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.

Monday, July 31, 2023

Typology and Experience

QUESTION: A lady, relating her experience in a recent issue of "Living Water," says, "Cleansing and the incoming of the Holy Ghost, whereby we experimentally enter Canaan, is not all that we need to insure a victorious march through the land swarming with giants and fenced cities. And some of us have found it out to our cost." Please analyze and classify this experience.

ANSWER: The writer has been led away from the truth of her typology. Thus after crossing the Jordan, typifying, as she thinks, entire sanctification and the fullness of the Holy Spirit, she still finds depravity within her, represented by the imagery of giants and fenced cities. She seems to be mixed in her sacred geography. She has mistaken the passage of the Red Sea and wilderness life for Canaan after Joshua's conquest, regeneration for for perfect cleansing, a mistake not uncommon. Do not state or defend a doctrine by the use of figurative language. This is excellent for theoretical illustration, but fallacious when used for a rational proof. If this good woman found a strong propensity towards sin in her after her supposed entire sanctification, she did not call her blessing by the right name. It was not a complete cleansing.

— From Steele's Answers pp 6, 7. [Emphasis added.]

How Is the Power of God Obtained?

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

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

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

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

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

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

— edited from Jesus Exultant Chapter 11.

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Does Intellectual Error Block Sanctification?

QUESTION: Do you think any person can be entirely sanctified and still assert that the apostles were not regenerated till Pentecost?

ANSWER: Yes. This is an error of the head and not of the heart. If freedom from intellectual error were a condition of obtaining purity of heart, no one would obtain that blessing, for we all harbor errors of this sort.

Steele's Answers pp. 66, 67.

Friday, July 21, 2023

Professing Holiness

There are two ways of professing holiness — the wise and the proper way, and the ostentatious and distasteful way. Christ did not say in a bold and offensive style, "I am perfectly holy." He might with truth have used these words; but he would have been needlessly beclouding his own humility, and laying stumbling-blocks in the way of his hearers. At this point some modern advocates of Christian perfection are at fault. In set phrase they profess more holiness in half an hour than Jesus Christ did in all his life. His profession was by a great variety of phrases, and almost always by implication: "Which of you convicteth me of sin?" "I always do those things that are pleasing to my Father." "He that seeketh the glory of him that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him. For the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. I and my Father are one." These are samples of Christ's implied declaration of his sinlessness.

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Leviticus 3:6-17 (The Peace Offering)

 "And if his offering for a sacrifice of peace offering unto the LORD be of the flock; male or female, he shall offer it without blemish. If he offer a lamb for his offering, then shall he offer it before the LORD. And he shall lay his hand upon the head of his offering, and kill it before the tabernacle of the congregation: and Aaron’s sons shall sprinkle the blood thereof round about upon the altar. And he shall offer of the sacrifice of the peace offering an offering made by fire unto the LORD; the fat thereof, and the whole rump, it shall he take off hard by the backbone; and the fat that covereth the inwards, and all the fat that is upon the inwards, And the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, which is by the flanks, and the caul above the liver, with the kidneys, it shall he take away. And the priest shall burn it upon the altar: it is the food of the offering made by fire unto the LORD. And if his offering be a goat, then he shall offer it before the LORD. And he shall lay his hand upon the head of it, and kill it before the tabernacle of the congregation: and the sons of Aaron shall sprinkle the blood thereof upon the altar round about. And he shall offer thereof his offering, even an offering made by fire unto the LORD; the fat that covereth the inwards, and all the fat that is upon the inwards, And the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, which is by the flanks, and the caul above the liver, with the kidneys, it shall he take away. And the priest shall burn them upon the altar: it is the food of the offering made by fire for a sweet savour: all the fat is the LORD’S. It shall be a perpetual statute for your generations throughout all your dwellings, that ye eat neither fat nor blood." — Leviticus 3:6-17 KJV.


