Promise Of The Spirit 6

W. W. Prescott

The Scriptures are the Scriptures of the Holy Ghost. “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” 2 Peter 1:21. So we read in Acts 28:25: “Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers.” We learn also from John 14:26, that the “Comforter “is the Holy Ghost.

There are several important conclusions that follow from this simple statement that the Scriptures are the Scriptures of the Holy Ghost, and that the Holy Ghost is the Comforter. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” Romans 15:4. The comfort of the scriptures consists in the fact that they are the scriptures of the Comforter. We read also in verse 13: “Now the God of all hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost.” And in the 19th verse, speaking of his work, Paul says: “Through mighty signs and wonders by the power of the Spirit of God.”

Christ is the power of God. This power is manifested through the Spirit of God, and the scriptures, being the scriptures of the Holy Ghost are scriptures of power, words of power. Now bearing in mind the fact that the scriptures are the scriptures of the Holy Ghost I wish to take a very familiar scripture for the basis of study this evening: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3:16, 17.

Dr. Young’s translation of the same scripture is as follows: “Every writing is God-breathed and is profitable for teaching, for conviction, for setting aright; for instruction that is in righteousness, that the man of God may be fitted for every good work, having been completed.”

I like the expression concerning the scriptures that they are “God-breathed.” Let us take two or three scriptures in connection with this and see the force of this statement. Genesis 2:7. “And the Lord formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul.”

That which gave life and activity to the man was the fact that God breathed into him the breath of life, and then he became a living soul. Previous to that time he was dead, inactive; now he is living, active. But that is exactly the description used by the word of God in Hebrews 4:12. “For the word of God is living and active.” [Revised Version.] Language in itself is dead. It has no power in itself any more than the man had power when he was formed of the dust of the ground, but when God breathed into him the breath of life, he became both living and active. He then became a living entity. He became one who could perform works through the power that was in him; so language is of itself dead, but when God breathes into it, it becomes living and active; it is then a living entity. It can then be said to accomplish the work just as one sends a man or living being to accomplish the work. This is clearly the meaning of the scripture when it says: “He sent his word and healed them.”

We read also in 1 Corinthians 15:45: “For so it is written, the first man Adam was made a living soul.” The Revised Version reads: “became a living soul.” He became a living soul because the breath of life was breathed into him. “The last Adam became a life-giving Spirit.” The first Adam became a living soul; the last Adam became a life-giving Spirit. Now put this with John 20:22.

“And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.”

Now just as God breathed the breath into that which he had formed of the dust of the ground and man became a living soul, just as God gives to the language his breath and it becomes living, active, so Christ breathed on the disciples and said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” And they, and we, under the same experience, are to become living and active, whereas before we were dead. So the scripture is “God-breathed,” and he has breathed into the scriptures the very same thing that he breathed into man whom he formed of the dust of the ground, and that was the breath of life, which is the Spirit of God. So the scriptures are the scriptures of the Holy Ghost.

Now it is stated in this text in Timothy that the scripture thus given is profitable, and it says for what purpose. It is profitable for doctrine. This is the same word that we find in John 14:26. Speaking of the office of the Holy Spirit it says: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

It is profitable for doctrine; profitable for teaching, because being the scriptures of the Holy Ghost, and the Holy Ghost being the teacher, the scriptures are therefore profitable for teaching. This is the same word that is used in Romans 15:4, where it says that, “whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning.” Now we read that the scriptures are profitable for teaching, and the way in which they become profitable for teaching is that they are scriptures of the Holy Ghost, and the Spirit itself is the actual teacher. When the words of God are taken and without the aid of the genuine teacher, the Holy Spirit, an attempt is made to use them as doctrine, there is no profit; because they are the scriptures of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit must be the teacher to bring forth the meaning and to unfold the scripture to us. When this is true, they are profitable for doctrine, for teaching.

Again the scriptures are profitable for reproof, or as Dr. Young’s translation has it, “for conviction.” We read the expression in John 16:8: “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin,” the margin translates it “convince.” Another translation reads “convict.” That is all true. The office of the Holy Spirit is to convince of, to convict of, to reprove sins. The scriptures,-meaning the scriptures of the Holy Ghost,-are profitable for conviction because the Spirit of God, the convicting power, is in the word. If the scriptures are used, not as the scriptures of the Holy Spirit, but merely as the words of man, there is no convicting power in them. They must be used as the scriptures of the Holy Ghost, and the Holy Ghost must be recognized in them and work in them if they are profitable for conviction and reproof.

Notice several verses where this same idea is brought out, although not always with the same words as our English translation: “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him.” Hebrews 12:5.

