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The Outpouring Of The Holy Spirit

The Pouring out of the Lord's Blood

Frank Wallace

I want to say a word tonight about a very important truth, the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. However, before I do so, I want to speak for a moment about another pouring out, the Lord Jesus pouring out His precious blood.

When He inaugurated the supper and directed the disciples as to how they were to remember Him in His absence, He partook of the cup with them and said "This is my blood which is poured out for you". What a wonderful thing this is for our souls to consider. If I understand the expression correctly, it means that there is no reluctance, no restraint, no holding back, the pouring out is the evidence of the love that lies behind it. When we think of expressions like this in relation to the Lord Jesus we understand the greatness and the power of His love.

In Psalm 22 it was said of Him prophetically "I am poured out like water" (v.14), and in Isaiah 53 we read "he has poured out his soul unto death" (v.12). We get the impression of one who gives Himself over completely to this great task in hand, to give His life, there is no restraint. His love is so great and powerful that He is prepared to go the full distance and express His love in this wonderful way.

We can say this without any question that if there had been no pouring out of that wonderful life of the Lord Jesus there would have been no pouring out of the Holy Spirit. The portion that we have read together in Acts 2 clearly demonstrates this. Peter standing up in the power of the Holy Spirit, was able to minister in such a wonderful way concerning the life, the death, the resurrection and the ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, the essentials of the Christian faith. Marvellous truth for our souls to consider!

The Outpouring of the Holy Spirit Foretold in the Old Testament

The pouring out of oil was a very significant thing in the Old Testament. Twice in the history of Jacob we find him pouring oil upon the pillars that he erected (Gen.28:18 and 35:14). This pouring out of the oil is an indication of what comes in all its fullness on the day of Pentecost, and, thank God, we are in the gain of it today. We find the pouring out of the oil upon the head of Aaron the high priest (Ex.29:7), also upon Saul the first king of Israel (1 Sam.10:1), and Jehu, when Elisha anointed him (2 Ki.9:6), and there are many other references. They all typify this great event that we find in the history of the beginning of the church in Acts 2. All these indicate the fullness of the coming of the Holy Spirit. What a thing for our souls to take account of!

It is very profitable to take account of the prophecies that God gives in the books of Isaiah and Ezekiel concerning what He will do in the future when He pours out His Spirit upon the nation of Israel (e.g. Isa.44:3). The nation of Israel will be regathered from the four corners of the earth, they will multiply, they will grow, they will have liberty and they will dwell in safe and secure places, and all this is consequent upon the pouring out of His Spirit upon them.

The Outpouring of the Holy Spirit: A Challenge Today

My concern is: are we fully aware (I am speaking for myself) that that outpouring in all its value and power is still with us? It is not that it began to be poured out in that day and then gradually the pouring out diminished until there is only a drip here or there, that is not the idea at all; the outpouring of the Spirit is that the fullness of the Spirit's power and presence and Person was found at Pentecost and has never been withdrawn.

If we see definite features in that early day secured by the Holy Spirit, is it too much to expect that we should find those same features today? The Spirit is still here, there is no diminishing of His power or His influence. His greatness and presence are with us and all the help and encouragement that He can give is open for those who are ready to lay themselves out to receive it. So we want to see this.

The Outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost

"And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."   (Acts 2:1-4)

What a moment the was in that upper room; 120 people gathered together, 120 individual names all known to heaven, gathered there and praying. They were obedient to the Lord's directions, "Tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high" (Luke 24:49). What a wonderful way to spend the time while waiting for the promise of the Father.

When it did come what a mighty thing it was. We speak a great deal about the incarnation, and thank God for that great event, we do not want to minimise or forget it, what a tremendous thing it was for the Son of God to come into this world, but I believe that the coming of the Holy Spirit into the world is of equal importance with that great descent from glory when the Son of God became a little babe.

The descent of the Holy Spirit, who is coequal with the Father and the Son, into this world is an event of the greatest possible magnitude. When He came into that upper room it was as "a mighty rushing noise". It was known by all and it filled the whole room. What a tremendous presence that must have been! Then the tongues of fire sat upon each one, each one was blessed by the incoming of the Spirit, they were indwelt by the Spirit. Wonderful event!

