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.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Grand Design of Redemption

Guest blog by Bishop Jesse T. Peck (1811 – 1883):

If the grand design of the gospel be any thing less than perfect purity, then the soul can find full rest without it. If it be only pardon and regeneration, then the discovery of remaining corruptions ought to be no cause of uneasiness; the prayers of those who groan for full redemption ought to be unheeded; or, if relief be found, it ought to be in some other system — through some other name than the name of Jesus.

But what facts does experience reveal? Why, that a deep and painful sense of inward impurity may remain after all guilt is washed away; that in the midst of the divine comforts of adoption the soul longs for the rest of perfect love; that the more devoted the life of the regenerate Christian, the more intense is his desire to be cleansed from all sin, and while he is without the evidence of this finished work, he has more or less of fear for the future. By the most powerful internal convictions, and the most obvious tendencies of every work of grace that has is heretofore been wrought upon his heart, he is urged on to this glorious consummation. And it is not in accordance with experience that he who sighs for purity of heart must sigh in vain — that he who cries, "Create in me a clean heart, O God," must pray in vain. From numerous examples in Scripture, from the testimonies of thousands long since gone to their reward, and of thousands still living, the declaration of Jesus is amply sustained: "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." So far were they from being compelled to look to other systems and other names for deliverance, that they declare with the utmost confidence it was well said by the angel, "And thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins;" for we have in our hearts the divine assurance that "the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanseth us from all sin."

And precisely as it ought to be, if [holiness] is the centre of the [Christian] scheme, here the soul finds rest — here perfect satisfaction. All its desires, all its passions, all its plans are in complete harmony with the will of God. From this sanctified state it can develop itself without inward obstruction — from this position it can expand and advance with freedom and power. The growth of the spirit, which in its original purity must certainly have been infinite, has been sadly interrupted by its dreadful disease. And since the cure commenced it has been much retarded by the remains of the disease. But, now that the cure is complete, and faith is strong and active, growth in grace is free, natural, and rapid. It is true the effects of this malady may long remain after the remedy has been thoroughly successful. Infirmities of body and mind, which constantly need the compassion of God, the merits of Christ, and the charity of men, will press upon us till our probation ends; but, in spite of them all, the soul in a state of perfect salvation, rises, enlarges, and triumphs as it could never have done under any but a remedial system.

Thus directly and inevitably does experience conduct us to holiness as the great want of immortal man — the grand design of redemption.

The Central Idea of Christianity

Friday, February 27, 2015

Greater Works

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater [works] than these shall he do; because I go unto the Father." — John 14:12 RV.

The question is often asked, What are "the greater works" which believers in Christ shall do? This marvellous promise is found in His consolatory address a few days before His death. The chief topic of encouragement, comfort and hope is the Paraclete whom the risen Lord will bestow. His works will be more wonderful than the physical miracles of Jesus Christ. This is declared in John xiv. 12-17. I quote Dr. Campbell's version, which is remarkable chiefly for its punctuation. It must be borne in mind that there is no punctuation in the original. "Verily, verily, I say unto you" - a formula "in which the Son of God speaks out of His coequality with the Father" (Stier) — "He who believeth on me, shall himself do such works as I do; nay, even greater than these shall he do; because I go to my Father, and will do whatsoever ye shall ask in my name. That the Father may be glorified in the Son, whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, I will do." It is worthy of note that this doing greater works, this survival of the supernatural from age to age, is not the exclusive prerogative of the apostles, but it belongs to every one, however humble, who believes on Christ. Again, our greater works are done by the glorified Jesus on the throne above in response to our faith. In the same breath He declares that He will do the greater works which we shall do. This paradox He explains in His next utterance: "If ye love me, keep my commandments; and I will entreat the Father, and he will give you another Monitor to continue with you forever, even the Spirit of truth." This "Helper, Advocate; Greek, Paraclete" (Revised Version, margin) will be the divine agent sent down from heaven to do these greater miracles through believers in Christ. This brings us to "the miracles of the Holy Ghost" which in the Old Testament are physical, as when Ezekiel says, "The Spirit lifted me up and took me away." The same manifestation of supernatural power by the Holy Ghost was experienced by Philip: "The Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more." But the promise under discussion does not relate to miracles in the realm of matter, but rather to those in the province of mind, in the re-creation of the human soul, called figuratively birth from above, or the new birth, the resurrection of a dead soul, the new creation. This spiritual miracle is greater than any physical miracle wrougnt by Christ before He burst asunder the gates of death by His Inherent power to take again the life which He had laid down, for the following reasons:

Physical miracles were temporal in their effects. Those raised from sickness died of disease in a few years. The multitudes fed by miracle hungered again in a few hours. The eyes into which Jesus by a word let in the light were soon darkened again by the shadows of the tomb. The tongue of the dumb loosened by the Son of man was soon silenced by the touch of death. But miracles wrought in the transfiguration of the soul are enduring unto eternal life. "He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life within the grasp of his free agency. Jesus healed the body for time, the Spirit heals the soul for eternity. "A healed leper may appear to be a greater miracle than a renewed soul, but in reality, in comparison, he is hardly a miracle at all!" (Joseph Parker.)

The results of spiritual miracles are far more valuable. Mind is far superior to matter. Hence "to minister to a mind diseased and pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow" is an achievement in a higher realm and of immensely greater value. For this reason Christ Himself did not place a primary emphasis on physical wonders as His credentials, and they are scarcely so much as referred to in the apostolic writings. Peter, who had seen them all, mentions them only once, and then only to Christ's murderers in Jerusalem, who were incapable of appreciating any higher proof of His Messiahship: "Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs." St Paul magnifies those spiritual marvels which God wrought by the Holy Spirit in the regeneration of souls. In his estimation "the shining in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" was a greater act than the Fiat lux which illumined the first day of creation (II Cor. iv. 6).

