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   Title: Absolute Surrender

   Creator(s): Murray, Andrew (1828-1917)

   Print Basis: First published in 1895. This edition, Chicago: Moody

   Press

   Rights: Public Domain

   CCEL Subjects: Classic; Non-Fiction; All

   LC Call no: BV4501

   LC Subjects:

 

   Practical theology

 

   Practical religion. The Christian life

     _________________________________________________________________

 

   Scanned and corrected by Claude King, September 1999. This text is in

   public domain and was first published in 1895.

 

                              ABSOLUTE SURRENDER

 

                              and Other Addresses

 

  by

 

Andrew Murray

 

 

    Moody Press - Chicago

 

    1895

 

 

 

CONTENTS

 

   Absolute Surrender

 

   "The Fruit of the Spirit Is Love"

 

   Separated unto the Holy Ghost

 

   Peter's Repentance

 

   Impossible with Man, Possible with God

 

   "O Wretched Man that I Am"

 

   "Having Begun in the Spirit"

 

   Kept by the Power of God

 

   "Ye Are the Branches"

 

 

     _________________________________________________________________

 

ABSOLUTE SURRENDER

 

   "And Ben-hadad the king of Syria gathered all his host together: and

   there were thirty and two kings with him, and horses, and chariots:

   and he went up and besieged Samaria, and warred against it. And he

   sent messengers to Ahab king of Israel into the city, and said unto

   him, Thus saith Ben-hadad, Thy silver and thy gold is mine; thy wives

   also and thy children, even the goodliest, are mine. And the king of

   Israel answered and said, My lord, O king, according to thy saying, I

   am thine and all that I have" (I Kings 20: 1-4).

 

 

   What Ben Hadad asked was absolute surrender; and what Ahab gave was

   what was asked of him--absolute surrender. I want to use these words:

   "My lord, O king, according to thy saying, I am thine, and all that I

   have," as the words of absolute surrender with which every child of

   God ought to yield himself to his Father. We have heard it before, but

   we need to hear it very definitely -- the condition of God's blessing

   is absolute surrender of all into His hands. Praise God! If our hearts

   are willing for that, there is no end to what God will do for us, and

   to the blessing God will bestow.

 

   Absolute surrender -- let me tell you where I got those words. I used

   them myself often, and you have heard them numberless times. But in

   Scotland once I was in a company where we were talking about the

   condition of Christ's Church, and what the great need of the Church

   and of believers is; and there was in our company a godly worker who

   has much to do in training workers, and I asked him what he would say

   was the great need of the Church, and the message that ought to be

   preached. He answered very quietly and simply and determinedly:

 

   "Absolute surrender to God is the one thing."

 

   The words struck me as never before. And that man began to tell how,

   in the workers with whom he' had to deal, he finds that if they are

   sound on that point, even though they be backward, they are willing to

   be taught and helped, and they always improve; whereas others who are

   not sound there very often go back and leave the work. The condition

   for obtaining God's full blessing is absolute surrender to Him.

 

   And now, I desire by God's grace to give to you this message -- that

   your God in Heaven answers the prayers which you have offered for

   blessing on yourselves and for blessing on those around you by this

   one demand: Are you willing to surrender yourselves absolutely into

   His hands? What is our answer to be? God knows there are hundreds of

   hearts who have said it, and there are hundreds more who long to say

   it but hardly dare to do so. And there are hearts who have said it,

   but who have yet miserably failed, and who feel themselves condemned

   because they did not find the secret of the power to live that life.

   May God have a word for all!

 

   Let me say, first of all, that God claims it from us.

 

   God Expects Your Surrender

 

   Yes, it has its foundation in the very nature of God God cannot do

   otherwise. Who is God? He is the Fountain of life, the only Source of

   existence and power and goodness, and throughout the universe there is

   nothing good but what God works, God has created the sun, and the

   moon, and the stars, and the flowers, and the trees, and the grass;

   and are they not all absolutely surrendered to God? Do they not allow

   God to work in them just what He pleases? When God clothes the lily

   with its beauty, is it not yielded up, surrendered, given over to God

   as He works in it its beauty? And God's redeemed children, oh, can you

   think that God can work His work if there is only half or a part of

   them surrendered? God cannot do it. God is life, and love, and

   blessing, and power, and infinite beauty, and God delights to

   communicate Himself to every child who is prepared to receive Him; but

   ah! this one lack of absolute surrender is just the thing that hinders

   God. And now He comes, and as God, He claims it.

 

   You know in daily life what absolute surrender is. You know that

   everything has to be given up to its special, definite object and

   service. I have a pen in my pocket, and that pen is absolutely

   surrendered to the one work of writing, and that pen must be

   absolutely surrendered to my hand if I am to write properly with it.

   If another holds it partly, I cannot write properly. This coat is

   absolutely given up to me to, cover my body. This building is entirely

   given up to religious services. And now, do you expect that in your

   immortal being, in the divine nature that you have received by

   regeneration, God can work His work, every day and every hour, unless

   you are entirely given up to Him? God cannot. The Temple of Solomon

   was absolutely surrendered to God when it was dedicated to Him. And

   every one of us is a temple of God, in which God will dwell and work

   mightily on one condition -- absolute surrender to Him. God claims it,

   God is worthy of it, and without it God cannot work His blessed work

   in us..

 

   God not only claims it, but God will work it Himself.

 

   God Accomplishes Your Surrender

 

   I am sure there is many a heart that says: "Ah, but that absolute

   surrender implies so much!" Someone says: "Oh, I have passed through

   so much trial and suffering, and there is so much of the self-life

   still remaining, and I dare not face the entire giving of it up,

   because I know it will cause so much trouble and agony."

 

   Alas! alas! that God's children have such thoughts of Him, such cruel

   thoughts. Oh, I come to you with a message, fearful and anxious one.

   God does not ask you to give the perfect surrender in your strength,

   or by the power of your will; God is willing to work it in you. Do we

   not read: "It is God that worketh in us, both to will and to do of his

   good pleasure"? And that is what we should seek for -- to go on our

   faces before God, until our hearts learn to believe that the

   everlasting God Himself will come in to turn out what is wrong, to

   conquer what is evil, and to work what is well-pleasing in His blessed

   sight. God Himself will work it in you.

 

   Look at the men in the Old Testament, like Abraham. Do you think it

   was by accident that God found that man, the father of the faithful

   and the Friend of God, and that it was Abraham himself, apart from

   God, who had such faith and such obedience and such devotion? You know

   it is not so. God raised him up and prepared him as an instrument for

   His glory.

 

   Did not God say to Pharaoh: "For this cause have I raised thee up, for

   to show in thee my power"?

 

   And if God said that of him, will not God say it far more of every

   child of His?

 

   Oh, I want to encourage you, and I want you to cast away every fear.

   Come with that feeble desire; and if there is the fear which says:

   "Oh, my desire is not strong enough, I am not willing for everything

   that may come, I do not feel bold enough to say I can conquer

   everything" -- I pray you, learn to know and trust your God now. Say:

   "My God, I am willing that Thou shouldst make me willing." If there is

   anything holding you back, or any sacrifice you are afraid of making,

   come to God now, and prove how gracious your God is, and be not afraid

   that He will command from you what He will not bestow.

 

   God comes and offers to work this absolute surrender in you. All these

   searchings and hungerings and longings that are in your heart, I tell

   you they are the drawings of the divine magnet, Christ Jesus. He lived

   a life of absolute surrender, He has possession of you; He is living

   in your heart by His Holy Spirit. You have hindered and hindered Him

   terribly, but He desires to help you to get hold of Him entirely. And

   He comes and draws you now by His message and words. Will you not come

   and trust God to work in you that absolute surrender to Himself? Yes,

   blessed be God, He can do it, and He will do it.

 

   God not only claims it and works it, but God accepts it when we bring

   it to Him.

 

   God Accepts Your Surrender

 

   God works it in the secret of our heart, God urges us by the hidden

   power of His Holy Spirit to come and speak it out, and we have to

   bring and to yield to Him that absolute surrender. But remember, when

   you come and bring God that absolute surrender, it may, as far as your

   feelings or your consciousness go, be a thing of great imperfection,

   and you may doubt and hesitate and say:

 

   "Is it absolute?"

 

   But, oh, remember there was once a man to whom Christ had said:

 

   "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that

   believeth."

 

   And his heart was afraid, and he cried out:

 

   "Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief."

 

   That was a faith that triumphed over the Devil, and the evil spirit

   was cast out. And if you come and say: "Lord, I yield myself in

   absolute surrender to my God," even though it be with a trembling

   heart and with the consciousness: "I do not feel the power, I do not

   feel the determination, I do not feel the assurance," it will succeed.

   Be not afraid, but come just as you are, and even in the midst of your

   trembling the power of the Holy Ghost will work.

 

   Have you never yet learned the lesson that the Holy Ghost works with

   mighty power, while on the human side everything appears feeble? Look

   at the Lord Jesus Christ in Gethsemane. We read that He, "through the

   eternal Spirit," offered Himself a sacrifice unto God. The Almighty

   Spirit of God was enabling Him to do it. And yet what agony and fear

   and exceeding sorrow came over Him, and how He prayed! Externally, you

   can see no sign of the mighty power of the Spirit, but the Spirit of

   God was there. And even so, while you are feeble and fighting and

   trembling, in faith in the hidden work of God's Spirit do not fear,

   but yield yourself.

 

   And when you do yield yourself in absolute surrender, let it be in the

   faith that God does now accept of it. That is the great point, and

   that is what we so often miss -- that believers should be thus

   occupied with God in this matter of surrender. I pray you, be occupied

   with God. We want to get help, every one of us, so that in our daily

   life God shall be clearer to us, God shall have the right place, and

   be "all in all." And if we are to have that through life, let us begin

   now and look away from ourselves, and look up to God. Let each believe

   -- while I, a poor worm on earth and a trembling child of God, full of

   failure and sin and fear, bow here, and no one knows what passes

   through my heart, and while I in simplicity say, O God, I accept Thy

   terms; I have pleaded for blessing on myself and others, I have

   accepted Thy terms of absolute surrender -- while your heart says that

   in deep silence, remember there is a God present that takes note of

   it, and writes it down in His book, and there is a God present who at

   that very moment takes possession of you. You may not feel it, you may

   not realize it, but God takes possession if you will trust Him..

 

   God not only claims it, and works it, and accepts it when I bring it,

   but God maintains it.

 

   God Maintains Your Surrender

 

   That is the great difficulty with many. People say: "I have often been

   stirred at a meeting, or at a convention, and I have consecrated

   myself to God, but it has passed away. I know it may last for a week

   or for a month, but away it fades, and after a time it is all gone."

 

   But listen! It is because you do not believe what I am now going to

   tell you and remind you of. When God has begun the work of absolute

   surrender in you, and when God has accepted your surrender, then God

   holds Himself bound to care for it and to keep it. Will you believe

   that?

 

   In this matter of surrender there are two: God and I -- I a worm, God

   the everlasting and omnipotent Jehovah. Worm, will you be afraid to

   trust yourself to this mighty God now? God is willing. Do you not

   believe that He can keep you continually, day by day, and moment by

   moment?

 

 

   Moment by moment I'm kept in His love;

 

   Moment by moment I've life from above.

 

 

   If God allows the sun to shine upon you moment by moment, without

   intermission, will not God let His life shine upon you every moment?

   And why have you not experienced it? Because you have not trusted God

   for it, and you do not surrender yourself absolutely to God in that

   trust.

 

   A life of absolute surrender has its difficulties. I do not deny that.

   Yes, it has something far more than difficulties: it is a life that

   with men is absolutely impossible. But by the grace of God, by the

   power of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, it is a

   life to which we are destined, and a life that is possible for us,

   praise God! Let us believe that God will maintain it.

 

   Some of you have read the words of that aged saint who, on his

   ninetieth birthday, told of all God's goodness to him -- I mean George

   Muller. What did he say he believed to be the secret of his happiness,

   and of all the blessing which God had given him? He said he believed

   there were two reasons. The one was that he had been enabled by grace

   to maintain a good conscience before God day by day; the other was,

   that he was a lover of God's Word. Ah, yes, a good conscience is

   complete obedience to God day by day, and fellowship with God every

   day in His Word, and prayer -- that is a life of absolute surrender..

 

   Such a life has two sides -- on the one side, absolute surrender to

   work what God wants you to do; on the other side, to let God work what

   He wants to do.

 

   First, to do what God wants you to do.

 

   Give up yourselves absolutely to the will of God. You know something

   of that will; not enough, far from all. But say absolutely to the Lord

   God: "By Thy grace I desire to do Thy will in everything, every moment

   of every day." Say: "Lord God, not a word upon my tongue but for Thy

   glory, not a movement of my temper but for Thy glory, not an affection

   of love or hate in my heart but for Thy glory, and according to Thy

   blessed will."

 

   Someone says: "Do you think that possible?"

 

   I ask, What has God promised you, and what can God do to fill a vessel

   absolutely surrendered to Him? Oh, God wants to bless you in a way

   beyond what you expect. From the beginning, ear hath not heard,

   neither hath the eye seen, what God hath prepared for them that wait

   for Him. God has prepared unheard-of-things, blessings much more

   wonderful than you can imagine, more mighty than you can conceive.

   They are divine blessings. Oh, say now:

 

   "I give myself absolutely to God, to His will, to do only what God

   wants."

 

   It is God who will enable you to carry out the surrender.

 

   And, on the other side, come and say: "I give myself absolutely to

   God, to let Him work in me to will and to do of His good pleasure, as

   He has promised to do."

 

   Yes, the living God wants to work in His children in a way that we

   cannot understand, but that God's Word has revealed, and He wants to

   work in us every moment of the day. God is willing to maintain our

   life. Only let our absolute surrender be one of simple, childlike, and

   unbounded trust.

 

   God Blesses When You Surrender

 

   This absolute surrender to God will wonderfully bless.

 

   What Ahab said to his enemy, King Ben-hadad -- "My lord, O king,

   according to thy word I am thine, and all that I have" -- shall we not

   say to our God and loving Father? If we do say it, God's blessing will

   come upon us. God wants us to be separate from the world; we are

   called to come out from the world that hates God. Come out for God,

   and say: "Lord, anything for Thee." If you say that with prayer, and

   speak that into God's ear, He will accept it, and He will teach you

   what it means.s.

 

   I say again, God will bless you. You have been praying for blessing.

   But do remember, there must be absolute surrender. At every tea-table

   you see it. Why is tea poured into that cup? Because it is empty, and

   given up for the tea. But put ink, or vinegar, or wine into it, and

   will they pour the tea into the vessel? And can God fill you, can God

   bless you if you are not absolutely surrendered to Him? He cannot. Let

   us believe God has wonderful blessings for us, if we will but stand up

   for God, and say, be it with a trembling will, yet with a believing

   heart:

 

   "O God, I accept Thy demands. I am thine and all that I have. Absolute

   surrender is what my soul yields to Thee by divine grace."

 

   You may not have such strong and clear feelings of deliverances as you

   would desire to have, but humble yourselves in His sight, and

   acknowledge that you have grieved the Holy Spirit by your self-will,

   self-confidence, and self-effort. Bow humbly before him in the

   confession of that, and ask him to break the heart and to bring you

   into the dust before Him. Then, as you bow before Him, just accept

   God's teaching that in your flesh "there dwelleth no good thing," and

   that nothing will help you except another life which must come in. You

   must deny self once for all. Denying self must every moment be the

   power of your life, and then Christ will come in and take possession

   of you.

 

   When was Peter delivered? When was the change accomplished? The change

   began with Peter weeping, and the Holy Ghost came down and filled his

   heart.

 

   God the Father loves to give us the power of the Spirit. We have the

   Spirit of God dwelling within us. We come to God confessing that, and

   praising God for it, and yet confessing how we have grieved the

   Spirit. And then we bow our knees to the Father to ask that He would

   strengthen us with all might by the Spirit in the inner man, and that

   He would fill us with His mighty power. And as the Spirit reveals

   Christ to us, Christ comes to live in our hearts forever, and the

   self-life is cast out.

 

   Let us bow before God in humility, and in that humility confess before

   Him the state of the whole Church. No words can tell the sad state of

   the Church of Christ on earth. I wish I had words to speak what I

   sometimes feel about it. just think of the Christians around you. I do

   not speak of nominal Christians, or of professing Christians, but I

   speak of hundreds and thousands of honest, earnest Christians who are

   not living a life in the power of God or to His glory. So little

   power, so little devotion or consecration to God, so little perception

   of the truth that a Christian is a man utterly surrendered to God's

   will! Oh, we want to confess the sins of God's people around us, and

   to humble ourselves. We are members of that sickly body, and the

   sickliness of the body will hinder us, and break us down, unless we

   come to God, and in confession separate ourselves from partnership

   with worldliness, with coldness toward each other, unless we give up

   ourselves to be entirely and wholly for God.

 

   How much Christian work is being done in the spirit of the flesh and

   in the power of self! How much work, day by day, in which human energy

   -- our will and our thoughts about the work -- is continually

   manifested, and in which there is but little of waiting upon God, and

   upon the power of the Holy Ghost! Let us make confession. But as we

   confess the state of the Church and the feebleness and sinfulness of

   work for God among us, let us come back to ourselves. Who is there who

   truly longs to be delivered from the power of the self-life, who truly

   acknowledges that it is the power of self and the flesh, and who is

   willing to cast all at the feet of Christ? There is deliverance.

 

   I heard of one who had been an earnest Christian, and who spoke about

   the "cruel" thought of separation and death. But you do not think

   that, do you? What are we to think of separation and death? This:

   death was the path to glory for Christ. For the joy set before Him He

   endured the cross. The cross was the birthplace of His everlasting

   glory. Do you love Christ? Do you long to be in Christ, and not like

   Him? Let death be to you the most desirable thing on earth -- death to

   self, and fellowship with Christ. Separation -- do you think it a hard

   thing to be called to be entirely free from the world, and by that

   separation to be united to God and His love, by separation to become

   prepared for living and walking with God every day? Surely one ought

   to say:y:

 

   "Anything to bring me to separation, to death, for a life of full

   fellowship with God and Christ."

 

   Come and cast this self-life and flesh-life at the feet of Jesus. Then

   trust Him. Do not worry yourselves with trying to understand all about

   it, but come in the living faith that Christ will come into you with

   the power of His death and the power of His life; and then the Holy

   Spirit will bring the whole Christ -- Christ crucified and risen and

   living in glory -- into your heart.

 

     _________________________________________________________________

 

"THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT IS LOVE"

 

   I want to look at the fact of a life filled with the Holy Spirit more

   from the practical side, and to show how this life will show itself in

   our daily walk and conduct.

 

   Under the Old Testament you know the Holy Spirit often came upon men

   as a divine Spirit of revelation to reveal the mysteries of God, or

   for power to do the work of God. But He did not then dwell in them.

   Now, many just want the Old Testament gift of power for work, but know

   very little of the New Testament gift of the indwelling Spirit,

   animating and renewing the whole life. When God gives the Holy Spirit,

   His great object is the formation of a holy character. It is a gift of

   a holy mind and spiritual disposition, and what we need above

   everything else, is to say:

 

   "I must have the Holy Spirit sanctifying my whole inner life if I am

   really to live for God's glory."

 

   You might say that when Christ promised the Spirit to the disciples,

   He did so that they might have power to be witnesses. True, but then

   they received the Holy Ghost in such heavenly power and reality that

   He took possession of their whole being at once and so fitted them as

   holy men for doing the work with power as they had to do it. Christ

   spoke of power to the disciples, but it was the Spirit filling their

   whole being that worked the power.

