Wednesday, February 25, 2015

THE GRACIOUSNESS OF MERCY

I implore you to study the definitions of these three words and understand their application with God and man. 

MERCY:  forbearance from inflicting harm, especially in the way of punishment, under provocation, when one has the power to inflict it.

PUNISHMENT: to inflict with pain, loss or suffering for a crime or fault.

PROVOCATION: an act which incites to anger or incense.

God is merciful and so are all of His children.  In the perfectness and graciousness of God’s love He shows great mercy; and by this same love, the children of God are also merciful.  If mercy is absent in the heart of a man, then the righteous love of God is imperfect in that man; and, that man has a fault which is unacceptable to God.

Matthew 5:7
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Mercy is a essential element of forgiveness.  Except there be mercy in the attitude and intention of the offended toward the offender, forgiveness does not exist.  Forgiveness is effective when mercy is active.  Mercy is an unmerited favor; a forbearance when punishment was due.  Mercy is an active part of patience, longsuffering and kindness.  It is necessary for true fellowship and unity.  Since God has been so merciful to each of us, should not we also be merciful to others. 

Psalms 89:14
Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face.

Where God is pleased to dwell and make His habitation and throne, there will be justice, judgment, mercy and truth.  It was upon the “Mercy Seat” that God told Moses that He would come and communicate with the High Priest in the Holiest of Holies.  Likewise, our hearts must be the “mercy seat” upon which the Holy Spirit will come and dwell within our hearts. 

Isaiah 16:5
And in mercy shall the throne be established: and he shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging, and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness.

Exodus 25:8-22
8 And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.
9 According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.
10 And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof.
11 And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about.
12 And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof; and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it.
13 And thou shalt make staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold.
14 And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them.
15 The staves shall be in the rings of the ark: they shall not be taken from it.
16 And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee.
17 And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof.
18 And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat.
19 And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof.
20 And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be.
21 And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee.
22 And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.

The beautiful symbolism employed in the Holy Scriptures will present a graphic picture in our mind so that we can understand the will of God and the acts of our God. The mercy seat is so named because God has shown great mercy to all mankind and it is from this position which He has continually communicated and interacted with men and women.  God forbears the punishment we deserve for our sins and instead offers us grace to keep His commandments.  Grace is the divine power of God and its influence upon the heart of men and its reflection outwardly in men’s conduct.   

Psalms 85:8-13
8 I will hear what God the Lord will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly.
9 Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him; that glory may dwell in our land.
10 Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
11 Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven.
12 Yea, the Lord shall give that which is good; and our land shall yield her increase.
13 Righteousness shall go before him; and shall set us in the way of his steps.

Oh that mercy and truth would meet more oftener in the affairs of men and women in our homes and congregations.  Where was mercy and truth when the husband and wife turned upon each other as adversaries instead of helpmates?  Where was mercy and truth when condemnation broke the relationship which love had built?   Upon what authority did your controversy justify your condemnation and cause division?  Who made you the judge of another man’s servant?  

Matthew 23:23
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

In this verse, Jesus taught the necessity of two things:

·        Tithing, Christian giving

·        Keeping judgment, mercy and faith

Neither of these two duties should be omitted.  It is insufficient and unacceptable to keep one and not the other.  I am convinced many in our congregations and in the ministry of the gospel of Jesus Christ do not properly understand the proper meaning and place for judgment.  Keeping judgment does not mean that we judge the souls of others; but rather, that we teach and make ourselves examples of obedience to the judgments of God.  Is there mercy and truth and righteousness in the judgments you present to others? 

Ephesians 2:19-22
19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

Are you an acceptable habitation of God?  Is your heart a holy temple with a “mercy seat” where the Holy Spirit communes with you to show you the way you ought to go?   

Psalms 97:2
Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne.

All of God’s ways are righteous.  He is never unrighteous in anything.  And, in His judgment there is mercy. 

Psalms 136:1-3
1 O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
2 O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth for ever.
3 O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Continuing through all 26 verses of this chapter, in each one we find the encouraging reminder that “his mercy endureth for ever.”  God’s character never changes.  Though He may choose to punish the wicked and the unbeliever, He continues to be a merciful God.  His judgment and punishments do not change His character, because He is just and righteous and merciful.
 
Proverbs 16:6-7
6 By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.
7 When a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.

It is the will of God that iniquity be purged from the hearts of men.  He intends and desires to accomplish His will with mercy and truth.  God has the power and authority to control through punishment and force.  He does not choose to operate by force.  He wants the love and loyalty of men by their voluntary will.  If men refuse God’s love and mercy, then they will receive to themselves wrath and punishment.

Hosea 10:12
Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.

If you would be like Jesus Christ who has given us an example of living holy and righteous in this present world, we must sow in righteousness and reap in mercy.  It is time to seek the Lord by obedience, faith and mercy.  We must trust that the way of mercy will bring about a righteous harvest. 

Matthew 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.”

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

MARRIAGE, DIVORCE, REMARRIAGE - 1916

The following discourse was published in 1916 by church of God ministers.  This article has the approval of at least 48 “leading ministers” to whom it was presented for comment before being published.  Many of these ministers were uncommonly wise in their dissertations, rightfully dividing the word of truth.  If you need to use your dictionary to define and understand the proper meaning of words and expressions used in this discourse, I would encourage you to take the time to make full use of your Merriam-Webster dictionary.  May the Holy Spirit give you understanding as you study this message.

