The active life of the Spirit-filled believer.
Subtitled, “Ministration and operation of the gifts.”
Preached in Bradford, England.
Published in the Latter Rain Evangel, February 1923.
I want to talk from the twelfth chapter of 1st Corinthians.
These are the last days; the days of the falling away. These are days when Satan is having a great deal of power. But we must keep in mind that Satan has no power only as he is allowed. And we must never think that Satan has power over the believer. If I could get only the establishment of that fact in your hearts it would be something living all the time. Satan has no power over the believer. “The wicked one toucheth him not.” So we must understand that all things that fall to our lot are according to the mind and will of God. “All things work together for good to them that love God.” We may be chastised by God but it is only because He wants us to have His holiness. We may have any amount of correction, but it will only be the touch of the Lord to bring us nearer to Him, that we may be at all times more than conquerors.
I want you to clearly see that the day will come when the evil one will have great power. And you can imagine that just as that day draws near the believer is more greatly insulated with divine revelation and more power. You will find the saints will become more holy and will have more liberty and more power. As Satan is having power, the saints will have greater power. And just as the day comes for the saints to be caught away we shall have mighty power on all lines, and the last great power will take us out of the world. Know this fact that God is always revealing Himself on every line and thought to keep the believer at such a standard of victory that he is in the place where he never need be defeated.
There is nothing helping me so much in these days as the fact that God is loosing me. It is a great thing to know that God is loosing you from the world, loosing you from a thousand things. You have to have the mind of God on all things. If you don’t you will stop His working. I had to learn that as I was on the water enroute to Australia. We stopped at a place called Aden, where they were selling all kinds of ware. Amongst other things were some beautiful rugs and feathers, ostrich feathers in great quantities. They were very lovely for those who wanted feathers but I had no room for them at all. However, there was a gentleman in “first class” who wanted feathers and it appears that he had bought one lot and the next lot put up was too big; he did not want so many. He said to me, “Will you join me?” I knew I did not want feathers for I had no room or use for them and wouldn’t know what to do with them if I got them. However, he pleaded with me to join him. I perceived it was the Spirit as clearly as anything and I said, “Yes, I will.” So the feathers were knocked down for three pounds. Then I found the man had no money with him. He had plenty but of course it was on the boat. I perceived it !was the Spirit again so it fell to my lot to pay for the feathers. He said to me, “I will bring the money and give it to one of the stewards.” I replied: “No, that is not business. I am known all over the ship. You seek me out.”
The man came and brought the money. I said, “God wants me to talk to you. Now sit down.” So he sat down and in ten minutes’ time the whole of his life was unhinged, unravelled, broken up, so broken that like a great big baby he wept and cried for sa!vation. It was “feathers” that did it. But you know brothers, it seems to me we will never know the mind of God till we know the voice of God. The striking thing about Moses is that it took him forty years to learn human wisdom, forty years to know his helplessness, and forty years to live in the power of God. One hundred and twenty years it took to teach that man and sometimes it seems to me it will take many years to bring us just where we can tell the voice of God, the leadings of God, and the lines of God and all His will concerning us.
But I am speaking to people this morning who ought to know the mind of the Lord because God wants us thoroughly furnished unto all good works and always ready to give a good account of the hope that is within us. We must always be ready as the man in the counting-house is ready on the order lines, so we must be ready with all the mind of God, for the day is at hand and we must clearly see that nothing shall come against us but that which shall be on the line of profit. Everything we touch shall be definitely for the operation of God’s thought for a world’s need. It will be so.
Beloved, every one of us ought to know the mind of God on the gifts. I notice in particular that the manifestation of the Spirit of God is given “to profit withal.” I want you to know that my addresses from time to time cannot be in any way less than on the Baptism of the Spirit because I see in that all revelation, all illumination, everything that God in Christ was to be brought forth into perfect light that we might be able to see right into that holiness of His which was filled with all the fulness of God, and that we may he able to understand that He was the first fruits on every line in order that we may live the same, produce the same, and be in every activity a son of God with power. It must be so. We must not limit the Holy One. And we must clearly see that God brought us forth on natural lines to make us supernatural that we might be changed all the time on the line of supernatural basis, that we may every day live so in the Spirit, that all of the revelations of God are just like a great big canvas thrown hefore our eyes, and we see clearly step by step into all the divine will of God.
