Puts the People Under Conviction
“They were pricked in their hearts.” “And when he is come he will reprove the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment.” The blessed Holy Ghost “when he is come” into the hearts of believers will convict sinners of sin. He is invariable in the faithfulness with which he answers the faith of Christians in this matter.
The conviction that fell upon the people in Bible times is comparatively rare in these days.
Genuine Scriptural conversions, however, are preceded by, deep and pungent conviction for sin.
Jesus came to save, not the righteous, but the sinner conscious of his sinfulness. He seeks the lost; and unless men find out that they are lost, they will never be saved. We make a sad mistake when we receive persons into church membership who do not give evidence of being saved. The popular revivals of the last quarter of a century have been very superficial. The method which consists of raising the hand, signing a card, entering an enquiry room — where the “seeker” (?) sits bolt upright like a post and coolly converses on the subject of religion — and finally “taking it by faith,” is an awful fraud and a burlesque on the true revival. It is a deception that is appalling. Thousands are swept into the “church” and from thence into hell! Souls are dropping into the mouth of the pit in platoons and battalions for the want of men who preach a faithful gospel. The superficial revivals to which we have referred only make it more difficult for those who do thorough work.
Even among some so-called Holiness teachers and workers there is a tendency to superficiality. Many seekers are taught to make the profession the condition of obtaining the grace. “Just claim it by faith and say, ‘It is done,’ and it is done.” You ask these wrongly-instructed people if they know they are saved or sanctified. The answer is: “Well, I have just taken Christ for my Saviour, or Sanctifier,” as the case may be. “I am simply trusting. I have not had the witness of the Spirit, but I do not depend on feeling. I am just standing on the promise.” This whole thing is nonsense and a farce. In the first place, the essence of a promise is contained in its fulfillment. It is folly to talk about standing on a promise if the promise is not fulfilled. Faith is not an effort. Faith rests and always gets an answer. Faith springs up readily in thoroughly submitted soil. Not one person in a thousand has any real difficulty with his faith in getting divine experiences. If pardon is the thing sought, repentance is usually the catch. If the seeker is after a clean heart the shortage is in his consecration.
When a sinner has done a thorough job of repenting, the grace of faith is present to cause faith to spring up. When a believer has gone down, down to the very bottom in his consecration until he has lost confidence in himself and in everybody and everything else to sanctify him, it will be the easy, yea, the natural thing for him to do to fall over on God and trust Him. Some say, “I have taken it by faith, but I have not received the evidence.” Impossible. Faith itself “is the evidence of things not seen,” and real faith always brings the witness of the Spirit. The witness of the Spirit moves us out of the realm of faith into the province of knowledge. What we believed we have come to know. True faith is the channel through which we get all our blessings from God. He who believes will hear from God. To claim that the conditions are all met and yet no news has been received from heaven is to give God the lie. Thus a “life of faith” is not a bread-and-water diet. It is a life in which we “eat bread without scarceness.” We have three full meals a day if we want them. The man who “lives by faith” is much more likely to get porterhouse steak than chuck.
Superficiality must be avoided. The conviction of the Holy Ghost must be operative if men are to cry out, “Men and brethren, what shall we do to be saved?” He is the “Executive of the Godhead,” and He alone is competent to guide souls. We make a mistake in most of our altar services by talking so much to seekers. No one can talk them through, or sing them through, or shout them through. If you do the work you will have to do it again in a short time. The Holy Spirit can convict souls until they will be glad of a chance to rush to the altar and cry out to God. If we tease people to an altar and tease them to pray and tease them to believe and tease them to testify, we will have the endless task of teasing on our hands, and even then we can’t keep them from backsliding. But if, on the other hand, souls are sufficiently convicted to break up and cry out and pray through to complete victory, they will not need any one to tell them that they are saved; they will know it.
One of the great mistakes of this age is that many think and say that “Splendid ends can be reached only by the use of splendid means.” The demand, therefore, is for splendid means. But this premise is not true. God can do great things with a “Moses’ rod,” a “ram’s horn,” a “shepherd’s sling,” or an “ox-goad.” He can take the things that are not and bring to naught the things that are. A strand of copper wire is dead and powerless of itself. You may insert it in a keg of gunpowder without any startling results. It is perfectly harmless. But let the electric current be turned on to this ineffectual wire, and thousands of tons of rock are hurled into the air. Let the submarine cable receive the wondrous spark, and under thousands of miles of unfathomed sea it flashes the message of God.
A common mistake among workers is to bow down to the implements used. God lets us catch a few fish, and we burn incense to our nets. We fail to give him the glory. May not God trust us with great success without danger of our filching the glory?