OUR MINISTERIAL LETTER
AUGUST 1916
 
MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE
Introduction - Foreword
The subject of this issue of Our Ministerial Letter is a most important one, for marriage and divorce is one of the most complex and difficult problems that we have had to meet.  As a ministry, we have generally felt that the correct solution of this matter had not been obtained; hence we have long desired a better understanding of the subject. 
When this manuscript on Marriage and Divorce was submitted several months ago, the brethren at the Gospel Trumpet Office felt that since the issues involved were so great, they could not assume the responsibility of publishing it without first consulting a number of ministers.  Copies of the manuscript were sent to fifty-six of the leading ministers, representing twenty-five States, and two Canadian Provinces.  The name of the author was not given, and no letter of explanation was sent; therefore, no personal influence was brought to bear upon any one.  This course was taken so that each one might consider the writing independently of the others and be wholly unbiased in his reply.  At the time of this writing of this Foreword, replies have been received from forty-eight ministers.  Of this number, only five criticized the fundamental feature of the article, five were either noncommittal or undecided, and the remaining thirty-eight accepted the article, although nine of the number suggested revision in certain minor points not affecting the main feature of the article itself.  In editing the article for publication and also in writing the notes which form the Appendix, I have endeavored to profit by these suggestions.  The footnotes were written by the author of the article. 
The manuscript was not written by the brother who sent out the first copies for examination and criticism, and the Managing Editor of Our Ministerial Letter is not responsible for the sentiments expressed in the article or the notes attached thereto.  The work is now submitted to the entire ministry of the church for careful and prayerful consideration.  It has been thought best to publish it anonymously so that its authorship being unknown, no sentiment would be created by personal influence and the article would be left to stand on its own merits. 
In publishing this article we do not assume that it is necessarily the last word on the subject.  If God reveals clearer light to any of the brethren, they should feel free to write to us concerning the matter.  As ministers of God we desire the correct solution of every problem so that we may set forth the right standard in the church.  If we humble ourselves, God will shed light on all points that are in anywise involved in obscurity. 
  A Brother,
May 25, 1916
Editor’s Note. – The writer of this Foreword here assumes that the article on Marriage and Divorce will be published; but at the time this Foreword was written, the manuscript had not been passed upon by the Publication Committee; in fact, some of the members of that Committee had not yet read it.  Before the Committee could reach a decision; however, so many reports had been circulated in regard to this writing that the Committee felt that they really no choice in the matter, that the article must be published in order that every one might get a fair idea of its teaching. 
 MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE
I have felt lead of the Lord to write on the subject of marriage and divorce and have sought him diligently that he might enable me to contribute even a little toward the elucidation of this part of his holy Word. 
Definition: – The institution of marriage is commonly regarded from one or the other of two viewpoints; viz., either as the merely human regulation of the sexual relation involved in human nature, or as a divine institution whose essential laws and regulations are from God.  The latter is the Christian viewpoint, being the one indicated by Christ who referred the origin of marriage to God and said, “What, therefore, God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.”  (Matt. 19:4-6).
Object: - The object of marriage, thus regarded, is the happiness and continuity of mankind.  The Creator, who implanted social affections and desires in human nature, provided in marriage an ennobling influence, powerfully contributing to the development of a complete life in man and woman.  By promoting parental love and the sense of responsibility, marriage also promotes the welfare of the children, makes possible the unity of home, and lays the foundation of orderly society.
Abstinence from marriage at the call of a higher duty is commendable (Matt. 19:12; 1 Cor. 7:32,33,35), but its ascetic prohibition is a sign of departure from the faith (1 Tim. 4:3).  The sanctity and excellence of marriage in the mind of God and of holy people is well shown in its being employed in Scripture as a figure to illustrate the union of Jehovah with Israel and of Christ with his church.
A Permanent Relation: - Abstractively, from the nature of the union, a consummated marriage is indissoluble until death.  “They twain shall be one flesh.”  Thus in the nature of things marriage holds even if the parties are not wholly congenial, for it is written, “What [viz., male and female, not whom] God hath joined” etc.  Marriage is an institution necessitated by our natural bodily functions and will therefore cease with them (Luke 20:34-36).
 Moral ends require that marriage be a permanent relation.  An easy escape from the discipline of married life is weakening to moral character and destructive to the social fabric.  Whereas the obedience of husband and wife, through all of life’s vicissitudes, to the obligations that spring from their relations to each other and to their children, makes for the good of all and the glory of God.
The Divine Ideal: - Marriage, as constituted by God, is a union between one man and one woman.  Monogamy, therefore, is the divine ideal.  The Creator made originally but one woman for one man, and he has continued to preserve in all the world the number of females practically equal to that of the males.  Neither polygamy nor divorce were contemplated in the primal institution.  They began among the perverted descendants of Adam, as one result of the fall, and we know from the Scripture and secular history that both were early very common among the ancient nations.  Both, therefore, as existing practices not easy of immediate removal, came in for restriction rather than sudden abolition in the legislation given through Moses to the Israelites.*1  
Footnote:
*1  In Abraham’s time marriage was permitted with a half-sister, and with two sisters at the same time (Gen20:12; 20:26-28).  Marriage with a full sister was not rare in Egypt and was allowed in Persia (Herod 3:31).  Marriage with a half-sister by the same father was permitted at Athens, and with a half-sister by the same mother at Sparta.  Incestuous marriages were common in Canaan.  Moses’ real service to the cause of matrimony consisted in setting a higher ideal by forbidding it within certain specified degrees of consanguinity and affinity (Lev. 18, Deut. 27); discouraging polygamy (Lev. 18:18; Deut. 17:17): securing the rights of inferior wives (Exod. 21:7-11; Deut. 21:10-17); and retarding and restricting divorce.  (Deut. 22:19; 24:1-4).
The Gospel Standard. – The practice of polygamy is, of course, precluded from Christianity by Christ’s restoration of the Edenic standard (Matt. 19:4-6).  It is condemned by the very nature of marriage, which lies in the union of the two sexes in one flesh.  The inclusion of other women contravenes the idea, as there can be no such union between them and the original wife.
We now come to the real issue, the question of divorce in the kingdom of God – “The law and the prophets were until John, from that time the gospel of the kingdom of God is preached.”  “The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”  “For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery…and if there be any other commandment, it is summed up in this world, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  Love worketh no ill to his neighbor; love therefore is the fulfillment of the law.”  “Bear ye one another’s burdens and so fulfil the law of Christ.
With Christ a new era begins, in which a new standard of life is presented, a standard however, which is not in its essence an external code, like the law of Moses, prescribing conduct from without, else it would have been so written down.  It is not a new code of statutes substituted for the law of Moses, but a new principle of life, a new spirit prescribing and giving impulse to right conduct from within (Rom. 8:1-14),  Therefore, to handle the New Testament and apply the Sermon on the Mount in the legalistic spirit is to overlook their principles and pervert the gospel.  To note just one example, take Luke 6:30 – “Give to every man that asketh thee.”   As an expression of the law of universal benevolence, it is comprehensible.   It struck at Jewish exclusiveness which saw a “neighbor” only in a Jew and not in a Samaritan or a Gentile.  But applied as law without regard to its principle, this word of Christ would lead to folly in a land of beggars. 
Christ was himself the perfect embodiment of the new standard of which we speak, and his life and teaching illustrated, but naturally could not exhaust, its application.  He is therefore careful to not lay down detailed rules for the guidance of life in all its branches; but, in contradistinction to the legalists of his time and of all time, he sought to inculcate his principle, the one universal principle of love, applying it illustratively in a variety of relations as occasion happened to require.  One of these relations is that of marriage.  Let us then try to grasp the principle underlying his words lest our interpretation of them violate the spirit of their Author, as an unreasoning, legalistic method has often done. 
Christ’s teaching on Divorce. – Where love reigns, divorce from caprice or for trivial causes, as was common among the Jews of the time, is inconceivable.  Therefore, in accord with his eternal law, Christ disallows it except for the one cause which, ipso facto, breaks the union created by a consummated marriage. 
All that we have on the question from Christ himself is found in four passages – Matt. 5:31, 32; 19:3-9; Mark 10:2-12; Luke 16:18.  And it may be laid down as a sure and certain moral premise that any interpretation of his words that will not harmonize with the law of love and of compassion and of the needs of mankind written in our hearts by his Spirit can not possibly be right. 
“And there came unto him Pharisees, trying him and saying, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?  And he answered and said, have ye not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, for this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?  So that they are no more two, but one flesh.  What therefore, God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.”

