The Holy Spirit’s Witness and God’s Children

We have previously seen that the right to take the place of the children of God has been given to us by THE SON. To those who are born of God and have believed on His Name, He has given this right. THE HOLY SPIRIT too bears witness that this same relationship is ours. And we are invited to behold how THE FATHER has loved us, in granting to us this hallowed favour of being God’s children. All three Persons of the glorious Godhead are deeply concerned as to our entering into this relationship, in the joy of faith and love.

Speaking of the Holy Spirit’s witness, we read in Romans 8:15, “Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, ABBA, FATHER. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.”

This gives us guidance in regard to the activities of the Spirit, and of the spiritual experience of believers, but we have not the ground of peace and salvation here. The great question of our sins, and a divinely acceptable settlement of them, needs to be perfectly answered before the soul is at liberty to rejoice in the holy freedom of God’s children. That perfect answer to the question has been given. The perfect settlement has been accepted by God; His Son who made the settlement is seated now at His right hand; and the Spirit has given us witness; therefore we happily have peace and liberty.

The Holy Spirit’s witness for this is found in Hebrews 10:12-18. The former witness is IN us; but this is TO us. The former as to our relationship with God is “with our spirit,” but this as to the question of our sins being eternally settled is “to us.” The former reads “Beareth witness WITH our spirit,” but this says, “Is a witness to us.”

When that absolutely reliable witness is received, the believer is thankfully at peace; and he is free to be led on in liberty by the Spirit to enjoy the blessedness of what God has for those that love Him. True peace and rest before Him however are entirely unknown apart from the righteous putting away of our sins by Christ’s sacrifice. We are told, “But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever sat down on the right hand of God … By one offering He has perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” What a complete, everlasting and triumphant clearance is here! So complete, that the One who has settled all is seated at God’s right hand! So perfect, that the sanctified (set apart) believer is perfected in perpetuity before God as to this. All is done; done abidingly and we read, “Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a WITNESS TO US.” Nothing more is needed. God says, “Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (v. 17). And the sure word is added, “Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.” Jesus has settled all! He is seated! God is satisfied! The believer is at peace, and free!

The work of the Spirit does not cease with this priceless peace-giving witness to us. The sacrificial work of the Son is finished. On the ground of that the work of the Spirit goes on. He is spoken of in Hebrews 9:14 as the eternal Spirit by whom Christ made His spotless offering to God.

Yes, be it earnestly and reverently noted, “THE ETERNAL SPIRIT.” In Matthew 28:19, we read of “the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” All three Persons of the Godhead are there named together. The Spirit as we have seen is “eternal.” This single mention is sufficient for us. We need no repetition. It is enough. He is the “eternal” Spirit. Then who can rightly question that the Father and the Son are also “eternal”? The new covenant, since the Son came, is called in God’s Word, “the eternal covenant”; the redemption He secured, “the eternal redemption”; the inheritance, “the eternal inheritance”; and the salvation of which He is the Author is “eternal salvation” (Heb. 5:9). Since the Son’s coming has put such a stamp upon these, He must Himself be eternal. We read in John 5:12, “He that has THE SON has life,” and that life is “eternal life” (John 3:36), and THE SON HIMSELF on whom he believes must be “eternal”? Does not Colossians 1:17 say, “He is before all”?

He that believes on the Son has been the subject of the Spirit’s operations. He has been “born of water and of the Spirit”; and “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” The Word of God (the water) and the Spirit have effectually done their work in the believer; and, as we have seen, the Spirit’s witness to us has given peace and liberty. The Holy Spirit has sealed the believer, and He gives the cry of relationship it his heart, “ABBA, FATHER.” He is the Spirit of Truth, the Comforter. The Unction, by Whom the truth is made known to us, and by whom we draw near with others to the Father. While the Son intercedes with the Father for us on high, the Spirit gives present help in our weakness, and intercedes for us here below: bringing home to our hearts that all things are working together for our good, giving us a taste beforehand of the joys that await us; for He is “the Earnest of our inheritance”, and is called “the Holy Spirit of promises.” There is doubtless a great adversary power in the world, through which we are passing to the glory, set before us; but the word is true, “Greater is He that is in you than be that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). The Spirit of God has been given to us, and He dwells in us. May we not grieve Him individually or quench Him collectively, but gratefully prove His power as we journey homeward.

He witnesseth “with our spirit that we are the children of God” (Rom. 8:15); not that we ought to be, but that we ARE God’s children. At peace and free through His witness to us, we rejoice in this new and changeless relationship of which He is the witness in us. Great and glorious things are inseparably joined to this, though a thorny pathway may lead to the full fruition. Therefore we read, “If children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:17-18). The joy of God’s children is ours as we tread onward through trials, and the joy without the trials will be ours in fadeless glory for ever.

Meanwhile there are certain things which should mark as “as God’s beloved children. After being told not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30), we read, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.” Such painful disorders and discords should disappear. Grace with harmony should prevail, seeing that God has so graciously blessed us by His Son, So it is added, “And be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ has forgiven you. Be ye therefore imitators of God as BELOVED CHILDEN; and walk in love, as Christ also has loved us, and has given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour.” The power of the Spirit is sufficient for this.

Again in Philippians 2:13-14, we learn that God works in us in view of our working out that which is pleasurable to Him. So we read, “Do all things without murmurings and disputings: that ye may be blameless, THE CHILDREN OF GOD, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine AS LIGHTS in the world; holding forth the WORD OF LIFE.” Irreproachable behaviour before others shines like a calm luminary across a troubled sea, and the Word of life held out is like a welcome lifeboat to the shipwrecked mariner. Such divinely blessed activities may well be encouraged. Brought into holy nearness and rejoicing in the Son and in the Father, in the freedom and unction of the Spirit, well may God’s children seek that the outshining of the light and the forth-going of life’s message should prosper. A world of darkness needs it! A world of death needs it! Those who abide rightly in light and life and love have what is needed in communion with God.

Finally, there is a wonderful word for us in Romans 8:21,—“THE LIBERTY OF THE GLORY OF THE CHILDREN OF GOD,” for so it should read. The present time of creature bondage and corruption is to pass! First, the Lord Himself will come, and take His own up to be with Him in glory. God’s children, who are God’s heirs and Christ’s joint heirs, will share together with Him in the appointed inheritance. The exalted blessedness of that glory shall be theirs with Christ, the pre-eminent One. Its surpassing splendour and magnificence theirs along with Him. There is the glory; and there is “the liberty” of that glory also. Meanwhile, “we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now” (v. 22). But the outshining of “the glory of the children of God,” will mean blessed liberty for the creature, through God’s salvation, It may not quite be said that the glory of God’s children will be theirs; but, freed from bondage then, they rejoice in the liberty of that glory. Blessed be the glory which is ours with Jesus! Blessed be the liberty of that glory for creation! Blessed be the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, who gives God’s children a foretaste of its blessedness even now, before that longed-for glorious coming day. Thanks be to God for that Word—“The liberty of the glory of the children of God.”