We know from further teaching that we find in the epistles that at that moment the body of Christ was formed according 1 Corinthians 12, "For by one Spirit are we all baptised into one body" (v.13). This was an event that took place then that never needs to be repeated, the body was formed and is always looked upon in Scripture as a complete thing at any given time upon earth. The Holy Spirit formed it, the Holy Spirit maintains it. This is something that is infinitely beyond our understanding, how Christians in all different sects, denominations and companies form one body in spite of the weakness that we see because this is maintained in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit; thank God for that. On the day of Pentecost the body of Christ, the house of God, the family of the Father was formed. All these wonderful things were formed because Christ had done the work and the Spirit had come and indwelt all those believers at that particular moment.

Peter's Address Concerning the Outpouring of the Holy Spirit

"Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: for these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; and it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; and on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: and I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath: blood, and fire, and vapours of smoke: the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: and it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved."   (Acts 2:14-21)

After the descent of the Holy Spirit we find Peter refuting the charges that they were drunk. 'Oh no,' he said, 'We have a greater power than that.' He was speaking under the power of the Spirit and He emphasised this, saying, 'What we are doing now is really because of the fulfilment of the prophecy of Joel'. I think you will agree with me that it is a partial fulfilment. Mr Darby, in his translation, has a footnote on Matthew 2:23 explaining the different prophecies that are mentioned in the New Testament, particularly in Matthew, how there is a literal fulfilment, or a partial fulfilment, or the prophecy came within the scope of interpretation; these are very interesting comments.

We find a partial fulfilment of this prophecy of Joel on the day of Pentecost. You will agree with me that in Acts 2 we do not see the moon changing, we do not see all the signs that Joel spoke about, neither do we find salvation in Jerusalem and in Zion in the way that Joel prophesied; this all lies in the future. But within the scope of that prophecy Peter could say 'This is not anything connected with earth, this is something that has come from heaven, this is the descent of the Holy Spirit. This is what you are seeing now, an outpouring of the Holy Spirit with definite signs following it' (these signs being the giving of the gift of tongues {lit. languages} and those things being spoken to all the different people that were gathered there in Jerusalem), and in the power of that Spirit he presented the greatness of Christ.

This surely must always be the evidence of the Spirit's control and power amongst us. In any company of believers, if there is not the presentation of the greatness and glory of Christ it is a clear indication that the Spirit is not getting His way amongst them. This is the prime activity of the Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus said, "He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you" (John 16:14). This was not an assembly gathering, but a public preaching. However, it was still the Spirit's power that was magnifying Christ through Peter.

I believe that we can say clearly on the authority of Scripture that Christ being glorified is one of the most evident signs that the Holy Spirit is acting amongst believers. If He is pushed into the background and service is occupying the mind, or even if the Holy Spirit is more prominent in the teaching than the Lord Jesus, I think we could say, very definitely, that there is something wrong here, because the Lord said "He shall not speak of himself...... he shall glorify me: he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you". So this is the first thing that we should look for in our gatherings, the presence of a ministry of Christ, His glory, His greatness, His power, all that He is. What a varied presentation there is of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are deeply thankful for that.

"Therefore 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, (or, 'poured it forth') which ye now see and hear."   (2:33)

Having refuted the charge of being drunk, Peter then presented this word to the consciences of those who were listening. I remember the first time I heard what I am now going to say, it made me prick up my ears and made me wonder if I had heard correctly. The statement was 'The Lord Jesus received the Holy Spirit for the second time'. I had never heard that before and I questioned it, I began to inquire about it, and then I began to see how right it was. I discovered also that Mr. Darby and Dr. Wolston and other ministers of the truth had said this many, many years ago, it was not anything new, but perhaps it was something that had been lost sight of.

The Lord Jesus, as the Messiah, was anointed with the Holy Spirit for His own service here in this world, all that He did and all that He said was in the power of the Spirit, but now the Lord Jesus is receiving the Spirit from the Father. He received the Holy Spirit from the Father a second time, not now for Himself, but to bestow upon those who were upon earth that their service might not be in their own power, however intelligent or great they may have been but that it was to be conducted upon earth in the power of the Holy Spirit. So He received it from His Father, conveyed it to His own upon earth and here was Peter speaking in that power, and oh what power it was when we find that 3,000 souls were converted! That was a marvellous day.