“They say unto him, Why then did Moses command to give a bill of divorcement and to put her away?  He saith unto them, Moses for your hardness of heart suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it hath not been so.  And I say unto you, Whosever shall put away [i.e. divorce*1] his wife, except for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and he that marrieth her when she is [thus wrongfully] put away, commiteth adultery.”   “Every one that putteth away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, maketh her an adultress*2; and whosoever shall marry her when she is [thus] put away committeth adultery.”  “Whosoever shall put away his wife and marry another committeth adultery against her: and if she herself shall put away her husband and marry another she committeth adultery.”*3
FOOTNOTES:
*1  The verb “apoluo,” here translated “put away,” was a recognized Hellenistic term for divorce and could not convey to the hearers the modified conception of a modern “separation” (see Hastings’ Bible Dict., Art. “Marriage”).
*2 “Maketh her an adulteress” - i.e., in the public eye, since according to the nature of marriage, only adultery could justify her being divorced by her husband.  Christ here intimates that any one seeing a divorced woman will assume at once that she had committed adultery, the only reason for divorce in his eyes.   
*3 The wife’s right to divorce the husband was not recognized by Jewish law, but under the influence of alien customs and with the support of Roman law the practice had come into vogue in New Testament times (see Josephus Ant. XV. 7:10; 2 Hermans 4:4-9).

Regarding these words of Christ, we note several things:

1.  The law of love, like the law of Moses, seeks to safeguard the weak.  Woman, the subject and weaker member in the marriage union has always needed protection.  Moses, improving upon the customs of his time, indeed acknowledged the husband’s traditional right of divorce*1 but retarded its exercise by requiring a formal “bill of divorce.”  Armed with this a woman could defend her character and also be able to resist any attempt on the part of the late husband to reclaim his rights over her, a divorced woman in those days being in a sense an emancipated slave.  And now the gospel principle goes farther than the law, by forbidding her dismissal for any other cause than her own un-chastity.

2.  In accord with this ruling, the right of another man to marry the woman wrongfully put away is denied, because she is ideally the wife of her still living (first) husband.  Her place, therefore, is with him and must continue to be until by whoredom or by marrying another breaks the unity that marriage had created.  If pressed beyond this point, the ruling, designed in part at least for woman’s protection, may defeat its own purpose by exposing her to danger and preventing her ever having a natural protector.*2

 

FOOTNOTES:
*1  That the power of divorce should have been anciently regarded as a traditional right is in harmony with the general ideas and practice of the age in regard to woman’s status.  When before a marriage, compensation (“dowry,” Gen. 34:12; Exod. 22:16,17; 1 Sam. 18:25) was given to the wife’s relatives (Gen. 29:18), it was natural to regard her in the light of property, and the notion of property involves liberty to alienate it (see Hastings’ Bib. Dict., Art. Marriage).  But in the gospel, woman’s status has been raised.  From a household slave or a piece of moveable property she has been elevated to her original place as an “helpmeet” for man, standing at his side.  Therefore his right of divorce on the old, degenerated grounds is taken away. 
*2  Proceeding on the premise (which agrees with reason and the nature of marriage) that sexual unity constitutes the essential of marriage and that adultery therefore breaks it, and that Jesus recognizing this therefore allows divorce for this sin; then does it not follow that if a woman has been divorced from her husband for some other cause she becomes free to marry another when he by marrying another has committed adultery against her?  If so, the same principle would, I suppose, held good in regard to a man put away wrongfully by his wife.   

It appears to be taken for granted that no one would care to marry one divorced from a husband for adultery.

3.  A Christian man is allowed to divorce his wife for un-chastity.  Under the law this sin was punishable by death.  Under Christ it is punishable by divorce.  This is just, and sometimes it is the only course that love for one’s children and the sanctity of the home will dictate.

The gospel principle and the grace of God, however, also indicate that where there is repentance there should be forgiveness; and as this might involve the restoration of the offender, some think that a Christian having divorced his wife allowably ought to remain unmarried until her death. 

Remarriage: - But as to whether or not one, before the death of a companion scripturally divorced, may under any circumstances marry again, nothing is said in the New Testament.  This point therefore, viz., the lawfulness of the remarriage of the innocent party, has always been a disputed one.  The Eastern Church and Protestants generally have allowed it.  The Roman Church has not.  Augustine wrote strongly against it, but later in his life had some misgivings as to the correctness of his position, saying that the question was so obscure that error on either side is venial (excusable).  To avoid endless dispute, therefore, this question should doubtless be left to the individual conscience of the believer and the existing civil law.  “Nothing is lawful to him who doubts its lawfulness.”  Erasmuus, too, has well said, “True religion is peace, and we can not have peace unless we have the conscience unshackled on obscure points on which certainty is impossible.” *1

Separation: - As to the duty of those whom the gospel standard finds in a state of wedlock not fully in harmony with Christ’s ruling, nothing is said.  The New Testament is silent, unless 1 Tim 3:2 contains an allusion to the fact that a measure of reproach attaches to such a state, whether polygamous or that of such a remarried divorced person (see Appendix, Note 2). 

FOOTNOTES:

*1  Where Paul, in Rom. 7:2 says that the woman is bound by the law to the husband so long as he liveth, the question of adultery or divorce is not in view at all.  He is simply stating the rule of marriage in its normal state, which was just in point in his argument.  We must not here interpret him exclusively, without the possibility of any modification of his statement; for the law allowed the husband to give the wife a bill of divorcement and to send her away free to marry again.  Therefore it did not under all circumstances bind the woman to the husband until his death.  This text, therefore does not apply in the case just considered, viz., the remarriage of one who has divorced a companion for the one allowable cause.  

