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.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Natural Religion Fails to Discover Forgiveness

At another vital point do all systems of natural religion fail utterly in affording to the guilty soul the assurance of forgiveness. Here is a practical test. Does my religion save me now from the guilt, the pollution and the dominion of sin? Go and question nature until you are gray. Her lips will ever be dumb. Though Bishop Butler may find in the constitution and course of nature some faint analogies which may confirm the doctrine of forgiveness when it has been once revealed, there is not in the whole range of nature sufficient light for the discovery and demonstration of this cardinal evangelical truth.

The analogies of suffering invariably treading upon the heels of violated natural law with no provision in nature to arrest the penal consequences, strongly incline men to believe that punishment must inevitably, without an exception, follow the transgression of moral law. Hence paganism teaches that the penalty follows the sin as surely as the cart-wheel rolls in the footsteps of the ox. Socrates was so impressed with the cardinal doctrine of natural religion, that God is just, that he doubted whether God could pardon sin. The semi-paganism of the liberalists and free-religionists teaches the absolute impossibility of the pardon of sin. In their estimation it would be plucking down the pillars of God's throne and subverting the moral order of the universe. But turn to Christianity and you find that not only forgiveness through faith in the atoning Savior, but also the knowledge of forgiven sin, is its grand and glorious peculiarity. From the day the apostles went forth preaching to guilty men the knowledge of the forgiveness of sins till this hour, there have not been absent from the earth witnesses to the truth of this doctrine. Millions have crossed the flood, and millions are crossing now who can say, "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord."

Jesus Exultant Chapter 9.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Natural Religion Fails in the Face of Death

In all minds which have not been spoiled by sophistry or puffed up by false philosophy and self-conceit, there is a spontaneous shrinking back from treading alone the unexplored continent of religious truth and a crying out for a guide."Who will show us any good?" Socrates, pronounced by the Delphic Oracle the wisest man of his generation, to whom we shall again refer in the present discussion as the best representative of the entire heathen world, on the day of his death, sitting upon his bed in his prison, when about to enter upon his argument for the immortality of the soul, exhorted his friends "to supplicate the gods for help while we take hold of one another's hands and enter this deep and rapid river." Deep and rapid indeed is the river of theological inquiry without the aid of revelation. Who feels competent, without supernatural light, to give a satisfactory answer to that solemn question which arises in every sober mind:

"Soon as from earth I go,
What will become of me?"

Can any of us lay aside our Bibles, close our eyes to the life-giving words of Jesus, and then avow our ability to answer the cry of universal humanity:

"Who can resolve the doubt
That tears my anxious breast,"

by drawing aside the veil from that "land of deepest shade," and pointing out its crystal rivers, its sunny vales, its fragrant groves, and giving to each eager soul a title deed to some choice spot for a future home?

We know that a school of theological teachers has recently sprung up who magnify man's religious instincts. These teach that revelation is a superfluity; that every man has within himself all resources for the discovery of essential religious truth; that the Bible has been rendered obsolete by the progress of the race in theological science; that every soul is thrown upon its own spiritual instincts and impulses for guidance. As certain authors publish books entitled "Every Man His Own Lawyer," "Every One His Own Physician," so those professed religious teachers would have every one his own revelation, every one his own inspiration; or as others devise traps for the simple called "French Without a Master, in Six Lessons," "Latin Without a Master, in Four Lessons," so these apostles of the new dispensation of "the absolute religion" would deceive their fellow-men with the finely sounding advertisement, "Religion Without Master, in No Lessons."

Let us institute some tests of the religion of nature. What headway does the human soul make in following its own light? How does it solve the religious problems which baffled the skill of all the centuries before Jesus Christ came? How is future happiness to be secured? The religionist answers, By living righteously, doing good to man and loving God. But to find his answer he has committed a stupendous plagiarism on the Bible. He has gone to it to awaken his religious instincts at this great center of light and life, and then, like all thieves, he denies and decries the source of his plundered treasure. If the human soul has no need of going outside of itself to answer all religious questions satisfactorily, if it has no occasion for using the self-distrustful words of Peter, "To whom shall we go?" the best way of testing the question is to examine those who have never seen the inspired Word, just as we would test the brilliancy of some new lighting material by carrying the lamp out of the sunlight into the darkness. Go away with me for a moment out of the resplendence of revelation in to the darkness of heathenism, and see how wisely, how purely men live. Here is a whole nation offering worship to an ox, an onion, a lizard. Egypt was at that time the most cultivated nation on the earth. The religious instincts of another people offer human slaughter for praise, rear pyramids of skulls to secure the divine favor, toss infants to crocodiles and burn widows on huge funeral piles, and grind to powder the flesh and bones of living men beneath its bloody Juggernauts. The ancient Babylonians religiously required every virgin to surrender in Phallic worship that which is of greater value than all the gold and diamonds in South Africa; while the Thugs of India actually waylay and murder as acts of religious duty. Dimly indeed burns the flame of spiritual instinct, and widely do they wander who follow its flickering and uncertain light.

