†† ††††††††††Absolute Surrender
††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††††By Andrew Murray (1828-1917)
††††† †††First published in 1895. This edition, Chicago: Moody Press
† ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††Rights: Public Domain
Scanned and corrected by Claude King, September 1999.
This text is in public domain and was first published in 1895.
††††††††††††††††††††† Table of Contents
Surrender† . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .† 3
"The fruit of the Spirit is love"† . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Separated unto the Holy Spirit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
Peterís repentance† . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
Impossible with man, possible with God . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
"O wretched man that I am!" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . †46
"Having begun in the Spirit" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
Kept by the power of God†† . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . †62
"You are the branches"† . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . †74
Indexes† . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .† . . . . . . . . . .† 86
†††††††††† ABSOLUTE SURRENDER
†† "And Ben-hadad the king of Syria gathered all his host together: and
†† there were thirty and two kings with him, and horses, and chariots: and
†† he went up and besieged Samaria, and warred against it. And he sent
†† messengers to Ahab king of Israel into the city, and said unto him,
†† Thus saith Ben-hadad, Thy silver and thy gold is mine; thy wives also
†† and thy children, even the goodliest, are mine. And the king of Israel
†† answered and said, My lord, O king, according to thy saying, I am your
†† and all that I have" (1 Ki. 20:1-4).
†† What Ben Hadad asked was absolute surrender; and what Ahab gave was
†† what was asked of him--absolute surrender. I want to use these words:
†† "My lord, O king, according to thy saying, I am your, and all that I
†† have," as the words of absolute surrender with which every child of God
†† ought to yield himself to his Father. We have heard it before, but we
†† need to hear it very definitely--the condition of God's blessing is
†† absolute surrender of all into His hands. Praise God! If our hearts are
†† willing for that, there is no end to what God will do for us, and to
†† the blessing God will bestow.
†† Absolute surrender--let me tell you where I got those words. I used
†† them myself often, and you have heard them numberless times. But in
†† Scotland once I was in a company where we were talking about the
†† condition of Christ's Church, and what the great need of the Church and
†† of believers is; and there was in our company a godly worker who has
†† much to do in training workers, and I asked him what he would say was
†† the great need of the Church, and the message that ought to be
†† preached. He answered very quietly and simply and determinedly:
†† "Absolute surrender to God is the one thing."
†† The words struck me as never before. And that man began to tell how, in
†† the workers with whom he had to deal, he finds that if they are sound
†† on that point, even though they be backward, they are willing to be
†† taught and helped, and they always improve; whereas others who are not
†† sound there very often go back and leave the work. The condition for
†† obtaining God's full blessing is absolute surrender to Him.
†† And now, I desire by God's grace to give to you this message--that your
†† God in Heaven answers the prayers which you have offered for blessing
†† on yourselves and for blessing on those around you by this one demand:
†† Are you willing to surrender yourselves absolutely into His hands? What
†† is our answer to be? God knows there are hundreds of hearts who have
†† said it, and there are hundreds more who long to say it but hardly dare
†† to do so. And there are hearts who have said it, but who have yet
†† miserably failed, and who feel themselves condemned because they did
†† not find the secret of the power to live that life. May God have a word
†† for all!
†† Let me say, first of all, that God claims it from us.
†† God Expects Your Surrender
†† Yes, it has its foundation in the very nature of God. God cannot do
†† otherwise. Who is God? He is the Fountain of life, the only Source of
†† existence and power and goodness, and throughout the universe there is
†† nothing good but what God works. God has created the sun, and the moon,
†† and the stars, and the flowers, and the trees, and the grass; and are
†† they not all absolutely surrendered to God? Do they not allow God to
†† work in them just what He pleases? When God clothes the lily with its
†† beauty, is it not yielded up, surrendered, given over to God as He
†† works in its beauty? And God's redeemed children, oh, can you think
†† that God can work His work if there is only half or a part of them
†† surrendered? God cannot do it. God is life, and love, and blessing, and
†† power, and infinite beauty, and God delights to communicate Himself to
†† every child who is prepared to receive Him; but ah! this one lack of
†† absolute surrender is just the thing that hinders God. And now He
†† comes, and as God, He claims it.
†† You know in daily life what absolute surrender is. You know that
†† everything has to be given up to its special, definite object and
†† service. I have a pen in my pocket, and that pen is absolutely
†† surrendered to the one work of writing, and that pen must be absolutely
†† surrendered to my hand if I am to write properly with it. If another
†† holds it partly, I cannot write properly. This coat is absolutely given
†† up to me to cover my body. This building is entirely given up to
†† religious services. And now, do you expect that in your immortal being,
†† in the divine nature that you have received by regeneration, God can
†† work His work, every day and every hour, unless you are entirely given
†† up to Him? God cannot. The Temple of Solomon was absolutely surrendered
†† to God when it was dedicated to Him. And every one of us is a temple of
†† God, in which God will dwell and work mightily on one
†† condition--absolute surrender to Him. God claims it, God is worthy of
†† it, and without it God cannot work His blessed work in us.
†† God not only claims it, but God will work it Himself.
†† God Accomplishes Your Surrender
†† I am sure there is many a heart that says: "Ah, but that absolute
†† surrender implies so much!" Someone says: "Oh, I have passed through so
†† much trial and suffering, and there is so much of the self-life still
†† remaining, and I dare not face the entire giving of it up, because I
†† know it will cause so much trouble and agony."
†† Alas! alas! that God's children have such thoughts of Him, such cruel
†† thoughts. Oh, I come to you with a message, fearful and anxious one.
†† God does not ask you to give the perfect surrender in your strength, or
†† by the power of your will; God is willing to work it in you. Do we not
†† read: "It is God that works in us, both to will and to do of his good
†† pleasure" (Phil. 2:13)? And that is what we should seek for--to go on
†† our faces before God, until our hearts learn to believe that the
†† everlasting God Himself will come in to turn out what is wrong, to
†† conquer what is evil, and to work what is well-pleasing in His blessed
†† sight. God Himself will work it in you.
†† Look at the men in the Old Testament, like Abraham. Do you think it was
†† by accident that God found that man, the father of the faithful and the
†† Friend of God, and that it was Abraham himself, apart from God, who had
†† such faith and such obedience and such devotion? You know it is not so.
†† God raised him up and prepared him as an instrument for His glory.
†† Did not God say to Pharaoh: "For this cause have I raised you up, for
†† to show in you my power" (Ex. 9:16)?
†† And if God said that of him, will not God say it far more of every
†† child of His?
†† Oh, I want to encourage you, and I want you to cast away every fear.
†† Come with that feeble desire; and if there is the fear which says: "Oh,
†† my desire is not strong enough, I am not willing for everything that
†† may come, I do not feel bold enough to say I can conquer everything"--I
†† pray you, learn to know and trust your God now. Say: "My God, I am
†† willing that You should make me willing." If there is anything
†† holding you back, or any sacrifice you are afraid of making, come to
†† God now, and prove how gracious your God is, and be not afraid that He
†† will command from you what He will not bestow.
†† God comes and offers to work this absolute surrender in you. All these
†† searchings and hungerings and longings that are in your heart, I tell
†† you they are the drawings of the divine magnet, Christ Jesus. He lived
†† a life of absolute surrender, He has possession of you; He is living in
†† your heart by His Holy Spirit. You have hindered and hindered Him
†† terribly, but He desires to help you to get hold of Him entirely. And
†† He comes and draws you now by His message and words. Will you not come
†† and trust God to work in you that absolute surrender to Himself? Yes,
†† blessed be God, He can do it, and He will do it.
†† God not only claims it and works it, but God accepts it when we bring
†† it to Him.
†† God Accepts Your Surrender
†† God works it in the secret of our heart, God urges us by the hidden
†† power of His Holy Spirit to come and speak it out, and we have to bring
†† and to yield to Him that absolute surrender. But remember, when you
†† come and bring God that absolute surrender, it may, as far as your
†† feelings or your consciousness go, be a thing of great imperfection,
†† and you may doubt and hesitate and say:
†† "Is it absolute?"
