Life on the Highest Plane
Vol. 3: The Believer's Response to the Holy Spirit's Inworking
The Believer's Part in Becoming Spirit-filled- Faith
It may be some reader is saying "As far as I know I have yielded my life unconditionally to Christ yet I have not the life more abundant which He came to bring. There are still the evident marks of the carnal Christian. Is it possible for one to be yielded and still not be filled with the Holy Spirit?" The emptied life must be filled and waits for faith to claim the fullness.
S.D. Cordon tells of a little girl who was praying and who said, "Jesus, I hear you knocking at the door of my heart. Come in Jesus!" Then rising from her knees she said, "He's in!" Surrender, kneeling at the foot of the cross, says, "Lord, I am not my own; I yield myself unto Thee; I present my body a living sacrifice." Faith, looking up to the ascended Lord at the Father's right hand, says, "Christ liveth in me; to me to live is Christ." Surrender says, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do? Faith says, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Surrender opens the door; faith believes that Christ enters, fills, abides. You may have crowned Him Lord and yet not have appropriated Him as Life. "And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost." The spiritual man is one full of faith.
FAITH IS THE COMPLEMENT OF GRACE
Did you ever see a perfect rainbow? Looking out over the ocean I once saw distinctly both ends of a rainbow coming up out of the water, as it were, and forming an unbroken arch. Through this beautiful symbol the Holy Spirit interpreted to me a passage of Scripture which revealed the place of faith in the Christian's life in a new and telling way.
|Ye are saved
|By grace||Through faith|
"And that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God."
God's arch of salvation is all of grace and it is all of faith. From the God-ward side it is all of grace; from the manward side it is all of faith. God's grace is always perfect and its work is clear and distinct. But oh! how imperfect is man's faith. Grace has provided in Christ Jesus all that is needed for man's salvation even unto a life of habitual spirituality. But such a life cannot become experiential until faith appropriates in full the provision of God's grace in Christ. Faith is the complement of grace.
Romans 4:16, "Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace."
With no exception everything in the Christian's life is a gift. Grace gives and faith takes. "Faith is man's one activity." Faith must reach up and lay hold upon all that grace has sent down and bestowed in Christ. Grace provides: faith possesses.
This truth stands out crystal clear in the history of the children of Israel. As an outright gift the land of Canaan with its manifold accompanying blessings had been bestowed upon them. It was theirs through promise years before they ever saw it. God constantly spoke of it as theirs. Yet it was not to be actually in their possession until the soles of their feet trod upon it. Faith must enter in and possess the gift already bestowed in promise.
Joshua 1:2-3, "Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses."
Joshua 1:11, "Pass through the host, and command the people, saying, Prepare you victuals; for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which the Lord your God giveth you to possess it."
Furthermore the children of Israel might have entered this land of promise forty years earlier. God led them up to the very borderline of this rich, fertile, beautiful country flowing with milk and honey and laden with fruits. But they turned away through unbelief, suffered forty years of weary wanderings, and died in the wilderness. Only the two men of faith, Caleb and Joshua, possessed their inheritance.
Hebrews 3:17-19, "But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief."
My Christian friend, everything you need for life on the highest plane has been given you in Christ. God has bestowed upon you also the Holy Spirit who already indwells you and whose chief task is to make you spiritual. Life on the highest plane is already yours. God hath given you every spiritual blessing in Christ. But this life with all its accompanying blessings can only be actualized through faith. Your faith must make experiential what grace has made possible.
Ephesians 1:3, R.V., "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ."
Matthew 9:28-30, "And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord. Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you. And their eyes were opened."
