Holiness Brings Prosperity To The Church
The enemy of all souls is a wily strategist. He knows how to plan the defeat of the cause of God, by the most insidious and crafty plans and schemes. No general conducting a military campaign was ever more skillful in devices to hinder his foe.
One of his favorite methods is to make it appear that the strongest defenses of the army of God are the weakest. He attempts ever to bring ridicule to bear upon the strongest bulwarks of the armies of the living God. His object is to make the good appear bad; to make men believe that white is black; to make his attacks on the strong points of Christianity. In harmony with this policy, he attacked, through his emissaries, the character of the immaculate Son of God, and tried to make it appear that He was possessed with a devil. The character of the Son of God is the great center of the Christian faith. It is the irrefutable evidence of the divinity of our holy religion. This is the reason that some of the evil spirits in the time of Christ said, “I know thee whom thou art, the Son of God.” Jesus understood the plot and rebuked it. He did not propose to have it appear that He was in league with or possessed by evil spirits.
Since this is the policy of Satan, it need not be wondered at, that he should try to make it appear that holiness, which is “the central idea of Christianity,” is a fanaticism and an impossibility in this life. It could hardly be expected that truth could have a fair chance. Consequently we find all sorts of misrepresentation. Satan has had great success in frightening people from holiness by misrepresenting it. It is safe to say that the majority of church members today have listened so much to these misrepresentations that they have scarcely any idea at all of the real nature of this-the central doctrine of the Bible. There are thousands of honest people who would accept it; if they knew its real nature. Their hearts are hungry for this bread, but they are kept away because they have been told that the witnesses to entire sanctification claim to have reached the state where they cannot sin, nor make mistakes, nor be tempted.
In this same propagandism of Satan is found the assertion that holiness is a narrow minded specialty, a side track that leaves the greater part of the doctrines and experiences of Christianity and holds entirely aloof from them, and that to embrace it makes one narrow and unfitted for the practical duties of Christianity. The fact of it is, that this is the central doctrine around which all the other doctrines of Christianity revolve, like the planets around the sun. Jesus said the all embracing commandment was, “Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God, with all thy heart, and soul and mind and strength.” This is perfect love. This is holiness. Paul says “the end of the commandment is love out of a pure heart” All the claims of the advocates of holiness are found in these two utterances of Jesus and Paul.
In the divine economy it is intended that holiness and holiness only is the divine essential to the prosperity of the cause of God in all its branches. Strange that an unbelieving church does not grasp the fact! That keen observer of spiritual things, John Wesley, says again and again that “where holiness is preached constantly and explicitly the work of God prospers in all its branches.” He says, “I examined the society at Bristol, and was surprised to find fifty members fewer than I left in last October. One reason is Christian perfection has been little insisted on; and wherever this is not done, be the preachers ever so eloquent, there is little increase, either in the number or grace of the hearers.” (Wesley’s Works, Vol. IV, page 220.) “I preached at Bradford where the people are all alive. Many have lately experienced the great salvation, and their zeal has been a great blessing. Indeed, this I always observe wherever a work of sanctification breaks out, the whole work of God prospers.” (Vol. IV. page 437.)
“I found the plain reason why the work of God had gained no ground in this (Lavenston) circuit in all the year. The preachers had given up the Methodist testimony. Either they did not speak of perfection at all (the peculiar doctrine committed to our trust), or they spoke of it only in general terms, without urging believers to go on unto perfection, and to expect it every moment. And wherever this is not done the work of God does not prosper.” (Vol. IV, page 459.) We could fill a chapter with similar quotations from Wesley. This is just as true in this day as in his day. Individual churches are still among us where holiness has the right of way and prosperity is the result. The only handicap is that they are almost isolated. Holiness does not have a fair chance. If those isolated churches had the sympathy of all the other churches greater success would follow. But they succeed in the face of the lack of sympathy, if not opposition.
We can locate on the map to our actual knowledge such churches that have succeeded and are succeeding because holiness has the right of way. Let us note the points of their successes.
l) Success in soul saving. There is a vast difference between the old-fashioned protracted meeting and the modern “revival.” The former was prayed down from heaven. The latter is “got up.” The former depended upon the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The latter is brought to pass by human methods and appliances. In the former the fathers prayed until they prayed through and the revival came and whole communities of sinners were put under conviction. Men could not sleep nights. Hardened sinners made restitution, gave up their wicked ways, confessed their sins and went forth to lead new, changed lives. In the modern revival, reliance is put mostly on organization: committees, union meetings, great chorus choirs, extensive, adroit, advertising, signing of cards, shaking hands with the preacher and joining the church. Very little or nothing is said concerning repentance or restitution or the witness of the Spirit.
