The Work of the Holy Spirit
by MARTIN ISRAEL, M.B.
This is a 17 chapter work on the Holy Spirit.
Ch 01 Birth-Natural and Spiritual
Ch 02 The Birth into Spiritual Awareness
Ch 03 The Consecration of the Will
Ch 04 Descent into Darkness
Ch 05 The Regeneration of the Personality
Ch 06 The Spirit as Healer
Ch 07 The Spirit and the Psyche
Ch 08 The Psychic Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Ch 09 The Spirit on the World
Ch 10 The Serving Spirit
Ch 11 The Spirit of Fire
Ch 12 Humility and the Spirit
Ch 13 The Fulfilling Spirit
Ch 14 Transfiguration
Ch 15 Confrontation
Ch 16 The Triumph of Evil
Ch 17 Peace
At each moment of time, in the fullest meaning of the word “now”, Christ is born in us and the Holy Ghost proceeds, bearing all Its gifts.
What is soilèd, make thou pure; What is wounded, work its cure; What is parchèd, fructify; What is rigid, gently bend; What is frozen, warmly tend; Straighten what goes erringly. (From the thirteenth century hymn to the Holy Spirit,Veni Sancte Spiritus, translated by J.M. Neale)
THE THEME of this book is the problem of good and evil and their reconciliation in Christ. At first I had the Holy Spirit in mind as the central focus for my meditation, and indeed the Spirit plays a primary role in the book as my agent of human advance to the knowledge of God. Since so many books on the Holy Spirit had appeared in recent years, most of them directly related to the Charismatic Renewal within the Church, I intended concentrating more on the psychological and psychical aspects of spiritual life, and indeed these matters occupy a considerable part of the text. But as work proceeded, it was shown to me that something more was required: the charting of the work of the spirit in man from the birth of spiritual awareness to the ultimate confrontation with evil that brings with it personal death and the rebirth of a new person. The five crucial events in the life of Jesus – birth, baptism, transfiguration, crucifixion, and resurrection – are the paradigm of man’s ultimate deification, and as such these have been the salient points of reference in this account of the work of the Spirit in human consciousness.
As the work progressed, much was shown me concerning the nature of the very limited reality of this world of toil and strife. The conclusion of the book was something I had not considered when I started writing: an analysis of the polarities of darkness and light between which both our mortal lives are suspended and the world grows, suffers and ultimately perishes, and then of their ultimate reconciliation in a realm beyond mortal distinction and separation.
The theme is not a new one, but it needs to be restated in terms of the contemporary human dilemma.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1. Birth – Natural and Spiritual
Chapter 2. The Birth into Spiritual Awareness
Chapter 3. The Consecration of the Will
Chapter 4. Descent into Darkness
Chapter 5. The Regeneration of the Personality
Chapter 6. The Spirit as Healer
Chapter 7. The Spirit and the Psyche
Chapter 8. The Psychic Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Chapter 9. The Spirit in the World
Chapter 10. The Serving Spirit
Chapter 11. The Spirit of Prayer
Chapter 12. Humility and the Spirit
Chapter 13. The Fulfilling Spirit
Chapter 14. Transfiguration
Chapter 15. Confrontation
Chapter 16. The Triumph of Evil
Chapter 17. Peace
In the beginning of creation, when God made heaven and earth, the earth was without form and void, with darkness over the face of the abyss and a mighty wind that swept over the surface of the waters. God said, “Let there be light” and there was a light. (Gen. 1:1-3)
TO BE BORN is to come to a knowledge of one’s own independent existence. God created form out of the void so that He might love it and that in coming to its own self-awareness, it might reciprocate that love to its Creator.
People often speak of love as if it were an expression of cosmic benevolence directed in a diffused way at no particular person or thing. It is sometimes called good-will. Such good-will is deeply suspect because it affects to be benevolent and universal in scope, but fails to commit itself to a single finite action. In other words, real love is deeply personal. Eventually it extends to embrace to all people, indeed the whole creation, but it never allows any one person to be submerged in the sea of corporate humanity or any one thing to be swamped in the mass of the created whole.
God showed His love by His directive Word who ordered creation, and His out-flowing Spirit Who infused life into it so that it might progress under its own momentum, yet inspired by the effulgent energy of the Godhead – Father, Word of Wisdom, and the Spirit of Life. When the creation was effected out of the void, which is the totality of the divine presence, time, as we understand it, began. It started with creation and ends when the creature returns of his own free will to the Creator, as perfect in love for Him as He is for His creatures.
