What Is The Proof For The Personality Of The Holy Spirit – Spiritual Reading.
There are four separate and distinct lines of proof of the Personality of the Holy Spirit.
1. The first line of proof of the Personality of the Holy Spirit is that all the distinctive marks or characteristics of personality are ascribed to the Holy Spirit in the Bible.
What are the distinctive characteristics of personality? Knowledge, feeling and will. Any being who knows and feels and wills is a person. Oftentimes when you say that the Holy Spirit is a person, people understand you to mean that the Holy Spirit has hands and feet and fingers and toes and eyes and ears and nose and mouth, and so on.
But these are not the marks of personality, these are the marks of corporeity. Any being who knows, thinks and wills is a person whether he have a body or not. Now all these characteristics of personality are ascribed to the Holy Spirit in the Bible.
(1) Turn in your Bibles to 1 Cor. 2:11. “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” Here knowledge is ascribed to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit in other words, is not a mere illumination that comes to your mind and mine whereby our minds are cleared and strengthened to see truth that they would not otherwise discover. The Holy Spirit is a Person who Himself knows the things of God and reveals to us what He Himself knows.
(2) Now turn to 1 Cor. 12:11: “But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will.” Here will is ascribed to the Holy Spirit. The thought clearly is that the Holy Spirit is not a divine power that we get hold of and use according to our will, but that the Holy Spirit is a person who gets hold of us and uses us according to His will.
This is one of the most fundamental facts in regard to the Holy Spirit that we must bear in mind if we are to get into right relations to Him. More people are going astray at this point than almost any other. They are trying to get hold of some divine power which they can use according to their will. I do thank God that there is no divine power that I can get hold of and use according to my will.
What could I, in my foolishness and ignorance, do with a divine power, what evil I might work! But on the other hand, I am still more glad that while there is no divine power that I can get hold of and use according to my foolish will, there is a Divine Person who can get hold of me and use me according to His infinitely wise and loving will.
(3) Turn now to Rom. 8:27. “And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” What I wish you to notice here is expression, “the mind of the Spirit.”
The Greek word here translated “mind” is a comprehensive word that has in it the ideas of both thought and purpose. It is the same word which is used in the 7th verse of the chapter where we read, “The mind of the flesh is enmity against God,” where the thought is that not merely the thought of the flesh is against God, but the whole [moral and intellectual life of the flesh is enmity against God.
(4) We now turn to a most remarkable passage—Rom. 15:30. “Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me.” What I wish you to notice in this verse are the words “The love of the Spirit.” It is a wonderful thought.
It teaches us that the Holy Spirit is not a mere blind influence or power, no matter how beneficent, that comes into our hearts and lives, but that He is a Divine Person, loving us with the tenderest love. I wonder how many of us have ever thought much regarding “the love of the Spirit.” I wonder how many of us ministers who are here to-day have ever preached a sermon on the love of the Spirit.
I wonder how many of you have ever heard a sermon on the love of the Spirit. Every day of your life you kneel down before God the Father, at least I hope you do, and say, “Heavenly Father, I thank thee for thy great love that led thee to give thy Son to come down to this world and die upon the cross of Calvary in my place.”
Every day of your life you kneel down and look up into the face of Jesus Christ the Son and say, “Thou blessed Son of God, I thank thee for that great love of thine that led thee to come down to this world in obedience to the Father and die in my place upon the cross of Calvary.” But did you ever kneel down and look up to the Holy Spirit and say to him, “Holy Spirit, I thank thee for that great love of thine”?
And yet we owe our salvation as truly to the love of the Holy Spirit as we do to the love of the Father and the love of the Son. If it had not been for the love of God the Father to me, looking down upon me in my lost estate, yes, anticipating my fall and ruin and sending His Son down to this world to die upon the cross, to die in my place, I would have been in hell to-day.