None can doubt that in the beginning, the gospel standard found many involved in a wrong union, for divorce and second marriages were common among the Jews (as was also polygamy – see McClintock and Strong’s Cyclopedia of Biblical Lit., Art. “Marriage”): but there is not a word as to separation.  And where the Spirit has kept silence, can we do better than follow his example?   Much confusion follows legalistic presentations of the gospel and intrusion into other people’s private affairs in this connection.  We must teach disciples to observe whatsoever Christ has taught or commanded.  But beyond this, advice, when sought by or on behalf of persons already involved, should be given with reserve and a careful regard to the spirit of the gospel and the fact that in matters of any doubt the individuals themselves, in the last resource, must follow their own convictions and what grace as well as truth seems to indicate to be the mind of the Spirit in their particular case.  Christ’s law is intended primarily for his church, and the children of the new covenant “shall all be taught of God.”  That covenant, too, is essentially a ministry of the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:6). 

The dogmatic assertion that all divorced and remarried people must separate or they can not be saved or live pleasing to God is a heartless ruling, harder than the stone of Sinai, unwarranted by the letter of the New Testament and condemned by its spirit.  It would really seem from experience as though one’s not having enough of the kernel of truth involves his excessive use of the “shall.”

Had the Lord meant us to teach separation in such cases as we are considering, the law would have taught it or Christ would have left it on record, the issues involved are so great.  Many cases of divorce and remarriage must have existed in his time among the Jews, for Deuteronomy 24 allowed it, and there was no civil law to the contrary.  Christ however attempted no correction of these, so far as we know.  Neither in public nor in private does he seem to have taught or counseled separation.  Then does not this attitude of his in tacitly allowing those existing marriages to remain which were justified by the statute in Deuteronomy 24 (even though in a technical sense, i.e., by remarriage, adultery had been committed), indicated to us the attitude we should take toward marriages based on similar statutes today?  I think it does.

It seems clear to me that separation in such cases was not the thought of Christ, but rather that by his Spirit and teachings, a new principle and view of life might enter into the hearts of men whereby, in the new society of love which he was founding, there would be natural conformity in practice to the Edenic standard of marriage.  Present nonconformity to that standard was no bar to membership in that society, however, presumably because it was the technical, not the immoral act of adultery, that had been committed.   

Conclusion: - I believe, therefore, that we do well to allow some liberty of conscience in such cases and that if the persons concerned feel clear before God in living together in faith and holiness they should be allowed to do so (providing their relations are in accord with the civil law).  They should be encouraged to make the best they can of what is, to say the least, a very regrettable situation.

Besides, if Christ came to fulfil the law and the prophets, he can hardly have meant to teach men to break them, even in a minor point, by attempting to return to a former companion after he or she had married again (see Deut. 24:4; Jer. 3:1).  Few States will allow the necessary divorce without adequate cause, and I feel sure that no civil laws consider the wish to recover a lost ideal a sufficient reason for granting another divorce. 

APPENDIX

Note 1. Concerning Remarriage of the innocent Parties Scripturally Divorced

That Christ allows the putting away of an adulterous companion is believed by a large number of Christians, even by many who do not accept the idea of the lawfulness of the remarriage of the innocent party.  It seems to the writer that in considering this subject, we should not allow our attention to be diverted to the thought of remarriage: that the solution of the whole subject hinges on the one word divorce. 

The modern distinction between absolute divorce and mere separation has no place in the true interpretation of the Scriptures pertaining to this subject.  In the King James rendering of Matt. 5:32, “put away” and “divorced” are used interchangeably and in the Greek it is the same word.  Furthermore, it is the same word that is used in the Septuagint Version of Deut. 24:1-3 where divorce is absolute, the divorced woman being permitted to “go and be another man’s wife.”

In the time of Christ, Roman law allowed divorce freely upon consent of the parties concerned, no legal action being required, and this divorce was absolute, both parties being free to marry again.

To sum up divorce conditions as they existed when Christ taught on this subject: First, the divorces allowed by Roman law were absolute – the end of the marriage relation.  Second, according to Jewish law, divorce was also absolute, remarriage being allowed, in which case no return to the former companion was permitted.  Now when Christ referred directly to the many excuses for divorce allowable under Moses’ law and repudiated them, limiting the cause for divorce to the one thing – fornication, does this divorce which he allowed mean divorce or does it mean something else?  One maxim of Bishop Butler was that, “Everything is itself and not something else.”  And when we consider that the only meaning of divorce under the Jewish and Roman laws was the end of the marriage relation, it seems to me that in the absence of a hint to the contrary, we are obliged to accept the idea that for this cause Christ allows absolute divorce. 

Note 2: Interpretation of 1 Tim 3:2 

A correct understanding of the absolute nature of the divorce allowed by Christ enables us to give a proper interpretation of 1 Tim. 3:2 – “The husband of one wife.”  Under Jewish and Roman laws the man who divorced a wife and married another was not regarded as having two wives, for the first was no longer his wife in any sense.  The same is true under our civil laws today.  It therefore follows, as a natural conclusion, that if a man has been divorced according to the law of Christ and then remarried, he still has but one wife, and therefore this would not be a bar to his holding office in the church, provided he possessed the other necessary qualifications.  The reason for this is clear.  If a man’s wife dies and he then marries another, he is not regarded as having two wives, simply because according to the standard of Christ, death ends the marriage relation.  So also if the same Christ recognizes divorce as a punishment for adultery, said divorce being the end of the marriage relationship, then remarriage is not plural marriage.  Since polygamy was allowed under Jewish law, there is no doubt that in Paul’s day some of those who accepted Christianity had two or more wives, and this state being unnatural and out of harmony with the law of Christ, it was made a bar to holding office in the church. 

Jim Storts Note:
I would recommend you read this article several times.  Guard your mind against prejudiced thoughts which would prevent you from seeing the truth.  During the Seventh Seal Silence many of us have been taught false doctrines.  We must allow the truth of the Holy Scriptures to wash our minds of the distortions others have lodged in our firmly held beliefs. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

New Testament Apostleship

The following article was published in 1912 be a church of God minister.  I have printed the following excerpts for the benefit of those who have a burden to establish a new congregation for the glory of God and the service of men's souls. 
 