Death is a just ordeal of a religious system. How does the religion of spiritual instinct enable men to die? We are told that Theodore Parker, the great advocate of the absolute religion, as he styled it, lay down in Florence upon his dying couch in impenetrable gloom which his cold, barren and Christless theology had no power to dissipate. They who have advanced no farther than the religion of nature universally die without triumph. Said Socrates, that greatest pagan moralist, before alluded to, as the hour for drinking the hemlock approached, "The swan as it sees its end approaching, begins its most melodious song, and floating down the river charmed by its own music, meets death with dignity and composure. Man," said the dying philosopher, "should die with as much cheerfulness as the bird." "But," replied one of his disciples, uttering the feelings of the whole heathen world, "death is a terror to us. It unmans us and fills us with dreadful fears. We cannot die thus. We have no swan's song with which to float down the river of life into the boundless sea of eternity." "Go, then," said that wisest pagan, with a sagacity amounting almost to divine inspiration, "travel through all lands, spare no toil, no expense, that ye may find the song which can charm away the fear of death." But those poor pagan Greeks, amid the splendors of that era of literature and art, sought in vain for the swan's song of victory over the fear of death. But four hundred years afterward the wondering shepherds caught from the glad angels a part of that song. Behold, we bring you glad tidings of great joy: to-day is born a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. But the full song was first taught to mortals when Jesus opened his lips at Lazarus' tomb, saying, "I am the resurrection and the life, "and only a few years afterward there floated from the grated window of a prison in Rome the music of this complete and triumphant swan's song: "I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight .... Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness!" Through all the centuries of the Christian church the triumphant deaths of millions with this song upon their tongues have attested the divinity of the gospel, "O Death, where is thy sting? O Grave, where is thy victory? Thanks be unto God who giveth us the victory." At last Charles Wesley, in a moment of more than poetic inspiration, put the swan's song of the believer into a sacred lyric fit for a seraphic lyre:

"Jesus, the name that charms our fears,
That bids our sorrows cease;
'Tis music in the sinner's ears,
'Tis life, and health, and peace."

— edited from Jesus Exultant Chapter 9.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Father, Son, and Spirit

The best statement of the Scriptures about God is that He is one in nature with a threefoldness which we call personality, that He has a Son who is not a creature, whose existence is grounded not in the divine will, as our existence is, but His being is grounded in the divine nature so that He has all the attributes of God. His sonship, dates not from His human birth but from eternity, being the I AM before Abraham was born (John viii. 58, Revised Version, margin). The Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, having their nature; the Father is self-existent. The Son's being is grounded in the Father, and the Spirit's existence rests on the Father and the Son from whom He proceeds.

The Trinity, dimly disclosed in the Old Testament, is clearly revealed in the New Testament after Pentecost, when the Third Person came with power as the successor of the Son in the administration of the kingdom of God on the earth.

The succession, which is indicated by the words Father, Son and Holy Ghost, is a philosophical progress and culmination. God reveals Himself to all men in His Son; He communicates Himself in the Holy Spirit to all who believe in the Son; He reveals Himself to man's intellect that through it He may transform the heart and make it a partaker of the divine nature, not divine as He is divine, but holy as He is holy. This succession also intimates the order of the dispensations unfolded on the earth.

We have every reason to believe that the dispensation of the Spirit is the last and most glorious era of Christianity on the earth, that the second coming of Christ will be to judge the world and wind up human history on this planet, and not to inaugurate the dispensation of Christ's bodily presence again with its limitations to one place at the same time. We do not believe that the order of progress is to be reversed after reaching its climax in the dispensation of the Paraclete, who is to abide with believers forever. It is certain that faith in an invisible personality is a higher exercise and more blessed than faith in a visible manifestation. This is hinted at by the risen Christ to Thomas, "Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed." We are living in the best era for spiritual development which this world will ever see — the era of Pentecost. Let us make the best possible use of it and profit by its wonderful privileges, the indwelling Comforter bringing the Father and the Son to abide in us forever.

Just note the gradation of honor in respect to the dwelling of God among men: 1st. One nation was specially honored when Jehovah made His dwelling in the midst of the camp and the pillar of cloud and of fire betokened the presence of the King of kings and the Lord of lords. 2d. God selects one human body and soul for His abode; for in Jesus dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And, lastly, we reach the climax, the whole Trinity dwelling in every true believer who evinces perfect love by unhesitating obedience. This eclipses all the millennial glories this side of the glassy sea, the new heaven and new earth.