I know we are all concerned about how few souls are converted in our halls. One of the reasons is, of course, how few unconverted souls ever come into our halls, but in the past some have come and they have not been converted. Why? I cannot answer that; but I am sure it should cause us to search our hearts. Conversion is an evidence of the Spirit's power; it is the Spirit who convicts, it is the Spirit who draws to Christ. The Holy Ghost accompanies those who preach the gospel, His power, His service and His drawing leads souls to accept the Lord Jesus. Oh, that we might pray more and more that when unconverted people are in the presence of the gospel that is preached in our halls that they will be converted, that the Holy Spirit will lead them to the Lord Jesus.

We should say that in the New Testament there is not any indication that the main means of converting souls should be in halls. I think we have to face the fact that every believer is an evangelist in his own right, not perhaps in the strict sense that Scripture speaks about an evangelist, but every believer has the opportunity at some time or other to say a word for the Lord or to pass on a tract to someone. That certainly is something that the Holy Spirit can use. Evangelists, of course, are distinct gifts, raised up and empowered by the Lord, and the mark of the evangelist is not that he is a grand preacher, the mark of an evangelist is that he gets souls, he brings them to the Lord Jesus. So here was one of the first evidences of the Holy Spirit's presence, along with the presentation of the glory of Christ, the salvation of precious souls.

The Conviction of the Hearers by the Holy Spirit

"Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation."   (Acts 2:37-40)

That preaching was wonderful, but what happened afterwards? The hearers repented, they accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour, and they received the gift of the Holy Spirit. That is what Peter promised them.

Then it says that they were baptised. I remember that when I professed to love the Lord and accepted Him as my Saviour, it was more than a year before I was baptised. Maybe some delays are longer, maybe some are a lot shorter, but here we find that those people seemed to understand instantly what was required of them, that, having accepted the Lord Jesus Christ, they immediately got baptised. They immediately cut themselves off from all that they were formerly connected with and said virtually 'We are going to live for Christ'. This is an amazing thing. We believe it is a further evidence of the power of the Spirit indicating to those people who had trusted the Lord that this was the right thing for them to do. They believed, they were baptised and then they continued to walk in a way that was very powerful indeed, they continued to walk in the teaching, and fellowship of the apostles, and in the breaking of bread and in prayers.

My, they were quick learners! This was the beginning of the church's period upon earth, and oh, what power there was! There were no hindrances, there were no divisions, there were no heresies, there was power in this tremendous event.

The Marks of the Holy Spirit in the Company

"And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers."   (Acts 2:42)

Immediately there was the power of the Spirit directing those souls as to what to do, and so they continued, or, a stronger word as we have in Mr Darby's translation, they 'persevered' in the teaching, first of all, of the apostles, then the fellowship of the apostles, and then the breaking of bread and prayers. We want to say a little about each of these things.

i)   The Apostles' Doctrine

The teaching of the apostles would be all that they learned in company with the Lord Jesus, all the wonderful discourses that we have written for us in our Bibles and perhaps many other things that are not recorded for us, these things would be handed on to those new converts. They would tell them, 'This is what the Lord demanded of us, this is what He demands of you. It is the Lord who is doing it, we are only His servants in conveying these things to you'. What faithfulness is required then in handing on the truth to those who are newly converted; not letting them grow themselves (if they are left to themselves they will not grow).

This was impressed upon us recently, the necessity for shepherding, and this is one of the prime concerns of the shepherd, to see that his sheep are properly fed, to see that the lambs are properly cared for. I believe Peter and the apostles would have seen to it that these new converts were instructed as to the truths that the Lord had imparted to them. It was their responsibility and they fulfilled it, and when these new converts learned they persevered in these things. They did not stop and say that they would have a discussion on them. Discussions do not get us very far because you can only go to the level of the knowledge that is there, so it is very important that there is proper teaching and acceptance of it, like the Bereans, who were "more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those these things were so" (Acts 17:11).

ii)   The Apostles' Fellowship

Then the fellowship is a precious thing. When the Lord Jesus chose the twelve (from many, many disciples if you read the account in the gospels) they were of different temperaments, I do not suppose they would ever have desired to be together apart from the Lord calling them to Himself. There was fellowship only because He was the centre of it. He called them, He held them together, He blessed them and He provided everything that was necessary for them.