If the modern revival is the divine method then we confess that holiness preaching and experience is not a success in this connection. But if the old time revival is the divine method which laid the foundation of the Christian church in these lands, then it is greatly helped and brought to pass by holiness preaching and holy living.
We have shown in a previous chapter that the New Testament method of putting sinners under conviction is to have the church filled with the Holy Spirit and that under its prophetic utterances men are moved to acknowledge the truth. (See I Cor. 14:24-25.) We do not believe God has ever authorized any other method for saving the world, except through a holy church, for the great hindrance to the spread of the gospel is because the professed church is not holy. This is what the world demands and before such a church it will ever bow, for, as Mark Guy Pearse well says, “Whatever theories the churches may hold, the world has for the Christian but one standard, and that is entire sanctification. It trips and stumbles over the defects of Christian people and makes no allowance for them. The world’s conviction and conversion depend upon the holy lives of religious people.”
But the old time revival depended also on the intercession of God’s people. It began with preparation on the part of the church; heart searching, confession and mighty soul travail. They prayed and prayed until their consecration and unity were complete and then down came the fire from heaven and sinners were saved. Complete consecration made their prayers effective.
The modern holiness movement has made the consecration permanent. The fathers seemed to think entire consecration was enough just for the time of the protracted meeting. Then gradually they relaxed back to the old life. The modern holiness movement teaches that consecration is to be eternal; never to be relaxed and that the church should be in a revival state all the time. There should be a full tide all the time, without any ebbing and flowing. This we believe is the divine plan. A really entirely sanctified church is always on the alert to get men saved. It is not a revival limited to “the week of prayer” or the “annual revival.” It sees newborn souls constantly at its altars. A careful, candid investigation will prove this to be the fact even in these modern days. What a pity that ecclesiastics seem ignorant of this fact to such an alarming extent.
2) Liberality in giving. Holiness promotes liberality in giving. It kills covetousness. How pitiful the modern expedients to raise money to support the gospel. It looks to the world as if the cause of our God were on the verge of bankruptcy a good deal of the time. There is no cause that does so much for man, that is so poorly supported. More than that, the modern methods of supporting the gospel develop covetousness and stinginess, whereas the Scriptural method enlarges the heart and brings blessing to the giver. The great Head of the Church said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Modern methods of supporting the gospel give the lie to his assertion. They have practically made it appear that it is more blessed to receive than to give. The mercantile idea has crowded out the gospel method of direct giving. Fairs, festivals, feasting prove that people want something back in return when they give to the cause of God. They seek not enlargement of heart, but fun, frolic and entertainment. And the worst of it is the financial returns are not what they should be even then. More money comes out of the spontaneous heart than can be squeezed out of the unwilling. A fountain is more profitable than a sponge.
The holy people are liberal givers. If anyone feels disposed to deny this let him see how easily and promptly finances are raised by the Scriptural method. Paul speaks of the churches of Macedonia who “first gave their own selves to the Lord.” (II Cor. 8:5.) No wonder he boasts of their great liberality. Holy people have had the old man crucified and covetousness is gone. They delight to give to God in gratitude for His great gift of salvation.
This has been disputed. We call attention to the facts, which can easily be pointed out and verified, in many churches.
3) Missionary effort. Jesus Christ linked holiness to foreign missions, when the lawyer said that the great commandment, “Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.” This is perfect love to God and man. This is the fruit of holiness. He told the lawyer, in explaining what the term neighbor meant, that it included foreigners, even as the hated Samaritan cared for the unfortunate Jew. There has been no class of people so willing to go to the ends of the earth to carry the gospel, as the holy people. Entire consecration has created thousands of foreign missionaries. And none have the success that they have as a class. A company of missionaries in Japan got together one night to pray. They consecrated themselves to God and were baptized with the Holy Spirit, and a great revival broke out in Japan as the result. A modest, retiring young lady is puzzled as to some of the possibilities of holiness as an experience. Her pastor explains the doctrine. She consecrates herself entirely to God, and receives the blessing of a pure heart. A holy ambition fills her heart, to go to tell the story of salvation to the heathen. She takes special training and is the first deaconess consecrated by the Methodist Episcopal Church. She goes to Western China and gives more than twenty-five years to the foreign mission work. The great school at Cheng Tu is the result of her labors.
