Much Land Ahead To Be Possessed
“Thou broadenest out with every year
Each breadth of life to meet,
I scarce can think thou art the same,
Thou art so much more sweet.
With gentle swiftness lead me on,
Dear God! to see Thy face;
And meanwhile in my narrow heart
Oh, make thyself more space.”
“There remaineth yet very much land to be possessed.” Joshua 13:1.”The inspired teachers place special emphasis on the necessity of continuous advancement in spirituality. Paul said, “I count not myself to have apprehended; but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize.” These words fully compass the progressive nature of Scriptural holiness. The things the apostle would forget were not alternate backslidings and reclamations, alternate successes and failures, religious ups and downs, nor waverings and vacillations which dwarfed his spiritual life, and embittered the memories of the past. On the contrary, the things which he would forget were the victories, the triumphs and glorious realization of a long and fruitful Christian life. The words directing our thoughts were penned some twenty-nine years after Ananias laid his hands upon the apostle and he was filled with the Holy Ghost; some eighteen years after the time when he was caught up into the third heaven, and heard unutterable things, and after the remaining years had been filled with faithful Christian living, and correspondingly rich experiences. Hence it was not a life of mortifying failures and unfaithfulness which the apostle was trying to forget, but one of sweet memories and rich experiences that he would leave for something better and further on.
“He said again, at the very time when he declared he was forgetting those things which were behind, “Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and do count them but refuse that I may win Christ.” To willingly suffer the loss of all things, and to account all attainable honors of earth, refuse, in contrast with the enjoyment of Christ is a depth of religious experience which at first thought would be supposed enough to satisfy any mortal. But this height and depth of grace the apostle would forget in his effort to mount to loftier altitudes in the life of God. What withering rebukes these facts administer to those Christians who are satisfied to continually move around the luminous points of their conversion and entire sanctification.
“As to those things which were before the apostle, to which he reached forth and pressed, it is only necessary to say that, whatever else they embraced, they were deeper acquaintance with the Divine things, richer experiences in the great salvation, and more Christliness in nature.” — S. Baker
The quotation from Joshua, around which the thought of this chapter revolves, reveals specifically, (1) that entrance into Canaan and possession of the land do not annul the necessity of further advancement and conquest. God said to Joshua when flushed with the victory of conquering thirty-one kings, “There remaineth yet, very much land to be possessed;” (2) that Canaan is not a place of inactivity against external foes though it is a place of rest from inward conflict. The Israelites did their chief fighting after gaining possession of the “goodly land.” As C. J. Fowler has suggested, Sanctification (entire) constitutes a man a soldier so that God can put him in the arena to unsheathe his sword from its scabbard and do battle victoriously for Him. And as we have no record that Jesus was personally assailed by the devil until after His baptism, on the banks of the Jordan, so too, may the professor of the Spirit’s baptism expect Satanic conflict after that crisis. (3) That the zenith of spiritual advancement is not reached by virtue of old age without effort to advance. Every inch of advancement was contested by a malignant foe. None should indulge the conceit because long on the way they are exempt from further effort to advance: “Now Joshua was old and stricken in years; and the Lord said unto him, ‘Thou art old and stricken in years (yet you do not know it all), and there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed.'” Those who feel themselves paragon saints, and exempt from the necessity of further advancement, would do well to meditate on this language of inspiration.
“The need of advancement argues no present defilement; and the fact of mighty and marked progress over what we were, or what we did, yesterday, is no evidence that that was sinful or that it was unacceptable to the Lord. The glory of yesterday represented our full measure of capacity then. And the greater capacity of today points to a greater glory which is now within our reach. There are countless and ever succeeding degrees of progression. Our epochal experiences in conversion, in sanctification or in special induments with power for service do neither exhaust the riches of glory nor militate against continuous progress in the spiritual life.
We say these epochal experiences, these sharply defined transformations from “glory to glory” establish the precedent and illustrate the law of spiritual advancement or of growth in grace. For, instead of growth being that insensible, undefined, or often undiscoverable thing which it is supposed to be, it is a steady, distinct, and definite ascent from faith to faith, from grace to grace and from glory to glory. And these steps of advance are often made by a revelation so vivid, a faith so conscious, and a result so marked, that some have been misled into attaching to these subsequent developments a prominence equal to that of their sanctification.” — Joseph H Smith.
Refutation of “Third Blessing-ism”
Indeed, some have mistaken the most clear of these “vivid revelations” and marked manifestations, which all truly sanctified have in the progress of their development, for a new work of grace and hence has arisen the third blessing theory, which, when embraced proves the sandbar on which many hopeful, sanctified lives have been wrecked. The advocates of this position have tried hard to wrest Scriptures to substantiate their erroneous views. “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and fire” is a favorite passage, which, according to Adam Clarke, simply means, “The fiery baptism with the Holy Ghost” — fire being a symbol of the Spirit. When a man is baptized with the Holy Ghost, he has fire, Hallelujah! Jessie Penn Lewis has pointed out, “There is only one preposition here in the Greek, showing the identity of the Holy Ghost and fire.”
S. A. Keen’s writings have been misquoted to endorse this erroneous theory, which, in substance is, that regeneration and sanctification are works of grace, and that the gift of the Holy Ghost marks another epoch in the believer’s experience, ‘and is not received simultaneously with sanctification, as the God-honored National Association for the promotion of Holiness, in all the churches, teaches. Dr. Keen wrote, before his translation, a spiritual autobiography (Praise Papers), in which he records some blessed lessons on “Progress After Entire Sanctification” — but it cannot be proven from this volume that he reached what he called a third crisis. The substance of his teaching on the subject is that the baptism of the Holy Ghost and entire sanctification are essentially one — synonymous, and that after this crisis come the “varied and successive refreshings, supplies, enlargements and anointings,” which are given the sanctified in special emergencies. In Praise Papers, page 63, he writes: “These new, enlarged realizations of the Comforter, came to me, not by a crisis, as at the dawn, when, by a perfect consecration and a special faith, I received the Comforter, but, by a sweet illumination, that, if I would ask for a refreshing of the Holy Ghost to meet new emergencies in my experience and work, it would be given. So, without any struggle, except with temptations from Satan to doubt, but simply claiming the promise, “How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Ghost to them that ask Him,” there came the manifestation of the Spirit, which opened a glorious sunrise epoch. In its light I saw that for ten years I had been in the land but camped near the crossing, and that all the land was yet before me. So enrapturing was the vision — “Sweet fields of living green, and rivers of delight;” the heights and depths, the lengths and breadths; “the love abounding and all the fullness of God” — that I broke camp and have been on the tramp ever since. And each day I see some new stretch of the Christ-life and Christ-nature, some new range of blessedness and peace, and away I go for it by simple faith and prayer. When will it end? I guess (rightly) it will not end. Oh, this wonderful lesson of progressive holiness!”