III. THE SECRET OF HIS CONSTANT MANIFESTATION:
We come now to the last phase of the threefold secret of the Holy Spirit. Its importance will be recognized in the following type of experience, not uncommon among believers. A child of God, brought by the Spirit under conviction as to this truth, sees God's claim upon his life, and lays it at His feet, a living sacrifice. In answer to that surrender there comes to him from God a fullness of power, blessing, and spiritual life, beyond his fondest imaginings, and his spirit rejoices in the riches of his fuller experience. So manifest is the Spirit's presence in his heart; so consciously is he filled with His life, that he feels as though he had reached a new state of spiritual power and experience which will never leave or diminish. But, by and by, there comes a change. The brightness of the experience seems to dim; its power begins to wane; its manifestation to diminish. He still continues to "claim" what he feels is gone; to profess what he does not possess, in the hope that this may bring back the "blessing." But at last he breaks down in despair, and henceforth refers to all this as a "lost experience," a blessing which he once enjoyed, but which now has fled away. In such a case - only too common - what has happened? It is not that the Spirit has ceased to reside in such a believer; but He has ceased to reveal Himself in his former fullness. It is not a question of lost indwelling, but lost manifestation. The Blesser has not left, but perfectly satisfactory to him in kind, and degree, but not in permanence. It failed in continuousness, slowly fading away like the flush of the twilight in a sunset sky. And why? What is the explanation of this default in continuance of manifestation? 1. DOING THE WILL OF GOD
ABIDING IN CHRIST
In John 14:21 Christ states the general conditions of the manifestations of the Spirit, when He says: "He that hath my commandments and keepeth them ...I will manifest myself to him." Plainly referring here to the manifestation of Himself through the Spirit, He declares, as a great, universal truth, that the conditions of that manifestation are the keeping of His commandments, meaning by these, as we shall hereafter see, not the commandments of the Law, but those of Grace - Faith and Love - which fulfill the Law. In other words, Christ simply asserts that the manifestation of God comes to him who does the will of God. Thus, when the individual in the case cited was a sinner, the will of God for him as an unsaved man was to repent, and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, unto the salvation of his soul. This he did, and at once there came the manifestation of God at conversion; the Spirit, as we have seen, was received, and entered to dwell forever. And now, as time passes on, he sees that there is within him a self-life which is enmity with the God-life, a self-will which opposes the divine will, and that God's will for him is the giving up of all self-will, and the yielding himself wholly to God to do His will. This too he does, and straightaway there comes, at consecration, a mighty manifestation of God, in the fullness of that Spirit who was already received. To both these acts of doing God's will, God responded by manifesting Himself to the believer, just as He had promised. But now, instead of halting there, and claiming "the blessing," and trying to live the rest of his life on his experience, the believer should have pressed on to this kindred truth, that since the manifestation of the Spirit comes to him who does God's will, the continual manifestation of the Spirit can come only to him who continually does God's will. That is, though these times of manifestation have come from these acts of doing God's will, constancy of manifestation can come only from a continual doing, a daily living in the will of God. Thus, the surrender of the life is only the beginning of a life of surrender. The act of consecration must be incarnated into a life of consecration, if begun blessing is to be continued blessing. For consecration is rather the threshold, than the climax of the Spirit's fullness. It is not so much a star, which, once fixed, will forever illumine our lives with its radiance, without any further care from us, as it is a gateway, which needs to constantly kept open, if the light which came in at its unbarring is to continue. And it is just here that the believer who is mourning over a "lost experience," has failed. He has learned the first and second secret of the Holy Spirit, but not the third and final one. He has RECEIVED the Holy Spirit, through UNION WITH Christ; has been FILLED with the Holy Spirit, through SURRENDER TO Christ; but does not yet know the CONSTANT MANIFESTATION of that Spirit, through ABIDING IN CHRIST. He has place the climax of his Christian experience at Consecration, instead of at Abiding. He has received "the fullness"; claimed the "second blessing"; been made "perfect"; and then has done what no mortal man or woman dare do - has halted, and rested upon a so-called attained experience. Desiring solely to retain "the blessing" that has come to him, he stops short of the final and supreme secret of its intention - the secret of ABIDING IN CHRIST. He is misled, confused, and disappointed, because he has failed to see that a man may have received the Spirit, been filled with the Spirit, and yet need to learn how to walk in the Spirit. 2. THE NEED OF ABIDING
The need of Abiding arises from the two-fold nature of the believers: - a truth already considered in another connection. If, when the new life of the Spirit filled the believer at surrender of the old life of the flesh vanished away, then there would be no need for the believer to learn the secret of Abiding. But this is not the case. True, "our old man has been crucified." But he is crucified IN CHRIST, and it is only as we ABIDE in Christ that we realize this crucifixion and this resurrection life. The flesh still abides in the believer. Otherwise, why is he constantly exhorted to walk in the Spirit and not to walk in the flesh? He should not walk in it, and need not walk in it, but the fact that he may walk in it, and often does walk in it, proves that it is there. And being there, it must be evident that every time he yields to the flesh, and walks in the flesh, he that far frustrates, and checks the manifestation of the Spirit. Of very necessity this is true, for God cannot manifest Himself through the flesh. The mind of that flesh is "death"; is "enmity with God"; is the bitterest foe of the Spirit. Therefore, just so far as the believer walks in the flesh, yea in every act which he does in the flesh, the manifestation of the Spirit must so far cease. For the Spirit to do anything else would be for God to set His divine approval upon acts done by that which He hates, and has condemned to death - the flesh. It would be not only to let the flesh "glory in His presence," but it would be giving the very glory of His own holy presence to the flesh. It would be like bringing the Shekinah glory into the polluted temple of a heathen deity; like glorifying Dagon with the halo of divinity, instead of smiting him with the blow of divine judgment. Even though a man has been filled with the Spirit at surrender, yet God cannot set His seal to a life of non-conformity to His will, by continuing through it a manifestation of the Spirit due to a past act of obedience. The believer needs clearly to