†† But, oh, remember there was once a man to whom Christ had said:
†† "If you canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth"
†† (Mark 9:23).
†† And his heart was afraid, and he cried out:
†† "Lord, I believe, help my unbelief" (Mark 9:24).
†† That was a faith that triumphed over the Devil, and the evil spirit was
†† cast out. And if you come and say: "Lord, I yield myself in absolute
†† surrender to my God," even though it be with a trembling heart and with
†† the consciousness: "I do not feel the power, I do not feel the
†† determination, I do not feel the assurance," it will succeed. Be not
†† afraid, but come just as you are, and even in the midst of your
†† trembling the power of the Holy Spirit will work.
†† Have you never yet learned the lesson that the Holy Spirit works with
†† mighty power, while on the human side everything appears feeble? Look
†† at the Lord Jesus Christ in Gethsemane. We read that He, "through the
†† eternal Spirit" (Heb. 9:14), offered Himself a sacrifice unto God. The
†† Almighty Spirit of God was enabling Him to do it. And yet what agony
†† and fear and exceeding sorrow came over Him, and how He prayed!
†† Externally, you can see no sign of the mighty power of the Spirit, but
†† the Spirit of God was there. And even so, while you are feeble and
†† fighting and trembling, in faith in the hidden work of God's Spirit do
†† not fear, but yield yourself.
†† And when you do yield yourself in absolute surrender, let it be in the
†† faith that God does now accept of it. That is the great point, and that
†† is what we so often miss--that believers should be thus occupied with
†† God in this matter of surrender. I pray you, be occupied with God. We
†† want to get help, every one of us, so that in our daily life God shall
†† be clearer to us, God shall have the right place, and be "all in all."
†† And if we are to have that through life, let us begin now and look away
†† from ourselves, and look up to God. Let each believe--while I, a poor
† †worm on earth and a trembling child of God, full of failure and sin and
†† fear, bow here, and no one knows what passes through my heart, and
†† while I in simplicity say, O God, I accept Thy terms; I have pleaded
†† for blessing on myself and others, I have accepted Thy terms of
†† absolute surrender--while your heart says that in deep silence,
†† remember there is a God present that takes note of it, and writes it
†† down in His book, and there is a God present who at that very moment
†† takes possession of you. You may not feel it, you may not realize it,
†† but God takes possession if you will trust Him.
†† God not only claims it, and works it, and accepts it when I bring it,
†† but God maintains it.
†† God Maintains Your Surrender
†† That is the great difficulty with many. People say: "I have often been
†† stirred at a meeting, or at a convention, and I have consecrated myself
†† to God, but it has passed away. I know it may last for a week or for a
†† month, but away it fades, and after a time it is all gone."
†† But listen! It is because you do not believe what I am now going to
†† tell you and remind you of. When God has begun the work of absolute
†† surrender in you, and when God has accepted your surrender, then God
†† holds Himself bound to care for it and to keep it. Will you believe
†† In this matter of surrender there are two: God and I--I a worm, God the
†† everlasting and omnipotent Jehovah. Worm, will you be afraid to trust
†† yourself to this mighty God now? God is willing. Do you not believe
†† that He can keep you continually, day by day, and moment by moment?
†† Moment by moment I'm kept in His love;
†† Moment by moment I've life from above.
†† If God allows the sun to shine upon you moment by moment, without
†† intermission, will not God let His life shine upon you every moment?
†† And why have you not experienced it? Because you have not trusted God
†† for it, and you do not surrender yourself absolutely to God in that
†† A life of absolute surrender has its difficulties. I do not deny that.
†† Yes, it has something far more than difficulties: it is a life that
†† with men is absolutely impossible. But by the grace of God, by the
†† power of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, it is a
†† life to which we are destined, and a life that is possible for us,
†† praise God! Let us believe that God will maintain it.
†† Some of you have read the words of that aged saint who, on his
†† ninetieth birthday, told of all God's goodness to him--I mean George
†† Muller. What did he say he believed to be the secret of his happiness,
†† and of all the blessing which God had given him? He said he believed
†† there were two reasons. The one was that he had been enabled by grace
†† to maintain a good conscience before God day by day; the other was,
†† that he was a lover of God's Word. Ah, yes, a good conscience is
†† complete obedience to God day by day, and fellowship with God every day
†† in His Word, and prayer--that is a life of absolute surrender.
†† Such a life has two sides--on the one side, absolute surrender to work
†† what God wants you to do; on the other side, to let God work what He
†† wants to do.
†† First, to do what God wants you to do.
†† Give up yourselves absolutely to the will of God. You know something of
†† that will; not enough, far from all. But say absolutely to the Lord
†† God: "By Thy grace I desire to do Thy will in everything, every moment
†† of every day." Say: "Lord God, not a word upon my tongue but for Thy
†† glory, not a movement of my temper but for Thy glory, not an affection
†† of love or hate in my heart but for Thy glory, and according to Thy
†† blessed will."
†† Someone says: "Do you think that possible?"
†† I ask, What has God promised you, and what can God do to fill a vessel
†† absolutely surrendered to Him? Oh, God wants to bless you in a way
†† beyond what you expect. From the beginning, ear hath not heard, neither
†† hath the eye seen, what God hath prepared for them that wait for Him (1
†† Cor. 2:9). God has prepared unheard-of things, blessings much more
†† wonderful than you can imagine, more mighty than you can conceive. They
†† are divine blessings. Oh, say now:
†† "I give myself absolutely to God, to His will, to do only what God
†† It is God who will enable you to carry out the surrender.
†† And, on the other side, come and say: "I give myself absolutely to God,
†† to let Him work in me to will and to do of His good pleasure, as He has
†† promised to do."
†† Yes, the living God wants to work in His children in a way that we
†† cannot understand, but that God's Word has revealed, and He wants to
†† work in us every moment of the day. God is willing to maintain our
†† life. Only let our absolute surrender be one of simple, childlike, and
†† unbounded trust.
†† God Blesses When You Surrender
†† This absolute surrender to God will wonderfully bless.
†† What Ahab said to his enemy, King Ben-hadad--"My lord, O king,
†† according to thy word I am your, and all that I have"--shall we not
†† say to our God and loving Father? If we do say it, God's blessing will
†† come upon us. God wants us to be separate from the world; we are called
†† to come out from the world that hates God. Come out for God, and say:
†† "Lord, anything for You." If you say that with prayer, and speak that
†† into God's ear, He will accept it, and He will teach you what it means.
†† I say again, God will bless you. You have been praying for blessing.
†† But do remember, there must be absolute surrender. At every tea-table
†† you see it. Why is tea poured into that cup? Because it is empty, and
†† given up for the tea. But put ink, or vinegar, or wine into it, and
†† will they pour the tea into the vessel? And can God fill you, can God
†† bless you if you are not absolutely surrendered to Him? He cannot. Let
†† us believe God has wonderful blessings for us, if we will but stand up
†† for God, and say, be it with a trembling will, yet with a believing
†† "O God, I accept Thy demands. I am your and all that I have. Absolute
†† surrender is what my soul yields to You by divine grace."
†† You may not have such strong and clear feelings of deliverances as you
†† would desire to have, but humble yourselves in His sight, and
†† acknowledge that you have grieved the Holy Spirit by your self-will,
†† self-confidence, and self-effort. Bow humbly before him in the
†† confession of that, and ask him to break the heart and to bring you
†† into the dust before Him. Then, as you bow before Him, just accept
†† God's teaching that in your flesh "there dwells no good thing" (Rom.
†† 7:18), and that nothing will help you except another life which must
†† come in. You must deny self once for all. Denying self must every
†† moment be the power of your life, and then Christ will come in and take
†† possession of you.
†† When was Peter delivered? When was the change accomplished? The change
†† began with Peter weeping, and the Holy Spirit came down and filled his
†† God the Father loves to give us the power of the Spirit. We have the
†† Spirit of God dwelling within us. We come to God confessing that, and
†† praising God for it, and yet confessing how we have grieved the Spirit.
