The Work of the Holy Spirit
(This text is unedited from the original - 1896)
by D.L. Moody
I suppose there is not a real Christian here, this afternoon, but that has a desire to be used of God. If you have no desire, no longing for usefulness, I should say there is something wrong in your life. It seems to me that the first impulse, the first aim of a new-born soul is service. "What shall I do? I want to do something." This desire is not of gratitude to Him who has saved you. I cannot conceive of a subject more important than the one before us. When Christ had finished his work, the last thing He did was to teach His disciples of the coming of the Holy Spirit, and what He would do when He came. When He handed over His work to them, then it was He told them that the Spirit was coming to help and to work with them. It was this that helped those very early Christians, and it will help us. There is not a man or woman today who may not be helped if he will. But first, there must be a willing mind and heart; we must know the mind of the Holy Spirit, give ourselves up wholly, to be led and guided and filled with the Spirit.
Now, in the first place, it is well for us to remember that the Holy Spirit is a person. I think I was a Christian for a number of years before I knew that. If I had ever heard it, it had slipped from me and left no impression. I remember, the first time I was awakened upon this subject while listening to an old minister talking about honoring the Holy Ghost. I had always up to that time looked upon Him in the light of one of the attributes, like justice, mercy, and love. But when this old divine talked about His personality, I really thought the old man had gone a little out of his mind. It seemed so strange that I had never heard of it before! I went home and read my Bible in order to find out everything that the book said about the Holy Spirit. I found that it always spoke of the spirit as "He," never as an influence. There is one verse in the fourteenth chapter of John, where the word "He" occurs four times. I only want you to understand that He is distinct from the Father and the Son. When Jesus came down to earth, the work that He did was distinct from the work of the Father.
But now let us come to what His work is. In the first place His work is to convict of sin. You often hear people say, "Why is it so few people are converted under our minister? He is cultured, refined, intellectual, eloquent, but yet there seem to be very few conversions." Well, now, my dear friends, if you are going to look to your ministers to convict and convert people, you are going to be disappointed. It is the work of the Holy Ghost to convict of sin. I have often said that I had rather do almost any manual work than that which I am doing, if I have got to convict the people of sin. It is God's work to carry home conviction to the heart, not man's work. When He shall come. He shall convict and convince men of sin. I have seen people who, when the spirit of God has been working mightily, would get up and go out, and slam the door after them in a bad passion. Not a bad sign. I would a good deal rather them do that than make no sign at all.
When I was preaching in Philadelphia, some time ago, a man and his wife attended my lecture one night. They went home, and the man went to bed without speaking to his wife. The next morning he got up, and ate his breakfast, and went off without saying a word to her. All day she moaned, that she had made a mistake in taking her husband to the meetings. He came home at noon and did not speak to her, and at night again. And he kept that up for a whole week. At the end of the week he said, "Wife, why did you tell Mr. Moody all about me?" His wife replied that she had not spoken a word to Mr. Moody about him. "Then you must have written him about me." "No, I haven't written him anything about you." "Well, then he must have heard it from someone else. That impudent wretch, held me up before thousands of people and told them all about me."
Well, then after a man has been convicted of his sins and is willing to give them up, the next thing the Spirit does is to shed aboard the love of God in our hearts. A great many people are always trying to make themselves love God. You cannot do it. Love must be spontaneous. You cannot love by trying to make yourself love. You have got to have power, and that power comes from the Spirit. When we have that love, then we have the spirit of Jesus Christ. Once I asked a lady who was mourning, because she didn't love God, if she loved her mother. She said, "Yes, I cannot help it." "Well," I said, "that is it exactly." When that heart has been filled with the spirit of God, you cannot help loving Him. But you cannot make yourself love. More love is just what we want today. If you should ask me what the church needs, I should say "love."
