Ye shall receive power, after that theHoly 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:
i. Those who emphasize 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 emphasize 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.
In John xvii. 15-26 Jesus prays for His disciples, and says: ' I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest 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.'
It is first sanctification (cleansing, being made holy), then filling, divine union with the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit.
The 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 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 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' (Rom. vi. I I), and the act of the Holy Spirit, which makes the reckoning good, there may be an interval of time; but the act and state of steadfastly, patiently, joyously, perfectly believing, which is man's part, and the act of baptizing 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. 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 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' (John xvii. 17). Here it is the word, or truth, that sanctifies.
John says: 'The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin ' (I John i. 7). Here it is the Blood. Peter says: ' God.............put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith ' (Acts xv. 8, 9). And Paul says: ' That they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith ' (Acts xxvi. 18). 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' (Rom. xv. 16). And Peter writes: ' To the strangers . . . elect . . . through sanctification of the Spirit ' (I Pet. i. 1, 2). Here it is the Spirit that sanctifies or makes clean and holy. Is there, then, confusion here ? Jesus says, ' the truth'
John says, 'the Blood'; Paul and Peter say, 'faith', and ' the Holy Ghost'. Can these be reconciled? Let us see.
Here is a child in a burning house. A man at the peril of his life rushes to the spot above which the child stands in awful danger, and cries out, 'Jump, and I will catch you! '
The child hears, believes, leaps, and the man receives him; but just as he turns and places the boy in safety, a falling timber smites him to the ground wounded to death, and his flowing blood sprinkles the boy whom he has saved.
A breathless spectator says: ' The child's faith saved him.' Another says: 'How quick the lad was! His courageous leap saved him.' Another says: ' Bless the child! He was in awful danger, and he just barely saved himself.' Another says: ' That man's word just reached the boy's ear in the nick of time, and saved him.' Another says: 'God bless that man! He saved that child.' And yet another says: ' That boy was saved by blood; by the sacrifice of that heroic man! '
Now, what saved the child? Without the man's presence and promise there would have been no faith; and without faith there would have been no saving action and the boy would have perished. The man's word saved him by inspiring faith. Faith saved him by leading to proper action. He saved himself by leaping. The man saved him by sacrificing his own life in order to catch him when he leaped.
Not the child himself alone, nor his faith, nor his brave leap, nor his rescuer's word, nor his blood, nor the man himself saved the boy, but they all together saved him; and the boy was not saved till he was in the arms of the man.
And so it is faith and works, and the word and the Blood and the Holy Ghost that sanctify.
The Blood, the sacrifice of Christ, underlies all, and is the meritorious cause of every blessing we receive, but the Holy Spirit is the active agent by whom the merits of the Blood are applied to our needs.
During the American Civil War certain men committed some dastardly and unlawful deeds, and were sentenced to be shot. On the day of the execution they stood in a row confronted by soldiers with loaded muskets, waiting the command to fire. just before the command was given, the commanding officer felt a touch on his elbow and, turning, saw a young man by his side, who said, ' Sir, there in that row, waiting to be shot, is a married man. He has a wife and children. He is their breadwinner. If you shoot him, he will be sorely missed. Let me take his place.'
'All right,' said the officer; ' take his place, if you wish; but you will be shot.' ' I quite understand that,' replied the young man; but no one will miss me.' And, going to the condemned man, he pushed him aside, and took his place. Soon the command to fire was given. The volley rang out, and the young hero dropped dead with a bullet through his heart, while the other man went free.
His freedom came to him by blood. Had he, however, neglected the great salvation and, despising the blood shed for him and refusing the sacrifice of the friend and the righteous claims of the law, persisted in the same evil ways, he, too, would have been shot. The blood, though shed for him, would not have availed to set him free. But he accepted the sacrifice, submitted to the law, and went home to his wife and children. It was by the blood; every breath he henceforth drew, every throb of his heart, every blessing he enjoyed, or possibly could enjoy, came to him by the blood. He owed everything from that day forth to the blood, and every fleeting moment, every passing day and every rolling year but increased his debt to the blood which had been shed for him.