†† And then we bow our knees to the Father to ask that He would strengthen
†† us with all might by the Spirit in the inner man, and that He would
†† fill us with His mighty power. And as the Spirit reveals Christ to us,
†† Christ comes to live in our hearts forever, and the self-life is cast
†† Let us bow before God in humility, and in that humility confess before
†† Him the state of the whole Church. No words can tell the sad state of
†† the Church of Christ on earth. I wish I had words to speak what I
†† sometimes feel about it. Just think of the Christians around you. I do
†† not speak of nominal Christians, or of professing Christians, but I
†† speak of hundreds and thousands of honest, earnest Christians who are
†† not living a life in the power of God or to His glory. So little power,
†† so little devotion or consecration to God, so little perception of the
†† truth that a Christian is a man utterly surrendered to God's will! Oh,
†† we want to confess the sins of God's people around us, and to humble
†† ourselves. We are members of that sickly body, and the sickliness of
†† the body will hinder us, and break us down, unless we come to God, and
†† in confession separate ourselves from partnership with worldliness,
†† with coldness toward each other, unless we give up ourselves to be
†† entirely and wholly for God.
†† How much Christian work is being done in the spirit of the flesh and in
†† the power of self! How much work, day by day, in which human
†† energy--our will and our thoughts about the work--is continually
†† manifested, and in which there is but little of waiting upon God, and
†† upon the power of the Holy Spirit! Let us make confession. But as we
†† confess the state of the Church and the feebleness and sinfulness of
†† work for God among us, let us come back to ourselves. Who is there who
†† truly longs to be delivered from the power of the self-life, who truly
†† acknowledges that it is the power of self and the flesh, and who is
†† willing to cast all at the feet of Christ? There is deliverance.
†† I heard of one who had been an earnest Christian, and who spoke about
†† the "cruel" thought of separation and death. But you do not think that,
†† do you? What are we to think of separation and death? This: death was
†† the path to glory for Christ. For the joy set before Him He endured the
†† cross. The cross was the birthplace of His everlasting glory. Do you
†† love Christ? Do you long to be in Christ, and not like Him? Let death
†† be to you the most desirable thing on earth--death to self, and
†† fellowship with Christ. Separation--do you think it a hard thing to be
†† called to be entirely free from the world, and by that separation to be
†† united to God and His love, by separation to become prepared for living
†† and walking with God every day? Surely one ought to say:
†† "Anything to bring me to separation, to death, for a life of full
†† fellowship with God and Christ."
†† Come and cast this self-life and flesh-life at the feet of Jesus. Then
†† trust Him. Do not worry yourselves with trying to understand all about
†† it, but come in the living faith that Christ will come into you with
†† the power of His death and the power of His life; and then the Holy
†† Spirit will bring the whole Christ--Christ crucified and risen and
†† living in glory--into your heart.
††††††††††††† "THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT IS LOVE"
†† I want to look at the fact of a life filled with the Holy Spirit more
†† from the practical side, and to show how this life will show itself in
†† our daily walk and conduct.
†† Under the Old Testament you know the Holy Spirit often came upon men as
†† a divine Spirit of revelation to reveal the mysteries of God, or for
†† power to do the work of God. But He did not then dwell in them. Now,
†† many just want the Old Testament gift of power for work, but know very
†† little of the New Testament gift of the indwelling Spirit, animating
†† and renewing the whole life. When God gives the Holy Spirit, His great
†† object is the formation of a holy character. It is a gift of a holy
†† mind and spiritual disposition, and what we need above everything else,
†† is to say:
†† "I must have the Holy Spirit sanctifying my whole inner life if I am
†† really to live for God's glory."
†† You might say that when Christ promised the Spirit to the disciples, He
†† did so that they might have power to be witnesses. True, but then they
†† received the Holy Spirit in such heavenly power and reality that He
†† took possession of their whole being at once and so fitted them as holy
†† men for doing the work with power as they had to do it. Christ spoke of
†† power to the disciples, but it was the Spirit filling their whole being
†† that worked the power.
†† I wish now to dwell upon the passage found in Gal. 5:22:
†† "The fruit of the Spirit is love."
†† We read that "Love is the fulfilling of the law" (Rom. 13:10), and my
†† desire is to speak on love as a fruit of the Spirit with a twofold
†† object. One is that this word may be a searchlight in our hearts, and
†† give us a test by which to try all our thoughts about the Holy Spirit
†† and all our experience of the holy life. Let us try ourselves by this
†† word. Has this been our daily habit, to seek to be filled with the Holy
†† Spirit as the Spirit of love? "The fruit of the Spirit is love." Has it
†† been our experience that the more we have of the Holy Spirit the more
†† loving we become? In claiming the Holy Spirit we should make this the
†† first object of our expectation. The Holy Spirit comes as a Spirit of
†† Oh, if this were true in the Church of Christ how different her state
†† would be! May God help us to get hold of this simple, heavenly truth
†† that the fruit of the Spirit is a love which appears in the life, and
†† that just as the Holy Spirit gets real possession of the life, the
†† heart will be filled with real, divine, universal love.
†† One of the great causes why God cannot bless His Church is the want of
†† love. When the body is divided, there cannot be strength. In the time
†† of their great religious wars, when Holland stood out so nobly against
†† Spain, one of their mottoes was: "Unity gives strength." It is only
†† when God's people stand as one body, one before God in the fellowship
†† of love, one toward another in deep affection, one before the world in
†† a love that the world can see--it is only then that they will have
†† power to secure the blessing which they ask of God. Remember that if a
†† vessel that ought to be one whole is cracked into many pieces, it
†† cannot be filled. You can take a potsherd, one part of a vessel, and
†† dip out a little water into that, but if you want the vessel full, the
†† vessel must be whole. That is literally true of Christ's Church, and if
†† there is one thing we must pray for still, it is this: Lord, melt us
†† together into one by the power of the Holy Spirit; let the Holy Spirit,
†† who at Pentecost made them all of one heart and one soul, do His
†† blessed work among us. Praise God, we can love each other in a divine
†† love, for "the fruit of the Spirit is love." Give yourselves up to
†† love, and the Holy Spirit will come; receive the Spirit, and He will
†† teach you to love more.
†† God Is Love
†† Now, why is it that the fruit of the Spirit is love? Because God is
†† love (1 John 4:8).
†† And what does that mean?
†† It is the very nature and being of God to delight in communicating
†† Himself. God has no selfishness, God keeps nothing to Himself. God's
†† nature is to be always giving. In the sun and the moon and the stars,
†† in every flower you see it, in every bird in the air, in every fish in
†† the sea. God communicates life to His creatures. And the angels around
†† His throne, the seraphim and cherubim who are flames of fire--whence
†† have they their glory? It is because God is love, and He imparts to
†† them of His brightness and His blessedness. And we, His redeemed
†† children--God delights to pour His love into us. And why? Because, as I
†† said, God keeps nothing for Himself. From eternity God had His only
†† begotten Son, and the Father gave Him all things, and nothing that God
†† had was kept back. "God is love."
†† One of the old Church fathers said that we cannot better understand the
†† Trinity than as a revelation of divine love--the Father, the loving
†† One, the Fountain of love; the Son, the beloved one, the Reservoir of
†† love, in whom the love was poured out; and the Spirit, the living love
†† that united both and then overflowed into this world. The Spirit of
†† Pentecost, the Spirit of the Father, and the Spirit of the Son is love.
†† And when the Holy Spirit comes to us and to other men, will He be less
†† a Spirit of love than He is in God? It cannot be; He cannot change His
†† nature. The Spirit of God is love, and "the fruit of the Spirit is
†† Mankind Needs Love
†† Why is that so? That was the one great need of mankind, that was the
†† thing which Christ's redemption came to accomplish: to restore love to
†† this world.
†† When man sinned, why was it that he sinned? Selfishness triumphed--he
†† sought self instead of God. And just look! Adam at once begins to
†† accuse the woman of having led him astray. Love to God had gone, love
†† to man was lost. Look again: of the first two children of Adam the one
†† becomes a murderer of his brother.
†† Does not that teach us that sin had robbed the world of love? Ah! what
†† a proof the history of the world has been of love having been lost!