9. The whole rump — We know of no more unfortunate translation than this. Instead of rump, it should have been rendered fat tail. In the East there is a species of sheep whose tails are so large that they weigh from twelve to fourteen pounds, and the owners are obliged to fix a thin board or cart beneath the tail to ease the sheep, and to preserve the wool and fat from being torn among the bushes and stones. See Ludolph, History of Ethiopia, p. 53, and Dr. Russell, Natural History of Aleppo, p. 51. The cooks of Syria use this mass of fat instead of Arab butter.

11. The food of the offering — Literally, this means the bread or sustenance of the altar-flame.

Unto the Lord — Jehovah’s altar may be said to be the table which he spreads on the earth. Devout and willing souls bring provision to that table, and are graciously invited to sit down and share the gifts which their loyal hearts have brought, hallowed by his presence and sweetened by his blessing. Numbers 28:2. The flesh of the peace offering, of which no mention is made in this chapter, was to be eaten by the offerer and his friends on the same day or the day following. Leviticus 7:15, 16.

17. A perpetual statute — The Hebrew word עוֹלָם֙, here translated perpetual, is sometimes used for future duration without end, as the eternal existence of God, (Genesis 21:33,) but it often signifies an indefinite future time, conditioned by the context or by the nature of the subject. Hence it may extend to only a few years, as the servant who refused to be made free, after his ear was bored with an awl became a servant, עוֹלָם֙, forever. Therefore the modern Jew cannot logically allege that the perpetual statutes of the Levitical law bind him to the burdensome repetition of types long since done away by the presence of the glorious Antitype in his temple on Mount Moriah, and that the everlasting covenant compels him to feed his hungry soul with the shadows of good things yet to come centuries after the substance, the living Bread, has come down from heaven. The plain meaning of the perpetual statute is, that so long as the Jewish dispensation continues, and the ceremonial law retains its significance, the requirement shall stand.

Eat neither fat nor blood — The prohibition extends only to the suet, and not to the fat diffused in small particles through the flesh, and to the blood in the larger veins and arteries which flows from the animal when the jugular vein is cut. The minute globules of blood in the small veins spreading through the flesh it would be impossible to remove. The prohibition does not extend to the eating of these, since it would have been a virtual interdict of the eating of any flesh. The law relates not only to all sacrifices, but also to all animals slain for food. See notes on Leviticus 7:23, 25.


Physiologists allege, that the prohibition of fat is the re-enactment of that law of hygiene which demands abstinence from gross animal food on the part of dwellers in hot climates, while it permits the Esquimau to drink with impunity whale oil by the quart, and to feast to surfeiting upon the fat of the white bear. So great is the demand for carbon with which to warm his system, that he would soon die if required to keep this everlasting statute which promoted the health and long life of the Hebrew. Here we have an incidental proof that Judaism was never designed to be universal.

There are also intellectual and moral grounds for this statute. Fat tends to stupify the mind, and blood excites the malevolent propensities, and makes those who drink it fierce, savage, and bloodthirsty. For still higher grounds on which this prohibition rests, namely, on the typology of the fat, see note on verse 3; and of the blood, see The Ceremonial Function of the Blood. That the blood of the sacrificial victim prefigured the blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, is too obvious to need proof. There is no doubt that the prohibition of blood as food has reference to this fact. The typical significance of the fat as representing Christ’s personal righteousness is a favourite theory with some. See Professor Murphy, quoted verse 3. It is true that the work of mediation is twofold. Says Richard Watson, “For what Christ did in obedience to the precepts of the law, and what he suffered, constitute that mediatorial righteousness for the sake of which the Father is ever well pleased in him.” It is eminently appropriate that the former as well as the latter element of mediatorial righteousness should have its distinct type in the Levitical system. We find them both in the perpetually consumed fat, and in the blood sprinkled without cessation upon Jewish altars.


