Intro

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 began the project on Dec. 10, 2011. I completed it 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. I still do that every once in a while.

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Holy Spirit Never Denigrates Christ

The Holy Spirit never utters a word or prompts to an act derogatory to Christ. Since it is His office to glorify Christ, the Comforter will never degrade Him by denying or detracting from one of His claims. He professed to be an infallible Teacher, to be absolutely sinless, to set a faultless example, to have a right to universal obedience, to work miracles, to fulfill the prophecies, to be the Messiah of the Jews, the Light of the world, the Savior of men, the Son of God, in a sense so unique that He was the only-begotten; He declared that He would raise the dead, and judge the world; and, lastly, that He was one with the Father, having all power in heaven and on earth. The Paraclete is a mirror, wherein is reflected the image of the risen and invisible Jesus, as He truly is, without distortion. "The Spirit of truth which proceedeth from the Father, HE SHALL TESTIFY OF ME. . . He shall GLORIFY ME, for He shall receive of Mine and show (tell, Greek) it unto you." He never mars the symmetry of the God-man. "Wherefore I give you to understand that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed" (I Cor. xii. 3). Hence it is an incontestable fact of Church history that every lapse from orthodoxy has been preceded by spiritual decay. The Holy Ghost leaves the Church before she can deny the lordship of Jesus her great Head. For proof of this, study the religious history of New England. "Every spirit that confesseth not Jesus Christ come in the flesh, is not of God." This is Dean Alford's version, who asserts that the PERSON of Christ, and not some fact pertaining to Him, is the object of the confession. Whatever that spirit is that denies one claim of Christ, or obscures one feature of His glorious likeness, as it beams upon us in the Gospels, we may be well assured that this spirit is not the Divine Limner who portrayed that likeness with the pen of the four evangelists. When Jesus is ranked with Buddha, Confucius, Zoroaster, and Mohammed, in the style of our modern free-religionists, we may feel certain that the Spirit of truth does not suggest this degrading classification.

Mile-Stone Papers  (1878) Part 1, Chapter 22.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Spirit's Guidance Agrees with Scripture

The Spirit's inward utterances are never contrary to His declarations in the Holy Scriptures. This is too obvious to require proof. If any so-called spiritual guidance is repugnant to the plain teachings of God's Word as interpreted by that universal agreement styled the analogy of faith, this professed guidance must be erroneous. We have no just grounds for the expectation that the Paraclete will open to the believer, independently of his acquaintance with the original tongues, commentaries, lexicons, and other critical aids, the treasures contained in the Bible, and pour them into his mind without danger of error. Nevertheless, a perfectly candid enquirer, putting his intellect under the guidance of the Spirit in unwavering trust, though he may make many mistakes in non-essentials, will infallibly be led to Christ, the sum and substance of all saving truth.

Mile-Stone Papers (1878) Part 1, Chapter 22.

Friday, March 28, 2014

What are Evil Qualities?

QUESTION: Why do you teach that entire sanctification removes all evil qualities, as anger, envy, etc.?

ANSWER: We do teach that in Christ provision is made for the removal of all tendencies to sin per se. Anger is not a sin per se, for God is angry with the wicked, and there is such a paradox as "the wrath of the Lamb." In the interest of justice, every good citizen ought to be angry enough with criminals, burglars, highway robbers, murderers to thrust them out, to assist to secure their arrest, trial and punishment. Entire sanctification delivers from things sinful in themselves, such as pride, envy, jealousy, avarice, ingratitude, impurity, etc. There are tendancies toward sin in the natural appetites, hunger, thirst, sleep, marriage, which require watchfulness and restraint to keep them from sinful excess, "lest," in the language of Paul, "I should become a castaway."

