The Presence and Power of the Holy Spirit

Notes and Addresses given at Chelmsford, by G. Davison.

Answers to nine questions of vital importance to all true believers.
Have you received the Holy Spirit?
Does He indwell all believers?
What does it mean to be sealed by the Holy Spirit?
Can we grieve Him away?
What does it mean to walk in the Spirit?
What does it mean to be led by the Spirit?
What does it mean to be filled by the Spirit?
What is the unpardonable sin?
Can a believer blaspheme against the Holy Spirit?
Have you received the Holy Spirit?
Does He indwell all believers?

In the first chapter of the Book of the Acts we have the record of our Lord returning to heaven from which He came when He came into this world in Manhood. He had revealed God in His life while walking on this earth; and he had effected redemption by His death when He gave His holy body and shed His precious blood. Now His work accomplished, He was about to leave this world and go to the right hand of God. Acts 2:33. Ere He parted from His disciples, He told them that when He took His seat in heaven, He would send down to them the Holy Spirit in order that they should be enabled to represent Him in this world. Before going to the cross He had assured them that He would send the Spirit to them-John 15:26-and now, after His death upon the cross, He reaffirms that promise just as He is about to leave them and be taken up to heaven. Acts 1:11. In this we have the promise of the Holy Spirit.

Turning on to Acts 2:1-4, we see that promise implemented on the day of Pentecost, a word which means fifty days. We read that the Lord had walked with them forty days after His resurrection, Acts 1:3, then ten days after He had been taken to heaven, we have the day of Pentecost, fifty days, a reference to Lev. 23:16. On this day as we read, the Holy Spirit came down with force and filled each one gathered in that upper room, one hundred and twenty of them as Acts 1:15 records. This great event marked the beginning of Christianity in this world. The Lord Himself had made preparation for this while in this world and it was established by the coming of the Spirit in that Spirit filled company.

Flowing out of this wonderful beginning, the apostle Peter, supported by the others, stood up and preached the gospel in the power of the Spirit, urging the people to turn in repentance toward God and to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour, assuring them that if they did so, they too would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38. "Then Peter said unto them, repent, and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." The simple order in this verse is-repentance, remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Repentance is towards God; remission, or forgiveness as the word means, is by the work of Christ, and then follows the gift of the Holy Ghost, or Spirit. The translators used both words but they are precisely the same. It is evident from this verse that no one can have the gift of the Spirit till their sins are first remitted, and the only ground upon which God will forgive any one of their sins is by that person individually accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as their own personal Saviour. Peter assured the people that God holds out forgiveness to all- v. 39-but it must be accepted by faith. No one can blame God if they do not possess this forgiveness for He holds it out to all. To possess this wonderful gift we must lay hold of it for ourselves by turning to the Lord Jesus in our need and saying in such terms as the hymn writer suggests, "Jesus I will trust Thee, trust Thee with my soul; guilty, lost, and helpless, Thou canst make me whole; Thou hast died for sinners, therefore, Lord, for ME." Only those who have so trusted Jesus as Saviour enjoy the forgiveness of their sins. Following forgiveness, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This chapter is crystal clear on these matters as a careful perusal will verify.

Our second question at the head is, "Does He indwell all believers?" To answer this, we select two passages out of many which prove that the Holy Spirit does indeed dwell in all believers. Our first passage is Ephesians 1:13. "In Whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in Whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise." Here is a further proof that those who believe the gospel do receive the Holy Spirit. In this passage long after the day of Pentecost, the apostle Paul assures these Ephesian believers that they had received the gift of the Holy Spirit after having believed the gospel.

Our second Scripture is in 1 Corinthians 12:13, again note, written many years after Pentecost. "For by one Spirit are we all baptised 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." There ought to be no doubt in any of our minds that all who have their sins forgiven by accepting Christ as their Saviour, have the gift of the Holy Spirit. He dwells in the heart of every believer, and dwells there for ever. John 14:16.

What does it mean to be sealed by the Holy Spirit?

Can we grieve Him away?

A seal is a mark of identification and ownership. Sealing by the Spirit is not that the Spirit puts a mark upon us but rather that He Himself is the seal as dwelling in the hearts of all who believe. This is clearly taught in Ephesians 1:13, 14. "In Whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession." Again, in 2 Corinthians 1:22, "Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts." Here once more we learn that the Spirit is the earnest as dwelling in our hearts being the Divine seal that we belong to God.

