General Conference Bulletin, vol. 1

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CHRIST AND THE HOLY SPIRIT

Reading for Friday, December 27.

CHRIST is the central thought of the gospel; for it is “the gospel of God ... concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” An indwelling Christ is the power and life of the gospel. “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation.” “We preach Christ crucified: ... Christ the power of God.” “And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” And Christ said, “Abide in me and I in you; ... for without me ye can do nothing.” And just as he was departing from his disciples in his bodily presence, he made this promise, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” GCB December 1895, page 631.1

It seems very important that we should understand God’s plan for us in this idea of an indwelling Saviour, that we may be able to cooperate more intelligently with God in his plan and work, and that we may be able to realize more fully the greatness of the blessing which is bestowed upon us in the gift of Jesus Christ. GCB December 1895, page 631.2

“I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever.” This was Christ’s word to his disciples just before he departed from the world. He was going away, but there would be another Comforter that would abide with them forever, “even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” “Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?” In the preceding verse is recorded this promise: “I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” Not simply some power and life, not something else, but he would manifest himself unto them. Then Judas made the inquiry, “How is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” “These things I have spoken unto you, being yet present with you [or abiding with you]. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” GCB December 1895, page 631.3

The special thought to which attention is called in this reading is the idea that an indwelling Christ is the life and power of the gospel, and the life and power of our experience in the gospel. To many minds this is simply a theoretical idea, something that is talked about; but to have Jesus Christ abiding in us and dwelling in us as our life and power, as our wisdom, as our righteousness, as our all and in all, is an experience which many do not enter into; but the Scriptures teach distinctly that our hope is in this experience. The gospel is set forth as being Christ in you, the hope of glory. Paul’s experience in the gospel was this: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” There is no success in the Christian life outside of this experience; this is the secret of piety; this is the mystery of godliness, and this experience has been made possible for us by the life and work, the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Christ’s work for us was not completed when he was here. He lived his life in the flesh, was crucified, was raised from the dead, and ascended on high, in order that he may live that same life in us; in order that the example which he set before us in his own life might become an experience in our lives. But when he went away he did not leave us, he did not give up his work for us. It was expedient that he should go away, “for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you,” and the work which was wrought in Christ in the flesh during his earthly career, is the very work which he desires, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to work in us during our earthly career. Christ thus completely identified himself with our flesh when he was here, and thus connected himself with our humanity, that he might identify himself with each one of us, and might live in us and work in us to the glory of his name. GCB December 1895, page 631.4

It may help us to understand this if we know something of Christ’s experience in the flesh, because he was our example, and what God wrought in him, he desires to work in us through Christ. He came, and submitted himself to God’s mind and will and working in the flesh, in order to set an example, and open the way to the possibility of the same thing in us. We do not live up to the privileges God has provided for us. We take too narrow a view of his plan concerning us. We have become so accustomed to the great power of sin, and to the conquest of sin over us, that we are not fully awake to the great power of Christ, and his conquest over sin. While we are made to realize the power of sin, we are to believe also in the power of Christ to give us the victory over sin. We should believe because of what God has done for us in Christ, and what he purposes to do for us in Christ; because the work of Christ was not simply to do something for us back there, but that he should be able to give himself to us here, and to live in us here, and to work in us here. GCB December 1895, page 631.5

It is true that when Christ was here, he could have wrought works in his own power which we cannot do, but it is also true that he did not work his works in his own power, but became wholly an example unto us in allowing God’s power through the Spirit to rest upon him, and to work through him. GCB December 1895, page 632.1

This is the testimony which Nicodemus bore to the work of Christ: “There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: the same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.” Christ, referring to the works which he had wrought, presents it in this way: “Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me.” Christ’s life was simply the life of the indwelling Father, not his own; the works that he wrought were not his own works, but the works of the Father that dwelt in him. “The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.” GCB December 1895, page 632.2

