An Overview of Andrew Murray’s Theology of the Holy Spirit #2.1
In 1888 Andrew Murray wrote one of his most insightful works on the Holy Spirit titled: The Spirit of Christ. His aim with this book was to show that justification by faith is only a means to an end.
Echoing the Fathers of the Dutch Second Reformation (also called the Continuing Reformation), he states that the Reformation did not go far enough in explaining God’s full plan of salvation and what He intended for us here on earth through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.
As many readers will be interested to learn what Murray believed in relation to the Holy Spirit, I have gathered some important clues below. They are broad brushstrokes only, but will put to rest a few unsubstantiated claims that have appeared in the literature over the years.
Clue one: The difference between my spirit and the Holy Spirit
My spirit is the true expression of myself. The Holy Spirit renews that inmost self, then dwells in it and fills it. –Andrew Murray
In other words, when we become Christians, God bestows on us a two-fold blessing through the Holy Spirit. He gives us a new spirit, then comes to dwell within our spirit.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you. . . . And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees.
Clue two: God’s twofold gift is simultaneous, but we may not be aware of it
Murray says that the twofold gift of a new spirit and the Holy Spirit dwelling within it happens simultaneously because ‘the Spirit isn’t divided.’
He quotes John 3:6b to support this claim: ‘The Spirit gives birth to spirit.’
In other words, it’s the Holy Spirit who imparts to us a new spirit and then makes His abode in it. Nevertheless we may experience His coming in different ways.
(Please be aware that many theologians and pastors during the 1800s used the terms ‘baptism’ and ‘filling’ synonymously. And so does Andrew Murray. You will find that he alternates between the two throughout this book.)
Filling type one: The gentle inflow (pp. 278-280)
Murray likens this type of filling to a reservoir that has been constructed for collecting water from a spring. The filling of it is the result of a gentle inflow. Its supply is steady and certain. In a similar way, says Murray, ‘the quiet presence of the Spirit when a soul is converted is steady and sure, and yet not always so easily identified.’
He goes on to say that despite this fact, the fullness of the Spirit is nonetheless observed in these believers by their deep devotion to Jesus. Unfortunately, in some believers, this quiet inflow my only extend to the upper currents of the soul’s life. This is because they have failed to ‘abide in the Vine.’
Filling type two: The rushing torrent
Murray likens this filling (or baptism, as he also calls it) to a reservoir that has been built in a hollow to catch the rushing waters after heavy rain. For him, this type can be equated with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
In a similar way, the outpourings of the Spirit during times of revival may result in a sudden, mighty manifestation of the Spirit in both Christians and those being saved.
Nevertheless, says Murray, this sudden filling can often be superficial because the depths of the will and inner life may not be touched. As with the ‘gentle inflow’ group, this condition is usually due to the incapacity of the believer to maintain what has been given.
Which then is the true way?
For Murray, the answer is simple. He says:
Blessed are those who can recognize God in both, and keep themselves ready to be blessed in whatever way He chooses to come.
Clue three: Renewed outpourings of the Holy Spirit
The third clue is found at the end of chapter two where Murray says:
He (Jesus) cleanses with His blood and baptizes with the Spirit according to EACH NEW NEED.
Murray, who experienced several revivals, was a firm believer in renewed outpourings of the Spirit (p. 282) and the ‘ceaseless inflow’ of the sap (the Holy Spirit) from the living Vine (p. 281).
He also believed that we need a daily infilling of the Holy Spirit to maintain God’s conscious presence.
Clue four: An important condition for receiving the fullness of the Spirit
In relation to receiving the fullness of the Holy Spirit, Murray mentions an important condition that he addresses to believers who think they have done all what God has demanded of them, but have failed to receive the blessing. It is this: Any true ABIDING of the Spirit is preceded by EMPTYING.
In a rare testimony that obviously refers to himself, Murray says:
'I sought the blessing long and earnestly,’ says one, ‘and I wondered why it did not come. At last I found it was because there was no room in my heart to receive it.’
He goes on to say that this realization is preceded by:
- A deep dissatisfaction with religion
- A consciousness of too much stress on the wisdom of the work of the flesh
- A confession that self has been in control
- A deep sense of helplessness to grasp what is being offered
- A surrender in poverty of spirit to wait on the Lord
During his years as a pastor and while on preaching tours, Murray had observed the never-ending stumbling and rising of Christians in their spiritual walk. Knowing that we, his readers, would in all probability be in the same boat, he sets out to introduce us to the work of the Holy Spirit and how we too can experience His abiding fullness.
I found The Spirit of Christ to be an inspiring work well worth studying and writing blog posts about, especially as it comes from the pen of someone whose life (after his spiritual turning point in 1882) exemplified the fullness of the Spirit in every aspect.
© Olea Nel
Murray, Andrew, The Indwelling Spirit. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2006.