In no case is this truth of a conditional promise more important to notice than in regard to the baptism of the Holy Ghost. In John 14:15-16 our Lord said, “If ye love Me, ye will keep My commandments, and I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter.” Few people notice the condition of keeping Christ’s commandments when they seek the promise of the Comforter.
In this case, however, the condition is insisted on with more than ordinary emphasis; for in verse 21 our Lord says, “He that hath My commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me, and he that loveth Me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him and will manifest Myself unto him.” And again in verse 23, “If a man love Me he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode a with him.” How strongly the Lord speaks of the necessity of keeping His commandments, and yet how little that is thought of in seeking the fullness of the Holy Ghost.
The spirit which is here inculcated is not one of legal observance, it is not, “Do this and thou shalt live,” but it is rather the natural outcome of strong affection. The man that loves Jesus will keep His commandments. Now, no man loves the Lord until he has experienced the Lord’s love to him. The disciples to whom Jesus spoke were men who had had that blessed experience; they had been convicted (Luke 8), they had left all and followed Him; they had had the truth revealed to them by the Holy Ghost (Matt. 16:17); their names were written in heaven (Luke 10:20); their sins were forgiven and they knew it (John 13:10,11); they had learned to love the Christ with a deep, strong emotion; and they were now looking forward to the baptism of the Holy Ghost. It was, therefore, to such men as these that Jesus spoke these beautiful words of promise, and attached this condition of loving obedience. Dear reader, are you in the condition these disciples were? Have you been brought to Jesus, and have you learned to love Him? But to the present time do you feel you have never received the promise of the Comforter to be the power of your spiritual life?
Every child of God should seek out the commands of the Lord Jesus, and constantly pray that he may have grace to love them and keep them. But in the 23rd verse quoted above, the Lord speaks of His words. There are many words of Christ which are not definite commands, but they express the will of the Lord for His people. A friend of mine once said, “When I come home at night after a late meeting, I have no need to wait long at the door; the housemaid, who was brought to Jesus in my family, is sure to be on the look-out to let me in quickly. And when I get to my study I find the fire burning brightly, and my slippers put to warm. I never gave her a command about these things, but she knows my wish, and understands what would be pleasant to me.” Our dear Lord has expressed many wishes that are not in the form of commands, and a loving heart will seek to fulfill them. He does not command us to be poor in spirit, to mourn, to be meek, or to hunger and thirst after righteousness; but He shows how He loves this condition of mind, by giving special blessing to those who are such. And anyone trying to keep His words will seek this spirit, because the Master loves it so.
It would be well if children of God were to search out the commands of Jesus, that they might meditate on them, and pray over them, and see what bearing they have upon daily life. Such a method would certainly put them in the way of receiving the promised blessing. The man that would receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost, must seek the loving spirit inculcated in the words, “Resist not evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” He must carry out the Lord’s command to “give to him that asketh,” to love his enemies,” to “bless those that curse him,” etc. He must be a man who loves secret almsgiving, secret prayer, secret fasting. He must remember that our Lord has said, “Lay not up for yourselves treasure upon earth,” and he will see that a covetous or stingy man can never have the fullness of the Spirit. He will find further that too great attention to his dinner, or too much thought about his dress, are hindrances that will prevent the outpouring of the Holy Ghost. Again, a spirit of judging or criticism of his brother is against the direct command of the Lord Jesus, and must be put away, and he will come to the Lord with the strong faith taught in the command, “Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you.”
Or again, if anyone would have the power of the Holy Ghost, he must remember how the Lord has said, “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart.” To take Christ’s yoke, is to accept His will in everything; and to be meek and lowly in heart, is to place oneself in the background, and to take the lowest position. These things are not easy, but they are so like the Master, that he who loves Jesus will desire to be of this spirit; knowing that as Jesus came “not to be ministered unto, but to minister to others; so His disciples must take this position.
There is only one other passage to which I will refer, and that is the new commandment which Jesus gave His disciples, “That ye love one another, as I have loved you; that ye also love one another.” There is no more certain way of preventing the baptism of the Holy Ghost, than by permitting jealousy, envy, strife, bigotry, or sectarian spirit to arise. Love must reach across every barrier and kindle with strong affection towards every brother who believes in Jesus.
Now, dear reader, are you seeking to have this priceless treasure in your earthen vessel? See that you endeavor with all your heart to do His bidding. Do you love Him? Love is obedient, love is active. If you have not love enough to keep His commandments, is it because you have forgotten the love He bare to you, the pierced hands, the wounded side, the weight of sin, the hiding of the Father’s face, the descent into the grave? See in these things the heart of Jesus wounded for you, and then remember how He has said, “If a man love Me he will keep My words, and My Father will love him, and We will come unto Him, and make Our abode with Him.”