see this. He needs to understand that since manifestation comes to him who does the will of God, therefore every time he does the will of the flesh instead that manifestation must be clouded. There is conscious condemnation in the believer's heart whenever he yields to the flesh; a conscious sense of darkening within, as though a cloud had passed between him and God, and shut out the light from the innermost chamber of his soul. The flesh is just such a veil between the believer and the conscious presence of God, and every time he walks in it he hangs up that veil. It is this very knowledge that these relapses into the flesh bring the hiding of God's countenance, which begets in the believer that watchfulness to die daily, to put off the old man, to press closer and closer to the side of Christ, that is so emphasized by Paul as the final condition of the blessed life. Not that such an act done in the flesh, such a relapse into the flesh-walk, costs him his soul. The question at issue here is not that of salvation by Christ, but of communion with Christ. The son who has yielded to an act of disobedience does not lose his sonship. But there is strain, and grief, and broken communion, in the home-circle. Sonship is as sure as the blood of Christ and the omnipotent hand-grasp of the Father can, make it. But communion with God is like the face of a delicate mirror; even the breath of flesh-life on it will condense cloud enough to shadow the outshining presence. How foolish then for a child of God to rely upon any past "experience," or manifestation of the Spirit, when he sees that the first step he may take in the flesh will cloud that manifestation! And how needful that he should press on to learn that final secret of abiding in Christ, which alone can teach him how these "breaks" in communion shall become fewer and fewer, until at last he has learned to walk in the Spirit, and reaches the glad consummation, where "the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." Nothing within the pages of God's Word gives more helpful teaching concerning the truths of the Holy Spirit than the parable of the Vine and the Branches. It is not only marvelously clear, and simple, but comprises the whole of the three-fold secret of the Spirit. Picture a branch grafted into the vine, in the springtime. As soon as the union is complete, the branch receives the life of the vine, which begins to pulsate through it. This illustrates the believer's receiving the Holy Ghost, through union with Christ by faith, at the time of his conversion. Suppose now some obstruction in the channels of the branch, which checked the flow of sap, so that although the branch had received, yet it was not filled. The moment this is removed the branch is filled with the life of the vine. This pictures the believer who has in truth received the Holy Ghost, but, by an unyielded will and life, is surely hindering the fullness of that life which he has as surely received. As soon as he gives himself wholly to God, he is filled with the Spirit already received. Now here he too often halts. He tries to live upon a past experience. But the branch does not, yea, dare not. For it is not enough that the branch received the sap of the vine at grafting; or that it was filled with it the day it wholly yielded itself to it. But, every day and hour of its existence, it must continue to draw, moment by moment, upon the life of its nourishing vine. It must not only draw on that vine for birth, and bud, but for leaf, fibre, wood, bloom, and final fruitage. It must ABIDE in the vine. It dare not rely to-day on yesterday's fullness. It dare not draw on the vine one day, and fail to draw on it the next. If it did, then, when the vintage came, there would be no fruit. It must ABIDE in the vine. The application to the believer is evident. He must learn this final secret. For "As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself except it abide in the vine; no more can YE except ye ABIDE in Me." 3. THE NATURE OF ABIDING
And now what is it to Abide in Christ? Exactly what does Christ mean, when He uses these words to describe the final secret of the Holy Ghost? How shall we abide in Him that we may know the joy of His promise - "and I in you"? If the climax of the Christian life is reached here - as it assuredly is - how important it is for us to have not vague, and indefinite notions, but clear and well-defined knowledge of just what is meant by this term. Men, it is true, have written beautiful essays on Abiding; religious poetry is full of descriptions of it; rich and beautiful thoughts have been uttered concerning it. Yet somehow they have all been vague, shadowy, and mystic, in the face of our earnest desire to know just what Abiding is, that we may practically incarnate its supremely important truth into our own every day lives. The difficulty here, as always, is that we seek men's thought, instead of God's thoughts, about the truth. We ignore the greatest rule of Bible-study, namely:- when we come upon a phrase of unknown meaning let us ask God, who wrote the Book, what He means by it, instead of seeking man's opinion about it. That is, concerning some obscurity in one part of the Word, seek to find some other portion of that Word which clears it up. How much we have slighted God's Word, in this respect, is well illustrated by the very term we are considering. For all the while men have been groping, and spiritualizing and theorizing concerning the beautiful truth of Abiding, there has been staring in our very faces God's own definition of it, as clear, simple, and practical as He alone could make it. We find it in I John 3:24. "And he that keepeth His commandments ABIDETH in Him and He in him." (R. V.) How strange that we have so long missed it! It is the same simple truth as that of manifestation. (John 14:21.) And why? Because it is a question not of salvation but of communion. It affects not our safety but our walk in Christ. Failure to believe in Christ costs us our souls; bur failure to abide in Him, after belief, costs us our conscious communion with Him, veils the manifestation of His presence. Abiding expresses in a single word the conditions of Manifestation, treated in a previous chapter. For, to "him that keepeth my commandments I will manifest myself"(John 14:21); but "he that keepeth my commandments abideth in me" (I John 3:24); therefore "it is to him that abideth that I manifest myself." The logic of this is clear. ABIDING is thus the constant keeping of His commandments, in response to which He manifests Himself in constant communion with His children. But some one says: "If my abiding in Christ depends upon my keeping the multitude of commandment in His Word, then I can never reach it, for I cannot even remember them all much less keep them, and so must despair of ever learning this final secret of the Holy Spirit." Not so, beloved. Turn again to His Word in I John 3:23: "And this is His commandment, that we should BELIEVE on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and LOVE one another, as He gave us commandment." To us, who are under grace, all the commandments are fulfilled in this great twofold commandment of FAITH and LOVE; "faith working through love." So important a truth have we now reached that it merits all the prayerful consideration we are capable of giving it, in the two remaining chapters of this series, and to it alone we shall, in conclusion, yield their full limits.
