Progress After Entire Sanctification – By Arthur Zepp

Chapter 7


“Now I beseech you brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; that I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed.” Paul. Romans 15:29-32.

“Deeply experienced Christians all feel the need of these gracious visits and effusions of the Spirit to maintain satisfactory religious experiences, and to preserve the maximum of usefulness in the church. In his advanced years, though he had been filled with the Spirit ever since Ananias had laid his hands upon him, that he might receive his sight and be filled with the Spirit, Paul urged the churches to pray for him that he might be ‘refreshed’ and receive such new manifestations of God as occasions might require. A striking and highly instructive instance of this occurs in his letter to the Romans: ‘I am sure that, when I come to you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the Gospel of Christ … and may with you be refreshed.'” [2]

These words contain some great practical truths which ought not to be carelessly passed over by any Christian, and are so pertinent to the theme in hand that some of them will now be named.

(1) The most spiritually minded need refreshings.

If Paul, at that period of his life in which he wrote the letter to the Romans, needed refreshings, and needed them so much as to justify him in urging a great church to “strive together in prayers” for this end, surely all other Christians, however advanced in spirituality, need the same. Believers may be filled with the Spirit, as a settled religious state or habit of the soul, and yet need these gracious refreshings more or less frequently, and some more frequently than others. This is according to the analogy of nature, and is as rational as it is Scriptural. Persons free from physical disease of every kind, and filled with natural vigor, nevertheless must frequently take physical nourishment. Two and three times every day healthy persons must supply the waste of their vital forces by food, or they become exhausted and unable for service. The soundness and health of a laborer are indicated by the readiness and avidity with which he receives regular meals. Should he be indifferent about them, and especially should he loathe them, he is unfit for work, and needs medical attention.

So believers may be spiritually healthy and filled with spiritual vigor, and yet need these spiritual refreshings; and their religious soundness will be indicated by the keenness of their appetite for soul nourishment. But should Christians be indifferent about spiritual food, and especially should they feel a sense of qualmishness at an invitation to come to the altar of prayer, or at doing anything proper to be done to receive soul food or spiritual strengthening, they should be alarmed at their condition. They need special and prompt attention before spiritual life shall become entirely extinct. Soul sickness has set in, and unless the gracious remedies be speedily taken, will end in certain death. What a spectacle of sick and dying and dead people the Church of today presents to the Eye that can take it all in!

(2) A sense of spiritual need is no evidence of spiritual poverty. — Had Paul’s craving for refreshings been to him an evidence of leanness, he could not have said, “I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel.” This language is a declaration that he then had this blessing of fullness, and, what is very much more than a declaration of present possession, he declares that he was sure he would continue to have it in the future when he should visit Rome; yet with all that, he would then need a joint refreshing with his brethren of that church. In his entreaty to these brethren, the apostle assumes that they would need the same refreshing, and inferentially tells them this; yet he did not reflect in the least upon their religious state, nor had he any idea that they would receive his statement as any reflection upon their spiritual condition then, or when he should visit them. Nor should it be taken as an insult by the members of any church when the pastor invites them to some exercise for the purpose of stirring up their gifts and graces. Many look upon such invitations as expressions of doubt in their piety, and assumptions of lukewarmness, backslidings, and spiritual deadness. But such requests of the pastor rather assume the religious wholeness of the membership, and their wish for quickening because of existing spiritual life and relishes.

To kindly invite a neighbor to sit down at our table and take a meal with us, is the very opposite of assuming that he is sick and has no relish for food; it is assuming that he is well and in good condition, and may need the nourishment kindly offered. So to invite to an altar of prayer assumes nothing that should offend believers, but, on the contrary, assumes what ought to please and stimulate them to promptly accept the invitation.

(3) Striving together in prayer is the condition of obtaining these refreshings. Apathetic and formal prayers will avail nothing. The apostle urges the brethren to “strive” in prayer; and not only so, but “strive together” in prayer, so that by their most earnest and unified intercessions they might reach the maximum of their power in prayer, and secure the needed effusions of the Spirit both upon him and them, “that I may with you be refreshed.” . . . Paul’s private prayers prevailed with God, yet he would not risk his refreshings and other personal blessings to his own prayers, but frequently entreats the churches to “strive together with him in prayers to God for him.” It was not, therefore, merely ceremonial, or saying prayers, that he wanted, but real, . heartfelt, earnest, fervent praying in the Holy Ghost that he sought.

(4) The most advanced spiritual life may receive new revelations and new raptures. — It is a great mistake to suppose that in advanced religious life there are no new and fresh experiences to be sought and enjoyed; yet thousands in middle life and in advanced years, both in the pulpit and in the pew, show an outer life fixed in religious habits, but the inner moral state cold and fossilized, without any freshness and heavenly sweetness. They seem to suppose that raptures and ecstasies belong to early Christian experience, and that none but new converts may expect such realizations, while they may expect nothing but a dead level experience, without any sudden uplifts or new raptures.

Paul had many marked epochs in his religion after he received the fullness of the Holy Ghost, and that, too, while retaining that fullness. And whoever wilt make . and preserve a Pauline consecration, and lead a Pauline life, will have these marked crises and uplifts through the entire probationary stay in the Church. Indeed, no one can retain the freshness and power of holiness without frequent Divine visitations, secured by fastings, wrestlings, and waitings under the light, and drawings of the Holy Spirit. Here is the secret of so much weakness and inefficiency among Christians, even among the entirely sanctified — so few refreshings.”