In Peter’s talk to Cornelius and his company, he told them “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power; who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed with the devil; for God was with him.” These are the works that he did; for God was with him. Nicodemus said, “We know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him;” and Christ himself said, “The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.” God was with him as his indwelling life and power. How this experience was accomplished is made plain by the scripture, “For he whom God has sent speaketh the words of God; for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.” The Spirit was not given by measure; it was the fulness of the indwelling Father. “For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell.” “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. That is to say, God was in Christ, working in him, reconciling the world unto himself, and he dwelt in him in his fulness by giving the Spirit to him without measure. That was the Father dwelling in him, and the Father dwelling in him was the working power in him. Not that Christ had no power of himself, and could not have worked himself, but we must keep before our minds continually that Christ voluntarily took a position that his own character did not require him to take, in order to help us out of the position that we are in, where we cannot help ourselves. He consented to this experience of living wholly by the life of another, keeping his own self in abeyance, in order that another’s self might appear in him, to be an example for us, and further, in order that this experience might be possible for us. There is a wonderful mystery about the incarnation of Christ, that his experience in the flesh should be our experience in the flesh by his dwelling in us. And when he came to identify himself with flesh, and to dwell in flesh, it was not simply to dwell in flesh in Galilee, but everywhere where flesh would submit itself to his indwelling. This is why Christ identifies himself so closely with his followers, because it is he himself in his followers. This is not to be regarded as a shadowy experience, beyond our daily life. This is to be our daily life, and we are to rise above the idea that the power to live is in ourselves, and that we have to depend upon our own might. To set forth the example of Christ without the power of Christ is of little avail. God has not left us simply with Christ’s life before us as an example, but Christ came in the flesh, came to live the life of righteousness, identifying himself with human flesh, in order that he might through all time identify himself completely with his followers, and that he might live in them, to be life and power and wisdom and righteousness to them. The life that Christ lived in Judea is the life which we are to lay hold of by faith in the promises of God. GCB December 1895, page 632.3

Now the giving of the Holy Spirit is the giving of Christ, and the presence of the Holy Spirit is the presence of Christ in us, and the power of the Holy Spirit is the power of Christ in us, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the indwelling of Christ in us, for the Holy Spirit is Christ’s actual representative. GCB December 1895, page 632.4

Let us read of the promises of the giving of the Holy Spirit and their fulfillment, that we may see what it means to us. “And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in Jerusalem until ye be endued with [or clothed with] power from on high.” “And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem and in Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.” They were to be endued with, or clothed with, power from on high, and the promise is, “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.” GCB December 1895, page 632.5

Now observe how this works out in experience, “But put ye on [or be clothed with] the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.” Be clothed with power from on high, and be clothed with Jesus Christ, who is the power of God. Paul in writing to the Ephesians, speaks of this power. “And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.” What power was that? “For Christ hath also once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.” In Ephesians we read about the exceeding greatness of the power by which Christ was raised from the dead, and here we learn what that mighty power was. He was quickened by the Spirit. GCB December 1895, page 633.1

So we read again in the Epistle to the Romans: “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall quicken your mortal [death-doomed] bodies, by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” That is, Christ was made alive by the power of the Spirit; we are to be made alive by the power of the Spirit; and then that same Spirit by whose power Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, and by whose power we are made alive from the dead, dwells in us with the same life-giving power. That is God dwelling in us by his own representative, the Holy Spirit. That is, the indwelling Saviour, and the measure of his mighty power, is shown by the power that raised him from the dead. GCB December 1895, page 633.2

So Paul writes further in his Epistle to the Ephesians: “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly, above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” What was the power that worked in Christ? - God anointed him with the Holy Ghost, and the indwelling Father by his Holy Spirit was the power that wrought in him. What is the power that is to work in us? - It is the power of the same Spirit of Christ which works in us. But Christ is the power of God, and the indwelling Spirit is the representative of God dwelling in each one of us, not simply dwelling in flesh and being among us, but dwelling in flesh by being in us. If that power dwells in us, we have the victory over our enemies, for he that is for us is more than all they that can be against us. Let us grasp the thought that Christ does dwell in our hearts by the Holy Spirit; that the Holy Spirit, the other Comforter, is with us to abide with us. GCB December 1895, page 633.3

Again we read: “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” It was God who wrought in Christ by his Holy Spirit. By Christ’s work for us, he made it possible for that Spirit to be poured out on us, that God in Christ by the gift of the Holy Spirit should work in us by his own mighty power, exactly as he worked in Christ. Yet we are told that we are to work out our own salvation, because his mighty power is always with us with our consent. Not that we are to use the power. The power is to use us, but the power does not mold us contrary to our will. The power is God’s; the responsibility is ours. God continually exalts the man whom he has made in his own image, by never over-riding his will in this matter. GCB December 1895, page 633.4