We have seen that Christ manifests Himself, through the Holy Spirit, to him who does His will, that is, to him that keepeth His commandments. We have seen also that the constant keeping of His commandments is what He calls abiding in Him, and that its brings not His incoming, or indwelling - both of which are already effected in the believer - but that constant revelation of Himself through the Spirit, for which every believing heart longs. We have seen, too, that all these commandments, whose keeping constitutes the Abiding Life, are embodied in the great twofold commandment of Faith and Love. We take up at this point, then, the Faith side of the Abiding Life; the first half of the great commandment of I John 3:23, the continual keeping of which is to give us the final desire of our heart; is to constitute that abiding in Him which brings His abiding in us. What then is this Faith which comprises so integral and important a part of the Abiding Life? Does it differ from the faith through which we are justified, through which we receive forgiveness of sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost? If so, how? We answer that its essence is the essence of all faith, a LOOKING TO JESUS. But it's not so much difference from, but enlargement upon, our first knowledge of faith is, that is is a CONSTANT LOOKING TO Jesus for the continuous manifestation of the Spirit; even as, at the beginning, it was an ACT of looking to Jesus for the incoming of that Spirit. To make plain this thought, let us notice two points: 1. THE BELIEVER IN HIMSELF IS SPIRITUALLY DEAD
"In ME, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing." "FOR YE ARE DEAD, and YOUR LIFE is hid with Christ in God." (Col. 3:3.) The believer has thus no spiritual life in himself, apart from Christ Jesus. He has physical life, soul-life, but no divine life, apart from Christ. The simple fact of the new birth is a crushing proof of this. So hopeless is this spiritual deadness within that there must be a new birth. His old life cannot be reformed, or improved, or in any way utilized by God. There is no process, even of divine alchemy, by which the base metal of "the flesh" can be transformed into the fine gold of "the Spirit." He must be born again, born of God, born anew, born from above, born of the Spirit. The life which comes into him then is a new life; it is not his own, but the life of God in him. He is not a flesh-improved man, but a God-indwelt man. It is not that he has a better old life than the sinner possesses, but another new life, which the sinner does not possess at all. He is not called upon to try to amend, but to put off the "old man." God has the same sentence for the old life in him as in the sinner, namely, condemnation. 2. JESUS CHRIST IS SPIRITUAL LIFE
"I am the way, the truth, and THE LIFE." "When Christ, who is YOUR LIFE, shall appear." "God hath given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 'He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.' 'IN HIM was life;' 'I am that bread of life;' 'I give unto them eternal life.' Thus, though the believer is spiritually dead in himself, yet Christ is spiritual life." And the believer receives life, not as a gift apart from Christ, but by the gift of Christ. Jesus Christ does not so much impart life as He INBRINGS life. That is, spiritual life comes to the believing one by the incoming of Christ, WHO IS life. Thus the spiritual life in the believer is not his own; it is Christ dwelling in him. The believer never receives a gift of spiritual life which is now his own possession, independent of, and separate from Christ; he receives Christ Himself to indwell in the power of the Spirit. Therefore the believer is portrayed as a man in himself spiritually dead, indwelt through the Spirit by Jesus Christ, who is his spiritual life. That old nature is just as dead a thing in the believer after conversion as it was before. It must be regarded as utterly worthless. Its carnal mind is "death,' is "enmity with God," and in no way subject to God or susceptible of spiritual improvement in the believer, any more than in the sinner. Hence the believer's only hope is to give up his own self-life, as utterly hopeless, and begin to look solely to the Christ-life within him. He whose nature is sinful can only look to Him who is sinless; he who is weakness must look to Him who is strength; he who is empty must look to Him who is all fullness; he who is dead must look to Him who is life. So his new life must not be improved "I" but it is "no longer I, but CHRIST THAT LIVETH IN ME, and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith." (Gal. 2:20, R. V.) Paul finds out that he is not only justified by faith, but that "the just must LIVE by faith," not only that he has received the Spirit, but that he must walk in the Spirit. He has reached the broadest conception of faith the believer can grasp, in reaching the faith through which we are not only born of God, but the faith through which we live in God - the faith of Abiding. What then is this Faith? It is that habitual attitude by which one who, in himself is spiritually dead, is constantly looking to, and daily and hourly drawing upon, the life of another - the fullness of life of Jesus Christ within him. This is the life of faith; this is the walk of the Spirit; this is abiding, on the Faith side of it. With Faith in this broad sweep of the term the word of God has much to say, and seems never weary of emphasizing its supreme importance. "After the same manner in which ye have received Christ Jesus, so walk ye in Him," is one of the truths which Paul seeks most earnestly to press upon his hearers. And how did we thus receive Him? Was it not by ceasing from all self-righteous works of our own? Was it not by coming, in despair, to the end of self-effort, and self-justification, and throwing ourselves, in most helpless trust upon Jesus Christ, and upon Him alone? Could we, by any possible effort of our own, accomplish forgiveness of sins, and reconciliation with God? Could we blot out a single stain of the multitude that crimsoned our sinful lives? Nay; for "without shedding of blood there is no remission of sins," wherefore we