To transform a spirit from death to life, from sin to holiness, requires a higher power than any change wrought in matter. Spirit is a self-determining personality which may successfully withstand omnipotence, or rather, physical omnipotence is inapplicable to the production of spiritual effects. Sin cannot be crushed out of a soul with an almighty trip hammer. God can transform inert matter as He may will, but He is powerless to regenerate a stubborn human will; but in the presence of a consenting will He displays to the astonished universe "the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe." Hence the age of the most notable miracles is now in the very zenith of its glory. They are visible in every land where the gospel is preached in faith. Boston has just witnessed the transformation of a burglar and drunkard into a missionary on the Congo. Recovered from the slums and converted in the Kneeland Street Rescue Mission, he immediately wrote to the governor of Maryland, the scene of his crimes, offering at his request to appear in court, testify against himself, and be sentenced to the penitentiary. In the absence of such a request he volunteered to go to a deadly clime to preach Christ mighty to save.

The Gospel of the Comforter, Chapter 13.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Gifts or the Giver?

Many people are so dazzled by the splendor of the outward and extraordinary gifts of the Spirit that they undervalue the infinitely superior boon of the indwelling of the giver Himself, imparting life and adorning with all the Christian graces. To put gifts above grace is an old mistake. Simon Magus is not the last instance of this kind. Many are now eager to possess the gift of healing who would not cross the street to receive the grace of perfected holiness. It is a very serious error to regard anything as superior to the fruit of the Spirit- Churches fall into it when, seeking after a pastor, they first ask, "Is he brilliant in the pulpit?" "Is he rhetorical, poetical, oratorical?" "If he is we must have him." The question respecting his piety, his fullness of the Spirit, his grip of faith, his knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, the basis of faith, and the indispensable qualification for such preaching as saves and sanctifies, is not emphasized, and frequently is not asked at all. Occasionally we find a church inquiring for a Barnabas. "For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord." Yet his name, "son of exhortation," as in the Revision, Is not suggestive of pulpit oratory of the classical sort.

The doctrine of the law of the Spirit is very beautifully stated by Christ in His dialogue with the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well. "If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water." The gift which He would have bestowed was the Holy Spirit, according to John vii. 38, 39, "This he spake of the Spirit, which they who believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because Jesus was not glorified." Note the invariable law of certain receiving following confident asking: If thou hadst asked, He would have given. There is the same invariable order of effect following cause in the spiritual realm as there is in the material realm. Turn the faucet, and you get a stream of water so long as the faucet is connected with the reservoir on a higher level. Try this a thousand times, and the same effect follows. Turn the spigot of true prayer, and the living water, the personal Holy Spirit, is poured out upon the thirsty soul. It has been well said that God answers all true prayer and wishes to receive more. In the bosom of the Infinite Father there is a shoreless and fathomless Lake Superior of living waters ready to fill millions and billions of human spirits when they supply the aqueducts. In fact, the main aqueduct was laid by God Himself on the day of Pentecost, and the water of life is brought to every door. To appropriate it we must lay the individual service-pipe.

"Angelic spirits, countless souls,

Of Thee have drunk their fill;

And to eternity will drink

Thy joy and glory still.

"O little heart of mine! shall pain

Or sorrow make thee moan,

When all this God is all for thee,

A Father all thine own?"

Before leaving this charming scene of Jacob's well, we call attention to another spiritual law. Not only does receiving depend on asking, but asking depends on knowing. "If thou knewest thou wouldst have asked." Many souls wonder for years in painful thirst because no one tells them of the supply of water within their reach. Hence the need of ceaseless testimony by those who have found the unfailing fountain. Hence the pressure of the missionary motive upon all who "have been made partakers of the Holy Ghost." Interest in Christian missions in pagan lands and city slums is a fair gauge of the spirituality of an individual and of a church.

If knowing depends on testimony, the inquiry arises, How many witnesses have we among our readers who can attest the fulness of the Spirit?

The Gospel of the Comforter, Chapter 12.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Spiritual Counterfeits Don't Disprove the Real Thing

It is natural that the proclamation that both the body and soul of every believer may through simple faith become the habitation of God through the Spirit, should awaken the hostility of the great adversary of all goodness, and that he should endeavor to discredit this glorious privilege of the indwelling Paraclete by inspiring counterfeits grossly defective in moral character or greatly unbalanced in mental equipoise. This he has done in every revival of genuine spirituality since the first effusion of the Spirit of promise, as in the days of Luther and also in Wesley's times.

But as men of common sense still continue to put gold in their purses despite the spurious coin occasionally uttered, so wise men and women will by the prayer of faith receive, as the greatest boon possible to mortals, the Holy Spirit as a distinct and permanently abiding blessing. Such wise people, if asked how the divine can thus dwell in the human, the infinite in the finite, and both personalities be preserved, will no more attempt to explain this mystery than they will the enigma of electricity filling a mass of iron while both remain unchanged, and that of the immaterial spirit inhabiting the material body while both retain their identity.

The rays of the sun after passing through a double convex lens of ice will kindle a fire. So the Holy Spirit has kindled an inextinguishable fire in many an icy heart. The facts in both the natural and the spiritual realm, must stand, though our poor philosophy is baffled in accounting for the manner of the facts. It is enough for us to know the conditions by which the facts are produced, where the fact itself is of transcendent value, as that man may be indwelt by God. This honor and blessedness, unknown to the patriarchs, to the Israelites, the chosen people of God, and even to the twelve apostles before Pentecost, is now offered to the most illiterate and obscure believer in Jesus Christ who will comply with the conditions by which a personal Pentecost may be experienced.

