THE CENTRAL LINE OF THE REVELATION
CONCERNING THE SPIRIT
The Spirit of life, not the Spirit of power, is the central line of the revelation concerning the Spirit. A person’s life is obviously more central and crucial than his clothing. You may put on and take off a piece of clothing, but you cannot put on your life and then take it off. In the same way, the Spirit of life is essential; the Spirit of power is not essential. Whether or not we have the Spirit of power, we are still living because we have the Spirit of life. The Spirit of life is essential to my constitution and my being, and is essentially vital. However, the Spirit of power is not so essential, but is only economical. The Lord’s promise in John 14 concerning the Spirit of life was to make us alive, to regenerate us. By this Spirit we have been regenerated to be the children of God, and by this Spirit of life we are the sons of God. This is our essence; it is essential to our spiritual being and is vital to our spiritual constitution. Without the Spirit of life, we could not be children of God; we could have never been regenerated and could never be spiritually constituted.
RECEIVING THE HOLY SPIRIT
ESSENTIALLY AND ECONOMICALLY
According to God’s economy there was still the need of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Baptism is not regeneration. We must not confuse baptism with regeneration, as some believers today do. On the day of resurrection the Lord Jesus became the life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45b). He came in the evening to the disciples and breathed into them, saying, "Receive the Holy Spirit" (John 20:22). At that time the disciples received the Holy Spirit. However, fifty days later at Pentecost the Spirit still descended upon them.
The Lord Jesus was conceived and born of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 1:18). Since He was born of the Holy Spirit, He surely had the Holy Spirit essentially. However, after His baptism, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him economically (Matt. 3:16). It was the same with the disciples. On the day of resurrection the Holy Spirit entered into them, and they received the Holy Spirit essentially for their spiritual existence and being. Yet after fifty days, the Holy Spirit descended upon them economically, just as the Holy Spirit descended upon the Lord Jesus after His baptism.
Some Christians are accustomed to asking others, "Have you received the Holy Spirit?" In reply to this question I would ask two more. First I would ask, "Before the Lord Jesus was baptized, had He received the Holy Spirit?" Then I would ask, "Before the day of Pentecost, had all the disciples received the Holy Spirit?" Some would answer that the disciples before the day of Pentecost did not receive the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit descended upon them on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. However, in John 20 on the day of resurrection the Lord came and breathed upon them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit."
Some have said that this was merely a demonstration in which nothing happened, and that this demonstration was fulfilled fifty days later on the day of Pentecost when the Spirit came. In this respect we should consider the case of Peter. In the four Gospels he made many mistakes, but in Acts 1 Peter became so spiritual. He knew how to interpret the Scriptures, and he took the lead with the one hundred twenty to pray in one accord for ten days (vv. 13-22). Only a few weeks before this time the disciples were fighting with one another (Matt. 20:20-24), but now they could pray together in one accord, even under the threatening of the Jews. They did not care for the threatening of the Jews. They kept the Lord’s word to tarry in Jerusalem, and they prayed together in one accord, not just for one prayer meeting, but for ten days. If they did not have the Spirit within them, how could they do this? It would have been impossible. This was a strong sign that before the day of Pentecost, in Acts 1, they had the Spirit within them already. This was the essential Spirit, the Spirit of life. In Acts 1, Peter and all the one hundred twenty disciples were really spiritual. They were altogether in the Spirit, and they were full of the Spirit within. Therefore, they could be one and they could pray together in one accord for ten days. This was marvelous. They did this not by themselves but by the Spirit of life. When did the Spirit of life enter into them? It was on the day of resurrection in John 20:22.
The disciples had the life within, but they still did not have the power. They had drunk the living water, but they did not have the proper uniform. To drink water is essential; to put on a uniform is economical. You may be drinking water in your kitchen, but when you come out to meet me, you cannot come without the proper clothing. To drink water is essential for you to exist, but to put on the proper clothing is economical for you to meet someone. On the day of resurrection the disciples began to drink the "water," yet they did not have the power from on high to clothe them. They had all received the Holy Spirit, they were all regenerated, and they had all become children of God. Yet they were not made one Body. They were still individual children of God. Now, according to God’s economy, God had to put all His sons together to baptize them in the Spirit of God into one Body. This is the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
(The Divine Economy, Chapter 12, by Witness Lee)