Baptism with the Holy Ghost* - Download PDF Article
By Rev. Edwrd Irving, M. A. (Published in 1831)
What is the baptism with the holy spirit. There are only two things, the creature and the Creator; one having its bounds and limits within the sphere of creation, the other having His place and habitation above and beyond it: not of creation a part, though the Author and Sustainer of its being; not mixed up with it in any way, nor inhabiting any part of it; but out of the world: "I came forth out of the Father, and have come into the world,––Again, I leave the world, and go, unto the Father" (John 16:28). Of these creatures it hath pleased the Father to choose one for a dwelling-place, which is man; and for this end he made man in his own image, and after his own likeness; a fit house for such an Inhabitant. It is the greatest act of grace on the part of Yahweh, to choose such a shrine from out of which to show himself; and thrice blessed and honored is the creature of whom he makes choice. In choosing man for a habitation to walk in, and abide in, and show himself out of Yahweh doth not mean to make himself a man, nor yet to make man Yahweh, nor in any way to mingle the Creator and the creature; but by the organs and faculties of that creature to put forth his own surpassing beauty, supreme majesty, infinite love, and almighty strength. To obtain for the Father his great and gracious end, of which he had been long defeated by the sinfulness of man, his own Son was born, and accomplished to be sinless; and as became the habitation of the Father's fullness, the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person: "It pleased (the Father) that in him all fullness should dwell—all fullness of the theotesFN1 in a body." In the man Christ, always man, and at no time more than man (for whatever is more than man to ascribe unto Christ, is to bereave the Father's work in the man Christ, who is the Son of Yahweh), the Father dwelt, and did things such as never man did. He knew what never man knew, "for in him dwelt all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." He spoke as never man spoke "The spirit of Yahweh did rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord" (Is. 11:2). He overcame the devil and all his messengers, and cast them forth; he healed all manner of diseases by the word of his power; he commanded the winds and the waves, and all the elements, by the same free word. He created bread; he made men, and animals, and fishes of the sea, to serve him; he raised the dead; he abolished death and the grave; he apprehended all Yahweh's mind, and he uttered it, failing nothing; he showed all Yahweh's love and longsuffering and patience; he preached Yahweh's Gospel; "The spirit of Adonay Yahweh, is upon me,––Because Yahweh, Hath anointed me, to tell good tidings to the oppressed, Hath sent me to bind up the broken–hearted, To proclaim, To captives, liberty, To them who are bound, the opening of the prison; To proclaim––The year of acceptance of Yahweh" (Is. 61:1-2). These are all Divine works; works proper to the Creator, and to no creature. Christ, as a creature, was a mortal; this he was, in the form of a slave; but what power was given him! what liberty! what wisdom! what virtue! Truly might the Baptist say, "He that hath received his witness, hath set seal––that, Yahweh, is, true. For, he whom Yahweh hath sent, the sayings of Yahweh, doth speak; for, not by measure, giveth he the spirit. The Father, loveth the Son, and, all things, hath given into his hand" (Jn. 3:33-35): and well might Christ himself say, "All things, unto me, have been delivered up by my Father; and, no one, knoweth, who the Son is, save the Father,––and who the Father is, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son may be minded to reveal him (Luke 10:22); and again, "Believest thou not, that, I, am in the Father, and, the Father, is, in me? The things which I am saying unto you, from myself, I speak not; but, the Father, within me abiding, doeth his works. Believe me, That, I, am in the Father, and, the Father, in me; or else, on account of the works themselves, believe ye" (John 14:10-11). The works did testify that Yahweh was with him, because they were works proper to the Creator. The works of Christ were as truly Yahweh's works, as the works recorded in the first chapter of Genesis. To do these things was not man's province, himself mortal, nor Adam's at first, nor spiritual messengers nor any creature's, but only Yahweh's; and so Yahweh exhibited himself in action, through the and faculties of this Man, 'Yahshua.' He revealed the Father in will, in thought, in word, in act. To do this, was in his case the baptism with the holy spirit, also known as being anointed with the spirit of Yahweh.FN2 And what is it in ours? The same, the very same! And are we to expect the same things to be displayed in us? Yes, and greater things than these. Explain this more perfectly. That I will, brother, if Yahweh permit. To ask the question, 'Whether any thing which was done in Christ is to be expected by his members? is to betray great ignorance of the way of Yahweh. What was done in Christ, was done in him as man; he was born in order that it might be done in him. For this end He, "…through whom are all things, and, we, through him…"FN3 taking, a servant's form, coming to be, in men's likeness; And, in fashion, being found, as a man, humbled himself,
that he might receive those things which had been intended for man.
