A Life-long Promise
George Everard, 1885
"If you then being evil know how to give good gifts unto your children — how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?" Luke 11:13
More than twenty-five years ago, I had a few words with an old veteran in the army of Christ. For sixty years he had faithfully preached the Gospel of Christ, and, still better, had lived it out in his daily life. He was then near his end, and I put a question to him. I was young and he was old, and I thought he might help me on my pilgrim way. So I asked him if he had found any particular promise of special assistance to him.
He at once named the words at the heading of this chapter. He wanted ever to know more and more of the Lord Jesus — and he knew that none but the Holy Spirit could teach him. The Spirit had long dwelt with him, but still he desired more of the light and love and joy which the Spirit imparts. So this promise was his stay. God would not fail His own word, so he trusted this gracious assurance, and would plead it even to the end.
From the beginning to the end of a Christian life, the Holy Spirit is the great worker in the soul of man.
It is so in the case of every true conversion to God. Take a lad who has no thought for his soul. He has a keen sense of the importance of everything that concerns his present welfare. He wishes to get on and rise high, and builds many a castle in the sky, as to what he will do when he has the means. But he has no feeling as to his sin, nor any desire for a new and holy life.
But far away at the right hand of God is the merciful Redeemer, full of tenderness and love, beholding that lad with compassion, as the Good Shepherd, ready to hear his first prayer, ready to forgive and save him for evermore.
How shall these two meet? How shall that lad be drawn to the Savior, for whom as yet he has no love — and the One who alone can fill his life with blessing and peace?
Thank God, the blessed Spirit can effect this.
He can awaken to earnest thought.
He can arouse the sleeping conscience.
He can quicken a desire for holiness.
He can stir up humble prayer.
He can bind together in true union by faith, the soul of that hitherto heedless lad, and the Merciful Savior and Redeemer.
Then, too, it is by the daily presence and power of the Spirit that the union continues. It is the Spirit who daily reveals the Savior's love and grace. It is the same Spirit who gives increasing knowledge of the will of God and increasing power to fulfill it. Only by the Spirit, can . . .
one sin be trampled under foot,
one grace cultivated, or
one single action done for the glory of God.
More needful far to each of us is it to have the Spirit with us, than the food we eat or the air we breathe. And God loves to bestow this great and precious gift.
You need not question God's willingness to give you the Spirit, because of any amount of sin or unworthiness, or lack of grace in yourself. Christ meets this doubt. He affirms that man is corrupt, in the very promise that He gives of the Holy Spirit to counteract what is sinful. Christ assumes this, "If you, being evil," and though He puts it by way of contrast between the earthly and heavenly parent — yet He no less teaches that no amount of evil in self need hinder your looking for this blessing of love.
Nor should you omit to notice that in the previous verses (9th and 10th) we have no less than six distinct promises of an answer to prayer for this benefit. Why this repetition of promise upon promise, but to drive away unbelief, and to assure us of an answer of peace?
Then consider the argument which Christ employs. He would say, "Your earthly fathers are often partial, selfish; and through sin, fail to show always the kindness they might. Nevertheless, they stretch out a willing hand to meet the necessities of their children. Then what of the Great Father, whose name is Love, who is only good? Will He fail to give this priceless blessing which He knows to be so essential to the holiness He would have you cultivate?"
Will you not be assured by such a thought as this? Will you not ask, and ask continually, and in the fullest confidence, that the Spirit may come to you and abide with you continually?
Nor forget this also: He who spoke this promise has gone to the Father's right hand to ensure its fulfillment. In His last discourse, no less than five times (see John 14-16.) did He remind them that the Comforter should come and dwell with them.
Then after His death and resurrection, He ascended to Heaven to send upon them the Comforter in His quickening and sanctifying power. Therefore, look up to Him exalted for this very purpose. Rejoice that He waits for the prayers of His people to bestow upon them in fullest measure the gift He so frequently promised.