had, perforce, to cast ourselves, in utter helpless faith, upon Jesus Christ to accomplish that which we could not possibly compass ourselves. It was thus that we received Christ Jesus. Now after the same manner we are to walk in Him. But a walk is simply a reiterated step. Wherefore, just as we took the first step of helpless faith in Christ alone for the receiving of the Spirit, so must we take each step in our walk, our life with Him, for the constant manifestation of that Spirit. Do we desire power? We must look to Him for it each time it is needed. Do we long for Love? We must look to Him for His, for ours is cold and selfish. Do we desire anointing for service? We must look to Him renewedly, at each recurrence of such service. Do we need guidance, wisdom, tact, gentleness, longsuffering, peace, joy? We must look to Him for it all. Note this same truth beneath the surface of Rom. 6:4. "That like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." The statement is here made that our Christian walk in the new life should be like as Christ was raised from the dead. Can we conceive of a more perfect picture of helplessness than a dead man? Christ was, as to the body, dead. That dead body could not of itself rise, move, breathe, or stir; it was in itself utterly powerless. Hour after hour passed and it lay in the tomb, in the grasp of death, with no power in itself to rise, but awaiting the touch of God the Father. Then came the mighty quickening of the resurrection, by which "God raised Him from the dead." Christ did not raise Himself; it was not so appointed; He was raised by another - the Father. Now in this same manner is the believer to walk in the new life. He is to realize himself as dead, and helpless, and is to be daily and hourly looking to, and depending upon another, even Jesus Christ, even the Holy Spirit within, for every step of his walk "in newness of life," even as he did for the first step into the same. Beloved, do we realize that our walk in the Spirit is to be a constant, momentary life of faith, as surely as our salvation was by an act of faith? That we must not only be regenerated by faith, but live by faith? Do we believe that Christ meant exactly this when He said, "Apart from Me ye can do nothing?" Dare we lead that meeting; write that paper or letter; make that address; hand out that tract; speak to that soul about Christ; make that decision; take that next step; - dare we do anything without that swift uplift of faith to Him in whom alone dwelleth spiritual life? Have we incarnated this fact of our own insufficiency into our every day Christian walk? Do we realize that this is not simply a theme for religious essays, or a rather mystic subject for prayer-meeting talks, but is meant to be the most intensely practical truth Christ can give to us, and to be inwrought into every act, every word, every thought? Are we constantly looking to the indwelling of Christ? That self is worthy of all distrust, and Christ worthy of all trust, we know. But are we living it? Has "Apart from Me ye can do nothing" become a part of our life as of our creed? "It is the Spirit that quickeneth (maketh alive), the flesh profiteth nothing." Only the Spirit can make alive; only the Spirit can beget men and women from the dead. Words spoken, prayers uttered, acts done in the energy of self alone, have no power of spiritual germination. If this is true, how many of our works are "dead works?" Except the Spirit speak through us, pray through us, work through us, there will be no quickening in those about us. The sermon delivered in pride of intellect, or rush of mere human eloquence may excite the intellect, arouse admiration or stir emotion, but it cannot transmit life. And naught but life beget life, for "It is THE SPIRIT THAT QUICKENETH." "I do not often have to reproach myself for failure to serve, but I do often for serving without anointing," said a noted Christian worker. Ministry without the Spirit, of what value is it? The answer is ever the same, - "the flesh profiteth nothing," and proves how solemn is our responsibility to live the abiding life; the life of constant distrust of self, and constant dependence upon, and drawing from, the indwelling Spirit. The necessity of such an abiding life may be illustrated in an object-lesson of every-day observation. There are two systems of running electric cars today. By one, power is laid up in storage batteries, of amount sufficient to run the cars a definite number of hours, or miles. Such batteries, when once charged, become for the while independent sources of power and light, and the car is itself a potential self-propelling agent, needing no aid from without. But there is another, the trolley system, which differs wholly from the first named. In this the car is a dead, helpless thing, with no power whatever of self-propulsion. But above it runs the slender copper cable thrilling with the life that constantly pulsates through it from the distant power-house. The instant the helpless car reaches up and touches that overhead current, it becomes instinct with life, power, and motion. Now, not its own life and power, but another's, and the moment it ceases to touch upon the "live" wire, that moment it becomes the same helpless, motionless mass. Its continuance in the place of power depends wholly upon its constancy of contact. The lesson is obvious. Even so must the children of God keep in constant, momentary, unceasing touch with Jesus Christ, if they would know the continuous manifestation of the Holy Spirit. For God does not fill them on the storage-battery, but on the trolley principle. He does not charge them with independent power, but unites them in dependent faith to Jesus Christ who is so charged. It is Christ (Acts 2:33) who received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost; and it is Christ who "hath poured forth this which ye see and hear." It is by virtue of our union with Christ, then, that we have received the gift of the Holy Ghost. And it is only as we abide in Him; as we press closer and closer to Him; as we daily draw our life from Him by communion, and prayer, and continuous looking to Him, that we know the constant manifestation