The Standing Blessing
Sin is properly represented as a fall. The sinful life is not a succession of falls, for the man has not gotten up anywhere to fall from. The whole nature and life is in the mud.
The call of the Gospel to such an individual is to “arise and stand on thy feet.” This was a frequent command with the Saviour when on earth, and is so still. The plan of redemption is that men should arise and stay up after having arisen; that there should be no return to the wallowing in the mire. Of course there is provision made for the man overtaken in a fault, or betrayed into some kind of sin. But still the idea is to lift a man up, keep him up, and keep him going under any and all circumstances.
This is possible in a complete salvation. Not all however know the fulness of the Gospel, and so the world contemplates with surprise and amusement a life called the Christian life made up of an unending series of stumblings and fallings.
It is true that religious stumblers claim daily or annual recoveries, but there is no question that damage is done the soul by such a life, and grievous harm to the cause of Christ in the world.
The blessed proclamation now being heard all over the land is that God has a grace which will keep us from falling, and present us spotless before Him; that with the reception of the baptism of the Holy Ghost we enter upon this experience; that there is a standing blessing.
Paul is clear about this grace in Rom. v.1-5, showing the separateness and distinctiveness of the two works, the superiority of the second over the first, and stating that with the second divine work, “we stand.”
It is certainly very blessed to come into an experience where we feel settled, grounded and fixed, and also realize that we can continue in that condition. We know when we reach this state, just as we knew when we were “down,” and later on that we were “getting up and going down,” and now still later that we have reached the standing grace and ceased to fall. Of the three states how much more desirable is the last than the two former.
We cannot better describe this experience than by adhering to the word “stand” as used by the apostle. It will be found to cover the case.
First, we stand within.
By this we mean that the soul has an established feeling. Certain old-time fluctuations have departed. The heart is fixed. There is a sweet consciousness of being upheld by an invisible but omnipotent hand.
The writer recalls a time when his heart would again and again droop as low in his body as physical laws would allow; and some days when it would defy such law and seemed to be where really it could not be, in startling nearness to the lowermost front button on the dress coat.
Something since then has occurred to counteract that tendency, and hold the spirits up. Loads and burdens are still flung upon the soul, but there is all inward steadiness, and the heart refuses to sink into the old quagmires of despondency and despair.
Then we stand without.
We refer here to the failure of outward pressure to put the man and his work down.
Then attacks may come from hell, or originate in strange and unexpected places on earth. Christ speaks not only of the hatred of the world for His people, but of the opposition of the synagogue, and the division and enmity of one’s own household. But it matters not if there is a blessing which will give victory to the soul, no matter who the foe is, and what that adversary says and does.
Men will be astonished that you do not go down. You may be surprised yourself. But as time rolls by you will realize, and your opposers will discover, that they have a hopeless task on hand. God has said you shall stand, and stand you will. Your adversaries of hell and earth might as well pack their artillery, sound the cavalry recall, and retire the infantry to winter quarters,–you will not go down under their attacks.
This does not mean that you will not be affected by these assaults. For while in the flesh, with human sensibilities, there will be certain natural pangs of mind, heart and body from which there is no escape. Still, you will not go down.
Others may fall away, as they witness the battle and observe the stones and arrows fly; but you will not fall. The promise is that you shall stand.
We have a friend who has had several Conference trials, and numbers of violent assaults made upon him by press and tongue, in private and public, since he received the blessing of sanctification. The influence brought to bear against him was sufficient, according to human judgment, to have crushed him; but the facts are that he did not go down. Most of those who struck at him are in their graves, while he is still at work for God and rejoicing in the keeping power of the Saviour.
We have watched a wagon go over corn in a field. The stalks bowed as the heavy axletree swept over them, but when the vehicle passed on, the stalks arose and began to give their cheerful rustling experience to the morning wind that blew upon them. It certainly must be very surprising and provoking to certain powers that have expended energies of a crushing nature upon an individual or religious movement, to find that just as soon as their creaking axletree of authority passed on to other parts of the fields the person or thing which had been run over and was supposed to be flattened out and lying meekly in the dust, was up again and acting as if no juggernaut had ever been along, much less rolled over them.