Hence the reasonableness of our conclusion that the descent of the Holy Ghost is the completion of Christian theology, and His indwelling in the believer is the crowning honor and blessedness. "In the person of Christ," says Joseph Parker, "'truth was outward, visible and most beautiful; in the person of the Holy Spirit truth is inward, spiritual, all-transfiguring. By the very necessity of the case the bodily Christ could be but a passing figure, but by a gracious mystery He caused Himself to be succeeded by an eternal Presence, 'even the Spirit of truth, which abideth forever.'"

— edited from The Gospel of the Comforter, Chapter 2.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Holy Spirit and the Trinity

The doctrine of the personality and divinity of the Holy Spirit is intimately connected with the most mysterious yet most practical fact of revelation — the fundamental doctrine of the Trinity of God. It is mysterious because it is above reason, not contrary to it, and lies wholly in the realm of faith. It is practical because it is insepererably involved in all true Christian worship and is the maintaing of all effective evangelism. It is fundamental because its removal from the Christian system subverts every distinctive doctrine. It protects all such truths, especially the exceeding sinfulness of sin and the efficacy of the atonement. Unitarians have been accustomed to say that Philosophy sustains their denial of the Trinity. This is a great mistake. The latest utterance of philosophic theism is that the Unitarian conception of Deity is utterly inadequate to preserve His personality and moral attributes from degenerating into naturalism and pantheism, and that the Trinitarian conception is the only effectual safeguard against such an outcome and the only rock on which reason can securely rest.

I will briefly show you the logic of this movement of modern philosophy towards Trinitarianism. The advance movement of thought in this century, far from expelling the Trinity from its place in the mind of Christendom, has caused it to strike deeper root and grow with fresh vigor.

This is the argument in a nutshell: Love, the basis of all God's moral attributes, cannot exist in that simplicity, that abstract self identity of the divine nature which is the essence of the Unitarian conception. Why? If God existed from eternity before He created a person on whom His love could pour itself, He was from eternity having the active, diffusive principle of love in His bosom, the very substance and substratum of His being, with no object to love. This is unthinkable! Eternal love without a personal object! Hence philosophy must either deny the existence of love in God, together with all its manifestations in the forms of holiness, justice, wisdom and truth, or supply such an object from eternity. This first alternative divests God of all His moral attributes and takes us more than half way to atheism. The first verse of St. John's Gospel supplies an object of the Father's love before His first creative act: "In the beginning (from eternity) was (not was created) the Logos, and the Logos was with God (face to face is the idea in the Greek), and the Logos was God." This Logos became flesh, and while tabernacling in humanity had a memory which went back beyond the creation of the universe to "the glory which He had with the Father before the world was." In these words of unsurpassed majesty, which no creature ever dared to use, we have an enlargement and enrichment of the concept of Deity in striking contrast with what Phillips Brooks called "the meagre God of Unitarianism," a simple, abstract unity, a mere cause or primal force. Hence the necessity of at least a dualism of persons in the divine nature to sustain the completeness of the divine life and character.

The New Testament reveals such a dualism and adds the Third Person as essential to the perfection of full-orbed divinity. Hence we see that the Trinity is not a doctrine which has been arbitrarily imposed upon faith by external authority overriding reason, but it is one which accords with reason, after it is revealed, and explains and supports Christian experience. Every evangelical believer who through faith in Christ by the illumination and impulse of the Holy Spirit has had conscious access to the Father resulting in forgiveness and communion, has tested the doctrine of the Trinity and found it true. Its deniers must reckon with the best philosophy representing the demands of the highest intelligence; then they must convince of their stupendous delusion the millions who have through faith in the divine Christ experienced the witness of the Spirit attesting their adoption and assuring them of forgiveness. But every growing Christian verifies the truth of the Trinity every day of his life. He comes to the Father through the mediation of the Son and receives the Holy Spirit as the comforter, helper, guide, light, life and wellspring of joy, just as every astronomer proves the truth of the Copernican theory of the solar system by using it and arriving at results experimentally verified by the use of his telescope, "Through him (Christ) we (Jews and Gentiles) both have our access in one Spirit unto the Father" ( Eph. ii. 18).

