Many Experiences, but One Law.
In mechanics power depends on good connections. A visit to any great machine shop makes that clear. There must be good connections in two directions -- inward toward the source of power, and outward for use. The same law holds true in spiritual power as in mechanical. There must be good connections.
These nights we have been together a few things have seemed clear. We have seen that from the standpoint of our lives there is need of power, as well as from the standpoint of the Master's use of us among others. Jesus' promise and insistent words make plain the necessity of our having power if His plan for us is not to fail. His words about the price of power have set many of us to doing some honest thinking and heart-searching. And we have gotten some suggestion, too, of the meaning of that word power, and of the personality back of the word.
To-night I want to talk with you a little about how to secure good connections between the source of power and the channel through which it is to flow out to others; and, once secured, how to preserve the connections unbroken.
It has been one of the peculiar characteristics of recent years in religious circles that much has been spoken and written about the Holy Spirit. Thousands of persons have been led into a clearer understanding of His personality and mission, and into intimate relationship with Himself. And yet, may I say frankly, that I read much and listened to much without being able to get a simple workable understanding of how I was to receive the much-talked-of baptism of power. That may quite likely have been due to my own dullness of comprehension. But whatever the cause, my failing to understand led to a rather careful study of the old Book itself until somewhat clearer light has come. And now in this convention I am anxious to put the truth as simply as I may that others may not blunder and bungle along and lose precious time as I have done.
Many an earnest heart, conscious of weakness and failure, is asking, how may I have power to resist temptation, and live a strong, useful, christian life? In the search for an answer some of us have run across two difficulties. One of these is in other people's experiences. It is very natural to try to find out how someone else has succeeded in getting what we are after. Many a godly man has told of his experience of waiting and pleading with God before the thing he sought came. Personal experiences are intensely interesting, and often helpful. But there are apt to be as many different sorts of experiences as there are persons. Yet there is one unchanging law of God's dealing with men underlying them all. But unless one is more skilled than many of us are in analyzing experiences and discovering the underlying law, these experiences of others are often misleading. We are so likely to think at once of the desirability of having the same experience as someone else, rather than trying to find God's law of spirit life in them all. And so, some of the written experiences have clouded rather than cleared the sky. We should rather try first to get something of a clear understanding of God's law of dealing with men as a sort of basis to build upon. And then fit into that, even though it may develop differently in our circumstances. We may then get much help from others' experiences. If possible, we want to-night to get something of an inkling of that law.
Another difficulty that has bothered some of us is in the great variety of language used in speaking of this life of power; a variety that seems confusing to some of us. |The baptism of the Holy Spirit,| |the induement,| |the filling,| |refilling,| |many fillings,| |special anointings| -- these terms are familiar, though just the distinctive meaning of each is not always clear. Let us look a little at the language of the Book at this point. A run through the New Testament brings out five leading words used[B] in speaking of the Holy Spirit's relation to us. These words are |baptized,| |filled,| |anointed,| |sealed,| and |earnest.| It seems to take all five words to tell all of the truth. Each gives a different side.
[Transcriber's note B: Original had |word sused|]
The word baptized is the distinctive word always used before the day of Pentecost, in speaking of what was to occur then. It is not used afterward except in referring back to that day. It belongs peculiarly to the day of Pentecost. Each of the gospels tells that John the Baptist said that Jesus was to baptize with the Holy Spirit. Jesus Himself uses the word, during the forty days, in Acts, first chapter. Peter, in Acts, eleventh chapter, recalls this remark. Paul uses it once in referring back to Pentecost. These seem to be the only instances where the word is used in speaking of the Holy Spirit. One other word is used once in advance of Pentecost. |Tarry until ye be endued or clothed upon.| We shall see in a few moments that the meaning of this fits in with the meaning of baptized, emphasizing one part of its meaning.
|Baptized| may be called the historical word. It describes an act done once for all on that great day of Pentecost, with possibly four accessory repetitions to make clear that additional classes and groups were included. It tells God's side.
