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.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

When Was Jesus Glorified?

QUESTION: When was Jesus glorified?

ANSWER: To glorify God or Christ is to make him known and acknowledged as being all that he claims to be. Christ is spoken of several times as being glorified (John 12:28; 13:31; 17:10); but in his prayer in John 17:1 he still prays for glorification. We infer that his body was not changed by his resurrection, it still being flesh and bones. (Luke 24:39). This glorification occurred after leaving the earth. It was too dazzling for mortals to see; it almost killed Saul of Tarsus and John (Acts 9:4; Rev. 1:17).

Steele's Answers p. 189.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Christ Breathes the Spirit (John 20:22)

QUESTION: When Christ breathed on his disciples in John 20:22, in what capacity did they receive the Holy Spirit?

ANSWER: It is worthy of note that the same Greek word is here used as that in Gen. 2:7, to express the inspiration of the new, spiritual life of recreated humanity By "breathing," as Augustine observes, "Jesus shewed that the Spirit was not the Spirit of the Father only, but also his own," and as it is without the Greek article, it is a gift of the Spirit rather than the Person of the Spirit. This gift of spiritual life was necessary to their reception of the Personal Spirit at Pentecost. A dead soul can be inspired with life, but cannot actively receive the Personal Spirit in all his offices, especially that of entire sanctification.

Steele's Answers pp. 188, 189.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Sanctification & the Lodge

QUESTION: Can a sanctified person retain the experience and carry insurance in a fraternal order, although he never attends the lodge or takes any part in the proceedings?

ANSWER: I infer that the new experience is subsequent to joining the order, which he has found not promotive of his spiritual life, and for this reason abstains from its meetings, but continues to pay the dues, because of the loss of money already paid for insurance should he now cease. Knowing, not from experience, but from observation, that membership in such orders is not helpful to the spiritual life, I would suggest to this brother that no financial loss, however great, can outweigh any spiritual loss, however small. Always give the spiritual and not the material side the benefit of your doubt.

Steele's Answers p. 188.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Are the 10 Commandments Still in Force?

QUESTION: Our holiness preacher says the Decalogue is not in force now, having been nailed to the cross and is not binding now. Is this so?

ANSWER: Paul, in Col. 2:14, is speaking of "forgiveness of trespasses." Christ's atoning death affords a new ground of our acceptance with God instead of the plea that we have perfectly kept his law, which condemns us all, for we have all sinned, and therefore are excluded from legal justification. But evangelical justification is now possible, because God through Christ has taken away the law as the ground of justification, but not as THE RULE OF LIFE. This is what Paul means when he says, "We are not under the law but under grace." Some have done much harm by teaching that believers are not under obligations to keep the moral law. They are called Antinomians. See the book entitled, "A Substitute for Holiness," published by the Christian Witness Co., for an extended answer to this pernicious error.

Steele's Answers pp. 187, 188.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Five Foolish Virgins

QUESTION: Were the five foolish virgins regenerated?

ANSWER: Yes; they were all companions of the Bride, all had brightly burning lamps or torches, all up to a certain time were fully prepared to meet the Bridegroom. The moral of the parable is the blessedness of endurance unto the end through the faith which secures and preserves the fullness of the Holy Spirit of whom olive oil is the emblem (Zech. 4:3-14, I John 2:20, 27), and the sad failure of some to secure a full preparation for the future exigencies of the spiritual life. See Matt. 13:3-7.

Steele's Answers p. 187.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Restoration of Backsliders

QUESTION: How is it possible for one who has been saved and fallen into sin to come back to God in the face of Ezek. 33:18, where it says, "but in his iniquity that he hath committed therein shall he die"?

ANSWER:  The querist misinterprets this passage, which means, not that there is no possible salvation for a backslider, but that he must die in his iniquity, if he trusts in his  former  righteousness with no repentance and faith in God's mercy as emphatically expressed in verse 11, "As I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn ye, for why will ye die, O house of Israel." This tender and urgent entreaty includes apostates, as in Hos. 14:4, Isaiah 30:9 compared with ver. 15, "In returning and rest shall ye be saved." Mal. 8:7, "Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts," Luke 22:21, 32, "When thou art converted (restored) strengthen thy brethren." The prodigal son was a backslider whose return was received with gladness, robe, ring, shoes and a real dinner.

Steele's Answers pp. 186, 187.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Is a "New Birth" Expereince Necessary?

QUESTION: When a little child is baptized and trained up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and being morally correct is received into the church without realizing any change of heart, is he to be considered as a Bible Christian?

ANSWER: No; but he is on a good vantage ground for becoming such, if he does not rest satisfied with nominal Christianity, and is earnestly seeking the new birth. Unless he does this his church membership is an opiate inducing a fatal spiritual stupor. It is also a shield against the arrow of awakening Gospel appeals. It is perilous to trust in morality, creeds, and sacraments, to live and die destitute of spiritual life, which only he has "who hath the Son."

Steele's Answers pp. 185, 186.

Monday, September 22, 2014

"I Never Knew You"

QUESTION: Explain Matt. 7:28, "Then will I profess unto them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.'" Show (1) the meaning of "knew," and (2) the ground of Christ's condemnation of these Christian laborers.

