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CHAPTER XVI.


THE GREATER WORKS OF BELIEVERS.


"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater [works] than these shall he do; because I go unto the Father" — John xiv. 12 R. V.

THE question is often asked, What are "the greater works" which believers in Christ shall do? This marvelous promise is found in his consolatory address a few days before his death. The chief topic of encouragement, comfort, and hope is the Paraclete whom the risen Lord will bestow. His works will be more wonderful than the physical miracles of Jesus Christ. This is declared in John xiv. 12-17. I quote Dr. Campbell's version, which is remarkable chiefly for its punctuation. It must be borne in mind that there is no punctuation in the original. "Verily, verily, I say unto you" m a formula "in which the Son of God speaks out of his co-equality with the Father" (Stier) — "He who believeth on me, shall himself do such works as I do; nay, even greater than these shall he do; because I go to my Father, and will do whatsoever ye shall ask in my name. That the Father may be glorified in the Son, whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, I will do." It is worthy of note that this doing greater works, this survival of the supernatural from age to age, is not the exclusive prerogative of the apostles, but it belongs to everyone, however humble, who believes on Christ. Again, our greater works are done by the glorified Jesus on the throne above in response to our faith. In the same breath he declares that he will do the greater works which we shall do. This paradox he explains in his next utterance: "If ye love me, keep my commandments; and I will entreat the Father, and He will give you another Monitor to continue with you forever, even the Spirit of Truth." This "Helper, Advocate, Paraclete," will be the divine Agent sent down from heaven to do these greater miracles through believers in Christ. This brings us to "the miracles of the Holy Ghost" which in the Old Testament are physical, as when Ezekiel says, "The Spirit lifted me up and took me away." The same manifestation of supernatural physical power by the Holy Ghost was experienced by Philip: "The Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more." But the promise under discussion does not relate to miracles in the realm of matter, but rather to those in the province of mind, in the re-creation of the human soul, called figuratively birth from above, or the new birth, the resurrection of a dead soul, the new creation. This spiritual miracle is greater than any physical miracle wrought by Christ before he burst asunder the gates of death by his inherent power to take again the life which he had laid down, for the following reasons:—

1. Physical miracles were temporal in their effects. Those raised from sickness died of disease in a few years. The multitudes fed by miracle hungered again in a few hours. The eyes into which Jesus by a word. let in the light were soon darkened again by the shadows of the tomb. The tongue of the dumb loosened by the Son of Man was soon silenced by the touch of death. But miracles wrought in the transfiguration of the soul are enduring unto eternal life. "He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life" within the grasp of his free agency. Jesus healed the body for time, the Spirit heals the soul for eternity. "A healed leper may appear to be a greater miracle than a renewed soul, but in reality, in comparison, he is hardly a miracle at all!" (Joseph Parker.)

2. The results of spiritual miracles are far more valuable. Mind is far superior to matter. Hence "to minister to a mind diseased and pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow" is an achievement in a higher realm and of immensely greater value. For this reason Christ himself did not place a primary emphasis on physical wonders as his credentials, and they are scarcely so much as referred to in the apostolic writings. Peter, who had seen them all, mentions them only once, and then only to Christ's murderers in Jerusalem, who were incapable of appreciating any higher proof of his Messiahship: "Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs." St. Paul magnifies those spiritual marvels which God wrought by the Holy Spirit in the regeneration and sanctification of souls. In his estimation "the shining in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ," was a greater act than the
Fiat Lux which illumined the first day of creation (2 Cor. iv. 6).