Perhaps through hunger and thirst or through the remembrance of God's gracious promises or through sheer desperation because of your wilderness wanderings you have come up to the borderline of the promised land again and again. It may even be that you have essayed to go to a Keswick or to a Victorious Life Conference to spy out the land, to see if the life was all it promised to be, above all to see "if it works." In the lives of some you met or to whom you listened who are yielded, full-of-faith ones you have seen marvelous clusters of the fruit of the Spirit, "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control." Yes, you are convinced the life is all that the Bible purports it to be and you have seen it "work" but but but there are giants in the land. The world, the flesh and the devil loomed large before you and you said, "Greater is he that is in the world than He that is in me." Through unbelief you turned back again into the weariness, the restlessness and the powerlessness of a carnal life,
Dear friend, does this message find you there today, grieving God, rejoicing Satan and robbing yourself? Then it comes as God's own command to you, "Arise, go over this Jordan; go in to possess the land, which the Lord your God giveth you to possess it." Cease grieving your God: possess your possessions in Christ through faith.
Whether one is young or old in the Christian life there is but one way in which our spiritual possessions are actualized by faith. Faith opens the Christian life to us: faith accompanies us the entire length of life's journey, and faith at last leads us into the land where we see Him as He is and there faith gives place to sight.
Colossians 2:5-6, "For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ. As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him."
Colossians 1:23, "If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister."
Faith opens the door to every blessing that is ours in Christ.
2 Timothy 3:15, "And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus."
We have access by faith.
Romans 5:2, "By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God."
We have sonship by faith.
Galatians 3:26, "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus."
We have righteousness by faith.
Philippians 3:9, "And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith."
We have forgiveness of sins and sanctification by faith.
Acts 26:18, "To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me."
We have cleansing by faith.
Acts 15:9, "And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith."
We have Christ's indwelling by faith.
Ephesians 3:17, "That Christ may dwell in your heart by faith."
We receive the Holy Spirit by faith.
Galatians 3:2, "This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?"
We inherit the promises by faith.
Hebrews 6:12, "That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
We have victory over the world by faith.
1 John 5:4, "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."
We have victory over the evil one by faith.
Ephesians 6:16, R.V., "Withal taking up the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one.
We have victory over circumstances and difficulties by faith.
Hebrews 11:33-34, "Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions. Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens."
We are kept through faith.
1 Peter 1:5, "Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."
Matthew 21:21-22, "Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
We have power through faith.
Matthew 17:19-20, "Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
Two things are absolutely essential to a harmonious relationship with God, we must believe that God is and that God does. Apart from these two fundamental convictions there is no salvation and no blessing.
Hebrews 11:6, "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him."
Some of Christ's severest rebukes were to unbelief in His disciples. To have His presence, His words, His works fail to inspire faith grieved the Lord Jesus exceedingly. Even though the tempest raged and the waves dashed high and He were asleep yet He was there and why should they fear? Fear and faith are incompatible.
Matthew 8:26, "And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, 0 ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm."
Again even though the wind were boisterous and though Peter did begin to sink yet the Lord of the sea had said "Come." The power of His protection accompanied the command, then why should Peter doubt? Doubt and faith are irreconcilable.
Matthew 14:31, "And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?"
The disciples misunderstood the Master's warning concerning the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. But there was a far deeper misapprehension of the Lord Jesus Himself in their hearts. They had forgotten to take bread when they went to the other side of the lake and they were very evidently worrying over where and how they would get their next meal. So when He spoke to them of the leaven of the Pharisees they said, "He sees our predicament that we have no bread." Oh! what if they had forgotten their bread? Did they not have with them the One who had satisfied the hunger of five thousand men, besides women and children, with five loaves and two fishes, and had twelve baskets to spare? And had they not just come from seeing Him feed more than four thousand people with seven loaves and a few fishes with seven baskets left over? Would He not be equal to furnishing an evening meal for the twelve of them if need be? Worry and faith cannot dwell together.
Matthew 16:8-9, "Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, 0 ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?"
Oh! how we crowd Him out of our lives by that triumvirate of evil fear, doubt and worry! Failing health, financial losses, waywardness of children, overwhelming burdens, tempests of affliction and adversity, storms of passion from within or of persecution from without and we become insensible to His presence, we doubt His Word and we forget His works.
A young woman came to me one day to unburden her heart. Spirit and body were both wearied to the point of utter exhaustion. Her face was inexpressibly worn and haggard; furrows of care had left their tracks in her forehead. Life was hard almost beyond the point of endurance because of burdens, cares, worries and work. A tempest was raging in her own soul, her ship was covered with waves and Christ seemed asleep. But He heard her cry of distress and responded. He commanded the waves of worry to cease saying, "In nothing be anxious," and besought the calm of peace to enter her soul through praise, "In everything give thanks."
