This blog gains its name from the book Steele's Answers published in 1912. It began as an effort to blog through that book, posting each of the Questions and Answers in the book in the order in which they appeared. I started this on Dec. 10, 2011. I completed blogging from that book on July 11, 2015. Along the way, I began to also post snippets from Dr. Steele's other writings — and from some other holiness writers of his times. Since then, I have begun adding material from his Old Testament commentaries. I also re-blog many of the old posts.

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Results of Holiness are Desirable.

Guest blog by Bishop Jesse T. Peck (1811-1883):

The results of holiness are desirable. These are matters of experience. They can never be appreciated without experience. We begin to realize them at conversion when the work of holiness begins. Happiness is felt which no tongue can describe, arising partly out of relief from the enormous burden of sin, from the deep consciousness of guilt, from a terrible sense of the wrath of God, from the awful fear of punishment — happiness produced in part by the contrast which the soul feels between a state of pardon and a state of condemnation. But, besides all this, there are the beginnings of a new and spiritual life. The present manifest workings of the Holy Spirit upon the heart and the feeling of inward renovation are all suited to the constitution of the soul. Where the power of inward depravity is broken, and the feelings, motives, and will are brought into harmony with the will of God, inward comfort and joy are the natural results. And there is happiness in faith; for we are formed to believe; — to trust implicitly in God; and the manifestation of a Redeemer, suits precisely this propensity to confide in a power able to support and to ransom us. This is the rest of the soul. In unbelief, it is "like the troubled sea," agitated, weary, away from home, incapable of repose. In faith, the soul is at home, and must be happy. And there is happiness in love. We were made to love. The malevolence of sin is its principal virus. No man can be happy with a consciousness of hate within him. Hatred to God, to man, even to an enemy, will make the noblest soul upon earth the home of wretchedness. Love harmonizes with a sense of duty — with the primary fundamental laws of the soul; and he who first feels the gentle, sweet, subduing power of love can hardly fail to rejoice. To all really converted we may say, "Whom [Jesus] having not seen ye love. In whom, though now ye see him not yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory." And then there is bliss imparted — direct, rich beyond description, from the resident God within the converted soul, bliss which is designed to increase forever.

But what Christian does not know that this inward joy meets with sad interruptions from the rising power of inward depravity? This, it cannot be denied, disturbs the moral harmony upon which happiness depends, renders it irregular and uncertain in proportion to its amount and force. And to give permanence and certainty to the bliss of conversion, it must be totally removed. If it were to be always kept under, if as a source of temptation it were never to gain the mastery, the enjoyments of the soul, great as they are, would be far less than in a state of perfect purity. If salvation in part — if the beginnings of sanctification are capable of producing so much substantial joy; how much more may be realized when the work is complete? This is clear from a priori evidence, but experience must destroy every vestige of doubt. The deep, pervading, elevating and abiding joy in the state of entire sanctification is known, is matter of fact which both really and comparatively shows how desirable it is to be holy.

The power to glorify God is fearfully impaired by indwelling sin. The sad accusations of conscience, of history, and of revelation against believers, are in evidence of this. Sin utterly destroyed — the soul athirst for God and swallowed up in his love, and the divine glory then rises above every other consideration in earth or heaven. With what clearness and force can the soul wholly cleansed, glorify God by reflecting his image, by presenting truthfully his power to save, by showing the divine reality — the superhuman strength of experimental godliness. How conclusively it refutes all cavil in regard to experimental religious verities, silences infidelity, and dissipates fear by the indubitable evidence of fact which all men can see, and no man dispute. This is bringing glory to God by confounding his enemies, by demonstrating his claims and illustrating his living power to save the lost — a style of logic which transcends all the dictations of scholasticism, and leaves nothing to desire. And how potent is the arm which is thus held out to the feeble in virtue! What encouragement to the halting and despairing! The living demonstration of the power of grace lifts up the head that was bowed down to the dust, and the sweet, inspiring language of love invites the timid forward in the way to heaven, with a charm which multitudes are unable to resist. The work of God strengthens and revives; sinners are saved by scores and hundreds, by the living power of perfect love. We have but to suppose the whole church completely redeemed, and burning with love that casts out fear, to have some idea of the power in this experience to promote the glory of God. Who doubts — who can doubt that the aggressive energy of the church would then be in a high sense irresistible, and that the earth would soon "be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea?” The results of holiness! They can never be shown by rhetoric or logic. They cannot be appreciated without trial. We must feel the power of full salvation to know it. We must prove it when we are called to grapple with the monster death; — must enjoy it in the thrill of delight which heaven will bring to the enraptured soul; must see it in the glory that beams from the Triune God in that bright world; — must hear it in the songs and hallelujahs of redeemed ones, and angels, and seraphs, where "the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are forever at rest." Desirable! Ah! if it be desirable to be relieved from all fear — to be elevated to a state of calm and permanent bliss — to be able to glorify God even in the fire — to be ready for death without a moment's warning — to live with God forever, it is desirable to be holy.

 — edited from The Central Idea of Christianity (2nd edition, 1867) Chapter 4.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Evangelical Perfection

Perfect love constitutes evangelical perfection, the sum of all duties, the bond which binds all the virtues into unity. As we stand midway between the perfect estate of paradise lost and of paradise regained, regretting the one and aspiring to the other, but excluded so long as we are in the flesh, our gracious God, through the mediation of Christ, commissions the Holy Ghost to come down and open the gates of a new paradise of love made perfect, love casting out all fear, love fully shed abroad in our hearts. Love is the fulfilling of the law. To fulfil is perfectly to keep, not the old Adamic law, but the law of the new Adam, the Lord from heaven. ‘Fulfil ye the law of Christ, the royal law of liberty.’ This law is graciously adapted to our diminished moral capacity, dwarfed and crippled by original and actual sin. All there is left of us after sin has spread its blight may be filled with the fullness of God. Every faculty may be energized, every capacity be filled, and every particle and fibre of the being be pervaded with the love of Christ, so that the totality of our nature may be subsidized in the delightful employment of love, attesting itself by obedience, rejoicing evermore, praying without ceasing, and in every thing giving thanks. Says Wesley, ‘I know of no other Christian perfection.’ The hypercritical may criticize the term, and say that perfection cannot be predicated of anything human, and some advocates of entire sanctification may unwisely substitute other terms supposed to be less offensive, such as ‘the higher life,’ ‘the rest of faith,’ and ‘full trust,’ and other words which man's wisdom teacheth, but it will be found that they all fail to convey the exact and definite idea of the word ‘perfection’ which the Holy Ghost teacheth.

—from Mile-Stone Papers Chapter 3.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Editor's Note: Has Steele's Answers Run Its Course?

I began this blog in December 2011 with the intention of blogging my way through the book Steele's Answers. That project is now completed.

It took longer than I thought it would — but, then, the project also got more complicated than I expected.

Daniel Steele was one of the 19th Century holiness writers I read in the earlier stages of my Christian journey, and I scanned many of his books long ago. There were only a few volumes that I had neither read nor scanned. One of these was an old book (published a few years before Dr. Steele's death) called Steele's Answers. I had acquired a copy from AbeBooks, but I found that its contents were not arranged into chapters. The book was composed of short Question and Answer items in no thematic order.

It occurred to me that a blog was the ideal way to present material like this. So, I began this project without having read the book in advance. It was my intention to blog each of the answers in the book in the order in which they appeared. As of last Saturday, that project has been completed.

As I began scanning, editing, and posting the items from Steele's Answers, however, I quickly discovered that the book wasn't very good. That is when I began adding posts from Dr. Steele's other writings, and occasional snippets from various holiness writers of his times.

So, the project became a little more than I had originally foreseen — and quite a bit better for that.

The book Steele's Answers is actually a good reflection of its times — and the beliefs and practices of the holiness-minded Methodists of that day. But, sadly, it is little more than that. The answers are brief and often not especially insightful.

I may return to this blog some day and post some more snippets from Dr. Steele's writings — or from some other of the holiness writers. Or, I may not. We will see.

But, for right now, I am done with this project.

— Craig L. Adams

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Age of Accountability

QUESTION: At what age do children become accountable to God?

ANSWER: Some much earlier than others. The dispensation of infancy in some cases is hardly reached at 21 years, and in idiocy is never reached. I am acquainted with a person who before the fourth birthday' had read the New Testament entirely through ­ an instance of early accountability.

Steele's Answers p. 271.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Preachers Condemning Other Preachers

QUESTION: Is it for the advancement of holiness for a preacher professing this grace to scandalize in his own pulpit a minister of the Gospel because he occasionally takes his open air recreation by playing lawn tennis?

ANSWER: "Love suffereth long and is kind, hopeth all things and thinketh no evil." We advise this preacher, who thinks he is appointed a judge over his fellow laborers in the Lord's vineyard, to make a thorough study' of Paul's eulogy of love, the 13th chapter of I Corinthians. Uncharitableness does not promote any good cause, especially Christian holiness.

Steele's Answers p. 271.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Synoptic Gospels

QUESTION: Why are the first three gospels called "synoptics?

ANSWER: Because they give an account of Christ's life, while John reports his extended addresses. He aims to prove that the Son is God as he asserts in the first verse. This makes his gospel a polemic kind of argumentative treatise. The other gospels are narrative, not laying down a proposition and demonstrating it.