These purposes concerning man were not made for any other being but for man; and Christ, in order that they might be realized, was born. That his Father's infinite grace, predetermined upon this much-favored creature, might no more be hindered or postponed, Christ himself took that creature's form, and presented the faultless subject for the Father to do all his will upon. And the same honors which Christ hath attained as man, are reserved for every man who walks in his footsteps; and there is a certain portion who are called in Christ to the fellowship of all his glory, and shall not by any means be suffered to miss of it; of whom he could say, before he left the earth, "And, I, the glory which thou hast given to me, have given to them, that they may be one, even as, we, are, one" (John 17:22). To make a question, therefore, whether what Christ in his manhood attained to in the world, be not the privilege and property of other men as well as he, is not to understand the doctrine of the sacred secret at all. I say, in the world, because that honor which he hath with the Father out of the world, sitting on his throne, we may not aspire to; but "as he is, so are we in this world " (1 John 4:17). In the days of his earthly ministry he shared with men his powers against unclean spirits and diseases: "Lo! I have given you the authority––to be treading upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and, nothing, unto you, shall in anywise do harm; Notwithstanding, in this, be not rejoicing––that, the spirits, unto you submit themselves; but be rejoicing––that, your names, are inscribed in the heavens!" (Luke 10:19-20). And not only so, but he communicated to them of that anointing of the holy spirit which he had received for the preaching of the Gospel, when he sent them forth, and covered them with the fearful sanction thereof: "And, whosoever shall say a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but, unto him who, against the holy spirit, speaketh profanely, it shall not be forgiven. But, whensoever they shall be bringing you in before the synagogues, and the rulers, and the authorities, do not be anxious how, ye shall answer, or what ye shall say; For, the holy spirit, shall teach you, in that very hour, what ye ought to say" (Luke 12: 10-12). And he could say of them, in his intercessory prayer, "And, the declarations which thou gavest me, have I given them, and, they, received them, and came to know in truth, that, from thee, came I forth,––and they believed, that, thou, didst send me forth" (John 17:8). This liberal distribution of that, his flesh-inheritance of the holy spirit, to those who believed on him, ought to be the surest guarantee of his power and his purpose to do the same with that larger store which he should receive when he ascended unto his Father: and Peter expressly declared, that the thing which was seen and heard on the day of Pentecost was nothing else than this very communication unto his members of what he himself had come to the inheritance of: "The same Yahshua, hath Yahweh raised up, whereof, all we, are witnesses! By the right hand of Yahweh, therefore, having been exalted, also, the promise of the holy spirit, having received from the Father, He hath poured out this which, yourselves, do see and hear" (Acts 2:32-33). Now the Lord was not slow to assure his disciples of that mindfulness which he would have of them when be should ascend to his Father, and of the Father's own love to them: "For, the Father himself, dearly loveth you, because, ye, have dearly loved me, and believed that, I, from the Father, came forth" (John 16:27). The supply of supernatural power and providence which he bestowed upon his disciples during the days of his ministry, to fit and furnish them for being his heralds in the cities of Israel, was, as I have said, cut short when that hour and power of darkness came on, to which he looked forward with so much apprehension, and all but prayed that it might not befall him. Then, as it seems to me, he was left to struggle in naked manhood with all manhood's enemies; until, after having endured the whole of man's bitter portion for