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.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The "Creature"?

QUESTION: What is "the creature" in Rom. 8:19-21, "For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation," etc.?

ANSWER: The Am. Revision puts "creation" for creature. All physical nature bears the scars of the primal curse pronounced on the sin of the world. But it is probable that Paul was having in mind more especially himself and his fellow-believers in Christ who were awaiting their glorification in the general resurrection of the dead, when soul and body will wear his glorious image. The meaning of "creature" here is a battle ground for critics. Alford in his notes exhibits six different definitions.

Steele's Answers p. 141, 142.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Paul Would Die for His People

QUESTION: Explain Rom. 9:3, "For I could wish that I myself were anathema from Christ for my brethren's sake, my kinsmen, etc.

ANSWER:  As Christ on the cross was regarded by men as accursed or separated from God in making the atonement, so Paul could, if it were possible, take Christ's place, or make another atonement on the top of Christ's atonement to save the Hebrew people. As dying for one condemned to be executed is the highest possible expression of love, so Paul's love for his race would prompt him to submit to an ignominious, judicial death if that would save his "kinsmen according to the flesh" from the doom of eternal punishment. A present day Arab expresses his love for another by saying, "Let my life be a ransom for thee." The Oriental mind is full of the solemn thought of substitutive suffering.

Steele's Answers p. 141.

Monday, April 28, 2014

There Is No Drudgery in True Prayer

In the higher states of Christian experience, there is a blending of prayer and praise. This is noticeable in St. Paul. If he begins with thanksgiving, he ends in prayer; if he begins with prayer, he ends with praise. Phil. 1:3, 4, "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy." There is no drudgery in true prayer. He to whom communion with God the Father is a task has not advanced far in grace. It is very evident that the fullness of the spirit of grace and supplication has not been poured upon him. All who through faith in Christ have boldness and access or introduction to God "make requests with joy." All who come in their own name approach the throne of grace with fear and servility. To them prayer is a sad necessity, and not a delight transcending all the pleasures of sense. Bishop Janes had full sympathy with St. Paul in the joyfulness of prayer. To his roommate who had slept an hour, and awakening saw the bishop still on his knees breathing out his silent supplications, and asked why he prayed so long, he replied, "I delight in prayer." It was the recreation of his soul and body after a day of toil in conference and cabinet. How far in the opposite extreme is the practice of the Papal priests to prescribe prayer as a penance and a penalty, imposing so many Pater Nosters and Ave Marias after the confession of sins.

There cannot be a more sad departure from the true spirit of prayer than to treat it as a punishment. We often feel like weeping over the millions of benighted souls to whom the gladness of prayer is perverted into sadness through sacerdotal despotism.

Yet young Christians to whom prayer is not a delight should be encouraged to persevere in the use of this means of grace, and to pray for such a baptism of the Spirit and fullness of love as will change its irksomeness into an unspeakable joy. Thousands can attest the possibility of such a sudden transformation. They have lived months and years in a state of communion with God so intimate and delicious that, whenever they bow the knee to pray, hallelujahs spontaneously burst from their lips. This shows that in the quality of their piety they are approaching the heavenly state where prayer will be completely lost in praise.

Half-Hours with St. Paul and Other Bible Readings Chapter 5.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Filled With All the Fulness of God

" that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." (Ephesians 3:19 NRSV)

It becomes us not to dogmatize with confidence, but to speak with modesty on a theme so high and difficult. We would suggest that the petition is that ye may be so filled with the Holy Spirit and with all his gifts and graces, as God is filled. This is expressed in a mandatory form by Christ (Matt. 5:48), "Be ye also perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect." Something more than initial Christian life is here prayed for by Paul in behalf of the church in Ephesus. The new birth begins with the love of God in the heart, shed abroad by the Holy Spirit. But such a heart is narrow and needs enlargement; it has remaining defilements which need cleansing. So there are steps and intervals between spiritual infancy and manhood. The crowning act of this process of development is here denoted by the being filled with all the fullness of God. Elsewhere it is expressed by the prayer, "The God of peace himself sanctified you wholly." — 1 Thess. 5:23, (R. V.) Both the filling and the sanctifying are in grammatical forms which imply singleness of action, however long the preparation may have been.

Half-Hours with St. Paul and Other Bible Readings Chapter 4.