The expression “rebuked of him,” uses the same word. While passing, let us notice this thought; “ye have forgotten the exhortation that speaketh unto you.” To my mind there is such a close connection between these things that in some places the connection seems to be lost by our English version using different words, while the original is the same. The word “exhortation,” is the same word although not necessarily in the same form, as the word used for “comforter,” and the thought in it is this: In the exhortation of the Lord in which he reproves us, there is, after all, comfort. Why? Because the Comforter is the reprover. This is the comfort in his word. Just as the scriptures of the Comforter bring reproof and conviction for the sinner. But there is comfort in the reproving of the Lord. So we might get this thought in this way: “Ye have forgotten the comforting word which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when convicted of him;” that is, when you are convicted or convinced of sin; because the Comforter is the agency by which this conviction of sin is brought.

Again let us read 2 Timothy 4:2. Speaking of the duty of the gospel minister, it says, “Preach the word [proclaim the word]; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort.” Now to my mind those last three words have a peculiar and special meaning. Notice the words used there: “reprove, rebuke, exhort.” The word “reprove” is the same word translated reproof in the experience, profitable for reproof. The word “exhort,” the last word, is the same word that we just had in Hebrews 12:5. The other word is a peculiar word, and might be paraphrased in this way. “Reprove, convict of sin. It is the Comforter that does that. Estimate the guilt; comfort with the Holy Spirit.” So this is the work of the gospel minister; to reprove, to convict of sin, and that by the Spirit of God using his own words. In this way alone can he proclaim the word. When he properly proclaims the word, there will be conviction of sin, because the scriptures are the scriptures of the Comforter, which convince or convict of sin. Then estimate the guilt; put a value upon the guilt, and then exhort; that is the comfort.

You remember that the office of the Holy Spirit is “when he is come he will convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment.” Now to proclaim the word is the duty of the gospel minister. But the word is the word of God, the scriptures of truth, the scriptures of the Holy Ghost. And when the word is proclaimed as the word of God, the scriptures of the Holy Ghost, it will do the work perfectly, it will convince of sin, it will show the enormity of sin, it will bring comfort.

So we read in Titus 1:9. Speaking of the duty of a bishop, the apostle says: “Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.” Paraphrasing it, I understand the meaning to be this: “Holding fast the faithful word, according to the teaching, that he may be able to comfort by sound teaching, and to convince those who speak against his word.” But what is the agency by which that is to be done? Holding fast the faithful word according to your teaching, as he has been taught.

Now the faithful word when held fast to as the word of God and the Holy Ghost, and proclaimed as such, will be a comfort to the believers in the soundness of teaching, and it will convince those who speak against it; but it will only do this as it is the word of God, as the scriptures are taken to be the scriptures of the Holy Ghost, and the Holy Ghost depended upon to do the work. That is, the power is in the word, and not in the minister. It is to be preached as the word of God. We read again in the 15th verse of Titus 2: “These things speak and exhort, and rebuke with all authority.” Christ gave himself for our sins. Speak those things. “That he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”

Again the scriptures are profitable for correction. The idea of correction is to set straight, to put into a straight path. This is exactly the same idea that we find in Hebrews 12:13: “Make straight paths for your feet.” It is not the idea here, as we use it, of correcting one by punishing; but it is to set him straight. Now how is it that the Scriptures will set one straight and will make straight paths for his feet? It is because they are the scriptures of the Holy Spirit.

Read Isaiah 30:20, 21: “And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers and thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.”

Now we are to make straight paths for our feet. Supposing that we get into the straight path and turn to the right hand. The Spirit speaks to us, This is the way, walk ye in it. How does it speak to us? By the Spirit of God. Supposing we make a move to turn to the left. The Spirit says, This is the way, and sets us straight, speaking through the holy Scriptures, which are the Scriptures of the Holy Ghost. So when the Scriptures are taken to be the Scriptures of the Holy Spirit and we recognize God’s voice speaking to us in his word, that word will keep us in the straight path, when we attempt to turn either to the right hand or to the left.

Again the Scriptures are said to be profitable for instruction in righteousness. This word for instruction, is rather an unusual word. In Hebrews 12:5, it is translated “chastening.” “Ye have forgotten the work of comfort, the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My Son, despise thou not the chastening of the Lord.” The same word is used in the seventh verse. The eleventh verse also reads: “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous.” We have the same word in Ephesians 6:4, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Perhaps the word that could be used in all these cases to convey the meaning is our word discipline. Let the Scriptures be profitable for discipline that is in righteousness.