Let us briefly consider the essential qualifications of one who is to plant the full gospel in new fields.  Any thoughtful and spiritual-minded person can see at a glance how important it is for the forerunners, the apostles, of this reformation to be representative men, men well taught in doctrine and drilled through personal and observational experience. 

Firstly, then, such a man should be well informed as regards Christian doctrine.  He should know the truth in every doctrinal and practical detail.  The cause of Christ has been abused a great many times because many of us, in our zeal, pushed out into the work, even alone, without sufficient knowledge on many subjects. 

The things first taught in a community are the things that stick the closest to those who accept the doctrine.  The pioneer teacher, therefore, should thoroughly understand the first “principles of the doctrine of Christ,” so that after he preaches in a place, the teaching will never need to be changed.”   The first apostles traveled with Jesus and were taught of him, and after his resurrection he appeared to them and gave them the final commission to “go into all the world” and to make disciples of all nations, teaching them to observe to do all things whatsoever he had taught them. 

Secondly, an apostle should be trained in gospel work.  The first twelve that Jesus sent out to preach were properly trained beforehand.  “And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach.”  Mark 3:14.  When the disciples were about to ordain a substitute to take the bishopric of Judas Iscariot, who by transgression fell, Peter said, “Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning with the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained,” etc. (Acts 1:21,22).

Thirdly, church-planters should be free from both compromise and fanaticism.  In other words, the pioneers of this reform should be well-balanced in the truth, holding neither slack nor extreme views on any Scriptural subject. 

Fourthly, an apostle should be able to explain scriptures properly.  His interpretation and applications should always be logical and correct. 

Fifthly, he should be endued with power.  Healing and miracles followed the labors of the first apostles, and there is no reason why they should not follow the apostles of Christ today.  It has been demonstrated that, as miracles of healing, etc. were a means of helping to establish the gospel in primitive times, so they are today.  Surrounded as we are with numerous conflicting creeds and religious frauds, powerless preaching and dead formality, we shall find the casting out of devils, the working of miracles, the healing of the sick, etc. a powerful incentive to faith in the doctrine we preach.  Since these works are mentioned in the last commission, there is no better proof that a doctrine is divine than that it is accompanied by miracle-power. 

Sixthly, an apostle should be persevering.  He should never get restless and pull up stakes and in discouragement leave a place too soon.  Paul remained at Corinth a year and six months the first time he visited that city (Acts 18:7-11).  He remained in the city of Ephesus two years.  He spent three months in one part of the city (Acts 19:8) and, then securing another place of worship in the same city, he continued two years (verses 9,10).

A careful study of the Acts will show with what earnestness and faithfulness the truth of the gospel was planted in those days.  The same principles hold good yet.  We ministers are learning that as a rule our most fruitful meetings are those which are run for a period of several weeks.  By this method the people are awakened, doctrinized, convicted, many of them saved, many others convinced, and most, if not all, the heretical doctrines and the human creeds are properly exposed.  My brethren, bear in mind that I am writing about planting a church, not merely a few principles of truth.  It is one thing to rush into a place, sow (?) the truth – a few points of doctrine – for a brief period of ten days, and then hurry to another point; and quite another to prepare the hearts of the people by winning them through personal confidence in you, sown the whole system of gospel truth, and stay by it for a yield.  To plant a church is to get a number of people in a given locality converted, established, and, as a body, fully set in order, so that they can worship God the Bible way.

So much for the need and supply of overseers.  Let us now turn our attention to the overseers themselves.  I will address my exhortations directly to them.

Firstly, I would exhort you never to allow the least particle of division to creep in or have the least countenance among you as elders of the church. 

Secondly, never allow discouragements to overwhelm you and cause you to neglect either your private or your public duties as pastors.

Thirdly, you should be careful about where you go, when you go, and how long you stay. 

Fourthly, I exhort you to keep the standard of righteous judgment lifted against impostors and apostates.  Most deceivers are slick-tongued.  Their words are “good” and their speeches “fair”; and if you let them into your pulpit, they will “deceive the hearts of the simple” and “cause divisions and offenses contrary to the truth.” 

ML1913JAN:  No minister will open up more territory than either he or some one else can care for until the congregations therein become established.  Each minister will stand by every little flock he raises up until they are thoroughly indoctrinated with God’s doctrine; until they are truly sanctified and filled with the Spirit, until they are in good working order, and not only in working order, but actually working; until God raises up elders and deacons among them to oversee the work and carry it forward. 

As I have said before, many of our local congregations are in, or have been in, a discouraged state largely because of our method.  They did not become grounded in the doctrine, for the minister could not stay long enough to teach them.  Many of them did not receive the Holy Spirit, for they either did not yet feel the need of being sanctified or did not comprehend fully the doctrine.  Such congregations, newly come to the faith, left in an unsanctified, unorganized condition and without a leader, are a prey for Satan’s agents and agencies of every kind. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

CALLED, CHOSEN AND COMMISSIONED

We are known by the way we live.  People watch us and they see what we do and hear what we say.  They form opinions about us that becomes who we are in their eyes.  They see us as being another example of someone who does right or someone who does wrong.  You can fool everyone sometimes; and you can fool some people all the time; but, you can’t fool all the people all the time.  God knows you better than anyone.  God knows who you are and how you really are all the time.  God, who knows your heart, will call you to repentance or call you to work in His Kingdom. 

When God calls us and we answer Him with our obedience, He will redeem us, cleanse us and equip us to do the work which He will assign to us.   

Mark 1:16-20
16 Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
17 And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.
18 And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.
19 And when he had gone a little further thence, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets.
20 And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him.

When Jesus calls someone, they will need to leave behind anything which prevents them from answering His call.  Often times a person will hear the message of salvation and desire to have that deliverance from all their sins and the evil things they do which they hate.  However, after they have repented, they will not give up and leave behind the habits and relationships which prevent them from obeying God.  You cannot be a child of God if you will not give up the works of the flesh and those earthly ties which prevent you from following Jesus. 

Isaiah 1:26
26 And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city.
We are called the city of righteousness because those who are saved and living in the church of God are righteous.  We are a faithful city.  We daily follow our Lord and keep His commandments.  Other people will see the way we live each day and call us holy, righteous and faithful.  They will see our good works and glorify God. 

Isaiah 4:1-6
1 And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach.
2 In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel.
3 And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem:
4 When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.
5 And the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence.
6 And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain.