Habakkuk 3:17-18, "Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls; yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation."
Some of Christ's sweetest words of commendation were called forth by faith in Him and strange to say they were usually spoken to those who had had the opportunity to know Him the least. A centurion came in person to appeal to the Lord to heal his servant. Christ quickly responded with a promise to go to him. But faith answered, "Lord, speak the word only and my servant shall be healed." Oh! the joy such faith brought to Jesus' heart, and the commendation came from His lips, "Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel."
There is no record in God's Word and no instance in human experience where grace and love have failed to respond to faith and trust. God would be untrue to the very essence of His nature which is love and to the very heart of His work which is grace if He failed even once to respond to real faith. Whoever will come to Jesus Christ saying, "If Thou wilt, Thou canst," will surely hear Him say, "I will."
In the new sphere in Christ into which the believer enters the very atmosphere is grace. To carry the life-giving and life-sustaining qualities of that atmosphere into the inner life the Christian need only use the lungs of faith. As a newborn babe begins life in its new sphere by breathing the air that is all about it as a free gift and as it lives and grows by continued respirations, so the newborn child of God begins life in Christ by taking Him as God's gift of grace by faith and he "grows up into Christ in all things" by the continued appropriation of Him through faith. Faith and nothing but faith avails for us to receive the gifts and graces of our ascended Lord.
Galatians 5:6, "For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love."
In Christ we stand by faith; we walk by faith; we live by faith.
2 Corinthians 1:24, "Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand."
2 Corinthians 5:7, "For we walk by faith, not by sight."
Hebrews 10:38, "Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him."
Perhaps the thought of a life of such complete and continuous faith appalls us and we doubt its possibility. Yet such faith is the simplest thing in the world. Its very simplicity is its chief difficulty to most people. Faith is looking unto Jesus Christ and taking Him at His Word. Faith in itself has no power whatsoever to save or to keep us: it merely links us to the Christ who has that power. Just as grace had a definite method in giving so faith has a definite method in receiving. Let us study some of the operations of faith.
FAITH RESTS ON GOD'S FOUNDATION
The whole superstructure of spiritual experience is built upon a solid and unmovable foundation because it is built upon Jesus Christ Himself.
1 Corinthians 3:11, "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ."
1 Peter 2:6, "Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded."
Christ Jesus Himself is "the way, the truth, and the life." Christ crucified, risen, ascended and exalted is God's foundation. Faith is the cable that connects and transmits the life of the ascended Lord in heaven to the believer on earth.
Can we not rest our faith on such a foundation? Is there any danger of its disintegrating? In His earthly life were all the forces of Satan ever able to overcome Him? From the cross did He not assure us that full salvation had been wrought out for us and that the work was finished? Did not His resurrection prove His victory over every foe? Is He not living today in countless lives as Conqueror, as Life? Upon the triumphant, omnipotent, living, present Christ our faith rests.
Some have made shipwreck of faith because they have built upon the sand of human opinion and speculation rather than upon the rock foundation of God's revealed truth. They have believed certain things about Christ but they have not believed on Christ Himself. Christ does not act as a guidepost to point out a way of salvation. He Himself is the Way. Christ does not teach principles of truth by which an unregenerate life may be guided and governed from without but Himself is the Truth to be lived out from within. Christ does not show us "a way of life" but He Himself enters to become the Life of our life. God's foundation for a spiritual life is the glorious Person and the gracious work of His crucified, risen, ascended, exalted Son and whosoever rests full-length upon Him for salvation and sanctification will surely become spiritual.
"On Christ the solid rock I stand;
Again we may fall into unbelief, doubt and disappointment because we have pinned our faith to a blessing and the blessing is lost; or to an experience and the experience vanishes; or to a person and the person fails. But true faith rests not upon a blessing, however great; or upon an experience, however deep; but upon Him through whom they came; nor does it rest upon any human exponent of victory, however sincere, but upon the Victor. "He that believeth on him shall not be confounded."
