II. THE DIFFERENCE IN EXPERIENCING THE HOLY SPIRIT OUTWARDLY AND INWARDLY
We have seen the characteristics of the working of the Holy Spirit in the two great periods, the Old Testament and New Testament. We come now to see our experience of the Holy Spirit inwardly and outwardly.
A. The Inward Experience Is First; the Outward Follows
People in Old Testament times did not experience the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but only the outward descending of the Spirit of God. However, in New Testament times man can have both aspects; moreover, man must first experience the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and later experience the outward descending of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, in New Testament times the indwelling of the Holy Spirit becomes the basis for His outward descending upon man.
1. The Lord Jesus as the Model
The first person in the New Testament who experienced the indwelling of the Holy Spirit was Jesus of Nazareth. It was a great act of God which marked the change of age when the Holy Spirit dwelt in Jesus of Nazareth. Since the history of the human race began, although many had experienced the descending of the Spirit of God upon them, moving them to do the work of God, there was not one among them who had the Holy Spirit indwelling him, mingling with him, and becoming his life and nature. Neither Moses nor David was such a person; neither Elijah nor Daniel was such a person. For four thousand years, there had not been such a person. It was not until four thousand years had passed that Jesus of Nazareth appeared, in whom the Holy Spirit dwelt and mingled and became His life and nature. This was because the very life within Him was from the Holy Spirit.
Since the Lord Jesus was the first to experience the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and since He is the Head of the New Testament believers as well as of the church, then the manner of the Holy Spirit’s work on New Testament believers and the church is the same as that which was upon Him; the Holy Spirit works on the Body in the same manner as He worked on the Head. The experience of our Head, the Lord Jesus, with regard to the Holy Spirit, becomes the very pattern or example for us, the New Testament believers, in experiencing the Holy Spirit.
The experience of the Lord Jesus with regard to the Holy Spirit was clearly divided into two aspects: first the inward experience of the Holy Spirit as life, and then the outward experience of the Holy Spirit as power. He began to experience the Holy Spirit as life within when He was being conceived. The Lord Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit (Matt. 1:20). It was the Holy Spirit that entered into Mary, one of the old creation, and out from her was born Jesus the Nazarene. Therefore, from the time the Lord Jesus was conceived, His inward life and nature was of the Holy Spirit. In other words, we may say that from the day He was born He was filled with the Holy Spirit.
From the day the Lord was born until He came forth to work for God—during these thirty years—He lived in the presence of God by the Holy Spirit as the life within Him. Isaiah 53:2 says, “He grew up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground.” This refers to His life before He was thirty years of age. It was entirely by the Holy Spirit infilling Him as His life that on one hand He was able to live humbly in the house of a poor carpenter as a son of man, while on the other hand He was able to walk according to the laws of God.
When He was thirty years old and was about to work for God, the first outward event occurred: while He was being baptized in the river of Jordan, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him as a dove, and He was filled with the Holy Spirit. After forty days of trials in the wilderness, He was even more filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and worked for God in the various regions round about Galilee (Matt. 3:16; Luke 3:21-23; 4:1-15). We see that this condition of His was exactly the same as that of the Old Testament people experiencing the Holy Spirit. When Ezekiel was by the river of Chebar, the Spirit of Jehovah descended upon him, and he opened his mouth and spoke for God (Ezek. 1:1-3). In the same manner, when the Lord Jesus was in the river of Jordan, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him, and He opened His mouth to preach the glad tidings of the kingdom of heaven. This proves that the Lord Jesus experienced at this time another aspect of the work of the Holy Spirit: the descending of the Holy Spirit upon Him as a divine power, enabling Him to work for God.
From this we see that the Lord Jesus experienced the Holy Spirit in two aspects: the experience of the Holy Spirit within as life that He might have God’s nature, and the experience of the Holy Spirit without as power, enabling Him to do the work of God. He first experienced the Holy Spirit within as life while He was being conceived; later, when He was being baptized, He experienced the Holy Spirit without as power. At this time He was filled with the Holy Spirit both inwardly and outwardly.
Some think that John the Baptist was the first one filled with the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. It was really not so. Concerning John the Baptist, Luke 1:15 says, “He shall be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.” However, in the original text the filling here refers to the aspect of outward power, in the same principle as that of the Spirit of God descending upon the prophets outwardly in the Old Testament. Although with respect to time he received the Holy Spirit while he was in his mother’s womb, this, however, was still of but one aspect—the outward aspect of power. It was unlike what the New Testament people have received, which is of two aspects—first the inward and then the outward, the aspect of life and then the aspect of power. Although John was the greatest among the prophets, the Lord said that the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he (Matt. 11:11). Therefore, according to the principle of experiencing the work of the Holy Spirit, he was somewhat like those who were in the Old Testament period; his experience cannot be fully listed in the New Testament period.
(The Experience of Life, Chapter 14, by Witness Lee)