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, March 31, 2015

How Many Days Was Jesus in the Tomb?

QUESTION: Matt. 17:1 says, "After six days." Luke 9:28 says "about an eight days later." Harmonize this discrepancy.

ANSWER: Luke, by using the word "about," intimates that he is not speaking accurately in counting the fractions of two days, the first and the eighth, while both Matthew and Mark count only the whole days between the two events making only six. The Jews generally counted the fractions  as  whole days, so that Jesus was three days in the tomb, though only one whole day.

Steele's Answers pp. 237, 238.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Piano Tuner's Dilemma

QUESTION: I am a piano-tuner by occupation. Should I as a Christian refuse to tune the pianos used in ball-rooms and theaters?

ANSWER: In this wicked world there is scarcely any business which does not bring the Christian into evil associations which can be avoided only by "going out of the world," as Paul says in I Cor. 5:10. A poor day-laborer must either go out of the world or do the work, the evil use of which he is not responsible for, asking no questions for conscience sake. Yet he is to listen to the voice of conscience and heroically starve, if he should be required to take a direct and active part, such as that of the bartender, or the brewer, or distiller, or dance fiddler. Tuning the piano is one thing, but playing it for the dance is another.

Steele's Answers p. 237.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Of Water and the Spirit

QUESTION: Does John 3:5 refer to water baptism: "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God"?

ANSWER: It is figurative of the initial purification of regeneration, as the baptism of the Holy Ghost and of fire is figurative of the perfect cleansing in the entire sanctification of the believer. Fire is a more thorough purgative than water.

Steele's Answers pp. 236, 237.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Perfected Holiness is a Progressive State

QUESTION: Can you give me light upon the following: I have read of and heard persons state that they received the blessing after making the consecration, and later they received the Blesser. Is it possible to have the blessing of a clean heart and not also have the Blesser who gives the clean heart?

ANSWER: The nominal experience of love made perfect is the incoming of the Comforter extinguishing the self-life, as light entering a room instantly banishes darkness. But others testify of a short interval between the conscious cleansing and the conscious fullness of the Spirit. It is also true that perfected holiness is a progressive state in which Christ manifests himself more and more wonderfully to the persevering believer whose love is attested by constant obedience. As they err who say; "I got it all when I was regenerated," so do they err  who say, "I got all that God has to give when I was wholly sanctified." The reader of the original of John 17:3 will note that eternal life lies not so much in the possession of a completed knowledge of Christ, gained once for all, as in a perpetually increasing apprehension of him: "and this is life eternal that they should be knowing (present tense denoting continuity) Thee, the only true God and him whom thou didst send, even Jesus Christ." I expect to be eternally striving after a growing knowledge of the Father through the Son. My happiness will consist in love ever increasing promoted by a gainful striving which will know no end. Don't be afraid you will exhaust God:

Immortal Love forever full,
Forever flowing free,
Forever shared, forever whole,
A never ebbing sea. — Whittier.

Steele's Answers pp. 235, 236.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Is It Wrong to Raise Mules?

QUESTION: Is it wrong to raise mules in the light of Lev. 19:19, "Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed; neither shall a garment mingled with linen and woolen come upon thee"?

ANSWER: In the Old Testament the law embraces not only moral actions, such as are right or wrong as discoverable by conscience, or revealed in the Decalogue, but also acts violating the code of ceremonial purity, and acts forbidden by the Judicial law which relates solely to the Jewish nation. These three kinds of laws are intermingled in the Pentateuch. The Jew regards all of them as morally obligatory. Hence he regards the breeding of mules as sinful because it is forbidden by the ceremonial law, which the Christian is under no obligation to keep, because Christ abrogated it in Mark 7:19, "This he said making all meats clean," R. V. The Jewish farmer deems it wicked to put a pumpkin seed in a hill of corn, or to wear a linsey woolsey garment, or one made of cotton and wool, sometimes called crugget, a comfortable clothing within reach of the poor. The highest magnifying glass fails to find any moral element in Lev. 19:19. Hence the mule is not an outlaw, nor is his breeder a sinner.