Monday, July 17, 2023

Leviticus 3:1-6 (The Peace Offering)

"And if his oblation be a sacrifice of peace offering, if he offer it of the herd; whether it be a male or female, he shall offer it without blemish before the LORD. And he shall lay his hand upon the head of his offering, and kill it at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and Aaron’s sons the priests shall sprinkle the blood upon the altar round about. And he shall offer of the sacrifice of the peace offering an offering made by fire unto the LORD; the fat that covereth the inwards, and all the fat that is upon the inwards, And the two kidneys, and the fat that is on them, which is by the flanks, and the caul above the liver, with the kidneys, it shall he take away. And Aaron’s sons shall burn it on the altar upon the burnt sacrifice, which is upon the wood that is on the fire: it is an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD." — Leviticus 3:1`-6 KJV.


1. Sacrifice of peace offering — Although this is not spoken of till after the giving of the decalogue, Exodus 20:24, the manner of the mention then made implies that it was a customary offering. Hence we have styled it traditional. It is chiefly eucharistic, with the subordinate notion of propitiation, as will be seen in the laying of the hand upon the victim and in the sprinkling of the blood. Hence the Seventy render it θυσία σωτηρίου, “a sacrifice of salvation,” implying that it restores peace. But since no distinct reference is made to sin or to its priestly atonement, as in the sin offering, (Leviticus 4:20,) we have called it a thanksgiving offering of one in the enjoyment of the peace afforded by a clear conscience. This is corroborated by the fact that it was to be eaten by the offerer and his friends in a festive banquet. It was the vehicle of communion with Jehovah and with those who feared his name.

Of the herd — See note on chap. 1:2.

Male or female — The whole burnt offering, the type of Christ, was a male victim. Without blemish — See note on Leviticus 1:3.

2. Hand… head — This impressive ceremony links the victim to the offerer, and at the same time shows his relinquishment of all claim, and his devotion of the animal to Jehovah. See note on Leviticus 1:4.

Blood upon the altar — The sprinkling of blood seems to have been the very core of the sacrificial system. For the office of the blood, see The Ceremonial Function of the Blood.

3. The fat — The suet or sweet fat is here described. The fat diffused through the flesh it was lawful to eat. The suet was forbidden food. Leviticus 7:23. The burning of the suet is particularly specified in every kind of offering of a victim. Whatever was reserved for the priest, or to the offerer, the suet must always be burned. The reason may be, because this is the best portion. Murphy assigns another reason: “The fat is expressive of the holiness which pertains to the Substitute, as the blood is significant of the penal death which He has undertaken to suffer. The two go to make up what is called righteousness, or active and passive obedience to the law for the sinner.” We see no semblance between fat and holiness which can make one a fitting type of the other except their purity and unmingled nature. See Concluding Note.

4. The two kidneys —
Professor Bush suggests that the kidneys were burned because they are “the supposed seat of some of the strongest sensual propensities,” such as fornication and uncleanness. But we fail to see why the kidneys should be burned for this reason while the very organs of impurity are spared. The kidneys (reins) are, with the Scripture writers, the inmost seat of character. Their burning signifies the purgation, by the fire of the Holy Spirit, of the inscrutable depths of the spiritual nature and the cleansing of the heart from inbred sin. “God trieth the hearts and kidneys.” Psalm 7:9. “I try the kidneys.” Jeremiah 17:10. Outside of the Pentateuch the substitution of reins for kidneys occurs in the Authorized Version thirteen times in the Old Testament.

The caul above the liver —
These words are found together twice in Exodus, and quite often in the sacrificial ritual of Leviticus. In physiological terms it is “the small omentum which bounds part of the liver and the stomach, and comes into the region of the kidneys, and which is itself surrounded with the tunica adiposa — a bed of fatty matter.” 

Saturday, July 15, 2023

What Obstructs the Spread of the Gospel?

"But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." — James 3:17 KJV

In James 3:17, the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then radiant with all the lenient and gentle graces. These demonstrate to worldlings the heavenly origin of the evangel which we are commanded to preach to every creature by devout living as well as by persistent testimony.

