The Inward and Outward Effect of the Spirit - by J. Taylor, Sr.
THE INWARD AND OUTWARD EFFECT OF THE SPIRIT
John 20 : 17 ; Acts 2 : 1-4, 41-47
I want to speak of the Spirit given to the saints in their relations Godward for the satisfaction of God's heart, and the Spirit given to the saints in their relations manward; in other words, the "inward" and the "outward."
It is important that we should see that there is the inward aspect; that is, that which is for God's heart, and there is also the outward aspect, which is for man ; the two lines are seen respectively in John and in Luke. That which comes out in the saints is first of all seen in Christ.
In John you have the Lord as Son, and the Spirit comes to Him in that relation; that is, the Spirit comes to the Lord in John in relation to His Person. What is said of the Spirit is that He descended and abode upon Him; that is to say, the Spirit of God found a permanent resting place in the Son. The Son is for God. In the Son God rests. The Spirit had hovered over humanity for centuries in the activity of grace, but like the dove sent out of the ark by Noah in Genesis 8, had found no resting place ; but now the Spirit found a permanent resting place in the Son. John brings out what is for God's affections.
I am not saying that John limits himself to that, but that is evidently the prominent thought before him, and the saints in John's gospel are seen in the same connection. You will find that the Spirit in John has, in the main, though not entirely, reference to us inwardly. I am not overlooking the fact of the anointing in John's epistle, and there it is connected with teaching, whereas anointing is generally connected with what is external. But the way in which the Spirit is presented in John has reference to what is internal. In chapter 4 the Spirit is viewed internally as that which springs up in affection towards divine Persons. He is the living water. The effect of that is seen in chapter 7, in what is external in the way of water flowing out, but it all flows from the internal. “Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water," and then in chapter 20, He is the Spirit of life, and that is internal.
Now what I gather from John's gospel is that the Son becoming Man is for God's affections; God has rested in that Person, and the effect of His work, of His ministry, is that there is a company produced of His kind whom He regards as His "brethren." That is what I consider to be the internal aspect of the assembly; what is formed in relationship with divine Persons. What I am coming to presently is the anointed vessel here before men, but evidently the primary conception of the assembly is that it is for God. There is a company formed after the pattern of Christ; a company viewed as great enough to be accorded the place of His companions. They are companions of Christ, not only as raised from the dead, but as the ascended One. The message He sends to them is, “I ascend to my Father;" that is, He, the Son, the object of His Father's affections. He is in all the liberty of sonship, and He has title to ascend to the highest point in the house. What a wonderful position, beloved friends, to see in a Man! And He says, "go to my brethren and say to them, I ascend [not to heaven, but] to my Father, and your Father, and to my God and your God." It is to heaven, of course, but the point is that He is the Son, and as the Son He has title to ascend. He might have remained upon the earth, but He goes on high to the Father, and in going on high He associates the saints with Himself where He has gone; that is to say, God has now extended the circle to which His affections apply. The Spirit not only descended upon the Son, but it remained upon Him. In the other gospels the Spirit descends as a dove and comes upon Him, but in John is added, that He abode upon Him.
We should get into our souls that the Son is the divine resting place for God ; the Spirit rests there. God has, as it were, at last found a resting place ; a permanent resting place for His affections—and those affections will never again be disturbed. I have no doubt Adam was an object of God's affections. He is called the son, or offspring, of God in Luke 3, and as such he was an object of God's affections, but those affections were violently disturbed. Adam left his place, and God found no sabbath on earth from Adam's day until the Lord Jesus Christ appeared on earth. God's sabbath was broken. He had to work instead of resting in Adam, who was the inaugurated head of creation ; everything was put into his hands, as if God had delegated everything to Adam. He was head of the race, and all should have stood connected with the head under God's eye for His pleasure, but all that was broken up. God's sabbath was broken up, and it was never renewed until the Son became Man, and then you have God's sabbath, beloved friends, never again to be disturbed, because it is in the Son, and whatever takes form in the Son is there permanently. If God rests in the Son, of necessity that rest can never be broken or disturbed. I want you to see that.
If you would understand the position of Christ here upon earth you must contrast Him with all that went before. God found no resting place before. The Spirit was here like Noah's dove ; He found no resting place until Christ appeared, and then He remained on Him. That Man has brought in a generation after His own pattern. They have no part, it is needless to say, in His deity. He is alone in that; equal with the Father, but He has brought in a company after His own kind and pattern as Man; those whom He calls His brethren.
