There is one other phase of this great subject that is one of the most important experiences in our lives, and that is personally to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. When we do, the actions of other men will not bother us very much, unless it be to grieve us; we shall never fall because somebody else sins, nor apostatize because some man of influence has left the faith. Why do men go into sin? Because the flesh ever wars against the Spirit, and they choose indulgence rather than obedience. Most Christians who have been baptized by the Holy Spirit do not give up their confidence and faith in Christ all at once. If they give up, it is a drift outward, toward the world, toward fleshly things. It is by slipping back little by little, putting conscience aside, hardening the heart and blinding the vision, that a man goes back to sinning. By and by he breaks away from God, and is lost. Then it is difficult for that man to find repentance.
But it is not necessary for any man to lose his soul over any weakness in the flesh, for there is power in the Holy Spirit, if received into your heart, to give you the victory over everything that would be un-Christlike; you need the Holy Spirit to keep you from falling. You need Him in your home, in your business, in all the contacts of life; you need Him in your prayer seasons, in your study of the Word, in your service for Christ. In every experience that comes to you in life, you need the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. The man who has that presence cannot live in known sin. He cannot hold hatred in his heart toward his brethren; he cannot cherish bitterness. To him it matters not how he has been treated, or what may have been done to him, or whether he has lost money or his good name through the unkindness of others, or has been set aside and ignored. None of these experiences count greatly when a man receives the Holy Spirit. He is willing to suffer, if need be, for Christ; for he finds consolation and comfort from the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.
There is one thing that the Holy Spirit cannot allow, however, and that is for a man to live in known sin. Any man who would receive the Holy Spirit must break with sin. If you are a tobacco user, or if you fail to pay God His tithe, whether you sin by an overt act or by omission of a known duty, you must break with that thing when known. It does not matter what the sin is. What does it matter what keeps one out of the kingdom of heaven? If the gates are closed to me, if I am not saved, if I am lost because of my sins, I might as well be shut out for one thing as another. With God's presence, the Holy Spirit dwelling in the heart, sin cannot dwell there also; for sin cannot dwell in the presence of God. That we can find help in the Holy Spirit is made plain in Romans 8:26:
"Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."
What are our infirmities? Bad temper, pride, hardness of heart, a dominating spirit, bitterness, envy, evilspeaking, selfishness—the list is long. But in all of these the Holy Spirit "helpeth our infirmities,"—remedies them, aids us in fighting them and in resisting the things which are enslaving us. He will control our lives and enable us to keep sin out. Every day we need the Holy Spirit—in our business, in our homes, in our church relationships, to help us control our tongues and our feelings toward our brethren. We need Him in order to be honest men and women in the sight of God, and to keep pure and clean. The Holy Spirit is our helper. He "helpeth our infirmities."
Why live on the borderline of sin? Too many Christians live in the twilight zone. They do not try to get away from it, but apparently try to see how close they can come to the edge of transgression without the very act. They cannot do that, and have the anointing within them. They cannot afford to do that, for those who seek to serve God and the world at the same time will never get into heaven. Christ made that very plain. "He that is not with Me is against Me." Those who are attempting this impossible service must change, or be lost. Said Paul:
"Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" 2 Cor. 13:5.
From "Testimonies," Volume I, page 619, we read:
"I was shown that if God's people make no efforts on their part, but wait for the refreshing to come upon them and remove their wrongs and correct their errors; if they depend upon that to cleanse them from filthiness of the flesh and spirit, and to fit them to engage in the loud cry of the third angel, they will be found wanting. The refreshing or power of God conies only on those who have prepared themselves for it by doing the work which God bids them, namely, cleansing themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."
The Latter Rain
When every man and woman in the church has the Holy Spirit dwelling within and controlling all, we shall have a clean church; and when we have a clean church, then we shall be in a condition to receive the fullness of the latter rain and to finish God's work. There is to come to this people, there is to come to each church member, an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in line with what I have been presenting. It is to be an individual, personal experience. This is not the latter rain. But in the latter rain the church is to be filled with a special power to go out and finish God's work, and the whole world is to be lightened with the glory of God that comes through His people in the preaching of the third angel's message. The special endowment is the latter rain. How shall we obtain the latter rain?—By every man's claiming the promise of Christ in personally receiving the Holy Spirit now, and so having the victory over every weakness of the flesh, and living a life of obedience and faith, giving God the glory for what He has wrought in delivering him from the bondage of sin.
