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A deep and intimate walk with God is the Christian's privilege and objective. Its possibility is undisputed. Paul spoke of coming "in the full measure of the blessing of Christ" (Rom. 15:29). It is described in different terms. Some call it "The Fullness of the Spirit" as did Torrey and Moody; some "The Rest of God", as did Hudson Taylor: some "Perfect Love", as did Wesley; some "Entire Sanctification", as did Paget Wilkes; some "A Clean Heart" as did Brengle.
Conflicting opinions concerning this matter necessitates our using Scriptural terms to describe this fullness of blessing. While we need to understand the matter clearly, God meets human need with divine fullness irrespective of how we describe it. The operation of His Spirit is not restricted to the limited explanations and restrictions of finite thought.
Several factors inspire us to seek God for "the full measure of the blessing of Christ."
1 THE EXPERIENCE OF THE SAINTS
1.1.1 John Wesley when reviewing the results of the Methodist revival said: "Not trusting to the testimony of others, I carefully examined most of these myself; and every one (after the most careful enquiry, I have not found an exception either in Great Britain or Ireland), has declared that his deliverance from sin was instantaneous; that the change was wrought in a moment."
1.2.1 George Muller. To one who asked him the secret of his service he said: "There was a day when I died, utterly died; died to George Muller his opinions, preferences, tastes and will - died to the world, its approval or censure - died to the approval or blame even of my brethren and friends - and since then I have studied to show myself approved unto God."
1.2.2 Andrew Murray declares: "In the life of the believer there sometimes comes a crisis, as clearly marked as his conversion, in which he passes out of a life of continual feebleness and failure to one of strength, and victory, and abiding rest . . . The change is in many cases as clear, as marked, as wonderful, as conversion."
1.2.3 Hudson Taylor graphically relates: "Each day brought its register of sin and failure, of lack of power . . . Then came the question, 'Is there no rescue?' "Must it be thus to the end - constant conflict and instead of victory, too often defeat? I hated my sin; and yet I gained no strength against it . . . I thought that holiness, practical holiness, was to be gradually attained by a diligent use of the means of grace. I felt that there was nothing I so much desired in this world, nothing I so much needed. But so far from in any measure attaining it, the more I pursued and strove after it, the more it eluded my grasp; till hope almost died out . . . When my agony of soul was at its height, a sentence in a letter from McCarthy was used to open my eyes. and the Spirit of God revealed the truth of our Oneness with Jesus as I had never known it before . . . I looked to Jesus and I saw (and when I saw, oh, how the joy flowed!) that He had said 'I will never leave you'. Ah, there is rest! I thought. I have striven in vain to rest in Him. I'll strive no more . . . The sweetest part, if one may speak of one part being sweeter than another, is the rest which full identification with Christ brings."
2 THE EXHORTATIONS OF THE SOULWINNERS
2.1 Oswald Smith challenges: "Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Victor? You may grow in grace, but there must be a starting point. You get nothing until you start. There is a beginning to everything. There must be a beginning to victory. There must be a moment when you step out of defeat into victory, when you leave the Wilderness for the Promised Land."
2.2 Charles Finney affirms: "We need the enduement of power from on high . . . This baptism of the Holy Ghost, this thing promised by the Father, this enduement of power from on high, Christ has expressly informed us is the indispensable condition of performing the work which He has set before us.
2.3 John Wesley exhorts: "Insist everywhere on full redemption received now by faith alone. Press the instantaneous blessing." Yet if we are to trust God, surely our trust must be based not upon the experiences of men - however wonderful these may be - but on the infallible Word of God. To the law and to the testimony. What do the Scriptures say?
3 THE EVIDENCE OF THE SCRIPTURES
The basic presumptive evidence that only genuine believers are candidates for the blessing of the fullness of the Spirit is that all the New Testament letters are addressed to Christians. The numerous commands and calls to holy living are addressed to children of God.
Negatively we are cleansed from all sin and unrighteousness (I John 1:7,9), we are cleansed from all filthiness (Ezek. 36:25, II Cor. 7:1), we are purified (Acts 15:9), we are made pure in heart (Matt. 5:8), we are given a clean heart (Ps. 51:10), we are delivered (Rom. 7:24,25), we are freed (Rom. 8:2), we are made dead to sin (Rom. 6:11), our hearts are circumcised (Col. 2:11), we are crucified with Christ (Gal. 2:20), we are sanctified wholly (I Thess. 5:23).
Nothing less than this does justice to the scope and power of Christ's atonement. Nothing less than this is fully adequate for the need of the human heart.
Positively we receive abundant life (John 10:10, Rom. 8:11), our love is made perfect (I John 4:17), we receive power (Acts 1:8), we are filled with the Spirit (Acts 2:4, 4:8, 31; Eph. 5:18).
God fills us in order that we might be effective witnesses and live pure, useful and victorious lives. There is no substitute for this fullness.
To make this fullness ours there must first of all be the recognition of need and the confession of that need (1 John 1:9). Sin must be confessed specifically and thoroughly. No general vague confession will do. Sin harboured and hidden must be brought to the light and confessed in the presence of God.
Then of course we must renounce every known hindrance (I Thes. 5:22). Questionable issues must be put away. We cannot claim God's great blessings when we cling to that which displeases Him.
The need of consecration is paramount. There must be a total surrender of all that we have and are to God. "Offer yourselves to God" (Rom. 6:13). Our will and its choices, our mind and its thoughts, our body and its instincts, our heart and its affections, our personality and its prejudices, our life and its relationships, our plans and their fulfilment - all, all must be His. Is He not worth the offering? From now on He can do anything He wishes with you and send you anywhere at anytime. You are totally His, forever.
One more issue is vital, the necessity of faith. "Without faith it is impossible to please God" (Heb. 11:6). Many reach the stage of surrender but never experience the life of victory and "the full measure of the blessing of Christ" because they fail to take what God offers. Full deliverance is found by trusting God (Acts 15:8-9), by taking Him at His Word. In their intense desire many search and struggle, groan and weep, earnestly increase their prayers, seek advice from spiritual people, all to no avail for the way to blessing is by trusting. Can you grasp a promise in God's Word and boldly, in a humble yet confident act of naked faith believe that God is making it effective in you now? Can you? "Do we believe," says Thomas Cook, "that having promised He is able and willing to do it now, at this very moment, on the condition of our faith? If so the venture of faith is all that is required, which says, 'He doeth it now'."
"Saviour to Thee my soul looks up,
My present Saviour Thou,
In all the confidence of hope
I claim the blessing now."
Next Chapter (2 of 3) .