transgressions, the spirit of Yahweh came mightily upon him in the separate state, and he burst the gates of Sheol,FN4 and rifled the house of corruption, and entered triumphantly into the ways of age-abiding life. During this period of suspended power within himself, there was also a suspension of it with his disciples. The Shepherd being smitten, the sheep were scattered abroad. But when he returned from his perilous voyage back again to his well-beloved little flock, that very night he breathed on them, that they might receive the holy spirit;FN5 thereby proving to them that he was again in full possession of power. But he told them, as we have seen, that a few days must elapse before be would fulfill all he had promised to them, because he was "not yet ascended to his Father and to their Father, to his Elohim and to their Elohim." For in the days of his earthly ministry he always made the gift of the holy spirit to depend upon his going to his Father as for example, "Verily, verily, I say unto you––He that believeth on me, the works which, I, am doing, he also, shall do; and, greater than these, shall he do, because, I, unto the Father, am going" (John 14:12). The reason is, that the gift might be known to be neither of the man, human; nor of the earth, earthly; but of the heavens, heavenly; of the Father, divine. The earthly things are what Yahweh gave into man's hand to rule over and enjoy: the heavenly things are what belong not to man in natural or creation right; but what belong to Yahweh in his proper sphere, to man only as the favorite creature of Yahweh, made to be his habitation of delights and his seat of power. That the holy spirit, when given by Christ, might therefore be known to be from the Father, it was necessary that Christ should first go to the Father and receive it, and from thence dispense it to the church. No doubt Christ entered into a fullness of the holy spirit upon his resurrection, whereof the gift at his baptism was but to him the first-fruits, as the baptism of the holy spirit given to us now is but the first fruits of that full harvest which at our resurrection we shall enter into.FN6 With all the oneness which he then enjoyed with the Father, he was still in humiliation, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; open at every pore to temptation, and exposed to every assault of the adversary, needing the ministry and consolation and strengthening of ministering spirits; but when he ascended into glory, behold, the mightiness of the spirit is such as words can hardly express, and the dignity and power of life, into which it bore his once mortal members, is far above the level of every being, into the very throne of Yahweh: and being thus exalted. endowed, and possessed, he is given to be the Head over all to the church, from which no elevation, as no adversity, can divide him; "Which, indeed, is his body, the fulness of him who, the all things in all, is for himself filling up" (Eph. 1:23). In his exaltation we are exalted: "we are risen with him, and seated with him in the heavenly places;" "we are made partakers of all spiritual blessings in the Heavenly places in Christ?"
In one word, the whole tenor of Scripture represented his church on earth to be as truly one with him in the co-partnering of his celestial estate even now,
as we are one with him in the fellowship of his sufferings. His disciples in the days of his earthly ministry received share of the powers then possessed by him; and when he received new powers, the gift of the holy spirit, on his ascension to the Father, they received on the day of Pentecost the full share thereof, to the extent of this body's power to contain, and of this world's power to bear the sight and the hearing of them. There is as perfect sympathy between Christ in glory and his members on the earth, as between the head and the members of the body, between the trunk and the branches of the vine; and therefore we are not only to expect that the works which he did we shall do also, but that greater works we shall do, because he is gone to the Father, and hath received power which in this world he did not possess.