“God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, that everyone who has faith in him may not die but have eternal life” (Joh. 3:16) This statement does not refer only to that event which Christians call the Incarnation, but is a measure of the eternal gift of His Word that the Father bestows on the universe He has created. The Incarnation is to be seen as the supreme demonstration in the mortal flesh of the external relationship that exists between Creator and creation.
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our own image and likeness to rule the fish in the sea, the birds of heaven, the cattle, all wild animals on earth, and all reptiles that crawl upon the earth.’ So God created man in his own image.” (Gen. 1:26-27).
In the beginning the creation is scarcely aware of its separation from the Creator. It is only when the fully sentient creature, whom we call man, is formed, that a personal consciousness is added which can see itself apart from the creative process as well as at one with it. In the Creation story man himself is at first unaware of his separate identity from the world of bliss he inhabits. And there is no death. But at a certain stage in his growth it is decreed that he must learn of the principle of diversity that governs creation, so that he may begin to play his part in the exchange of love that energises the universe. Love, as we have already seen, is a willed exchange of devotion, that gives of its very essence between one individual and another. When there is primal union in which the one person does not so much recognise his own identity as separate from the other, there can be no exchange of love from him to the other. This principle is seen in marital life whenever a child is born; the mother becomes aware of her offspring as soon as she sees it separate from herself and she loves it for itself alone. But the child cannot begin to reciprocate that love for many years, until it comes to a knowledge of its own identity and its relationship to its mother.
God, of course, knows His creation from the beginning, but the creature has little knowledge of Him. Man, at least in our little world, is the creature who has given the supreme privilege of having so highly developed an intellectual and spiritual consciousness that he can aspire to a direct relationship with God. Man is, therefore, not only an animal but also a spiritual being – one in whom the Word of God is capable of speaking and the Spirit of God of acting consciously to awaken the whole world from sleep to purposeful activity.
And so it was man’s supreme privilege to love God directly, in so doing to reflect God’s love on to the entire universe so that it too could grow into knowledge of God’s love and rise from the sleep of darkness to the life of plentitude. But man misused his knowledge. He learnt the nature of the principle of diversity that governs creation only to well, but instead of using the power that was given to him constructively for the raising-up of the world he used it to divisively for his own selfish ends. Then with the knowledge of good and evil enter the world, with man heavily identified with the evil that diminishes creation and brings it back to the point of primal chaos, instead of leading it onwards beyond the darkness to the full light of God’s love. This was the tragedy of the event that is called “the Fall”. When man fell from union with God into conscious separation, time became an instrument of limitation, and man was imprisoned in a finite world limited by space and bounded by death. And he was destined to come to a full knowledge of himself in the suffering that is part of living in a world of separation, removed from a direct knowledge of God.
This is the inner meaning of the Creation story told in the first four chapters of the Book of Genesis. Of course it would be not only absurd to relate this story to our scientific understanding of the creation of the world and the theory of evolution, that is accepted by all knowledgeable scientists, but it would also show a lack of that deeper imaginative grasp of truth that marks the height of human wisdom. What this biblical account of man’s origin is attempting to penetrate is his relationship to the source of creation, which we call God, and his fall from that union to a separative, sinful existence. Although time commenced when the creation was called forth “out of the void”, it becomes a conscious modality only when a creature is evolved who can be so aware of it that his life is centered on the demands it makes in terms of finitude and death. Whilst in the vast universe of which we are now more fully aware than in the past, there can be so many myriads of intelligent forms than can work constructively with time, in our own world it seems that human intelligence alone is so well endowed. It is the limitation of the scientist’s understanding of man that he can see the human race only as an evolving animal form with remarkably high intelligence based on an exceptional development of the brain. Another dimension to this view of human nature needs to added: the infusion of the Word and Spirit of God into a physical form, or body, that is fit to see it. This ‘mystical’ dimension of the human personality cannot be proved scientifically, but it is experienced daily in the lives of human beings and recorded in the annals of human sanctity that illuminate the history of all the great religious traditions.
At the end of the forth chapter of the Book of Genseses it is recorded “At the time men began to invoke the Lord by name.” Religion, as we know it, is born as alienated man becomes aware of deity, separated by an immense gulf from him and yet closer to himself than his own soul. Religion is to reach its end in the New Jerusalem, where there is no temple; for its temple is the sovereign Lord God and the Lamb (the Word made flesh Who has redeemed man from his separative existence and reconciled him to the supreme calling as a Son of God). The entire journey of humanity from bestiality to divinity is spanned in the vast prospect of biblical imagery.
Israel, M. – Smouldering Fire: Works of Holy Spirit is a 17 chapter work on the Holy Spirit.
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