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Power to Comprehend

"I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth...." (Ephesians 3:18 NRSV)

"In order that ye may be fully able [Alford] to apprehend [R. V.] with all saints." The tense of the verb "apprehend," Ellicott suggests, implies the singleness of the act, as if through the instantaneous perfecting of love, there comes a sudden revelation of God to the soul, in the face of his adorable Son revealed by the Holy Spirit.

This is the highest and most precious knowledge, for the excellency of which Paul counts all things to be loss, prefacing his declaration with a "yea, verily," as if he thought he had made a splendid bargain. This knowledge, which is so personal that Paul seems in the words, "My Lord," to be its exclusive possessor, he now desires only as the common property of "all saints," because he has found out that Christ can give himself entire and undivided to every perfect believer. Blessed paradox! I do not wonder that an old saint in Wales declared that "Jesus Christ was a Welshman, because he always speaks Welsh to me."

When he prays that the believers in Ephesus may be fully able to apprehend (R. V.) with all saints, he hints at the idea of the equal privilege of all, ascribing to the humblest Christian the highest and most precious knowledge (Phil. 3:8.) Thus men at the top of their transfigured natures stand on a level in the democracy of saintship, rather of kingship; for "He made us to be a kingdom, to be priests unto his God and Father." —Rev. 1:6. (R. V.) The distinguishing privilege of the priest is access to God.

The four dimensions borrowed from the relations of space — though there are properly but three — are intended to express that comprehensive knowledge of all essential truths which St. John includes in the anointing of the Spirit, which teaches all things necessary to life and godliness. "And to know the knowledge-surpassing love of Christ." Here we have acutely conjoined contraries purposely devised by the great apostle to show the immense superiority of heart knowledge to head knowledge. Indeed, mental science has no place for the former in its enumeration of man's cognitive faculties. It recognizes only the intellect. This is correct so far as the unregenerate man is concerned, for "spiritual things are spiritually discerned." The love of Christ is a spiritual thing. By these words we do not understand our love to Christ, but a vivid realization of his boundless love to us who evangelically believe.

Half-Hours with St. Paul and Other Bible Readings Chapter 4.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Christ Dwelling in the Heart

"...and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith...." (Ephesians 3: 17 NRSV)

It is instructive to note that Christ dwells only in the vital center of our being, not in the tongue, which would produce only a mouth religion, not in the hand, which would make a lifeless routine of works, but in the heart, which rules the tongue, the hands, and the feet, making them the instruments of a glad and willing service. He never takes up his abode in the brain alone; but it is his purpose, after taking possession of the heart, to extend his conquest to the head. To reverse this order would reduce Christianity to a theory instead of a joyful experience. Alas, too many have proved the truth of this declaration. A Christ flitting through the intellect now and then, gives no such repose of soul as the Christ who becomes a permanent resident of the heart, year after year, and decade after decade. The beauty of this is that he who carries him through life will have his presence in death. A good lady in a love-feast once said, "I mean to carry heaven with me through life, then I shall be sure of it at the end of my journey."

The door through which Christ comes in and takes up his abode in the heart is faith. Faith widens the soul so that more and more can be grasped. It has been said that "more depends upon taking in faith than upon giving and doing in love. For the more we take of the fullness of God, the more we can live." Faith is the inner man's vision, his reason, and his light. Such faith is possible when the heart is purified of sin. Then the eye is purged of film. The pure in heart see God. Only they have a spiritual perception which makes him real.

Half-Hours with St. Paul and Other Bible Readings Chapter 4.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

"What Shall I Do, Lord?"

Paul's first recorded prayer, Acts 22:10, "What shall I do, Lord?" is the keynote of his whole Christian life-activity and not a selfish quietism. It indicates that he did not have that conception of the new birth in which the sinner is passive or rather, passive in fulfilling its conditions. That form of piety in which the Christian devotes himself exclusively to coddling himself, to constant morbid introspections of frames and feelings, will not be found in the writings of St. Paul. We are not so much inclined to this error as were many medieval Christians, who were taught that a soul which desires supreme good must remove, not only all sensual pleasures, but also all material things, silence every impulse of its mind and will, and be concentrated and absorbed in God; and that the monastery was most favorable for this result. Self-surrender to God is requisite to the stature of the fullness of Christ; but it must always be accompanied by perfect self-sacrifice for the salvation of our fellow-men. Love must be made perfect in both its Godward and manward aspects. It is a good omen when people are converted with the idea that salvation means vigorous, ceaseless work for others, and joining the church is enlisting in an army in front of an appalling rebellion.

