Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.'
A MIGHTY man inspires and trains other men to be mighty. We wonder and exclaim often at the slaughter of Goliath by David, and we forget that David was the forerunner of a race of fearless, invincible warriors and giant-killers.
If we would in this light but study and remember the story of David's mighty men, it would be most instructive to us.Moses inspired a tribe of cowering, toiling, sweat begrimed, spiritless slaves to lift up their heads, straighten their backs and throw off the yoke; and he led them forth with songs of victory and shouts of triumph from under the mailed hand and iron bondage of Pharaoh. He fired them with a national spirit, and welded and organized them into a distinct and compact people that could be hurled with resistless power against the walled cities and trained warriors of Canaan.
But what was the secret of David and Moses? Whence the superiority of these men? David was only a stripling shepherdboy when he immortalized himself. What was his secret? To be sure, ' Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians' (Acts vii. 22, R.V.), and, doubtless, had been trained in all the civil, military and scientific learning of his day; but he was so weak in himself that he feared and fled at the first word of questioning and disparagement that he heard (Exod. ii. 14), and spent the next forty years feeding sheep for another man in the rugged wilderness of Sinai. What, then, was his secret? Doubtless, David and Moses were men cast in a kinglier mould than most men; but their secret was not in themselves.
Joseph Parker declared that great lives are built on great promises; and so they are. These men had so far humbled themselves that they found God, They got close to Him, and He spoke to them. He gave them promises. He revealed His way and truth to them and, trusting Him, believing His promises, and fashioning their lives according to His truth-His doctrine-everything else followed. They became ' workers together with God', heroes of faith, leaders of men, builders of empire, teachers of the race and, in an important sense, saviours of mankind.
Their secret is an open one; it is the secret of every truly successful spiritual leader from then till now, and there is no other way to success in spiritual leadership.
I. They had an experience. They knew God.
2. This experience, this acquaintance with God, was maintained and deepened and broadened in obedience to God's teaching, or truth, or doctrine.
3. They patiently yet urgently taught others what they themselves had learned, and declared, so far as they saw it, the whole counsel of God.
They were abreast of the deepest experiences and fullest revelations God had yet made to men. They were leaders, not laggards. They were not in the rear of the procession of God's warriors and saints; they were in the forefront.
Here we discover the importance of the doctrine and experience of holiness through the baptism of the Holy Spirit to Salvation Army leaders. We are to know God and glorify Him and reveal Him to men. We are to finish the work of Jesus, and ' fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ' (Col. i. 24). We are to rescue the slaves of sin, to make a people, to fashion them into a holy nation, and inspire and lead them forth to save the world. How can we do this? Only by being in the forefront of God's spiritual hosts; not in name and in titles only, but in reality; by being in glad possession of the deepest experiences God gives and the fullest revelations He makes to men.
Our war is far more complex and desperate than that between nations and its issues are infinitely more farreaching, and we must equip ourselves for it; and nothing is so vital to our cause as a mastery of the doctrine and an assured and joyous possession of the pentecostal experience of holiness through the indwelling Spirit.
I. The Doctrine.-What is the teaching of God's word about holiness?
I. If we carefully study God's word, we find that He wants His people to be holy, and the making of a holy people, after the pattern of Jesus, is the crowning work of the Holy Spirit. He commands us to ' cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God' (2 Cor. vii. I). It is prayed that we may 'increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men . . . To the end He may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God ' (I Thess. iii. 12, 13). He says: 'As He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy, for I am holy ' (I Pet. i. 15, 16). And in the most earnest manner we are exhorted to' follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord ' (Heb. xii. 14)
2. As we further study the word, we discover that holiness is more than simple freedom from condemnation for wrong-doing. A helpless invalid lying on his bed of sickness, unable to do anything wrong, may be free from the condemnation of actual wrong-doing; yet it may be in his heart to do all manner of evil. Holiness on its negative side is a state of heart purity; it is heart cleanness-cleanness of thought and temper and disposition, cleanness of intention and purpose and wish; it is a state of freedom from all sin, both inward and outward (Rom. vi. 18). On the positive side it is a state of union with God in Christ, in which the whole man becomes a temple of God and filled with the fruit of the Spirit, which is ' love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance' (Gal. v. 22, 23). It is moral and spiritual sympathy and harmony with God in the holiness of His nature.
