The Presence and Work of the Holy Spirit

by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 4 - The Holy Spirit's Passion for the Name

In Acts 2 in which we continue our consideration to which the Lord has led us for this day especially, this morning we began by pointing out firstly, the tremendous importance of this chapter in the history of the people of God, then the very great need for a new apprehension of its significance. We mentioned that this chapter contains the third and final part of that cycle of Divine activities in relation to this world's salvation; the first being the Incarnation - God manifest in the flesh; the second being the Cross of the Lord Jesus, on both its sides: His death and His resurrection; and now the third: the mighty advent of the Holy Spirit by which the other two are made effective universally.

The Holy Spirit coming in the great committal to carry into effect God's eternal purpose; that purpose being the establishment of His heavenly, Divine, Godly kingdom over this world. This chapter marks the point at which, to use the words of our Lord Jesus Himself, the first words that He ever uttered in public when He had taken up His ministry: "The time is fulfilled... the kingdom of God is at hand". This chapter sees the completion of all that time had contained up to this point, and the breaking in of that which had ever been in view through past time: the kingdom of God.

We pointed out that as the first words of the Lord Jesus in His ministry related to the kingdom of God being imminent, His last words before He went back to heaven to His disciples were concerning the kingdom of God. And at that point He was saying: "Not many days hence... tarry ye in Jerusalem, not many days hence..." and so it proved not many days after this day, "And when the day of Pentecost was being fulfilled..." the day of all days up to that time had arrived, and heaven opened. The Spirit came and the kingdom in its spiritual form was introduced. Underline that phrase: in its spiritual form; it has yet to come in its literal form, but it has come in its spiritual form. Now, we went on, took a lot of time, to show what that meant and what that means. We must hasten on because this is such a mighty chapter; the fulness is far beyond us to unfold. So we take another and further fragment this afternoon.

We closed the earlier part by pointing out that this chapter, in the first place, set forth the great fact which was proclaimed on that day in the power of the Holy Spirit: that the King was in His place - the King so long waited for! The King, having come, and having been rejected by at least the nation to which He came, has been given His place: "God raised Him... set Him at His own right hand... He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens... this Jesus whom ye crucified, God hath made Lord and Christ". And it is upon that that we are going to spend just a little more time this afternoon: the essential factors of the advent of the Holy Spirit. And the first, out of which everything else rises is:

The Lordship of Christ

Jesus Christ as Lord. "God hath made Him Lord and Christ", a King and a Saviour. I wonder if you have noticed and been sufficiently impressed by this wonderful thing in this whole book, which is introduced with this chapter, that it is the Name of Jesus that becomes the great dominant factor throughout; the Name. I would like, of course, to quote every mention of it and cite every instance of it being in evidence. That we will not do, you can do that at another time, but here the very first thing that the Holy Spirit did, and mark you, it's the first thing in this new dispensation inaugurated by the advent of the Holy Spirit as a thing which is to be established as the platform upon which everything is to be enacted; as the basis upon which everything is to be built; as the stream from which everything is to be derived. The first thing that the Holy Spirit did in coming, was to establish the pre-eminence of the Name of Jesus - the pre-eminent and ineffable Name. There is a sense in which this whole wonderful book of beginnings, the beginnings of the new creation, the spiritual creation, there is a sense in which this whole book is gathered into that one fact. A Name has been given. A Name has been established. A Name has been laid down, and there is no other name given under heaven among men. It is the alone Name, the unique Name, the supreme Name, the ineffable Name - the Name of Jesus.

While I'm speaking, I would that you would be praying in your heart and you would be praying this one thing to the Lord: "Lord, don't let this be just a lot more teaching. Strike this right deep into my very being and make it a living reality." This that the Holy Spirit did was not just and only objective to the men concerned. It was not some truth proclaimed to them. You don't have here some unfolding of truth about the Name of Jesus. It was not something proclaimed in specific terms; that came afterward. It was something that was done in them. While the Holy Spirit came upon them, they were also filled with the Holy Spirit, and if you look to see what that meant, how did it work out? What was the effect of it, the consequences, the issue? If you look, you find that in a very powerful and overwhelming way they became possessed; just possessed, gripped, mastered by this Name, this Name!

