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.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Endowment of Power

"For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, that ye may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; to the end that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be strong to apprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled unto all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto 10all generations for ever and ever. Amen."  — Ephesians 3:14-21 (ASV 1901)

The prayer of Paul for the Ephesians sanctions our entreaty for a blessing beyond perfect purity, even that we may "be strengthened with might by his spirit in the inner man."

This brings us to our theme, the endowment of power.

There is in this prayer (Eph. iii. 14-21) nothing negative desired, no work of destruction prayed for, no reference to guilt, and no intimation that the old man is still alive and warring against the reign of Christ. Every petition is for a positive gift reaching this climax, "that ye may be filled unto all the fullness of God." Paul supposes the Ephesians are dead unto sin, and now prays for the fullness of the divine life which Christ calls the more abundant life. Many become weak because they rest satisfied with a negative experience without putting forth holy energies, the plenitude of the divine life.

Our criticism of the churches of our day is that they are manifestly lacking in those positive qualities for which the apostle prays for the church in Ephesus. Christ strongly hints the possibility that his disciples may become like salt that has lost its savor. How may such salt be known? We answer, by its failure to preserve from corruption that perishable substance to which it has been applied without changing its form and name. What then shall we say respecting those churches numerous in members, venerable in age, and strong in social influence, around which communities are sinking in moral decay and spiritual death, and in many cases wallowing in gross vices? Are they not destitute of saving power? Power is known by its effects. The absence of the effects argues the absence of the cause, the power of the Holy Spirit in individuals, and their aggregate, the church.

In discussing the endowment of power we cannot sunder it from its effects, and examine and define it in the abstract. All power has a spiritual origin. My muscular power by which I write these words originates not in my nervous system, nor in my brain, but in my spirit of which it is the organ. The forces in ceaseless activity about me, gravitation, heat, magnetism, and electricity, are not in the last analysis to be ascribed to matter, but to the Mind of its Creator, who, while he transcends matter, is in touch with every particle by his immanence. We are now in the region of mystery. But there are no greater mysteries in religion than in science, if we go down to the bottom of things and ask questions. For all beginnings are mysterious. If we reject Christianity because of its mysteries, we have started on a road which leads to the subversion of all the sciences. We cannot tell how the might of the Spirit of God is imparted to the inner man of the believer in Christ. But this is the endowment of power for which Paul prays. It is something beyond mere intellectual power, the capacity of the mind to energize intensely and continuously. This is desirable. To attain it we found schools and universities. In the days of the apostles it was miraculously imparted under the names of the gift of wisdom, the gift of knowledge, the gift of tongues, and the gift of interpretation.

The power which Paul invokes upon the Ephesian church is the restoration of Conscience to her lost throne; it is the ability not only to resist temptations when unmasked, but also to detect the devil in the guise of an angel of light. For fallen men have two weak points, dull spiritual discernment and depraved desires. It is the office of the Holy Spirit to fortify these points, and to bring souls obedient to the truth to that full age or perfection which consists not only in having their spiritual perceptions clarified and exercised to discern both good and evil, but also in the ability always to resist the evil and to cleave to the good.

— edited from Jesus Exultant Chapter 11.

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