The Gospel of the Comforter, Chapter 2.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Spirit Brings the Bible's Message to Life

The Spirit gives reality to the Old Testament, the prophetic record, and to the New Testament, the historic record of Christ's life. He impresses upon us the fact that Jesus is living and present — that He is what He was. His birth, His sermon on the mount, His parables, His miracles, His farewell discourse, His high-priestly prayer, His words on the cross, to Spirit-illumined souls do not belong to a distant antiquity, but are perpetually as fresh as the morning paper. The Spirit telegraphs the Gospels across the chasm of centuries and millenniums as recent news from heaven. What are you so greedily reading, grandpa?" said a child to a Bible-studying saint of four score years intently reading the word of God. "News," was the reply. To the spiritual mind Christ is present giving life to His words spoken eighteen hundred years ago. Thus He verifies His own promise, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." Thus He makes His words spirit and life.

Statesmen are present in the governments which they have founded. Thus Washington is present in the American Constitution, and Bonaparte in the Code Napoleon. Authors are present in succeeding ages in their books. Thus Homer and Plato are marching down the generations. But the presence of Christ through the Comforter is entirely different. It is a real spiritual and personal presence, invisible to all, but felt by the truly regenerate. "The Paraclete takes of the things of Christ and shows them to us. "He shall testify of me. He shall glorify me." It is said that the personal presence of Napoleon on the field of battle was equal to a re-enforcement of ten thousand men. But he could not be present in every battle of the French down the ages, for the allied nations caged him up in St. Helena, and death soon imprisoned him in the tomb. But Jesus Christ is present to every tempted believer and in every Waterloo of His church, not as a hallowed and inspiring memory, but a veritable personality, manifesting Himself to the loving heart. This is true because the Comforter is emphatically the Spirit of Christ. To fail to realize this truth is not to have heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.

We are to be on our guard against commingling the risen Son of God with the Spirit. They are distinct personalities while one in substance. The Spirit is the organ through which the Son now communicates with the believer and with the world. He is the revealer by whose activity in human hearts redemptive truth is transformed into knowledge in such a manner that faith becomes knowledge (Eph. iv. 13). The Holy Spirit is the channel of reality. He gives eyesight to the spiritually blind. He gives visibility, substance, color and weight to truths which are as airy nothings to the sense-imprisoned soul. Vague, shadowy and unreal are spiritual truths to the carnal heart. The inward vision, the spirit of revelation (Eph. i. 17) is wanting. "Whom the world receiveth not, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him." Granite realities indeed are gospel truths to him who has received the Comforter. The sordid earth and the shining orbs are soap bubbles in comparison. The things that are seen are temporal and evanescent, and the things that are not seen are changeless and eternal. Thus the Holy Spirit leads us up to that mount of vision where we see things with God's eyes, where the world's reals become the believer's unreals, and the things unreal to blind unbelief become real to open-eyed faith. The feet which press this mount will not be lured by mammon from ministries to the Master.

"As by the light of opening day
The stars are all concealed,
So earthly glories fade away
When Jesus is revealed."

The Gospel of the Comforter (1898) Chapter 1.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Spirit of Reality

The designation Spirit of truth might have been translated Spirit of reality. He is thus called by Jesus because He works in human souls only through the instrumentality of truth. Men are begotten children of God through the word of God. They are sanctified through the truth. The truth is the instrument; the Spirit is the efficient worker. The stability of the new life consists in having the "loins girt about with truth." Victory in warfare is through a vigorous wielding of "the sword of the Spirit, the word of God." When the Spirit convicts of sin, He takes such religious truth as He finds in the mind and makes it vivid and real. Conviction is the distinct realization of the person's lack of conformity to the requirement of the truth. There is no proof that the Holy Spirit ever acts immediately upon the soul without the medium of some truth lodged in the intellect, affording light for the activity of the will.

Successful preaching is, by manifestation of the truth accompanied by the demonstration of the Spirit. The failure of many preachers arises from their dependence solely on the saving efficacy of the truth without the Spirit's office to make it real. There is a legend that the eloquent head of a monastery died, and that while his body was lying in state before burial one of Satan's imps took possession of the corpse, raised it to seeming life, and preached an orthodox sermon through the lips of the dead abbot. The evil spirit returned to pandemonium and boasted of his exploit. When asked by Satan whether he did not run the risk of converting some soul by his orthodox sermon he replied: "Sire, do you not well know that orthodoxy without the unction of the Spirit never saves, but always damns?" John Wesley asserts that an impenitent man may be as orthodox as the devil, who believes and trembles, but is not improved in character by his faith and his fear.

