The Spirit of Christ
James Smith, 1865
"Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow." 1 Peter 1:10-11
The Spirit who was in the Prophets, inspiring them to make divine communications to man, is said to be the Spirit of Christ. The same Spirit was in the Apostles, and the writers of the New Testament. That Spirit is now in every believer. He came at different times, in different forms, for different purposes; but it was always the same Divine Agent, the same loving testifier of Christ. To Him we are indebted for all that we know of Christ, for all we that enjoy of Christ, and for all the resemblance we bear to Christ. One cannot but feel love to the Holy Spirit — for His love to Jesus, and the honor that He puts upon our beloved Lord. O Spirit of Jesus, come now and assist me to write a few profitable lines upon this subject, and then bless them to the hearts of Your dear people!
The Holy Spirit revealed Christ. Every promise of Christ, every prediction of Christ, every type of Christ, in the Holy Scriptures — was given by the Holy Spirit. Even in the very early ages of the church, He took of the things of Jesus and showed them to His people.
The Spirit reveals Jesus still. No sinner every saw His glory, grace, and beauty — but in the Holy Spirit's light. The first heart-affecting view of Jesus we ever had, and all the soul-ravishing manifestations of Him since — are from this blessed Spirit of Christ. Still had he been to us a stone of stumbling and rook of offence, or like a root out of the dry ground, without form or loveliness — had it not been for the Holy Spirit. He opened the blind eyes of our understanding, He presented the sweet portrait of Christ in the mirror of the gospel, He threw divine light between the eye and the object, He pointed out His varied beauties and excellencies — and so won our affections and ravished our hearts! Blessed Spirit, reveal Jesus to us yet more clearly, and let us often behold him as the chief among ten thousand, the altogether lovely One!
The Holy Spirit qualified Christ for His work. Hence it was predicted, "The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him — the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord — and he will delight in the fear of the Lord." Isaiah 11:2-3. Therefore, we read that in the synagogue of Nazareth, when the Book of the Prophet Isaiah was given Him to read, He unrolled it, and read, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor;" and then added, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." Thus, the human nature of our Lord and Savior was qualified for the work He came into the world to accomplish; and we read that "He was led by the Spirit," filled with the Spirit, and "through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God."
The Holy Spirit was given to Christ. This seems to have been one of the stipulations in the everlasting covenant, that Jesus was to come, to teach, work, suffer, die, rise, and return to His Father, and then receive the Holy Spirit as a reward for His work. The Spirit, therefore, was conferred on Jesus, promised by Jesus, and at length conferred by Him on His Apostles, and then upon His whole church. Jesus now possesses the Spirit in all His vast and glorious fullness; He sends the Spirit to quicken, call, and sanctify the purchase of His blood; to qualify, set apart, employ, and sanction, the instruments He uses for the accomplishment of His purposes. He is now the Spirit of Christ, acting as it were, under Jesus, for the fulfillment of the predictions and promises of the Word, and for carrying on the Divine government in the church and in the world. O Savior, send Your Holy Spirit into Your church, in all the fullness of His gifts and graces, to rouse her up, to put life into her, and to crown her efforts with success! O Jesus, send Your Holy Spirit into my heart, to purify, adorn, and fill it with holiness — that it may be a fit residence for the living God, and a means of blessing to all around me!
The Holy Spirit glorifies Christ. This is His special work. Whatever He does in the world, whatever He confers on the church, whatever He produces in the heart, this is His object — to glorify Jesus. Low thoughts of Christ, unworthy views of Christ, or unworthy expressions concerning Christ, never come from the Holy Spirit, or meet with His sanction. But every bright view of His glory, every sweet discovery of His person, every act of adoration, every exercise of faith on His Word and work, every heart-felt consecration of ourselves to His service and praise — is from the Holy Spirit. Just in proportion as we are under the work, teachings, and influence of the Holy Spirit — will be our sweet views of Christ, confidence in Christ, love to Christ, zeal for Christ, and desire to exalt Him, extol Him, and set Him on high.
