The Holy Spirit - JT, Sr.
THE SPIRIT - JT, Sr., Vol 10 NS
1 Corinthians 12
THE baptism of the Spirit introduces “the body” as that in which the will of God is expressed here. In the gospel of John the Lord Jesus is presented as taking away the sin of the world, and also as He who baptises with the Holy Spirit. The sin of the world as expressing man’s will being taken away, the baptism of the Holy Spirit brings in that which expresses God’s will. The apostle Paul made a point of emphasising that his ministry should be in spiritual power; not only that the doctrine should be right, but that the true presentation of the truth should be in spiritual power, in order that the faith of the saints should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in God’s power. Spiritual ministry not only conveys right doctrine and brings light, but conveys the impression of what is spiritual. In no other system of doctrine in the world’s history has there been a demonstration of the Spirit in this way. So that the believer, in receiving the testimony, has right impressions ; he is built up, not only intelligently, but spiritually. His faith not only rests on the doctrine, but on the power that accompanies it.
Then we may notice that the Spirit is also the means of revelation. The things of God are revealed by the Spirit; He is the power by which we take in and enjoy spiritual things. All this is stated in chapter 2. The saints are said to have the mind of Christ; the means by which we take account of things as He does. The Holy Spirit is presented in this epistle in the way in which He is connected with ministry and the reception of ministry; not as meeting man’s state; that is Romans, but as enabling him to take in the truth and enjoy it.
In chapter 3 the great fact of the temple is treated, showing that the saints in that locality were, in virtue of having the Spirit, the temple of God. We come together in the light of the temple, so that one gets light, not only as to details, but everything is seen in its true relation. The candlestick in the holiest gives its light over against all. You understand things in their right relations. We ought to be in the light of the temple when we come together, not as assuming to be the temple, but embracing the principle. The things of God come in in such wise that you see them in their right relations, so that if one speaks, one should have exercise to speak as oracles of God. The Holy Spirit gives effect to that in one and another, so that the truth stands out, and you see it in its true relations. Here it is a question of saints being together in assembly, so that we may look for light as to how we are to act when together for edification.
In chapter 11 you have, “When ye come together in assembly “ ; that has reference to the Lord’s supper ; but in chapter 14 it is, “ If therefore the whole assembly be come together in one place.” The point is that we are all together in one place. I have said lately, and I think it is right, that our history in relation to the assembly is composed of weeks. Each week begins with the Lord’s supper, so that all the meetings that follow throughout the week should flow out of that. This chapter obviously refers to the saints being together ; one stands up to speak, and speaks in the power of the Spirit. When you are with your brethren, things become clearer to you, and become confirmed to you. It is an evidence of the truth of the temple. It is a mistake to keep back things that you may get from the Lord in private meditation. Speak of them on the first opportunity you get, even if only to another brother; they will become enlarged, and you will see them in their true relation. The Holy Spirit in another
may suggest some feature that you have not thought of. it is as well to te]l the thing out, because there is abundance where it came from. Speaking of it enlarges everything, especially a new thought that you have not seen before. There are things that you cannot very well unravel; in a meeting they become as plain as possible.
It is very confirmatory as to the reality of Christianity that the temple of God exists. In the holiest we see what Christ is under God’s eye, as the One by whom He accomplishes everything; but in the holy place we see the general system standing in relation to Christ, so that you have more the things in the holy place as in contrast with the Person. In the holiest Christ is presented before God; but then there is a system of things too!
Set your mind on things above.” These things are seen in their proper relation in the temple. There is a diffusion of light as the saints come together in the recognition of the Spirit. These chapters 12 to 14 are occupied with the working out of the truth of the assembly as it is here before men’s eyes, in order to give room for the manifestations of the Holy Spirit and the diversified gifts.
The great point in this chapter is unity. At Corinth there were other influences besides that of the Holy Spirit. The word in verse I is spirituals, emphasising the idea; that a man was speaking not merely, eloquently or accurately, but in spiritual power. The point was to be sure that that power was the holy Spirit, so he gives a test. “No man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed.” If you had some unsound doctrine as to the Person, you would have in principle what is indicated here. It is the spirit of what a man says, how he regards the Lord Jesus. So in the epistle of John it is what is confessed, in regard to Christ. If the Lord Jesus is confessed, not in mere words, but in the spirit of it, you may be sure that that power is the Holy Spirit. You feel that the Lord Jesus is revered, and presented rightly and with affection. As “Lord Jesus ‘‘ is invariably the way in which affection regards Him. It is a term employed by affection; “the Lord Jesus, the night in which he was betrayed.”
Remember the words of the Lord .Jesus.” It is a term of reverential affection. You find practically a great difficulty in saying “Lord Jesus” in public. There is a power in it, and on the other hand Satan is against it.
