"He that believeth on Me shall never thirst." JOHN vi. 35.
"He that believeth on Me, out of him shall flow rivers of living water." JOHN vii. 38.
the full blessing of Pentecost be still further increased? Can anything that is full become still fuller? Yes: undoubtedly. It can become so full that it always overflows. This is especially the characteristic and law of the blessing of Pentecost.
The words of our blessed Lord Jesus which have been quoted, point us to a double blessing. First, Jesus says that he who believes in Him shall never thirst: he shall always have life in
himself that is to say, the satisfaction of all his needs. Then He speaks of something that is grander and more glorious: he that believeth in Him, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water to quench the thirst of others. It is the distinction betwixt full and overflowing. A vessel may be full and yet have nothing over for others. When it continues full, and yet has something over for others, there must be in it an over-brimming, ever-flowing supply. This is what our Lord promises to His believing disciples. At the outset, faith in Him gives them the blessing that they shall never thirst. But as they advance and become stronger in faith, it makes them a fountain of water out of which streams flow to others. The Spirit who at first only fills us will overflow out of us to souls around us.
It is with the rivers of living water as with many a fountain on earth. When we begin to open them, the stream is weak. The more the water is used, and the more deeply the source is opened up, the more strongly does the water flow. I should like to inquire how far this principle holds good in the realm of the spiritual
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life and to discover what is necessary to secure that the fulness of the Spirit may constantly flow more abundantly from us. There are several simple directions which may help us in reaching this knowledge.
Holdfast that which you have.
See to it that you do not misunderstand the blessing which God has given you. Be sure that you do not form any wrong conceptions of what the full blessing is. Do not imagine that the animation, and joy, and power of Pentecost must be felt and seen immediately. No: the Church at present is in a dead-and-alive condition, and the restoration often comes slowly. At first, indeed, one receives the full blessing only as a seed: the full life is wrapt up in a little invisible capsule. The quickened soul has longed for it; he has surrendered himself unreservedly for it; he has believed in silence that God has accepted his consecration and fulfilled His promise. In that faith he goes on his way, silent and happy, saying to himself: " The blessing of the fulness of the Spirit is for me." But the actual ex-
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periences of the blessing did not come as he had anticipated; or they did come, but lasted only for a short time. The result was that he began to fear that his surrender was not a reality; that he had been rejoicing in what was only a transient emotion; and that the real blessing was something greater and more powerful than he had yet received. The result is that very speedily the blessing becomes less instead of larger, and he moves farther back rather than forward through discouragement on account of his disappointment.
The cause of this condition is simply lack of faith. We are bent on judging God and His work in us by sight and feeling. We forget that the whole process is the work of faith. Even in its highest revelations in Christians that have made the greatest progress, faith rests not on what is to be seen of the work of God or on the experiences of it, but on the work of God as spiritual, invisible, deeply hidden, and inconceivable. To you, therefore, my brother, who desirest in this time of discouragement to return to the true life according to the promise, my counsel is not to be greatly surprised if it comes
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to you slowly or if it appears to be involved in darkness. If you know that you have given yourself to God with a perfect heart, and if you know that God, really and with His whole heart, waits to fulfil His promise in you with divine power, then rest in silence before His face and hold fast your integrity. Although the cold of winter appears to bury everything in death, say with the prophet Habakkuk: "Though the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation." 1 Do this, and you shall know God, and God will know you. If you are sure that you have set yourself before God as an empty, separated, purified vessel, to become full of His Spirit, then continue still to regard yourself so and keep silence before Him. If you have believed that God has received you to fill you as a purified vessel purified through Jesus Christ and by your entire surrender to Him then abide in this attitude day by day, and you may reckon upon it that the blessing will grow and begin to flow. " He that believeth shall not be ashamed." 2
1 Hab. iii. 17. 2 Isa. xxviii. 16; 1 Pet. ii. (J.
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Persevere in the entire denial of yourself and the sacrifice of everything.
If I wish to have a reservoir of water, the greater the excavation I make for it, the wider the space I occupy with it, the greater is the quantity of water I can collect, and the stronger is the stream that flows from it when the sluices are opened. In your surrender for sanctification, or for the full blessing of the Spirit, you have said in truth and uprightness that you are prepared to sacrifice and forsake all in order to win this pearl of the kingdom of heaven; and this consecration was acceptable to God. But you have not yet fully understood the full import of the words you have used. The Lord has still much to teach you concerning what the individual self is, how deeply rooted in your nature, how utterly corrupt as well as deeply hidden it is, as the secret source of many things you both say and do. Be willing to make room for the Spirit by a constant, daily, and entire denial of the self -life, and you may be sure that He will always be willing to come and fill the empty
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place. You have forsaken and sacrificed every thing so far as you know; but keep your mind open to the teaching of the Spirit, and He will lead you farther on, and let you see that only when the entire sacrifice of everything after the example of Christ comes again to be the rule in His Church, shall the full blessing again break forth like an overflowing stream.
It is surprising how sometimes a very little thing may hinder the continuance in the increase of the blessing. It may, for example, be a little variance betwixt friends, in which they show that they are not willing to forgive and to forbear at once according to the law of Christ. Or it may be some unobserved yielding to undue sensitiveness or to the ambition which is not prepared to take the lowest place. Or it may be the possession or use of earthly property as if it were our own. Or it may be some pro viding for the flesh in the enjoyment of eating and drinking without the self-denial which Christ always expects at our hands every day. Or it may be in connection with things that are lawful and in themselves innocent, which,
however, do not befit us in our profession of 8
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being led by the Spirit of God. For here, like the Lord Jesus in His poverty, we are bound to show that the heavenly portion we possess is itself sufficient to satisfy all our desires. Or it may be in connection with doubtful things, in which we give way too easily to the lust of the flesh.
