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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

True Wisdom and Knowledge Alone by the Holy Spirit

True Wisdom and Knowledge Alone by the Holy Spirit

When the holy Church of the living God, which is the pillar and ground of the truth among men, was first set up, it was the apostle's boast that all worldly wisdom or learning was nothing. "Where", said he, "is the wise, the scribe, the disputer of this world? Has not God made the wisdom of this world foolish?" (1 Corinthians 1:20). But now it is the aim of all churches to be full of the worldly wise, the scribes, the disputers, and learned scholars, who sit to analyze and teach the letter of Holy Scripture in the power of human wisdom. From a Church once aflame with heavenly love, now division, bitterness, envy, pride, strife, hatred, and persecution break forth with as much strength in learned Christendom as ever they did from a religion of pagan idolatry set up by satan. And thus it must be, so long as there is any trust in wisdom or knowledge that is not wholly from the Spirit of God.

But, says the well-read scribe of today, must there then be no learning or scholarship, no erudition in the Christian church? Must there be nothing thought of or gained by the gospel besides salvation? Must its ministers know nothing and teach nothing but such salvation doctrines as Christ and His apostles taught? Nothing but the full denial of self, poverty of spirit, meekness, humility, unwearied patience, a never-ceasing love, an absolute renunciation of the pomps and vanities of the world, a full dependence upon our heavenly Father? Must there be no joy or rejoicing but in the Holy Spirit, no wisdom but that which God gives, no walking but as Christ walked? One can go to extremes,says the scribe, in such a sole reliance upon the Holy Spirit that the Church is thereby left defenseless against the learned attacks of scholarly skeptics and atheists.

My answer to this is, Happy, thrice happy are they who are only thus learned in the gospel, and who through all their lives seek nothing for themselves or others but to be taught of God! Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, who own no master but Christ, no teacher but His Holy Spirit, and who are as unable to join with the contenders after worldly wisdom as with those who "labor for the wind" (Eccl. 5:16), and "give their money for that which is not bread" (Isaiah 55:2). Happy are they who know that a life of total submission to Christ and absolute dependence upon the Holy Spirit is the only choice that enlightened reason can make. Indeed, it is to the honor of this life of faith that none can neglect it except those who are so inconsiderate of their own destiny as to fail to weigh all their actions in light of what God, reason, eternity, and their own happiness require of them.

To look anywhere for wisdom except in the leading of the Holy Spirit is to give oneself up to darkness. Nor is this valid only for those who consider themselves called to serve God in the capacity of a pastor or priest or preacher. Would a man neglect his own happiness because he did not feel called of God to preach the same to others? Willa man have no regard for his own health unless he is a doctor engaged in caring for the public health? Yet it is more unreasonable for any man to neglect a full compliance with the call of our Lord to love as He loved and to walk as He walked simply because he is not a bishop or an apostle.

All in man that is not by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit can only be ignorance and folly; and he is whom the law, the prophets, and the gospel are fulfilled is the only well-educated man and is one of the first-rate scholars in the world. But who is he that has this true wisdom from above? Who is he in whom all is known and fulfilled that is in the law, the prophets, and the gospel? The lip of truth has told us that it is he and he alone who "loves God with all his heart, with all his soul, with all his mind, with all his strength, and his neighbor as himself" (Mark 12:30-31).

This is the man that is all wisdom, all light, and who has entered into possession of all that is meant by the mysteries contained in the Scriptures. And where this divine love is lacking, a diabolical self sits in its place, be there a great wit, a shining critic, a poet laureate, a man of science, or a learned philosopher.

"A new commandment," said Christ, "I give unto you, that ye love one another as I have loved you" (John 13:34). The newness of this precept did not consist in the fact that men were commanded to love one another, for this was an old precept both of Moses' Law and of nature. But it was new in this respect, that it was to imitate a new and until then unheard-of example of love: it was to love others as Christ has loved us. "And by this," said our Lord, "shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have this love one to another" (John 13:35). Now if men are to know that we are the disciples of Christ by our thus loving one another according to His new example of love, then it is certain that if we are void of this love, we make it plainly known unto men that we are not His disciples, that we do not have His wisdom, His mind, nor are taught of Him.

If we would have the mind of Christ, if He is to be our wisdom, then we should often consider the reasons on which the duty of love is founded. We are to love our neighbors, that is all mankind, not because they are wise, holy, virtuous or well-behaved, for all mankind neither ever was nor ever will be so. Therefore it is certain that the reason for our being obliged to love them cannot be founded in their virtue. Again we are sure that the merit of persons is not the reason for our being obliged to love them, because  we are commanded to pay the highest instances of love to our worst enemies; we are to love and bless and pray for those who most injuriously treat us. God loves, not because we are wise, and good, and holy, but in pity to us, because we need this happiness. He loves us in order to make us good. Our love therefore must take this same course, not looking for or requiring any merit in our brethren, but pitying their disorders and wishing them all the good that they need and are capable of receiving. And if the lack of this heavenly love be so serious a defect as Paul has said, that it renders our greatest virtues but empty sounds and tinkling cymbals, how highly does it concern us to be sure at all times that the Spirit of love is filling our lives.

The greatest idea that we can frame of God is a conception of Him as a being of infinite love and goodness, using an infinite wisdom and power for the common good and happiness of all His creatures. The highest notion that we can form of a man who is created in the image of God is a conception of him as nearly like God in this respect as he can be; using all his finite faculties for the common good of all his fellow creatures, lovingly desiring that they may all have the happiness for which God has created them. The man who thus lives in harmony with God's love and God's will for himself and mankind is the only man who is truly wise; and any intelligence less than this is not worthy of the high names by which it is often called among men of learning. What could be emptier than the scholarship which sets itself up as great in Scripture interpretation, yet lacks this love which our Lord said is the very essence of all the teaching so variously contained in the law and the prophets!