Steele's Answers p. 271.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Wives & the Sabbath

QUESTION: In the fourth commandment, Ex. 20:8-12, why is the wife omitted from the list of those who are forbidden to work on the Sabbath, neither "thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy man servant, etc."?

ANSWER: It is not because she must get breakfast, dinner and supper on the Sabbath, so that the saying is true, "woman's work is never done," but it is because she is included in the "thou" where she is regarded as sharing the hardship of the household on a level with her husband just as she is in the fifth commandment, "Honor thy father and thy mother."

Steele's Answers p. 270.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Mistakes in the King James Version

QUESTION: A Southern preacher is teaching that there are 2,000 mistakes in King James' version of the Bible. Is this so?

ANSWER: There is not a mistake which affects any Christian doctrine. There are petty defects in minute details, like the omission to dot the letter i or to cross a t in a manuscript. One translator says "Herod the King;" another says "King Herod;" this would be counted a mistake. I presume there are 2,000 variations in the American Standard from King James' Version, but not one of them can be called a mistake. The new version is an improvement by substituting modern words for those that are obsolete, such as "knew" for "wist" in Lu. 2:49, "knew ye not" etc., and "who" and "that" for "which" when referring to a person, such as "Our Father who art," etc.; and "are" for "be" in indicative clauses; and "an" for "a" before an aspirated "h." All these are doubtless counted as a part of the 2,000 mistakes. Preachers should be on their guard against statements which shake the confidence of the people in their Bibles.

Steele's Answers pp. 269, 270.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Labor Unions

QUESTION: Can a man belong to a labor union and still be a true follower of Jesus Christ?

ANSWER: He can belong to such a union as is conducted on the Golden Rule. But if the spirit of the union is to crush the nonunion man by demanding his discharge from the job in which you are working, the union has become a wicked monopoly, offensive to Christ because  of  its lack, not only of brotherly love, but of simple justice. "Be not a partaker of other men's sins; keep thyself pure."

Steele's Answers p. 269.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Beast

QUESTION: Explain Rev. 17:8, "The beast thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition * * * when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is."

ANSWER: The Revision has "and shall come," instead of "and yet is." The beast is supposed to represent the Roman empire, which once was, then it ceased to be, and reappeared coming out of the bottomless pit in the form of that spiritual despotism called the Papacy, to go at last into the like of fire with all like characters.

Steele's Answers pp. 268, 269.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Saying Amen in Church

QUESTION: Is it essential that we say Amen as a sanction to the truth? The church authorities forbid it as disorderly.

ANSWER: This is a matter of taste rather than of religious obligation. It seems desirable that audiences should be responsive to the speaker, but not in a boisterous way by very loud and frequent ejaculations. A quiet amen now and then helps and encourages a speaker, but too many and too often may confuse him.

Steele's Answers p. 268.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

On Keeping the Sabbath

QUESTION: Can an unholy man keep the Sabbath day holy?

ANSWER: He can cease from labor and thus outwardly regard the sanctity of the day, but he is not in a condition to regard it inwardly, "and call the Sabbath a delight, not finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words, but delighting in Jehovah."

Steele's Answers p. 268.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Sin of the World

QUESTION: What is the sin of the world in John 1:29, which the Lamb of God taketh away?

ANSWER: The singular, sin, in contrast with the plural, sins, in I John 3 5, is important. The condemnation of the race for "the sin" of Adam, its federal head, is unconditionally removed, though the hereditary leaning towards sin remains. The expiation of the Lamb conditionally removes "sins" in the plural by forgiveness and sanctification.

Steele's Answers p. 268.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Salvation Conundrums

QUESTION: If God takes away from the dying infant the bent to sinning, why does he not take it away from the babe destined to become adult?

ANSWER: This conundrum resolves itself into another, "Why does not God save irresponsibles and responsibles in the same way, on just the same terms?" A still harder question which this Arminian Question Box cannot answer is this: "Why does an impartial God elect to eternal life unconditionally a part of the human race, by death in infancy, and subject the other part to the hazards of probation in which they are to be saved conditionally?" Why does the Creator send into probation one through the gateway of a heathen birth and another through that of a Christian birth? All these questions I bind up in the bundle of mysteries which a righteous God may explain to me in the ceaseless ages of eternity. He has not revealed anything respecting the future of infants specifically except, "Of such is the kingdom of heaven"; and even this ray of light some would cruelly take away when they say it doesn't mean babes, but adults who have child-like qualities, such as trust, teachableness, and a sense of dependence.

Steele's Answers p. 267.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Salvation and Human Responsibility

QUESTION: Is it true that there is nothing in the hour and article of death to cause God to change the spiritual condition of the soul, either in part or whole?

ANSWER: It is not true of the irresponsible, infants and idiots, whom He saves unconditionally. Rom. 5:18, "By the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." No man will ever be punished for the sin of Adam, which is legally covered  by the expiatory death of the second Adam. All responsible persons must have persevering faith in Christ to avail themselves of the justification of life, eternal life. "If children, then heirs." Adam's sin will keep no man, but himself, out of heaven, who I trust through faith in the promised "seed of the woman" has been saved.

Steele's Answers pp. 266, 267.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

How Did God Speak to Israel?

QUESTION: Did God speak audibly and directly to Israel?

ANSWER: He had various ways of speaking: (1) through words vibrating in the air like the human voice, only much louder (Ex. 20:22; Deut. 4:33; 5:22-27; Neh. 9:13). (2) By the urim and thummin, as in Num. 27:21; I Sam. 28:6. (3) By the Holy Spirit in the heart convicting the sinner (John 16:8-11), and assuring the believer (Gal. 4:6). The prophets got their messages probably in this way. (4) By writing (Ez. 32:16; Dan. 5:5).

Steele's Answers p. 266.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Is Suffering Necessary?

QUESTION: Do not such texts as Luke 24:26, 46; Rom. 8:17; Col. 1:24; II Tim. 2:12; 3:12, and Heb. 12:6 teach that suffering is a necessary part of earthly preparation of Christians to enter into glory? (2) How can this be harmonized with the truth that "God is love"?

ANSWER: The suffering is for Christ's sake, to promote his glory by confessing rather than denying him. The suffering is not inflicted by God, but by his enemies, the persecutors, to whom all believers were exposed in the apostolic age, of which period this is explicitly affirmed. In a less degree suffering from self-denial and sacrifice for the promotion of Christ's kingdom in all the world is a part of the discipline of all Christians. Yet we are not to consider our piety spurious because we are not persecuted. (2) The God of love allows this suffering in order to develop those moral qualities which will insure our eternal felicity. Many men, like Abraham Lincoln, have thanked God for the poverty into which they were born, the struggle against which developed those noble qualities which made them eminently successful. The loving father chastises the disobedient son, and lays heavy burdens on the obedient one to develop his strength. Will the heavenly father do less? See Rev. 3:19.

Steele's Answers pp. 265, 266.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Our Daily Bread

QUESTION: Our pastor says that "daily bread" in the Lord's Prayer means bread for tomorrow. Is this so?

ANSWER: The original word occurs only in this prayer. Hence its meaning is doubtful. Some say "bread of our necessity," others say "for sustenance"; still others say "food for the morrow." Thus Christ does not allow us to go beyond the absolute necessity of the nearest future in our prayers for temporal things. This interpretation harmonizes finely with Matt. 6:34, which forbids anxiety for the morrow after having prayed for its supply. I think your pastor is correct.

Steele's Answers pp. 264, 265.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Atonement in Romans 5:11

QUESTION: What is the meaning of atonement in Rom. 5:11, "We also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the atonement"?

ANSWER: This is the only place where atonement is found in the King James version of the N. T. In the Revision it is "reconciliation," so that atonement is not now a N.T. word. Reconciliation signifies the restored favor of God received through penitent faith in the expiatory death of Christ.

Steele's Answers p. 264.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Baptism of Suffering

QUESTION: What was the baptism Christ spoke of in Mark 10:38, "Ere ye able to be baptised with the baptism I am baptized with?"

ANSWER: Both the baptism and the cup indicate overwhelming suffering by Christ and his disciples in establishing the kingdom of Christ. They endured ten imperial persecutions, during the first 300 years and were hunted and killed as outlaws.

Steele's Answers p. 264.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Is God Responsible?

QUESTION: My grandson was recently drowned. Some say it was God's will; and the boy's time to die had come. Is this true?

ANSWER: This implies that God  has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass. A mother near my house forbade her boy playing on a raft in the milldam. The boy disobeyed and was drowned. Did God decree his disobedience? It must be so, if foreordination is true. This makes God the author of sin.

Steele's Answers pp. 263, 264.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

How to Recognize the Holy Spirit

Some may be inclined to ask another question, How do we recognize the Holy Spirit? How do we know that it is He and not some lying spirit who is speaking to us?