God does have a holy people in our day.  We who have repented of our sins and been justified by the blood of Jesus Christ and sanctified by the Holy Spirit are called, chosen and commissioned to be the example of God’s people for others to see.  We must make attractive the way of the Lord for all the people to see.

There are many people who want to be thought of as being good and charitable, but they do not want to make the sacrifice to be holy and pure before God.  This is the meaning of the words of Isaiah: “seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach.”  Seven is a number which represents completeness or perfection.  In this verse it is talking about all those religious organization of men (women) who want to be called by the name of Christ, but they want to have their own doctrines (bread) and wear their own apparel (customs).  They do not want to keep the commandments of Jesus Christ. 

Isaiah 35:4-10
4 Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you.
5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.
6 Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.
7 And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes.
8 And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.
9 No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall ot be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there:
10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

On the highway of holiness there will found the mighty works of God.  Divine healing will be there.  People who live holy, sin-free lives will be there, joy and happiness will be there.  The sinner will not be there.  No evil thing or person will be found on the highway of holiness. 

Matthew 10:1
And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.

When Jesus calls people to serve Him and work in His Kingdom; He gives them the power and the gifts to do the work to which He has called them.  Jesus called His disciples in His day and He commissioned them to preach ever since that day.
Matthew 22:14
For many are called, but few are chosen.

Remember this and do not let those who fall away to discourage you or hinder your faith.  Many are called, but few are chosen.  Why?  Because they have responded to conviction but not to consecration.  They have started but they did not finish.  When they found out the price which they must pay to be a disciple of Christ, they drew back into their selfish sins.

Hebrews 10:36-39
36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.
37 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.
38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.

“If any man draw back unto perdition.”  Oh, how sad.  Perdition means utter destruction, eternal damnation.  What a great privilege and blessing we have to be called of God to become sons of God.  What a terrible curse comes to those who refuse to listen to God’s calling.  I have seen many people refuse to answer the call of God with obedience.  Instead they have rebelled and gone away backwards into sin and confusion. 

John 15:15-16
15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

What has God called us to do?  Go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain.  Heb 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”  God keeps all of His promises.

Monday, February 9, 2015

June 15, 1913 CAMP MEETING - SANCTIFICATION



SANCTIFICATION
June 15,1913 Message by L.F. Robold

Probably there are people here who never heard the doctrine of sanctification preached as it is in the Word of God. Sanctification is a Bible doctrine, and many people believe that; but there are all kinds of beliefs about it in the world. Some believe one way and some believe another way. All seem to know the Bible teaches it, but all do not understand it.

In the 17th chapter of John, in the 16th and 17th verses we read Jesus’ prayer for the sanctification of his followers: “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” “And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” In First Thessalonians 4:3 we hear the apostle say, “This is the will of God, even your sanctification.”

The two texts from Christ’s prayer are sufficient to prove that Jesus prayed for the sanctification of his followers and plainly declared it was the will of God for them to be sanctified. He prayed for those who were following him, those who stood around about him and followed him in his ministry. This gives us a good thought as to who are fit subjects for sanctification.

Jesus preached first the gospel of repentance. John the Baptist also preached the gospel of repentance. Many people believed the Word of God and repented of their sins, and now, on the night of his betrayal, Jesus prayed for his followers, those who had repented. “These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee… I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” We can see readily what condition those disciples that he was praying for were in: they were not of the world; they were in the world but had been saved from the evils of the world. The Lord had preached to them repentance and they had become his followers, and now he prayed for them that were saved to be sanctified. He said, “I sanctify myself that they also may be sanctified.”

The thought he conveys to our minds in his sanctification is a setting apart unto death. He died on the cross that men and women might be sanctified through the truth. In Thessalonians Paul declares it to be the “will of God even your sanctification.” The Thessalonians were saved men. “This is the will of God even your sanctification.” You that are justified and yet have not been sanctified, it is the will of God that you be sanctified. But mark this one thing: Do not seek sanctification before you are justified. If you do, you will get ahead of the Spirit of God and will begin to seek an experience that you are not ready for; but if you are justified, if your life has been cleansed from sin, if the Lord has spoken pardon to your soul, you are ready for the second work of grace that is taught in the Word of God – sanctification.

HOLY GHOST RECEIVED IN SANCTIFICATION

In the Word of God we find other terms that signify the same experience. “Being made perfect in love,” signifies being filled with the Holy Spirit, or getting sanctified. To be sanctified and to be filled with the Holy Ghost are identical. It means the same thing. There are people in the world that are teaching that we must be justified first and then be sanctified and later on be filled with the Holy Ghost. Such is confusion and false doctrine. There are people on these grounds that have been taught that people must first be sanctified and then after that get the Holy Spirit. Ah, my brethren, the Bible does not teach that. But when you are sanctified you get the Holy Ghost, and when you get the Holy Ghost you are sanctified; for we read in Romans 16:16 that we are sanctified by the Holy Ghost.

Another thing I have found by coming in contact with those who have been taught the doctrine of three works of grace, is that many of them do not get to where they are satisfied. They are seeking for something continually. There is such a thing as men and women becoming sanctified and getting satisfied. An experience that does not satisfy you is not an experience that the Bible teaches.

Some people claim that on the day of Pentecost the people got converted when the Holy Ghost was poured out. I met one man who said, “I tell you, when I got converted I got the Holy Ghost.” I told him that his experience was not according to the Bible. In the 14th chapter of John, 16th and 17th verses, it is recorded that Jesus said to his disciples: “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world can not receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” We find in this text two things; first, we find that the world can not receive the Holy Ghost, and that the disciples who were saved from the world could receive him, and that they had him with them, right then and there. It says, “Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world can not receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” On the day of Pentecost, when the 120 were praying with one accord, the Holy Ghost came and filled the room in which they were sitting, falling on all of them. That was the fulfillment of the promise that they should have the Holy Spirit in them. It is the same way today. Men and women get saved from their sins, by repenting of them; they have the Spirit of God in their hearts, “Crying Abba, Father,” but not in his fullness; and the Holy Spirit helps them to overcome evil; but when the Holy Ghost comes in sanctifying power he abides in them in his fullness.

THE DISCIPLES BEFORE PENTECOST

We see by the lives of the disciples that they had a good experience of justification before Pentecost. Jesus sent them out to preach. In the 9th chapter of Luke we learn that he sent out the twelve, and in the 10th chapter we find he sent out the seventy, and he gave them power over unclean spirits, to heal the sick, to preach the gospel. Did you ever read in the word of God that Jesus sent a sinner to preach the gospel? Some preachers say they sin more or less every day. The preacher that says he sins has missed his calling. If your preacher is a sinning preacher, he has missed his calling. God called sinners to repent not to preach. He sent the twelve and he sent the seventy, and gave them power to heal the sick. Do you think the Lord would have sent them out and given them this power if they were sinners? Never, never! They went everywhere preaching the gospel.