In this connection it will be helpful to note the significance of the word baptize. Of course you will understand that I am not speaking now of the matter or mode of water baptism. But I am supposing that originally or historically the word means a plunging or dipping into. We commonly think of the act of immersion-baptism from the side of the object immersed because the action is on the side of the thing or person which is plunged down into the immersing flood. But in the historical baptism of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost the standpoint is reversed. Instead of a plunging down into there is a coming down upon, exactly reversing the order with which we are familiar, but with the same result -- submersion. Notice the phrases in Acts used in describing the baptism of the Holy Spirit on that historical Pentecost: |Coming upon you,| |pour out,| |poured forth,| |fallen upon,| |fell upon,| |poured out,| |fell on them,| |came upon,| all suggesting an act from above.
A Four-Sided Truth.
Now notice that the word used at the time of the actual occurrence and afterwards is another word -- |filled| and |full,| which occurs eleven times in the first nine chapters of Acts. It tells what was experienced by those persons at Pentecost and afterwards. It describes their side. Baptism was the act; filling was the result. If you plunge a book into water you are submerging the book: that is your side. The leaves of the book quickly become soaked, filled with the water: that is the other side. When a baby is born it is plunged out into the atmosphere. That is an immersion into air. It begins at once to cry and its lungs become filled with the air into which it has been plunged. So here |filled| is the experience word; it tells our side.
The third word, |anointed,| indicates the purpose of this filling; it is to qualify for living and for service. It is the word commonly used in the Old Testament for the setting apart of the tabernacle to its holy use; and of priests and kings, and sometimes prophets for service and leadership. In the New Testament it is four times used of Jesus, each time in connection with His public ministry. Paul uses it of himself in answering those who had criticised his work and leadership at Corinth. And John uses it twice in speaking of ability to discern and teach the truth. It is the power word, indicating that the Holy Spirit's coming is for the specific purpose of setting us apart, and to qualify us for right living, and for acceptable and helpful service.
The fourth word, |sealed,| explains our personal connection with the Lord Jesus. It is used once by Paul in writing to his friends at Corinth, and twice in the Ephesian epistle. The seal was used, and still is to mark ownership. In our lumber regions up in the Northwest it is customary to clear a small spot on a log and strike it with the blunt end of a hatchet containing the initials of the owner, and then send it adrift down the stream with hundreds of others, and though it may float miles unguarded, that mark of ownership is respected. On the Western plains it is common to see mules with an initial branded on the flank. In both cases the initial is the owner's seal, recognized by law as sufficient evidence of ownership. So the Holy Spirit is Jesus' ownership mark stamped upon us to indicate that we belong to Him. He is our sole Owner. And if any of us are not allowing Him to have full control of His property, we are dealing dishonestly. Sealed is the property or ownership word.
The last one of these words, |earnest,| is a peculiarly interesting one. It is found three times in Paul's epistles. An earnest is a pledge given in advance as an evidence of good faith. We are familiar with the usage of paying down a small part of the price agreed upon to make a business transaction binding. In old English it is called caution money. My mother has told me of seeing her mother many a time pay a shilling in the Belfast market-house to insure the delivery of a bag of potatoes, paying the remainder on its delivery.
Now here the Holy Spirit is called |the earnest of our inheritance unto the redemption of the purchased possession.| That means two things to us: First -- that the Holy Spirit now filling us is Jesus' pledge that He has purchased us, and that some day He is coming back to claim His possessions; and then that the measure of the Spirit's presence and power now is only a foretaste of a greater fullness at the time of coming back; a sort of partial advance payment which insures a payment in full when the transaction is completed. Paul speaks of this to the Romans as the first fruits of the Spirit.
So, if you will take all five words you will get all of the truth about our friend the Holy Spirit, and just what His coming into one's life means. The first word, |baptism,| is the historical word, pointing us back to the day of Pentecost. The other four words, taken together, tell us the four sides of the Holy Spirit's relation to us now. |Filled| is the experience word, pointing us inward to what actually takes place there. |Anointed| is the power word, pointing us outward to the life and service among men to which we are set apart. |Sealed| is the personal-relation word, pointing us upward to our Owner and Master. |Earnest| is the prophetic word, pointing us forward to the Master's coming back to claim His own, and to bestow the full measure of the Spirit's presence.
And to-night we want to get some hint of how to have this infilling, which shall also be an anointing of power and a seal of ownership and an earnest of greater things at Jesus' return.