Read again in the Epistle to the Colossians: “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. Whereunto I also labor, according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.” That is Christ in you, the hope of glory. The Holy Spirit is given to us to continue the work which Christ began when he was on earth. The Holy Spirit is the actual representative of Christ on earth, and as the actual representative of Christ, it dwells in us, and is the power of God through Christ to work out God’s plan concerning us. GCB December 1895, page 633.5

You will see how clear this is made by further Scripture: “I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not;” “I have manifested thy name to the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.” “I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it; that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.” Christ came in his Father’s name to declare his name, and being one in whom was the name of God, was the complete representative of God in the world, and his work was to represent the character of God. “Behold I send an angel before thee to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. Beware of him, and obey his voice ... for my name is in him.” “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” GCB December 1895, page 633.6

All that it meant to have Christ come in his Father’s name, to manifest his Father’s name as one in whom the Father’s name was, it means to have the Holy Ghost come in Christ’s name, to declare his name, to manifest his name, to represent him; and just as Christ was on the earth as the representative of the Father, so the Holy Spirit is in the earth to represent Christ. In representing Christ it is representing God, because it is God in Christ, and because it is Christ’s will to do his Father’s will continually. It is not a separate interest, but the Holy Spirit comes to represent Christ and to do continually his work, which was to represent his Father. So the work to be done now is the same as the work then, - to bring the character of God back to the earth, and to show the character of God in human flesh; and that work is to go on in us that the character of God may be represented to the world in us by his indwelling Spirit, just as it was represented in Christ Jesus. And Christ’s work of giving himself, the sacrifice of himself for us, is going forward now, and in giving us the Holy Spirit continually, he is giving himself, because he says, “I will love him and will manifest myself to him.” “Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more, but ye see me; because I live ye shall live also. In that day ye shall know that I am in the Father, and ye in me, and I in you.” That complete union by which we, and Christ, and the Father are brought into union of life is accomplished by the Spirit. The Spirit which is to be sent is the Spirit of truth, and it is the Spirit of life in Jesus Christ, and it is the Spirit of God. That is what binds God the Father and Christ his son and their followers together in one. It is more than can be done by that sort of persuasion which brings one mind into harmony with another; it is not merely agreement in sentiment, but union of life. And that union of life is by the power of the Holy Spirit. This was Christ’s prayer: “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also, which shall believe on me through their word. That they may all be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” And that is made possible by the interflow of life between them. So Christ was in the Father, and the Father in him by this interflow of life, and his desire is, “as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us.” GCB December 1895, page 634.1

The testimony to the divinity of the character of Christ, to the work of Jesus Christ on earth, is in the lives of his followers. The convincing power of the Christian life is what is done for the followers of Jesus Christ, is what Christ does in his followers. That is what makes real to the world the claims of Christianity. Christ is the one who mediates between God and us. By his taking our human flesh and standing between humanity and divinity as a union of humanity and divinity, he becomes the way, the channel through which God dwells in us by his Holy Spirit. God dwells in Christ by his Holy Spirit, and Christ by taking humanity, connected humanity with divinity in himself, so that when we become connected with Christ, we become connected with a humanity in which dwells divinity. With this connection between us and Christ, that divine power can dwell in us. Christ came in the flesh in order that there might be divine power for us. When man sinned, he cut himself off from this power, but Christ’s work was to make it possible that that divine power might come again to him. GCB December 1895, page 634.2

Do not be afraid of believing that Christ means exactly what he says, and that everything set forth in the Scriptures is for each one of us personally. It does not avail for us to see that Christ intended it for us, but it is necessary for us to grasp it as ours by living faith. When we see that it is God’s plan, we are to believe that it is so, rejoice and be glad, and give thanks that it is so, and grasp that very power and life by faith in the promises of God; and we are to submit ourselves to the power and work of God. This experience will take out of our lives all cheapness and commonness, all lightness and trifling. It will bring a new dignity into our lives, when we really believe that Jesus Christ actually lives in us and that it is his power that works in us to work out the character of God. That life means something. If we constantly look to him, then we may believe that it is God that is working in us, and so our lives may be to his glory in representing the character of Christ, and representing the character of God in Christ in the daily experience of our lives. The words which we speak will not be our own words, the works which we work will not be our own works. Jesus Christ will work in us, glorifying his own name continually. That is the work of the Holy Spirit as shown in the life of Jesus Christ. GCB December 1895, page 634.3

