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, 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.

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