In the 10th chapter of Luke we read: “And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.” The devils were subject unto them through his name. Jesus said, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” Now, you may not understand why he said, “I beheld Satan fall as lightning from heaven.” I take it that at the rebuke of the disciples the power of Satan went as quick as lightning falls from heaven. The spirits were obedient to the disciples. They were sent forth under the power of God and by the authority of Jesus. The Lord said, “I give you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means harm you. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.” When does God write the names of people in heaven? Is it not when they are converted? Is it not a fact that all souls that get saved have their names recorded in the glory world? If the disciples’ names were written in the glory world, then they were converted; and if they were converted before Pentecost, then on the day of Pentecost they were sanctified by being filled with the Holy Spirit. How glad I am that we can get out of the tangle if we take the Word of God for what it says. The Word of God is plain.

THE PENTECOSTAL POWER

Immediately after the Holy Ghost fell upon the people on the day of Pentecost, a revival broke out. They began to preach to the people in languages that were represented at that time. There were different nationalities gathered at Jerusalem from all the countries round about and there were many tongues represented on this occasion, and the Lord so ordained it that they began to preach the gospel to them in their tongues or language, so that every man that heard it understood. As a result about three thousand souls were saved.

When Peter and John were arrested some persecution was started. Sometimes that follows. When God begins to work, the devil begins to work, too. “And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them. And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together.” Now listen closely to their prayer. “For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word.” Oh, how much that meant under those circumstances! I often think about it. If the people of God today were in such a condition as that and undergoing similar trials, I fear a great many of them would say we ought to be a little more cautious about this. Some would probably say Peter and John were too bold or they would not have got into trouble. They should have been a little more careful. Sometimes it goes that way; but these disciples had nothing in them of the nature of backing down. They had a go-through in them. They were of the type of those who would rather lose their lives than to compromise, or to take things easy and fail to glorify God. The Holy Ghost will put boldness in us, will give us power with God and will make us able to do the will of God.

There is nothing that will give us success like being filled with the Spirit of God. I have noticed that if we keep filled with the Spirit of God and have faith in God, the sick are healed and wonders are done in Jesus’ name. It gets hold of the people. Merely the outside fixed up, even though it looks ever so nice, it will not work like this will work. If we want to see the people get stirred, if we want to see the world taken for Christ, let us pray the prayer that was prayed here, that signs may follow. Let us live so close to God that they will follow. I thank God for what has been done in this camp-meeting. The lame have been made to walk; the blind have been made to see; the sick have been healed, a great number, yet there are many sick. We can pray the prayer of faith for those who are not healed yet. This is what will get souls to Christ. I am glad that if we live where God wants us to live and keep the Holy Spirit in our hearts, these signs will follow us because we believe, and the signs following will convince others and people will believe. Let us have an increase in “signs following.”

AN INSTANCE OF HEALING

A few years ago when I had just started out in the ministry, I went to Kansas City. I had not fully decided whether God wanted me to preach or not. Sometimes the enemy had troubled me and almost made me believe I had no place in the body at all. But I got victory over it with the help of God just before Brother Peterman came to Kansas City. I had never been in the city before. Tent-meeting was going on. There were but a few saints in attendance. In this meeting I made a failure of one of my sermons. I felt I had made a failure and the saints felt that I had. I prayed almost all the night following, and the next morning I prayed up until meeting-time. We had a better meeting that morning. That evening I went out on the river bank and prevailed with God. That night we had a still better meeting, but the audience was small. On the third meeting we were sent for to pray for an old sister. I think she was eighty-four years old. She was all covered with poultices and looked as though she was ready to go into the other world. But by this time my faith had gotten to where I could “leap over a wall or run through a troop.” We began to talk to her and to read about Sister Cole’s healing. She said, “I was raised a Campbellite, and they don’t teach healing.” I told her, “Sister, it is the Bible anyhow,” to which she answered, “Yes, if he ever healed one individual he will heal another.” We then asked her, “Do you believe that God will heal you if we anoint and pray for you?” She said, “Yes.” And we anointed and prayed for her and she began to get out of the bed. God filled the room with his Spirit and helped that poor old soul. She got up and dressed.

The next day she sent for us. When we came she was rocking in the rocking-chair and singing. She asked us if the Lord could heal rupture. I told her, “God can heal a rupture or anything your faith takes in.” She said she had a rupture of eleven years’ standing. We anointed her and prayed for her. She jumped over that floor like a young girl, and began to tell what great things God had done for her. God began to work, we had a glorious meeting, and the effects are there yet.

If we would have success in our ministry, we must prevail with God. No matter if we are of slow speech, if God is our strength, we will have success. “By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.” They had all received the Holy Ghost in power; they had repented at Peter’s preaching before this.

When Philip preached Christ to the Samaritans and devils were cast out, and there was great joy in the city, and they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the Word of God, and sent Peter and John. When they arrived they prayed for them and laid hands on them, and the Samaritans were filled with the Holy Ghost. This is another instance of great company’s receiving the Holy Spirit as a second work. The Holy Ghost was the sanctifier. They were sanctified after they had received the word and were baptized.

At the house of Cornelius the Holy Ghost was poured out on a company of believers. I would to God that people would get faith to receive the Holy Ghost now as they did then. I wonder why people have to agonize and pray and have to be talked to so much now to get sanctified. The Bible says he fell on them while Peter was yet speaking. Why could it not be that way today? I have seen a few cases of it. My friends, I am firmly convinced that if your justified life is clean and your faith is properly taught, you can receive sanctification in your seats. I believe that with all of my heart. I know there is a class of people in this world that claim you must tarry, and tarry, and tarry, but why the need of tarrying when he is already here? They will cite the fact that the apostles tarried at Jerusalem to be endued with power; but mark you, the fact is, the Holy Spirit was not in the world then as a sanctifier. They had to wait until the proper time came. We read about the multitude of them that were there praying, and it says they were all filled with the Holy Ghost. Every one of them at Samaria and the household of Cornelius were also filled. While Peter yet spake to them, the Holy Spirit fell on them.