ANSWER: He did not recognize them as worthy of intimacy and complacent love, nor did he own them as friends. (2) They had used his name not to promote his glory, but for their own selfish ends, money, honor, power, or social prominence. It is an enormous sin for an unconverted or blackslidden preacher to pervert to ambitious purposes that precious name which suggests amazing self-sacrifice, and in his personal character to misrepresent to the world the sinless Son of Man, the model by which we may become sons of God. This helps us understand why unbelief is the root and sum of all sins.

Steele's Answers p. 185.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Who Is a Heretic?

QUESTION: Explain Titus 3:10, "A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition reject."

ANSWER: Read the American Standard Bible for the meaning of "heretic," a word which is found nowhere else in the Bible, "A factious man... reject." It refers to the man who obstinately persists in contending about non-essentials, and thus destroys the peace of the church by promoting cliques and animosities. He is generally eager to obtain prominence in God's flock, for he wishes to be "either the bellwether or no sheep." The word "reject" might have been more literally rendered by "shun," or "leave him to himself," instead of "burn him." This is the only text ever quoted for such a punishment. Its mistranslation has sent many a good Christian to the stake.

Steele's Answers pp. 184, 185.

Friday, September 19, 2014

On Churches, Sects, and Associations

QUESTION: Why do we not find the history and statement of doctrines of the National Holiness Association in any of the cyclopedias or church history?

ANSWER: Because it is not a sect or denomination. It does not advocate any doctrines differing from universal Methodism. It aims to benefit the members of all evangelical churches and all others whom they can reach.

QUESTION: Please define the words "church" and "sect," and show whether they are antagonistic or harmonious.

ANSWER: The "church" or ecclesia is an assembly of those who love and obey the Lord Jesus Christ, observe their own religious rites, hold their own meetings for the promotion of their own spirituality and for the conversion of sinners and the disciplining of all nations, and who manage their own affairs according to regulations prescribed for the body for order's sake. "Sect" is not, as some erroneously say, from the Latin verb seco, "I cut," denoting something cut off, but from sequor, "I follow," denoting the disciples of some leader of philosophy or religion. In the four Gospels and the Acts it is never used as a term of reproach, but in a good sense, except in the erroneous English version of Acts 24:5,15, where the prosecuting attorney, the orator Tertullus, styles Paul "the ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes," and Paul replies, "I confess unto thee, that after the Way which they (the Jews) call a sect (Revision), so serve I the God of my fathers." Here his plea is that his sectarianism is in perfect harmony with loyal membership in the Jewish church. Dr. Campbell, in his Dissertation IX, Part 4, Notes on the Four Gospels, proves that in the Epistles the word "heresy" (sect), when not associated with terms having a bad meaning, never has an evil signification. The conclusion is that "church" and "sect" are not antagonistic, but, as Pharisees, Sadducees and Herodians, were all in good standing in the Jewish church, because they believed in Moses, so Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, etc., all loving and obeying the same Savior, are loyal members of his body, his church.

Steele's Answers pp. 183, 184.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

In What Sense is Sin Inherited?

QUESTION: In what sense may sin be transmitted?

ANSWER: Not as guilt, which implies an intelligent, willful, wrong act, but as a downward tendency according to the laws of heredity, by which not only physical and intellectual traits are transmitted, but also moral proclivities.

Steele's Answers p. 182, 183.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Holy Spirit & Pentecost

QUESTION: (1) Have we any Scriptures that indicate that the disciples were sanctified wholly before Pentecost? (2) Does the Holy Spirit take up his abode in the entirely sanctified heart? (3) Is not the gift of tongues necessary today to mark the incoming of the Spirit to abide permanently?

ANSWER: (1) No. The passage in John 20:22 indicates some spiritual gift, rather than the person of the Spirit. (2) Yes. See John 1416, 17, 23; 15:16; I Cor. 6:19; James 4:5. "That spirit which he made to dwell in us yearneth for us even unto jealous envy" (American Revised Version, margin). (3) Tongues were one of the extraordinary gifts (not graces) named in I Cor. 12:4-11. Says Paul, "Tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to the unbelieving." In our day they are not needed. Christianity has better proofs of its truth in its transformation of individuals and nations.

Steele's Answers p. 182.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Where Did Satan Come From?

QUESTION: Where did Satan come from?

ANSWER: From himself. As a sinless creature God created him, but as a devil he made himself (Isaiah 14:12; Luke 7:18, John 8:44, II Peter 2:4; Jude 6; Rev. 12:3). Dr. Bushnell and others, myself included, think that a scheme of redemption was provided which some angels accepted and became confrmed in holiness, and others rejected and became permanently fixed in wickedness.

Steele's Answers pp. 181, 182.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Transformed by the Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ

It will be spiritually healthful to dwell upon a few of the desperate cases which illustrate the power of the Gospel.

Paul thus describes a miracle of the Holy Ghost wrought in Corinth: "Neither fornicators, nor adulterers, nor drunkards, nor idolaters, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor revilers, nor extortioners shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God." Look at this rogues gallery, — as vile a gang as ever were sentenced to State-prison, — transformed by the grace of our Lord Jesus into a company of seraphs fit to be enthroned beside the archangels.

