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

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Gifts or the Giver?

Many people are so dazzled by the splendor of the outward and extraordinary gifts of the Spirit that they undervalue the infinitely superior boon of the indwelling of the giver Himself, imparting life and adorning with all the Christian graces. To put gifts above grace is an old mistake. Simon Magus is not the last instance of this kind. Many are now eager to possess the gift of healing who would not cross the street to receive the grace of perfected holiness. It is a very serious error to regard anything as superior to the fruit of the Spirit- Churches fall into it when, seeking after a pastor, they first ask, "Is he brilliant in the pulpit?" "Is he rhetorical, poetical, oratorical?" "If he is we must have him." The question respecting his piety, his fullness of the Spirit, his grip of faith, his knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, the basis of faith, and the indispensable qualification for such preaching as saves and sanctifies, is not emphasized, and frequently is not asked at all. Occasionally we find a church inquiring for a Barnabas. "For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord." Yet his name, "son of exhortation," as in the Revision, Is not suggestive of pulpit oratory of the classical sort.

The doctrine of the law of the Spirit is very beautifully stated by Christ in His dialogue with the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well. "If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water." The gift which He would have bestowed was the Holy Spirit, according to John vii. 38, 39, "This he spake of the Spirit, which they who believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because Jesus was not glorified." Note the invariable law of certain receiving following confident asking: If thou hadst asked, He would have given. There is the same invariable order of effect following cause in the spiritual realm as there is in the material realm. Turn the faucet, and you get a stream of water so long as the faucet is connected with the reservoir on a higher level. Try this a thousand times, and the same effect follows. Turn the spigot of true prayer, and the living water, the personal Holy Spirit, is poured out upon the thirsty soul. It has been well said that God answers all true prayer and wishes to receive more. In the bosom of the Infinite Father there is a shoreless and fathomless Lake Superior of living waters ready to fill millions and billions of human spirits when they supply the aqueducts. In fact, the main aqueduct was laid by God Himself on the day of Pentecost, and the water of life is brought to every door. To appropriate it we must lay the individual service-pipe.

"Angelic spirits, countless souls,

Of Thee have drunk their fill;

And to eternity will drink

Thy joy and glory still.

"O little heart of mine! shall pain

Or sorrow make thee moan,

When all this God is all for thee,

A Father all thine own?"

Before leaving this charming scene of Jacob's well, we call attention to another spiritual law. Not only does receiving depend on asking, but asking depends on knowing. "If thou knewest thou wouldst have asked." Many souls wonder for years in painful thirst because no one tells them of the supply of water within their reach. Hence the need of ceaseless testimony by those who have found the unfailing fountain. Hence the pressure of the missionary motive upon all who "have been made partakers of the Holy Ghost." Interest in Christian missions in pagan lands and city slums is a fair gauge of the spirituality of an individual and of a church.

If knowing depends on testimony, the inquiry arises, How many witnesses have we among our readers who can attest the fulness of the Spirit?

The Gospel of the Comforter, Chapter 12.

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