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THE KINGDOM AND STADIUM
When I was at Athens, Greece, in 1895, they were busy repairing the old Stadium, after an iterregnum of fifteen hundred years. In the apostolic age the Olympic games celebrated in this Stadium had worldwide notice. They took place at the end of every quadriennium, attracting the attention of all nations. The contestants diligently labored and passed through all sorts of gymnastic exercises four solid years preparatory for these games, the racers carrying weights which they laid aside to run, wrestle and box in the Stadium. Time was measured by these Olympiads, and the year named in honor of the victor. Hence the great prominence of the Olympic races in the Pauline Epistles.
1. “Cloud of witnesses” refers to the faith brigade given in the preceding catalogue. How cheering to the apostolic saints to contemplate this cloud of heroes and martyrs! But we have the same cloud augmented by two hundred millions of Christian martyrs. Hence we certainly have an inspiring spectacle. Regeneration brings us through the gate of confession into the kingdom of grace. Heaven is still a long way off. If we ever get there we must run through the Stadium, under the inspection of multiplied millions of saints, angels and devils. The Athenium Stadium here alluded to is about a thousand yards long, terminating in an amphitheater, seating one hundred thousand spectators besides the multiplied myriads viewing the scene from Mount Hymettus, which overshadows the Stadium. This gospel metaphor is intensified by the renewing of the amphitheater and the reopening of the Olympic games, April, 1896. What a fatal mistake when you get converted to sit down at the gate, incurring the constant temptations by Satan to go back and enjoy the flesh-pots of Egypt! The sad effects of an emasculated Gospel preached by an unsanctified ministry is to leave converted people just inside of the gate. Soon attracted by Satan’s phantasmagoria, they slip out and participate in his pleasures. The avenger of blood gets on their track and chases them. Again they run to the gate and cry so pitifully that the Lord lets them in. Instead of moving right on, they still loiter about the gate, yield to temptation, slip out and take the devil’s bait. Again the bloody avenger chases them, and with greater difficulty than before, because they have gone further off, by the hardest effort they make the gate, crying so pitifully and promising so fairly that a merciful Savior takes them back. Again they linger about the gate as formerly, get out and this time becoming more venturesome than ever, wander far away. The third time the avenger of blood gets oil their track. So great is the space intervening between them and the gates, he heads them off, overtakes them, hewing them to pieces without mercy. We see in this verse an indispensable preparation, absolutely necessary to the heavenly racer, i. e., laying aside every weight and the besetting sins. The participle here is in the aorist tense, showing its instantaneity. It was impossible for an Olympic racer to win the prize unless he were utterly disencumbered. Entire consecration turns over everything we possess to God, thus completely divesting us of every ounce, so we are light as a bird of paradise, on celestial pinion, darting through the air. The Greek adjective euperistaton is from eu, good; peri, around; isteemai, to stand; hence it means the sin always standing round you and sticking close to you. Here the Holy Spirit is addressing the citizens of the kingdom, whose actual sins have all been left in the devil’s country, whence they came. Therefore, in harmony with the Greek definition of this word, we see it can be none other than the original inbred sin, which still inheres in the hearts of the regenerate. Hence we see, beyond the possibility of cavil, that entire consecration, disencumbering you of every burden, and complete sanctification, eradicating all besetting, i. e., inbred, sin, constitute the indispensable qualifications for the heavenly racer. Just as it was impossible for the Olympic racer to win a prize in the Athenian Stadium without these preparations, so it is absolutely nonsensical for the Christian to flatter himself that he shall wear a crown in heaven unless he consecrates all to God, gets wholly sanctified from all besetting sin, and then runs with patience the race set before him.
2. “Looking unto Jesus, the Beginner and Perfector of the faith.” Jesus begins our faith in regeneration and perfects our faith in sanctification. Hence, with a faith not only begun but perfected, we are to run this race, keeping our eyes on Jesus. So long as we keep our eyes on Him He keeps His hand on us, giving us all the help we need successfully to run the heavenly race. Meanwhile we are constantly inspired, energized and indefatigably electrified by His own heroic example; when He braved the rage of men and devils, stormed the bloody tide of Cavalry, thus triumphing over all of His enemies, and becoming our glorified Mediatorial King at God’s right hand.