And so we owe all to the Blood of Christ, for we were under sentence of death-' The soul that sinneth, it shall die' (Ezek. xviii. 2 0) -and we have all sinned, and God, to be holy, must frown upon sin and utterly condemn it, and must execute His sentence against it.
But Jesus suffered for our sins. He died for us. ' He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities . . . and with His stripes we are healed ' (Isa liii.:5). ' Ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold . . . but with the precious blood of Christ ' (I Pet. i. 18, 19) ; ' Who loved me, and gave Himself for me' (Gal. ii. 20). And now every blessing we ever had, or ever shall have, comes to us by the divine sacrifice, by ' the precious blood ', And ' How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation? ' (Heb. ii- 3). His Blood is the meritorious cause not only of our pardon, but of our cleansing, our sanctification; but the Holy Spirit is the ever-present, living, active cause.
The truth or word which sanctifies is the record God has given us of His will and of that divine sacrifice, that 'precious blood'. The faith that purifies is that sure confidence in that word which leads to renunciation of all self-righteousness, that utter abandonment to God's will, and full dependence on the merits of ' the precious blood', the ' faith that works by love', for ' faith without works is dead'. And thus we draw nigh to God, and God draws nigh to us, and the Holy Ghost falls upon us, comes into us, and cleanses our hearts by the destruction of sin and the shedding abroad within us of the love of God.
The advocates of entire sanctification as an experience wrought in the soul by the baptism with the Spirit subsequent to regeneration call it' the second blessing '.
But many good people object to the term, and say that they have received the first, second, third and fiftieth blessing, and no doubt they have, and yet the people who speak of ' the second blessing' are right, in the sense in which they use the term; and in that sense there are but the two blessings.
Some years ago a man heard things about a lady that filled him with admiration for her, and made him feel that they were of one mind and heart. Later, he met her for the first time, and fell in love with her. After some months, following an enlarged acquaintance and much consideration and prayer, he told her of his love and asked her to become his wife; and after due consideration and prayer on her part she consented, and they promised themselves to each other; they plighted their faith, and in a sense gave themselves to each other.
That was the first blessing, and it filled him with great peace and joy, but not perfect peace and joy. Now, there were many blessings following that before the great second blessing came. Every letter he received, every tender look, every pressure of the hand, every tone of her voice, every fresh assurance of enduring and increasing affection was a blessing; but it was not the second blessing.
But one day, after patient waiting, which might have been shortened by mutual consent, if they had thought it wise, and after full preparation, they came together in the presence of friends and before a man of God, and in the most solemn and irrevocable manner gave themselves to each other to become one, and were pronounced man and wife. That was the second blessing, an epochal experience, unlike anything which preceded or anything to follow. And now their peace and joy and rest were full.
There had to be the first and second blessings in this relationship of man and wife, but there is no third. And yet in the sense of those who say they have received fifty blessings from the Lord, there have been countless blessings in the wedded life; indeed, it has been a river of blessing, broadening and deepening in gladness and joy and sweet affections and fellowship with the increasing years.
But let us not confuse thought by disputing over terms and wrangling about words. The first blessing in Jesus Christ is salvation, with its negative side of remission of sins and forgiveness, and its positive side of renewal or regeneration-the new birth-one experience.
And the second blessing is entire sanctification, with its negative side of cleansing, and its positive side of filling' with the Holy Ghost-one whole, rounded, glorious, epochal experience. And while there may be many refreshings, girdings, illuminations and secret tokens and assurances of love and favour, there is no third blessing in this large sense in this present time.
But when time is no more, when the everlasting doors have lifted up, and the King of Glory comes in with His Bride and, for ever redeemed and crowned, He makes us to sit down with Him on His throne, then in eternity we shall have the third blessing-we shall be glorified.
'HAVE YE RECEIVED THE HOLY GHOST SINCE YE BELIEVED? '
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