"The Kingdom of God Becomes Reality Through the Holy Spirit" - Part 2
by Dr Ern Baxter.
The Restoration of God’s Government.
Leadership and government in human affairs are the work of the Holy Spirit. I believe that we will begin to see in our day how the Holy Spirit sovereignly chooses men for leadership, how He sorts out spiritual authority – as opposed to human, even ecclesiastical authority – to bring the government of God to pass in the earth by His sovereign designation. We must be concerned with the dynamics of apprehending toe One who will bring about the government of God in the earth according to the divine intention. We must be concerned to make ourselves available to Him.
In Isaiah 34:16 God announces that none of His intentions for the earth will fail: “Seek from the book of the Lord and read: Not one of these will be missing; none of them will lack its mate” (NAS). Every prophecy will have its fulfilment. Not a single word God has spoke will fail to be fulfilled. Some piece of history will match up with – be a ‘mate’ for – every prophecy that has ever fallen from the lips of God. “For His mouth has commanded, and His Spirit has gathered them” (v16). Everything God has spoken will be fulfilled in history because the Holy Spirit will act to fulfil His purpose.
The Spirit Neglected.
Because the Holy Spirit is God active, Satan is intent on thwarting His activity. He tries to make certain we neglect the Holy Spirit. Even our designation of the Spirit as the “third” Person in the Trinity suggests that He is perceived as third in importance.
In our experience of meeting God however the Spirit is actually first. One Christian writer some years ago wrote a book entitled Spirit, Son and Father simply pointing out that the first person in the Trinity we meet is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the one who meets us on the road of life and says, “I want to have a word with you”. Jesus said, “For when the Spirit is come (to you) He will (through you) convict the world of sin and righteousness and judgement”. The One convicts us and converts us, who illumines and regenerates us, who heals us and places us in the Body of Christ, is the Holy Spirit. He is the One who gives us access to the Son and the Father.
I can understand how Satan is not at all disturbed when we merely have sound theological views of the Trinity – as long as we are not personally involved with the Holy Spirit in a vital ongoing communication. The enemy has encouraged men to treat the Holy Spirit with contempt. As a result the Spirit has been depersonalised, denied, resisted, quenched, grieved and blasphemed. He even had a difficult time getting into the creeds. The Apostle’s Creed dating from about the third century A.D merely mentions Him: “I believe in the Holy Spirit”. The Nicene Creed from the early part of the fourth century says, “We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son He is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the prophets”. That is much better, but it took several centuries for even that much recognition.
The Spirit in the Twentieth Century.
I continue to search the Scriptures and my own heart, beseeching God for what I believe must be a new dimension of the Holy Spirit’s activity. Significantly many Christian leaders at the turn of the century were searching for a deeper understanding of the Spirit.
Elder Cumming, an esteemed and godly Scottish leader wrote in 1890; “It surely must ever remain one of the painful memories of the Church that the Holy Spirit has so generally been ignored, forgotten or kept in the background. Since the early days of Church history … down to yesterday, how little attention has been given to this subject”. Benjamin Warfield wrote in 1900; “As we sweep down the history of the Church we discover that the work of the Holy Spirit was one which only at a late date really emerged as the explicit study of Christian men. As we sweep over the whole extent of the modern Church, we discover that it is a topic which appeals even yet with little force to very large sections of the Christian Church”. And in 1905 H Davidson wrote; “The question is whether the full significance of our Lord’s words concerning the Spirit have ever been adequately apprehended by His Church”.
I believe that the concerns these men were feeling have been somewhat resolved by God’s activity since the time they wrote these words. The significance of this century, I think, is that there has been more charismatic manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s activity in these past one hundred years than there has been since the days of the apostles.
Taking into account what we have observed about the nature of the Kingdom of God – that the Kingdom of God is in the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is the One who will bring the government of God into historical reality – the action of the Holy Spirit in the last century holds unique significance that we cannot ignore.
The twentieth century has seen God at work in the classical Pentecostal Movement, in the great Healing Movement, in the Latter Rain Movement and in the Charismatic Renewal. My own spiritual growth has been deeply influenced by my contact with all of these movements.
Without going into lengthy biographical details, I witnessed the Pentecostal Movement as a young lad and then became involved myself in the Charismatic dimension on July 2nd 1932 when I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Subsequently I came into contact with the great Healing Movement, the Latter Rain Movement and later the Charismatic Renewal. Those were marvellous exciting days. I saw things happen that I thought I would never see. Through all those movements, God the Holy Spirit was and is trying to break in through into our consciousness to make us aware that we must be connected to Him if we are going to be part of the purposes of God.
God will be our All in All.
But I believe that even those of us who have recognised the Spirit’s activity as an integral part of God’s plan have often been unable to see the vast social and cosmic dimensions of that plan. We have allowed our focus to fix narrowly upon the Holy Spirit’s involvement with individuals rather than upon His larger purpose. However, the apostle Paul who was not an individualist taught that God’s plan is much more than simply saving individual souls. His plan is instead to fill all things with Himself so that in the end God will be “all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28).
God will redeem creation by filling all things with His Spirit. Christ ascended in order to fill all things with Himself by giving His gifts to men, gifts which Paul tells us are for the building up of the community (Ephesians 4:1-13).