Whatever they had known before, and however much they had known Him, something happened that day that transfigured His Name, that gave to that Name a new meaning, and a new glory, and a new power. They were just caught up in the mighty grip of the Holy Spirit with this Name. Now, I am not exaggerating, though I'm being very strong in my state­ments. You see, from that moment, when they stood up together before the great multitude (and it was a great multitude, as we have before pointed out - men from, it says, "every nation under heaven". Every nation under heaven crowding into Jerusalem, at that time) when they stood up before them in the power of the Holy Spirit, the thing that characterised them then and from then onward, was a passion for the Name of Jesus. It just was! A passion for the Name of Jesus. They were... I was going to use the word "obsessed", I use it, not a good word in this connection, perhaps it's a bad word in most connections, but do you know what it means for a person to be obsessed by something? Just cannot stop talking about that thing or that person, that matter. Whenever you meet them, that's the thing they're talking about. They live with it through the day, and if they sleep at night, they sleep with it in their subconsciousness in the night. They wake in the night with that; and on it goes, that something has taken hold of them. That's not a good thing usually in human life, but here it's alright! That is what happened with these men.

The Name got a grip upon their inward life; the Name of Jesus. And as you move through the book again and again it's the Name and it became so evident and so strong that when persecution arose, as you have it in chapters 4 and 5, very early you see, the enemies said: "No more preaching in this Name. It's this Name that's the trouble with you!" But they went forth rejoicing that they were accounted worthy to suffer for the Name. You see, it's like that through the book. The Name became a passion. What do you think that means? How do you interpret that in your mind? Surely not just as a title, "Jesus", surely not just that by which a certain Person was called, "His Name was So-and-So". Surely that Name, for them, embodied everything, everything of God's great grace, God's great mercy, God's great love, God's great redeeming activity, God's great disposition to save, God's great power; and in all, and over all, God's great purpose concerning this One. He, He is God's appointed King and Ruler for this whole world. His Name meant all that and much more to them. Who can exhaust the meaning of His Name? My point is this - the Name became a passion. Their one thought... (oh Lord, put this into us!) their one thought was: "That Name must go unsullied before men; that Name must stand in this world in all the honour that belongs to it. That Name must be shown forth as the most precious Name in this universe. Everything, every­thing, that can be done, must be done, that that Name, the Name of Jesus, may be glorified." That's simple in language, I know; nothing profound in that as a statement. But oh, how deep and almost terrible is the challenge of that truth.

Dear friends, it works two ways, you see - both ways. First of all, that is the meaning of the Holy Spirit getting hold of a life.

The Holy Spirit Came in the Name of the Lord Jesus

The Holy Spirit came for the Name of the Lord Jesus. The Holy Spirit was burningly jealous for the honour of the Name of the Lord Jesus. That is what the Holy Spirit does, and that is the result of His really getting hold of the inner life of any person. A passion for the Name! And of course it works the other way: it just tests us and finds us out absolutely along every line, that does. It heads right up to this: how much really, truly, are you and I men and women of the Holy Spirit? What will we do for the sake of the Name of Jesus? Oh, I am not saying: "Will you go out into some distant land to preach and to work". That might be the line along which your service to the Name might be fulfilled, but, dear friends, it begins, it begins with ourselves in our disposition - our disposition - that we are wholly disposed to make any kind of adjustment, any kind of sacrifice, bear any kind of opposition and persecution in the Spirit of grace, attend to any kind of thing that we can in any way attend to, if by so doing this Name shall be saved from reproach; this Name shall be brought into honour. It would touch our relationships; it will be the cure of many of our ills.

