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.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Distinct and Decisive Action of the Holy Spirit

It is noted by an eminent expositor "that in the New Testament we never read expressly and unmistakably of sanctification as a gradual process." This is said in view of the almost universal use of the aorist tense of the verbs to sanctify and to cleanse.

To this distinct and decisive action of the Holy Spirit in the extinction of proneness to sin, bringing the believer into the land of rest, in marvelous contrast with His previous wilderness experience, after His regeneration, there are too many intelligent and trustworthy witnesses to be lightly passed by as of no account. They assure us that they were truly converted and received the direct witness of the Spirit to their adoption; that they did not backslide, but grew in grace; that they were not conscious of living in willful violation of any known law of God, and that they could testify that there is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus. But they solemnly aver that through all their regenerate life, before receiving Christ for their entire sanctification, they were conscious of a strong inward enemy whom they were striving to bind and cast out but always failed; that by the study of the Scriptures they found that this rebel within was called "the old man," whom theologians style "original sin;" that after reading or hearing the testimony of those entirely consecrated souls who had through specific faith and importunate prayer found complete deliverance, they sought for this distinctive work of the Holy Ghost, and at an ever-memorable date they emerged into a blissful consciousness of inward purity and profound peace far beyond all former experiences. This victory many have attested decades and scores of years. Dr. Asa Mahan, whose temper in his youth was so ungovernable that his father predicted that in a fit of anger he would kill some one and expiate his crime on the scaffold, and whose irascibility in the early years of his Christian ministry was the cause of untold grief, testifies to a change wrought by the Holy Spirit so great as to make the last forty years of life years undisturbed by one gust of irritability, though he often met with insults and other occasions to call it forth if it had been slumbering within. The Sanctifier had cast out this demon and so adorned the place of his former abode with the fruits of the Spirit and so filled it with His own permanent fulness that he could not return though he may have "taken with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself." The Lord be praised! There is a power which not only cleanses but also keeps. It is to be noted that the witnesses to whom we refer agree in testifying that this entire sanctification was subsequent to regeneration, and that it was accomplished by the Spirit in an instant, and not by the processes of growth.

This negative work of the Spirit in the eradication of inherited proneness to sin is followed by an illimitable development of all the Christian graces. One may reach the point where sin is all destroyed and love become perfect, i. e., pure and unmixed, and yet his power of moral discernment and his mental enlargement be capable of increase through time and through eternity. His spiritual development will be commensurate.

    •    Perfection in degree of love is never to be attained.
    •    Perfection in kind is the gift of the Holy Ghost to the believer now.

— edited from The Gospel of the Comforter Chapter 14.