But perhaps some one is saying, |Have not we all received the Holy Spirit if we are christians?| Yes, that is quite true. It is the Holy Spirit's presence in us that makes us christians. His work begins at conversion. Conversion and regeneration are the two sides of the same transaction. Conversion, the human side: regeneration, the divine side. My turning clear around to God is my side, and instantly His Spirit enters and begins His work. But here is a distinction to be made: the Holy Spirit is in every christian, but in many He is not allowed free and full control, and so there is little or none of His power felt or seen. Only as He has full sway is His power manifest. If at the time of conversion or decision there is clear instruction and a whole-hearted surrender, there will be evidence of the Spirit's presence at once. And if the new life goes on without break there will be a continuance of that power in ever-increasing measure. But many a time, through ignorance, or through some disobedience or failure to obey, there has come a break, a slipping of a cog somewhere, and so an interruption of the flow of power. Many a time lack of instruction regarding the cultivation of the Spirit's friendship has resulted in just such a break. And so a new start is necessary. Then a full surrender is followed by a new experience or, shall I better say, a re-experience of the Spirit's presence. And this new experience sometimes is so sharply marked as to begin a new epoch in the life. Some of the notable leaders of the Church have gone through just such an experience.
Yet, I know a man -- have known him somewhat intimately for years -- one of the most saintly men it has been my privilege to know. For some years he was a missionary abroad, but now is preaching in this country. His private personal life is fragrant, and his public speech is always accompanied with rare power. In conversation with a young minister at a summer conference, he said he had never known this second blessing or experience on which such stress was being laid there. And I think I can readily understand that he had not. For, apparently, so far as one can see, his first surrender or decision had been a whole-hearted one. He had followed simply, fully, as he saw the way. There had been no break, but a steady going on and up, and an ever-increasing manifestation of the Spirit's presence from the time of that first decision. So that it may be said, quite accurately, I think, that in God's plan there is no need of any second stage, but in our actual experience there has been a second stage, and sometimes more than a second, too, because with so many of us the connections have been broken, making a fresh act on our part a necessity.
The Real Battlefield.
But now the main topic we are to talk about is making and breaking connections. First, making connections with the source of power. How may one who has been willing to go thus far in these talks go a step further and have power in actual conscious possession?
There are many passages in this old Book that answer that question. But let me turn you to one which puts the answer in very simple shape. John's gospel, seventh chapter, verses thirty-seven to thirty-nine. Listen: |Now, on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, if any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.| Then John, writing some fifty years or so afterwards, adds what he himself did not understand at the time: |But this spake He of the Spirit who they that believed on Him were to receive; for not yet was the Spirit given, because not yet was Jesus glorified.|
There are four words here which tell the four steps into a new life of power. Sometimes these steps are taken so quickly that they seem in actual experience like only one. But that does not matter to us just now, for we are after the practical result. Four words -- thirst, glorified, drink, believe -- tell the whole story. Thirst means desire, intense desire. There is no word in our language so strong to express desire as the word thirst. Physical thirst will completely control your actions. If you are very thirsty, you can do nothing till that gnawing desire is satisfied. You cannot read, nor study, nor talk, nor transact business. You are in agony when intensely thirsty. To die of thirst is extremely painful. Jesus uses that word thirst to express intensest desire. Let me ask you -- Are you thirsty for power? Is there a yearning down in your heart for something you have not? That is the first step. No good to offer food to a man without appetite. |Blessed are they that hunger and thirst.| Pitiable are they that need and do not know their need. Physicians find their most difficult work in dealing with the man who has no desire to live. He is at the lowest ebb. Are you thirsty? There is a special promise for thirsty ones. |I will pour water on him that is thirsty.| If you are not thirsty for the Master's power, are you thirsty to be made thirsty? If you are not really thirsty in your heart for this new life of power, you might ask the Master to put that thirst in you. For there can be nothing before that.