It is the absence of these fruits of the heavenly vine which obstructs the spread of the gospel at home and in pagan lands. The pagans have keen eyesight. They are studying the question whether Christianity is a mere ideal system, not adapted to men under the dominion of sin, or whether it is a practical scheme of deliverance from the guilt of sin, the love of sin, and the indwelling of sin; in other words, whether the missionary is as good as his book.

The great need of the world is not more professors of Christianity, but more Christ-like men and women. Professors may be multiplied on the plane of nature where the gospel has become fashionable. But Christ-like people are the creation of a supernatural agency, even the Holy Spirit in his personal inworking and abiding.

That Christianity may attain its maximum power to transform men and elevate society, there must be a radical work wrought with nominal believers who not only do not shine themselves, but, what is worse, they obstruct rays which radiate from truly consecrated souls. It is not only true that one sinner destroys much good, but one dead church member casts an eclipse on many souls who would otherwise see Christ, the Light of the world.

Monday, July 10, 2023

Leviticus 2:11-16 (Firstfruits)

"No meat offering, which ye shall bring unto the LORD, shall be made with leaven: for ye shall burn no leaven, nor any honey, in any offering of the LORD made by fire. As for the oblation of the firstfruits, ye shall offer them unto the LORD: but they shall not be burnt on the altar for a sweet savour. And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt. And if thou offer a meat offering of thy firstfruits unto the LORD, thou shalt offer for the meat offering of thy firstfruits green ears of corn dried by the fire, even corn beaten out of full ears. And thou shalt put oil upon it, and lay frankincense thereon: it is a meat offering. And the priest shall burn the memorial of it, part of the beaten corn thereof, and part of the oil thereof, with all the frankincense thereof: it is an offering made by fire unto the LORD." — Leviticus 2:11-16 KJV. 

11. Burn no leaven — See note on verse 4. 

Nor any honey — This prohibition is surprising. There must be a good reason. We cannot accept that assigned by Fairbairn, that it was “to indicate that what is peculiarly pleasing to the flesh is distasteful to God, and must be renounced by his faithful servants.” This contains the essence of all asceticism — abstinence from a harmless thing simply because it is pleasing. A sufficient ground for excluding honey from the altar is suggested by its mention with leaven. It is capable of fermentation, turning sour, and even forming vinegar. Hence the active principle of corruption is in its very nature. It was also a wild product, and did not involve the notion of property which was requisite to sacrifices. As an article of food it was lawful, but it does not suit every one’s taste, nor conduce to the health of all persons. This may be another reason why it was prohibited. The priest should be required to eat only perfectly healthful food.

12. Firstfruits — This oblation was to be made publicly by the nation at the three great annual festivals, but individuals could make it at any time. On the morrow after the passover sabbath a sheaf, usually of barley, was waved before the altar. Before this no harvesting could be begun. Fifty days afterwards, as the word pentecost implies, two loaves made from the new flour were to be waved in like manner. The feast of ingathering, or the feast of tabernacles, was itself an acknowledgment of the gift of fruitfulness. Individuals brought the first dough for a heave offering, and a basket of firstfruits, and set it down by the altar and repeated the story of Israel in Egypt. Though the law required the offering of the firstfruits of all the harvests, only seven kinds of produce in their natural state were by usage liable to oblation — wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates. The minimum oblation fixed by custom was one sixtieth part, aside from the tithes, and the corners or borders of the field left for the poor. Seven sorts of firstfruits, prepared for uses, were not required to be taken to Jerusalem, but probably to designated depositories — wine, wool, bread, oil, date-honey, and preparations of onions and of cucumbers, from a fortieth to a sixtieth of the whole product. The offerings, not only those at the altar, but those laid up elsewhere, were perquisites of the priests. Jews in foreign lands sent their firstfruits to the Holy City.