Are we, then, to understand by the baptism of the holy spirit and the indwelling of the Father, that in as the works of Yahweh are to be manifested as they were manifested in Christ? Yes, we are so to understand. And is the life of Christ an ensample to the believer in its miraculous and divine works, as it is to him in its humility, meekness, and holiness? Even so. And may we really hope to enjoy what he enjoyed of the Father's sweet and gracious indwelling? Hear his own words, in that blessed discourse concerning the promise of the Father: "These things, have I spoken unto you, that, my own joy, in you, may be, and, your joy, may be made full" (John 15:11). And may the believer expect that very peace which the holy and harmless Yahshua enjoyed always, through his oneness with the Father? Hear his own words: "Peace, I leave with you, My own peace, give, I, unto you,––Not as, the world, giveth, give, I, unto you:––Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (Jn. 14:27). And may we expect the same insight into the mind of the Father, which he had ? Hear his own words: "But, the Advocate, the holy spirit, which the Father will send in my name, He, will teach you all things, and will put you in mind, of all things which, I, told you" (Jn. 14:26). And may we expect to have the same power of withstanding the world's snares, and rebuking its hypocrisy and sin? Hear his own words: "Whensoever the Advocate shall come, Whom, I, will send unto you from the Father, the spirit of truth, which, from the Father, cometh forth, He, will bear witness concerning me; And do, ye also, bear witness, because, from the beginning, ye are, with me" (Jn. 15:26-27). But did he not say that he did the works which none other man did? May we expect to do these? Hear his own words, so oft quoted: "Verily, verily, I say unto you––He that believeth on me, the works which, I, am doing, he also, shall do; and, greater than these, shall he do, because, I, unto the Father, am going" (Jn. 14:12). And, to take a particular instance, when the disciples marveled to see how soon the fig-tree which he had cursed was withered, "And Yahsua, answering, said unto them––Verily, I say unto you, If ye have faith, and do not doubt, not only, this of the fig–tree, shall ye do,––but, even if, unto this mountain, ye shall say, Be lifted up, and be cast into the sea, it shall be done" (Matt. 21:21). And in both these instances, to make assurance doubly mire, he gave to the believer a carte blanche of power, to be filled up according to his own mind: "And, all things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive" (ver. 22). But may we expect the same fullness of knowledge which he possessed? Hear his own words: "Howbeit, as soon as, he, hath come––The Spirit of truth, he will guide you into all truth; for he will not speak from himself, but, whatsoever he heareth, he will speak, and, the coming things, will he announce unto you. He, shall glorify me; for, of mine, shall he receive, and announce unto you" (John 16:13-14). And, to show us that there is not any thing which Christ hath received of the Father that the same Advocate will not bring into us, he adds, "All things, whatsoever the Father hath, are, my own; therefore, said I––Of mine, shall he receive, and announce unto you" (ver. 15). And, in confirmation of this promise by the fact, read 1 Cor. 2:7; and 1 John 2:20, 27; and Eph. 3:19; 4:13, 15; and innumerable passages of the Epistles, which, because they come not within the scope of this part of our subject, we only refer to. And we might refer to hundreds of passages in the Epistles, and indeed to the whole New Testament, written after the day of Pentecost, wherein our community of power and working with Christ, and our possession of the indwelling Father, are every where taken for granted and presupposed, as the basis and being of the church, rather than enumerated as one of her properties. But one passage 1 must quote, in confirmation of all which hath been declared: "But, distributions of gifts, there are, yet the same spirit, And, distributions of ministries, there are, and the same Lord, And, distributions of energies, there are, and the same Elohim––who energizes all things in all. But, unto each one, is given the manifesting of the spirit, with a view to that which is profitable; For, unto one, indeed, through the spirit, is given, a word of wisdom, but, unto another, a word of knowledge, according to the same spirit; –– Unto a different one, faith, in the same spirit, and, unto another, gifts of healings, in the one spirit, And, unto another, energies of mighty works, unto another, prophesying, unto another, discriminations of spirits,––unto a different one, kinds of tongues, and, unto another, translation of tongues; –– But, all these, energizes the one and the same spirit, distributing unto each one, peculiarly, even as it is disposed" (l Cor. 12: 4-11). This is the description of the manifested holy spirit, of the inworkings of the Father, of the endowments of Christ to the members of his church. It is not now the place to go into the detail of these manifestations, but the bare enumeration we give, as amply demonstrative of the great truth which we are opening, namely,
That the baptism of the holy spirit does bring to every believer
My idea, therefore, concerning the baptism of the holy spirit, or the promise of the Father, is simply this,