Our second question in this section is, "Can we grieve Him away?" Our Scripture quoted in the preceding paragraph assures us that we are sealed "until the redemption of the purchased possession" which means till the coming of our Lord to take His inheritance. Again we read in John 14:16, "He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever." Once the Spirit takes up His abode in the heart of a believer, He is there to stay. We can hardly think in the light of both of these passages of Scripture that He could ever be grieved away. Yet we can grieve Him, and because of this we are exhorted not to do so in Ephesians 4:30. "And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." Taking this verse in its setting from v. 25 to v. 32, it appears that we can grieve the Spirit by, lying; uncontrolled temper; yielding to the temptations of the devil; stealing; corrupt talking; bitterness; wrath; clamour and evil speaking. He dwells in our hearts to preserve us from all these things. We may lie to the Spirit as we read in Acts 5:4-9. We may quench the Spirit as recorded in 1 Thessalonians 5:19, and we may grieve the Spirit as in this passage we have been quoting but He abides in the heart of the believer for ever.

What does it mean to walk in the Spirit?

What does it mean to be led by the Spirit?

What does it mean to be filled by the Spirit?

For an answer to our first question we turn to Romans 8:1-4. "No condemnation" is the fruit of the work of Christ, v. 1. "Life" is the fruit of the work of the Spirit, v. 2. "Condemned sin" is the fruit of the work of God, v. 3. "Walk" is the fruit of believers, v. 4. The sequence here is, what Christ has done, then, what the Spirit has done, then, what God has done, then, what we do. Our walk follows the working of each Divine Person to fit us for the Christian pathway through this world. We are told in v. 4, that walking after the Spirit will enable us to fulfil the righteous requirements of the law. These were summed up by a lawyer and agreed to by our Lord as being, love to God on the one hand and love to one's neighbour on the other. Luke 10:26-28. It means we give to God first what is right in His sight and we do to our fellow being what is right towards him. This is walking by, or in the Spirit. Many details could be gathered from other parts of Scripture but doing always what is right both Godward and manward is the evidence of a believer walking by the Spirit.

To be led by the Spirit is also mentioned in this Chapter, Romans 8:14. "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." This word translated "led" has many applications but the main idea running through all is "to take care of." The Spirit takes care of us by leading us into right paths and having such a guide manifests that we are "sons of God". A prince while he is a minor is ever in the care of a tutor who knows how the prince ought to conduct himself according to his station in life. He must act at all times as the son of a king. In like manner the Spirit dwells in our hearts instructing us as to the conduct which becomes us because we are "sons of God." We have the living voice of the Spirit in our hearts Who ever seeks to guide us, leading or tutoring us because we are "sons of God." Thus we are led by the Spirit.

Being filled with the Spirit is outlined for us in Ephesians 5:18-21. "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit." v. 18. A man filled with wine does things he would not do when sober; under the power of wine he exhibits another character. So a man filled with the Spirit exhibits another character quite different from what once marked him before he possessed the Spirit. When filled with the Spirit he will talk about the things of God in the language of Scripture. "Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs." v. 19. He will be moving along the Christian pathway rejoicing, "singing." v. 19. His heart will be in tune with the Lord, "making melody in your heart to the Lord." v. 19. He will be ever thankful as a recipient of the grace and mercy of God, "Giving thanks always." v. 20. He will be submissive and not wanting to assert his will, "Submitting yourselves one to another." v. 21. These are some of the marks of a believer who is filled with the Spirit.

What is the unpardonable sin?

Can a believer blaspheme against the Holy Spirit?

We are told in Matthew 12:24-30 what this unpardonable sin really is. It is attributing the works of God to demoniacal power. Beelzebub was regarded as the prince of devils and the Pharisees actually said our Lord was empowered by him in doing these mighty works. Twice they accused Him of this, Matthew 9:34 and here again in Matthew 12:24. The Lord had just healed a blind and dumb man and they said this good work was done by evil influence. What can be done with such people who attribute the works of God to Satanic influence? This judgment pronounced by our Lord came upon them at the stoning of Stephen who accused them of always resisting the Holy Spirit. Acts 7. This is the only sin which will not be forgiven, "but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men."

"Can a believer blaspheme against the Holy Spirit." We answer unequivocally, NO. Having the Spirit dwelling in their hearts puts them at once beyond this danger. Many who have failed in some way in their service for the Lord have had the devil tell them that they have committed the unpardonable sin but there is only one unpardonable sin and it is not the failure of a believer. It is a diabolical attack upon the power of the Spirit of God and no believer could be guilty of this. The Lord Himself said "it shall not be forgiven," not they. No, it is this sin and this alone. Were we to ask any believer as indeed we have done of some who thought they had committed an not the unpardonable sin, "Have you said the work of God is the work of the devil?" In every case the answer has been, NO. How could one who has the Spirit blaspheme against Him! It is Pharisees of whom the Lord said, "Ye are of your father the devil, "John 8:44, who are guilty of this sin but never a simple believer on our Lord Jesus Christ.

To sum up these questions. All believers have the Spirit and He abides with them for ever. He is the power by which we rightly serve God and He will abide in our hearts till the coming of our Lord. May we constantly walk in the Spirit and so be in this world well-pleasing to our God.