The Gospel of the Comforter, Chapter 12.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Fulfill the Conditions and the Spirit Will Fall

God can do His perfect work in a soul only when the will is in the attitude of complete, trustful submission. Only when the will thus bows to God's will does faith in His promises mount up to its climax. For this Paul prayed, "that ye may know what is the exceeding greatness of his Power to us-ward who believe." Then he adds the measure of that power which stands ready to transfigure believers, "according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead." The greatest miracle in the universe, the miracle attested by men, by angels and by God, is the resurrection of His Son. Even the creation of the world was not so striking an exhibition of omnipotence. Yet Paul assures us that the same resurrection power in "its exceeding greatness" stands ready to work its wonders in "us who believe" with that faith which appropriates the largest promises of God. This highest up-reaching of faith is possible only to the deepest submission of the human will. To this point of entire self-surrender every believer has the gracious ability to descend without the incentive of outward adversities, losses, bereavements, disappointments, persecutions and bodily afflictions. These, as in the case of Job, are necessary to the revelation to the world of our perfect trust, loyalty and submission to God, but not to the production of these virtues. Many have had the spirit of the martyrs who were never led to the stake. The axe and block were once deemed necessary to Christian perfection. But this is a mistake. God takes the will for the deed. We 'can climb to as high spiritual altitudes in the sunshine as In the storm; yes, to higher. There is such a thing as an equation of spiritual advantages. Those who are on the verge of the twentieth century may achieve as lofty Christian excellencies as the believers who listened to the preaching of Peter at Pentecost. The gift of the Holy Spirit has suffered no diminution because of the intervening centuries. Like Christ, the giver of the Paraclete, He is the same yesterday, to-day and forever. Fulfill the conditions, and the humblest modern believer may receive Him in the perfect performance of His offices as graciously and as effectively as did the company in the upper room. The externals of sound and tongues of fire were no part of the essential and inward grace bestowed in the Comforter.

When any local church, any company of believers associated for spiritual ends, fulfills the social conditions, — all of one accord in one place making the reception of the Holy Spirit their only business for at least ten days, Pentecost will be repeated in every essential particular. Their hearts will be purified by faith, and they will be endowed with a marvelous spiritual insight and courage and utterance.

It is not the law of the Spirit that His transfiguring power should decrease with the lapse of ages, nor with the spread of education and the growth of intelligence and culture. It is true that there is an intellectual pride with a pretense to culture which boasts that it has outgrown such so-called crudities as disfigured Christianity on the day of Pentecost. These over-wise philosophers insist that the doctrine that one personality, even though divine, can interpenetrate a human personality and consciously abide therein, violates all the known principles of mental philosophy and lays the foundation of various forms of fanaticism, in the end destructive of all morality and sound piety. Our reply to this is that the greater the value of a coin the greater its liability to be counterfeited. The highest possible experience for men dwelling in houses of clay is to be inhabited by God in the person of His Spirit. This is a mystery next to the incarnation of the Son of God in human form.

The Gospel of the Comforter, Chapter 12.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Why Some are Not Filled With the Spirit

By entire consecration make your heart vacant of all love of the world, and the Holy Spirit will come in Pentecostal power and fill the vacuum.

The reasons why so few are thus filled are various.

Many do not know that this fullness of the Spirit is the privilege of all Christians. They think it is an exceptional experience of a favored few, "the elect of the elect." They think it is not modest to assume that they belong to this small company. This narrow view of the gift of the abiding Paraclete weakens faith. They dare not appropriate the gift which may not belong to them, and so they fail to realize their full heritage in Christ.

Others imagine that they must always have a propensity to sin, and that they must sin a little to keep them humble. As the fulness of the Spirit would not be consistent with depravity and occasional sins, they deem it not a normal experience, and abstain from effort to receive it.

Many fail because they do not know the law of the Spirit, the conditions by which He works His wonders in human hearts. Till within a very few years the whole race of men failed to utilize a mighty force in nature, the power of electricity, to light, heat and transport men, move the world's machinery and convey intelligence with the speed of lightening under the seas and over the continents. As we look back upon it what a slow and sleepy world it was, simply because it did not know the law of electricity or the conditions of all these utilities. But men began to study and to experiment, conforming to the ascertained qualities of this mysterious agent and gaining more and more power to harness this tremendous force to the chariot of human progress. What new electrical discoveries and inventions are in the future we cannot tell because we have not reached the end of the chapter of electrical knowledge. John Wesley used to tell his people that as believers they were weak because they were not more knowing. This is the cause of much of the weakness of modern Christians. They do not by day and by night study the law of the Spirit as Edison studied the law of electricity in the production of light and the reproduction of articulate sounds. Many nominal Christians "have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost" consciously receivable by the individual believer in Jesus Christ. When by the diligent study of the Word of God they believe that the Spirit has a personal existence and that He stands at the door of their hearts and knocks, they will be able to fulfill the conditions of His full incoming and permanent -abiding. What hinders such a universal experience? Ignorance, unbelief, worldly pleasures, neglect of Bible study and prayer, satisfaction with mere formalism, unwillingness to be identified with the so-called spiritual extremists and cranks, and dislike to stand alone with Christ or to be crucified with Him. It is the law of the Spirit to enter in where the door is opened and He is cordially welcomed with His scourge of small cords to drive out everything which profanes the temple of the human soul and body. "For the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are."

But some are not consciously filled with the Holy Spirit because He comes as a refiner and purifier. They are unwilling to submit themselves to this painful purgation. They shrink from the crucible by which the divine Refiner sits till He can see His own perfect image in the mirror of molten gold purified of any dross. They admire the Son of God and desire to be conformed to His image, but they dislike the process of total and irreversible self-surrender and self-crucifixion. They cannot truthfully sing:

"O that in me the sacred fire

Might now begin to glow,

Burn up the dross of base desire,

And make the mountains flow!"

The Gospel of the Comforter, Chapter 12.



Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Law of the Spirit of Life

"For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death." — Romans 8:2 RV

In the Epistle to the Romans Paul speaks of the two laws or uniform and controlling forces — the law of sin producing spiritual death, and the law of the Spirit inspiring spiritual life which becomes eternal on the condition of persevering faith.

In the thought of many people the Spirit is capricious in His action, and sovereign in the sense that He is a law unto Himself, observing no conditions and establishing no regular order of sequences by which His aid may be secured. Perhaps this error may be truthfully ascribed to that religious teaching which magnifies the sovereignty of God as exercised unconditionally. In some instances it may be traced to a misunderstanding of Christ's comparison of the mystery of the new birth to "the wind blowing as it listeth," He did not intimate that the winds are not under physical laws, but rather that science had not then, as it has not now, a knowledge of pneumatics sufficient to predict with infallible certainty what will be the direction and intensity of the wind an hour hence. Some infer that the Holy Spirit acts on men in promoting revivals of religion with the same uncertainty and apparent lawlessness. Hence revivals come to a church like thunderstorms, without regard to any human conditions. This idea is confirmed by a faulty translation of a sentence in Peter's sermon in Solomon's porch, Acts iii. 19, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord." This rendering of the text commands sinners to be ready for the blotting out of their sins whenever it may please God to send the times of refreshing. The correct rendering makes the times of refreshing or revival depend on the commanded human condition of repentance, "Repent . . . that so there may come seasons," etc. (Revised Version).

In fact the Spirit is endeavoring to produce in every sinner penitence for sin and faith in Christ, in order that He may impart spiritual life and be God's messenger of adoption, inspiring the joyful cry, "Abba, Father." This is the purpose for which He is reproving the world. He yearns to inspire in every human soul the gladness of the filial feeling in place of the dread and foreboding of punishment which haunt conscious guilt. He delights to take up His abode in the believer. His personality interpenetrates ours just in proportion to the perfectness of our self-surrender. It is a wise remark of Dr. A. J. Gordon that the Spirit, like the wind, always moves toward a vacuum. By entire consecration make your heart vacant of all love of the world, and the Holy Spirit will come in Pentecostal power and fill the vacuum.

The Gospel of the Comforter, Chapter 12.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Tainted Money?

QUESTION: Is  it a sin to let or sell a residence to a brewer or a cigar manufacturer or to one of their employees?

ANSWER:  It would be a good opportunity to show your disapproval by letting or selling your house at a sacrifice to some other person. But for me to say it is a sin to do otherwise, I am not prepared; for some one might raise the question whether the grocer would not sin in taking "tainted money" from the landlord, who has let or sold his house to a brewer or cigar-maker; and then whether it would not be wrong for the physician or minister to receive such money from the grocer, etc. etc., like "the house that Jack built." Human interests are so interlaced that there is no end to a boycott when once begun.

Steele's Answers p. 221.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

On Hebrews 12:14

QUESTION: I have difficulties with Heb. 12:14, "Follow after peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no man shall see the Lord." (1) If I insist that holiness is a definite second work, then it follows that only those in whom it has been wrought will see the Lord. (2) If I say that we received a degree of holiness when we were regenerated, then the text loses its emphasis as to the necessity of a second work. (3) Does the text make peace with all men and holiness equally necessary to seeing the Lord?

ANSWER: The "shall" should be "will" as the translation of the Greek denoting simple certainty rather than  a prohibition or a threat. Without purity no man will or can see God, who is perceived only by the pure in heart. The psychologists have not found out that the heart is a more important organ of knowledge than the head. Hence "he who loveth not knoweth not God." In this kind of knowledge there must be a similarity of feeling between the subject and the object, loving what God loves and hating what he hates. No degree of holiness is indicated in the text. Wesley calls attention to the fact "that the term 'sanctified' is continually applied by Paul to all that were justified; that by this term alone he rarely, if ever, means, 'saved from all sin,' and that it is not proper to use it in that sense without adding the word 'wholly,' 'entirely' or the like." The same criticism applies to the adjective "holy" — in the plural "saints," holy ones, and to the noun "holiness," since we have the phrase "perfecting holiness." Hence there is no warrant for quoting this text as teaching that without the second distinctive work no man will see the Lord. Wesley insists that this grace should be preached "always by way of promise; always drawing, rather than driving." This level-headed man gives further advice which is a safeguard against fanaticism: "I would be far from quenching the smoking fax — from discouraging those who serve God in a low degree. * * * I would encourage them to come up higher, without thundering hell and damnation in their ears." This style of promoting Christian perfection was a stumbling block to the writer for more than a quarter of a century. When Moses stood on Mt. Pisgah he didn't throw stones at his brethren on the plain below to get them to climb to those sunny heights. Yet "the not following after holiness," says Wesley, "is the direct way to fall into sin of every kind. The "peace with all men," which we are to follow after, is that which is thus limited by Paul: "If it be possible, as much as in you lieth." It takes two parties to make peace; you are responsible for only one of them.

Steele's Answers pp. 219-221.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Two Kinds of Wine?

QUESTION: Our pastor in prayer meeting said there are two kinds of wine mentioned in the Scriptures, one intoxicating and the other not, and that the wine our Savior made was intoxicating, and that Bible scholars admit this. Is it true?

ANSWER: The discussion is too long and prolix for the Question Box. See some Bible dictionary, where Dr. Lees argues against your pastor, so far as the O.T. is concerned, while other writers in the same article take your pastor's view. But it is not true that a non-intoxicating wine is mentioned in the New Testament, where the common name for wine is οῖνος (oinos), and the other word, only once used, is γλεῦκος (gleukos), sweet wine. Peter on the day of Pentecost heard the mockers say, "They are filled with γλεῦκος," and he replied, "These are not drunken as ye suppose, seeing it is only 9 o'clock in the morning." This implies that γλεῦκος was intoxicating, if a man should pour it down his throat all day. Hence if John had used this term in describing the miracle, he would not have avoided the charge which modern tipplers hurl against Christ. When John B. Gough was lecturing in Oxford the students challenged. him to debate. They quoted Christ's first miracle as justifying the drinking of fermented wine. Gough's admirable reply was this, "All the wine that is made out of nothing but water is perfectly harmless, and you may drink it as much as you please." That satisfies the Question Box.