That it is a superhuman supernatural power, or set of powers,
but which he accomplished not to do until his own Son had kept man's original trust. He had not the perfection or pre-eminence because he was the Son of Yahweh, but because he was the first man who had kept man's charge. It had entered into the purpose of Yahweh from the beginning, to make man the seat of his own Divine power, and through him to reveal his working for ever in the midst of the created universe. The superhuman, the "divine nature," was intended from the beginning for man; but Yahweh could never get it rightly and fitly, bestowed upon him, because he failed in his hand, and kept not his first estate. He was not faithful over the few things of nature, but brought himself into sin and death; and how shall Yahweh recompense such a one with any blessing, and be not himself partaker with him of his sin? How Yahweh should gain his end of bringing the superhuman and divine into man after he had become a sinner, so as not himself to be a sin-indulger, this was the great difficulty and obstruction, which Christ removed out of the way, by perfecting holiness in our nature, cursed, corruptible and mortal though it had become. Then Yahweh attained that for which he had longed, and accomplished his great purpose of making man possessor of "all power in heaven and in earth" forasmuch as this superhuman and infrangibleFN7 life, this "life of Yahweh," was intended for mankind; for the unity of the brotherhood, and not for any single man, or set of men; Christ, having received it, does straightway proceed to dispense it unto others, and commands it to be proclaimed as the privilege of "every creature under heaven." Who are they who are quickened together with him, raised together with him, and together with him seated in the heavenly places? Those who were dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:4-7). The superhuman and divine power resident in the risen Christ, are as much the birth right of every man, through the riches of the mercy and the love of Yahweh, as disease, death, and dissolution are, through his justice and his holiness; the purchase of the one being the righteousness of the man Christ, the purchase of the other being the sin of the man Adam. That this superhuman endowment of power divine was originally within the range of man's capacities, yea, and desires, is, we have already observed, manifest from the way in which Satan shaped his temptation; "Ye shall be as gods:" for to make any thing a temptation, there must be a natural adaptation of the subject to the object. The same was manifest also in the creation of man "in Yahweh's image and likeness." Wherefore? That Yahweh might show himself through the same. Not that man might be seen to be Yahweh, but that Yahweh might dwell in, and be seen dwelling in, man. It reduces you at once to anthropomorphism,FN8 if you do not recognize the truth that Yahweh was to be seen dwelling in the image, not the image as the representative of Yahweh. An image the representative of Yahweh is the essence of idolatry: Yahweh dwelling in that form of creature which is made to be his image, is revelation or manifestation of himself. In the very creation of man, therefore, I see the purpose of inhabitation, and endowment with attributes divine, as clearly contained, as I see it fully accomplished in the resurrection of Christ. And when man fell, I see the same truth contained in the promise, that "the Seed of the woman should bruise the head of the serpent." But I see it more brightly in the cherubim, in which Yahweh dwelt from thenceforth. For what is the cherubim, but the symbol of the church gathered from amongst men; as they themselves declare (Rev. 5:9), and as we have demonstrated at large in our Lectures on the Revelations. Now, from this cherubim the mighty power of Yahweh ever proceeded; as at Sinai, in the wilderness, in Canaan, and every where; both the word of wisdom and of knowledge, and all the Divine acts of power and judgment. All which proceeding from the cherubim, declares the truth, that in man it was the purpose of Yahweh at length to deposit superhuman divine power. The same thing is taught in all the Prophets; to whom it was given by the spirit to foresee and foretell the future, which is a divine faculty; also to control and counteract the course of wickedness, disease, and death, and to do acts superhuman and divine—as making the sun and moon to stand still, cleaving the sea, and performing all wonderful works. Any one, the least of all these miracles, done by man, is proof to me that man is intended for having and holding the administration of manifested Divine power. For there are no exceptions or anomalies with Yahweh; no appearances, or occasional actings: every thing is on a system, and to an end, into which every incident and particular works most harmoniously. All the wonders done in the beings of what are called angels as at Sodom, before Gideon, Manoah, and others—were done by the Angel of the Covenant. In the carrying into effect of these miraculous powers, I well believe those angels or invisible spirits do serve, but always under the superior direction and guidance of man; who is the proper and immediate shrine of Yahweh for word and work divine. All these apparitions, promises, types, and symbols of Yahweh dwelling in man, were realized fully in