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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Fundamental Questions of the Christian Life # 8

The Essential Seal and Constitution of the Christian Life

Acts 18:24, 19:6

"Now a certain Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by race, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the scriptures. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spake and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, knowing only the baptism of John; and he began to speak boldly in this synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more accurately. And when he was minded to pass over into Achaia, the brethren encouraged him, and wrote to the disciples to receive him: and when he was come, he helped them much that had believed through grace; for he powerfully confuted the Jews, and that publicly, showing by the scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.

And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper country came to Ephesus, and found certain disciples: and he said unto them, Did ye receive the Holy Spirit when ye believed? And they said unto him, Nay, we did not so much as hear whether the Holy Spirit was given. And he said, Into what then were ye baptized? And they said,  into John's baptism. And Paul said, John baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people that they should believe on Him that should come after him, that is, on Jesus. And when they heard this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spake with tongues and prophesied."

"Did ye receive the Holy Spirit when ye believed?"

Let it be said at once that we are not here attempting to expound the person and work of the Holy Spirit, but are seeking to emphasize the importance of the Holy Spirit's personal presence within believers.

The Terms Explained

First let us examine the terms that we are employing in our sub-title, "The Essential Seal and Constitution of the Christian Life."

When we use the word "essential," we are thinking of such a statement as that made by the apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans: "If any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His" (Romans 8:9). This clearly indicates that the possession of the Holy Spirit is essential and indispensable to the Christian life.

Then, we go on to speak of the "seal", we think of other words such as those used by Paul in his letter to the Ephesians: "Having ... believed,ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise" (Ephesians 1:13). Note that it was the Ephesians to whom was originally put the question: "Did ye receive the Holy Spirit when ye believed?" "Did ye receive the Holy Spirit when ye believed?" Upon their testimony of faith, they did receive the Holy Spirit, and, years afterward, the Apostle wrote to them the words that we have just quoted. The word "sealed" implies "putting the seal upon a transaction": something quite certain, quite precise, belonging to a moment; a definite act - "ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit."

And then when we go further and speak of the "constitution" of the Christian life as by the Holy Spirit, we think of such words as those used by the Lord Jesus Himself to Nicodemus: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:6): indicating a definite, distinct, different kind of person, one with a different constitution, a person who is constituted in a different way. "That which is born of the Spirit" is different from "that which is born of the flesh." One is  flesh, the other is spirit.

Many other Scriptures could be added to these to explain and define our sub-title.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 9 - (Initial Reception of the Holy Spirit)

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