13. Season with salt — Salt, from its antiseptic quality, is suggestive of that moral purity and fidelity required of all true worshippers. It was applied to the bread offering for another reason — because it symbolized the existence of an inviolable friendship between the host and the guest. It was to the Hebrew a perpetual memorial of the bond of union between Jehovah and Israel. Numbers 18:19. Hence the injunction, “Thou shalt not suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking.” With all… offerings… offer salt — The typology of this requirement is explained by our Lord Jesus: “For every one shall be salted (purified or punished) with fire, (God’s holiness,) as every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.” See Mark 9:49, note.

14. Green ears of corn — This refers chiefly to wheat and barley, the heads of which are called ears. Indian corn was unknown. 

 Dried by the fire — In order to be broken into groats by grinding, as the Seventy have rendered it, the green grain first harvested for the oblation must be dried. Says Adam Clarke: “As God is represented as keeping a table among his people, so he represents himself as partaking with them of all the ailments that were in use, even sitting down with the poor to a repast on parched corn!” 

Corn beaten out — The scorched grains or grits were to be separated from the straw. The bread offering, as a whole, is a type of the Son of God, who is the bread of life, to be appropriated by all who have first been cleansed from the guilt of sin by the blood of sprinkling shed by our great Sin Offering. The risen Jesus is our Bread of Life. Because he lives and sends up the incense of his prayers, and sends down the oil of gladness, the Anointing Spirit, we live also.

Friday, July 7, 2023

Leviticus 2:1-10 (The Bread Offering)

"And when any will offer a meat offering unto the LORD, his offering shall be of fine flour; and he shall pour oil upon it, and put frankincense thereon: And he shall bring it to Aaron’s sons the priests: and he shall take thereout his handful of the flour thereof, and of the oil thereof, with all the frankincense thereof; and the priest shall burn the memorial of it upon the altar, to be an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD: And the remnant of the meat offering shall be Aaron’s and his sons’: it is a thing most holy of the offerings of the LORD made by fire. And if thou bring an oblation of a meat offering baken in the oven, it shall be unleavened cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, or unleavened wafers anointed with oil. And if thy oblation be a meat offering baken in a pan, it shall be of fine flour unleavened, mingled with oil. Thou shalt part it in pieces, and pour oil thereon: it is a meat offering. And if thy oblation be a meat offering baken in the fryingpan, it shall be made of fine flour with oil. And thou shalt bring the meat offering that is made of these things unto the LORD: and when it is presented unto the priest, he shall bring it unto the altar. And the priest shall take from the meat offering a memorial thereof, and shall burn it upon the altar: it is an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD. 10 And that which is left of the meat offering shall be Aaron’s and his sons’: it is a thing most holy of the offerings of the LORD made by fire." — Leviticus 2:1-10 KJV.

1. Meat offering Our word meat has undergone a contraction in its meaning. It once signified food of any kind; but now its popular use is restricted to flesh. On account of this mutability in words, so beautifully portrayed by Horace in his Art of Poetry, every version of the Bible, after a few generations, needs a revision. The American Bible Union and Professor Murphy have adopted the oblation as a translation of the מִנְחָה (mincha), the food offering — a general term applied to a particular offering, and always needing explanation. Let us go back to the original intent of our English translators and call it food offering, or more exactly, bread offering, since it was made of bread or breadstuff. 

 Fine flour — This was produced from wheat ground in hand mills and sifted. Only the wealthy could afford to make it a constant article of diet. The quantity is not here specified. In the case of individuals the quantity may have been left for the offerer to determine, as an exercise of his benevolent feelings. When the feast of firstfruits was celebrated, the quantity of fine flour was prescribed — “two tenth deals of flour,” Leviticus 23:13, equal to about six and a half quarts. Shall pour oil upon it — This is the oil of pressed olives. Animal oil was forbidden for food. Leviticus 7:23. Olive oil is much used in the preparation of food in Palestine. It takes the place of butter and lard in the diet and cookery of the western nations. Bread baked in oil is reputed to be particularly sustaining. Wheat boiled and eggs fried in oil are common dishes for all classes in Syria. Since oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, the spiritual lesson conveyed by this ingredient is, that all the offerings of our hearts to God must be through the unction of the Holy Ghost, and all our devotional exercises must be inspired by him, whether of prayer, (Jude 1:20,) or song, (1 Corinthians 14:15,) or speaking, (Acts 2:4.) 

