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God wants us to enter into the rest of faith. He desires us to have all confidence in Himself. He purposes that His Word shall be established in our hearts; and, as we believe His Word, we will see that all things are possible.
In 1 Corinthians 12:1 we read, “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.” There is a great weakness in the church of Christ because of an awful ignorance concerning the Spirit of God and the gifts He has come to bring. God would have us powerful on all lines because of the revelation of the knowledge of His will concerning the power and manifestation of His Spirit. He would have us ever hungry to receive more and more of His Spirit. In times past I have arranged many conventions, and I have found that it is better to have a man on my platform who has not received the Baptism but who is hungry for all that God has for him, than a man who has received the Baptism and is satisfied and has settled down and become stationary and stagnant. But of course I would prefer a man that is baptized with the Holy Ghost and is still hungry for more of God. A man who is not hungry to receive more of God is out of order in any convention.
It is impossible to overestimate the importance of being filled with the Spirit. It is impossible for us to meet the conditions of the day, to walk in the light as He is in the light, to subdue kingdoms and work righteousness and bind the power of Satan unless we are filled with the Holy Ghost.
We read that in the early church they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. It is important for us also to continue steadfastly in these same things. For some years I was associated with the Plymouth Brethren. They are very strong on the Word, and are sound on water baptism, and they do not neglect the breaking of bread service, but have it every Lord’s Day morning as they had it in the early church. These people seem to have everything except the match. They have the wood, but they need the fire and then they would be all ablaze. Because they lack the fire of the Holy Spirit there is no life in their meetings. One young man who attended their meetings received the Baptism with the speaking in other tongues as the Spirit gave utterance. The brethren were very upset about this and came to the father and said to him, “You must take your son aside and tell him to cease.” They did not want any disturbance. The father told the son and said, “My boy, I have been attending this church for twenty years and have never seen anything of this kind. We are established in the truth and do not want anything new. We won’t have it.” The son replied, “If that is God’s plan I will obey, but somehow or other I don’t think it is.” As they were going home the horse stood still; the wheels were in deep ruts. The father pulled at the reins but the horse did not move. He asked. “What do you think is up?” The son answered, “It has got established.” God save us from becoming stationary.
God would have us to understand concerning spiritual gifts and to covet earnestly the best gifts, and also to enter into the more excellent way of the fruit of the Spirit. We must beseech God for these gifts. It is a serious thing to have the Baptism and yet be stationary; to live two days in succession on the same spiritual plane is a tragedy. We must be willing to deny ourselves everything to receive the revelation of God’s truth and to receive the fulness of the Spirit. Only that will satisfy God, and nothing less must satisfy us. A young Russian received the Holy Spirit and was mightily endued with power from on High. Some sisters were anxious to know the secret of his power. The secret of his power was continuous waiting upon God. As the Holy Ghost filled him it seemed as though every breath became a prayer and so all his ministry was on an increasing line.
I knew a man who was full of the Holy Ghost and would only preach when he knew that he was mightily unctionized by the power of God. He was asked to preach at a Methodist church. He was staying at the minister’s house and he said, “You go on to church and I will follow.” The place was packed with people but this man did not turn up and the Methodist minister, becoming anxious, sent his little girl to inquire why he did not come. As she came to the bedroom door she heard him crying out three times, “I will not go.” She went back and reported that she heard the man say three times that he would not go. The minister was troubled about it, but almost immediately after this the man came in, and, as he preached that night, the power of God was tremendously manifested. The preacher asked him, “Why did you tell my daughter that you were not coming?” He answered, “I know when I am filled. I am an ordinary man and I told the Lord that I dared not go and would not go until He gave me a fresh filling of the Spirit. The moment the glory filled me and overflowed I came to the meeting.”
Yes, there is a power, a blessing, an assurance, a rest in the presence of the Holy Ghost. You can feel His presence and know that He is with you. You need not spend an hour without this inner knowledge of His holy presence. With His power upon you there can be no failure. You are above par all the time.
“Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.” This is the Gentile day. When the Jews refused the blessings of God He scattered them, and He has grafted the Gentiles into the olive tree where the Jews were broken off. There never has been a time when God has been so favorable to a people who were not a people. He has brought in the Gentiles to carry out His purpose of preaching the gospel to all nations and to receive the power of the Holy Ghost to accomplish this task. It is of the mercy of God that He has turned to the Gentiles and made us partakers of all the blessings that belong to the Jews; and here under this canopy of glory, because we believe, we get all the blessings of faithful Abraham.
“Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed; and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but hy the Holy Ghost.” There are many evil, deceiving spirits sent forth in these last days who endeavor to rob Jesus of His Lordship and of His rightful place. Many are opening the doors to these latest devils, such as New Theology and New Thought and Christian Science. These evil cults deny the fundamental truths of God’s Word. They all deny eternal punishment and all deny the deity of Jesus Christ. You will never see the Baptism of the Holy Ghost come upon a man who accepts these errors. Neither will you see a Romanist* receive. They put Mary in the place of the Holy Ghost. I would like you to produce a Romanist who knows that he is saved. No man can know he is saved by works. If you ever speak to a Romanist you will know that he is not definite on the line of the new birth. They cannot be. Another thing, you will never find a Russellite* baptized in the Holy Ghost; nor a member of any other cult that does not put the Lord Jesus Christ pre-eminent above all.
