Conditions of Receiving the Holy Spirit for Service
By J. B. Moody, D. D.
I will use the term condition, in its primary sense, as denoting the states of mind and heart in which we receive the Holy Spirit, rather than works to be performed by which we procure the Holy Spirit. Like the Son, the Holy Spirit is himself a gift, and all the qualifications he bestows are also gifts; and, more, they are free gifts, not bought with money, nor the merit of human performances. True, he is promised to them that ask, but asking is not the condition. He is not given because we ask, or in consideration of the asking, for our part of the asking is nothing if not characterized by spiritual qualities beyond our capacity. Asking must be the expression of those states of mind and heart which are well pleasing to God, and which we will now consider. Of ourselves we can't ask for the Holy Spirit or anything else "as we ought." For a solution of this mystery we appeal to the New Covenant, by which God purposes to prepare a people for his service by cleansing them from sin; by giving them new hearts and right spirits; by giving them the indwelling Holy Spirit so as to cause them to walk in his statutes and keep his ordinances, which becomes our jeasonable service. Thus, a people is prepared of
God, "zealous of good works." The mission of these children of God is like that of their Elder Brother — "to do the will of God." "Resisting," "quenchiirg" and "grieving" the Holy Spirit do not properly belong to my subject, as the first is before, and the others after, receiving the Holy Spirit for service. Then, first, a condition of receiving the Holy Spirit for service is not simply a desire for service, but a desire that the service shall be according to the will of God. In other words, a desire "to do the will of God from the heart." For this purpose the Holy Spirit was sent, and for this he must be sought. By him the Bible was inspired; by him we are regenerated and illuminated, and all to secure our obedience, or service to God. There is no direction of the Holy Spirit when our service conflicts with the Bible. Any spirit that supplants, suppresses or suspends the precepts of God's word is an unholy spirit. Consciousness directed by the Holy Spirit never substitutes, but always substantiates the word of God. Our subject is loaded with error on these points. To see the importance of desire to do the will of God from the heart, look for a moment how the world is evil affected by the zeal of a misdirected service — "a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge." Being ignorant of God's right ways, and maybe seeking the help of the Holy Spirit, they go about to establish their own supposed right ways, and will not submit to the right ways of God. The Bible says much of such misdirected service of God. "Not to every one
that says, Lord, Lord, or that prophesies in his name or in his name casts out devils, and in his name does many wonderful works; not every one who knocks, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; not those who say, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered or athirst, or a stranger or naked, or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee; not all who seek to enter shall be able; not all who call shall be heard, or who seek shall find; not those who serve by casting motes out of their brother's eye while there is a beam in their own; not those who, with a good conscience, persecute the church of God, verily believing they are doing God's service; not all who teach the holy law, and contend with Godly zeal for its righteous requirements; not all who have kept these commandments from their youth up; not those who teach for doctrines the commandments of men; not those who seek to profit themselves or to please men; not those of whom all men speak well; not all who speak with tongues of men and angels, and who nave the gifts of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and have all faith so they can remove mountains; not every one who bestows all his goods to feed the poor and then gives his body to be burned; not these, nor those like them, of which there are many classes, but only those who possess the internal preparation provided in the New Covenant, and who seek to perform the duties enjoined by the New Covenant. Christ limits it thus: "But to those who do the will of my Father who is in heaven." Paul's capitulation when apprehended
was in these words: "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" He afterward wrote: "Be not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is."