The how of all knowledge is mysterious. The philosophers are not agreed in the method of our knowledge of the external world. Some assert that we know only our own sensations and ideas, and therefore we are not sure that there is a material world external to our minds. These idealists are inclined to apply the same reasoning to Christian experience and to insist that it is all subjective in its origin, that there is no God in it, that all the changes supposed to be wrought by a divine person outside of us, regenerating, forgiving witnessing, sanctifying and indwelling, are from hidden causes in our own minds. This kind of reasoning would deny the existence of any human personality outside of ourselves, as well as any material existence. It would reduce all phenomena to our own consciousness and ourselves to a string of sensations. All these absurdities must follow the admission that all our religious experiences are only varying states of our own thoughts and feelings with no external cause. Such a conclusion we are not prepared to accept. When the morning light dispels the darkness, I know that the sun has arisen, and I do not need a candle to see him rise. So when amid the gloom of condemnation for my sins, while trusting in Jesus Christ, a light suddenly shoots into my mind and a voice within cries "Abba, Father," and the feeling of dread is suddenly, changed to filial love toward God, I know that a divine messenger is announcing forgiveness of my sins. This divine sunrise is self-evidencing. I need no rush-light of human philosophy or testimony to certify it. What has taken place is that my dead soul has been made alive. This life has quickened my dormant power of spiritual perception, so that I know by unerring intuition the presence of God the Holy Spirit. "To know the Spirit," says Murray, "is the divine foundation of 'certainty." Christian experience rests upon the same basis with mathematics and all philosophy — "self evident truth, the activity of the immanent God in the human soul." (Joseph Cook.)

But we are not left without some light upon the question how we know the Holy Comforter. John says, "Ye know him, for he shall be in you," or as the Revised Version, "He is in you," the future being by prolepsis spoken of as present, as Alford thinks. The abiding indwelling of the Spirit is assumed to be in the consciousness of the believer.

He who knows the Holy Spirit will always have the Spirit's fruit as a confirmation of His inmost indwelling. But the knowledge is not the result of the fruit, but its cause. He must know in order to have love, joy, peace, etc. He knows directly by intuition, and not inferentially. Hence he needs not to be told by some experienced Christian, "This is the Holy Ghost." He needs no such introduction. The Spirit of truth brings His own credentials with Him, which even the most illiterate can read. He may not be able to tell the distinctive marks by which the voice of the Spirit is distinguished from the suggestions of his own heart, but he instinctively feels them.

He recognizes the Spirit of God as a solid and eternal reality, while the world with its glitter of gold, and rank, its style, pomp and power, is a brilliant but vanishing vapor. Hence he is ready, if he must choose between grieving the Spirit and the loss of all earthly good, to go to a martyr's death at the stake or block with shouts of joy. If you think I am theorizing, read Ulhorn's "Conflict of Christianity with Paganism" and Fox's "Book of Martyrs."

He who knows the Spirit quickly recognizes the stranger who has the same knowledge, when all the rest of mankind fail to discern the invisible seal of God in his forehead.

He does not look at the denominational badge. He is free from any overweening partiality to some particular earmark when the name of Jesus is on the sheep, for the Spirit of God dwells in all real saints.

"Names and sects and parties fall;

Thou, O Christ, art all in all."

The explanation of this fact is that the Paraclete is the bond of union, the Spirit of life, connecting each believer with all others by uniting them with our risen Lord. We have in our modern times telephones, which so transmit speech as to bind up into a social union and possible daily converse millions of people separated by hundreds and even thousands of miles. This is possible only by having all the wires meet at a common center. This center of Christian union and communion through the Holy Ghost is our glorified and adorable Lord Jesus. The agency of electricity in the social union of mankind is a faint reflection of the agency of the Holy Spirit in the spiritual union of Christians. The wonders of science on the plane of nature are of small account when compared with the wonders of the Spirit on the plane of the supernatural.

— from The Gospel of the Comforter, Chapter 22.

Friday, June 19, 2015

"Ye Know Him"

The declaration of Christ is, "Ye know him, for he abideth with you, and shall be in you."

We see no form. We hear no sound. We feel the touch of no hand. The Spirit does not address any one of the five senses when He creates the soul anew. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned by minds quickened into spiritual life by the omnipotent Spirit, the giver of life. In regeneration the Spirit is inscrutable, His act of new creation is to the subject a fact, a something done in an unfathomable depth below his consciousness. This fact is recognized only by its effects. He knows that he is a new man, that he is fundamentally changed in all his tendencies, that he is released from his accusing conscience, that his past sins are forgiven and that he is no longer cowering beneath the wrath of God, but basking in the sunshine of His love. He no longer thinks of Him as a police judge sentencing him to a deserved punishment, but as a loving Father. The filial feeling has been suddenly and mysteriously inspired in his bosom, and he hears with his spiritual ear new words sounding in his heart, "Abba, Father." Almost involuntarily he utters them with his lips. He is conscious of a spiritual transformation. The personal agent he does not perceive. In fact the personality of your most intimate friend you have never directly seen. Personality is spiritual and is recognized only by its effects — words, smiles and other actions. You may therefore know the Holy Spirit's personality by His works in your own consciousness, as certainly as a son may know his father with whom he has daily intercourse. We say this to show that spiritual knowledge has the same certitude as our knowledge of men and things around us.

Delitzsch writes in  "Biblical Psychology," pages 418, 419:
It happens sometimes that the indwelling of Christ and God and His Spirit signalizes itself with such an energy in the believer that the human individual life is overflowed and swallowed up by the divine as a river of delight. . . . In other cases it is certified that the walk of the Christian is in heaven actually ( Phil. iii. 20, compare Zech. iii. 7 ), by the fact that the future glory is not merely revealed to his perception as a subject of hope ( I Cor. ii. 9, 10 ), but is given him for a moment to see and share in by way of foretaste.
This is a state of ecstasy, the highest experience of heavenly blessedness and of a knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. The recipe for the attainment of this knowledge is found in Matt. v. 8, Luke x. 22.

— from The Gospel of the Comforter, Chapter 22.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Overcoming a Hazy Christian Experince

Andrew Murray writes:

It is because the presence of the Spirit as the indwelling teacher in every believer is so little known and recognized in the Church, and because, as the result of this, the workings of the Spirit are greatly limited, and, there is so much difficulty and doubt, so much fear and hesitation about the recognition of the virtues of the Spirit.
This spiritual incertitude, these hazy Christian experiences and weakening and distressing doubts in respect to fundamentals — the truth of Christ and personal salvation through Him — are the natural product of nebulous preaching on the subject of the offices of the Holy Spirit. This defective preaching comes from a negative experience of the fulness of the Spirit.

Conversions take the type of doctrines. The Wesleys, after a long and painful search, received the direct witness of the Spirit to the forgiveness of sins. They immediately began to preach this doctrine, strange to that era of spiritual death, though shining in the New Testament as clearly as the midday sun. People were converted by thousands, of whom John Wesley testified that ninety-nine out of every hundred could tell the exact time of their saving acceptance of Christ.

This is not the ratio of clear-cut conversions with a date among modern Methodists, because the offices of the Holy Spirit are not now so prominently and constantly held up before the people in the ministrations of the pulpit. What is the remedy? Let the pulpit be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Let preacher and layman who desire to know the promised Paraclete and to realize His indwelling, study the teaching of the Bible on this theme, especially the promises in the fourth Gospel. Gather these promises together and study them earnestly, and then turn to the Pentecostal fulfillment in the Acts, and to the full development and application of this doctrine by the apostolic writers, especially John and Paul. Approach these epistles athirst to find the artesian well of "waters springing up unto everlasting life," and to drink evermore therefrom. Study prayerfully and with faith all that the Spirit of inspiration has put on record respecting Himself and His indwelling and blessed work in your heart. Study in dependence on the Spirit, who alone can unlock the Word that He has inspired. Study with a will to follow whither the Spirit may lead, and with a complete self-surrender to God and that perfect self-effacement which Paul describes as a double crucifixion, "the world has been crucified unto me, and I unto the world" (Gal. vi. 14). Consecration is indispensable to the successful study in this high theme. It clarifies the intellect, dispels prejudices and misconceptions, and unifies and strengthens all the faculties.

In this attitude of hearty consent to the leading of the Spirit, obedience to Christ and crucifixion of the flesh, the persevering believer will soon find the Spirit working in him, first as a search-light revealing impurities and mixed motives never discovered before. Then, if the will consents to their removal, the Spirit will entirely cleanse the temple of the heart and permanently fill it with His glorious presence. He will beautify His sanctuary with the entire galaxy of Christian virtues. He will strengthen its walls and make them impregnable to all assaults from without, and He will insure loyalty within by His constant indwelling "who yearneth for us even jealously" (James iv. 5, Revised Version, margin). We must remember that in both the natural and the spiritual world knowledge is preceded by faith. We must believe the Holy Ghost before we can know Him. Every altitude of higher knowledge must be the result of a stronger trust. Faith must be the habit of the soul that aspires after constant growth. Faith ever has to do with the invisible and the seemingly unreal. The Paraclete is unseen to the natural eye, and the inner eye of reason does not recognize His existence. Hence faith is the only door for the Spirit to enter and the only atmosphere in which He can dwell. There is no way of knowing the Holy Spirit but by possessing Him and being possessed by Him, just as there is no way of knowing life but by living. In fact the Holy Spirit is the life of the believing human spirit. The spiritual life is as real to consciousness as the natural life.

