I am free to say that I begin to feel seriously anxious over our work now. You will remember that we have been studying these things together now for nearly four weeks. And the very first theme we considered was what hindered our receiving an unusual degree of the outpouring of the Spirit of God. Very close testimonies were borne and were heard here and they seemed to make a deep impression upon our minds and hearts. I have since felt there is almost a reaction from that, and that this work seems to move along rather easy with us now. I want to say for myself I shall not be at all satisﬁed if this Conference passes without a greater outpouring of the Spirit of God than we have experienced yet. Although I appreciate very much the blessing that we have had together, and the presence of God and his Spirit with us, helping us in our work, yet I shall be greatly disappointed if this meeting closes without a fuller outpouring of the Spirit of God than we have experienced yet. And I want that we should take simply and fully the lessons that we are having now as applied directly to us and to our condition, and get the most possible beneﬁt from them.
When the Saviour promised the disciples that he would pray the Father, and he would send them another Comforter to abide with them forever, the disciples believed that promise. They simply took that promise as a fact and believed it; and when after his crucifixion and resurrection he said to them, as recorded in Acts 1:4, 5: “And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence,” they simply believed that that was so. They believed that they were to be baptized with the Holy Ghost in a very few days. Again he said to them, “Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost has come upon you.” They believed that also; yet that did not prevent their earnestly seeking it. Day after day they most earnestly sought for the very blessing that had been promised them, and which the Saviour said was only a few days away. Now remember all the time that the same promise is ours just as much as theirs; and in a special sense it seem to me that now is the time to take this promise: “Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”
We are taught that we ought to be praying just as earnestly for the descent of the Holy Ghost as they did. Now what I want to say is just this, Are we doing it? That is all. I understand that God will give special blessings of his Spirit in an unusual manner, and that is what we are speaking about especially in these lessons; not simply the usual operations of the Spirit, although that is all right properly considered; but it is a special thing that we are considering, and that is the promise of the. Spirit in an unusual way. I do not understand that the Lord proposes to force this blessing upon a single soul. I do not understand that he expects to be dictated as to how that blessing will come in any way. But he has given, and is now giving us the very plainest instruction about it. And what I wish to know now especially is, How many of us are carrying out this instruction? Now we must not expect the fulfillment of the promise when we do not fulfill the conditions of it. The Lord wants this blessing to come upon this people now. He has told us what to do in order that it may come. Now I want to know, How many are doing it? That is the simple question. We are told that we ought to pray just as earnestly for the descent of the Holy Ghost as did the disciples. Are we doing it? We are told that companies ought to be gathered, and in a special manner ought to be praying for this blessing, this outpouring of the Spirit. Are we doing it?
In spite of the fact that Christ had promised this blessing, the disciples prayed ten days continuously. It took them all that time to get prepared for the blessing. Now if we are prepared for the outpouring of the Spirit to-night, God wants to give it to us tonight. That is so. We are not to try to get the Lord ready to do something for us that he does not want to do. He is waiting for us to get ready so that he can do what he wanted to do. Now to my mind it is a simple proposition that the Lord desires that this people shall receive a blessing from him. We are not to try to get him favorable so that he will give it to us. That is not the object of this work. The object is simply to learn how to relate ourselves to him so that it will be possible for him to do that.
You remember that we have had that idea in our lessons that it is through God’s mercy that he does not pour out his Spirit. The Spirit would be to sinners and those who were persisting in opposition to God, just as it was to the Israelites-a ﬁre that would consume. God is a consuming ﬁre to those who knowingly cherish sin, and they cannot be in the near presence of God. But when the blessing of the Spirit comes in that manner, it is necessary that we should be free from unrighteousness; for we shall be in a holy place as was Moses at the burning bush, and Joshua with the commander of the Lord’s hosts, and the disciples with Christ in the Mount.
It has seemed to me that it would help us in this matter to realize in a special way the idea of the personal presence of the Saviour. I want to feel in my experience that the Saviour is with me just as he was with his disciples, and that the question of my seeing him with the natural eyes does not enter into it at all. I simply take his promise that he is with me. Now after he had been with his disciples in his personal presence, after he had walked with them, and talked with them, and eaten with them, and instructed them, and they had seen his works,-then they could believe in his actual presence. And when out of sight he was to them, as it were, no farther away than as though he had gone up stairs into an upper room. The idea that they had a personal, living Saviour was just as real to them as though they had seen him go into an upper chamber. He had simply gone away out of their sight, but the sense of having a living personal Saviour was just as real to them as when he stood right beside them and they saw him. The idea that he was in the presence of God, identified with their humanity; that he was there, in their behalf, making intercession for them, as their friend, their counselor, their advocate, their helper, was just as real to them as though they had him walking with him.
