CURE, REMISSION, SURPRISES AND SILENT NIGHT!

Judy & Bill McPhail

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To be diagnosed with aggressive lymphoma is hardly a “hallelujah” moment…but it is transformational!

The calendar becomes a place to insert doctor’s appointments, lab visits, and chemo infusion schedules. Even my hair started falling out…right on schedule…so I now am officially a “chrome dome.”  You learn quickly that you need to avoid crowds, not eat at buffets and refrain from shaking hands.  You also learn that someone has drilled holes in your energy bucket and that an hour of light activity creates a lot of perspiration and feels like a full days work.

But, the good news so far is that I have had absolutely no nausea, just a few blah days, and an amazing white blood cell count.  The average WBC for males ranges from 4.4 – 11.  Because aggressive lymphoma calls for aggressive treatment, when the CHOP chemo protocol I am on is administered every 21 days, the drugs that kill the cancer cells are non-discriminatory. Because chemo destroys good cells also, my white blood cell count is carefully monitored and scheduled chemo infusions depend on safe level of WBC’s.  It is not unusual for treatment to be delayed, sometimes for weeks awaiting a safe WBC count.  Amazingly, my WBC prior to my infusion on Tuesday was a whopping 12.4. We give God praise!

Two words come to the forefront when you are fighting aggressive lymphoma: Cure & Remission.

Before all the biopsies return, you live in that state of suspended animation while awaiting the reports of whether your cancer is Stage One, Two, Three or Four.  From a statistical perspective the larger the number, the less likely the cure.  For example, with stage four cancer, even with successful treatment physicians prefer to speak of it as being “in remission”.  By it’s very definition “remission” is considered “the state of absence of disease activity in patients with a chronic illness, with the possibility of return of disease activity.”   Because, I have been diagnosed with Stage 2 cancer, my oncologist assures me that there is an 80% cure rate, which again by definition means “a restoration of health; recovery from disease.”

That is, of course, what my wife Judy and I are trusting for, and are grateful for the outpouring of love and prayers that have been extended to us from literally around the world.

One of our great blessings, is the incredible network of friends, woven together by the Holy Spirit through 50 years of ministry, who know how to pray.  To be linked with people who have discernment as to how to intercede on your behalf is priceless. There is indeed, a significant distinction between people who pray and people who know how to pray!  Indeed, when missionary friends dropped in to see us this week, they lamented on how few people in churches where they have visited, really know how to pray.

We have discovered that surprises are a part of this journey, not the least of which are the responses of friends, neighbors and family.

About two weeks ago, when I arose in the morning, I went to the window to see the ground covered with snow. Normally, I get up and clean out my driveway immediately, even if there is only and inch or two of snow, for because our home faces north, in the winter only half of our driveway ever sees the sun…so without cleaning, once you drive over it, the surface becomes icy.  I remarked to my wife that I didn’t know what I was going to do as cleaning the driveway is on my Dr.’s do not do list. 
 I then walked to our front bedroom, looked out the window and saw a man shoveling our driveway. I couldn’t immediately see his face, but was overcome by gratitude. I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry or shout!
 We soon discovered it was our neighbor John Speicher.
 When I endeavored to thank him for being an answer to our prayers, he let me know that he felt that the Lord wanted him to care for our driveway this winter.

Ah, what a surprise!

Last week, when right on schedule my hair started falling out, we made a call to our hairdresser. On our way home from the extreme makeover session, my wife suggested she would need to make something to cover my head as I dealt with the adjustment.

We had just returned home from the Bristol O’Hair Port where my hair had taken flight, and Judy’s sister Sharon who lives just across the state line in Niles, Michigan not knowing where we had just been, called and asked if she could come down because she had just knitted an alpaca yarn chemo hat for me.  God is so previous!

Ah, what a surprise!

After five decades in ministry nothing should surprise us, but being part of being human is that it does.

Once word began to spread by via personal contact, email, snail-mail and other social media such as Facebook, I have been surprised both by whom I have heard from as well as those from whom I haven’t heard.  It has been an amazing delight to have received notes and expressions of love from friends and extended family, some of whom we have not had contact with for many years, who just want us to know we still have a place in their hearts and prayers. From some with whom our lives have been entwined by birth or ministry their silence knocks on the door of past memories and provides an opportunity to prayerfully ask the Lord to remove the impediments I may have sown that may now be contributing to their silence.