Christian brother, do you really desire to enjoy the full measure of the blessing of the Spirit? Then, before temptation comes, train yourself to understand the fundamental law of the imitation of Jesus and of full discipleship namely, Forsake all. Suffer yourself also to be strengthened and drawn into the observance of it by the sure promise of the " hundredfold in this life." A full blessing will be given you, a measure shaken together and running over.
Regard yourself as living only to make others happy.
God is Love. His whole being is nothing but a surrender of Himself in love to be the life of the creature, to make the creature
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participate in His holiness and blessedness. He blesses and serves all that lives. His glory as God is that He puts all that He has at the disposal of His creatures.
Jesus Christ is the Son of God’s love, the Bearer, the Bringer, the Dispenser of the love. What God is as invisible in heaven, He was as visible on earth. He came, He lived, He suffered and died only to glorify the Father that is, to let it be seen how glorious the Father in His love is, and to show that in the Godhead there is no other purpose than to bless men and make them happy; to make it manifest that the highest honour and blessedness of any being is to give and to sacrifice.
The Holy Spirit came as the Spirit of the Father and the Son to make us partakers of this divine nature, to shed abroad the love of God in our hearts, to secure the indwelling of the Son and His love in our hearts to such an extent that Christ may verily be formed within us, and that our whole " inner man " shall bear the impress of His disposition and His likeness.
Hence, when any soul seeks and receives
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the fulness of the Spirit, and desires to have it increased, is it not perfectly evident that he can enjoy this blessing only according as he is prepared to give himself to a life in the service of love? The Spirit comes to expel the life of self and self-seeking. The fulness of the Spirit presupposes a willingness to consecrate ourselves to the blessing of others and as the servants of all, and that in a constantly increasing and unreserved measure. The Spirit is the outflowing of the life of God. If we will but yield ourselves to Him, He will become rivers of living water, flowing from the depths of our heart.
Christian brother, if you will have the blessing increased, begin to live as a man who is left here on earth only in order that the love of God may work by you. Love all around you with the love of God which is in you through the Spirit. Love the children of God cordially, even the weakest and most perverse. Exercise and exhibit your love in every possible way. Love the unsaved. Present yourself to the Spirit to love Him. Then will love constrain you to speak, to work, to give,
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and to pray. If there is no open door for working, or if you have not the strength for it, the door of prayer is always open, and power can be obtained at the mercy -seat. Embrace the whole world in your love; for Christ, who is in your heart, belongs also to the heathen. The Spirit is the power of Christ for redeeming them. Like God and Jesus and the Spirit, live wholly to bless others. Then the blessing shall stream forth and become overflowing.
Let Jesus Christ for your faith ~be everything.
You know what the Scripture says: " It was the good pleasure of the Father that IN HIM should all the fulness dwell, that in all things HE might have the pre-eminence "; l and again: " All the promises of God are IN HIM Yea and IN HIM Amen, to the glory of God by us." 2 When the Lord spoke of " rivers of living water," He connected the promise with faith in Himself: " He that believeth in ME, out of his heart shall flow rivers." If we only understood that word " believeth " rightly, we
1 Col. i. 19. 2 2 Cor. i. 20.
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should require no other answer than this to the question as to how the blessing may be in creased.
Faith is primarily a seeing by the Spirit that Jesus is nothing but a flowing fountain of the divine love, and that the Spirit Himself always flows from Him as the Bearer of the life that this love brings and that always streams forth in love. Then it is an embracing of the promise, an appropriation of the blessing as it is provided in Christ, a resting in the certainty of it, and a thanking of God for what He is yet to do. Thereafter, faith is a keeping open of the soul, so that Christ can come in with the blessing and take possession and fill all. Accordingly, faith becomes the most fervent and unbroken communion betwixt the soul in which Christ obtains His place and Christ Himself, who by the silent, effectual blessing of the Spirit is enthroned in the heart.
Christian brother, pray, learn the lesson that, if you believe, you shall see the glory of God. Let every doubt, every weakness, every temptation find you trusting, rejoicing in Jesus, and reckoning upon Him always to work all in
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you. You know that there are two ways in which a believer can encounter and strive against sin. One is to endeavour to ward it off with all his might, seeking his strength in the Word and in prayer. In this form of the conflict we use the power of the will. The other is to turn at the very moment of the temptation to the Lord Jesus in the silent exercise of faith and say to Him: " Lord, I have no strength. THOU art my Keeper." 1 This is the method of faith. " This is the victory that overcometh the world, even your faith." 2 Yes: this is indeed " the one thing needful," because it is the only way in which Jesus, who is in Himself " The One Thing Needful," can maintain the work of His Spirit in us. It is by the exercise of faith without ceasing that the blessing will flow without ceasing.
Christ must be all to us every moment. It is of no avail to me that I have life on earth unless that life is renewed every moment by my inbreathing of fresh air. Even so must God actually renew, and uphold, and strengthen the divine life in me every moment. He does this
1 Ps. cxxi. 5. 2 1 John v. 4.
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for me in my union with Christ. Christ is simply the fulness of God, the life of God, the love of God prepared for us and communicating itself to us. The Spirit is simply the fulness of Christ, the life of Christ, the self- communicating love of Christ, surrounding us as the air surrounds the body.
let us believe that we are in Christ, who surrounds us in His heavenly power, longing to make the rivers of His Spirit flow forth by us! Let us endeavour to obtain a heart filled with the joyful assurance that the Almighty Lord will fulfil His word with power, and that our only choice is to see Him, to rejoice in Him, and sacrifice all for Him. Then shall His word become true: " He that believeth in Me, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water." Amen.