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 started this on Dec. 10, 2011. I completed blogging from that book 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. Since then, I have begun adding material from his Bible commentaries. I also re-blog many of the old posts.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Spiritual Dynamics

It is generally supposed that the copious effusion of the Spirit upon the believer to his utmost capacity will render him like an electric battery, emitting such shocks of power that sinners will instantly tremble, and fall down and cry for mercy, as did the thousands under the pentecostal preaching of Peter. Such phenomena do sometimes occur in modern times, but they are exceedingly rare. We are convinced that these large measures of power in individual believers would be more common were the whole Church full of faith in her glorified Head. But even then all would not be endowed with equal measures of spiritual power, all not having suitable spiritual capacity.

Evangelistic or converting power is by no means commensurate with strength of faith and fullness of the spirit or out-gushing emotional experience. Unusual success in this direction requires that there be, in addition to entire consecration to God, a peculiar constitution of the sensibilities, and a personal magnetism' sanctified by the Holy Ghost. It is not derogatory to the Creator to say that he endows men with this magnetic power for this very purpose, not that it may be prostituted to selfish or Satanic uses, but that it may be subsidized by the Holy Spirit and used as a spiritual force to push forward Christ's kingdom. Instead, therefore, of vainly struggling for a gift not designed for us, let us employ to the utmost the gift of which we are possessed, even if it does not glare like a meteor upon the gaping world, nor cause our names to resound through the trumpet of fame.

Our theory of spiritual dynamics is this: The Holy Spirit sheds abroad love in the believer's heart. Love is power. This power is always efficient to conquer sin, and in its higher degrees to overcome self. But its effect upon others is modified by our temperament and mental constitution.

Some are designed by nature to be, when surcharged with the Spirit, like galvanic batteries of a thousand-cell power, electrifying vast multitudes with the shock of saving Gospel truth; while others, endowed constitutionally with a smaller capacity for the exercise of immediate suasive influence, are more largely gifted in the direction of a well-balanced intellect, adapted to instruct and edify believers — the chief function of the pastoral office. See Eph. 4:11-13. The history of the Church, both apostolic and modern, sustains this view. Peter was the preacher on the day of Pentecost, not by chance, but by Divine purpose. Thomas could not have been substituted with the same results. His feebler grasp of truth, smaller spiritual caliber, and inferior personal magnetism, could not have been the channel through which the floods of spiritual life and power were borne to the multitude of dead souls. The quick and generous impulses, the inflammable sensibilities, the reinvigorated faith and ardent love of Peter, recently graciously restored to a sense of the love of Jesus, were the divinely-appointed aqueduct through which the first full out-gush of the water of life should deluge the thirsty earth. Nor would Philip, with his materialistic turn of mind, nor even John, with his contemplative and subjective cast, though aflame with love to Jesus, have been just the man to carry the Gospel to the headquarters of Cornelius, and be the medium through which the Holy Ghost should fall upon all his household. It was the providential arrangement that both Jews and Gentiles should receive the first outpouring of the Spirit through Peter, because he was the best medium of this great blessing.

Modern days have witnessed the career of great evangelists — Whitefield, Wesley, Finney, Caughey, and Earle — through whom multitudes have been aroused from the sleep of sin and awakened to newness of life, to be afterward under the care of thousands of less conspicuous but not less useful "pastors and teachers," having also for their work other gifts and energies of the Spirit. While, therefore, every one should earnestly covet the best gift, he should not rest satisfied till he has received the grace of the Holy Ghost in the plenitude of his purifying and inspiring efficacy. Then he should thankfully employ the gift bestowed, and not in vain repinings covet the more showy gift of his fellow-laborer in the Lord's vineyard.

In conclusion, we cannot be too well on our guard against the mistake of inferring great grace from great apparent usefulness, and vice versa. Men with very little grace, and some with none at all, have been very successful in awakening slumbering sinners; while holy men, in the most intimate communion of the Holy Ghost, have toiled on for years in labors apparently fruitless. I say apparently, because the whole chain of sequences is badly tangled, and it is impossible to trace the invisible footsteps of each man's influence. Paul may plant, and Apollos water, but God giveth the increase. He may see more fidelity and sacrifice in the humble water-carrier than in the dignified seed-bearer, and proportion his rewards accordingly.

— edited from Love Enthroned, Chapter 16.

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