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.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Differences in the Way the Spirit Comes

There is a difference in the way of the Spirit's coming in his fullness. The day of Pentecost is not to be taken as an exact model; certainly it is not in the supernatural concomitants, such as the sound as of a cyclone, the tongues of fire, and "the miracle of ears," rather than tongues, every man of sixteen nationalities hearing in his own language "the wonderful works of God."

It was proper that the advent of the promised Paraclete should be signalized by extraordinary and impressive phenomena. This is usual at new beginnings as at the giving of the Law on Sinai. In a lower degree, something of the same kind is noted in the great outpouring of the Spirit in missions, such as have graciously favored some of the Baptist and Methodist missions in India in recent years, and in revivals at home, sweeping over the country like a tidal wave. In these times of refreshing, Christian men are suddenly, mightily, manifestly, filled with the Holy Spirit as the Comforter, and unbelievers are deluged with his power in conviction of sin.

It is natural for us to fail into the mistake of inferring that the incoming of the Spirit to take up his permanent abode in the inmost life of the believer, must be attended by the enthusiasm and overflowing gladness of Pentecost. The Spirit is not limited to one method of manifestation. He may accentuate love or peace, or some fruit other than joy, which is the most emotional of them all. For this reason there are special dangers to be guarded against.

The blessing is often too much dependent on the concourse of many believers of like experience, or it is superficial and extends only to the emotions, the outermost and more accessible currents of the Soul's life. This we may call ecstatic fullness. The seat of character, the will in its deepest root, has not been completely subdued, and the inmost life has not been transformed. This is seen in the vacuity, the dissatisfaction which follows a change in externals, an abatement of the excitement of a jubilant crowd, and a removal from the contagious gladness of other Christians. Then we find out whether we ourselves have been baptized with fire, or whether we have been warmed by other people's fires.

Moreover, it must have been noted by careful observers that there are Christians of the type of Barnabas, "a son of Consolation, a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost." These never speak of a cyclonic experience, a marked and memorable event sharply defined in memory. Yet the fullness of the Spirit manifests itself in deep and intense devotion to Christ; in a life of constant obedience and complete victory over sin; in a walk in the light of God's countenance; in a simple trust and uninterrupted and cloudless communion with the Father and the Son; and in the humility of a self-effacing love to all whom they can reach with their good deeds and prayers, whether friends or foes. We observe that such souls do not recur to dates, to sudden and memorable transitions and spiritual uplifts. Like Lydia, their hearts seem to have been gently opened to regenerating grace, and the Paraclete without observation has noiselessly gone from apartment to apartment till he has taken complete possession. This we may call ethical fullness. "Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled."

Jesus Exultant (1899) Chapter 12.