One of Christ's would-be followers said, "Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father" (Matthew 8:21). Our Lord's answer was, "Let the dead bury their dead; follow thou Me" (8:22). Another said, "Let me first go bid them farewell that are at home in my house" (Luke 9:61). Jesus answered, "No man having put his hand to the plow and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God" (9:62). Now let it be supposed that a third had said, "Lord, I have left my Greek grammar at home, and some learned commentaries full of logic and eloquence; suffer me first to go back for them, lest losing the light which I had from them, I might mistake the depth and truth of thy heavenly doctrines, or be less able to prove and preach them powerfully to others." Would not such a request as this have had a folly and absurdity in it not chargeable upon those two other requests which Christ rejected? Yet what better thing does the general approach throughout Christendom to the gospel of Christ have to say for itself than this? And how can a scholarly learning about the letter of Scripture be called true wisdom or knowledge so long as that love toward God and neighbor is neglected, which is so plainly stated to be the essence of all that which Scripture has to teach.

Who can fail to realize his absolute need of the Holy Spirit to be the sole means by which the divine love demanded by Christ of His disciples has any hope of being worked out in his life? For when He says, "as I have loved you, so you are to love one another" (John 13:34), He makes it plain that His love is the standard and rule by which our actions are to be judged. And what man could hope to have this love by his own power much less by the greatness of his learning about this love from the description of it given in Scripture. Clearly nothing less than a birth of this love in the heart can make us that which, as His disciples, we are to be.

If love is not the breath of your life, the spirit that forms and governs everything that proceeds from you, everything that has your labor, your allowance and consent, you are cut off from the creative power of God, you are dead while you live, and your nature and works can have no other breath but that which is called pride, wrath, envy, hypocrisy, hatred, revenge, and self-exaltation under the power of satan and his kingdom of darkness. Nothing can possibly save you from being the certain prey of these evil passions of fallen nature through the whole course of your life but a birth of that love which is God Himself, His light and Spirit within you. "Love is the fulfilling of the law" (Romans 13:10); and whatsoever is not of love is therefore contrary to the law, and the greatest of sin. Could any man be considered truly wise who remains in this state of corruption through rejecting that remedy which God offers in our Lord Jesus Christ?

Now since divine love can have no beginning but from a birth of the divine love in us, therefore says John, "We love him because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19). For as His Holy Spirit must first be a gift to us or born in us, and only then can we worship God in spirit and in truth, so His love must of all necessity be a gift to us, or born in us, and then we have that of God in us which alone can love Him with His own love. A truth absolutely asserted in these words "Love is of God, and he that loveth is born of God" (1 John 4:7).

Let this be my excuse to the learned world for owning no school of wisdom or knowledge but where the one lesson is divine love, and the one teacher the Spirit of God: "For though I understand all mysteries and all knowledge and have not love, I am nothing" (1 Corinthians 13:2). Is it not a vain work to be probing and searching for that which Paul says can only leave us poor and empty, and to neglect this divine love which we must have at all cost if we are to be anything in God's kingdom? But what school of divinity turns its students first of all to this heavenly love? Nay, far from putting their scholarship under this one essential rule, they gather to themselves the fruit of that ancient tree of knowledge that Eve saw was "so much desired to make her wise" (Genesis 3:6). No marvel then that those thus educated prove themselves to be the children of Eve, still under the power of that same satanic deception.

Believe me then, great scholar, that all you have gained of wisdom or learning without this divine love to God and man being the power of your life, will stand you in as much stead and fill you with as high heavenly comfort at the hour of death as all the long dreams which night after night have filled your sleep. Until a man knows this with as much fullness of conviction as he knows the vanity of a dream, he has his full proof that he is not yet in the light of truth, not yet taught of God, not like-minded with Christ. As Paul prayed for the Ephesians that they might be strengthened with might by the Spirit in their inner man unto the indwelling of Christ by faith, in order for them to be rooted and grounded in this divine love, so we know with certainty that only the Holy Spirit of God, who alone is Love, can fill us with that love that He has required of His children. And as this love passes all knowledge, we know that it is not acquired by gaining a scholarly knowledge of it, but by the power of the living God through His indwelling Spirit in our hearts. Hence Christ's prayer to the Father for His disciples: "That the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them and I in them" (John 17:26).

Show me a man whose heart has no desire or prayer in it but to love God with his whole soul and spirit, and his neighbor as himself, and then you have shown me the man who knows Christ and is known of Him - the best and wisest man in the world, in whom the first heavenly wisdom and goodness are come to life. In this man all that came from the old serpent is trodden under his feet. Nothing of self, pride, wrath, envy, covetousness, or worldly wisdom can have the least abode in him, because that love which fulfills the whole law and prophets, and which is Christ come to birth and life in him, is the source and power of his every thought, word, and deed. And if he has no share or part with foolish errors, cannot be tossed about with every wind of doctrine, it is because to be always governed by this love is the same thing as to be always taught of God.

~William Law~

(The End)

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Baptism With the Holy Spirit # 3

The Baptism With the Holy Spirit # 3

Would you know the mysteries of nature, the relation and connection between the visible and the invisible, how the things of time proceed from and depend upon the powers of eternity? Would you know the mysteries of grace and salvation, the intimate, heavenly communion of the soul with its Creator and Redeemer? Then you must know, in the power of the Spirit, that divine love of Christ passing all temporal knowledge, which began and carries on all that works in truth and life for eternity. Would you go forth as a faithful and effective witness of gospel truths? Tarry then until this fire of divine love has had its perfect work within you. For without a real birth of this divine love in the depths of your soul, be as learned and polite as you will, your heart is but the dark heart of fallen Adam, and your knowledge of eternal truth will be no better than that of murdering Cain. For everything is murder but that which love does.

As in former ages, so today the great battle between good and evil involves essentially the lies of satan in opposition to the truth as it is in Jesus. The hearts and minds of those who are truly baptized in the Spirit have been gripped by the truth, and their words and works are a "manifestation of the truth that powerfully affects every man's conscience in the sight of God" (2 Corinthians 4:2). For, said Christ, "The Spirit of Truth ... will lead you into all truth" (John 16:13), and you will thereby be liberated. Those who are thus set free by the Son of God are free indeed from the bondage of sin, and delivered from the dead letter of the law to serve God with joy and gladness in the power of the Holy Spirit. This is the man who has entered into the truth as it is in Jesus.

