There is one body and one Spirit even as ye are called in one hope of your calling.Ephesians 4.4.
Forest Fold Baptist Chapel
Crowborough October 5 1967
“There is one body and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling.”
1. Real religion is personal
There are two sides to real, spiritual religion as it is the effect in us of the Holy Spirit’s teaching, grace, and power. There is the personal side, for make no mistake about it, real religion is personal religion; it is something spiritual, holy, and vital that we must possess in our own hearts as personally as though we were the only person in the world to possess it, and as though there was no one else in the secret at all. It must be as personal as that. There must be a personal sense of repentance, a personal faith in Jesus Christ, a personal love to the truth. Real religion is personal!
There is no salvation in associations, however close they may be, nor however godly they may be with whom we are in association. Tares will not turn into wheat because they grow in the same field, and are under the same culture; they are still tares. If there is no personal grace, no personal godliness in our hearts, being in the field with others does not make us partakers with them of eternal life. Godliness is something we must possess in our own hearts, faith is personal, love is personal, repentance is personal.
2. Real religion is not isolated
At the same time, there is another side; and that is that godliness is relative. It is personal but not isolated. It is something that we must really know, each one for ourselves but it will not make us selfish. When I say that godliness is relative, I mean that it springs up into a very gracious and spiritual relationship one with another as spiritual unity. That also is important. These aspects of godliness are equal in their importance. If anyone should say that they possess the grace of God in their own hearts and they do not wish to feel anything more than that; they can believe and love and worship God
on their own personally; I should say that the Word of God does not teach us like that. The grace of God brings together all who possess it; where the Lord gives repentance unto life, and faith in Jesus Christ, He unites us with others who are of the same spirit, subject to the same feelings, possessing the same living faith.
Godliness is personal and it is uniting, and I must say that spiritual unity, the more I am enabled to look into it, carefully and meditatively, the more rich and deep and precious and wonderful this subject is seen to be. If spiritual unity was just a matter of people agreeing about spiritual matters, that would be good, but when you look into it, spiritual unity is something much deeper than that, much richer, much more holy, much more blessed. It really is a wonderful thing to be brought into the unity of the Spirit.
3. The unity of the Spirit
“There is one body”. Every child of God is a member in the mystical body of Christ, first by a personal union to Jesus Christ, and then by a spiritual union one with another in Jesus Christ. There is a diversity in this unity. All members are equally members of the body, but they do not all have the same office, the same place to fill, the same duty, for there is one body, many members, and all members have not the same office.
Now, here is another expression which is very deep in its truth and blessing: “There is one Spirit.” There is one Spirit who animates and enlivens every member of this one body, so that no one can be a member of the body of Christ unless the Spirit is in them, and everyone in whom the Spirit dwells, is a member of the body of Christ. There is one Spirit, and this one Spirit is the Holy Spirit of God Himself. It is true that there is one spirit of faith and love which animates the body of Christ in every member, but even that spirit of faith and love emanates from the one Holy Spirit of God. For there is nothing spiritual in any one, apart from the Holy Spirit. This is very important and very blessed.
When we come to speak of this one Spirit, the Holy Spirit of God, we touch the mystery of the Trinity, and this appears throughout this part of the chapter. For the unity of the Trinity – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, is the foundation of the unity of the church. There is one Spirit, one Holy Spirit of God. One Lord, one Lord Jesus Christ, that blessed Person in the adorable Trinity, and there is one God and Father of all. And that one Father, one Son, one Spirit is one glorious, eternal, undivided Trinity in unity. One God, and He is the foundation of spiritual unity. And now you see what I meant when I said, if we just look on spiritual unity as an agreement of minds, we do not see into it; there is far more in it than that; the unity of the Trinity is involved in the unity of the church.
4. There is one Spirit
Brethren, there is only one Holy Spirit, one blessed and glorious Spirit. And, that Spirit is the Spirit of the living God, a divine Person, not a divine influence. A divine influence, holy, gracious, pure and heavenly, emanates from the Holy Spirit; He exerts it, He imparts it, but He is not a mere influence. Every divine attribute of wisdom, power, knowledge, and eternity belongs as much to the Holy Spirit as to the Father and the Son. That is the true doctrine of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit is equal as a divine person with the Father and the Son, for these three are one God.