FAITH IS ROOTED IN GOD'S GREAT FACTS
Walking along a wooded path in the mountains of Switzerland I saw an interesting tree. On a steep slope was a tall, stately pine tree with a huge boulder lodged right underneath it lifting the main trunk five or six feet from the ground. The tree was fairly sitting on top of this rock yet it shot straight upwards fifty feet or more. Even the winter blasts had not deflected it an iota. How could such a position be maintained with such a handicap? The secret was not hidden from our view. The roots of the tree had spread themselves over that rock and had gone down, deep, deep into the rich earth around so that even the boulder lodged at its very heart could not overturn or overwhelm it.
What a lesson it spoke! What a symbol it was! Afflictions, adversities, sufferings, sorrows, temptations, trials, doubts, disappointments roll in upon us during our pilgrim journey and lodge at the very heart of us. How then can we go on in peace, patience, power, joy and victory? Are such things not enough to overwhelm one? No, not if faith spreads itself out over them and roots itself in the great facts of God. What are some of these eternal facts which furnish faith rich soil in which to root itself? First of all:
God is love.
1 John 4:8, "He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love."
It may seem as though God had utterly forsaken and forgotten you or as though His hand of chastening were too heavy upon you. It may seem as though He had closed His eyes and deafened His ear. It may even seem as though He were indifferent altogether to the burden you carry and the heartache you endure. But it is not so for God is love and the love of God shines as the brightness of the sun whether, you are warmed and refreshed by its rays or not.
God's grace is sufficient.
2 Corinthians 12:9, "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
There will be temptations but none for which God has not provided a way of escape. Trials will assail; God nowhere promises freedom from them but He does promise endurance to bear them. When our weakness is most pressing His strength is most perfect.
Christ is able to save to the uttermost.
Hebrews 7:25, "Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them."
Has the boulder of doubt rolled in upon you? Look upon the rich soil into which your faith may root itself. If you have come to God through Christ it is a fact that Christ has borne your sins and has forgiven and forgotten them; He has put away your sin and has not only removed its penalty but has freed you from its power; He has overcome the world; He has defeated the devil; He lives in heaven as your great High Priest, your Conqueror, your Advocate, your Intercessor to cleanse you from sin and to keep you from sinning. Then spread the roots of faith over every doubt and let them go deep into these great facts of salvation.
Christ Jesus is in you, and you and Christ are one.
Colossians 1:27, "To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."
John 15:5, "I am the vine, ye are the branches."
Whether you are conscious of His presence or not He is there not as a temporary guest or as One who comes and goes according to our spiritual moods but He is there as an abiding One. We may neglect Him, we may forget Him still He is there. He may be cabined in ned in some back room but if we have ever truly opened the doo the door to Him He is there and into this precious fact He would have faith root itself.
You are God's child and heir.
Romans 8:16-17, R.V., "The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him."
You may feel far more like a prodigal and a pauper than like a child and an heir. But if you have put your faith in Christ as your Saviour, you are in God's family and the wealth of the King is yours. God would have your faith spread its roots over all depression caused by failure and go deep down into the soil of the riches of grace in Christ Jesus.
You are complete in Christ.
Your life may be immature in experience but God sees you complete in Christ. Your "old man" has been crucified, you have been baptized into Christ's death and identified with Him in His burial and resurrection. You are now hid with Christ in God and so you are complete in Him. Has the boulder of discouragement over your lack of growth into Christ-likeness settled down upon you? Over your coldness of heart and times of apathy? Then spread the roots of faith over it and let them go down into this great and glorious fact that you are complete in Him.
Colossians 2:10, "And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power."
You are seated with Christ in the heavenlies.
You may never once have availed yourself of the privileges, possessions and powers of your heavenly position yet it is a fact, nevertheless, that, if you have trusted Christ as your Saviour, you thereby are seated with Him in the heavenlies. The powers of evil may be attacking your spirit, soul and body but they will be unable to overturn or overwhelm you if you spread the roots of faith over them and let them go down into the soil of this peerless truth.