A couple of notes have broken the silence, one from many decades ago, that still reverberate with anger and I am reminded that there is no such thing as a perfect pastor!

Ah, what a s………………..ilent night, holy night,

Son of God, love’s pure light

Radiant beams from Thy holy face

With the dawn of redeeming grace

Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth

Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.

May you have a Merry Christmas.

 

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THE “WHY” OF HOLINESS

William Blake, author and artist, once stated, “It is not because angels are holier than men or devils that makes them angels, but because they do not expect holiness from one another, but from God only.” When the term “holy” is used in relation to the attitude and behavior of a professing Christian the spectrum of definitions and the assortment of mental images of “holy” are as diverse as the meaning of “spiritual” let’s say. Nevertheless, when grasping the proposal that holiness means being identifiably distinct from the mundane and the profane and the predominance of the will of self and secular society, then holy can be rightly understood as God-centered living rather than functioning in a merely human-influenced lifestyle.

Is the motivation for adopting a way of life that embraces Bible-based principles a matter of complying with the requirements of a particular religious denomination? Is it practiced as a way of fitting in with people whose respect and friendship you desire? Could it be that your choice to live a Christian life regarded by most as “strict” a means to earn God’s grace? Such issues beg the question: “Would I yearn to live a holy life if it were not for the expectations of other people?”  Blake’s comment regarding the source of angelic holiness is the same from which the practice of holiness for human beings begins and continues. The primary reason for living by God’s revealed standards is not by comparison with other people but by taking our signals from the Almighty. Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy once said, “The great ideas are the simple ideas” and this is true of the ideal that God conveys to us. “Be ye holy even as I am holy”, a simple statement recorded in Leviticus 7:20 and repeated in I Peter 1:16, seems to be regarded as reason enough by the One who stated it for men and women to live holy lives. The expectation to reflect the character of God needs no further argument to legitimize it or qualify it than God’s own mandate. God’s character as revealed in the Bible is based on His flawless attributes, most of which can be said to flow out of holiness, His most distinguishing trait and most awesome feature. No wonder, then, that the Creator and Sustainer of the cosmos and the people who inhabit it should insist on anything less than compliance with His qualities. As a matter of fact, to expect anything less would be contradictory to His person and purpose.

The phrase used in Psalm 86 and Jeremiah 10 regarding God says it plainly and says it about as well as it can be said, “There is none like you.” The contexts of this statement clearly indicate that the uniqueness of the God who is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-present qualifies Him as not only the supreme determiner of what is right and wrong but also the matchless model from which we draw our inspiration to reflect His character. That’s what this thing called holiness is really all about. It lies at the heart of the “why” issue when it comes to getting a grip on statements such as, “ And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2 NASB).

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WORSHIP MATTERS

Dr. Jim Smith

Greetings in the Name of God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit!

I have been struck this Advent season with the account of the shepherds who were the first to receive the Gospel.  It is the Gospel they receive, for the angel said: “I am bringing good news . . . to you.”  The Greek word translated “I am bringing good news” {euaggelizomai}  is the verbal form of the Greek noun translated “Gospel.”  The verbal form, interestingly, is the root for our word “evangelize.”  Thus, the angel was “evangelizing” the shepherds!  What I have been struck with is not the fact of an angel as an evangelist {as amazing as that is} but with the movement of the Word within the shepherds.  In a nutshell, the shepherds are exemplar recipients of the Word.

Here is the movement:

1) The Word was made known (Luke 2:15) or revealed to the shepherds.  The Word was proclaimed to them.  It is true that this action was done by an angel, but the messenger is never the key: the message and the One who sent the message is.  The fact that an angel was the evangelist guarantees nothing.  Lot and his family heard the Word from angels, and most of his family did not receive it.  Plus, Lot, his wife and his daughters had to be physically dragged out of Sodom by the angels.

2) The shepherds heard, received, and acted upon the Word (Luke 2:15-16).  The Word is never to be heard only; the Word demands obedience and fulfillment (James 1:22).  The Word must be heard for it to be known, but it is never to be known only for knowledge sake.  The shepherds acted upon the Word.