5. The Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father
We read, and the Lord Jesus Christ spoke it, that the Holy Spirit proceedeth from the Father, but how, we do not know. It would be far too much to simplify the mystery to say that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father as the breath proceeds from a person. The Holy Spirit is spoken of as wind, or breath. This is a metaphor used in the Scripture to express the mysterious proceedings of the Spirit of God, but it would over-simplify it to leave it at that; the proceeding of breath from my body is no way at all a metaphor to adequately express the way in which the Holy Spirit proceedeth from the Father. But the Lord Jesus Christ so expressed it, “The Spirit of truth which proceedeth from the Father” (Jn. 15.26). As far as words can express it, or our minds can understand it, the mystery is this; the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God, was the Son of God by eternal generation; He was always eternally the Son. The Holy Spirit is not the Holy Spirit by generation, but by a mysterious proceeding from the divine nature of the Father and the Son. I am not going to attempt to say more about it than that, lest I should darken counsel by words without knowledge. If these few words on such a sublime and a blessed mystery as the Holy Spirit are commendable to your hearts as being words of truth and scriptural teaching, then the Lord grant that it may indeed be a blessed word to us.
6. The indwelling Spirit
There is one Spirit, eternally the Spirit of the Father, infinite in His divinity, and Holy in His nature, and blessed in His operation. There is one Spirit that animates every member of the “one body”. Here we come a little more within the realm of our experience. Divine mysteries in themselves are above the sphere of our experience, but this comes within it; there is one Spirit who dwells in the heart of every member of the “one body”.
How can we know that He dwells in our hearts, except by experiencing His gracious influences and operations? The one Spirit is the Spirit of life, to quicken, to enliven, and continually to revive
spiritual life in every member of the body. The Holy Spirit is a Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. It is the Holy Spirit who first of all quickens our souls into spiritual life at all. He infuses into the soul a new life, the life also of Jesus Christ, for there are no lifeless members in the mystical body of Christ. In a group of professing people, there may be lifeless members, but there are no lifeless members in the body of Christ.
It is not only that the Holy Spirit gives life, but He is the Spirit of life in every one of us, and He maintains it, often mysteriously. We very little understand how spiritual life, through all the changes that we feel, the alternating periods of light and darkness, liveliness and deadness, is maintained in our hearts except we know that we cannot maintain it of ourselves. Brethren, it is the Holy Spirit who maintains spiritual life; He nourishes it also sweetly and graciously, and from time to time, as every one who has experience of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit knows; He revives it. If any of you should feel in a spiritually low and heavy and unfeeling state, you will not always feel like that; the Holy Spirit will revive that spiritual life in your heart. If you feel spiritually lively and in a responsive, believing state of mind, it is the Holy Spirit who is enlivening your heart in that gracious way. If you feel able to pray, it is the Holy Spirit who prompts your prayer. If you can believe, it is the Holy Spirit who animates your faith. If you love, it is the Holy Spirit who enlivens your affections. It is very wonderful that it should be so, that these things in our spiritual life denote that the Holy Spirit is in us, as members of the body of Christ.
Oh yes, there is one Spirit. If He dwells in my heart, He is one Spirit; if He dwells in your heart, He is the same Spirit. If He dwells in the hearts, as He does, of some here, and some there, in all parts of the world; if He dwells in the hearts of a converted African or Indian. He is one Spirit there, the same Spirit in that person’s heart is He is in my heart and in your heart, because having divine omnipresence, He is everywhere. He is not confined, not limited;
He is one Spirit everywhere in every believer.
7. The Spirit as a Guide
There is one Spirit to guide and direct us in the ways of truth. It is not left for us to find our way, even with the Scriptures in our hands, with regard to the things of God. It is true enough that the Scriptures are in themselves a sure guide, but we have not sure understanding of the Scriptures of ourselves. This is an important thing for all who are inquiring their way to a knowledge of the truth; let no one think that it is sufficient for them to read and study the Scripture of themselves and employ their own understanding and intelligence to and their way to the truth. By all means employ your understanding and intelligence, by all means study the Scripture and seek to
understand something of its meaning, but be well assured, you will need the Holy Spirit to guide your understanding, your intelligence, your wisdom, or you will go sadly wrong. You will find yourself entangled in difficulties with regard to the things of God. This “one Spirit” is the one teacher in all the body, in every member, it is His work to guide you, as the Lord Jesus Christ said He would, into the truth, to enlighten our understanding to discern those things which are spiritual. There is one Spirit. He is the Spirit of life, to animate, He is the Spirit of truth to guide.