3. This verse continues the thrilling exhortation to us, constantly to contemplate and emulate the heroic example of the Great Captain of our salvation, lest our hearts fail, our courage flicker and we again take on Satan’s blues.
CASTIGATION AND SANCTIFICATION.
When a collegiate student we were frequently made to mourn over the experiences of some of our comrades. Those were memorable occasions when the President of the Faculty at chapel service announced from the rostrum the expulsion of one or more of our school companions. Frequently the college was transformed into a Bochim of weeping on the announcement of the sad news. How striking the contrast with commencement day, when twenty of us young men delivered our orations to an audience of three thousand, and received our diplomas with the blessing of our teachers! This world is a great school in which God is teaching fifteen hundred millions of people, manifesting every conceivable diversity of character. After due and patient toil for their correction and culture, myriads proving utterly incorrigible are expelled from the school of probationary grace and turned over to Satan for an eternity of woe. Meanwhile thousands, having faithfully and courageously graduated amid the congratulatory shouts of the saints and angels, are crowned with diadems in the realms of fadeless glory. Thus the mighty waves of earth’s flooded population are rushing to diametrically opposite directions. All are born with an evil nature, resulting from the Fall, which must be eliminated by castigatory grace, if they ever go up to live in heaven. The ultimatum of these divine castigations is sanctification or damnation.
4. This letter was written just before the great Roman invasion, which desolated Palestine, destroyed Jerusalem and expatriated the Jews to the ends of the earth, inaugurating a great flood-tide of martyrdom.
5. Here we are admonished to be on the outlook for chastisements which must inevitably come to all, testing our stamina to the bottom.
6. “For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.” This is positive confirmatory proof that all have something in them which must be eliminated by chastisement, of hopeless ruin intervenes.
7. “For what son is there whom the Father chasteneth not?” This positively and unequivocally settles the question in favor of universal chastisement, without a solitary exception.
8. “But if you are without chastisement, of which all are partners, then are you bastards and not sons.” This verse sweeps all controversy forever from the field, settling the castigatory problem unequivocally in case of all of God’s children; irreconcilably demolishing the Zinzendorfian theology, which teaches that we receive complete purification in conversion. This castigatory simile is deduced from domestic government, which is the nucleus of civil society. The delinquency of home government and the relaxation of parental discipline are filling the world with anarchy, misrule, political dissension and commotion, this day. Solomon says, “If you beat a boy with a rod you shall save his soul.” Why do you chastise your children? To get the evil out which was born in them. Here we have a perfect illustrative parallel with God’s family. He says He chastises all of His children, and those who receive no chastisement are not His children, but bastards, i. e., illegitimate claimants, i. e., hypocrites. If you chastise your child when there is no evil in him you are a merciless tyrant and unworthy to be a parent. You would not dare say that God chastises His children unless He sees some evil in them to be eliminated by the castigatory rod. Hence the very fact that He chastises all of His children is incontestable proof that they all have some evil in them which must be eliminated by castigations. Therefore, the dogma that we get it all in conversion, i. e., that all Christians have pure hearts, flatly contradicts these Scriptures, and makes God a merciless tyrant, chastising His children when there is no evil in them to be eliminated.
9. Here we have the beautiful parallelism between domestic and divine government, vividly portrayed, inspiring the fervent exhortation, that we shall all “submit to the Father of spirits and live.”