See Augustine, a rake transformed by the Holy Spirit, in answer to his mother's prayers, into the saintly Christian bishop. It was the power of the Spirit which changed John Newton, the captain of a slave-ship, into an eminent minister of the gospel of love, and the vicious tinker of Elstow, transfigured by the regenerating and sanctifying Spirit, into the glorious dreamer and author of Pilgrim's Progress, a book which has a grip on an earthly immortality next to the Bible itself. Take one of the many remarkable conversions of our own times; that of Jerry McAuley, notorious as the wickedest man in New York, a thief, drunkard, ex-convict, and noted river pirate. He was when nineteen years old sent to prison for fifteen years and six months. After he signed the temperance pledge, "he fell five times in the first few months and got fighting drunk." But after he let the Holy Spirit have the right of way through all his being he never fell again. He established a rescue mission in which hundreds, if not thousands, of sinners of his class were saved before his death, and many since he went up to receive a victor's crown.

Modern Methodists would receive a healthful spiritual tonic in studying the triumphs of the Gospel as preached by Wesley and Whitefield, disarming desperate and infuriated men, turning cursings into blessings, drunkards into sober men, whole communities of ignorant, besotted, and belligerent colliers into intelligent, peaceable Christians, thickly dotting their once semi-pagan region with elegant Wesleyan chapels, filled with joyful worshipers singing the hymns of the Wesleys, whose faith in the Holy Spirit's power to save was so strong that they risked their lives in preaching, to these worse than beasts at Ephesus, the glorious gospel of Christ. They believed that it could change lions into lambs. God signally honored their faith. O for such preachers everywhere, to-day and to-morrow and forever as long as sinners are found on the earth!

Well may the triumphant believer sing [with Charles Wesley], —

"Thou dost conduct thy people
Through torrents of temptation;
Nor will we fear while thou art near
The fire of tribulation;

"The world, with sin and Satan,
In vain our march opposes;
In thee we will break through them all
And sing the Song of Moses."

Jesus Exultant Chapter 11.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Temptation

Temptation is one of the conditions of human probation. We must be put to the proof so long as we are in this world. Character can be solidified and beautified in no other way. Solicitations to sin under various disguises severely test all men. Temptation is a fiery furnace which either anneals or annihilates. The question, Which of these destinies? is determined each for himself. It is the question of power to endure the flames. This power in turn is the question of the indwelling of God, making the soul and body his habitation through the Spirit. This ultimately hinges on faith. "This is the victory which overcomes the world, even our faith." This unites with God and infuses into us his omnipotence. Some are tempted in one way and some in another; some in their animal nature, and yielding, are drawn downward to sensuality; some are tempted on the intellectual side, and failing to overcome, they become skeptics and stumble on the dark mountains of unbelief. Kings and presidents are tempted by their possession of power, and by a crowd of flatterers; the beggar is drawn toward the low vices of falsehood, deception, and theft. How may all classes overcome? There is but one sure way — by being girded with strength by the Holy Spirit received by faith in Jesus Christ.

— from Jesus Exultant Chapter 11.

Friday, September 12, 2014

How Is the Power of God Obtained?

The success of a preacher is not so much in the strength of his logic, or the splendor of his rhetoric, as in the atmosphere of love in which both his pulpit and pastoral work are ensphered. The brainy man will be admired, but admiration is not ministerial success. It converts no sinners. The man of a warm heart will be loved.

Gospel salvation makes sanctified human love its electric wire to souls distant from God, and melts them into penitence. It is not possible for all preachers to be as irresistible in argument as Chillingworth, as brilliant in diction as MaCaulay, or as his gifted limner, Punshon; but all may have the baptism of love, perfect love to God and man, love the fountain of pathos and of power to sway men, drawing them to God.

If this secret of success is within every one's reach, how can it be obtained? Some tell us that we must commune with nature, study the beautiful flower, listen to His voice in the zephyr, and, in a reverent and childlike attitude, read earth and sky as two pages of God's love-letter to man. It is true that "part of his name divinely stands, on all His creatures writ." But only the sentiment of love, not the real virtue of love to God, will be awakened by the study of nature. The contemplation of Nature is one thing, but communion with the Personal God is another and far superior thing. Sentimental love bearing the Christian name will prompt no sacrifices, awaken no quenchless zeal, inspire no unspeakable joy, eradicate no inward depravity, tame no evil passion, make no roll of heroes, thrust out no evangelists, and erect no trophy of victory over the world. That this is a truthful description you will not deny after an examination of the characters of those who profess this kind of love to God. On their return not from communion with God on the Lord's Day, not in the house of prayer, but in the forest or field, what kind of fruits do they bear? Are they aflame with that love to God which obeys with gladness all his known commands, and diligently searches his Word for a more accurate knowledge of his will? Are they burning with zeal to spread his kingdom? Do they so earnestly love their fellow-men in the pagan lands, or in the slums of our great cities, that they gladly sacrifice for the success of Christian missions? Worshipers of nature have never been known to bear these practical proofs of genuine Christian love. They have not been to its source, they do not know the Person who enkindles every truly believing heart into a flame of love by dropping a spark from the skies. "Hope maketh not ashamed because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit given unto us."