Steele's Answers pp. 218, 219.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Gift of Ministerial Power

QUESTION: What is the gift in I Tim. 4:14, "Neglect not the gift, that is in thee," etc.? (2) Also II Tim. 1:14, "That good thing * * * committed to thee"?

ANSWER: The ability to read the Scriptures publicly, to exhort and to teach, which ability had been solemnly recognized by Paul and the elders in his public ordination in which the unction of the Spirit necessary to success is invoked and received by the candidate through faith. (2) This is that spoken of in verse 6, "Stir up the gift of God which is in thee by the putting on of my hands." This gift of ministerial power could slumber, like embers beneath the ashes, unless Timothy should enkindle and quicken it into a flame. A pulpit on fire is a great attraction. If the fire has gone out or is smothered, the pews will soon become empty.

Steele's Answers pp. 217, 218.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Inheriting the Carnal Mind

QUESTION: If a child's ancestors are all free from carnality for three generations back, how can he inherit the carnal mind?

ANSWER: He is sure to inherit racial rather than personal qualities and tendencies, even after a hundred generations of holy people. The fall of our first parents corrupted the race so that every child, however well born, is more inclined to do wrong than to do right. "Sin is entailed upon me," says Wesley, "not by immediate generation, but by my first parent. 'In Adam all died; by the disobedience of one, all men were made sinners;' all men, without exception, who were in his loins when he ate the forbidden fruit." There are mysteries in heredity which no one can explain. Parents may transmit what they do not possess. By the Salic law a woman destitute of sovereignty can, if her father is a king, transmit sovereignty to her son. It is often the case that two parents whose hair is black have a red-headed child, the color being transmitted from an ancestor a half dozen generations back. "We have," says Wesley, "a remarkable case of this in gardening; grafts on a crab  stalk bear excellent fruit; but sow the kernels of this fruit, and they produce as mere crabs (crab-­apples) as ever were seen." Another view of this subject is the impossibility of transmitting personal moral qualities of an acquired character, such as holiness which is obtained or imparted and inwrought in answer to the person's faith.

Steele's Answers pp. 216, 217.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Elders

QUESTION: Who are the elders in James 5:14, "Is any sick among you? Let him send for the elders of the church," etc.

ANSWER: Gospel ministers ordained by the laying on of hands as in Acts 13:3, and especially 14:23, "And when they had ordained elders in every church," etc. A class of exegetes teach that the elders spoken of by James are elderly Christians, and not necessarily ecclesiastical officials. This is not the teaching of the best expositors.

Steele's Answers p. 216.

Friday, February 13, 2015

On Isaiah 4:5

QUESTION: Explain Isaiah 4:5 "And Jehovah will create over the whole habitation of Mount Zion, and over her assemblies a cloud of smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory shall be spread a covering." (Am. R. V.)

ANSWER: This is a manifest allusion to the pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night, symbolizing the Divine glory which shall rest upon the Christian assemblies in "the day or era of the Branch" (verse 2) the coming Messiah, "beautiful and glorious, the Fruit of the land" of Palestine.

Steele's Answers pp. 215, 216.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

On Joel 2:20

QUESTION: Explain this prophecy of Joel 2:20, "And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness," etc.

ANSWER: The destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 is here predicted, as explained by Christ in Matt. 24:29­ 44, and Luke 21:20-33. Peter also quotes this passage with its context and applies the whole in Acts 2:16­ 20 to the day of Pentecost and to the great changes of things in Palestine, which were soon to follow, and which did occur in about thirty-five years, while some of that generation were still living, as Jesus foretold. In answer to the objection that the language is too strong and too wide in the extent of the calamities predicted, which are seemingly universal, we beg the reader to read Joel 5:10, where the plague of locusts is thus vividly described, "the earth shall quake before them, the heavens shall tremble, the sun, and moon shall be dark; and the stars shall withdraw their shining." See also Amos 8:9, where the chastisement of Israel is thus portrayed, "I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in a clear day."

Steele's Answers pp. 214, 215.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?"

QUESTION: Explain the words of Christ on the cross, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" — Matt. 27:46.

ANSWER: It is said that Martin Luther, after several hours' meditation on these words, exclaimed, "God forsaken of God! I cannot understand it. I cannot understand it." I sympathize with the great reformer. The personality of Christ in whom two natures are blended is unique and beyond our poor philosophy. Still more unfathomable is the unique act of atonement for sin which he was making when this dereliction took place. But we must believe that Christ, "the fullness of the Godhead bodily," ever had the inner consciousness of union with his Father indestructible and that there was no objective withdrawal of the Father and much less was he hurling down the thunderbolts of wrath upon the head of his beloved Son as a vicarious malefactor enduring punishment. Calvary was a scene of suffering but not of punishment. It is reasonable to believe that in the intensity of the unspeakable physical and mental agonies of Jesus, the pain and loss of blood so affected his brain as momentarily to interrupt communion with the skies, that — to use a modern illustration — the receiver of his telephone was out of repair so that the uttered love of the Father was not heard. Dr. A. Clarke inclines to the theory that the word "why" is capable of being translated. thus: "To what kind of men have you left me?" thus reflecting upon the cruel ingrates who were murdering him, rather than on the withdrawal of his Father. There is some ground for this exegesis, but to most Greek scholars it must appear to be strained.

Steele's Answers pp. 213, 214.