Now I want to think about my Saviour in exactly the same way. I do not want think of him simply as there, I want to think of him as being here. I do think of him as here. Not simply, I want him, but I have him. It seems to me that it would help us to talk of these matters reverently, seriously. I believe it would do away with any inclination to a spirit of lightness, chaffiness, or anything of the kind; that spirit of commonness, of jesting, of joking. I believe that will all be removed when we realize that we stand in the presence of Jesus Christ as a living individual Saviour, and one who is with us all the time. I think it ought to be that way all the time; not as a task, but as a delight.
When the Saviour went away, he sent them the promise of the Father, as Peter said in his sermon in Acts 2: “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we are all witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which we how see and hear.” Verses 32, 33. Now the Saviour is a great deal more interested that this work should go on than we are. He was interested enough in it to give his life for it, and now living, he is giving his whole service to it. “He ever liveth to make intercession “for us. Not only that, but all heaven is interested. I want you to take this as a literal thing. Our Saviour identifies himself with us and all humanity, and all the the hosts of heaven are intently watching this work. They are intently watching you and me to see whether we will sense the situation; whether we will co-operate with them in the work.
Considering the point to which we have come;-the law of God is made void; a power is taking hold of all of Satan’s agencies to oppose this work: apparently Satan and his hosts are about to triumph,-it would seem that way, looking at it from the outward view. Is God going to allow anything of that kind? No, Satan is not to triumph. Evil is not to triumph. God will rise and show himself strong in behalf of right and his word. The Creator of heaven and earth is now being put to a public shame, as it were. His law is openly disregarded and trampled upon. His law is taken by man and interpreted as against him, and in favor of Satan who leads all the hosts of rebellion; and what in the world is the reason that the Lord does not rise and show himself strong and put his enemies to confusion, and justify himself in the face of the universe? It is going to be done, and that right early, lest the very character of God be compromised. But he has been waiting with a wonderful degree of patience. I cannot understand how he can be waiting for us who are representing his work now in the earth. What is he waiting for? Waiting for us to be willing to give up these things that hinder his work; waiting for us to accept the righteousness of Christ; waiting for us that he may use us in this work.
Now the solemn thought to my mind is that he is getting impatient, and will not wait very much longer for you and me. I want you to see that plainly. It is a most solemn thought to my mind in connection with our work, and I cannot get away from the idea that now is a most critical time with us personally. It is more so than we realize. It seems to me that right now we are making choices that will determine whether we shall go on with this work through the loud cry and be translated, or whether we shall be deceived by the devices of Satan and be left out in darkness, and the work go on without us. Now it appears to me that that is just where we stand. I have felt that way all through this Conference and so I say again, I am extremely anxious over this situation; because the time is passing, and the days go easily one after the other. In a certain sense it is much more critical to us personally than to God’s work. Let us not question about God’s work. There is, however, a large question about us individually, and our relation to the work.
Now see what the offer is. God offers to become partners with me, and he will be the one who will furnish all the strength and all the power if I will submit to him. He will work wonderful works through me. He will magnify his law and carry forward his work to the confusion of his adversaries. I cannot find words to express such a situation, when there is such a hesitancy on our part, and we are told directly by a message from the Lord that he is getting impatient in waiting so long. I think it is time for us to look this situation very seriously in the face. I do not dictate to any one, but something must be done, something different must come to us than has come in this Conference yet, that is sure.
When the disciples received this outpouring of the Spirit after ten days earnest seeking, by confession of sin, by humbling their hearts before God, by viewing steadily Jesus Christ, and being changed into his image, then they had the power for the work which the Saviour had committed to them. You will remember the lesson last week, how they went out with power; how multitudes were converted in a day; how they had power over evil spirits and diseases; they healed the sick and God wrought many wonders right in the face of opposition, and took them out of prison. Now those things do not want to be looked at as a sort of fairy tale, that interests us simply as entertaining matter. Why? We are to repeat the very same experience!