If it had not been for the love of Jesus Christ, the Son, coming down to this world in obedience to the Father to lay down His life, a perfect atoning sacrifice on the cross of Cavalry in my stead, I would have been in hell to-day.
But if it had not been for the love of the Holy Spirit to me, coming down to this world in obedience to the Father and the Son, seeking me out in my lost condition, following me day after day, and week after week, and month after month, and year after year, when I would not listen to Him, when I deliberately turned my back upon Him, when I insulted Him, following me into places where it must have been agony for One so holy to go, following me day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, until at last He succeeded in bringing me to my senses and bringing me to realise my utterly lost condition and revealed the Lord Jesus to me as just the Saviour I needed and induced me and enabled me to receive the Lord Jesus as my Saviour and my Lord; if it had not been for this [patient, long-suffering, never-wearying love of the Spirit of God to me, I would have been in hell to-day.
(5) Turn now to a passage in the Old Testament. Neh. 9:20. “Thou gavest also thy good Spirit to instruct them, and withheldest not thy manna from their mouth, and gavest them water for their thirst.” Here both intelligence and goodness are ascribed to the Holy Spirit.
This passage does not add anything to the thought that we have already had: I brought it in simply because it is from the Old Testament. There are those who say that the doctrine of the Personality of the Holy Spirit is in the New Testament, but is not in the Old Testament; but here we find it as clearly in the Old Testament as in the New.
Of course, we do not find it as frequently in the Old Testament as in the New, for this is the dispensation of the Holy Spirit: but the doctrine of the Personality of the Holy Spirit is there in the Old Testament. There are many who say that the doctrine of the Trinity is not in the Old Testament, that while it is in the New, it is not in the Old.
But it is in the Old, in the very first chapter of the Bible. In Gen. 1:26 we read, “And God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” Here the plurality of the persons in the Godhead comes out clearly. God did not say, “I will” or “Let me make man in my image.” He said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”
The three persons of the Trinity are found in the first three verses of the Bible: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” There you have God the Father. “And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”
There you have the Holy Spirit. “And God said,” there you have the Word, “Let there be light: and there was light.” Here we have the three persons of the Trinity in the first three verses of the Bible. In fact the doctrine of the Trinity is found hundreds of times in the Old Testament. In the Hebrew Bible it occurs in every place where you find the word God in your English Bible, for the Hebrew word for God is a plural noun.
Literally translated, it would be “Gods” and not God. In the very passage to which the Unitarians and the Jews, who reject the Deity of Christ, refer so often as proving conclusively that the Deity of Christ cannot be true, namely Deut. 6:4, the very doctrine that they are seeking to disprove is found; for Deut. 6:4 literally translated would read “Hear, O Israel: Jehovah our Gods is one Jehovah.”
Why did the Hebrews with their intense monotheism, use a plural name for God? This was the question that puzzled the Hebrew grammarians and lexicographers, and the best explanation they could arrive at was that the plural for God here used was the pluralis majestatis, the plural of majesty.
The explanation is entirely inadequate, to say nothing of the fact that the [pluralis majestatis in the Old Testament is a figure of very doubtful validity. There is another explanation far nearer at hand, and far more adequate and satisfactory, and that is that the Hebrew inspired writers use a plural name for God in spite of their intense monotheism, because there is a plurality of persons in the one Godhead.
(6) Now turn to Eph. 4:30. “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” Here grief is ascribed to the Holy Spirit. In other words, the Holy Spirit is not a mere blind impersonal influence or power that comes to dwell in your heart and mine, but a person, a person who loves us, a person who is holy and intensely sensitive against sin, a person who recoils from sin in what we call its slightest forms as the holiest woman of earth never recoiled from sin in its grossest and most repulsive forms.
And He sees whatever we do, He hears whatever we say, He sees our very thoughts, not a vagrant fancy is allowed a moment’s lodgment in our mind but what He sees it. And if there is anything impure, unholy, immodest, untrue, false, censorious, or unChristlike in any way, He is grieved beyond expression. This is a wonderful thought and it is to me the mightiest incentive that I know to a Christian walk.
