The Holy Spirit in Relation to the Glorified Christ

by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 1 - The Holy Spirit and the Name of the Lord Jesus

Reading: Acts 2:22-47; John 7:37-39; Eph. 1:19-23; Phil. 2:9-11.

We are being directed by the Lord to a further recognition of the Holy Spirit in His ministry in relation to the glorified Lord Jesus.

That which is very much on my heart in this connection is the Holy Spirit and the Name of the Lord Jesus.

If you read the Acts you will find two main features running right through the book, two things which are uppermost; they are the Holy Spirit and the Name of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is mentioned seventy times, and the Name of Jesus more than thirty.

You will see they are joined together, are in operation together, the Holy Spirit has assumed charge of everything and as He goes forward with His mighty work He does it all in the Name of the Lord Jesus.

I would suggest a perusal of the book with the place of the Name of the Lord Jesus in mind; you will not get far before you have a strong impression of wonder and praise. This main character and feature of the book bears out clearly John 7:39 and the words of Peter at Pentecost about the exaltation and glorifying of the Lord Jesus.

When John by way of comment on John 7:39 said, "The Holy Spirit was not yet given because Jesus was not yet glorified", the logic of it all was that when He was glorified the Holy Spirit would be given, the day would come. We see that upon the Lord Jesus being glorified, the Holy Spirit was at once given, He immediately came forth. And now under the guidance of the newly ascended Spirit the words of men on whom He came were around the Name, the exaltation, glorifying, and Lordship of the Lord Jesus, and the deeds done were all in or on the basis of the Name.

Later we see the apostle Paul gave a very full explanation of what happened when the Lord Jesus returned to glory, "God highly exalted Him, and gave unto Him the name which is above every name" (Phil. 2:9), "put all things in subjection under His feet", as "Head over all things". That is the explanation of what took place when Christ returned to heaven. That is the ground on which the Holy Spirit came forth.

Now, in contemplating the Name of the Lord Jesus we have to find a starting-point that is a long way back and we shall be guided by a clear intimation in the words read; a conjunction will be brought into view, "Wherefore God highly exalted Him". The exaltation of the Lord Jesus, His headship, His being given a title to sovereignty - a title above all is something merited, not something by way of mechanical appointment, not something that just represented an office, but it carries with it a representation of the work done by which the title was merited, not inherited.

We are linked in the context with a former position occupied by Him; a position of equality with God, indisputable on the Divine side, a settled position, not argued but simply affirmed: "He was equal with God".

Away back in that dateless time there was one who aspired and had an ambition in another direction. It was to be possessed of a title, and there was a putting forth of his hand to grasp a title as something to be grasped at, with the result that through long, terrible centuries, millenniums, sin and misery have been; as we know well enough.

A position of authority and dominion in the universe was sought after (by the enemy), to be personally held apart from God, to be on a basis of independent action and interest. There is the root and spring of all independent action, it is easy to be seen that the direction of ambition was possession apart from God. We will not dwell on the dark side, on its consequences and history, but we do know that through that act a rift in order came, with disorder and chaos. Universal dominion had been shattered and the oneness, concreteness, and cohesion of the universe had been upset; a disintegrating force projected against the unity of the universe in relation to its government.

If we did but know it, everything of spiritual chaos in our earthly lives is just coming out of that dark cesspool and was created at that time. Every bit of discord, the multitude of things of which we become conscious when we become spiritual, those things which break in and seek to get the mastery again are not things just born, but are infectious vapours from that pit coming up again like a rolling cloud through the ages. And as the smoke of a distant fire covering everything to the horizon, it affects all things and goes on and on. We sense it afar off, near and far becomes touched by that smoke, that which happened in the spiritual realm at that time. Now we sense that thought which has come across the age; it has broken up that spiritual thing, the unity of the universe, and that dominion of the universe has to be recovered and set up in one Person, not two, not in a host, but in One it has to be recovered and established. All that is the fruit of independent action has to be destroyed, and all this universe has to acknowledge One Name, one government without a rival - that is the fruit of Calvary which was given on the basis of unchallenged merit. That one who was reaching out to possess it was without merit, and was seeking it ambitiously for self, apart from God. That was why the ambition was denied, that is why the rivalry was set up; it has to be merited.

