The Promise of the Spirit
by James Smith
Next to the gift of his Son — God can give us no greater gift than his Holy Spirit. Nor is there any gift that we more need. This gift was promised in both Testaments, and has always been in some measure in the Church. But more of the Spirit's presence, power, and operations are needed — and should be therefore should be sought.
Can we look into the world, or the church, or into our own families — and not see that we need more of the Spirit's influence, than we now have? Let us then look at one promise, to excite and encourage our hearts, to seek with more faith and fervor this great blessing. Our heavenly Father speaks to his people, after having charged home many grievous sins upon them — and it is a wonderful display of his free and sovereign grace. "For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams!" Isaiah 44:3-4
THE STATE OF THE CHURCH. Dry and thirsty ground. Having little or no vegetating power — so that though much seed is sown, and good seed too — but little springs up.
It appears generally barren, with only here and there a green and pleasant spot — only now and then a convert.
It is pretty much parched, having but little sweet and pleasant verdure — but little sweet, savory, and profitable conversation.
It is more like a desert — than the garden of the Lord. It is dry and thirsty land. Like sand soil — it drinks in much, and produces but little. It needs constant moisture, or nothing will grow.
It is a weary and wearying land. The members are dissatisfied, they pine for something they have not, and therefore pray for the early and latter rain. It is a mercy when the Lord's people thirst to possess, pant to enjoy, and pray the Lord to give — his Holy Spirit unto them.
THE PROMISE. It is a promise of the Spirit, represented by water. How exactly adapted to his people's needs — for water is not more suited to the thirsty land, or the dry ground — than the Holy Spirit is to the world and the church.
Does water soften the soil? So does the Holy Spirit the heart.
Does water enrich the ground? So does the Holy Spirit the soul.
Does water fructify and make fruitful the earth? So does the Holy Spirit the church of God.
Does water produce beauty in the garden and the field? So does the Holy Spirit in the church of God.
It is water from Heaven. This shows it to be God's free gift — and not at all at the command of man. Pray for it — we may; produce it — we cannot. As no one but God can produce rain — so no one but God can give the Holy Spirit.
"I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground!" It not a promise of a light summer shower — but in floods. This shows that we are not straitened in God —
whose love is infinite,
whose heart is large,
whose resources are boundless!
It directs us also — to ask and expect great things from God.
The effect predicted is most encouraging. "They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams!" So shall converts spring up. There shall be a great increase. It may appear small at the first — but it shall grow rapidly, spread widely, become ornamental, remain permanent as the poplar, and be useful as well as beautiful.
See what we need — what the Church generally needs. The Spirit's powerful influences! The Spirit is like a steady rain to the mown grass, which renders it fruitful.
See what God has promised. His Spirit — the very thing we need! His Spirit in abundance like a flood, in the very manner we need it. O the goodness of God, in adapting his promises — to our necessities! Let us realize the love of God — as displayed in the promise of the Spirit. Look to his power — to fulfill the promise; and depend on his faithfulness — to make good the promise.
Let us plead with God for the outpouring of his Spirit, as a man for the preservation of his property — more, as a criminal for the sparing of his life! God loves prayer, especially pleading prayer.
Let us believe the promise of the outpouring of his Spirit — not by giving a cold credit to it — but exercising a warm-hearted confidence in it. Let us not only plead and believe — but let expect God to be as good as his word, and to do as he has said. Freely he made the promise, and exactly adapted it to our circumstances; faithfully will he keep the promise, and fulfill it in our experience. He says, "I will," which is the language of a God, the language of one who means what he has said.
"For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants!" Can language be more positive, more decisive? Nothing can tempt him to break his word — let us therefore by faith and prayer, seek to bring down the promised influence of the Spirit on our world, on the church of God, on our families, and also on our souls. Let nothing dishearten, or discourage us, until see a glorious work of grace around us, and the power of the Holy Spirit within us — and the promise becomes an historical fact.