Others assert that we do not need the Spirit to reveal God's love, that the Bible is all the revelation that we need. It is true that the Bible is our sufficient revelation of God's attributes, the principles of his moral government, the law he has given us, and the Redeemer whom he has provided. But my pardon and purity are personal facts which it is not the province of God's written Word to reveal, but his Spirit only. "No man knoweth the Son but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him." Many talk glibly about a Father to whom they have never been introduced by the Son through the mission of the Spirit, crying in their hearts "Abba, Father." They belong to the "many" to whom the Judge will say, "I never knew you, depart from me." Salvation includes much more than a book knowledge of God. It is quite probable that the entire New Testament, if not the whole Bible, will be found in hell in the memories of those who have read it, but have failed to be regenerated by the Holy Spirit. Thousands have read the Gospels, and have seen the Son of God pass four times before their eyes, and have failed to know him as their personal Savior. They can admire his sinless character and still say, "This man shall not rule over us." They are not new creatures, because they refuse to be born of the Spirit. They may have a historical faith in Jesus Christ, but they come short of that evangelical trust which receives him as the Savior and enthrones him as king. "They have the form of godliness while denying its power." Trusting in a form is building your mansion on a cloud instead of the Rock of Ages.

This is the great peril of nominal Christians. Their number increases rapidly wherever persecution has ceased and Christianity has become fashionable. They have never been transformed by its power. They have never really submitted to God and received his adorable Son as their infallible teacher, effectual Savior, and rightful Lord. They have never cast themselves in utter self-despair upon the merits of his atonement, crying, "for me, for me my Savior died." They have never received a response from heaven, the witness to their adoption, uttered by the Holy Spirit with a voice which no one knows excepting him in whose heart it has consciously resounded. They have no power because they have no life. They may have culture, science, money, and social standing, but they have no grip upon God, the source of all power. What they need is that vital power which overcomes the inertia of nature and makes the sluggish active.

Look at the apostles. Like all men they once preferred ease to toil, security to peril, and life to death. After Pentecost they knew no rest, shunned no peril, and counted not their own lives dear unto them in their attestation of the truth that Jesus is the Messiah of the Jews and the Redeemer of the world. Peter, who less than two months before had uttered cowardly lies, vainly confirming them with oaths, shaking with terror at the presence and questions of a servant girl, now looks the assembled Jewish magnates in the eye, and boldly declares that they with wicked hands have crucified the Prince of Life. Timidity yields to the might of the Holy Spirit having full sway in the believer's soul. Many regenerate persons are weakened by timidity. They are spiritual mutes in public and private. Utterance and boldness would be theirs if by faith they would submit their hearts to be strengthened by the might of the Spirit.

— edited from Jesus Exultant Chapter 11.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Conquering Love is Not Human, But Divine

Jesus Christ's method of conquest by love, disarming malice by turning the other cheek to the smiter, has been sneeringly criticized by a shallow philosophy as the vantage ground to wrong and not to right, as subversive of justice and good order, and inadequate to the cure of social evils. More recently a better philosophy, called altruism, has prevailed. Its primal principle is that the only way to beget right feelings, motives, and impulses in others is to manifest them as incarnated in yourself; that love toward the unworthy and malevolent will awaken responsive love. The second altruistic principle is that love towards enemies can originate and flourish on the plane of nature far below the sphere of the supernatural. The love that is conquering the world is not human but divine. Only by divine grace can you love the unlovely and hateful. You cannot do it by mere will power. Unchristian altruism is a fine theory but it will not work; it is utterly impracticable. Christianity is practicable when it successfully confronts all the moral, social, political, and economic problems, because omnipotence is its motive power, the omnipotence of that love which is sky-born.

— from Jesus Exultant Chapter 11.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

More Love, More Power

Another element of power inwrought by the Holy Spirit is love. We have all heard the phrase made classic in Christian literature by Dr. Chalmers' title to one of his sermons "The Expulsive Power of a New Affection."

A man's spiritual foes are chiefly of his own natural heart. He needs a power to bind these enemies and cast them out before he can have perfect peace. This power is love, not merely the natural affection for kindred and friends, but that supernatural affection "shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Spirit," causing our whole being to move God-ward and man-ward, because man wears the image of God.

The Holy Spirit must not be viewed as a material agent infusing a subtle, imponderable fluid into man's body. He is God's messenger through whom he communicates the good news that his anger for our sins is turned away from us, and that he now loves us because of our faith in his Son. This trust in Christ has caused a revolution in us, turning us away from our sins and bringing us into the sphere of his complacent love. This good news from God that he loves me, even me, awakens responsive love in me, a new affection averse to every impulse in me which is hostile to God. This is the philosophy of the expulsive power of love.