the ascension of Christ into glory. The resurrection life, is life of Yahweh within the man; it was first consummated in Christ, and belongs to us in virtue of union with him. We have it not in full, nor can have, till the resurrection. We have it only as a baptism till then; as he had it as a baptism from the day of his baptism until the day of his agony. He kept the law without any baptism of the holy spirit; and thus also he contended with the powers of wicked men, and wicked spiritual messengers: after finishing the former part, he received the baptism of the holy spirit; after the completion of the whole, he received the fullness of the holy spirit, the spirit of Yahweh. And so we, sealing first into John's baptism of repentance and remission of sin, by believing on Christ, the Lamb of Yahweh that takes away the sin of the world, do receive the baptism of the holy spirit; and when we have finished our course, by overcoming death and the grave, we shall share in the fullness of Christ's present power and government of all things. We shall be made partakers in full of the Divine nature, when we have escaped the pollution that is in the world through lust (2 Pet. 1:4). And through eternity, Yahweh, residing in his church, shall therein administer all government, and work all blessedness for his creatures. And by the church shall be manifested to spiritual messengers and principalities, in the ages to come, the manifold wisdom of Yahweh; and the church shall be the image in which Yahweh shall be seen; a perfect transparency, hiding none of his glory, and yet always having the felicity of rendering it intelligible and operative of all good. Blessed distinction, to which thou has lifted us up, 0 glorious Son of Yahweh, by becoming humbled and lowly Son of Man!
And now we are able to see the full force of the name, "Promise of the Father," which is given to the baptism of the holy spirit. The promise of the Father, is therefore essentially the promise of superhuman power. The promise of Messiah, which had been put into the mouth of all the former prophets, is the promise of the Son of Man to come and redeem man, and man's habitation, from the power of evil. And when Messiah comes, the Prophet of prophets, his mouth also is filled with a promise. He comes not only to be the end and seal of all former prophecies, but to originate a far higher and more glorious promise than they had brought; which is, the promise of the Father. They promised the Son; the Son, when he comes promised the Father. They promise manhood's Redeemer; he promised manhood's Glorifier. They promise holiness in flesh, and life from the dead; he promised Divine wisdom, power, and glory, through inhabitation and in working of Yahweh. Therefore he could properly say, "The promise of the Father, which ye have heard of ME"—of him, and not of any former prophet—for though the former prophets had given hints of the outpouring of spirit, yet did they not speak of it as the inhabitation of the Father; "For no one knows the Father, but the Son, and he to whom the Son shall reveal him." The promise of the Father, is the promise of Yahweh to dwell in them, and act in them, in what ways are proper to Yahweh; that is, in ways above the ways of man, or angel, or any creature. If it be more particularly inquired, in what way? I answer, in all those ways in which Christ wrought after his baptism; every one of whose works was a manifestation of the Father; a true divine work, which no one but Yahweh is able to perform. The working of Yahweh is seen in creation, in the things which were done during the first six days. Christ's miracles were akin to them. He gave life, when he healed the man with the withered hand; he created matter, when he made the five loaves to feed five thousand, and to fill twelve baskets with their fragments: he gave words to the elements, and his word was a law unto them: he commanded the impure spirits, and they obeyed him. These works are works proper only to Yahweh; and in all of them he did glorify the Father, by protesting that he did them not of himself, but by the Father who dwelt in him. Besides these, he manifested the Father in a way which had not been done in creation. For in creation there was no sin present, and the Father's bearing towards sin could not therein be revealed. His severity against it was manifested by the disease, death, and dissolution of the things which he had made; but further than this there was no distinct revelation till Christ came, at least none in action, or only such as to foreshow what was then to be accomplished. The Father in Christ healing all manner of diseases, and casting out all manner of unclean spirits, did most remarkably show the finger of Yahweh, and accomplish all the words written in the Old Testament concerning his power and office as the healer of diseases; and, finally, the resurrection of Christ, which he devoutly ascribed to the Father (Ps. 16) does show him as the destroyer of sin and death, and the expeller of them from creation. Now the promise of the Father, which Christ, gave to all who should believe upon him, is no less than the promise of a power of Yahweh in them to do all these works of Yahweh in the sight of an evil and rebellious and gainsaying world, that they may be left without all excuse in saying that there is no Creator, or that Yahweh is not good and gracious.
