God Asks All
"The day of Pentecost was a pattern day. All the days of this dispensation should have been like it, or should have exceeded it. But, alas, the Church has fallen down to the state in which it was before this blessing had been bestowed, and it is necessary for us to ask Christ to begin over again…
"We need a Baptism of the Spirit as much as the apostles did at the time of Christ’s resurrection; we need that the unsearchable riches of Christ should be revealed to us more copiously than they were to Isaiah in the temple" (George Bowen).
Dr. Scofield tells of a sacred experience of his. He heard an Irish preacher speak on Naaman the leper. The preacher and the message were very lifeless. As Dr. Scofield left the church with another brother, his companion whispered to him, "That dear brother needs a fresh dip in the Jordan."
The noted Bible expositor says, "I excused myself and went out into the country and into the night. I looked up at the stars and I cried to God with the tears running down my cheeks, ‘O God, I am the man who needs the fresh dip in Jordan!’" God met Dr. Scofield there. May God help us to have these fresh renewals alone with Himself!
Christ Is the Fountain of Life
"If any man thirst," our Lord said, "let him come unto Me, and drink" (John 7:37). It is only when a believer is so thirsty that he is willing to give up everything that would hinder him from being filled with the Spirit, that he receives the fullness. Said one believer to another, "I would give the world to have your experience with the Lord." "That is what it cost me," replied the other.
Pastor A. Douglas Brown tells of God’s mighty and faithful dealings with him when a successful shepherd of a London church. God was preparing him to be an instrument for revival in the churches of Britain, an instrument for bringing thousands to Christ. He wanted God’s best, but he definitely was not willing to pay God’s price. He wanted God to use him on Douglas Brown’s terms. After four months of battle, he lay broken and empty at the foot of the cross. When telling the story of that experience, he refers to the patience of God: "God is very patient. It took Him four months to teach me to say two words: ‘Lord, anything.’"
May I have a heart-to-heart talk with you just now? Will you kneel in reverence before the Throne of Grace and pray that God will help you to enter into the abundant life? Remember, the fullness of the Spirit is an integral part of the plan of salvation: the Lord Jesus died not only that you might be saved, but that you might be filled with His Spirit. I would draw your attention to four fundamental facts in relation to the fullness:
What God Claims, I Must Yield
The first fact is that what God claims, I must yield. There must be a definite act of consecration. J. H. McConkey says, "Whether long years in coming to this crisis of surrender, or reaching it at a single bound, every consecrated child of God knows that the act of yielding was the supreme step that brought him into the fullness of the closer walk with God. Your experience may have been complicated, confused, difficult to interpret; but that this act of surrender was the culmination of it all, and this fullness of the Spirit the outcome of this act – God’s responsive grace to this act – all will testify." It is the entire life God claims. There must be no reservations.
God is asking now complete surrender from you: complete surrender of heart, will and intellect. He will show you now, if you are sincere and honest, all that He claims in your life. It is an utter impossibility for you to receive this blessing if there is one bit of insincerity or rebellion in your heart and mind. There must be no mental reservations. It is not for you to start handing over different things in your life to God on your own initiative; it is the entire life that He claims.
He not only asks for a complete surrender of the past and the present but of all that is entailed in the future until He calls you home to Glory. Many are in danger of an assumed dedication because they have not been thorough in the matter of surrender. They have possibly made a swift decision at a convention meeting without having got alone with God that He might reveal in them what is involved in this mighty step.
It may take days or even weeks in the preliminary stages alone with God in the secret place, before you are able to know what His personal claims for your life are. This sometimes is because we are not in tune with God. Remember, God deals with each of us as individuals. I am often asked by seeking souls what is the price they must pay to be filled with the Spirit. No preacher can hand out a printed formula in a professional manner to all and sundry. There is no stock answer to this question.
I have learned over a period of thirty years that only our loving heavenly Father can reveal to us the entire cost of consecration. I cannot tell you the price you must pay. I only know the price God has required of me – God demands all! The decisive battle is nearly always over some apparently trivial issue, but in the sight of God there is nothing trivial. Upon this one vital issue in your life may depend the outcome of the whole battle. Remember that surrender at consecration is an advanced stage, and consequently is more difficult than surrender at conversion. It is easier to give up what we see to be morally wrong than to give up what may be right in itself, but not God’s will for us.
