There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God." (Hebrews iv. 9 ) This is not the rest of reward in heaven, but the rest of faith here upon earth. It is a triumphant Christian life, an experience of relief from struggle, of deliverance from sin, and of victory over self through the indwelling of the risen Christ and the baptism and fulness of the Holy Ghost. Not for realization but for inspiration are the ideals of common life: but in spiritual life visions may become verities. Thus after the vision of victory comes the realization of victory. What the believer has apprehended by Divine illumination he must also appropriate by an act of entire surrender and a step of aggressive faith.
The vision of victory apart from its realization is powerless to deliver. From Mount Nebo's lofty height Moses viewed the landscape o'er; but he died outside in the barren wastes of Moab. The Children of Israel caught a glimpse of Canaan through the report of the spies; but they perished in the weary and dreary wilderness. Moses was kept out of the Land of Promise by disobedience; and the Israelites could not enter in because of their unbelief. (Hebrews iii. 19.) Of the entire generation that left Egypt, Caleb and Joshua alone crossed the Jordan; and they received their covenant inheritance because they "wholly followed the Lord."
Moreover, a vision without victory works harm to the soul. Loss always results from the apprehension of spiritual truth apart from its realization. Indeed, one can never see Divine things and afterwards be quite the same. For this reason God sometimes withholds light which He knows will not be followed. If the heavenly light be permitted to fade away, the heart will be left in even greater darkness. If the vision of victory over the dominion of sin and the power of the flesh through the indwelling Christ is not transformed into a glorious reality by the definite reception of the gift of the Holy Ghost through a step of entire surrender and an act of appropriating faith, the believer will be plunged into struggles and defeats still more hopeless and despairing. We dare not, then, pause on the threshold of our inheritance. We have now put our hand to the plow, so to speak; to go back, or even to look back, would be to invite spiritual disaster. With reference to the deeper life of faith the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews says:
"But if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him."
By way of encouragement, however, he quickly adds:
"But we are not of them that draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul." (x. 38, 39.)
How, then, may the vision of victory be transformed into the realization of victory? By the definite reception of the gift of the Holy Ghost through a step of entire surrender and an act of appropriating faith. We have already seen that the holiness of the Christian flows from contact with God. This contact has both a Divine and a human side. On the Divine side there are two points of contact, namely: the identification of the believer with Christ in His death and resurrection and the definite reception of the gift of the Holy Ghost. On the human side there are also two points of contact, namely: a step of entire surrender and the receiving of the Holy Ghost through an act of appropriating faith.
Now, the identification of the believer with Christ in His death and resurrection is the historical and incomplete side of holiness; the transformation of the believer in character and conduct through the reception of the gift of the Holy Ghost is the experimental and complete side of holiness. The vision of the cross and the indwelling Christ is the first step in the pathway to victory. That step we have already taken. The definite reception of the gift of the Holy Ghost through a step of entire surrender and an act of appropriating faith is the second step in the pathway to victory. This step we are now to take.
In regeneration God gives us a "new spirit." In sanctification He puts within us the Holy Spirit. ("My Spirit;" Ezekiel xxxvi. 26, 27.) Regeneration is the result of the gracious inworking of the Holy Spirit. Sanctification is the result of the personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Consequently, after regeneration the Holy Spirit is with us; but after sanctification He is within us. Now, the experience of sanctification through the indwelling Christ is realized in connection with the definite reception of the gift of the Holy Spirit by full consecration and living faith. Indeed, it is through the Holy Spirit that we come to see the hopelessness of struggling against sin; it is through the Holy Spirit that we catch a glimpse of the cross with its promise and potency of deliverance; it is through the Holy Spirit that the revelation of the indwelling Christ breaks with comforting cheer upon our despairing hearts; and it is through the Holy Spirit that we are enabled to die unto sin and live unto God.
First, the Reception of the Gift of the Holy Ghost.
I. The Experience of the Apostolic Church. In the experience of the Apostolic Church, as recorded in the book of Acts, there were three things that were closely connected, namely: Conversion, Baptism, and the Reception of the Holy Ghost. Thus on the Day of Pentecost Peter declared:
"Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
"For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." (Acts ii. 39, 40.)