†† There may have been beautiful examples of love even among the heathen,
†† but only as a little remnant of what was lost. One of the worst things
†† sin did for man was to make him selfish, for selfishness cannot love.
†† The Lord Jesus Christ came down from Heaven as the Son of God's love.
†† "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son" (John
†† 3:16). God's Son came to show what love is, and He lived a life of love
†† here upon earth in fellowship with His disciples, in compassion over
†† the poor and miserable, in love even to His enemies, and He died the
†† death of love. And when He went to Heaven, whom did He send down? The
†† Spirit of love, to come and banish selfishness and envy and pride, and
†† bring the love of God into the hearts of men. "The fruit of the Spirit
†† is love."
†† And what was the preparation for the promise of the Holy Spirit? You
†† know that promise as found in the fourteenth chapter of John's Gospel.
†† But remember what precedes in the thirteenth chapter. Before Christ
†† promised the Holy Spirit, He gave a new commandment, and about that new
†† commandment He said wonderful things. One thing was: "Even as I have
†† loved you, so love you one another." To them His dying love was to be
†† the only law of their conduct and intercourse with each other. What a
†† message to those fishermen, to those men full of pride and selfishness!
†† "Learn to love each other," said Christ, "as I have loved you." And by
†† the grace of God they did it. When Pentecost came, they were of one
†† heart and one soul. Christ did it for them.
†† And now He calls us to dwell and to walk in love. He demands that
†† though a man hate you, still you love him. True love cannot be
†† conquered by anything in Heaven or upon the earth. The more hatred
†† there is, the more love triumphs through it all and shows its true
†† nature. This is the love that Christ commanded His disciples to
†† What more did He say? "By this shall all men know that you are my
†† disciples, if you have love one to another" (John 13:35).
†† You all know what it is to wear a badge. And Christ said to His
†† disciples in effect: "I give you a badge, and that badge is love. That
†† is to be your mark. It is the only thing in Heaven or on earth by which
†† men can know me."
†† Do we not begin to fear that love has fled from the earth? That if we
†† were to ask the world: "Have you seen us wear the badge of love?" the
†† world would say: "No; what we have heard of the Church of Christ is
†† that there is not a place where there is no quarreling and separation."
†† Let us ask God with one heart that we may wear the badge of Jesus'
†† love. God is able to give it.
†† Love Conquers Selfishness
†† "The fruit of the Spirit is love." Why? Because nothing but love can
†† expel and conquer our selfishness.
†† Self is the great curse, whether in its relation to God, or to our
†† fellow-men in general, or to fellow-Christians, thinking of ourselves
†† and seeking our own. Self is our greatest curse. But, praise God,
†† Christ came to redeem us from self. We sometimes talk about deliverance
†† from the self-life--and thank God for every word that can be said about
†† it to help us--but I am afraid some people think deliverance from the
†† self-life means that now they are going to have no longer any trouble
†† in serving God; and they forget that deliverance from self-life means
†† to be a vessel overflowing with love to everybody all the day.
†† And there you have the reason why many people pray for the power of the
†† Holy Spirit, and they get something, but oh, so little! because they
†† prayed for power for work, and power for blessing, but they have not
†† prayed for power for full deliverance from self. That means not only
†† the righteous self in intercourse with God, but the unloving self in
†† intercourse with men. And there is deliverance. "The fruit of the
†† Spirit is love." I bring you the glorious promise of Christ that He is
†† able to fill our hearts with love.
†† A great many of us try hard at times to love. We try to force ourselves
†† to love, and I do not say that is wrong; it is better than nothing. But
†† the end of it is always very sad. "I fail continually," such a one must
†† confess. And what is the reason? The reason is simply this: Because
†† they have never learned to believe and accept the truth that the Holy
†† Spirit can pour God's love into their heart. That blessed text; often
†† it has been limited!--"The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts"
†† (Rom. 5:5). It has often been understood in this sense: It means the
†† love of God to me. Oh, what a limitation! That is only the beginning.
†† The love of God is always the love of God in its entirety, in its
†† fullness as an indwelling power, a love of God to me that leaps back to
†† Him in love, and overflows to my fellow-men in love--God's love to me,
†† and my love to God, and my love to my fellow-men. The three are one;
†† you cannot separate them.
†† Do believe that the love of God can be shed abroad in your heart and
†† mine so that we can love all the day.
†† "Ah!" you say, "how little I have understood that!"
†† Why is a lamb always gentle? Because that is its nature. Does it cost
†† the lamb any trouble to be gentle? No. Why not? It is so beautiful and
†† gentle. Has a lamb to study to be gentle? No. Why does that come so
†† easy? It is its nature. And a wolf--why does it cost a wolf no trouble
†† to be cruel, and to put its fangs into the poor lamb or sheep? Because
†† that is its nature. It has not to summon up its courage; the
†† wolf-nature is there.
†† And how can I learn to love? Never until the Spirit of God fills my
†† heart with God's love, and I begin to long for God's love in a very
†† different sense from which I have sought it so selfishly, as a comfort
†† and a joy and a happiness and a pleasure to myself; never until I begin
†† to learn that "God is love," and to claim it, and receive it as an
†† indwelling power for self-sacrifice; never until I begin to see that my
†† glory, my blessedness, is to be like God and like Christ, in giving up
†† everything in myself for my fellow-men. May God teach us that! Oh, the
†† divine blessedness of the love with which the Holy Spirit can fill our
†† hearts! "The fruit of the Spirit is love."
†† Love Is God's Gift
†† Once again I ask, Why must this be so? And my answer is: Without this
†† we cannot live the daily life of love.
†† How often, when we speak about the consecrated life, we have to speak
†† about temper, and some people have sometimes said:
†† "You make too much of temper."
†† I do not think we can make too much of it. Think for a moment of a
†† clock and of what its hands mean. The hands tell me what is within the
†† clock, and if I see that the hands stand still, or that the hands point
†† wrong, or that the clock is slow or fast, I say that something inside
†† the clock is not working properly. And temper is just like the
†† revelation that the clock gives of what is within. Temper is a proof
†† whether the love of Christ is filling the heart, or not. How many there
†† are who find it easier in church, or in prayer-meeting, or in work for
†† the Lord--diligent, earnest work--to be holy and happy than in the
†† daily life with wife and children; easier to be holy and happy outside
†† the home than in it! Where is the love of God? In Christ. God has
†† prepared for us a wonderful redemption in Christ, and He longs to make
†† something supernatural of us. Have we learned to long for it, and ask
†† for it, and expect it in its fullness?
†† Then there is the tongue! We sometimes speak of the tongue when we talk
†† of the better life, and the restful life, but just think what liberty
†† many Christians give to their tongues. They say:
†† "I have a right to think what I like."
†† When they speak about each other, when they speak about their
†† neighbors, when they speak about other Christians, how often there are
†† sharp remarks! God keep me from saying anything that would be unloving;
†† God shut my mouth if I am not to speak in tender love. But what I am
†† saying is a fact. How often there are found among Christians who are
†† banded together in work, sharp criticism, sharp judgment, hasty
†† opinion, unloving words, secret contempt of each other, secret
†† condemnation of each other! Oh, just as a mother's love covers her
†† children and delights in them and has the tenderest compassion with
†† their foibles or failures, so there ought to be in the heart of every
†† believer a motherly love toward every brother and sister in Christ.
†† Have you aimed at that? Have you sought it? Have you ever pleaded for
†† it? Jesus Christ said: "As I have loved you . . . love one another"
†† (John 13:34). And He did not put that among the other commandments, but
†† He said in effect:
†† "That is a new commandment, the one commandment: Love one another as I
†† have loved you" (John 13:34).