3) They proclaimed the Word which they had received (Luke 2:17).  They could not keep the Gospel to themselves; they had to speak of what they had seen and heard.  This movement is always the movement of the Gospel: after it has been received and acted upon, it drives us to proclaim its Good News.  It also drives us to worship, for such Good News can only elicit praise (Luke 2:20) – as it did with the shepherds.

4) They returned to their task of shepherding (Luke 2:20).  I assume that they had been profoundly transformed through their encounter with Jesus; even so, they returned to their livelihood.  I assume that their “glorifying and praising God” included the “marvel” from the people they evangelized (Luke 2:18); even so, they returned to their task at hand.  I would suggest that this action portrays godly faithfulness: holy transformation in the midst of daily living.

May we be such as these shepherds!

To God alone be the glory,

Dr. Jim

 

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WHAT WILL CAUSE GOD’S GLORY TO REST ON US? by Robert Morgan

Robert Morgan

Luke 2:8-14 tells about the angels appearing to the shepherds at Jesus’ birth.  Verses 13 and 14 say, “And suddenly there was with the angels a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

I have had the Bible read to me and I have read it since a child, but as I read it this Christmas season, something jumped out at me I have not seen in over eighty years.  The “multitude of the heavenly host” means army!  The heavenly army came to see Jesus born!  Joshua 5:13-15 says, “…when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?  And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come.  And Joshua fell on his face…and did worship…And the captain of the Lord’s host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoes from off thy foot, for the place whereon thou standest is holy.  And Joshua did so.”  The Man Joshua met at the wall of Jericho is the “captain of the host of the Lord.”  The NIV translation says, “commander of the Lord’s army.”  The heavenly army came to rejoice at the birth of their Commander!

This is Jesus of the Old Testament because He accepted worship and no angel ever accepted worship from men.  I used to feel sorry for this Baby because it seemed He was at the mercy of the world, but now I see he was the safest Child on the face of the earth because the heavenly army was watching over Him!  Nothing could touch this Baby.  All during His earthly ministry that army was with Him.  I am thankful His army came to watch their Captain being born!

Luke 2:9 says, “And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them and they were sore afraid.”  What is glory?  It usually refers to divinity.  Often glory and God are used simultaneously.  His glory is something which can be seen.  It is interesting when Adam was created, the glory of God was seen on him because he was created in the image and likeness of God.  God deals in light; therefore, Adam was covered with light.  When the glory was on Adam, he did not know he was naked, but when he sinned, the light disappeared and he then knew he was naked.

At the beginning, God’s glory was on both Cain and Abel.  Because Abel offered a proper offering, God’s glory remained on him.  However, when Cain’s offering was not accepted by God, Genesis 4:5-6 says of Cain, “…and his countenance fell.  And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth?  And why is thy countenance fallen?”  In other words, the glory disappeared from Cain’s face.  God told Cain if he had offered a proper offering, it would have been accepted as Abel’s was.  Sin and disobedience remove God’s glory from our faces.

Moses said in Exodus 33:18,” …I beseech thee (God) shew me thy glory.”   When Moses came down from the mountain, after receiving the Ten Commandments, his face shown so brightly the people were afraid of him.  Because of this, Moses had to put a veil over his face when he talked to the people.  At Pentecost the glory was seen in the tongues of fire.  Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”  In Colossians 1:27 we read, “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of the mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”  Paul says in II Corinthians 3:18, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

These scriptures tell us the glory of God that rests on Jesus should be on us!  Jesus’ glory will begin to appear on our faces if we will spend time with Him in prayer and the Word.  This is how we are changed into His image.  The more time we spend with Jesus, the more the glory of God will shine in our faces.  I Corinthians 11:7 says, “For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, for as much as he is the image and glory of God, but the woman is the glory of the man.”  While we see the glory in Jesus, He wants it seen in us.  We should be the most beautiful people in the world because of the glory of God shining in our faces.  When we get to heaven, everyone will be beautiful because of the glory of God resting upon all of us.  If the glory of God is resting upon us here, the world will know who we are because of what they see.  On the return of a tour group from the Holy Land, of which I was a part, we visited an art colony in Paris, France.  They wanted to paint portraits of the people because they said they had the faces of people who had come from prayer!