of the Spirit. God thus does not fill us as we might fill a pail, with a supply independent of, and separate from, the fountain. He fills us as the branch is filled from the vine,by union with it, and daily, hourly, drawing upon it, for every whit of its supply. And so he who looks to Jesus constantly will not lack blessings and baptisms, but he who looks to blessings and baptisms will often lose hold upon Jesus. The Lord wills to keep us in this place of dependence. He will not so fill us with the Spirit as that we may run for a year, a month, or a day alone. To do so would be to make us independent of Christ; fill us with self-reliance; puff us up with pride; shatter faith, the very foundation of the abiding life; and wreck our life of fruit-bearing in Him. Nay, beloved, our spiritual life is not our own, but drawn from another. Self-dependence means barrenness; Christ-dependence brings fullness. "YE ARE DEAD AND YOUR LIFE IS HID WITH CHRIST IN GOD." Just as, hid in the heart of the city, there are great dynamos throbbing with a wondrous life which they send forth to hundreds of helpless, waiting cars, so, hid in God, is divine life which He, the Father, pours out through the Son. He who abideth in Him will always be fruitful and full; he who essays to live in his own past blessings, and experiences, will soon deplore his barrenness and emptiness. Note well here that this Abiding is not a term of standing, but of state. It does not precede salvation, it presumes it. A man in Christ has the Spirit in virtue of his union; but many a man in Christ loses the manifestation of the Spirit through failure of communion. Many a Christian is right in standing, but wrong in state; sure of salvation, but slack in walk, and communion. In such, barrenness of life and powerlessness in service indicate not lost salvation in Christ, but lost fellowship with Christ; not lost justification, but lost manifestation; not loss of saving faith, but loss of abiding faith in the sense already used. The simple thought then of this faith of Abiding is that of a constant LOOKING TO Jesus for our spiritual life. These three words, LOOKING TO Jesus, picture perfectly the posture of the soul that is abiding in Christ. The moon keeps looking to the sun, for every gleam of her reflected radiance; the branch keeps looking to the vine, for every whit of its life and fruitage; the drinking fountain keeps looking to the supplying reservoir, for every drop of water it is to pour to its thirsting visitors; the arc light keeps looking to the great dynamo, for every ray of the stream of light with which it floods the midnight darkness. Even so the child of God who would master the final secret of the Holy Ghost, the secret of His constant manifestation, must keep looking to Jesus, moment by moment, until such abiding in faith becomes the constant attitude of his soul. It may be, yea, it will be difficult, at first. To incarnate this principle of looking to Christ alone in every detail of our lives means much to us all. To silence the clamor of fleshly voices; to lean not upon the fleshly understanding; to quell the energy of fleshly haste; to distrust all plans not born in or of prayer; to lay the hand of strong restraint upon every impulse, until it has been proven, by prayerful waiting, to be of God; to not only say "no confidence" in the flesh, but to live "no confidence" is an attitude not attained with ease, and at a single bound. But it shall be ours; Jesus has commanded it (John 15:4), and all His commands are enabling. And as out of our very failures to abide, the deep need of abiding becomes more manifest, we shall, even as we look to Him for the power to abide, come at length to it. And then, really accepting and practicing our own helplessness, to look to Jesus for strength and find it; to look to Him for guidance, and see with our own eyes the wondrous ways in which He leads; to look to Him for anointing, and to be as conscious of the Spirit's gracious presence as we are of our own identity; to look to Him for fruit-bearing, and be astonished at the fruitage He can bear through such branches as we are - how precious is all this fruitage of Abiding life! Beloved, are we so dissatisfied with self as to feel the supreme need of Christ alone? Do we realize that in ourselves we are dead men and women? The very fact that a man must be born again, do we realize this to be in itself the most tremendous indictment against, and proof of the utter worthlessness of our own natural self-life, that a holy God could ever array against us? Have we accepted the logical consequences of regeneration, in their bearing on holy living? Do we realize our need of living in God, as well as being born of God? Are we conscious of our need of Abiding? Are we "following after," Abiding? Surely its reward is rich, for He Himself hath said, "abide in Me and I in you!"
We have seen the truth of abiding, on the faith side of it. We have seen how the believer must keep on looking to Christ, day by day, for his spiritual life; must keep in constant hourly, touch with Him; must by a life of prayer, communion, and trust keep momentarily drawing upon Him "in whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." But, as we have seen, "he that keepeth His commandments," he it is that abideth in Him. Abiding is the keeping of His commandments. There is more than one. There is not only "believing in the name of His Son Jesus Christ," but "love one another;" not only FAITH but LOVE. (I John 3:23.) Hence abiding is not only communion, but ministry; not only inflow, but outflow; not only an attitude toward God, but also toward men; not only looking to Jesus, but loving others. He, therefore, who would live the abiding life in all its fullness and symmetry,and know the manifestation of Christ which attaches to it, needs not only to be constantly drawing by faith upon the fullness of Jesus, for his daily walk and life, but needs also to be CONSTANTLY LOVING OTHERS INSTEAD OF LOVING SELF. That the abiding manifestation of the Spirit of God can be only to those who not only live the life of faith, but the life of constant love, is founded on the very NATURE OF GOD. For 1. LOVING OTHERS.