The church is intended to be the witness, yea, the image of Yahweh;
This also is the reason why the baptism of the holy spirit is called "power from on high," or power from heaven, where Yahweh dwells. Not power merely, but 'power from on high.' There is a power which is given to men, the power proper to us as creatures within our own habitation of the earth,—power to rule the animal creation, power to know and take care of the things which spring out of the earth. This belongs to us as creatures; we received it as our talent, to improve for the Master's use, and for our own advancement if we should be found faithful. Being found faithless, we forfeited it; and there remained nothing but a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation to consume us. In this state the Son of Man found the family whom Yahweh had loved before the foundation of the world; and having set himself to the work,
he recovered to us our original estate, and with it our original power;
power in the will over the members of the body, over the world, and over the temptations of the devil. This we receive in Baptism and the Lord's Supper; the one for regeneration, the other for crucifixion of the flesh, and empowering of the members thereof unto all holiness. But all this, being received, is but earthly power. 'Power from on high' is power of Yahweh, to whom the rule and government of the heavens appertained. He gave the earth unto the sons of men, but the heavens he reserved unto himself; and power in that region we can only possees by possessing Yahweh. For that which distinguishes Yahweh from his creatures is this, that he only rules in the heavens. This he hath not delegated, nor will delegate. He holds it in his own hands; nor can it be possessed, save by possessing him: and when Yahshua comes, he brings it with him.
Therefore Christ could not bestow this power until he had ascended into the heavens, and received all power in heaven as well as in earth.
And inasmuch as Christ enjoys both these regions of power, to dispense them to whom he will, he is proved to be both perfect Lord and perfect man: and inasmuch as we come to him in order to receive them at his hand, we acknowledge him to be both perfect Lord and perfect man; and no one who will not seal to this confession, can be partakers of either sphere of power. And thus, by beginning in lowly manhood, Christ attained unto perfect Lord; and we, by sharing with him of his holy manhood in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, do attain unto the inheritance of his divine and heavenly power. And therefore the Christian calling is called a heavenly calling; not to heaven merely as a place, but to the functions and offices of that place, which are altogether divine.
Therefore also we are said to be "blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly things." (Not places only, but things also, and chiefly, as it is translated in the discourse with Nicodemus, John 3.) Therefore it is also called "the heavenly gift," and "the powers of the world to come;" that is, the powers which in the world to come shall rule and preside over the creation; and which are at present, hid with Christ in Yahweh, except so much of them as is revealed in the church, for an earnest of the inheritance of power which we shall afterwards receive. Of these "heavenly things" our Lord would not discourse to Nicodemus, because he was not yet acquainted with the "earthly things," which were exhibited under his eye. But after the day of Pentecost brought them amongst, they ought to have been a chief part of the discourse of the church; and for not being so prized, they have fallen out of our hand:
but, now that they are found again,
(For footnotes, see the PDF verison)
(*When quoting scriptures, from the Rotherham Emphasized Bible New Testament, I will substitute the Hebrew word Yahshua for Jesus, Yahweh and Elohim for God and the LORD and Anointed for Christ.)
© 2005-2013 Chuck Cunningham