10. “For they during a few days chastised us according to that which seemed good to them, but He for our profit in order that we partake of His holiness.” Here we have the castigatory problem clearly and forever solved, incontestably setting forth the end in view, i. e., that we become partakers of His holiness. In God, holiness is original; in us, it is imparted. Hence we do not have our own holiness but God’s. This Scripture forever settles the conclusion that the reception of God’s holiness on the part of His children puts an end to all divine chastisements. Hence we see that entire sanctification winds up all chastisements, as it eliminates all the hereditary evil, leaving nothing to be removed by farther chastisement. Are not sanctified people incident to the adversities of this life, like others? Certainly they are. But when we sink into God, adversity and prosperity become synonyms, and disappointments forever take their flight. God’s will never fails with me, if I do not antagonize it. Entire sanctification forever eliminates all antagonisms and puts an end to all disappointments. If I am lost in God’s will I certainly have no disappointments. The insults, rebuffs, criticisms, scandals, persecutions, bankruptcies, empty coffins, and open graves, which sorely chastise the unsanctified, become messengers of love and mercy over which the wholly sanctified can shout victory till Gabriel blows his trumpet. Baalam’s big curses were all turned into blessings before they reached Israel. “God worketh together for good all things to them that love God” (Romans 8:28). Truly God is in everything to His wholly sanctified people, brightening the darkest adversity with the sunshine of prosperity. The very things which chastise God’s unsanctified children are bright with blessing to all those who experience the death of sin and self.
11. .. “But afterward yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto those who have been exercised by it.” We have here the Greek word gymnasium, so profoundly significant of all possible disciplinary tergiversations, essential to the perfect development of the entire physical organism.
Hence we see the inscrutable mercy of God’s providence and grace, which have placed us in this wonderful spiritual gymnasium, so indispensable to the complete development of our gifts and graces and thorough enduement, not only for the battlefields of probation, hut for the illimitable susceptibilities, capacities and achievements which await immortal intelligences in the illimitable cycles of celestial ages. “Therefore hold up the hands which hang down and the paralyzed knees.” We need our hands to work for God and our knees to worship Him. God says (Philippians 2:10),
“Every knee shall bow, of things in heaven, in earth and beneath the earth.”
Hence we see there is no defalcation. Those who do not how in this world will all how in hell. The knee is the worshipping joint. Hence it must be free from Satan’s paralysis. O, the magnitude of this awful knee paralysis in the churches In a great church in this city (San Francisco, Cal.) last Sunday morning, the pastor stood and all the people but myself sat during prayer. Nothing but the baptism with fire is competent to burn up this awful knee paralysis and restore the worship of God to our congregations.
13. “Make straight paths for your feet in order that the lame may not be turned out of the way, but rather healed.” In regeneration the omnipotent Christ raises the sinner from the dead. Yet he is affected with multitudinous ailments transmitted from Adam the first. It is the subsequent work of entire sanctification to eliminate all of these ailments and restore perfect soul-health. Since heaven is a perfect world, nothing can enter there having the slightest spiritual ailment. The great panacea, the infallible elixir, the cleansing blood, was not shed in heaven but on earth. Hence it must be applied here or never.
14. “Follow peace with all people and the sanctification without which no one shall see the Lord.” This verse is the grand climax of the wonderful book of Hebrews. Blind preachers have crazed the world on water baptism and other non-essential church rites and human creeds. Suppose they could find in the Bible, “Without water baptism, no one shall see the Lord,” they would vociferate themselves hoarse proclaiming it to the ends of the earth, and you would see the whole country flocking to receive this ordinance. Why do not they ring changes on “Without the sanctification no one shall see the Lord”? Dead men never get high enough to ring the bells of heaven. If these preachers could only get their souls converted to God and the devil’s black hand lifted from their spirits, and the light of the Holy Ghost poured into their minds, they would jump a million of miles beyond the water line and preach holiness to the Lord, like messengers from heaven. They are opposed to holiness because holiness is opposed to them. It means crucifixion, and they are not ready to die. Remember, “peace with all men” is the inseparable concomitant of this holiness, without which “no one shall see the Lord.” No wonder the sectarian churches fight it, as they are full of belligerents to all others. Sanctification always kills Satan’s sectarianism, and floods the soul with peace to all mankind. No one receives this grand sine qua non in conversion. This argument is addressed to none but God’s children, all of whom need castigation till they become partakers of God’s holiness. In our Savior’s prayer for the sanctification of his disciples (John 17:0), he certifies positively that the world, i. e., the sinners, can not receive it. God has conversion for all sinners and sanctification for all Christians. The opposition to sanctification in the churches is demonstrative proof that they are unconverted; for most assuredly all the children of God desire to be holy and hunger and thirst after righteousness, longing to be filled. What people want with religion is a conundrum, if they do not expect to get to heaven. Then there is no sense in making any profession of religion if you do not intend, by the grace of God, to reach entire sanctification, since failure, collapse and damnation are inevitable if you do not receive the “sanctification without which no one shall see the Lord.”
