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, July 19, 2014

The Uniqueness of Christian Joy

The peace of Christ and the joy in the Holy Ghost depend on persistent, appropriating faith. The perpetual fulness of the Spirit resulting from this kind of faith is the condition of fulness of joy.

The joy inspired by the Spirit is unique. It is totally unlike natural gladness such as arises in worldly men when their corn and wine are increased. Hence it is indescribable. A simple emotion cannot be defined. You may talk forever of the peculiar emotion of the young mother who feels the first pulsation of maternal love, when her first-born child is laid in her bosom. The feeling must be forever unknown except to those who have had such an experience. It is so with every kind of emotion. We can describe it only by stating under what circumstances it arises. If you have never been in those circumstances the person who speaks of such an emotion speaks to you in an unknown tongue. The joy of the Holy Ghost is to an unbeliever as vague and meaningless as the colors of the rainbow described to one born blind.

The world is not rushing to obtain this joy, because it is to them perfectly unreal. Why should they not reject the effect when they disbelieve in the cause, the Holy Spirit, "whom the world cannot receive because they see him not" with their bodily eyes, all the organ of vision they have, in the absence of the eye of faith. The demand is sometimes made that the Christian should explain his spiritual joy in terms understood by unregenerate minds. The demand is as impossible and as unphilosophical as the description of the taste of oranges would be to a Laplander who never saw this tropical fruit. The joy of the Holy Ghost must always be attested by its possessor in language which is an unknown tongue to the unregenerate.

They can have the testimony translated to their spiritual intuition only by visiting the house of the Interpreter as did Bunyan's pilgrim. The glorious dreamer in Bedford jail was on intimate terms with this interpreter whose office it is to take of the things of Christ and to declare them to believers whose souls are open upward to receive the personal Paraclete.

The joy inspired by his indwelling is intense, "unutterable and full of glory," the highest in degree and the purest in kind which the human soul can experience in this world or in the world to come. For the bliss of heaven comes from union with God, and the Holy Spirit in us effects that union. That the joy of heaven is a continuation of the "joy of the Holy Ghost" experienced on the earth is implied in the wonderful words of Christ to the Samaritan woman, "But the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." Verily, verily I say unto you, He that heareth, i. e., continually obeyeth my word, and perseveringly believeth on him that sent me hath present and eternal well-being, his joy will be as lasting as his obedient trust, and it will be of the same kind in both worlds. The same truth is expressed in the earnest of the Spirit. The Spirit enjoyed 'here is a pledge of our full heavenly reward. But it is customary to pay the full wages in the coin with which the earnest, the money paid down to bind the bargain, was paid. This is the spirit of adoption, the first installment of heaven.

No Christian need die to have the secret of heavenly bliss divulged to him. If he claims his full heritage in Christ he has a slice of heaven for his daily rations while journeying to heaven. And this is the best surety of heaven. That was a wise woman whom I once heard in love-feast testifying thus, "I am carrying heaven with me on the way so as to be sure that I shall have it at the end of the journey." In the experience of the inward joy of the abiding Comforter the jubilant shout is often necessary as a safety-valve. But those whose sense of propriety is so extreme as to tie down the safety-valve find relief in the apostolic injunction, "Is any merry? Let him sing psalms" (James v. 18). The revisers do not limit the singer to the Hebrew psalms" "Is any cheerful, let him sing praise." Singing and making melody with the heart to the Lord is the natural expression of the heart filled with the Spirit. (Eph. v. 19)

— edited from Jesus Exultant, Chapter 7.