The Holy Spirit knows the divine mind and purposes concerning us, and he will work in us "both to will and to do of God's good pleasure," which is our service. But if we prefer to walk in our own ways and after our own devices it is vain to seek the Holy Spirit for such service. When seeking the Holy Spirit for service we must not presume to act as his counselor to give him understanding. He has no infirmities for us to help. We neither know what to pray for as we ought, nor what to work for as we ought. He must help us in both the matter and manner of both prayers and performances. To illustrate this error. There is danger in our churches seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit in calling a pastor; that they seek only his help in securing the man of their own choice. True, they must call one of their choice, but if their choice is not the fruit of the Holy Spirit, his help in securing him as pastor is no correction of the mistake. If every member should seek the Holy Spirit in the matter of his individual choice, then the ballot, if sincerely committed to the Lord, would express the Lord's choice, and this would be the work of the Holy Spirit. Every church should prefer a pastor after God's heart and of God's choosing, and the ballot was ordained to do that very thing. If balloting for a pastor is not serving the Lord, then what is? The
Lord knows what is lacking in every field, and who will best supply it. He never will send a man to please men by speaking smooth things, and to cry peace, peace, when there should be no peace, though that is the popular demand. He will never send one to apologize for popular sins, whether the transgression of the law of Moses or the commandments of Christ, though that is the popular demand. He will never send one under whose ministry any class of sinners as such can find comfort, nor one of whom all will speak well, though that is the popular demand. Those who take this service into their own hands may seem to succeed and have a name to live like the Laodicean church, rich and wanting nothing, while they are spiritually dead. They may build, and build, and build, but may be building on the sand for the flood, and building of wood, hay and stubble for the fire. They seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in doing their will and their way, and are willing for the Lord to have his will and his way, provided it agrees with their own. There is danger of deceiving ourselves and others in this matter.
God does not submit his will to us for our examination and approval before we adopt it. His will needs none of our examination and approval. We are not to accept it on our judgment of it, but on the divine right to rule. Paul surrendered to it first and then inquired what it was.
This prepares the way to a deeper insight in the consideration of the second important condition of
receiving the Holy Spirit for service, namely, that we not only desire the will of the Lord in the service, but that we recognize the sovereignty of that will. Sovereign in choosing the servants, the service and the gifts for that service. A sovereignty uninfluenced by us, and, if need be, contrary to us. There is so much more in this than at first appears that we must be at some pains to develop it, for this lays the ax at the root of all our failures of both seeking and serving. He set the member in both the natural and spiritual bodies "as it pleased him," " dividing to every one severally as he will." Our service should be rendered "according as he hath dealt to every one the measure." "Having then gifts differing according to the grace of God." I do not say like some that there is no free and sovereign grace, but I do say there is no other kind of grace. Hence even these superlative adjectives are superfluous unless used to enlighten the ignorant; and for such, if such there be, I say that this diversity of gifts is according to the free and sovereign grace of God. It is this that gives contentment and pleasure and glorying in our part of the service. He calls unto him whom he will, and sends them where he will, and to do what he will; all such walk by the Spirit. We may desire the best office, and covet the best gifts, but we must be content with the service assigned us, and diligently use the gifts bestowed for that service. If we have the gift of prophecy we should not despise prophesying, but prophesy, and not covet tongues or other gifts sovereignly
bestowed upon other chosen vessels of mercy. Or he that has the gifts for the office of a deacon let him exercise them in deaconizing, or he that teacheth in teaching, or he that exhorteth in exhortation, or he that giveth in simplicity or he that leadeth in diligence; and he that showeth mercy in cheerfulness, "to every one his own work;" yet we are laboring together with God, so that the most important members should not think the feeble are unnecessary, but give the more abundant honor to those who seem to lack.
The apostles found out by experiment, experience and inspiration that "it was not right for them to leave the word of God and serve tables." So others filled with the Holy Spirit were chosen for that particular work. The work of these two offices having been made thus distinct, the Holy Spirit will not guide a preacher in the work of a deacon, nor the deacon, as such, in the work of the ministry. This is spoken of official work, but the same principle holds good in every department of labor. Every one must do his own work, using his own gift, which was sovereignly assigned, and therein to be content.