In a meeting at Winslow, Indiana, while the minister was preaching, the Holy Spirit fell on us, and a brother came up and asked, “Do I have to go to the altar after I get the experience?” He said, “I was listening to the preaching and the Holy Spirit came. I opened my heart and received him.” I have never known of this man doubting his sanctification. It can be that way, brethren, and when we consider that it is God’s will for you to have the experience, is it not reasonable to believe he will pour it out upon us? Peter said on the day of Pentecost, “Repent, every one of you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost; for the promise is unto you.” Is that all? “And unto your children and to all that are afar off; even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” And the God of the Bible said, regarding the last days: “I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophecy.” I am glad that we are living in the last days when the Holy Spirit is being poured out. Open your heart, and let the Holy Spirit come in. Sometimes I think some people get it in their minds as something way up yonder, that they will have to work and stretch and pull and tarry for in order to receive. The better way is to have simple faith in God’s promises and you will get it, after you have met the conditions of the Word.

CONDITIONS TO BE MET

The consecration of your all to God is the condition upon which men and women receive the Holy Ghost, or get sanctified; but it ought not to take a justified man or woman long to make that consecration. After you have once tasted the good things of God in regeneration, there ought to be a hungering in your heart for the sanctified experience, and especially if you have gone far enough in the justified life that you have become conscious of the fact that there is something lacking in you that prevents your doing the will of God at all times as you ought to. I don’t think you will go very far until you will find that out. In the first good hard trial I got into after I was saved, I found something in me that pulled me hard towards sin. 

Have you ever had that experience?  Then, do not doubt you have.

I remember especially one experience. I had never heard a sermon on sanctification and did not know what it meant. One hot afternoon I was plowing in new ground with a mule team, and the team got contrary. I was getting tired. We came to a place where a stump had been dug out and the mules would not step over it, but all at once they jumped over it and pulled me with them. There was something in me, which, if I had obeyed its leadings, would have caused me to take up a root and beat the mule as hard as I could. I thought, O Lord, have I backslid?” That thing seemed to surprise me. I did not know what to do. I never heard anybody preach sanctification as a second work of grace. I got down on my knees and prayed to God that he would never let that thing come to pass again. But it did. Later on I heard some one preach on a second work of grace, and on being carnal, what the Holy Spirit would do, etc. I found out what was the thing that wanted to kill the mules; it was the old man, that carnal nature. I began to seek God for the experience of sanctification and never stopped until the Lord gave it to me. Oh, it was wonderful, the destruction of the old man and the crowning King of kings of the new man! Glory to God.

My brothers and sisters, have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed? 

Let us read in the 19th chapter of Acts. Here we are going to learn about a dozen men who were possibly in your condition, save they never had heard of the Holy Ghost. “And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus; and finding certain disciples, he said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. They were saved, for they were disciples, or believers. The apostles said, “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” I do not mean to believe with the head, for the Word says, “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:10.

Have you received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?” That is the question that is before you tonight. The Ephesian disciples did not receive him when they believed; they had not even heard that there was such an experience taught in the Word of God as a second work of grace. I want to know, Have you made an effort to receive him? These people had never heard of him, and on the first occasion of hearing of him they began to seek for him, and thank God, found him. “And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.” After awhile they got ready by being taught how to get the Holy Ghost. Hands were laid on them and they received the Holy Ghost after they believed. Peter, and John, and Philip, and Paul, preached repentance, and people repented, and were saved; then afterward they were sanctified.

Maybe you have not felt the necessity of sanctification. I wish to say that if you have not, you will not go far from this camp-meeting until you will actually feel the necessity. If you have had some light heretofore on sanctification you will not stay saved very long unless you get sanctified; for people must walk in the light as he is in the light if they would stay clear before God. I beg of you not to leave this camp-meeting tonight until you know you are sanctified. You are going to need the experience when you go back to the duties of life. You will find trials too great for you to stand. The Lord help you tonight to realize that this is the perfecting of the saints of God; and that it is God’s will for you. The Lord give you understanding and make you hungry for this experience.

Brethren, pray for those who you know are not sanctified. Let us pray to God while we are talking, that men and women become sanctified; the people are going to need it. “This is the will of God even your sanctification.” The Lord said, “Not every one that saith, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Have you felt the need of it in your own soul? Are you convinced that there is something that ought to be cleansed out by a second work of grace? It is the will of God that you have it cleansed out. Oh, the necessity of men and women seeking for this glorious experience!

What will it do for you? It will do wonders for you. It will simply deliver you from the last and least remains of the nature of sin in your moral being. It will do that. It will take out of your soul that old root of sin that you received through the fall of Adam, that thing that the Bible calls carnality, the old man. There are some folks who deny there is a cleansing in sanctification. They say they were made clean through justification. They are clean from committed sin in their outward life, but sanctification, thank God, will give them a clean heart. Hear what the prophet says of it: “Who may abide the day of his coming? And who shall stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner and a purifier of silver, and shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver.” This is just what the Holy Spirit will do, purge, purify the very soul of all the carnal nature until the very image of Jesus is reflected in us. God help us. People need this as surely as we are here. You will need it more from this time on.

We are sanctified through the blood of Jesus Christ. The Blood cleanses us from all sin, that is one thing it does for us. Another thing is, it gives us power; it gives us the ability to do the will of God. Somebody may get to thinking that that power means a good deal of noise in the way of shouting. It may come that way and it may come like a gentle rain. It may come with just an inner consciousness that the work is done. The power referred to is power to overcome sin and temptations; power to do the will of God. Notice the life of the disciples before and after the day of Pentecost, how much more power they had. Take Peter for instance, that fellow who was so impulsive and got into so much trouble through his weakness before Pentecost. After Pentecost he was strong and fearless. Peter, James, and John wanted God to rain fire down from heaven and destroy those who did not receive them; but after they got the Holy Ghost, how different they were! That is what it will do for you. Praise the Lord! It will also fill you with joy unspeakable and full of glory. The day I was converted was the best day I had ever experienced until the day I was sanctified; that was a better day. Yet I had all the glory I could stand when I was converted. You will be able to stand more when you are sanctified.

Thank God for the completeness through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. I pray to God that he will help you to obtain sanctification in this meeting. Brethren and sisters, I say again in conclusion, you are going to need it when you leave here. God bless you; and if you do not get it, you are going to miss the best gift of God. Now, this is as good a time as you will ever have to get it, and the best time you sinners will ever have to get salvation; no better time than now. God help us now. Today is the day of salvation, and if you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.