To be in the truth as it is in Jesus is to be free from the blindness and delusion of your own natural reason, and free from forms, doctrines, and opinions which others would impose upon you. This truth sets man free from the veil of earthly opinions and shadows of God's earlier dispensations, which would never have begun but that they might end in a Christ spiritually revealed and essentially formed in the soul. So that now, in this last dispensation of God, nothing is to be thought of, trusted to, or sought after, but God's immediate, continual working in the soul by His Holy Spirit. For this Christ who came in the flesh is now come by His Spirit to manifest His life in our flesh through the quickening again of that first lost life of God in the soul.

"As truly as John baptized with water," said Christ to His disciples after His resurrection, "you shall in a few days be baptized in the Holy Spirit" (Acts 1:5). Though they had been baptized in water, had followed Christ with zeal, and had heard His doctrines from His lips and done wonders in His name, the disciples yet stood only near the kingdom of God and preached it to be close at hand. Therefore they were commanded to stand still and not act as His ministers in His new glorified state till they were endued with power from on high. This power they then received when the Holy Spirit with His cloven tongues of fire came down upon them, filling them with all the fullness of God, enthroning Christ in their hearts, by which they became the illuminated instruments that were to diffuse the light of His gospel and kingdom over all the world.

On that day began gospel Christianity, as thoroughly distinct from all that was before it as life is from death, because it was the ministration of the Holy Spirit bringing the life, light, and love of Christ into the dead spirits of men. Its ministers, who were men not of word only but of power, called the world to nothing but gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit, to look for nothing but spiritual blessings, to trust and hope and pray for nothing but the life of the risen Christ active and ruling in them as the living power of this newly-opened kingdom of God. No one could join himself to them or have any part with them but by dying to the wisdom and light of the flesh that he might be baptized in and live by the Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ who had thus called him to His kingdom and glory. For the truth and power of Christianity is the Spirit of Christ living and working in it; and where this Spirit is not the life of the church, there the outward form is but like the outward carcass left behind by a departed soul.

When Jesus, the last Adam, was glorified at the right hand of the Father in heaven as Lord and Christ, His heavenly resurrected life in the comfort, power, and presence of the Holy Spirit was the gift which He gave to His followers whom He had left upon earth. The Holy Spirit's descent on the day of Pentecost marked the beginning of a new and miraculous power of salvation in the human spirit that was as different from all previous dispensations of God which had pointed to it as the possession of a thing differs from the desire to have it. Hence the apostles were new men, enlightened with new light, inflamed with new love, living in the daily experience of a new kingdom come down from heaven. They preached not some absent or distant thing, but Jesus Christ as the wisdom and power of God, present and enthroned within their hearts, manifesting His words and works through their mortal flesh: and ready through the life-giving Spirit to be communicated as a new birth from above to all who would repent and believe in Him. It was to the manifest miracle in them of this new life and indwelling Spirit, bringing certain, immediate deliverance from the power of sin, possessing and governing by gifts and graces of a heavenly life, that men were then called.

"This that you see and hear is for you and your children, and as many as the Lord our God shall call" (Acts 2:39), are the words that first drew men to true Christianity. And the preachers of it bore witness, not to a thing that they had heard or read about or apprehended in their minds - but to a power of salvation, a renewal of life, a birth of heaven, a flaming divine love, a sanctification of the Spirit which they themselves had received and continually experienced. Sinner of all sorts that felt the burden of their evil nature were in a state of fitness to receive these glad tidings. And the Lord added daily to the Church those who were being saved, until soon there was a multitude of believers, living in love and joy of the Holy Spirit, a witness to heavenly beings of the wisdom and power of God.

When, however, that baptism in the Spirit was no longer preached or believed, the heavenly fire being extinguished in the Church, Christianity lost its first glory and appeared no longer as a divine life awakened and displayed among men. Instead of the gifts and graces of Christ by the manifestation and power of the Holy Spirit, heathenish learning and temporal power and carnal strife after earthly honor became the sad mark of an apostate body of water-baptized religionists. Only when men are called again to that same manifest presence of the risen Christ that was "seen and heard" (1 John 1:1) in the first disciples; only then can there be a revival of that first life and light and love. Once again multitudes will be baptized in the Holy Spirit, having submitted themselves to Christ as Lord enthroned in their hearts. Then His divine love, as a heavenly fire, will burn up the dross, purify every motive, and illuminate living sacrifices as a light of witness to a full salvation in a world of darkness and sin.

~William Law~

(The End)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Baptism With the Holy Spirit # 2

The Baptism With the Holy Spirit # 2

Can any honest heart deny that sacraments, church prayers, and well-read sermons leave multitudes of learned and unlearned, men and women, priests and people, as unaltered in their self-will, self-pity, and self-indulgence as they leave children unchanged in their childish follies? It matters not what religious name is given to the old earthly man of Adam's bestial flesh and blood, whether he zealously contend for every sound Protestant doctrine, or popish dogmas, or Jewish feast days - or for various political parties. Under all these names the unregenerate, natural man has but one and the same nature, without any other difference but that which time and place, education, complexion, hypocrisy, and worldly wisdom may make in him. By such a man, whether he be papist or Protestant, the gospel is only kept as a book, and all that is within it is only so much condemnation to the keeper, just as the Pharisee zealously preserved the Books of the Law and Prophets, only to be more fully condemned by them. The coming of Christ to live by His Spirit in the hearts of redeemed men is God's full answer and only salvation from this false religion of self-effort.

Woe to every man who ignores the testimony of the holy messenger from God, that Elias who prepared the way of the Lord!" I indeed baptize you with water, but he that cometh after me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose, he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire" (Matthew 3:11). Suppose that this which John the Baptist said of Christ is not our faith, that we do not receive it as the Word of God in which we are firmly to stand. Then be as expert in doctrine as we will, we have made as sure and solemn a rejection of the truth as did those blind rabbis who received not the testimony of John.