— from The Gospel of the Comforter, Chapter 22.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A Conscious Experience of the Holy Spirit

The apostles knew nothing of an unconscious incoming and indwelling of the personal Paraclete. Unconscious regeneration in water-baptism and unconscious reception of the Holy Spirit through a bishop's hands in confirmation are doctrines lacking Biblical proof, the only proof possible after the exclusion of consciousness. The philosophy of the mind seems to require that the introduction of another personality to me, a person, must be with my assured knowledge. If a human person enters my library and addresses me while writing these words, I know it. Shall I not know it if a divine person knocks at the door of my heart and, at my invitation, enters? Will not His personal presence be self-evidencing? Will not His testimony to my adoption prove that He is a Person because He has faculties responsive to my own? If He takes up his abode in me, and converses with me and inspires love in me to Him and the other Persons whom He represents, shall I not be conscious of His personal presence? Love is a spiritual energy which goes forth only toward persons, never toward things. We admire pictures and statuary, but we love persons only.

— from The Gospel of the Comforter, Chapter 22.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Knowing the Holy Spirit

In what sense may believers know the Comforter? Jesus, who sends Him, assured His disciples that they should know Him because of His intimate relation to them, dwelling with them and ultimately being in them. The indwelling would be true after His future coming. If we fulfill the condition, which is love to Christ certified by obedience, we shall receive the Comforter and shall know Him. Of course we shall know when we receive so important a person. It will be a crisis marking a new era in our lives. It is evident that this is not inferential knowledge, though this is important as a confirmation. It comes from noting the fruits of the Spirit described in the Bible and comparing them with the Christian graces observed in ourselves, love, joy, peace, etc. Knowledge of God in the scriptural sense is assimilative. No man can truthfully say that he knows the Comforter when these fruits of the Spirit are absent. But knowledge of a person includes more than an acquaintance with his works. I had known the military career of Gen. Grant, and had read his brief dispatches after his battles, but I had no personal acquaintance with that great soldier till one day in June, 1856, he permitted me to be presented to him and to shake hands with him on the veranda of a Saratoga hotel. I then for the first time knew Ulysses S. Grant.

In like manner we may have such a second-hand knowledge of the Paraclete as we find in the Holy Scriptures and in the testimony of persons filled with the Spirit, while strangers to the personal Holy Spirit. It is one thing to know much about Him; it is quite a different thing to have an intuitive perception of Him, and to feel the thrilling and transforming touch of His hand, and to commune with Him by day and by night more intimately than with any earthly friend. This is the kind of knowledge invoked in the so-called apostolic benediction. We do not understand that in our knowledge of the Holy Spirit we differentiate Him from the Father and the Son, though some eminent Christians testify to an acquaintance with each Person of the adorable Trinity, one in substance, but three in subsistences. If such a knowledge has been given to any believers, it is quite exceptional. It may be universal in the future world; it is certainly very rare in this. In our present state it is enough for us to receive the love of God and the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ commingled in one blissful stream descending through the channel of the Holy Ghost. A distinctive knowledge of each person would tend to divide the divine substance and to lead to tritheism, three Gods.

In the scheme of revelation the Father revealed Himself in His incarnate Son. After His visible form was received by the cloud which hid Him from the eyes of His gazing disciples on the day of His ascension, the Paraclete was sent down to testify of the absent God-Man, to keep Him in the world's thought and to glorify Him who came to glorify the Father. Hence the Paraclete glorifies both the Father and the Son when He glorifies the Son. Hence Paul's prayer for the Ephesian church, "That the Father would give them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him." This and other texts show that it is not the mission of the Comforter to give prominence to Himself, but to Christ, to whom He bears witness. Thus

"...when a messenger comes to tell a king, when a witness gives a testimony for his friend, neither speaks of himself. And yet, without doing so, both the messenger and the witness, in the very fact of giving their evidence, draw our attention to themselves, and claim our recognition of their presence and trustworthiness. And just so the Holy Spirit, when He testifies of Christ and glorifies Him, must be known and acknowledged in His divine commission and presence." (Andrew Murray.)

It is in this sense that we are to have a knowledge of the Paraclete while He holds up a light for us to see the Father in His adorable Son.

— from The Gospel of the Comforter, Chapter 22.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Soul Winning and the Fullness of the Spirit

The intimate connection between efficiency and success in saving souls and the fulness of the Spirit, may be seen in the study of the lives of those among the laity and the ministry who have instrumentally turned many to righteousness. It is an open secret that their suasive power dated from the hour when their hearts were enlarged by the baptism of the Holy Ghost.

From this experience in the city of New York, in answer to the prayers of a few consecrated women, Dwight L. Moody dates the beginning of his highest efficiency as an evangelist. This made Mrs. Catherine Booth's preaching so pungent in convicting of sin among the middle and upper classes in the West End of London; while by the same mighty power as a conscious experience, her husband, Gen. Booth, was conquering the slums in the East End of that city of nearly five millions of souls. Dr. Finney, after the Spirit anointed him, was like an electric dynamo from which streams of power went forth whenever he stood up to preach, and sometimes from his speechless presence. Benjamin Abbott, converted late in life, so extremely illiterate that he preached on the "oyster man," misreading "austere man," preached in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland under the anointing of the Spirit with so great success that thousands were added to the Lord. A layman by the name of Carpenter was comparatively a cipher in the Presbyterian church until he was filled with the Holy Ghost, when he became, through personal effort, the most successful winner of souls in his generation. He drew men to Christ to the number of several thousands as estimated at his funeral. These are a few instances out of myriads in which the baptism of the Spirit has given all the qualities requisite for moving souls from sin unto Christ, love, self-sacrifice, persistence, fear, fearlessness, tenderness and sympathy.

We should have mentioned joyfulness as an element of great power in drawing sinners to salvation. Joy always attends the of the Holy Spirit. It differs from all other kinds of happiness which arise from a pleasant environment and depend on things external and hence changeable and transient. The joy of the Holy Ghost is internal, abiding and eternal. The joy of men and women pelted with brickbats and rotten eggs, taking joyfully the spoiling of their goods, has a strange power to convince the persecutors of the truth of the gospel, on the principle that "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church."

— edited from The Gospel of the Comforter, Chapter 21.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Enlargement of the Heart

It was the Psalmist who, according to the Septuagint version, testifies: "I ran the way of thy commandments when thou dids't enlarge my heart." In his early spiritual life there was in this Old Testament saint the same straitness, slowness and lack of momentum which characterize young Christians in modern times. His service had been enforced by the law and its penalties. Duty was a word which had not been written over and almost concealed by the super-imposed capitals which spell LOVE. But it seems there was a crisis in his religious life where constraint ends and joyous liberty begins; where irksomeness disappears and spontaneity in service is a permanent characteristic.

The crisis which separates these two experiences is the enlargement of the heart. This is a figure for what St. John calls "perfect love," and which St. Paul elsewhere describes as "the love of God shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost," though he once, at least, employs the Old Testament phrase: "O ye Corinthians, my mouth is opened unto you, my heart is enlarged." Reverse the order of these clauses, and we have the cause and the effect. A full heart makes an unloosed tongue.

The inquiry is all-important, When is this crisis reached? Some say "Never this side the dying bed." But no Scripture proof of this dismal doctrine is ever given. It. is not true that the believing soul must be a partly filled goblet till it is over flowed by the waters of the river of death. Others, say: All souls at the new birth are deluged with love to the brim, a love that drives chariot wheels as swiftly as the mysterious electric current drives our street-car, up and down our tri-mountain city, Such a steady motive power is not the experience of multitudes, yea, the vast majorities who are truly regenerate. Their inertia is great and the impelling power is feeble. Indeed, something worse than inertia is to be overcome; a strong opposition often arises within, which it takes all their strength to overcome. They have not a heart at leisure from itself to concentrate upon the work of God. True it is that a few Christians, like John Fletcher, very soon after their birth into the kingdom, because of a correct apprehension of their privilege in the dispensation of the Spirit, are deluged with divine love and become giants in faith. The mass of believers are mere babes in spiritual development. They see days of great weakness and are often on the verge of surrender to the foe. Some, alas, throw away their arms and run away from the fight and never renew the battle. Others fight all their lives with foes in their own hearts and never overcome and cast them out. They have been told by their preachers that this war in the members is the normal Christian life. Hence, believing their preachers instead of the Word of God, they limit His power by their unbelief, and never gladly run, but always sadly drag themselves along the heavenly way.

This large class of Christians need enlightenment and encouragement, and not denunciation. They need to dwell in thought upon "the exceeding great and precious promises,"that they may have an experience of the "exceeding greatness of God's power to usward who believe." They need to lock arms with St. Paul and walk through his glorious epistles, and get his large view of the extent of Christ's saving power, since He has sent down the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier. They should study the new Greek words which Paul coined to express the fulness of divine grace and the wealth of privilege which are the heritage of those who fully believe; much as that translated by "more than conquerer" ( Rom. viii. 37 ); "much more abound" (Rom. v. 20, 11 Cor. vil, 4 ); "and the grace of our Lord abounded exceedingly with faith and love" (I Tim. i. 14 ). Especially should they ponder that declaration of God's ability to save, found in 11 Cor. ix. 8, in which are two "abounds" and five "alls" - "God is able to make all grace abound towards you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work." They should daily repeat St. Paul's prayer for the Ephesians, emphasizing each petition, especially the ascription at the close, "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly (super abundantly above the greatest abundance, A. Clarke. ) above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us" ( Eph. iii. 20 ). There is not sufficient familiarity with the promises on the part of professed Christians. While unbelievers are prone to neglect the promises of the Holy Scriptures.