 

   I wish now to dwell upon the passage found in Galatians 5:22:

 

   "The fruit of the Spirit is love."

 

   We read that "Love is the fulfilling of the law," and my desire is to

   speak on love as a fruit of the Spirit with a twofold object. One is

   that this word may be a searchlight in our hearts, and give us a test

   by which to try all our thoughts about the Holy Spirit and all our

   experience of the holy life. Let us try ourselves by this word. Has

   this been our daily habit, to seek the being filled with the Holy

   Spirit as the Spirit of love? "The fruit of the Spirit is love." Has

   it been our experience that the more we have of the Holy Spirit the

   more loving we become? In claiming the Holy Spirit we should make this

   the first object of our expectation. The Holy Spirit comes as a Spirit

   of love.

 

   Oh, if this were true in the Church of Christ how different her state

   would be! May God help us to get hold of this simple, heavenly truth

   that the fruit of the Spirit is a love which appears in the life, and

   that just as the Holy Spirit gets real possession of the life, the

   heart will be filled with real, divine, universal love.

 

   One of the great causes why God cannot bless His Church is the want of

   love. When the body is divided, there cannot be strength. In the time

   of their great religious wars, when Holland stood out so nobly against

   Spain, one of their mottoes was: "Unity gives strength." It is only

   when God's people stand as one body, one before God in the fellowship

   of love, one toward another in deep affection, one before the world in

   a love that the world can see--it is only then that they will have

   power to secure the blessing which they ask of God. Remember that if a

   vessel that ought to be one whole is cracked into many pieces, it

   cannot be filled. You can take a potsherd, one part of a vessel, and

   dip out a little water into that, but if you want the vessel full, the

   vessel must be whole. That is literally true of Christ's Church, and

   if there is one thing we must pray for still, it is this: Lord, melt

   us together into one by the power of the Holy Spirit; let the Holy

   Spirit, who at Pentecost made them all of one heart and one soul, do

   His blessed work among us. Praise God, we can love each other in a

   divine love, for "the fruit of the Spirit is love." Give yourselves up

   to love, and the Holy Spirit will come; receive the Spirit, and He

   will teach you to love more.

 

   God Is Love

 

   Now, why is it that the fruit of the Spirit is love? Because God is

   love.

 

   And what does that mean?

 

   It is the very nature and being of God to delight in communicating

   Himself. God has no selfishness, God keeps nothing to Himself. God's

   nature is to be always giving. In the sun and the moon and the stars,

   in every flower you see it, in every bird in the air, in every fish,

   in the sea . God communicates life to His creatures. And the angels

   around His throne, the seraphim and cherumbim (sic) who are flames of

   fire -- whence have they their glory? It is because God is love, and

   He imparts to them of His brightness and His blessedness. And we, His

   redeemed children -- God delights to pour His love into us. And why?

   Because, as I said, God keeps nothing for Himself. From eternity God

   had His only begotten Son, and the Father gave Him all things, and

   nothing that God had was kept back. "God is love."

 

   One of the old Church fathers said that we cannot better understand

   the Trinity than as a revelation of divine love -- the Father, the

   loving One, the Fountain of love; the Son, the beloved one, the

   Reservoir of love, in whom the love was poured out; and the Spirit,

   the living love that united both and then overflowed into this world.

   The Spirit of Pentecost, the Spirit of the Father, and the Spirit of

   the Son is love. And when the Holy Spirit comes to us and to other

   men, will He be less a Spirit of love than He is in God? It cannot be;

   He cannot change His nature. The Spirit of God is love, and "the fruit

   of the Spirit is love."

 

   Mankind Needs Love

 

   Why is that so? That was the one great need of mankind, that was the

   thing which Christ's redemption came to accomplish: to restore love to

   this world.

 

   When man sinned, why was it that he sinned? Selfishness triumphed --

   he sought self instead of God. And just look! Adam at once begins to

   accuse the woman of having led him astray. Love to God had gone, love

   to man was lost. Look again: of the first two children of Adam the one

   becomes a murderer of his brother.

 

   Does not that teach us that sin had robbed the world of love? Ah! what

   a proof the history of the world has been of love having been lost!

   There may have been beautiful examples of love even among the heathen,

   but only as a little remnant of what was lost. One of the worst things

   sin did for man was to make him selfish, for selfishness cannot love.

 

   The Lord Jesus Christ came down from Heaven as the Son of God's love.

   "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son." God's Son

   came to show what love is, and He lived a life of love here upon earth

   in fellowship with His disciples, in compassion over the poor and

   miserable, in love even to His enemies, and He died the death of love.

   And when He went to Heaven, whom did He send down? The Spirit of love,

   to come and banish selfishness and envy and pride, and bring the love

   of God into the hearts of men. "The fruit of the Spirit is love."

 

   And what was the preparation for the promise of the Holy Spirit? You

   know that promise as found in the fourteenth chapter of John's Gospel.

   But remember what precedes in the thirteenth chapter. Before Christ

   promised the Holy Spirit, He gave a new commandment, and about that

   new commandment He said wonderful things. One thing was: "Even as I

   have loved you, so love ye one another," To them His dying love was to

   be the only law of their conduct and intercourse with each other. What

   a message to those fishermen, to those men full of pride and

   selfishness! "Learn to love each other," said Christ, "as I have loved

   you." And by the grace of God they did it. When Pentecost came, they

   were of one heart and one soul. Christ did it for them.

 

   And now He calls us to dwell and to walk in love. He demands that

   though a man hate you, still you love him. True love cannot be

   conquered by anything in Heaven or upon the earth. The more hatred

   there is, the more love triumphs through it all and shows its true

   nature. This is the love that Christ commanded His disciples to

   exercise.

 

   What more did He say? "By this shall all men know that ye are my

   disciples, if ye have love one to another."

 

   You all know what it is to wear a badge. And Christ said to His

   disciples in effect: "I give you a badge, and that badge is love. That

   is to be your mark. It is the only thing in Heaven or on earth by

   which men can know me."

 

   Do we not begin to fear that love has fled from the earth? That if we

   were to ask the world: "Have you seen us wear the badge of love?" the

   world would say: "No; what we have heard of the Church of Christ is

   that there is not a place where there is no quarreling and

   separation." Let us ask God with one heart that we may wear the badge

   of Jesus' love. God is able to give it.

 

   Love Conquers Selfishness

 

   "The fruit of the Spirit is love." Why? Because nothing but love can

   expel and conquer our selfishness.

 

   Self is the great curse, whether in its relation to God, or to our

   fellow-men in general, or to fellow-Christians, thinking of ourselves

   and seeking our own. Self is our greatest curse. But, praise God,

   Christ came to redeem us from self. We sometimes talk about

   deliverance from the self-life -- and thank God for every word that

   can be said about it to help us -- but I am afraid some people think

   deliverance from the self-life means that now they are going to have

   no longer any trouble in serving God; and they forget that deliverance

   from self-life means to be a vessel overflowing with love to everybody

   all the day.

 

   And there you have the reason why many people pray for the power of

   the Holy Ghost, and they get something, but oh, so little! because

   they prayed for power for work, and power for blessing, but they have

   not prayed for power for full deliverance from self. That means not

   only the righteous self in intercourse with God, but the unloving self

   in intercourse with men. And there is deliverance. "The fruit of the

   Spirit is love." I bring you the glorious promise of Christ that He is

   able to fill our hearts with love.

 

   A great many of us try hard at times to love. We try to force

   ourselves to love, and I do not say that is wrong; it is better than

   nothing. But the end of it is always very sad. "I fail continually,"

   such as one must confess. And what is the reason? The reason is simply

   this: Because they have never learned to believe and accept the truth

   that the Holy Spirit can pour God's love into their heart. That

   blessed text; often it has been limited! -- "The love of God is shed

   abroad in our hearts." It has often been understood in this sense: It

   means the love of God to me. oh, what a limitation! That is only the

   beginning. The love of God is always the love of God in its entirety,

   in its fullness as an indwelling power, a love of God to me that leaps

   back to Him in love, and overflows to my fellow-men in love-God's love

   to me, and my love to God, and my love to my fellow-men. The three are

   one; you cannot separate them.

 

   Do believe that the love of God can be shed abroad in your heart and

   mine so that we can love all the day.

 

   "Ah!" you say, "how little I have understood that!"

 

   Why is a lamb always gentle? Because that is its nature. Does it cost

   the lamb any trouble to be gentle? No. Why not? It is so beautiful and

   gentle. Has a lamb to study to be gentle? No. Why does that come so

   easy? It is its nature. And a wolf -- why does it cost a wolf no

   trouble to be cruel, and to put its fangs into the poor lamb or sheep?

   Because that is its nature. It has not to summon up its courage; the

   wolf-nature is there.

 

   And how can I learn to love? Never until the Spirit of God fills my

   heart with God's love, and I begin to long for God's love in a very

   different sense from which I have sought it so selfishly, as a comfort

   and a joy and a happiness and a pleasure to myself; never until I

   begin to learn that "God is love," and to claim it, and receive it as

   an indwelling power for self-sacrifice; never until I begin to see

   that my glory, my blessedness, is to be like God and like Christ, in

   giving up everything in myself for my fellow-men. May God teach us

   that! Oh, the divine blessedness of the love with which the Holy

   Spirit can fill our hearts! "The fruit of the Spirit is love."

 

   Love Is God's Gift

 

   Once again I ask, Why must this be so? And my answer is: Without this

   we cannot live the daily life of love.

 

   How often, when we speak about the consecrated life, we have to speak

   about temper, and some people have sometimes said:

 

   "You make too much of temper."

 

   I do not think we can make too much of it. Think for a moment of a

   clock and of what its hands mean. The hands tell me what is within the

   clock, and if I see that the hands stand still, or that the hands

   point wrong, or that the clock is slow or fast, I say that something

   inside the clock is not working properly. And temper is just like the

   revelation that the clock gives of what is within. Temper is a proof

   whether the love of Christ is filling the heart, or not. How many

   there are who find it easier in church, or in prayer-meeting, or in

   work for the Lord -- diligent, earnest work -- to be holy and happy

   than in the daily life with wife and children and servant; easier to

   be holy and happy outside the home than in it! Where is the love of

   God? In Christ. God has prepared for us a wonderful redemption in

   Christ, and He longs to make something supernatural of us. Have we

   learned to long for it, and ask for it, and expect it in its fullness?

 

   Then there is the tongue! We sometimes speak of the tongue when we

   talk of the better life, and the restful life, but just think what

   liberty many Christians give to their tongues. They say:

 

   "I have a right to think what I like."

 

   When they speak about each other, when they speak about their

   neighbors, when they speak about other Christians, how often there are

   sharp remarks! God keep me from saying anything that would be

   unloving; God shut my mouth if I am not to speak in tender love. But

   what I am saying is a fact. How often there are found among Christians

   who are banded together in work, sharp criticism, sharp judgment,

   hasty opinion, unloving words, secret contempt of each other, secret

   condemnation of each other! Oh, just as a mother's love covers her

   children and delights in them and has the tenderest compassion with

   their foibles or failures, so there ought to be in the heart of every

   believer a motherly love toward every brother and sister in Christ.

   Have you aimed at that? Have you sought it? Have you ever pleaded for

   it? Jesus Christ said: "As I have loved you ... love one another." And

   He did not put that among the other commandments, but He said in

   effect:

 

   "That is a new commandment, the one commandment: Love one another as I

   have loved you."

 

   It is in our daily life and conduct that the fruit of the Spirit is

   love. From that there comes all the graces and virtues in which love

   is manifested: joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness; no

   sharpness or hardness in your tone, no unkindness or selfishness;

   meekness before God and man. You see that all these are the gentler

   virtues. I have often thought as I read those words in Colossians,

   "Put on therefore as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of

   mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering," that

   if we had written, we should have put in the foreground the manly

   virtues, such as zeal, courage and diligence; but we need to see how

   the gentler, the most womanly virtues are specially connected with

   dependence upon the Holy Spirit. These are indeed heavenly graces.

   They never were found in the heathen world. Christ was needed to come

   from Heaven to teach us. Your blessedness is longsuffering, meekness,

   kindness; your glory is humility before God. The fruit of the Spirit

   that He brought from Heaven out of the heart of the crucified Christ,

   and that He gives in our heart, is first and foremost -- love.

 

   You know what John says: "No man hath seen God at any time. If we love

   one another, God dwelleth in us." That is, I cannot see God, but as a

   compensation I can see my brother, and if I love him, God dwells in

   me. Is that really true? That I cannot see God, but I must love my

   brother, and God will dwell in me? Loving my brother is the way to

   real fellowship with God. You know what John further says in that most

   solemn test, "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is

   a liar; for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can

   he love God whom he hath not seen?" (I John 4:20). There is a brother,

   a most unlovable man. He worries you every time you meet him. He is of

   the very opposite disposition to yours. You are a careful businessman,

   and you have to do with him in your business. He is most untidy,

   unbusiness-like. You say:

 

   "I cannot love him."

 

   Oh, friend, you have not learned the lesson that Christ wanted to

   teach above everything. Let a man be what he will, you are to love

   him. Love is to be the fruit of the Spirit all the day and every day.

   Yes, listen! if a man loves not his brother whom he hath seen -- if

   you don't love that unlovable man whom you have seen, how can you love

   God whom you have not seen? You can deceive yourself with beautiful

   thoughts about loving God. You must prove your love to God by your

   love to your brother; that is the one standard by which God will judge

   your love to Him. If the love of God is in your heart you will love

   your brother. The fruit of the Spirit is love.

 

   And what is the reason that God's Holy Spirit cannot come in power? Is

   it not possible?

 

   You remember the comparison I used in speaking of the vessel. I can

   dip a little water into a potsherd, a bit of a vessel; but if a vessel

   is to be full, it must be unbroken. And the children of God, wherever

   they come together, to whatever church or mission or society they

   belong, must love each other intensely, or the Spirit of God cannot do

   His work. We talk about grieving the Spirit of God by worldliness and

   ritualism and formality and error and indifference, but, I tell you,

   the one thing above everything that grieves God's Spirit is this want

   of love. Let every heart search itself, and ask that God may search

   it.

 

   Our Love Shows God's Power

 

   Why are we taught that "the fruit of the Spirit is love"? Because the

   Spirit of God has come to make our daily life an exhibition of divine

   power and a revelation of what God can do for His children.

 

   In the second and the fourth chapters of Acts we read that the

   disciples were of one heart and of one soul. During the three years

   they had walked with Christ they never had been in that spirit. All

   Christ's teaching could not make them of one heart and one soul. But

   the Holy Spirit came from Heaven and shed the love of God in their

   hearts, and they were of one heart and one soul. The same Holy Spirit

   that brought the love of Heaven into their hearts must fill us too.

   Nothing less will do. Even as Christ did, one might preach love for

   three years with the tongue of an angel, but that would not teach any

   man to love unless the power of the Holy Spirit should come upon him

   to bring the love of Heaven into his heart.

 

   Think of the church at large. What divisions! Think of the different

   bodies. Take the question of holiness, take the question of the

   cleansing blood, take the question of the baptism of the Spirit --

   what differences are caused among dear believers by such questions!

   That there are differences of opinion does not trouble me. We do not

   have the same constitution and temperament and mind. But how often

   hate, bitterness, contempt, separation, unlovingness are caused by the

   holiest truths of God's Word! Our doctrines, our creeds, have been

   more important than love. We often think we are valiant for the truth

   and we forget God's command to speak the truth in love. And it was so

   in the time of the Reformation between the Lutheran and Calvinistic

   churches. What bitterness there was than in regard to the Holy Supper,

   which was meant to be the bond of union among all believers! And so,

   down the ages, the very dearest truths of God have become mountains

   that have separated us.

 

   If we want to pray in power, and if we want to expect the Holy Spirit

   to come down in power, and if we want indeed that God shall pour out

   His Spirit, we must enter into a covenant with God that we love one

   another with a heavenly love.

 

   Are you ready for that? Only that is true love that is large enough to

   take in all God's children, the most unloving and unlovable, and

   unworthy, and unbearable, and trying. If my vow -- absolute surrender

   to God -- was true, then it must mean absolute surrender to the divine

   love to fill me; to be a servant of love to love every child of God

   around me. "The fruit of the Spirit is love."

 

   Oh, God did something wonderful when He gave Christ, at His right

   hand, the Holy Spirit to come down out of the heart of the Father and

   His everlasting love. And how we have degraded the Holy Spirit into a

   mere power by which we have to do our work! God forgive us! Oh, that

   the Holy Spirit might be held in honor as a power to fill us with the

   very life and nature of God and of Christ!

 

   Christian Work Requires Love

 

   "The fruit of the Spirit is love." I ask once again, Why is it so? And

   the answer comes: That is the only power in which Christians really

   can do their work.

 

   Yes, it is that we need. We want not only love that is to bind us to

   each other, but we want a divine love in our work for the lost around

   us. Oh, do we not often undertake a great deal of work, just as men

   undertake work of philanthropy, from a natural spirit of compassion

   for our fellow-men? Do we not often undertake Christian work because

   our minister or friend calls us to it? And do we not often perform

   Christian work with a certain zeal but without having had a baptism of

   love?

 

   People often ask: "What is the baptism of fire?"

 

   I have answered more than once: I know no fire like the fire of God,

   the fire of everlasting love that consumed the sacrifice on Calvary.

   The baptism of love is what the Church needs, and to get that we must

   begin at once to get down upon our faces before God in confession, and

   plead:

 

   "Lord, let love from Heaven flow down into my heart. I am giving up my

   life to pray and live as one who has given himself up for the

   everlasting love to dwell in and fill him."

 

   Ah, yes, if the love of God were in our hearts, what a difference it

   would make! There are hundreds of believers who say:

 

   "I work for Christ, and I feel I could work much harder, but I have

   not the gift. I do not know how or where to begin. I do not know what

   I can do."

 

   Brother, sister, ask God to baptize you with the Spirit of love, and

   love will find its way. Love is a fire that will burn through every

   difficulty. You may be a shy, hesitating man, who cannot speak well,

   but love can burn through everything. God fill us with love! We need

   it for our work.

 

   You have read many a touching story of love expressed, and you have

   said, How beautiful! I heard one not long ago. A lady had been asked

   to speak at a Rescue Home where there were a number of poor women. As

   she arrived there and got to the window with the matron, she saw

   outside a wretched object sitting, and asked:

 

   "Who is that?"

 

   The matron answered: "She has been into the house thirty or forty

   times, and she has always gone away again. Nothing can be done with

   her, she is so low and hard."

 

   But the lady said: "She must come in."

 

   The matron then said: "We have been waiting for you, and the company

   is assembled, and you have only an hour for the address."

 

   The lady replied: "No, this is of more importance"; and she went

   outside where the woman was sitting and said:

 

   "My sister, what is the matter?"

 

   "I am not your sister," was the reply.

 

   Then the lady laid her hand on her, and said: "Yes, I am your sister,

   and I love you"; and so she spoke until the heart of the poor woman

   was touched.

 

   The conversation lasted some time, and the company were waiting

   patiently. Ultimately the lady brought the woman into the room. There

   was the poor wretched, degraded creature, full of shame. She would not

   sit on a chair, but sat down on a stool beside the speaker's seat, and

   she let her lean against her, with her arms around the poor woman's

   neck, while she spoke to the assembled people. And that love touched

   the woman's heart; she had found one who really loved her, and that

   love gave access to the love of Jesus.