Steele's Answers pp. 234, 235.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Forbidden Fruit

QUESTION: What was the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden?

ANSWER: The kind is unknown. It is described as good for food, pleasant to the eyes, and to be desired to make one wise. It afforded an occasion for the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eye, and the pride of life, the three forms of moral evil.

Steele's Answers p. 234.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Anger

QUESTION: Can a father having a hot temper get rid of it entirely when entirely sanctified?

ANSWER: Yes. He can be rid of all sinful anger. There ls such a thing as righteous indignation.

Steele's Answers p. 234.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Mormons & Polygamy

QUESTION: Do the Mormons still practice polygamy?

ANSWER: Their president has five wives and the children are increasing in number. They profess to have renounced polygamy. Being a State they elect their own civil officers, so that they can manage their domestic relations to suit themselves, inflicting slight punishment for polygamy, or none at all. The Federal government cannot now reach this evil.

Steele's Answers pp. 233, 234.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Error of Sacramentalism

Another error obstructive of the spiritual life of all the so-called sacramentarian churches — more than half of Christendom — consists in a perversion of the meaning of Christ's words to Nicodemus, "born of water and the Spirit." Those who magnify the sacraments as saving ordinances, and some who do not teach baptismal regeneration, teach that the words "born of water" refer to water baptism. But others including the writer, insist that these words have no reference to that ordinance which was not made obligatory upon believers until after Christ's resurrection, years after his dialogue with Nicodemus. The identification of water baptism with the new birth has wrought untold harm to myriads of souls, deluding them with a shadow of the requisite for salvation instead of the substance, the impartation of spiritual life and initial sanctification symbolized by water. We sympathize with Weisse, though we cannot use his strong language, that to make regeneration depend upon baptism by water "is little better than blasphemy." We believe with Neander, Calvin, Grotius and other scholars, that Christ here intends the symbolic import of water, and not water itself, as an agent of cleansing, according to an ancient figure which expressed one idea by two nouns connected by "and" instead of a noun and an adjective, as, "we drink from cups and gold" for golden cups. Thus, "ye must be born of water and the Spirit" for the purifying Spirit. Desiring to give his distinguished hearer a clear idea of the change which the Spirit must work in the natural heart, he adds the idea of initial cleansing by using the word "water."

In like manner a more thorough purification is expressed by the words of John the Baptist descriptive of Christ, "He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire," an agent of cleansing far more effective than water in the purification of earthen and metallic utensils. We cannot here, as some do, read and as meaning or, "with the Ghost or fire," meaning all who do not receive the Holy Spirit's baptism must be baptized with hell fire. We prefer the exegesis of Bishop Hopkins,

those who are baptized with the Holy Spirit are, as it were, plunged into the heavenly flame, whose searching energy devours all their dross, tin and base alloy.

The Gospel of the Comforter, Chapter 14.

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Error of the Doctrine of the Two Natures