And here comes the test, the fiery trial that is to try us, the cross to be daily taken up, the crucifying with Christ, the dying daily, the offering of ourselves as living sacrifices, holy, acceptable unto God, which is reasonable service. Let us not be deceived about this sovereign will of God. We are willing for the will of God to be done, and perhaps are willing to do it, but are we willing that that will
shall be sovereign? The antithesis, "Not my will,, but thine be done," is not a play upon words. If it taxed or overtaxed the pleasurable will of Christ for God's purposing will to be done in his case, then how can our pleasurable wills escape when in contact with the sovereign will of God's purpose concerning us? Is it too much to say at least of beginners in service that "thy will" always means "not my will?" Oh, his ways are not our ways, nor his thoughts ours. Hence the language, Deny thyself, deny thyself, and take up thy cross daily and follow me. It may devolve on one to forsake father and mother, another to forsake wife and children, another brothers and sisters, another houses and lands, another to lay down his own life, another all these and all else. If this or that be the will of Christ we must do it or we can't be his disciples; not that he is contrary to us, but that we are contrary to him. So the Holy Spirit must lead us out of ourselves, cost what it may, or we are not fit for service. Our flesh and our former conduct in it utterly unfit us for the service of God. Now hold, while the knife of sacrifice cuts deeper, so as to take out the very roots of the evil that hinder acceptable service. We are not to forsake all that we have, that may be in our way, as a sort of exchange for something better. The something better may be allowed as an inducement and an encouragement, but it must be effectually cut out of the motive of our doing. We are not to serve for the loaves and fishes. When the apostles left their boats and nets,
they never considered for one moment the question of loss and gain. Indeed, Christ keeping nothing back, said to them after they had left all to follow him: "I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; they will deliver you up to the councils, and will scourge you in their synagogues, and ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake. When they persecute you in one city, flee to another. What I tell you in darkness speak ye in the light, and what ye hear in the ear preach ye upon the housetops, and fear not them who can kill the body. Think not I am come to send peace on the earth, but a sword; and blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me." Does it not seem from this, and especially from what we will further note, that "thy will" means "not my will," or the Spirit wars against the flesh; our wills would have ordained the praise of men and the friendship of the world, and would have turned Godliness into gain, as we see abundantly verified around and about us. It seems now that those follow Christ best who please men most and please most men. When Paul said: "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" he surrendered his will, and the answer shows that the will of Paul was slain. The Lord's will could not possibly have been Paul's will, except by adoption, and the adoption cost him "the loss of all things." "To bear the name of Jesus of Nazareth," full of contempt, "far hence unto the Gentiles" " and to kings," "and to suffer great things for his name's sake," amounted in a very important sense to the
crucifixion of Paul with the Lord. "Not my will, but thine be done." The whole life service in which he was called was an unspeakable cross, that could not have been borne except by sovereign, recreating, sustaining power, working in him, both to will and to do of God's good pleasure. Those four fiery commands contained in that "heavenly call" were uttered, not after Paul had done some great thing as the performance of a condition to procure the Holy Spirit for a service of his own choosing, but was after he had given utterance to that state of mind and heart which recognized his sovereign Lord, who had sovereignly chosen him for a service that was according to the purposes of his sovereign grace. Listen! Look! "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" Who can say it? If we can say it like Paul said it, every jot and tittle of it, and mean it, then the filling of the Holy Spirit for service is nigh at hand.
The offering of Isaac was a work of faith. It seemed both immoral and irrational. It was God's will, not Abraham's. Abraham could not have boasted of the binding, the altar, the knife or the sacrificing act. Why should God command a man to do that which the man desires to do? The very word command bespeaks coercion of some kind. God never coerces against the will, yet he exercises a holy coercion of the will.
Galatians 2:8 contains Paul's statement of the mystery of this mighty inworking power, this recreating grace: "For he that wrought effectually in Peter the
apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles." The power that wrought in Peter and Paul, and must work in us if we are ever fitted for any great service, must be mighty to be effectual. It will help us in Paul's case to look a little at Peter's case. I can't decide which had the greater cross in serving, Peter going to the circumcision or Paul to the uncircumcision. Peter was a castaway from the house of Israel, like Moses from Pharoah's house, and to go to such a people, recognized as the seed of Abraham, "to whom pertained the adoption and the glory of the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the promises, and the inheritance," and unto whose covenant Gentiles must be grafted before they could partake of the promises; to go to these recognized chosen people of God, "who had the advantage much every way," chiefly in that, at that time, they had the only oracles of God, and of whom Christ said: "All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do;" whose zeal for God's word would lead them to "compass land and sea to make one proselyte;" who made long prayers and oft repeated them, and who loved to pray, and who paid "tithes of mint and annise and cummin;" who made clean the outside of the cup platter; whose outward righteousness appeared indeed beautiful to man; who built the tombs of the prophets and garnished the sepulchres of the righteous, and who condemned the killing of the prophets by their fathers; to go to such people, profuse in their oblations
and prayers and sacrifices for sins, and tell them as he would a Gentile dog to repent, and trust upon the name of Jesus of Nazareth for the remission of sins; the one, "the Holy One, whom they had betrayed, and wicked hands had crucified and slain;" knowing, too, that in that service he would be hated and persecuted and beaten in their synagogues, and tried before kings and governors; such a service, to such a people, with such experience, known beforehand — what was it but another example of saying, "Not my will, but thine be done," and shows also in Peter that condition of mind and heart which we are here considering, viz: an entire surrender of our will and our way and our all to him who deigns to call us into his service? It was this that secured the filling of the Holy Spirit for the great service to which Peter was chosen.
