How To Obtain The Deliverance
Such a deliverance as that described in the foregoing chapter implies a way of obtainment. Being a divine work and deliverance, it is not an attainment, but an obtainment.
The way of approach to such a blessing should be simple. Reason and mercy alike cry out for a simple way. The fact of unlettered multitudes, the greater fact of the spiritual misery of these multitudes, and their craving for and need of such a blessing, would suggest the thought that God would not lay down an obscure and difficult way, but one that the simple-minded and the soul-burdened could easily discover and walk therein.
Here is the trouble with many today: that they look for profound scholarship and mighty intellectual gifts as the necessary condition of the understanding and obtainment of this grace; when, if this were the condition, the great mass of mankind would at the first count be ruled out.
So far from being apparent to the wise, it is “hidden from the wise.” Not that a wise man cannot receive this blessing, but it is not to be found in the lines of an earthly wisdom. The mere reasoner will never see it. The precious secret is not discoverable through syllogisms. Logic is utterly helpless at a door that opens only to another touch altogether.
A gentleman said to the author that reasoning was perfectly allowable in the matter because God himself said: “Come, now, and let us reason together.” Our reply was that God said come reason together with him. It is not human reasoning, a mental contest of man with man, that is alluded to, but a conference with God. We all know that reasoning with God will bring us most rapidly to silence, tears, and the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition to this the very substance of this famous reasoning is given: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool!” Would that all reasoning were equally blessed, and worthy to be remembered.
The way to the great deliverance ought to be simple, then, if for no other reason than the goodness of God. Besides this, the way must be simple because of the great multitude of people who cannot obtain the blessing in any other manner. The way, thank God, is simple.
Two steps or compliances on our part will bring us to the point where God will destroy the “old man” and give us a pure heart. These two steps are consecration and faith.
The conditions of justification and regeneration are repentance and faith. We see no mention made of consecration, from the fact that the sinner has nothing to consecrate. He surrenders, which, to the hasty glance, looks like consecration, but it is not the same. It is human wisdom that has tacked on consecration as a condition of pardon. The Bible itself says repent and believe, and we shall be saved.
But to the pardoned and regenerated man comes the words of Paul in Romans xii. I, 2: “I beseech you, brethren, … present your bodies a living sacrifice.” The result, he says, will be a “transformation,” a “renewing,” a “proving the will of God,” which will, he tells us in Thessalonians, is “even your sanctification”.
If a man desires the blessing spoken of in this volume, the first step to be taken is
Present all to God. Keep back nothing. Let there be no mental reservation. Let body, soul, talents, time, will, reputation, property, family, and everything, be laid on the altar.
This is what we owe to God. It is our reasonable service. It is what all have to do sooner or later. Death compels us to give up all to God body, spirit, friends, land, home, and all. As a compulsory act it brings no blessing. But if we do it voluntarily, the blessed experience of sanctification is the result.
Let not the reader stop to speculate and doubt, but test the matter faithfully for himself. It is worth a faithful trial; yes, verily, a thousand trials.
Some have received the light and rejoice in the deliverance. Let their assurance reassure the reader of these lines. It is true. Only do as bidden by the word of God and by the great crowd of rejoicing witnesses in the land, and the seeker will become the finder, and know for himself beyond all doubt the truth of these things we have written.
The second step is
Believe that God accepts the consecration; that our altar, which Paul says is Christ, sanctifies the gift thus laid upon the altar, and sanctifies it now.
Do not say, “I feel it,” or, “I know it,” until the witness comes; but say, “believe it.” Feeling is one thing, knowledge is another, and faith a third. Neither feeling nor knowledge is expected of us at this time, but simply faith.
We are required to believe God’s word, and that word says: “The altar sanctifieth the gift.” God cannot and will not sanctify unbelief. Man wandered from God and fell through doubt of his word; he is to come back through belief of the truth, by an unshaken confidence in every word.
Here are some of God’s words: “Whatsoever toucheth the altar shall be holy,” “The altar sanctifieth the gift.” Faith must take hold of and rest on these statements of God. The result will come speedily, and be most wonderful and satisfactory.
These are the two steps. In taking them, however, there is another exercise of the soul which accompanies both steps–viz.,
Consecration and faith are the conditions of obtaining sanctification; yet neither one will be born or continue to live without prayer. Through prayer we gather strength to consecrate, and through prayer faith is aroused and stimulated to take hold of the great blessing.