God who is love - love of others - can manifest Himself only to those who are also willing to love others. God is Love. We see Him as Love in the declaration of His Word. "God is Love and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God." "He that loveth not, knoweth not God." "I have loved thee with an everlasting love." "Having loved His own, He loved them unto the end." "As the Father hath loved me, even so have I loved you." "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son." We see it in God the Father, planning from the eternal ages for the salvation of men. We see it in God the Son, as He poured out His life in unwearying ministry for the souls and bodies of men; as His heart agonized in compassion for the multitudes, like sheep without a shepherd; as He endured with majestic patience the taunts and gibes of the judgment scene; as He bowed in agony under the bloody bows of the scourge; as, at the last, in His own body bearing our sins on the tree, His dying breath was spent in plaintive prayer for His murderers. We see, too, God the Spirit to be Love. How tender in pleading with men! How gentle in rebuke! How tireless and patient under resistance! How loath to leave, though flouted and scorned! How quick to forgive the crimson sins and remorseful follies of the vanished years of a wasted life! Yea, the Father, who gave His only begotten, to send salvation; the Son, who bled upon a felon's cross to bring salvation; and the Spirit, who for thousands of years, has yearned over, and wrought with men to apply salvation - these three are one God of eternal, self-sacrificing, changeless, quenchless LOVE - LOVE OF OTHERS. Hence the very nature of God, which is Love - love of others - requires for it as manifestation a life which is willing to love as He loves - love not self, but others. The only way to secure the manifestation of the electric current, is to supply the steel, or copper wire, or other conductor which its nature demands. Even so, the only way to secure an abiding manifestation of God in us is to supply the conductor which His nature demands, in a life which is yielded forever to love others even as He loves. The life of a child of God, so yielded to live out the great command "Love one another," is as much a conductor for the manifestation of the God of Love, as the metal wire is for the manifestation of electric force. For this is the law of the Spirit's activity; it is the only line along which He will operate. Who would expect that Spirit to manifest Himself through a murderous, or a sensual, life? Neither can He manifest Himself through a life whose ruling principle is love of self, for He is utterly unselfish. Therefore, when Jesus Christ states clearly that the manifestation of God is to "him who keepeth His commandments," and then says, "This is my commandment, that ye love one another even as I have loved you," He makes the manifestation of God in the Spirit a logical necessity to him who is willing to shift the center of his life from love of self, to love of others, and a logical impossibility to him who is not willing so to do. 2. LOVING OTHERS INSTEAD OF SELF
Hence that child of God will have the fullest manifestation of God in the Spirit, who adopts as the deliberate purpose and principle of his life, THE LOVE OF OTHERS instead of THE LOVE OF SELF. This is the law through which the Spirit acts, and if he would have the manifestation of that Spirit he must deliberately accept this law as the law of his new life. True, this law of love is the exact opposite of the law that all his lifetime has been controlling him. But that is the very point. He needs a different law of action ("a NEW commandment I give unto you") because he is now yielding himself to a different life, a new life, the life of the Spirit. And so when Christ gives us a new nature, He gives us a new commandment. When He gives us a new life, He gives us a new law of manifestation adapted to that life. And since the new nature is the deadly foe and the exact opposite of the old, we would expect that the law of its manifestation would be the exact opposite of the law of the old. Hence the believer who desires the manifestation of the Spirit must expect for the government and regulation of his new life a new principle, totally different from that which has shaped almost every act of his past life; the principle of loving others instead of loving Self. And what a far-reaching, heart-searching, breath-taking change this is! To cease to grasp all, and begin to give all; to cease to seek all, and begin to surrender all; to cease accenting "take care of number one," and begin to accent "let every man care for the things of others"; to no longer seek the high place, but the lowly one; to aim now to minister, instead of to be ministered unto; to no longer seek, but to shun the praise of men; to no longer save the life, but lose it for others; to no longer lay up, enjoy, and be at ease, but to suffer, and spend and be spent for Christ Himself - all this is a complete reversal of the deep-rooted, all-controlling principle of the natural human heart, the principle of self-love. To the world the mere suggestion of such a thing is astounding! That a man should deliberately renounce all self-seeking; self-praise; renounce his gaining, grasping, dreaming, striving, toiling and scheming for self; and as deliberately give himself to seek, strive, toil, suffer, sacrifice, plan, plead, pray and live for others - this is something the natural man will not receive. It is monstrous, impracticable, incredible, suicidal! But, beloved, this is exactly what Jesus Christ did, and exactly what you and I must do to know the manifestation of His life within us. As surely as love of self is the first law of nature, is love of others the first law of God. Astonishing, sweeping, and destructive of every self-interest as the law of Love is, yet he who yields to it will know God as he never else can know Him. He will be most filled with the New Life who yields most fully to the New Commandment. This New Commandment is the supreme expression of God's will for our earthly walk. Whoso yields to it reverses the motive principle of his being. But he also reverses the whole current of manifestation. He who once knew the self-life in its fullness, comes to know, as never before, the fullness of the Christ-life. 3. ABIDING IN LOVE