Paul says that the same power that wrought effectually in Peter to the circumcision was mighty in him toward the Gentiles. Colossians 2:29 says: "Whereunto I labor, striving according to his workings in me mightily." It was Paul's submission to the sovereign will of his Lord that was accompanied and followed by that inworking power that uprooted his will and "brought every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ."
In further confirmation that the great service into •which the Holy Spirit will lead us is necessarily a cross-bearing service, to which our hearts and minds must yield consent, let us consider briefly the examples recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, where it is said: "They were filled with the Holy Spirit."
I fear that many who think they desire to be filled "with the Holy Spirit are seeking happiness rather than service, rest rather than labor, pleasure and not pain, and if such knew before what service and experience they would be called into, that they would decline to be filled by the Holy Spirit. Some having cultivated their emotions to excess, are claiming to be filled with the Holy Spirit because they feel good, and make void the word of God by their traditions, and boldly set aside the commandments of Christ by their whimsical notions and their capricious and conflicting consciousness. All such are condemned by the light of the following cases, which contained nothing of the goody, goody experience, the compromising policy nor any of the characteristics of our modern boastful cases. How faithful to truth and principle are the words and actions as recorded in these genuine New Testament cases of Holy Spirit infilling. Read the faithful words of Peter in Acts 2:22-24: and 36-38, with Acts 3:15-19. Such fidelity to his orders brought him a night's lodging in jail. But the next day being brought to trial, Peter, "filled with the Holy Spirit," uttered the courageous words recorded in Acts 4:9-12. This speech resulted in being " straitly threatened," "commanded" and "further threatened," but the reply was: "We must serve God rather than man." We learn from this that when the service of God provokes opposition, antagonism, contention, disputation and strife, that we should wax strong and quit us like men; that we should put on the whole
armor of God, that we may be able to stand and to withstand, and having done all to stand. When filled with the Holy Spirit we will pray as they did for boldness to speak as we ought to speak, the very words that brought them to prison and to chains. I deprecate the puerile and pernicious sentiment modernly entertained, that when one is filled with the Holy Spirit he will be guided clear of all contentions and strife; that the world will fall in love with him, and the devil will make peace with him. But being filled with the Holy Spirit makes one Godlike, or Christlike, and as sure as the world hates God and his Christ so sure will those filled with the Holy Spirit suffer persecution.
Let me say by way of parenthesis that in apostolic time, when contentions were most furious, conversions were most numerous; "howbeit many believed, and the number of men were about five thousand," was written as the result of the preachers' being in jail. But the contentions were for principles, not persons.
When these threatened and imprisoned servants found their courage failing, they reported their troubles to their own company. Then they all, with one accord, prayed for boldness to speak the forbidden word. "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they all spake the [forbidden] word of God with boldness." Note, again, how men and women act when filled with the Holy Spirit. Not doing their own will, but the will of him that sent him. In further rebuke of modern
idiocy on this subject, let me say that these men, like their master, who had the Spirit without measure, uniformly, purposely chose controverted truths, knowing that thereby they would provoke opposition. But what is opposition but opportunity for fidelity and Christian manhood? Are not temptations for our resistance, and difficulties for our development, and contentions for our courage, and strife for our strength, and persecution for our happiness? Can there be victory without battle, success without opposition, or life without death? The curse is for the fearful and to "those who draw back," and the promise is for the "overcomer," but what is our generation of Christians overcoming but their conviction of truth and duty? A man filled with the Holy Spirit would act like Peter, and James, and John, and Stephen, and Paul, and not one of these knows how to apologize to the opposers of truth, or to capitulate for a peaceful compromise.