Now, in this passage of Scripture three facts would seem to be clear: First, conversion (here described as the remission of sins), baptism, and the reception of the gift of the Holy Ghost, are three separate and distinct things; second, these three things, while separate and distinct, are yet closely related both as doctrines and as experiences; and third, these three things are here stated in their normal order and Scriptural relationship. When a sinner is converted he should seek baptism as the open confession of his faith in Christ as Saviour and Lord, and as the sign and seal of his identification by faith with Christ in His death and resurrection. Then he should definitely receive the Holy Ghost, Who by His indwelling and infilling will become the enabling for a life well pleasing to God and the equipping for a life of fruitful service to man.
The relation of the reception of the Holy Ghost to the experience of conversion in the Acts of the Apostles is an interesting study. A careful examination of the book leads to two conclusions, namely: First, in some instances the Holy Ghost was received at the time of conversion; and second, in other instances the Holy Ghost was received subsequent to conversion.
In some instances the Holy Ghost was received at the time of conversion. This was the case on the Day of Pentecost and in the house of Cornelius.
From the language of Peter, already quoted (Acts ii. 39, 40), we learn that on the Day of Pentecost conversion, baptism, and the reception of the Holy Ghost went together; that is, while these three things were separate and distinct experiences, yet no interval of time elapsed between conversion and baptism on the one hand, or between conversion and the reception of the Holy Ghost on the other.
"Then they that gladly received the word were baptized: and the same day the Lord added unto them about three thousand souls." (Acts ii. 41.)
The case of Cornelius and his household is recorded in Acts x. 44-48:
"While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them that heard the word.
"And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
"For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then answered Peter, "Can any man forbid water that these should be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?
"And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days."
Here also, as on the day of Pentecost, conversion is connected with the reception of the Holy Ghost, although the two experiences were separate and distinct. On this occasion, it will be observed, the reception of the Holy Ghost preceded baptism.
2. In other instances the Holy Ghost was received subsequent to conversion. This was true of the Samaritan disciples and the Ephesian disciples.
The case of the Samaritan disciples is recorded in Acts viii. 12-17:
"But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
"Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.
"Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John; who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:
"(For as yet He was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
"Then they laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost."
Now, observe that under the preaching of Philip the Samaritans "received the word of God." That is, they were converted, or saved. Moreover, they received Christian baptism-"they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus." But at a later date, or subsequent to their conversion, they received the Holy Ghost, under the joint ministry of Peter and John. It is interesting to note that the Holy Ghost was given to the Samaritan disciples through prayer and the laying on of hands by the apostles.
The case of the Ephesian disciples is recorded in Acts xix. 1-6: "And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus; and finding certain disciples,
"He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost, since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard, whether there be any Holy Ghost.
"And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism.
"Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on Him which should come after him, that is, Jesus Christ.
"When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues and prophesied."
Paul's question in verse two, in the Revised Version, reads: "Did ye receive the Holy Ghost, when ye believed?" Rotherham translates: "And he said unto them: Holy Ghost received ye, when ye believed?" Now, whichever of these three renderings be preferred, four facts stand out clearly: First, the Ephesian disciples were Christians; yet at the time Paul met them, they had not received the Holy Ghost. Second, conversion, therefore, and the reception of the Holy Ghost are separate and distinct experiences. Third, the Holy Ghost may be received at the time of conversion. And fourth, the Holy Ghost may be received subsequent to conversion. On this occasion, it will be observed, Christian baptism was administered some little time after conversion; and further, that the Holy Ghost was received in connection with Christian baptism and the laying on of hands by Paul.
The case of the Apostle Paul does not seem to be altogether clear. The record in Acts ix. 17, 18 reads:
"And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house: and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way, as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest be filled with the Holy Ghost."
And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized."
Now, it does not appear to be altogether clear just at what time Paul was converted-whether on the road to Damascus, or during the three days of darkness. Consequently, there is an uncertainty as to whether the apostle received the Holy Ghost at the time of conversion, or subsequent thereto. In the latter event, the interval was very brief-amounting to only a few a day. On this occasion, it will be observed, the Holy Ghost was received before Christian baptism.
Surely, from this brief study of the experience of the Apostolic Church, as recorded in the book of Acts, we may learn that God is sovereign in His operations, and that doctrinal distinctions made by man cannot shut Him up to set ways of working. At the same time four things seem to be clear: First, conversion and the definite reception of the gift of the Holy Ghost are separate and distinct experiences. Second, conversion may occur without the experience of receiving the Holy Ghost. Third, the Holy Ghost is often received at the time of conversion. And fourth, the Holy Ghost is often received subsequent to conversion.