†† It is in our daily life and conduct that the fruit of the Spirit is
†† love. From that there comes all the graces and virtues in which love is
†† manifested: joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness; no
†† sharpness or hardness in your tone, no unkindness or selfishness;
†† meekness before God and man. You see that all these are the gentler
†† virtues. I have often thought as I read those words in Colossians, "Put
†† on therefore as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies,
†† kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering" (Col. 3:12),
†† that if we had written this, we should have put in the foreground the
†† manly virtues, such as zeal, courage, and diligence; but we need to see
†† how the gentler, the most womanly virtues are especially connected with
†† dependence upon the Holy Spirit. These are indeed heavenly graces. They
†† never were found in the heathen world. Christ was needed to come from
†† Heaven to teach us. Your blessedness is longsuffering, meekness,
†† kindness; your glory is humility before God. The fruit of the Spirit
†† that He brought from Heaven out of the heart of the crucified Christ,
†† and that He gives in our heart, is first and foremost--love.
†† You know what John says: "No man hath seen God at any time. If we love
†† one another, God dwells in us" (1 John 4:12). That is, I cannot see
†† God, but as a compensation I can see my brother, and if I love him, God
†† dwells in me. Is that really true? That I cannot see God, but I must
†† love my brother, and God will dwell in me? Loving my brother is the way
†† to real fellowship with God. You know what John further says in that
†† most solemn test, "If a man say, I love God, and hates his brother, he
†† is a liar; for he that loves not his brother whom he hath seen, how
†† can he love God whom he hath not seen?" (1 John 4:20). There is a
†† brother, a most unlovable man. He worries you every time you meet him.
†† He is of the very opposite disposition to yours. You are a careful
†† businessman, and you have to do with him in your business. He is most
†† untidy, unbusiness-like. You say:
†† "I cannot love him."
†† Oh, friend, you have not learned the lesson that Christ wanted to teach
†† above everything. Let a man be what he will, you are to love him. Love
†† is to be the fruit of the Spirit all the day and every day. Yes,
†† listen! If a man loves not his brother whom he hath seen--if you don't
†† love that unlovable man whom you have seen, how can you love God whom
†† you have not seen? You can deceive yourself with beautiful thoughts
†† about loving God. You must prove your love to God by your love to your
†† brother; that is the one standard by which God will judge your love to
†† Him. If the love of God is in your heart you will love your brother.
†† The fruit of the Spirit is love.
†† And what is the reason that God's Holy Spirit cannot come in power? Is
†† it not possible?
†† You remember the comparison I used in speaking of the vessel. I can dip
†† a little water into a potsherd, a bit of a vessel; but if a vessel is
†† to be full, it must be unbroken. And the children of God, wherever they
†† come together, to whatever church or mission or society they belong,
†† must love each other intensely, or the Spirit of God cannot do His
†† work. We talk about grieving the Spirit of God by worldliness and
†† ritualism and formality and error and indifference, but, I tell you,
†† the one thing above everything that grieves God's Spirit is this lack
†† of love. Let every heart search itself, and ask that God may search it.
†† Our Love Shows God's Power
†† Why are we taught that "the fruit of the Spirit is love"? Because the
†† Spirit of God has come to make our daily life an exhibition of divine
†† power and a revelation of what God can do for His children.
†† In the second and the fourth chapters of Acts we read that the
†† disciples were of one heart and of one soul. During the three years
†† they had walked with Christ they never had been in that spirit. All
†† Christ's teaching could not make them of one heart and one soul. But
†† the Holy Spirit came from Heaven and shed the love of God in their
†† hearts, and they were of one heart and one soul. The same Holy Spirit
†† that brought the love of Heaven into their hearts must fill us too.
†† Nothing less will do. Even as Christ did, one might preach love for
†† three years with the tongue of an angel, but that would not teach any
†† man to love unless the power of the Holy Spirit should come upon him to
†† bring the love of Heaven into his heart.
†† Think of the church at large. What divisions! Think of the different
†† bodies. Take the question of holiness, take the question of the
†† cleansing blood, take the question of the baptism of the Spirit--what
†† differences are caused among dear believers by such questions! That
†† there are differences of opinion does not trouble me. We do not have
†† the same constitution and temperament and mind. But how often hate,
†† bitterness, contempt, separation, unlovingness are caused by the
†† holiest truths of God's Word! Our doctrines, our creeds, have been more
†† important than love. We often think we are valiant for the truth and we
†† forget God's command to speak the truth in love. And it was so in the
†† time of the Reformation between the Lutheran and Calvinistic churches.
†† What bitterness there was then in regard to the Holy Supper, which was
†† meant to be the bond of union among all believers! And so, down the
†† ages, the very dearest truths of God have become mountains that have
†† separated us.
†† If we want to pray in power, and if we want to expect the Holy Spirit
†† to come down in power, and if we want indeed that God shall pour out
†† His Spirit, we must enter into a covenant with God that we love one
†† another with a heavenly love.
†† Are you ready for that? Only that is true love that is large enough to
†† take in all God's children, the most unloving and unlovable, and
†† unworthy, and unbearable, and trying. If my vow--absolute surrender to
†† God--was true, then it must mean absolute surrender to the divine love
†† to fill me; to be a servant of love to love every child of God around
†† me. "The fruit of the Spirit is love."
†† Oh, God did something wonderful when He gave Christ, at His right hand,
†† the Holy Spirit to come down out of the heart of the Father and His
†† everlasting love. And how we have degraded the Holy Spirit into a mere
†† power by which we have to do our work! God forgive us! Oh, that the
†† Holy Spirit might be held in honor as a power to fill us with the very
†† life and nature of God and of Christ!
†† Christian Work Requires Love
†† "The fruit of the Spirit is love." I ask once again, Why is it so? And
†† the answer comes: That is the only power in which Christians really can
†† do their work.
†† Yes, it is that we need. We want not only love that is to bind us to
†† each other, but we want a divine love in our work for the lost around
†† us. Oh, do we not often undertake a great deal of work, just as men
†† undertake work of philanthropy, from a natural spirit of compassion for
†† our fellow-men? Do we not often undertake Christian work because our
†† minister or friend calls us to it? And do we not often perform
†† Christian work with a certain zeal but without having had a baptism of
†† People often ask: "What is the baptism of fire?"
†† I have answered more than once: I know no fire like the fire of God,
†† the fire of everlasting love that consumed the sacrifice on Calvary.
†† The baptism of love is what the Church needs, and to get that we must
†† begin at once to get down upon our faces before God in confession, and
†† "Lord, let love from Heaven flow down into my heart. I am giving up my
†† life to pray and live as one who has given himself up for the
†† everlasting love to dwell in and fill him."
†† Ah, yes, if the love of God were in our hearts, what a difference it
†† would make! There are hundreds of believers who say:
†† "I work for Christ, and I feel I could work much harder, but I have not
†† the gift. I do not know how or where to begin. I do not know what I can
†† Brother, sister, ask God to baptize you with the Spirit of love, and
†† love will find its way. Love is a fire that will burn through every
†† difficulty. You may be a shy, hesitating man, who cannot speak well,
†† but love can burn through everything. God fill us with love! We need it
†† for our work.
†† You have read many a touching story of love expressed, and you have
†† said, How beautiful! I heard one not long ago. A lady had been asked to
†† speak at a Rescue Home where there were a number of poor women. As she
†† arrived there and got to the window with the matron, she saw outside a
†† wretched object sitting, and asked:
†† "Who is that?"
†† The matron answered: "She has been into the house thirty or forty
†† times, and she has always gone away again. Nothing can be done with
†† her, she is so low and hard."
†† But the lady said: "She must come in."
†† The matron then said: "We have been waiting for you, and the company is
†† assembled, and you have only an hour for the address."
†† The lady replied: "No, this is of more importance"; and she went
†† outside where the woman was sitting and said:
†† "My sister, what is the matter?"
†† "I am not your sister," was the reply.
†† Then the lady laid her hand on her, and said: "Yes, I am your sister,
†† and I love you"; and so she spoke until the heart of the poor woman was
†† The conversation lasted some time, and the company were waiting
†† patiently. Ultimately the lady brought the woman into the room. There
†† was the poor wretched, degraded creature, full of shame. She would not
†† sit on a chair, but sat down on a stool beside the speaker's seat, and
†† she let her lean against her, with her arms around the poor woman's
†† neck, while she spoke to the assembled people. And that love touched
†† the woman's heart; she had found one who really loved her, and that
†† love gave access to the love of Jesus.