This leads to the heart of such things as the temptation of the Lord Jesus in the wilderness. The Lord Jesus repudiated the whole thing. It carried with it two things:

1. This cannot be had as a personal thing apart from God and,

2. This can never be had by any without merit; it has to be won from the hand of God, and can only be won in one way. He went the way of the cross, "wherefore God hath highly exalted Him". He was obedient unto death, and the Name the Lord Jesus possesses is by the right of merit. He is at the right hand of God, and we see once more gathered up in Him the unity of the universe. In Him everything is made to hold together, the cohesion, the unity of the universe is in Him. Unity is something which cannot be brought about by human agreement, it can only be in the Name of Jesus and all that Name contains.

We can never hold together because of human understanding, because of an understanding on certain things on which we will be agreed. There will be one and another failing and not much agreement on some things, and on that ground the devil has power. The only ground of unity of a right kind is that resting in its universal victory in the Name of Jesus, by One only, in that Name and in all the spiritual virtue of that Name.

The Name gathers up into itself all the mighty forces of universal conquest and we can understand why mighty things happened in the beginning in that Name.

Some have fallen into sentimentality when they have read Acts 2:44: "All things common". That was an agreeable party, but there was something beyond that; it was the Holy Spirit who did that. We may say we will have a nice Pentecostal fellowship, but it cannot be done, for it is only by the Holy Spirit having full possession, having come in in full measure. He can come in in the Name of the Lord Jesus and meet in full the outcome of that original act of the hand against the throne. It places tremendous responsibility on us to contemplate this, any unwatchfulness, any lack of forbearance, any act of broken fellowship among saints is direct complicity with the devil, with the hand against the throne and is a movement against the testimony of Jesus. When the enemy has brought this about, it has always jeopardised the testimony, and taken from the glory of the Lord Jesus. If we are responsible for that and the Holy Spirit strives with us, urging us to put that right and we do not do so, we fall into a most tragic and terrible end. We fall into the original work of the devil. It is terrible but true.

The Holy Spirit works in relation to the Name of the Lord Jesus, that means that the Holy Spirit establishes all that the Name means by the cross. The Holy Spirit applies the cross and all that it means to that thing and the outcome is fellowship.

What is the basis of New Testament unity and fellowship? It is threefold:

1. The cross dealing its death-blow to all that which has come into man and the universe, through Satan's original act.

2. The Name as representing the One, the Person, in whom we are united.

3. The Holy Spirit who is working in this Name on the basis of the cross, and the victory wrought out in the cross. The Cross, the Name, the Holy Spirit. It is very blessed to see the spontaneous working out of this in the New Testament. The Cross making good, and the Name working out the Holy Spirit. The Cross was accomplished, Christ was glorified, the Holy Spirit had come. You can never find such unity, such fellowship outside that realm.

It will not be long before the enemy will try to recover some ground, he will work in someone who has not found full salvation from self, who has not come into death to self. He found ground in Ananias and Sapphira and they sought to aim a blow at the Testimony, against the whole regime. The judgment was swift, but it had to be. The Lord made His laws operative and it was a disastrous end to those two. It always follows.

One of the many aspects I have been made to stress is, why is unity attacked? The enemy's idea at the beginning was to divide the universe and it is clear that the result of his work was to send schism through everything. What are the means through which the Holy Spirit operates? It is only as the cross is wrought into our being, only by the getting rid of self will there be a united relationship in certain realms where the cross is not operative, where things are wrought in for ourselves out of relation with the universal.

In certain realms today where the subjective work of the cross alone is stressed, there is most discord. Look at it the other way. The place where the strongest fellowship exists and where the enemy cannot destroy it is the place where the cross is brought to destroy all that is personal. Sometimes the test is closely applied, it is not always easy to be made a doormat, to be stood up in a corner and taken no notice of. It may be easy to be a martyr but to be stood in a corner is more than human nature takes kindly to. We have to be brought to a place where nothing personal matters. We cannot see our own hearts, but when we are brought to a place where God, whose eyes see right through, sees that every bit of self is gone and the Lord's glory is everything, we are in a place the devil cannot touch.