Returning now to that text which we have had heretofore, Joel 2:23, we will read it with the marginal reading: “Be glad, then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for he hath given you a teacher of righteousness, according to righteousness.” That is the former rain, and the same thing is the latter rain, the teacher of righteousness which is according to righteousness. The Scriptures are profitable for discipline that is according to righteousness; for nurture that is according to righteousness; for chastening that is according to righteousness, because they are the Scriptures of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the teacher of righteousness according to righteousness. But you see every step of the way it depends upon understanding, and not merely understanding, but in taking them as the Scriptures of the Holy Spirit, as the voice of God. Then they become all this to those who receive them.

That the man of God may be perfected is the purpose of all his work. Dr. Young says, “That the man of God may be fitted; “and that is the idea. And the idea of fitting is just as you would fit two things together, just as a carpenter fits two pieces together. He takes one piece and fits it to another. Then he lays it aside. That is fitted, you say. Then he takes another piece and fits that. That is the meaning of this word fitted, as you would prepare a piece of wood for its place in the building, as you prepare a piece of stone for its place. Now the purpose of the Scriptures is that by teaching, by reproof, by keeping in the right way, by discipline that is according to righteousness, the man of God may be fitted. Fitted for what? “In whom all the building, fitly framed together, groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also, are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:21, 22. “To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, ye also, as lively [better “living”] stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:4, 5.

A house is built out of dead material. But the spiritual temple of God, which he is preparing for his dwelling place, is built of living material, living stones. Now these stones are first taken from the quarry as any stones would be. I read from the Testimony, “Danger of Adopting a Worldly Policy in the Work of God,” page 6: “The mighty cleaver of truth has taken them [the people of God in these last days] out of the world as rough stones that are to be hewed, and squared, and polished for the heavenly building.” Now the mighty cleaver of truth takes us out of the world as rough stones are taken out of the quarry, but it is God’s purpose to build us up for a habitation of God, a spiritual temple, a heavenly building. What is the agency by which this work is to be done? The Scriptures of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God works through his word, convincing of sin, teaching, instructing in every way to make the man fitted for his place in the heavenly temple. So we read in Hosea 6:4, 5: “O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away. Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets.” He hews them by the prophets, reproves, rebukes, instructs, disciplines, to fit them for the place in the heavenly building. Now there is a very important lesson to learn right here from the way in which the original temple was built.

“And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month Zif, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the Lord. And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither: so that there was neither hammer nor ax nor any kind of tool or iron heard in the house, while it was building.” 1 Kings 6:1, 7. That is, before the material was put together to form the literal temple, it had been all fitted, every stone was ready for its place, polished, hewed, and tested. When the material was brought to the place where the temple was to be erected, all that was necessary to do was to put each one in the place for which it had been prepared, and then the whole temple grew up, a shapely, beautiful structure.

How is it with the other? This work of preparing the living stones for the heavenly temple is now going on, and all that work will be done before they are put together to form that temple, and when they are thus put together there will be no hewing, no fitting, no polishing. That is to say, the work of character building will all be done here; now is the time for reproving, for rebuking, for convincing of sin; the whole work of fitting us for heaven will be done here during the time of probation, which is the meaning of all of those expressions so familiar to us, if we are to be saints above, we must first have been saints on the earth. When Christ comes he does not change character, but merely fixes character. Hence the absolute necessity of submitting to the Spirit here; because unless the hewing, the polishing, the fitting is all done here, the stone will be rejected, because this building is to go together without the sound of any tool, as the one of old.

In this connection read Amos 9:11: “In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old.” At the Conference held at Jerusalem, James, speaking under the direction of the Holy Spirit, said: “Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up.” Acts 15:14-16. That meant that the Gospel was to go to the Gentiles and a people was to be called out from them; thus was the tabernacle to be built again as of old.

Now let me read from “Historical Sketches of Foreign Missions,” pages 136, 137:-

“The Jewish temple was built of hewn stones quarried out of the. mountains; and every stone was fitted for its place in the temple, hewed, polished, and tested, before it was brought to Jerusalem. And when all were brought to the ground, the building went together without the sound of ax or hammer. This building represents God’s spiritual temple, which is composed of material gathered out every nation, and tongue, and people, of all grades, high and low, rich an d poor, learned and unlearned. These are not dead substances, to be fitted by hammer and chisel. They are living stones, quarried out from the world by the truth; and the great Master-Builder the Lord of the temple, is now hewing and polishing them, and fitting them for their respective places in the spiritual temple. When completed this temple will be perfect in all its parts, the admiration of angels and of men: for its builder and maker is God.

“Let no one think that there need not be a stroke placed upon him. There is no person, no nation, that is perfect in every habit and thought. One must learn of another. Therefore God wants the different nationalities to mingle together, to be one in judgment, one in purpose. Then the union that there is in Christ will be exemplified.”