Now, in the light of these facts we believe that conversion and the reception of the Holy Ghost should go hand in hand, so to speak; that is, while they are distinct experimentally, they should not be separated chronologically. But in the lives of few Christians today, comparatively speaking, is this true. John Wesley tells of a man who was converted one hour, sanctified the second hour, and glorified the third hour. The man died three hours after he was saved. Indeed, where there is right Scriptural teaching no interval of time need occur after conversion before the Holy Ghost is received. Unfortunately, however, this is seldom the case. Generally an interval of time-and often it is a long period-does occur. Indeed, some true-hearted children of God never seem to know from experience the personal indwelling of the Holy Ghost. But this interval, where it occurs, is filled in with the weary marches and dreary experiences of the wilderness of Sinai, and with the ceaseless struggles and discouraging defeats of the seventh chapter of Romans. We cannot refrain from saying that we believe God never intended that there should be a barren waste of Christian experience between regeneration and sanctification, but that conversion should be immediately followed by a life of victory over sin and self in union with the indwelling Christ and through receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost.
II. The Teaching of the Apostolic Writings. We have studied the experience of the Apostolic Church, with reference to the definite reception of the Holy Ghost, as recorded in the book of Acts. Now, let us turn to the teaching of the Epistles.
Let us cite a few passages which refer to the possession of the Holy Spirit or to the indwelling of the risen Christ. These two classes of passages may be grouped together, for it is the baptism of the Holy Ghost which brings to our hearts the revelation of the indwelling Christ.
1. "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His. And if Christ dwell in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness." (Romans viii. 9, 10.)
2. "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy, for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." (I. Corinthians iii. 16, 17.)
3. "For by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles,
whether ye be bond or free, and have been all made to drink into one Spirit." (I. Corinthians xii. 13.)
4. "Know ye not your own selves how that Jesus Christ is in you except ye be reprobates?" (II. Corinthians xiii. 5.)
5. "This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" (Galatians iii. 2.)
6. "My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you." (Galatians iv. 19.)
7. "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ of Whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
"That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man;
"That Christ may dwell in your heart by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
"May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
"And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God." (Ephesians iii. 14-19.)
8. "To whom (the saints) God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Colossians i. 27.)
A careful examination of the above and similar passages discloses two striking facts, namely: first, in some instances the baptism or possession of the Holy Spirit is closely identified with regeneration or conversion; and second, in other instances these experiences are separated in point of time. But this is just the conclusion which we reached from our study of the book of Acts. Thus the experience of the Apostolic Church and the teaching of the Apostolic writings agree, and, indeed, this must be so, for the Holy Spirit was the Inworker of the one as He was the Inspirer of the other. In fact, the words of Peter, on the Day of Pentecost-Acts ii. 39, 40-give us the key, which explains the teaching of the New Testament on this vitally important theme. There we learn, as we have seen, that the remission of sins or conversion and the reception of the gift of the Holy Ghost, while closely related, are yet separate and distinct both doctrinally and experimentally. When this principle of interpretation is clearly understood and firmly grasped, two resulting facts will be readily admitted,namely: first, the Holy Ghost may be received at the time of conversion; and second, the Holy Ghost may be received subsequent to conversion.
III. The Spiritual Crisis in the Life of our Lord.
The baptism of our blessed Lord with the Holy Ghost was a spiritual crisis in His life; it marked alike the beginning of His encounters with Satan and the opening of His public ministry of teaching and healing. As a Babe Jesus was horn of the Spirit in Bethlehem of Judea.
"The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore, also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." (Luke i. 35.)
Moreover, as a Child and Youth the Spirit of God was with Jesus of Nazareth. Luke gives us two exquisite pictures, one of the boyhood and the other of the early manhood, of the Saviour:
"And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom and the grace of God was upon Him." Thus, the life of Jesus, during the silent years of the home training in Nazareth, was the object of the Holy Spirit's special and peculiar care. The growth and symmetrical development of His spirit, mind, and body were under the influence of the Holy Spirit. It was, furthermore, through the Holy Spirit that "the grace of God was upon Him," and that He increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man." But at thirty years of age a marked crisis came in the life of our Lord. It was then, at the river Jordan, that Christ was not only baptized in water by John the Baptist, but also baptized with the Holy Ghost by His Heavenly Father. Thus we read:
"Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,
"And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, This is My beloved Son; in Thee I am well pleased." (Luke iii. 21, 22.)