15. “Watching diligently lest any one may fall from the grace of God, lest some root of bitterness springing up may trouble you and through it many may be defiled.” Here we have a clear corroboration of the warning, ringing from Alpha to Omega, that if we do not nave the bitter roots of inbred sin eradicated by the cleansing blood and consumed by the refining fire of entire sanctification, they will certainly sooner or later spring up and grow a crop of actual transgression, forever choking out the new life imparted by the Holy Ghost in regeneration, thus confirming you in final apostasy and dooming you to damnation.
16. Apollos corroborates this mournful conclusion by the lamentable case of Esau, who sold his birthright. This is the great trouble on sanctification: people are not willing to die to this world, and have their carnal appetites forever eradicated. They want the mess of pottage. The hog-life will not down. Hence the angel of spiritual life must take her everlasting flight.
17. This verse settles the problem of hopeless reprobacy as the inevitable alternative in case of failure to get sanctified. It is pertinent here to observe that while Esau’s reprobacy, as here stated, was absolute and irrecoverable, confirming forever the hopeless doom of the soul rejecting or neglecting sanctification, as, as it says, “he found no place of repentance, though earnestly seeking it with tears.” From your conversion you are in the hands of the Holy Ghost, whose office is your complete sanctification, by the eradication of all the roots sent down into the deep interior of your heart by the old upas tree of sin, which was cut down in regeneration. If you commit the awful sin of grieving away the Holy Ghost because you will not let Him sanctify you wholly, then He leaves you to the devil, sin and damnation. So you have crossed the dead line, committed the unpardonable sin against the Holy Ghost, for which
“there is never forgiveness, neither in this life nor in that which is to come” (Matthew 12:32).
This conclusion is here not only corroborated, but indisputably confirmed by the case of Esau, who earnestly sought and wept aloud with flowing tears when it was forever too late, because he was reprobated. While Apollos uses this unanswerable illustration to clinch his climacteric argument on the absolute necessity of sanctification as the condition of seeing God, and thunders the awful anathemas of hopeless apostasy and damnation against the wicked, we must remember that Esau’s reprobation pertained to another line of things altogether. We have no evidence that Jacob was elected to heaven, or Esau reprobated to hell. The simple truth of the inspired records is that Jacob was elected to the progenitorship of Christ, and Esau reprobated from the same. Repentance means a change of mind. In case of the sinner, it means that he must get rid of the carnal mind and receive the mind of Christ. In case of Esau, he did not seek a repentance in his own heart, but that of his father Isaac, that he should change his mind, revoking the patriarchal blessing from Jacob and conferring it on himself. That blessing did not raise a question of salvation, which was always free to all, but simply the privilege of the divine progenitorship. Pursuant to the will of God, Isaac had already conferred that blessing on Jacob, and could not give it to Esau. Hence he sought it in utter desperation, though bathed in tears and vociferous in pleading. Of course, Christ died for Esau as well as for Jacob, hence salvation was free for Esau and all the Edomites, as for Jacob and the Israelites. On the memorable night of Jacob’s sanctification at Peniel, we have prima facie evidence that Esau also received a great spiritual blessing, perhaps regeneration. though he had plotted twenty years to kill his brother, and at that time had brought four hundred fierce Arabic warriors to execute the bloody tragedy. Certainly God alone could work the wonderful changes wrought in this wild man of the desert. When he met Jacob, instead of killing him, he ran to him, embracing, kissing him, wept over him for joy. So the brothers mutually embraced, kissed, congratulated, wept, shouted and blessed each other. We have the record of Jacob’s wonderful Peniel experience, resulting from the night of wrestling prayer spent alone with God on the bank of the Jabbok. Hence we understand why he was not afraid to meet his brother, who had twenty years plotted to kill him. While we are minus the history of Esau, we can only explain the wonderful change manifested on meeting his brother on the hypothesis that he, too, had spent an eventful night with God. The reconciliation of this notable meeting proved genuine, as Jacob and Esau ever afterward remained faithful friends. I fondly hope to meet Esau, the illustrious father of the Arabs, as well as Jacob, the immortal patriarch of Israel, in heaven.