Half-Hours with St. Paul and Other Bible Readings Chapter 3.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Five Thousand Converts?

QUESTION: Explain Acts 4:4, "And the number of the men was about 5,000."

ANSWER: The Am. Revision has, "came to be about 5,000." This has been understood as the sum total of adult male believers up to that date, for the Greek word for men excludes women and children. The 20th Century version reads thus: "The number of men alone mounted up to some five thousand." But there are very eminent scholars  who  say that there was on that day a fresh accession of 5,000 men exclusively. This view is held by such as Chrysostom, Jerome, and. Augustine. The Greek verb, "came to be," instead of "was," seems to be against this interpretation.

—  Steele's Answers p. 140, 141.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Church Fairs and Auctions

QUESTION: Is it right to support the church of Christ by fairs, entertainments and auction sales?

ANSWER: No. It is derogatory to the Gospel by making the impression on the world that it is not of itself alone worth supporting. The lack of money requisite to the maintenance of Christian worship arises from three causes: (1) Little or no love of Christ. (2) Pride prompting the building of edifices too costly for the people to pay for and to maintain. (3) Selfishness requiring the entire services of a preacher and unwilling to be part of a circuit as in olden times in America and as in England now. (4) Often questionable devices are used in fairs to get money. The Scotch preacher intimates this in his pulpit notice: "We very much need more 'siller' (silver) and have tried hard to get it honestly and have failed; so we have decided to hold a fair."

Steele's Answers p. 140.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Should People Be Compelled to Do Right?

QUESTION: Is  it in accord with a sanctified life to compel people in a public place to do right, when they are not willing to do right otherwise?

ANSWER: True virtue must be free; it cannot be compelled. But decent behavior in a public meeting may be righteously required by calling on the police in the last resort, and both the preacher and the police who collars the disturber may be entirely sanctified.

Steele's Answers p. 139, 140.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Sin as a State or Condition

QUESTION: Give Scripture references where sin is used to designate a state or condition and not an act.

ANSWER: Rom. 3:9, "they are all under sin," as explained in verses 10-18. Verses 10-13 inclusive denote a state, as also verse 18. Rom. 6:1, "continue in sin." Here the verb implies a state. The next verse, "we who died to sin, how can we any longer live therein?" The words "live therein" must relate to a state of sin rather than an act. Sin is sometimes used to denote the source whence the evil acts proceed; hence II Thess. 2:3, "man of sin," a man in such a condition that he seems unable to live without sin; also Rom. 5:21, 6:12, "Sin reigned." Here Paul is thinking of sin as a state which he personifies, as he does in Rom. 7:23 and 8:2, "law of sin." The same is true of Rom. 6:6, "in bondage to sin." Christ conceives of sin as a condition in John 8:34, "the bond servant (Greek, slave) of sin."

Steele's Answers p. 139.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Is Baptism Necessary to Salvation?

QUESTION: Does this verse teach that water baptism is necessary to salvation, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved"?

ANSWER: The rest of the verse (Mark 16:16), "but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned," makes unbelief the sole cause of condemnation. Water baptism is not saving, but contempt of it is damning. An involuntary absence of it, as in the case of the thief converted on the cross, cannot be the ground of condemnation.

Steele's Answers pp 138, 139.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Why Do Pastors Stand to Pray?

QUESTION: Why is it that so many preachers stand when they pray?

ANSWER: Some are of "the standing order," having been educated to pray in that posture, as were the ancient Jews and the modern Calvinists. It is said that the Puritans caught cold on Plymouth Rock and it settled in their knees. But this does not account for the stiff-kneed Methodist preachers. Some of them stand because, Zaccheus like, they are too short to be seen by the people, if they kneel behind the pulpit; others are embarrassed by having to stoop down to adjust the kneeling stool, and others think the pos­ture of the body is indifferent so long as they tell God that they come to him on the bended knees of their souls, "as though souls have knees!"

Steele's Answers p. 138.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Should a Preacher Wear a Ring?

QUESTION: Is it right for a minister of the Gospel to wear a ring on his finger?

ANSWER: It is certainly not in good taste, nor does it seem to be Pauline for a man if it is forbidden to a woman. If it is a superfluity for a lady it is a super-superfluity for a gentleman, especially while pleading for money to feed the starving or to evangelize the heathen. It would not be right for me to be flourishing rings in the pulpit. The Lord has not "appointed me to be judge of my brother's conscience in this matter.