This Name is a redeeming name when it really gets hold of the inner life. I must leave you to work that out to all its meanings, but I see it here, I see it here. Here were twelve men, at least twelve, really a hundred and twenty gathered in that upper room on the day of Pentecost - men and women and very human people. So human that even in the days when they had the Lord with them, with them day and night, they could quarrel amongst themselves, they could show bad spirit... yes, all that. They could exhibit their rivalries to try to outdo one another. I speak to the book, yes, all that about them. On this day, they are standing up together. They are like one man. They have transcended a lot of that that belongs to our humanity. They have been lifted on to a higher level of life and relationships and fellowship. And what did it? You say, "The Holy Spirit". Yes, but the Holy Spirit's work of making every one of them a subject of the Name of Jesus. Only one thing now concerned them, only one thing: "How can that Name be served by any means, in any way? How can we serve best the Name of Jesus?" Yes, it was a passion born of the Holy Spirit and John had been right, John had been right, John the Baptist, when he said, "He shall baptise you in the Holy Spirit and in fire" for this passion was like a fire in their bones. And if you think that I am making more of it than I should, I bid you read the book again - read it with the Name in view and you will be newly impressed.

So, in the first place, the Holy Spirit made the Name of the Lord Jesus supreme as a passion in their lives. If I said no more, that's enough to get on with for us, we don't need anything further added to smother that, bury that, take from that. But then, having become so mastered by the Spirit and the Name of Jesus, they went forth. They went forth, it says, "for the sake of the Name" and because that was the thing that was so real to them, so wonderful to them, had so powerfully mastered them, through them that Name mastered practically every situation that they encountered. Why, immediately after, in the third chapter, Peter and John go up to the temple at the hour of prayer and find lying at the gate this lame man. He has been there for a long time. There he was and everybody who went to the temple saw him, looked at him, perhaps many threw him a coin and said, "Poor fellow, poor fellow!" Peter and John came along and looked at him. Whether they said, "Poor fellow" or not, they did say, "Sorry, we haven't got any silver and gold, but we've got something inestimably greater than silver and gold, in the Name of Jesus of Nazareth, rise up and walk!" In the Name... what no money could do, no human pity could do, what nothing that man could do or in any way could achieve, the Name did. The Name did, and dear friends, if you want a real estimate of the power of that Name, you always have to look in another direction to find it. Whether men recognise and accept it or not, Hell does. Hell does, hell is fully alive to the efficacy of the Name of Jesus, and so that was the signal for the first outburst of persecution for the church.

What was it that roused the evil forces, and caused this outbreak against the church? The Name.

The Name

Oh, you can use the Name, every time you say a prayer you can close it "In the Name of Jesus" or something like that, and nothing happens. But I am talking about the second chapter of the book of the Acts. In the power of the Holy Spirit, that Name is omnipotent! Have we lost something in this matter? Have we lost the mighty virtue of the Name? Is that Name really powerful amongst us? Are we not still allowed to stand over a situation and say, "In the Name of Jesus"? Surely we are. Surely we are! Why are we not doing it? That's the question that we have to answer amongst our­selves, but it ought to be like that.

While we will agree that in laying the foundations for the dispensation the Lord did some unusual things, and associated with matters such evidences. It may not be His mind always to do it in exactly the same way. Oh, the Name hasn't changed! The Holy Spirit has not changed! The virtue remains, the power is still in that Name. And mark you, it's a Name (if I'm not going to be misunderstood) a Name to be used. That wants guarding: be careful, many people want to use the Name for purposes and objects that will bring them glory, but it is something to be used in the Holy Spirit. There is power in the Name of the Lord Jesus, still power in the Name; the same power.

As I have already hinted, while this was the passion and while this was the power, following the advent of the Holy Spirit, this was and has remained the battle ground of the centuries, the battle ground of the church. The whole controversy rages over and around this Name. Dear friends, in saying that, I wish that you had the comprehension to recognise how much is involved in a statement like that. The whole controversy and conflict in which the church has been centres in, focuses upon, the Name of the Lord Jesus. Openly and hiddenly, obviously and subtly, the ways along which that controversy arises are countless, but the issue is one. The issue is one: from the side of the forces of evil to discredit the Name of Jesus in this world, in this universe; just to discredit the Name of the Lord Jesus - to make that Name a shame and a reproach rather than an honour and a glory. The battle centres in that; bring all the battles to that point, and you've got the key, the only key... if only there is an adequate agreement to use it.