The Spirit strips us, empties us, gives us vivid views of our own depravity, pollution, baseness, wretchedness, and misery, on purpose to glorify Christ! And, oh, how precious, how unspeakably precious, is Jesus to our souls, when under such views of ourselves He is revealed to us as our Savior, Brother, Friend! No language can convey our feelings, or express our desires for His glory and honor. The more we are under the Spirit's teachings — the more shall we see of the dignity, majesty, glory, perfection, excellency, and suitability of our dear Redeemer. In every instance where the Spirit of Christ is, He leads the soul to crown Him "Lord of all."
The Holy Spirit endears Christ. Our love to Christ is just in proportion to our sense of our need of Him, our realization of a saving interest in Him, our feeling of obligation to Him, and our intimate fellowship and communion with Him. And these are just in proportion as we are under the power and teaching of the Holy Spirit. The faith which the Spirit produces — always embraces Christ. Christ in His glorious person, finished work, sufficient sacrifice, powerful intercession, glorious offices, and gracious characters. And to those who believe — He is precious. Precious, not only in their estimation — but in their experience. They feel Him to be precious. His very name is as ointment poured forth.
In proportion as they get near to Him — they are happy. In proportion to their resemblance to Him — they are satisfied. When they come up out of the horrible pit, and feel themselves extricated from the miry clay, and view Jesus as their Deliverer, as having delivered them by suffering, bleeding, dying, and rising for them — how precious, how unutterably precious, He is to them! And when they have been walking in darkness, questioning their state, drooping, doubting, desponding, and almost despairing — and they again read their interest in Him, realize nearness to Him, and are assured of His love to them — how dear, inexpressibly dear, He is to them then! But this experience flows from the work of the most gracious and condescending Spirit of Christ. Without His renewings — there would be no revivings, restorations, or rejoicing in Jesus anew. Spirit of Christ, endear Jesus to me daily! I consent that the flesh shall be mortified, that the world shall be crucified unto me — if I may but feel and enjoy Jesus as precious to my heart!
Finally, the Holy Spirit conforms to Christ. This is the great end He has in view. The person of Christ is the model after which He works. We are to be like Him. We are predestined to be conformed to the image of God's only-begotten Son. The gospel is the instrument by which He generally operates. In the gospel — Jesus is unveiled, and stands forth as the glory of God. There the glory of God may be viewed without injury. He takes away the veil from our hearts, and as Paul writes, so we experience: "We all, in an unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even "by the Spirit of the Lord."
Every real view of Christ is transforming. We see Him now — and are changed into His likeness. We shall soon see Him in His glorified state, and be perfectly conformed to Him. Hence John testifies, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." Blessed Spirit, daily carry on Your sanctifying work in our hearts! To that end, fix the eyes of our minds daily and steadily on the Lord Jesus; may He be always before us; and may we become gradually more and more like Him! Oh, for conformity to Jesus! Oh, for this proof, above all others, that the Spirit of Christ dwells in us!
Reader, those are solemn, heart-affecting words of the apostle, "Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh — but in the Spirit, if the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him." What! not belonging to Jesus! No, unless we have Christ's Spirit — we are not His people.
Wherever the Spirit of Christ is, He . . .
reveals Christ to the understanding,
enthrones Christ in the affections,
gives Christ the control of the will,
endears Christ to the heart,
glorifies Christ in the soul, and
conforms the person to the lovely likeness of Christ.
What do you know of these things? Is the Spirit of Christ within you? Do you know Christ, love Him, live upon Him, walk in fellowship with Him, and obey Him? The Holy Spirit turns the eye from everything — to Jesus; and just in proportion as we are under His influence and teaching, shall we turn away our eyes from our works, our wealth, our blessings, and our corruptions — and fix them simply and steadily on Jesus.
Reader, there is no true religion without the Spirit of Christ, and we have not the Spirit of Christ unless we lie low in the dust before God, rest on the finished work of Christ for our acceptance with God, and desire and strive to be like Christ in this present evil world. The true standard of excellency — is the example of Christ; and we have just as much true religion — as we have likeness to Christ, and no more. Spirit of Jesus, descend on the reader's heart; fill the soul with Your presence and power; and make these lines the means of endearing Jesus to His people, and of bringing rebellious sinners to His feet.