He who would know the abiding manifestation of God, needs to ABIDE in Love. We need not only to accept this great commandment as the rule of our life, but need to carry it into our daily life in actual practice. The act of surrender to do God's will of Love is not enough, unless it is followed by a daily, hourly doing of that greatest command. And the manifestation of His presence and love, which accompanies surrender, will fail of continuousness, if we do not daily live that which we yield ourselves to live - the love-life of God. Hence, the need of abiding in Love. For "he that abideth in love, abideth in God, and God abideth in him." (I John 4:16, R. V.) To abide in Love is to incarnate the great law of Love of others into every detail of our daily life. Not only must the self-life be renounced, by a solemn definite act but the habit of selfishness must be replaced by the habit of Love. We are to practice the new commandment in everything, "following after Love," as Paul says, until it becomes the steadfast law of our being, in all its details. We are to make "LOVE ONE ANOTHER" the touchstone by which to test every thought, word, and deed of our daily lives, until all are brought into conformity to the law which was supreme in the life of Jesus Christ Himself. The rebuke you administered yesterday to a brother in Christ, was it done in love, or vexation? The counsel you gave, was it proffered in love, or pride of opinion? The meeting you led, the address you made, were they in love - to help others - or to add to your own reputation? The money you gave, was it in love to the lost - or in pride, and self-esteem? The remarks you make about others, are they in love? The thoughts you cherish in your secret heart concerning them - are they, too, full of love? Your giving, spending, ministering; your praying, and purposing, are they all in love? This is the supreme test of every detail of your life, by which you may know whether it is "God that worketh in you," or Self. And how quickly that abiding in love becomes a condition of the manifestation of the Spirit! Let a day be spent in this attitude of love to others, instead of love of self. Let the words be kind and gentle; the acts helpful, unselfish, and considerate; the hours filled with loving, unselfish ministry; and the heart the abode of sympathetic, kindly thought. That day is a day of blessing, and the consciousness of the Spirit's blessed presence in the heart. But let the words be harsh; the thoughts envious or spiteful; the acts selfish; the hours filled with self-seeking instead of self-forgetfulness; and who does not know the conscious shadowing of God's presence, the conscious grieving of the Spirit in such days and hours? In the grain elevators of the West are different compartments for the various grains. Open one spout, and the golden corn manifests itself in a rich outflowing stream. Open another, leading to a different chamber, and the amber wheat pours forth in like unceasing stream. Open others, and the oats, or barley, or rye will severally flow forth according as the respective channels to each are tapped. Now, within us dwell the Spirit and the flesh; the God-nature which is Love, and the old nature, which is selfish. The moment we do an act, speak a word, think a thought in love, God, who is love, manifests Himself. But the moment we speak in harshness, act in selfishness and think in envy, hatred, or spite, the Flesh manifests itself. The law is as certain, simple, and inexorable as the law by which the kind of grain manifested depends upon the specific channel which is thrown open. If we yield to Love; will to love; incarnate Love; abide in Love, we shall surely be blessed with the conscious manifestation of the God who is Love, for we have opened the channel through which the Spirit of Love is bound to flow forth. But if our words are bitter; our thoughts and aims constantly centered on self; our actions purely selfish; our lives self-centered, and loveless, then the manifestation of the Flesh, the self-life, the old nature is just as certain and inevitable as the manifestation of the Spirit to him who walks in love. Christ cannot manifest Himself through a life of murder or theft, that is self evident. But is it equally evident to us that Christ cannot manifest Himself through any act that is selfish or un-Christ-like? Every root of bitterness, every yielding to selfishness, every harsh judgment in our daily walk must, and does of necessity, break Christ's communion with us. How zealous and careful should we be then to ABIDE IN LOVE! Let every act be done in love to others. Shun a selfish act as you would a sensual one. Shrink from an unloving thought or suggestion as you would from the hiss of a serpent. Eschew hasty bitter words as you would poisoned darts or daggers. Realize - what so astounds the natural heart - that God loves, regardless of His treatment by others; - "He is kind to the unthankful and the evil;" - even so should we. Wherefore, if some grievous wrong, insult, or unkindness goads you from your attitude of love, justify it not, but hasten to confess, and find forgiveness from Him who prayed for those who murdered Him, as well as for those who loved Him. Note well here that THE SUPREME EXPRESSION OF LOVE IS MINISTRY, even unto sacrifice and death. Love is not mere sentiment; mere emotional outflow. True, it must first be in the heart, whose attitude is to be steadily one of love for others. "Little children let us love in DEED and in truth," says John. "Hereby perceive we the love of God because He laid down His life for us." (I John 3:16.) God so loved that He gave, He served, He died, for the lost world. This is the test of Love. The inevitable outcome of the love-life within, is ministry and service without. True love must minister; the love of Christ constrains it so to do. Yet be it remembered that they who lie upon beds of suffering and helplessness, may in the secret outgoings of their hearts, and in the ministry of prayer for others, live the love-life as truly as those who minister by hand, tongue, or pen. For as in giving, so it is here, that "if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted, according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not." 4. FAITH IS THE GATEWAY.