The tragedy is the enemy has brought such disintegration, such division, such scattering, that it's difficult to get an adequate company who are one here, focussed upon this. The honour and glory of the Name of the Lord Jesus demands concerted action. And given that, given that (and we are keeping very close to the book, the book of the Acts) given a group who are there stretched out concerning that Name, its honour in this world, and you see what happens! It's like that. The battle of the Name! His very Name stirs the wrath of evil powers. This very Name is the signal for trouble... for trouble. If you are not in the good of the Name, the power of the Spirit related to the Name, you can have a fairly easy time; you won't have very much trouble. But come on to this ground... and while this book, called the book of the Acts, is a long and full story of the triumphs of the Name, it's the story of a great deal to be triumphed over, of many, many assaults and withstandings. There you see: this is the kingdom!

This is the kingdom that came in on that day. It is the kingdom of the Son of God's love. It is the kingdom in which He is King and it is His Name that gives meaning and character to this kingdom. "The time is fulfilled." What time? What time? Let us examine the time that is fulfilled. It has come to fulness with this day. Well, as we said this morning, it is the time from the beginning of time up till now. But what was the central character and content of that long period of time from creation to Pentecost? That, of course, means taking the Bible, taking the Bible as heaven's interpretation of history, not secular history as such, not the way in which man reads the history of this world, but heaven's view and interpretation of history through that time. What is central to that? A great object lesson, a wonderful object lesson that God created. An object that He created and planted right at the centre of the nations, to be His means, His object of the great lessons concerning Himself. I speak of Israel, Israel in that time which ended on the day of Pentecost and was fulfilled in its content.

Israel was God's great object lesson in the first place on this very thing, note. Israel was constituted a nation on the basis and principle of the theocracy - the government of God, the alone government of God, the unique government of Jehovah. The Name of the Lord was basic, was central, was supreme, as that constituent of that nation. When a rabble in Egypt, to be redeemed out of that world of evil tyranny and bondage. Do you remember? Moses said to God on receiving the commission, "What Name shall I say? What shall I say when Pharaoh says, 'Who sent you? What's the Name?' Please, the Name..." which means the authority. It was by the very Name of the Lord that they were redeemed, delivered.

Always spoken of, again and again, so many times, as "out of the house of bondage". It was by the Name of the Lord that they were redeemed to become His people at all! But, of course, it had begun long before that with Abraham, but I can't take the whole Bible in this half an hour. You're familiar with it, but here is this people, the seed of Abraham after the flesh, constituted by the Name, and planted right in the centre of the nations to be God's object lesson as to the supremacy of His Name. It was that: "My Name, My Name, My holy Name..." that's what the Lord is always saying to Israel, "My Name." That is the great theme and lament of the prophets: "The Name of the Lord". There's no doubt about it, it's spread over everything, it runs through everything, it affects everything, it explains everything - the Name of the Lord. When that Name was being honoured, there was no people on this earth that could gain the mastery over that nation. The romance of their ascendancy is just one of the wonders of history. When you make com­parisons between them and the other nations, and say, "What accounts for this?" You just cannot suppress this people, you just cannot hold them down, there is some force at work here that transcends all human force against them. When the Name was in honour it was like that. Like that. When the Name was in dishonour they went to pieces, just went to pieces and lost their place God-given. Everything is like that in the balances of the Name. I say, this was God"s great object lesson.