“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have of God?” “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” When the Spirit of God dwells in us, we are the temple of God, because it is God dwelling in us by his Spirit. “And ye are not your own.” Our bodies are not our own with which to express our own character, but our bodies are for the Holy Spirit to use with which to work out and express God’s character. “Ye are not your own.” The body is not ours to use; it is God’s to use by the Holy Spirit. GCB December 1895, page 635.1

“And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” God wants to dwell in us. Shall we refuse him admittance, and set up idols in his place? “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” This is the same thing which is set forth by the prophet Isaiah: “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive [to give new life to] the spirit of the humble, and to revive [to give new life to] the heart of the contrite ones.” It is God’s eternal purpose in Jesus Christ that this should be so. GCB December 1895, page 635.2

But let us read the scripture further: “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteousness.” By reading that verse carefully, it becomes evident that the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, and Christ are made identical. When the Spirit of God dwells in us, that is the Spirit of Christ, it is Christ himself in us. “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal [death-doomed] bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” As that Spirit gave life to Christ who was dead, so that Spirit coming upon us, will quicken us and give us new life, and raise us up to sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. “Therefore brethren [observe the conclusion], we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh ye shall die, but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” That is to say, the Holy Spirit, Christ dwelling in us, is to be the power that overcomes these evil traits, these evil habits in us, and puts to death these deeds of the body. GCB December 1895, page 635.3

The same thought is brought out in another scripture: “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” God has given us his Spirit, and the power of Christ is to work in us. If we live after the flesh we shall surely die, but if we live after the Spirit, we shall put to death the deeds of the flesh; we shall live, but it is Christ living in us. GCB December 1895, page 635.4

We are now in the time of the latter rain, and we are told to pray for the Spirit of God, for the power of the Spirit. This means the fulness of the indwelling Christ. The image of God, as shown in Jesus Christ, is to be perfected in those that are prepared for translation just before the second coming of Christ to receive his own, who bear fully his image. There must be at that time the fulness of the indwelling Christ, and Christ must be all and in all. He must be all there is in every one. There must be none of self. Is means the complete death of self, and the fulness of the indwelling Saviour. GCB December 1895, page 635.5

We read this in another way: “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.” “The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death, light is sprung up.” “Arise, shine; for thy light is come.” Who is our light? - Christ is our light. The glory of the Lord is risen upon us in the giving of his Spirit. That makes us a light that we may shine. We cannot rise and give light unless we have light. Christ is our light, and wherever he is, the people who sit in darkness will see great light. GCB December 1895, page 635.6

As the Spirit of Christ comes upon us in this time of the latter rain, the people will see great light, because we will have the light of the Spirit of Christ. The experience we need is the power of the indwelling Christ. The Lord is not seeking for those who are merely wealthy, talented, or educated. God is seeking for those who are willing to be instruments in his hands, to show forth the power and glory of his name. He can take each company of believers and make them a power, if they will every one submit wholly to him. God will give us a power in our assemblies; he will make even the synagogue of Satan acknowledge that God is with us. When we are willing to take the humble position that it is all of Christ and none of self, when we are fully submitted to Christ that he may work in us, then he will manifest his power, and that is what he desires to do. Shall we, who believe in the power of God, allow the enemy to triumph over us? The enemy is working to hinder God’s work, to counteract what God has accomplished. Shall we allow him to triumph over us? GCB December 1895, page 635.7

Jesus Christ is not dead. He is a living Saviour, and he desires to be an indwelling Saviour in every one of us, to show forth the praises and the glory of his name. God wants us to advance in the truth, that every one may see that there is something to this message besides simply a difference in theory; that it is the power of God that is working in truth; that this people are not simply a people who have a different theory, but that they are the people of God. That is what will win souls to the truth. Many people can see that the seventh day is the Sabbath, but there must be the power of God to win them to the truth. What we need is that same power, or we shall give up the truth. There is nothing but the power of God always working out the truth in us which is able to keep us. Having merely stepped out to obey the truth does not keep us in the love of God. Past experience will never answer for the present. We must continue day by day to have the experience of the power of God with us. That is the only thing which will keep us, but the power of Christ can do this, and that is the blessedness of the gospel. Let Jesus come into our hearts, by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, taking complete control, bringing every thought into captivity, and then we shall glorify him continually. GCB December 1895, page 636.1

W. W. PRESCOTT.