Third, we can stand alone.
Not all can do this. The observer of character must have perceived that many people must and can only run in companies. In revivals and reformatory movements, the first instinct is to look around and see who is on one side and who on the other. The sight of a minority, even though it be for the truth, settles it with many not to take part. Moreover, if duty calls them to stand at a post alone, the disposition is to forsake it and surrender what it stood for.
We know of a young soldier in the Civil War who was stationed as a vidette on the picket post. He stood the loneliness well for the first half hour, but as he listened to the sighing of the vast pine forest around him, heard the hooting of distant owls, and caught the lonesome cry of the whip-poor-will, his spirits sank, and disgusted with the whole military life he forsook his stand, crept back to camp and stole into bed. But for the demoralization attending the breaking up of the Confederate army he would have been shot.
The writer has often thought of this young soldier as an apt illustration of the class of people of whom we are now speaking. They cannot stand alone. They must have company. They only work with majorities. The instant they find themselves alone, hear the hooting of the opposition, and the whip-poor-will cry of discouragement, they become heartsick, panic struck, and rush for home and strict retirement. They want cover from all publicity and especially attack and persecution.
Thank God there is a blessing which enables a man to stand alone, whether in the family, social circle, church or community. Paul felt it as he preached on the stairs near the castle, with a howling mob below clamoring for his death. Peter realized it as he proclaimed the Gospel in the face of threats, scourges of the Sanhedrin and the prisons of Jerusalem.
It is as deeply and sweetly felt today as then, by men and women who are being passed through every kind of test for the sake of the truth they believe in and the experience which they enjoy.
Fourth, we stand on the promises.
God has many utterances for our good. They are called his promises. Some people seem ignorant of them. Others test them awhile and go to doubting. Still others plant themselves on these words and cannot be dislodged. They believe God is faithful who has promised, and will redeem His word in all things. So they abide for days, months and years longing for their fulfilment.
There are persons who are amazed at their simple faith; but they know in whom they have believed. They tested the Lord in justification, and He failed not. In trouble, and He was true. Then reading the promises that He would purify and fill them, they stood again on the Word, and after hours or days of waiting, the fire fell and the blessing came.
With the coming of this grace of which we write is born the power to stand on the promises, a willingness to wait, and a serene confidence that God will verify and fulfil every word He has uttered to the last jot or tittle.
So a spiritual picture of such people would represent them with quiet, sunny faces, happy looking eyes, and praiseful lips standing on a great rock called the Word of God.
Fifth, we will stand on the Sea of Glass.
John said he saw such a company of the redeemed in the skies. As we read his description of them, victorious over the Beast which is the world, and delivered from his marks, and singing two songs, one of Moses and the other of the Lamb, and standing on a Sea of Glass mingled with fire, we seem to recognize the company.
The fact of their carrying harps in their hands throws still further light, revealing as it does a joyful praising triumphant nature. Like the harps they bore, they had been strung up, and next tuned up, and the instrument was made to be a type of the inward melody and harmony which filled them.
It also occurred to the writer that this company standing on the Sea of Glass could not have been a falling crowd of Christians on earth. That on the contrary they were so accustomed to stand for God and the truth on the world below, that it was the first and most natural position for them to take when they entered heaven. The very attitude declared who they were, and what they had been. Moreover, the Sea of Glass, and the fire flashing through its serene depths, symbolized the pure heart and the life filled with the flames of the Holy One, which enabled them to stand at last before God with harps in their hands, and recognized victors in heaven.
May the readers who are weary of the life prostrate in sin, or sick of the up and down career they have been having since their conversion, determine never to rest until they obtain that deeper work of grace called the baptism with the Holy Ghost. The inward result will be purity and joy; the outward manifestation a life of holiness and victory; but the reward in the skies will be beyond the highest conception of the mind, and above the most ardent hope of the heart.
May we all learn to stand for God here, that we may stand upon the Sea of Glass in eternity.