True Praying in the Holy Spirit (2)
By G. H. C. Macgregor
"Because ye are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying Abba, Father." --- Gal. 4:6.
We have seen that in expounding the Scripture teaching about the work of the Holy Spirit in connection with prayer, the first thing we have to deal with is a Divine promise. The second thing we have to deal with is a Divine fact.
All the promises of God are sure, and a single promise is warrant enough for the most confident faith. But in the matter of the assistance of the Holy Spirit in our prayers, we have something better even than a promise. The promise, as we saw, was given in Old Testament times for fulfillment in New Testament times. We, therefore, living in New Testament times, and under the dispensation of the Spirit, stand not on the ground of promise, but on the ground of fulfillment. God has poured out upon His people the Spirit of grace and of supplication. As Christian believers we have to deal not with the promise so much as with the fact.
There is a distinction between promises and facts, which is sometimes overlooked. Promises are meant to be claimed, and to be made matter of argument in prayer. Facts are meant to be received, believed, rested on, and used. The call which comes to us is not the call to ask God to give us the Holy Spirit to teach us to pray, but the call to recognize that the Spirit is already given, is ours, is within us for this very purpose, and thus a call to rely on Him for the help He is there to bestow.
That God has fulfilled His promise is the plain teaching of Galatians 4:6. There we read, "When the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, that He might redeem them which were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father" (Gal. 4:4-6, RV). Here is the factóa fact as gloriously full of blessing as the promise. For we see what this verse tells us.
It tells us that the Spirit whom we have received is "the Spirit of the Son." Praise God for these words! They are full of blessing for the soul who understands them. For the Spirit of the Son means, to begin with, the Spirit received by the Son. God has sent into our hearts the same Spirit who dwelt in the heart of Jesus of Nazareth, and made His life a life of unbroken communion with God. When we read the Gospels and marvel at the prayer fullness of Jesus, and at His unbroken fellowship with the Father, let us say reverently, "My life may be as the life of Jesus, for I have received the Spirit of Jesus, and He can make my life as much a life of prayer as the life of my Lord."
Then the Spirit of the Son is certainly the Spirit promised by the Son. The words recall us to the upper chamber, where we see the Master communing with His disciples ere He goes forth to bear our sins in His body on the tree. We hear Him say, "It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I go, I will send Him unto you" (John 16:7). And as we hear Him tell what the Spirit will do, as the words drop from His lips, "He shall bring all things to your remembrance," "He shall guide you into all truth, "He shall glorify Me"; and as we remember this the Spirit whom we have received, our hearts are filled with holy joy.
Further, the Spirit of the Son is the Spirit bestowed by the Son. The words remind us not only of the upper chamber, but also of the streets of Jerusalem on the day o Pentecost. As we read them, we hear the Apostle preaching, "Jesus of Nazareth ye by the hand of lawless men did crucify and slay. This Jesus did God raise up, whereof we all are witnesses. Being, therefore, by the hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He hath poured forth this which ye see and hear" (Acts 2:23, 32, and 33). The Spirit who dwells in our hearts to teach us to pray has come from the throne of God where our risen and glorified Redeemer sits.
This verse tells us that the ground of our receiving the Spirit is our sonship. It says, "because ye are sons, God sent fourth the Spirit of His son into your hearts." It does not say, because you are obedient, holy, consecrated children, God sent His Spirit to you. It says, "Christ redeemed us that we might receive the adoption of sons; and because ye are sons, God sent forth His Spirit." It is most important to notice this. The gift of the Spirit has been won for us, not by anything we are or have done, but the Atonement of Christ. And we become partakers of the Spirit when we become partakers of Christ. Indeed, if we have not been made partaker of the Holy Spirit, we do not belong to Christ at all. It is the emphasis with which the text assets this, that shows us that we are here dealing not with a promise, but with a fact. Paul once and again reminds his readers that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the direct consequence of regeneration. "Know ye not that ye are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (1 Cor. 3:16). "Know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have from God?" (1 Cor. 6:19). As those who are the sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus, we have the Holy Spirit, and it is our duty and privilege to give ourselves up to Him, that He may do His blessed work within us.
This verse speaks of the Spirit of the Son as "sent forth." This phrase is not without meaning. It is used several times in Scripture, and wherever it is used it is implied that those to whom the Spirit is "sent" did not possess Him before as they are to possess Him now, and that He comes to do a work within them which was not done before. When God sent the Spirit of His Son to us, He sent Him to begin an entirely new work in our souls. This work is both general and special. The Spirit dwells within us to carry on the work of sanctification, which from beginning to end is His work. He comes as the Spirit of the Son to enable us to live as sons. In carrying on this work He reveals Himself as the Spirit of love. Of His work as the Spirit of love we have already spoken. He sheds the love of God abroad in our hearts, fills us with delight in our Father, and with desire to please Him. Then He reveals Himself as the Spirit of wisdom. He comes as the Spirit of wisdom and revelation to reveal to us that is the hope of our calling, and what the riches of the glory of our inheritance, and what the exceeding greatness of Godís power to us (Eph. 1:18, 19). That He may sanctify us, He unfolds to us the whole extent of Christian duty and privilege. Then He reveals Himself as the Spirit of power, by whose enabling might our holy standing in Christ may be translated into experience. We may know the will of God and love it, but without the Spirit we cannot do it. It is the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus that actually sets us free from the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:2).
But His general work of sanctification leads the Spirit on to a special work in connection with prayer. One aim of the Spirit in sanctifying us is to fit us for a life of unbroken communion with God. But communion with God is the very heart of prayer. If the Spirit, therefore, is to sanctify us, He must teach us to pray. And He does this most gloriously. He cries within us, "Abba, Father," and we in Him cry, "Abba, Father." "He shows us that in the Only Son we are nothing less than sons, welcomed into the inmost home of eternal life and love. We find ourselves indescribably near the Fatherís heart, because accepted and new created in the beloved. And so we learn the happy, confident call of the child, "Father, O Father; our Father, Abba.í" (H.C.G. Moule, D.D., Romans, Expositorís Bible, p.223). He fills us with a yearning for fellowship with God, which grows in intensity until it cannot restrain itself, and finds utterance in prayer.
God has done all this for us. He has sent forth His Spirit into our hearts. Let us welcome the Indweller; let us yield ourselves to Him, that His glorious work may be unhindered. So shall we indeed learn to pray in the Holy Spirit.
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