We must not, however, confound purity with maturity. Purity is a matter of the heart and is secured by an instantaneous act of the Holy Spirit; maturity is largely a matter of the head and results from growth in knowledge and experience. In one, the heart is made clean and is filled with love; in the other, the head is gradually corrected and filled with light, and so the heart is enlarged and more firmly established in faith; consequently, the experience deepens and becomes stronger and more robust in every way. It is for this reason that we need teachers after we are sanctified, and to this end we are exhorted to humbleness of mind.
With a heart full of sympathy and love for his father my little boy may voluntarily go into the garden to weed the vegetables; but, being yet ignorant, lacking light in his head, he pulls up my sweet corn with the grass and weeds. His little heart glows with pleasure and pride in the thought that he is 'helping papa'; yet he is doing the very thing I don't want him to do. But if I am a wise and patient father, I shall be pleased with him; for what is the loss of my few stalks of corn compared to the expression and development of his love and loyalty? And I shall commend him for the love and faithful purpose of his little heart, while I patiently set to work to enlighten the darkness of his little head. His heart is pure toward his father, but he is not yet mature. In this matter of light and maturity holy people often widely differ, and this causes much perplexity and needless and unwise anxiety. In the fourteenth chapter of Romans, Paul discusses and illustrates the principle underlying this distinction between purity and maturity.
3. As we continue to study the word under the illumination of the Spirit, who is given to lead us into all truth, we further learn that holiness is not a state which we reach in conversion. The apostles were converted, they had forsaken all to follow Jesus (Matt. xix. 2 7-29), their names were written in Heaven (Luke X. 20), and yet they were not holy. They doubted and feared, and again and again were they rebuked for the slowness and littleness of their faith. They were bigoted, and wanted to call down fire from Heaven to consume those who would not receive Jesus (Luke ix, 5 1 -56) ; they were frequently contending among themselves as to which should be the greatest, and when the supreme test came they all forsook Him and fled. Certainly, they were not only afflicted with darkness in their heads, but, far worse, carnality in their hearts; they were His, and they were very dear to Him, but they were not yet holy, they were still impure of heart.
Paul makes this point very clear in his Epistle to the Corinthians. He tells them plainly that they were yet only babes in Christ, because they were carnal and contentious (I Con iii . I). They were in Christ, they had been converted, but they were not holy.
It is of great importance that we keep this truth well in mind that men may be truly converted, may be babes in Christ, and yet not be pure in heart; we shall then sympathize more fully with them, and see the more clearly how to help them and guide their feet into the way of holiness and peace.
Those who hold that we are sanctified wholly in conversion will meet with much to perplex them in their converts, and are not intelligently equipped to bless and help God's little children.
4. A continued study of God's teaching on this subject will clearly reveal to us that purity of heart is obtained after we are converted. Peter makes this very plain in his address to the Council in Jerusalem, where he recounts the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon Cornelius and his household. After mentioning the gift of the Holy Ghost, he adds, ' and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith' (Acts xv. 9). Among other things, then, the baptism of the Holy Ghost purifies the heart; but the disciples were converted before they received this pentecostal experience, so we see that heart purity, or holiness, is a work wrought in us after conversion.
Again, we notice that Peter says, ' purifying their hearts by faith '. If it is by faith, then it is not by growth, nor by works, nor by death, nor by purgatory after death. It is God's work. He purifies the heart, and He does it for those, and only those, who, devoting all their possessions and powers to Him, seek Him by simple, prayerful, obedient, expectant, unwavering faith through His Son our Saviour.
Unless we grasp these truths and hold them firmly, we shall not be able rightly to divide the word of truth, we shall hardly be workmen that need not be ashamed, approved unto God (2 Tim. ii. 15). Someone has written that ' the searcher in science knows that if he but stumble in his hypothesis-that if he but let himself be betrayed into prejudice or undue leaning toward a pet theory, or anything but absolute uprightness of mindhis whole work will be stultified and he will fail ignominiously. To get anywhere in science he must follow truth with absolute rectitude'.
And is there not a science of salvation, holiness, eternal life, that requires the same absolute loyalty to ' the Spirit of truth'? How infinitely important, then, that we know what that truth is, that we may understand and hold that doctrine.