Now I want you to take that as something real and literal; not as something to be talked about as happening way back there. I want to tell you that there are persons right in this house that will go through those very experiences; they will be taken out of prison by the angel of the Lord to go and proclaim the message; they will heal the sick, and raise the dead, too. Now that will happen right in this message. What are we going to do? Are we going to become scared and hold back with certain reserve? No! a thousand times, No. We must become just like little children. We must believe these things as simply as a little child believes them. There is to be no question or opposition of any kind; but we are to take the message in the simplicity with which God gives it to us.
But you will remember as the work went on, and even in Paul’s day changes were to come in. He says: “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”
So the apostasy came in,-the falling away, and the man of sin was revealed. As that manifestation gained ground, what became of that large degree of the Spirit that rested upon the disciples in the early church? You remember when they went out to preach, the Spirit fell upon the people while they were preaching.
When Peter went to the Gentiles, and was in the house of Cornelius, the Holy Ghost fell on them, and in relating the matter when called to account, he said, “The Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.” Acts 11:15. It was a regular outpouring. Then they of the circumcision were astonished, as many as came with Peter, and glorified God because that to the Gentiles he had granted repentance unto life. The Spirit fell on them,-was poured out. It was the gift of the Holy Ghost. The expressions are the same; they received it in its freeness and fulness. And that was in the private house where Peter had gone to preach to those who were gathered together. Then when they heard that, it fell on the Gentiles as on them at the beginning; that settled the matter, because the Spirit set his own seal to the work, that it was accepted of God.
But as this apostasy came in, the power of the Spirit began to leave them. If you trace that down, you will see how the man of sin was revealed and ruled, and the Spirit seemed almost entirely withdrawn through that terrible period called the Dark Ages. Then in the Reformation, in the early part of the sixteenth century, when men began to turn to God again and to his word instead of to the man of sin, there was greater display of the power of God’s Spirit. But since that time it has been going back again, and religion is running into formalism, into ceremonialism, and true Protestantism has merged into false Protestantism, which is nothing but the papacy under another name; the principle is the same.
Now at this time God sends forth a message and is urging it upon us. What is it? Why, it is the righteousness of Christ. Why does he send this? Because he is preparing a people for translation. Now what will be the condition of that people who are translated? The same as described in Revelation 14:5. “And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.” This refers to the 144,000 that stood on Mount Zion. They are without fault; they are blameless; they are just like Christ,-without spot or blemish. Now God is at work to prepare a people for that condition. What will prepare a people that they may be without fault and unblameable? Righteousness. And nothing else will do it. They must have the character of Christ. No other character is without blemish and without fault. So he is sending now with special urgency this message. Just have the white raiment now,-the righteousness of Christ.
But what is the connection between that and the outpouring of the Spirit. Let me read two or three scriptures: “He came to his own, and his own received him not.” “But to as many as received him, to them gave he power to become sons of God, even to them that believed on his name.” “Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.”
Now to those that believe him, and receive him, so that he is in them, Christ the hope of glory, Christ formed within, so that he dwells in their hearts,-he gives the right-notice it is a gift-to become sons of God. Now because they are sons God sends forth the Spirit of his Son into their hearts. So we read: “And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.” 1 John 3:24. “Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.” 1 John 4:13.
Now when we are sons and he gives us the Spirit, what is the office of the Spirit? “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also after that ye believed ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.” Ephesians 1:13. “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” Chapter 4:30. “Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” 2 Corinthians 1:22.
Now the Spirit is given as a seal of the work that is wrought in us when we accept Christ. On this point let us read Galatians 3:13, 14. “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is everyone that hangeth upon a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” There are two things that come as the result of being redeemed from the curse of the law through Christ. We are to receive the blessing of Abraham; that is righteousness by faith. Now we receive that, in order that we may receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. And receiving the promise of the Spirit through faith, that seals the righteousness which we receive. It is a seal of righteousness. You will at once notice the connection.
Then the measure of righteousness that we receive is the measure of the Spirit that we receive. That is why we are urging you to accept the righteousness, because the Spirit will be there. Do you not see? The first thing is righteousness. That is why that is the message now. That is why that is to be preached now. We are to have righteousness, and that is the righteousness of Christ. The Spirit will come with that, because they are linked right together. We are to have the blessing of Abraham, that we may receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. See how it was in Christ’s experience. “For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God, for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.” The idea seems to be that God did not give it out of a measure, as though he gave a little at a time. He wants to pour it right out. He would not stop to measure it, you see.