Then another thing that the spirit does is to impart hope. You never saw the spirit of God working in a church that wasn't hopeful. Another thing the spirit of God does, is to give liberty. In a good deal of our church work there is almost everything but liberty. A good deal of our work is forced work. Sometimes it takes a god deal of strength to get out a word. Why? Because the atmosphere isn't right. The Holy Spirit has got to have the right atmosphere to work in. You take the atmosphere out of this room, and my voice wouldn't be heard three feet away from me. You have got to have air to convey sound, and you have got to have the spirit prepare the ground in order to carry home the truth. If you get into a certain atmosphere where the spirit isn't working, you will not have liberty.
If a minister hasn't got liberty, it isn't always his fault. I want to emphasize that. The fault may be down there in the audience. I venture to say that an archangel couldn't have had liberty under such circumstances. Why? Because of the fault-finding, back-biting and criticism. Supposing Andrew and Philip had a row and were not on speaking terms, do you think there would have been any liberty? There is not the right atmosphere, and I do not care who you put in the pulpit, there will be no liberty. You want some new church members down there. You get them straight, and the minister will be all right. Supposing James had turned to John and said, "John, I really don't think Peter is preaching as well today as usual"; and John had replied, "Why, he has the most influential congregation I ever saw. The greatest men of the city are here." I will venture to say that you have had ten thousand better sermons preached than Peter ever preached. Suppose those people had gone on picking Peter to pieces. Do you think there would have been any power? But the one hundred and twenty held Peter right up to God, and, if you will allow me to use the expression, he swung loose that day. It takes neither brains nor heart to find fault. Anybody can do that. If you doubt what I say, just go into a crowd and hear a stranger talk. You will hear it said, "Well, what do you think of him?.. I must confess that I was greatly disappointed. He isn't as good as our own minister." Another comes along and says, "He wasn't logical. I have a logical turn of mind, and when I go to church I want to hear logic!" Another says, "He wasn't philosophical. Don't know what it means, but philosophy is what he wants." Another says, "It was all brain. Now, I am using my brain all day long, and when I go to church, I want some one to appeal to my heart."
I wish we could get this sort of criticism out of the church, and then there would be something done. But perhaps the fault is not with the man in the pulpit. When you go home and look in the looking-glass, perhaps you will see the guilty person. What he wants is to get out of the business of fault-finding. It is a poor business, my friend. Just get to praying. You need the spirit of God just as much as the minister. You business men need it; the Sunday-school teachers need it; there are men and women who confess God, who need it. You will have liberty to walk and talk with, and work for Christ, if you have His spirit.
His work is also to testify of Christ. What we want today is love of Christ. That's all. Let these ministers go into the pulpits and life up Christ, and let speculation go. The world can get on without speculation and theories, but this old world cannot go on without Jesus Christ. Therefore we want to preach Him and hold Him up. There is no class of men that Jesus Christ won't draw, if He is lifted up.
Then, another thing the spirit of God does is to teach you. "He shall teach you all things." He is a wonderful teacher. There is not a thing that I want to know about future life that God cannot teach me. Any spirit that does not want that book, you may know is a lying spirit. "He shall teach you all things." Now, if we have got a teacher sent down here from heaven, to teach us all things, are we not dishonoring Him if we run after other teachers? People often come to me and ask me to go to other teachers, call up some departed spirits, and have the chairs and tables turning around. I tell them, "No." When the Lord converted me, He took me out of darkness. In secret, my Master taught nothing. I don't want anything of these teachers that are going to teach us in the dark. I don't know what they are. They may come from hell.
And then He shall guide you into all truth. Wonderful guide, isn't He? That is what He is down here for, to guide us through the wilderness. He is here to look after us.
Now, I want to call your attention to a fact. You never in your life saw a man full of God who wasn't full of scripture.
You see a minister in the pulpit that is filled with the spirit of God, and he will talk scripture right along. Mary was filled with the Holy Ghost, and that Magnificent flowed from her lips. And any man full of the Holy Ghost will talk scripture.
I believe Christ never spoke of His death but what He said, "On the third day I will rise again." And yet, when the time came His disciples had forgotten all about those words. It has always been a mystery to me where the family of Bethany was. You would have thought they would have remembered and been at His grace. His enemies had better memories than His own disciples. They were at the door of the sepulcher; but they never did a better thing for Christianity than to roll that stone up against the door.