Steele's Answers p. 138.

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Sorry Set of Christians

QUESTION: Explain I Cor. 14:40, "Let all things be done decently and in order."

ANSWER: "I should loth to minister to such a sorry set of Christians as were the Corinthians. Wrangling about Paul, Apollos and Cephas, full of envying and strife, running after false teachers, harboring an incestuous person without discipline, degrading the Lord's supper into a drunken banquet, giving to Paul constant sorrow, these Corinthians needed miracles to give them respectable title to the Christian name; and they so abused miraculous gifts by jealousy and contention that they turned their Sabbath assemblies into cabals of men and women, shouting, singing, praying, prophesying, pell-mell, without decency or order." These words of Dr. Joseph P. Thompson show why Paul gave this precept about becoming behavior in public worship.

Steele's Answers p 137.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Fit for Heaven?

QUESTION: If inbred sin is merely a hereditary tendency to sin, is the soul that is regenerated but without the experience of entire sanctification fit for heaven?

ANSWER; The new birth entitles to the adoption of sons and to life everlasting. "If children, then heirs of God," etc. Heirship gives the title, but does not give the complete fitness. This must be sought by the believer. If while seeking completed holiness he sud­denly dies, he is saved by virtue of the new covenant in which God promises to save all who perseveringly trust in him. The truth is, everyone who loves God in the first degree desires what John calls perfect love initiated by entire sanctification, and that this state of grace is the heritage of every infant cut off in infancy and of every soul born of God and called to Christ. This is an inference from all the promises made by a covenant-keeping God, and not a special revelation found in the Holy Scriptures which would almost certainly have been abused.

Steele's Answers pp. 136,137.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Sancification and Regeneration in 1 John 1:9

QUESTION: Would not I John 1:9 alone, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness," naturally teach entire sanctification when regenerated, to one who is free from all preconceptions?

ANSWER: Perhaps it would, if he had failed to note the prayers for the entire cleansing of those who are already children of God and the exhortations to Christians to go on unto perfection. But an observant Greek reader would understand from the two verbs of different meaning in the aorist tense that two distinct and decisive works are to be done. Even Alford, who is not friendly to the doctrine of Christian perfection as taught by his brother churchman, John Wesley, admits that "to cleanse from all unrighteousness is plainly distinguished from to forgive us our sins; distinguished as a further process; as, in a word, sanctification distinct from justification. The two verbs are aorists, because the purpose and faithfulness and justice of God are to do each as one great complex act — to justify and to sanctify wholly and entirely." He says, "to do each," not both together, as one great act. In 1737 the Wesleys discovered "that men are justified before they are sanctified."

Steele's Answers p. 135, 136.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Entire Sanctification and Pentecost

QUESTION: Does not Acts 2:39 teach that the three thousand were entirely sanctified at Pentecost?

ANSWER: Acts 15:9 is an undoubted proof text of this experience in the case of the Apostles and other disciples. The fulness of the Spirit is sometimes emotional rather than sanctifying. This is often the case when the Spirit descends upon a multitude, filling them with joy, entirely sanctifying those who are aspiring after this grace and regenerating penitent seekers of pardon and convicting sinners. The spirit of adoption crying in the heart, "Abba, Father," fills the convert with a feeling of fullness. For these reasons, Wesley did not employ this phrase, "Fullness of the Spirit," to denote entire sanctification, although he used at least a score of synonymous terms to denote this experience.

Steele's Answers p. 134, 135.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Job's Afflictions

QUESTION: How long did Job's afflictions last?

ANSWER: Our only means of knowing is to infer from the intensity of Job's sufferings that they continued only a few days or weeks at the most.

Steele's Answers p. 134.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Infirmity and Weakness

QUESTION: What is the meaning of "infirmity" in (1) Rom. 8:26, "The spirit also helpeth our infirmity," and (2) II Cor. 12:9, 10, "Gladly will I glory in my weakness"?