There prevails in certain religious circles the doctrine that in the new birth a new nature is created, while the old nature, or old man, continues till physical death extinguishes his life. It is said that the old nature is nailed to the cross, but he does not die so long as the human spirit acts through a material organism. Denial of the possibility of entire sanctification in the present life is an obvious inference. Another outcome of this error is that depravity is necessary, and that it is beyond the reach of the Holy Spirit in the application of the blood of Christ which cleanses from all sin. Hence the notion of two natures existing in every Christian, however consecrated, so long as he is in the body, the one a new creation and therefore sinless, and the other sinful and beyond all hope of change for the better, is exceedingly mischievous, palliating and excusing evil propensities. When we speak of the Holy Spirit as the indwelling Sanctifier we will examine the alleged scriptural proofs of this doctrine. We insist that the work of the Spirit in the new creation of the penitent believer in Christ is not the creation of new faculties, but the rectification of those already existing, weakened and marred by sin. He has no need of a new reason for even after the fall, reason in man grasps the same self-evident truths that exist in God, In fact, the modern teaching of philosophy is that truths of intuition are the activity of God immanent in the soul of man. His sensibilities, both natural and moral, have been damaged by the fall of Adam, and his will has become enslaved to his perverted affections and depraved desires. It is the office of the Holy Spirit to lift this yoke of bondage and to bring the newborn soul into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. He whom Christ Jesus makes free is free indeed. It is the slave that is emancipated and not a new being just created. Such a being would need no act of emancipation. It is the office of the Spirit to give the will the gracious ability to make holy choices, and to clarify the moral sense or conscience so that its decisions will all harmonize with ethical axioms or immutable morality. The "new creature" spoken of by Paul is a figure of speech for the vivid presentation of the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in the renewal of a soul badly shattered by sin. Conscience is restored to full activity both in its power to discern and its power to approve or to condemn. The human spirit may well be compared to a skylight in the dome of his being through which he was designed to have a vision of spiritual realities. But sin has darkened the windows and intercepted the heavenly vision. The remedy is not in the demolition of the old skylight and the setting of a new one, but in the thorough cleansing of the original window by One who by taking up His abode in that dome can always keep it transparent by His purifying presence. The process seems to be first to cause the law of God to shine into conscience, the light of forgiveness, then the light of purity, "having no more conscience of sin."

The Gospel of the Comforter, Chapter 14.

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.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Fellow-Workers in Sanctification

In sanctification "we are God's fellow-workers" (I Cor. iii. 9, Revised Version). Hence the momentous import of the exhortation of Paul, "Carry out with fear and trembling your own salvation. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to work for. his good pleasure."4 The occasion for fear and trembling arises from the fact that God's work in me may fail to reach perfection because of my failure to work perfectly with Him. It is indeed a solemn and awful thing to be fellow-workers with the holy God in the production of the most valuable thing in the universe, a holy character. In the work of purifying ourselves while God is refining us how careful should we be lest through lack of faith in His exceedingly great and precious promises we should mar the work of His Spirit in perfectly conforming us to the image of His Son. As a slight motion may spoil the image which the king of day is imprinting on the prepared plate, so a little self-indulgence or heedlessness or wavering of faith may blur the image of Christ which the Spirit is creating in me. I am responsible not only for all that I can do towards completed holiness, which is perfect consecration, but I am also responsible for all that the Holy Ghost can do with my co-operation.

The work of the Holy Spirit in the progressive sanctification of the newborn soul is indirect: in opening the heart to receive the truth, the instrument of purification; in giving vigor to the spiritual life; in strengthening the will to resist temptation, and in diminishing the power of evil habits. It is repressive of depravity rather than totally destructive.

The entire eradication of the propensity to sin is by the direct and instantaneous act of the Holy Spirit responsive to a special act of faith in Christ claiming the full heritage of the believer.

[J. A. Beet remarks:]

When we learn that God claims us for His own, and when, after fruitless personal efforts to render Him the devotion He requires, we learn for the first time that God will work in us by the agency of His Spirit and by actual spiritual contact with Christ the devotion He requires, and when we venture to believe, . . . we find by happy experience that according to our faith it is done to us. The experience thus gained becomes an era in our spiritual life. We feel that we are then holy in a sense unknown to us before.

The Gospel of the Comforter Chapter 14.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Why Entire Sanctification Does Not Accompany Regeneration

The question is often asked, "Why does not the Spirit entirely sanctify when He regenerates?" We answer, it is because that neither the consecration nor the faith of the penitent sinner is adequate to this complete work. The person then surrenders his bad things, he lays down his arms, quits his rebellion and sues for pardon. This is all that his faith grasps. But he soon learns that a deeper consecration is requisite, that all his good things, his possessions, his bodily powers, his intellectual faculties must be fully consecrated to Christ. To pour all his money into the treasury of his imperiled country and to give his life by enlisting in her military service is far different from the act of surrender as a prisoner of war. In the next place, faith for entire knowledge of one's spiritual needs and a larger comprehension of the vastness of the supply found in Jesus Christ. This deeper knowledge is not found in the spiritual babe.