A fire and Spirit baptism from above was the news which John published to the world when he proclaimed that the kingdom of God was at hand. When Christ appeared to His disciples forty days, talking of this kingdom, He promised this same baptism in the Spirit, saying that it was essential or they could not be His witnesses in power. And if this fire and Spirit from above has not baptized us into a birth of the life of God in our souls, we have not found that blessing and the kingdom of God to which both John and Christ bore witness. But if - still worse - we are so bewitched through a blind worship of the dead letter of doctrine as to become writers and preachers against this inward heavenly fire and Spirit, we are at once with those to whom our Lord said, "Woe unto you scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites, who shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for ye neither go in yourselves, neither ye them that are entering to go in" (Matthew 23:13).

A divine love, as the blossom and fragrance in every fruit of the Spirit, is that which above all marks those who have entered into this baptism which Christ gives. There is nothing that so much exalts our Lord to His true place in our  hearts as this heavenly love. It cleanses and purifies like a holy fine, and all selfish desires fall away before it. Everything that is good and holy grows out of it, and it becomes a continual source of all virtue and pious practises. This love flows out towards all of God's creatures because they are His, the creation of His goodness. For when we love God with all our hearts, with all our souls, and with all our strength, we shall necessarily love those beings that are created by Him to be the objects of His own eternal love. If I have or despise any man in the world, I hate that which God cannot hate, and despise that which He loves. And can I think that the heavenly fire of God's love burns in my heart, while I hate that which was created in His image and exists only by the continuance of His love towards it?

The impossibility of this is plainly stated by John: "If any man says he loves God, and hates his brother, he is a liar" (1 John 4:20).

Since it was the sins of the world that made the Son of God become a compassionate, suffering, Advocate for all mankind, no one is of the Spirit of Christ except he that has the utmost compassion for sinners. There is no greater sign of your own baptism in the Spirit than when you find yourself all love and compassion towards them that are very weak and sinful, and especially towards those who oppose or misuse you. "He that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in Him" (1 John 4:16). Nor is there greater reason for repentance than when you find yourself angry and offended at the behavior of others.. A man naturally fancies that it is his own exceeding love of virtue that makes him unable to despise another, and cannot bear the fellowship of a third, he supposes it all to be proof of his own high sense of virtue, his love of God, and just hatred of sin. And yet one would think that a man needed no other cure for this attitude of heart than this one reflection: if this had been the spirit of the Son of God, if His hatred of sin had been of this sort, there had been no redemption for sinners.

Though God hates sin, He loves the sinner. We must then set ourselves against sin as we do against sickness and disease, by showing love and tender compassion to those who suffer from it. This therefore we may take for a certain rule, that the more the divine nature and life of Jesus is manifest in us, and the higher our sense of righteousness and virtue, the more we shall pity and love those who are suffering from the blindness, disease, and death of sin. The sight of such people then, instead of raising in us a haughty contempt holier-than-thou indignation, will rather fill us with such tenderness and compassion as when we see the miseries of a disease. Such is the holy flame of divine love that kindles upon those who offer themselves as a sacrifice unto God and are truly filled with His Spirit.

~William Law~

(continued with # 3)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Baptism with the Holy Spirit # 1

The Baptism with the Holy Spirit # 1

Had Adam not known the truth and fullness of a divine life from his Creator, then his fall and redemption are equally empty terms about nothing. And what can he be fallen from or redeemed to if mere words have the power of it? Tell me why that burning and shining light, that man who was more than a prophet, should come with his water baptism of repentance; and why the Son of God, Creator of all things, should come with His baptism in the Spirit and with fire, if man neither needed nor could receive a better life or light than that which the letter of Scripture could give?

The fall of divinely created Adam under the power of sin, satan, and hell extinguished that heavenly fire and Spirit which had been his first union with God. Only a renewal of this fire and Spirit from heaven can make fallen men once more in the image of God. If the Son of God took the likeness of our sinful flesh upon Himself, that His Holy nature might come within us; what a poverty of reason it is to sit at feet of a master orator,lettered genius, or Greek scholar who preaches words about the gospel, but who has not himself experienced the power of the Holy Spirit by which alone this divine nature can be made effective in man.

Behold your state, ye ministers, that wait at Christian altars, but who deny this Spirit baptism and fire from above. You have a priesthood and an altar not fit to be named with that which in Jewish days had a holy fire from God descending upon it. That fire from heaven made priest and sacrifice acceptable to God, though only type and pledge of the inward celestial fire which Christ would kindle into a never-ceasing flame in the living temples of His Spirit born children of the New Covenant. Complain then no more of atheists, infidels, and similar open enemies of the gospel; for while you label a Spirit baptism as fanaticism and deny a present faith in this heavenly fire kindled into the same essential life in us as in apostles and early Christians, you do that infidel work within the church which these skeptics do on the outside of it. And through a learned fear of having the same thing done to your earthly reason which was done to Enoch when God took him, you will admit no higher a regeneration, no more reality of a birth of Christ in your souls, than a letter-learned assent to words and doctrine can give.

Our Lord has said, "The kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:21). That is, the heavenly fire and Spirit which are the effective power of the true kingdom and manifestation of God must have their real fruit and dominion within the spirit and soul. In truth, where else can it be? Earthly kings in all ages have proven the hypocrisy of outward professions of allegiance which have often given cover to a rebellious heart. Shall our Lord be pleased with the emptiness of lip profession in His kingdom? Indeed, none shall be in that new creation except those who are themselves new creatures in Christ Jesus, with a new heart and new life. Then let this be told every minister of the gospel as a truth from God: that until heavenly fire and Spirit have a fullness of birth and power within you, you can rise no higher by your most eminent learning and zeal than to be elegant and logical orators and reasoners about words.

Again Christ said, "I will come unto you and manifest myself unto you" (John 14:18, 21): "in that day ye shall know that I am in you" (John 14:20): "and the works that I do shall ye do also and greater" (John 14:12). Suppose that these promises are not literally true, that Christ can only manifest Himself through the letter of sound doctrine. Say that the heavenly power of the Holy Spirit, which Christ promised would flow in rivers of living water from the inner being of those who believe, is only the force of logically arranged words, clever oratory, and acute reasonings. Then your converts will be as good disciples of Christ and as absolutely dead to the kingdom of heaven as a corpse is dead to the kingdoms of this earth, though its coffin be filled with learned and detailed histories of them all.