3. To transform a spirit from death to life, from sin to holiness, requires a higher power than any change wrought in matter. Spirit is a self-determining personality which may successfully withstand omnipotence, or rather physical omnipotence is inapplicable to the production of spiritual effects. Sin cannot be crushed out of a soul with an almighty trip hammer. God can transform inert matter as he may will, but he is powerless to regenerate a stubborn human will; but in the presence of a consenting will he displays to the astonished universe "the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe." Hence the age of the most notable miracles is now in the very zenith of its glory. They are visible in every land where the Gospel is preached in faith. Boston has just witnessed the transformation of a burglar and drunkard into a missionary on the Congo. Recovered from the slums and converted in the Kneeland Street Rescue Mission, he immediately wrote to the Governor of Maryland, the scene of his crimes, offering at his request to appear in court, testify against himself, and be sentenced to the penitentiary. In the absence of such a request he volunteered to go to a deadly clime to preach Christ mighty to save. "When the proud Brahman has received the truth as it is in Jesus, and extended the right hand of Christian fellowship to the meanest member of the lowest caste whom he has met at the Lord's Supper, a greater miracle has been wrought than in the healing of the lame or the raising of the dead." To put God's law "in the inward parts" of a tribe of thieves in India, as the Holy Spirit has done through Bishop J. M. Thoburn, transforming them into sons of God, "is more than to fill the firmament with stars." "Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir-tree . . . and it shall be unto Jehovah for an everlasting miracle that shall not be cut off." Spiritual miracles, in the regeneration of depraved and wicked men, are the standing proof of the divinity of the Holy Spirit. Regeneration, crowned with the entire sanctification of a soul once dead in sin-loving what God hates and hating what God loves, is the supreme miracle of the Holy Ghost vividly portrayed by Paul: "Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate [catamites], nor abusers of themselves with mankind [sodomites], nor thieves [robbers, Conybeare & Howson], nor covetous [wantons, C. & H.], nor drunkards, nor revilers, shall inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Cor. vi. 9, 10). What a Rogues Gallery is this! as vile a gang of criminals as ever broke jail. What can the Holy Spirit do with these but to abandon them forever? But, hold l let us read further: "And such were some of you; but ye washed yourselves (Rev. Ver., margin), but ye were sanctified, but ye were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by THE SPIRIT of our God." The Paraclete has transformed them all into a company of saints, bearing the image of Christ, and candidates for promotion to thrones beside the archangels. Bad men have been transformed into good men standing in the same shoes.

The presence of the supernatural is demanded for the introduction of animal life in our world which was once a molten globe rolling through the heavens. No processes of the laws of nature can bridge the gulf between dead matter and life. Life cannot be evolved from non-living matter. The contrary was once asserted by third rate philosophers who had a machine for grinding out animalculae. But when the machine was tested by the exclusion of atmospheric air, it failed utterly. This proved that instead of creating animal life it simply gathered the living germs floating in the air.

The evolutionists must admit the supernatural origin of the human Spirit with its reflective self-consciousness, its sense of right and wrong, and its capacity to commune with God. The human spirit was never evolved from matter. It is supernatural. The whole career of Jesus Christ, his words and his works, were on the lofty table-land of, supernaturalism. What man outside of a lunatic asylum ever talked of what occurred in his personal history before the foundation of the world. Hear him pray, "Holy Father, glorify me with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was." A thread of consciousness running back in memory beyond the beginning of time into the past eternities. That other most marvelous word was uttered while standing on a globe ridged with graves from ocean to ocean and from pole to pole, "I am the resurrection and the life." What were his works but miracles, suspensions of natural laws, ending in that crowning miracle of his resurrection from the dead? It is vain to attempt to show that this stupendous miracle came about as the result of natural forces. This confounds the evolutionists who assert that every event is the effect of a natural cause.

Pentecost demands a cause transcending Nature, a personal cause, the only real cause in the universe, a cause which permanently abides in the Church, which is a company of spiritual men and women, who, while in the world, are not of the world. They are through faith supernaturally held above the currents of impurity and sin which sweep over the world; held by an invisible Person, the Lord and Giver of life, the Holy Spirit. I should have said they were first supernaturally plucked from the rapids of depravity as they dashed onward towards the Niagara of perdition. Christianity is the supernatural bridge on which the personal Holy Spirit stands and reaches down his strong right hand to rescue all who will lay hold on Christ for salvation. He saves only through the Spirit's threefold office of conviction, the new birth, and sanctification. Romanism shuts up this supernatural and Divine Agent in the age of the Apostles; ritualism limits him to the Sacraments in the hands of priests in the mythical apostolic succession. But those forms of Protestantism which have spiritual life, believe in the immediate, free, and direct action of the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven accompanying Gospel truth, the whole scheme of saving verities proclaimed in faith. I have now uncovered the secret of the Wesleyan reformation in an age of formalism and spiritual death. The vital element is the direct contact of the Divine Spirit with the human Spirit along the electric wire of evangelical truth faithfully preached. This accounts for the permanent change suddenly wrought in thousands of vicious men and women, who, if left to their evil hearts, would have subverted the British throne and the Church of England by a revolution worse than that which precipitated the reign of terror in France in 1793.

