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Learning More About the Holy Spirit
In looking at the testimonies of great men and women of the last church age and their experience with the Higher Christian Life, I want to pause today and examine just one more, the life of Adoniram Judson (A.J.) Gordon (1836-1895). He was an American Baptist preacher (who ministered alongside D.L. Moody in his Northfield Conventions), writer, composer (“My Jesus, I Love Thee”), and founder of Gordon College and later Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. But more than that, he was a man who had an experience with the Holy Spirit that changed his life and ministry. And in almost every talk after that experience, he continually revealed how the Lord baptized him in the Holy Spirit by showing him, as Christ is our Sin-Bearer leading to salvation, so the Holy Spirit is now our Burden-Bearer leading to empowerment for ministry, and can be trusted with our lives once we surrender them to Him.
Let me give you but a taste of this podcast by posting a few quotes and statements about the Holy Spirit from Dr. A.J. Gordon.
“Whenever, in any century, whether in a single heart or in a company of believers, there has been a fresh effusion of the Spirit, there has followed inevitably a fresh endeavor in the work of evangelizing the world.”
Regarding the Person of the Holy Spirit, Dr. Gordon said this:
“I had known the Holy Spirit as a heavenly influence to be invoked, but somehow I had not grasped the truth that he is a Person of the Godhead who came down to earth at a definite time and who has been in the church ever since, just as real as Jesus was here during the thirty and three years of his earthly life.”
Then, once this realization of the Personhood of the Holy Spirit became real to him, Dr. Gordon said:
“How many true Christians toil on, bearing burdens and assuming responsibilities far too great for their natural strength, utterly forgetful that the mighty Burden-Bearer of the world is with them to do for them and through them that which they have undertaken to accomplish alone! Happy also for these if some weary day the blessed Paraclete (Comforter, Advocate, the Holy Spirit), the invisible Christ, shall say to them, “Have I been so long time with you and yet you have not known Me?”
When asked about the cost of the Higher Christian Life and ministering in the power of the Holy Spirit, he said:
“It costs much to obtain this power. It costs self-surrender and humiliation and the yielding up of our most precious things to God. It costs the perseverance of long waiting and the faith of strong trust. But when we are really in that power, we shall find this difference: that, whereas before it was hard for us to do the easiest things, now it is easy for us to do the hardest.”
But there is more.
How is the Holy Spirit our Burden-Bearer?
Regarding the baptism of the Holy Spirit, Dr. Gordon testified:
“On the whole, and after a prolonged study of the Scripture, we cannot resist this conviction: As Christ, the Second Person of the Godhead, came to earth to make atonement for sin and to give eternal life, and as sinners must receive Him by faith in order to have forgiveness and sonship, so the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Godhead, came to the earth to communicate the ‘power from on high’; and we must as believers in like manner receive Him by faith in order to be qualified (equipped) for service. Both gifts have been bestowed, but it is not what we have but what we know that we have by a conscious appropriating faith, which determines our spiritual wealth. Why then should we be satisfied with ‘the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace’ (Ephesians 1:7), when the Lord would grant us also ‘according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man’? (Ephesians 3:16).”
And finally, my favorite quote from Dr. Gordon is found in his book, The Ministry of the Holy Spirit, which states,
“It seems clear from the Scriptures that it is still the duty and privilege of believers to receive the Holy Spirit by a conscious, definite act of appropriating faith, just as they received Jesus Christ.”
I am sharing some of these testimonies with you, of the saints of old, to build your faith and show you the way to fulfillment, power in ministry, and the “bearing of much fruit” to glorify the Father and affirm we belong to Jesus (John 15:8), is by a filling, baptism, enduement, or immersion in the Holy Spirit by a conscious act of faith. And, even if your friends and fellow church members aren’t talking about the Higher Christian Life, rest assured that many people of generations past that the Lord has used mightily in His service have continually pointed to the power of the Higher Christian Life.
Maybe we’re the ones who are missing something that these men and women found. And if so, there is much we can learn from them.