But when the Holy Ghost came, then we are told that they remembered the words of the Lord Jesus. Their memory was long enough then. I tell you, when you are filled with the spirit of God, Scripture will come rushing into your mind. One text upon another, comes rushing into our mind saying, "Use me, use me."
And then, "He shall comfort you." There is not a broken heart today that He cannot make whole. There is not a sorry one that He will not comfort. "If I go not away, the Comforter will not come."
I want to say to the singers, that there is great honor put upon music. When the Levites were praising God, then it was that the Shekinah came and filled the temple with glory. If the members of the choir had been at enmity with each other, and had not been on speaking terms, do you think there would have been any harmony? You want your singing in harmony with the preaching, and the singer wants to keep his heart as well tuned as the minister, if he is going to sing well. I don't know what angel it was that got down to the plains to tell the shepherds that Christ had come, but I have an idea that it was Gabriel. But they sung, "Glory to God in the Highest, Peace on earth, Good will toward men." And let me say to the singers that I believe they are doing as much as I am. You sing the gospel, and I will preach it. I believe John Wesley did as much as Charles. One preached and the other sung the gospel, halfway should be at my wits' ends if you asked me to quote anything that Charles Wesley ever said, but I think I could repeat several of John Wesley's hymns. Let us praise God as well as pray. Let us be thankful for what we have got.
Sometimes, when we get to praying, the Holy Ghost comes. I like to go into a meeting when you cannot sing or say anything, and when you feel as if you don't want any one to say a word. The Holy Ghost can do more in one day than you and I can in five years. I hope He will come and work in each of our hearts today.
And this is His dwelling-place, in these bodies that you and I inhabit. When we have been near the Son of God, then it is that these bodies become temples for the Holy Ghost to dwell in. Jesus says, "He shall be in you. He shall abide with you." And Paul says, "Know ye not that ye are the temples of God, and that the spirit of God dwelleth in you?" We have been bought, not by silver, but by the precious Son of God; and these bodies are the temples for the Holy Ghost to dwell in. Therefore, let us keep the temple pure and sweet. I want a baptism of the spirit for my own soul. I don't want to begin this year without a fresh anointing for the service. I should like to have all of you have the same desire." ~~~ D.L. Moody
This evening I want to continue the subject we had this afternoon. There may be some here who were not present this afternoon. Therefore, I will briefly outline the points discussed then. We were talking about the office work of the Holy Spirit, and I tried to show that His office work was to convict of sin, to impart the love of God, fill us with hope and courage, to give us liberty to testify of Christ, to teach us all things, to guide us into all truth and convert us.
Now, I want to go right on and show that it is His work to fill us, and qualify us for God's service. There was one denomination in this country a few years ago that reported that there had not been a single conversion. Now, I believe that every church can be fruit-bearing if it will, and I believe that this very subject we have before us tonight will show us how we can bring forth fruit. I don't believe that any church need return at the end of the year and say, "We have toiled all the year and gained nothing." I believe that it is clearly taught in the Scriptures that it is the privilege of every true child of God to bring forth fruit. "Herein in my father glorified that ye bring forth much fruit." Now, there are a good many sons and daughters of God that are without power. I think there is not one here that will deny that. I do not think that I slander the church when I say nine-tenths of the church members today are without power. I think if you take one-tenth of them you will have about all that have got real Holy Ghost power. Now, I don't believe that ought to be the state of the church. I think it would be a good idea when a man or woman wants to join the church to ask him if he wants to be a member with or without power. If he says, "Without power," it would be well to say, "We have plenty of that kind of church members. What we want is a few with power." I believe you can all have it if you will. The power is here. This old book teaches us how we can get it. Now, I do not know that I am right, but I think you will find three classes of Christians represented in the Bible, and I think you will find them all in our churches. The first is represented in the third chapter of John, where Nicodemus came to Christ by night and got life. But he only barely got it. He didn't get it in all its abundance. Nicodemus worked while Peter, James and John were enjoying. They heard all the parables, saw all the miracles, ate with Him, slept with Him, and they were just lifted up into the third heaven you might say, while poor Nicodemus was living on sawdust. He didn't get any food for his soul. And yet I suppose he reasoned in this way: "I am a high member. I am a member of Sanhedrim, and if I should identify myself with that despised Nazarene I should lose my power and influence." He might have become one of the twelve had he taken the stand. We have got to stoop if we are going to conquer, and when a man is not willing to take a low place to get power with God, he is not going to get it. There is a good deal of difference between social power, political power, and a kind of religious power. But these are not the kinds of power that I am talking about. I am talking about Holy Ghost power. Strength is one thing, and power is another. The giant of Gath had strength, but David had power.