At Corinth there were spiritual manifestations, and some of them were doubtful. If we see the primary thought in Scripture, then we can make deductions and applications. Having given the test by which the spirits are to be determined, he proceeds to bring in the great element of unity. Whether the Holy Spirit operates, or the Lord operates, or God operates, all is in unity. That is set down at the beginning as a check on us lest we might be operating at cross purposes, lest we might use our ability out of accord with each other. If the Persons of the Godhead are h~ unity in their operations, the saints should be. Unity flows out from what God is. Divine operations are marked by diversity in unity,
The subject at the end of chapter 12 is really the gifts, for a gift is a spiritual power. The passage ends with, “And God has set certain in the assembly:
first apostles,” etc. (verse 28) ; then he says, “ Covet earnestly the best gifts.” But the question was whether some did not take part in the meeting at Corinth who had power from an evil spirit. God had set gifts in the assembly in order that He might speak. Verse 28 has reference to the whole assembly, not to the local assembly. Gifts are not local; they are always universal. The point is that God had set them in the assembly. First of all the apostles assert and maintain the authority of Christ. . The
prophet brings in the mind of God for the conscience; that is the important element. God has set them there for this. The teacher sets the truth in order in the mind. The miraculous power is a public testimony to call attention to God being there. But the first three gifts maintain what is due to God in the assembly. They are mentioned here to enforce the thought of unity. The evangelist fits in with Ephesians and is not mentioned here, because there the saints were in sympathy with God ; they were evangelical. But conditions at Corinth did not warrant that. It is not appropriate to bring in the thought of evangelists when saints are not right with God, because they cannot rightly represent God. It seems as if the evangelists are left out designedly. The pastor and teacher in Ephesians are in one person; they are not separate gifts. You have teachers here, but pastors are left out.
But the chapter deals with unity, and leads on to the thought of” the Christ.” “ So also is the Christ.” The Christ is the vessel in which the will of God is expressed and carried out; and here, wonderful to say, it covers the saints. It is not alone the Lord personally, but the anointed vessel in whom the will of God is to be carried out in this . world. How important that the saints should be in unity. We are not thinking of our own importance. If I am, the gift is just an ornament to me, which is not the thought at all. It is given for the edifying of the saints, therefore I am to use it to promote unity. I am here in relation to a vessel that is for the will of God, and whatever spiritual power I have is to that end. We have been all made to drink into one Spirit. The baptism merg ~s all into one and nullifies national feeling and prejudices, so that you have one vessel for the will of God down here. Presently the Lord is going to fill the whole earth with the glory of God and the will of God. The prayer He taught His disciples must come to pass. For the moment it comes to pass in the body. We are here for the expression of the will of God, where Satan’s power had been. That is going to be extended by-and-by. Christ went about doing good, expressing the will of God for men. Now that is extended here to include the assembly, viewed as His body. It is called “ the Christ “ here, and it becomes as under the anointing of the Spirit, the vessel for the accomplishment of the will of God.
In dealing with the foundations, we must not omit the element of the Christ.” It is part of the foundations. He is personally the One who accomplishes everything for God. The Son of the living God brings in the living thing. You must have the element of the Christ, otherwise you xviii allow man’s innovations. “The Christ” precludes innovations. Paul was detained as a prisoner of the Christ in Ephesians 3 ; he was the Lord’s prisoner in chapter 4. As a prisoner of the Christ he is (letained in relation to the mystery ; in chapter 4 it is in relation to the Lord.
In Leviticus 8 Moses takes Aaron and his Sons and gathers all the congregation together, and he anoints the tabernacle and all that was therein with the anointing oil. The whole system is seen typically in relation to Christ as anointed. God takes Him up in relation to all that. When the sons of Aaron are brou~ght in, the blood is used ; the consecration of the Sons brings in priesthood. The tabernacle was anointed and set up in connection with redemption, but anointed typically with the Holy Spirit. ‘By the Spirit all pervading.’ The whole realm will be pervaded by the Holy Spirit. To-day the thought is that in the body you have the testimony to that. You have a series of concentric circles; the Holy Spirit operating, the Lord operating, and God operating. “All these worketh that one
an(1 the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” Gift is the subject of desire. But before Paul makes application of that he says, I show unto you a way of more surpassing excellence; that love might find its place. It comes in in all its power as regulating us. He takes up the thought in chapter 14, “rather that ye may prophesy.” But love is brought in as the great corrective principle in our souls. Love uses the gifts for the good of others. I believe the Lord would honour any brother who saw a need and asked the Lord to give him power to meet that need. He xviii give it to you. Then you are not thinking of your importance; you think of the need and of meeting it. “ Desire earnestly the greater gifts.”
Prophecy is the greatest as a subject of desire. You could not desire anything greater, because it brings God in ; it brings conviction to the conscience. I think the emphasis laid on gifts in Ephesians is to call attention to the endowment of the assembly. The Lord having ascended on high has shown His power in making Himself heard down here in the gifts ; the assembly is enriched by them. Mr. Raven used to say that gifts were an evidence of the power of the Lord ; nothing can stand against it. You see it expressed in the apostle Paul, in “bringing down every high thought.”
After these facts about unity are set out, he brings in the ifs in verse 15. “ If the foot shall say.” The “ifs “ suggest the will at work, and independency in the one who speaks. The members are not all gifts, but he brings in the thought of gifts to show how they promote unity. Each member should learn by the operation of the Spirit how to take his place. Every Christian has a function to perform. The point here is, Do not say, I am not of the body. Do not admit the thought of independency. Then it states, “The eye cannot say.” That cannot is moral. The point here is that I cannot take independent ground in relation to the people of God. It is not that one may not act in his own will, but the cannot is from God’s side. When the Southern States of America seceded, Lincoln said, ‘You cannot,’ but they did. The United States were one whole, and those States in seceding were acting contrary to the principle. But with God, the principle being unity, you cannot set it aside. God has a means of enforcing His will. These cannots in Scripture are very important. “Ye cannot drink the cup of demons.” You might do it literally, but you would be provoking the Lord, and He has the means of enforcing His principles.