What, then, was the significance of this marked crisis in the life of Christ? From His birth till His baptism the Holy Spirit was with Christ; but from His baptism till His passion the Holy Spirit was within Him. After the crisis at the River Jordan two Divine Personalities were inseparably united-Jesus of Nazareth and the Spirit of God. From that hour the life of Christ was wrought out in absolute dependence upon the Holy Spirit. Thus it was through the Holy Spirit that Christ met and overcame the Devil in the wilderness; it was through the Holy Spirit that Christ uttered His matchless words and performed His wondrous deeds; it was through the Holy Spirit that Christ offered Himself as sacrifice on the cross; and it was through the Holy Spirit that Christ was raised from the dead and declared to be the Son of God with power. The great difference, therefore, between the private life and public ministry of Jesus Christ is explained by His baptism at the Jordan and the incoming and indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Now, the Apostle John tells us that "as He is, so are we in this world." (I. John iv. 17.) In this experience, therefore, as in all other things, Christ is our Divine Pattern. So, after we have been born of the Spirit-and it should not be long afterwards-we must be baptized with the Spirit. It is then in connection with taking Christ as our sanctification that we receive the Person of the Holy Ghost as our indwelling and abiding Comforter. When once He comes into our hearts, He never leaves us. We may indeed grieve Him, but we can never grieve Him away. (Ephesians iv. 30.)
IV. The Significance of Typical Rites and Historical Incidents.
From the Scriptures as a whole let us gather up a few typical rites and historical incidents, the spiritual significance of which strengthens the conclusion that we have already reached, namely: that the reception of the Holy Ghost is an experience separate and distinct from conversion, but yet not necessarily far removed therefrom in point of time.
1. The Crossing of the Jordan.
As we have seen in Chapter III, the passage of the Red Sea by the Children of Israel was a type of regeneration, but the crossing of the Jordan was a type of sanctification. The Red Sea represented separation from the world; the Jordan represented separation from self. Both experiences symbolized death but the death symbolized by the Jordan was deeper than the death symbolized by the Red Sea. Before the conquering hosts could victoriously possess their inheritance in the Land of Canaan Moses had to die, which represented our death to the law; the River Jordan had to be crossed, which represented our death to sin.; the rite of circumcision had to be performed at Gilgal, which represented our death to the flesh; and Joshua had to surrender his own right of leadership and acknowledge the leadership of the "Captain of the Host of the Lord" which represented our death to self. Surely, all this is deeply significant of a second work of grace, a spiritual crisis after conversion, when by entire surrender and living faith we take the Holy Ghost to make real in us our identification with Christ in His death and resurrection and Christ's identification with us through His personal indwelling.
2. The Pillar of Cloud and Fire.
From the passage of the Red Sea till the erection of the Tabernacle the pillar of cloud and fire, the symbol of the Holy Ghost, went before the hosts of Israel, guiding them in the way and protecting them from peril. But after the Tabernacle was built the pillar of cloud and fire, the emblem of God's personal presence, became the Shekinah glory, which rested over the mercy-seat and between the outstretched wings of the cherubim. No longer did God thunder His commands to Israel from Mount Sinai; but He "called unto Moses and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation." Moreover, the time when this momentous change occurred is most suggestive. It was "the first day of the first month" of the second year, which marked a new epoch in the history of Israel. Spiritually, the pillar of cloud and fire in advance of the marching hosts is typical of the presence of the Holy Ghost with us, as our Guide and Defender. But the hovering of the Shekinah glory over the mercy-seat and between the outstretched wings of the cherubim is typical of the Person of the Holy Ghost within us, as the Source of our holiness and the Spring of our service. Before we receive the Holy Ghost, He has to speak to us largely through the Divine providences of our lives; but after we receive Him, He can speak to us more intimately by means of His Personal Presence in our hearts. Furthermore, the first day of the first month, of the second year, is suggestive of the new epoch in Christian experience which is marked by the personal incoming and indwelling of the Spirit of God.