Phoebe Palmer, the pioneer holiness evangelist of America, whose name was a household word in America and England a generation ago, and under whose labors thousands were converted, suggests to her husband that they give sufficient money to found a mission in China. As the result Methodist Episcopal Missions are founded in China, which have become a great enterprise.
Bishop Taylor is providentially appointed missionary bishop to Africa. He calls for volunteers to go with him, without salary or promise of any home support. The holiness people rally to the call. A large company of men and women meet in a holiness convention in Brooklyn, N. Y, in an M. E. Church, and at its close sail one stormy day for Africa. The holy people at home contribute to their support and today regularly organized missions are flourishing in Africa as the result.
And what shall we say more, for time and space would fail us to tell of the hundreds in foreign fields (scores of whom we personally know) who became missionaries, as the result of the experience of entire sanctification. Are their names not recorded in the book of life!
4) Gifts. “God has His plan for every man.” He made no two of us just alike. This shows that He has a special mission for each of us, and if we fail, His plan as regards us is defeated. This is shown in the parable of the talents. To one man He gave five, to another two and to another one talent. He divided them to each one “according to his several ability.” The man who had one talent failed to improve it. In the modern church, it is not merely the man with one talent that fails to improve it, but there seem to be many who have five talents who are doing nothing. We have seen in our American forests noble fallen trees, rotting and going to decay, when there is a great demand for such timber. It has made us think of the talent lying idle in the American church. It is a great pity when so much is to be done, and the cause of Christ languishes for helpers. The average church member cannot be relied upon for spiritual exercises-such as prayer or testimony. This is relegated to the pastor and a few of the faithful. It is very difficult to get Sunday school teachers, too. The family altar has almost disappeared. Lay preaching is almost unknown. The old time class meeting has gone forever and one reason of it is, the lack of material for leadership.
But when the Holy Spirit is poured out on a church in sanctifying power, it develops the latent gifts as at Pentecost. Then every one has a testimony, and many like Peter become preachers at once. There is no lack in gifts. Preachers, missionaries, class leaders, teachers spring up like magic. And we have seen it thus in our short lifetime.
5) Holy people are the spiritual nucleus of the church. God has made them the custodians of the interests of His spiritual kingdom. They can be depended upon to keep up the prayer and social means of grace. They stand by the revival meetings. They are ready to point sinners to the Saviour. They have compassion for the lost. If all the professors of entire sanctification should be suddenly caught away to heaven, the cause of God on earth would go limping and halting. The church would never know their value until they were gone. Suppose every church member were truly sanctified, what a difference it would make in Christendom. Our prayer meetings would be crowded. Testimonies and praises would fill the air. The pulpit would fire up and great conviction would be on sinners and revival fires would constantly blaze and the millennium would be upon us.
6) Holy people give no trouble as to the enforcement of discipline. They keep the rules. You never hear them requesting that the laws of the church against worldly amusements be amended. They have no lusting after the fleshpots of Egypt. They have something better-a daily feast of salvation in the soul. The easiest way to discipline a church is to preach full salvation from all sin. The humble will seek the blessing and if the preaching be really aggressive Ishmaelites in the church will pack up their baggage and go.
7) Holy people are engaged in good works. This is their specialty. So said Paul: “Who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify unto himself a people zealous of good works.” They love to give, realizing that it is “more blessed to give than to receive.” They can be reckoned on in the cause of prohibition, temperance, charity, the uplifting of the fallen, the Red Cross, etc. Their sympathies and love go out to all mankind. In short holiness makes us all round in our development. When we were young we worked in a cotton factory. Great bales of cotton were brought from the South. They were opened in the picker room and thrown into the picker and torn all to pieces. Then the cotton went through the breaker carding machines, which removed much of the dirt and straightened its fibers; then through the “finishing” carding machines, and it came out pure white. Then it was ready for the spinning machines and was made into the “warp and woof,” which were put together into fabric in the looms; then in the cloth room it was piled up, stamped and boxed for market. And one big water wheel did the whole business. As it turned, all the machinery was busy. The pickers tore the cotton into pieces. The first and second carding machines removed all the dirt, the spinning machine twisted the fiber and the looms wove the cloth and it was prepared for market-all going on at once as the big wheel revolved. And so have we seen it in a church where holiness had right of way. The picker of conviction, the first set of carding machines of justification, the finishing carding machines of entire sanctification that removed all defilement and the spinning and weaving of holy character through trial and testing were all going on at once and God was taking them one by one to the heavenly market-all done by the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Thank God! There have been and there are such churches. May their number increase.