No greater light can enter our souls than the light conveyed in the message by Mary Magdalene. No greater light can enter into the souls of men than that the Lord Jesus Christ, as the ascending One, should send us a message and designate us as His brethren. It is the very foundation of Christianity viewed inwardly. I am not overlooking atonement, which is, of course, the foundation of everything, for the foundations of the tabernacle were in sockets of silver ; the foundations were in silver, but I am speaking of the divine formation, the inward formation, which hinges on Christ as the ascended Man. Christianity is a heavenly conception. We are brought in as the companions of the heavenly Man, and as such we are the objects of the Father's love. That is John's point of view. What you get in John 20 is not the Spirit as the anointing but the Spirit of life, and not simply the Spirit of life, but the Spirit of the Man who had ascended up, for in principle the Lord's coming into the midst was as the ascended Man. The message was to prepare and qualify them for the visit, and He came in following on the message : the message constituted them great enough for the visit. They were qualified for such a visit by the light conveyed by the message. The Lord came in to communicate to them His own Spirit. He breathed on them. I think those touching verses, 19 to 22, have their own significance ; it is a question of relationship. The Lord breathes into them. He breathes the Spirit into them. He says: "Receive ye the Holy Ghost." That gave the character of what they received, for it was His Spirit. We have not only the light conveyed in the message, but we have the power by which we are maintained in accord with the light.
Now Luke presents to us the anointed Man. There it is not exactly God's resting place; the Lord is seen there as praying; being baptised He prayed, Luke 4. Evidently that is another view; that is to say, Luke presents to us the Man. He is in man's place throughout. He submits to baptism, and when He comes out of baptism He is praying. Wonderful spectacle for heaven! "There is a Man in accord with heaven. He is dependent. The Lord Jesus Christ introduced into this world what may be called the principle of heaven, and a taste for the principles of heaven. He taught the disciples to pray, " Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." He introduced the principle of obedience. It is the Lord Jesus Christ here in entire dependence upon His God. I take that to be manna. That is, I think, the " bread," the " food of angels." In Psalm 78 we read that God opened the windows of heaven and rained down manna, “angels' food," upon them. Angels' food was rained upon earth. It refers to Christ in the place of obedience ; it was a question of obedience. The Lord Jesus Christ was here before the eyes of men and He was praying. He was in the position of obedience, and especially of dependence upon God. And the Holy Spirit comes upon Him ; in other words, the Holy Spirit anointed that Man. He was manifestly qualified to be anointed. He was praying, and He was anointed by the Spirit. Now what Luke presents to us are the external evidences of the anointing ; the external evidences of the coming of the Spirit upon Christ.
In chapter 4 the Lord stands before men and He says : “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me." That is Luke's line. He presents to us in that way what is for God, but it is before men. That was a wonderful spectacle for God, but it was before men and hence Luke enlarges upon the character of the Vessel. The Lord begins to speak, and what the Spirit dwells upon is the character of the speaking. The book of the prophet Esaias is handed to Him, and He stands up to read. There was a Man standing up to read the Scriptures in the power of the Spirit. A wonderful scene! The scribes were accustomed to read the Scriptures, but it was entirely new to them to have it read in this fashion; read by the anointed Man. There never had been such a reading before as the reading of Christ as anointed by the Spirit. He handed back the roll and sat down, and the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened upon Him. It was the anointed Man! What does anointing signify? It is the means by which God distinguishes man upon earth. The Lord Jesus Christ was distinguished as a divine Person, but there never had been such a Man upon earth before. Necessarily He was alone as a divine Person, but in Luke He is the anointed Man, moved and actuated by the Spirit. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed upon Him; that is, the anointed Vessel. The anointed Vessel is distinguished. God marked off Christ, and He marks off us in that way.
I have spoken of what is internal as the springing well in John 4, and of the Spirit of life in John 20, but the anointing is external. You will remember in the parable of Jotham, in the book of Judges, the olive-tree declines to remove from its place because by its fatness it hnours God and man. The oil gives distinction; it puts honour upon man. As a figure it is the effect of the Spirit as seen by man's eye. That is what Christ was anointed. "The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed upon him." Then He began to speak, and they "wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth." I never refer to this passage without profound pleasure, because it is what Christ was as Man. How attractive He was! His mouth was anointed, and they "wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth." It was not exactly what He said, the point was the kind of way in which He said it.
Now Luke continues the same line in the Acts in regard to us. There the assembly is taken account of as anointed in this world; it is for God, just as the two wave loaves in the feast of the firstfruits were for God, Lev. 23:17. They were the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, but they were for God. They were told to bring two loaves out of their habitations, and the loaves were to be baked with leaven; that is, the effect of the Holy Spirit leads to individual self-judgment, and the result was that there was a company upon earth in which sin, though present, was rendered wholly inactive. I wonder if we take that in? It is not the saints viewed as the companions of Christ, although they are the firstfruits, because you cannot connect sin with the brethren of Christ; they are wholly derived from Christ. But here, saints, viewed as having to do with a sinful creation, are brought in as firstfruits for God, as the result of the death and resurrection Christ, and the coming of the Spirit. The wave loaves were to be taken out of their houses and to baked with leaven. It presents to us the saints having received the Spirit from Christ in heaven ; company here upon earth in whom sin, though present, was rendered wholly inactive by the fire. The leaven was there, but it was rendered wholly powerless by the fire. That is what the assembly is historically. It is a figure of the assembly formed ofthose who had a previous history on earth connected with sin. We must take account of the saints on these two lines; on the one hand as the brethren of Christ, with whom sin cannot be connected, and on the other hand they may be viewed historically.