What a betrayal of faith and contradiction of reason, to preach the necessity of being living members of the body of Christ, and yet to deny in the name of sound doctrine a real and living manifestation of the power of that life in us. "You were dead in trespasses," said Paul "but now you have been made alive" (Ephesians 2:5). And he taught that this life will manifest itself in our mortal flesh. "It pleased God to reveal his Son in me" (Galatians 1:15-16), said the great apostle, and who could deny that this was made abundantly evident each day he lived. "My little children, I travail in birth until Christ is formed in you" (Galatians 4:19), he wrote to those at Galatia. Could anyone believe then that Paul expected their lives to be less Christlike than his, or to manifest less of the power of the Holy Spirit than that which worked so mightily through him? Not from these words: "Be ye followers of me even as I am of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1); "those things that ye have both learned and received and seen and heard in me, do them all, and the God of peace will be with you" (Phil. 4:9). This was to be the evidence in his converts that they had truly believed in that Christ and received the same Holy Spirit that he knew as his inward life, and had preached to them.

Clearly  this birth of Christ in the soul and spirit of man involves a complete inward transformation, wherein "old things have passed away, and behold all things are new" (2 Corinthians 5:17). As a tree is known by its fruit, so the true Christian is known by the life of Jesus being manifest in and through him to the world around. Plainly the child of God is to be as much like Christ after his new birth as his old, natural life resembled earthly Adam's. Yet logic, learning, and criticism are almost everywhere set in high places to pronounce and prove from Scripture truth that to express a real and recognizable experience of this Spirit baptism and fire of Christ in the soul is an extreme that leads to madness and error. What wonder, then, if the old life of sinful Adam in worldliness and lusts of the flesh, pride, deceit, hypocrisy, gossip, envy, divisions, and contentions should continually manifest its power among professing Christians! 

~William Law~

(continued with # 2)

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Future Life # 4

The Future Life # 4

This is the life of sorrow and cross bearing, but in the life beyond will have the recompense of reward. He forever changed the truth from a rumor or dream to an established fact. Take, for instance, the raising of Lazarus from the dead. To Martha, Jesus said, "He that believeth on me though he were dead, yet shall he live and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die." "In my Father's house are many mansions."

Man was the crowning work of God's creation, having body, soul, and spirit. Man lives in three realms, mental, physical and spiritual. Yet, most men live and die in the basements of their nature. These three realms can only be reached by man through the New Birth. God stamped the word "Eternity" upon man's very nature and started him upon a high and noble destiny. Man was not a savage or an ape but created in the image of God and put in the garden for culture, development and obedience. It was a golden age for man. Traditions tells us that all nations have their stories of a golden age somewhere in the far distant past.

The next act of creation was the creation of woman. The Lord put man to sleep and took a rib from his side and from it, He made a woman. Matthew Henry says, "Woman was formed out of man. Not out of his head to be ruled by him, not out of his feet to be trodden upon by him, but out of his side to be his equal, to be loved, comforted and protected by him."

Man bears the marks of the divine likeness of his maker. The divine likeness in five aspects: dominion, intellect, free will, spirituality and immortality.

Man was given dominion over all animal creation. Also, he has marvelous dominion over the mysterious forces of nature. He has spanned the river, crossed the ocean and his voice has taken wings and crossed the continent until distance is annihilated and the entire world has become one great neighborhood.

The intellect of man shows a marked and wide gulf between man and the lower animals. Man is a genius and his ability is seen in his naming the animals of the earth according to their nature. Animals and birds have made no progress in building their nests and homes, but man with reason and genius has made marked progress.

Man is not a creature of necessity or of instinct, but he is to choose his own destiny. Man may rise to the heights of eternal glory or sink to eternal despair. He is free to obey or disobey God's commands. He can go upward to glory or downward to despair. He can rise to the height of an angel or he can sink to the depth of a demon. He can walk gold paved streets or he can tread the road to eternal despair. He can have fellowship with God or he can shake his fist in the face of Almighty God. He cannot blame God or any one else for his failure.

Man has a nature which impels him to be religious. He has been called a religious animal.

You can travel the world over and you can find cities without literature, without kings, without theaters, or public halls, but cities were never founded without churches, chapels or temples, without some god or other.

The recognition of God as Creator gives a new meaning to life. As Creator, He has a definite claim upon our lives. When we lose confidence in Him, we are on the road to confusion and uncertainty.

A belief in immortality is universal and age long. Every attempt to crush out immortality has failed. A divine imprint upon man tells him he is a creature of eternity and not of time. Men of science, falsely so-called, have been searching for the missing link for years but their task is yet unfinished.

Man was created by God for a high and noble destiny. His powers are almost unlimited. He reaches his highest in recognition of his Maker and in obedience to His will and commandments. Man is more than an animal or a beast. An animal is the creature of a day but man is the creature of eternity. Man has the stamp of eternity upon his brow. It is the height of folly for man to go on in sin and expect to rise to his highest. With God, he can rise to the highest, but without Him, he will sink into darkness, defeat and despair.

Is Dying to be Dreaded?

Christ's triumph over the grave removed the mystic conception of death and immortality. Before this men looked forward to death with awful dread. For every believing heart, Jesus changes the fear of the grave to joy and peace. Literary writers have referred to death as though death was God's punishment for a sinful life. Physical death did not come to Adam, the first sinful man, nor to Cain, the first murderer, but to Abel, the innocent and the righteous. The sinful brother was punished by living and the good brother was rewarded by being transplanted into a higher and better life. Death is a part of the cycle of change which God has established for everything he has created. People dread death more in health than in sickness. When the time comes, Mother Nature smoothes the way so that it's as natural as to fall asleep. For sleep, the absence of consciousness, is the twin brother to death. Let us not worry about dying grace, but keep on hands a good supply of living grace and dying grace will take care of itself. We should not prepare to die, but rather prepare to live. After all, life is more to be dreaded than death, for life is overshadowed with temptations which mar the soul and harm the influence. Dying is an easy matter; living is solemn. Never let us look at the grave as the goal, but one more star in the firmament. Should a doubt come to the mind about the future life, remember the words of Jesus, "I was dead, but behold I am alive forevermore and have the keys of death and hell." Ask Jesus for the key when you want some perplexing problem solved touching the future life. Jesus has lighted up the gloom of the grave and made its gates to turn on golden hinges. He made the Cross His pillow that we might pillow our heads on the precious truth of immortality.