Do I need any such message direct from God? Can I not infer from a study of my own mental exercises, and a comparison with the description of God's friends in his written Word, that God loves me? Let us see. The same Word of God declares that he is angry with the wicked every day. My conscience testifies that I am wicked. Before I can have perfect deliverance from a sense of guilt and dread of punishment I must know, beyond a peradventure, by an assurance excluding doubt, that I have been taken out of the company on whom God frowns, and have been put into company basking in his smile. Inference is not sufficient. I must have an assurance from the mouth of God himself. This alone allays fear and opens the fountain of the purest joy. This message instantaneously communicated is in beautiful harmony with our Protestant doctrine of justification by faith, a momentary act taking place in the mind of the Moral Governor in heaven. The witness of the spirit is the link between the pardoning God and the pardoned sinner. The news of God's benefaction awakens love towards the Benefactor. Hence this love divine arises in us in perfect harmony with the structure and laws of the human mind. Love is the essence of Christianity and its central power which is moving it through the world, and which will ultimately draw all nations to God:

"Sink downs ye separating hills,
Let sin and death remove;
'Tis love that drives my chariot wheels,
And death must yield to love."

The more love the more power. Perfect love brings the maximum of spiritual power to the individual and to the church.

When churches decline in love they lose their power to attract and to convert. Then it is pitiable to see the ineffectual substitutes for the lost power. To hold the young people who belong to them by inheritance they resort to entertainments, but these do not transform and fill with divine love. They are soon disgusted, and fall away from attending those amusements, which are discovered to be only baits to draw them unwilling into the net of the church when all their inclinations are to the world and its more attractive entertainments, — the pleasures of the dance, the card-table, and the theater. This is a most woeful mistake made by many modern churches. It must be rectified or those churches will become extinct. When does a church die? When it loses its converting power, just as a family becomes extinct when its power of reproduction is lost. You will find in our great libraries A History of Burke's Extinct Baronetcies of England, Ireland, and Scotland. Some centuries hence there may be found in our libraries a History of the extinct denominations of the United States, the Quakers, Swedenborgians, the Unitarians, the Congregationalists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, and Baptists. They all died of one disease, — heart-failure.

 — edited from Jesus Exultant Chapter 11.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Overcoming Doubt

"But let him ask in faith, nothing doubting: for he that doubteth is like the surge of the sea driven by the wind and tossed.  For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord; a doubleminded man, unstable in all his ways." — James 1:6-8 (ASV 1901)

Incertitude is a paralysis of the soul's highest faculties. Doubt weakens by distraction. Etymologically it signifies moving in two opposite directions. It produces fluctuation, hesitation, and suspense. "A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways." He has a divine premonition that he needs "not expect to receive anything from the Lord." If he is a preacher, his announcement of the Gospel will be weak and ineffectual. He cannot speak with the assurance of a personal experience which is requisite to produce conviction.

How many preachers would multiply their efficiency and usefulness if they would kneel down by the side of Paul and repeat in faith his petition that they might be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man! (Eph. iii. 14-21). It was his experience of the revelation of the Son of God in him by the Holy Ghost that made him successful as an evangelist, mighty in labors, courageous in danger, patient in sufferings, and triumphant in martyrdom. No heroism was ever born of doubt. It is only when the soul is set on fire by some great moral truth, clearly seen and firmly grasped, yea, ingrained into its very texture, that moral sublimity in effort, in sacrifice, and in speech emerges. Doubt heads no glorious company of martyrs marching to the stake.

It is customary to advise the doubter to a study of the Christian evidences, to count the towers of Christianity, and mark well her bulwarks. Such a survey has done me much good, and I commend it to all who have leisure. But there is for the mass of busy people a shorter way. Everybody cannot thoroughly master the treatises of Bishop Butler, Archdeacon Paley, and President Hopkins, and, if they could, they might die before they had got so far along as to be convinced of the truth and receive Christ as both Savior and Lord. What is the shorter way? With the New Testament open before him, even if he doubts the ability of Christ to save, let him act on the truth he does believe, however small, and kneel down with a sense of dependence on some higher power or person, and utter an honest prayer for help. Let him, if he doubts even the existence of God, begin as one bewildered skeptic did, by saying, "O God, if there be a God, save my soul, if I have a soul." Our merciful God did not disdain to answer this prayer. The Holy Spirit showed in quick succession the greatness of his sins and the surpassing greatness of his Redeemer, whom he was enabled by the same spirit to apprehend by faith as his personal Savior. Now this shorter way, which we recommend to the slave ignorant of the alphabet, we commend to skeptical sage sitting in his ample library. On your knees pray for light, and as fast as it comes follow it. "If any man willeth to do his will" — God's will — "he shall know of the teaching, whether it be of God, or whether I speak from myself," as a mere man without divine authority. Heaven and earth shall pass away before one jot or tittle, one crossing of a t or dot of an i, shall fail in this promise in the case of one who seeks with a spirit of obedience to know Jesus Christ's character and mission. No man can be an honest skeptic till he has faithfully tried this shorter way and found that it leads nowhere. This way honestly trodden brings the doubter to certainty. Says Joseph Cook, "I assert that it is a fixed natural law that when you yield yourself utterly to God, his light will stream through and through your soul."

God honors obedience because it implies faith as its root. This truth we commend to those who regard it a special excellence to be in uncertainty respecting their relation to Christ. To be void of assurance they regard as an evidence of humility; whereas it is an evidence of a very defective obedience and of an absence of total self-surrender to God. As well might the guest without the wedding garment plead that this destitution evinces superior humility. Assurance is always accompanied by humility. Thomas never felt smaller than in the moment when his risen Lord stood before him challenging him to test the reality of his body. When he was constrained to cry, " My Lord and my God," "how cheap and mean his previous doubts seemed, and how deep his self-abasement.

