At any moment the bodies of the redeemed may be glorified! Our Lord Jesus Christ will fashion them like unto His body of glory in “the twinkling of an eye,” when He returns to claim His own. Meanwhile our spirits are constantly cared for by God our Father, enabling us to respond to Himself in a measure of grateful praise, blessing and thanksgiving even now,
“Although our efforts here to praise
Are often weak and lowly.”
To believers, called by grace from among the Jews, passing through seasons of trial, we find the word given in Hebrews 12:9, “Be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live.”
Holiness and peaceable fruit of righteousness result. Hezekiah, after sore sickness and weeping, softly tuned his song—“O Lord, by these things men live, and in all these things is the life of my spirit . . . The living, the living, he shall praise Thee, as I do this day.” What precious effects follow God’s gracious dealings with our spirits! At the present time He deals with us as sons (Heb. 12:7), in honoured and filial relationship to Him.
In regard to the spirits of men in the world generally, we are told in Isaiah 42:5, “He that spread forth the earth gives breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein.” The Creator who gives breath to men also gives spirit. Then Zechariah 12:1 discloses that it is He who also “forms the spirit of man within him”; and Ecclesiastes 12:7 makes known that it goes to the Giver and Maker when leaving the body—“Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” Twice God is addressed in Numbers as “The God of the spirits of all flesh” (16:22; 27:16).
To that profane monarch, Belshazzar, Daniel said, “The God in whose hand thy breath is . . . hast thou not glorified.” Like his breath, the foregoing Scriptures show that man’s spirit is given from God. Some men are sunken into base and God-dishonouring practices; others are outwardly respectable and religious, having great advantages, like the chosen people of God; yet it is said in this regard, “He is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Rom. 2:29). The Jew of old had the Bible, and so have Christians today, but sinful man’s inward condition is such, that a divine operation in his spirit is necessary; he “must be born again” to be personally put right with a holy God, who or whatever he may be.
We are told to seek edification in all things, and we have spoken of the spirits of men generally; now in regard to those who are saved and sealed by the Holy Ghost, having redemption in Christ through His blood, they have already been born of God, and are the children of God, “having the witness of the Holy Spirit with their spirits that they are God’s children” (Rom. 8:16). The necessary change has taken place with them, and they know God now as Father.
As to the new birth, it is said, “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit . . . The wind blows where it lists, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it comes, and whither it goes, so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:6, 8). Like life, and other things whose operations are plainly visible, but what they are in themselves we cannot tell, so is it in this regard; but, nevertheless, it is emphatically made known. “Whosoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” (1 John 5:1).
Now although there is much that we do not know, there is, nevertheless, a great deal divinely revealed which we may know; and as we enter by faith and the Holy Spirit’s power into this, our spirits will be preserved, formed and strengthened to rejoice in God our Father. We read in Luke of one who “waxed strong in spirit” (1:80), and of Mary who said, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour” (1:46-47). On the other hand, bodily infirmity often hinders the freedom of a willing spirit. The Lord once said, “The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38); and again, speaking in regard to kingdom circumstances, He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” and, “Blessed are the meek,” which contrasts strongly with the proud and haughty spirit of many who selfishly aim at possessive authority today.
The One who shall shortly rule over all—the King of kings and Lord of lords—is “meek.” True prosperity of spirit results from beholding appreciatively the lowly and lovely traits which beamed with gentleness and grace from Him when here on earth, and the enabling of the Holy Spirit guides in this. The Apostle Paul sought to help his brethren in “a spirit of meekness,” and desired that this should also mark the spiritual brethren in Galatia (Gal. 6:1). Lowliness, long-suffering, forbearance, forgiveness, humbleness, kindness and compassion, along with “meekness of wisdom,” will adorn our spirits where there is true progress in the knowledge of the Son of the Father. Even when He was crucified by men, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do”; also, “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.” Thus Spirit-filled Stephen also, when martyred exhibited the traits of his loved Lord and Saviour, as he prayed for his persecutors, —“Lord, lay not this sin to their charge”; and, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” What a victory of lowly grace shines here!—when haughty religious bigotry and hate exposed themselves—a greater victory than all men’s violent feats of arms! The present exaltation of the crucified One confirms this! The future glory with Christ of those who suffer with Him now will also publicly demonstrate what true victory and true worth are! The despised One below is the honoured One on high!
“By weakness and defeat He won the mead and crown,
Trod all His foes beneath His feet by being trodden down.”
The present enrichment of our spirits, brought about by our gracious God and Father’s dealings with His sons, not only finds some measure of expression in the reproduction of the excellencies of the Son of His love, but likewise in His own presence,—made nigh to the Father through Christ’s redeeming blood,—our spirits may offer freely their sweet savour offerings of praise for His pleasure; yea, it is the precious privilege of each one now, by our Lord Jesus Christ to “offer the sacrifice of praise to God CONTINUALLY, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His Name” (Heb. 13:15). Oh, that in freedom of spirit we may always abound in this! He has said, “Who so offers praise glorifies Me.”
Finally, in 1 Corinthians 14:14-16, we are told of praying with the spirit, and of singing with the spirit, and blessing with the spirit; but the apostle sought to regulate this in view of richer results; for, although the blessing and thanksgiving and song might be good, he desired that the understanding as well as the spirit might be in function; so he said, I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.” Fruitful indeed are such offerings of blessing and praise.
Through His beloved Son the Father has sought and found true worshippers. The law provided for the outward expressions of worship to Jehovah in Israel; but today He has the “true worshippers,” of whom John 4:23 speaks.
These worship “IN SPIRIT AND TRUTH.”
In the SON the truth has been fully revealed, and by the SPIRIT we are enabled to worship the FATHER, whose grace and love have been made known.
“Our spirits rise to bless His name,
And holy worship give.”