There are three things in particular that we must understand concerning the baptism of the Spirit. Any Assembly, I don’t care what it is, that puts its hand upon the working of the Spirit will surely bring trouble to that Assembly. The Assembly must be as free in the Spirit as possible, and you must allow a certain amount of extravagance when people are getting through to God. I notice that unless we are very wise, we can easily interfere and quench the power of God which is upon us. It is an evident fact that one man in a meeting, filled with unbelief, can make a place for the devil to have a seat. And it is very true to fact, that if we are not careful we may quench the Spirit of some person who is innocent and is incapable on the line of innocence to help himself. “And ye that are strong must bear the infirmities of the weak.” You must be careful in that. If you want an Assembly full of life you must have an Assembly in which the Spirit of God is manifested. And in order to keep at the boiling pitch of molted heat, of that blessed incarnation of the Spirit, you must be as simple as babies; you must be as harmless as doves and as wise as serpents.
In this I always ask God for a Ieading of grace. It takes grace to be in a meeting because it is so easy if you are not careful, to get on the natural side. The man who is a preacher, if he has lost the unction, will be well repaid if he will carefully, inwardly repent and get right with God and get the unction back. It never pays us to be less than always spiritual, and we must have a divine language always on the line, and the language must be of God. Beloved, if you come into real perfect line of the grace of God, one thing will certainly take place in your life. You will change from that old position of the world’s line where you were judging everybody, and where you were not trusting anyone, and come into a place where you will have a heart that will believe all things; where you will have a heart that under no circumstances reviles again when you are reviled.
I know many of you present this morning think many times before you speak once. Here is a great word: “For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf; but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.” Innocent. No inward corruption or defilement, that is full of distrusts, but just a holy, divine likeness of Jesus that dares believe that God Almighty will surely watch over all. Hallelujah! “There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For He shall give His angels charge over thee to keep thee in all thy ways.” The child of God who is rocked in the bosom of the Father has the sweetest touch of heaven, and the honey of the word is always in it.
Oh if the saints only knew how precious they are in the sight of God they would be scarcely able to sleep for thought of His watchful, loving care. Oh He is a precious Jesus! He is a lovely Savior! He is divine in all His attitude toward us, and makes our hearts to burn. There is nothing like it. “Oh,” they said on the road to Emmaus, “did not our hearts burn within us as He walked with us and talked with us?” Oh beloved, it must be so today.
It will greatly help you to see three things: First, the ministration. The Holy Ghost is full of ministration. Then again, don’t forget about the operation of the Holy Ghost. And always keep in your mind the fact that the Holy Ghost must bring manifestation. Let us take the first thought now which is bearing on this great plan. We must understand that the Holy Ghost is breath, the Holy Ghost is Person, and it is the most marvelous thing to me to know that this Holy Ghost power can be in every part of your body. You can feel it from the crown of your head to the soles of your feet. Oh, it is lovely to be burning all over with the Holy Ghost! And when that takes place there is nothing but the operation of the tongue that must give forth the glory and the praise.
You must be in the place of magnifying the Lord. The Holy Ghost is the great Magnifier of Jesus, the great Illuminator of Jesus. And so after the Holy Ghost comes in it is impossible to keep your tongue still. Why, you would burst if you didn’t give Him utterance. Talk about a dumb baptized soul? Such a person is not to be found in the Scriptures. When the Holy Ghost comes He must be a power of ministry. That is His office. The power of ministry through the revelation of the great ideal of Jesus!