How many a young man is kept back from doing things that he would otherwise do, by the thought that, if he did do that, his mother might hear of it and it would grieve her beyond expression. How many a young man has come to the great city and in some hour of temptation has been about to go into a place that no self-respecting man ought ever to enter, but just as his hand is on the doorknob and he is about to open the door, the thought comes to him, “If I should enter there mother might hear of it, and if she did, it would nearly kill her,” and he has turned away without entering;
But there is One holier than the holiest mother that any of us ever knew, One who loves us with a tenderer love than our own mother loves us, and Who sees everything we do, not only in the daylight but under the cover of night; Who hears every word we utter, every careless word that escapes our lips; Who sees every thought we entertain, yes, Who sees every fleeting fancy that we allow a moment’s lodgment in our mind; and if there is anything unholy, impure, immodest, indecorous, unkind, harsh, censorious or unchristlike in any way in act or word or thought, He sees it and is grieved beyond expression.
Oh, how often there has come into my mind some thought or imagination, I know not from what source, but that I ought not to entertain, and just as I was about to give it lodgment, the thought has come, “The Holy Spirit sees that and will be grieved by it,” and the thought has gone. Bearing this thought of the Holy Spirit in our mind will help us to solve all the questions that perplex the young believer to-day.
For example, the question, “Ought I as a Christian go to the theatre or the movies?” Well, if you go the Holy Spirit will go; for He dwells in the heart of every believer and goes wherever the believer goes. Were you ever at a theatre or at a moving picture show in your life where you thought the atmosphere of the place would be congenial to the Holy Spirit? If not, don’t go.
Ought I as a Christian go to the dance? Well, here again, if you go, the Holy Spirit will surely go. Were you ever at a dance in your life where you believed the atmosphere of the place would be congenial to the Holy Spirit? Shall I as a Christian play cards? Were you ever at a card party in all your life, even the most select little neighbourhood gathering, or even a home gathering to play cards, where you thought the atmosphere of the place would be congenial to the Holy Spirit? If not, don’t play.
So with all the questions that come up and that some of us find so hard to settle, this thought of the Holy Spirit will help you to settle them all, and to settle them right, if you really desire to settle them right and not merely to do the thing that pleases yourself.
2. The second line of proof of the personality of the Holy Spirit is that, many actions are ascribed to the Holy Spirit that only a person can perform.
There are many illustrations of this in the Bible; but I will limit our consideration this morning to three instances.
(1) Turn again to the 2nd chapter of 1 Corinthians. In the 10th verse, we read, “But unto us, [God revealed them through the Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” Here the Holy Spirit is represented as searching the deep things of God. In other words, as we said under our previous heading, the Holy Spirit is not a mere illumination whereby our minds are made clear and strong to apprehend truth that they would not otherwise discover, but the Holy Spirit is a person Who Himself searches into the deep things of God and reveals to us the things which He discovers. Such words could only be spoken of a person.
(2) Now turn to Rom. 8:26 “And in like manner the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity: for we know not how to pray as we ought but the spirit himself maketh intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered.” Here the Holy Spirit is represented as doing what only a person can do, praying. The Holy Spirit is not a mere influence that comes to impel us to prayer, and not a mere guidance to us in offering our prayers. He is a person who Himself prays.
Every believer in Christ has two Divine Persons praying for Him. First, the Son, our Advocate with the Father, who ever liveth to make intercession for us up yonder at the right hand of God in the place of power (John 2:1 and Heb. 7:25). Second, the Holy Spirit who prays through us down here. Oh, what a wonderful thought, that we have these two divine persons praying for us every day. What a sense it gives us of our security.
(3) Now turn to two other closely related passages. John 14:26. “But the comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said unto you.” Here the Holy Spirit is represented as doing what only a person could do, namely, teaching.