— edited from Jesus Exultant Chapter 11.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Spiritual Power is an Endowment

When we inquire into the source of that might by which self is sanctified and Christ's kingdom is advanced, we encounter those who teach that it is developed within us by culture, as strength of body is increased by muscular exercise, and as intellectual strength is attained by severe study wrestling with difficulties. We are told that there is a germ of spiritual might in the most morally irresolute, and feeblest souls, which needs only natural stimulants to develop it into titanic strength. But neither experience, observation, nor history confirms this theory which theologians, from its first eminent advocate, called Pelagianism.

Spiritually the natural man is dead. Aside from divine help he has no power to purify his nature, and to soar aloft and hold communion with the skies. He has no wings for such a flight, nor motive power. These are the gift of divine grace under the dispensation of the Holy Spirit, the gift of the risen Christ. We are not slandering the natural man when we describe him as sensual, not having the Spirit, for we are quoting the adjectives used by an acknowledged expert, the inspired apostle Jude. It were as reasonable to incite a corpse to walk the streets, and till the fields, as to inspire an unregenerate soul to rise from earth to heaven in its affections by any power less than that which comes from God. An eagle cannot outsoar the atmosphere. The natural man unaided cannot rise above depravity.

Spiritual might is not a development, but an endowment capable of a great increase by faithful use. "Tarry ye in Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high. Ye shall receive power, when the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." This promise includes our times, for the uttermost pagan tribe has not yet been evangelized.

This source of power is ignored and neglected just in proportion to the conformity of the church to the world. This is to sympathize with its spirit, to be chilled and deadened by its unbelief. When for the first time the Paraclete was promised, Jesus said respecting him, "Whom the world cannot receive; for it beholdeth him not, neither knoweth him." A worldly Christian, if such a paradox is allowable, has lost acquaintance with the Comforter. Thus sundering itself from the source of power, it seeks various substitutes, such as impressive architecture, artistic music, costly bouquets, gorgeous ceremonials at the altar, and rhetorical fireworks in the pulpit. Every church is a machine requiring some motive power. One church, after declining into worldliness, causing the departure of the Holy Spirit, the only agent to attract, convert, and sanctify people, and frame them together into a living church, resorts to the power of fashion; courts the classes, and in adapting its services to their refined taste, alienates the masses, and thus loses a hundredfold more than it gains.

— from Jesus Exultant Chapter 11.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

What the Spirit Prompts, the Spirit Can Accomplish

Whatever duty the Spirit prompts a person to do, whether repentance toward God, or saving trust in Jesus Christ, or to seek entire sanctification through his blood and that perfect love which casts out fear, the same Spirit will enable him to accomplish.

Moral obligation always implies gracious ability. In every "ought" there is an implied "can."

But the endowment of the Spirit is not limited to his negative efficiency in the destruction of evil in the inner man. He is the ally of the believer in his offensive war against sin in others, in advancing the kingdom of God by aggression upon the ranks of Christ's enemies. When this ally is neglected there is no progress; the chariot wheels of King Jesus are taken off and the hosts of Satan prevail.

— edited from Jesus Exultant Chapter 11.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Highest Possibilities of Grace Divine

Sin paralyzes the will even where it fails to put a film over the eye. In the downfall of our race, in the transgression of our first parents, all our spiritual nature was damaged; the intellect the least, the will and moral sensibilities the most. Whence is the strength by which this weakness can be removed? Certainly not from within man, but from without; not from beneath, but from above, even from the source of all power, God himself. If fallen man is to overcome the evil propensities in his depraved nature and sit with King Jesus on his throne as he overcame and is set down with his Father in his throne, he must secure a mighty ally in the war which he must wage with the world, the flesh, and the devil. With this ally he can walk arm in arm in unsullied whiteness through the pollutions of the present world.

As Jesus Christ is to-day in spotless holiness (1 John iv. 17), so are we who believe in him with a faith that lays hold of the highest possibilities of grace divine.

It used to be argued that although man in his fallen estate has the natural ability to repent and believe, he has a total moral inability by reason of the perversity of his will. This deadlock between natural and moral ability was formerly urged as an excuse for impenitence, till the special call and the irresistible grace of the Holy Spirit should come to those who are written down in the register of God's secret will as unconditionally elected to eternal life before the foundation of the world. When Jesse Lee, the apostle of Methodism, came into New England in the last decade of the eighteenth century, he met everywhere, among saints and sinners, preachers and people alike, this pernicious doctrine, dishonoring God and destroying the souls of men. He banished it from the pulpits of New England by preaching the impartiality of the Divine regards, the universal extent of the atonement, and the GRACIOUS ABILITY of every sinner to repent through the help of the Holy Spirit freely bestowed upon all without respect of persons.

— edited from Jesus Exultant Chapter 11.