The act of yielding must be incorporated into a life of submission. Consecration is only the threshold into the Spirit-filled life. The act leads to an attitude, and the daily attitude leads to a richer and fuller life in Christ as our capacity increases.
What I Yield, God Accepts
The second important fact is that what I yield, God accepts. A firm belief in this fact is all important. I have now definitely presented my body a living sacrifice to the Holy Spirit according to the exhortation of Romans 12:1: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."
Now look up and say, "What I yield, God accepts! I thank You, Lord Jesus, for this fact!" Once the realization of the fact of the acceptance of God is established in the mind and heart, the seeking soul begins to make progress.
Because of the fact that God accepts all that I yield to Him, I must be careful to count the cost before I yield anything for His acceptance. We must not trifle with the holy God. God always reckons as His own that which He has been solemnly invited to take, and does with it according to His good pleasure.
If we seek to take back and appropriate for our own use that which has been given to God, we are guilty of embezzlement. The moment we take ourselves off God’s altar, that moment we become backsliders. God not only accepts the full surrender of our lives, but all our possessions.
What God Accepts, He Fills
The third important fact is that what God accepts, He fills. Many believers are severely tested by Satan at this juncture, because they do not pass through a highly emotional experience of which others have testified. At this point the believer must rest on the naked promise of the Word of God: "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7:37-38).
Just as surely as He accepts what I yield to Him, He fills it! There is no stereotyped experience of being filled with the Spirit, just as there is no stereotyped case of conversion. It is true that the fundamental facts are there, just as they are in the new birth, but our emotional experiences are not all the same.
What I have yielded, God has accepted, and what He has accepted He has filled for a purpose. We are filled to do the will of God, whatever that may cost us. God only fills us so that we may have power to do that which He has appointed for us to do.
To one is given the power of effective utterance, to another the ministry of intercession, and to another the power to suffer patiently. He sets the members in the body "as it hath pleased Him" and then imparts to each member the power to fulfill his own individual function (1 Cor. 12:18). As we see in the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12, some of these gifts are for service away from the limelight. Nevertheless, the lesser member receives the same power to perform his function for the glory of God as does the more prominent member.
What God Fills, He Uses
The fourth important fact is that what God fills, He uses. God is sure to lead you into service the moment your life is filled with Him. It is one thing to work for God; it is another thing to have God work through us. Your attitude of absolute surrender gives God the chance to work His perfect will through you. The moment you were saved, God had a perfect plan for your life (Eph. 2:10). The tragedy of the hour is that very few believers are living their lives in the center of the sweet, beloved will of God. They have planned their own lives.
In conclusion, let me state that there is no once-and-for-all filling that ignores a daily renewing. We cannot go on living and working as if God has entrusted us with an inexhaustible spiritual capital, upon which we can draw indefinitely. We must abide in Christ moment by moment for the constant manifestation and maintenance of the fullness of the Spirit.
"I am persuaded that I shall obtain the highest amount of present happiness," said Murray McCheyne, "by maintaining a conscience always washed in Christ’s blood; by being filled with the Holy Spirit at all times; and by attaining the most entire likeness to Christ in mind, will and heart, that it is possible for a redeemed sinner to attain in this world."
Let us pray with D. L. Moody: "Our Heavenly Father, we come to wait on Thee for the gift of Thy Holy Spirit for service. O God, give us the Spirit! Empty us of self and self-seeking. O God, bring us down in the dust before Thee, so that we may be filled with the Holy Ghost, so that we may have power with God and with man! O Thou God of Elijah, we pray that a double portion of Thy Spirit may come upon us today, that we may be anointed for the work Thou hast for us to do; we know that we have but a little while to stay here!
"O God, help us to bear fruit while we live! May we no longer be toiling day after day and month after month, and seeing no fruit. O Jesus, Master, Thou hast gone up on high; Thou hast led captivity captive; Thou art at the right hand of God, and Thou hast power.
"Oh, give us power; Thou canst give us a fresh anointing. We pray that Thou wilt do it today. We pray that Thou wilt breathe upon us as a breath from heaven. Grant that we may know what it is to have the Holy Ghost resting upon us for service….We ask it all in the Name and for the sake of Thy beloved Son. Amen!"
Taken from the chapter, "Four Fundamental Facts," from the book, Heaven’s Throne Gift, by James A. Stewart. Copyright 2001 by Revival Literature, P. O. Box 6068, Asheville NC 28816.