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.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

A New Dispensation

"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.

The declaration that it was expedient, or "good," as Luther translates it, for Christ to go away in order that the Comforter might come, proves the fact that the work of the Holy Spirit is so indispensable a complement to His own work that His bodily withdrawal, which is the condition of the Spirit's advent, should awaken great joy in the hearts of His disciples. A few disciples, comparatively, had seen Him in His humiliation, rejected of men; now One was to come who should be a mirror in which all disciples in all lands and in all generations should see Him glorified, and, seeing, "should be transformed into the same image from glory to glory." Without Jesus radiant with divinity, the Comforter would have nothing to reproduce in the heart of the believer. It would be like removing from the photographer's studio the person whose features the sun is about to fix on the plate prepared to receive them.

The radical dissimilarity between the old and the new dispensation is seen in the following particulars: In the old dispensation the Spirit externally wrought upon men, but He did not in His person dwell in believers; His working was occasional and for a short time; He did not permanently abide in them. He was external; He did not incarnate Himself in believers. His action Was intermittent, irregular, and apparently without any law. He came and went like Noah's dove, finding no abiding place. But in the new dispensation there is a "law of the Spirit" by which all believers may receive Him as a permanent dweller in the heart as another dove seen by John the Baptist descending upon Jesus and abiding on Him as a part of His person. In the Old Testament the Spirit bestowed gifts of an intellectual and physical nature — prophecy to the seventy elders, skill to Bezaleel, the kingly feeling to Saul, and strength to Samson. But the Comforter dispenses the various graces, such as saintly inward virtues, love, gentleness, goodness, etc. "Affianced of the soul, the Spirit went oft to see His betrothed, but was not yet one with her; the marriage was not consummated until Pentecost, after the glorification of Jesus Christ."

Another great gain to the disciples in the exchange of the bodily presence of Christ on the earth for His spiritual presence in their hearts, by the Comforter's coming and indwelling, was in the clearer evidence of his Messiahship and divinity. Doubtless the disciples at the first intimation of Christ's intended departure asked of one another, "What proofs can we hereafter point to that we have not followed a pretender if the great miracle worker removes. His amazing miracles have been our chief argument with our enemies hitherto. Nothing can supply their place in even keeping ourselves from serious doubts. What shall we do?" Little could they possibly comprehend that an invisible divine Person could descend from heaven, enter into their very being, pouring a light more resplendent than the sun upon the person of Christ, giving an intuitive perception of His supreme Godhood as indisputable as any self-evident truth of the human reason. They knew nothing of the self-evidencing power of the Spirit to glorify the Son of God in their consciousness and to plant their feet for evermore on the sunlit summit of full assurance and certain knowledge so frequently spoken of by Paul under the strengthened word epignosis.

The death of Christ was deemed by His disciples as the greatest possible disaster, but it redeemed a world of sinners lost. So the departure of their Master was deemed a privation for which they could imagine no compensation, but it removed the barrier which kept Him from access to their inmost selves. Hitherto He had been imprisoned within walls of flesh obstructing the full communication of Himself to their hearts, just as the unbroken alabaster flask kept the delicious perfumes from filling all the house, every crack and crevice, with its pervasive odors.

When the God-Man was on the earth He was farther from His disciples, even when He washed their feet, than the sun is from the earth, 93,000,000 miles away. But when He came in the form of the Comforter this distance was annihilated. The disciples now have an eternal sunrise within their hearts. They are ensphered in the Spirit, who reveals Christ. They are enveloped in His personality; they are "in Christ."

The Gospel of the Comforter, Chapter 10.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Christ's Mission Is Extended by the Spirit

"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.

It is quite obvious that Christ's efficiency in His saving contact with human souls is indefinitely increased by His representative, the Comforter. While on the earth in the limits of the body His range of beneficent effort must be restricted to a few of the many millions of mankind. His method was to individualize. In healing He laid His hands on every one. There was no healing in the mass. If men's diseased bodies required individualization, much more do their depraved souls. Through the Paraclete the Great Physician can simultaneously medicate millions of sin-sick souls on all the islands of the sea and in both hemispheres wherever His gospel is preached.

After the ascension, wherever there was a believer there was an omnipotent Christ. A thousand cities might simultaneously behold the displays of His power. On the day of Pentecost a thousand of the fiercest enemies of Christ laid down their weapons and proclaimed Him Lord to the glory of God the Father. The hearts of His own immediate disciples, so imperfectly subdued during His ministry, having been brought into complete subjection by the outpouring of the Spirit from the throne of their risen Lord, He went forth conquering and to conquer. It was sufficiently manifest then that Christ had all power in heaven and in earth. 
— George Bowen.

But not only is the quantity of His work multiplied infinitely, but the quality is vastly improved through the mission of the Spirit. While in the body on the earth the work of reconstructing fallen human nature must he done from the outside, at a distance from the centre of personality within. But the Spirit can interpenetrate the soul, impart spiritual life, and lodge the transforming principle in the very core of our being. Yea, He Himself, with my free consent makes my heart His domicile, His earthly holy of holies, thus imparting and conserving holiness at the fountain of action and character. This He can more effectually do than did Jesus in the flesh. For the Comforter does not take up His abode in my body merely, nor in my intellect, nor in any one of my mental powers; but in my spirit, which He found as a mere unused capacity and filled with His subtle energies which stream forth, quickening intellect, sensibilities and will, chastening every bodily appetite, and in this way sanctifying the material organism through which my spirit acts. Not in what we know but in what we are, does the Spirit take up His abode. Taking possession of the unexplored recesses of my spirit, the Holy Spirit, after my voluntary surrender and self-effacement, is in a position to inspire and safely guide me individually through all the perils and turning points of my probation. Thus I am, through the Paraclete, on more intimate terms with the Lord Jesus than ever was "that disciple whom Jesus loved" and who leaned on His bosom. It is this spiritual privilege, this closer intimacy with God in His Son, that makes the least in the kingdom of God, the spiritual kingdom established on the day of Pentecost, greater than John the Baptist, even though he was greater than Abraham, the founder, and Moses, the lawgiver, of the greatest nation on earth in God's eyes. Hence we emphatically indorse the strong declaration of Alford, especially his capitalized words:

 This 'the Comforter will not come if I go not,' is a convincing proof that the gift of the Spirit at and since the day of Pentecost is something TOTALLY DISTINCT from anything before that time; a new and loftier dispensation.