THE THREE EVANGELICAL MOUNTAINS
SINAI, CALVARY, AND ZION.
This paragraph, including Hebrews 12:18-58.12.29, is the grand Apollonian climax exhibitory of the threefold gospel, i,e., conviction, regeneration, and sanctification.
18-21. These four verses describe the memorable scene when God Almighty descended on Mount Sinai in densely black clouds, roaring tornadoes, terrific lightnings, appalling thunder-bolts, stentorian thunderclaps and paroxysmal earthquakes, striking paralyzing affright and horrible trepidation into all the people, so they trembled, quaked, screamed and fled from the scene, beseeching Moses to stand between them and the awful God of Sinai. This indescribable scene emblematizes the gospel of conviction, when the fire-baptized preacher, fearless of men and devils, takes Mount Sinai for his pulpit, trusting God to supply the lightning, thunder, tempest and earthquake, while he uncaps hell and shakes the people over the seething, burning, unfathomable billows, with a strong hand and a fearless heart. This explains the historic fact that the apostles raised a row, provoked persecution, and received bleeding backs and broken beads wherever they went. The Sinai Gospel, indispensable to conviction, is the great deficiency of the present age. In popular pulpits it is considered discourteous to speak of hell and damnation, and intolerable to preach on it. A cultured clergyman, in a city pulpit, found it necessary in the process of his discourse to say “hell.” He said it so softly that a lot of money-loving merchants present thought he said “sell” some Universalists in his audience thought he said, “all’s well,” while an old saint in the amen corner actually certified that the man said “hell.” While the Sinai Gospel is dead and forgotten in the popular churches, so the members actually go to perdition at race-horse speed without any serious trouble in the way of conscientious compunction, it is a lamentable fact that it is fearfully deficient in the holiness movement. Consequently, the people are professing in platoons, while possession is like the pot of gold at the rainbow’s end. Internal superficiality is the greatest enemy of the holiness work. Sanctification is impossible without regeneration, and regeneration without conviction, while the Sinai Gospel is God’s artillery for conviction. I am an old revivalist. In the vigor of my manhood I delighted to go into the very hotbed of Satan’s kingdom, take Sinai for my pulpit, trust God for thunder, lightning and earthquakes, stand like a messenger from heaven and preach the terrors of the violated law, the blackness of sin, the horrors of hell and the doom of the damned for days and weeks and see conviction settle down on all the people like a nightmare from the regions of woe, hope take her flight and despair on raven wing hover around the doomed people till they would fall on all sides, crying for mercy. Then I would open the altar and at least half of the whole congregation would pile into it. I have frequently seen meetings like it is said of heaven, “Congregations ne’er break up and Sabbaths have no end,” the slain of the Lord, unable to stand on their feet, lying prostrate till the next meeting, so there was really no adjournment. Scenes of this kind were accompanied by sky-blue conversions and sun-burst sanctifications. We have great need of an overhauling and a reformation in the holiness movement, and a return to first principles, less we retrogress so far as to run into formalistic manipulation and routine profession, like the dead churches, taking mentalities for spiritualities. I find people in my travels professing sanctification who satisfy me upon spiritual diagnosis that they are not only unsanctified but ignorant of regeneration, the trouble consisting in the fact that they have never had a spiritual conviction. Consequently all their professions have been intellectual, formalistic and perfunctory, their own immortal spirit all the time dead in the sepulcher of sin. The soul abides in an interior citadel, surrounded by the mind, which must be interpenetrated in order to reach the immortal spirit, the man himself. While human words can reach the man, convince