Again, the growing failure to magnify the Holy Spirit results in constraint and the legal spirit, instead of the freedom of the evangelical spirit, inspiring courage to run through troops of foes. How many so-called evangelical Christians there are whose creed is practically as defective as was that of the first believers in Ephesus: "We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost" as receivable into the heart.

This important item dropped out of a Christian's faith palsies his tongue, paralyzes his hands and enfeebles his feet. If he is a preacher, his message will be delivered in the weakness of uncertainty and doubt,. Splendid rhetoric and oratorical tones and attitudes tire beggarly substitutes for the unction of the Holy Ghost. The anointed pulpit will always be mighty. The Spirit inspires fearlessness, imparts freedom of utterance, enkindles zeal and unconquerable love of souls. All of those are elements of genuine eloquence. They furnish the man, the subject and the occasion.

The formal prayer meeting would be transformed by the enlargement of the heart. Dumbness, the penalty of unbelief (Luke i. 20 ), will find it ready and glad utterance, and the dry harangue will be replaced by the hallelujah.

Let the heart of Protestantism be enlarged by the fulness of the Comforter, and rivers of salvation would flow out unto the ends of the earth, vitalizing those which have been devised as substitutes for His regenerating and sanctifying power.

— from The Gospel of the Comforter, Chapter 21.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Salted With Fire

QUESTION: Explain Mark 9:49, "For every one shall be salted with fire." (R. V.)

ANSWER: "Every one" is not every person, but every one who "is cast into Gehenna," as in the preceding context. The fire is the penal fire of the obdurate sinner who under punishment is not annihilated, but preserved as salt preserves meat. God's love reciprocated gladdens forever; rejected it torments forever, for it will never change. The lost soul can never be indifferent to it, hence its misery.

Steele's Answers p. 263.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Norwegian Games

QUESTION: Am I breaking any rule of the M. E. Church by playing the Norwegian games in which occur many of the changes used in dancing?

ANSWER: The church forbids "the taking of such diversions as cannot be used in the name of the Lord Jesus." I never before heard of these games. I infer from the description that they are the A, B, C of dancing, which is specifically forbidden in the discipline of that church.

Steele's Answers p. 263.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The First-Born of the Dead

QUESTION: In Rev. 1:5 Jesus Christ is called the first-born of the dead. What does this mean?

ANSWER: It means that he was the first who arose to die no more. In this sense he was "the first fruits of them that slept." It also signifies prominence; he is the chief of all risen from the dead, and leader of the resurrection.

Steele's Answers pp. 262, 263.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Delivering Milk on Sunday

QUESTION: Am I committing sin by delivering milk on the Lord's day, having several poor families with infants whose fathers are too poor to take ice. (2) Is it wrong to give my cows brewers' grain?

ANSWER: I have for many years told my milkman that he need not leave milk at my home on Sunday, because I do not wish to take his day of rest away from others. He must, however, milk his cows and take care of the milk in some other way, which may cost him more time and labor than the delivery of it. It may be regarded a work of necessity and, in the case of the infants, a work of mercy also. I will not dogmatize but leave it to the conscience of the milkman. (2) The objection to brewery grain feeding is two-fold, it helps a bad business and it makes milk of an inferior quality, it is said. I do not say it is a sin.

Steele's Answers p. 262.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

The Doctrine of Eternal Punishment

QUESTION: On what grounds does the doctrine of eternal punishment rest?

ANSWER: On the authority of Christ, Matt. 25:46; Mark 3:29, "eternal sin," R. V., and that of his apostles, Heb. 6 2, "eternal judgment;" Rev. 20:10, "tormented day and night forever and ever;" and 14:11, "the smoke * * * forever and ever." The human reason sustains this in its highest upreaching, as in Plato, who supports this doctrine in the case of the incurable wicked. Given these two terms: a perverse free will forever refusing to repent, and the immortality and indestructibility of the soul, and eternal misery is the only possible inference. Both Revelation and Reason prove this awful doctrine.

Steele's Answers pp. 261, 262.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Who Changed the Sabbath?

QUESTION: When and by whom was the Sabbath changed to the first day of the week?

ANSWER: Indirectly by Christ on the day before his crucifixion, when he relegated to the Holy Spirit the many things the disciples could not then bear (John 16:12, 13), and directly by the church filled with the Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 20:7; I Cor. 16:2; Rev. 1:10). "I was in the Spirit on the Dominican Day;" the adjective Dominican described the Lord's Supper (I Cor. 11:20). This shows that the Lord's Day kept by John is not Jehovah's day; but the first day. Christ had much trouble with the Jews about the Sabbath. If He had made the change, His disciples were so weak as not to be able to bear it; some Christians even are so infantile that they cannot bear it now. Let them go eastward around the world, keeping every seventh day, and when they get back, having gained a day, they will be keeping the first.

Steele's Answers p. 261.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Are the Ten Commandments Still in Force?

QUESTION: Are the Ten Commandments still in force? (2) If so explain II Cor. 3:7-11.

ANSWER: Christ confirmed them in Matt. 22:10, and in Mark 10:19. (2) There is no collision between these passages. The more glorious dispensation of the Gospel does not vacate or abrogate the moral law. The atonement made by Christ honors and establishes the law (Rom. 3:21-31). We are still under the law as the rule of life, but not as the ground of justification. If we were, we should all be condemned. Nor are we under the law as the impulse to service, which is not fear of the law, but love to the Lawgiver.

Steele's Answers pp. 260, 261.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A New Heart

QUESTION: When is this prediction to be fulfilled, Ezekiel 36:26; "A new heart will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you"?

ANSWER: This seems to be a type of the rich blessings of the Gospel dispensation under the imagery of the happy condition of Israel after restoration from captivity in Babylon.

Steele's Answers p. 260.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Fiery Trial - 1 Peter 4:12

QUESTION: What is the fiery trial in I Pet. 4:12, "Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you," etc.?

ANSWER: This epistle was written in A. D. 64, the date of the imperial edict of Nero authorlsing and commanding the persecution of Christians. It is natural that Peter should forewarn the churches he had founded in Asia Minor of this trial of their faith, which would put them to the test as the furnace tests and purifies gold. Yet it may mean an actual suffering by literal fire, called the fire torment.

Steele's Answers pp. 259, 260.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Churches That Oppose Holiness

QUESTION: Is it right for a person professing sanctification to remain in a church where they oppose holiness?

ANSWER: "Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." Do not let Christian perfection get the bad repute of being schismatic, a thing that Satan very much desires.

Steele's Answers p. 259.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Did Paul Disobey the Spirit in Going to Jeruslem?

QUESTION: Did not Paul disobey the Holy Spirit by going up to Jerusalem against the warning of the Prophet Agabus, who came down from that city and warned him by word of mouth and by an impressive object lesson (Acts 21:10-14) that he would there be bound and delivered into the hands of the Gentiles?

ANSWER: The Holy Spirit did not forbid Paul's going, but loudly revealed the consequences, if he did go. It brought out the true heroism of the apostle to the Gentiles. He could have interpreted the warning as a permission to secure his own safety, in accordance with Christ's command, "when they persecute you in one city flee ye to another," a command which Paul several times obeyed. But he believed that it was God's will that he should go on even if it cost him his life. It was God's way of bringing him to Rome, where he and not Peter organized the church in the world's capital city.

Steele's Answers pp. 258, 259.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Could God Have Prevented Sin?

QUESTION: Could not God have refused to create the tree bearing forbidden fruit, and in this way have prevented the sin of Adam and Eve?

ANSWER: He could have refrained from such a creation, but in that case there would have been some other way of testing their obedience to their Creator. A test must consist in something which appeals to desire. The good-looking fruit appealed to appetite. It would have been too severe if there had not been a great variety of permitted fruit for their health and pleasure. Every free agent, without intelligence and experience, in attempting to find the line between right and wrong, will probably sooner or later find out by stepping over this fiery boundary and getting well scorched for his daring act. The liability of free agents to sin can be prevented only by suppressing their freedom and converting them into machines, i. e., by uncreating them. It is reasonable to suppose that out of all possible plans of a moral universe God selected that one which he foresaw would involve the least suffering. Therefore we should praise God for creating us with all our moral risks instead of censuring Him for the self-induced failure and suffering of as few perhaps relatively as the prisoners in our State prisons are to the entire population outside.

Steele's Answers p. 258.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Did God Forsee Sin?

QUESTION: Did God foresee that some men would sin and, refusing the Savior whom He provided, would be eternally punished?

ANSWER: A few good men, such as Bishop Wm. Taylor and Prof. McCabe, say God foreknows only the foreknowable; that the future moral acts of a free agent are not knowable. This would make prophecy impossible. Theologians almost all of them believe that God foreknew that some men would make themselves forever miserable. He could have avoided the misery by refraining from creating persons and by  being satisfied with a universe of things. This would be a dull universe without a single moral intelligence to commune with. God had from eternity just such a universe. I do not blame Him for preferring a chance with all the risks involved in the creation of free agents.

Steele's Answers p. 257.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

What is the Sin Against the Holy Spirit?

QUESTION (1) What is the sin against the Holy Spirit? (2) Must a person have a Christian experience before he can commit the irremissible sin?