†† Praise God! there is love upon earth in the hearts of God's children;
†† but oh, that there were more!
†† O God, baptize our ministers with a tender love, and our missionaries,
†† and our Bible-readers, and our workers, and our young men's and young
†† women's associations. Oh, that God would begin with us now, and baptize
†† us with heavenly love!
†† Love Inspires Intercession
†† Once again. It is only love that can fit us for the work of
†† I have said that love must fit us for our work. Do you know what the
†† hardest and the most important work is that has to be done for this
†† sinful world? It is the work of intercession, the work of going to God
†† and taking time to lay hold on Him.
†† A man may be an earnest Christian, an earnest minister, and a man may
†† do good, but alas! how often he has to confess that he knows but little
†† of what it is to tarry with God. May God give us the great gift of an
†† intercessory spirit, a spirit of prayer and supplication! Let me ask
†† you in the name of Jesus not to let a day pass without praying for all
†† saints, and for all God's people.
†† I find there are Christians who think little of that. I find there are
†† prayer unions where they pray for the members, and not for all
†† believers. I pray you, take time to pray for the Church of Christ. It
†† is right to pray for the heathen, as I have already said. God help us
†† to pray more for them. It is right to pray for missionaries and for
†† evangelistic work, and for the unconverted. But Paul did not tell
†† people to pray for the heathen or the unconverted. Paul told them to
†† pray for believers. Do make this your first prayer every day: "Lord,
†† bless Thy saints everywhere."
†† The state of Christ's Church is indescribably low. Plead for God's
†† people that He would visit them, plead for each other, plead for all
†† believers who are trying to work for God. Let love fill your heart. Ask
†† Christ to pour it out afresh into you every day. Try to get it into you
†† by the Holy Spirit of God: I am separated unto the Holy Spirit, and the
†† fruit of the Spirit is love. God help us to understand it.
†† May God grant that we learn day by day to wait more quietly upon Him.
†† Do not wait upon God only for ourselves, or the power to do so will
†† soon be lost; but give ourselves up to the ministry and the love of
†† intercession, and pray more for God's people, for God's people round
†† about us, for the Spirit of love in ourselves and in them, and for the
†† work of God we are connected with; and the answer will surely come, and
†† our waiting upon God will be a source of untold blessing and power.
†† "The fruit of the Spirit is love."
†† Have you a lack of love to confess before God? Then make confession and
†† say before Him, "O Lord, my lack of heart, my lack of love--I confess
†† it." And then, as you cast that lack at His feet, believe that the
†† blood cleanses you, that Jesus comes in His mighty, cleansing, saving
†† power to deliver you, and that He will give His Holy Spirit.
†† "The fruit of the Spirit is love."
†††††††††††† SEPARATED UNTO THE HOLY SPIRIT
†† "Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and
†† teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of
†† Cyrene, and Manaen . . . and Saul.
†† "As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Spirit said,
†† Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called
†† "And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them,
†† they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Spirit,
†† departed unto Seleucia" (Acts 13:1-4).
†† In the story of our text we shall find some precious thoughts to guide
†† us as to what God would have of us, and what God would do for us. The
†† great lesson of the verses quoted is this: The Holy Spirit is the
†† director of the work of God upon the earth. And what we should do if we
†† are to work rightly for God, and if God is to bless our work, is to see
†† that we stand in a right relation to the Holy Spirit, that we give Him
†† every day the place of honor that belongs to Him, and that in all our
†† work and (what is more) in all our private inner life, the Holy Spirit
†† shall always have the first place. Let me point out to you some of the
†† precious thoughts our passage suggests.
†† First of all, we see that God has His own plans with regard to His
†† His church at Antioch had been established. God had certain plans and
†† intentions with regard to Asia, and with regard to Europe. He had
†† conceived them; they were His, and He made them known to His servants.
†† Our great Commander organizes every campaign, and His generals and
†† officers do not always know the great plans. They often receive sealed
†† orders, and they have to wait on Him for what He gives them as orders.
†† God in Heaven has wishes, and a will, in regard to any work that ought
†† to be done, and to the way in which it has to be done. Blessed is the
†† man who gets into God's secrets and works under God.
†† Some years ago, at Wellington, South Africa, where I live, we opened a
†† Mission Institute--what is counted there a fine large building. At our
†† opening services the principal said something that I have never
†† forgotten. He remarked:
†† "Last year we gathered here to lay the foundation-stone, and what was
†† there then to be seen? Nothing but rubbish, and stones, and bricks, and
†† ruins of an old building that had been pulled down. There we laid the
†† foundation-stone, and very few knew what the building was that was to
†† rise. No one knew it perfectly in every detail except one man, the
†† architect. In his mind it was all clear, and as the contractor and the
†† mason and the carpenter came to their work they took their orders from
†† him, and the humblest laborer had to be obedient to orders, and the
†† structure rose, and this beautiful building has been completed. And
†† just so," he added, "this building that we open today is but laying the
†† foundation of a work of which only God knows what is to become."
†† But God has His workers and His plans clearly mapped out, and our
†† position is to wait, that God should communicate to us as much of His
†† will as each time is needful.
†† We have simply to be faithful in obedience, carrying out His orders.
†† God has a plan for His Church upon earth. But alas! we too often make
†† our plan, and we think that we know what ought to be done. We ask God
†† first to bless our feeble efforts, instead of absolutely refusing to go
†† unless God goes before us. God has planned for the work and the
†† extension of His kingdom. The Holy Spirit has had that work given in
†† charge to Him. "The work whereunto I have called them." May God,
†† therefore, help us all to be afraid of touching "the ark of God" except
†† as we are led by the Holy Spirit.
†† Then the second thought--God is willing and able to reveal to His
†† servants what His will is.
†† Yes, blessed be God, communications still come down from Heaven! As we
†† read here what the Holy Spirit said, so the Holy Spirit will still
†† speak to His Church and His people. In these later days He has often
†† done it. He has come to individual men, and by His divine teaching He
†† has led them out into fields of labor that others could not at first
†† understand or approve, into ways and methods that did not recommend
†† themselves to the majority. But the Holy Spirit does still in our time
†† teach His people. Thank God, in our foreign missionary societies and in
†† our home missions, and in a thousand forms of work, the guiding of the
†† Holy Spirit is known, but (we are all ready, I think, to confess) too
†† little known. We have not learned enough to wait upon Him, and so we
†† should make a solemn declaration before God: O God, we want to wait
†† more for You to show us Thy Will.
†† Do not ask God only for power. Many a Christian has his own plan of
†† working, but God must send the power. The man works in his own will,
†† and God must give the grace--the one reason why God often gives so
†† little grace and so little success. But let us all take our place
†† before God and say:
†† "What is done in the will of God, the strength of God will not be
†† withheld from it; what is done in the will of God must have the mighty
†† blessing of God."
†† And so let our first desire be to have the will of God revealed.
†† If you ask me, Is it an easy thing to get these communications from
†† Heaven, and to understand them? I can give you the answer. It is easy
†† to those who are in right fellowship with Heaven, and who understand
†† the art of waiting upon God in prayer.
†† How often we ask: How can a person know the will of God? And people
†† want, when they are in perplexity, to pray very earnestly that God
†† should answer them at once. But God can only reveal His will to a heart
†† that is humble and tender and empty. God can only reveal His will in
†† perplexities and special difficulties to a heart that has learned to
†† obey and honor Him loyally in little things and in daily life.
†† That brings me to the third thought--Note the disposition to which the
†† Spirit reveals God's will.
†† What do we read here? There were a number of men ministering to the
†† Lord and fasting, and the Holy Spirit came and spoke to them. Some
†† people understand this passage very much as they would in reference to
†† a missionary committee of our day. We see there is an open field, and
†† we have had our missions in other fields, and we are going to get on to
†† that field. We have virtually settled that, and we pray about it. But
†† the position was a very different one in those former days. I doubt
†† whether any of them thought of Europe, for later on even Paul himself
†† tried to go back into Asia, till the night vision called him by the
†† will of God. Look at those men. God had done wonders. He had extended
†† the Church to Antioch, and He had given rich and large blessing. Now,
†† here were these men ministering to the Lord, serving Him with prayer
†† and fasting. What a deep conviction they have--"It must all come direct
†† from Heaven. We are in fellowship with the risen Lord; we must have a
†† close union with Him, and somehow He will let us know what He wants."