Moreover, at the risk of being suspected of predestinarianism, I insist on another reason why the Spirit does not entirely purge the soul at the new birth. The impartation of spiritual life to a dead soul is wrought by the Spirit alone without the soul's co-operation, though it is active in conversion, but passive in regeneration. Theologians would call the first a case of synergism and the second an instance of monergism. If our distinction between these works of the Spirit is correct, it affords a sufficient reason why entire sanctification could not be wrought by the Spirit at the time of the new birth. The old man cannot be crucified without the co-operation of the new man. He must sign the death warrant of that sin in the flesh which the Son of God by His sacrifice for sin has condemned, in order to make that condemnation effectual for the destruction of "the body of sin" (Rom. vi. 6).

— from The Gospel of the Comforter, Chapter 14.

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Holy Spirit in Regeneration

Regeneration is the lodgement by the Holy Spirit of the new principle of life. This is love to God, which is the ruling motive of every genuine Christian. There is a radical and an essential difference between those who are born again and the best of those who lay claim to only natural goodness, a beautiful moral character revolving around self as a center. But the great transition from spiritual death to spiritual life does not make the child of God at once complete in holiness. The Holy Spirit in sanctification does not work magically, nor mechanically like a washing machine, "but by the influence of grace, in accordance with the essential constitution of man, and in the way of a vital process, only by degrees completely renewing the soul." While the Spirit in the new birth touches the whole nature, the thoughts, the feelings and the will, so that the man is a new creature, his renewal is not complete in any part. At first he is in spiritual knowledge only a babe. His faith is unsteady and often mingled with distrust, while his love is not usually strong enough to secure uninterrupted victory over temptation. The enthronement of love does not immediately render the pleasures of sin unattractive, nor destroy the painfulness of self-denial, nor instantaneously change sinful habits. Such is the state of immature converts to Christ, "the flesh lusting against the Spirit." The Corinthians were characterized as "carnal, walking as men." We know that John says that "he that has been born of God sinneth not" when he is describing those whom he styles "fathers" or adult believers, just as Paul describes the same class as having "crucified the flesh with the passions and lusts." Neither of these apostles is describing an ideal Christian, as some teach who deny the possibility of complete deliverance from depravity in this life. They are describing regeneration at its climax, the glorious possibilities of the birth from above, when it has culminated in perfected holiness.

The adverse influences and tendencies which continue after the new birth imperil the very existence of the new principle of love to God by overcoming and choking it, unless it is continually nourished and strengthened by divine grace. Strength is supplied to the believer by the inner presence of the Holy Spirit. His indwelling is by faith. If faith declines, the Spirit's sphere in the soul is narrowed. If confidence in God is "cast away" — a possible act against which we are warned in the Scriptures (Heb. x. 35) — then the Spirit withdraws, or rather, is excluded by unbelief, and love, the vital spark of the spiritual life, expires. Hence the question whether the Spirit shall be a merely transient impulse toward purity, or a lasting power, depends on the free will of the regenerate soul. The parable of the sower is exemplified to-day in the case of those who have no depth of earth. Their love to Christ soon degenerates into a mere sentiment with little or no influence on practical life, and in a short time the sentiment itself entirely evaporates, and the soul becomes "twice dead, plucked up by the roots" (Jude 12 ). What is the safeguard against such a disaster? It is such an indwelling of the fulness of the Spirit as excludes everything contrary to the divine nature by filling and flooding the soul with a love that is ever enlarging the vessel and ever filling it to the brim. Then love is perfect in the sense that it is no longer mixed in kind and so weak in degree as to be unable to encounter the temptation successfully. Says Prof. Candlish:

The new life of Christianity is a unity, and though, on account of the imperfect and abnormal condition of most Christians, it does not show itself with perfect symmetry, yet it tends toward moral excellence and perfection in every direction, and the more vigorous the central principle of religious life is, the more will particular virtues be developed and increased.

— edited from The Gospel of the Comforter Chapter 14.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Was Paul the Father of Timothy?

QUESTION: Was Paul a married man and the father of Timothy, whom he calls his son?