When the Holy Ghost becomes a ministry in the life, what will happen? Why, beloved, if we can get lost in God only once in a year, to be divinely imbued with this power, it will be worth a world to us. Talk about preaching! I would like to know how it will be possible for all the people filled with the Holy Ghost to stop preaching. Even the sons and daughters must prophesy. After the Holy Ghost comes in, after that operation by the Spirit, a man is in a new order in God. And you will find it so real that you cannot help it, you will want to sing, talk, laugh and shout. We are in a strange place when the Holy Ghost comes in.
If the incoming of the Spirit is lovely, what must be the onflow? The incoming is only to be an onflow. I am very interested in scenery. When I was in Switzerland I wouldn’t be satisfied till I went to the top of the mountain, though I like the valleys also. On the summit of the mountain the sun beats on the snow and sends the water trickling down the mountains right through to the meadows. Go there and see if you can stop it. Just so in the spiritual. God begins with the divine flow of His eternal power which is the Holy Ghost, and you cannot stop it.
We must always clearly see that the Baptism of the Spirit must make us ministering spirits.
The next thought then is that it must be on the line of operation. You will find that if you really get full of the Holy Ghost, two things must happen: ministry and operation. I want you to notice Peter and John had been baptized only a short time. Did they know what they had? No. I defy you to know what you have. No one knows what he has in the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. He has no conception of it. You cannot measure it by any measuring line of human standards. It is greater than any man has any idea of, and consequently those two disciples had no idea what they had. For the first time after they were baptized in the Holy Ghost with this order of the Spirit, they came down to the Gate Beautiful. There they saw the man sitting who for forty years had been lame. What was the first thing after they saw him? Ministration. What was the second? Operation. What was the third? Manifestation, of course. It could not be otherwise. You will always find that this order in the Scripture will be carried out in everybody. In these meetings we are having you must have one set purpose. I believe that God has me here for this purpose, to make you all actors. There are so few actors; therefore so little is done. I want you to notice that there is a great deal of difference between your acting and the acting upon the stage. On the stage in the theater they tell me that they take fiction and act it so it produces a fact before the people. We have a fact, let us not work as if it were fiction. If we do it will be very serious, but we must work out facts in the name of Jesus.
Here I am on the platform this morning. I had no idea what God had given me till I began to act. As I began to act then God began. You cannot have results, manifestations, operations, the truths of the Spirit, the working of the ministry and the gifts of the Holy Ghost, without you begin to act. I clearly see that we ought to have spiritual giants in the earth, mighty in apprehension, wonderful in activity, always having a wonderful report because of their activity in faith. I find out instead of that there are so many people who have perhaps better discernment than you, better knowledge of the Word than you, but they have failed to put it into practice, so these gifts lie dormant. I am here to help you begin on the sea of life with mighty acts in the power of God through the gifts of the Spirit. You will find that this which I am speaking on is out of knowledge, I can truly say, of a wonderful experience in many lands, having seen so many things that have wakened me up. The man who is filled with the Holy Ghost is always in an acting place. Jesus was always in the act. You read the first verse of the Acts of the Apostles, “Jesus began both to do and teach.” He began to do first, and so must we.
Beloved, we must see that the Baptism of the Holy Ghost is an activity with an outward manifestation. When I was in Norway God was mightily moving there, though I had to talk by interpretation. However, God always worked in a wonderful way. One day as we were going up a hill we met a man coming down who stopped the three men I was with, one being the interpreter. I was walking on but I saw he was in a dilemma so I turned back, and said to the interpreter, “What is up?” “This man.” he said, “is so full of neuralgia that he is almost blind and he is in a terrible state. He is asking us if we know the nearest help.” As soon as ever they finished the conversation I said to the spirit that was afflicting him, “Come out of him in the name of Jesus.” And the man said, “It is all gone! It is all gone! I am free.” Ah, brothers, we have no conception of what God has for us in the world!