The first is John's line, and the second is Luke's. The saints, viewed as having had their part in a sinful world, are brought into the very place where they had dishonoured God. Where sin had been active it is rendered powerless, which was a triumph of grace. The saints were not taken at once to heaven, but were left here ; but sin was rendered powerless by the power of the Spirit. Such a company is a wonderful triumph for God.
Now this company is presented to us in Acts 2. The Spirit comes not into them, but upon them. You will understand that I am not denying the Holy Spirit indwelling them; that is a cardinal truth of Christianity. I am only speaking now of what is external. It says, “Suddenly there came a sound from heaven." You have there the effect of His coming, He came from heaven. This sound filled all the house where they were sitting. There was this remarkable effect of the new power; and then it says, "And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them." There never had been such a thing seen before in this world as the coming of the Holy Spirit. He sat upon each individual in the company. Every individual upon whom the Spirit sat was distinguished. There is the collective character, which is a truth we have to hold fast and defend; the Holy Spirit brought in practical unity, but at the same time the individual identity is recognised. In the coming of the Holy Spirit, God took account of each individual, and distinguished each by the Spirit. I use the word distinguished not as covering everything, but what I am trying to point out is, that they were marked off before the eyes of men as the result of the coming of the Spirit. He "sat upon each one." It is not breathed into, as in John 20, but sitting upon them. Here was established in this world an anointed vessel; that is Luke's line.
Luke shows us in the first chapter of Acts what kind of people the Spirit came to. They loved Jesus ; they were attracted to that Man; they were led up to mount Olivet, and they were found gazing up into heaven after Him. They loved Christ. Then there were other marks in this company, and especially one; that is, they recognised the authority of the Scriptures, and thirdly, they were of one accord, of one mind ; they were united. That was the kind of material which God anointed. God will not dishonour Himself. What God anoints is rendered worthy of the anointing by the work of Christ. He had formed them, and formed them in affection. They loved Him and recognised the authority of the Scriptures, and they were united; they were of one accord, therefore they were suitable for the anointing. The Spirit comes upon them, and there is the vessel, in the presence of man, marked off by God's Spirit. That is the assembly, as the first fruits for God ; that is, they were for God, but they were for God in relation to man. They were suited for the anointing, and in being anointed they were distinguished. You will remember Moses in the wilderness, Exodus 33; he sought God that He would go up with His people; and he said to God, "so shall we be distinguished ?" We are distinguished by the presence of a divine Person; we are thus marked off from all others. God has come in by way of the anointing in the power of the Spirit.
Now what was established here in the beginning of Acts 2 is continued as the circle enlarges. Luke expatiates on the wonderful result of the work of God before the eyes of men. The same characteristics show themselves as the circle enlarges. Three thousand gladly received the word and were added to them. The same character was seen; those who received the word were baptised. There was something in it. The reception of the word was accompanied by the power of the anointing.
Beloved friends, it was on that ground the gospel went out. If you are not anointed you cannot preach the gospel. A preacher should be anointed by the Spirit, and as anointed he is distinguished by God. He is not preaching in his own ability, but in the power of the anointing, so his ministry is worth something.
The word was received in Acts 2:41, and those that received it severed their associations with this world. They were baptised every one of them. Baptism signifies that which was before men. The power of the Holy Spirit was so manifest by Peter's preaching that three thousand were affected, and they at once severed their connection with the world ; they were baptised, and not only that, but they cast in their lot with what the apostles were going on with. They not only received the gospel, but they, so to speak, said to the apostles, We are with you. They were in the thing heart and soul. "They continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship." That is, they maintained the walls of the city; they were in the testimony; they were in fellowship with all that is of God, and exclusive of all that is not of God. Fellowship signifies the exclusion of all that is adverse. It all shows how wholly they were in the testimony. It does not mean they broke bread. They broke bread also, but breaking bread, while it depends on fellowship, refers to our affections; it is because we love Christ; it is what the Lord enjoined His own to do. If you love Christ you break bread, because the breaking of bread suggests Christ to you.
Jesus was anointed, and they were anointed, and then they had all things in common. The wonderful world that had been in God's mind in purpose has been brought in morally. Love reigned among them; they loved Christ and loved one another. "All that believed were together, and had all things common." That was the kind of moral world which the Spirit of God brought in in answer to Christ's work. And they continued "with one accord." There they were manifestly in relationship with God, recognising God, and praising God, and yet in favour with all the people. That is the anointed vessels. I hope I have made it clear. It is a question of what is internal and external, inward and outward; and we want to maintain both.