We are fellow Christians, members of one Body, indwelt by one Spirit; we are taught of God to love one another and to mind the same things. Let a common purpose animate us. Let us more than ever before seek the Lord's mind as to these things. Surely He would lead us and bless us. May it be so indeed!*

{*For more extended examination of the entire subject of the Church, the reader is referred to "Present Things," by F. W. Grant, and "Outlines of Scripture Doctrine as to the Assembly," by S. Ridout.}


"The holiest we enter
In perfect peace with God,
Through whom we found our centre
In Jesus and His blood:
Though great may be our dullness
In thought and word and deed,
We glory in the fulness
Of Him that meets our need.

Much incense is ascending
Before th' eternal throne;
God graciously is bending
To hear each feeble groan;
To all our prayers and praises
Christ adds His sweet perfume,
And Love the censer raises,
These odors to consume.

O God, we come with singing,
Because Thy great High-Priest
Our names to Thee is bringing,
Nor e'er forgets the least:
For us He wears the mitre,
Where "Holiness" shines bright
For us His robes are whiter
Than heaven's unsullied light."