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The Spirit-filled Life by John MacNeil

CHAPTER VI. PREVENTIVE AGAINST BACKSLIDING.

It is most instructive to note how exceedingly anxious the early Christians were, that, as soon as a man was converted, he should be |filled with the Holy Ghost.| They knew no reason why weary wastes of disappointing years should stretch between Bethel and Peniel, between the Cross and Pentecost. They knew it was not God's will that forty years of wilderness wanderings should lie between Egypt and the Promised Land (Deut. i.2). When Peter and John came to the Samaritans, and found that they were really turned to God, their first concern was to get them filled with the Holy Ghost (Acts viii.15). When Ananias came to the newly-converted Saul of Tarsus, his first word was, |Jesus ... hath sent me, that thou mayest ... be filled with the Holy Ghost| (Acts ix.17). When Paul found certain disciples at Ephesus, his first business with them was to find out if they had |received the Holy Ghost| (Acts xix.2). These early teachers did not wait for a few months or years till the young converts had become thoroughly disheartened because of the disappointments of the way, thoroughly demoralized by encountering defeats where they had been led to expect that they would come off |more than conquerors;| neither did they wait until the novices had become more established or more fully instructed in the things of God; but straightway, at once, they introduced them to Fullness of blessing, taught them the open secret of the overcoming, ever-victorious life, and they did not leave them until the secret was their very own. Has modern practice been in accord with apostolic practice in this respect? The only possible answer is in the negative. Have we improved then on the apostolic method? Scarcely. But our modern method is very largely responsible for the large percentage of backsliding that one meets with in the Church to-day. Many of these backsliders were soundly converted to God, but unfortunately for them, no Peter or John, no Ananias or Paul, met them in the beginning of their Pilgrimage to compel their attention to the |one thing needful| for the people of the Pilgrimage; so they started out but ill provided, and after a longer or shorter time they became thoroughly dispirited; and then asking, |Is this all that is in it?| they threw their profession overboard; and one can scarcely wonder at it. Prevention is better than cure. Let our young converts be fully instructed and fully equipped with the glorious Fullness provided for them by the gracious Father, and we will hear less about backsliding. Do you know why Peter and John, Ananias and Paul, spake of the Fullness of the Spirit? Because they possessed and enjoyed the blessing themselves, and they could not but speak of the blessing that had done so much for them. Do you know why we have not spoken of it to our converts and young Christians? Because we did not know of it ourselves! If we |receive| the Spirit we will |minister| the Spirit; and if we do not |minister,| why is it? -- but because we have not |received.|

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