3. The Blood and the Oil.
In the ceremonial rites for the cleansing of the leper we have seen how he was first sprinkled seven times with the blood and then sprinkled seven times with the oil. The two rites were quite separate and distinct. The blood was a type of the redemption of Christ and the oil was a type of the baptism of the Holy Ghost. The oil was put upon the blood of the trespass offering. This order could not be changed; the cleansed leper could be anointed with oil only after he had been sprinkled with blood. Now, all this speaks to us of salvation and sanctification. We must first be covered by the blood and then be endued with the Spirit. We must take Christ as our Saviour before we can receive the Holy Ghost.
4. The Promise of Christ.
On one occasion Christ closed His instruction concerning prayer with these words:
"If ye, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him." ( Luke xi. 13.)
Here our Lord was addressing His followers, among them manifestly being some who were saved; yet He gives them the promise of the Holy Spirit, to be received in answer to prayer.
Again, in the upper room, just before His betrayal, the Master gave His disciples very explicit and definite teaching concerning the Holy Spirit. One of His parting messages was:
"If ye love Me, keep My commandments.
"And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever;
"Even the Spirit of Truth; Whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him; but ye shall know Him; for He dwelleth with you and shall be in you." (John xiv. 15-17.)
In verse seventeen an important distinction is made in the use of the prepositions "with" and "in." "With" is the Greek para, and means "by the side of." "In" is the Greek en, and means "within." As we have seen there is a vast difference between having the Holy Spirit with us, and having Him within us. In the one case He is a presence outside; in the other case He is a Person inside. Plainly, the meaning is that before Pentecost the disciples had the Holy Ghost with them; but after Pentecost they were to have Him within them. This view of the Saviour's words is supported by the discriminating way in which the tenses of the verbs are used. "Dwelleth" is the present tense and refers to the time of Christ's speaking. "Shall be " is the future tense and refers to a coming time. Evidently, the Day of Pentecost was in the mind of the Master.
Once again, after His resurrection, Christ referred very definitely to the approaching advent of the Holy Ghost:
"And, behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you; but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high." (Luke xxiv. 49.)
"But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth." (Acts i. 8.)
Here the passage in the Acts of the Apostles explains the passage in the Gospel of Luke. There is no enduement of power apart from the incoming of the person; and we know that on the Day of Pentecost the Person of the Holy Ghost, the Gift alike of the Father and of the Son, was received by the company of one hundred and twenty disciples waiting in the upper room. The experience of these waiting disciples, therefore, teaches us the necessity of distinguishing between salvation by the blood of the crucified Christ and sanctification by the indwelling of the risen Christ. They were saved men and women; yet until they had received the Holy Ghost, they were not enabled for a life of holy obedience, nor equipped for a ministry of abiding fruitfulness. So today after the cleansing blood of the cross comes the enduing power of the upper room. Calvary is not sufficient; we must have our Pentecost.
Second, the Two-fold Condition of the Reception of the Gift of the Holy Ghost
Contact with God, whereby the Christian becomes partaker of the holiness of Christ, has a human as well as a Divine side. On the human side contact is formed by a step of entire surrender and an act of appropriating faith. But these are the conditions of receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. As such, therefore, we are now briefly to consider them.
I. A Step of Entire Surrender.
Another name for surrender is consecration. But as consecration is really a Divine work, surrender is a better term. The Christian can yield his heart and life, but he cannot consecrate them; only God can do that. Thus, the Old Testament priests did not consecrate themselves: Moses, acting for Jehovah, consecrated them; the priests could only yield themselves to be consecrated. (Leviticus viii. 1-13; Romans vi. 13; xii. 1.)
Surrender is giving up-a yielding to God. The believer must lay his whole life on the altar, relinquish all right to its control, and count himself henceforth and forever the Lord's. Surrender is a painful act. It means separation; it means sacrifice; it means self-denial; it means death. Before we come to know Christ as our Saviour we learn something of the meaning of surrender. It costs the sinner a good deal to give up the world with its pleasures and attractions. It is hard for him to separate himself from old associates and detach himself from old associations. But when we come to know Christ as our Sanctifier we learn the deeper meaning of surrender. It is one thing to give up the world; it is quite another thing to give up oneself. Yet this is what the Master requires of His disciples:
"If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." (Matthew xvi. 24.)