In the fourth chapter of John you will find a higher type of Christian. That woman that came to the well to get water. She got the whole well. She got so much of the living water that you couldn't have kept her in the Sanhedrim. She went back into town and told what Christ had done for her. She drank deeper than Nicodemus did. Isn't a well better than just a little water? If I have a drop of water in a tumbler I can truly say I have water, but there would not be any bubbling up.
In the seventh chapter of John, you will find the highest type, and that is the class I want to belong to. If we could only just get this whole audience into the seventh chapter of John, this city would be turned upside down. On that last day He said, "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink, and out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." A man once said he had a good well but for two things; it would dry up in summer and freeze up in winter. Every child of God ought to be like rivers. I used to quote it "river" until one day an old man asked me where I got the word "river." I said I found it in my Bible. He said he didn't find it in that way in his Bible, that he read "rivers." Why? Rivers shall flow through man and woman that are filled with the Holy Ghost. We have an idea that the apostles belonged to another race of beings. Not a bit of it. They got so filled with the Spirit of God that rivers actually flowed from them. And you needn't go back to those old apostles, not even one hundred years, to Wesley and Whitfield. Go right back to London. Look at Spurgeon. For nearly forty years he preached to the largest congregation any man has preached since Christ left this earth, and his sermons have been translated into nearly every language under the heavens. On every Thursday thirty thousand of his sermons were scattered through the world. I know that out in the Rocky mountains where there are no ministers, men have gathered together and read Spurgeon's sermons. I venture to say that there are few ministers in Christendom that haven't some of Spurgeon's sermons in their libraries. He had a society sent out to evangelize. He had a pastor's college where he had men trained who are now preaching in every nation in the world. I cannot begin to tell of the streams that flowed out from that one man. I don't believe that any four walls are going to hold any man's influence. It is the privilege of every one of us to be filled with the Holy Spirit's power. Now, mark you, it is a command to be filled. You know that for years and years we got all our water out of old wells. I remember that in my day I had to pump, pump, pump, until that arm was ready to drop out of its socket. And I didn't get much water out. Why? Because there wasn't much in. Now, you have got to get water before you can get it out. Have you ever seen an artesian well? I don't see so many of them in the east as I have in the west and south, but in a great many places I have found them. They don't stop when they come to water, but go on drilling and by-and-by the water comes to the top of the ground. But even when they don't stop, but go on and on, until they strike a deeper strata, and the water comes bubbling up and up. And so I believe it is the true position of every child of God to be so filled that you haven't got to pump all the time. All you have to do is to open the gates and let the stream flow on and on, and on. And it will never give out. All God wants us to do is to get filled.