When we lay our dead away, we comfort ourselves with the precious assurance that what has been sown in corruption will be raised in incorruption that they will be restored to us again informs beautiful, glorious, and immortal; that they will be again embodied, for God will give them bodies as it pleaseth Him. What will please God will be pleasing to us. We may rest assured that they will be as perfect, and as desirable and as lovable as God with all His power and skill can make them. As 2 Corinthians tells us that death is simply going from one house to another." "To depart," says Paul, "is to be with Christ." "To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord." 2 Corinthians 5:8).

~W. B. Dunkum~

(The End)

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Future Life # 3

The Future Life # 3

5. Nature Teaches Immortality

We behold God and His teaching through nature concerning life and death. When we think of the Almighty casting off the grave clothes of winter, truly He has power to raise the dead. Man is a little world in himself. A skillful builder might build a beautiful body in form, but it would lack necessary elements to make a man. This is the place God comes in. God has put in every human being something not found in the earthly. It cannot be found in air, sea or water. It is not carbon, nitrogen, lime, phosphate or iron. But that something is personality. "God formed man out of the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils, the breath of life and man became a living soul." The dust after serving its purpose will return to its kindred dust while the God part enters into the realms of the Spirit with a boundless outlook. Call him not dead; he will be more alive than ever. Paul says, "To die is gain." See that little grain of wheat; how powerless it seems, but bury it in the ground and in proper time it will spring up and bring forth flower and fruit. Yet, your soul enclosed in a sinful body, warped by sin will never reach its finished development until Mortal puts on Immortality. A belief in immortality is universal and age-long. Every attempt to crush out immortality has failed. A divine imprint upon man tells us he is not a creature of time but of eternity.

Men of science falsely so called, have through the years been searching for the missing link and dropped stitch, but their task is yet unfinished. Man was created by God for a higher and nobler destiny than that of earth. Man's powers are almost unlimited. In obedience and recognition of his Maker, he can walk the golden streets, or he can leave God out and tread the road to eternal despair.

Human nature confirms the hope of immortality. This life is a life of incompleteness. We hardly learn to  be of use until we have to leave the world. By the time we have gained needed experience, we find ourselves nearing the grave. Our moral imperfections and difficulties here, point toward eternal perfection and immortality by and by. It is here we begin, but we never finish until we are gone. Every man discovers in himself capacities and abilities this world cannot draft into service. Here we only have a portion of time to develop our  powers and tests. Everything points to immortality and a fuller life beyond. "Infinite personality called God is foreshadowed by finite personality called man." As we have borne the image of the earthy so shall we also bear the image of the Heavenly.

6. Our Discontent Proves the Immortality of the Soul.

Human nature supplies another argument of immortality! in our discontent. We are the most unsatisfied being's on the face of the earth. Our hearts tell us we were made to be satisfied, yet nothing in this world quite satisfies us. But every other creature finds the limit of its growth here. The ox finds its capacities satisfied and contented in the meadow and stream. The cat is satisfied with a warm place on the hearth. While our feeble ambitions ever yearn and long for sought goals that are never reached. Animals are at home and satisfied but not man. If this life ends man's activities, then a dog runs a more successful career than a man, as it lasts longer, has no risks or accidents to run and never has a broken heart.

7. The Character of God proves the Immortality of the Soul.

Another strong proof of immortality is the character of God. God is justice and goodness, hence immortality is a necessity. When the crippled and suffering child is seen, the question is asked, "Is God good?" Yes, is that child God's complete work? No, God's work is not yet finished in the child. There is another life where God's plan will be revealed and compensation made.

8. The Universal Belief

Another proof of immortality is the universal belief in the doctrine. It is believed in where the Bible has never gone. Tombs of Egypt built 5,000 years ago contain pictures representing the future state of the soul. The laws of the Hindu written a thousand years ago believe in a hereafter. The Romans and the Greeks had their heaven, and hell. The Mexicans have their paradise. The American Indians had their happy hunting ground. Immortality is not a question of argument but a universal belief. Who planted this universal belief in man? God the author of life did it. Will He plant such a belief within us and then disappoint us? Nay. When the heart ceases to beat, the soul takes up its existence in the Great Beyond. John Quincy Adams was walking down a street in Boston, met an old friend who asked, "How are you?" Adams replied, "John Quincy Adams is all right, but the house in which he lives at present is becoming dilapidated." Not long afterward, he received his second and fatal stroke. He said, "This is the last of earth and I am content." Paul says, "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed."

Another significant evidence of immortality is found in human character. When your dearest friends die you have no argument then against immortality; but you feel it, thirst for it and long after it. Hume, the great writer of metaphysics said when he thought of his mother, he believed in immortality then.

9. Immortality is Proven by the Old Testament Scriptures.

"Enoch walked with God and he was not, for God took him." Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. David said, "Thou wilt guide me into glory." Daniel said, "Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting contempt." Jeremiah speaks of God as the "Heavenly King." Isaiah says, "Neither hath the eye seen a God beside Thee." Again, David said, "In thy presence is fullness of joy, at thy right hand are pleasures forevermore." These passages of Scripture of the Old Testament are sufficient to show that, the saints of God, under a dark dispensation guided by inspiration, looked beyond this vale of tears to the unfolding glories of the resurrection morning.

10. Immortality is Proven by the New Testament Scriptures.

The New Testament is permeated with the blessed truths of immortality.

1. The Incarnation-God manifested in the flesh.
2. The proof that Christ came from eternity with the Father.
3. The mission of Christ to save lost sinners.
4. The teachings of Christ based on the life beyond the grave.