The Gospel of the Comforter (1898). Chapter 1

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Spirit of Truth

[The Holy Spirit] is also styled the Spirit of truth. "What is truth?" Jesus Christ declined to answer Pilate's question, not because truth is a simple term too difficult to define, but because the truth most needed by the selfish Roman procurator had a moral element which he had no capacity to receive. Christ could make blind eyes see, but He could not make a blind soul perceive while persisting in a course of sin. Moral truth can be apprehended only by an active moral sense in sympathy with it. To awaken this sense in dead souls was one part of the mission of Christ. The other part was to reveal the truth. "To this end was I born, that I should bear witness unto the truth." All saving truth is centered in His person. "I am the truth;" not abstract, but concrete, in form of facts adapted to man's faculties, or truths cast in a human mould. Truth is conformity to fact or reality. Eternal happiness is in building on the granite of reality and laying every hewn stone by the plum line of truth. There can be no other destiny for a character thus constructed. But sin is a lie. The motive to the first human sin was a lie. "Thou shalt not surely die." All the woes of the human generations and eternities are serpents coiled up in that delusion. Yet eternal well being is in Jesus Christ for every one of the serpent-deceived race who will receive Him by faith. For spiritual realities do not address our physical senses, but our faith only. The great danger lies in the pleasing delusions of sin and our proneness to embrace them in preference to sober truth.

I do not compliment my race nor do I misrepresent them when I say in the words of the great American showman,, "Men love humbug and sham." They delight in being beguiled and duped. This strange infatuation for what is false is what gives Satan his chief power for doing harm. For no truly wise man wants to foster illusions, They end in pain, and if persisted in they lead to eternal sorrow. No sane man ever chose naked evil or pain as an ultimate end. He always chooses what seems to him at the time a good, a means of happiness. The mind has the power to invest the chosen object with all the colors of the rainbow, though it be as black as midnight. The drunkard sees happiness in the cup where the serpent lies concealed. He could see the serpent if he wished. The worldling sees supreme good in millions of money, being wilfully blind to the day just ahead when he would give it all for "an inch of time" in which to prepare for eternity.

To dispel these illusions and break their power to decoy men to eternal ruin the Son of God came into the world. He revealed the real good, which is His Father's approval. His love is heaven. He disclosed the infallible standard by which to estimate things. But Jesus Christ, who is the incarnation of truth, has withdrawn His visible presence from our world. How can He now help us to divest ourselves of delusions destructive to our eternal blessedness? He has left a successor whose office it is to testify of Christ and to reveal Him and His standard of values to us. He takes of the things of Christ and shows them unto us. Without His agency the absent Christ would be forgotten and His power to sway each successive generation keeping abreast of the ages would have been entirely lost. Even the memory of Him would have perished, as President [William F.] Warren intimates in his hymn to the Holy Spirit:

"I worship Thee, O Holy Ghost,
I love to worship Thee;
My risen Lord for aye were lost
But for Thy company."

It is His office in respect to the truth revealed by Christ to make it real and vivid to men bewildered and seduced by falsehoods. Sinful pleasures sway them because they are near and present. The Holy Spirit brings eternal verities near and makes them outweigh the vanities of this life. He supplies a new measuring rod, a sense of eternity, and convicts the soul of folly in neglecting its happiness millions of ages hence. He lifts every man at some point in probation to a mount of vision above the mirage, where, as Longfellow says,

"Uplifted the land floats vague in the ether;
Ships and the shadows of ships hang in the motionless air."

In this golden hour the disenchanted soul freed from all illusions gets a view of realities unfolded by the Spirit of truth. Happy indeed is he if from that view his future life is confirmed to those realities.

The Gospel of the Comforter (1898) Chapter 1.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Insulting the Spirt of Grace (Hebrews 8:21)

How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? — Hebrews 8:21 (ASV).

In the description of the guilt incurred by an apostate from Christ to Judaism is found another phrase descriptive of the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of grace (Heb. x. 29). If this is not the irremissible sin, it is sin at its climax. The Son of God is trampled down with ruthless scorn and hatred, His "precious blood" is counted as that of either an ordinary man or that of a guilty criminal. Then the description reaches the summit of wickedness, the sin of all sins, the irremissible sin — "and insulted the Spirit of grace." Most modern exegetes say that the Spirit is thus called because He is the gift of grace. But by referring to Zechariah xii. 10 we find the expression "Spirit of grace and supplication," evidently implying that the Spirit is "the source of grace" and the inspirer of all true prayer (Delitzsch). [The Spirit] is the source of grace not only in His own person, but He is the channel through which the love of the Father and the grace of His Son are poured upon penitent believers.