Now, that's the figure, the type, the illustration. That time is fulfilled, that time is completed: "In the fulness of the time God sent forth His Son". The time of figures, and object lessons, and illustrations, and kindergarten is over! The real, full thing is now come. In the fulness of the Spirit, on the day of Pentecost, that Name which had been given to Christ, the Name which is above every name, in which "every knee shall bow, things in heaven, things in earth, things under the earth; every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord" - that Name was introduced by the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. And history is repeated: while that Name remained in honour, in honour, while that pristine passion for the Name continued, nothing could stand before that church. We heard here last night something from this very book of what happened when there was an uprising against the Lord Jesus, when a Herod, a Herod, a king, as it says, "lifts up his hand", put forth his hand against the church. Herod put forth his hand against the church... so much the worse for Herod, as it proved; and for anybody else who puts forth his hand against the church when the church is in the good of the Name. You can, you can touch, injure, and bring much trouble upon the church if it is not in the power of the Holy Spirit, but if it is, the church is "terrible as an army with banners". Woe betide any who will destroy the temple of God, God will destroy.

Well, there you are, there is a mighty conflict circling around this Name, but it is the Name, the Name which is above every name. That is the beginning; as we said, that is the basis, the spring, of everything. Out of that the church received its mandate; it received its mandate. And the mandate of the church for the dispensation was in the form of a depositing of the Name in it, as though it were said: "Take this Name into all the nations. Take this Name and proclaim it in the power of the Holy Spirit. That's your mandate. That's your world mission, that's your commission: 'Go ye into all the world... make disciples of every nation... baptising in the Name...'" In the Name! The Name you see, governs the church's world mission.

Now, I do just want to touch a point I trust you'll be sufficiently alive enough to grasp. We must always realise:

The Essential Association of the Gospel with the Name of the Lord Jesus.

You may not grasp what I mean. You know, it is possible to preach the gospel as a kind of system of truth; a wonderful system, comprising all those elements of Christian doctrine, of justification by faith, redemption by the blood - all these features, a wonderful system of gospel truth. And we can both hold that and preach that as something in itself, as something in itself. And somehow or other it seems to fall short somewhere. It's the truth; it's the gospel truth; there is not a flaw in the truth and in the presentation of the truth, but somehow it seems to fail, fall short. There's a gap between that and the mighty effect that we find in this book in the preaching, in the preaching. Do you notice the preaching in the book of the Acts? It is always kept in the very closest relation­ship to the Person who bears the Name; it is never some­thing in itself. It's the gospel, but it's the gospel of the Lordship of Jesus Christ; it's the gospel of what God has done with Him, and where He has put Him, and who He is, and what He is in the thought and will of God.

Oh, we must keep this association very close, not to preach wonderful gospel truth as something in itself, but the issue has got to be that those who hear, and those who receive, do not hear and receive salvation for its own sake, but hear of and receive the mighty Lord of the salvation! He is made a Prince and a Saviour - that's the order, that's the order. If you and I want to know salvation really, fully, wonderfully, it will not be that we accept salvation for its own sake, it's we accept Him as the Prince - the Prince that God has made Him; the Lord, the Master in everything. It is only here in all the universe that a word of evil association is permissible and fully permissible, because it's one of the original words, titles, used of the Lord Jesus: Despot! You're afraid of a despot, and rightly so in this world, but Jesus, Jesus has the right to that: absolute domination. That is what the Holy Spirit does. You see, the church's mandate is not only to go and preach the truths of the gospel, the church's mandate is to proclaim the Lordship of Jesus Christ. It's a very costly thing to do that in many parts of this world, and is becoming more and more costly. You see, that is, after all, the issue in China - it is. You pierce that whole situation to its very heart, and you'll find that it's the old issue that arose in the days of the apostles: another king, another king. "We don't mind your ideologies, your theories. We don't mind your systems, but if you bring in this idea of Somebody to rule, to rule human life, very well, then the battle is joined." And that's it. And that is spreading over this world more and more. You see, it is Christ or Antichrist; it's who is going to be Lord!

Oh, dear friends, this comes right down to our lives, surely. When you preach what you call "the gospel", remember what Paul calls it, "The gospel of God concerning His Son", not concerning your salvation - it's that, but concerning His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord! That's the gospel.