ANSWER: In Acts 16:1, 3 we read that he was the son of a Christian Jewess, but his father was a Greek. Hence Timothy was uncircumcised when he was converted. This proves that his father was a Gentile.

Steele's Answers, p. 233.

On Ezekiel 37:18, 19

QUESTION: Explain Ezek. 37:18, 19.

"And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these? Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand." — Ezekiel 37:18, 19 KJV.

ANSWER: The Jews became divided after Solomon's death, ten northern tribes forming a new kingdom and two tribes remaining loyal to the dynasty of David. The  prophet, by fastening two sticks together symbolically united them. It has no reference to any union in modern times.

Steele's Answers, p. 233.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Refuting Mormon Teachings

QUESTION: How can these Mormon errors be refuted: (1) Only those who have been baptized will be saved, (2) Baptism for the dead as taught in I Cor. 15:29, (3)  Receiving  the Holy Spirit only through the imposition of hands, (4) Probation after death, I Pet. 3:18, 19, and 4:5, 6, (5) The pre-existence of souls?

ANSWER: (1) That baptism is saving is disproved by those texts which teach that we are saved by faith in Christ (John 3:16, 36; 6:40; 11:25, 26; Acts 16:31). In Mark 16:16 the damnation is not from lack of baptism, but because of unbelief. The penitent thief went to Paradise unbaptized. If baptism is saving, Paul would not have left his converts without this ordinance (I Cor. 1:14-17). Simon Magus was baptized by Peter, who told him shortly afterwards that "his heart was not right before God" and that he and his silver was going to perish (Acts 8:14-24) . (2) In I Cor. 15:29 baptized for the dead (plural) means not for a dead person, but for all the dead. The doctrine of resurrection was so fundamental that faith in it was professed by the candidate for baptism, so that he was baptized into the faith of the resurrection of the dead and thereby he became a sponsor for that tenet. This is the exegesis of Chrysostom. (3) The promise of the Comforter in John 14:16 is conditioned on faith, love and obedience. No mention is made of any human mediation. The Spirit crying Abba, Father, in the heart is the privilege of every son of God, though he may be a thousand miles from any apostolic hands. While Peter was still preaching to General Cornelius and his staff "the Holy Spirit fell on all them that heard the word" (Acts 10:44). "Be ye filled with the Spirit" is a command which can be obeyed by every believer alone by himself without any imposition of hands. (4) We still believe that Wesley's note on I Pet. 3:18, 19 is correct: "Christ through the ministry of Noah preached to the spirits in prison, the unholy men before the flood, who were reserved by the justice of God as in a prison, till he executed sentence upon them all; and are now also reserved to the judgment of the great day. For another instance in this epistle of the activity of the Spirit of Christ before his incarnation he is, in Chapter 1:11, represented. as testifying in the prophets. "Preaching the Gospel to the dead" in 4:5, 6 means to those who in their several generations are now dead. (5) The Mormons say, "No existence is created; all beings are begotten. God himself, once a man, originated in the union of two elementary particles of matter, and that all men coming into being in the same way may become gods, the vastness of their dominions depending on the number of their children. Hence the importance of having a lot of wives to give their godhead a good start by raising an abundance of what President Roosevelt calls "the best crop."

Steele's Answers, pp. 231-233.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Redemption for the Fallen Angels?

QUESTION: Why did God not provide a scheme of redemption for the fallen angels?

ANSWER: It has not pleased God to reveal much of his dealings with the different orders of angels. We do not know that provision for the restoration of the fallen angels was not made. It is highly probable, yea, certain, that God would be as merciful to them as to the fallen human race, and that some of them failed to accept the redemptive scheme devised by him, and that many accepted it and have attained a confirmed loyalty rendering them infallible.

Steele's Answers, pp. 230, 231.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

On Mark 13:32

QUESTION: Sidney Collett, in "All about the Bible," says that Mark 13:32 should be rendered, "Neither the Son if not (or but as) the Father," Christ thereby asserting not his ignorance, but his Deity, being one with the Father. Can this translation be substantiated?