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.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Becoming Established in Holiness

In regard to the process of becoming established in holiness, I find this to be God's open secret — "to walk by the same rule and to mind the same thing." Phil. 3:16. The rule is, faith in Christ ever increasing in strength; the heart being fertilized with the elements of faith, a knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, the conscience being trained to avoid not merely sinful and doubtful acts, but also those whose moral quality is beyond the reach of all ethical rules, and known to be evil only by their effect in dimming the manifestation of Christ within. The rule of life, I find, must be sufficiently delicate to exclude those acts which bring the least blur over the spiritual eye. Heb. 5:14. If any act brings a veil of the thinnest gauze between me and the face of Christ I henceforth and forever give it a tremendous letting alone. As another indispensable to establishment in that perfect love which casts out all fear I have found the disposition to confess Christ in His uttermost salvation. As no man could long keep in his house sensitive guests of whom he was ashamed before his neighbors, so no man can long have the company of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the temple of his heart while ashamed of their presence or their purifying work. In this respect I follow no man's formula. The words which the Spirit of inspiration teaches in the Holy scriptures, though beclouded with misunderstandings and beslimed with fanaticism, are, after all, the most appropriate vehicle for the expression of the wonderful work of God in perfecting holiness in the human spirit, soul and body.

I testify that it is possible for believers to be so filled with the Holy Ghost that they can live many years on the earth conscious every day of a meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light, and of no shrinking back, because of a felt need of further inward cleansing, from an instant translation into the society of the holy angels and into the presence of the holy God. This was my daily experience since 1870. I have the Johannean evidence that my love is pure and unmixed -that is, perfected in the fact that I have boldness in view of the day of judgment. (1 John 4:17, 18, Dean Alford's Notes.) This joyful boldness is grounded on the assurance of a conformity to the image of the Son of God, and that I am, through the transfiguring power of the Spirit, like Him in purity, and that the Judge will not condemn facsimiles of Himself, "because, even as he is, so are we in this world."

Yet I am conscious of errors, ignorances, infirmities and defects, which, though consistent with perfect loyalty and love to God, need, and by faith receive, every moment, the merit of Christ's death. In other words, the ground of my standing before God is neither perfect rectitude in the past nor a faultless present service, but the divine mercy as administered through Jesus Christ. Hence I daily pray, "Forgive us our debts."

— from "A Brief Autobiography."

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Personal Testimony

I was born into this world in Windham, N. Y., October 5, 1824; into the kingdom of God in Wilbraham Mass., in the spring of 1842. I could never write the day of my spiritual birth, so gradually did the light dawn upon me and so lightly was the seal of my justification impressed upon my consciousness. This was a source of great trial and seasons of doubt in the first years of my Christian life. I coveted a conversion of the Pauline type. My call to the ministry was more marked and undoubted than my justification. Through a mother's prayers and consecration of her unborn child to the ministry of the Word I may say, "To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that should bear witness to the truth." My early religious experience was variable, and for the most part consisted in "Sorrows and sins, and doubts and fears, a howling wilderness."

The personality of the Holy Spirit was rather an article of faith than a joyful realization. He had breathed into me life, but not the more abundant life. In a sense I was free, but not "free indeed"; free from the guilt and dominion of sin, but not from strong inward tendencies thereto, which seemed to be a part of my nature. In my early ministry, being hereditarily a Methodist in doctrine, I believed in the possibility of entire sanctification in this life instantaneously wrought. How could I doubt it in the light of my mother's exemplification of its reality? I sought quite earnestly, at times, but failed to find any thing more than transient uplifts from the dead level. One of these, in 1852, was so marked that it delivered me from doubt of the question of regeneration. These uplifts all came while earnestly struggling after entire sanctification as a distinct blessing. But when I embraced the theory that this work is gradual, and not instantaneous, these blessed uplifts ceased. For, seeing no definite line to be crossed, my faith ceased to put forth its strongest energies. In this condition, a period of fifteen years, I became exceedingly dissatisfied and hungry. God had something better for me. He saw that so great was my mental bewilderment, through the conflict of opinion in my own denomination relative to Christian perfection, that I would flounder on, "in endless mazes lost," and never enter "The land of corn and wine and oil," unless He, in mercy, should lead me by another road than that which has the fingerboard set up by John Wesley. I was led by the study of the promised Paraclete to see that He signified far more than I had realized in the new birth, and that a personal Pentecost was awaiting me. I sought in downright earnestness. Then the Spirit uncovered to my gaze the evil still lurking in my nature; the mixed motives with which I had preached, often preferring the honor which comes from men to that which comes from God.

I submitted to every test presented by the Holy Spirit and publicly confessed what He had revealed and determined to walk alone with God rather than with the multitude in the world or in the Church. I immediately began to feel a strange freedom, daily increasing, the cause of which I did not distinctly apprehend. I was then led to seek the conscious and joyful presence of the Comforter in my heart. Having settled the question that this was not merely an apostolic blessing, but for all ages -- "He shall abide with you forever" -- I took the promise, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you." The "verily" had to me all the strength of an oath. Out of the "whatsoever" I took all temporal blessings, not because I did not believe them to be included, but because I was not then seeking them. I then wrote my own name in the promise, not to exclude others, but to be sure that I included myself. Then, writing underneath these words, "Today is the day of salvation," I found that my faith had three points to master -- the Comforter, for me, now. Upon the promise I ventured with an act of appropriating faith, claiming the Comforter as my right in the name of Jesus. For several hours I clung by naked faith, praying and repeating Charles Wesley's hymn "Jesus, thine all-victorious love shed in my heart abroad."

