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M. S. Thirumalai
THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE
Harold J. Brokke
TWO GREAT THEMES OF LIFE
Two great themes - life in Christ and abundant life in Christ - seem to move together in the Old and New Testaments. Let us consider these two themes. In the Garden of Eden Adam and Eve received from the Lord the breath of life and were made a part of the family of God. And then they were faced with a deeper relationship to God typified by the tree of life. However, during the time of their temptation they partook of the forbidden fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and thus failed to enter into an experience which could have been theirs by partaking of the tree of life.
WALKING A STEP OF SIMPLE OBEDIENCE AND FAITH
Adam and Eve certainly had life. By a step of simple obedience and faith they could have entered into a more abundant life. But this they failed to do; and, instead, they lost the great possibilities of the paradise in which they lived.
Another great Old Testament character was Abraham. Four hundred and thirty years before the giving of the law, God offered Abraham a very simple promise, one which He confirmed with an oath: "In they seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed" (Gen. 22:18). Here again we meet two great facts of redemption: One is called "the seed"; the other is called "the blessing."
TWO FACTS ABOUT ABRAHAM
Galatians explains these two facts: first, "To Abraham were the promises spoken, and to his seed. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ" (Gal. 3:16). Secondly, "That upon the Gentiles might come the blessing of Abraham in Christ Jesus; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith" (Gal. 3:14). The first fact concerns the seed, which is Christ. Abraham was told that in his seed all the families of the earth should be blessed. The second fact was called the blessing of Abraham and was to be available to all the nations. Stated simply, the seed is Christ and the blessing is the gift of the Holy Spirit.
In these two scriptures in Galatians, the twofoldness of God's salvation is made plain. First, in our experience we must by faith receive the seed, the Lord Jesus Christ, as our personal Lord and Savior. As the Abrahamic covenant indicates, the blessing was to come through the seed. But Galatians 3:14 tells us also that even as we receive Christ as Lord and Savior by faith, the further blessing of the Holy Spirit must also be received by faith.
THE LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST
The life of Jesus Christ reveals these two facts also. He once said, "I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly." Jesus lived His whole earthly life in order to perform two great acts for us: one, the act of redemption, the pouring out of His blood upon the cross of Calvary; two, the act of pouring out the gift of the Holy Spirit after His resurrection and ascension.
Christ's redemption is the first provision that we must receive. After we have become the children of God, the Holy Spirit bears witness of this to our spirits. The second provision we must receive is the Holy Spirit in order that we might be representatives of Jesus Christ. He did not pour out the gift of the Holy Spirit upon those who had not received Him as their Lord and Savior.
Shortly before the crucifixion, Jesus made these matters very plain to the disciples in the upper room. He said:
I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth: whom the world cannot receive; for it beholdeth him not, neither knoweth him: ye know him; for he abideth with you and shall be in you. I will not leave you desolate: I come unto you (John 14:16-18).
On the day of His ascension Christ's instructions to the disciples point out to us again His concern that they understand what the Holy Spirit was to do in their lives. He sent this gift, not for their salvation, but that they might be empowered to bring the message of salvation to the whole world. The promise of Acts 1:8 was a restatement of the words that God spoke to Abraham: "In thee shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." The blessing to come upon them through Christ Jesus was to be a blessing for the whole world. He said to them:
Ye shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8).
CONFESSION AS SALVATION
Jesus was the Lord of the disciples before they had this experience of Pentecost. Thomas had already cried out, "My Lord and My God." The disciples had believed that He had arisen from the dead, and they had confessed Him as their Lord. Paul says that this confession is salvation:
If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved (10:9, 10).
But even though a believer accepts the resurrection and confesses Jesus as Lord, still he may not have obtained power from on high.
DOUBTING THE POSSESSION OF THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Many Christians testify freely and warmly of assurance in their hearts that they are saved and are the children of God. Yet they hesitate and are sometimes filled with doubt and questions concerning whether they possess the power of the Holy Spirit.
If we have assurance of salvation, should we not have assurance of this gift which Jesus Christ so freely offered the disciples? The Holy Spirit is the gift which lifts us out of a rather restricted personal consciousness of our own salvation. The Holy Spirit baptizes us with a concern for the salvation of the world. He baptizes us with power and blessing which make the burden of the Lord our burden and which inspire us to be representative witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ. He integrates all His power to one end - to make Jesus Christ known.
INNER REALIZATION OF GOD AS OUR FATHER
All that has been written in the book of Romans in chapters 1 through 7 leads us to the blessed ministry of the Holy Spirit and to the inner realization of God as our Father (Rom. 8). Christ desires to make us emancipated children of the Father, filled with His Spirit. But emancipation is not in the law. Emancipation is in the grace revealed through Jesus Christ.
We have already traced this emancipation from sin in Romans 6:
Sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under law, but under grace. (6:14)
Romans 7 continues this theme of emancipation from the law and from sin, but reveals another fact: Men are not only guilty and in bondage but also impotent and lacking in spirituality. This we read in Romans 7:14:
We know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
The law demands spirituality, but cannot impart it. It cannot give us the Holy Spirit. The law can make demands but has not one drop of spirituality and power to offer the impotent, weak, frustrated Christian who wants to rise in power and fruitfulness.
THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
In Romans 8 the great work of the Holy Spirit is introduced. Paul says:
The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death…that the ordinance of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit (8:2, 4).
Romans 8, then, introduces to our attention the great and wonderful theme of the New Testament - the gift of the Holy Spirit. Many phrases are used to indicate this great gift: the promise of the Father, power from on high, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you, the baptism with the Spirit, anointing, sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, the earnest of our inheritance. All these phrases speak of the different aspects of the great gift of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian.
MORE ONTHE EFFECTS ON THE BELIEVER, THAN ON THE HISTORY OF REDEMPTION
The main emphasis through all the book of Romans is not on the historical act of Christ's redemption but rather on its effects on the believer. In Romans 1:16 we have already seen that Paul's desire was to show the Christians that in actual experience, the gospel is the power of God. It was not the objective gospel that Paul was explaining but the subjective effects of this grand redemption in every phase of life.
We make a point of this because when Paul describes the work of the Holy Spirit in Romans 8, his emphasis is the very same. He does not even mention historical Pentecost. Nor does he refer to the Christian's experience of the initial filling with the Spirit. Paul lays the emphasis upon the effect of the Holy Spirit's fullness. In the chapters before Romans 8, Paul has spoken of the Holy Spirit only once - Romans 5:5, which says:
The love of God hath been shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which was given unto us.
THE MINISTRY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AFFECTS EVERY PART OF A CHRISTIAN'S LIFE
But now in Romans 8, in wonderful detail, Paul describes the ministry of the Holy Spirit as it affects every part of a Christian's life. Notice the following phrases here about the Spirit:
"The law of the Spirit of life (8:2).
Who walk…after the Spirit (8:4).
The Spirit of God dwelleth in you (8:9).
If by the Spirit ye put to death the deeds of the body (8:13).
Led by the Spirit of God (8:14).
The spirit of adoption (8:15).
The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit (8:16).
The first-fruits of the Spirit (8:23).
The Spirit also helpeth our infirmities (8:26).
The mind of the Spirit" (8:27)
God promises this gift of the Holy Spirit not to the world but to believers. The world does not receive the Spirit.
To summarize, the seeker's first step is to believe in Christ and receive Him; then as a believer, he receives the gift of the Holy Spirit, which Jesus promised on the day of His ascension: "Ye shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." First of all, Jesus makes believers disciples; then the Holy Spirit makes disciples witnesses unto the Lord Jesus.
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Harold J. Brokke
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