These new converts were brought into this fellowship. The only fellowship that is owned upon earth at this present moment is the fellowship of God's Son. I know that in localities we make little gatherings and say, 'This is the fellowship for the young people'. We have no quarrel about that sort of thing. It is a simple idea, it is a term to indicate we are coming together. The only fellowship the Holy Spirit gives unqualified support to is the fellowship of God's Son; there is no other fellowship. Any other fellowship that is arranged by man has its origin in man; this fellowship has its origin in heaven. Christ is the centre of this fellowship and everyone brought to Him is part of it. All believers are in all the dignity of it and, of course, as the Corinthian epistle teaches, they are responsible to act truly in the light of it.

These believers persevered in it, they did not go a little while and then give up, they kept at it. Perhaps that is one of the reasons for the declension that we see today, that so many have given up, the pathway has perhaps been too demanding, too much demand upon our time, on what we are and what we desire, and so we have given up, but these people kept at it. I believe, dear brethren, praise God, the Holy Spirit is here today to teach us too, and also to help us persevere in this wonderful fellowship into which we have been brought.

iii)   Breaking of Bread

The breaking of bread was a special event. It was the outward expression of this fellowship into which they had been brought. Every time they broke the bread they remembered, first of all the greatness of the body of Christ, His own personal body in which He suffered upon the cross in order to bring us into blessing (1 Cor.11:23-26) and, secondly, the bread that was broken spoke about the one body of believers, the 'mystical body', if you like, of Christ upon earth (1 Cor.10:16-17). Every time that bread was broken there was a public expression of this wonderful fellowship, and they continued in this.

It was the old idea in the Church of Scotland that if you broke bread too often it might be a commonplace thing, so they only had it four times a year, maybe less in some places. 'We do not want to do this too often', they thought, 'it will reduce this wonderful feast to a common place thing'. How wrong they were. Have we ever found it common gathering together on Lord's day morning after Lord's day morning? Why, it is one thing that we always enjoy, it never grows old, whether there are half a dozen of us or six hundred, it does not matter, we are remembering the Lord, He is pre-eminently before us. The Holy Spirit occupies us with Him, focuses our attention on Him, what He did on the cross, what He is doing now, what He is Himself.

These early believers persevered in the breaking of bread. What a sad day it would be for us if we felt we were too busy in Christian service to gather together to the Lord's name to remember Him, we would be busier than the Lord intends us to be. Oh, how we should persevere, and I am sure we are glad to persevere in this great matter of breaking bread and remembering the Lord.

iv)   Prayers

It might be a small gathering, it might be a large gathering, but thank God for those who pray. What is emphasised here are assembly prayers, collective prayers, when Christians gather together to pray. What a sad neglect there has been of that important meeting.

Those of you who have read Mr. Mackintosh's little book on prayer ("Prayer and the prayer meeting") will find that he bemoaned the fact that in his day people were neglecting prayer, and that was perhaps when brethren were very much stronger and more united than they are now, so it was a problem then.

Oh, how we need to maintain prayer collectively and individually. They persevered in it. We are reminded that the Holy Spirit has been poured out, He is here today in all His fullness just as He was on the day of Pentecost and, if there are difficulties in our lives and in our meetings, He is there to help, to support, to lead and to guide.

"And all that believed were together, and had all things common: and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need."   (Acts 2:44-45)

They were also all together, unified in care for each other. Here is this matter of shepherding that we have already spoken of. They were ready to bestow what they had for the benefit of those who were in need. In this affluent, materialistic society that we live in today there is not so much need as there used to be, people are better off than ever they were, and so there are not the same opportunities for this kind of service. I suppose, the Lord will lead us to cases where there is need and we should be alive to any opportunity to show kindness, and it certainly would be one of the marks of the Holy Spirit to show care and concern for the saints. There may not be financial need, but there are always other needs. There are lonely saints who need a visit, a card, a letter, and when the opportunity arises, a kind word. There is plenty of spiritual need, plenty of weakness and depression and physical need amongst the saints of God, and amongst the unconverted too. This is the evidence of the Holy Spirit, He is the Spirit of grace, He is the One who empowers us to go with the right kind of influence, not with a patronising air, but in the same compassionate way that the Lord went and visited people and helped and encouraged them.