Now Israel's mandate, (to come back to the object lesson of the time fulfilled) Israel's mandate in the nations and to the nations, was not to try and teach the nations monotheism or some kind of theology or doctrine about their God. Their mandate in the nations was: the Name of the Lord. That's all! Just that Name! They were there as the repository of the Name - one Name.

May I take just a minute or two longer on one thing that I want to clear up this afternoon so as to get over to something else this evening, if the Lord wills. That is,

The Constitution of the Kingdom According to the Name.

We're called "children of the kingdom", children of the kingdom. And these children, subjects, of this heavenly kingdom that has come in are to be constituted according to the kingdom to which they belong. Now that brings us to this very title of the Holy Spirit. This morning we were speaking about Him as the Eternal Spirit, as related to God's eternal purpose. Here is this most familiar, most common title, "The Holy Spirit". But again, break it up, the Holy Spirit... the Spirit of God who is Holy....

He came, the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost to indwell, and He came, be it such simple language, He came to indwell as the Holy Spirit. But, dear friends, how far reaching that is! What an immense thing that is. God designed this kingdom for Himself before times eternal, and projected it into this world with the creation, with the creation. And, as it came from His hand, it was a holy thing, a pure thing: untainted. We cannot under­stand or appreciate what that must mean. We have such very, very minute experience of that, but there it was. And then there was an unholy invasion. This, that God had made, was invaded by an unholy creature. The effect of that invasion was that the whole creation, man and things, became shot through with something unholy, something evil, like an evil virus spreading and gaining mastery. And not so very far into the Genesis story you read that God looked down and saw that the imagination of the heart of every man was evil... oh, this thing... right through. We know the story so well: the presence of evil, the contamination of evil, the assault of evil - a mighty force.

Now, when God took Israel to be His object lesson He took them right out of their association with the world; planted them alone. And in the symbols and typical sacrifices, He cleansed them, He sanctified or made them a holy people, and called them "a holy nation". That is, they were to be in virtue of all His wonderful provision in sacrificial blood and fire, a people separated from the evil of their natural life and association - separated. God called their great forefather out of Ur of the Chaldees, separated him, and built up from him this holy nation. All a type, a figure, imperfect we know in reality, but nevertheless God has His great object lesson, and He says that the Holy Spirit was operative in all that, in all that... said so many centuries later: "My Spirit that brought you out of Egypt abideth among you", the Spirit is the Holy Spirit working this separation to make a people different. This is what I want to get at: a different kind of people from other people. He called them a "peculiar" people. That word has taken on a meaning, of course, in our days that it does not really allow, "peculiar" people... something different; something different. Something unique, something strange amongst the peoples of this world. Something that is not like the others. It is a holy people. The Holy Spirit, indwelling and working has made for a different people.

Take the object lesson again, God's great object lesson. Was Israel a nation different from others? Well, we know that's true, we know that's true. Of course different races, nations, have their own peculiar characteristics. We know one from India when we meet that one, or from China, and usually we know someone from the West. We know by the features, characteristic features, of that particular nationality or race when it is pure and true, and not mixed up by cross-marriages and so on, but when it's genuine, there it is; you know! There are the features. Now Israel is like that, and I need not dwell upon it. God took these people, and forbade cross-marriages. The heinous sin of Israel later on was that, was that: marriage, intermarriage with people of other races, because God was creating an object lesson, setting forth a great spiritual truth in the natural world.

So here are a people who have their own characteristic features; you can tell them amongst other people by that. They have their own language, a language which is common to them. They have their own customs, diet, and manners. In the life of this new kingdom that has come in this people, they are not doing things that other people do; they are doing things that other people don't do and it isn't illegal, it's simply sponta­neous! The Holy Spirit has taught them what is pleasing to God and what is not pleasing to God. The features of Christians... beautiful to see the features of these people and the language. The language, it's a spiritual language. Have you met a Christian in some part of the world where you don't meet many Christians, indeed, it's a rare thing to meet a Christian and you met a Christian, never having met that one before, and you begin to talk, and you say: "Oh, you speak my language; I can understand you!" We speak the same language.

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