Steele's Answers p. 131.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Sanctification and Pentecost

The following letter, together with the printed article to which it refers, has been sent to the Question Box, with the suggestion that it be answered in a separate article:




"In the Evangelical Messenger, the organ of the Evangelical Association, of Oct. 5, the editor states that a minister says he recently heard a young preacher of said church in a sermon declare that the disciples did not receive the blessing of sanctification on the day of Pentecost, but simply the enduement of power for their great work. And that another young minister said we did not know when and where the disciples were sanctified. The editor in his article says the brother wishes to know whether this is correct teaching according to the Word of God and the standard of the church. In answering the question, he says the two young brothers were correct, and that he would like to see the Scripture proof to the contrary. He states that the Scripture did not definitely state anywhere, when and where any one of the twelve was entirely sanctified. He further says, many teach that this occurred on the day of Pentecost, that what the disciples received on that day was the blessing of entire sanctification. But he says: The Pentecostal blessing and the blessing of entire sancti6cation are entirely different; and that the teaching which makes the Pentecostal enduement identical with entire sanctification is slipshod, careless, lacks in preciseness and discrimination, and leads to much confusion. It, lowers the standard of entire sanctification, slurs over the great central principle of holiness, and switches the whole doctrine of sanctification into a groove where it does not fit.

"Now, I would like to know, through your paper, whether that is correct teaching.

"1. Is it a fact that the disciples were not entireh sanctified on the day of Pentecost ?

"2. If we don't know when and where they were sanctified, how do we know they were sanctified ?

"3. Is it correct that the Pentecostal blessing was simply an enduement of power, and not entire sancti- fication ?

"4. Is it true that the two blessings are entirely dis- tinct and different!

"I enjoy Bible holiness in my heart, and preach it wherever I go, and I would like to have these things explained for my benefit and the benefit of thousands of the readers."



We commend the spirit of both the letter and the article which has called it forth. Both writers are manifestly seeking to know the truth. A preliminary word should be said respecting the manner of Christian experience. We learn from books and from the lectures of some theological professors that both regeneration and entire sanctification are states of grace sharply defined, entered upon instantaneously after certain very definite steps, and followed by certain very marked results. But the young preacher soon learns that there are eminently spiritual members of his church whose experiences have not been in accordance with this regulation manner. They have passed through no marked and memorable crises. Hence they have no spiritual anniversaries. The young pastor is puzzled by these anomalies. At last, if he is wise, he will conclude that the books describe normal experiences to which the Holy Spirit does not limit itself, and that an abnormal method of gaining a spiritual change or elevation is by no means to be discounted.

1. In this question the article has been misapprehended. The writer's real doubt is that "the disciples were all sanctified wholly, at one and the same time," while the conditions are "almost wholly subjective and personal." It should be borne in mind that the ten days of waiting, prayer, and religious conference graphically described in Arthur's "Tongue of Fire" strongly tended to assimilate their different characteristics and peculiarities. The fact that the hearts of some of them were cleansed by faith — enough to be said, "The first shall be last, and the last shall be first." He will recognize many as having fulfilled his commandment, "Be ye perfect," who have not dared to use that great word, imagining that it excludes all errors, infirmities, and ignorances. Some such I have intimately known. When asked, "Are you enjoying perfected holiness?" they would say, "I am not sure." But when asked, "What would be your feeling if you should see the Son of God, the final Judge, descending on his great white throne?" they instantly reply, "I would fly to meet him half way, if possible." This absence of "all fear that has torment" is a proof positive of perfect love. It is the only adequate cause of such an effect. In estimating the number of the entirely sanctified in the Apostolic age, and in every other age since, we are not to be limited to those who have passed through an instantaneous experience, a memorable transition and uplift, though this is, as Wesley says, "infinitely desirable," while admitting that "this great work may be gradually wrought in some." Fletcher, the able expounder and eminent defender of this Wesleyan doctrine, says that "to deny that imperfect believers may and do gradually grow in grace, and of course that the remains of their sins may, and do, gradually decay, is as absurd as to deny that God waters the earth by the daily dews, as well as by thunder showers; it is as ridiculous as to assert that nobody is carried off by lingering disorders, but that all men die suddenly or a few hours after they are taken ill." Hence there was in John S. Inskip more than a spice of humor, there was a good sense and wise philosophy in his invitation to gradualists to come to the altar as seekers of perfected holiness, "Come, ye brethren and sisters who expect to attain this grace by degrees, come to the altar and get along a good bit to-day." Sometimes this "good bit" was the step that reached the prize.