†† And there they were, empty, ignorant, helpless, glad and joyful, but
†† deeply humbled.
†† "O Lord," they seem to say, "we are Thy servants, and in fasting and
†† prayer we wait upon You. What is Thy will for us?"
†† Was it not the same with Peter? He was on the housetop, fasting and
†† praying, and little did he think of the vision and the command to go to
†† Caesarea. He was ignorant of what his work might be.
†† It is in hearts entirely surrendered to the Lord Jesus, in hearts
†† separating themselves from the world, and even from ordinary religious
†† exercises, and giving themselves up in intense prayer to look to their
†† Lord--it is in such hearts that the heavenly will of God will be made
†† You know that word fasting occurs a second time (in the third verse):
†† "They fasted and prayed." When you pray, you love to go into your
†† closet, according to the command of Jesus, and shut the door. You shut
†† out business and company and pleasure and anything that can distract,
†† and you want to be alone with God. But in one way even the material
†† world follows you there. You must eat. These men wanted to shut
†† themselves out from the influences of the material and the visible, and
†† they fasted. What they ate was simply enough to supply the wants of
†† nature, and in the intensity of their souls they thought to give
†† expression to their letting go of everything on earth in their fasting
†† before God. Oh, may God give us that intensity of desire, that
†† separation from everything, because we want to wait upon God, that the
†† Holy Spirit may reveal to us God's blessed will.
†† The fourth thought--What is now the will of God as the Holy Spirit
†† reveals it? It is contained in one phrase: Separation unto the Holy
†† Spirit. That is the keynote of the message from Heaven.
†† "Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called
†† them. The work is mine, and I care for it, and I have chosen these men
†† and called them, and I want you who represent the Church of Christ upon
†† earth to set them apart unto me."
†† Look at this heavenly message in its twofold aspect. The men were to be
†† set apart to the Holy Spirit, and the Church was to do this separating
†† work. The Holy Spirit could trust these men to do it in a right spirit.
†† There they were abiding in fellowship with the heavenly, and the Holy
†† Spirit could say to them, "Do the work of separating these men." And
†† these were the men the Holy Spirit had prepared, and He could say of
†† them, "Let them be separated unto me."
†† Here we come to the very root, to the very life of the need of
†† Christian workers. The question is: What is needed that the power of
†† God should rest upon us more mightily, that the blessing of God should
†† be poured out more abundantly among those poor, wretched people and
†† perishing sinners among whom we labor? And the answer from Heaven is:
†† "I want men separated unto the Holy Spirit."
†† What does that imply? You know that there are two spirits on earth.
†† Christ said, when He spoke about the Holy Spirit: "The world cannot
†† receive him" (John 14:17). Paul said: "We have received not the spirit
†† of the world, but the Spirit that is of God" (1 Cor. 2:12). That is the
†† great want in every worker--the spirit of the world going out, and the
†† Spirit of God coming in to take possession of the inner life and of the
†† whole being.
†† I am sure there are workers who often cry to God for the Holy Spirit to
†† come upon them as a Spirit of power for their work, and when they feel
†† that measure of power, and get blessing, they thank God for it. But God
†† wants something more and something higher. God wants us to seek for the
†† Holy Spirit as a Spirit of power in our own heart and life, to conquer
†† self and cast out sin, and to work the blessed and beautiful image of
†† Jesus into us.
†† There is a difference between the power of the Spirit as a gift, and
†† the power of the Spirit for the grace of a holy life. A man may often
†† have a measure of the power of the Spirit, but if there is not a large
†† measure of the Spirit as the Spirit of grace and holiness, the defect
†† will be manifest in his work. He may be made the means of conversion,
†† but he never will help people on to a higher standard of spiritual
†† life, and when he passes away, a great deal of his work may pass away
†† too. But a man who is separated unto the Holy Spirit is a man who is
†† given up to say:
†† "Father, let the Holy Spirit have full dominion over me, in my home, in
†† my temper, in every word of my tongue, in every thought of my heart, in
†† every feeling toward my fellow men; let the Holy Spirit have entire
†† Is that what has been the longing and the covenant of your heart with
†† your God--to be a man or a woman separated and given up unto the Holy
†† Spirit? I pray you listen to the voice of Heaven. "Separate me," said
† †the Holy Spirit. Yes, separated unto the Holy Spirit. May God grant
†† that the Word may enter into the very depths of our being to search us,
†† and if we discover that we have not come out from the world entirely,
†† if God reveals to us that the self-life, self-will, self-exaltation are
†† there, let us humble ourselves before Him.
†† Man, woman, brother, sister, you are a worker separated unto the Holy
†† Spirit. Is that true? Has that been your longing desire? Has that been
†† your surrender? Has that been what you have expected through faith in
†† the power of our risen and almighty Lord Jesus? If not, here is the
†† call of faith, and here is the key of blessing--separated unto the Holy
†† Spirit. God write the word in our hearts!
†† I said the Holy Spirit spoke to that church as a church capable of
†† doing that work. The Holy Spirit trusted them. God grant that our
†† churches, our missionary societies, and our workers' unions, that all
†† our directors and councils and committees may be men and women who are
†† fit for the work of separating workers unto the Holy Spirit. We can ask
†† God for that too.
†† Then comes my fifth thought, and it is this--This holy partnership with
†† the Holy Spirit in this work becomes a matter of consciousness and of
†† These men, what did they do? They set apart Paul and Barnabas, and then
†† it is written of the two that they, being sent forth by the Holy
†† Spirit, went down to Seleucia. Oh, what fellowship! The Holy Spirit in
†† Heaven doing part of the work, men on earth doing the other part. After
†† the ordination of the men upon earth, it is written in God's inspired
†† Word that they were sent forth by the Holy Spirit.
†† And see how this partnership calls to new prayer and fasting. They had
†† for a certain time been ministering to the Lord and fasting, perhaps
†† days; and the Holy Spirit speaks, and they have to do the work and to
†† enter into partnership, and at once they come together for more prayer
†† and fasting. That is the spirit in which they obey the command of their
†† Lord. And that teaches us that it is not only in the beginning of our
†† Christian work, but all along that we need to have our strength in
†† prayer. If there is one thought with regard to the Church of Christ,
†† which at times comes to me with overwhelming sorrow; if there is one
†† thought in regard to my own life of which I am ashamed; if there is one
†† thought of which I feel that the Church of Christ has not accepted it
† †and not grasped it; if there is one thought which makes me pray to God:
†† "Oh, teach us by Thy grace, new things"--it is the wonderful power that
†† prayer is meant to have in the kingdom. We have so little availed
†† ourselves of it.
†† We have all read the expression of Christian in Bunyan's great work,
†† when he found he had the key in his breast that should unlock the
†† dungeon. We have the key that can unlock the dungeon of atheism and of
†† heathendom. But, oh! we are far more occupied with our work than we are
†† with prayer. We believe more in speaking to men than we believe in
†† speaking to God. Learn from these men that the work which the Holy
†† Spirit commands must call us to new fasting and prayer, to new
†† separation from the spirit and the pleasures of the world, to new
†† consecration to God and to His fellowship. Those men gave themselves up
†† to fasting and prayer, and if in all our ordinary Christian work there
†† were more prayer, there would be more blessing in our own inner life.
†† If we felt and proved and testified to the world that our only strength
†† lay in keeping every minute in contact with Christ, every minute
†† allowing God to work in us--if that were our spirit, would not, by the
†† grace of God, our lives be holier? Would not they be more abundantly
†† I hardly know a more solemn warning in God's Word than that which we
†† find in the third chapter of Galatians, where Paul asked:
†† "Having begun in the Spirit, are you now made perfect by the flesh?"
†† (Gal. 3:3).