 

   Praise God! there is love upon earth in the hearts of God's children;

   but oh, that there were more!

 

   O God, baptize our ministers with a tender love, and our missionaries,

   and our colporters, and our Bible-readers, and our workers, and our

   young men's and young women's associations. Oh, that God would begin

   with us now, and baptize us with heavenly love!

 

   Love Inspires Intercession

 

   Once again. It is only love that can fit us for the work of

   intercession.

 

   I have said that love must fit us for our work. Do you know what the

   hardest and the most important work is that has to be done for this

   sinful world? It is the work of intercession, the work of going to God

   and taking time to lay hold on Him.

 

   A man may be an earnest Christian, an earnest minister, and a man may

   do good, but alas! how often he has to confess that he knows but

   little of what it is to tarry with God. May God give us the great gift

   of an intercessory spirit, a spirit of prayer and supplication! Let me

   ask you in the name of Jesus not to let a day pass without praying for

   all saints, and for all God's people.

 

   I find there are Christians who think little of that. I find there are

   prayer unions where they pray for the members, and not for all

   believers. I pray you, take time to pray for the Church of Christ. It

   is right to pray for the heathen, as I have already said. God help us

   to pray more for them. It is right to pray for missionaries and for

   evangelistic work, and for the unconverted. But Paul did not tell

   people to pray for the heathen or the unconverted. Paul told them to

   pray for believers. Do make this your first prayer every day: "Lord,

   bless Thy saints everywhere."

 

   The state of Christ's Church is indescribably low. Plead for God's

   people that He would visit them, plead for each other, plead for all

   believers who are trying to work for God. Let love fill your heart.

   Ask Christ to pour it out afresh into you every day. Try to get it

   into you by the Holy Spirit of God: I am separated unto the Holy

   Spirit, and the fruit of the Spirit is love. God help us to understand

   it.

 

   May God grant that we learn day by day to wait more quietly upon Him.

   Do not wait upon God only for ourselves, or the power to do so will

   soon be lost; but give ourselves up to the ministry and the love of

   intercession, and pray more for God's people, for God's people round

   about us, for the Spirit of love in ourselves and in them, and for the

   work of God we are connected with; and the answer will surely come,

   and our waiting upon God will be a source of untold blessing and

   power. "The fruit of the Spirit is love."

 

   Have you a lack of love to confess before God? Then make confession

   and say before Him, "O Lord, my lack of heart, my lack of love -- I

   confess it." And then, as you cast that lack at His feet, believe that

   the blood cleanses you, that Jesus comes in His mighty, cleansing,

   saving power to deliver you, and that He will give His Holy Spirit.

 

   "The fruit of the Spirit is love."

 

     _________________________________________________________________

 

SEPARATED UNTO THE HOLY GHOST

 

   "Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and

   teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius

   of. Cyrene, and Manaen ... and Saul.

 

   "As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said,

   Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called

   them.

 

   "And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them,

   they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost,

   departed unto Seleucia" (Acts 13:1-4).

 

 

   In the story of our text we shall find some precious thoughts to guide

   us as to what God would have of us, and what God would do for us. The

   great lesson of the verses quoted is this: The Holy Ghost is the

   director of the work of God upon the earth. And what we should do if

   we are to work rightly for God, and if God is to bless our work, is to

   see that we stand in a right relation to the Holy Ghost, that we give

   Him every day the place of honor that belongs to Him, and that in all

   our work and (what is more) in all our private inner life, the Holy

   Ghost shall always have the first place. Let me point out to you some

   of the precious thoughts our passage suggests.

 

   First of all, we see that God has His own plans with regard to His

   kingdom.

 

   His church at Antioch had been established. God had certain plans and

   intentions with regard to Asia, and with regard to Europe., He had

   conceived them; they were His, and He made them known to His servants.

 

   Our great Commander organizes every campaign, and His generals and

   officers do not always know the great plans. They often receive sealed

   orders, and they have to wait on Him for what He gives them as orders.

   God in Heaven has wishes, and a will, in regard to any work that ought

   to be done, and to the way in which it has to be done. Blessed is the

   man who gets into God's secrets and works under God.

 

   Some years ago, at Wellington, South Africa, where I live, we opened a

   Mission Institute -- what is counted there a fine large building. At

   our opening services the principal said something that I have never

   forgotten. He remarked:

 

   "Last year we gathered here to lay the foundation-stone, and what was

   there then to be seen? Nothing but rubbish, and stones, and bricks,

   and ruins of an old building that had been pulled down. There we laid

   the foundation-stone, and very few knew what the building was that was

   to rise. No one know it perfectly in every detail except one man, the

   architect. In his mind it was all clear, and as the contractor and the

   mason and the carpenter came to their work they took their orders from

   him, and the humblest laborer had to be obedient to orders, and the

   structure rose, and this beautiful building has been completed. And

   just so," he added, "this building that we open today is but laying

   the foundation of a work of which only God knows what is to become."

 

   But God has His workers and His plans clearly mapped out, and our

   position is to wait, that God should communicate to us as much of His

   will as each time is needful.

 

   We have simply to be faithful in obedience, carrying out His orders.

   God has a plan for His Church upon earth. But alas! we too often make

   our plan, and we think that we know what ought to be done. We ask God

   first to bless our feeble efforts, instead of absolutely refusing to

   go unless God go before us. God has planned for the work and the

   extension of His kingdom. The Holy Ghost has had that work given in

   charge to Him. "The work whereunto I have called them." May God,

   therefore, help us all to be afraid of touching "the ark of God"

   except as we are led by the Holy Ghost.

 

   Then the second thought -- God is willing and able to reveal to His

   servants what His will is.

 

   Yes, blessed be God, communications still come down from Heaven! As we

   read here what the Holy Ghost said, so the Holy Ghost will still speak

   to His Church and His people. In these later days He has often done

   it. He has come to individual men, and by His divine teaching He has

   led them out into fields of labor that others could not at first

   understand or approve, into ways and methods that did not recommend

   themselves to the majority. But the Holy Ghost does still in our time

   teach His people. Thank God, in our foreign missionary societies and

   in our home missions, and in a thousand forms of work, the guiding of

   the Holy Ghost is known, but (we are all ready, I think, to confess)

   too little known. We have not learned enough to wait upon Him, and so

   we should make a solemn declaration before God: O God, we want to wait

   more for Thee to show us Thy Will.

 

   Do not ask God only for power. Many a Christian has his own plan of

   working, but God must send the power. The man works in his own will,

   and God must give the grace -- the one reason why God often gives so

   little grace and so little success. But let us all take our place

   before God and say:

 

   "What is done in the will of God the strength of God will not be

   withheld from it; what is done in the will of God must have the mighty

   blessing of God."

 

   And so let our first desire be to have the will of God revealed.

 

   If you ask me, Is it an easy thing to get these communications from

   Heaven, and to understand them? I can give you the answer. It is easy

   to those who are in right fellowship with Heaven, and who understand

   the art of waiting upon God in prayer.

 

   How often we ask: How can a person know the will of God? And people

   want, when they are in perplexity, to pray very earnestly that God

   should answer them at once. But God can only reveal His will. to a

   heart that is humble and tender and empty. God can only reveal His

   will in perplexities and special difficulties to a heart that has

   learned to obey and honor Him loyally in little things and in daily

   life.

 

   That brings me to the third thought -- Note the disposition to which

   the Spirit reveals God's will.

 

   What do we read here? There were a number of men ministering to the

   Lord and fasting, and the Holy Ghost came and spoke to them. Some

   people understand this passage very much as they would in reference to

   a missionary committee of our day. We see there is an open field, and

   we have had our missions in other fields, and we are going to get on

   to that field. We have virtually settled that, and we pray about it.

   But the position was a very different one in those former days. I

   doubt whether any of them thought of Europe, for later on even Paul

   himself tried to go back into Asia, till the night vision called him

   by the will of God. Look at those men. God had done wonders. He had

   extended the Church to Antioch, and He had given rich and large

   blessing. Now, here were these men ministering to the Lord, serving

   Him with prayer and fasting. What a deep conviction they have -- "It

   must all come direct from Heaven. We are in fellowship with the risen

   Lord; we must have a close union with Him, and somehow He will let us

   know what He wants." And there they were, empty, ignorant, helpless,

   glad and joyful, but deeply humbled.

 

   "O Lord," they seem to say, "we are Thy servants, and in fasting and

   prayer we wait upon Thee. What is Thy will for us?"

 

   Was it not the same with Peter? He was on the housetop, fasting and

   praying, and little did he think of the vision and the command to go

   to Caesarea. He was ignorant of what his work might be.

 

   It is in hearts entirely surrendered to the Lord Jesus, in hearts

   separating themselves from the world, and even from ordinary religious

   exercises, and giving themselves up in intense prayer to look to their

   Lord -- it is in such hearts that the heavenly will of God will be

   made manifest.

 

   You know that word fasting occurs a second time (in the third verse):

   "They fasted and prayed." When you pray, you love to go into your

   closet, according to the command of Jesus, and shut the door. You shut

   out business and company and pleasure and anything that can distract,

   and you want to be alone with God. But in one way even the material

   world follows you there. You must eat. These men wanted to shut

   themselves out from the influences of the material and the visible,

   and they fasted. What they ate was simply enough to supply the wants

   of nature, and in the intensity of their souls they thought to give

   expression to their letting go of everything on earth in their fasting

   before God. Oh, may God give us that intensity of desire, that

   separation from everything, because we want to wait upon God, that the

   Holy Ghost may reveal to us God's blessed will.

 

   The fourth thought -- What is now the will of God as the Holy Ghost

   reveals it? It is contained in one phrase: Separation unto the Holy

   Ghost. That is the keynote of the message from Heaven.

 

   "Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called

   them. The work is mine, and I care for it, and I have chosen these men

   and called them, and I want you who represent the Church of Christ

   upon earth to set them apart unto me."

 

   Look at this heavenly message in its twofold aspect. The men were to

   be set apart to the Holy Ghost, and the Church was to do this

   separating work. The Holy Ghost could trust these men to do it in a

   right spirit. There they were abiding in fellowship with the heavenly,

   and the Holy Ghost could say to them, "Do the work of separating these

   men." And these were the men the Holy Ghost had prepared, and He could

   say of them, "Let them be separated unto me."

 

   Here we come to the very root, to the very life of the need of

   Christian workers. The question is: What is needed that the power of

   God should rest upon us more mightily, that the blessing of God should

   be poured out more abundantly among those poor, wretched people and

   perishing sinners among whom we labor? And the answer from Heaven is:

 

   "I want men separated unto the Holy Ghost."

 

   What does that imply? You know that there are two spirits on earth.

   Christ said, when He spoke about the Holy Spirit: "The world cannot

   receive him." Paul said: "We have received not the spirit of the

   world, but the Spirit that is of God." That is the great want in every

   worker -- the spirit of the world going out, and the Spirit of God

   coming in to take possession of the inner life and of the whole being.

 

   I am sure there are workers who often cry to God for the Holy Spirit

   to come upon them as a Spirit of power for their work, and when they

   feel that measure of power, and get blessing, they thank God for it.

   But God wants something more and something higher. God wants us to

   seek for the Holy Spirit as a Spirit of power in our own heart and

   life, to conquer self and cast out sin, and to work the blessed and

   beautiful image of Jesus into us.

 

   There is a difference between the power of the Spirit as a gift, and

   the power of the Spirit for the grace of a holy life. A man may often

   have a measure of the power of the Spirit, but if there be not a large

   measure of the Spirit as the Spirit of grace and holiness, the defect

   will be manifest in his work. He may be made the means of conversion,

   but he never will help people on to a higher standard of spiritual

   life, and when he passes away, a great deal of his work may pass away

   too. But a man who is separated unto the Holy Ghost is a man who is

   given up to say:

 

   "Father, let the Holy Ghost have full dominion over me, in my home, in

   my temper, in every word of my tongue, in every thought of my heart,

   in every feeling toward my fellow men; let the Holy Spirit have entire

   possession."

 

   Is that what has been the longing and the covenant of your heart with

   your God -- to be a man or a woman separated and given up unto the

   Holy Ghost? I pray you listen to the voice of Heaven. "Separate me,"

   said the Holy Ghost. Yes, separated unto the Holy Ghost. May God grant

   that the Word may enter into the very depths of our being to search

   us, and if we discover that we have not come out from the world

   entirely, if God discovers to us that the self-life, self-will,

   self-exaltation are there, let us humble ourselves before Him.

 

   Man, woman, brother, sister, you are a worker separated unto the Holy

   Ghost. Is that true? Has that been your longing desire? Has that been

   your surrender? Has that been what you have expected through faith in

   the power of our risen and almighty Lord Jesus? If not, here is the

   call of faith, and here is the key of blessing -- separated unto the

   Holy Ghost. God write the word in our hearts!

 

   I said the Holy Spirit spoke to that church as a church capable of

   doing that work. The Holy Spirit trusted them. God grant that our

   churches, our missionary societies, and our workers' unions, that all

   our directors and councils and committees may be men and women who are

   fit for the work of separating workers unto the Holy Spirit. We can

   ask God for that too.

 

   Then comes my fifth thought, and it is this -- This holy partnership

   with the Holy Spirit in this work becomes a matter of consciousness

   and of action.

 

   These men, what did they do? They set apart Paul and Barnabas, and

   then it is written of the two that they, being sent forth by the Holy

   Ghost, went down to Seleucia. Oh, what fellowship! The Holy Spirit in

   Heaven doing part of the work, men on earth doing the other part.

   After the ordination of the men upon earth, it is written in God's

   inspired Word that they were sent forth by the Holy Ghost.

 

   And see how this partnership calls to new prayer and fasting. They had

   for a certain time been ministering to the Lord and fasting, perhaps

   days; and the Holy Spirit speaks, and they have to do the work and to

   enter into partnership, and at once they come together for more prayer

   and fasting. That is the spirit in which they obey the command of

   their Lord. And that teaches us that it is not only in the beginning

   of our Christian work, but all along that we need to have our strength

   in prayer. If there is one thought with regard to the Church of

   Christ, which at times comes to me with overwhelming sorrow; if there

   is one thought in regard to my own life of which I am ashamed; if

   there is one thought of which I feel that the Church of Christ has not

   accepted it and not grasped it; if there is one thought which makes me

   pray to God: "Oh, teach us by Thy grace, new things" -- it is the

   wonderful power that prayer is meant to have in the kingdom. We have

   so little availed ourselves of it.

 

   We have all read the expression of Christian in Bunyan's great work,

   when he found he had the key in his breast that should unlock the

   dungeon. We have the key that can unlock the dungeon of atheism and of

   heathendom. But, oh! we are far more occupied with our work than we

   are with prayer. We believe more in speaking to men than we believe in

   speaking to God. Learn from these men that the work which the Holy

   Ghost commands must call us to new fasting and prayer, to new

   separation from the spirit and the pleasures of the world, to new

   consecration to God and to His fellowship. Those men gave themselves

   up to fasting and prayer, and if in all our ordinary Christian work

   there were more prayer, there would be more blessing in our own inner

   life. If we felt and proved and testified to the world that our only

   strength lay in keeping every minute in contact with Christ, every

   minute allowing God to work in us -- if that were our spirit, would

   not, by the grace of God, our lives be holier? Would not they be more

   abundantly fruitful?

 

   I hardly know a more solemn warning in God's Word than that which we

   find in the third chapter of Galatians, where Paul asked:

 

   "Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?"

 

   Do you understand what that means? A terrible danger in Christian

   work, just as in a Christian life that is begun with much prayer,

   begun in the Holy Spirit, is that it may be gradually shunted off on

   to the lines of the flesh; and the word comes: "Having begun in the

   Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" In the time of our

   first perplexity and helplessness we prayed much to God, and God

   answered and God blessed, and our organization became perfected, and

   our band of workers became large; but gradually the organization and

   the work and the rush have so taken possession of us that the power of

   the Spirit, in which we began when we were a small company, has almost

   been lost. Oh, I pray you, note it well! It was with new prayer and

   fasting, with more prayer and fasting, that this company of disciples

   carried out the command of the Holy Ghost, "My soul, wait thou only

   upon God." That is our highest and most important work. The Holy

   Spirit comes in answer to believing prayer.

 

   You know when the exalted Jesus had ascended to the throne, for ten

   days the footstool of the throne was the place where His waiting

   disciples cried to Him. And that is the law of the kingdom -- the King

   upon the throne, the servants upon the footstool. May God find us

   there unceasingly!

 

   Then comes the last thought -- What a wonderful blessing comes when

   the Holy Ghost is allowed to lead and to direct the work, and when it

   is carried on in obedience to Him!

 

   You know the story of the mission on which Barnabas and Saul were sent

   out. You know what power there was with them. The Holy Ghost sent

   them, and they went on from place to place with large blessing. The

   Holy Ghost was their leader further on. You recollect how it was by

   the Spirit that Paul was hindered from going again into Asia, and was

   led away over to Europe. Oh, the blessing that rested upon that little

   company of men, and upon their ministry unto the Lord!

 

   I pray you, let us learn to believe that God has a blessing for us.

   The Holy Ghost, into whose hands God has put the work, has been called

   "the executive of the Holy Trinity." The Holy Ghost has not only

   power, but He has the Spirit of love. He is brooding over this dark

   world and every sphere of work in it, and He is willing to bless. And

   why is there not more blessing? There can be but one answer. We have

   not honored the Holy Ghost as we should have done. Is there one who

   can say that that is not true? Is not every thoughtful heart ready to

   cry: "God forgive me that I have not honored the Holy Spirit as I

   should have done, that I have grieved Him, that I have allowed self

   and the flesh and my own will to work where the Holy Ghost should have

   been honored! May God forgive me that I have allowed self and the

   flesh and the will actually to have the place that God wanted the Holy

   Ghost to have."

 

   Oh, the sin is greater than we know! No wonder that there is so much

   feebleness and failure in the Church of Christ!

     _________________________________________________________________

 

PETER'S REPENTANCE

 

   "And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the

   word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou

   shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly" (LUKE

   22:61, 62).

 

 

   That was the turning-point in the history of Peter. Christ had said to

   him: "Thou canst not follow me now." Peter was not in a fit state to

   follow Christ, because he had not been brought to an end of himself;

   he did not know himself, and he therefore could not follow Christ. But

   when he went out and wept bitterly, then came the great change. Christ

   previously said to him: "When thou art converted, strengthen thy

   brethren." Here is the point where Peter was converted from self to

   Christ.

 

   I thank God for the story of Peter. I do not know a man in the Bible

   who gives us greater comfort. When we look at his character, so full

   of failures, and at what Christ made him by the power of the Holy

   Ghost, there is hope for every one of us. But remember, before Christ

   could fill Peter with the Holy Spirit and make a new man of him, he

   had to go out and weep bitterly; he had to be humbled. If we want to

   understand this, I think there are four points that we must look at.

   First, let us look at Peter the devoted disciple of Jesus; next, at

   Peter as he lived the life of self; then at Peter in his repentance;

   and last, at what Christ made of Peter by the Holy Spirit.

 

   Peter the Devoted Disciple of Christ

 

   Christ called Peter to forsake his nets, and follow Him. Peter did it

   at once, and he afterward could say rightly to the Lord:

 

   "We have forsaken all and followed thee."

 

   Peter was a man of absolute surrender; he gave up all to follow Jesus.