Ephesians 2:6, And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus."
The Holy Spirit dwells within you.
You may feel that you are left to live the Christian life alone and the weight of this responsibility may rest like a great boulder upon your heart. But you are not left alone. "Another Comforter" who is just like the ascended Lord in heaven lives within you. Spread the roots of faith over all fear and unbelief and let them sink deep down into the fact of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 3:16, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
When the Christian's faith roots itself in these great, eternal facts of God and abides there he becomes spiritual. Faith quietly accepts these facts as true and acts as though they were, then no matter what rolls in upon the life to overturn it, it remains steadfast and true and shoots heavenward in its growth into the likeness of Christ.
Look upon the boulders that rolled one after another against the life of the apostle Paul which it would seem might have crushed out his very life.
2 Corinthians 11:24-28, "Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches."
Yet his faith spread itself over all these perils and persecutions, testings and trials and rooted itself in the great, eternal facts of God's grace and love, thus enabling him to grow up to magnificent spiritual stature.
But Paul's life was exceptional you say. He was the giant tree in the forest. There are few who ever have a faith such as his. In the far interior of China was a young missionary who was betrothed. The wedding day drew near; all preparations for it were made. Then word came that her lover was ill. A long three days' journey stretched between her and her loved one living alone. Down upon that woman's heart rolled a terrific boulder of sorrow. Absolutely alone she watched the life of the one dearest to her on earth flicker out, with her own hands she prepared the body for burial, made the coffin, and laid him away to rest; herself conducting the funeral service. Then she turned to the road that led her back to live and toil alone for the rest of her life in the Master's vineyard. Rebellious? Embittered? No, sweetened, enriched with greater tenderness, love and devotion. But how could it be? The roots of faith had spread out over that terrible sorrow and had gone down, down, deep, deep into the facts of God's unchanging love, imperishable goodness and exhaustless grace.
FAITH RECKONS ON GOD'S FAITHFULNESS
Our faith may falter but His faithfulness never. Peter failed Christ oh! so miserably that three times over he could deny his Lord. But the faithfulness of Jesus Christ to Peter remained unshaken. The heavenly Father cannot forget His promises nor can He deny Himself by failing to keep them.
Psalm 89:33, "Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail."
2 Timothy 2:13, R.V., "If we are faithless, he abideth faithful; for he cannot deny himself."
We may even be ready to give up in defeat to the enemy or to lay down our task in sheer discouragement. We may be on the point of taking our hand from the plow and turning back. But Christ is not discouraged; He will not give up; He acknowledges no victory on the devil's part. He has called us into fellowship with Himself; He has owned us as His possession and has assumed the responsibility for our control and He will not lay it aside. What He has begun in us He will continue. His work in us does not depend upon our love for Him but on His love for us: not faith in our faith but faith in His faithfulness is what He wants from us.
Philippians 1:6, "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."
1 Thessalonians 5:24, "Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it."
I watched two young girls cross a glacier. The path was not clearly marked out, there were great gaping holes in the ice, often the next step had to be fairly cut out. They were not even properly shod with spiked shoes. Yet they tripped along apparently unafraid and in safety because they were roped to one who knew how to avoid the dangers and surmount the difficulties of that icy path and they reckoned on the faithfulness of their guide.
How much more can we reckon upon the faithfulness of our Guide who knows the way before us and whose business it is to lead us safely through all its dangers and difficulties. Our Guide delights to have us throw away all props and helps; to let go of everything outside of Himself and then cast ourselves full-length upon His unfailing faithfulness. "Sarah . . . received power. . . since she counted him faithful who had promised" (Hebrews 11:11, R.V.).
FAITH RECEIVES GOD'S FULLNESS
Are you a child of God? Then by virtue of your sonship you may be filled with the Holy Spirit. Such fullness has been promised to you and it has been provided for you. Then why is it that you do not possess your birthright?
There are several ways for an honest man to gain possession of a thing; he may buy it, he may barter for it, or he may receive it as a gift.