Following these recorded cases further, we find in Acts 5:17 that the opponents of the apostles were "filled with indignation," resulting in another imprisonment. But the Lord sent his angel to open the prison door and say: "Go, stand in the temple, and speak to the people all the words of this life." They were arrested again and reminded of their orders and strictures; but the answer again was: "We ought to obey God rather than men." For this they were beaten and threatened again, but, "daily in the temple and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach" the things forbidden by men.
In the 6th chapter of Acts we have Stephen "filled with the Holy Spirit," and "wisdom," and "faith," and "power," and "grace," and thus endued and endowed he disputed with the libertines and Syrenians and Alexandrians, and them of Silicia and Asia; and these not being able to " resist the wisdom and spirit which he spoke," got furiously mad and resorted to meanness and mendacity and violence, but the great debater's face shown like the face of an angel. The spirit and manner of Stephen is clearly seen in the last ten verses of chapter seven, where he lost his life as the result of the strife. Being filled with the Holy Spirit he boldly delivered his message, leaving results with God. And so would we do now if filled with the Holy Spirit, and strife and loss of life are no evidence to the contrary.
In chapter 9:17-22 we find Saul of Tarsus "filled with the Holy Spirit," and "straightway in the synagogue he preached that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God." If one should do such a thing in a synagogue in these days, knowing, as Saul did, that it would give offense and stir up strife, who would say that he was filled with the Holy Spirit? Yet that is exactly what one would do if so filled. When the strife came, instead of apologizing, "Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews, proving that Jesus is the very Christ." "Then they took counsel to kill him, but he was let down the wall in a basket."
These things were written for our example. We
are sent to convert everybody to Christ, and then every convert to "all things whatsoever he has commanded." So reads the commission of all whom Christ sends. Better brook opposition than make peace, and compromise and lose all. Paul assaulted in season and out of season, and rarely if ever made a failure. With every disputation and strife it is recorded that some or many believed, some of the priests, some of the chief women, and of others not a few. If all Baptist preachers were filled with the Holy Spirit, they would be filled with the spirit of Christ and of the apostles, and prophets, and martyrs, and these all had the spirit of contention, and they strove for the faith of the gospel. This would soon turn the world upside down. I insist, and assert, that men can do thus now and be Christian gentlemen, as the apostles and martyrs were. To be always and everywhere contending earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints is not porcupinish, nor discourteous, nor austere, nor ungentlemanly, nor any of those mean, ugly things ascribed to such by this generation. Paul was a Christian gentleman, yet he gave place by subjection, no not for an hour, not even to those recognized as pillars in the church, nor to Peter, nor to those without, whether priests, princes or potentates. In nothing was he terrified by his adversaries, but fought a good fight, warred a good warfare, kept the faith, all of it, the least as well as the greatest of Christ's commandments. If we were thus permeated and panoplied and perfected, how
long would it take to turn the wrongness of the world upside down and its rottenness inside out? But we are too afraid of contention. If the archangel disputed with the devil about the body of Moses, ought we not to contend for the living oracles of God? What are we but children playing in the market places, saying to the opponents of Christ's commandments: "We have piped unto you and ye have not danced?" Are we not tickling a generation of vipers with straws? Afraid of contention! of strife! of the face of man and the shadow of some! We invert and pervert the right ways of the Lord when we try to be first peaceable and then pure. It is an impracticable and impossible policy. The question that confronts every Baptist in every age is, Shall we have peace and error, or strife and truth? Truth is exotic, and must conquer every inch of its territory, but "tares are sowed while men sleep." All the evil that confronts us now, whether within or without, must be met and overcome. The victory would redound to God's glory, even though we should lawfully strive unto blood. God is glorified always and everywhere, and his cause advanced by overcoming evil with good, not goody. But the evil must be overcome and supplanted with good. When wolves entered in not sparing the flock, Paul did not salt them, for salt is for sheep; but he slew them with the sharp two-edged sword of truth. True, the world was looking on, but they saw men true and tried contending for the right against the inside as well as
the outside. What a cleaning up and cleaning out there would be if we were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Indeed, short work and effectual would be made of it. We would see that 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 was written for instruction.