"And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people."   (Acts 2:46-47a)

Here is another evidence of the Holy Spirit's presence and power, an outflowing of the heart to God in praise and in worship. Is that amongst us here? We are thankful where it is found in any company of Christians, praise and worship ascending to God in the power of the Holy Spirit. Ah, you say, my heart is sometimes so cold, well so is mine. When it gets cold I have to get down on my knees and ask help from the Lord to be warmed up, and as we get into His presence He helps us, empowering us by His Spirit so that we can praise God. But if we succumb to the coldness and do not get into the Lord's presence, we get colder and colder until we are frozen, and then we cannot praise. So we have got to get into the Lord's presence, get rid of the hindering elements (whatever they might be), have our hearts warmed by His own touch of love and kindness and then we are able to praise.

People round about took account of them, they saw the kind of people that they were, there was a change in those people, they now had a good report. Formerly they had been occupied with rites and ceremonies in the Judaistic faith, now all this was changed, and they were showing love to each other, they were showing features of Christ in their daily walk, oh, what a change there was! People saw it, took account of it, and it caused them to be concerned. Do people see that in me? Do they see it in you? Is there something in our lives that they can take account of and say, 'These people have something that is really worthwhile.' Thank God, we have heard that expression. Oh, that we might see it more and more! Here is further evidence of the pouring out of the Spirit in those early days.

They continued daily; it was not a 'Sunday business', it was a daily business. Daily they were in the temple praising the Lord and having good report amongst the people. It was a daily matter, day by day, the daily practice of Christian virtues in the power of the Holy Spirit was seen in their lives. Where would we have been if we had not had the indwelling Spirit? Surely the fact that we are still going on, whether we are young or old with a desire to be true to Christ, I believe, is the evidence of the Spirit's direction and control. This was a wonderful evidence that these people had the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. This pouring out exists to the present moment, it has not been diminished. Wherever there is a desire to follow in the same way as those early believers did, I believe the Holy Spirit will encourage, help and support.

The Outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Gentiles

"While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word."   (Acts 10:44)

In some measure this is a replica of what happened upon the day of Pentecost. The Lord said to Peter that He would give him the keys to the kingdom (Matt.16:19), and Peter used those keys. He used the first one when he opened the doors to the Jews upon the day of Pentecost, and the second one when he opened the door to the Gentiles in the house of Cornelius. We find the same features that happened at Pentecost happened in the home of Cornelius when there was a presentation of Christ by the Lord's servant in the power of the Spirit, there was a ready acceptance of that word, and all those people were converted.

There was not the presentation of something novel, not a gimmick, not something of man's idea and imagination to attract people, but simply the presentation of Christ, a clear and distinct presentation of the Man who went about doing good, who died on the cross, who rose out from amongst the dead and who is now seated at God's right hand. They believed it and immediately they were sealed with the Holy Spirit. They were able to speak with tongues just as they did on the day of Pentecost and then they were baptised.

This was a most remarkable happening in the house of this Gentile, but there was a reason for this. Because the Gentiles received the Spirit in exactly the same way as these Jews did, the Jews could not say, 'Ah, those at Jerusalem, the old divine centre, have received the Spirit in a better way than the Gentiles.' The Lord saw to it that that sort of claim could not be justified because, in the next chapter when there is some discussion about this, the 'Jewish' believers at Jerusalem had to admit that the Gentiles had been blessed in exactly the same way as the Jewish believers. This was all preparing the ground for the ministry by Paul as we find it in the epistle to the Ephesians where he demonstrates so clearly that the great barrier between Jew and Gentile had been broken down forever, and now through one Spirit they both had access unto the Father; God had been revealed as Father, and Jew and Gentile were privileged to draw near to Him.