   Peter was also a man of ready obedience. You remember Christ said to

   him, "Launch out into the deep, and let down the net." Peter the

   fisherman knew there were no fish there, for they had been toiling all

   night and had caught nothing; but he said: "At thy word I will let

   down the net." He submitted to the word of Jesus. Further, he was a

   man of great faith. When he saw Christ walking on the sea, he said:

   "Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee"; and at the voice of

   Christ he stepped out of the boat and walked upon the water.

 

   And Peter was a man of spiritual insight. When Christ asked the

   disciples: "Whom do ye say that I am?" Peter was able to answer: "Thou

   art the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Christ said: `.Blessed

   art thou, Simon Barjona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto

   thee, but my Father which is in heaven." And Christ spoke of him as

   the rock man, and of his having the keys of the kingdom. Peter was a

   splendid man, a devoted disciple of Jesus, and if he were living

   nowadays, everyone would say that he was an advanced Christian. And

   yet how much there was wanting in Peter!

 

   Peter Living the Life of Self

 

   You recollect that just after Christ had said to him: "Flesh and blood

   hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven,"

   Christ began to speak about His sufferings, and Peter dared to say:

   "Be it far from thee, Lord; this shall not be unto thee." Then Christ

   had to say:

 

   "Get thee behind me, Satan; for thou savorest not the things that be

   of God, but those that be of men."

 

   There was Peter in his self-will, trusting his own wisdom, and

   actually forbidding Christ to go and die. Whence did that come? Peter

   trusted in himself and his own thoughts about divine things. We see

   later on, more than once, that among the disciples there was a

   questioning who should be the greatest, and Peter was one of them, and

   he thought he had a right to the very first place. He sought his own

   honor even above the others. It was the life of self strong in Peter.

   He had left his boats and his nets, but not his old self.

 

   When Christ had spoken to him about His sufferings, and said: "Get

   thee behind me, Satan," He followed it up by saying: "If any man will

   come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow

   me." No man can follow Him unless he do that. Self must be utterly

   denied. What does that mean? When Peter denied Christ, we read that he

   said three times: "I do not know the man" ; in other words: "I have

   nothing to do with Him; He and I are no friends; I deny having any

   connection with Him." Christ told Peter that he must deny self. Self

   must be ignored, and its every claim rejected. That is the root of

   true discipleship; but Peter did not understand it, and could not obey

   it. And what happened? When the last night came, Christ said to him:

 

   "Before the cock crow twice thou shalt deny me thrice."

 

   But with what self-confidence Peter said: "Though all should forsake

   thee, yet will not I. I am ready to go with thee, to prison and to

   death."

 

   Peter meant it honestly, and Peter really intended to do it; but Peter

   did not know himself. He did not believe he was as bad as Jesus said

   he was.

 

   We perhaps think of individual sins that come between us and God, but

   what are we to do with that self-life which is all unclean, our very

   nature? What are we to do with that flesh that is entirely under the

   power of sin? Deliverance from that is what we need. Peter knew it

   not, and therefore it was that in his self-confidence he went forth

   and denied his Lord.

 

   Notice how Christ uses. that word deny twice. He said to Peter the

   first time, "Deny self"; He said to Peter the second time, "Thou wilt

   deny me." It is either of the two. There is no choice for us; we must

   either deny self or deny Christ. There are two great powers fighting

   each other -- the self-nature in the power of sin, and Christ in the

   power of God. Either of these must rule within us.

 

   It was self that made the Devil. He was an angel of God, but he wanted

   to exalt self. He became a Devil in Hall. Self was the cause of the

   fall of man. Eve wanted something for herself, and so our first

   parents fell into all the wretchedness of sin. We their children have

   inherited an awful nature of sin.

 

   Peter's Repentance

 

   Peter denied his Lord thrice, and then the Lord looked upon him; and

   that look of Jesus broke the heart of Peter, and all at once there

   opened up before him the terrible sin that he had committed, the

   terrible failure that had come, and the depth into which he had

   fallen, and "Peter went out and wept bitterly."

 

   Oh! who can tell what that repentance must have been? During the

   following hours of that night, and the next day, when he saw Christ

   crucified and buried, and the next day, the Sabbath -- oh, in what

   hopeless despair and shame he must have spent that day!

 

   "My Lord is gone, my hope is gone, and I denied my Lord. After that

   life of love, after that blessed fellowship of three years, I denied

   my Lord. God have mercy upon me!"

 

   I do not think we can realize into what a depth of humiliation Peter

   sank then. But that was the turningpoint and the change; and on the

   first day of the week Christ was seen of Peter, and in the evening He

   met him with the others. Later on at the Lake of Galilee He asked him:

   "Lovest thou me?" until Peter was made sad by the thought that the

   Lord reminded him of having denied Him thrice; and said in sorrow, but

   in uprightness:

 

   "Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee."

 

   Peter Transformed

 

   Now Peter was prepared for deliverance from self, and that is my last

   thought. You know Christ took him with others to the footstool of the

   throne, and bade them wait there; and then on the day of Pentecost the

   Holy Spirit came, and Peter was a changed man. I do not want you to

   think only of the change in Peter, in that boldness, and that power,

   and that insight into the Scriptures, and that blessing with which he

   preached that day. Thank God for that. But there was something for

   Peter deeper and better. Peter's whole nature was changed. The work

   that Christ began in Peter when He looked upon him, was perfected when

   he was filled with the Holy Ghost.

 

   If you want to see that, read the First Epistle of Peter. You know

   wherein Peter's failings lay. When he said to Christ, in effect: "Thou

   never canst suffer; it cannot be" -- it showed he had not a conception

   of what it was to pass through death into life. Christ said: "Deny

   thyself," and in spite of that he denied his Lord. When Christ warned

   him: "Thou shalt deny me," and he insisted that he never would, Peter

   showed how little he understood what there was in himself. But when I

   read his epistle and hear him say: "If ye be reproached for the name

   of Christ, happy are ye, for the Spirit of God and of glory resteth

   upon you," then I say that it is not the old Peter, but that is the

   very Spirit of Christ breathing and speaking within him.

 

   I read again how he says: "Hereunto ye are called, to suffer, even as

   Christ suffered." I understand what a change had come over Peter.

   Instead of denying Christ, he found joy and pleasure in having self

   denied and crucified and given up to the death. And therefore it is in

   the Acts we read that, when he was called before the Council, he could

   boldly say: "We must obey God rather than men," and that he could

   return with the other disciples and rejoice that they were counted

   worthy to suffer for Christ's name.

 

   You remember his self-exaltation; but now he has found out that "the

   ornament of a meek and quiet spirit is in the sight of God of great

   price." Again he tells us to be "subject one to another, and be

   clothed with humility."

 

   Dear friend, I beseech you, look at Peter utterly changed -- the

   self-pleasing, the self-trusting, the self-seeking Peter, full of sin,

   continually getting into trouble, foolish and impetuous, but now

   filled with the Spirit and the life of Jesus. Christ had done it for

   him by the Holy Ghost.

 

   And now, what is my object in having thus very briefly pointed to the

   story of Peter? That story must be the history of every believer who

   is really to be made a blessing by God. That story is a prophecy of

   what everyone can receive from God in Heaven.

 

   Now let us just glance hurriedly at what these lessons teach us.

 

   The first lesson is this -- You may be a very earnest, godly, devoted

   believer, in whom the power of the flesh is yet very strong.

 

   That is a very solemn truth. Peter, before he denied Christ, had cast

   out devils and had healed the sick; and yet the flesh had power, and

   the flesh had room in him. Oh, beloved, we want to realize that it is

   just because there is so much of that self-life in us that the power

   of God cannot work in us as mightily as God is willing that it should

   work. Do you realize that the great God is longing to double His

   blessing, to give tenfold blessing through us? But there is something

   hindering Him, and that something is a proof of nothing but the

   self-life. We talk about the pride of Peter, and the impetuosity of

   Peter, and the self-confidence of Peter. It all rooted in that one

   word, self. Christ had said, "Deny self," and Peter had never

   understood, and never obeyed; and every failing came out of that.

 

   What a solemn thought, and what an urgent plea for us to cry: O God,

   do discover this to us, that none of us may be living the self-life!

   It has happened to many a one who had been a Christian for years, who

   had perhaps occupied a prominent position, that God found him out and

   taught him to find himself out, and he became utterly ashamed, falling

   down broken before God. Oh, the bitter shame and sorrow and pain and

   agony that came to him, until at last he found that there was

   deliverance! Peter went out and wept bitterly, and there may be many a

   godly one in whom the power of the flesh still rules.

 

   And then my second lesson is -- It is the work of our blessed Lord

   Jesus to discover the power of self.

 

   How was it that Peter, the carnal Peter, self-willed Peter, Peter with

   the strong self-love, ever became a man of Pentecost and the writer of

   his epistle? It was because Christ had him in charge, and Christ

   watched over him, and Christ taught and blessed him. The warnings that

   Christ had given him were part of the training; and last of all there

   came that look of love. In His suffering Christ did not forget him,

   but turned round and looked upon him, and "Peter went out and wept

   bitterly." And the Christ who led Peter to Pentecost is waiting today

   to take charge of every heart that is willing to surrender itself to

   Him.

 

   Are there not some saying: "Ah! that is the mischief with me; it is

   always the self-life, and self-comfort, and self-consciousness, and

   self-pleasing, and self-will; how am I to get rid of it?"

 

   My answer is: It is Christ Jesus who can rid you of it; none else but

   Christ Jesus can give deliverance from the power of self. And what

   does He ask you to do? He asks that you should humble yourself before

   Him.

     _________________________________________________________________

 

IMPOSSIBLE WITH MAN, POSSIBLE WITH GOD

 

   "And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible

   with God" (Luke 18:27).

 

 

   Christ had said to the rich young ruler, "Sell all that thou hast ...

   and come, follow me." The young man went away sorrowful. Christ then

   turned to the disciples, and said: "How hardly shall they that have

   riches enter into the kingdom of God!" The disciples, we read, were

   greatly astonished, and answered: "If it is so difficult to enter the

   kingdom, who, then, can be saved?" And Christ gave this blessed

   answer:

 

   "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God."

 

   The text contains two thoughts -- that in religion, in the question of

   salvation and of following Christ by a holy life, it is impossible for

   man to do it. And then alongside that is the thought -- What is

   impossible with man is possible with God.

 

   The two thoughts mark the two great lessons that man has to learn in

   the religious life. It often takes a long time to learn the first

   lesson, that in religion man can do nothing, that salvation is

   impossible to man. And often a man learns that, and yet he does not

   learn the second lesson -- what has been impossible to him is possible

   with God. Blessed is the man who learns both lessons! The learning of

   them marks stages in the Christian's life.

 

   Man Cannot

 

   The one stage is when a man is trying to do his utmost and fails, when

   a man tries to do better and fails again, when a man tries much more

   and always fails. And yet very often he does not even then learn the

   lesson: With man it is impossible to serve God and Christ. Peter spent

   three years in Christ's school, and he never learned that, It is

   impossible, until he had denied his Lord and went out and wept

   bitterly. Then he learned it.

 

   Just look for a moment at a man who is learning this lesson. At first

   he fights against it; then he submits to it, but reluctantly and in

   despair; at last he accepts it willingly and rejoices in it. At the

   beginning of the Christian life the young convert has no conception of

   this truth. He has been converted, he has the joy of the Lord in his

   heart, he begins to run the race and fight the battle; he is sure he

   can conquer, for he is earnest and honest, and God will help him. Yet,

   somehow, very soon he fails where he did not expect it, and sin gets

   the better of him. He is disappointed; but he thinks: "I was not

   watchful enough, I did not make my resolutions strong enough." And

   again he vows, and again he prays, and yet he fails. He thought: "Am I

   not a regenerate man? Have I not the life of God within me?" And he

   thinks again: "Yes, and I have Christ to help me, I can live the holy

   life."

 

   At a later period he comes to another state of mind. He begins to see

   such a life is impossible, but he does not accept it. There are

   multitudes of Christians who come to this point: "I cannot"; and then

   think God never expected them to do what they cannot do. If you tell

   them that God does expect it, it appears to them a mystery. A good

   many Christians are living a low life, a life of failure and of sin,

   instead of rest and victory, because they began to see: "I cannot, it

   is impossible." And yet they do not understand it fully, and so, under

   the impression, I cannot, they give way to despair. They will do their

   best, but they never expect to get on very far.

 

   But God leads His children on to a third stage, when a man comes to

   take that, It is impossible, in its full truth, and yet at the same

   time says: "I must do it, and I will do it -- it is impossible for

   man, and yet I must do it"; when the renewed will begins to exercise

   its whole power, and in intense longing and prayer begins to cry to

   God: "Lord, what is the meaning of this? -- how am I to be freed from

   the power of sin?"

 

   It is the state of the regenerate man in Romans 7. There you will find

   the Christian man trying his very utmost to live a holy life. God's

   law has been revealed to him as reaching down into the very depth of

   the desires of the heart, and the man can dare to say:

 

   "I delight in the law of God after the inward man. To will what is

   good is present with me. My heart loves the law of God, and my will

   has chosen that law."

 

   Can a man like that fail, with his heart full of delight in God's law

   and with his will determined to do what is right? Yes. That is what

   Romans 7 teaches us. There is something more needed. Not only must I

   delight in the law of God after the inward man, and will what God

   wills, but I need a divine omnipotence to work it in me. And that is

   what the apostle Paul teaches in Philippians 2:13:

 

   "It is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do."

 

   Note the contrast. In Romans 7, the regenerate man says: "To will is

   present with me, but to do -- I find I cannot do. I will, but I cannot

   perform." But in Philippians 2, you have a man who has been led on

   farther, a man who understands that when God has worked the renewed

   will, God will give the power to accomplish what that will desires.

   Let us receive this as the first great lesson in the spiritual life:

   "It is impossible for me, my God; let there be an end of the flesh and

   all its powers, an end of self, and lot it be my glory to be

   helpless."

 

   Praise God for the divine teaching that makes us helpless!

 

   When you thought of absolute surrender to God were you not brought to

   an end of yourself, and to feel that you could see how you actually

   could live as a man absolutely surrendered to God every moment of the

   day -- at your table, in your house, in your business, in the midst of

   trials and temptations? I pray you learn the lesson now. If you felt

   you could not do it, you are on the right road, if you let yourselves

   be led. Accept that position, and maintain it before God: "My heart's

   desire and delight, O God, is absolute surrender, but I cannot perform

   it. It is impossible for me to live that life. It is beyond me." Fall

   down and learn that when you are utterly helpless, God will come to

   work in you not only to will, but also to do.

 

   God Can

 

   Now comes the second lesson. "The things which are impossible with men

   are possible with God."

 

   I said a little while ago that there is many a man who has learned the

   lesson, It is impossible with men, and then he gives up in helpless

   despair, and lives a wretched Christian life, without joy, or

   strength, or victory. And why? Because he does not humble himself to

   learn that other lesson: With God all things are possible.

 

   Your religious life is every day to be a proof that God works

   impossibilities; your religious life is to be a series of

   impossibilities made possible and actual by God's almighty power. That

   is what the Christian needs. He has an almighty God that he worships,

   and he must learn to understand that he does not need a little of

   God's power, but he needs -- with reverence be it said -- the whole of

   God's omnipotence to keep him right, and to live like a Christian.

 

   The whole of Christianity is a work of God's omnipotence. Look at the

   birth of Christ Jesus. That was a miracle of divine power, and it was

   said to Mary: "With God nothing shall be impossible." It was the

   omnipotence of God. Look at Christ's resurrection. We are taught that

   it was according to the exceeding greatness of His mighty power that

   God raised Christ from the dead.

 

   Every tree must grow on the root from which it springs. An oak tree

   three hundred years old grows all the time on the one root from which

   it had its beginning. Christianity had its beginning in the

   omnipotence of God, and in every soul it must have its continuance in

   that omnipotence. All the possibilities of the higher Christian life

   have their origin in a new apprehension of Christ's power to work all

   God's will in us.

 

   I want to call upon you now to come and worship an almighty God. Have

   you learned to do it? Have you learned to deal so closely with an

   almighty God that you know omnipotence is working in you? In outward

   appearance there is often so little sign of it. The apostle Paul said:

   "I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and . .

   . my preaching was ... in demonstration of the Spirit and of power."

   From the human side there was feebleness, from the divine side there

   was divine omnipotence. And that is true of every godly life; and if

   we would only learn that lesson better, and give a wholehearted,

   undivided surrender to it, we should learn what blessedness there is

   in dwelling every hour and every moment with an almighty God. Have you

   ever studied in the Bible the attribute of God's omnipotence? You know

   that it was God's omnipotence that created the world, and created

   fight out of darkness, and created man. But have you studied God's

   omnipotence in the works of redemption?

 

   Look at Abraham. When God called him to be the father of that people

   out of which Christ was to be born, God said to him: "I am God

   Almighty, walk before me and be thou perfect." And God trained Abraham

   to trust Him as the omnipotent One; and whether it was his going out

   to a land that he knew not, or his faith as a pilgrim midst the

   thousands of Canaanites -- his faith said: This is my land -- or

   whether it was his faith in waiting twenty-five years for a son in his

   old age, against all hope, or whether it was the raising up of Isaac

   from the dead on Mount Moriah when he was going to sacrifice him --

   Abraham believed God. He was strong in faith, giving glory to God,

   because he accounted Him who had promised able to perform.

 

   The cause of the weakness of your Christian life is that you want to

   work it out partly, and to let God help you. And that cannot be. You

   must come to be utterly helpless, to let God work, and God will work

   gloriously. It is this that we need if we are indeed to be workers for

   God. I could go through Scripture and prove to you how Moses, when he

   led Israel out of Egypt; how Joshua, when he brought them into the

   land of Canaan; how all God's servants in the Old Testament counted

   upon the omnipotence of God doing impossibilities. And this God lives

   today, and this God is the God of every child of His. And yet we are

   some of us wanting God to give us a little help while we do our best,

   instead of coming to understand what God wants, and to say: "I can do

   nothing. God must and will do all." Have you said: "In worship, in

   work, in sanctification, in obedience to God, I can do nothing of

   myself, and so my place is to worship the omnipotent God, and to

   believe that He will work in me every moment"? Oh, may God teach us

   this! Oh, that God would by His grace show you what a God you have,

   and to what a God you have entrusted yourself -- an omnipotent God,

   willing with His whole omnipotence to place Himself at the disposal of

   every child of His! Shall we not take the lesson of the Lord Jesus and

   say: "Amen; the things which are impossible with men are possible with

   God"?

 

   Remember what we have said about Peter, his self-confidence,

   self-power, self-will, and how he came to deny his Lord. You feel,

   "Ah! there is the self-life, there is the flesh-life that rules in

   me!" And now, have you believed that there is deliverance from that?

   Have you believed that Almighty God is able so to reveal Christ in

   your heart, so to let the Holy Spirit rule in you, that. the self-life

   shall not have power or dominion over you? Have you coupled the two

   together, and with tears of penitence and with deep humiliation and

   feebleness, cried out: "O God, it is impossible to me; man cannot do

   it, but, glory to Thy name, it is possible with God"? Have you claimed

   deliverance? Do it now. Put yourself afresh in absolute surrender into

   the hands of a God of infinite love; and as infinite as His love is

   His power to do it.

