THE NEED FOR A COMPLETE EXPERIENCE OF THE SPIRIT
As Christians we must experience the Holy Spirit in regeneration, infilling, power, and gifts. If we have only regeneration, we are merely at the beginning of being a Christian. Inwardly we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and outwardly we need power and gift. If we do not have power and gift, we are not complete in the experience of the Holy Spirit.
The experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is the last item of the experience of the Spirit. The Lord gives us the Holy Spirit first for regeneration, then for infilling, and then for power and gift, or simply stated, for baptism. On the one hand, we must be regenerated with the Spirit and filled with the Spirit, and on the other hand, we must be baptized in the Spirit. To be baptized in the Spirit means that we are not only filled with the Spirit, but we are absolutely in the Spirit. Inwardly we are filled with the Spirit, and outwardly we are in the Spirit. In this way we have life, and we have power and gift. Then we are normal Christians.
We should not merely say, “Praise the Lord, I have been regenerated and filled to some degree by the Holy Spirit. Now I love the Lord, I walk in the Spirit, and I am more or less spiritual. I am satisfied as a good Christian.” We may be a very good brother or sister, but do we have power, release, and a certain kind of gift? The only way to experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit is to stand in the position of being a member of the Body to claim the Spirit, who has been poured upon the Body. In this way we will experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit; we will be empowered, and we will be gifted.
What we are saying here is very general and according to the holy Scriptures. I do not say that you must speak in tongues. Perhaps the Lord will give you this gift, but I do not say that this must be the initial evidence of the Spirit. Rather, speaking in tongues is only one of many aspects of the manifestation of the Spirit. The Spirit upon us is for power and gifts, not for anything peculiar. Do not look for something peculiar; rather, seek the experience of power and gifts.
Many of us read the Scriptures, but if we receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon us as power and the means for gift, we will have a new way to understand the Scriptures. We will understand the old book in a new way; that is, we will have the gift to understand the Scriptures. On the one hand, we do not have the scriptural ground to speak of “the gift of reading,” but on the other hand, we should not be too technical and legal about words.
Similarly, as brothers and sisters we love the Lord, and we are concerned about the church, the saints, and the souls of others. However, some say, “I am too weak, and I can do nothing. I am concerned about the saints, but when I go to them, I do not know what to say or what to do.” I fully sympathize with you, but I wish to tell you that if you experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit, you will immediately know how to contact people. You will have the power, the boldness, and the gift to contact them. I cannot show you where the Scriptures speak of “the gift of visitation,” but I can tell you that if you have the experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, you will be able to contact persons. You will have not only the power but also the way, the gift, and the technical ability to contact them.
Many times when we come to the meetings, we have a heart to express something in prayer, but when the time comes to pray, we are weak and we simply do not have the way to pray. Instead, we have many excuses not to pray. However, if we would experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit, when we come to the meeting, we will have the power and the gift to pray. Again, I cannot find the ground in the Scriptures that there is “the gift of prayer.” On the one hand, prayer is not a gift, but on the other hand, in order to have the way to pray and to pray in the right way, we should experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit. After the experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, we will have a prevailing way to pray.
With all spiritual things—service, preaching, reading, and prayer—there is the need of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon us. It is not sufficient only to have the Holy Spirit within us; we need the Holy Spirit upon us. Do not say, “As long as I have the Holy Spirit within me, that is good enough. I simply do not care for the so-called Pentecostal activities.” We can forget about the so-called Pentecostal activities, but we must realize that the Holy Spirit is not only for us inwardly as life but also outwardly as power and gift.
SEEKING TO MAKE UP OUR SHORTNESS
Do we have these two aspects? We need the outward experience of the Holy Spirit, to experience the Holy Spirit as power and as the Giver. If we only have the Holy Spirit within and we never experience the Holy Spirit without, we are short. We are not complete in the experience of the Holy Spirit. The last step of the work of the Holy Spirit is the baptism, the outpouring, the outward aspect. We must experience the Holy Spirit as power with gift to us. On the one hand, we must seek to be filled with the Spirit within, and on the other hand, we must seek to be filled by the Holy Spirit as power with different kinds of gifts without.
I present this to you as a clear picture of our situation so that we may know where we are and what we are short of. May the Lord enable us to seek, to make up, what we are short of. We should forget about the different situations, different speakings, and different teachings in today’s Christianity concerning this matter. Let us come back to the Scriptures in a simple and clear way to see that the Holy Spirit is within us for life and upon us for power with gift.
We must know what we have experienced and what we have not experienced, what we have and what we are short of. May the Lord be merciful to us that we may seek what we are short of and make it up. We need the inward filling of the Spirit and also the outward filling, that is, the Holy Spirit as power with different kinds of gifts to us.
We need some time to be with the Lord to deal with this matter. We should also come together and pray about how to take the position and claim what the Body has received already, and how to experience the outpouring, the accomplished baptism, of the Holy Spirit on the Body, so that we may have the real experience of the Holy Spirit upon us as power with gift. Then we will be empowered, and we will be gifted. We will have not only life within but also power and gift without. In this way we will be normal Christians. On the one hand, we will be normal in life, and on the other hand, we will be normal in service. We must seek this, and we should not be satisfied with the present situation.
(The Work of the Holy Spirit, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)