Now, I want to put this question to the audience. Isn't it the time of need, great need? I think one of the most lamentable things of this day is that Satan can walk right into some of our best Christian homes and families, and haul our children down into the deepest and darkest depths, and we haven't got the power to reach them and bring them back. I don't believe that it is the will of the Almighty that the devil should walk into my home and drag my children down. If we were filled with the Holy Spirit, we could call power down from heaven and save the tempted ones. We haven't got the Holy Ghost power. May God open your eyes now! Perhaps the question comes up, is there any promise that we can lay hold on? Listen, "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." Do you know what heaven's measure is? Good measure, pressed down and running over. I remember when we used to sell a man a bushel of oats; we used to take a stick and scrape over the top so that he shouldn't get a grain over measure. The Lord just shakes it down and lets it run over; and when a man is full of the love of God, he has power to resist temptation. When the heart is filled with the Holy Spirit, and Satan comes to put in an evil thought, he throws off the temptation. People come to me and say, "Mr. Moody, don't you think you ought to preach against this and that?" "No, I say, get the people baptized in the spirit and it takes them clean out of the world." A young man came to me one and said, "Don't you think I ought to get out of the world now that I have become a Christian?" And I said, "No, you won't have to leave the world if you just give a good ringing testimony for the Son of God." And when a man gets filled with the spirit, he won't always be talking about doing this thing and that thing. God wants to fill you. But the moment you begin to talk about being filled, people say, "If you are full of conceit and your own righteousness, full of envy, evil and hate, and all those things, how is the Lord going to fill you?" Take this tumbler, it is filled with air, and you are wondering how you are going to get the air out. [Here Mr. Moody poured water into a tumbler until it ran over.] There! Any air there now? Let us ask God to open the gates and let the flood come in upon us tonight. Come, friend, let the heart be opened tonight. Just pull back that bolt and let the door be thrown wide open. Say to God, "Here I am." And if it is real, hones desire that He should come, He will do so and fill you.
When I was out in Colorado I saw strawberries and peas, and here and there a farm where every blade of grass was green, and everything was fresh and blooming; but just over the fence there would be another farm where everything would be dried up. And I said to a man on the train, "What does this mean?" He looked at me and said, "You are a stranger here. One man brings water down from the mountains and waters his farm, the other man does not." That explained it. One had plenty, and the other didn't have anything. You go into some churches and you will find some men very dry, and a man right next to him with a sunny face, and there all is fresh and bright. Why? Because one has got the anointing, has got the blessing, and the other sits there where the rain is pouring down and doesn't get under it at all. Let's get under the pierced clouds, and then just keep the heart full. It is not sign you are full because you were so two years ago. That is the trouble. A good many are trying to work with the anointing they got three years ago. They are a lot of Samsons around who have lost their hair. How many sermons have you heard of which you cannot remember a single word? What is the trouble? Why, you were not in the right spirit; or perhaps, the man in the pulpit was not in the right spirit, and the sermon didn't lay hold on you. When the Spirit of God is in a man the fire just burns. But, thank God, although Samson lost his strength it came back to him. And some of you Samsons have lost your power can get it back if you will. God used Peter far more after He restored him than He did before his fall. I trust there are some here who may become a flame of fire. Why not? Don't you want that power? You can have it if you will. It is for you. The Lord wants to give it to everyone. Let's have it. You will remember that after Christ rose He met His disciples in a little room, and He raised His pierced hands and said, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost." And right after that He said, "I am now going to leave you, and I want to come back here and pray until you have become imbued with the power from on high." And one of His disciples answered, " Lord, I have the power." And He said, "Ye shall receive the power after the Holy Ghost has come upon you." You want to wait for the power. I believe that is where the church has gone astray; there are hundreds of church members who never think of asking God for power. There are children by birth, sons and daughters of God, but they are without power. Let us seek this power. When the Holy Ghost had come, there were more people converted than had been during the three years of Christ's ministry. O, I hope the Christians here tonight will get power and baptism, and then this whole community will feel the power.