 — The Gospel of the Comforter, Chapter 10.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

A Higher School of Faith

"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.

The withdrawal of the visible Christ and the substitution of His visible presence in the Paraclete whom He sent was the introduction of His disciples into a higher school of faith. Hitherto they had walked chiefly by sight. The Miracles of their Master had appealed to their reason through the senses. They were not entirely destitute of faith, else they would not have forsaken their fish-nets and followed the Man of Nazareth. But their faith was weak; it needed to be exercised and developed by struggles in a far different arena. They must be taught the spiritual nature of Messiah's kingdom. The visible presence of Christ as a veritable man had been a help to the primary lesson they had already learned; it would be a hindrance to the advanced lesson now to be learned. They must learn that deliverance from sin and restoration to true holiness consist not in outward ceremonials and prescribed rituals, nor in abstract truths grasped by the intellect, but in a vital union with a personal Saviour effected by the Spirit. While Jesus sat there before them in the body the mystery of this spiritual union was altogether beyond their comprehension. The enigma could be explained only by His removal. "It is expedient for you that I go away." This expediency is strongly stated by Draseke as quoted by Stier:

The old Messiah in the flesh is with them; therefore the new Comforter, the Spirit, is far from them. What hindered their being comforted? Jesus Himself, who, comforting, stood before them, was the hindrance. As long as He, this Messiah, bearing all the prophetic marks upon Him, stood before them in person, this, His person continued to be a foundation and prop to that system of vanities which bewitched their heads and hearts, The form must pass away from their eyes before the Spirit could enter their souls. It was good for them that Jesus should go away. Before He, the Christ after the flesh, went away, the Christ after the Spirit could not come. When the former vanished the latter appeared.

The visible, tangible Messiah was the false foundation of all their erroneous notions about a splendid worldly kingdom. The ascension of Christ, the removal of His human form from the eyes of His disciples, was necessary to initiate a purely spiritual kingdom, the basis of which is faith in a risen and invisible Messiah enthroned in heaven. For the same reason the bodily absence of Christ will continue till He descends to judge the quick and the dead and terminate the probationary history of mankind on the earth. His reign as a visible king for a thousand years would be a long step backward. It would destroy the conditions of the development of that stalwart faith which Christ has pronounced specially blessed: "Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed."

Again, it was expedient for Jesus to substitute for His visible presence the invisible Comforter for the emancipation of the Jews from "the letter that killeth" — a complex ritual which they had for more than fourteen centuries obeyed with a mechanical precision. This altar ritual, chiefly of bloody sacrifices typifying the atonement in Christ's death, had accomplished its purpose and should now be laid on the shelf as one of "the beggarly elements" — a rudimentary and preparatory dispensation. Also the burdensome law of ceremonial purity, must now be abrogated because it had become a yoke upon the neck of an unspiritual people.

How can this ingrained hereditary worship of "the letter that killeth" all joyful freedom of service be done away without destroying the religious spirit? Christ herein exhibits divine wisdom. He enforced no ceremonial law, nor did He formally abrogate any. But He inculcated the true spirit in which that law should be administered while the Mosaic dispensation should continue. He did not command fasting, but corrected its disgusting ostentation, while intimating that it was not in harmony with His joyful gospel, but, rather, as incongruous as a new patch on an old garment (Matt. ix. 15-17, Revised Version). He did not abolish bloody sacrifices, but prescribed the spirit of reconciliation in which they should be laid upon the altar. He knew that faith in His atonement would supersede the altar ritual without its formal repeal. He did not re-enact the law of tithes, but He insisted that while it continued it should be accompanied by justice, mercy, faith and love. He sought to enthrone in all hearts supreme love to God as the sum of all duties toward God. Then He sends down the Spirit of love, who sheds abroad the love of God in the heart. This inspiration of the evangelical Spirit gradually overcomes the spirit of bondage to the letter, the legal spirit, first in Stephen, then in Saul of Tarsus, and then in the whole Gentile section of the Church, and finally in Peter and the believing Jews. Thus the whole Levitical law is quietly laid aside without a convulsion destructive of faith in revelation. To accomplish this amazing change it was necessary that the God-Man should retire and the God-Spirit should be His successor.

The Gospel of the Comforter, Chapter 10.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Living Witnesses

In every generation there are needed living witnesses to corroborate the resurrection of Christ. For these on the witness stand of every age He has made provision in the gift of the Holy Ghost. "Believers started to live when He did, and their resurrection is a triumphant proof of His resurrection." On the day of Pentecost the astonished Jews saw a hundred and twenty duplicates of the resurrection of Jesus. A feeble, almost pulseless life they had before, but now they have a stalwart and abundant life. Every Christian who has had a personal Pentecost is a new attestation of the basal proof of Christianity, the resurrection of its Author. Every believer, if he lives at the summit of his privilege, is to an unbelieving world a risen Christ. O Spirit divine, multiply on the earth the number of such facsimiles of the resurrection of the God-Man as shall overwhelm the skepticism of the world and bring hosts of unbelievers to crown Jesus Lord of all!