I Kings 8:10-11 says, “And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud:  for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord.”  The glory that filled the temple was so strong the priests could not stand it.  It is possible yet today.  It is possible for a cloud to be in our church!  It has happened in other places and it can happen here.  Israel experienced this glory when they were led by a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.  God wants His glory seen on earth and it should be seen wherever His people are.  If we are close enough to Jesus, His glory will appear in our church.  That is what I am longing for.

Arthur Mouw, who was a missionary to Borneo, felt one time he should preach to the natives on divine healing, so he ask how many of the people were sick and they all stood up.  He felt they did not understand, so he said he meant if they were really sick and all of them stood up again.  He had someone anoint all of them with coconut oil and when he prayed for them all of them were healed!  There was a glory that stayed near the ceiling of the building for three days and everyone who came into the building was healed!

John 1:14 says, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”  This glory is on Jesus and He wants it on us.  It is something we need to have and will have if we spend time with Jesus in prayer and the Word.

Matthew 24:30 says, “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”  When Jesus comes again, He will not be riding a donkey but will be coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.  He wants His glory resting on us.  It is His glory but He wants it resting on us.  I am trusting His glory will rest on us individually and on His church as a whole!

 

 

 

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THE NEW COVENANT: A MINISTRATION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT by Andrew Murray

Andrew Murray

(The Two Covenants: Chapter 7)

“Ye are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not on tables of stone, but on tables that are hearts of flesh . . . . Our sufficiency is of God; who also made us sufficient as ministers of the New Covenant; not of the letter, but of the Spirit: for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life. For if the ministration of death came with glory, how shall not rather the ministration of the Spirit be with glory? For if the ministration of condemnation is glory, much rather doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.”-2 Cox. iii. 3, 6-10.

IN this wonderful chapter Paul reminds the Corinthians, in speaking of his ministry among them, of what its chief characteristics were. As a ministry of the New Covenant he contrasts it, and the whole dispensation of which it is part, with that of the Old. The Old was graven in stone, the New in the heart. The Old could be written in ink, and was in the letter that killeth; the New, of the Spirit that maketh alive. The Old was a ministration of condemnation and death; the New, of righteousness and life. The Old indeed bad its glory, for it was of Divine appointment, and brought its Divine blessing; but it was a glory that passed away, and had no glory by reason of the glory that excelleth, the exceeding glory of that which remaineth. With the Old there was the veil on the heart; in the New, the veil is taken away from the face and the heart, the Spirit of the Lord gives liberty, and, reflecting with unveiled face the glory of the Lord, we are changed from glory to glory, into the same image, as by the Spirit of the Lord. The glory that excelleth proved its power in this, that it not only marked the dispensation on its Divine side, but so exerted its power in the heart and life of its subjects, that it was seen in them too, as they were changed by the Spirit into Christ’s image, from glory to glory.

Think a moment of the contrast. The Old Covenant was of the letter that killeth. The law came with its literal instruction, and sought by the knowledge it gave of God’s will to appeal to man’s fear and his love, to his natural powers of mind and conscience and will. It spoke to him as if he could obey, that it might convince him of what he did not know, that he could not obey. And so it fulfilled its mission : “The commandment which was unto life, this I found to be unto death.” In the New, on the contrary, how different was everything. Instead of the letter, the Spirit that giveth life, that breathes the very life of God, the life of heaven into us. Instead of a law graven in stone, the law written in the heart, worked into the heart’s affection and powers, making it one with them. Instead of the vain attempt to work from without inward, the Spirit and the law are put into the inward parts, thence to work outward in life and walk.

This passage brings into view that which is the distinctive blessing of the New Covenant. In working out our salvation God bestowed upon us two wonderful gifts. We read: “God sent forth His Son, that He might redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” Here we have the two parts of God’s work in salvation. The one, the more objective, what He did that we might become His children—

He sent forth His Son. The second, the more subjective, what He did that we might live like His children He sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts. In the former we have the external manifestation of the work of redemption; in the other, its inward appropriation; the former for the sake of the latter. These two halves form one great whole, and may not be separated.