We have the thought in Hebrews 1:9: “Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” So Peter, when he’ was speaking to the company with Cornelius, spoke of “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost.” Why was it that the Spirit was given him without measure, and was not doled out in small portions, but poured right out, and he was anointed with the oil of gladness above all his partners? Because in him was manifested the character of God; and according to the measure of his righteousness and the fullness of his righteousness was the fullness of the Spirit as a seal. Thus we read in John 6:27, “For him hath God the Father sealed.” That is, by the full and free gift of the Spirit.
But God wants a people now prepared to be sealed. Let us read on the point:” And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, not on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God; and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.” Revelation 7:1-3.
Put right with that the ninth of Ezekiel, where those who were sealed escaped the general destruction. But who will he sealed? Those who have the character of God in Christ, the righteousness of Christ, and only those. That is why the message is so urgent now, to receive the righteousness of Christ. Because only those who have that righteousness will be sealed, and the sealing time is here. It is time to have these things decided for the sealing work. The Spirit is the seal and it seems to be the agency by which the work is done.
An illustration: Some one places a piece of paper in a seal, and presses down the lever; the paper is taken out and here is an impression. Now there is a certain agency that does that work. After it is done a certain impression remains. Now the Spirit is the agency in the sealing work. What is the impression that remains? It is the image of God restored in the soul. Who is that image of God? Christ. Then it will be Christ in you, the hope of glory. It all comes right back to that. And the work of the Spirit is to prepare us for, and impress that image upon us. On this point I will read a few words from the REVIEW of Nov. 1, 1892:-
“As the wax takes the impression of the seal, so the soul is to take the impression of the Spirit of God and retain the moral Image of Christ.”
But we have always been told that the Sabbath is the seal. Now I just want to indicate a line of study for you. I am not going to bring it out. I have not the time. But I desire to have you study it, and will suggest it in this way: You will remember in our talk some time since about the Sabbath, we tried to show that in the Sabbath, from every standpoint and on every side, Christ appeared: Christ the creator; Christ the one who makes holy; Christ the sanctifier; Christ the one who blesses us and in whom we are blessed. No one can really and truly keep the Sabbath in whom Christ does not dwell; and the Sabbath is the seal in so far as Christ is recognized in it. Just that far and no farther. It will not seal anyone simply to observe the Sabbath in a formal way, as an outward ceremony.
To keep Saturday does not seal anyone any more than to keep Sunday or Monday, in that sense; but only in so far as Christ is seen in the Sabbath is the Sabbath a seal. But the Spirit is the agency by which we are transformed by the renewing of our minds, that Christ may be formed within. Now when the Sabbath is recognized as the institution of Christ, and that Christ is the very essence of the Sabbath, do you not see that when the Sabbath is properly and really kept in the spirit of it, that it is when Christ is received in his fullness. That is to say, you cannot keep the Sabbath without receiving the righteousness of Christ. The fact is, you cannot do anything without receiving it. You may view it on every side, but’ you will come back to that one point where everything centers, that you must have the righteousness of Christ; you must have Christ dwelling in you.
You see from that what a ﬁeld of study there is for us. I wish we might enter upon it, for we are to make it clear to the world that the righteousness of Christ and the Sabbath are inseparable. God wants to seal a people for the kingdom: but the people who are sealed for this kingdom and who are ready for translation, must be those in whom Christ dwells; must be those that receive the righteousness and the character of Christ. But when we receive the righteousness of Christ in its fullness, just as God wants us to receive it, right with that comes the fullness of the Spirit, and there is the outpouring of the Spirit. Now, it is of no use whatever for us to pray and pray for the outpouring of the Spirit apart from the righteousness and character of Christ. Think how this matter has stood here for three or four years, and what we have been doing all this time! God wanted to pour out his Spirit on his people years ago; but we cannot help that now: do not add another day to that time.
What can I say about this matter? Here we are together. These things are just as plain as A, B, C, that righteousness is the gift of God; that all in the world he asks us to do is to submit to the receiving of it, to open the door. How? By confession and repentance, by closing every door to Satan, and opening the door wide to Christ, and accepting him in simplicity. Now, it does not make any difference about our age or our standing: whether we are ministers or not; whether we are licentiates or not; we are all on the same level. You and I are to receive this in the same way, just as little children, and just thank God for it all the time, and rejoice in it all the time.
