The Spirit of Jesus

Notes of an Address at Findochty 1980

During these meetings much precious truth concerning the Lord Jesus Christ has come before us, various Scriptures that have been read, various suggestions have been made in Bible readings and in ministry, and we would all agree that our minds and our hearts have been focused on the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ, and we are very much concerned that this ministry might have an effect upon us individually and collectively. If each of us is governed by the Spirit of God who can produce Christ-like features in our lives, then our companies will be greatly enriched in the measure in which each of us responds to the truth that is set before us in God’s word. When we come to this desire, that I am sure is in every heart, to be more like Christ, then there are an abundance of Scriptures that can be referred to, that can indicate to us how we become like Christ. The Lord said, “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you” (John 13:15); Peter said that Christ “when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not” (1 Pet. 2:23) and that is the kind of pathway that we are to follow; John said “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked” (1 John 2:6); Paul said “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5). All these indicate that we should be like Christ. We might feel, however, weak and powerless, but thank God every Christian has the power to enable him or her to be like Christ.

I want to speak tonight on a number of Scriptures that include the phrase “the Spirit of the Lord”, “the Spirit of Jesus”, “the Spirit of Christ”, “the Spirit of Jesus Christ” and “the Spirit of [God’s] Son”. It seems to me, dear brethren, that here is the power whereby we might become like Christ. Sometimes it exposes us, sometimes it encourages us, but very definitely if we rely on this power there will be some corresponding power in our lives that will be pleasing to heaven, honouring to our Lord Jesus Christ and beneficial to each of us individually and to our assemblies.

And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.” (Acts 5:8-9)

Here we have a very sad picture. The assembly was set up in power and glory, with such great blessing, but then a husband and wife entered into collusion to accomplish evil. The Spirit of the Lord will not allow this. They had the Spirit of the Lord but how contrary they were in their thoughts and in their actions to this glorious Person who indwelt them. The very term “the Spirit of the Lord” indicates that here is the kind of life that is to be produced by the Spirit in correspondence with the Lord Himself and we would expect that where we are subject to this power the features that are proper to the Lord will come into expression. It might have been said that they were very astute, they kept back some of the money themselves (which they had a perfect right to do) and then they gave away the rest. If they had come forward in a perfectly transparent way and said, ‘We have sold this piece of land and we want so much of it to be devoted to the interests of the Lord and we would like to keep the rest for ourselves’. That would have been perfectly upright, but instead of that they said, ‘Some are giving all they possess. We want to get the credit that they get, we want to be like them, but we do not want to be true like them’ and so they acted in a hypocritical way, keeping something for themselves but claiming to have given all. That kind of attitude is certainly not in keeping with one who is subject to the Lord. Everything about the Lord Jesus was transparent, upright, holy and true, and these are the features which are seen in one who possesses the Spirit of the Lord.

In the day of power then the strictest possible punishment came upon them. If that were in operation today, oh, dear brethren, who of us would escape? What a lack of transparency, a lack of honesty, a lack of uprightness, a lack of righteousness, so grieving to the Spirit of the Lord can be seen in us! These are the practical features of Christianity. If we cannot be upright, straightforward, true and honest in the small things of life, how can we possibly expect to be endowed with the things that are powerful, worthwhile, great and glorious? So this is a very practical matter, every believer has the Holy Spirit indwelling them consequent upon believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, and all have the power, from the youngest to the oldest, to do what is right in the sight of the Lord. This is a challenge to me, and I trust it is a challenge to you. This is the yardstick by which we measure our conduct before the Lord, we are to be transparent, honest and upright with nothing deceitful, hidden, unclean or evil. Before we can possibly hold on to the precious things that have been given to us in God’s mercy and grace, we have to attend to the righteous, upright things of life so that we might be here for the Lord’s pleasure and glory.

Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, after they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit [‘Spirit of Jesus’—J.N.D.] suffered them not. And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.” (Acts 16:6-10)

Here we find a man of God making two mistakes in relation to service, he was unintelligent as to the Spirit of Jesus’ desire. He wanted to go to two areas but the Spirit of Jesus said, ‘No, you cannot go there’, instead He directed him to another place of service and when Paul was subject to this guidance there was tremendous blessing in the foundation of a company of believers that produced much for the Lord. If a man of God can make mistakes, and has to be adjusted in his thinking (although they were not sinful mistakes and I am not disparaging the apostle in this, I am only pointing out that he wanted to do something that the Spirit of Jesus would not allow him to do), how much more ourselves, perhaps small in stature, spiritually and in the knowledge of the Lord? How cautious and careful we ought to be in our service for the Lord Jesus. There is a way to serve Him, and a direction that must come from Him and Him alone, He alone has the right to direct His servants. He is the Lord of the harvest and He has the right to direct His servants in the way that He wants. What a wonderful thing to be acutely conscious that what we are doing is right before the Lord, not something of our own desire or choice, but something that we feel is the result of being in the Lord’s presence and being under His direction. So Paul adjusted himself, moved in the right direction and blessing resulted. This is a great challenge.