 

   God Works in Man

 

   But again, we came to the question of absolute surrender, and felt

   that that is the want in the Church of Christ, and that is why the

   Holy Ghost cannot fill us, and why we cannot live as people entirely

   separated unto the Holy Ghost; that is why the flesh and the self-life

   cannot be conquered. We have never understood what it is to be

   absolutely surrendered to God as Jesus was. I know that many a one

   earnestly and honestly says: "Amen, I accept the message of absolute

   surrender to God"; and yet thinks: "Will that ever be mine? Can I

   count upon God to make me one of whom it shall be said in Heaven and

   on earth and in Hell, he lives in absolute surrender to God?" Brother,

   sister, "the things which are impossible with men are possible with

   God." Do believe that when He takes charge of you in Christ, it is

   possible for God to make you a man of absolute surrender. And God is

   able to maintain that. He is able to let you rise from bed every

   morning of the week with that blessed thought directly or indirectly:

   "I am in God's charge. My God is working out my life for me."

 

   Some are weary of thinking about sanctification. You pray, you have

   longed and cried for it, and yet it appeared so far off! The holiness

   and humility of Jesus -- you are so conscious of how distant it is.

   Beloved friends, the one doctrine of sanctification that is scriptural

   and real and effectual is: "The things which are impossible with men

   are possible with God." God can sanctify men, and by His almighty and

   sanctifying power every moment God can keep them. Oh, that we might

   get a step nearer to our God now! Oh, that the light of God might

   shine, and that we might know our God better!

 

   I could go on to speak about the life of Christ in us -- living like

   Christ, taking Christ as our Saviour from sin, and as our life and

   strength. It is God in Heaven who can reveal that in you. What does

   that prayer of the apostle Paul say: "That he would grant you

   according to riches of his glory" -- it is sure to be something very

   wonderful if it is according to the riches of His glory -- "to be

   strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man"? Do you not

   see that it is an omnipotent God working by His omnipotence in the

   heart of His believing children, so that Christ can become an

   indwelling Saviour? You have tried to grasp it and to seize it, and

   you have tried to believe it, and it would not come. It was because

   you had not been brought to believe that "the things which are

   impossible with men are possible with God."

 

   And so, I trust that the word spoken about love may have brought many

   to see that we must have an inflowing of love in quite a new way; our

   heart must be filled with life from above, from the Fountain of

   everlasting love, if it is going to overflow all the day; then it will

   be just as natural for us to love our fellowmen as it is natural for

   the lamb to be gentle and the wolf to be cruel. Until I am brought to

   such a state that the more a man hates and speaks evil of me, the more

   unlikable and unlovable a man is, I shall love him all the more; until

   I am brought to such a state that the more the obstacles and hatred

   and ingratitude, the more can the power of love triumph in me -- until

   I am brought to see that, I am not saying: "It is impossible with

   men." But if you have been led to say: "This message has spoken to me

   about a love utterly beyond my power; it is absolutely impossible" --

   then we can come to God and say: "It is possible with Thee."

 

   Some are crying to God for a great revival. I can say that that is the

   prayer of my heart unceasingly. Oh, if God would only revive His

   believing people! I cannot think in the first place of the unconverted

   formalists of the Church, or of the infidels and skeptics, or of all

   the wretched and perishing around me, my heart prays in the first

   place: "My God, revive Thy Church and people." It is not for nothing

   that there are in thousands of hearts yearnings after holiness and

   consecration: it is a forerunner of God's power. God works to will and

   then He works to do. These yearnings are a witness and a proof that

   God has worked to will. Oh, let us in faith believe that the

   omnipotent God will work to do among His people more than we can ask.

   "Unto him," Paul said, "who is able to do exceeding abundantly above

   all that we ask or think.... unto him be glory." Let our hearts say

   that. Glory to God, the omnipotent One, who can do above what we dare

   to ask or think!

 

   "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God." All

   around you there is a world of sin and sorrow, and the Devil is there.

   But remember, Christ is on the throne, Christ is stronger, Christ has

   conquered, and Christ will conquer. But wait on God. My text casts us

   down: "The things which are impossible with men"; but it ultimately

   lifts us up high -- "are possible with God." Get linked to God. Adore

   and trust Him as the omnipotent One, not only for your own life, but

   for all the souls that are entrusted to you. Never pray without

   adoring His omnipotence, saying: "Mighty God, I claim Thine

   almightiness." And the answer to the prayer will come, and like

   Abraham you will become strong in faith, giving glory to God, because

   you account Him who hath promised able to perform.

     _________________________________________________________________

 

 "O WRETCHED MAN THAT I AM!"

 

   "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this

   death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 7:24, 25).

 

 

   You know the wonderful place that this text has in the wonderful

   epistle to the Romans. It stands here at the end of the seventh

   chapter as the gateway into the eighth. In the first sixteen verses of

   the eighth chapter the name of the Holy Spirit is found sixteen times;

   you have there the description and promise of the life that a child of

   God can live in the power of the Holy Ghost. This begins in the second

   verse: "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me

   free from the law of sin and death." From that Paul goes on to speak

   of the great privileges of the child of God, who is to be led by the

   Spirit of God. The gateway into all this is in the twenty-fourth verse

   of the seventh chapter:

 

   "O wretched man that I am!"

 

   There you have the words of a man who has come to the end of himself.

   He has in the previous verses described how he had struggled and

   wrestled in his own power to obey the holy law of God, and had failed.

   But in answer to his own question he now finds the true answer and

   cries out: "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord." From that he

   goes on to speak of what that deliverance is that he has found.

 

   I want from these words to describe the path by which a man can be led

   out of the spirit of bondage into the spirit of liberty. You know how

   distinctly it is said: "Ye have not received the spirit of bondage

   again to fear." We are continually warned that this is the great

   danger of the Christian life, to go again into bondage; and I want to

   describe the path by which a man can get out of bondage into the

   glorious liberty of the children of God. Rather, I want to describe

   the man himself.

 

   First, these words are the language of a regenerate man; second, of an

   impotent man; third, of a wretched man; and fourth, of a man on the

   borders of complete liberty.

 

   The Regenerate Man

 

   There is much evidence of regeneration from the fourteenth verse of

   the chapter on to the twenty-third. "It is no more I that do it, but

   sin that dwelleth in me": that is the language of a regenerate man, a

   man who knows that his heart and nature have been renewed, and that

   sin is now a power in him that is not himself. "I delight in the law

   of the Lord after the inward man": that again is the language of a

   regenerate man. He dares to say when he does evil: "It is no more I

   that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me." It is of great importance to

   understand this.

 

   In the first two great sections of the epistle, Paul deals with

   justification and sanctification. In dealing with justification, he

   lays the foundation of the doctrine in the teaching about sin, not in

   the singular sin, but in the plural, sins -- the actual

   transgressions. In the second part of the fifth chapter he begins to

   deal with sin, not as actual transgression, but as a power. just

   imagine what a loss it would have been to us if we had not this second

   half of the seventh chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, if Paul had

   omitted in his teaching this vital question of the sinfulness of the

   believer. We should have missed the question we all want answered as

   to sin in the believer. What is the answer? The regenerate man is one

   in whom the will has been renewed, and who can say: "I delight in the

   law of God after the inward man."

 

   The Impotent Man

 

   Here is the great mistake made by many Christian people: they think

   that when there is a renewed will, it is enough; but that is not the

   case. This regenerate man tells us: "I will to do what is good, but

   the power to perform I find not." How often people tell us that if you

   set yourself determinedly, you can perform what you will! But this man

   was as determined as any man can be, and yet he made the confession:

   "To will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good, I

   find not."

 

   But, you ask: "How is it God makes a regenerate man utter such a

   confession, with a right will, with a heart that longs to do good, and

   longs to do its very utmost to love God?"

 

   Let us look at this question. What has God given us our will for? Had

   the angels who fell, in their own will, the strength to stand? Verily,

   no. The will of the creature is nothing but an empty vessel in which

   the power of God is to be made manifest. The creature must seek in God

   all that it is to be. You have it in the second chapter of the epistle

   to the Philippians, and you have it here also, that God's work is to

   work in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure. Here is a man

   who appears to say: "God has not worked to do in me." But we are

   taught that God works both to will and to do. How is the apparent

   contradiction to be reconciled?

 

   You will find that in this passage (Rom. 7:6-25) the name of the Holy

   Spirit does not occur once, nor does the name of Christ occur. The man

   is wrestling and struggling to fulfill God's law. Instead of the Holy

   Spirit and of Christ, the law is mentioned nearly twenty times. In

   this chapter, it shows a believer doing his very best to obey the law

   of God with his regenerate will. Not only this; but you will find the

   little words, I, me, my, occur more than forty times. It is the

   regenerate I in its impotence seeking to obey the law without being

   filled with the Spirit. This is the experience of almost every saint.

   After conversion a man begins to do his best, and he fails; but if we

   are brought into the full light, we need fail no longer. Nor need we

   fail at all if we have received the Spirit in His fullness at

   conversion.

 

   God allows that failure that the regenerate man should be taught his

   own utter impotence. It is in the course of this struggle that there

   comes to us this sense of our utter sinfulness. It is God's way of

   dealing with us. He allows that man to strive to fulfill the law that,

   as he strives and wrestles, he may be brought to this: "I am a

   regenerate child of God, but I am utterly helpless to obey His law."

   See what strong words are used all through the chapter to describe

   this condition: "I am carnal, sold under sin"; "I see another law in

   my members bringing me into captivity"; and last of all, "O wretched

   man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" This

   believer who bows here in deep contrition is utterly unable to obey

   the law of God.

 

   The Wretched Man

 

   Not only is the man who makes this confession a regenerate and an

   impotent man, but he is also a wretched man. He is utterly unhappy and

   miserable; and what is it that makes him so utterly miserable? It is

   because God has given him a nature that loves Himself. He is deeply

   wretched because he feels he is not obeying his God. He says, with

   brokenness of heart: "It is not I that do it, but I am under the awful

   power of sin, which is holding me down. It is I, and yet not I: alas!

   alas! it is myself; so closely am I bound up with it, and so closely

   is it intertwined with my very nature." Blessed be God when a man

   learns to say: "O wretched man that I am!" from the depth of his

   heart. He is on the way to the eighth chapter of Romans.

 

   There are many who make this confession a pillow for sin. They say

   that Paul had to confess his weakness and helplessness in this way,

   what are they that they should try to do better? So the call to

   holiness is quietly set aside. Would God that every one of us had

   learned to say these words in the very spirit in which they are

   written here! When we hear sin spoken of as the abominable thing that

   God hates, do not many of us wince before the word? Would that all

   Christians who go on sinning and sinning would take this verse to

   heart. If ever you utter a sharp word say: "O wretched man that I am!"

   And every time you lose your temper, kneel down and understand that it

   never was meant by God that this was to be the state in which His

   child should remain. Would God that we would take this word into our

   daily life, and say it every time we are touched about our own honor,

   and every time we say sharp things, and every time we sin against the

   Lord God, and against the Lord Jesus Christ in His humility, and in

   His obedience, and in His self-sacrifice! Would to God you could

   forget everything else, and cry out: "O wretched man that I am! who

   shall deliver me from the body of this death?"

 

   Why should you say this whenever you commit sin? Because it is when a

   man is brought to this confession that deliverance is at hand.

 

   And remember it was not only the sense of being impotent and taken

   captive that made him wretched, but it was above all the sense of

   sinning against his God. The law was doing its work, making sin

   exceeding sinful in his sight. The thought of continually grieving God

   became utterly unbearable -- it was this brought forth the piercing

   cry: "O wretched man!" As long as we talk and reason about our

   impotence and our failure, and only try to find out what Romans 7

   means, it will profit us but little; but when once every sin gives new

   intensity to the sense of wretchedness, and we feel our whole state as

   one of not only helplessness, but actual exceeding sinfulness, we

   shall be pressed not only to ask: "Who shall deliver us?" but to cry:

   "I thank God through Jesus Christ my Lord."

 

   The Almost-Delivered Man

 

   The man has tried to obey the beautiful law of God. He has loved it,

   he has wept over his sin, he has tried to conquer, he has tried to

   overcome fault after fault, but every time he has ended in failure.

 

   What did he mean by "the body of this death"? Did he mean, my body

   when I die? Verily no. In the eighth chapter you have the answer to

   this question in the words: "If ye through the Spirit do mortify the

   deeds of the body, ye shall live." That is the body of death from

   which he is seeking deliverance.

 

   And now he is on the brink of deliverance! In the twenty-third verse

   of the seventh chapter we have the words: "I see another law in my

   members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into

   captivity to the law of sin which is in my members." It is a captive

   that cries: "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the

   body of this death?" He is a man who feels himself bound. But look to

   the contrast in the second verse of the eighth chapter: "The law of

   the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of

   sin and death." That is the deliverance through Jesus Christ our Lord;

   the liberty to the captive which the Spirit brings. Can you keep

   captive any longer a man made free by the "law of the Spirit of life

   in Christ Jesus"?

 

   But you say, the regenerate man, had not he the Spirit of Jesus when

   he spoke in the sixth chapter? Yes, but he did not know what the Holy

   Spirit could do for him.

 

   God does not work by His Spirit as He works by a blind force in

   nature. He leads His people on as reasonable, intelligent beings, and

   therefore when He wants to give us that Holy Spirit whom He has

   promised, He brings us first to the end of self, to the conviction

   that though we have been striving to obey the law, we have failed.

   When we have come to the end of that, then He shows us that in the

   Holy Spirit we have the power of obedience, the power of victory, and

   the power of real holiness.

 

   God works to will, and He is ready to work to do, but, alas! many

   Christians misunderstand this. They think because they have the will,

   it is enough, and that now they are able to do. This is not so. The

   new will is a permanent gift, an attribute of the new nature. The

   power to do is not a permanent gift, but must be each moment received

   from the Holy Spirit. It is the man who is conscious of his own

   impotence as a believer who will learn that by the Holy Spirit he can

   live a holy life. This man is on the brink of that great deliverance;

   the way has been prepared for the glorious eighth chapter. I now ask

   this solemn question: Where are you living? Is it with you, "O

   wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me?" with now and then a

   little experience of the power of the Holy Spirit? or is it, "I thank

   God through Jesus Christ! The law of the Spirit hath set me free from

   the law of sin and of death"?

 

   What the Holy Spirit does is to give the victory. "If ye through the

   Spirit do mortify the deeds of the flesh, ye shall live." It is the

   Holy Ghost who does this -- the third Person of the Godhead. He it is

   who, when the heart is opened wide to receive Him, comes in and reigns

   there, and mortifies the deeds of the body, day by day, hour by hour,

   and moment by moment.

 

   I want to bring this to a point. Remember, dear friend, what we need

   is to come to decision and action. There are in Scripture two very

   different sorts of Christians. The Bible speaks in Romans, Corinthians

   and Galatians about yielding to the flesh; and that is the life of

   tens of thousands of believers. All their lack of joy in the Holy

   Ghost, and their lack of the liberty He gives, is just owing to the

   flesh. The Spirit is within them, but the flesh rules the life. To be

   led by the Spirit of God is what they need. Would God that I could

   make every child of His realize what it means that the everlasting God

   has given His dear Son, Christ Jesus, to watch over you every day, and

   that what you have to do is to trust; and that the work of the Holy

   Spirit is to enable you. every moment to remember Jesus, and to trust

   Him! The Spirit has come to keep the link with Him unbroken every

   moment. Praise God for the Holy Ghost! We are so accustomed to think

   of the Holy Spirit as a luxury, for special times, or for special

   ministers and men. But the Holy Spirit is necessary for every

   believer, every moment of the day. Praise God you have Him, and that

   He gives you the full experience of the deliverance in Christ, as He

   makes you free from the power of sin.

 

   Who longs to have the power and the liberty of the Holy Spirit? Oh,

   brother, bow before God in one final cry of despair:

 

   "O God, must I go on sinning this way forever? Who shall deliver me, O

   wretched man that I am! from the body of this death?"

 

   Are you ready to sink before God in that cry and seek the power of

   Jesus to dwell and work in you? Are you ready to say: "I thank God

   through Jesus Christ"?

 

   What good does it do that we go to church or attend conventions, that

   we study our Bibles and pray, unless our lives are filled with the

   Holy Spirit? That is what God wants; and nothing else will enable us

   to live a life of power and peace. You know that when a minister or

   parent is using the catechism, when a question is asked an answer is

   expected. Alas! how many Christians are content with the question put

   here: "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of

   this death?" but never give the answer. Instead of answering, they are

   silent. Instead of saying: "I thank God through Jesus Christ our

   Lord," they are forever repeating the question without the answer. If

   you want the path to the full deliverance of Christ, and the liberty

   of the Spirit, the glorious liberty of the children of God, take it

   through the seventh chapter of Romans; and then say: "I thank God

   through Jesus Christ our Lord." Be not content to remain ever

   groaning, but say: "I, a wretched man, thank God, through Jesus

   Christ. Even though I do not see it all, I am going to praise God."

 

   There is deliverance, there is the liberty of the Holy Spirit. The

   kingdom of God is "joy in the Holy Ghost."

     _________________________________________________________________

 

 "HAVING BEGUN IN THE SPIRIT"

 

   The words from which I wish to address you, you will find in the

   epistle to the Galatians, the third chapter, the third verse; let us

   read the second verse also: "This only would I learn of you, Received

   ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are

   ye so foolish?" And then comes my text -- "Having begun in the Spirit,

   are ye now made perfect by the flesh?"

 

   When we speak of the quickening or the deepening or the strengthening

   of the spiritual life, we are thinking of something that is feeble and

   wrong and sinful; and it is a great thing to take our place before God

   with the confession:

 

   "Oh, God, our spiritual life is not what it should be!"

 

   May God work that in your heart, reader.

 

   As we look round about on the church we see so many indications of

   feebleness and of failure, and of sin, and of shortcoming, that we are

   compelled to ask: Why is it? Is there any necessity for the church of

   Christ to be living in such a low state? Or is it actually possible

   that God's people should be living always in the joy and strength of

   their God?

 

   Every believing heart must answer: It is possible.

 

   Then comes the great question: Why is it, how is it to be accounted

   for, that God's church as a whole is so feeble, and that the great

   majority of Christians are not living up to their privileges? There

   must be a reason for it. Has God not given Christ His Almighty Son to

   be the Keeper of every believer, to make Christ an ever-present

   reality, and to impart and communicate to us all that we have in

   Christ? God has given His Son, and God has given His Spirit. How is it

   that believers do not live up to their privileges?

 

   We find in more than one of the epistles a very solemn answer to that

   question. There are epistles, such as the first to the Thessalonians,

   where Paul writes to the Christians, in effect: "I want you to grow,

   to abound, to increase more and more." They were young, and there were

   things lacking in their faith, but their state was so far

   satisfactory, and gave him great joy, and he writes time after time:

   "I pray God that you may abound more and more; I write to you to

   increase more and more." But there are other epistles where he takes a

   very different tone, especially the epistles to the Corinthians and to

   the Galatians, and he tells them in many different ways what the one

   reason was, that they were not living as Christians ought to live;

   many were under the power of the flesh. My text is one example. He

   reminds them that by the preaching of faith they had received the Holy

   Spirit. He had preached Christ to them; they had accepted that Christ,

   and had received the Holy Spirit in power. But what happened? Having

   begun in the Spirit, they tried to perfect the work that the Spirit

   had begun in the flesh by their own effort. We find the same teaching

   in the epistle to the Corinthians.

 

   Now, we have here a solemn discovery of what the great want is in the

   church, of Christ. God has called the church of Christ to live in the

   power of the Holy Spirit, and the church is living for the most part

   in the power of human flesh, and of will and energy and effort apart

   from the Spirit of God. I doubt not that that is the case with many

   individual believers; and oh, if God will use me to give you a message

   from Him, my one message will be this: "If the church will return to

   acknowledge that the Holy Spirit is her strength and her help, and if

   the church will return to give up everything, and wait upon God to be

   filled with the Spirit, her days of beauty and gladness will return,

   and we shall see the glory of God revealed among us." This is my

   message to every individual believer: "Nothing will help you unless

   you come to understand that you must live every day under the power of

   the Holy Ghost."