It does not follow of course, that everyone who is a member of the body of Christ, in this life will see eye to eye about everything. To those of us who say the Scriptures are our guide, the church of Rome says, “Yes, but the church must guide you.” We say, “No, the Scriptures are our guide.” When they say, “Do you think you can understand the Scriptures?” we say, “No, we do not, but we look to the Holy Spirit to give us understanding in the Scriptures.” They say, “Very good, how is it then that you disagree? ” Well, all who are led by the Holy Spirit agree in fundamentals. All. They must do. They agree in fundamentals. And with regard to those things in which there is a difference of view and understanding, we can only say that arises from our human limitations; people just do not see alike with regard to non-essential matters. All who are taught by the Holy Spirit are taught certain things; they are all taught sin’s demerit; they are all taught the evil nature and guilt of sin; they are all taught Jesus Christ in His redeeming Person, grace, power and precious blood; they are all taught to believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost; they are taught that. There is perfect agreement here in all who are taught of the Holy Spirit, and as for other things, the time will come when all will see eye to eye about them too, but that is not now. There is one Spirit.
8. The Spirit of holiness
There is one Spirit as a spirit of holiness to sanctify every member of the body. For every member of the body of Christ is a member of a holy Head and a holy body, and yet I know every one in himself feels so much unholiness; and that is so. Nevertheless, where there is the teaching, and influence, and grace of the Holy Spirit there is sanctification. No one has any holiness apart from the Holy Spirit of God, and where there is the Holy Spirit of God, there is true holiness, that holiness with which they will see God at last, and without which no man will see God. Look to the Holy Spirit for holiness in your heart. He sanctifies you through the truth, being holy in Himself, in all His influences, in all His operations, in all His teachings. All are of a holy nature, and being of a holy nature, they have a sanctifying effect upon us and in us; that is our holiness. The
holiness of the whole “one body” is in this, that the Holy Spirit of God dwells in every member.
9. The Spirit reveals Christ
There is one Spirit; and He is that one Spirit of Christ who makes Jesus Christ known and precious. Jesus said of the Holy Spirit that, “He shall take of mine and show it to you ” (John 16.13). There may be some misunderstanding about what a revelation of Jesus Christ in the soul really is. All I can say is this, if any one can see anything in Jesus Christ to love, anything in Jesus Christ that appears to them very blessed and pure and holy, anything in Jesus Christ to desire for themselves to possess and enjoy, anything in Jesus Christ to honour and adore, there has been a revelation of Jesus Christ in the soul. Because, apart from that revelation, Jesus Christ would be to everybody “a root out of a dry ground”; no one would feel any warmth of affection toward Jesus Christ because of the loveliness of His nature; they really would not. There is such a veil over the natural mind through unbelief, and sin, and ignorance that the mind just simply cannot see through it to discern the beauty of Jesus Christ. You know, the expression “reveal” really means to take away that which hides, or at least, to take it away so that that is seen which otherwise would be hidden. That is the meaning of the word revelation, and that is the nature of the Holy Spirit’s operation in revealing Jesus Christ. He so far removes that unbelief, and that state of mind that prevails in us through sin so that in the light of the gospel, we can begin to discern the beauty, and glory, and blessedness, and preciousness of Jesus Christ. And as we begin to discern these things, we begin to feel our hearts attracted to Him, and we feel the influence of His precious name and love upon our own spirits. Brethren, that is experience for me!
Now, there is one Spirit who reveals this precious Saviour to every member of His body, infuses, by His gracious teaching, the saving knowledge of Jesus, and not only the knowledge, but the saviour of it into every heart. All knowledge of Jesus Christ apart from the Holy Spirit is unsavoury, it is cold; it may be intellectually clear, but it is heartless; there is no warmth, no beams of light and love from Jesus. There is not that knowledge which the Holy Spirit gives when He reveals Jesus Christ, there is everything in Him that is gracious. There is light to see, there is life to feel, there is grace to respond, there is a glory to adore, there is a loveliness to esteem. Oh brethren, that is the knowledge of Jesus Christ. I cannot forbear quoting that verse:
O that my soul could love and praise Him more,
His beauties trace, His majesty adore;
Live near His heart, upon His bosom lean;
Obey His voice, and all His will esteem.
If such faith and such desire and such affection and such esteem is in your heart, the Holy Spirit is there, the Holy Spirit is in you. And here is “one Spirit” in every member of Christ’s mystical body. Amen.