Frankincense — This is a vegetable resin, brittle, bitter, glittering, and white when obtained from the first incision of the tree, the arbor thuris. It is produced in Arabia, (Isaiah 60:6,) especially in Sheba. The statement that it is still uncertain by what tree it is produced, is not complimentary to botanical science. The disagreement of modern writers is as great as that of ancient authors. Professor Murphy asserts that the Boswellia thurifera, or libanus, of the natural order Burseraceae, a tree of India and Arabia, produces this gum. Frankincense is chiefly used for sacrificial fumigation. The incongruity of putting this inedible substance upon the bread offering is explained in the next verse, in which the priest is directed to take all the incense and a handful of the flour and oil and burn it upon the altar.

2. The memorial — This is a sacrificial term peculiar to the bread offering. It is descriptive of either that which brings the offerer to the remembrance of God, or of that which brings God to the grateful recollection of the sacrificer. In the New Testament it is used in the former sense. See Matthew 26:13; Acts 10:4, notes. The same term is applied to the pure incense (in vases) set out with the showbread, (Leviticus 24:7,) and which, according to Josephus, was also burnt upon the altar.

3. The remnant… shall be Aaron’s — Abundant provision was made for the support of the priesthood out of the tithes and offerings. St. Paul insists that Christianity is not surpassed by Judaism in this particular. 1 Corinthians 9:13, 14. Hence, when, through the decline of piety and the growth of avarice, the offerings are withheld, the service of God’s house languishes, and the ministers at the altar are driven to secular employments. Nehemiah 13:10. 

A thing most holy — Everything offered to Jehovah was holy, but the portion reserved for his representatives, the priests, was most holy, and it must not be burnt, (Leviticus 10:17,) but eaten either in the holy place by the priests alone, or in a clean place by their families. Leviticus 6:25, note; 10:14. Eating by the priests symbolizes the complete acceptance of any thing on the part of Jehovah. Consuming by the altar-fire, is another mode of acceptance.

4. Oblation — The Hebrew ( קָרְבַּ֥ן) korban. It is a general term for offering, and is so translated in Leviticus 1:2. 

Baken in the oven — There is no ‘in’ in the original. Hence we infer that the oven was of the kind used by the Arabs, a great stone pitcher heated by a fire within it. To the exterior of this, thin cakes or wafers are applied, which are instantly baked. 

Unleavened cakes — Leaven is expressly forbidden in the bread offering. See verse 11. The ground of this prohibition is, that the fermentation of the leaven is incipient decay, and the bread is rendered impure. This is the testimony of modern chemistry and hygiene, which has led to the attempt to substitute aerated and salt-raised bread for that corrupted by leaven. Our Lord Jesus and St. Paul always regarded leaven as a symbol of moral putrefaction. Matthew 16:6; 1 Corinthians 5:6-8. Thus, according to St. Paul, unleavened cakes are emblematical of “sincerity (pureness) and truth.” Leaven in food was not forbidden except in the passover week. Because the bread of the peace offering was eaten and not burned, (Leviticus 2:11,) leaven was permitted in that peace offering. Leviticus 7:14. 5.  

Baken in a pan — This was a flat iron plate or griddle. It is still used by the Arabs. 

6. Part it in pieces — This was for the convenience of the priest, who was to cast one piece well oiled upon the altar fires, and to eat the rest himself, or to share it with his colleagues. 

7. Fryingpan — The Hebrew word is found in only one other place in the Bible, Leviticus 7:9. Gesenius and Furst define it as a kettle for boiling. Others think that it is still to be found among the Bedouins in the form of a shallow earthen vessel called a tajen, a word which sounds much like the thganon of the Seventy, the pan of verse 5. Maimonides suggests that the translation of these two utensils in verses 7 and 5 should be reversed. 