ANSWER: No. The Greek language has two kinds of negatives, the objective, which, because it denies directly in plain terms, never coalesces with "if"; and the subjective negative, which is used in suppositions and is so weak as very often to coalesce with "if," making a new word, meaning unless, except, save, as in this text. It is often translated "but" in the sense of "identification with," as Collett has rendered it in defiance of all classical and Hellenistic usage. The word "alone" or "only" is sometimes pleonastically added, as in Matt. 24:36, "but my Father only." See also Matt. 17:8; 21:19; Acts 11:19; Phil. 4:15.

Steele's Answers, pp. 230.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Jonah in the Belly of the Fish

QUESTION: Having heard a Methodist preacher make the statement from the pulpit recently that Jonah was dead in the belly of the whale three days and nights, I wish to ask if, in your judgment, there is anything in the Bible to back up such a statement, and if there is, does it not prove that the Roman Catholics are right in their claim that we have a chance to get right with God after death? If God gave Jonah the privilege of repenting after he was dead, have not we a right to expect the same privilege?

ANSWER: The day after this question was laid on my table, my daily paper of May 17 reported that a vessel called the Octopus, sunken near Newport, R. I., was raised, after a submergence of twenty-four hours, the whole crew of fifteen men being found alive and as well as they ever were. They voluntarily went down in a water-tight submarine war vessel, well supplied. with food and fresh air condensed in vaults which they let out from time to time after expelling that which had become foul. They testify that they could have been very comfortable several days. If men using only natural means could prolong life under the sea, could not God, who has both the natural and the supernatural at his command, keep a runaway preacher alive in the Octopus, which he prepared for him in the Mediterranean Sea? The sailor at masthead cries "There she blows," when he sees a stream of spray arising from a whale expelling the foul air from his lungs, preparing to inhale several cubic yards of pure air. So you see, there was a good chance for Jonah to live without any great draft upon the supernatural. Moreover, we have a historic proof that Jonah did not die, in the fact that he made a long prayer, in answer to which he was permitted to go ashore without a gang plank. Judging by the length of their prayers, Jonah was more alive than Peter was, who had only breath enough to say, "Lord, save me." Jonah dead is a very shaky foundation for the Romish doctrine of a post-mortem purgatory, with its back door opening heavenward. But it is the best they have. There is but one purgatory, for sin, the blood of Jesus Christ (I John 1:7), applied in this life.

Steele's Answers, pp. 228-230.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Too Conscientious?

QUESTION: Can a person be too conscientious?

ANSWER: There are persons who are morbidly conscientious. This is very often a form of insanity. I once heard a good woman say she could not set her tea table without sinning, or buy a dozen eggs without sin, for she instinctively picked out the biggest. The alienists say that quite a number of forms of disordered mental action involve the moral sense. Nervous diseases frequently take on this characteristic. Hence the need of charity for many, who, through an affection of the nerves, dwell in the border land between sanity and insanity. "God knoweth our frame."

Steele's Answers, pp. 228.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Kingdom of Heaven and Kingdom of God

QUESTION: Do the expressions "kingdom of heaven" and "kingdom of God" mean one and the same thing?

ANSWER: Yes, also "the kingdom of Christ," "the kingdom of Christ and of God" (Eph. 5:5), "the kingdom of David," the ancestor and type of the Messiah (Mark 11:10), and "the kingdom" (Matt. 8:12). They are all synonymous, signifying the glorious reign of Christ in the hearts of believers. This definition the enemies of the Messiah did not like. Hence they crucified him.

Steele's Answers, pp. 227, 228.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit?

QUESTION: Which is the correct translation of the Greek, Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit?

ANSWER: Both are correct, but Holy Spirit is  preferable,  because the word "ghost" has in modern times suffered a degradation. You would be shocked to hear John 4:24 quoted thus, "God is a ghost." Hence the American Revision invariably says Holy Spirit. The English were more conservative. Probably they thought it would spoil too many good hymns, such as Bishop Ken's Doxology, to let the term ghost go out of religious use.

Steele's Answers, p. 227.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

In What Sense Was Jesus Tempted?