the judgment, influence the will and stir the emotions, all of which is right, proper and necessary in the plan of salvation, God’s lightning flashing from Sinai’s melting summit is necessary to interpenetrate materiality, mentality and reach the immortal spirit on its throne in the center of the soul. While the awful thunders of Sinai must wake up the sleeping sinner, the smashing, convulsing earthquakes of God’s convicting Spirit alone can shake him from his sandy foundations. God help us all to study and preach the Sinai Gospel, till we see the wicked fall like dead men, as I have so often seen, especially in my early evangelistic ministry. While the Sinai Gospel, when faithfully preached, brings conviction, it is equally true that the Calvary Gospel, when faithfully preached, invariably brings conversions. Our Savior warned us not to cast our pearls before swine. O, how we have need to heed this warning. Preaching God’s pardoning love to impenitent sinners is casting your pearls before the swine and calculated not only to harden them in their wicked courses, till they will go on from bad to worse, congratulating themselves, “God loves me too well to send me to hell.”
The Gospel of Sinai is for impenitent sinners, and should be preached to them till conviction strikes them. The Gospel of Calvary is for all penitent sinners, and should be faithfully preached to them till they are gloriously converted. As a rule, the popular churches are mainly filled up with proud impenitent sinners. What a mistake to preach sanctification to such people! Of course, they trample the jewels of holiness under their carnal feet, and get mad enough to tear one to pieces because he did not give them corn to eat. Such people need the Gospel of Sinai to convict them, so they may see their lost estate and fly for refuge. It is frequently quite different when we preach to the drunkards, harlots, thieves and murderers in the slums. In their case, frequently ruined health, terrible physical suffering, abject poverty, dissipated fortunes and alienated friends have reacted on them with the crushing weight of an avalanche, broken their hearts and blighted all their hopes; meanwhile the Holy Ghost, through these sad and awful calamities, has reached their hearts with a true and genuine conviction. Therefore they are already penitent and ready with gushing gratitude to hear you tell of Jesus, the sinner’s Friend, and the sinner’s Savior dying on the cross to take away their sins, keep them out of hell and lift them up to heaven. In the normal economy of Gospel grace, the sinner is convicted by the thunder and lightnings of Sinai, flies to Cavalry, falls beneath the reeking cross, looks up at the dying Savior, hears Him say, “It is finished.” He now soliloquizes, “What is finished? My salvation? Then what have I to do? Nothing, but take it. I do, by the grace of God, and eternity will be too short for me to serve, praise, honor and adore Thee as I ought, because Thou hast come all the way from heaven down to save this my lost soul.”
22. The New Covenant of entire sanctification was inaugurated on Mount Zion, when Jesus poured down on His disciples the Pentecostal fire. This glorious experience identifies us with the “heavenly Jerusalem,” the Bride of Christ and the mother of God’s children, bringing us into angelic sympathy and fellowship
23. bringing us into the “Church of the firstborn,” of which Jesus is the Head, and the truly sanctified people His body, the spirits of justified people having been made perfect, i.e., converted people who have afterwards been sanctified
24. and to “Jesus, the Mediator of the covenant, and to the blood that speaketh better things than the blood of Abel.” Whereas Moses was the mediator of the Old Covenant, sanctified by the blood of animals, Jesus is the Mediator of the New Covenant sanctified by His own blood. We are all now living in the Mount Zion dispensation, which was inaugurated at Pentecost, to prepare the world for the millennium. It is a deplorable pity for us to go back and live under the dispensation of Moses, following human guides, depending on church rites and legal obedience which have no power to take away sins.