8. Thou shalt bring… unto the Lord — The entire preparation of the offering was to be made by the offerer. This variety in form not only suited the convenience of the people, but it afforded some change to the priests who were to eat the oblation. There were five forms in which it might be brought: fine flour unbaked, to be cooked by the priest, baked on a plate, in a fryingpan, in an oven, and made into wafers. In every case oil is to be added. The frankincense is mentioned only with the first. It was probably an accompaniment of all the other forms.

Thursday, July 6, 2023

Introduction to Leviticus Chapter 2: קָרְבָּן   (qorbān)

By reference to the Introduction, (Levitical Offerings Described and The Order of Levitical Sacrifices,) this sacrifice will be found classified as a bloodless, eucharistic offering, and that it presupposes that an expiatory offering has been made, and that a self-dedicatory burnt offering has symbolized the entire surrender of the offerer to God. This offering and the peace offering are designed to afford the offerer a visible medium of communion with the invisible Jehovah, by means of a tangible representation of the fruits of holiness. It recognises his sovereignty over the productive powers in nature, especially in the vegetable kingdom, by dedicating to him that product which is the staff of life — the flour made from the best of the wheat — and the oil, the symbol of richness in earthly blessings and of the influence of the Holy Spirit, the greatest gift that men can wish or God can send. There is added the incense, the emblem of prevailing prayer. The meat offering was the favourite offering at the great feasts provided for in chap. 23 and is there, and generally in the prophets, very appropriately accompanied by the drink offering of wine, the symbol of gladness. 

We have classified this among the traditional offerings, because in the first mention of it, Exodus 29:41, it is spoken of as well known. Being subsidiary to the burnt offering and peace offering, it was to be offered on all the occasions when these were offered. It is not expressly said that this kind of offering was only to be in addition to the two last bloody sacrifices, and that it could never be presented as something separate and independent. The jealousy offering in Numbers 5:15, as an instance of the independence of the bread offering, is questioned by some. The whole character of the Levitical ritual, and the symbolism of its particular parts, require that this offering should be closely connected with bleeding victims, or that a previous expiation should be implied, showing that there can be no acceptable fruits of holiness which are dissevered from the great atonement. See Concluding Note, (2,) chap. 1.

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Apostolic Succession

QUESTION: Does the election of Matthias to be an apostle prove the so-called apostolic succession claimed by prelatical churches?

ANSWER: It does not. It rather was a human attempt at substitution, for the apostles were still in condition of pupils. They had not yet begun their work. The apostles had no successors. When James, the brother of John, was killed quite early in the history of the church, when he was most needed, no one was chosen as his successor. To choose apostles is the exclusive prerogative of the head of the church, whether he is on earth or in heaven. In the account of Acts 1:15-26 there is no intimation that the Holy Spirit inspired Peter to do the work which properly belonged to his Lord and Master. He certainly was not inspired to change his boarding house as he did in Gal. 2:11-14, nor to "go a fishing" when they did not catch so much as a smelt till Christ appeared on the scene after their all night's toil. It does not look like heavenly wisdom to inspire men to limit God's choice to one of two. It looks very human for two parties to nominate two candidates, and failing to secure an election, to resort to the lot to decide. This putting forward two candidates is the only instance of a competitive ecclesiastical election or nomination in the New Testament. We could wish it had been the last in church history. Matthias was probably an excellent man, but he is not mentioned again n the New Testament. This may be because he was a man-made apostle. Paul was not such; he was the real twelfth apostle, see Gal. 1:1. He is thus counted in the twelve foundations of the New Jerusalem and twelve apostles of the lamb spoken of in Revelation. The claim that the presbyters, elders, sometimes called episcopoi or bishops, are the successors to the twelve apostles is true chronologically, but not officially. All preachers of the Gospel are successors to the apostles in time.

— From: Steele's Answers.

A Personal Testimony

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

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

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

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

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

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

— from "A Brief Autobiography."

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

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.