The Place and the Work of the Holy Spirit

At a conference in October 1934 T. Austin-Sparks gave a series of messages about the Holy Spirit, because this subject had been “very strongly and in a renewed way (for it is not the first time) going on in our heart”. The teachings of the Lord Jesus Himself on the coming of the Holy Spirit as recorded in the Gospels should be adequate and sufficient for His followers to know everything they need to know. But the rest of the New Testament documents shows that confusion about the Person of the Holy Spirit and His gifts for the edification of Church entered the Christian community not long after the Lord’s ascension. Sound teaching about the third Person of the Trinity is still needed today, so that He can continue to do His mighty work in and through simple believers and cause the Gospel of Salvation in Jesus, the Son of God, to find its way to many hearts, unto the remotest places and penetrate into the darkest areas of this world.

A word of caution
In this series T. Austin-Sparks speaks about enlightenment and revelation by the Holy Spirit. Those who are familiar with the writings of brother Sparks know that he uses the latter term in a specific way, so maybe a word of caution is necessary on this matter. By revelation he means knowledge made experimental. God leads us in such a way that we get the opportunity to see how the Lord Jesus is the only answer to the situation. Revelation is the way in which we “learn Christ”, learn how to apply Christ’s unique features to our own lives. We learn how utterly insufficient our natural capacities are and how abundantly sufficient Christ is to meet God’s requirements. Christ is for us what we can never be. T. Austin-Sparks is very clear about the fact that such revelation is never extra-Biblical in the sense that the Holy Spirit will never interpret Biblical texts out of their context. He says that the Holy Spirit “represents … an extra something to the Scriptures”, by which he means that “The Scriptures are the Scriptures of truth, but no one can really get the good of the Scriptures in a living way, enter into the living values of the Scriptures, only by the Holy Spirit”.

Let us be very clear about it ourselves: the Scriptures mean what they say and the Holy Spirit does two things, a) He helps us to find out what the text means, sometimes with the help of brothers and sisters with God-given capacities to do sound exegesis and b) He enables us to apply it, gives the power to obey and act upon God’s Word. God never gives “special revelation” to some brothers or sisters that makes Biblical texts say what they can never mean to say in their proper contexts. To assume that He does, is pure elitism, which leads to sectarianism. Even if we hear that a preacher preached his newly found “special revelation” only after many years of prayer and fasting, don’t believe him! Not one believer, not even Paul, can claim to have the monopoly on the Holy Spirit! God has given the Scriptures so that His children will always be able to check if some “light” that has been ascribed to Him corresponds with what He has already revealed in the Scriptures. Unlike the Berean believers the Thessalonian Christians were given a negative account because of their failure to check what the apostles had been saying to them. And they had to pay the price for their laziness, as they were unnecessarily disturbed by rumours about the second coming of the Lord Jesus (2 Thess. 2:2). So “Let no man deceive you by any means”.