In the promises of the New Covenant, as we find them in Jeremiah and Ezekiel, as well as in our text and many other passages of Scripture, it is manifest that God’s great object in salvation is to get possession of the heart. The heart is the real life; with the heart a man loves, and wills, and acts; the heart makes the man. God made man’s heart for His own dwelling, that in it He might reveal His love and His glory. God sent Christ to accomplish a redemption by which man’s heart could be won back to Him; nothing but that could satisfy God. And that is what is accomplished when the Holy Spirit makes the heart of God’s child what it should be. The whole work of Christ’s redemption—His Atonement and Victory, His Exaltation and Intercession, His glory at the right hand of God—all these are only preparatory to what is the chief triumph of His grace: the renewal of the heart to be the temple of God. Through Christ God gives the Holy Spirit to glorify Him in the heart, by working there all that He has done and is doing for the soul.

In a great deal of our religious teaching a fear, lest we should derogate from the honor of Christ, has been alleged as the reason for giving His work for us, on the Cross or in heaven, a greater prominence than His work in our heart by the Holy Spirit. The result has been that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and His mighty work as the life of the heart, as very little known in true power. If we look carefully at what the New Covenant promises mean, we shall see how the “sending forth of the Spirit of His Son into our hearts” is indeed the consummation and crown of Christ’s redeeming work. Let us just think of what these promises imply.

In the Old Covenant man had failed in what he had to do. In the New, God is to do everything in him. The Old could only convict of sin. The New is to put it away and cleanse the heart from its filthiness. In the Old it was the heart that was wrong; for the New a new heart is provided, into which God puts His fear and His law and His love. The Old demanded, but failed to secure obedience; in the New, God causes us to walk in His judgments. The New is to fit man for a true holiness, a true fulfillment of the law of loving God with the whole heart, and our neighbors as ourselves, a walk truly well-pleasing to God. The New changes a man from glory to glory after the image of Christ. All because the Spirit of God’s Son is given into the heart. The Old gave no power: in the New all is by the Spirit, the mighty power of God. As complete as the reign and power of Christ on the throne of heaven, is His dominion on the throne of the heart by His Holy Spirit given to us. (SEE NOTE C, on GEORGE MULLER.)

It is as we bring all these traits of the New Covenant life together into one focus, and look at the heart of God’s child as the object of this mighty redemption, that we shall begin to understand what is secured to us, and what it is that we are to expect from our Covenant God. We shall see wherein the glory of the ministration of the Spirit consists, even in this, that God can fill our heart with His love, and make it His abode.

 

We are accustomed to say, and truly so, that the worth of the Son of God, who came to die for us, is the measure of the worth of the soul in God’s sight, and of the greatness of the work that had to be done to save it. Let us even so see, that the Divine glory of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Father and the Son, is the measure of God’s longing to have our heart wholly for Himself, of the glory of the work that is to be wrought within us, of the power by which that work will be accomplished.

We shall see how the glory of the ministration of the Spirit is no other than the glory of the Lord, as it is not only in heaven, but resting upon us and dwelling in us, and changing us into the same image from glory to glory. The inconceivable glory of our exalted Lord in heaven has its counterpart here on earth in the exceeding glory of the Holy Spirit who glorifies Him in us, who lays His glory on us, as He changes us into His likeness.

The New Covenant has no power to save and to bless except as it is a ministration of the Spirit. That Spirit works in lesser or greater degree, as He is neglected and grieved, or yielded to and trusted. Let us honor Him, and give Him His place as the Spirit of the New Covenant, by expecting and accepting all He waits to do for us.

He is the great gift of the Covenant. His coming from heaven was the proof that the Mediator of the Covenant was on the throne in glory, and could now make us partakers of the heavenly life.

He is the only teacher of what the Covenant means: dwelling in our heart, He wakens there the thought and the desire for what God has prepared for us.

He is the Spirit of faith, who enables us to believe the otherwise incomprehensible blessing and power in which the New Covenant works, and to claim it as our own.

He is the Spirit of grace and of power, by whom the obedience of the Covenant and the fellowship with God can be maintained without interruption.