The disciples had been praying for ten days when the baptism of fire suddenly fell upon them. For three days the writer was living in supplication, every breath was a petition, when swiftly, graciously, overwhelmingly, the blessing sought after, consecrated for, believed in, and prayed for, came upon his soul.
Our advice to every seeker of sanctification is: Live upon your knees. Pray whether you feel like it or not. Pray with words and without words. Pray with groanings that cannot be uttered. Let your sighs be prayers. Sometimes we never pray more acceptably and prevailingly than when stretched on our faces, we groan for deliverance before God. Knock on and call at the door of mercy until the very noise will create remark in heaven. The kingdom suffereth violence, and the King is well pleased with importunity. The inevitable result of all this will be the descending baptism of fire, and the clear, unmistakable witness of the Spirit to the sanctification of the soul.
When the witness comes we need not that any man should teach us what has happened. The soul is thrilled with the purifying work and the testifying Spirit. We know that inbred sin is gone and that the heart is pure.
Here is the time of shouts, overflowing gladness, radiant smiles, joyous laughter, happy tears, or a great still peace according to the temperament of the individual. This is what the seeker wanted to experience at the first, but which cannot possibly take place until the last. It is never to be worked up, but comes spontaneously the instant the Holy Spirit witnesses to the accomplished work in the soul. We do not have to work it up; it works itself up. It may come like a cyclone, or it may be breathed on the heart as gently as an evening zephyr from the South; but in either case the soul will know perfectly well what has happened, and will rejoice accordingly.
This, then, is the order of the work of grace:
The Word Preached, Conviction for Inbred Sin, Prayer, Consecration, Continued Prayer, Faith, The Divine Instantaneous Work, The Witness of the Spirit, The Soul’s Knowledge, The Feeling, Established.
The two great facts that produce the knowledge in the soul’s consciousness of entire sanctification are the work of the Spirit and the witness of the Spirit. The soul is conscious of the change and hears the voice.
Then comes the feeling; then establishment.
Some critics may find fault with the fourth feature (Consecration), saying that we consecrate to obtain pardon. But the Bible does not say so, but states that the conditions of pardon are repentance and faith. What the critic takes to be the consecration of the sinner is, as stated in a previous chapter, nothing but surrender. The sinner surrenders; the Christian consecrates.
Furthermore, we would say that while a spirit of consecration is seen in every regenerated life that is worthy of the name, yet consecration is one thing and perfect consecration another; just as sanctification is seen to be one thing and entire sanctification something far deeper, sweeter, and more blessed. It is perfect consecration that secures entire sanctification.
The reader will also observe that the word “repentance” is not found in the order named above. The blessing held up here is for the Christian, and the real Christian should have nothing to repent of. He should, by virtue of the regenerated life, be living without sin, according to Bible statement. St. John, in his first Epistle, writes that it is while the child of God is walking in the light as God is in the light, and while having fellowship with his brethren, that the blessing comes down upon him and the blood of Christ cleanseth from sin.
Repentance presupposes a sinful and backslidden life, but the blessing of sanctification is for the soul that is in a justified condition and walking in the clear light with a joyous sense of acceptance with God. There can be a profound conviction over the presence of inbred sin, with intense yearning for its removal, but this is not repentance.
Christ distinctly said that he had not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance. But he did not say that he did not have a call for believers. On the contrary, the Bible says that “God has called us to holiness.” Any one who reads the Epistles will recognize this call running throughout them all. And we confess to astonishment that men who are quick to see the call to repentance fail to observe the distinct call to holiness. Sinners are not called to holiness, but to repentance; and Christians are not called to repentance, but to holiness. God “commands” sinners everywhere to repent, but he “beseeches” his people to present themselves upon the altar as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto him.
Would that Christians everywhere that have not the blessing spoken of in this volume would put themselves under full salvation preaching. Soon inbred sin, or the plague of the heart, would be revealed, and deep conviction would take place. Prayer, consecration, and faith would swiftly follow. Then would come the baptism of fire purifying the heart, and the delightful witness of the Holy Ghost to the work. Knowledge of the work at once would fill the mind, joy overflow the heart, and the life, settled and grounded upon Christ, enter upon a restful experience that language cannot satisfactorily describe.
As we know what blessedness the death of the “old man” or sanctification is to the individual, and what power and glory and victory it means to the Church, we cannot but breathe the prayer of the Psalmist: “O that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! when the Lord bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.”