The second word is the one added long afterwards by John, when the Spirit had enlightened his understanding -- |glorified.| |For not yet was the Spirit given, because not yet was Jesus glorified.| That word has two meanings here: the first meaning a historical one, the second a personal or experimental one. The historical meaning is this: when Jesus returned home all scarred in face and form from His trip to the earth, He was received back with great enthusiasm, and was glorified in the presence of myriads of angel beings by being enthroned at the Father's right hand. Then the glorified Jesus sent the Holy Spirit down to the earth as His own personal representative for His new peculiar mission. The presence of the Spirit in our hearts is evidence that the Jesus whom earth despised and crucified is now held in highest honor and glory in that upper world. The Spirit is the gift of a glorified Jesus. Peter lays particular stress upon this in his Pentecost sermon, telling to those who had so spitefully murdered Jesus that He |being at the right hand of God exalted ... hath poured forth this.| That is the historical meaning -- the first meaning -- of that word |glorified.| It refers to an event in the highest heaven after Jesus' ascension. The personal meaning is this: when Jesus is enthroned in my life the Holy Spirit shall fill me. The Father glorified Jesus by enthroning Him. I must glorify Him by enthroning Him. But the throne of my heart was occupied by another who did not propose to resign, nor to be deposed without resistance. So there had to be a dethronement as well as an enthronement. I must quietly but resolutely place the crown of my life, my love, my will upon Jesus' brow for Him henceforth to control me as He will. That act of enthroning Him carries with it the dethronement of self.
Let me say plainly that here is the searching test of the whole matter. Why do you want power? For the rare enjoyment of ecstatic moods? For some hidden selfish purpose, like Simon of Samaria, of which you are perhaps only half conscious, so subtly does it lurk underneath? That you may be able to move men? These motives are all selfish. The streams turn in, and that means a dead sea. Better stop before you begin. For thy heart is not right before God. But if the uppermost and undermost desire be to glorify Jesus and let Him do in you, and with you what He chooses, then you shall know the flooding of the channel-ways of your life with a new stream of power.
Jesus Himself, when down here as Son of Man, met this test. With reverence be it said that His highest purpose in coming to earth was not to die upon the cross, but to glorify His Father. That memorable passage opening the sixty-first chapter of Isaiah, which Jesus applied to Himself in the Nazareth synagogue, contains eight or nine statements of what He was to do, but closes with a comprehensive statement of the underlying purpose -- |that He might be glorified.| As it turned out, that could best be done by yielding to the awful experiences through which He passed. But the supreme thought of pleasing His Father was never absent from His thought. It drove Him to the wilderness, and to Gethsemane, and to Calvary.
Is that the one purpose in your heart in desiring power? He might send some of us out to the far-off foreign mission field. He might send some down to the less enchanted field of the city slums to do salvage service night after night among the awful social wreckage[C] thrown upon the strand there; or possibly it would mean an isolated post out on the frontier, or down in the equally heroic field of the mountains of the South. He might leave some of you just where you are, in a commonplace, humdrum spot, as you think, when your visions had been in other fields. He might make you a seed-sower, like lonely Morrison in China, when you wanted to be a harvester like Moody. Here is the real battlefield. The fighting and agonizing are here. Not with God but with yourself, that the old self in you may be crucified and Jesus crowned in its place.
[Transcriber's Note C: Original had |weckage|]
Will you in the purpose of your heart make Jesus absolute monarch whatever that may prove to mean? It may mean great sacrifice; it will mean greater joy and power at once. May we have the simple courage to do it. Master, help us! Thou wilt help us. Thou art helping some of us now as we talk and listen and think.
Power Manifest in Action.