ANSWER: (1) A lack of strength to endure the temptations and trouble of this life; (2) a consciousness of weakness which caused Paul to ally himself with Christ so that he could say "when I am weak then am I strong." "An infirmity," says Fletcher, "is consistent with pure love to God and man; but a sin is inconsistent with love. An infirmity is free from guilt, and has its root in our animal frame; but a sin is attended with guilt and in our moral frame, springing either from the habitual corruption of our hearts, or from the momentary perversion of our tempers. An infirmity has its foundation in an involuntary want of power; and a sin is a willful use of the present light and power we have."

Steele's Answers p. 134.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The High Calling of the Preacher

The humblest pulpit is higher than the dome of any state house in our country, yea, higher than the Federal Capitol itself. "He that winneth souls is wise. They that are wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness, as stars for ever and ever."

Robert Hall once said that if two angels were sent down from heaven, one to sweep the streets of London and the other to be its lord mayor, they would not debate on the way the question, Which is the greater honor? All men are to be equally honored who equally fulfill their duty, whether to rock a cradle or to command the army at Gettysburg.

But to do as the God-man did when he preached up and down Galilee and Judea seems to be the most exalted occupation to which mortals can aspire. "I paint for immortality" was the reply of an artist who was asked why he lingered so long over one picture. The preacher who sways souls from sin to holiness preaches for eternity. His theme is the cross of Christ, the central point of human history. Scientific men may sneer at such a preacher as narrow because he confines himself to one theme, Christ crucified, not considering that this theme touches all human interests. It gives the amplest scope to mental, moral and spiritual development. The preacher may apply elevating and transforming truth to every state of society and to every subject of human thought. In God's ancient temple the layman could enter no farther than the court of the Jews, but the high priest could enter every apartment. The preacher is God's high priest in the temple of Christian truth to apply truth to all human transactions from the king on the throne to the beggar on the dunghill.

Jesus Exultant Chapter 5.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

What Language Did Jesus Use?

QUESTION: What language did Jesus use?

ANSWER: The Aramaic. The ancient name of Syria was Aram, the language of which was the northern branch of the Semitic, the tongue of the descendants of Shem. After the return from Babylon it was the dialect in which the Jews conversed and Jesus preached. The only remains of its literature in the Gospels are a few words in the New Testament: Talithacumi, ephphatha, Bethesda, Aceldama, Boanerges, and Bar-jonah. The Syriac and the Peshito versions very much resemble the Aramaic, as does the palimpsest of the Gospels recently discovered by two very learned and enterprising twin sisters, Mrs. Gibson and Mrs. Lewis, widows of Oxford professors.

Steele's Answers pp. 133, 134.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Biblical Proofs of Inbred Sin

QUESTION: What are the Biblical proofs of inbred sin or birth sin?

ANSWER: They are chiefly found in the Old Testament, such as Ps 51:5, "Behold I was brought forth in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me;" 58:3, "The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies." Job 15:14, "What is man, that he should be clean? And he that is born of woman, that he should be righteous?" Rom. 5:12-21 contains proofs that the effect of Adam's sin was universal. Eph. 2:3, "by nature children of wrath," has been considered a strong proof of original or inbred sin, but from the context we learn that Paul is describing adult, actual, responsible sinners, whom he deems worthy of punishment, expressed in the Hebrew idiom as "children of wrath." Richard Watson thought that John 3:6, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh," is the strongest proof of inbred sin to be found in the Bible. But scholars now study the meaning of words as used by different writers, and they agree that nowhere in John, and probably nowhere in the Gospels, is "flesh" used in a bad sense to denote depravity. "The flesh," says President Timothy Dwight, "is to be understood here in the physical, not in the moral, sense." "Flesh and spirit," says Westcott, "are not related to one another as evil and good; but as two spheres of being with which man is connected by the spirit of heaven, by the flesh to the earth."

Steele's Answers pp. 132, 133.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

John's Conception of Sin

QUESTION: Does the word "sin" in I John I:7, "cleanseth us from all sin," refer to an act or a state?

ANSWER: According to John's definition of sin, "sin is lawlessness," it may refer to either. Here it is quite evident that it refers to a state. In the next verse the phrase, "have sin," is peculiar to John, and it always implies an act entailing guilt. See John 9:41; 15:22, 24; 19:11. Another peculiarity of John is that he does not trace sin along the line of heredity up to Adam, as Paul does, but he ascribes it to the devil. "He that committeth sin is of the devil." In this particular John imitates Christ, who emphasizes not so much the source of sin as its guilt and. its cure; not the origin of the conflagration, but how to put it out. John does not contradict Paul; he only traces sin one step further back to the first sinner in the universe.