This, of course, was not seen as yet, that still had to come in the development of the truth by the Spirit, but here we see it unfolding in actual practice before the truth of it was revealed to them. What a wonderful moment! It was not that the Holy Spirit came again a second time, it was the activity of the Holy Spirit demonstrating His power and service in this wonderful way, and it produced the same kind of results. Cornelius and his home, and his friends were converted, they received the word of salvation, they were baptised and I believe without any doubt they would continue in the same way as those did on the day of Pentecost.

The Shedding Forth of the Spirit in our Hearts

"But after that our kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour."   (Titus 3:6)

I ought to have said this at the beginning. In Romans 5 our Authorised version says "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us" (v.5). That word there is exactly the same as we have been emphasising. Here we find it in the Authorised again, "which he shed on us (or 'poured forth') abundantly (or, 'richly') through Jesus Christ our Saviour". Paul goes on to speak in Titus 3 about our justification, the fact that we are heirs, and of our hope of eternal life (v.7). What wonderful things have come to light since the Spirit of God has come. It is a wonderful thing to be saved, a wonderful thing to know that our sins have gone, but the Spirit wants us to understand that we have been justified, we have a standing before God in righteousness, a standing that no-one can destroy, being founded upon the Person and the work of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Spirit wants us to understand too that we are heirs, wants us to know how rich we are, that we have wonderful possessions. We may not have a great deal as far as this world is concerned, but we certainly have a marvellous inheritance as far as the next one is concerned, and the nations after the rapture will experience a period of untold sorrow in this world when they will reap the consequences of their maladministration and their folly and sin and opposition to God, and after having dealt with this the Lord Jesus in His power and glory will He come to set up His kingdom publicly in this world, as so many scriptures demonstrate. The nations and the world belong to Him. Thank God that those who suffer with Him now shall reign with Him then, they shall be heirs, that is, they are joint heirs with Christ and they shall share in that administration. What a wonderful recompense that will be for those who have shared in the reproach of Christ at the present moment.

Perhaps we do not know a great deal about the reproach in this country [UK], maybe this is another reason why there has been such a declension. When people have to fight for what they possess, when they have to sacrifice and suffer for it, then they value it. If we get it easily then we do not value it, and it is so easy to give it up. Many, many saints have had to fight for what they possess. I do not mean literally fighting with human arms, but contending for what they believe, having to contend and sacrifice and suffer reproach, and then they were able to appreciate and value the divine things that they had secured. Many have done this down through the ages of the Christian testimony. It may be yet, who knows, that more difficult times are to come upon lands that have seen comparative peace and quietness. This country has seen the most awful persecutions against real believers; who knows, it may return again. Paul says "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (2 Tim.3:12). At the moment we do not see much of it in this country. I would not like to pray for persecution, I do not know how I might stand in the face of it. I would like to be faithful, I would like to be loyal and true and to stand, but I do not know; I am so weak naturally. But thank God that when the time comes, if any are called to stand for Christ in a dark day, they will receive help and power. The Holy Spirit will empower them. Thank God the Spirit here is looking on to the future.

We are heirs according to the hope of eternal life. What does Paul mean, the hope of eternal life? Why, I thought we had eternal life now! Thank God, we have. John presents eternal life as a present possession, those who "believe on the name of the Son of God...... have eternal life" (1 John 5:13). Paul presents it in its finality, when, in the presence of Christ, beyond the sphere of reproach and opposition and limitation, eternal life is enjoyed in all its fullness. There is no discrepancy between the teaching of John and Paul. No wonder Paul says "He has shed forth it abundantly", or, if you like, "richly" (J.N.D). Here is an added word, not only poured forth, but poured forth richly in all its fullness and value with all the blessings it has brought. Praise God that after nearly two thousand years that richness has not diminished, those blessings are still here, they are all bound up in the Person of Christ at God's right hand. They are all available for us through the Holy Spirit now. May we be encouraged to lay hold of them more and more and not forget this tremendous blessing of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the church of God. The Holy Spirit is here, a divine Person in all His glory and greatness, coequal with the Father and the Son. He is here, He is indwelling each one of us, and is the power for every Christian responsibility and the power for every Christian privilege. May we be encouraged for His name's sake.