QUESTION: If, as one writer puts it, there was no tinder in Christ for the devil to strike fire into, then in what sense was he tempted in all points, as we are?

ANSWER: Like us he was free to stand or to fall, otherwise his obedience was necessary, mechanical and no more praiseworthy than a good clock is for being an accurate timekeeper. None but a free agent can be an example for a free agent. Yet there was in the divine mind a perfect certainty that Jesus would resist temptation foreseen by infinite wisdom and foreknowledge. There are two kinds of sins, one of the flesh — sins finding expression through the body, and sins of the spirit, which are mental and independent of the body, such as pride, selfishness, unbelief, malice, etc. In respect to both of these classes Jesus was tempted beginning with the selfish use of his supernaturalism to satisfy his hunger, and ending with the suggestion to avoid the cross and become king immediately by a stroke of state. The fact that there was in him no hereditary bent toward sin makes a seeming difference between him and us. But it may be that the influence of the Holy Spirit more than compensates us. Jesus stood alone as a man assaulted by Satan unaided by his own personal divinity, and by the Holy Pentecostal Spirit, who was not yet given. Delitzsch insists that the words "without sin" limits the phrase, "in all points like as we are," except an innate proneness to be led astray. In so doing the writer of this epistle "brings out more clearly the unlimited similarity in all other respects." The tempter found him without sin and left him sinless. 

Steele's Answers, pp. 226, 227.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

On Hebrews 9:28

QUESTION: Please explain Heb. 9:28, showing who the waiting; persons are and what is the salvation waited for: "so Christ also, having been once offered to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time, apart from sin, to them that wait for him unto salvation."

ANSWER: The Jewish high priest had to make his offering again and again (verses 6, 7, 25), but the superior efficacy of Christ's offering is proven by the fact that it was made once-for-all (one word in Greek); after which he pleads in heaven for us presenting his offering, and securing the constant three-fold offices of the Paraclete (John 16:7-11) till his second appearing to raise the dead, to judge mankind, and to glorify believers, dead and living, who are in expectancy of this completion of their eternal salvation, soul and body wearing the glorious image of Christ. Says Bishop Ellicott, on Phil. 3:20, 21, "It seems wholly unnecessary to restrict this merely to the living," since every moment the true Christian in this world and in the interval between death and the resurrection is waiting in joyful expectation of this glorious consummation. That professed disciple of Christ who is not expecting with strong desire "the fashioning anew of the body of his humiliation, to be conformed to Christ's glorified body," is a false disciple. This text cannot be legitimately used in proof of the conversion of sinners at or after Christ's future advent. Such a doctrine is nowhere taught in the New Testament.

Steele's Answers p. 225, 226.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

A Defense of the Pentecostal Cleansing Theory

QUESTION: A holiness evangelist who has been very useful in the past tries to prove that the Apostles were cleansed before Pentecost, and ridicules the idea of the Spirit's agency in applying the blood of Christ to cleanse the following dilemmas:

(1) It makes the penitent sinner accept the Son of God to save him from the guilt and death of sins that are past, and it requires that the regenerate believer shall accept the Holy Spirit to save him from the pollution and inbeing of sin in the flesh.


ANSWER: In the interest of clearness of thought we say that salvation requires (1) a work done for us, pardon: and (2) a work done in us, purification. The atonement makes it safe for God to offer pardon to all penitent believers, and it also procures the Holy Spirit to purify initially in the new birth, and to purify wholly through the Holy Spirit, whose agency is appropriated by faith. Here is no dilemma. Both works depend on the blood of Christ, the first directly and the second indirectly.

(2) If the Holy Spirit is the agency in applying the blood for the entire sanctification of the believer,  why not the same method for the sinner?

ANSWER: The Holy Spirit does not pardon. This is an act instantaneous in the mind of God. But purification is a process wrought in us, having a beginning and an end, the interval between them being determined by our faith, which depends on our sense of need. The new-born soul does not at first feel the need of entire sanctification, in the joy of sins forgiven; but it soon finds that there are wrong tendencies remaining which must be eradicated. This is the reason why the internal work of the Spirit, beyond the imparting of spiritual life, is not a single act coincident with regeneration and justification, but, a process having a notable end this side of death, though not, far this side in the case of those who are slow to believe.