We have the same thought in John 16:12-14. “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He shall guide you into all the truth: for He shall not speak from Himself; but what things soever He shall hear, these shall He speak: and He shall declare unto you the things that are to come. He shall glorify me; for He shall take of mine, and shall declare it unto you.”
Here again the Holy Spirit is represented as a living personal teacher. It is our privilege to have the Holy Spirit as a living person to-day as our teacher. Every time we study our Bibles, it is possible for us to have this Divine Person the author of the Book, to interpret it to us and to teach us its meaning. It is a precious thought.
How many of us have often thought when we heard some great human teacher whom God has especially blessed to us, “Oh, if I could only hear that man every day, then I might make some progress in my Christian life,” but we can have a teacher more competent by far than the greatest human teacher that ever spoke for our teacher every day, the Holy Spirit.
3. The third line of proof of the personality of the Holy Spirit is that an office is predicated of the Holy Spirit that could only be predicated of a person.
Look for example at John 14:16, 17. Here we read, “And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever, even the Spirit of truth: whom the world cannot receive; for it seeth him not. Neither knoweth him: ye know him; for He abideth with you, and shall be in you.”
Here the Holy Spirit is represented as another Comforter who is coming to take the place of our Lord Jesus. Up to this time our Lord Jesus had been the friend always at hand to help them in every emergency that arose. But now He was going and their hearts were filled with consternation, and He tells them that while He is going, another is coming to take His place.
Can you imagine our Lord Jesus saying this if the other that was coming to take His place was a mere impersonal influence or power? Can you imagine our Lord Jesus saying what He says in John 16:7, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth, it is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I go, I will send him unto you,” if that which was coming to take His place was not another person but a mere influence or power.
In that case, is it for a moment conceivable that our Lord could say that it was expedient for Him, a Divine Person, to go and a mere influence or power, no matter how divine, come to take His place? No! No! What our Lord said was that He, one Divine Person, was going, but that another Person, just as Divine, was coming to take His place.
This promise is to me one of the most precious promises in the whole Word of God for this present dispensation, the thought that during the absence of my Lord, until that glad day when He shall come back again, another Person, just as divine as He, is by my side, yes, dwells in my heart every moment to commune with me and to help me in every emergency that can possibly arise.
I suppose you know that the Greek word translated Comforter in these verses means more than Comforter. It means Comforter plus a whole lot beside. The Greek word so translated is parakletos. This word is a compound word, compounded of the word para which means alongside, and kletos, one called, “One called to stand alongside another” to take his part and help him in every emergency that arises.
It is the same word that is translated “advocate” in 1 John 2:1, “If any man sin, we have an advocate(parakleton) with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” But the word “Advocate” does not give the full force of the word. Etymologically it means about the same. Advocate is a Latin word transliterated into the English. The word is compounded of two words, ad, meaning to, and vocatus, one called, that is to say, one called to another to take his part, or to help him.
But in our English usage it has obtained a restricted sense. The Greek word, as already said, means “one called alongside another,” and the thought is of a helper always at hand with his counsel and his strength and any form of help needed. Up to this time the Lord Jesus Himself had been their Paraclete, or friend always at hand to help.
Whenever they got into any trouble they simply turned to Him. For example, on one occasion they were perplexed on the subject of prayer and they said to the Lord, “Lord teach us to pray.” And He taught them to pray. On another occasion when Jesus was coming to them walking on the water, when their first fear was over and He had said, “It is I, be not afraid,” then Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee upon the water.” And the Lord said, “Come.” Then Peter clambered over the side of the fishing smack and commenced to go to Jesus walking on the water. Seemingly he turned around, took his eyes off the Lord and looked at the fishing smack to see if the other disciples, John and James, and the rest, were noticing how well he was getting on, but no sooner had he got his eyes off the Lord than he began to sink, and he cried out saying, “Lord, save me,” and Jesus reached out His hand and held him up.