Says Canon Farrar of John Wesley, "He distinctly saved the Church of England from the nemesis of just retribution, which but for him would sooner or later have overwhelmed her in indiscriminate collapse, and might not improbably have buried under her heaps of ruin all that was best in the great heritage of English. religion." The historian Lecky before Canon Farrar said the same thing in his
History of England. But John Wesley without the Holy Spirit is, in modern terms, an electric motor without a current of electricity. His shoulder beneath the submerged masses of England would have been powerless to lift them into intelligent and law-abiding citizens if the supernatural had not dwelt in him in the person of the Holy Ghost. Read his Journal and his Sermons and you will find this is the open secret of his amazing activity, undaunted courage, and marvelous success.

A few weeks ago Dr. C. H. Parkhurst, under God the conqueror of Tammany, the bottomless pit of New York politics, uttered these words in a searching and mighty sermon on Acts xix. 2, "Did ye receive the Holy Spirit when ye believed?" Listen to these words which uncover the secret of power in this remarkable man: "It takes Christ as a law and the Holy Ghost as a passion both to make of a man a completed Christian. We must learn to realize that in this matter of the Holy Spirit we are dealing with an essential. No matter how perfect a
half Christian a man may be, you have not secured Christian-hood till you have put on the other half along with it. There is matter here to be thought upon. It concerns us as Christian men and women, and it concerns us in our collective character as a Christian church. There were no completed Christians till Pentecost, and there can be no completed Christians with the cessation of Pentecost. There was no church till Pentecost, and a church without a Holy Spirit is as much a delusion as a church without a Christ .... In its detached passages and in its collectible drift the New Testament story means that to be a believer is not a finality but a preliminary, and that it is simply a condition which puts us within reach of the waiting possibilities of finished Christianhood. We dare never to forget that though the disciples were thoroughly converted to Jesus Christ at the time he withdrew from them, that yet they remained in a condition of organized helplessness till the work of Jesus had been supplemented by the work of the Spirit." These are not the words of John Wesley in his Plain Account of Christian Perfection, but they teach the same doctrine. The Presbyterian urges his hearers to become "completed Christians through the fullness of the Spirit, and the Methodist exhorts believers to become perfect Christians by the incoming and indwelling of the Sanctifier. Both mean the same thing. I cannot forbear to give you another quotation from this sermon printed in Times of Refreshing for August, 1896: "Now, Christian believers, I want to ask you whether you lay upon the office work of the Holy Spirit the emphasis that the Bible does; whether there is not in your mind a lurking idea that the Holy Spirit is a good deal more an ornament than it is a utility; whether there is not within you a conviction that the church is, comparatively speaking, a powerless organization because we are skipping one necessary link of redemptive energies, and that our particular communion is comparatively in a condition of abject debility, absorbed in trivialities, relying upon pitiable and poverty-stricken devices, for the reason that its belief is not an in-Spirited belief, its activity a divinely compelled activity, and for the reason that its manipulated dust and its shapely members are not having breathed into them the breath of life."

It is quite evident that Methodism has the same weakness, increased by our reliance on our millions of members, and that in all our churches it should sound out from the pulpit, "Not by might (Heb., an army), nor by power, but by my Spirit saith the Lord of hosts." The more we sacrifice to the dragnet of the probationers' list, and burn incense to the general minutes and educational statistics, the more impotent we shall become. We are dying of naturalism. Only the supernatural will save us. We need a demonstration of its presence, in Pentecost repeated, in the downpour of the Holy Ghost, a tongue of fire in every mouth proclaiming "the big realities of our holy Christian faith." We have hinted that the chief of these is in transforming a sinner into a saint through the power of the Holy Spirit. But he has his divinely appointed limitations. He works this amazing miracle only within the sphere of the truth. This is his instrument, "the sword of the Spirit is the word of God." Hence the close connection between preaching the unadulterated Gospel and the conversion of sinners.

