“Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water”.
Because the question whether we have the Holy Spirit, is of such great significance, we wish to try to answer in a few words the following two questions: “Wherein does the presence of the Holy Spirit demonstrate itself? When someone has in him the Holy Spirit, what is the Holy Spirit then doing with him and in him?”
Hearers, the Holy Spirit shows him his lost condition, either suddenly or more gradually. The Holy Spirit produces convincing evidence to him that he lies lost in Adam, and that also all his work is lost. Thereupon the Holy Spirit reveals the Lord Jesus Christ to him and causes him to agree from the bottom of his heart to what we find in Isaiah 45:24: “Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength; even to Him shall men come.”
The Holy Spirit comes under him. It says in Deuteronomy 33:27: “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” The Holy Spirit lifts him up, and leads him along and brings him to and in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Holy Spirit enables him to appropriate to himself through faith that which Christ has obtained for His people: remission of sins and regeneration.
The Holy Spirit creates peace in his heart, peace with God and peace from God. He also teaches him to see the promises of God as promises sealed in and by the Lord Jesus Christ, which are also given to him, namely in Christ.
When the Holy Spirit is present in somebody, He comes to comfort that person. The reprobates let themselves be comforted by men. The elect are comforted by God, and the Holy Spirit does this by clarifying their part in Christ and in the mercies of Christ. When someone, through true faith, has closed with the Lord Jesus Christ, he knows what has passed between God and his soul. He has knowledge of the covenant dealings which have taken place between Heaven and him. But there is in him also a strong need for witness out of God’s mouth, namely through His Word and Spirit. God’s people alone have knowledge of the need for being strengthened. They are of one mind on the prayer of the poet: “Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation” (Ps. 35:3). Then the Holy Spirit comes – in some to a greater degree and in others to a lesser degree – to bear witness with their spirit, that is, with their regenerated conscience, that they are a child of God. The apostle Paul says: “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Rom. 8:16).
The Holy Spirit comes to draw the attention of the believers to the spiritual attitudes of mind to which the promises are made. Several of these are to be found in the Sermon on the Mount. By making mention of such spiritual attitudes of mind, the Holy Spirit shows the believer that the promise applies to him. From this he sometimes concludes with confidence that God is merciful to him.
In other times the Holy Spirit bestows on the believer His supporting working, His hidden upholding working. A child of God will usually meet with many, many difficulties immediately after his conversion. Now it is the first work of the Holy Spirit to uphold such a person. And in what manner does the Holy Spirit support? By enabling him to pour out his heart to God, observing at the same time what the Psalmist expresses in these words: “Because He hath inclined His ear unto me” (Ps. 116:2). As a result of this he receives the freedom and the strength to speak to the Lord, and he is more and more strengthened to speak to the Lord. In this work such a creature it often thus disposed that it looks as if he cannot leave off speaking. Jacob had much of this in the wresting with the Angel of the covenant. “And He said, Let me go, for the day breaketh.” But he (Jacob) said: “I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me” (Gen. 32:26). It sometimes happens that during this work such a confidence comes into the soul that he says with the poet of Psalm 118:14:
“You are my God. I will praise Thee,
Exalt Thine majesty.
My God, nothing exceeds Thine glory.
I will praise Thee even for evermore.”
(Translated from the Dutch Psalm book).
This goes then hand in hand with a renewed surrender of the heart to Christ, with choosing, heartily choosing all God’s ways. There is then “a purpose of heart to cleave unto the Lord” (Acts 11:23).
Hearers, these are the consolations of the Holy Spirit. When the Church on earth did not enjoy such consolations, she would not come through anything. That is why the poet of Psalm 143:10 prayed:
“May Thine good Spirit steer my steps
And lead me into the land of uprightness.”
(Translated from the Dutch Psalm book).
Therefore, where the consolations of the Holy Spirit are, man will lift up the head and the soul will be made ready to take up his cross every morning anew. You know that Christ speaks of this: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Also another word spoken by the Lord Jesus is so appropriate here, namely: “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of me: for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest upon your souls, for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:29, 30).
Hearers, the delights, the loveliness, the sweetness of the workings of the Holy Spirit in the heart cannot adequately be described. The experience of the poet of Psalm 73 made him say: – and the whole Church concurs with him – “Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee” (Ps. 73:25).
When the Holy Spirit is found in someone, then He abides in him. He will be his Guide even unto death and beyond death. In John 14:16 the Lord Jesus says: “That He may abide with you for ever.” And why should He leave us? Did He come because we invited Him? Not at all, for the Lord says: “I am sought of them that asked not for Me; I am found of them that sought me not. I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by My name.” He did come of His own free will, and now He will also abide to all eternity by virtue of the same good pleasure that has moved Him to come. No power can induce or force Him to depart from the soul, because “the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him, and His righteousness unto children’s children” (Psalm 103:17). And David says in another place: “Thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever; forsake not the works of Thine own hands” (Ps. 138:8).
The Holy Spirit does not only abide with His indwelling, but also with His working. Should the Holy Spirit not do that, what unhappy people would the believers then be! Listen what the apostle Paul says in the chapter read to you (Rom. 8:26): “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” He cries in us. “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying: Abba, Father”. He spells this Name out for His people; He has explained the Name of the Father in their hearts, and now they repeat this Name after Him. From this the children of God are recognizable. They are guided by the Holy Spirit and this makes them learn to follow after the Spirit.
Some have broken out, escaped out of prison without the working of the Holy Spirit. But by the guidance and working of the Spirit it is granted to a child of God to follow after. When the Spirit is coming, the child of God follows spontaneously. “We having the same Spirit of faith, according as it is written: I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak” (2 Cor. 4:13).
(From: Sermon on John 7:38, 20 October 1925 in Rotterdam.)