As George Bowen wrote:

It is the vocation of every believer, in every generation, to afford in his own person the evidence that Christ has risen. Art thou a Christian? Then art thou one whom Christ has chosen to convey to men the proof that He is risen. This is thy vocation. Wilt thou roll back the stone upon the sepulchre and make the world believe that Christ is still there? This thou art actually doing if thou walk not in the Spirit.

The Gospel of the Comforter, Chapter 9.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Pentecost and the Founding of the Church

"Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into all the truth: for he shall not speak from himself; but what things soever he shall hear, [these] shall he speak: and he shall declare unto you the things that are to come He shall glorify me: for he shall take of mine, and shall declare [it] unto you" — John 16:13, 14 (Revised Version).

This intimate identification of the Spirit's mission with the person of Christ and the success of His work was because in the wisdom of God it was seen to be necessary to the establishment and universal spread of His kingdom. There is truth in the argument that the existence of the Church as the visible exponent of Christ's kingdom is the great proof of the resurrection and divinity of its Founder. This is true. But our contention is that the Church which was not organized when Jesus Christ, its living head, ascended, would not have had a beginning on the earth without the Pentecostal gift. This idea has found expression in that beautiful and inspiring formula of worship, the Te Deum Laudamus, called by Canon Liddon "at once a hymn, a prayer and a creed," in these sublime words,

"When Thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death,
Thou didst open the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers." 

This dates the founding of the Church on the day of Pentecost. It was then that Christ, in the person of the Paraclete, like the sunrise described by the poet Horace, Altera dies, sol idem (Another day, the same sun ), gathered together the Church of the firstborn of the Spirit on the earth, the first to receive the Spirit of adoption and to head the procession of redeemed souls through all the Christian ages.

Without Pentecost the resurrection of Christ would soon have been confounded with the prodigies of the Greek and Roman mythologies. There would, after a few years or generations, have been no one interested in defending this historic fact, and after the death of the apostles there would have been no witnesses to the resurrection power as a transforming spiritual experience. The historical facts without a spiritual life built on them, preaching and defending them and dying for them a martyr’s death, would have had no champion to advocate them and to perpetuate the remembrance of them.

We do not read that the company of disciples was at all increased by the story of the resurrection of Christ repeated again and again during nearly fifty days. This bare historic fact made no converts. Facts alone, though miraculous, and truth alone, though undoubted, have no regenerating power. Only life can beget life. For seven weeks the company of believers had all the facts of the gospel except the ascension complete, and for ten days they had the climax, the ascension of Christ, but there was no increase of their numbers. But on the fiftieth day three thousand believed on Jesus as the divine Saviour. Something must have happened. There is no effect without a cause. In this hidden cause lies the secret of the final triumph of Christ.

Let me illustrate. In the late American Civil War, in the absence of Gen. Sheridan, the Federal commander in the valley of Shenandoah, his army was unexpectedly attacked in camp and routed. They threw down their arms and ran like frightened sheep. This scared herd of soldiers without arms suddenly turned about, met and conquered the over-confident foe, regained their lost artillery and camp and drove Gen. Early and his Confederate army in a disorderly flight and captured his artillery. What caused the change from a disgraceful rout to a glorious victory? It was the sudden arrival of their valiant commander riding bareheaded at breakneck speed.

What caused the sudden great victory of the gospel? What produced the conversion of three thousand in a day? It was the sudden arrival on the field of the divine Commander in the mysterious, invisible, conquering personality of another. It is vain to attribute the initial force of Christianity to the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. You have first to account for his sudden transformation from a bloody persecutor. But he was not converted during the fifty days after the crucifixion. Even if he had been it would be as paradoxical to ascribe the first triumph of Christianity to the accession of a persecutor as it would be to attribute Sheridan's victory, plucked out of defeat, to the presence of the chief of Gen. Early's staff rallying the running Federal soldiers to fight the army he had just deserted in treason to the Confederacy.

The Gospel of the Comforter, Chapter 9.

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Spirit Testifies to Christ

"Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into all the truth: for he shall not speak from himself; but what things soever he shall hear, [these] shall he speak: and he shall declare unto you the things that are to come He shall glorify me: for he shall take of mine, and shall declare [it] unto you" — John 16:13, 14 (Revised Version).

If the Paraclete had come to testify of Himself and to do an independent work irrespective of Christ, His mission would not have conserved the memory of Christ, but would have eclipsed it. If He had come in the name of the Father to maintain the meager unity of God in the bare and simple sense taught by so called liberal Christianity, the outcome would have been the final oblivion of Jesus Christ following the denial of everything supernatural in His birth and ministry.

But He proceeded from the Father and the Son specially charged with the office of testifying of the Son, yea, of glorifying Him, not only in the gospel record, which He should inspire, and in the doctrines to be unfolded in apostolic sermons and epistles, but by His indwelling presence in the consciousness of believers, revealing Christ in them in a manner wholly indescribable but blessedly real and certain. We do not wonder at the tenacity with which western Christianity has insisted on the "Filioque" (and from the Son) in the creed respecting the procession of the Holy Ghost. This enlargement of the creed not only conserves the dignity of the Son of God and harmonizes with His Trinitarian address in John xiv. -xvi. and with other texts in which the Paraclete is called the "Spirit of Christ" (Rom. viii. 9), the "Spirit of Jesus" (Acts xvi. 7, Revised Version) and "Christ" (Eph. iii. 17), but it is confirmed by the experience of all who testify that the Comforter "has taken up His lasting abode in their hearts." (Alford). These rejoice in a wonderful magnifying of Christ and in an inexpressible increase of love to Him. If troubled before by doubts of His divinity, their doubts are forever dispelled, and "in the Holy Spirit" they gladly and spontaneously say, "Jesus is Lord" (I Cor. xii. 3, Revised Version). They are as sure of his Godhead as was Thomas in the presence of his risen Master when he exclaimed, "My Lord and my God" (John xx. 28).

The Gospel of the Comforter, Chapter 9.