He Himself is the Possessor and the Bearer and the Communicator of all the Covenant promises, the Revealer and the Glorifier of Jesus, its Mediator and Surety.

To believe fully in the Holy Spirit, as the present and abiding and all-comprehending gift of the New Covenant, has been to many a one an entrance into its fullness of blessing.

Begin at once, child of God, to give the Holy Spirit the place in thy religion He has in God’s plan. Be still before God, and believe that He is within thee, and ask the Father to work in thee through Him. Regard thyself, thy spirit as well as thy body, with holy reverence as His temple. Let the consciousness of His holy presence and working fill thee with holy calm and fear. And be sure that all that God calls thee to be, Christ through His Spirit will work in thee.

Note on George Muller and his Second Conversion

IN the life of George Miller of Bristol there was an epoch, four years after his conversion, to which he ever after looked back, and of which he often spoke, as his entrance into the true Christian life.

In an address given to ministers and worke after his ninetieth birthday, he spoke thus of it himself: “That leads to another thought—the full surrender of the heart to God. I was converted in November 1825, but I only came, into the full surrender of the heart four years later, in July 1829. The love of money was gone, the love of place was gone, the love of position was gone, the love of worldly pleasures and engagements was gone. God, God, God alone became my portion. I found my all in Him; I wanted nothing else. And by the grace of God this has remained, and has made me a happy man, an exceedingly happy man, and it led me to care only about the things of God. I ask, affectionately, my beloved brethren, have you fully surrendered the heart to God, or is there this thing or that thing with which you are taken up irrespective of God? I read a little of the Scriptures before, but preferred other books, but since that time the revelation He has made of Himself has become unspeakably blessed to me, and I can say from my heart, God is an infinitely lovely Being. Oh! be not satisfied until in your inmost soul you can say, God is an infinitely lovely Being!”

The account he gives of this change in his journal is as follows. He speaks of one whom he had heard preach at Teignmouth, where he had gone for the sake of his health. “Though I did not like all he said, yet I saw a gravity and solemnity in him different from the rest. Through the instrumentality of this brother the Lord bestowed a great blessing upon me, for which I shall have cause to thank Him throughout eternity. God then began to show me that the Word of God alone is to be our standard of judgment in spiritual things; that it can only be explained by the Holy Spirit, and that in our day, as well as in former times, He is the Teacher of His people. The office of the Holy Spirit I had not experimentally understood before that time. I had not before seen that the Holy Spirit alone can teach us about our state by nature, show us our need of a Saviour, enable us to believe in Christ, explain to us the Scriptures, help us in preaching, etc.

“It was my beginning to understand this point in particular which had a great effect on me; for the Lord enabled me to put it to the test of experience by laying aside commentaries and almost every other book, and simply reading the Word of God and studying it. The result of this was that the first evening that I shut myself into my room to give myself to prayer and meditation over the Scriptures, I learned more in a few hours than I bad done during a period of several months previously. But the particular difference was that I received real strength in my soul in doing so.

“In addition to this, it pleased the Lord to lead me to see a higher standard of devotedness than I had seen before. He led me, in a measure, to see what is my glory in this world, even to be despised, to be poor and mean with Christ . . . . I returned to London much better in body. And as to my soul, the change was so great that it was like a second conversion.”

In another passage he speaks thus: “I fell into the snare into which so many young believers fall, the reading of religious books is preferred to the Scriptures. Now the scriptural way of reasoning would have been: God Himself has condescended to become an author, and I am ignorant of that precious Book which His Holy Spirit has caused to be written; therefore I ought to read again this Book of books most earnestly, most prayerfully, and with much meditation. Instead of acting thus, and being led by my ignorance of the Word to study it more, my difficulty of understanding it made me careless of reading it, and then, like many believers, I practically preferred for the first four years of my Christian life, the works of uninspired men to the oracles of the Living God. The consequence was that I remained a babe, both in knowledge and grace. In knowledge, I say, for all true knowledge must be derived by the Spirit from the Word. This lack of knowledge most sadly kept me back from walking steadily in the ways of God. For it is the truth makes us free, by delivering us from the slavery of the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, and the pride of life. The Word proves it, the experience of the saints proves it, and also my own experience most decidedly proves it. For when it pleased the Lord, in August 1829, to bring me really to the Scriptures, my life and walk became very different.