But the last recorded example we shall notice is Acts 13:9-11, where Paul was withstood by Elymas, who sought to turn the deputy from the faith. But Paul, being filled with the Holy Spirit, set his eyes on him and said: "O, full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?" Filled with the Holy Spirit and talk that way? Yes.
We are allowing the cause to suffer by mistaken notions of the effect and fruits of the Holy Spirit's filling. There are times to be sweet, and times to get sweet and keep sweet, but this is the time to be men. The Holy Spirit chooses men, and qualifies them for the service of soldiers, good soldiers, to war a good warfare, and to fight a good fight, and this does not mean to fight the air. Somebody is presupposed to be on the other side. Are we not sorely in need of men out of whom martyrs could be made? These goody, sweety sentiments become children and sweethearts, but they are unmanning our men by emasculating their manhood, so that some pulpits are calling for feminine men, and some for masculine women. These things ought not so to be.
Now, in conclusion. Who is willing and ready
with the conditions of mind and heart now considered, first, do we desire to do the will of the Lord from the heart? And, second, do we desire to do the will of the Lord from the heart, when that will is sovereign, even antagonistic, in everything to our own will, so that nothing we have is ours, not even our wills, but every desire, and thought, and purpose, and aim shall be his, brought into subjection to him, at all times and in all things, so that, "through floods and flames, if Jesus leads, we'll follow where he goes;" so that, though bonds and imprisonment await us, we care not; come weal, come woe, come life, come death, we are his and his forever, keeping back nothing, but offering ourselves wholly for his service, and that service to be sovereignly assigned us?
Who is ready with these two conditions? Verily, he shall be accepted, and prepared, and used by the Holy Spirit in the service of Christ. When all shall have done this, then the kingdoms of this world shall soon become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and his will will be done on earth, even as it is in heaven. For which let us continue to work and pray as our Lord instructed us, never forgetting that it is no prayer at all unless we include ourselves in doing that will on earth as angels do it in heaven. If it becomes us to pray thus, it becomes us to do thus. It was none of self and all of thee when we sought the Lord; let it be so when we serve the Lord. But all of self and none of thee, or some of self and some of thee, or less of self and more of
thee, does not fiilfill the conditions. It must be none of self and all of thee.
Now a word to encourage this sacrifice of self. If God can best rule the world sovereignly, that is without taking counsel with men, cannot he better rule our individual lives thus? And if to use us he must undo us and outdo us, so mote[sic] it be. Jesus said: "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." His application of this is in the next verse. "He that loveth his life shall lose it, and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal." "If any man serve me let him follow me, and him will my Father honor." John 12:24-26. This law of life, out of death in nature, is projected into the kingdom of grace. Service comes with sacrifice. The wood of the forest is for the service of man, but it must be sacrificed. Man must do unto it as he will or it is fit for neither lumber nor fuel. Even fruit-bearing is the sacrificial service of the wood, and the fruit is no service till sacrificed. Coal is for service, but the service comes out of the sacrifice. Out of its reduction to ashes comes the heat, and out of the sacrifice of oil comes light, and out of the sacrifice of animal flesh comes human life. Even the burden-bearing animals render a sacrificial service. If vegetable life rises to the higher order of animal life it must be sacrificed. If flowers are useful it is because they are missionary in sending out their fragrance for the service of man. It is a poor service without sacrifice.
The values of different products, and different qualities of the same product, are reckoned from sacrifice. "16 to 1," the relative values of gold and silver, refer to the amount of sacrifice required in their production.