The importance of the Spirit's office in human salvation cannot be overestimated. The Father's love and the Son's self-sacrifice in the scheme of redemption are ineffectual without the Spirit's personal agency in applying the provisions of salvation. He is the appointed and indispensable almoner of the divine bounty and messenger of the King's pardon. If a city has a bureau of charities, its poor who proudly refuse its help and rely on the general benevolence of the city government, and starve because of their folly, are no more unreasonable than are those who admit that they are sinners, but are trusting in the fatherhood of God for forgiveness, ignoring His bureau of pardon, through the mediation of His Son, as administered by His accredited commissioner, the Spirit of Grace. Many Christians who are almost destitute of Spiritual strength might become strong through the more abundant life which Christ came to bestow, if they would honor with an intelligent faith that personality whom He has appointed as the Lord and giver of life.

The Gospel of the Comforter (1898) Chapter 1.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

New Testament Names for the Holy Spirit

When the time came for Christ to depart He introduced a new name to designate the Spirit whom He would send to continue His work — the Paraclete, a term used only four times in the four Gospels, and all of them in the consolatory address in John xiv.-xvi. and translated "Comforter," strengthener, from the Latin confortare, to strengthen. In I John ii. 1 it is translated "advocate" and is descriptive of Christ, our intercessor in heaven. Paraclete (παράκλητος) is a Greek word signifying either, passively, the near called, as an assistant, monitor, teacher and guide; or, actively, the near caller, calling the believer near to God, or giving access to Him by inspiring confidence and strength. He is also called the Spirit of truth or reality, because He is the inspirer of revealed truth, which He makes blessedly real to the believer in Christ.

Twice He is styled the Spirit of grace, since He is the dispenser of the divine favor to all men, either by conviction of sin in order to bless them by turning them away from their iniquities, or by imparting to believers spiritual life, witnessing to their adoption and perfecting their holiness.

He is called also the Spirit of supplication because He teaches us how to pray and for what to pray; the Spirit of revelation because He reveals Christ to the eye of faith; the Spirit of wisdom because He imparts wisdom; the Spirit of adoption because He certifies the believer's sonship; and the Spirit of Christ because He was sent by the Father through the mediation of the Son. He is called the Spirit of God because He is one with God in His nature. This leads us to the scriptural proofs that the Holy Spirit is consubstantial with God and is a person. The two doctrines of the personality and the divinity of the Spirit go together. The identity of God and the Spirit of God runs through the Holy Scriptures. Whoever the Spirit is, there is no distinction between Him and God, just as there is no distinction between the man and the spirit of the man (I Cor. ii. 11).

The Gospel of the Comforter (1898) Chapter 1.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Old Testament Names for the Holy Spirit

The first name that is found in the Bible is Ruach Elohim (רוּחַ אֱלֹהִים), the Spirit of God. He moved upon the face of the waters. The word spirit literally signifies breath. All nations express things immaterial by the use of the most subtle material representatives. The best symbol for the invisible, immaterial thinking agent in man is the wind or breath, that kind of matter which is the thinnest and has least of the grosser elements. Says Martin Luther: "They who desire to speak of God without these material envelopes strive to scale heaven without ladders. For it is necessary, when God reveals Himself to us that He should do this through some veil or kind of wrapper, and say, 'Lo, under this involucrum, or cover, you certainly grasp me.'" The Old Testament form of statement is not that God is Spirit, but rather that He has the Spirit and sends Him forth out of Himself.

This may have suggested to the thoughtful Hebrew that the Spirit is God and is a personality distinct from Him from whom He proceeds.

The only other Old Testament designation is the Holy Spirit. This occurs only in Ps. li. 11 and Isa. lxiii. 10, 11. In the New it is very common. The adjective holy cannot be distinctive of the quality of purity which is not found in equal degree in the Father and the Son. Both are holy. Hence, as it is not descriptive of an attribute peculiar to the Spirit, we infer that it points to the peculiar office of the Spirit, in the redemptive scheme, to make men holy. The Holy Spirit, then, is the scriptural term for the Sanctifier, a term not found in the scriptures as a designation of the Spirit.

Holy Spirit is a name in English preferable to Holy Ghost, for the reason that words like men flourish and decay. Ghost and ghostly were once dignified words, as "ghostly adviser" for spiritual adviser. But these words have become degraded so that it would sound strange to us and repulsive to hear the words "the Ghost of God." Hence we commend the American revisers for substituting uniformly Holy Spirit for Holy Ghost.

— edited from The Gospel of the Comforter (1898) Chapter 1.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Seventh Day

QUESTION: In Gen. 2:2 why is it said that "God ended his work on the seventh day," and then follows the contradictory statement that he rested on that day?