25. Disobedience under the Mosaic dispensation was punished with physical death, adumbrating the sad fate of the soul rejecting the blood of the New Covenant, the baptisms of Pentecost, the glories and victories of full salvation.
26. The memorable scene of Sinai also typified the summary vengeance of the violated law in the cremation of the earth with its aerial environments, in order to the complete, final and total extirpation not only of sin, but of its effects from the created universe.
27. “But this yet once exhibits the removal of things shakable as having been created, in order that things unshakable may remain.” When Satan invaded Eden and captured Adam and Eve, the king and queen of this world, he threw the black banner of this conquest around the globe, polluting all from center to circumference, warp and woof, intrinsical and extrinsical. Therefore this whole world with its contents passed under condemnation and was excommunicated from the celestial empire. When the Son of God espoused the lost cause, satisfying the violated law by paying the penalty, the Holy Ghost was sent into this world to execute the stupendous work of the new creation, anticipatory of earth’s re- annexation to the heavenly universe. Regeneration is the creation of the new life in to human spirit, while sanctification is the elimination of the old creation. Thus the new creation of the soul is consummated in sanctification; that of the body in the resurrection, and that of the mind in glorification. But this is not enough; the whole earth and firmament are contaminated with sin and must pass through the purgatorial fires like the Pentecostal flames, which sanctify the soul. Contemporaneously with the final judgment, this earth with its environments will be subjected to a thorough cremation, consuming not only all sin, but exterminating all the effects of sin from the terrestrial sphere. Then it will be the glorious prerogative of the Holy Ghost, the Executor of the new creation, to renew this earth and environments in the purity, glory, majesty, splendor and immortal beauty peculiar to the unfallen heavenly worlds.
28. “Therefore, receiving an unshakable kingdom, let us have grace through which we may worship God acceptably, with reverence and Godly fear.” Under the wonderful provisions of the New Covenant, providing an uttermost salvation for all of God’s children, there is no reason why we should not worship Him acceptably, like the angels in heaven. The fallen creation, having passed under condemnation. can never render Him any acceptable service, but when the Holy Ghost has wrought in us the new creation and eliminated out of us the old, there is no reason why we should not have constant victory in our souls and perpetual and delectable communion with God.
29. “For truly our God is a consuming fire.” The connection here involves the conclusion that our God consumes all inbred sin and hereditary depravity out of the hearts of His people, who fully consecrate and solidly trust Him for the execution of that great work. It also follows, the logical sequence, that God out of Christ is a consuming fire to the wicked. When the New Covenant was inaugurated on Mount Zion, amid the Pentecostal baptisms, tongues of fire did sit on the heads of the apostles. These tongues were cloven in twain, significant of the Gospel economy. Hence we see that our Gospel is all fire, consisting of two messages, i. e., hell fire, to warn and convict the wicked to flee the wrath to come; and heavenly fire, to sanctify the righteous for the glorified presence of God. This is the condemnation of the popular pulpit. It has no fire. It neither preaches hell fire, to alarm the wicked, nor heavenly fire, to sanctify the Christian. It has a North Pole atmosphere, surrounded by icebergs and glaciers. The gospel that does not burn is Satan’s counterfeit, to hoax the people and lead them to hell. All cold religion is a diabolical delusion. Satan freezes the people in this world and burns them in the world to me. God’s religion is full of fire in this world, but has no fire in the world to come. There is no mention of fire in heaven, because there is nothing there that ought to be destroyed.
1. “Let brotherly love abide.” O, how pertinent this Apostolical exhortation, and how beautiful and amiable the grace of brotherly love! The sable Ethiopian, the almond-eyed Chinaman, the superstitions Esquimau and the Rocky Mountain Comanche, are all my brethren. Entire sanctification is the only grace competent to obey this commandment. It knocks down all sectarian fences and demolishes all race lines.