Wesley studied a great variety of terms and phrases expressive of this experience, a good example for all its teachers. I have counted up twenty-six, but "the baptism of (or with) the Spirit," and "the fullness of the Spirit," are phrases not used by him, probably because there is an emotional fullness of a temporary nature, not going down to the very roots of the moral nature. Nor did he use "receiving the Holy Ghost," because "in a sense of entire sanctification" the phrase is not scriptural and not quite proper; for they all received the Holy Ghost when they were justified. Wesley did not, probably for the same reason, use "Pentecostal blessing" though Charles Wesley did in a letter to John, saying, "Your day of Pentecost is not fully come; but I doubt not it will; and you will then hear of persons sanctified as frequently as you do now of persons justified." Were John Wesley now living, I think he would express a deep sympathy with the closing sentences of the article under criticism and quoted at the end of the letter. I think that the best way to restore this doctrine to the evangelical pulpits is to begin by preaching on the offices of the Holy Spirit in convicting of sin and in the new birth and the witness of the Spirit direct and indirect, topics on which many Christian people are in lamentable ignorance. When any one has received the Regenerating Spirit, then is the time to instruct him respecting the Sanctifying Spirit and to urge that he be received by faith. We must be wise as serpents, studying the best way of presenting truths distasteful to prejudiced minds.

Steele's Answers pp. 126-131.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Undoubted Knowledge of Spiritual Realities

We are promised a knowledge of salvation by the remission of sins. Paul speaks in emphatic condemnation of those who are never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. He is speaking not of an intellectual grasp of the truth, but of its spiritual realization. The English reader of the Pauline Epistles fails to discover the fullness and certainty of the knowledge of spiritual realities on which the apostle insists.

In his struggle of mind and strain of style to express the Christian's privilege of full and undoubted knowledge of spiritual realities he accumulates epithets which burden his sentences as in Col. ii. 2: "That their hearts might be comforted being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God and of the Father, and of Christ."

He employs the compound word ἐπίγνωσις (epignosis), full knowledge, when he wishes to be emphatic, instead of γνῶσις (gnosis), knowledge. Bishop Ellicott and Dean Alford authorize this strengthened translation in the following passages: Eph. i.17, "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the full knowledge of Him;" Eph. iv. 13, "till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the (full) knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;" "perfect knowledge of the Son of God;" Col. iii. 10, "renewed unto perfect knowledge after the image of Him that created him;" 1 Tim. ii. 4, "who willeth all men to be saved and come to the certain knowledge of the truth;" 2 Tim. iii. 7, "ever learning, and never yet able to come to the full knowledge of the truth." Peter uses the strengthened form in his Second. Epistle i. 8, "toward the perfect knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Mile-Stone Papers (1878) Part 1, Chapter 22.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Inward Revelation of the Spirit

Christian experience, especially in its higher phases, abundantly testifies to the certitude of the inward revelations of the Comforter. The burden of this testimony, all along the Christian ages, is not that dogmatic truth is inwardly revealed, but that the facts of personal justification and entire sanctification, fundamental to complete Christian character, are disclosed to all who perfectly trust in Him who is able to save to the uttermost.

Nor will the attestation of these souls, who with Moses have trodden the Mount of God, and conversed with Him face to face in spiritual communion, be invalidated in the estimation of the wise, by the fact that they have been stigmatized as fanatics, Pietists, Lollards, Mystics, Waldenses, Quakers, and Methodists. For in this series of opprobrious nicknames we find the real apostolical succession, and not in an unbroken chain of prelatical ordinations. The martyr fires, which illumined the dark ages, conserved our spiritual Christianity against councils and inquisitions. What was the heresy of Tauler, Suso, Eckhart, Madame Guyon, Luther, and Wesley, but the manifestation of Christ to the believer, through the Holy Spirit, certifying forgiveness, renewing and sanctifying the soul.

The conscious incoming of the Paraclete into the heart of John Wesley was the secret of that impulse which he communicated to Protestant Christianity throughout the world. These are his words:
Then I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me, that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death; and I testified openly to all there what I now first felt in my heart.
Toward ten o'clock a troop of friends attended him from the Moravian chapel to his brother Charles's, and sang a hymn with joy. Here we find the mainspring of those tireless and herculean labors of Wesley, preaching forty-two thousand and four hundred sermons, editing books by the hundred, and founding Christian charities which shall endure to the end of time, and missions which have already belted the world with a girdle of light.

The three elements of the success of the Wesleyan movement are all found in the experience of its providential founder — the direct witness of the Spirit, an open testimony, and joyful hymns.

Before dismissing Methodism from our witness-stand, we will ask her how she conserves the orthodoxy of her multitudinous Church of more than four millions in all her branches, through nearly a century and a half, without a doctrinal schism. Not by papal anathemas, but by an open Bible, interpreted in the light of a spiritual experience. These, instead of disintegrating the Church into individualism, bind it into a spiritual unity animated by freedom.

Mile-Stone Papers (1878) Part 1, Chapter 22.
 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Church Entertainments

QUESTION: Is it wrong for a person entirely sanctified to attend. church entertainments; if so, why?

ANSWER: The phrase "church entertainment" is a solecism, an impropriety of speech, a contradiction in terms — suggesting the idea of a conglomerate of the church and the theater, or the ball-room, or the card party. A pure heart desires a holy place for worship dissociated from fun and frolic. He wants to take his children on the Lord's day to a temple consecrated to God., where the very place will inspire reverence. This cannot be in the edifice where the children and youth often assemble for amusement. There seems to be an incongruity between purity of heart and the frivolities of the so-called church entertainments. Many of the public readings in them are so low as to awaken disgust in a person of refined taste, to say nothing of a holy heart. For these reasons the writer gives them a tremendous letting alone. They lead downward. and not upward. Right-down Christian earnestness eschews them. They prevent the coming of a revival and they kill the revival that has holcome.

Steele's Answers pp. 125, 126.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Esau's Failed Repentance?

QUESTION: Explain Heb. 12:17: "For he (Esau) found no place of repentance, though he sought carefully with tears.

ANSWER: If the questioner had read this text in a Bible which is up to date, the American Revision, he would not have wasted his postage stamp and his time by sending to the Christian Witness for light, for that version sets an electric light in it, thus: "For he found no place for a change of mind in his father, though he sought it diligently with tears." Esau could not by his whimpering persuade the old gentleman to recall the decision which favored Jacob by giving him the birthright, the lawful inheritance of Esau. The Twentieth Century version is: "Indeed, he never found an opportunity for repairing his error, though he begged. for the blessing with tears."

Steele's Answers p. 125.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Does John 6:48-58 refer to Holy Communion?

QUESTION: Does John 6:48-58 have reference to the Lord's Sup­ per, especially these words, "except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood ye have not life in yourselves"?

ANSWER: To say that it does would make that rite absolutely necessary as a saving ordinance. In the formal institution of the holy eucharist a year afterwards, no such idea is suggested. The idea is that as the body contains the blood and the blood contains the life we must appropriate Christ's entire humanity in order to receive and maintain spiritual life. We obtain this life, not by eating the symbols, but by eating or appropriating Christ himself. This view is that of Origen, Basil the Great, Augustine, Calvin, Luther most emphatically, and. Wesley with less emphasis, saying, "It refers remotely, if at all, to the Lord's Supper," and such modern exegetes as Adam Clarke, Moses Stuart, Alford and Meyer. On the other side of this question are all the ritualistic sacramentarians, both Roman and Anglican. We regret to say that American Methodism is committed to the ritualistic and not the spiritual interpretation by this prayer in the communion service: "Grant us. . . so to eat the flesh of thy Son Jesus Christ and drink his blood that we may live and grow thereby." If American Methodism ever backslides so far as to become ritualistic, it will be through this unfortunate connection of these words with the Lord's Supper, which is not the source of life, but a means of grace, as everything is which brings Christ into our minds as our atoning Savior.

Steele's Answers p. 123, 124.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Purgatory?

QUESTION: What do you think of the following: "If a man will not let the Holy Spirit burn his selfishness out of him in this life, it will have to be done in the next"?

ANSWER: This is the doctrine of the Roman Catholics, who have borrowed from Grecian paganism purgatorial fires for curable sinful souls. It is also the teaching of modern Universalism that all the souls unfit for heaven when they leave the body will be purified by a limited punishment and will then be admitted to the life everlasting. The Scriptural basis for this doctrine is lack­ing. There is not the remotest hint that the work of the Holy Spirit in the sanctification of believers can be done after death, nor is there anywhere in the Bible any intimation that saving faith in Christ, followed by the new birth, is possible after the spirit becomes disem­bodied. There is positive proof that the sentences on the day of judgment are final and irreversible. It is equally certain that repentance and regeneration do not take place between death and the resurrection, for Christ says, "they that have done evil shall come forth unto the resurrection of damnation." The idea that good men will arise from bad men's graves implies the possibility that wicked men may arise from graves in which righteous men were buried! This is preposterous. The extension of probation till the day of judgment might solve some theological difficulties, but it would greatly weaken, if not destroy, the motive to repentance in the present life. Nothing that we have here said con­tradicts the possibility of a believer aspiring after perfect purity finding on his death-bed. All persevering believers belong to the new covenant which insures not only heaven but a fitness for heaven as the gift of God in probation.

Steele's Answers pp. 122, 123.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Are the Sacraments Life-Giving?

QUESTION: I have recently heard a preacher describe the sacraments as "life-giving." Is this correct?

ANSWER: They are not the source of life, but rather the means of grace through which, when used with faith in Christ, the Holy Spirit may impart and sustain life. Baptism is the outward sign of the Spirit's inward work The Lord's Supper is a memorial of Christ's great love manifested in voluntarily dying for us. Whatever brings this event vividly to the mind of the believer is a means of grace. We should beware of resting in the symbol instead of the thing signified. Thousands of ceremonialists are trusting for salvation in symbols instead of the Savior — in the shadow instead of the substance. The sacraments alone, though administered by priests who claim to be ordained by bishops in succession back to the apostles, are not saving. Only Christ saves.

Steele's Answers p. 122.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Would the Incarnation Have Happened Apart From Human Sin?

QUESTION: If sin had not come into our world, would the Son of God have been incarnate? 

ANSWER: All along down the Christian ages there have been some theologians who have given an affirmative answer. They say that the incarnation was not con­tingent upon man's sin, but that it was the original pur­pose of God for the exaltation of the human race, pro­moting their highest spirituality and felicity. They, moreover, dislike the doctrine expressed by the "felix culpa" ("blessed be the sin") which brought God into man and man into God. To the writer the idea is very distasteful and repugnant, that sin has been beneficial to our race. Those interested in this question should read Bishop Westcott's essay, "The Gospel of Creation," in his commentary on the Epistles of St. John; 87 pages.

Steele's Answers pp. 121, 122.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Unbelief and Doubt

QUESTION: My presiding elder teaches that all men have doubts at times, and that it is not a sin to doubt at times even the divinity of Christ and the existence of God. Is this so?

ANSWER: He probably told you that there is a great difference between unbelief and doubt. Unbelief, involving as it does a permanent wrong attitude of the will inconsistent with spiritual life, is always sinful; and doubt, not implying any fixed and wilful repugnance to saving truth, but rather a temporary suspense of the mind while investigating a theological proposition with a willingness to receive the truth, is not a sin. A man may doubt and yet live on the right side of his doubts. Bunyan tells us that Christian fell into the slough of despond and got out on the right side of his doubts, the side towards the celestial city; and that for a while he was in Doubting Castle, locked up in a cage. Neither of these experiences were destructive of his spiritual life, yet both have their perils. Your preacher should have told you that there is a perfect salvation from doubts on fundamentals. But perhaps he has not got so far in his personal experience as the full assurance of faith, the sure cure of doubt. This is a distinctively Christian privilege unknown to John the Baptist in Herod's dark prison, and to Elijah, his antitype, under the juniper tree. They were the greatest Old Testament saints. The weakest one in the kingdom of heaven opened on the earth on the Day of Pentecost is greater in privilege and experience. He may be entirely delivered from doubt on the fundamentals, and march with firm steps to the fires of martyrdom.

Steele's Answers pp. 120, 121.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Looking Unto Jesus

The gospel scheme of keeping men from sinning is so peculiar that it never was conceived or dreamed of by mere human reformers. It is to commit the keeping of your soul wholly to another, even Christ. The attitude of the watchful soul is to be that of Peter's eyes when he first stepped from the ship upon the waters of the sea — LOOKING UNTO JESUS.

Philosophy says, "Eye well your deadly foes;" the Gospel says, "Eye Jesus only." Philosophy says , "Dispose of your enemies first, and look to Jesus afterward;" the Gospel says, "Look to Jesus first and last, and He will dispose of your foes."

Weakness, not strength, comes from a constant survey of the hosts in battle array against you. Power comes into the palsied arm when the eye turns wholly toward the Angel of Jehovah, who encampeth around about the believer. Philosophy says, "Grow strong by a downright grapple with the threatening foeman;" but the Gospel of the Old Testament, as well as that of the New, says, "THEY THAT WAIT UPON THE LORD SHALL RENEW THEIR STRENGTH."

We take from the shelves a book written by the Christian philanthropist, William Wilberforce, entitled, "The Practical View." We read again the pages we had read years ago, wondering why the writer should print in large capitals, amply spaced, six times in the course of nine pages, the words, "LOOKING UNTO JESUS!" We no longer wonder, since we have learned by experience, that this is the conquering attitude of the soul.

Then sin appears most hateful, the world with its pleasures shrivels to a mote driven by the wind, the angelic mask is stripped from the face of Satan, time dwindles to a point, and eternity unrolls its ceaseless cycles. Self is then annihilated, and Christ becomes all in all. In this attitude it is easy to "subdue kingdoms, work righteousness, obtain promises, stop the mouths of lions, quench the violence of fire, out of weakness be made strong, wax valiant in fight, and turn to flight the armies of the aliens."

The secret of so much backsliding as we find everywhere is in this, the eye, bewildered by the thousand cross-lights of worldly pleasure, loses sight of Christ. The keeping power of this divine vision is broken. The spell of pleasure as taken the place of the spell of the cross. The downward gravitation has taken the place of the heavenward. The soul is in imminent peril: before such, the faithful evangelist, assisted by the Holy Spirit, must hold the lamp of gospel truth so steadily that the wandering eye may see once more the lost Jesus, the only keeper of the soul.

"But," says an objector, "do not the Holy Scriptures command us to a direct hand-to-hand fight with our spiritual enemies, and to put on the whole armour for this good fight of faith? How, then, does the advice to look at Jesus only square with the Bible?" The question is a fair one, for there is an apparent difficulty here which should be removed. Our answer is that looking unto Jesus includes all the good resolutions against sin, all possible antagonisms to moral evil, and vastly more. It includes a sense of our own weakness, which drives us to the supreme source of strength. "When I am weak then am I strong." Why? Because we are led to seek an ally, even the unconquerable Captain of our salvation. And He, instead of placing us by His side to bear with Him the brunt of the battle, places Himself before us as an impervious shield, interposed between us and the deadly weapons of the foe.

— edited from  Mile-Stone Papers, Part 1, Chapter 21.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Rate of Divorce

QUESTION: One of the special contributors to the Christian Witness of Sept. 20 says: "As to the divorce evil, where one couple separate, there are five hundred that keep together." Is this true?

ANSWER: It may have been true when the contributor was a little boy, but it is far from the present ratio of divorces to marriages. In some of our States, every tenth marriage ends in a divorce, and in the whole United States the average is more than one in twenty. The very foundations of church and state and civilized society are being overturned. "If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?" says the Psalmist. It is reform or ruin. God help the nation to make wise choice and ministers of the Gospel to refuse to marry persons unscripturally divorced.

Steele's Answers pp. 119, 120.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

But, Don't Infants Need the New Birth?

QUESTION: If the necessity for regeneration is found in our fallen nature, do not infants need the new birth?

ANSWER: Certainly. But if cut off from life before becoming accountable, they are unconditionally saved by the second Adam from the wrong tendency entailed by the first Adam. If allowed to attain intellectual and moral development, the new birth is left to their free choice.

Steele's Answers p. 119.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

"Unrighteousness" in 1 John 5:17

QUESTION: Does the word unrighteousness in I John 5:17, "All unrighteousness is sin," refer to conduct or to a condition of heart?

ANSWER: It may include both, but it probably refers to some deed violating law and justice, or some marked failure to fulfill our duty one to another. Bishop Westcott thinks that it also includes sins which flow from human imperfection and infirmity in regard to which there is a wide scope for Christian sympathy and intercession.

Steele's Answers p. 119.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sin as a Condition of Heart

QUESTION: Is the word sin ever used in the Bible to denote a state or condition of heart?

ANSWER: Yes. When a man sins he takes on a sinful character. "Not only does sin have its seat in the will; it is a state of the will. it is not merely a series of voluntary acts; it consists rather in the fixed moral preferences; it is character, a moral perversity, a false direction." (Prof. Stevens, Methodist Review, September, 1904.)

Steele's Answers pp. 118, 119

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Salvation of a Dying Infant

QUESTION: On what grounds is the dying infant freed from Adamic depravity?

ANSWER; On the ground of the atonement made for the fallen race by Jesus Christ. Cut off from development and sanctification, by which he could have been delivered through faith in Christ from the effects of an evil heredity, he is unconditionally cleansed by the second Adam from the defilement of Adam. The plaster is as large as the wound. "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." This is as true of the infant incapable of faith as it is of the believer in Christ.

Steele's Answers p. 118.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Books Opposing Universalism

QUESTION: What book is the best antidote for universalism?

ANSWER: The Bible. The next best is a book by Rev. N. D. George, entitled "Universalism Not of the Bible." It is published by the Methodist Book Concern, New York. It may be out of print.

Steele's Answers p. 118.

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Elect

QUESTION: Who are "the elect" in the New Testament?

ANSWER: All persevering believers in Jesus Christ, in contrast with "the called" who have been invited and by their refusal or indifference show themselves unfltted to partake of the marriage supper spread by Christ. This term is also applied to those angels whom God has chosen out from other created beings to be peculiarly associated with him in the government of the universe. Sometimes it signifies dear, choice, select, as in II John, verses 1 and 9.

Steele's Answers pp. 117, 118.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

If It is Impossible to Keep the Law of God Why Should Anyone Be Held Guilty?

QUESTION: If it is impossible to keep the law of God, why should we be condemned for not keeping it? (2) Do we need pardon for unconscious violations of a perfect law?

ANSWER: Law has several meanings in the Scriptures. The Adamic or Paradisaical law, the Levitical or Ceremonial law, and the Moral law. Only the latter are we bound to obey. It is possible for every one who is born of God to keep this law, because he loves Christ the Lawgiver, who makes the moral law to be "the law of liberty," not liberty to sin, but emancipation from the dominion of evil. Hence it is possible for every one to keep the royal law, the king of all laws, the law of love which carries the moral law in its bosom, for it is possible for every man, through penitent faith in Christ, to be born into the kingdom of love. (2) The law of love cannot be unconsciously violated, for if love turns to hatred, or indifference, consciousness must note the change. An act put forth in love may inadvertently harm my neighbor, but this is not sin. Do I not sin if I fail to keep the Adam law? The only expressed law given in Paradise was a prohibition. The implied Adamic law was love up to the full measure of his capacity, undiminished by sin. I am not required to serve God with Adam's powers, but with my present abilities crippled by sin. "Where little is given, little is required." Under the atonement everybody who knows the distinction between right and wrong has, through faith in Christ, the gracious ability to abstain from sinning — posse non peccare. The Lord Jesus be praised! This is the next best thing to the heavenly state — non posse peccare — the inability to sin. The first state leads to the second. Glory to God! The declaration that God's law cannot be kept reflects on both his justice and his goodness.

Steele's Answers 116, 117.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

"Sins" and "Sin" — Singular and Plural

QUESTION: Is  it not a fact that all Scriptural texts speaking of sin in the singular number have reference to inbred sin and never refer to actual sins (plural)? Is not this true?

