Of the Spirit born in spirit

The two aspects of the filling of the Spirit have been a perplexing and troubling matter among Christians for many years. Even among the Brethren, who knew the Bible quite well, this matter was not as clear as it is to us today. We need to be clear about the difference between the infilling of the essential Spirit and the outpouring of the economical Spirit (see God's New Testament Economy, chapters seven through ten). It would also be helpful to learn to sing or speak a hymn such as #271 in Hymns.

The New Testament clearly reveals that with the Spirit as the ultimate consummation of the processed Triune God there is the essential aspect for life, existence, and living, and the economical aspect for working, power, and authority. The one Spirit has these two aspects. Nearly all the basic truths in the Bible have two aspects. With the Triune God there is the aspect of three and the aspect of one. It is wrong to realize God only in the aspect of three without also realizing Him in the aspect of one. To emphasize only the aspect of the three Persons can lead to tritheism, the concept of three Gods. Actually, the Bible tells us that God is Triune—with Him there is the aspect of three and there is the aspect of one.

With the Spirit there are the two aspects of essence and economy. The Lord Jesus was conceived with and by the Spirit, and He was born of the Spirit (Matt. 1:18, 20). From the time of His conception, the Spirit was within Him. However, at the age of thirty when He came out to accomplish His ministry, He was baptized, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him as a dove (Matt. 3:16). Actually, even before the Spirit descended upon Him economically, the Spirit was already within Him essentially. These are not two Spirits, but one Spirit in two aspects. Cerinthus, the ancient heretic, mistakenly taught that Jesus and Christ were two persons. According to his teaching, the descending Spirit was Christ. This Christ remained with Jesus for three and a half years until the crucifixion, at which time He left Jesus. This was a great heresy. The Triune God has been consummated to be the one unique Spirit, and with this Spirit are the essential and the economical aspects. The essential aspect refers to His substance, His very essence. This Spirit in His essence is for life, for existence, and for living. The economical aspect refers to God's operation, God's economy, and God's work. The essential aspect is inward and the economical aspect is outward. We must be clear about this. Otherwise, we will be confused when we read the New Testament.