Now, self-denial, which is the essence of surrender, does not mean giving up things; it means giving up self. Self is securely seated upon the throne of the heart, and stoutly effuses to abdicate in favor of Christ. But union with Christ means participation in His death. Now, in any form death is painful and terrible, at least in contemplation; and it is perfectly natural that the self-life within us should shrink from the ordeal of crucifixion with Christ. Yet there is no escape therefrom, if we are ever to know the liberty and delight of a life of deliverance from the dominion of sin and from the tyranny of the flesh. Therefore, like our blessed Lord we must become "obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." (Philippians ii. 8.) The self-life may shrink and quiver with pain; yet we must take our place with the Lord on the cross; and by a deliberate and determined act of the will hold ourselves there, while the Holy Spirit passes the iron of judgment and death through our souls.
Surrender to God must be voluntary, complete, and final.
1. It must be voluntary.
Unless the step of surrender be taken voluntarily, the surrender will be made only in name, and will have no spiritual value. God calls men, but does not coerce them. In making choices and in deciding destiny the will is free. It is true that God will supply motives to right action; but He will not arbitrarily determine the decision of the will. Accordingly, if the will does not yield, there is no surrender; and if the will is not free in its action, the surrender is not voluntary. Compulsory surrender is the result of force; voluntary surrender is the result of love.
In the Old Testament the type of voluntary surrender is the offering of Isaac on Mount Moriah. The angel of the Lord spoke thus to Abraham:
"By Myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, That in blessing I will bless thee (Genesis xxii. 16, 17.)
In the New Testament the example of voluntary surrender is the experience of Paul:
"But what things were gain to me, these I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; for Whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.
"And be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
"That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead." (Philippians iii. 7-11.)
But higher than the offering of Isaac and the example of Paul is the spirit of voluntary surrender exhibited by our Lord, Who is our Divine Pattern.
"Sacrifice and offering Thou didst not desire; mine ears hast Thou opened; burnt offering and sin offering hast Thou not required.
"Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do Thy will, 0 My God: yea, Thy law is within my heart." (Psalm xl. 6, 7; see Hebrews x. 5-9.)
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
"Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
"But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." (Philippians ii. 5-8.)
Finally, let us listen to the pleading tones of the Holy Spirit, as He exhorts us to a step of voluntary surrender to God:
"I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
"And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God." (Romans xii. I, 2.)
2. It must be complete.
Unless surrender be complete, it is not surrender at all. A partial consecration is not sufficient; God will not accept a divided heart. We must not keep back part of the price. If we expect God to give Himself wholly to us, we must give ourselves wholly to Him. In the hour of surrender it is a good thing to make a mental inventory of our lives-spirit, soul, body, strength, time, talents, character, reputation, possessions, etc.--and then lay everything absolutely and unreservedly upon the altar.
If the blessing we seek is in any measure withheld, the cause will usually be a lack of whole-hearted surrender. We are holding back something that God is calling upon us to give over. In our view, perhaps, it is a very little thing, and does not matter; yet in God's sight that little thing is the key to the whole situation. The story is told of an Indian famine orphan, who gave the Lord a little box which was very precious to her and in which she had kept her private trinkets. The box was shut tight and locked. However, the child could not rest, and after several hours of conflict with her own heart, she brought the key and gave it to the missionary. It had cost the little girl more to surrender the key than it had to give up the box. Beloved, in giving Christ your heart have you kept the key? I beseech you to make a clean breast of everything; for God demands of every one "an unconditional surrender." Accept now the challenge the Lord makes in Malachi iii. 10:
"Bring ye all the tithes (literally, the whole tithe) into the storehouse, that there may be meat in Mine house and prove Me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it."
3. It must be final.
Unless surrender be final, it cannot be called true surrender. When rightly understood, surrender to God can neither be repeated nor recalled; it is unalterable and irrevocable. There are Christians who have a habit of making a re-consecration of their lives on every favorable occasion. Indeed, some believers give themselves anew to God with each recurring day. The motive which prompts to this act is of course entirely right, but the practice itself is clearly unscriptural. Thus Paul declared:
"For I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed. unto Him against that day." (II. Timothy i. 12.)
One step of surrender, therefore, if it be intelligent and involve the whole life, should be sufficient.