Just so, when they got into any other emergency they turned to the Lord and He delivered them. But now He was going, and consternation filled their hearts, and the Lord said to them, “Yes, I am going but another just as divine, just as able to help, is coming to take my place,” and this other Paraclete is with us wherever we go, every hour of the day or night. He is always by our side.
If this thought gets into your heart and stays there, you will never have another moment of fear no matter how long you live. How can we fear in any circumstances, if He is by our side? You may be surrounded by a howling mob. But what of it if He walks between you and the mob? That thought will banish all fear. I had a striking illustration of this in my own experience some years ago.
I was speaking at a Bible Conference on Lake Kenka in New York State. I had a cousin who had a cottage four miles up the lake and I went up there and spent my rest day with him. The next day he brought me down in his steam launch to the pier where the Conference was held. As I stepped off the launch onto the pier he said to me, “Come back again to-night and spend the night with us,” and I promised him that I would; but I did not realise what I was promising.
That night, when the address was over as I went out of the hotel and started on my walk, I found that I had undertaken a large contract. The cottage was four miles away, but a four mile walk or an eight mile walk was nothing under ordinary circumstances, but a storm was coming up, the whole heaven was overcast.
The path led along a bluff bordering the lake, the path was near the edge of the bluff. Sometimes the lake was perhaps not more than ten or twelve feet below, at other times some thirty or forty feet below. I had never gone over the path before and as there was no starlight, I couldn’t see the path at all. Furthermore, there had already been a storm that had gulleyed out deep ditches across the path into which one might fall and break his leg.
I couldn’t see these ditches except when there would be a sudden flash of lightning, and then I would see one and then it would be darker and I blinder than ever. As I walked along this path, so near the edge of the bluff with all the furrows cut through it, I felt it was perilous to take the walk and thought of going back; and then the thought came to me, “You promised that you would come to-night and they may be sitting up waiting for you.”
So I felt that I must go on. But it seemed creepy and uncanny to walk along the edge of that bluff on such an uncertain path that I couldn’t see, and could only hear the sobbing and wailing and the moaning of the lake at the foot of the bluff as it rose in the fast approaching storm. Then the thought came to me, what was it you told the people there at the conference about the Holy Spirit being a Person always by our side? And I at once realised that the Holy Spirit walked between me and the edge of the bluff; and that four miles through the dark was four miles without a fear, a gladsome instead of a fearsome walk.
I once threw this thought out in the Royal Albert Hall in London, one dark dismal February afternoon. There was a young lady in the audience who was very much afraid of the dark. It simply seemed impossible for her to go into a dark room alone. After the meeting was over she hurried home and rushed in to the room where her mother was sitting and cried, “O mother, I have heard the most wonderful address this afternoon about the Holy Spirit always being by our side as our ever-present helper and protector.
I shall never be afraid of the dark again.” Her mother was a practical English woman and said to her, “Well, let us see how real that is. Now go upstairs to the top floor, into the dark room, and shut the door and stay in there alone in the dark.” The daughter went bounding up the stairs, went into the dark room, closed the door and it was pitch dark, and “Oh,” she wrote me the next day, “it was dark, utterly dark, but that room was bright and glorious with the presence of the Holy Spirit.”
In this thought is also the cure for insomnia. Did any of you ever have insomnia? I did. For two dark, awful years. Night after night, I would go to bed, almost dead, as it seemed to me, for sleep, and I thought I would certainly sleep as I could scarcely keep awake; but scarcely had my head touched the pillow when I knew I wouldn’t sleep and I would hear the clock strike twelve, one, two, three, four, five, six, and then it was time to get up.