ANSWER: Some think it is the culmination of a long period of resistance to the Holy Spirit, a fixity of sinful character towards which all sinners are steadily drifting. When this point has been reached the Spirit abandons the soul (Isa. 63:10). Others say that the unpardonable sin is ascribing Christ's miracles to the devil, a sin which only those who lived when Christ was on the earth would be apt to commit. See Mark 3:29,30. Others think that when after a course of sin some aggravating insult is offered to the Spirit, most sensitive Person of the Trinity, then does he resent it with a justice that knows no mercy. A good illustration of this sin is this: There is a fatal disease for which there is but one cure. One finds the remedy; another compounds it, and the third applies it. Neither of the three will do the work of either of the others. If the sick man refuses to have the remedy applied, but trusts in a general way to the kindness of either of the others, he must die, though the supply of prepared medicine is ample. The same dreadful result would follow, if, because of some great insult to the third man, a philanthropic physician, he should decline to medicate the blasphemer. (2) He need not have been a Christian, though a Christian may commit this sin. (John 5:16.).

Steele's Answers pp. 256, 257.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Character of Solomon

QUESTION: Was Solomon a type of entire sanctification?

ANSWER: No. He was a very good young man, but in his middle age and down to the day of his death he was a worshiper of his many wives' idols. If there ever was a carnally minded man on the earth it must have been he who had 700 wives and 300 concubines, two new honeymoons a month all his married life of forty years; a pretty type of sanctification! Yet some have tried even to make out that he was a type of Christ! "There is every evidence," says Dr. A. Clarke, "that he died in his sins. His crimes were greatly aggravated; he forsook the Lord who had appeared to him twice. There is not a single testimony in the Old or New Testament that intimates that he died in a safe state." His father said in I Chron. 28:9, "If thou forsake the Lord, he will cast thee off forever," as if he had a premonition of his son's awful destiny. There is more hope of Judas, who tried to undo his sin. There is no proof that Solomon even tried to repent.

Steele's Answers pp. 255, 256.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Lodge Membership

QUESTION: Is it wrong, according to the Scriptures, to belong to a secret lodge?

ANSWER: I do not think it wise or expedient. I find no Scriptures specifically condemning it, unless it be this. "Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers."

Steele's Answers p. 255.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

A Woman with Two Living Husbands

QUESTION: Can a woman having two living husbands be holy?

ANSWER: If she has procured a divorce from her first husband for a scriptural cause (adultery), she can be, as many interpreters of Christ's words teach. 

Steele's Answers p. 255.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Why Did Christ Not Know "That Day and That Hour"?

QUESTION: How can we reconcile Christ's ignorance of "that day and hour" with His Deity? See Matt. 24:36; Mark 13:32.

ANSWER: The union of the Divine and human in Christ is more inexplicable than the union of soul and body, solely because it occurs but once and has no analogy. His humanity was neither infinite nor omniscient. He grew in stature and in wisdom. Hence while on the earth there were facts unknown to Him. Had there not been, we should doubt the reality of His humanity. His ignorance of the date of His second coming, or of the destruction of Jerusalem, was a part of His humiliation as the Redeemer of the world. 

Steele's Answers pp. 254, 255.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Changing the Sabbath

QUESTION: If the Lord Jesus wished to change the Sabbath from the seventh day to the first, why did he not himself do it?

ANSWER: The day before he died he said (John 16:12), "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. When the spirit of truth is come, he shall guide you into all the truth." Everybody will admit that the treatment of the Sabbath was the most ticklish subject Christ had to deal with in all his intercourse with the Jews. Again and again did he rebuke their impracticable misconceptions, making it the most dreaded, distressing and awful day of the seven. If he had desired to divest it of the severities with which it was loaded down, he could not have done it without changing the day; and he could not change the day without breaking down the confidence of everyone of his apostles and disciples. Hence he left it for the Holy Spirit to teach, who did thus teach so that they immediately began to keep the first day. (John 20:19, 26; Acts 20:7; I Cor. 16:2; John 1:10, on the Dominical Day, i. e., Sunday). As the result the whole Christian world, except a little handful, keeps the first day. To cure this handful get them to go eastward round the world, and when they get home they will all be keeping the first day, having gained a day. Perhaps Carnegie or Rockefeller can be persuaded to pay the bills in order to rid the Christian world of this senseless clamor against it of a few discordant voices.

Steele's Answers pp. 253, 254.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Unjust Steward

QUESTION: How could the Lord, in Luke 16:8, commend the unjust steward who had perpetrated a series of frauds?

ANSWER: Note that the word lord does not begin with a capital, which always is the case when Jesus is spoken of. Note, that in the Revision it is "his lord." This makes it still more plain that it refers to the master of the steward, whose acuteness and forethought in feathering his own future nest, and not his rascally way of doing it, his master praised, probably with a laugh, exclaiming, "Isn't he a cute fellow?" Another explanation is that the steward had overcharged the tenants and pocketed the surplus; so that marking down of the debts of the tenants was really a righting of fraud against them. In this case the master was not the loser. In either case he was a bad man. But his cunning, not his rascality, is approved.

Steele's Answers pp. 252, 253.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Flesh

QUESTION: I am much perplexed by the different meanings of "flesh" in the N.T. Can you not give some light on this subject which will simplify matters?

ANSWER: The use of one word with several meanings is because there are more ideas than words in any language. It will help you to know that "flesh" has the signification of sinfulness only in Paul's epistles, who sometimes uses it in a good sense, as when he says "the life that I live in the flesh," meaning his body. Outside of Paul's epistles it means either the living tissue covering the bones, or the body as a whole, or all men when "all flesh" occurs. Paul does not use it as a synonym for sin, but as "proneness to sin," usually to sensuality, but sometimes it includes sins which are independent of the body; such as pride and malice. "Flesh" in the Gospels is not used in the moral sense, but in the physical, as in John 8:4, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh."

Steele's Answers p. 252.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Titles of the Followers of Christ

QUESTION: What are the different titles given to the followers of Christ in the New Testament?

ANSWER: (1) "Christians." They were so called first by outsiders, then afterwards by themselves. Hence it is used only in Acts 11:26, 26:28 and I Pet. 4:16. (2) Disciples, answering to Master or Teacher. It was borrowed from the Jewish schools. Once, in Acts 19:1, those who had received only John's baptism are called disciples. (3) "Brethren." This was the first title given to Christians after the ascension (Acts 1:15, R. V.). It occurs twenty times afterwards in the same book. (4) The title "saints" (the holy) denoting the consecration and initial sanctification of believers. It is Paul's favorite term, being found thirty-one times in his epistles. John uses it only in the Revelation, and Jude only once. 

Steele's Answers pp. 251, 252.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Desire and Sin - James 1:14

QUESTION: Explain James 1:14, "Every one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust and enticed." (2) Show the relation of thought to sin.

ANSWER: Lust is not a bad word in the Greek. It is often simple desire. It derives its evil meaning from the bad object to which it is "drawn out," which is a better translation than "drawn away." Lust has conceived when it moves the will to the evil purpose. The sin lies at this point, even before it becomes an outward act. (2) The thought of imagination of a sin is not sin, but rather it is the fuel of sin. It takes a volition to create a fire, a sin. It is the safest way to have in the mind as little fuel of sin as possible, to think as little as possible about the pleasure of sin. It is true that we cannot control the succession of our thoughts. But we can generally arrest the course of thought and turn it into another channel and keep the thinking of evil from becoming a habit. The adage is, "We cannot prevent birds fiying over our heads, but we can prevent their building their nests in our hair."

Steele's Answers pp. 250, 251.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Supernatural Fire

QUESTION: In Lev. 10:2 we read, "and a fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord." What authority is there for stating that they were killed by lightning?

ANSWER: Only a few minutes before this (9:24) "fire from before the Lord had consumed the sacrifice." It is quite certain that both fires were supernatural, for they are both spoken of in the same terms. The one consumed the burnt offering in token of the sacred nearness, and the other devoured the blasphemers as if they had been carrion.

Steele's Answers p. 250.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Jesus' Brothers and Sisters

QUESTION: Did Mary, the mother of Christ, have other children after Jesus, or are James, Joses, Judas, Simon and their sisters, of whom Jesus is called "brother" in Mark 6:3, cousins of Jesus, as some say?

ANSWER: The Papists, in their attempt to prove the perpetual virginity of Mary, insist that "brother" means cousin, and that "firstborn" in Matt. 1:25 is a spurious reading. Dean Alford well says: "No one would ever have thought of interpreting this verse any otherwise than its prima facie meaning, except to force it into accordance with a preconceived notion of the perpetual virginity of Mary." Other Romanists, finding it very difficult to prove that the brothers and sisters are cousins, try to prove that they are Joseph's children by a former marriage!

Steele's Answers pp. 249, 250.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

When Did Christ Fulfill the Law?

QUESTION: When did Christ fulfill the law (Matt. 5:17); was it at at his resurrection?

ANSWER: The Law was threefold, ceremonial, political, and moral. The first two parts were fully accomplished and ceased to be obligatory, when Christ died. But the moral law was conformed by Christ's obedience and atonement, and by the inspiration of love to the Law-giver he potentially perfected the obedience of those who believe in Him; i e., He made it possible for his saints perfectly to keep the law by perfectly loving Him, the revelation of God. Moreover, he deepened the requirement of  the law, going back of the act to the motive, to the impure look and to hatred, the essence of murder.

Steele's Answers p. 249.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Making Friends by Mammon

QUESTION: What is meant by Luke 16:9, "Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness"?