The all important thing is to make Jesus Lord.* Men can grow lopsided by emphasizing the truth of divine healing. Man can get wrong by all the time preaching on water baptism. But we never go wrong in exalting the Lord Jesus Christ, giving Him the pre-eminent place and magnifying Him as both Lord and Christ, yes, as very God of very God. As we are filled with the Holy Ghost our one desire is to magnify Him. We need to be filled with the Spirit to get the full revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ.
God’s command is for us to be filled with the Spirit. We are no good if we only have a full cup. We need to have an overflowing cup all the time. It is a tragedy not to live in the fulness of overflowing. See that you never live below the overflowing tide.
“Now there are diversities of gifts but the same Spirit.” Every manifestation of the Spirit is given that we might “profit withal.” When the Holy Spirit is moving in an assembly and His gifts are in operation, everyone will receive profit. I have seen some who have been terribly switched. They believe in gifts, in prophecy, and they use these gifts apart from the power of the Holy Ghost. We must look to the Holy Spirit to show us the use of the gifts, what they are for, and when to use them, so that we may never use them without the power of the Holy Ghost. I do not know of anything which is so awful today as people using a gift without the power. Never do it. God save us from doing it.
A man who is filled with the Holy Ghost, while he may not be conscious of having any gift of the Spirit, can have the gifts made manifest through him. I have gone to many places to help and have found that under the unction of the Holy Spirit many wonderful things have happened in the midst when the glory of the Lord was upon the people. Any man who is filled with God and filled with His Spirit might at any moment have any of the nine gifts made manifest through him without knowing that he has a gift. Sometimes I have wondered whether it was better to be always full of the Holy Ghost and to see signs and wonders and miracles without any consciousness of possessing a gift, or whether it was better to know one has a gift. If you have received the gifts of the Spirit and they have been blessed, you should never under any circumstances use them without the power of God upon you pressing the gift through. Some have used the prophetic gift without the holy touch, and they have come into the realm of the natural, and it has brought ruin, caused dissatisfaction, broken hearts, upset assemblies. Do not seek the gifts unless you are purposed to abide in the Holy Spirit. They should be manifested only in the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Lord will allow you to be very drunk in His presence, but sober among people. I like to see people so filled with the Spirit that they are drunk like the 120 on the Day of Pentecost, but I don’t like to see people drunk in the wrong place. That is what troubles us, somebody being drunk in a place of worship where a lot of people come in that know nothing about the Word. If you allow yourself to be drunk there you send people away, they look at you instead of seeing God. They condemn the whole thing because you have not been sober at the right time. Paul writes, “For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause.” You can be beside yourself. You can go a bit further than being drunk. You can dance, if you will do it at the right time. So many things are commendable when all the people are in the Spirit. Many things are very foolish if the people round about you are not in the Spirit. We must be careful not to have a good time at the expense of somebody else. When you have a good time you must see that the spiritual conditions in the place lend themselves to help you and that the people are falling in line with you. Then you will find it always a blessing.
While it is right to covet earnestly the best gifts, you must recognize that the all important thing is to be filled with the power of the Holy Ghost Himself. You will never have trouble with people who are filled with the power of the Holy Ghost, but you will have a lot of trouble with people who have the gifts and have no power. The Lord wants us to come behind in no gift, but at the same time He wants us to be so filled with the Holy Ghost that it will be the Holy Spirit manifesting Himself through the gifts. Where the glory of God alone is desired you can look for every needed gift to be made manifest. To glorify God is better than to idolize gifts. We prefer the Spirit of God to any gift; but we can look for the Trinity in manifestation, different gifts by the same Spirit, different administrations but the same Lord, diversities of operation but the same God working all in all. Can you conceive of what it will mean for our Triune God to be manifesting Himself in His fulness in our assemblies?
Watch that great locomotive boiler as it is filled with steam. You can see the engine letting off some of the steam as it remains stationary. It looks as though the whole thing might burst. You can see saints like that. They start to scream, but that is not to edification. But when the locomotive moves on, it serves the purpose for which it was built, and pulls along much traffic with it. It is wonderful to be filled with the power of the Holy Ghost, and for Him to serve His own purposes through us. Through our lips divine utterances flow, our hearts rejoice and our tongue is glad. It is an inward power within which is manifested in outward expression. Jesus Christ is glorified. As your faith in Him is quickened, from within you there will flow rivers of living water. The Holy Spirit will pour through you like a great river of life and thousands will be blessed because you are a yielded channel through whom the Spirit may flow.