The Risen Lord in Heaven and the Presence of the Spirit on Earth
Great truths of eternal value to the people of God of this present time, were uttered by the Lord to “His own” (John 13:1) in the last hours of His presence with them in the “upper room” in the City of Jerusalem, just before He went forth to enter on the agony of Gethsemane and the sufferings of Calvary. Among these last words is the plain announcement of the Lord’s personal absence from His own, and His return to heaven, the heaven from which He came, not to forget them, but to be nearer to them and more intimate with them than He ever had been in the years of His earthly presence with them.
And He also gave them the definite promise that when He reached that heaven, from whence He came, and had been exalted there to a place of dignity and honour as glorified Man on the right hand of God, that He would receive from the Father “the gift of the Holy Spirit,” the Comforter, and send Him as Paraclete to be in and with His people, in successive generations, throughout the whole period of His personal absence from them.
These two great facts distinguish the present period from all before it, and all that will succeed it:
(1) The exaltation of the Son to the throne in the heavens, with “all authority” committed to His hand (Mt. 28:18), to be confessed (Rom. 10:9) and owned as Lord by His people individually (Col. 2:6), and as Head of, and over all to His church collectively. And
(2) the presence of the Holy Spirit as Paraclete and Strengthener of the saints, for life and for service personally, and as Indweller (1 Cor. 3:16) and Administrator (1 Cor. 11:4-11) in “the Church” as a body (1 Cor. 12:13) in its unity, and in “churches of the saints” in their individuality.
These two facts characterise the whole period between His going and His coming. And after Christ had died and risen, and been glorified at the right hand of God, the promise given in the upper room was duly fulfilled on the Pentecostal Day (Acts 2:1-3). And this is how His disciples, to whom it was given on that night of the farewell words in the upper room, understood it, as was testified by Peter on the streets of Jerusalem that day. “Therefore,” said he, “being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He hath shed forth this, as ye now see and hear” (Acts 2:33). These two great facts give special character to the time now present.
(1) The glorified Lord in heaven, consequent on His finished work on earth being accepted, and He Himself exalted as Man, having become obedient unto death, now invested by God with “all authority” to be confessed, honoured, and obeyed as Lord by His people, in “all things whatsoever He has commanded” in His Word. For that Word is the full, abiding expression of His authority, never to be abrogated, altered, or added to, but simply, loyally, and faithfully obeyed, in all things, in all circumstances, under all conditions, without compromise and without fear. For he is the Lord and “Master in heaven” (Eph. 6:9), to whom His people owe that honour and fear, which to a master belongs (Mal. 1:6), but which is so sadly lacking among Christians in these last days. And
(2) the abiding, indwelling, perpetual presence of the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, strengthening with “all might” (Eph. 3:16) those in whom He dwells, to do all that He has “commanded” to be done. So that there need be no excuse for the neglect of, or for disobedience to, any “commandment of the Lord” (1 Cor. 14:27), either in individual or assembly life. For we have in the Word in all its plainness making known what He commands to be done, and we have in the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, all that we require to enable us to render obedience to “all things whatsoever the Lord has commanded” (Mt. 28:19). These include what we owe to Him in our individual lives, and what He claims from us in our church relations and service for His Name.
But in order to have and experience that strengthening which is of the Holy Ghost, we must be found in the path of obedience to the Lord as He has made that path known to us in His Word, for it is only where the Word of the Lord is owned and honoured, and the way of the Lord as that Word points it out is walked in, that we can count upon the gracious help of the Spirit of God alike, in worship, ministry, and service for the Lord’s Name. It is a spurious type of “spirituality” that has much to say of the strengthening and leading of and fullness of the Spirit, which at the same time belittles parts of the Word of the Lord, or speaks of them as being unimportant or “non-essential.” For “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God,” is “Spirit-breathed,” and is “profitable for teaching,” as it is necessary unto a healthy and well-balanced spirituality in those who are the people of God.
Article series: Our Glorious LordThe Lord's Shepherd Care Our Great High Priest
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