ANSWER: Read the Revision, "Make to yourselves friends by means of the mammon of unrighteousness," i. e., by the charitable use of money wisely bestowed upon those starving for material bread or for the bread of life, who, having gone to heaven before you, will be at the gate to welcome you to the eternal tabernacles.

Steele's Answers p. 249.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Where the Spirit is, There is the Church

The maxim of Protestantism of the low-church, nonritualistic type is this, "Where the Spirit is, there is the Church": The maxim of the Papist and sacramentarian is, "Where the Church is, there is the Spirit." In the first case the Spirit creates the Church; in the other the Church professedly insures the presence of the Spirit. But He dwells only in hearts, not in sacraments or in organizations. Hence no organization, however apostolic its history and successive in its ordinations, can secure the Holy Spirit. Paul exhorts believers "earnestly to strive to maintain the unity of the Spirit (the oneness which He brings about) in (or within) the bond of peace," i. e., the bond by which peace is conserved, which is love. As Christ came to establish peace on earth, so the Holy Ghost, "another Comforter," came to execute Christ's purpose, not by treaties formed by diplomats, but by "shedding abroad the love of God" in the hearts of men. Says Chrysostom, "The Spirit unites those who are widely sundered by nationality and different manners."

George Bowen writes:

We profess to desire earnestly the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, but we shall do well to note that one of the first things which the Holy Spirit will aim to produce in us will be this Christlike love to the brethren. How many brethren in Christ are now effectively separated from you by a high wall of social position, a wall of conventionality that has been reared by Christian pride? Were Christ's mysterious and unfathomable love to them to find its way, perchance, into your heart, how it would laugh at the huge hindrance of this wall, and by a breath cause it to dissolve into the ambient air! This is no hypothesis. In lands where the Spirit of God is poured out we are told of the sudden and beautiful flowing together of social streams that have flowed separately on for generations. Love like that which Jesus manifested to the Samaritan woman and to the woman who was a sinner, has now found new exhibitions of itself.

— from The Gospel of the Comforter Chapter 20.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Two Kinds of Church Unity

In His high-priestly prayer (John xvii.) Jesus prays for His disciples, "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one." There are two kinds of church unity – mechanical like the staves of a barrel held together by the external pressure of hoops; and vital, like the roots, trunk and branches of a tree unified by the mysterious inward force which we call life. For which of these did Jesus pray? We find our answer in these words which He had just uttered, "I am the true vine" (John xv. 1). He prayed for vital unity, the only oneness worth praying for. This is infinitely superior to that illusory thing after which many are striving, a church unity through an exterior governmental uniformity. Partisan unity is a good machine for developing political power, but it cannot be used by the great unifier, the Giver and Lord of life, the Holy Spirit. It is He who unites all regenerate souls to Christ, and hence to one another, by His creative and vitalizing touch, drawing all into a marvelous oneness, "a oneness spiritually organic, in which each personality, while quite exempt from invasion, falls under the power of a divine cohesion whose results in spiritual harmony of life and action will develop forever." (Moule.) The invisible church is always one body, of which the risen Christ is the Head. It would be a pleasant thing to have the invisible exactly commensurate with the visible containing all the members of the invisible church and no others. But under the present dispensation this can never be, because the doorkeeper of the invisible is the heart-knowing Spirit, and the doorkeepers of the visible Church are fallible men. This is hinted at very strongly by Christ in the parable of the tares and the wheat growing together until the harvest. He evidently had in mind the visible Church, also, when He compared the kingdom of heaven to "a drag-net that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind; . . . and they gathered the good into vessels, but the bad they cast away" (Matt. xiii. 47). Such an instrument the Holy Spirit does not use. He takes the fish individually one by one; and no sorting is required. There is no discount of His results.

There can be no substitute for the Spirit in producing that unity which will endure all the changes and adversities of life, which will gain the approval of God as realizing His ideal of the Church, and which will savingly influence the world in answer to Christ's prayer for the oneness of all His disciples, "that the world may believe that thou hast sent me." This was the power which conquered the unbelief of the persecutors of the primitive Church. "Behold how these Christians love one another!" This love did not arise from similar intellectual tastes, nor from assent to the same creed, but from the indwelling in their hearts of the same Holy Spirit inciting to mutual love. When love declines through a relaxation of faith and the uprising of selfishness because of the withdrawal of the Spirit from His conscious indwelling, divisions, parties, cliques and sects arise. When we walk along the shore of the sea we observe pools here and there with their inhabitants separated from each other by rocks and stretches of sand, preventing communication between them. This is because the tide is out. But when it again rises and floods the beach the separate pools are swallowed up in the one great ocean. When the Spirit pours floods upon the dry grounds, self is submerged and Christian unity is restored.

— from The Gospel of the Comforter Chapter 20.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Altitudes Where Christians See Eye to Eye

Above the mists there are altitudes of Christian experience where believers see eye to eye. Intellectual differences which once stood between them like impassable mountains now seem to their downward gaze like molehills. It is possible to dwell amid the Alpine sublimities of truth so long as to drop our small measuring rods and to acquire larger ones commensurate with the grandeurs about us. It is the office of the Holy Spirit to lift aspiring believers to such Pisgah heights as Paul was familiar with when he prayed that the Ephesians "might be strong to apprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and heighth and depth, and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled unto all the fulness of God." Wherever this prayer is answered there will be Christian unity.

"Plunged in the Godhead's deepest sea,
And lost in its immensity."

Trifles will not unhinge and divide a company of such believers.

— from The Gospel of the Comforter Chapter 20.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Does the Fullness of the Spirit Divide?

It is alleged by some that the fulness of the Holy Spirit received by faith in Christ's Pentecostal promise does not unite, but rather divides local churches. This is not true where the entire membership receive their full heritage. The members of such churches are welded together in the closest possible unity, such as extorted admiration even from persecutors. "Behold how these Christians love one another." Such a church is indeed a spiritual brotherhood.

"One with our brethren here in love,
And one with saints that are at rest,
And one with angel hosts above,
And one with God forever blest."

But where part of a church are only nominal Christians, baptized worldlings, who either never knew the Lord Jesus as their Saviour or have fallen from grace, there arises a division, caused not by the Holy Ghost, but by those professors who resist Him in His work of purification. This is what Christ Himself predicted. The founder of Christianity, in putting down the kingdom of Satan whose works He came to destroy, brought disturbance and division to every family, every synagogue, every city and every social organization, a part of whose members rejected Him while a part received Him as both Savior and Lord. Real living Christianity is always a disturber of worldliness and sin, bringing a sword on the earth.

— from The Gospel of the Comforter Chapter 20.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

How the Sects of Christianity Can Remain United

The various sects which divide the Christian world can keep the unity of the Spirit and dwell in peace so long as they are filled with true charity. How can this fulness be insured? Can we originate Christian love? Can we love at will? No. But having in the divine promises a sufficient ground for faith in Jesus Christ, we may ask for the presence of the Comforter in our hearts, whose office it is "to shed abroad the love of God," which is always attended by love to all who bear His natural image, and especially to all who bear His moral image restored by the new birth. Here is the real basis of Christian unity. It is spiritual and not ecclesiastical; not theological beyond the basal truths of orthodoxy; not sacramental and ceremonial. The manner and significance of water baptism, the Lord's Supper and the number and gradation of ordinations should be regarded as in the sphere of liberty. Is God revealed in His divine Son, Jesus Christ, the only Savior, and does He communicate Himself to believers in the personal Holy Spirit, the only Sanctifier? This is a doctrinal basis sufficient for the unity of all Christians. It is not possible to dwell in Christian unity with those who deny these fundamentals. They do not dwell in the same sphere with us, since they disclaim belief in the offices of the personal Holy Spirit and disbelieve in the Godhead of Jesus Christ, through whom we receive the Paraclete, who implants regenerating love and perfects sanctifying love, the element of Christian unity. Yet we should, without regard to religious belief, co-operate with all good citizens to abate and abolish evils which prey upon society, to enlighten the ignorant, to lift up the fallen and to remove snares from the feet of the tempted. While we believe that society can be most effectively regenerated by regenerating the individual, we should, while applying the truth to secure this end, cherish and express a lively sympathy with all who, though they "follow not us," are trying to cast out devils in the name of Jesus regarded as a mere religious teacher and reformer. They are, so far as the moral well-being of society is concerned, our allies in the great battle with the hosts of the evil one, though they are fighting with bows and arrows when they might be firing Remington rifles. But it must be borne in mind that Christian unity, as Dean Alford well says, "is conditioned and limited by the truth; and is not to be extended to those who are enemies and impugners of the truth;" who reject the real Christ and preach a phantom Jesus, and whose morals are as corrupt as their faith is false. To have fellowship with such a man is "to be a partaker of his evil deeds" (II John ix. 11).

— from The Gospel of the Comforter, Chapter 20.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Unity of the Spirit

"Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Ephesians 4:3 KJV.)