~W. B. Dunkum~

(continued with # 4)

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Future Life # 2

The Future Life # 2

We see death ends probation forever, and that life does not end all. Man will live on when this earthly frame shall have crumbled into dust. This is the Christian's hope. In the hour death, hope sees a star and dying love hears the rustling of angel's wings. The angel of death makes his way across the river of death coming to the rescue of the Christian.

The Christian hope kindles a smile on the brow of the saint and hangs the rainbow of hope over the grave of our loved ones. The anchor holds in the storms of life and when our feet enter the chilly waters of death, you need to fear no evil, for Christ will lead through the misty stream and will see that the waters shall not overflow. We shall awake in His likeness and climb out over on the other shore and our eyes will catch a glimpse of the King upon His Majestic Throne and behold angels as they welcome to the land of the blessed. Then, we will meet our loved ones who have gone on before and meet to part no more. Brethren, such an experience will "Far exceed our fondest dreams."

Aside from the Resurrection of Christ and what He had to say about it we have no positive proof of the immortality of the soul.

There are various lines of evidences, and no one contains all the truth of the facts under consideration, but each adds to the general weight of proof. Among these arguments are the following:

1. Man's universal feeling about the future life. We would not for a moment think of God deceiving us along this line. As winter approaches and the birds start for a warmer climate,are they deceived? Can you conceive of God who gives that marvelous instinct to the bird and then not give man some intuitive feeling of immortality. Bacon said, "Learning leads to skepticism, but profound philosophy leads to religion." Immortality is the goal in view. Scientists, philosophers, and inventors have believed in a future life. Nature never deceives instinct; such as birds to the air, ducks to the pond, and moles to the ground. The skeptic is like a squirrel or a bee which fails to prepare for winter. Just as surely as God designed fins for the water, light for the eye, and sound for the ear, He also made heaven for the soul. Truly, the Spirit of immortality is divinely implanted in humanity.

Let immortality be the first lesson of the nursery and let it be the motto of every school, college, university and seminary throughout the land; let it be preached from every platform and pulpit in Christendom. Let it be preached everywhere that the soul is immortal, and will live throughout eternity when earthly kingdoms have fallen. The soul may enjoy eternal felicity in the realms of eternal bliss.

2. A sense of our incompleteness. There is a sense of incompleteness in man as far as this life is concerned. The more the student thinks, the more he is convinced that this is a life of incompleteness. In other words, this life is a small part of a great whole. Is all your experience, wealth, and wisdom purchased with the price of pain and discipline to utterly perish at your death? Most good people feel as they stand by an open grave, though they have the frost of winter upon their heads that eternal spring has just begun within their hearts. You frequently hear people say, "I am seventy or eighty years young" and not old. They mean immortality is about to peep from behind the eastern horizon. In spite of distressing and alarming conditions of earth existing as they do about us, the eternal and All-wise God behind the curtain longs and eagerly waits to bless us with heaven's multiplied blessings and in the morning open to us the door of immortality.

3. The continuation of personality proves the immortality of the soul. Let us consider the persistence of mankind, and your own individuality. You have passed through many surprising changes since you first became a self-conscious being. The psychologist tells us that the entire body goes through a complete change every seven years, and some say more frequently than that, yet we are the same identical person. Death is not supposed to destroy the real self which has gone through so many and so great changes. If the body undergoes a change every seven years, then the man seventy years old has had ten bodies and the same soul has shown through them all.

The student of ethics tells us that we take up in the future life where we leave off here. It is an evident fact that the future will be one of misery or happiness because we have such conditions though in less degree in this life. We are punished here for vice and rewarded for virtue and it is reasonable to expect same in the future life. Yet, we are justly or fully rewarded or punished here. If we are religious and heed  salvation, we are rewarded, if we are irreligious and do not heed then we must suffer the consequences. God teaches us His approval toward rewarding virtue. So we can be as happy or miserable in eternity as we want to be because our actions here determine our future. Don't forget whether your life is a life of happiness or misery you will begin in yonder's world where you leave off in this world.

4. The certainty of immorality. The certainty of immorality is this, "Now is Christ risen from the dead." We no longer guess and surmise. We know whereof we speak. All of our instinctive feelings and convictions center in the resurrection of Christ. What sort of a Resurrection will it be? A resurrection of identity. He was, and is the same Christ who walked the dusty streets of Jerusalem and the pathless Sea of Galilee. We, too, will be the same absolutely. Death will not change our character whether or impure, justified or guilty. "So them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake,some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt." It will be a blessed resurrection and glorious change. Just as the life of Jesus after the resurrection was enlarged and glorified, so will be the life of those who partake of His salvation and share in His life. Have you the certainty of a glorious resurrection? Will you rise to everlasting life or to everlasting shame?

Is it not logical to believe in immortality? Man not only believes but longs and thirsts after it, whether rich or poor, learned or unlearned, barbarian, heathen, civilized, or scientific; they shudder, they quake at the thought of destruction, but with glorious anticipation look forward to immortality. 

The soul is the most valuable gem of all God's creation; it is immortal and is capable of happiness or misery here or hereafter. It is an undying creature, more valuable than gold and diamonds, and will live when earthly kingdoms shall have crumbled into dust, will live when the pyramids of Egypt are leveled with the ground, will live when the lofty Alps are swayed by the mighty forces of nature, and will live when the heavens are rolled together as a scroll. Yes, the soul of man will live as long as the Lord God Omnipotent lives and reigns.

Every man is created with a principle in him which will live forever. Job asked the question, "If a man die, shall he live again?" He seemed to have felt the feelings of immortality.

We are in this world for preparation, being on trial for the next.

In this world we are to exist for a short time and afterwords, be transplanted into a better and more healthful climate where we shall grow and flourish throughout eternity.

It is a fatal mistake to suppose that the undertaker divorces the Spirit and body; we will need our minds and bodies in the region beyond the grave. They are our property and no one else will have use for them. There will be a glorious reunion in the resurrection morning when we shall have bodies fashioned like unto His glorious body. "Who is the fairest among ten thousand and the one altogether lovely." The mortal must put on immortality and death he swallowed up in life. Then comes the question, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" And a voice from Calvary will be heard saying, "Buried in the bosom of the immaculate Christ."

