Christ Ascended, Spirit Descended
If any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
God’s gift to you of the Holy Spirit depends upon the exaltation of his Son to heaven and upon this alone. Is it possible then that the Lord Jesus has been glorified and you who have believed have not received the Spirit? Yet some are confused about this. A young man I knew In Shanghai, having heard with new understanding about the glorified Christ and his outpoured Spirit, went home and began to pray earnestly: “Lord, I believe. I want the Holy Spirit’s power. Seeing Thou, Lord, hast been glorified, pour out now Thy Spirit on me!” Then he paused, and corrected himself: “Oh, no, Lord, that’s all wrong!” and he began to pray again: “We are in a life partnership, thou, Lord Jesus, and I, and the Father has promised us two things: glory for thee, and Spirit for me. Thou hast received the glory; it is unthinkable, therefore, that I have not received the Spirit. Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful gift!”
James tells us that every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father above, who never changes and is always consistent. Jesus tells us that the Father loves us beyond comprehension and delights in giving good things to His children. He compares God with a human dad and tells us that if sinful, selfish, flawed dads- He uses the word “evil” or “wicked”- would never give their children harmful things; how much better gifts does the Father give. Jesus defines that gift as the gift of the Holy Spirit.
As Jesus met with the disciples after resurrection, He informed them that it was necessary for Him to go away but He would send Another in His place-the Holy Spirit.
Just as He Himself had been given the gift of the Holy Spirit and through that power worked the miracles and was raised from the dead, He bestowed the gift of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples. What a transformation that gift made in their lives.
Now our question then is how do we receive such a gift and what qualifies us to be a candidate. Beyond this is the question of whether we need this gift or whether it’s still available for modern Christians. Sadly many Christians continue to struggle in their faith, lacking the gift, and have been convinced that they either don’t qualify to receive the gift, it isn’t for today or them, and beside they know dozens of Christian friends who haven’t received the gift either. What a travesty that we have been convinced that we can’t receive or don’t need such an incredible gift.
Paul, writing to the Ephesians tells us that the Christ who had descended- that is to earth and in His death to the prison of hell- also ascended and upon His assertion liberated those held captive. All who were liberated were given gifts and those gifts had at their source the gift of the Holy Spirit.
There is no need to strive, to beg, or to seek for this gift. There is no limit as to who can receive such a gift other than being born again. What makes this gift available and accessible is based not on our righteousness but on the glorification of Christ Himself. The very fact that Christ overcame and broke the power of sin’s reign over us has made us candidates to receive the gift. The revelation that the young man Nee tells of is the one we need. We are not outcasts or orphans but fully adopted children of God. We are not beggars trying to earn our place. No better picture of the love of God and His treatment of even wayward children can be painted better than the story of the prodigal. Immediately as soon as the son came home, the father welcomed him, called for the servants to bathe him, dress him in new clothes, put the ring of sonship on his finger and shoes on his feet. He didn’t wait for the son to prove himself or to make some promise. The treatment of the son did not hinge on the son’s conduct but from the father’s love.
Our ability to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit is no different than that of receiving the gift of eternal life. Both have been made available through the “riches of Christ in glory.
Today allow God to make you know that you are His child and then trust His love to give you His gifts. In the giving and receiving of gifts, we must know that all the recipient has to do is receive- nothing more. Won’t you open your heart to receive all that the Lord has for you today?
Dr. John Thompson