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"Why is it that the Christian Church, instead of pushing a bold, aggressive warfare, under the leadership of her divine Teacher, the Holy Spirit, for the conquest of the world, is in the main quietly reposing in her trenches, barracks and spiritual hospitals, maintaining a feeble defensive, unable to resist the innovating forces of worldliness and sin, and the corrupting tide of atheism itself?
"We have a sickly, dwarfish type of Christianity which is inadequate to meet the demands of her great mission of mercy in saving the whole world!" So says Bishop Taylor, who labored in America, Australia, India and Africa.
F. B. Meyer says in the same strain: "How little power average Christians have. They wave the censer between the living and the dead, but the plague is not stayed. Like Gehazi, they lay the staff on the face of the dead child, but life does not return. Like the disciples at the foot of the mount, they speak the healing words, but the devil-possessed are not relieved. They pray, but prayers are unanswered. The life-giving power must be in us, or we shall not see dead sinners come to life through our words."
Here is the weakness of the Church of our time. There are many members, but too many of them are Gehazis and faithless disciples. Until more believers are filled with the sanctifying and power-giving Holy Spirit, even the children of the Church households will remain dead and devil-possessed.
Catherine Booth declares: "What a tide of lamentation and mourning reaches us all around the land as to the deadness, coldness and dearth of Christian churches!"
"What Is The Matter?"
"There must be something wrong. God is not changed. Human hearts are not changed. They are depraved, vile, devilish, just the same as ever. The gospel is the same power that it ever was--the power of God unto salvation. Where is the lack? I say most unhesitatingly that the great want is the Power of the Holy Spirit!
"This power is as distinct, and definite, and separate a gift of God, as was God's Son, or any other gift, which He has given us. We can not explain this gift, but it is the power of the Holy Spirit of God in the soul of the speaker, accompanying his word, making it cut and pierce to the dividing of soul and spirit.
"Oh, what numbers of ministers, elders, deacons, leaders, Sunday school teachers and the like have come to me, confessing that they have been working with little results. They want the Holy Spirit to accompany their testimony. This is how I account for their want of results--the want of the direct, pungent, enlightening, convicting, restoring, transforming power of the Holy Ghost!
"It is 'not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts' (Zech. 4:6). Oh, that we would learn it! When we have learned it, we will be made. When we experience it we will lay hold on God. It is not by might of intellect or learning or eloquence or position or influence--man's power of any sort, but by My Spirit. That is as true as it ever was.
"Here is the secret of the Church's failure. She is like Israel of old. She has multiplied her defenced cities, and her palaces, but she has forgotten the God of Israel, in whom her strength is."
In view of these solemn facts that individual Christians are weak and worldly and joyless, and churches are barren, and lifeless without this filling of the Spirit, is it any wonder that God commands all believers to obtain this blessing!
Furthermore, reflect on the account we must meet if we do not seek and obtain the Baptism with the Spirit. Finney said: "If we are not filled with the Spirit, our guilt amounts to disobedience to God. It amounts to all the good we might do if we had the Spirit of God in as great measure as possible--but good which is now all undone because we are without this power. Our guilt is further measured by all the evil we do in consequence of not having the Spirit!"
A Solemn Reality!
Catherine Booth said, "Let me remind you--and it makes my own soul almost reel when I think of it--that God holds us responsible for all the good we might do if we had this Holy Spirit power. Do not deceive yourself. He will have the five talents with their increase. He will not have an excuse for one and you will not dare to go up to the throne and say: 'Thou wast a hard Master. Thou biddest me to save souls when Thou knewest I had not the power.' Oh Friends, these are solemn and awful realities! My brother, my sister, God holds us responsible!"
God has commanded us all to have this blessing. Whatever is obligatory upon believers each believer may realize in his own life. Only be sure you have the witness of the Spirit that you are born again as an essential condition to being filled with the Spirit. After that, never entertain a doubt that you are an heir of all the covenant blessings and promised grace of God.
Charles Finney, within twenty-four hours of the time that he went into the woods to give his heart to God, was converted, baptized with the Holy Spirit and endued with such matchless power that he became one of the greatest revivalists of all time.
Dr. Steele exclaims: "What a revolution would be wrought in the Church--what a resurrection to spiritual life--what a girding with power if preachers insisted on the duty of all believers imitating their Master in the Spirit-baptism as in the water-baptism, in the reality as in the shadow, in the thing signified as in the symbol.
"O blessed Jesus, hasten that day--the day of power in Thy Church, as it was when it was the first inquiry of the preacher, 'Have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed?' (Acts 19:20)."
Dr. Torrey, at the head of Moody's Institute in Chicago, tells us in one of his addresses that he got weary of blustering about in most zealous inefficiency, and he stopped short and vowed that he would not, God helping him, enter his pulpit again until he knew he was baptized with the Spirit. He shut himself up with God, and sought with full purpose of soul the great prize, He kept his vow --for the Spirit came.
The disciples at Pentecost shut themselves up in the Jerusalem chamber for ten days, and sought for the "Promise of the Father." The Spirit's descent introduced a new era in the visible kingdom of God.
Daniel Steele says: "Six months ago I made the discovery that I was living a sub-standard state of New Testament experience--admiring Christ's character, obeying his law, and in a degree loving His person, but without the conscious blessing of the Comforter. I settled the question of privilege by a study of John's Gospel and Paul's Epistles, and earnestly sought for the Comforter. I prayed, consecrated, confessed my state, and believed Christ's word. Very suddenly, after about three weeks' diligent search, the Comforter came with power and great joy to my heart."
D. L. Moody said: "Let it be the cry of your heart day and night...Young men, you will get this blessing when you seek it above all else. For months I had been hungering and thirsting for power in service. I had come to that state I think I would have died if I had not got it.
"I remember I was walking the streets of New York. I had no more heart in the business I was about than if I had not belonged to this world at all. The blessing came upon me suddenly like a flash of lightning, right there on the street. The power of God seemed to come upon me so wonderfully that I had to ask God to stay His hand. I was filled with a sense of God's goodness, and felt as though I could take the whole world to my heart..."
Avoid forming any preconceived opinion or plan as to what your experience shall be when the blessing comes upon you. Some souls have a marvelously thrilling, overwhelming experience when the Holy Spirit comes. It is not necessary that a person should be overwhelmed. It is a purifying and empowering rather than an overwhelming, a filling of the soul.
Remember, God will wait no longer than you make it necessary for Him to wait by your own failures in surrender or consecration or faith. Only seek Him with "all your heart" and all your soul and with all "patience and perseverance." If the blessing tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come. It will not tarry!
From Holiness And Power by A. M. Hills.