~W. B. Dunkum~

(continued with # 3)

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Future Life # 1

The Future Life # 1


Does death end all? Is there a life beyond? Can we obtain any reliable information about it? These are questions of the greatest importance and the deepest interest. They lie at the foundation of all religion. They have aroused the interest and attention of the wisest and best of mankind in every age. A belief in this doctrine is a powerful incentive to the practice of moral and religious duty. To establish the doctrine of immortality we turn to the teaching of inspiration. Hence, the only reliable information is the Word of God. The doctrine of immortality is emphatically a doctrine of Divine Revelation. It is purely and exclusively a Bible doctrine. Advocates of this doctrine have been found in every age. Nature may impart the hope, salvation alone can give the assurance. Christ by His life, death and triumphant resurrection "hath abolished death and brought life and immortality to light." Therefore Christianity upon the authority of a direct revelation from heaven is giving us the truth of the doctrine.

We are frequently facing the question of the ages, "If a man die, shall he live again?" It is easy to believe in immortality as we stand by a newly made grave of a friend or loved one. Death does not startle nature or God, but it is the method God uses in changing us from one world to another. The grave is but the gate to life. Death is a visitor with whom we will never become accustomed. Yet, it is nothing uncommon for with every tick of the clock three souls leave this world to meet God.

When stricken with grief we read the Scripture, "Because I live, ye shall live also." Death is the decree of the loving God, the doorway through which we pass to Eternal Day. Death is the best method provided by a loving Lord for exchanging worlds. Jesus Christ tunneled the grave and walked out into liberty, victory, and immorality. What He did, He gives us power to do for He was declared to be the Son of God with power. "But now is Christ risen from the dead and become the first fruits of them that slept." (1 Corinthians 15:20).

A glance into the other world naturally causes one to ask questions as to their future existence. Is death a gateway to endless sorrow or is it an entrance into endless bliss? Such questions come into the mind of all rational beings from the rich man in his palace to the bum of the street.

"Death is not the end; it is only a new beginning. Death is not the master of the home; he is only the appointed porter to open the gate and let the King's guest into the realm of eternal day." Life is not necessarily enclosed within a limit of three score years and ten. We are sailing upon a great sea. The Great Mediterranean Sea is but a fish pond compared to the sea of life we are sailing upon. We are upon the great waters, yea, we are immortal and are sailing with tomorrow in view.

God made no special attempt to prove our future existence but He gives us this truth as an evident fact.

All nationalities of the past have always had within them a native acknowledgement of the fact of a supreme being. The American Indian called it "The Great Spirit." The woman yonder on the bank of the Ganges River willingly throws her baby to the crocodiles believing there is a God, and she has been taught that by this act she will appease the wrath of her god.

Wicked men will testify to the fact that they have within them something that witnesses to a supreme power.

Nature will prove to you there is a God if you desire to see the truth. God has placed something in your breast which will lead you to the dawn of a beautiful day. God has existed from eternity to eternity, the author of the soul of man. Here, we have a silver watch; we know that back of this watch existed some intelligent being greater than the watch itself. Then, suppose we go back to the factory where it was made, but that fails to satisfy. Hence, we go back to the silver mine, where the silver was obtained. With profound thought we wonder who made the silver and from whence it came, and back of all is an all-wise infinite God. Therefore, man is the climax of all of God's creation. What is man and what can a well developed and well trained man accomplish with the aid of his Maker? Man not only learns by experience and observation but he can obtain a practical education through the wonderful facilities of travel. man is back of nature, empires, laws, codes and constitutions. Man has connected continents and annihilated space until this world has become one great neighborhood. The trained mind takes the lead in civilization, constructing roads, building bridges and tunneling mountains.  Man has made scales which will weigh a pencil marks or the smallest hair from the eyebrow. He forecasts the weathers predicts the eclipse and foretells the coming storm. He measures the distance from the earth to the sun and gives us scientific information, concerning the Milky Way. He tells us that two pounds of spider web will go around the earth at the Equator but it will take two tones to reach the nearest star. Yet, with all this power, he can't create even one blade of grass. There must be a first cause back of him. An Omnipotent Being. We see God's mighty handiwork on every hand. His footprints are left on the sand of time. He measures the water in the hollow of His hand, and meted out heaven with a span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains with scales and the hills in a balance. Therefore, only a supreme being can do such. When we behold nature and the beauty of God's creation, we will admit that the heavenly artist alone can make and paint things so beautiful!

It was Dr. Mayo of Rochester, Minn., who said, "Man has religious needs and that religion has what man needs and not creeds." The God who created something out of nothing and wasted not a single atom in all His creation, has made provision for a future life in which man's universal longing for immortality will find its realization. I am as sure that you will live again as I am sure you are living now.

God created man just a little lower than the angels, and crowned him with glory and honor and gave him intellect sensibility, and will, and having the right kind of training and environment he can attain much heavenly knowledge. Does it seem that as all-wise God would create such a being as man with capacities to know, love, and serve Him and then assign him to failure and disappointment? Every power of man's makeup bespeaks the fact that he was made for a more noble existence than is possible for him to attain in this life. Every power we possess proclaims the fact that man is immortal; is created for a sunnier clime than that of earth. The best we can do here is to get where we can bless humanity and then off the stage of action, we go into eternity. Could it be reasonable to think that it is all of life to live and all of death to die? The poet was correct when he said: "Life is real, life is earnest, and the grave is not it's goal; Dust thou art to dust returnest, Was not spoken of the soul."

The Almighty has provided a great ship upon which He will carry us across the misty and muddy stream of time and land us safely in the ocean of glory and happiness where we can enjoy eternal bliss. The universal longing of man for immortality can find its realization in the heaven of eternal rest.

We believe in an all-wise and infinite Creator and that in the meantime, He will lift the limitations placed upon us. But if we live a few passing years and then pass away and be no more, why need man such wonderful power? Then why not make him as the ox which has no higher admiration and aspiration than of food to satisfy hunger? Man with lofty powers can look forward to the time when limitations will be removed and mortal put on immortality.

~W. B. Dunkum~

(continued with # 2)