A friend of mine who finished his course with joy and was called into the presence of his Lord to receive his crown some time ago, has pointed out some mistakes which we must carefully avoid: It is a great mistake to substitute repentance for Bible consecration. The people whom Paul exhorted to full sarictification were those who had turned from their idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son sent down from Heaven (I Thess. i. 9, 10; iii- 10- 13; v. 2 3) Only people who are citizens of His kingdom can claim His sanctifying power. Those who still have idols to renounce may be candidates for conversion, but not for the baptism with the Holy Ghost and fire.
It is a mistake in consecration to suppose that the person making it has anything of his own to give. We are not our own, but we are bought with a price, and consecration is simply taking our hands off from God's property. To withhold wilfully anything from God is to be a Godrobber.
It is a mistake to substitute a mere mental assent to God's proprietorship and right to all we have, while withholding complete devotion to Him. This is theoretical consecration a rock on which we fear multitudes are being wrecked. Consecration which does not embrace the crucifixion of self and the funeral of all false ambitions is not the kind which will bring the holy fire. A consecration is imperfect which does not embrace the speaking faculty (the tongue), the believing faculty (the heart), the imagination, and every power of mind, soul and body, giving all absolutely and for ever into the hands of Jesus and turning a deaf ear to every opposing voice.
Have you made such a consecration as this? It must embrace all this, or it will prove a bed of quicksand to sink your soul, instead of a full salvation balloon, which will safely bear you above the fog, malaria and turmoil of the world. There you can triumphantly sing:
I rise to float in realms of light
Above the world and sin,
With heart made pure and garments white,
And Christ enthroned within.
It is a mistake to teach seekers to ' only believe ', without complete abandonment to God at every point, for they can no more do it than an anchored ship can sail. It is a mistake to substitute mere verbal assent for obedient trust. ' Only believe ' is a fatal snare to all who fall into these traps.
It is a mistake to believe that the altar sanctifies the gift without the assurance that all is on the altar. If even the end of your tongue, one cent of your money, or a straw's weight of false ambition or spirit of dictation, or one ounce of your reputation, will or believing powers be left off the altar, you can no more believe than a bird without wings can fly.
' Only believe ' is only for those seekers of holiness who are truly converted, fully consecrated, and crucified to everything but the whole will of God. Teachers who apply this to people who have not yet reached these stations need themselves to be taught. All who have reached them may believe and, if they do believe, may look God in the face and triumphantly sing: The Blood, the Blood is all my plea, Hallelujah, for it cleanseth me.
11. The Experience.-Simply to be skilled in the doctrine is not sufficient for us as leaders. We may be as orthodox as St. Paul himself, and yet be only as ' sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal', unless we are rooted in the blessed experience of holiness. If we would save ourselves and them that follow us, if we would make havoc of the devil's kingdom and build up God's kingdom, we must not only know and preach the truth, but we must be living examples of the saving and sanctifying power of the truth. We are to be living epistles, ' known and read of all men' (2 Cor. iii. 2); we must be able to say with Paul, 'Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ' (I Cor. xi. I), and ' those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you' (Phil. iv. 9).
We must not forget that:
I. We are ourselves simple Christians, individual souls struggling for eternal life and liberty; we must by all means save ourselves. To this end we must be holy, else we shall at last experience the awful woe of those who, having preached to others, are yet themselves castaways.
2. We are leaders upon whom multitudes depend. It is a joy and an honour to be a leader, but it is also a grave responsibility. James says: 'We shall receive heavier judgement' (Jas. iii. I, R.V.). How unspeakable shall be our blessedness and how vast our reward, if, wise in the doctrine, rich, strong and clean in the experience of holiness, we lead our people into their full heritage in Jesus! But how terrible shall be our condemnation, how great our loss, if, in spiritual slothfulness and unbelief, we stop short of the experience ourselves and leave them to perish for want of the gushing waters, heavenly food and divine direction we should have brought them! We need the experience for ourselves, and we need it for our work and our people.
What the roof is to a house, doctrine is to our system of truth. It completes it. What sound and robust health is to our bodies, experience is to our souls. It makes us every whit whole and fits us for all duty. Sweep away the doctrine and the experience will soon be lost. Lose the experience and the doctrine will surely be neglected, if not attacked and denied. No man can have the heart, even if he has the head, to preach the doctrine fully, faithfully and constantly unless he has the experience.