 

   God wants you to be a living vessel in whom the power of the Spirit is

   to be manifested every hour and every moment of your life, and God

   will enable you to be that.

 

   Now let us try to learn that this word to the Galatians teaches us --

   some very simple thoughts. It shows us how (1) the beginning of the

   Christian life is receiving the Holy Spirit. It shows us (2) what

   great danger there is of forgetting that we are to live by the Spirit,

   and not live after the flesh. It shows us (3) what are the fruits and

   the proofs of our seeking perfection in the flesh. And then it

   suggests to us (4) the way of deliverance from this state.

 

   Receiving the Holy Spirit

 

   First of all, Paul says: "Having begun in the Spirit." Remember, the

   apostle not only preached justification by faith, but he preached

   something more. He preached this -- the epistle is full of it -- that

   justified men cannot live but by the Holy Spirit, and that therefore

   God gives to every justified man the Holy Spirit to seal him. The

   apostle says to them in effect more than once:

 

   "How did you receive the Holy Spirit? Was it by the preaching of the

   law, or by the preaching of faith?"

 

   He could point back to that time when there had been a mighty revival

   under his teaching. The power of God had been manifested, and the

   Galatians were compelled to confess:

 

   "Yes, we have got the Holy Ghost: accepting Christ by faith, by faith

   we received the Holy Spirit."

 

   Now, it is to be feared that there are many Christians who hardly know

   that when they believed, they received the Holy Ghost. A great many

   Christians can say: "I received pardon and I received peace." But if

   you were to ask them: "Have you received the Holy Ghost?" they would

   hesitate, and many, if they were to say Yes, would say it with

   hesitation; and they would tell you that they hardly knew what it was,

   since that time, to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. Let us try

   and take hold of this great truth: The beginning of the true Christian

   life is to receive the Holy Ghost. And the work of every Christian

   minister is that which was the work of Paul -- to remind his people

   that they received the Holy Ghost, and must live according to His

   guidance and in His power.

 

   If those Galatians who received the Holy Spirit in power were tempted

   to go astray by that terrible danger of perfecting in the flesh what

   had been begun in the Spirit, how much more danger do those Christians

   run who hardly ever know that they have received the Holy Spirit, or

   who, if they know it as a matter of belief, hardly ever think of it

   and hardly ever praise God for it!

 

   Neglecting the Holy Spirit

 

   But now look, in the second place, at the great danger.

 

   You all know what shunting is on a railway. A locomotive with its

   train may be run in a certain direction, and the points at some place

   may not be properly opened or closed, and unobservingly it is shunted

   off to the right or to the left. And if that takes place, for

   instance, on a dark night, the train goes in the wrong direction, and

   the people might never know it until they have gone some distance.

 

   And just so God gives Christians the Holy Spirit with this intention,

   that every day all their life should be lived in the power of the

   Spirit. A man cannot live one hour a godly life unless by the power of

   the Holy Ghost. He may live a proper, consistent life, as people call

   it, an irreproachable life, a life of virtue and diligent service; but

   to live a life acceptable to God, in the enjoyment of God's salvation

   and God's love, to live and walk in the power of the new life -- he

   cannot do it unless he be guided by the Holy Spirit every day and

   every hour.

 

   But now listen to the danger. The Galatians received the Holy Ghost,

   but what was begun by the Spirit they tried to perfect in the flesh.

   How? They fell back again under Judaizing teachers who told them they

   must be circumcised. They began to seek their religion in external

   observances. And so Paul uses that expression about those teachers who

   had them circumcised, that "they sought to glory in their flesh."

 

   You sometimes hear the expression used, religious flesh. What is meant

   by that? It is simply an expression made to give utterance to this

   thought: My human nature and my human will and my human effort can be

   very active in religion, and after being converted, and after

   receiving the Holy Ghost, I may begin in my own strength to try to

   serve God.

 

   I may be very diligent and doing a great deal, and yet all the time it

   is more the work of human flesh than of God's Spirit. What a solemn

   thought, that man can, without noticing it, be shunted off from the

   line of the Holy Ghost on to the line of the flesh; that he can be

   most diligent and make great sacrifices, and yet it is all in the

   power of the human will! Ah, the great question for us to ask of God

   in self-examination is that we may be shown whether our religious life

   is lived more in the power of the flesh than in the power of the Holy

   Spirit. A man may be a preacher, he may work most diligently in his

   ministry, a man may be a Christian worker, and others may tell of him

   that he makes great sacrifices, and yet you can feel there is a want

   about it. You feel that he is not a spiritual man; there is no

   spirituality about his life. How many Christians there are about whom

   no one would ever think of saying: "What a spiritual man he is!" Ah!

   there is the weakness of the Church of Christ. It is all in that one

   word -- flesh.

 

   Now, the flesh may manifest itself in many ways. It may be manifested

   in fleshly wisdom. My mind may be most active about religion. I may

   preach or write or think or meditate, and delight in being occupied

   with things in God's Book and in God's Kingdom; and yet the power of

   the Holy Ghost may be markedly absent. I fear that if you take the

   preaching throughout the Church of Christ and ask why there is, alas!

   so little converting power in the preaching of the Word, why there is

   so much work and often so little result for eternity, why the Word has

   so little power to build up believers in holiness and in

   consecration-the answer will come: It is the absence of the power of

   the Holy Ghost. And why is this? There can be no other reason but that

   the flesh and human energy have taken the place that the Holy Ghost

   ought to have. That was true of the Galatians, it was true of the

   Corinthians. You know Paul said to them: "I cannot speak to you as to

   spiritual men; you ought to be spiritual men, but you are carnal." And

   you know how often in the course of his epistles he had to reprove and

   condemn them for strife and for divisions.

 

   Lacking the Fruit of the Holy Spirit

 

   A third thought: What are the proofs or indications that a church like

   the Galatians, or a Christian, is serving God in the power of the

   flesh -- is perfecting in the flesh what was begun in the Spirit?

 

   The answer is very easy. Religious self-effort always ends in sinful

   flesh. What was the state of those Galatians? Striving to be justified

   by the works of the law. And yet they were quarreling and in danger of

   devouring one another. Count up the expressions that the apostle uses

   to indicate their want of love, and you will find more than twelve --

   envy, jealousy, bitterness, strife, and all sorts of expressions. Read

   in the fourth and fifth chapters what he says about that. You see how

   they tried to serve God in their own strength, and they failed

   utterly. All this religious effort resulted in failure. The power of

   sin and the sinful flesh got the better of them, and their whole

   condition was one of the saddest that could be thought of.

 

   This comes to us with unspeakable solemnity. There is a complaint

   everywhere in the Christian Church of the want of a high standard of

   integrity and godliness, even among the professing members of

   Christian churches. I remember a sermon which I heard preached on

   commercial morality. And, oh, if we speak not only of the commercial

   morality or immorality, but if we go into the homes of Christians, and

   if we think of the life to which God has called His children, and

   which He enables them to live by the Holy Ghost, and if we think of

   how much, nevertheless, there is of unlovingness and temper and

   sharpness and bitterness, and if we think how much there is very often

   of strife among the members of churches, and how much there is of envy

   and jealousy and sensitiveness and pride, then we are compelled to

   say: "Where are marks of the presence of the Spirit of the Lamb of

   God?" Wanting, sadly wanting!

 

   Many people speak of these things as though they were the natural

   result of our feebleness and cannot well be helped. Many people speak

   of these things as sins, yet have given up the hope of conquering

   them'. Many people speak of these things in the church around them,

   and do not see the least prospect of ever having the things changed.

   There is no prospect until there comes a radical change, until the

   Church of God begins to see that every sin in the believer comes from

   the flesh, from a fleshly life midst our religious activities, from a

   striving in self-effort to serve God. Until we learn to make

   confession, and until we begin to see, we must somehow or other get

   God's Spirit in power back to His Church, we must fail. Where did the

   Church begin in Pentecost? There they began in the Spirit. But, alas,

   how the Church of the next century went off into the flesh! They

   thought to perfect the Church in the flesh.

 

   Do not let us think, because the blessed Reformation restored the

   great doctrine of justification by faith, that the power of the Holy

   Spirit was then fully restored. If it is our faith that God is going

   to have mercy on His Church in these last ages, it will be because the

   doctrine and the truth about the Holy Spirit will not only be studied,

   but sought after with a whole heart; and not only because that truth

   will be sought after, but because ministers and congregations will be

   found bowing before God in deep abasement with one cry: "We have

   grieved God's Spirit; we have tried to be Christian churches with as

   little as possible of God's Spirit; we have not sought to be churches

   filled with the Holy Ghost."

 

   All the feebleness in the Church is owing to the refusal of the Church

   to obey its God.

 

   And why is that so? I know your answer. You say: "We are too feeble

   and too helpless, and we try to obey, and we vow to obey, but somehow

   we fail."

 

   Ah, yes; you fail because you do not accept the strength of God. God

   alone can work out His will in you. You cannot work out God's will,

   but His Holy Spirit can; and until the Church, until believers grasp

   this, and cease trying by human effort to do God's will, and wait upon

   the Holy Spirit to come with all His omnipotent and enabling power,

   the Church will never be what God wants her to be, and what God is

   willing to make of her.

 

   Yielding to the Holy Spirit

 

   I come now to my last thought, the question: What is the way to

   restoration?

 

   Beloved friend, the answer is simple and easy. If that train has been

   shunted off, there is nothing for it but to come back to the point at

   which it was led away. The Galatians had no other way in returning but

   to come back to where they had gone wrong, to come back from all

   religious effort in their own strength, and from seeking anything by

   their own work, and to yield themselves humbly to the Holy Spirit.

   There is no other way for us as individuals.

 

   Is there any brother or sister whose heart is conscious: "Alas! my

   life knows but little of the power of the Holy Ghost"? I come to you

   with God's message that you can have no conception of what your life

   would be in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is too high and too

   blessed and too wonderful, but I bring you the message that just as

   truly as the everlasting Son of God came to this world and wrought His

   wonderful works, that just as truly as on Calvary He died and wrought

   out your redemption by His precious blood, so, just as truly, can the

   Holy Spirit come into your heart that with His divine power He may

   sanctify you and enable you to do God's blessed will, and fill your

   heart with joy and with strength. But, alas! we have forgotten, we

   have grieved, we have dishonored the Holy Spirit, and He has not been

   able to do His work. But I bring you the message: The Father in Heaven

   loves to fill His children with His Holy Spirit. God longs to give

   each one individually, separately, the power of the Holy Spirit for

   daily life. The command comes to us individually, unitedly. God wants

   us as His children to arise and place our sins before Him, and to call

   upon Him for mercy. Oh, are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit,

   are ye perfecting in the flesh that which was begun in the Spirit? Let

   us bow in shame, and confess before God how our fleshly religion, our

   self-effort, and self-confidence, have been the cause of every

   failure.

 

   I have often been asked by young Christians: "Why is it that I fail

   so? I did so solemnly vow with my whole heart, and did desire to serve

   God; why have I failed?"

 

   To such I always give the one answer: "My dear friend, you are trying

   to do in your own strength what Christ alone can do in you."

 

   And when they tell me: "I am sure I knew Christ alone could do it, I

   was not trusting in myself," my answer always is:

 

   "You were trusting in yourself or you could not have failed. If you

   had trusted Christ, He could not fail."

 

   Oh, this perfecting in the flesh what was begun in the Spirit runs far

   deeper through us than we know. Let us ask God to discover to us that

   it is only when we are brought to utter shame and emptiness that we

   shall be prepared to receive the blessing that comes from on high.

 

   And so I come with these two questions. Are you living, beloved

   brother-minister -- I ask it of every minister of the Gospel -- are

   you living under the power of the Holy Ghost? Are you living as an

   anointed, Spirit-filled man in your ministry and your life before God?

   O brethren, our place is an awful one. We have to show people what God

   will do for us, not in our words and teaching, but in our life. God

   help us to do it!

 

   I ask it of every member of Christ's Church and of every believer: Are

   you living a life under the power of the Holy Spirit day by day, or

   are you attempting to live without that? Remember you cannot. Are you

   consecrated, given up to the Spirit to work in you and to live in you?

   Oh, come and confess every failure of temper, every failure of tongue

   however small, every failure owing to the absence of the Holy Spirit

   and the presence of the power of self. Are you consecrated, are you

   given up to the Holy Spirit?

 

   If your answer be No, then I come with a second question -- Are you

   willing to be consecrated? Are you willing to give up yourself to the

   power of the Holy Spirit?

 

   You well know that the human side of consecration will not help you. I

   may consecrate myself a hundred times with all the intensity of my

   being, and that will not help me. What will help me is this -- that

   God from Heaven accepts and seals the consecration.

 

   And now are you willing to give yourselves up to the Holy Spirit? You

   can do it now. A great deal may still be dark and dim, and beyond what

   we understand, and you may feel nothing; but come. God alone can

   effect the change. God alone, who gave us the Holy Spirit, can restore

   the Holy Spirit in power into our life. God alone can "strengthen us

   with might by his Spirit in the inner man." And to every waiting heart

   that will make the sacrifice, and give up everything, and give time to

   cry and pray to God, the answer will come. The blessing is not far

   off. Our God delights to help us. He will enable us to perfect, not in

   the flesh, but in the Spirit, what was begun in the Spirit.

     _________________________________________________________________

 

KEPT BY THE POWER OF GOD

 

   The words from which I speak, you will find in I Peter 1:5. The third,

   fourth and fifth verses are: "Blessed be the God and Father of our

   Lord Jesus Christ, which ... hath begotten us again unto a lively hope

   by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance

   incorruptible ... reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the

   power of God through faith unto salvation." The words of my text are:

   "Kept by the power of God through faith."

 

   There we have two wonderful, blessed truths about the keeping by which

   a believer is kept unto salvation. One truth is, Kept by the power of

   God; and the other truth is, Kept through faith. We should look at the

   two sides -- at God's side and His almighty power, offered to us to be

   our Keeper every moment of the day; and at the human side, we having

   nothing to do but in faith to let God do His keeping work. We are

   begotten again to an inheritance kept in Heaven for us; and we are

   kept here on earth by the power of God. We see there is a double

   keeping -- the inheritance kept for me in Heaven, and I on earth kept

   for the inheritance there.

 

   Now, as to the first part of this keeping, there is no doubt and no

   question. God keeps the inheritance in Heaven very wonderfully and

   perfectly, and it is waiting there safely. And the same God keeps me

   for the inheritance. That is what I want to understand.

 

   You know it is very foolish of a father to take great trouble to have

   an inheritance for his children, and to keep it for them, if he does

   not keep them for it. What would you think of a man spending his whole

   time and making every sacrifice to amass money, and as he gets his

   tens of thousands, you ask him why it is that he sacrifices himself

   so, and his answer is: "I want to leave my children a large

   inheritance, and I am keeping it for them" -- if you were then to hear

   that that man takes no trouble to educate his children, that he allows

   them to run upon the street wild, and to go on in paths of sin and

   ignorance and folly, what would you think of him? Would not you say:

   "Poor man! he is keeping an inheritance for his children, but he is

   not keeping or preparing his children for the inheritance"! And there

   are so many Christians who think: "My God is keeping the inheritance

   for me"; but they cannot believe: "My God is keeping me for that

   inheritance." The same power, the same love, the same God doing the

   double work.

 

   Now, I want to speak about a work God does upon us -- keeping us for

   the inheritance. I have already said that we have two very simple

   truths: the one the divine side -- we are kept by the power of God;

   the other, the human side -- we are kept through faith.

 

   Kept by the Power of God

 

   Look at the divine side: Christians are kept by the power of God.

 

  Keeping Includes All

 

   Think, first of all, that this keeping is all-inclusive.

 

   What is kept? You are kept. How much of you? The whole being. Does God

   keep one part of you and not another? No. Some people have an idea

   that this is a sort of vague, general keeping, and that God will keep

   them in such a way that when they die they will get to Heaven. But

   they do not apply that word kept to everything in their being and

   nature. And yet that is what God wants.

 

   Here I have a watch. Suppose that this watch had been borrowed from a

   friend, and he said to me:

 

   "When you go to Europe, I will let you take it with you, but mind you

   keep it safely and bring it back."

 

   And suppose I damaged the watch, and had the hands broken, and the

   face defaced, and some of the wheels and springs spoiled, and took it

   back in that condition, and handed it to my friend; he would say:

 

   "Ah, but I gave you that watch on condition that you would keep it."

 

   "Have I not kept it? There is the watch."

 

   "But I did not want you to keep it in that general way, so that you

   should bring me back only the shell of the watch, or the remains. I

   expected you to keep every part of it."

 

   And so God does not want to keep us in this general way, so that at

   the last, somehow or other, we shall. be saved as by fire, and just

   get into Heaven. But the keeping power and the love of God applies to

   every particular of our being.

 

   There are some people who think God will keep them in spiritual

   things, but not in temporal things. This latter, they say, lies

   outside of His line. Now, God sends you to work in the world, but He

   did not say: "I must now leave you to go and earn your own money, and

   to get your livelihood for yourself." He knows you are not able to

   keep yourself. But God says: "My child, there is no work you are to

   do, and no business in which you are engaged, and not a cent which you

   are to spend, but I, your Father, will take that up into my keeping."

   God not only cares for the spiritual, but for the temporal also. The

   greater part of the life of many people must be spent, sometimes eight

   or nine or ten hours a day, amid the temptations and distractions of

   business; but God will care for you there. The keeping of God includes

   all.

 

   There are other people who think: "Ah! in time of trial God keeps me,

   but in times of prosperity I do not need His keeping; then I forget

   Him and let Him go." Others, again, think the very opposite. They

   think: "In time of prosperity, when things are smooth and quiet, I am

   able to cling to God, but when heavy trials come, somehow or other my

   will rebels, and God does not keep me then."

 

   Now, I bring you the message that in prosperity as in adversity, in

   the sunshine as in the dark, your God is ready to keep you all the

   time.

 

   Then again, there are others who think of this keeping thus: "God will

   keep me from doing very great wickedness, but there are small sins I

   cannot expect God to keep me from. There is the sin of temper. I

   cannot expect God to conquer that."

 

   When you hear of some man who has been tempted and gone astray or

   fallen into drunkenness or murder, you thank God for His keeping

   power.

 

   "I might have done the same as that man," you say, "if God had not

   kept me." And you believe He kept you from drunkenness and murder.

 

   And why do you not need believe that God can keep you from outbreaks

   of temper? You thought that this was of less importance; you did not

   remember that the great commandment of the New Testament is -- "Love

   one another as I have loved you." And when your temper and hasty

   judgment and sharp words came out, you sinned against the highest law

   -- the law of God's love. And yet you say: "God will not, God cannot"

   -- no, you will not say, God cannot; but you say, "God does not keep

   me from that." You perhaps say: "He can; but there is something in me

   that cannot attain to it, and which God does not take away."

 

   I want to ask you, Can believers live a holier life than is generally

   lived? Can believers experience the keeping power of God all the day,

   to keep them from sin? Can believers be kept in fellowship with God?

   And I bring you a message from the Word of God, in these words: Kept

   by the power of God. There is no qualifying clause to them. The

   meaning is, that if you will entrust yourself entirely and absolutely

   to the omnipotence of God, He will delight to keep you.