The apostle Paul beseeches the Ephesian church to be diligent, to be constantly keeping that essential unity which the personal Holy Spirit originates in the true Church of Christ. The element of principle in which this oneness is maintained is peace, "the bond of peace." The exhortation to diligence implies that in keeping this unity human agency must be vigorously applied. Why cannot the Holy Spirit alone continue that unity of which He is the sole author? We answer, that [where] there is an obedient will He could preserve that concord which He has produced, if it were the province of the divine Spirit to assimilate intellects as well as hearts. Grace does not harmonize divergent reasons and conflicting judgments. We are to think and let think, and accept the honest conclusion within the limits of Christian orthodoxy. We must within this sphere agree to disagree, as did John Wesley and George Whitefield on the five points of Calvinism, while still loving each other. The hearts of Barnabas and Paul were united while a practical question on which they differed made it expedient for them to labor for a season in different fields. The diligent endeavor which Paul urges the Ephesians to make is to be directed against magnifying differences of opinion on minor questions into causes of heart alienation. It requires constant effort to keep this threefold maxim:

"In non-essentials liberty;
In essentials unity;
In all things charity."

— from The Gospel of the Comforter Chapter 20.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Safeguards Against a Fanatical Conscience

This is the place to set up safety guards against the danger of a fanatical conscience, which is sometimes associated with extreme and erroneous views respecting the guidance of the Spirit. We lay down the following principles:

  • The Holy Spirit dwelling in the heart does not supersede the activity of our own reason, judgment and moral sense in the decision of practical questions.
  • While the Holy Spirit's testimony to the fact of adoption, including pardon, is direct and infallible when corroborated by the fruit of the Spirit, His guidance in the conduct of life is not designed to be sole and infallible, but in connection with the inspired Word, our own common sense, divine Providences and the godly judgment of Christian people.
  • No guidance is of the Holy Spirit which collides with the Bible inspired by the Spirit. In such collision the Holy Scriptures must be followed in preference to the supposed leading of the Spirit.
  • The Holy Spirit, so named because it is His office to create and conserve holiness, never leads into sin, nor to doctrines which belittle sin by denying its exceeding sinfulness and its desert of eternal punishment, or by weakening the motives to repentance.
  • It being the office of the Spirit to glorify Christ, no teaching that disparages His divinity as the only Savior can come from the Spirit.
  • It being the work of the Spirit to regenerate and to sanctify, the declaration of any substitute for the new birth and holiness cannot be approved by the Spirit of truth, much less can be inspired by Him.
  • In practical matters, the province of mutable morality, where fallible intellectual processes are involved and erroneous conclusions are possible, it is a species of fanaticism to ascribe such conclusion to the Holy Spirit.

There are two classes of people with whom pastors of churches have difficulty. The first consists of those who consider conscience as infallible beyond the sphere of motives, dispositions and principles, and insist on infallibility in all practical questions, the realm of mutable ethics. They demand that the decisions of the intellect in respect to all moral subjects should be regarded as always right and clothed with the authority of intuitive judgments. Just here is found a fruitful source of most dangerous self-deception and of fanaticism in its various forms and degrees.

The second class includes those who make an analogous mistake in respect to the Holy Spirit. They insist that His infallibility, evinced in His direct witness to adoption, be carried into all questions of every-day life, questions involving intellectual research and the practical reason.

These erroneous claims respecting conscience and the Holy Spirit put these two classes beyond the reach of argument, persuasion and advice. If members of the church, they inevitably become dictatorial, censorious and schismatic.

— from The Gospel of the Comforter, Chapter 19.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Conscience and the Work of Sanctification

It is interesting and instructive to note the relation of the Holy Spirit to conscience in the work of regeneration and sanctification. If man was created to be a temple of God, his spirit must be the holy of holies in which He dwells, and his conscience must be the Ark of the Covenant which carries His law. Sin defiled that sacred ark and rendered it offensive to the holy God. The scheme of redemption must have direct reference to the purification of the conscience. The writer to the Hebrews intimates that Mosaism "did not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience" ix. 9), and he exhorts the believer to "draw near, having his heart sprinkled from an evil (guilty) conscience" (x. 22). The conscience, relieved of guilt through faith in the atonement made by Christ, and ever after prompting to a life of obedience, is the spiritual organ in which the Holy Spirit evermore dwells, keeping watchful guard over the living law in the heart and constantly witnessing to the persevering believer that he is a child of God. Peace, the fruit of the Spirit, can dwell only with a "conscience void of offence." Holiness, the work of the Spirit, is also attested by conscience. "For our glorying is this, the testimony of our conscience that in holiness we behaved ourselves," etc. (II Corinthians i. 12, Revised Version).

— from The Gospel of the Comforter Chapter 19.

Friday, May 1, 2015

The Holy Spirit and Conscience

Prof. Whewell, in his "Moral Philosophy," asserts that every human volition expressive of a choice has a moral character which would be perceived by our moral sense were it sufficiently keen. This is a declaration that there are no acts morally indifferent, styled by the Greeks adiaphora, such as the choice of the color of a necktie, the length of an overcoat, or the kind of food I may order for my dinner at a restaurant. Most of us are so morally obtuse as to see no ethical quality in these choices, and are disposed to call him morbid and impractical who finds moral obligations in the selection of shoestrings. But we may be doing injustice to those rare consciences which have attained a more subtle moral discrimination than the multitude who laugh at scruples which they cannot appreciate. For it is possible that culture may impart such an insight into the tendencies of apparent trifles as to discern a disastrous moral outcome in the long run.

Paul asserts his love for the Hebrew nation, his "kinsmen according to the flesh," declaring that his conscience was "bearing him witness in the Holy Ghost." This strong asseveration implies an intimate relation between the Spirit and conscience. We may not be able to give a full and accurate statement of this relation. Among the self-evident truths with which the human mind is originally furnished is the distinction between right and wrong. The power to discover this distinction inheres in every sane mind. On questions relating to immutable morality all such minds agree in their decisions. Such questions are few, and theoretical rather than practical. They are not modified by circumstances. They are such as these: Is it right to hate a benefactor? Is it right to punish the innocent? Is it right to reward the guilty? Is it right to intend injustice to a fellow man? Is it right to violate my own sense of right? to dishonor a parent? to commit adultery? There can be but one answer to these questions. They are addressed to the intuitive sense of right and not to the understanding or practical judgment which modifies the decision. But when we ask the question, Is this accused man worthy of punishment? we have now to exercise our judgment and go through a course of reasoning before we can decide, and two perfectly conscientious persons may disagree in their verdict, because we are now in the region of mutable morality. Most of the moral questions in daily life are of this character. It is not enough to know that one man has killed another. I must take into account the circumstances, whether it was in self-defense when attacked by a robber, or a burglar by night was shot in the act of breaking into the dwelling. This sufficiently illustrates mutable morality.

I can but think that the philosophy of Lotze and others is true, that all the self-evident truths are in the last analysis the activity of the immanent God in the human spirit. Hence the moral intuitions, immutable and invariable, are the voice of the divine Spirit immanent in all men, irrespective of regeneration and the gracious indwelling of the Spirit. There is a sense in which the Spirit of God is upholding nature. Men are not conscious of this immanent substratum of their being. But when the Holy Spirit, as a gracious gift, is bestowed upon the believer, he is conscious of His presence within as was Paul. The effect is manifest not so much in the increase of the power of moral discrimination, though it does clarify the moral perceptions, as in the marvelous addition to the power that impels toward righteousness. For the conscience has a threefold power discrimination, impulse toward the right, and, after the act, approval or disapproval, according as the act is right or wrong. The gracious work of the Holy Spirit intensifies each of these functions, the second more manifestly than the first, and the third more than the second.

What effect does the fulness of the Spirit have in the decisions of practical questions in the province of mutable morality? We answer, it does not prevent errors in judgment and fallacies in logic. The Holy Spirit renders no one infallible in such matters. Yet He indirectly helps us by delivering us from the dominance of appetites and passions inimical to clearness of intellect and calmness of judgment. By inspiring in our hearts love to our neighbor as to ourselves, He strongly incites us to do perfect justice to him in our decision of questions involving his rights. Still the best of men and women who love God with all their hearts, and their neighbors as themselves, may go astray in judgment without a loss of love. Hence, in applying their intellects to the construction of systems of theology, some have founded Calvinism with its five points, unconditional election, a limited atonement, irresistible grace, bound will, and the final perseverance of the saints; and others equally devout and scholarly have constructed Arminianism with its universal atonement conditionally applied, the free will, entire sanctification possible before death, and the peril of a total apostasy from the highest state of grace. George Whitefield preached the first of these doctrines and John Wesley the last. Both were filled with the Spirit and were burning as bright candies of the Lord. Both were used by the Spirit to preach the saving truths of the gospel in such a way as to save multitudes of souls.

— edited from The Gospel of the Comforter, Chapter 19.

Thursday, April 30, 2015


QUESTION: Who was Melchizedek?

ANSWER: There have been many guesses, such as Shem, an angel, a Power, or influence of god; but the most judicious of moderns allege that he was an eminent descendant of Ham, discharging the functions of both priest and king. From the absence of any account of the origin of his priestly and regal offices, he is a good type of Christ's priesthood. See your Bible Dictionary.

Steele's Answers pp. 248, 249.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

On Divorce and Remarriage

QUESTION: Is it wrong for an innocent woman to marry again, whose husband procured her divorce by hiring a man to criminate her with false testimony? (2) For imaginary crime?

ANSWER: I believe that the innocent party to a marriage dissolved for the only cause allowed by Christ may marry again. In the sight of the human court this woman was the guilty party, but in the sight of God she is innocent. (2) If the court granted the divorce for a suspected crime when the wife was perfectly true to her nuptial vows, this case is like the first so far as regards her right to re-marry.

Steele's Answers p. 248.