If our lecture rests upon any one assumption it is that man is a spirit capable of conscious contact with the great Spirit; that he has a religious nature, a capacity for receiving God; that man's rational being is surmounted by a crystal dome through which there streams down into the depths of his being supernatural light, above the brightness of the sun, convicting of sin, and, to the penitent believer, revealing the personal Savior Jesus Christ, and transforming him into his image, making him a partaker of the divine nature through the new birth of the Holy Ghost. This is the everlasting sign of Isaiah present wherever the regenerating power is felt in a human heart. "'Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir-tree, and instead of the briar come up the myrtle-tree, instead of a bad man, through the supernatural transfiguration of the Holy Spirit, a good man shall he found; instead of the drunkard, a sober man; instead of the thief, an honest man; instead of the profane man, a praying man. And it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off." (Isaiah iv. 13.) This is the standing miracle attending every true church, the converting power, the seal of God on both the ministry and the people who have faith in the Holy Spirit sufficient to secure his abiding presence. This change of nature from sin to holiness in the twinkling of an eye is the work which Christ had in mind when he said, "Greater works than these shall ye do." What can be greater than raising to life a dead man with a word? Greater is it to raise a dead soul than a dead body; for the body has no power to resist and thwart the life-giving word, while the soul dead in sin may eternally resist spiritual resurrection. On the first day of the week after Christ was crucified was wrought a greater miracle by him than was ever before seen in this or any other world. The resurrection was Christ's own work. "I have power to lay down my life and I have power to take it again." Yet this act was included among those works which believers were to exceed. Lest any ore may object that this is putting the servant above his Lord, the creature above the Creator, we have shown by Dr. Campbell's punctuation that the greater works of believers are in reality wrought-by the risen and glorified Redeemer.

Supernaturalism in Christian experience is one of the chief proofs of the divinity of Christianity. Dr. Parkhurst's sermon from the beginning to the end implies that in the common experience of believers this supernaturalism does not come into consciousness with the first inspiration of spiritual life. This is almost universally true of converted children. They are for a period half Christians. Then if properly instructed in respect to their privileges some seek, till by the baptism of the permanent fullness of the Holy Spirit, they become completed Christians. Others remain incomplete all their lives. We all pity dwarfs in physical stature. God and adult believers commiserate the spiritual dwarf, and desire his full development into the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, — explained by Meyer, the great exegete, as that stage of progress "in which one receives the fullness of Christ. Before one has attained," says he, "to this degree of Christian perfection," — the very phrase of J. Wesley, — "one has received, indeed, individual and partial charismatic endowments from Christ, but not yet the
fullness, the whole largas copias of gifts of grace which Christ communicates." Thus there is perfect harmony between the German annotator, the Wesleyan Founder, and the Presbyterian preacher above quoted. It is proper for the speaker to add his concurrent testimony on this 17th day of November, the twenty-eighth anniversary of that religious crisis which made him a "completed Christian."

The incoming of the Paraclete into his heart while sitting in the President's room in Genesee College was the most memorable event of his life. "I have come to stay forever" expresses the first impression made by the Comforter when he entered the longing heart. Twenty-eight years are not forever, but they are a sufficient assurance that Christ, who is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever, will not withdraw the great gift of the divine Comforter from the soul that ever fulfills the conditions of his indwelling. The experience of that day in 1870 revolutionized your speaker's whole inner being. It gave him an evangel to the church which for more than a quarter of a century he has endeavored with tongue and pen to proclaim without regard to the question of worldly loss or gain to himself. He is pledged before high heaven to keep the trumpet of full salvation to his lips so long as God permits him to breathe the vital air. When Dr. Olin died, he said to Bishop Janes, "I feel the old foundations under me." I expect to die with the old doctrinal foundations of conscious Pentecostal salvation under me. Let these few words be my twenty-eighth milestone.

In conclusion we raise the question to every professor of saving faith in Jesus Christ, whether the greater works promised by him are wrought through your instrumentality, your holy living, your victorious faith, your prevailing prayers. Do not evade this legitimate question, but manfully consider it, and candidly answer it in the fear of God with your hand on your own headstone and your eye on the day of Judgment. Has the promised Paraclete taken up his permanent abode in your consciousness? Has he wrought in you changes which awaken your astonishment? Has he extinguished the carnal mind, nailed to his cross pride, envy, and all unholy tempers? Has the Spirit cast out love of the world and all cravings for its riches and honors? Can you truthfully, with Paul, proclaim the double crucifixion, "I am crucified to the world and the world is crucified unto me"?

In the second place is there anything marvelous about the saving effect of your individual life in its transforming influence on the unsaved souls immediately about you, under the shadow of your influence? Do your children see the truth of the Gospel in your saintliness, in your deadness to the world, in your love for souls, and in your zeal for their salvation? Our Divine Savior by a striking metaphor declares that you are the light of the world, but he intimates the possibility of the light in you becoming great darkness. If you are lighting the pathway of no soul to Christ, is it not a legitimate inference that your torch has gone out? He calls you the salt of the earth. If everybody about you is waxing corrupt through sin, if corruption riots unchecked under the shadow of your home and business life, is it not fair to infer that you as an individual lump of salt have lost your savor and are in danger of being trodden under men's feet, as so much gravel for the sidewalks, instead of being an antiseptic power purifying your environment?