ANSWER: It is not true. In the singular "sin" is found in the Synoptic Gospels (Matt., Mark and Luke) but once, "Every sin and blasphemy," etc. (Matt. 12:81). Stephen prayed, "Lord lay not this sin to their charge" (Acts 7:60), "If any man see his brother sinning a sin not unto death," etc. "There is a sin unto death" (I John 5:16), and "If we say we have no sin" (1:8), in all these texts some act of sin is meant. The phrase "to have sin" is found elsewhere only in John 9:41, "If ye were blind, ye would have no sin;" 15:22, 24, "If I had not * * *  spoken * * * they had not sin." Also, "He that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin" (19:11). This phrase "to have sin" the experts say is the strongest possible expression for an act entailing guilt. The poet Euripides uses it of one who has committed murder. John uses the term "sin" in only one signification, "the transgression of the law." Paul rhetorically personifies sin, i.e., sinning, as an imperial personage ruling sinners who become his slaves, and John personifies sin as a slave holder (8:34). "The slave of sin is bondage to sinning." Sow a thought, and you reap an act, sow an act, and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny. The consequences of Adam's transgression have damaged me, but the guilt he did not bequeath to me, because it is non-transferable. Yet Wesley in the second of the Articles of Religion speaks of Christ as "a sacrifice not only for original guilt, but also for the actual sins of man." Substitute Adam's for "original," and I will accept it.

Steele's Answers pp. 117, 116.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Is Atonement Taught in the New Testament?

QUESTION: A friend of mine says (1) that Jesus said nothing about the atonement, and (2) that the word is not in the New Testament. Is this so?

ANSWER: We should bear in mind that the four Gospels contain all the truths of Christianity in seed form. The atonement is thus taught in Matt. 20:28, "The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give his life a ransom for many." If Christ had said more than this before his death and resurrection demonstrating that he is both God and man, and that for this reason he only was capable of making an atonement, he would have bewildered and confounded his disciples by teaching a doctrine which they could not then have received. But after his blood had been shed and he had arisen, ascended, and poured out the Pentecostal gift in proof that he had reached the throne of his Father and was glorified, the doctrine of the atonement could now be clearly unfolded and its relation to salvation be revealed by the Paraclete as Jesus had promised with respect to the many things he had to say which they could not then bear. (2) While it is true that the term atonement is not found in the Revised New Testament, the thing itself is found everywhere in other terms, such as redemption, propitiation, blood of sprinkling and sacrifice of himself. The absence of the words Trinity and sacrament is no valid argument against the fundamental doctrines, which are abundantly taught in other terms.

Steele's Answers p. 114, 115.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Did Elijah Ascend to Heaven?

QUESTION: Reconcile the translation of Elijah [in] II Kings 2:11 (1) with John 3:13 "And no one has ascended into heaven," and (2) I  Cor. 15:20,  "Flesh and blood. cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven."

ANSWER: It is evidently an elliptical quotation from Deut. 30:12, "Who shall go for us to heaven, and bring it (God's command) unto us," etc.; also Prov. 30:3, 4, "Neither have I the knowledge of the Holy One, who hath ascended up into heaven, and descended?" Christ omitted the last clause of these texts, the return from heaven with a message for men. The  context very clearly proves that this is the correct explanation. He is asserting his own sole competence to reveal heavenly truth, because he, the Son of man, is the only human teacher who has been in heaven and has brought down truths absolute and eternal. (2) Elijah's personality resides in his spirit. This certainly is in heaven. But on the mount of transfiguration he appeared in a visible form. We are taught in I Cor. 15:51, that when the dead are raised the living believers "will be changed in a moment." It is not unreasonable to suppose that Enoch and Elijah were the first fruits of this change of the living "in the twinkling of an eye."

Steele's Answers pp. 113, 114.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Why Wesleyans Do Not Speak of "Sinless Perfection"

QUESTION: Why do Wesleyan advocates of Christian perfection decline the phrase, "sinless perfection"?

ANSWER: "I do not contend for the term 'sinless,'" said Wesley, "though I do not object against it." He gave no reasons, except that it would be misunderstood and be a stumbling block to those whose definition of sin includes all innocent infirmities, all mistakes, all failures to realize our perfect ideals of character and usefulness, all thoughts of evil; and some include all temptations to sin. Such a perfection we must not expect in the present life. Therefore the term "sinless" should be applied only to him who could confidently say, "Which of you convicteth me of sin?" No one who has ever sinned can apply this adjective to himself. But according to I John 3:9, every one may lead an unsinning career from his new birth onward through time and eternity by the grace of God appropriated by faith.

Steele's Answers pp. 112, 113.