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.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Knowing the Holy Spirit

In what sense may believers know the Comforter? Jesus, who sends Him, assured His disciples that they should know Him because of His intimate relation to them, dwelling with them and ultimately being in them. The indwelling would be true after His future coming. If we fulfill the condition, which is love to Christ certified by obedience, we shall receive the Comforter and shall know Him. Of course we shall know when we receive so important a person. It will be a crisis marking a new era in our lives. It is evident that this is not inferential knowledge, though this is important as a confirmation. It comes from noting the fruits of the Spirit described in the Bible and comparing them with the Christian graces observed in ourselves, love, joy, peace, etc. Knowledge of God in the scriptural sense is assimilative. No man can truthfully say that he knows the Comforter when these fruits of the Spirit are absent. But knowledge of a person includes more than an acquaintance with his works. I had known the military career of Gen. Grant, and had read his brief dispatches after his battles, but I had no personal acquaintance with that great soldier till one day in June, 1856, he permitted me to be presented to him and to shake hands with him on the veranda of a Saratoga hotel. I then for the first time knew Ulysses S. Grant.

In like manner we may have such a second-hand knowledge of the Paraclete as we find in the Holy Scriptures and in the testimony of persons filled with the Spirit, while strangers to the personal Holy Spirit. It is one thing to know much about Him; it is quite a different thing to have an intuitive perception of Him, and to feel the thrilling and transforming touch of His hand, and to commune with Him by day and by night more intimately than with any earthly friend. This is the kind of knowledge invoked in the so-called apostolic benediction. We do not understand that in our knowledge of the Holy Spirit we differentiate Him from the Father and the Son, though some eminent Christians testify to an acquaintance with each Person of the adorable Trinity, one in substance, but three in subsistences. If such a knowledge has been given to any believers, it is quite exceptional. It may be universal in the future world; it is certainly very rare in this. In our present state it is enough for us to receive the love of God and the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ commingled in one blissful stream descending through the channel of the Holy Ghost. A distinctive knowledge of each person would tend to divide the divine substance and to lead to tritheism, three Gods.

In the scheme of revelation the Father revealed Himself in His incarnate Son. After His visible form was received by the cloud which hid Him from the eyes of His gazing disciples on the day of His ascension, the Paraclete was sent down to testify of the absent God-Man, to keep Him in the world's thought and to glorify Him who came to glorify the Father. Hence the Paraclete glorifies both the Father and the Son when He glorifies the Son. Hence Paul's prayer for the Ephesian church, "That the Father would give them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him." This and other texts show that it is not the mission of the Comforter to give prominence to Himself, but to Christ, to whom He bears witness. Thus

"...when a messenger comes to tell a king, when a witness gives a testimony for his friend, neither speaks of himself. And yet, without doing so, both the messenger and the witness, in the very fact of giving their evidence, draw our attention to themselves, and claim our recognition of their presence and trustworthiness. And just so the Holy Spirit, when He testifies of Christ and glorifies Him, must be known and acknowledged in His divine commission and presence." (Andrew Murray.)

It is in this sense that we are to have a knowledge of the Paraclete while He holds up a light for us to see the Father in His adorable Son.

— from The Gospel of the Comforter, Chapter 22.