ANSWER: It is the general voice of the Scriptures that the whole creation was finished in six days. See Ex. 20:11 and 31:17. There is a good reason for the opinion of A. Clarke that this is a mistake of a transcriber who read the sixth letter of the Hebrew alphabet for the seventh, which very closely resembles it. The Jews did not have our nine digits but used letters instead. The Greek version, made about 200 B. C., and quoted in the New Testament more than 1,000 times, reads, "God ended his work on the sixth day." Thus reads also the Samaritan Hebrew, and the Syriac version.

Steele's Answers p. 181.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The False Christs

QUESTION: What are the principal false Christs?

ANSWER: A Jew called Simeon assumed the title BarCochba, Son of the Star, from the prophecy of Balaam, cut a great swath in Judea, in A. D. 131-135 took Jerusalem, defeated the Romans in battle, was finally conquered and beheaded by Severus. Another was Serenus of Syria, about 720 A. D., followed by David Alrui (Alroy) about 1150; then came Abraham Abulafia of Spain, born in 1240; followed by Sabbathai Zebi, born in Smyrna in 1626, styling himself king of kings of whom "miracles" were related. From Poland, Hamburg and Amsterdam treasures were poured into his court; young men and women prophesied before him, some refused to till the fields, saying, "We will pay no more tribute, our Messiah is come." He was conquered by the Turks and compelled to choose between death and Islam. Although he chose the latter, many still believed in him, and, after his death as a professed Mohammedan, they insisted that he would rise from the dead and liberate Palestine. The next pretender was Jacob Frank, who lived in royal state in Austria. After burning the Talmud in public he ended his career as a Roman Catholic. The gullibility of the Jew is accounted for when we consider the dreadful oppressions they have suffered and the daily prayer for the coming of the Messiah, which every Israelite is required to offer. The false Christ which Christians in our times are setting up is Liberalism, so called, which pays divine honors to a false concept of Jesus Christ as the Revealer of the love of God, ignoring his holiness, justice and truth and disobeying his law. They are described and their doom is foretold in Matt. 7:22-24. "Many will say unto me in that day," etc.

Steele's Answers pp. 180, 181.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Justification and Regeneration

QUESTION: Are justification and regeneration always concomitants?

ANSWER: It would not be safe for God to do a work for us without at the same time doing a work within. This unsafe thing every priest does who pronounces absolution, for he cannot get inside of the person and create him anew. It is true that some time may elapse after the burden of guilt is consciously removed — the real spiritual birthday — before there is a joyful assurance through the Spirit's testimony to adoption.

Steele's Answers pp. 179, 180.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Meek Inherit the Earth

QUESTION: In what sense are the meek to inherit the earth (Matt. 5:5)?

ANSWER: This is quoted from Ps. 37:11, and is thus translated in the Revised Version, "But the meek shall inherit the land" (Canaan) here used as an ancient popular antitype to the experience of entering into the Messiah's spiritual kingdom. This "land" from which the unbelievers were excluded in Num. 14:23 had already in Ps. 95:11 become "rest," emblematic of Christian peace, as in Heb. 3:18, and 4:1-9. It was at first necessary to use Hebrew phrases to express Christian ideas, for they could be intelligibly indicated in no other way to the Jews. Wesley says "the meek shall hereafter possess the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness." In his note on Rev. 21:2, he says, "The new heaven and the new earth, and the new Jerusalem, are closely connected.. This city is wholly new, belonging not to this world, not to the millennium, but to eternity."

Steele's Answers p. 179.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Faith and Prayer

QUESTION: What is the relation of faith to prayer?

ANSWER: It is both the cause and the effect. It is the cause, for no one would ask God if he did not believe that he would give. Then, again, answered prayer awakens a stronger faith for greater blessings. Thus believing and receiving we go hand over hand up the rope of salvation let down from heaven to earth.

Steele's Answers p. 177.

Monday, August 11, 2014

On John 16:23

QUESTION: Explain John 16:23, "In that day ye shall ask me nothing." Does it mean that we should never direct our petitions to Jesus Christ?

ANSWER: The Greek has two verbs "to ask," one meaning to beg and the other to question. The latter is here used, and is thus translated in the American Revision, "In that day ye shall ask me no questions." In ver. 19 the disciples wished to question Jesus. He tells them that when the Comforter has come all will be clear; "the mysteries that now perplex you will then be illumined." "You will not need my personal instruction when you enjoy that of the Spirit." We are not forbidden to pray to the Lord Jesus as did dying Stephen.

Steele's Answers pp. 176, 177.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

On Confession to a Priest

QUESTION: When did the people first confess their sins to a priest?

ANSWER: In the fourth century the bishops began to give absolution without confession in public, but privately. But it did not become imperative as a sacrament, once a year, till the Fourth Lateran Council in A. D. 1215. Then it became an indispensable duty laid upon every one from the Emperor to the peasant, to open the whole heart to the priesthood.