 

   Some people think that they never can get so far as that every word of

   their mouth should be to the glory of God. But it is what God wants of

   them, it is what God expects of them. God is willing to set a watch at

   the door of their mouth, and if God will do that, cannot He keep their

   tongue and their lips? He can; and that is what God is going to do for

   them that trust Him. God's keeping is all-inclusive, and let everyone

   who longs to live a holy life think out all their needs, and all their

   weaknesses, and all their shortcomings, and all their sins, and say

   deliberately: "Is there any sin that my God cannot keep me from?" And

   the heart will have to answer: "No; God can keep me from every sin."

 

  Keeping Requires Power

 

   Second, if you want to understand this keeping, remember that it is

   not only an all-inclusive keeping, but it is an almighty keeping.

 

   I want to get that truth burned into my soul; I want to worship God

   until my whole heart is filled with the thought of His omnipotence.

   God is almighty, and the Almighty God offers Himself to work in my

   heart, to do the work of keeping me; and I want to get linked with

   Omnipotence, or rather, linked to the Omnipotent One, to the living

   God, and to have my place in the hollow of His hand. You read the

   Psalms, and you think of the wonderful thoughts in many of the

   expressions that David uses; as, for instance, when he speaks about

   God being our God, our Fortress, our Refuge, our strong Tower, our

   Strength and our Salvation. David had very wonderful views of how the

   everlasting God is Himself the hiding place of the believing soul, and

   of how He takes the believer and keeps him in the very hollow of His

   hand, in the secret of His pavilion, under the shadow of His wings,

   under His very feathers. And there David lived. And oh, we who are the

   children of Pentecost, we who have known Christ and His blood and the

   Holy Ghost sent down from Heaven, why is it we know so little of what

   it is to walk tremblingly step by step with the Almighty God as our

   Keeper?

 

   Have you ever thought that in every action of grace in your heart you

   have the whole omnipotence of God engaged to bless you? When I come to

   a man and he bestows upon me a gift of money, I get it and go away

   with it. He has given me something of his; the rest he keeps for

   himself. But that is not the way with the power of God. God can part

   with nothing of His own power, and therefore I can experience the

   power and goodness of God only so far as I am in contact and

   fellowship with Himself; and when I come into contact and fellowship

   with Himself, I come into contact and fellowship with the whole

   omnipotence of God, and have the omnipotence of God to help me every

   day.

 

   A son has, perhaps, a very rich father, and as the former is about to

   commence business the father says: "You can have as much money as you

   want for your undertaking." All the father has is at the disposal of

   the son. And that is the way with God, your Almighty God. You can

   hardly take it in; you feel yourself such a little worm. His

   omnipotence needed to keep a little worm! Yes, His omnipotence is

   needed to keep every little worm that lives in the dust, and also to

   keep the universe, and therefore His omnipotence is much more needed

   in keeping your soul and mine from the power of sin.

 

   Oh, if you want to grow in grace, do learn to begin here. In all your

   judgings and meditations and thoughts and deeds and questionings and

   studies and prayers, learn to be kept by your Almighty God. What is

   Almighty God not going to do for the child that trusts Him? The Bible

   says: "Above all that we can ask or think." It is Omnipotence you must

   learn to know and trust, and then you will live as a Christian ought

   to live. How little we have learned to study God, and to understand

   that a godly life is a life full of God, a life that loves God and

   waits on Him, and trusts Him, and allows Him to bless it! We cannot do

   the will of God except by the power of God. God gives us the first

   experience of His power to prepare us to long for more, and to come

   and claim all that He can do. God help us to trust Him every day.

 

  Keeping Is Continuous

 

   Another thought. This keeping is not only all-inclusive and

   omnipotent, but also continuous and unbroken. I

 

   People sometimes say: "For a week or a month God has kept me very

   wonderfully: I have lived in the light of His countenance, and I

   cannot say what joy I have not had in fellowship with Him. He has

   blessed me in my work for others. He has given me souls, and at times

   I felt as if I were carried heavenward eagle wings. But it did not

   continue. It was too good; it could not last." And some say: "It was

   necessary that I should fall to keep me humble." And others say: "I

   know it was my own fault; but somehow you cannot always live up in the

   heights."

 

   Oh, beloved, why is it? Can there by any reason why the keeping of God

   should not be continuous and unbroken? just think. All life is in

   unbroken continuity. If my life were stopped for half an hour I would

   be dead, and my life gone. Life is a continuous thing, and the life of

   God is the life of His Church, and the life of God is His almighty

   power working in us. And God comes to us as the Almighty One, and

   without any condition He offers to be my Keeper, and His keeping means

   that day by day, moment by moment, God is going to keep us.

 

   If I were to ask you the question: "Do you think God is able to keep

   you one day from actual transgression?" you would answer: "I not only

   know He is able to do it, but I think He has done it. There have been

   days in which He has kept my heart in His holy presence, when, though

   I have always had a sinful nature within me, He has kept me from

   conscious, actual transgression."

 

   Now, if He can do that for an hour or a day, why not for two days? Oh!

   let us make God's omnipotence as revealed in His Word the measure of

   our expectations. Has God not said in His Word: "I, the Lord, do keep

   it, and will water it every moment"? What can that mean? Does "every

   moment" mean every moment? Did God promise of that vineyard or red

   wine that every moment He would water it so that the heat of the sun

   and the scorching wind might never dry it up? Yes. In South Africa

   they sometimes make a graft, and above it they tie a bottle of water,

   so that now and then there shall be a drop to saturate what they have

   put about it. And so the moisture is kept there unceasingly until the

   graft has had time to stroke, and resist the heat of the sun.

 

   Will our God, in His tenderhearted love toward us, not keep us every

   moment when He has promised to do so? Oh! if we once got hold of the

   thought: Our whole religious life is to be God's doing -- "It is God

   that worketh in us to will and to do of his good pleasure" -- when

   once we get faith to expect that from God, God will do all for us.

 

   The keeping is to be continuous. Every morning God will meet you as

   you wake. It is not a question: If I forgot to wake in the morning

   with the thought of. Him, what will come of it? If you trust your

   waking to God, God will meet you in the morning as you wake with His

   divine sunshine and love, and He will give you the consciousness that

   through the day you have got God to take charge of you continuously

   with His almighty power. And God will meet you the next day and every

   day; and never mind if in the practice of fellowship there comes

   failure sometimes. If you maintain your position and say: "Lord, I am

   going to expect Thee to do Thy utmost, and I am going to trust Thee

   day by day to keep me absolutely," your faith will grow stronger and

   stronger, and you will know the keeping power of God in unbrokenness.

 

   Kept Through Faith

 

   And now the other side -- Believing. "Kept by the power of God through

   faith." How must we look at this faith?

 

  Faith Implies Helplessness

 

   Let me say, first of all, that this faith means utter impotence and

   helplessness before God.

 

   At the bottom of all faith there is a feeling of helplessness. If I

   have a bit of business to transact, perhaps to buy a house, the

   conveyancer must do the work of getting the transfer of the property

   in my name, and making all the arrangements. I cannot do that work,

   and in trusting that agent I confess I cannot do it. And so faith

   always means helplessness. In many cases it means: I can do it with a

   great deal of trouble, but another can do it better. But in most cases

   it is utter helplessness; another must do it for me. And that is the

   secret of the spiritual life. A man must learn to say: "I give up

   everything; I have tried and longed, and thought and prayed, but

   failure has come. God has blessed me and helped me, but still, in the

   long run, there has been so much of sin and sadness." What a change

   comes when a man is thus broken down into utter helplessness and

   self-despair, and says: "I can do nothing!"

 

   Remember Paul. He was living a blessed life, and he had been taken up

   into the third Heaven, and then the thorn in the flesh came, "a

   messenger of Satan to buffet me." And what happened? Paul could not

   understand it, and he prayed the Lord three times to take it away; but

   the Lord said, in effect:

 

   "No; it is possible that you might exalt yourself, and therefore I

   have sent you this trial to keep you weak and humble."

 

   And Paul then learned a lesson that he never forgot, and that was --

   to rejoice in his infirmities. He said that the weaker he was the

   better it was for him, for when he was weak, he was strong in his Lord

   Christ.

 

   Do you want to enter what people call "the higher life"? Then go a

   step lower down. I remember Dr. Boardman telling how that once he was

   invited by a gentleman to go to see some works where they made fine

   shot, and I believe the workmen did so by pouring down molten lead

   from a great height. This gentleman wanted to take Dr. Boardman up to

   the top of the tower to see how the work was done. The doctor came to

   the tower, he entered by the door, and began going upstairs; but when

   he had gone a few steps the gentleman called out:

 

   "That is the wrong way. You must come down this way; that stair is

   locked up."

 

   The gentleman took him downstairs a good many steps, and there an

   elevator was ready to take him to the top; and he said:

 

   "I have learned a lesson that going down is often the best way to get

   up."

 

   Ah, yes, God will have to bring us very low down; there will have to

   come upon us a sense of emptiness and despair and nothingness. It is

   when we sink down in utter helplessness that the everlasting God will

   reveal Himself in His power, and that our hearts will learn to trust

   God alone.

 

   What is it that keeps us from trusting Him perfectly?

 

   Many a one says: "I believe what you say, but there is one difficulty.

   If my trust were perfect and always abiding, all would come right, for

   I know God will honor trust. But how am I to get that trust?"

 

   My answer is: "By the death of self. The great hindrance to trust is

   self-effort. So long as you have got your own wisdom and thoughts and

   strength, you cannot fully trust God. But when God breaks you down,

   when everything begins to grow dim before your eyes, and you see that

   you understand nothing, then God is coming nigh, and if you will bow

   down in nothingness and wait upon God, He will become all."

 

   As long as we are something, God cannot be all, and His omnipotence

   cannot do its full work. That is the beginning of faith -- utter

   despair of self, a ceasing from man and everything on earth, and

   finding our hope in God alone.

 

  Faith Is Rest

 

   And then, next, we must understand that faith is rest.

 

   In the beginning of the faith-life, faith is struggling; but as long

   as faith is struggling, faith has not attained its strength. But when

   faith in its struggling gets to the end of itself, and just throws

   itself upon God and rests on Him, then comes joy and victory.

 

   Perhaps I can make it plainer if I tell the story of how the Keswick

   Convention began. Canon Battersby was an evangelical clergyman of the

   Church of England for more than twenty years, a man of deep and tender

   godliness, but he had not the consciousness of rest and victory over

   sin, and often was deeply sad at the thought of stumbling and failure

   and sin. When he heard about the possibility of victory, he felt it

   was desirable, but it was as if he could not attain it. On one

   occasion. he heard an address on "Rest and Faith" from the story of

   the nobleman who came from Capernaum to Cana to ask Christ to heal his

   child. In the address it was shown that the nobleman believed that

   Christ could help him in a general way, but he came to Jesus a good

   deal by way of an experiment. He hoped Christ would help him, but he

   had not any assurance of that help. But what happened? When Christ

   said to him: "Go thy way, for thy child liveth," that man believed the

   word that Jesus spoke; he rested in that word. He had no proof that

   his child was well again, and he had to walk back seven hours' journey

   to Capernaum. He walked back, and on the way met his servant, and got

   the first news that the child was well, that at one o'clock on the

   afternoon of the previous day, at the very time that Jesus spoke to

   him, the fever left the child. That father rested upon the word of

   Jesus and His work, and he went down to Capernaum and found his child

   well; and he praised God, and became with his whole house a believer

   and disciple of Jesus.

 

   Oh, friends, that is faith! When God comes to me with the promise of

   His keeping, and I have nothing on earth to trust in, I say to God:

   "Thy word is enough; kept by the power of God." That is faith, that is

   rest.

 

   When Canon Battersby heard that address, he went home that night, and

   in the darkness of the night found rest. He rested on the word of

   Jesus. And the next morning, in the streets of Oxford, he said to a

   friend: "I have found it!" Then he went and told others, and asked

   that the Keswick Convention might be begun, and those at the

   convention with himself should testify simply what God had done.

 

   It is a great thing when a man comes to rest on God's almighty power

   for every moment of his life, in prospect of temptations to temper and

   haste and anger and unlovingness and pride and sin. It is a great

   thing in prospect of these to enter into a covenant with the

   omnipotent Jehovah, not on account of anything that any man says, or

   of anything that my heart feels, but on the strength of the Word of

   God: "Kept by the power of God through faith."

 

   Oh, let us say to God that we are going to prove Him to the very

   uttermost. Let us say: We ask Thee for nothing more than Thou canst

   give, but we want nothing less. Let us say: My God, let my life be a

   proof of what the omnipotent God can do. Let these be the two

   dispositions of our souls every day -- deep helplessness, and simple,

   childlike rest.

 

  Faith Needs Fellowship

 

   That brings me to just one more thought in regard to faith -- faith

   implies fellowship with God.

 

   Many people want to take the Word and believe that, and they find they

   cannot believe it. Ah, no! you cannot separate God from His Word. No

   goodness or power can be received separate from God, and if you want

   to get into this life of godliness, you must take time for fellowship

   with God.

 

   People sometimes tell me: "My life is one of such scurry and bustle

   that I have no time for fellowship with God." A dear missionary said

   to me: "People do not know how we missionaries are tempted. I get up

   at five o'clock in the morning, and there are the natives waiting for

   their orders for work. Then I have to go to the school and spend hours

   there; and then there is other work, and sixteen hours rush along, and

   I hardly get time to be alone with God."

 

   Ah! there is the want. I pray you, remember two things. I have not

   told you to trust the omnipotence of God as a thing, and I have not

   told you to trust the Word of God as a written book, but I have told

   you to go to the God of omnipotence and the God of the Word. Deal with

   God as that nobleman dealt with the living Christ. Why was he able to

   believe the word that Christ spoke to him? Because in the very eyes

   and tones and voice of Jesus, the Son of God, he saw and heard

   something which made him feel that he could trust Him. And that is

   what Christ can do for you and me. Do not try to stir and arouse faith

   from within. How often I have tried to do that, and made a fool of

   myself! You cannot stir up faith from the depths of your heart. Leave

   your heart, and look into the face of Christ, and listen to what He

   tells you about how He will keep you. Look up into the face of your

   loving Father, and take time every day with Him, and begin a new life

   with the deep emptiness and poverty of a man who has got nothing, and

   who wants to get everything from Him -- with the deep restfulness of a

   man who rests on the living God, the omnipotent Jehovah -- and try

   God, and prove Him if He will not open the windows of Heaven and pour

   out a blessing that there shall not be room to receive it.

 

   I close by asking if you are willing to experience to the very full

   the heavenly keeping for the heavenly inheritance? Robert Murray

   M'Cheyne says, somewhere: "Oh, God, make me as holy as a pardoned

   sinner can be made." And if that prayer is in your heart, come now,

   and let us enter into a covenant with the everlasting and omnipotent

   Jehovah afresh, and in great helplessness, but in great restfulness

   place ourselves in His hands. And then as we enter into our covenant,

   let us have the one prayer -- that we may believe fully that the

   everlasting God is going to be our Companion, holding our hand every

   moment of the day; our Keeper, watching over us without a moment's

   interval; our Father, delighting to reveal Himself in our souls

   always. He has the power to let the sunshine of His love be with us

   all the day. Do not be afraid because you have got your business that

   you cannot have God with you always. Learn the lesson that the natural

   sun shines upon you all the day, and you enjoy its light, and wherever

   you are you have got the sun; God takes care that it shines upon you.

   And God will take care that His own divine light shines upon you, and

   that you shall abide in that light, if you will only trust Him for it.

   Let us trust God to do that with a great and entire trust.

 

   Here is the omnipotence of God, and here is faith reaching out to the

   measure of that omnipotence. Shall we not say: "All that that

   omnipotence can do, I am going to trust my God for"? Are not the two

   sides of this heavenly life wonderful? God's omnipotence covers me,

   and my will in its littleness rests in that omnipotence, and rejoices

   in it!

 

 

                   Moment by moment, I'm kept in His love;

 

                   Moment by moment, I've life from above;

 

                   Looking to Jesus, the glory doth shine;

 

                   Moment by moment, Oh, Lord, I am Thine!

     _________________________________________________________________

 

 "YE ARE THE BRANCHES"

 

   An Address to Christian Workers

 

 

   Everything depends on our being right ourselves in Christ. If I want

   good apples, I must have a good apple tree; and if I care for the

   health of the apple tree, the apple tree will give me good apples. And

   it is just so with our Christian life and work. If our life with

   Christ be right, all will come right. There may be the need of

   instruction and suggestion and help and training in the different

   departments of the work; all that has value. But in the long run, the

   greatest essential is to have the full life in Christ -- in other

   words, to have Christ in us, working through us. I know how much there

   often is to disturb us, or to cause anxious questionings; but the

   Master has such a blessing for every one of us, and such perfect peace

   and rest, and such joy and strength, if we can only come into, and be

   kept in, the right attitude toward Him.

 

   I will take my text from the parable of the Vine and the Branches, in

   John 15:5: "I am the vine, ye are the branches." Especially these

   words: "Ye are the branches."

 

   What a simple thing it is to be a branch, the branch of a tree, or the

   branch of a vine! The branch grows out of the vine, or out of the

   tree, and there it lives and grows, and in due time, bears fruit. It

   has no responsibility except just to receive from the root and stem

   sap and nourishment. And if we only by the Holy Spirit knew our

   relationship to Jesus Christ, our work would be changed into the

   brightest and most heavenly thing upon earth. Instead of there ever

   being soul-weariness or exhaustion, our work would be like a new

   experience, linking us to Jesus as nothing else can. For, alas! is it

   not often true that our work comes between us and Jesus? What folly!

   The very work that He has to do in me, and I for Him, I take up in

   such a way that it separates me from Christ. Many a laborer in the

   vineyard has complained that he has too much work, and not time for

   close communion with Jesus, and that his usual work weakens his

   inclination for prayer, and that his too much intercourse with men

   darkens the spiritual life. Sad thought, that the bearing of fruit

   should separate the branch from the vine! That must be because we have

   looked upon our work as something other than the branch bearing fruit.

   May God deliver us from every false thought about the Christian life.

 

   Now, just a few thoughts about this blessed branch-life.

 

   Absolute Dependence

 

   In the first place, it is a life of absolute dependence. The branch

   has nothing; it just depends upon the vine for everything. Absolute

   dependence is one of the most solemn and precious of thoughts. A great

   German theologian wrote two large volumes some years ago to show that

   the whole of Calvin's theology is summed up in that one principle of

   absolute dependence upon God; and he was right. Another great writer

   has said that absolute, unalterable dependence upon God alone is the

   essence of the religion of angels, and should be that of men also. God

   is everything to the angels, and He is willing to be everything to the

   Christian. If I can learn every moment of the day to depend upon God,

   everything will come right. You will get the higher life if you depend

   absolutely upon God.

 

   Now, here we find it with the vine and the branches. Every vine you

   ever see, or every bunch of grapes that comes upon your table, let it

   remind you that the branch is absolutely dependent on the vine. The

   vine has to do the work, and the branch enjoys the fruit of it.