What I want to get at is, What hinders it now? What we are after is the righteousness of Christ. When we receive that in its fullness, the Spirit comes with it. We shall not have to receive the righteousness of Christ in its fullness and then agonize for the Spirit. We are to receive Christ in his fullness, and it all comes together. Now, do you know any reason why we should not know something about that to-night? I have been thinking about it somewhat in this way; If we were just to stop all questioning about one another, about Brother A. and Brother B., and whether he has accepted it or opposed it, and stop hunting around, and sit right down here in the simplicity of it just as a child, so glad to know that it is so, we could take it.
Suppose there were persons here to-night who had never heard anything about it at all: I should count it a privilege to go before an audience that had never heard anything about it, and sit down and tell them in the simplest way that Christ had come here, and had made provision that he would give them his character, and righteousness, and spirit, with all his power and love, and that they could have it, if they wanted it, by just receiving it. It seems to me that it would be a pleasure to be before such persons who had never heard about it in all their lives: and I can imagine the light and joy and peace that would come to their countenances, and I can imagine them saying: “Isn’t that good? “”I will take that now.” Brethren, what is to hinder us from accepting it now in that way? Nothing. Then let us praise the Lord and say, I have it now.
Why is it that we come together as ministers, as brethren and sisters in the Lord, and in some way,-I do not know exactly how,-place ourselves somewhere out of reach of it all? Perhaps we are expecting some one to come along with a mighty force and say, Receive this. It will never be done in that way. Let us take it right now. Let us make such a submission to God as we have never made before; in a practical way as we never have done before. Let us make a submission that includes all that we have, in every way. Let us submit all that we know about and all that we do not know about; all of our friends and all of our relatives, our property, our hopes, our life, everything and say: Now Lord, you take it all. Take me just as I am. Come brethren, let us go together. Will he not do that?
No language can describe the earnest desire of Christ to dwell within every one of us; to cleanse us fully from sin; to deliver us fully from the power of sin and the devil, and to bind our hearts close to his every moment of the time. That is all he wants to do. Can we not in some way get right down to that and do it? Just drop helpless at the feet of Christ and say, Now, Lord, here I am, and everything that pertains to me; you do with me just as you please; it will be a blessed privilege that will be conferred upon me if I can go anywhere or do anything with you. Then there will not be any trouble as to how and where we labor. There will not be any trouble if one brother is put before another, and receives more attention; there will not be any trouble at all. There will not be any trouble if one is promoted; but we shall rejoice that he is promoted. We are not to esteem ourselves better than others.
Let us get right down to the simplicity of this thing. You will remember that our attention was called last night to this latter rain and to this loud cry. This is the message,-the righteousness of Christ,-and it all comes from heaven. We ﬁnd it in no other place. We are to receive it by opening our hearts to it and saying, Lord, give it to me in your own way. And this means service. This means that we are to go out and carry the message; and it will be a glorious service. The servants of God under this message will go out with faces lighted up with a holy joy and holy consecration. I want to see these brethren go out in that way; I want to see their faces lighted up as did that of Stephen when he was in the council. That is what God wants to do for us. And as we go out there can be only one statement made of us and that is, They have been with Jesus. That is the way the Lord wants it to be, and we should be glad of the privilege of having it that way. And the Lord wants it to be that way now. What do you say? Let it be so
But here is the instruction. He has promised this blessing, and he wants to give it to us. His disciples prayed earnestly ten days for it continuously, with confession of sin, repentance, looking to Christ all the time. Now why should we not get it in the same way? We only have about ten days left in the Conference. Now brethren, isn’t it time to begin on that very thing? Are not these things all clear to every mind, what righteousness is, and what the Lord wants to do for us at this Conference? Are we not now within ten days of the time, and ought we not to seek the Lord as we never have sought him before?
Let me read one more scripture: “Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.” Hosea 10:12.
I wish to leave this with you, and to repeat it over and over again. “It is time to seek the Lord till he come and rain righteousness upon you” When he rains righteousness, you need not have any fear about the outpouring of the Spirit. It is there. It comes with the same shower. It is time to seek the Lord until he rain righteousness. Brethren, let us do that very thing.
Taken from the General Conference Daily Bulletin, February 24, 1893