Well, then, if you have won on that field of action, the rest is very simple. Indeed, after a victory there, your whole life moves up to a new level. The third word is drink. |Let him come unto Me and drink.| Drinking is one of the easiest acts imaginable. I wish I had a glass of water here just to let you see how easy a thing it is. Tip up the glass and let the water run in and down. Drink simply means take. It is saying, |Lord Jesus, I take from Thee the promised power.... I thank Thee that the Spirit has taken full control.| But you say, |Is that all?| Yes. |Why, I do not feel anything.| Do you remember saying something like that when you were urged to take Jesus as your Savior? And some kind friend told you not to wait for feeling, but to trust, and that when you did that, the light came? Now, the fourth word is believe. The law of God's dealing with you has not changed. Jesus says, |Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.| You are to believe His word. |But,| you say, |how shall I know I have this power?| Well, first, by believing that Jesus has done what He agreed. He promised the Spirit to them that obey Him. The Holy Spirit fills every surrendered heart. Then there is a second way -- you will experience the power as need arises. How do you know anything? Here is this chair. Suppose I tell you I have power to pick it up and hold it out at arm's length. Well, you think, I look as though I might have that much power in my arm. But you do not know. Perhaps my arm is weak and does not show it. But now I pick it up and hold it out -- (holding chair out at arm's length) -- now you know I have at least that much power in my arm. Power is always manifest in action. That is a law of power. How did that man by the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem, who had not walked for thirty-eight years -- how did he know that he had received power to walk? He got up and walked! He did not know he had received the power till he got up. Power is shown in action always. Faith acts. It pushes out, in obedience to command. And when you go out of here to-day, as the need arises you will find the power rising within you to meet it. When the hasty word comes hot to your lips, when that old habit asserts itself, when the actual test of sacrifice comes, when the opportunity for service comes, as surely as the need comes, will come the sense of His power in control. Believe means expect.
|Thirst,| |glorify,| |drink,| |believe| -- desire, enthrone, accept, expect -- that is the simple story. Are you thirsty? Will you put Jesus on the throne? Then accept, and go out with your eyes open, expecting, expecting, expecting, and He will never fail to reveal His power. Shall we bow in silence a few moments and settle the matter, each of us, with the Master direct?
Three Laws of Continuous Power.
Power depends on good connections. In mechanics: the train with the locomotive; the machinery with the engine; the electrical mechanism with the power house. In the body: the arm with the socket; the brain with the heart. In the christian life the follower of Jesus with the Spirit of Jesus. We have been talking together about making connections, and I believe some of us have made the vital connection this hour, which means new inflow and outflow of power.
Now there will be time for only a brief word about breaking connections. |But,| you say, |we do not want to break connections.| No, you do not. But there is someone else who does. Since you have put yourself into intimate contact with Jesus this someone else has become intensely interested in breaking that contact. And this enemy of ours, this Satan, the hater, is subtle and deep and experienced and more than a match for any of us. But greater is He that is now in you than he that is in the world. Satan will do his best by bold attack and cunning deceit to tamper with your couplings.
One of the saddest sights, and yet a not uncommon one, is to see a man who has been mightily used of God, but whose usefulness is now wholly gone. One can run back through only recent years and recall, one after another, those through whom multitudes were blessed, but who, yielding to some subtle temptation, have utterly and forever lost their opportunity Of service. The same is true of scores in more secluded circles whose lives, spiritually blighted and dwarfed, tell the same sad story.
These recent instances are but repetitions of older ones. Three times the writer of Judges tells of Samson that |the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him,| and then is added the pathetic sentence -- |but he wist not that the Lord was departed from him.| And between the two occurs the story of an act of disobedience. Twice the same thing is recorded of King Saul, |the spirit of God came mightily upon him,| and the same sequel follows, |the spirit of the Lord had departed.| And between the two is found an act of disobedience to God's command. The ninth of Luke tells a similar story. The disciples had been given power; had used the power for others; were requested to relieve a demonized boy; had tried to; had expected to; but utterly failed, to their own chagrin, and the father's disappointment, amid the surprise and criticism of the crowd. The Master explains that a slipshod connection with God was at the bottom of their failure. Power is not stored in us apart from God's presence. It merely passes through as He has sway. Once the connection between Him and you is disturbed, the flow of power is interrupted. We do not run on the storage battery plan, but on the trolley plan. Constant communication with the source of power is absolutely essential. The spirit of God never leaves us. We do not lose His presence. But whatever grieves Him prevents His presence being manifest. The evidence of His presence may be lost through wrongdoing. So I want to give you in very brief compass the three laws of the life of power -- continued and increasing power. I wish some one had given them to me long ago. It might have saved me many a bad break.