It seemed as though I didn’t sleep at all, though I have no doubt I did: for I believe that people who suffer from insomnia sleep more than they think they do, else we would die: but it seemed as if I didn’t sleep at all, and this went on for two whole years, until I thought that if I couldn’t get sleep I would lose my mind. And then I got deliverance. For years I would retire and fall asleep about as soon as my head touched the pillow. But one night I went to bed in the Bible Institute in Chicago where I was then stopping.
I expected to fall asleep almost immediately, as had become my custom, but scarcely had my head touched the pillow when I knew I was not going to sleep. Insomnia was back. If you have ever had him you will always recognise him. It seemed as if Insomnia was sitting on the footboard looking like an imp, grinning at me and saying “I am back for two more years.” “Oh,” I thought, “two more years of this awful insomnia.”
But that very morning I had been teaching the students in the lecture room on the floor below on the Personality of the Holy Spirit, and the thought came to me almost immediately, “What was that you were telling the students down stairs this morning about the Holy Spirit being always with us?” And I said, “Why don’t you practice what you preach?” And I looked up and said, “O thou blessed Holy Spirit of God, thou art here, if thou hast anything to say to me, I will listen.”
And He opened to me some of the sweet and precious things about Jesus Christ, filling my soul with calm and peace and joy, and the next thing I knew I was asleep and the next thing I knew it was to-morrow morning; and whenever Insomnia has come around since and sat on my [footboard, I have done the same thing and it has never failed.
In this thought also is a cure for all loneliness. If the thought of the Holy Spirit as an Ever-present Friend always at hand, once enters your heart and stays there, you will never have another lonely moment as long as you live. My life for the larger part of the last sixteen years has been a lonely life. I have often been separated from all my family for months at a time. I have not seen my wife sometimes for two or three months at a time and for eighteen months I did not see any member of my family but my wife.
One night I was walking the deck of a steamer in the South Seas between New Zealand and Tasmania. It was a stormy night. Most of the other passengers were below sick, none of the officers nor sailors could walk with me for they had their hands full looking after the boat. I had to walk the deck alone.
Four of the five other members of my family were on the other side of the globe, seventeen thousand miles away by the nearest route that I could get to them, and the one member of my family who was nearer was not with me that night. As I walked the deck alone I got to thinking of the four children seventeen thousand miles away and was about to get lonesome, when the thought came to me of the Holy Spirit by my side, and that as I walked He took every step with me, and all loneliness was gone.
I gave expression to this thought some years ago in the city of St. [Paul, and at the close of the address a physician came to me and said, “I wish to thank you for that thought. I am often called at night to go out alone through darkness and storm far into the country, and I have been very lonely, but I will never be lonely again, for I will know that every step of the way the Holy Spirit is beside me in my doctor’s gig.”
In this same precious truth there is a cure for a broken heart. Oh, how many broken-hearted people there are in the world to-day, especially in these days of war and bloodshed and death! Many of us here have lost loved ones. Many more of us in all probability will during the months that are just ahead of us. But we need not have a moment’s heartache if we only know the communion of the Holy Ghost.
There is perhaps here to-day some woman who a year ago, or a few months ago, or a few weeks ago, or a few days ago, had by her side a man whom she dearly loved, a man so strong and wise that she was freed from all sense of responsibility and care; for all the burdens were upon him, and how bright and happy life was in his companionship! But the dark day came when that loved one was taken away, and how lonely and empty and barren, and full of burden and care, life is to-day! Listen!
There is One who walks right by your side, wiser and stronger and more loving than the wisest and strongest and most loving husband that ever lived, ready to bear all the burdens and responsibilities of life, yes, ready to do far more: to come in and dwell in your heart and fill every nook and corner of your empty, aching heart, and thus banish all loneliness and heartache forever.