—  Steele's Answers p. 176.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Baptized Into Christ

QUESTION: Is the statement that we are "baptized into Christ" of Rom. 6:3, and Gal. 3:27, to be understood to mean that water baptism actually brings the believer into a saving union with Christ, and that without it or until it has been performed, we are not really saved?

ANSWER: No, for often the sign, water baptism, is by metonomy put for the thing signified, inward cleansing, begun by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit. Hence, the Westminster Catechism wisely says, "Grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it (baptism) as that no person can be regenerated or saved without it, or that all, who are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated." Unless the administrator of water baptism can read the heart of the candidate he may affix the sign in the absence of the thing signified as did Peter in the baptism of Simon Magus in Acts 8:13-23. If water baptism saves, it follows that Paul generally left his converts unsaved, for he says in I Cor. 1:14, "I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius." It seems that Peter, in Acts 2:38, thought baptismal regeneration was the invariable Divine order, but he was corrected in 10:44-48, when the Spirit fell on the hearers before they were baptized.

Steele's Answers pp. 175, 176.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Do Children Need to be Born Again?

QUESTION: Some young men in evangelical pulpits are teaching that there is a seed of goodness in children which, if properly developed, will supersede the necessity of the new birth.

ANSWER: Only life can impart life. The child has not spiritual life, but only the capacity for receiving it from above. This capacity may be filled so early and quietly as to leave no memorable spiritual birthday. If children were nurtured in the atmosphere of spiritual homes with godly parents as models, daily worshiping at the family altar, such regenerations would be more frequent. They are ideal. Lord hasten the day when every professedly Christian home shall be "the gate of heaven" to all the children born therein.

Steele's Answers p. 175.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Jesus Christ had One Personality

QUESTION: If only a sinless Divine Being can make an atonement for sin, and only the human Jesus died, how has an atonement been made?

ANSWER: There are not two personalities in Jesus Christ, but one only — the Son of God, who, since his incarnation combines the human nature with the Divine; and this Personality passed through the experience of death in behalf of his brethren, the whole human race.

Steele's Answers pp. 174, 175.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

On Ezekiel 47:11

QUESTION: Explain Ezek. 47:11, "But the miry places thereof and the marshes thereof shall not be healed; they shall be given to salt."

ANSWER:  The stream of water is emblematic of the life-giving power of Christianity which vitalizes all the free agents who accept it represented by fishes, but leaves in a worthless condition those who persist in rejecting it, namely, the Gospel-hardened sinners and the "many" merely nominal Christians who take Christ's name but reject his meek and lowly spirit spoken of as "Ye that work iniquity," in Matt. 7:22, 23. The permanency of their lost estate is indicated by the salt which is an emblem here of perpetual desolation, because nothing can live and grow in salt.

Steele's Answers p. 174.

Monday, August 4, 2014

On Methodist Doctrinal Standards

QUESTION: What are the doctrinal standards of the Methodist Episcopal Church?

ANSWER: For the laity the twenty-five Articles of Religion found, in the Discipline. For ministers, in addition to these, the Notes of Wesley on the New Testament and his first volume of sermons, American edition, comprised in the first two of the English editions. But some writers, such as Nathan Bangs and Abel Stevens, insist that the standard for the ministry is the same as that of the laity. Over this point there is a contention. The books named are the only standard of the English Wesleyan Church, and they were the only one for the American Methodists till their organization in 1784, when Wesley sent the Articles to be, as some say, in addition to the former standard, but others say they are a substitute for it. Some future general conference setting as a Supreme Court must decide.

Steele's Answers p. 173, 174.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

When Was Peter Converted?

QUESTION: Explain "When thou art converted strengthen thy brethren." (2) Was Peter converted before the crucifixion of Christ?

ANSWER: To be converted is to be turned back from the course one is pursuing. Peter in a few hours would be in the way of apostasy, when by divine grace, the grace of repentance, which accompanied the sorrowful look of Jesus, he would be turned back to loyalty and love to his Master. (2) Peter became a disciple of Christ, a Christian, when he left all and followed him. By his apostasy he lost justifying faith, but not the faith of conviction and penitence. As a backslider he needed to be restored and was restored, within a few hours after his fall.

Steele's Answers p. 173.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Joining Orders Just to Get Insurance

QUESTION: Can a Christian man rightfully join several orders just to get insurance, absenting himself from the meetings?

ANSWER:  In the long run there will be no financial gain in so doing. Better put your savings in the savings bank, after giving the Lord his share.

Steele's Answers p. 172.