 

   What has the vine to do? It has to do a great work. It has to send its

   roots out into the soil and hunt under the ground -- the roots often

   extend a long way out -- for nourishment, and to drink in the

   moisture. Put certain elements of manure in certain directions, and

   the vine sends its roots there, and then in its roots or sterns it

   turns the moisture and manure into that special sap which is to make

   the fruit that is borne. The vine does the work, and the branch has

   just to receive from the vine the sap, which is changed into grapes. I

   have been told that at Hampton Court, London, there is a vine that

   sometimes bore a couple of thousand bunches of grapes, and people were

   astonished at its large growth and rich fruitage. Afterward it was

   discovered what was the cause of it. Not so very far away runs the

   River Thames, and the vine had stretched its roots away hundreds of

   yards under the ground, until it had come to the riverside, and there

   in all the rich slime of the riverbed it had found rich nourishment,

   and obtained moisture, and the roots had drown the sap all that

   distance up and up into the vine, and as a result there was the

   abundant, rich harvest. The vine had the work to do, and the branches

   had just to depend upon the vine, and receive what it gave.

 

   Is that literally true of my Lord Jesus? Must I understand that when I

   have to work, when I have to preach a sermon, or address a Bible

   class, or to go out and visit the poor, neglected ones, that all the

   responsibility of the work is on Christ?

 

   That is exactly what Christ wants you to understand. Christ wants that

   in all your work, the very foundation should be the simple, blessed

   consciousness: Christ must care for all.

 

   And how does He fulfill the trust of that dependence? He does it by

   sending down the Holy Spirit -- not now and then only as a special

   gift, for remember the relationship between the vine and the branches

   is such that hourly, daily, unceasingly there is the living connection

   maintained. The sap does not flow for a time, and then stop, and then

   flow again, but from moment to moment the sap flows from the vine to

   the branches. And just so, my Lord Jesus wants me to take that blessed

   position as a worker, and morning by morning and day by day and hour

   by hour and step by step, in every work I have to go out to just to

   abide before Him in the simple utter helplessness of one who knows

   nothing, and is nothing, and can do nothing. Oh, beloved workers,

   study that word nothing. You sometimes sing: "Oh, to be nothing,

   nothing"; but have you really studied that word and prayed every day,

   and worshiped God, in the light of it? Do you know the blessedness of

   that word nothing?

 

   If I am something, then God is not everything; but when I become

   nothing, God can become all, and the everlasting God in Christ can

   reveal Himself fully. That is the higher life. We need to become

   nothing. Someone has well said that the seraphim and cherubim are

   flames of fire because they know they are nothing, and they allow God

   to put His fullness and His glory and brightness into them. Oh, become

   nothing in deep reality, and, as a worker, study only one thing-to

   become poorer and lower and more helpless, that Christ may work all in

   you.

 

   Workers, here is your first lesson: learn to be nothing, learn to be

   helpless. The man who has got something is not absolutely dependent;

   but the man who has got nothing is absolutely dependent. Absolute

   dependence upon God is the secret of all power in work. The branch has

   nothing but what it gets from the vine, and you and I can have nothing

   but what we get from Jesus.

 

   Deep Restfulness

 

   But second, the life of the branch is not only a life of entire

   dependence, but of deep restfulness.

 

   That little branch, if it could think, and if it could feel, and if it

   could speak -- that branch away in Hampton Court vine, or on some of

   the million vines that we have in South Africa, in our sunny land --

   if we could have a little branch here today to talk to us, and if we

   could say: "Come, branch of the vine, I want to learn from you how I

   can be a true branch of the living Vine," what would it answer? The

   little branch would whisper:

 

   "Man, I hear that you are wise, and I know that you can do a great

   many wonderful things. I know you have much strength and wisdom given

   to you but I have one lesson for you. With all your hurry and effort

   in Christ's work you never prosper. The first thing you need is to

   come and rest in your Lord Jesus. That is what I do. Since I grew out

   of that vine I have spent years and years, and all I have done is just

   to rest in the vine. When the time of spring came I had no anxious

   thought or care. The vine began to pour its sap into me, and to give

   the bud and leaf. And when the time of summer came I had no care, and

   in the great heat I trusted the vine to bring moisture to keep me

   fresh. And in the time of harvest, when the owner came to pluck the

   grapes, I had no care. If there was anything in the grapes not good,

   the owner never blamed the branch, the blame was always on the vine.

   And if you would be a true branch of Christ, the living Vine, just

   rest on Him. Let Christ bear the responsibility."

 

   You say: "Won't that make me slothful?"

 

   I tell you it will not. No one who learns to rest upon the living

   Christ can become slothful, for the closer your contact with Christ

   the more of the Spirit of His zeal and love will be borne in upon you.

   But, oh, begin to work in the midst of your entire dependence by

   adding to that deep restfulness. A man sometimes tries and tries to be

   dependent upon Christ, but he worries himself about this absolute

   dependence; he tries and he cannot get it. But let him sink down into

   entire restfulness every day.

 

 

                   In Thy strong hand I lay me down.

 

                                   So shall the work be done;

 

                   For who can work so wondrously

 

                                   As the Almighty One?

 

 

   Worker, take your place every day at the feet of Jesus, in the blessed

   peace and rest that come from the knowledge --

 

 

                   I have no care, my cares are His!

 

                   I have no fear, He cares for all my fears.

 

 

   Come, children of God, and understand that it is the Lord Jesus who

   wants to work through you. You complain of the want of fervent love.

   It will come from Jesus. He will give the divine love in your heart

   with which you can love people. That is the meaning of the assurance:

   "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit"; and

   of that other word: "The love of Christ constraineth us." Christ can

   give you a fountain of love, so that you cannot help loving the most

   wretched and the most ungrateful, or those who have wearied you

   hitherto. Rest in Christ, who can give wisdom and strength, and you do

   not know how that restfulness will often prove to be the very best

   part of your message. You plead with people and you argue, and they

   get the idea : "There is a man arguing and striving with me." They

   only feel: "Here are two men dealing with each other." But if you will

   let the deep rest of God come over you, the rest in Christ Jesus, the

   peace and rest and holiness of Heaven, that restfulness will bring a

   blessing to the heart, even more than the words you speak.

 

   Much Fruitfulness

 

   But third, the branch teaches a lesson of much fruitfulness.

 

   The Lord Jesus Christ repeated that word fruit often in that parable.

   He spoke, first, of fruit, and then of more fruit, and then of much

   fruit. Yes, you are ordained not only to bear fruit, but to bear much

   fruit. "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit." In

   the first place, Christ said: "I am the Vine, and my Father is the

   Husbandman. My Father is the Husbandman who has charge of me and you."

   He who will watch over the connection between Christ and the branches

   is God; and it is in the power of God through Christ we are to bear

   fruit.

 

   Oh, Christians, you know this world is perishing for the want of

   workers. And it wants not only more workers -- the workers are saying,

   some more earnestly than others: "We need not only more workers, but

   we need our workers to have a new power, a different life; that we

   workers should be able to bring more blessing." Children of God, I

   appeal to you. You know what trouble you take, say, in a case of

   sickness. You have a beloved friend apparently in danger of death, and

   nothing can refresh that friend so much as a few grapes, and they are

   out of season; but what trouble you will take to get the grapes that

   are to be the nourishment of this dying friend! And, oh, there are

   around you people who never go to church, and so many who go to

   church, but do not know Christ. And yet the heavenly grapes, the

   grapes of Eshcol, the grapes of the heavenly Vine are not to be had at

   any price, except as the child of God bears them out of his inner life

   in fellowship with Christ. Except the children of God are filled with

   the sap of the heavenly Vine, except they are filled with the Holy

   Spirit and the love of Jesus, they cannot bear much of the real

   heavenly grape. We all confess there is a great deal of work, a great

   deal of preaching and teaching and visiting, a great deal of

   machinery, a great deal of earnest effort of every kind; but there is

   not much manifestation of the power of God in it.

 

   What is wanting? There is wanting the close connection between the

   worker and the heavenly Vine. Christ, the heavenly Vine, has blessings

   that He could pour on tens of thousands who are perishing. Christ, the

   heavenly Vine, has power to provide the heavenly grapes. But "Ye are

   the branches," and you cannot bear heavenly fruit unless you are in

   close connection with Jesus Christ.

 

   Do not confound work and fruit. There may be a good deal of work for

   Christ that is not the fruit of the heavenly Vine. Do not seek for

   work only. Oh! study this question of fruit-bearing. It means the very

   life and the very power and the very spirit and the very love within

   the heart of the Son of God -- it means the heavenly Vine Himself

   coming into your heart and mine.

 

   You know there are different sorts of grapes, each with a different

   name, and every vine provides exactly that peculiar aroma and juice

   which gives the grape its particular flavor and taste. just so, there

   is in the heart of Christ Jesus a life, and a love, and a Spirit, and

   a blessing, and a power for men, that are entirely heavenly and

   divine, and that will come down into our hearts. Stand in close

   connection with the heavenly Vine and say:

 

   "Lord Jesus, nothing less than the sap that flows through Thyself,

   nothing less than the Spirit of Thy divine life is what we ask. Lord

   Jesus, I pray Thee let Thy Spirit flow through me in all my work for

   Thee."

 

   I tell you again that the sap of the heavenly Vine is nothing but the

   Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the life of the heavenly Vine, and

   what you must get from Christ is nothing less than a strong inflow of

   the Holy Spirit. You need it exceedingly, and you want nothing more

   than that. Remember that. Do not expect Christ to give a bit of

   strength here, and a bit of blessing yonder, and a bit of help over

   there. As the vine does its work in giving its own peculiar sap to the

   branch, so expect Christ to give His own Holy Spirit into your heart,

   and then you will bear much fruit. And if you have only begun to bear

   fruit, and are listening to the word of Christ in the parable, "more

   fruit," "much fruit," remember that in order that you should bear more

   fruit you just require more of Jesus in your fife and heart.

 

   We ministers of the Gospel, how we are in danger of getting into a

   condition of work, work, work! And we pray over it, but the freshness

   and buoyancy and joy of the heavenly life are not always present. Let

   us seek to understand that the life of the branch is a life of much

   fruit, because it is a life rooted in Christ, the living, heavenly

   Vine.

 

   Close Communion

 

   And fourth, the life of the branch is a life of close communion.

 

   Let us again ask: What has the branch to do? You know that precious,

   inexhaustible word that Christ used: Abide. Your life is to be an

   abiding life. And how is the abiding to be? It is to be just like the

   branch in the vine, abiding every minute of the day. There are the

   branches, in close communion, in unbroken communion, with the vine,

   from January to December. And cannot I live every day -- it is to me

   an almost terrible thing that we should ask the question -- cannot I

   live in abiding communion with the heavenly Vine?

 

   You say: "But I am so much occupied with other things."

 

   You may have ten hours' hard work daily, during which your brain has

   to be occupied with temporal things; God orders it so. But the abiding

   work is the work of the heart, not of the brain, the work of the heart

   clinging to and resting in Jesus, a work in which the Holy Spirit

   links us to Christ Jesus. Oh, do believe that deeper down than the

   brain, deep down in the inner life, you can abide in Christ, so that

   every moment you are free the consciousness will Come:

 

   "Blessed Jesus, I am still in Thee."

 

   If you will learn for a time to put aside other work and to get into

   this abiding contract with the heavenly Vine, you will find that fruit

   will come.

 

   What is the application to our life of this abiding communion? What

   does it mean?

 

   It means close fellowship with Christ in secret prayer. I am sure

   there are Christians who do long for the higher fife, and who

   sometimes have got a great blessing, and have at times found a great

   inflow of heavenly joy and a great outflow of heavenly gladness; and

   yet after a time it has passed away. They have not understood that

   close personal actual communion with Christ is an absolute necessity

   for daily life. Take time to be alone with Christ. Nothing in Heaven

   or earth can free you from the necessity for that, if you are to be

   happy and holy Christians.

 

   Oh! how many Christians look upon it as a burden and a tax, and a

   duty, and a difficulty to be often alone with God! That is the great

   hindrance to our Christian life everywhere. We need more quiet

   fellowship with God, and I tell you in the name of the heavenly Vine

   that you cannot be healthy branches, branches into which the heavenly

   sap can flow, unless you take plenty of time for communion with God.

   If you are not willing to sacrifice time to get alone with Him, and to

   give Him time every day to work in you, and to keep up the link of

   connection between you and Himself, He cannot give you that blessing

   of His unbroken fellowship. Jesus Christ asks you to live in close

   communion with Him. Let every heart say: "O, Christ, it is this I long

   for, it is this I choose." And He will gladly give it to you.

 

   Absolute Surrender

 

   And then finally, the life of the branch is a life of absolute

   surrender.

 

   This word, absolute surrender, is a great and solemn word, and I

   believe we do not understand its meaning. But yet the little branch

   preaches it.

 

   "Have you anything to do, little branch, besides bearing grapes?"

 

   "No, nothing."

 

   "Are you fit for nothing?"

 

   Fit for nothing! The Bible says that a bit of vine cannot even be used

   as a pen; it is fit for nothing but to be burned.

 

   "And now, what do you understand, little branch, about your

   relationship to the vine?"

 

   "My relationship is just this: I am utterly given up to the vine, and

   the vine can give me as much or as little sap as it chooses. Here I am

   at its disposal and the vine can do with me what it likes."

 

   Oh, friends, we need this absolute surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ.

   The more I speak, the more I feel that this is one of the most

   difficult points to make clear, and one of the most important and

   needful points to explain -- what this absolute surrender is. It is

   often an easy thing for a man or a number of men to come out and offer

   themselves up to God for entire consecration, and to say: "Lord, it is

   my desire to give up myself entirely to Thee." That is of great value,

   and often brings very rich blessing. But the one question I ought to

   study quietly is What is meant by absolute surrender?

 

   It means that, as literally as Christ was given up entirely to God, I

   am given up entirely to Christ. Is that too strong? Some think so.

   Some think that never can be; that just as entirely and absolutely as

   Christ gave up His life to do nothing but seek the Father's pleasure,

   and depend on the Father absolutely and entirely, I am to do nothing

   but to seek the pleasure of Christ. But that is actually true. Christ

   Jesus came to breathe His own Spirit into us, to make us find our very

   highest happiness in living entirely for God, just as He did. Oh,

   beloved brethren, if that is the case, then I ought to say:

 

   "Yes, as true as it is of that little branch of the vine, so true, by

   God's grace, I would have it to be of me. I would live day by day that

   Christ may be able to do with me what He will."

 

   Ah! here comes the terrible mistake that lies at the bottom of so much

   of our own religion. A man thinks:

 

   "I have my business and family duties, and my relationships as a

   citizen, and all this I cannot change. And now alongside all this I am

   to take in religion and the service of God, as something that will

   keep me from sin. God help me to perform my duties properly!"

 

   This is not right. When Christ came, He came and bought the sinner

   with His blood. If there was a slave market here and I were to buy a

   slave, I should take that slave away to my own house from his old

   surroundings, and he would live at my house as my personal property,

   and I could order him about all the day. And if he were a faithful

   slave, he would live as having no will and no interests of his own,

   his one care being to promote the well-being and honor of his master.

   And in like manner I, who have been bought with the blood of Christ,

   have been bought to live every day with the one thought -- How can I

   please my Master?

 

   Oh, we find the Christian life so difficult because we seek for God's

   blessing while we live in our own will. We should be glad to live the

   Christian life according to our own liking. We make our own plans and

   choose our own work, and then we ask the Lord Jesus to come in and

   take care that sin shall not conquer us too much, and that we shall

   not go too far wrong; we ask Him to come in and give us so much of His

   blessing. But our relationship to Jesus ought to be such that we are

   entirely at His disposal, and every day come to Him humbly and

   straightforwardly and say:

 

   "Lord, is there anything in me that is not according to Thy will, that

   has not been ordered by Thee, or that is not entirely given up to

   Thee?"

 

   Oh, if we would wait and wait patiently, I tell you what the result

   would be. There would spring up a relationship between us and Christ

   so close and so tender that we should afterward be amazed at how we

   formerly could have lived with the idea: "I am surrendered to Christ."

   We should feel how far distant our intercourse with Him had previously

   been, and that He can, and does indeed, come and take actual

   possession of us, and gives unbroken fellowship all the day. The

   branch calls us to absolute surrender.

 

   I do not speak now so much about the giving up of sins. There are

   people who need that, people who have got violent tempers, bad habits,

   and actual sins which they from time to time commit, and which they

   have never given up into the very bosom of the Lamb of God. I pray

   you, if you are branches of the living Vine, do not keep one sin back.

   I know there are a great many difficulties about this question of

   holiness. I know that all do not think exactly the same with regard to

   it. That would be to me a matter of comparative indifference if I

   could see that all are honestly longing to be free from every sin. But

   I am afraid that unconsciously there are in hearts often compromises

   with the idea that we cannot be without sin, we must sin a little

   every day; we cannot help it. Oh, that people would actually cry to

   God: "Lord, do keep me from sin!" Give yourself utterly to Jesus, and

   ask Him to do His very utmost for you in keeping you from sin.

 

   There is a great deal in our work, in our church and our surroundings

   that we found in the world when we were born into it, and it has grown

   all around us, and we think that it is all right, it cannot be

   changed. We do not come to the Lord Jesus and ask Him about it. Oh! I

   advise you, Christians, bring everything into relationship with Jesus

   and say:

 

   "Lord, everything in my life has to be in most complete harmony with

   my position as a branch of Thee, the blessed Vine."

 

   Let your surrender to Christ be absolute. I do not understand that

   word surrender fully; it gets new meanings every now and then; it

   enlarges immensely from time to time. But I advise you to speak it

   out: "Absolute surrender to Thee, O Christ, is what I have chosen."

   And Christ will show you what is not according to His mind, and lead

   you on to deeper and higher blessedness.

 

   In conclusion, let me gather up all in one sentence. Christ Jesus

   said: "I am the Vine, ye are the branches." In other words: "I, the

   living One who have so completely given myself to you, am the Vine.

   You cannot trust me too much. I am the Almighty Worker, full of a

   divine life and power." You are the branches of the Lord Jesus Christ.

   If there is in your heart the consciousness that you are not a strong,

   healthy, fruit-bearing branch, not closely linked with Jesus, not

   living in Him as you should be -- then listen to Him say: "I am the

   Vine, I will receive you, I will draw you to myself, I will bless you,

   I will strengthen you, I will fill you with my Spirit. I, the Vine,

   have taken you to be my branches, I have given myself utterly to you;

   children, give yourselves utterly to me. I have surrendered myself as

   God absolutely to you; I became man and died for you that I might be

   entirely yours. Come and surrender yourselves entirely to be mine."

 

   What shall our answer be? Oh, let it be a prayer from the depths of

   our heart, that the living Christ may take each one of us and link us

   close to Himself. Let our prayer be that He, the living Vine, shall so

   link each of us to Himself that we shall go away with our hearts

   singing: "He is my Vine, and I am His branches -- I want nothing more

   -- now I have the everlasting Vine." Then, when you get alone with

   Him, worship and adore Him, praise and trust Him, love Him and wait

   for His love. "Thou art my Vine, and I am Thy branch. It is enough, my

   soul is satisfied."

 

   Glory to His blessed name!

 

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                                    Indexes

     _________________________________________________________________

 

Index of Scripture References

 

   1 Kings

 

   [1]20

 

   Luke

 

   [2]18:27

 

   John

 

   [3]15:5

 

   Acts

 

   [4]13:1-4

 

   Romans

 

   [5]7   [6]7   [7]7   [8]7   [9]7:6-25   [10]7:24   [11]7:25

 

   Galatians

 

   [12]5:22

 

   Philippians

 

   [13]2   [14]2:13

 

   1 Peter

 

   [15]1:5

 

   1 John

 

   [16]4:20

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           This document is from the Christian Classics Ethereal

              Library at Calvin College, http://www.ccel.org,

                   generated on demand from ThML source.