I said this one afternoon in Saint Andrews Hall in Glasgow. At the close of the address, when I passed out into the reception room, a lady who had hurried along to meet me, approached me. She wore a widow’s bonnet, her face bore the marks of deep sorrow, but now there was a happy look in her face. She hurried to me and said, “Doctor Torrey, this is the anniversary of my dear husband’s death” (her husband was one of the most highly esteemed Christian men in Glasgow) “and I came to Saint Andrews Hall to-day saying to myself, ‘Doctor Torrey will have something to say that will help me.’ Oh,” she continued, “you have said just the right word! I will never be lonesome again, never have a heartache again.
I will let the Holy Spirit come in and fill every aching corner of my heart.” Eighteen months passed; I was in Scotland again, taking a short vacation on the lochs of the Clyde on the private yacht of a friend. One day we stopped off a point, a little boat put off from the point and came alongside the steam yacht. The first one who clambered up the side of the yacht and onto the deck was this widow.
Seeing me standing on the deck, she hurried across and took my hand in both of hers and with a radiant smile on her face she said, “Oh, Doctor Torrey, the thought you gave me in Saint Andrews [Hall that afternoon stays with me still and I have not had a lonely or sad hour from that day to this.” But it is in our Christian work that the thought comes to us with greatest power and helpfulness. Take my own experience. I became a minister simply because I had to, or be forever lost.
I do not mean that I am saved by preaching the Gospel; I am saved simply on the ground of Christ’s atoning blood and that alone; but my becoming a Christian and accepting Him as my Saviour turned upon my preaching the Gospel. For six years I refused to come out as a Christian because I was unwilling to preach, and I felt that if I became a Christian I must preach. The night that I was converted I did not say, “I will accept Christ” or “I will give up my sins”; I said, “I will preach.”
But if there was ever a man who by natural temperament was unfitted to preach, it was I. I was one of these abnormally bashful boys. A stranger could scarcely speak to me without my blushing to the roots of my hair. Of all the tortures I endured at school there was none so great as that of reciting a piece. To stand up on the platform and have all the scholars looking at me, I could scarcely endure it, and when I had to recite and my own mother and father asked me to recite the piece before I went to school, I simply could not recite it before my own father and mother.
Think of a man like that going into the ministry. Even after I was in Yale College, when I would go home on a vacation and my mother would have callers and send for me to come in and meet them, I couldn’t say a word. After they were gone my mother would say to me, “Archie, why didn’t you say something to Mrs. S. or Mrs. D.?” and I would say, “Why, mother, I did!” and she would reply, “You didn’t utter a sound.” I thought I did, but it would come no further than my throat and there be smothered.
I was so bashful that I never even spoke in a church prayer meeting until after I entered the theological seminary. Then I thought, if I was to be a preacher I must at least be able to speak in my own church prayer meeting. I made up my mind I would. I learned a piece by heart. I remember some of it now. I think I forgot some of it when I got up to speak that night. As soon as the meeting was thrown open I grasped the back of the settee in front of me and pulled myself up to my feet and held on to it lest I should fall.
One Niagara went rushing up one side and another down the other, and I tremblingly repeated as much of my little piece as I could remember and then dropped back into the seat. At the close of the meeting a dear old maid, a lovely Christian woman, came to me and cheeringly said, “Oh, Mr. Torrey, I want to thank you for what you said to-night. It did me so much good. You spoke with so much feeling.” Feeling! The only feeling I had was that I was scared nearly to death.
Think of a man like that going into the ministry. My first years in the ministry were torture. I preached three times a day. I committed my sermons to memory and then I stood up and twisted the top button of my coat until I had twisted the sermon out and then when the third sermon was preached and finished, I dropped back into the haircloth settee back of the pulpit with a great sense of relief that that was over for another week.
And then the thought would take possession of me, Well you have to begin to-morrow morning to get ready for next Sunday! But a glad day came when the thought I am trying to teach you this morning took possession of me, viz., that when I stood up to preach, that, though people saw me, that there was Another who stood by my side whom they did not see, but upon whom was all the responsibility for the meeting, and all that I had to do was to get as far back out of sight as possible and let Him do the preaching.
