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but that all temptations come through the natural desires, and that sin consists of following the desires of the flesh instead of following the Spirit. They believe that the Spirit-filled person has greater power than others to crucify, or keep under, the natural desires, so as not to be led astray by them.
There are also differences of theory with regard to whether or not Spirit-filled Christians live in sin, and as to whether or not they are perfect and holy. The difference of opinion as to whether or not a Christian can live without sin is generally caused by the different views men have of what sin is. It is only Christians who regard faults, mistakes, temptations, lack of knowledge, and so on, as sin, who believe that the Christian cannot live without sin. Most people agree that God's children can and do live without committing presumptuous sins. So there is far more agreement with regard to the question of living without sin than is generally supposed. In like manner, it is the different views that people hold with regard to what perfection is, and what holiness is, which cause them to differ as to whether or not a Christian can be perfect or holy; although the corruption of their own hearts may often lead them to oppose the doctrine of holiness or Christian perfection, and in some cases to be more afraid of holiness than of hell. Those who believe that God does not require or expect divine or angelic perfection in human beings, but that He only requires us to be perfect as human beings, are of the opinion that we can be perfect, or holy, in this life. They believe that all the moral law can or does require is that we should love God with all our heart, mind, strength, and soul, and not with the strength or intelligence of angels; and they believe that if the Christian loves God and his neighbor in that way, he is perfect, or holy, in the sight of God. They think that as the teacher regards the
little child in the first grade at school as perfect if it does what is required of pupils in the first standard, so God regards us as perfect if we do what could reasonably be expected of us as human beings. On the other hand, many people regard the moral law as a fixed standard requiring in human beings all that is found in God and in angels. It is no wonder that those who hold that view of the requirements of the moral law are opposed to the doctrine of holiness, or Christian perfection. No one could be holy or perfect if the moral law required divine or angelic perfection in human beings. No reasonable person claims to be without faults and temptations.
Again, there is a difference of opinion as to whether or not the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within people when they are converted, justified, or forgiven. Some believe that the Holy Spirit dwells within every child of God, but that He comes in greater measure to those who are filled with the Spirit.” Others believe that to talk about getting
more and more of the Spirit” is not only using unscriptural language, but that it is treating the Holy Spirit as an influence instead of as a person. They believe that the Holy Spirit is only with the justified, forgiven, or regenerated person, but that He dwells within those who are "filled with the Spirit.” In proof of this they cite Christ's promise, “He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you" (John 14:17), and such passages as Acts 8:16, and 19: 2, where believers are described as not having received the Holy Ghost. However theories may differ, it is certain that in the early Christian church it was customary to lay hands on believers, and to pray for them that they might receive "the gift of the Holy Ghost," although the gift of the Spirit was sometimes given without the laying on of hands. This early Christian custom is mentioned in Hebrews 6:2 as one of the “first principles” of Christianity,
and it is frequently referred to by the early Christiar: writers. A relic of the custom has been handed down from apostolic times in Greek and other Eastern churches, and in the Roman Catholic Church in the West, in the ceremony known as Confirmation, which is also observed in the Church of England, the Lutheran, and some other Protestant churches. Although the rite of Confirmation may now be a mere form in the majority of cases, it is unquestionably a relic of the early Christian custom of imposing hands and praying that converts might receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Calvin, Dr. John Owen, and other great commentators acknowledge this fact in their commentaries on Hebrews 6: 2. Chrysostom and other early commentators support this fact.
In the preparation of this book the author is greatly indebted for information, and often for the manner of expressing it, to writers too numerous to mention. He is especially indebted to the biographers of the famous Christians whose experiences are described. The condensed nature of the book has made it impossible for him to acknowledge all the sources of his information, and he has not attempted to do so.
That this account of how God has done for others exceeding abundantly above all that they asked or thought (Ephesians 3:20) may be the means of leading others to “hunger and thirst after righteousness,” so that they may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ which passeth (human) knowledge, that they may be filled with all the fulness of God (Ephesians 3:18, 19), is the prayer of
OLD TESTAMENT CHARACTERS
A careful study of the Old Testament will reveal the fact that in Old Testament times, as in New Testament times, those who accomplished great things for God were first anointed by the Holy Spirit, and endowed with power from on high. No great work has ever been accomplished except through the power of the Holy Spirit, who is the great Executive of God, carrying out the will of God in all things. From the first chapter of Genesis we learn that “the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters," and that He created all things in obedience to God's commands. The Holy Spirit is the source of all life, both spiritual and temporal. “ It is the Spirit that quickeneth," or giveth life (John 6:63), so that in God " we live, and move, and have our being ” (Acts 17:28). Scientists have sought in vain to discover the secret of life, not knowing that the Holy Spirit is the great source of all life. But the patriarch Job knew that it was through the power of the Spirit that God created all things, when he said, “By his Spirit he hath garnished the heavens” (Job 26:13). Elihu also understood it when he said, “ The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life” (Job 33:4).
Not only did the Holy Spirit bring all things into being at God's command, but He gave the tabernacle builders the wisdom to perform their work (Exodus 28:3; 31:2, 3; and 35:30, 31), and he qualified all the great patriarchs.