This truth will never reach the latter-rain power until the church of God can go out and witness in the name of the Lord to what Christ has done for them individually. When that time comes, the latter rain will be poured upon the people of God in a degree even exceeding that at Pentecost. And when four hundred thousand men and women can go to the world and witness what God has wrought in their lives by the Holy Ghost, that will be the loud cry of the third angel's message. They will exalt the law of their God, and by their rich experience will persuade men to accept and obey the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. That will be the greatest power that has ever been known in the Christian church.
We can never finish this work by simply preaching doctrine. Doctrine is right and must be preached; but the Holy Spirit must possess our souls. We must get out into the far corners of earth, and tell the people what God has wrought in us. When we can tell them that we have victory now. through faith in Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, thousands will come from other churches, and will accept of that simple witnessing for Jesus Christ. On this very point the Spirit of prophecy says:
"The third angel, flying in the midst of heaven, and heralding-the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus, represents our work. The message loses none of its force in the angel's onward flight; for John sees it increasing in strength and power until the whole earth is lightened with its glory. The course of God's commandment-keeping people• is onward, ever onward. The message of truth that we bear must go to nations, tongues, and peoples. Soon it will go with a loud voice, and the earth will be lightened with its glory. Are we preparing for this great outpouring of the Spirit of God?"—"Testimonies," Vol. V, p. 383.
"Thus the message of the third angel will be proclaimed. As the time comes for it to be given with greatest power, the Lord will work through humble instruments, leading the minds of those who consecrate themselves to His service, The laborers will be qualified rather by the unction of His Spirit than by the training of literary institutions. Men of faith and prayer will be constrained to go forth with holy zeal, declaring the words which God gives them."—"The Great Controversy," p. 606.
O my friends, the mightiest power the world can ever see comes from this witnessing by men who, through faith in Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Ghost, have won the victory in their own experience! They talk about what they know. It is not argument, but testimony that commands attention. Again we read:
"In these final hours of probation for the sons of men, when the fate of every soul is so soon to be decided forever, the Lord of heaven and earth expects His church to arouse to action as never before. Those who have been made free in Christ through a knowledge of precious truth, are regarded by the Lord Jesus as His chosen ones, favored above all other people on the face of the earth; and He is counting on them to show forth the praises of Him who hath called them out of darkness into marvelous light. The blessings which are so literally bestowed, are to be communicated to others. The good news of salvation is to go to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people."—"Prophets and Kings," p. 716.
So in this great final struggle the church is to spring into action. The whole church of God, influenced and controlled by the Holy Spirit, is to go into action in spreading this message in the loud cry and the last hour of this great work, And here we are today, with all earthly conditions ready to see this great work hasten on and on. We know that it cannot be finished until the church takes its place, witnessing and testifying in the name of Christ what the Holy Spirit can do for sinners. That is what the world needs. It needs this testimony,—the testimony of four hundred thousand believers in the advent message telling what God through the Holy Spirit can work in human flesh. It needs your testimony; it needs mine.
There will come out of all this great turmoil and maelstrom of sin that we see in the world today, a people who have had this transforming experience,—men born again, a people triumphant, a people who have won through faith in Christ, and who will be translated and taken to heaven. To have a part in this experience is the greatest privilege ever accorded any generation. It is to be an Elijah translation of a people who have had an Elijah experience. Ours is the privilege of helping God to finish His work in the earth. But we must allow Him to finish His work in our hearts first; we must receive His gift of the Holy Spirit. When you have the Holy Spirit, and I have the Holy Spirit, and all the members of the -church have the Holy Spirit, the latter rain—the mighty power of God, the special outpouring of the Holy Spirit—will attend our witnessing of what God can do, and will bring out a people ready for translation.
The world is waiting for our testimony, not that of the ministry alone, but of the whole church, a church that has been saved by grace, that believes the commandments of God, that believes in the coming of Christ and goes out to the world to testify that God can save sinners. May the Lord make us that people, and finish His work at an early time, that we may meet our Lord with joy, and share in the glory that is awaiting the faithful.