Can one buy the fullness of the Holy Spirit? Simon the sorcerer thought in his heart to purchase Him and the power to confer Him upon others for which he was severely rebuked. Can His fullness be secured through barter? Have you perchance tried to strike a bargain with God offering Him some odd moments of time, some remnants of strength, some segment of talent, in exchange for the fullness of the Holy Spirit? The rich young ruler would no doubt have exchanged half his possessions for the life more abundant, but he went away sorrowful. One way remains by which you may possess the Holy Spirit's fullness. It is the gift of God.
1 John 3:24, "And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us."
What does one usually do with a gift? He receives it and thanks the giver. This is precisely what God wants you to do with this wondrous gift of the Holy Spirit's fullness. Let me illustrate by a simple incident which brought this message to my own heart with fresh meaning and power.
A dear young Chinese girl came one evening to seek the way of salvation. That night she not only received Christ as Saviour but yielded to Him as Lord. Immediately she was filled with a passion to win to Christ the young man to whom she was betrothed. He was utterly godless. After months of intercession, personal work and, above all, exemplifying Christ in daily life before him she won him to Christ. A marvelous miracle of renewal and transformation was wrought in him. He became a new creation in Christ.
Nearly two years later Mr. and Mrs. Wang were passing through Shanghai and they came to call. Their time was limited and Mr. Wang did not want to waste one moment of it. So as soon as the introduction was over he began conversation upon the theme nearest to his heart the Lord Jesus Christ.
Oh! how precious Christ was to that young man! What a reality prayer was. Out of every hour of the day he spent at least five minutes in prayer. What a passion he had for souls! He could not sleep at night if he had not made at least an effort to win someone to Christ during the day. What a love for the Word of God he had! It was his meat and drink.
Seeing his love for God's Word I was reminded of a Scofield Bible which had been sent me to give to a Chinese friend. I presented to Mr. Wang saying, "I see you love the Bible. Here is a Scofield Bible which I should like to give you." At the mention of a Scofield Bible his face grew radiant and the tears of joy filled his eyes. "Oh," said he, "the other day I saw a Scofield Bible in Nanking and how I have wanted to possess one ever since! I began to pray for one. I went to a store to buy one. It cost too much, I couldn't afford it. I had decided I couldn't possess one.
Remember the three ways of gaining possession. Mr. Wang had tried to buy the Bible and it cost too much; no one had offered to exchange one for anything he had. Just one way of possession was open to him to receive it as a gift. And now the Scofield Bible which he so much desired was being offered to him as a gift. What did he do?
Did he say, "Oh! I want that Bible more than I want any other thing but I haven't prayed long enough for it just wait until I pray a few months more for it!" Or did he say, "I am really not worthy to receive that Bible! I must wait until I have made myself a better Christian and am worthy to possess such a Bible!" Or did he reply, "This Bible is coming too easily just receiving it as a gift! I think I should strive harder to get one for myself for I haven't done a thing to merit such a gift." Or did he say, "Oh, that Scofield Bible is what I want and need more than anything else but it is not for me! God might give my wife such a gift but not me!" Or did he say, "You say that Bible is for me but I do not feel that it is mine so I think I should not take it until I feel I possess it!"
If Mr. Wang had made any one of those foolish, absurd remarks I should have been forced to one of two conclusions; either that he was not honest and really did not want a Scofield Bible or else he thought I was not honest and did not really offer that one to him. One of these two conclusions is inescapable.
What did Mr. Wang do? Well, I wish you could have seen the quickness with which he held out his two hands and took that Scofield Bible and with a face all aglow with joy and gratitude he immediately kneeled down and thanked God. As he rose to his feet he began to talk of how he would use that gift in winning men to the Lord Jesus.
Have you wanted the fullness of the Holy Spirit? God offers Him in His fullness to you as a gift. What have you done with the offer? Are you still praying for the Holy Spirit's fullness? If so, what do you expect to accomplish through your prayers? The deposit is already placed to your account in the bank. You are still pleading with God to put it there while He pleads with you to cash your checks. "You keep telegraphing to God for supplies, and every year your appeals get more plaintive and piteous; you do not realize that the freight train is already in the station, waiting for you to discharge it; that the heavily burdened ship is in the dock, ready for you to unload."
