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.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Spiritual Power is an Endowment

When we inquire into the source of that might by which self is sanctified and Christ's kingdom is advanced, we encounter those who teach that it is developed within us by culture, as strength of body is increased by muscular exercise, and as intellectual strength is attained by severe study wrestling with difficulties. We are told that there is a germ of spiritual might in the most morally irresolute, and feeblest souls, which needs only natural stimulants to develop it into titanic strength. But neither experience, observation, nor history confirms this theory which theologians, from its first eminent advocate, called Pelagianism.

Spiritually the natural man is dead. Aside from divine help he has no power to purify his nature, and to soar aloft and hold communion with the skies. He has no wings for such a flight, nor motive power. These are the gift of divine grace under the dispensation of the Holy Spirit, the gift of the risen Christ. We are not slandering the natural man when we describe him as sensual, not having the Spirit, for we are quoting the adjectives used by an acknowledged expert, the inspired apostle Jude. It were as reasonable to incite a corpse to walk the streets, and till the fields, as to inspire an unregenerate soul to rise from earth to heaven in its affections by any power less than that which comes from God. An eagle cannot outsoar the atmosphere. The natural man unaided cannot rise above depravity.

Spiritual might is not a development, but an endowment capable of a great increase by faithful use. "Tarry ye in Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high. Ye shall receive power, when the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." This promise includes our times, for the uttermost pagan tribe has not yet been evangelized.

This source of power is ignored and neglected just in proportion to the conformity of the church to the world. This is to sympathize with its spirit, to be chilled and deadened by its unbelief. When for the first time the Paraclete was promised, Jesus said respecting him, "Whom the world cannot receive; for it beholdeth him not, neither knoweth him." A worldly Christian, if such a paradox is allowable, has lost acquaintance with the Comforter. Thus sundering itself from the source of power, it seeks various substitutes, such as impressive architecture, artistic music, costly bouquets, gorgeous ceremonials at the altar, and rhetorical fireworks in the pulpit. Every church is a machine requiring some motive power. One church, after declining into worldliness, causing the departure of the Holy Spirit, the only agent to attract, convert, and sanctify people, and frame them together into a living church, resorts to the power of fashion; courts the classes, and in adapting its services to their refined taste, alienates the masses, and thus loses a hundredfold more than it gains.

— from Jesus Exultant Chapter 11.