†† Do you understand what that means? A terrible danger in Christian work,
†† just as in a Christian life that is begun with much prayer, begun in
†† the Holy Spirit, is that it may be gradually shunted off on to the
†† lines of the flesh; and the word comes: "Having begun in the Spirit,
†† are you now made perfect by the flesh?" In the time of our first
†† perplexity and helplessness we prayed much to God, and God answered and
†† God blessed, and our organization became perfected, and our band of
†† workers became large; but gradually the organization and the work and
†† the rush have so taken possession of us that the power of the Spirit,
†† in which we began when we were a small company, has almost been lost.
†† Oh, I pray you, note it well! It was with new prayer and fasting, with
†† more prayer and fasting, that this company of disciples carried out the
†† command of the Holy Spirit, "My soul, wait you only upon God." That is
†† our highest and most important work. The Holy Spirit comes in answer to
†† believing prayer.
†† You know when the exalted Jesus had ascended to the throne, for ten
†† days the footstool of the throne was the place where His waiting
†† disciples cried to Him. And that is the law of the kingdom--the King
†† upon the throne, the servants upon the footstool. May God find us there
†† Then comes the last thought--What a wonderful blessing comes when the
†† Holy Spirit is allowed to lead and to direct the work, and when it is
†† carried on in obedience to Him!
†† You know the story of the mission on which Barnabas and Saul were sent
†† out. You know what power there was with them. The Holy Spirit sent
†† them, and they went on from place to place with large blessing. The
†† Holy Spirit was their leader further on. You recollect how it was by
†† the Spirit that Paul was hindered from going again into Asia, and was
†† led away over to Europe. Oh, the blessing that rested upon that little
†† company of men, and upon their ministry unto the Lord!
†† I pray you, let us learn to believe that God has a blessing for us. The
†† Holy Spirit, into whose hands God has put the work, has been called
†† "the executive of the Holy Trinity." The Holy Spirit has not only
†† power, but He has the Spirit of love. He is brooding over this dark
†† world and every sphere of work in it, and He is willing to bless. And
†† why is there not more blessing? There can be but one answer. We have
†† not honored the Holy Spirit as we should have done. Is there one who
†† can say that that is not true? Is not every thoughtful heart ready to
†† cry: "God forgive me that I have not honored the Holy Spirit as I
†† should have done, that I have grieved Him, that I have allowed self and
†† the flesh and my own will to work where the Holy Spirit should have
†† been honored! May God forgive me that I have allowed self and the flesh
†† and the will actually to have the place that God wanted the Holy Spirit
† †to have."
†† Oh, the sin is greater than we know! No wonder that there is so much
†† feebleness and failure in the Church of Christ!
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† PETER'S REPENTANCE
†† "And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the
†† word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, you
†† shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly" (Luke
†† 22:61, 62).
†† That was the turning-point in the history of Peter. Christ had said to
†† him: "You canst not follow me now" (John 13:36). Peter was not in a
†† fit state to follow Christ, because he had not been brought to an end
†† of himself; he did not know himself, and he therefore could not follow
†† Christ. But when he went out and wept bitterly, then came the great
†† change. Christ previously said to him: "When you art converted,
†† strengthen thy brethren." Here is the point where Peter was converted
†† from self to Christ.
†† I thank God for the story of Peter. I do not know a man in the Bible
†† who gives us greater comfort. When we look at his character, so full of
†† failures, and at what Christ made him by the power of the Holy Spirit,
†† there is hope for every one of us. But remember, before Christ could
†† fill Peter with the Holy Spirit and make a new man of him, he had to go
†† out and weep bitterly; he had to be humbled. If we want to understand
†† this, I think there are four points that we must look at. First, let us
†† look at Peter the devoted disciple of Jesus; next, at Peter as he lived
†† the life of self; then at Peter in his repentance; and last, at what
†† Christ made of Peter by the Holy Spirit.
†† Peter the Devoted Disciple of Christ
†† Christ called Peter to forsake his nets, and follow Him. Peter did it
†† at once, and he afterward could say rightly to the Lord:
†† "We have forsaken all and followed you" (Matt. 19:27).
†† Peter was a man of absolute surrender; he gave up all to follow Jesus.
†† Peter was also a man of ready obedience. You remember Christ said to
†† him, "Launch out into the deep, and let down the net." Peter the
†† fisherman knew there were no fish there, for they had been toiling all
†† night and had caught nothing; but he said: "At thy word I will let down
†† the net" (Luke 5:4, 5). He submitted to the word of Jesus. Further, he
†† was a man of great faith. When he saw Christ walking on the sea, he
†† said: "Lord, if it be you, bid me come unto you" (Matt. 14:28); and
†† at the voice of Christ he stepped out of the boat and walked upon the
†† And Peter was a man of spiritual insight. When Christ asked the
†† disciples: "Whom do you say that I am?" Peter was able to answer: "You
†† art the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Christ said: "Blessed
†† art you, Simon Barjona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto
†† you, but my Father which is in heaven." And Christ spoke of him as the
†† rock man, and of his having the keys of the kingdom. Peter was a
†† splendid man, a devoted disciple of Jesus, and if he were living
†† nowadays, everyone would say that he was an advanced Christian. And yet
†† how much there was wanting in Peter!
†† Peter Living the Life of Self
†† You recollect that just after Christ had said to him: "Flesh and blood
†† hath not revealed it unto you, but my Father which is in heaven,"
†† Christ began to speak about His sufferings, and Peter dared to say: "Be
†† it far from you, Lord; this shall not be unto you." Then Christ had
†† to say:
†† "Get you behind me, Satan; for you savor not the things that be of
†† God, but those that be of men" (Matt. 16:22-23).
†† There was Peter in his self-will, trusting his own wisdom, and actually
†† forbidding Christ to go and die. Whence did that come? Peter trusted in
†† himself and his own thoughts about divine things. We see later on, more
†† than once, that among the disciples there was a questioning who should
†† be the greatest, and Peter was one of them, and he thought he had a
†† right to the very first place. He sought his own honor even above the
†† others. It was the life of self strong in Peter. He had left his boats
†† and his nets, but not his old self.
†† When Christ had spoken to him about His sufferings, and said: "Get you
†† behind me, Satan," He followed it up by saying: "If any man will come
†† after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me"
†† (Matt. 16:24). No man can follow Him unless he do that. Self must be
†† utterly denied. What does that mean? When Peter denied Christ, we read
†† that he said three times: "I do not know the man"; in other words: "I
†† have nothing to do with Him; He and I are no friends; I deny having any
†† connection with Him." Christ told Peter that he must deny self. Self
†† must be ignored, and its every claim rejected. That is the root of true
†† discipleship; but Peter did not understand it, and could not obey it.
†† And what happened? When the last night came, Christ said to him:
†† "Before the cock crow twice you shalt deny me thrice."
†† But with what self-confidence Peter said: "Though all should forsake
†† you, yet will not I. I am ready to go with you, to prison and to
†† death" (Mark 14:29; Luke 22:33).
†† Peter meant it honestly, and Peter really intended to do it; but Peter
†† did not know himself. He did not believe he was as bad as Jesus said he
†† We perhaps think of individual sins that come between us and God, but
†† what are we to do with that self-life which is all unclean--our very
†† nature? What are we to do with that flesh that is entirely under the
†† power of sin? Deliverance from that is what we need. Peter knew it not,
†† and therefore it was that in his self-confidence he went forth and
†† denied his Lord.
†† Notice how Christ uses that word deny twice. He said to Peter the first
†† time, "Deny self"; He said to Peter the second time, "You wilt deny
†† me." It is either of the two. There is no choice for us; we must either
†† deny self or deny Christ. There are two great powers fighting each
†† other--the self-nature in the power of sin, and Christ in the power of
†† God. Either of these must rule within us.
†† It was self that made the Devil. He was an angel of God, but he wanted
†† to exalt self. He became a Devil in hell. Self was the cause of the
†† fall of man. Eve wanted something for herself, and so our first parents
†† fell into all the wretchedness of sin. We their children have inherited
†† an awful nature of sin.
†† Peter's Repentance
†† Peter denied his Lord thrice, and then the Lord looked upon him; and