The first law can be put in a single word -- obey. Obedience is the great foundation law of the christian life. Indeed it is the common fundamental law of all organization, in nature, in military, naval, commercial, political and domestic circles. Obedience is the great essential to securing the purpose of life. Disobedience means disaster. If you turn to scripture you must read almost every page if you would get all the statements and illustrations of obedience and its opposite. Begin with the third of Genesis, where the first disastrous act of disobedience brought a ruin still going on. Run through the three wilderness books, where the new nation is grouped about the smoking mountain. Listen in Deuteronomy to the old man Moses talking during the thirty days' conference they had in Moab's plains before he was taken away. Then into Joshua's book of victory and the Judges' dark story of defeats, through the kingdom books, and the prophecies, and you will find the changes rung more frequently upon obedience than anything else. The same is true of the New Testament clear to the last column of the last page.
The fact is, every heart is a battlefield whose possession is being hotly contested. If Jesus is in possession Satan is trying his best by storm or strategy to get in. If Satan be in possession whether as a coarse or a cultured Satan, then Jesus is lovingly storming the door. Satan can not get in without your consent, and Jesus will not. An act of obedience to God is slamming the door in Satan's face, and opening it wider for Jesus' control. Listen with your heart! An act of disobedience, however slight, as you think, is slamming the door of your heart in Jesus' face and flinging it open to Satan's entrance. Is that mere rhetoric? It is cold fact. No, it is hot fact. The first great simple law is obedience.
But someone asks, |How shall I know what -- whom, to obey? Sometimes the voices coming to my ear seem to be jarring voices; they do not agree. Pastors do not all agree: churches are not quite agreed on some matters: my best friends think differently: how shall I know?| Here comes in the second law, Obey the book of God as interpreted by the Spirit of God. Not the book alone. That will lead into superstition. Not to say the Spirit without the book He has indited. That will lead to fanaticism. But the book as interpreted by the Spirit, and the Spirit as He speaks through His book. There is a voice of God, and a Spirit of God and a book of God. God speaks by His Spirit through His word Sometimes He speaks directly without the written word. But very, very rarely. The mental impressions by which the Spirit guides are frequent. But I am speaking now, not of that but of His audible inner voice. He is chary in the use of that. And when he so speaks the test is that, of necessity, the voice of God always agrees with itself. The spoken word is never out of harmony with the written word. And as He has given us the written word, it becomes our standard of His will. This book of God was inspired. It is inspired. God spoke in it. He speaks in it to-day. You will be surprised to find how light on every sort of question will come through this in-Spirited book.
But someone with a practical turn of mind is thinking: |but it is such a big book. I do not know much about it. I read the psalms some, and some chapters in Isaiah, and the gospels and some in the epistles, but I have no grasp of the whole book; and your second law seems a little beyond me.| Then you listen to the third law, namely: time alone with the book daily. It should be unhurried time. Time enough not to think about time. At least a half hour every day, I would suggest, and preferably the first half hour of the morning, rising at least early enough to get this bit of time before any duty can claim you. It may seem very difficult for some. But it is an absolute essential, for the first two laws depend on this one for their practical force.
When Joshua, trembling, was called upon to assume the stupendous task of being Moses' successor, God came and had a quiet talk with him. In that talk He emphasized just one thing as the secret of his new leadership. Listen: |This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein.| There are the three laws straight from the lips of God, packed into a single sentence.
Let us plan to get alone with the Master daily over His word, with the door shut, other things shut out, and ourselves shut in, that we may learn His will, and get strength to do it. And when in doubt wait.
1 Cor. xii.13.
That is to make perfectly plain that this experience was for all: a very difficult fact for these intensely Jewish disciples to grasp.
(1) Not limited to the original one hundred and twenty, but for the whole body of Jewish disciples -- Acts iv.
(2) For the hated half-breed Samaritans -- Acts viii.
(3) For the |dogs| of Gentiles -- Acts x.
(4) For individual disciples anywhere, and at any distance in time from Pentecost -- Acts xix.
Acts i: 8; ii: 17, 33; viii: 15; x: 45; xix: 6.
(1) Luke iv.18, quo. from Isa. lxi: 1. (2) Acts iv: 27. (3) Acts x: 38. (4) Heb. i: 9, quotation from Ps. xlv: 7.
2 Cor. i: 21.
1 John i: 20, 27.
2 Cor. i: 22. Eph. i: 13; iv: 30.
2 Cor. i: 22; v: 5. Eph. i: 14.
Romans viii: 23.