Or you say, "I am not worthy to be filled with the Holy Spirit" and "I dare not expect Him to fill me until I am a better Christian." Of course you are not worthy to have the Holy Spirit dwell in you much less fill you. Neither was Paul, nor Peter, nor Spurgeon, nor Moody, worthy in himself to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God's gift of grace and grace is pure, unmerited favor. Grace is not something God does because of anything that He finds worthy in us but because of the infinite worth of His Son. The only thing you can do to make yourself worthy of the Holy Spirit's fullness is to take Him as God's proffered gift and let Him make your life a fit and worthy place for His abiding.
Or do you say, "Just receiving the gifts of God's grace is too easy and lazy a way to live the Christian life. I think I ought to work a bit myself and strive to attain to a holy life. I do not like the idea of sitting passive and having spiritual blessings bestowed upon me." This sounds commendable but it runs counter to one of the greatest truths revealed in God's Word concerning faith. "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." There is not a ray of encouragement held out in God's Word to the man who strives to attain spirituality through his own self-effort. There are those who know that salvation cannot be secured by works but who think that spirituality may be so obtained. They know they cannot be saved by works but they strive to grow by works. We do grow in spirituality by faith but we can never grow into spirituality by self-effort. Growth is "not of works, lest any man should boast." "Ye can not by taking thought add one cubit to your stature." Making good resolutions, signing pledges, practicing self-denial during certain seasons, and all such self-manufactured methods of obtaining spirituality, will prove futile. If we could grow into holiness through any effort of our own how proud we should become and how independent of God.
Or you say, "Such a standard of spiritual life is too high for the ordinary everyday Christian. It may be possible for the minister or the missionary but it is beyond my reach." Yes, it is beyond the reach of everything in you except your faith. But so long as God says, "All things are possible to him that believeth," the fullness of the Holy Spirit is possible to faith. God has no favorites and, what He offers to one believer, He offers to every believer irrespective of his calling or vocation.
Or you say, "I have been a Christian for years and I have never felt the presence of the Holy Spirit in me. Then how can I believe He will fill me? If I just felt He was dwelling within me, I would have faith to believe in His infilling." Your order then is feeling, faith, fact, which is the exact reverse of God's order. God says, "Fact, faith, feeling." We are ever prone to trust our feelings rather than God's facts and it is like having the roots of faith going down into quicksand. The state of the weather, the state of our health, the state of our pocketbook, these and countless other variable conditions may affect our feelings. To place any confidence whatever in them is exceedingly disastrous. God would have you say, "It is a fact that the Holy Spirit dwells within me for God's Word says so. It is a fact that God wants me filled with the Spirit because He commands me to be filled and He has provided for that fullness. Therefore by faith I claim the fullness of the Holy Spirit." Whatever feeling God wishes to accompany or follow this act of faith will come in His own time and way.
So, my friend, if you are coming to God telling Him that you long to be filled with the Holy Spirit and yet saying any of these foolish things, either you are not honest and really do not want to be filled with the Holy Spirit or else you do not believe He is honest when He offers you the gift of the Spirit's fullness.
Are you honest? Do you truly want to be filled with the Holy Spirit? Then acknowledge the presence of the Holy Spirit within you; thank God that He is there; and claim His fullness as your birthright. Take the gift, thank the Giver, and use the gift immediately in winning souls to Christ.
By an act of faith I receive the Spirit's fullness. By a constant succession of acts of faith, the Spirit's fullness becomes habitual. "Let me ask you to remember that there is no such thing as a once-for-all fulness; it is a continuous appropriation of a continuous supply from Jesus Christ Himself: a moment-by-moment faith in a moment-by-moment Saviour for a moment-by-moment cleansing, and a moment-by-moment filling. As I trust Him, He fills me; so long as I trust Him He fills me, the moment I begin to believe, that moment I begin to receive; and so long as I keep believing, praise the Lord! so long I keep receiving."