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, April 24, 2015

New Converts in Unspiritual Churches

It is a great mistake to bring a young convert into an unspiritual and worldly church. It is like laying a newborn babe on the breast of a dead mother for nutriment and growth. Hence we deprecate the promotion of conversions to increase the membership of a dead church. It is like enlarging a graveyard. A healthful revival always begins, not outside of the church, but within it. Zion must herself travail before living children are born. Some unwise pastors, in their eagerness to swell the number of church members, try to awaken sinners over the heads of a slumbering church, whom they dislike to awaken lest they should be displeased. Men awakened suddenly are usually not kindly disposed toward those who arouse them.

The result of many modern revivals is to multiply the number of those who are strangers to the direct witness of the Spirit to their adoption into the family of God by the new birth. Another result is that those who do receive this divine witness and retain Him intermittently find few to counsel and encourage them when ecstatic emotion subsides and they are called to walk by naked faith alone without feeling.

Our advice to all who have occasional gleams of sunshine through the rifted clouds, with intervals of doubt and incertitude, is, to ascertain the cause of this intermittency, and to remove it as soon as possible. For the cause is not, as some teach, in the sovereign will, but in ourselves. To this declaration the only exception is some physical condition into which we have been brought by divine Providence, such as a prostrated nervous system, or a concussion of the brain, depressing the mind and obstructing conscious access to Christ. The Christian, by thorough self examination, should assure himself that no sinful act has veiled his inward vision of God. Then he may patiently and believingly wait for the veil to be lifted again, and continue to be lifted so long as he has a firm grip on the promises of God. For where sin is absent the Spirit's witness is intermittent, because faith is wavering. Hence the remedy is a greater familiarity with the Word and a constant personal appropriation of the full heritage of the believer, especially the great gift of the Comforter. When the Third Person of the adorable Trinity is fully received, or, rather, when He fully possesses us, there is no more interruption of His testimony to our sonship to God. For He is now the abiding witness. Ecstatic joy may come and go as the tides ebb and flow, but peace and assurance abide forever, as Miss Havergal so truthfully sings:

"Like a river glorious
Is God's perfect peace."

We advise the believer who does not dwell on the bank of this beautiful river to gather together the promises of Christ respecting the abiding of the Paraclete found in His last address before His death, recorded in the 14th, 15th and 16th chapters of St. John, and the numerous references to the same glorious theme in St. Paul's epistles, and especially in the First Epistle of St. John, where the mutual abiding it taught, "God in us, and We in God." In such a spiritual life, filled and interpenetrated by God, there can be no hiatus, no vacuum, and no place for doubt.

The Gospel of the Comforter Chapter 16.