From that day preaching has been the joy of my life. I would rather preach than eat. Sometimes when I rise to preach, before I have uttered a word, the thought of Him, standing beside me, able and willing to take charge of the whole meeting and do whatever needs to be done, has so filled my heart with exultant joy that I have felt like shouting. Just so in your Sunday School teaching.
Some of you worry about your Sunday School classes for fear that you will say something that ought not to be said, or leave unsaid something that ought to be said, and the thought of the burden and responsibility almost crushes you. Listen! Always remember this as you sit there teaching your class: there is One right beside you Who knows just what ought to be said and just what ought to be done. Instead of carrying the responsibility of the class, let Him carry it, let Him do the teaching.
One Monday morning I met one of the most faithful laymen I ever knew and a very gifted Bible teacher. He was deep in the blues, over his failure with his class the day before—at least, what he regarded as failure. He unburdened his heart to me. I said to him, “Mr. Dyer, did you not ask God to give you wisdom as you went before that class?” He said, “I did.” I said, “Did you not expect Him to give it?” He said, “I did.” Then I said, “What right have you to doubt that He did?” He replied, “I never thought of that before.
I will never worry about my class again.” Just so in personal work. When I or some one else urges you at the close of the meeting to go and speak to some one else, oh, how many of you want to go, but you don’t stir. You think to yourself, “I might say the wrong thing.” You will, if you say it. You will certainly say the wrong thing; but trust the Holy Spirit, He will say the right thing. Let Him have your lips to speak through.
It may not appear the right thing at the time, but some time you will find out that it was just the right thing. One night in Launceston, Tasmania, as Mrs. Torrey and I came away from the meeting, my wife said to me, “Archie, I wasted my whole evening. I have been talking to the most frivolous girl. I don’t think that she has a serious thought in her head.” I replied, “Clara, how do you know? Did you not trust God to guide you?” “Yes.” “Well, leave it with Him.”
The very next night at the close of the meeting the same seemingly utterly frivolous young woman came up to Mrs. Torrey, leading her mother by the hand, and said, “Mrs. Torrey, won’t you speak to my mother? You led me to Christ last night, now please lead my mother to Christ.”
4. There is another line of proof of the personality of the Holy Spirit, but we have no time to dwell upon it. This line of proof is that a treatment is predicated of the Holy Spirit that could only be predicated of a person.
In Isa. 63:10 we are taught that the Holy Spirit is rebelled against and grieved. You cannot rebel against or grieve a mere influence or power. Only a person can be rebelled against and grieved. In Heb. 10:29 we are taught that the Holy Spirit is “done despite unto,” or “treated with contumely,” insulted. You cannot treat an influence or power with contumely; only a person. In Acts 5:3 we are taught that the Holy Spirit is lied to.
You can only lie to a person. In Matt. 12:31 we are taught that the Holy Spirit is blasphemed against. We are told that the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost is more serious than the blasphemy against the Lord Jesus, and [this certainly could only be said of a person and a Divine Person.
To sum it all up, the Holy Spirit is a Person. Theoretically we probably all believed this before, but do we in our real thought of Him, in our practical attitude toward Him, treat Him as a person? Do we really regard Him as real a person as Jesus Christ is, as loving, as wise, as strong, as worthy of our confidence and love, and surrender as He? A Divine Person always by our side?
The Holy Spirit came into this world to be to the disciples of our Lord after our Lord’s own departure, and to be to us, what Jesus Christ had been to them during the days of His personal companionship with them. Is He that to you to-day? Do you know the “communion of the Holy Spirit?” the companionship of the Holy Spirit, the partnership of the Holy Spirit, the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, the comradeship of the Holy Spirit? To put it into a single word, the whole object of this address this morning, I say it reverently, is to introduce you to my Friend, the Holy Spirit.
Excerpt From – The Fundamental Doctrines Of The Christian Faith By Reuben Archer Torrey.
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