After The Holiness Meeting
Were you at the holiness meeting? Did you come out to the Penitent-form? Did Jesus make your heart clean? And did you receive the Holy Ghost?
If you gave yourself to God in the very best way you knew of; but did not receive the Holy Ghost, I beg of you not to be discouraged. Do not take a backward step. Stand where you are, and hold fast your faith. The Lord means to bless you. Keep looking unto Jesus, and fully expect Him to satisfy your heart's desire. Tell Him you expect it, and plead His promises. He says: "I know the thoughts I think toward you, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon Me, and ye shall go and pray unto Me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart. And I will be found of you" (Jer. xxix. 11, 14). This is a wonderful promise, and it is for you.
Has the devil tempted you, more than ever, since then? Well, here is another promise for you: "O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones ... in righteousness shalt thou be established" (Isa. liv. 11, 12, 14). God is going to do wonderful things for you, if you will not cast away your faith and your boldness.
No doubt some of you not only gave yourselves to God, but God gave Himself to you. You did receive the Holy Ghost. When He came in, self went out. You abhorred, you loathed yourself; and sank into nothingness, while Jesus became all and in all. That is the first thing the Holy Ghost does when He comes into the heart in all His fullness -- He glorifies Jesus. We see Jesus as we never saw Him before; we love Him; we adore Him; we ascribe all honour and glory and power unto Him, and we realize, as we never did before, that through His precious Blood we are saved and sanctified. The Holy Spirit will not call your attention to Himself; but will point to Jesus. "He shall not speak of Himself ... He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall shew it unto you," said Jesus; and again: "He shall testify of Me" (John xvi. 13, 14; xv. 26). Nor does He come to reveal to us any new truth, but rather to make us understand the old truth that Jesus spoke, and which the Prophets and Apostles, whom He inspired, spoke. "He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (John xiv. 26). He will make your Bible a new book to you. He will make you remember it. He will teach you how to apply it to your everyday life, so that you will be safely guided by it.
The reason why people get mixed up over the Bible is because they have not the Holy Spirit to show them the meaning. A cadet or humble soldier who is full of the Holy Ghost can tell more about the real, deep, spiritual meaning of the Bible than all the doctors of divinity and theological professors in the world who are not baptized with the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost will make you love your Bible, and you will say with Job, "I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food - (Job xxiii. 12); and with the Psalmist you will declare His judgments to be "sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb" (Ps. xix. 10). No book or paper can take its place; but, like the "blessed" man, you will "meditate therein day and night" (Ps. 1. 2; Josh. i. 8). He will make you tremble at the warnings of God's word (Isa. lxvi. 2), exult in His promises, and take delight in the commandments. You can be satisfied with nothing less than the whole Bible, and you will say with Jesus, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matt. iv. 4); and you will understand what Jesus meant when He said, "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life" (John vi. 63).
While you walk in humble obedience and childlike faith, trusting in the Blood of Jesus to cleanse you from all sin, the Comforter will abide with you, and the "low-water mark" of your experience will be "perfect peace." I will not dare to say what the high-water mark may be! Like Paul, you may get "caught up to the third heaven" at times, and hear "unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter "(2 Cor. xii. 4). Oh, there are unspeakable breadths, and lengths, and depths, and heights of the love of God for you to revel in and discover by the telescope and microscope of faith! Glory to God! You need not fear that the experience will wear out or grow tame. God is infinite, and your little mind and heart cannot exhaust the wonders of His wisdom and goodness and grace and glory in one short lifetime. Bless the Lord! Hallelujah!
Do not think, however, when the tide flows out to "low-water mark" that the Comforter has left you. I remember well how, after I had received the Holy Ghost, I walked for weeks under a weight of divine joy and glory that was almost too much for my body to bear. Then the joy began to subside, and there would be alternate days of joy and peace; and on the days when there was no special experience, the devil would tempt me with the thought that I had in some way grieved the Holy Spirit and that He was leaving me. But God taught me it was the devil's lie, and that I must "hold fast the profession of" my "faith without wavering" (Heb. x. 23). So I may say to you, Do not think He has left you because you are not overflowing with emotion. Hold fast your faith. He is with you, and will not leave you, after the hard time He has had to get fully into your heart, without first letting you know just why He goes. The Holy Spirit is not capricious and fickle. He has to strive long to get into your heart, and He will strive long before He will leave it, unless you willfully harden your heart and drive Him from you.
I am not writing this, however, for those who are careless and would as soon grieve Him as not, but for you whose hearts are tender, who love Him, and would rather die than lose Him out of your hearts. I say to you, trust Him! When I had almost yielded to the lie of Satan that the Lord had left me, God gave me this text: "The children of Israel ... tempted the Lord, saying, Is the Lord among us, or not?" (Ex. xvii. 7).
I saw that to doubt God's presence with me, even though I felt no special sign of His presence, was to tempt Him; so I promised the Lord then that I would not doubt, but would be strong in faith. Glory to God for ever ! He has not left me yet, and I am persuaded He never will. I can trust my wife when I cannot see her, and so I have learned to trust my Lord, even if I do not always feel the same mighty stirrings of His power in me. I tell Him that I trust Hint, and I do believe He is with me, and I will not please the devil by doubting.
Just at this stage, after having received the Holy Ghost, many people get into confusion. In time of temptation they think He has left them; and instead of trusting and acknowledging His presence and thanking Him for stooping so low as to dwell in their poor hearts, they begin to seek Him as though He had not already come, or had gone away. They should stop seeking at once, and go to fighting the devil by faith, and telling him to get behind them, and go on praising the Lord for His presence with them. If you will seek light when you have light, you will find darkness and confusion; and if you begin to seek the Holy Spirit when you already have Him, you will grieve Him. What He wants is that you have faith. Therefore, having received Him into your hearts, continually acknowledge His presence, obey Him, glory in Him, and He will abide with you for ever, (John xiv. 16), and His presence will be power in you.
Do not keep seeking and crying for more power; but rather seek by prayer and watchfulness and study of your Bible and the honest improvement of every opportunity to be a perfectly free channel for the power of the Holy Ghost, who is now in you. Believe God, and do not obstruct the way of the Holy Ghost, that He may work through you. Ask Him to teach and guide you, that you may not hinder Him in His work. Seek to think His thoughts, to speak His words, to feel His love, and exercise His faith. Seek to be so guided by Him that you will pray when He wants you to pray, sing when He wants you to sing, and last, but not least, be silent when He wants you to be silent. "Live in the Spirit," "Walk in the Spirit," (Gal. v. 25), "Be filled with the Spirit" (Eph. v. 18).
Finally, do not be surprised if you have very unusual temptations. You remember that it was after Jesus was baptized with the Holy Ghost that He was led into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil for forty days and forty nights (see Matt. lii. 16, 17 and iv. 1-3). "The disciple is not above his Master" (Matt. x. 24). But when you are tempted count it all joy (James i. 2). Your very trials and temptations will lead you into a deeper acquaintance with Jesus; for, as He was, so are you to be in this present world. Remember He has said: "My grace is sufficient for thee "(2 Cor. xii. 9), and it is written of Him: "For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted" (Heb. ii. 18); and again: "We have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. iv. 15). But, "What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Rom. viii. 31).
Be true, be full of faith, and you will be able to say with Paul: "In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. viii. 37-39).
Samuel Logan Brengle