That throws light upon the scripture in Amos. It applies to the Gentiles. It is the building of the temple as of old, and God gathers the material for this temple out of every nation, and places them together in the oneness of the Spirit, to the building of a spiritual temple.

Now I will read again:

“They must be hewed by the prophets with reproof, warning, admonition, and advice, that they may be fashioned after the divine Pattern; this is the specified work of the Comforter, to transform heart and character, that men may keep the way of the Lord.”

But what has this to do with the promise of the Spirit? In Ephesians 6:17 it is stated that, the word of God is the sword of the Spirit. Whose sword is it? The sword of the Spirit. Who then is to use the sword? Why, he whose sword it is I if then, this sword is to be used, the Spirit is to use it, because it is his sword. If then we are to go out to carry the word of. God as the word of God in the power of the Spirit; if the word of God is to be a weapon of power, do you not see that there will be actual danger to us to try to use it ourselves, to say nothing of its being unprofitable?

Notice the lesson in 1 Samuel 17:38, 39: “And Saul armed David with his armor, and he put an helmet of brass upon his head: also he armed him with a coat of mail. And David girded his sword upon his armor, and he assayed to go; for he had not proved it. And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him.” He had never used them, and did not know how to use them. If we attempt to use the sword of the Spirit, not only shall we find that we cannot use it, just as David found that he could not use the sword of Saul, but there is actual danger in trying to use it.

Now I solemnly believe that from this time forth in this message the word of God is to be a word of power as never before. It is to be as it never has been before in this message, the sword of the: Spirit. And the Spirit is the only one who can use his own sword both with safety and profit.

Then if the word of God,-the sword of the Spirit is to be used with safety and profit by us or through us, it must be the Spirit dwelling in us, using his own sword. Now, I candidly believe that there will be danger. You will remember an illustration of this. Certain men, who had seen Paul in his preaching, and had heard him call the name of Jesus over those possessed of evil spirits and had seen the spirits driven out, attempted to do the same thing. They called the name of Jesus over an evil spirit, and what happened to them? The spirit said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are ye?” And he fell on them and wounded them. Now when we go out, as we know we are to go, to meet such powerful opposition as we know has come up in this message,-because a new light and power is springing up from beneath and taking hold of all of Satan’s agencies,-what shall we do? Are we to go out with merely the theory of the truth? with merely the theory of the work and use it against the power that is against us? I fear the same experience will be repeated. “. Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are ye? “That is, it is not the spirit in us using his own sword, but it is the vain attempt of our own selves to use the sword of the Spirit. It will be without profit, to say the least; and to my mind it will be with actual danger to those who try it. Does it not show so plainly that it must be Christ in us using his own sword?

There is to my mind a wonderful thought about this using the Word as the sword of the Spirit, by Christ in his temptation. The devil came to him and tempted him upon the three points that he presents to every individual of the human race; appetite, presumption, and covetousness. First he said, “If thou be the Son of God command that these stones be made bread.” Was he not the Son of God? Certainly. What harm would there be, then, if he should command the stones, and they should be made bread? Christ had come to this earth and had emptied himself. His temptation all through his experience here was the same that we have, that is, to show self. If Christ had shown self, it would have been divine; but if he had come here with the purpose not to show self, it would have been wrong. If we show self, it is humanity and sin. He did not come here to show self, although self was divine in him. He came here to show us how to empty self, and live wholly by another. So he would not show self in that temptation; and when the devil said to him, Now if you are the Son of God, just command these stones that they be made bread, could he not have done it? Yes, sir. But he would have defeated the very purpose of his coming here.

And just as he showed us that we should not let self appear in us, he also showed us the way how to live by another: “He answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Who spoke that very word? Did not Christ speak it? And when he came here, his humanity seized upon the word of God spoken by himself as the mouthpiece of God, and laid hold of that very word as his security against the devil in his humanity. He used the sword of the Spirit. And he used it, you will remember, in those three instances with an effectiveness that drove the devil away. And angels came and ministered unto him.

God wants Christ to dwell in our hearts by faith, and to use the sword of the Spirit now against all the power of the enemy just as effectually as he did then. But he must be the one to use it now as then, because it is the sword of the Spirit. And the Spirit must use his own sword, if it is to be used with safety and with profit. Then to my mind the lesson of this hour is a very important one, and impresses upon our minds the actual necessity that if we are to go out to use the word of God with power in convicting of sin, in correcting evil, in discipline, which is according to righteousness, that the Spirit of God must dwell in us, that is, Christ in us by his Spirit with a presence which is more personal than when he was here upon the earth in the flesh. He is to dwell in our hearts in that way and use the sword himself, if it is to be used, as he is the one to use it with power. 

Taken from the General Conference Daily Bulletin, February 22, 1893