Faith is the gateway of communion with God; Love is the gateway of ministry to men. He who keeps them both constantly open has learned to abide in Christ. The believer is the temple of the Holy Ghost. That temple is double-gated. Faith is the gateway open Godward; Love is the gateway open manward. Through Faith the divine life, so to speak, flows in to us; through Love it flows out to others. Faith is the channel of communion with God; Love the channel of ministry to men. God desires not only to pour His life into us through Faith, but through us to others, through Love. The Spirit not only wants us to let Him in, but also to let Him out to others. It is not enough for us simply to receive the Holy Spirit. It is not enough to have Him indwelling in us. It is not enough to have His love, peace, and power in ourselves, and for ourselves only. There is some one else in the universe besides God, the giver of the Holy Spirit, and us the recipients. There is an unsaved, dying, perishing world, whom He loves even as He loved us. Unless they see Christ through us, they will never see Him; unless they hear of Him through us, they will die in darkness; unless He touches them through us, they will never know the touch of His life and power. When He walked the earth He was constantly pouring out His own love-life in sacrifice, ministry, and blessing to all about Him. Now, He is "no longer in the world," but we are in the world as members of His body, branches of Him, the living Vine, and He longs to continue pouring forth that life through us. Faith is thus the channel of divine inflow; Love the channel of divine outflow. Through Faith God has all chance to work in us; through Love all opportunity to work through us. "Faith which worketh through Love," is the way Paul puts it in Gal. 5:6. Faith looking hourly to Jesus, constantly receiving His inpouring life, as constantly pours it out through Love, the door kept open toward the perishing. He abides in Christ who keeps these doors constantly open. Neither dares to be shut. To close the door of faith is to have the inner man grow weak for lack of communion; to close the door of love is to have him grow weak for lack of ministry. Thus the believer is a channel for the Spirit who is, in figure, a stream (John 7:38). "OUT OF him shall flow rivers of living water . . . . this spake He of the Spirit which they . . . should RECEIVE." That which has been received is to flow out. A good channel is always receiving, always full, and always outflowing. To be a good channel one needs to constantly open at the point of inflow, and the point of outflow. Therefore these two gateways of Faith and Love must be kept constantly open. Through Faith, the gateway open Godward, as it were, we constantly receive the divine life in communion. Through Love, the gateway opens manward, we constantly give out the divine life in ministry and service. The channel which shuts one gate, ceases to be a channel. For inflow without outflow means stagnation; and outflow without inflow means emptiness. We dare not cease from Faith; we dare not relax in Love. We must pass from the inflow of communion to the outflow of Service; and back again from the outgiving of Service to the replenishment of Communion. He who shuts either the gate of Communion or the gate of Ministry, writes over his life, "No thoroughfare"; but he has no sooner done this than the Spirit, with invisible hand, writes over that same life, "No abiding." Not realizing that both are needed to form a rounded, symmetrical, complete life in Christ, men have tried to divorce them; essayed to live one without the other. Realizing that apart from Christ they could do nothing; seeing the need of close, constant communion with Him; conscious of the blessing, and power of the life of prayer, they have given themselves wholly to the Faith side of the abiding life. They have retired from the world with its sin and follies; they have hidden themselves in the seclusion of cell and cloister; they have given themselves to prayer, meditation and communion. But when God revealed Himself to them through the life of communion, instead of opening the door of Love, applying themselves to ministry and giving out spiritual blessing and life to those in need, they essayed to keep to themselves the Life which is given for all men. Thence came the morbid, unnatural, unhealthful type of life that dwelt in the monastery, and the hermit's cell, and degenerated, when unaccompanied by the every day ministry of love, into spiritual death and barrenness. Christ Himself could not live such a life, but when "anointed by the Holy Ghost, He went about doing good." The Faith side of the abiding life is absolutely essential. We must realize our own spiritual deadness; we must look to Jesus constantly; we must, hour by hour, draw upon His divine life. But "Faith without works is dead"; inflow without outflow is stagnation; communion without ministry is one-sidedness. Others there are who give themselves wholly to Christian service and activities. Their life is one continual round of meetings, societies, conventions, addresses, and services, without number. To them hours of prayers are an unknown factor; communion is a meaningless term; waiting on God a waste of precious time; the guidance of the Spirit and the life of Trust are sound without significance. Yet these lives, with all their busyness, lack a radical something. There is fret and fume; worry and anxiety; conscious lack of quickening power in service; absence of joy, peace and blessing in the lives they are living with such intensity. It is but the same shield viewed from the obverse side. Works wrought in our own might are dead works; the chamber of prayer is the only true power-house; ministry, without anointing, is lifeless; we must touch Christ before we touch men; we can not pour out, if we have not received with Him. One touch of a live wire will thrill a man through and through, but you may touch him all day with a dead one and never quicken him. Faith without ministry is dead; ministry without faith - which is ministry apart from Christ - is declared by Christ Himself to be NOTHING. He then who continuously lives out these two great commandments of Christ; He who constantly keeps open these two doors of Faith and Love; he who thus becomes the THOROUGHFARE of the Holy Spirit - has learned the final secret of the Spirit - the secret of the abiding life - WHEREFORE, TO ABIDE IN CHRIST IS TO LIVE A LIFE OF CONSTANT FAITH CHRIST-WARD, AND CONSTANT LOVE MAN-WARD. Beloved, have we learned this final secret of the Holy Ghost? Are we living the Abiding Life? Do we realize, on the one hand our helpless, hourly dependence upon Jesus Christ as the only fullness of life for us? Are we learning the lesson of looking to Him in all things? Has it become the habitual attitude of our lives? Are we slow to speak, to plan, to act, until we have been in touch and counsel with Him? Are we not only pouring out our lives for Him, but - what is still more important - are we holding ourselves in such an attitude that He can pour out His life through us? In short are we remaining, staying, living, ABIDING, IN FAITH? Furthermore do we realize that He is Love - love of others? That He wants us to be like Him and therefore says "A new commandment I give unto you that ye love one another even as I have loved you?" Have we given up our self-love then, and made it the supreme purpose of our lives to love others? And, if so, are we living it? Are we asking ourselves day by day and hour after hour; - "Did I do this in love of others; did I plan this in love; did I speak this in love; did I give, or minister or serve in love; love of others?" Do we throttle every harsh word, resent every selfish thought, refuse every selfish act because each violates the great love-law of our new life? Do we understand that this Love means practical, constant, life-long ministry and service for others, even as He served when on earth? Are we keeping both commandments continuously? Are both gates open? Are our quiet hours given to communion? And our busy ones to ministering in Love, however humble and commonplace the things we do may seem? Are we so constantly looking to Him, and so busy in loving others that we are beginning to understand, just a little that wonderful sentence "It is no longer I that live, but Christ that liveth in me?" Have we thus tasted of Abiding? Are we following after Abiding? If so let us rejoice. For it is not only ours in promise, and ours in command, but it is to be ours in actual, conscious experience, as His own blessed Word declares: - "And hereby WE KNOW that HE ABIDETH in us BY THE SPIRIT which He hath given us."
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