Nor can the step of surrender, when once taken, be recalled, for it is a definite committal of the whole life to God. Now, the act of committal implies two parties-God and the believer; and neither party without the consent of the other can alter the terms of or withdraw from the transaction. Beloved, when you lay yourself with all your interests upon the altar, God accepts your sacrifice and seals it forever. There are, indeed, only two conditions upon which your step of full surrender could be repeated or recalled. The first is that God Himself should give back what you lay upon the altar; and the second is that you yourself should take it back. The former condition is impossible; for God will keep "that which we have committed unto Him against that day." Moreover, Christ said:
"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.
"My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father's hand.'" (John x. 27-29.)
But if the first condition be impossible, the second condition is improbable. No true-hearted child of God is at all likely to take his gift deliberately from the altar. Rather will he pray with the psalmist:
"Bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar." (Psalm cxviii. 27.)
Although surrender should be made once for all, yet its daily recognition becomes a means of grace. Instead of giving ourselves anew to God, every morning let us say:
"Lord, I am Thine, entirely Thine,
Purchased and saved by blood Divine;
With full consent Thine would I be,
And own Thy sov'reign right in me."
Indeed, many times a day let us look up into the face of our Saviour and whisper, "I am my Beloved's and my Beloved is mine." Thus will He be delighted with our confiding trust, and will sweetly respond, "I have called thee by My name, thou art Mine."
II. An Act of Appropriating Faith. The gift of the Holy Ghost is received not only by a step of entire surrender but also by an act of appropriating faith. These two conditions must go together and in this order. Surrender is yielding to God; faith is taking from God. Again, surrender is negative and passive, while faith is positive and aggressive. Moreover, just as the step of surrender must be voluntary, complete, and final, so the act of faith must be definite, vital and appropriating.
In the act of faith through which we receive the Holy Spirit we must believe that God takes all that we give Him and that we take all that God gives us. On the Lord's side there will be no failure in taking; of this fact we may feel assured. He Who has prompted the step of surrender will not refuse the gift that we bring. When we lay our hearts and lives unreservedly upon the altar, Christ accepts our offering and seals it eternally His. Moreover, the altar sanctifies the gift.
Nor on our part will there be failure in taking, if we remember that Christ gives Himself far more freely and unreservedly to us than we give ourselves to Him. Let us not wait for a thrill of emotion before we count God true to His word. The Divine order is fact, faith, feeling. Whatever God says we must believe just because He says it; and then feeling will follow in its time as a matter of course. According to a converted heathen child, "Faith is believing a thing hard enough to act as if it was so." Therefore, when we have taken the step of surrender, let us count God faithful in meeting us and in giving us all our faith has dared to claim.
In the first place, let us believe that we are now identified with Christ in His crucifixion and resurrection. Let us count ourselves on the cross and in the grave with Christ. Let us count, moreover, that we are raised together with Christ and with Him are now seated "in heavenly places."
In the second place, let us believe that by our identification with Christ in His death and resurrection we have died unto sin and are living unto God. Let us count that the power of the flesh is broken, that the dominion of sin is destroyed, that self is dethroned from the heart, and that Christ is enthroned within. Indeed, it is now our privilege to claim with Paul:
"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." (Galatians ii. 20.)
In the third place, and highest of all, let us believe that we have received the Holy Ghost and been baptized with power from on high. Let us count that by the incoming and indwelling of the Holy Spirit, Christ has been made unto us sanctification. Beloved, "the Comforter is come !" Before this He has been with you; but after this He will be within you. Nor will the Holy Ghost leave His temple which He now occupies and possesses. He has come to abide forever. Glory! Like Christ after His baptism, your whole life from this solemn hour will be wrought out in continual and absolute dependence upon the Spirit of God. It is through the Holy Spirit that the Father will manifest Himself to you. It is through the Holy Spirit that Christ will reveal Himself in you. It is through the Holy Spirit that you will resist the devil in meeting and overcoming temptation. It is through the Holy Spirit that you will live a holy life. It is through the Holy Spirit that you will triumph in suffering and rise victorious over sorrow. It is through the Holy Spirit that you will speak messages full of life and power to the sinful and needy. And it is through the Holy Spirit that you will perform deeds that will extend the kingdom of God upon earth and thus hasten the return of our Lord.