I will tell you what happened in Sydney, Australia the other day. A man with a stick passed a friend and me. He had to get down and then twist over, and the tortures of his face made a deep impression on my soul. I asked myself, “Is it right to pass this man?” So I said to my friend, “There is a man in a terrible state, he is in awful distress and I cannot go further, I must speak to him.” I went over to this man and said to him, “You seem to be in great trouble.” “Yes,” he said, “I am no good and never will be.” I said, “You see that hotel. Be in front of that door in five minutes and I will pray for you, and you shall be as straight as any man in this place.” This is on the line of activity in the faith of Jesus. I came back after paving a bill, and he was there. It wasn’t a stick but an umbrella that he had. I will never forget him, wondering if he was going to be trapped, or what was up that a man should stop him in the street and tell him he should be made straight. I had said it, so it must be. If you say anything you must stand with God to make it so. Never say anything for bravado, without you have the right to say it. Always be sure of your ground, and that you are honoring God. If there is anything about it to make you anything, it will bring you sorrow. Your whole ministry will have to be on such a line of grace and blessing it will turn the whole thing. We helped him up the two steps, passed him through to the hoist and took him upstairs. It seemed difficult to get him from the hoist to my bedroom, as though Satan was making the last stroke for his life, but we got him there. Then in five minutes’ time this man walked out of that bedroom as straight as any man in this place. He walked perfectly and declared he hadn’t a pain in his body.
Olh brother, it is ministration, it is operation, it is manifestation! Those are three of the greatest leading principles of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. And we must see to it that God is producing through us these three. Beloved, I want you to notice this, that except you stand with God it is impossible for God to manifest His power.
The Bible is the Word of God, it has the truths and whatever people may say of them they stand stationary, unmoveable. Not one jot or tittle shall fail of all His good promises. His word will come forth. In heaven it is settled, on earth it must be made manifest that He is the God of an everlasting power. God wants manifestation and He wants His glory to be seen. And He wants us all to be filled with that line of thought that He can look upon us and delight in us in the world subduing the world unto Him. And so you are going to miss a great deal if you don’t begin to act. But once you begin to act in the order of God. you will find that God establishes your faith and from that day starts you on the line of the promises. When will you begin? In a place in England I was dealing on the lines of faith and what would take place if we believed God. Many things happened. But when I got away it appeared one man who worked in the colliery had heard me. He was in trouble with a stiff knee. It was the first time he had heard me, I think. He said to his wife, “I cannot help but think every day that that message of Wigglesworth’s was to stir us to do something. I cannot get away from it. All the men in the pit know how I walk with a stiff knee, and you know how you have wrapped it around with yards of flannel. Well, I am going to act. You have to be the congregation.” He got his wife in front of him, “I am going to act and do just like Wigglesworth did.” He got hold of his leg unmercifully saying, “Come out, you devils, come out! In the name of Jesus. Now Jesus help me. Come out you devils, come out.” Then he said, “Wife, they are gone! Wife, they are gone. This to too good. I am going to act now.” So he went to his place of worship and all the collier boys were there. It was a prayer meeting. As he told them this story these men became delighted. They said, “Jack, come over here and help me.” And Jack went. As soon as he was through in one home he was invited to another, loosing these people of the pains they had gotten in the colliery.
Ah brothers and sisters, we have no idea what God has for us if we will only begin! But oh, the grace we need! We may make a mishap. If you do it outside of Him, if you do it for yourself, and if you want to be someone, it will be a failure. We shall only be able to do well as we do it in the name of Jesus. Oh the love and expression that God’s Son can put into us if we are only humble enough, weak enough, and helpless enough to know that except He does it, it will not be done! “What things soever ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive and ye shall have them.”
The first of the nine gifts which has to be made manifest is the gift of wisdom. I am positive this morning that there isn’t anything that an Assembly needs so much as wisdom, the possession of which will save us from many foolish things. When we are in a straight where two ways meet, and don’t know which way to go, concerning buildings or alterations, or otherwise, a word of wisdom for your Assembly would be such a manifestation of God’s love that you would never forget it. But you will always find that wisdom never comes on any lines but the lines of love. That is the first grace of the Spirit. The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost and the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. And perfect fear is joined up with that divine love. I want you to see clearly that if you are where the love of God is the very nature of your life, you have no place to live as it were, only in God. You can trust God to give you the “word of wisdom” because it is a needed word for us through our Pentecostal order. If we were not balanced by other qualities, we should jump over the traces, the Spirit of the life of Christ is so mighty within us. And so we need wisdom.