Steele's Answers p. 132.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Every Christian Should Consider the Call to the Ministry

Our contention is that every disciple of Christ, male or female, should covet the Christian ministry and in this attitude of mind sit down to examine the question of a personal call. Thus Christian parents in prayer and consecration should offer their sons and daughters to the Head of the church for the best possible service in the establishment of his universal kingdom. Should one in every Christian family be accepted the world would not be overstocked with ministers of various kinds, pastors, evangelists, teachers and deaconesses proclaiming saving truth to all nations, peoples and tribes. Such is the present disproportion between the harvest and the laborers. Timothy was well prepared to be the successor to St. Paul in the care of the churches, because his mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois had diligently instructed him in Christian truth and dedicated him to the ministry of the gospel. Thousands have been trained in the theological seminary of a pious home. Bishop Simpson says that when an eminent preacher is needed the Lord first calls some praying mother, some Hannah to train her Samuel for the service of his holy temple. Others who have toiled all their lives in small churches in obscure places, unknown to fame, and others who have become world-renowned preachers, have come into the Christian ministry through the gateway of a mother's faith in God and careful spiritual training of her offspring.

It may not be an unpardonable infraction of the canons of sacred rhetoric for the writer of these lines to give this public expression of his gratitude to God for leading him into this sacred vocation through such a portal. In many instances the stars which are supposed to belong to the minister's crown rightfully belong to his faithful mother, some Monica wrestling with God for the conversion of her wayward Augustine, or some Susannah Wesley closeted weekly with each of her children in prayer and spiritual counsel. It is no wonder that from the nest which she builded and brooded in the humble Epworth manse there flew upward two eaglets till they were seen first by all England, then by all the world; the one "the greatest ecclesiastical organizer of a thousand years," and the other the writer of hymns for all the coming generations. If there were more of this offering children to God in the closet instead of sacrificing to the Moloch of fashion or of mammon, there would be fewer downfalls in the slippery paths of youth, and no scarcity of reapers in the ever-widening harvest field of the church of Christ.

— edited from Jesus Exultant (1899) Chapter 5.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

All Christians are Called to Spread the Gospel

There is a sense in which every Christian, whether old or young, male or female, is called to preach the gospel. The first impulse of every regenerated soul is to run and tell the good news to others in the same family or neighborhood, shop or school. Andrew findeth Peter, and Philip, Nathaniel. On such informal but effective preaching, as on the wings of love and gladness, is the gospel of Christ to spread through all the world. Woe to that church which from month to month hears not the voice of the young convert in its assemblies. Its lease of life is short. God has no use for a sterile gospel. All may not be called to expound God's word or to define doctrines; but all are called to preach by example and testimony. Even the mutes are not excluded from this privilege and duty, for they can communicate with the slate and pencil, or with the dumb alphabet, and can all be persuasive by holy living.

The relation of experience is the most convincing preaching. A little girl of eight years came from her chamber to her mother, radiant with joy, and said, "Mother, God has pardoned my sins and given me a new heart; may I run across the street and tell the old cobbler?" "It will do no good, my child, for he is a confirmed and outspoken infidel," said the mother. "But it will do me good to tell him, and it may do him good, too; may I not go?" "Yes, if your heart is so much set on it." She went and told in artless simplicity of her sense of sin and guilt, of her repentant tears and prayers, of her trust in Jesus Christ who died to become her Saviour, of the light and joy which sprang up in her heart, of the feeling of love towards God, and of a voice sounding within saying, "Father, Father;" and whenever she thought of God he seemed no more like a policeman to arrest her, but a person more loving and tender than her mother. Before she finished her account of her joyful conversion her solitary hearer was in tears, which did not cease to flow until they were wiped away by the hand of divine mercy writing forgiveness on his believing heart.

When Paul rose to the summit of his eloquence, whether as a prisoner before Felix or Festus, or addressing the riotous Hebrews in their temple, he presented no elaborate chain of reasoning, but narrated in unadorned style his own experience of the transforming power which arrested him and, when he was obedient to the heavenly vision, made a new man of him when he had still in his pocket a commission to arrest and handcuff and drag to Jerusalem all the Hebrew disciples of Jesus found in Damascus.

Testifying of personal conscious salvation through faith is a kind of effective preaching to which all believers are called.

— edited from Jesus Exultant (1899) Chapter 5.