Intro

This blog gains its name from the book Steele's Answers published in 1912. It began as an effort to blog through that book, posting each of the Questions and Answers in the book in the order in which they appeared. I began the project on Dec. 10, 2011. I completed it on July 11, 2015. Along the way, I began to also post snippets from Dr. Steele's other writings — and from some other holiness writers of his times. I still do that every once in a while.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Where Is the Print of the Nails?

Roman Catholic legends often embody some important truth. It is said of St. Martin of Tours that once, while meditating in his cell, there appeared a form radiant with beauty, crowned with a jeweled diadem, with a countenance glorious and persuasive, and a manner so austere that it seemed to require homage and love. This form said, "I am Christ; worship me." After St. Martin had looked long in silence, he gazed upon the hands and said: "Where is the print of the nails?" The vision suddenly vanished, and St. Martin was left alone, assured that he had met the tempter.

Are we Protestants not invited to bow the knee to some Christ of our own imagination, a Christ without the nail-print, whom it is easy to serve because his service does not require self-crucifixion?

Beware, my beloved, of every form of so-called Christianity out of which the element of self-sacrifice has been dropped. For there are false Christs in many beautiful forms in modern times. A perfect orthodoxy may enrobe a phantom Christ. "We may," in the words of John Wesley, "be as orthodox as the devil and as wicked. For the devils believe and tremble and are devils still." Yea, the modern evangelical who rests in a mere intellectual assent to the truth may not even tremble before the object of his faith. Thus he may prove that his piety is inferior to that of the demons themselves.

How many are worshiping the false Christ of splendid ritualism, resting in symbols forgetful of the thing signified, content with water baptism with no aspiration after the baptism of the Spirit. They are satisfied with the wine, the emblem of the blood, without experiencing the joy of the Holy Ghost of which it is also an emblem. They may be advocates of the individual cup with no individual appropriation of the blood of Christ to the soul's spiritual need. The ritualistic Christ may always be known by his uncharitable exclusiveness. He limits His grace to those who have a certain external mark made by tactual succession, a myth of myths which no man on earth can prove to be real, or which would be of no value if it were real. "He is a Jew which is one inwardly." Others again worship an ethical Christ, advancing no farther than the sermon on the mount; they never reach mount Calvary. They are legalists. They insist on a righteousness without the basis of regeneration, a righteousness which is independent of grace and a substitute for the new birth. It is one thing to admire the beauty of Christ's moral character, and quite another to submit to him as Lord by an all-surrendering trust and an intense desire to be conformed to the image of Christ by being crucified with him.

It will be spiritually healthful always to remember that there is no salvation in a fancied Christ. Only the real Christ can save sinners, Jesus more than hints that many people will forget this truth and lose their souls in consequence. Hear him: "Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works? Then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (Matt. vii. 21, 22)

— From Jesus Exultant, Chapter 6.