But, again the power came in the second chapter of Acts. I have heard a good many people say, "Why, I don't think it right to ask the Spirit to come." Didn't He come eighteen hundred years ago, and isn't He with the church today? I honestly believe that the place might be shaken as it was in the second chapter of Acts. These men were filled with the Holy Spirit. Now, people say that you may preach all you like, so long as you do not preach in His name. But those preachers could not get on without His name; it was their capital in trade, all they had. They had just commenced their ministry, and they couldn't preach on science and higher criticism. They knew nothing about astronomy, geology and botany, and I don't know what else that is preached about these days. All they knew was that Jesus Christ had lived there, they had seen Him die and ascend, and the Holy Ghost came upon them, and they were about preaching in His name. I tell you a man might preach with all the eloquence of Demosthenes, and yet not touch the hearts of the people. But let the Holy Ghost come, and there would be a mighty stir. Some one says, "A lie will get all around the world before the truth gets its boots on to contradict it." Now, mark ye. John and Peter were filled in the second chapter, and again in the fourth. Now, they had either lost some of their power or had greater capacity. If Peter and John needed to be filled again so soon after Pentecost, don't you think you and I need to be filled again? The house in Jerusalem was shaken twice. Those men were filled again and they preached with greater power, and I want to say that I haven't any sympathy with the idea that this miracle could not be repeated again. May God grant that it may be repeated. Why shouldn't there be fires here? Can you give a reason why? But go on. Ten years after there was a meeting down at Caesarea, and I believe that was the only meeting that was all planned in heaven. Peter was brought from Joppa, thirty miles away, and the people sat there and heard what the Lord had to say, And Peter stood up and preached. In the eleventh chapter of Acts he gives us an account of that preaching ten years afterwards.
Now, if the Holy Ghost fell twice in Jerusalem, and ten years after in Caesarea, why shouldn't the Holy Ghost come now? I believe, if we could only get this cursed unbelief out of here, that God would lift the tide-gate, and let the flood come in. This is what we want. People say, "What shall I do to get this blessing?" Give yourself fully, wholly and unreservedly just now, this minute; make a complete surrender and say, "Here am I Lord, take me and use me for Thyself, " and I tell you, if the motive is pure and for the glory of God, the blessing will come. But if you are selfish about it and want it just for your own sake, you are going to be disappointed. A great many mothers are mourning because their children are not saved. Do they ever mourn because other children are unsaved? Are we not selfish?
If any of you tonight really want this blessing and feel down deep in your hearts that you must have it, and you are going to lay yourself out for it, I would like to pray with you for it. I see some aged men here. Would not you like to see all your children and grandchildren gathered into the kingdom before you go? Before you go, wouldn't you like to see the kingdom extended right here in your midst? There is not a man so old but that God can use you. Come! There are none so young that God cannot use you.
You remember that when Elijah was to be taken up, he was down at Gilgal with Elisha. And Elijah said unto Elisha, "Tarry here, for I go to Bethel;" but Elisha said, "As the Lord liveth, I will not leave thee," So the two prophets were down to Bethel. When they had reached there was young man came up to Elisha and said, "Do you know that your master is to be taken away today?" And Elisha said, "Hold your peace, I know all about it." Presently Elijah turned to Elisha and said, "Tarry here, for the Lord hath sent me to Jericho." But Elisha replied, "As the Lord liveth, I will not leave thee." I have often wished that that whole story had been put on record. And when they came to Jordan there were fifty men there. Elijah took off his mantle and smote the waters, and the river divided, and Elijah and Elisha passed over dry ground. And when they had gone over Elijah said to Elisha, "Ask what I shall do for thee before I be taken away from thee." And Elisha asked for a double portion of his spirit. Elijah answered, "Thou hast asked a hard thing, but if you see me when I am taken up it shall be so." Do you suppose Elisha lost sight of Elijah? O, no! Where Elijah went, there Elisha was to be found, but as they were journeying along, a whirlwind came up, and they were separated. I see Elisha digging the sand out of his eyes, and he happened to see something in the air, and he looked up, and there was Elijah. And he shouted, "My Father, my Father, the chariot of Israel, and the horseman thereof!" And he rent his own clothes. Men, rend your mantle. You are nothing, get down in the dust. And he took up the mantle of Elijah and smote the waters and passed over. Now, I am afraid that if Elisha had some of us he would have said, " I am the same old Elisha. I expected to feel a sensation. I thought I should have a stroke." Man, take God at His word. "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." Claim that promise. God can raise up witnesses right out of stone if He wants to. Elisha got all he went for, because he dared to ask. Let us go in for a double portion. Don't you want it? What is the use of living at this dying rate that we sing and talk about? The Lord has plenty. He delights to give. Let us take up the duty of receiving just now. Let us pray the Lord God of heaven t0 fill us. Let us pray to have the fruit come. ~~~ D.L. Moody