Spiritual things are spiritually discerned, and as this doctrine deals with the deepest things of the Spirit, it is only clearly understood and best recommended, explained, defended and enforced by those who have the experience.
Without the experience, the presentation of the doctrine will be faulty, cold and lifeless, or weak and vacillating, or harsh, sharp and severe. With the experience, the preaching of the doctrine will be with great joy and assurance; it will be strong and searching, but at the same time warm, persuasive and tender.
I shall never forget the shock of mingled surprise, amusement and grief with which I heard a Captain loudly announce in one of my meetings many years ago that he was' going to preach holiness now'. His people would 'have to get it', if he had to 'ram it down their throats '. Poor fellow! He did not possess the experience himself; he never pressed into it, and soon forsook his people.
A man in the clear experience of the blessing will never think of 'ramming' it down people; but will, with much secret prayer, constant meditation and study, patient instruction, faithful warning, loving persuasion, and burning, joyful testimony, seek to lead them into that entire and glad consecration, that fullness of faith, that never fails to receive the blessing.
Again, the most accurate and complete knowledge of the doctrine and the fullest possession of the experience, will fail us at last unless we carefully guard ourselves at several points and watch and pray.
3. We must not judge ourselves so much by our feelings as by our volitions. It is not my feelings, but the purpose of my heart, the attitude of my will, that God looks at, and it is that to which I must look. ' If our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God ' (I John iii. 2 1). A friend of mine who had firmly grasped this thought and walked continually with God used to testify: ' I am just as good when I don't feel good as when I do feel good.' Another mighty man of God said that all the feeling he needed to enable him to trust God was the consciousness that he was fully submitted to all the known will of God.
We must not forget that the devil is ' the accuser of our brethren' (Rev. xii. 10), and that he seeks to turn our eyes away from Jesus, who is our Surety and our Advocate, to ourselves, our feelings, infirmities, and failures. If he succeeds in this, gloom will fill us, doubts and fears will spring up within us and we shall soon fail and fall. We must be wise as the conies; we must build our nest in the cleft of the Rock of ages. Hallelujah!
4. We must not divorce conduct from character, or works from faith. Our lives must square with our teaching. We must live what we preach. We must not suppose that faith in Jesus excuses us from patient, faithful, laborious service. We must live ' by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God ' (Matt. iv. 4); that is, we must fashion our lives, conduct, conversation by the principles laid down in His word, remembering His searching saying, 'Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in Heaven ' (Matt. vii. 2 1).
This subject of faith and works is very fully discussed by James (ii. 14-26). Paul is very clear in his teaching that, while God saves us not by our works but by His mercy through faith, 'we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them' (Eph. ii. 8- 1 o).
Faith must 'work by love', emotion must be transmitted into action, joy must lead to work, and love to faithful, selfsacrificing service, else they become a kind of pleasant and respectable, but none the less deadly, debauchery.
5. However blessed and satisfactory our present experience may be, we must not rest in it; we must remember that our Lord has yet many things to say unto us, as we are able to receive them. We must stir up the gift of God that is in us, and say with Paul: ' One thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward (as a racer) to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus ' (Phil. iii. 13, 14, R.V.). It is at this point. that many fail. They seek the Lord, they weep, struggle, pray, and then they believe; but, instead of pressing on, they sit down to enjoy the blessing and, lo! is it not. The children of Israel must needs follow the pillar of cloud and fire. It made no difference when it moved-by day or by night, they followed; and when the Comforter comes we must follow, if we would abide in Him and be filled with all the fullness of God. And, Oh, the joy of following Him!
Finally, if we have the blessing-not the harsh, narrow, unprogressive exclusiveness which often calls itself by the sweet, heavenly term of holiness, but the vigorous, courageous, self-sacrificing, tender, pentecostal experience of perfect love-we shall both save ourselves and enlighten the world; our converts will be strong, our candidates for the work will multiply and be able, dare-devil men and women, and our people will come to be like the brethren of Gideon, who ' resembled the children of a king' (judges viii. 18).
'HAVE YE RECEIVED THE HOLY GHOST SINCE YE BELIEVED? '
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