The same principle holds in the service that man renders to God. If Abraham was to be the father of the faithful, and the friend of God, he must leave his country and his kin and go into a country that he knew not of, and there dwell in tents, and be driven by famine into Egypt, and there for a time lose his wife. But since against hope he believed in hope, he was permitted to come forth with great substance. And being not weak in faith, and considering his own body dead, and the deadness of Sarah's womb, he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, but judging him faithful who had promised, in due time Isaac was born. And now, if in Isaac the seed is to be called, let Isaac be offered in sacrifice on the altar.
The greatest man from Adam to Christ was he who refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the down-trodden people of God. The man who did more for the world than perhaps all the generations of men from Adam to Christ was the man who sacrificed the pleasures of sin in a king's house and esteemed the reproach of Christ greater than the riches of Egypt. "By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible."
If the apostles would receive an hundredfold in this life, and in the age to come, thrones and crowns of honor, let them forsake all they have for Christ. The man who has done and is doing more for the world than perhaps all men from Christ till now, was the man who was "more abundant in labors, in stripes, in imprisonments, in deaths, in journeyings, in perils, in weariness, in painfulness, in watchings, in hunger and thirst, in fastings, in cold and nakedness, and in the care of all the churches." The man who profited more than his equals in the Jewish religion, and who had more to glory of in the flesh than any of the boasters, blameless righteousness in the law, must count the things that were gained him loss for Christ. Yea, doubtless he counted all things loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord, for when he suffered the loss of all things, and counted them but dung, it was that he might win Christ. When the searchlight of eternity shall fall on the pages of history so as to bring to light all hidden things, then will we be surprised, not at the abundant fruits of Paul's labors, but the surpassing abundance over and above all we had ever known or thought.
The woman who has done more to encourage and stimulate beneficence in the cause of Christ than all others was the woman who cast in the two mites, which was all her living, into the treasury of the Lord. What would Christ be to us or to the world if he had not died — if he had not sacrificed himself? And what can we be to Christ if we do not die to
the world and to self — die daily a living sacrifice, willing, holy and acceptable unto God? Let us yield ourselves with these conditions of mind and heart, and God fill us with his Holy Spirit for service, and what a service that would be.
I believe that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is past, but I believe we may and ought to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We no longer need tongues and miracles and signs to confirm the word and to credit the divine mission of Christ and the church, but we do need the comfort and help of the Spirit. We all ought to live in the Spirit and to walk by the Spirit, and to be filled with the Spirit. How barren is our preaching and how fruitless our labor. Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, preached one sermon, and three thousand of the saved were added to the church, and again five thousand men besides women. But now, with all our natural and educational advantages, it sometimes takes three thousand sermons to add one soul to the church. Without the Spirit we can add many of the unsaved to the church to the great detriment of the individual and the church and the cause. It is this class that do not sacrifice to serve God. If the weather is good and the preacher flowery and funny and the fashions are to be displayed, on Easter or a May day, they go; they go, not for sacrifice, but for show. But if there is to be a sacrifice, if the weather is to be brooked, if money is to be paid, if prayers are to be offered, if principle is to be maintained, if danger is to be encountered, if there is to be sacrifice, they all
with one consent begin to make excuse. Some sacrifice nothing, some sacrifice little, some sacrifice more, but who, oh who, is willing to sacrifice self and all else for him who sacrificed all for us?
Let us lay all on the altar of sacrifice. He may not in every case require it. He may say, as in the case of Isaac, It is enough, and return it. But if he accept it all, so much the better for us. As we sow in this field, which is the world, so will we gather in the world to come. Seed sowed is seed sacrificed. If we sow sparingly we shall reap sparingly, if we sow (sacrifice) bountifully we shall also reap bountifully. No sacrifice, no reward, and sacrifice, the measure of reward, is written in the blood of the lamb. The silly saint who seeks to shun sacrifice is a self-destroyer. The spiritual inscription on every altar is: "Give and it shall be given unto you. Good measure, heaped up, pressed down, shaken together and running over shall be given into your bosoms," and the payments are promised both in this life and also in the life to come. "I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service," and thus "prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." ==================
[From Ben M. Bogard, editor, Pillars of Orthodoxy, or Defenders of the Faith, 1900 - jrd
Return to Pillars of Orthodoxy Index
Return to Baptists: Various Subjects
Return to Baptist History Homepage