Why does Scripture use that name, “the Spirit of Jesus” here? Because it directs our thoughts to the One who was here in lowliness and humility in obedience. I do not like to refer to my own exercises, but I can remember as a young lad desiring to make some progress in the things of the Lord and being on my knees for a long time, seeking that the Lord might give some indication as to His mind. I wanted something miraculous, some vision, something that would impress upon me, but the answer I got was very simple, just to read the word of God on this particular matter and obey it. It is so very simple. Perhaps it is not so easy to do sometimes when our wills are in opposition to the word of God, but when the word of God tells us what to do and we are willing to do it then there is blessing. Christ in His life, in the pathway of undeviating devotion to the will of God was obedient in all that He did and all that He said, “Lo, I come to do thy will, O God” (Heb. 10:9). Everything in His life was so pleasurable to God, everything was under God’s direction, everything was subject to the Spirit’s guidance. We read of Him being led by the Spirit and driven by the Spirit, we see this glorious Man under the control of the Spirit. There was no self-will, nothing of self in His walk. The life of Jesus was perfect under the Spirit’s power and direction. So how fitting is this character of the Spirit in this sense in connection with the apostle Paul, the Spirit of Jesus directing Him in his service down here. Dear brethren, oh that we can have this Spirit, that before we embark upon anything, we enter into the Lord’s presence, bow before Him and seek His guidance saying, “Not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). It is easy to quote this. We see the Lord in the garden bowed down under the greatest possible pressure with this attitude, “Not my will but thine be done”.

David entered into God’s presence, his great desire being to build a house for the Lord. What a motive that was, what a desire, but God said, ‘No, David, you are not the man, I have another in mind’. Did David turn aside, did he ‘take the huff’ as we say? No, David gathered up all the material with all the energy, love and power that he could command that his son might build God’s house. What a man of God! What a beautiful trait that was in this man, being set aside for what he desired and yet striving to help someone else to do the thing that he most desired to do. How much we should desire this kind of thing, not envying, not desiring to do what someone else is doing, but supporting the one who is doing it in prayer and encouragement. The Spirit of Jesus directed the apostle to do what so obviously was the will of the Lord in power and blessing. Brothers and sisters, young and old, as we desire to serve the Lord, might we do so under the Lord’s direction, humbly waiting on Him for His guidance and help.

Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” (1 Pet. 1:10-11)

The Old Testament prophets had the Spirit of Christ, and that Spirit enabled them to witness about His sufferings and the glories that would follow. Here we are faced with the great matter of being able to testify, or witness. How tongue-tied we feel at times when there are opportunities to present the sufferings of Christ or His glory to those who do not know Him even though we have the Spirit of Christ, the One who can help us to witness. Peter, on the day of Pentecost, stood up and witnessed to all and sundry that God had made the Jesus whom they had crucified both Lord and Christ. How signally he had failed in his testimony at an opportune moment when his Master was being ridiculed and hounded to His death, and yet a short time afterwards, after his full recovery, he stood up in all the dignity and power of the Spirit of Christ and his witness was powerful and effective and thousands of souls were brought to Christ. It has happened to me (and I would not be surprised if it has happened to you too), that because of some failure, some sense of weakness in my life I said, ‘Well, I cannot witness for the Lord, I had better keep my mouth shut’. Well, perhaps we have not been thoroughly recovered, perhaps we have not been sufficiently in the Lord’s presence to repent, that the Spirit of Christ might not have been grieved in us and enabled us to witness when the opportunity occurred. What a wonderful thing it is to say something for the One who loved us and gave Himself for us. How much we would desire competence to bring before each and every heart the sufferings of the Christ and the glories that were consequent upon those sufferings.

What a theme for all our hearts, that the Man who was reproached and rejected by men is now the Man who fills the glory and who will fill every position that God gives Him with distinction, glory and blessing. I am sure every loyal heart here longs for that day when Christ will be supreme in the universe, when His glory will be acknowledged, where obedience will be enforced by Him for God’s glory, He will rule in power to bless. Oh, how thankful we are that that day is coming and coming soon, and we can speak of these things effectively, feelingly and intelligently in the circle of the saints as we are empowered by the Spirit of Christ. What a theme it is! I am sure we have found by experience (I am referring to the Lord’s supper) that the more we are engaged with the holy sufferings of the man Christ Jesus, we are inevitably led to the glories that belong to Him. We have found this over and over again when feelingly we have been occupied with them and all the sorrow that He passed through, and all the pressure that was upon Him, that there is the compensating glory, God straightway glorified Him, not waiting for the world to come, but glorifying Him now, giving Him a name above every name, giving Him that place of supremacy and glory. Now we cannot speak in this way unless we have not grieved the Spirit of Christ. I do not mean that I can speak in a way that is any different from any other brother here, we can all speak in this way, thank God for that, we can all speak of the impeccable Jesus. That is the kind of language that comes from the Spirit of Christ concerning the spotless purity of the man Christ Jesus and the glories and the sufferings that belong to Him.

