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, February 9, 2015

The Work of the Spirit in the Heart

"Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you." — John 16:7 KJV.

I am quite sure that many of my Christian readers will think that I have too highly colored the pre-eminent superiority of the conscious abiding of the Spirit within [over] the visible presence of Christ instructing, assuring and cheering His disciples. They may assert that they have no such experience, and yet they love Christ. I do not doubt their testimony. The difficulty is easily explained. Their experience of the presence of the Holy Spirit is meager and unsatisfactory, because they so little know and honor Him as a person. A person is sensitive when he is spoken of as it and treated as a thing. There may be a faith in Jesus that attains forgiveness, while a faith that claims the abiding Comforter as the Christian's heritage is lacking. He that believes in Christ for all that He has promised, "out of him shall flow rivers of living water." This promise has not become obsolete. There are many modern witnesses to its fulfillment, though the number is not commensurate with the communion roll of the visible Church. Yet by a candid and patient study of God's Word, the ground of faith, and by a self-surrender and self-effacement which put the soul wholly in the hands of the Great Physician with unwavering trust, the utmost stain of evil may be removed, and the presence of Christ be as real as it was to Mary Magdalene.

There are many evangelical Christians who are resting in a head-knowledge. It is in a sense true of them that "the letter killeth," while they might have the Spirit that giveth the more abundant life. The external knowledge of Christ is valuable; but it may be used as a bar to that intimate internal knowledge of Him who dwells only where He is welcomed and enthroned. He comes to reign. Orthodoxy is commendable; but a trust in it and a reliance on the sufficiency of religious knowledge may obstruct the fulness of the Spirit. A pauper may be told that he may take from the open treasury of Dives as much silver coin as he can carry in his hands. After filling his hands a bag of gold coin is poured out, and he is permitted to appropriate all that his hands can hold. If he has ordinary wisdom he will drop the silver and grasp the gold. Thus Paul dropped Judaism, not because it was untrue, but because it was an obstruction to his appropriation of "the excellency of knowledge of Jesus Christ." He afterwards did what every Christian must do if he would realize the true, spiritual Christ within which comes from the presence of the Paraclete. When it pleased God "to reveal his Son" in Paul, some time after his conversion, probably in Arabia while in his three years' theological course under the tuition of the Holy Ghost, he ceased "to know Christ after the flesh," in contrast with knowing Him as a bright reality "after the Spirit," the source of ineffable bliss and transcendent life.

Resting in the external knowledge of Christ attained on the plane of nature is a life akin to legalism, a life of effort and failure which must be abandoned to open the door for the incoming and indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Even the apostles trained by Christ "had to let go, to lose, to die to their old way of knowing Christ, and to receive as a gift an entirely new life of intercourse with Him." This may account for the fact that there is so little reminiscence of the incidents in the earthly life of Jesus and even of His miracles in the Epistles of James, Peter, John and Jude, and scarcely any at all in Paul's. What power would come to the Church if its members would imitate the apostles in acquiring this new, efficacious and transforming knowledge of Christ imparted by the indwelling Spirit! Doubt would then find no dwelling place. Worldly pleasures would lose their seductive power.

"As by the light of opening day

The stars are all concealed,

So earthly pleasures fade away

When Jesus is revealed."

What a gain Christ intended the outpouring of the Spirit and His indwelling in the consciousness of His disciples would be in substantiating the truth of Christ's resurrection as an undeniable fact to the onlooking world! Says George Bowen,
 Is not the great thing wanted this, that the Spirit of God should be so poured out on Christ's people that men should be made aware of His presence with them and of His presence at the right hand of God?
The work of the Holy Spirit in my heart is God's credential to me individually. All that Christ did for me profits me nothing if the Holy Spirit does not come into my heart and bring it all home to me. As Christ fulfilled and ended the ceremonial law, so the Paraclete is the complement of the gospel and the end of the "law of sin."
 — The Gospel of the Comforter, Chapter 10.