By C.I. Scofield
Much of the speaking about the filling with the Holy Spirit implies that such filling is desirable, indeed, but not indispensable. It is treated as one of the spiritual luxuries of the Christian life. A Minister said to the writer, "I am going to look into that subject one of these days." He seemed utterly oblivious of the sorrowful fact that so long as he was not filled with the Spirit, no act of his service could be with power; and that because of that lack, his very sermon might work injury to his hearers, for nothing so surely causes atrophy of conscience and heart as truth divorced from power. 2 Timothy 3:5
1. No Christian should be willing to perform the slightest act in the service of Christ until he is definitely filled with the Holy Spirit.
"And ye are witnesses of these things. And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you, but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high." Luke 24:48-49 "but ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and ye shall be witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." Acts 1:8.
How wonderfully all this was fulfilled, all readers of the second chapter of Acts know. After that the Holy Ghost was come upon them they did "receive power," for "they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance." Acts 2:4
If, then, the very apostles of Jesus Christ, the chosen men who had been with Him and had been moulded by the tremendous impact of His personality; who were first-hand witnesses of His mighty miracles, and of His mighty miracles, and of His resurrection; whose memories were stored with His wonderful words, and who had received the indwelling Spirit by His direct outbreathing--if those men must tarry until they were filled with the Spirit before beginning even the least service, is it not a dangerous and disobedient self-confidence for one of us to begin a service without the filling?
Nor, Biblically, is the filling with the Holy Spirit indispensable only to ministers of the Word. The filling is indispensable for any service.
"And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said: It is not reason that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Wherefore, bretheren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and of wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business." Acts 6:1-3
Just as in the Jewish dispensation, Bezaleel was "filled with the Spirit of God" to "work in Gold, amd silver, and in brass," because God would teach us that all acceptable ministry, even tough mechanical, was acceptable only when rendered by a Spirit-prepared servant; so in the church age, He would commit even the temporalities of the church only to men qualified in the same way. In other words, it is the method of God's appointment. How great would be the peace and prosperity of the Church of God if all ministers and office- bearers were filled with the spirit!
The writer believes that all this is most solemn. What is the attempted service of an unfilled Christian but an insolent attempt to override the order of God? It is no uncharity to say that the inevitable result of such service is the attempt to substitute fleshly expedients for the lacking spiritual power.
Look over the church notices of any city newspaper, and see how feverish and frantic are the attempts to substitute "attractions" for power. It is the sin of Nadab and Abihu; and, as their sin was punished by physical death, so in modern religious life the anti-typical sin of the substitution of strange fire for Spirit fire is punished by awful spiritual deadness.
2. No Christian can possibly live a right Christian life who is not filled with the Holy Spirit.
All of the varied offices of the Spirit as indwelling the believer -- offices bearing upon the believer's inner life--depend for their vigorous ministry upon the filling with the Spirit. One may have the spirit, and yet live a carnal, joyless life. The case of the Corinthian church demonstrates this. 1 Corinthians 1:2-9, 1 Corinthians 1:11-13, 1 Corinthians 3:1-4, 1 Corinthians 5:1-2, 1 Corinthians 6:6. It is when the Christian is filled with the Spirit that all the marvellous results of His indwelling are realized.
When it is remembered that it is the Spirit who gives victory over sin; Romans 8:2; Galatians 5:16-17, actualizes to the believer his position in Christ; Galatians 3:26 Galatians 4:6, produces the fragrant fruits of "love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance; Galatians 5:22-23 imparts spiritual vigor, strengthening him "with might in the inner man," Ephesians 3:16, Indites his prayers, Romans 8:26; Ephesians 6:18, comforts him John 14:16-17, guides him, sanctifies him, and makes of him a true worshipper. It should be evident that, since every believer may be filled with the Holy Spirit, he is most flagrantly guilty before God if he is not so filled.
In other words, it is not open to the believer without serious guilt to be living in known sin, serving self, and barren of the "much fruit" which alone glorifies the Father. John 15:8. God, in grace, has by the Spirit made possible to every believer a saintly life and powerful service. No Christian minister should be content without the conversion of sinners and the up-building of saints, for both are within His power. True, there may be churches so deliberately set in worldliness and unspirituality that they reject the ministry of the Spirit, however tenderly and wisely offered. Very well, let a Spirit-filled minister turn from such a church, even though weeping over it as Christ wept over Jerusalem, and God will assuredly give him a hearing elsewhere. But let him be sure first that he has offered a Spirit-filled ministry. And (let it be repeated) no believer, whether layman or minister, should be content one hour without the ineffable blessedness of a Spirit-filled life.
One final, but (in the light of much which is said and written) necessary word as to the ground of the Christian's assurance of the filling. Much is said, most harmfully as the Writer believes, concerning consciousness. The harm done by that word lies in identifying it with feeling. It seems to be supposed that the Christian who definitely and continuously yields himself and his members, and who has really been filled with the Spirit, will know it by feeling holy, or powerful. That, in a word, he will be conscious of the Spirit. Nothing can be more misleading. Spirit-filled men are deeply conscious of what Matthew Henry calls "manifold defects and shortcomings in holy duties." But they are conscious, too, of the nearness, the beauty, the abounding love, the holiness and tenderness of Christ, and of the power of His blood to perfectly cleanse from all sin. New discoveries of sin but send them again and again to that cleansing stream. Their consciousness, then, is Christ-consciousness, not Spirit-consciousness. Doubtless there is a holy exercise of the emotions. "The fruit of the Spirit is . . . Joy." There is a "righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost." But there are also seasons of "weakness and fear and much trembling," and these often accompany the "demonstration of the Spirit and of power." 1 Corinthians 2:3-4 .
Cast far away, then, as a snare to soul, the watchfulness of subjective frames and feelings and stand by faith. Just as we believe that Christ has given us eternal life because He said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you he that believeth on me hath eternal life" (John 6:47) so we believe that He who bids the thirsty to "come unto Him and drink," does give the rivers of blessing and power to those who drink. And to all who thus stand by faith He, in due season, grants to see the rivers, and to know the blessed cleansing and refreshing of the up-springing fountain.