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- When the Holy Ghost is Come - 4/29 -
by its destruction, and they enter at once into the sabbath of full salvation.
Surely this is possible. The disciples could not receive the Holy Spirit till Jesus was glorified; because not until then was the foundation for perfect, intelligent, unwavering faith laid. But since the day of Pentecost, He may be received immediately by those who have repented of all sin, who have believed on Jesus, and been born again. Some have assured me that they were sanctified wholly and filled with the Spirit within a few hours of their conversion. I have no doubt that this was so with many of the three thousand who were converted under Peter's preaching on the day of Pentecost.
But often this work is slow, for He can only work effectually as we work with Him, practising intelligent and obedient faith. Some days the work prospers and seems almost complete, and then peace and joy and comfort abound in the heart; at other times the work is hindered, and oftentimes almost or quite undone, by the strivings and stirrings of inbred sin, by fits of temper, by lightness and frivolity, by neglect of watchfulness and prayer, and the patient, attentive study of His word; by worldliness, by unholy ambitions, by jealousies and envyings, by uncharitable suspicions and harsh judgments and selfish indulgences, and slowness to believe.
"The flesh lusteth against the Spirit," seeks to bring the soul back under the bondage of sin again, while the Spirit wars against the flesh, which is "the old man," "the carnal mind." The Spirit seeks to bring every thought into "captivity to the obedience of Christ," to lead the soul to that point of glad, whole-hearted consecration to its Lord, and that simple, perfect faith in the merits of His blood which shall enable Him to cast out "the old man," destroy "the carnal mind," and, making the heart His temple, enthrone Christ within.
"Here on earth a temple stands, Temple never built with hands; There the Lord doth fill the place With the glory of His grace. Cleansed by Christ's atoning blood, _Thou_ art this fair house of God. Thoughts, desires, that enter there, Should they not be pure and fair? Meet for holy courts and blest, Courts of stillness and of rest, Where the soul, a priest in white, Singeth praises day and night; Glory of the love divine, Filling all this heart of mine."
My brother, my sister, what is your experience just now? Are you filled with the Spirit? Or is the old man still warring against Him in your heart? Oh, that you may receive Him fully by faith just now!
"Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?"
IS THE BAPTISM WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT A THIRD BLESSING?
"Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you."
There is much difference of opinion among many of God's children as to the time and order of the baptism with the Holy Spirit, and many who believe that entire cleansing is subsequent to salvation, ask if the baptism with the Spirit is not subsequent to cleansing, and, therefore, a third blessing.
There are four classes of teachers whose views appear to differ about this subject. There are:--
1. Those who emphasise cleansing; who say much of a clean heart, but little, if anything, about the fullness of the Holy Spirit and power from on High.
2. Those who emphasise the baptism with the Holy Ghost and fullness of the Spirit, but say little or nothing of cleansing from inbred sin and the destruction of the carnal mind.
3. Those who say much of both, but separate them into two distinct experiences, often widely separated in time.
4. Those who teach that the truth is in the union of the two, and that, while we may separate them in their order, putting cleansing first, we cannot separate them as to time, since it is the baptism that cleanses, just as the darkness vanishes before the flash of the electric light when the right button is touched; just as the Augean stables were cleansed, in the fabled story of Grecian mythology, when Hercules turned in the floods of the River Arno; the refuse went out as the rushing waters poured in.
There are three very blessed portions of Scripture which show us that this is God's order, and two that plainly show us that cleansing and the baptism are not separate in time.
In Psalm li. 10 and 12, David prays, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.... Uphold me with Thy free Spirit." First the cleansing, then the filling that upholds: for as it is my spirit within me that upholds my body, so it is God's Spirit within that upholds my soul.
In Ezekiel xxxvi. 25 and 27, the Lord says, "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.... And I will put My Spirit within you."
Here again, the order is first cleansing, then filling.
In John xvii. 15-26, Jesus prays for His disciples, and says: "I pray not that Thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldst keep them from the evil.... Sanctify them;... that they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee; that they also may be one in Us;... I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one;... that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them."
Here, again, it is first sanctification (cleansing, being made holy), then filling, divine union with the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit.
These Scriptures make plain the order of God's work, and if we looked at them alone, without diligently comparing Scripture with Scripture, as God would have us do, we might perhaps conclude that the cleansing and filling were as distinct and separate in time as they are in this order of statement.
But other Scriptures give us abundant light on that side of the subject. In Isaiah vi. 1-8, we have the record of the prophet's sanctification, and we notice that the cleansing and the filling were not separate in time. The cleansing was not _before_ the baptism, but _by_ the baptism. The "live coal" was laid upon his mouth, and touched his lips; and by this fiery baptism his iniquity was taken away and his sin was purged.
In Acts x. 44, we read of Peter's preaching Jesus to Cornelius, the Roman centurion, and his household; and "while Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word"; and in Acts xv. 7-9, at the first Council in Jerusalem, we have Peter's rehearsal of the experience of Cornelius and his household. Peter says: "Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the Gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as He did unto us; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith." Here we see that their believing, and the sudden descent of the Holy Ghost with cleansing power into their hearts, constitute one blessed experience.
What patient, waiting, expectant faith reckons done, the baptism with the Holy Ghost actually accomplishes. Between the act of faith by which a man begins to reckon himself "dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans vi. 11), and the act of the Holy Spirit, which makes the reckoning good, there may be an interval of time, "a little while" (Hebrews x. 37); but the act and state of steadfastly, patiently, joyously, perfectly believing, which is man's part, and the act of baptising with the Holy Ghost, cleansing as by fire, which is God's part, bring about the one experience of entire sanctification, and must not and cannot be logically looked upon as two distinct blessings, any more than the act of the husband and the act of the wife can be separated in the one experience of marriage.
There are two works and two workers: God and man. Just as my right arm and my left arm work when my two hands come together, but the union of the two hands constitute one experience.
If my left arm acts quickly, my right arm will surely respond. And so, if the soul, renouncing self and sin and the world, with ardour of faith in the precious blood for cleansing, and in the promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit, draws nigh to God, God will draw nigh to that soul, and the blessed union will be effected suddenly: and in that instant, what faith has reckoned done will be done, the death-stroke will be given to "the old man," sin will die, and the heart will be clean indeed, and wholly alive toward God through our Lord Jesus Christ. It will not be a mere "make-believe" experience, but a gloriously real one.
It is possible that some have been led into confusion of thought on this subject by not considering all the Scriptures bearing on it. What is it that cleanses or sanctifies, and how? Jesus prays: "Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth." Here it is the word, or truth, that sanctifies.
John says: "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin." Here it is the blood.
Peter says: "God...put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith." And Paul says: "That they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith." Here it is by faith.
Again, Paul writes: "God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit" (2 Thess. ii. 13). And again, "That the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost" (Romans xv. 16). And Peter writes: "To the strangers... elect... through
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