But by My Spirit"

Devotional Study, Autumn Council, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1946.

By WILLIAM B. OCHS, Vice-president of the General Conference

The words, "But by My spirit," found in Zechariah 4:6, deal with the speedy finish­ing of God's work in the earth. They are the weapon God has given us with which to ac­complish the task. .The church today stands in need of many things. She needs more members and more money, better buildings, a greater and a better evangelism, a vision of the un­finished task, a stronger faith in God and in His leadership. But her greatest need is the fullness of the Spirit of God, for this experience will bring all that of which the church stands in need. Surely this is God's day of power and the church's day of opportunity. We must arise now and finish the work committed to us.

The Lord states very definitely how His work will not be accomplished or finished—"Not by might nor by power." The margin says "army." It is so natural for us to look to human might and to the material things about us rather than to the promised provision, "but by My spirit." It is well to have methods, ma­chinery, and plans. They are essential for carrying forward the message, but let us re­member that the Holy Spirit does not flow through methods but through men. The Spirit does not come upon machinery, but upon the men who operate that machinery. He does not anoint plans, but the men who are chosen to carry out the plans.

Gideon had an army of thirty-two thousand. It was reduced to three hundred. But with the three hundred Gideon succeeded in defeating the enemy. What was the secret of Gideon's success ? Judges 6 :34 gives the answer : "But the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet."

It was not only the power which came upon Gideon, but the unity and co-operation that were found among the three hundred that caused the enemy to flee. Every one of the three hundred was to do his part. "They stood every man in his place."

Some seem to think that the Lord is going to do the work alone; hence they are content in doing very little or nothing. But God has al­ways worked through His people, His church. "When the churches become living, working churches, the Holy Spirit will be given in answer to their sincere request. . . . Then the windows of heaven will be opened for the show­ers of the latter rain."—Review and Herald, Feb. 25, 1890. Notice: "When the churches become living, working churches," then the Lord will do His part. The words, "but by My spirit," reveal the secret of God's method of quickly finishing His work. It is to be accom­plished in no other way than by His Spirit.

The Spirit of the Lord has been promised to the remnant church. Christ made this promise to His disciples before He ascended. We read in Luke 24:49: "And, behold, I send the prom­ise of My Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high." Again, in Matthew 28:18, we read: "All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth." Jesus had completed His work on earth. He was to ascend to His Father. He was tempted in all points like as we are ; yet without sin. For what purpose then was this power given Him? We find the answer in volume 9 of the Testimonies:

"What is this power given to Him for ?—For us. He desires us to realize that He has returned to heaven as our Elder Brother, and that the measure­less power given Him has been placed at our dis­posal."—Page 186.

We must recognize, however, that this spirit­ual power, or the fullness of the Holy Spirit, has been promised upon the fulfillment of defi­nite conditions.

"Christ has promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to His church, and the promise belongs to us as much as to the first disciples. But like every other promise, it is given on conditions."—Desire of Ages, p. 672.

The question naturally arises, What are these conditions ? The acceptance of Christ as our personal Saviour, confession and forsaking of sin, and true obedience to all the fundamental truths the Lord has given us.

The Lord did a quick work in the early church. The apostles were few in number, but they accomplished what they did because they were filled with the Holy Spirit. The progress of their work was backed by the promise, "Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit." On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit came as the rushing of a mighty wind. As a result three thousand souls accepted Christ. God ful­filled His promise because the church met the conditions. And what was the secret of the success of the apostles' work? The answer is found in two statements: "They were all with one accord in one place" and 'They were all filled with the Holy Spirit."

Pentecost will come to the remnant church when the experiences that preceded Pentecost come. We are assured in the Bible and in the Spirit of prophecy that the Lord is going to do a quick and a mighty work in this our day, for He who knows the end from the beginning, has set the stage for a quick work in the earth.

His work will be finished with lightning speed. John the revelator saw an angel flying, denoting speed. The apostle Paul, through in­spiration, was instructed to write: "For He will finish the work, and cut it short in right­eousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth." Rom. 9:28.

Many years ago the messenger of The Lord said: "Great changes are soon to take place in our world, and the final movements will be rapid ones."—Testimonies, vol. 9, p.

The first part of this prophecy, "Great changes are soon to take place in our world," surely has been fulfilled during the last ten years. We are living in a different world today than we did then. Consequently, we must expect the latter part of the prophecy to be fulfilled—"The final movements will be rapid ones."

The church of God today faces a mighty challenge, and that challenge is to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. This challenge has been accepted. It must be met in an unusual way. Something out of the ordinary must happen in order to ac­complish the task, and this something will be the fulness of the Spirit of God upon the church. The apostolic experiences are to be repeated in the lives of the members of the remnant church, for we read, "All that the apostles did, every church member today is to do."—Ibid., vol. 7, p. 33. And we are to work with as much more fervor, accompanied by the Holy Spirit, as the increase of wickedness demands, and a more decided call to repentance.

Again: "When we bring our hearts into unity with Christ, and our lives into harmony with His work, the .Spirit that fell on the disci­ples on the day of Pentecost will fall on us."­Ibid., vol. 8, p. 246. God's promises will not fail. Trials, hardships, opposition, persecution, will come, but the church will be true and firm, for "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Let us ever remember that in all our perplex­ities, God is still at the helm of human history. He sees the end from the beginning, and behind the scenes He is working out His eternal pur­pose. His work will be finished.

In view of the speedy finishing of God's work in all the world, what should be your attitude and mine toward the finishing of the work? First of all, we must keep our lives fully surrendered to God; keep our sins confessed and forgiven; and make sure that when the work is finished in all the world it will also be finished in our own hearts. Then we must be willing to serve wherever God sees best for the advancement of His cause. We must be­lieve that His promises will be fulfilled in due time, and that the work will be finished re­gardless of circumstances or prevailing condi­tions. Surely it is our privilege to believe that the grandest and the greatest and the most glorious work lies still ahead of us, and this will be accomplished by His Spirit.

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By WILLIAM B. OCHS, Vice-president of the General Conference

March 1947

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