If you know the work of the Holy Spirit along that line, you will know that He is always seeking sanctification, that is, getting rid of every bit of self by which Satan can find ground to work. When the Holy Spirit works, that sanctification is to the glory of the Lord. The Lord Jesus was greatly glorified in Acts 2. Self was gone and the cross was exalted and exemplified, it was represented in another way.

What a mighty thing real spiritual unity is, and what a great thing when the work of the cross lies behind it. What a glory of triumph when that Name is brought into the need.

You and I cannot stand in the Name of Jesus and have personal interests; this cannot go together. If any personal interests come in, the Name of Jesus is set aside, for that Name is the Name of Him who had no personal interests. He had personal rights, but He put them all aside and emptied Himself and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross. Was there ever a more humiliating death than the cross? But in His nature there was no trace of self, there was not found anything of personal nature in Him. Everything in the universe will later be gathered up into the Name of Jesus and be under His sovereign headship and He will reign without rival. He whose right it is, not simply because God has given Him that right and appointed Him, but because He has attained to it. He got it by being made a curse for us. That is the opposite to that one who sought to obtain the same end for personal motives.

We shall only know the fulness and power of the Holy Spirit in the measure that He has dealt with all the self in us. In human nature there is a deep-rooted craving for power, this appears even in the smallest forms; we do not like being thought nothing of. An 'inferiority complex' goes to the heart of human nature; it has very great consequences. To consider that you are no good or worthless, and that others will think the same, is simply another way of the desire for power and influence. This can go as far as despotism; it is shot through the human race.

All our ideas of power must be revolutionised when we come to the Lord Jesus. "A Lamb in the midst of the throne". Why has a lamb been chosen as the type of One whose destiny it is to reign, to have universal dominion? Try what you can do with any other creature, but take a lamb, unresisting, uncompromising, unsuspecting, silent, yielded, in a sublime and wonderful sense a symbol: "As a sheep to the slaughter, so opened He not His mouth" (Isa. 53:7). Nothing about asserting rights, nothing of personal ambition. This revolutionises our ideas of power. We shall come to our dominion by letting go, we shall win by not standing for our personal rights, we shall reign by being emptied of self.

There is a battle and we shall never get through that battle until we have been searched through and through and the fire has discovered nothing of self.

It is not always in fire but in prostration and helplessness so that we have to say we 'cannot' and refer it to the Lord; we cry to the Lord that we can do nothing and in the power of the Name we go through. That Name is perfection, it is the Name of the Lord Jesus and that Name rested on human nature. He triumphed as a Man in every kind of test as to whether He would act out of relation to His Father for His own purpose and ends, but He could never be diverted one moment from that selfless fellowship with His Father. If there was any offer, or bribe, or suggestion, any threat or trick, anything carrying an idea of disloyalty to His Father, then it could not be entertained for one moment. The virtue and the value of all that is in view in the Name.

If we would do anything, if we are to overcome in the Name, we must come to the place where the cross is over all that we have and are, where there is nothing of ourselves, where the cross has taken all thoughts of self in order that the Holy Spirit may cause all the power of that Name to operate in and through us.

How universally and wonderfully the Name of Jesus has operated in those early days, and that is the starting-point through the ages, but that was the ground on which that Name and the power of that Name had to be secured.

What mischief resulted, what terrible work, because someone wanted reputation, honour, influence and a name for himself! It is a history of many generations of misery, and when there are any reproductions of that act, we find loss of peace, rivalries, etcetera.

The cross overcomes everything and the Lord Jesus took to glory a mighty comprehensive triumph over all those works of the devil. He was manifested to destroy these. Then the Holy Spirit comes to make the same true in us, to work it out in us. The Holy Spirit must have an emptied vessel, the cross must be its foundation, the cross leading to the Name in its mightiest infinite potency. The Holy Spirit is here to glorify the Name of Jesus, and that necessitates making good in our hearts all that the Name represents and our being in a state of utter helplessness and abandonment to Him.

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