We have said that it is through the incoming and indwelling of the Holy Spirit that Christ is enthroned in our hearts and is made unto us sanctification. Here, then, are two Divine Personalities. How can both Christ and the Holy Spirit dwell within us and how can we be sure that we always give to both equal recognition and honor? A little reflection will relieve these questions of perplexity. The Holy Ghost comes to us as the Spirit of Christ, baptized with His personal presence. In the Old Testament He is revealed as the Spirit of the Father; but in the New Testament He is revealed as the Spirit of the Son. Again, it is the office work of the Holy Ghost to represent Christ-to call attention to Him, to speak of Him, and to glorify Him. Thus, Jesus said:
"Howbeit when He the Spirit of Truth is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak, and He shall show you things to come.
"He shall glorify Me; for He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you.
"All things that the Father hath are Mine: therefore said I, that He shall take of Mine, and shall show it unto you." (John xvi. 13-15.)
If it were not for our atmosphere, the sun, although a ball of fire, would shine coldly, like a twinkling star. But the atmosphere, which envelopes the earth, receives the rays of the sun and transmutes them into color, heat, and light. Likewise, if it were not for the Holy Ghost, Christ, Who is seated at the right hand of God, could only be honored and worshipped as our risen and ascended Lord. But the Holy Ghost, Who is the Breath of God, receives Christ and reveals Him to our hearts as Life, Light, and Truth. When we look through a telescope, we do not see the lens but the object which the lens brings near. So when we took through the Holy Ghost, so to speak, we behold Christ, not seated yonder in heavenly glory, but reigning within on the throne of our hearts. Indeed, when we are filled with the Spirit, we shall be conscious not so much of the presence of the Spirit as of the person of the Lord. Let us, therefore, occupy ourselves with Christ, while the Spirit of Truth undrapes His radiant figure, and standing in the background, so to speak, bids us gaze on His dear face.
Beloved, we have crossed the River Jordan. We have passed out of the "waste, howling wilderness" and are "over in the Land of Canaan." The seventh chapter of Romans with its ceaseless struggles and discouraging defeats is in the past and we are living in the eighth chapter with its grateful rest and welcome deliverance. The vision of victory has been transformed into a glorious reality.
Now, when a radical and revolutionary transformation like this takes place in our hearts and lives we shall certainly know it. Moreover, we may expect the Holy Spirit to witness as definitely and as distinctly to His work of sanctification as He does to his work of regeneration. But while this is true, the witness in every case will not be the same either in kind or in degree. There are of course temperamental differences in people; and there are varying types of Christian experience, corresponding to these differences, which a knowledge of psychology helps us to understand and explain. For example, there are demonstrative persons; and when such persons experience sanctification, the witness of the Spirit is quite likely to take the form of exalted feeling or even ecstatic emotion. On the other hand, there are dispassionate persons; and in their case there is apt to be little, if any, feeling; but they will have a deep, quiet sense of spiritual satisfaction. But however this may be, the point to be emphasized is that in every instance of sanctification the witness of the Spirit, both in kind and degree, should be satisfactory to the believer himself who is sanctified. Moreover, a truly sanctified life will "bring forth fruit unto God;" and this fruit-"the fruit of the Spirit"--will be manifest to all.
It is not necessary for a Christian worker to notify a sinner when he is saved. The new light on the countenance, the new song on the lips, the new spirit of prayer, the new love for God-these and many other similar evidences of conversion will be seen and known of all men. Furthermore, God has promised to give to each regenerated heart the witness of its acceptance. In like manner, it will not be necessary for a Christian worker or a fellow believer to notify a child of God when he has received the Holy Ghost and taken Christ as his sanctification; indeed, spiritual injury has been done to many a soul by this practice. Beloved, if the Holy Ghost has really come to your heart to abide forever, He will surely let you know it. Nor will He keep you long waiting. Do not be satisfied with anyone's assurances upon this point. Resolve to hear direct from heaven for yourself. Of course you must take the Holy Spirit by faith; but it is your privilege soon to have your claim of faith sealed by the certainty of personal knowledge. A failure at this point now will only mean perplexity of mind and disappointment of heart later on. Therefore, take your Bible, and go alone with God, and continue to wait upon Him until you get an answer and are sure that you can say "Yes'' to the vitally important question which Paul asked the disciples of Ephesus:
"Have Ye Received The Holy Ghost Since Ye Believed?"