The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: but the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ…” (Phil. 1:16-19)

In Philippians 1 we find the beloved servant of the Lord in prison. I do not think that the apostle Paul would have had a very comfortable prison either, but that certainly did not dampen his spirit or his joy. This wonderful Philippian epistle was written by a man full of joy, full of encouragement for others and full of the consciousness of the presence of Christ and the help that Christ could give. Why does he speak of “the Spirit of Jesus Christ”? He had the presence of the Spirit, He was indwelled by the Spirit, there was no question at all about that, but Paul is speaking here about a supply. Was it not sufficient to have the Spirit indwelling him? It was, but what he was saying was that he wanted the characteristics of the man Christ Jesus to be expressed in him in his very difficult circumstances.

The Lord Jesus knew what it was to be in very, very trying circumstances. In Matthew 11 he spoke about the cities He had visited, Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum, but He found no interest, instead He found apathy, indifference and rejection. Was He downhearted, downcast? No, at that junction He said, “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight” (vv. 25-26). The work was going on, the Father was attending to what was worthwhile. If there were those who refused the testimony, thank God there were those who accepted it, and if those cities were apathetic and indifferent, the Father was saying that there were those who were humble, who would accept the blessing, and the Lord rejoiced in this, and not only this but He opened His heart and His arms, inviting all to come to Him and find the blessing that He alone could give. This is the kind of attitude that the apostle expressed. The supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ made him buoyant and triumphant over the circumstances in which he found himself. He was rejoicing even though there were those who were acting out of contention to add trouble to him, to add affliction to his bonds, but he rejoiced in this because the name of his Saviour, his Master, his Lord, was being mentioned, and on the positive side, there were the brethren who were taking courage by his afflictions and were continuing the testimony.

Various episodes in the life of Jesus tell us of the Lord’s joy in conditions of apparent failure in testimony (I use that word guardedly because there were those who refused the testimony, for example, “I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain”—Isa. 49:4). The Lord rejoiced and went on, shall I say, residing in the love of His Father. He found all His resource, His encouragement, His help and His strength in His Father who was always there for Him. Oh, dear brethren, the apostle said, ‘I want this kind of Spirit, a supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ’ and when he appeared before Nero as eventually he did, he acted in the same way as his Lord, because the Lord Jesus Christ rendered before Pilate a dignified testimony. When Paul was before Nero, because of the help that he received from the Spirit of Jesus Christ, he was enabled to give a forthright testimony to all concerned. Dear brethren, there is supply for every one of us, no matter what the difficulties or opposition, the Spirit of Jesus Christ is given to us to enable us to be like Him in all circumstances. The Spirit of Jesus Christ is longing for souls who are ready to put what is right into activity, to subject their wills to the will of the Lord, then they will receive His unqualified support, guidance and help.

But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” (Gal. 4:4-7)

“The fullness of the time” is just another way of saying ‘At the most appropriate moment’. Then God sent forth His Son. What an inscrutable mystery is the coming into the world of the Son of God. The Epistle to the Galatians was Paul’s way of correcting those who were liable to find themselves in bondage, and the greatest expression of freedom is to have the Spirit of God’s Son in one’s heart and to respond to the Father in a way that gives Him glory and pleasure. This is the highest form of liberty that Paul presented to those believers. He indicated other forms of liberty, but this was the highest point reached. I was, as a boy, adopted into a family, and my parents were very kind to me, but there was one thing they could not do, they could not give me their nature, but God has done something more than adopting us, He has given us the Spirit of His Son into our hearts that, so that not only are we adopted, but we have all the feelings that belong to the nature so that we can respond to our Father in a way that gives Him joy. That is a very wonderful thing. We can experience this every moment of our lives, this is something that is true of us all the time, it is not only true of us when we come together as believers (thank God it is true then), but it is always true of us. What a wonderful thing if, impelled by the Spirit of the Son, we bow our knees to our Father and speak to Him, simply, reverently, intelligently and in such a way as to gladden His heart. It is the joy of every father to hear their child say for the first time, ‘Father’. What a joy to our Father when He hears us in the power of His Son speak to Him affectionately and reverently. When the Lord Jesus uttered those words “Abba Father” (Mark 14:36) He uttered them under the greatest possible pressure, bowed in the garden under all the weight of the approaching cross, and all that it meant to His holy Spirit. He spoke to His Father in this way in all the known nearness that that relationship involved, “Abba Father”. Oh how wonderful, dear brethren, that He went that way that we might have this nearness and liberty.

So dear brethren, may these few suggestions as to the “Spirit of the Lord”, the “Spirit of Jesus”, “the Spirit of Christ”, “the Spirit of Jesus Christ” and “the Spirit of [God’s] Son” give us some impression of what is available for us in order to help us to be more like Christ until we see Him face to face.