2. The departure of the angelic grace of Christian hospitality oat of the churches of the present day is the swift harbinger of the awful apostasy now sadly verifying many alarming latter day prophecies. The Old Testament saints were pre-eminent for their hospitality, while the Jerusalem Church actually sold their estates that they might extend hospitality to their brethren providentially detained in the metropolis by the Pentecostal revival. The Arabic children of Abraham relate a notable incident in the life of the patriarch, i.e., one tempestuous night an old man called at his tent soliciting entertainment, which was courteously granted. After supper, when Abraham proceeds with family prayer, his guest peremptorily refuses to worship the God of Israel, being a rigid, conscientious idolater. In vain the father of the faithful preaches, exhorts, prays and importunes; the old idolater is inflexible as rock. Finally, Abraham presents to him the alternative, “Worship my God or leave my tent.” The old man, choosing the latter, is escorted to the door and turned out in the howling storm. Scarcely has Abraham closed the door when God speaks to him: “Abraham, I have borne with that old sinner a hundred years; can not you stand him one night?” Abraham jumps out, exclaiming aloud, “Come back, come back!” The old man returns astonished, and says, “What sort of a man are you, to drive me off and call me back?” “O,” says Abraham, “the God of Israel did chide me because I would not bear with you one night when He has home with you a hundred years.” Then says the old man, “If that is the kind of God you have tell me more about Him.” Abraham labors with his earnest penitent, who is rousingly converted before day.
3. This verse commands us to show kindness to the prisoners, the afflicted and all in distress, which all who walk in the footprints of Jesus are certain faithfully to perform.
4. Apollos here highly commends the divine institution of matrimony, the providential preventive of the awful destroyer of soul and body, i. e., adultery. The eye of God is upon all its subjects in their dismal, brutal and diabolical nocturnal debaucheries. His judgments are swift on their track.
5. “Let your conduct be free from the love of money, being contented with present things; for Himself hath said, ‘I will never, never forsake thee, nor never, never do I leave thee.’” Nothing but entire sanctification can take the love of money out of the human heart and make us perfectly content and satisfied with a cup of water and a crust of bread, and shout in starvation, enjoying a fast for the glory of God.
6. Well has the poet said, “Man wants but little here nor wants that little long.” The King of England, riding along in his gilded vehicle, seeing a ragged boy digging up the briars in the fence corner, halting a moment, said, “Boy, what do you get for your work?” The astonished lad said, “I just get my victuals and clothes.” The King responded, “Go ahead, boy, for I am the King of England, and that is all I get.”
7. Our God is a God of order and organization. The Church in the Bible is described in military phraseology, as a rule. Military law is most exact, rigid and inviolable, punishing the cowardly and disobedient with death. Our religious meetings are the Lord’s battlefields. Though a human leader may err, for the sake of order and uniformity, we had better obey, trusting God to overrule all mistakes for His glory.
8. “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day and forever.”
9. “Be not carried away with divers and strange teachings: for it is good that the heart be established with grace and not with meats.” The whole Bible is but the biography of Christ, the Old Testament that of Christ concealed, and the New that of Christ revealed. Hence all truth is as old as the Bible, and everything new is false. We are here solemnly warned against the fatal mistake of taking materialities instead of spiritualities, i. e., “meats” instead of “grace.” If the church edifice should burn down and the pastor turn over to the devil, how many church members would have any religion left. If the Conference should drop a church out of the work, as a rule they would nearly all backslide in a year. This illustrates the materialism of their religion, and their radical deficiency in grace. Sadly they are following human leaders instead of Christ. How frequently an evangelist has a great revival, but carries away the religion with him when he goes, because the people were converted to him instead of to God. If he would do like Paul, leave out all the eloquence, and give them the thunder and lightning of Sinai, instead of worshipping him they would give him a thrashing. In that case, there would be some hope of their conversion to God.
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Godbey, William. "Commentary on Hebrews 12". "Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent