George H. Morrison - Devotional Sermons
The Holy Spirit Not a Luxury
Bread .... a fish...an egg...the Holy Spirit--Luk 11:11-13
A Gift Bestowed at Salvation
There is a widespread if undefined belief that the act of coming to the Savior is something different in experience from the reception of the Holy Spirit. When anyone accepts the Savior, and closes with Him for salvation, the impelling motive for that step is the longing of the soul for pardon. But there are many who do not realize that in the very act of saving faith there is the bestowal of the Holy Spirit. One hears men called to decide for Christ, as if that were the whole of the transaction. Everything is made to hinge upon decision, as though salvation depended on the will. And many, knowing the weakness of their will, and how difficult it is to keep it steadfast, are deterred from taking the greatn step by their past experience of failure. Every resolve that they have broken weakens them in the hour of the great summons. They recall how they pledged themselves to some amendment, and their will was unequal to the strain of it. So do they very naturally fear that if they make the venture and decide for Christ, sooner or later their will-power will be sapped, and history will just repeat itself.
The Holy Spirit Is Compared with the Necessities of Life
Now it is here that the words of Jesus come with such tremendous reinforcement. To Him the Spirit can only be compared with the very necessities of life. There were many things that must have seemed desirable to the little sons of Galilean fishermen. And the Savior, who loved these little folk, must have been perfectly familiar with their covetings. But the beautiful thing is that it is never with their dream-gifts that our Lord compares the Holy Spirit: it is with the first necessities of life. These little folk saw little meat; meat was a luxury to them. The things they lived on, in their lowly cottages, were bread and fish and eggs. And one must never forget that in talking of the Spirit our Lord deliberately passes by the luxuries, and chooses out things that are essential. For Him the Spirit was not, as it were, a luxury, the choice possession of a favored circle. It was not something that would enrich the life over and above the point of sustenance. Like bread, or fish, or eggs, it was something absolutely indispensable; it was the minimum of filial existence.
The Holy Spirit Is Given at the Beginning of Salvation
In the Book of Acts there is another passage that is charged with the same spiritual significance. It occurs where Paul inquired of certain men, "Did ye receive the Holy Ghost when ye believed?" (Act 19:2). In our English version it reads, "since ye believed"; but that is not the import of the Greek. Paul wants to know if they received the Spirit in the very act and hour of their believing. And behind that question, and dictating it, lies the thought of Jesus in St. Luke, that the Holy Ghost is indispensable. If there were nothing more in deciding for the Lord than a daring action of the human will, every reasonable person would do right in hesitating before he launched into the deep. But Paul knew, just as Jesus knew, that to every true act of saving faith there is immediate response from heaven. The Holy Spirit is not kept for afterwards, any more than bread is kept from hungry children. He is never given in a second blessing, though in a second blessing He may give His fulness. In the first act and exercise of faith God bestows the Spirit that empowers, as surely as He applies the blood that pardons. That was why Paul was so eager to discover if these disciples had made a real surrender. For him the inward power to be victorious was the other side of the initial trust. The Holy Spirit was no added gift to help the struggling saints to fuller holiness. He was like bread to the Galilean fisher-boy, the indispensable minimum of life.
At Salvation the Spirit of Christ Indwells Us
So it follows that to decide for Christ stands quite apart from other acts of will. It is entirely incommensurate with any resolutions of the past. These we made in our own strength. We "screwed our courage to the sticking point." We summoned up the resources of our will to effect some amendment in our lives. And the issues of these moral efforts, sometimes permanent but often temporary, entirely depended on ourselves. If the will was strong the victory was lasting; if weak, "the clouds returned after the rain." We were unable to maintain through days of gloom the high decisions of our shining hours. But when, in a conscious exercise of will, we surrender ourselves to the Lord Christ, we instantly open reservoirs of power which are not human but divine. It is not now our will against the world; it is the Spirit of Christ in us against the world. We work out our own salvation, because it is God who works and wills within us. The power we need to be victorious is not given as an added gift. It is conveyed, just because God is faithful, in the initial exercise of trust. Doubtless there are some among my readers who still stand "shivering on the brink." Depressed by failure in the lesser choices they hesitate to make the greatest. I want to say to them, that when they make the greatest they release energies they never dreamed of when they had no resource but the unaided will. In the very instant of believing, God makes us equal to our problem. In the very action of believing we appropriate the victories of Christ. I can do all things, says the apostle, not through the conquering power of my will, but in Christ (for the Greek is in, not through) who strengtheneth me.
Previous Day | Today's Devotional | Next Day