I then ran over in my mind the great facts in Christ's life, especially dwelling upon Gethsemane and Calvary, His ascension, priesthood, and all-atoning sacrifice. Suddenly I became conscious of a mysterious power exerting itself upon my sensibilities. My physical sensations, though not of a nervous temperament, in good health, alone, and calm, were indescribable, as if an electric current were passing through my body with painless shocks, melting my whole being into a fiery stream of love. The Son of God stood before my spiritual eye in all His loveliness. This was November 17, 1870, the day most memorable to me. I now for the first time realized "the unsearchable riches of Christ." Reputation, friends, family, property, everything disappeared, eclipsed by the brightness of His manifestation. He seemed to say, "I have come to stay." Yet there was no uttered word, no phantasm or image. It was not a trance or vision. The affections were the sphere of this wonderful phenomenon, best described as "the love of God shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost. It seemed as if the attraction of Jesus, the loadstone of my soul, was so strong that it would draw the spirit out of the body upward into heaven. How vivid and real was all this to me! I was more certain that God loved me than I was of the existence of the solid earth and of the shining sun. I intuitively apprehended Christ. This certainty has lost none of its strength and sweetness after the lapse of more than seventeen years. Yea, it has become more real and blissful. Nor is this unphilosophical, for Dr. McCosh teaches that the intuitions are capable of growth.

I did not at first realize that this was entire sanctification. The positive part of my experience had eclipsed the negative, the elimination of the sin principle by the cleansing power of the Paraclete. But it was verily so. Yet it has always seemed to me that this was the inferior part of the great blessing of the incoming and abiding of the whole Trinity. John 14:23.

After seventeen years of life's varied experiences, on seas sometimes very tempestuous, in sickness and in health, at home and abroad, in honor and dishonor, in tests of exceeding severity, there has come up out of the depths of neither my conscious nor unconscious being any thing bearing the ugly features of sin, the willful transgression of the known law of God. All this time satan's fiery darts have been thickly flying, but they have fallen harmless upon the invisible shield of faith in Jesus Christ. As to the future, "I am persuaded that He is able to keep my deposit until that day."

— from "A Brief Autobiography."

Monday, September 1, 2014

Authority and Faith

"Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life." — John vi. 68

Our text demonstrates that a craving for authority in respect to religious questions is natural to the human soul and that Christianity is more than a system of abstract truth addressed to the reason, — it is a series of facts to be apprehended by faith. We hunger for certainty in matters of such vital interest and of such personal importance. The interests are of too great a magnitude to permit us to rest at ease without a clear knowledge of our relations to eternity, and without all possible safeguards about our future well-being. Uncertainty brings suspense and fear. How natural the inquiry, is there no person who knows how to answer our religions inquiries, whose word is of sufficient weight to give to our anxious souls the confidence and security of certainty? How reasonable, if such a person should appear on earth and display undoubted credentials, unrolling his commission written by the finger of God and enstamped with heaven's broad seal of miracles, that all mankind should hail him with joy, and hasten to sit at his feet, to drink in his words, and to submit to his guidance, laying their hands in his, saying, Lead thou me, O thou unerring guide, for I am blind. What a value in one word coming down out of heaven direct, distinct and authoritative on a question of immediate personal interest to us all — an interest so broad that it sweeps in the whole of the endless future of the soul.

See the perplexed Grecian moralist in his cell at Athens groping for light on the destiny of man, and finding no clear and steady blaze flaming up from that heap of subtle reasonings, fables and traditions which Socrates piled up to illumine his own passage to the tomb and to cheer his lingering, weeping and inconsolable friends. How he cried out for a theios logos (θεῖος λόγος), a divine word, to shoot its steady radiance athwart their darkness, and to give the rest of assurance to their weary spirits.

Such a divine Logos have we, who is the true light coming into the world enlightening every man. He hath brought life and immortality to light. He did not originate the doctrine, but he established it on the basis of his own authority. No wonder that Peter refused to abandon this light. Peter, who had left his fishing nets to go spellbound after Jesus, Peter who had beheld the miracles wrought by his word, who had listened entranced to his revelation of things unseen, and who had gazed upon the transcendent glory and majesty of his Master transfigured on the mount. This thirst for authority cannot be suppressed. It is ineradicable in the human soul. If men are deprived of the infallible word they must be provided with an infallible substitute. Hence Rome sways the rod of spiritual power over millions because she professes to speak with authority. Even skeptics themselves, who contemn the authority of Jesus as derogatory to the dignity of true manhood, distrusting the authority of reason, unconsciously lean upon one another. Voltaire, Paine, Parker and Ingersoll, each in his respective age does all the thinking, and the crowd of skeptics of feebler wing or weaker brain follow cravenly in their track. Thus our boasted freethinkers think in the chains of a fallible human authority. Said a puzzled liberalist when asked to reconcile the conflict between Jesus Christ's pretensions and his moral excellence, "I must visit Theodore and ask him how he gets along with this difficulty."

Jesus Exultant Chapter 9.