(3) The advocates for the Pentecostal cleansing theory have but one text to support their theory, and to found a theory or doctrine upon a single text violates the rules of true interpretation by the rule of faith.

ANSWER: This is neither a theory nor a doctrine, but a historical fact proved by one witness, especially, if his testimony has many incidental confirmations, such as the changed conduct of the apostles, no more questioning who is the greatest, self-crucifixion, perfect love to one another, all things common, perfect obedience, zeal, boldness,etc., after Pentecost.

(4) The Pentecostal cleansing theory is supported ONLY by a single text and that one wrongly interpreted (Acts 15:9). The word for cleansing is an Aorist Participle (he says), and denotes completed action at a past time. (a) (And he here quotes several Greek grammarians in proof), and being an act in past time refers to initial believing or conversion. (a) Sometimes it does, and sometimes it "is joined with a verb of past time, to denote (1) that by which the action of the verb is performed, or (2) that in which it consists; here it does not denote time past with reference to the leading verb, but rather coincides with it in time." (Goodwin's Gk. Moods and Tenses, page 49.)

ANSWER: Apply this to Acts 15:8,9 and note how beautifully our paraphrase brings out Peter's meaning, "And God, who knoweth the heart, bare them (Gentiles) witness by giving (Aorist Participle) them (Gentiles) witness by giving (Aorist Participle) them the Holy Spirit, even as he did unto us; and he made no distinction (Aorist) between us and them (Gentiles) in cleansing (Aorist) their hearts by faith — "not by death," adds J. Fletcher. Note the fact that the two Greek Aorist participles "do not" as Professor Goodwin says, "denote time past with reference to 'made,' the leading verb, but rather coincide with it in time." The first, "giving" denotes the means "by which the second, "purifying" denotes that "in which" the leading verb "made" consists.

(5) He makes this Aorist Participle and pronoun "their" refer back through fourteen chapters of the Apostles, and many other chapters in the Gospels, and makes them travel over a retrospective roadway of seventeen years of time for their objects and antecedents to the time and act of their conversion. Has he the right view?

ANSWER: "Their" refers to "them" the Gentiles. This is as plain as the nose on a man's face. These Gentiles received either initial or perfect cleansing, according to their individual faith. Cornelius and his house were pious Monotheists in acceptance with God, some not so far advanced were probably feeling after pardon and the new birth. To these the Spirit brought regeneration which is sanctification begun and the witness to adoption, but to those who already had spiritual life there came the fullness of the Spirit sanctifying wholly. The same phenomena were seen as at Pentecost; sinners were convicted, penitents were regenerated, and believers were made perfect in love through the power of the sanctifier.

Steele's Answers pp. 221-225.

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Purpose of the Church

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

We have numerous organizations for the improvement of society — for the production of wealth — for the gratification of ambition — for the relief of human suffering; but only one for the promotion of holiness. We know of no other that professes to "purify the heart." What strange infatuation, then, it, must be to secularize this system! — to bring it down from the lofty purposes to which it was consecrated, and appropriate it to the service of worldly glory, and force it to gratify a lust for power. Wherever this has been done, it cannot be deemed strange that "blasting and mildew" have followed in the train. Indeed, nothing is easier now than to explain the slow progress of Christianity, the feebleness of its disciples, and the reproach which has so often fallen upon the church. Would that all Christians might be agreed upon this one thing — to consider Christianity as set apart to the work of purifying the hearts and lives of men. For all other purposes there are associations enough, while in the range of human thought there is no other that has the slightest claim to adaptation to produce this result. Precisely this is the desideratum of the times; and not until it is supplied shall we see the church shining in her own pure light, and moving on in the greatness of her strength to the conquest of the world. Happy is he who contributes, even in the smallest degree, to this glorious result.

The Central Idea of Christianity.