The word of wisdom from the Lord would save us from a lot of trouble. We all have to pay a big price for our learning; I have paid some big prices. I remember one time I was in great difficulty and needed help. I was walking on the road one day and met a man who lived opposite me who said, “Smith, I have been thinking about selling my house. I cannot think about anyone buying it but you.” “Strange thing,” I replied, “I have no money. But how much do you want for it?” He mentioned the price. “I will buy that house,” I said, “if you will just turn it over to me for the money without having to bother with the lawyers.“ “All right,” said he, “I will.” I had given my word without thought. That was a mistake. There were a thousand mistakes on this job, the thing I needed at that time was just one word of wisdom from God. It didn’t come because I was so active. You can be too active and if you act outside of God you will aways be in trouble. If we are not well balanced, and deep down in God, we make a thousand mistakes because we are too much in a hurry. I told my wife what I had promised. “How will you manage it?” she asked. “I have always managed it so far,” I said, “but I don’t know how to get through this.” I thought, “Can I take it out of the business?” No, I couldn’t. So I set on a human plan; I wasn’t in the divine plan on this. I was in God’s service but you can be in God’s service and can have a lot of God about you, and still get out of his plan. That is where we make a mistake, getting outside the plan of God.
Well, I had some rich relatives and thought I would tie them up but none of them seemed to have anything to spare; everybody was in difficulties. I had made a foolish go of it so after I had tried them all, I said to my wife, “It is strange, I have tried everybody about this business but it doesn’t seem to come off.” Then she said, “You have not been to God yet. When you go to God you will get it all.” I went to God, saying, “Father, I have been very foolish and I have gotten into a hole. If You will help me out I will never ask You on the same line again.” Here comes the word of wisdom. Oh that word of wisdom! God gave it. In two minutes the whole thing was settled on God’s side but not on mine. How could it be? So I came down to my wife saying, “What do you think He told me! ‘Go to Brother Webster.’ ” Brother Webster was about the poorest man I knew and yet he was about the richest man I knew for he knew God. Off I went early the next morning. “What brings you this morning?” Brother Webster asked. “Why,” I said, “I was talking to the Lord last night and so I came to see you the first chance I had.” “If it is a matter like that,” he said, “we will go down to the house and speak about it.” We went down to the house. “I promised to buy a house of a man,” I began, “three weeks ago and I am short 100 pounds. I have tried to get this money, I believe not in the Lord’s plan, and I have been tried about it.” “How is it,” he asked, “that you have only come to me now?” “Because I only went to the Lord about it last night.” “Well,” he said, “it is a strange thing. Three weeks ago I had a hundred pounds. I put it between the mattresses, I have put it in all sorts of places in the house. I could not have any rest so I took it to the bank. If it will be as great a blessing to you as a trouble to me, you shall have it.” So we went to the bank and he got the money and said, “Take it and be off.”
Oh to know God! Oh to go in the way that God would have us! Oh to cease from our own planning and our own arranging! Oh to have the word of God! The Word of wisdom! Oh to believe the Word and to enter into this treasury and hear Him say, “Do this,” and do it! When we get there God will surely, as divinely as we are human, have a divine plan for us and bring us right into line where there will be no trouble, no trial, and sorrows will be at an end when we get to know God.
Beloved, I pray that as we go forth into these gifts of the Spirit that God will show us there is a way for us, and that it is His way. If we turn to our way we shall surely make great mistakes and shall be filled with trouble. I desire to impress this thought upon you. Live in the Spirit, walk in the Spirit, walk in the communion of the Spirit, talk with God. Apart from this there is no security for you, but on these lines all else is for you. All leadings of the divine order are for you. I pray that if there are any who have turned to their own way and have made God second as I did in that matter, they will come to repentance on all lines. Separate yourself from every earthly touch and touch ideals. And God will bring you to an end of every order of yourself. Begin with God this moment.