The Spirit of Christ

Just as Jesus has many names, so does the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:9 names the third Person of God as “the Spirit of Christ”. To be indwelled with the Spirit of Christ is an amazing experience. To share that experience in dialogue and fellowship is nothing short of heavenly.

Today I share a brief review of a paper entitled “THE HOLY SPIRIT” by J.C. Ryle (source). J.C. Ryle lived from 1816-1900 and wrote with elegant simplicty. In his own words:

“My chief desire in all my writings, is to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ and make Him beautiful and glorious in the eyes of men; and to promote the increase of repentance, faith, and holiness upon earth.” (source)

In his introduction, he asks heart-piercing questions:

Now I ask every reader of this paper a plain question Do you know what you mean by these words, so often repeated—the Holy Spirit? What place has God the Holy Spirit in your religion? What do you know of His office, His work, His indwelling, His fellowship, and His power? This is the subject to which I ask your attention this day. I want you to consider seriously what you know about the work of God the Holy Spirit.

Then he presents five undeniable marks of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit:

(1) Where the Holy Spirit is, there will always be deep conviction of sin, and true repentance for it.

(2) Where the Holy Spirit is, there will always be lively faith in Jesus Christ, as the only Savior.

(3) Where the Holy Spirit is, there will always be holiness of life and conversation.

(4) Where the Holy Spirit is, there will always be the habit of earnest private prayer.

(5) Finally, where the Holy Spirit is, there will always be love and reverence for God’s Word.

He describes the leading and work of the Spirit with grace and truth, and a mind-stimulating appeal:

“I grant freely that the leadings of the Spirit, in some minute details, are not always uniform. The paths over which He conducts souls, are not always precisely one and the same. The experience that true Christians pass through in their beginnings is often somewhat various. This only I maintain—that the main road into which the Spirit leads people, and the final results which He at length produces, are always alike. In all true Christians, the five great marks I have already mentioned will always be found.

I grant freely that the degree and depth of the work of the Spirit in the heart may vary exceedingly. There is weak faith and strong faith—weak love and strong love—a bright hope and a dim hope—a feeble obedience to Christ’s will, and a close following of the Lord. This only I maintain—that the main outlines of religious character in all who have the Spirit, perfectly correspond. Life is life, whether strong or feeble. The infant in arms, though weak and dependent, is as real and true a representative of the great family of Adam as the strongest man alive.

Wherever you see these five great marks, you see a true Christian. Let that never be forgotten. I leave it to others to excommunicate and unchurch all who do not belong to their own denomination, and do not worship after their own particular fashion. I have no sympathy with such narrow-mindedness. Show me a man who repents, and believes in Christ crucified—who lives a holy life, and delights in his Bible and prayer—and I desire to regard him as a brother. I see in him a member of the universal Christian Church, out of which there is no salvation. I behold in him an heir of that crown of glory which is incorruptible and fades not away. If he has the Holy Spirit, he has Christ. If he has Christ, he has God. If he has God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit, all things are his. Who am I that I should turn my back on him, because we cannot see all things eye to eye?” (source)

His conclusion is quite relevant to today:

“Finally, pray daily for a great outpouring of the Spirit on the Church and on the world. This is the grand need of the day—it is the thing that we need far more than money, machinery, and men. The “company of preachers” in Christendom is far greater than it was in the days of Paul; but the actual spiritual work done in the earth, in proportion to the means used, is undoubtedly far less. We need more of the presence of the Holy Spirit—more in the pulpit, and more in the congregation—more in the pastoral visit, and more in the school. Where He is, there will be life, health, growth, and fruitfulness. Where He is not—all will be dead, tame, formal, sleepy, and cold. Then let everyone who desires to see an increase of pure and undefiled religion, pray daily for more of the presence of the Holy Spirit in every branch of the visible Church of Christ.”

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