If anyone would ask me how he may read the Scriptures most profitably, I would answer him:-

1. Above all he must seek to have it settled in his own mind that God alone, by the Holy spirit, can teach him, and that, therefore, as God will be inquired for all blessings, it becomes him to seek for God’s blessing previous to reading, and also while reading.

2. He should also have it settled in his mind that though the Holy spirit is the best and sufficient Teacher, yet that He does not always teach immediately when we desire it, and that, therefore, we may have to entreat Him again and again for the explanation of certain passages; but that He will surely teach us at last, if we will seek for light prayerfully, patiently, and for the glory of God.”

Just one more passage, from an address given on his ninetieth birthday: “For sixty-nine years and ten months he had been a very happy man. That he attributed to two things. He had maintained a good conscience, not wilfully going on in a course he knew to be contrary to the mind of God; he did not, of course, mean that he was perfect; he was poor, weak, and sinful. Secondly, he attributed it to his love of Holy Scripture. Of late years his practice had been four times every year to read through the Scriptures, with application to his own heart, and with meditation; and that day he was a greater lover of God’s Word than he was sixty-six years ago. It was this, and maintaining a good conscience, that had given him all these years peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.”

In connection with what has been said about the New Covenant being a ministration of the Spirit this narrative is most instructing. It shows us how George Miiller’s power lay in God’s revealing to him the work of the Holy Spirit. He writes that up to the time of that change he had “not experimentally understood the office of the Holy Spirit.” We speak much of George Muller’s power in prayer; it is of importance to remember that that power was entirely owing to his love of, and faith in, God’s Word. But it is of still more importance to notice that his power to believe God’s Word so fully was entirely owing to his having learned to know the Holy Spirit as his Teacher. When the words of God are explained to us, and made living within us by the Holy Spirit, they have a power to awaken faith which they otherwise have not. The Word then brings us into contact with God, comes to us as from God direct, and binds our whole life to Him.

When the Holy Spirit thus feeds us on the Word, our whole life comes under His power, and the fruit is seen, not only in the power of prayer, but as much in the power of obedience. Notice how Mr. Muller tells us this, that the two secrets of his great happiness were, his great love for God’s Word, and his ever maintaining a good conscience, not knowingly doing anything against the will of God. In giving himself to the teaching of the Holy Spirit, as he tells us in his birthday address, he made a full surrender of the entire heart to God, to be ruled by the Word. He gave himself to obey that Word in everything, he believed that the Holy Spirit gave the grace to obey, and so he was able to maintain a walk free from knowingly transgressing God’s law. This is a point he always insisted on. So he writes, in regard to a life of dependence upon God: “It will not do-it is not possible —to live in sin, and at the same time, by communion with God, to draw down from heaven everything one needs for the life that now is.” Again, speaking of the strengthening of faith: ” It is of the utmost importance that we seek to maintain an upright heart and a good conscience, and therefore do not knowingly and habitually indulge in those things which are contrary to the mind of God. All my confidence in God, all my leaning upon Him in the hour of trial, will be gone if I have a guilty conscience, and do not seek to put away this guilty conscience, but still continue to do things which are contrary to His mind.”

A careful perusal of this testimony will show us how the chief points usually insisted upon in connection with the second blessing are all found here. There is the full surrender of the heart to be taught and led alone by the Spirit of God. There is the higher standard of holiness which is at once set up. There is the tender desire in nothing to offend God, but to have at all times a good conscience, that testifies that we are pleasing to God. And there is the faith that where the Holy Spirit reveals to us in the Word the will of God, He gives the sufficient strength for the doing of it. “The particular difference,” he says of reading with faith of the Holy Spirit’s teaching, “was that I received real strength in my soul in doing so.” No wonder that he said: The change was so great, that it was like a second conversion.

All centres in this, that we believe in the New Covenant and its promises as a ministration of the Spirit. That belief may come to some suddenly, as to George Muller; or it may dawn upon others by degrees. Let all say to God that they are ready to put their whole heart and life under the rule of the Holy Spirit dwelling in them, teaching them by the Word, and strengthening them by His grace. He enables us to live pleasing to God.

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