Good News, vol. 17, no.2, Feb 1926
Look full in His Wonderful Face
And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim;
In the light of His Glory and Grace
The battle with Spirit-baptised people is not so much to keep out of sin as it is to keep from gliding down out of the supernatural into the natural.
We have been surprised and grieved, and surely the dear Master more than we, to see so many of these backsliders. Instead of growing in love and faith, and becoming less earthly and more spiritual, they have less unction, freedom, communion, love, humility, abandonment, manifestations, and power to do supernatural things than when the Spirit first fell on them. A Spirit-filled preacher was telling, the other day, of the many powerful deeds he saw wrought in the early days of this movement.
How suddenly we have begun to wane, not "backslidden" in the common acceptation of the term, but there is a cooling of ardor, a kick of positiveness and aggressiveness. Meetings are good; there is a sweet spirit; but the people do not get healed and baptised as they did. The power does not fall. Persecution is not so bitter.
After several years of experience and prayerful observation, we can see that to give the Spirit His way, to keep from being entangled with any yoke of bondage, to keep in full vital touch, and to live in the power of the Spirit, is an exceedingly delicate, but delightful, privilege. The Holy Spirit is so sensitive and easily grieved and quenched, and we have known so little of His ways that His conscious movings and manifestations grow fewer and weaker, and finally fail altogether if we continue to grieve Him. Yet He is so tender, forbearing, and forgiving. He gladly restores what is lost, to those who humble them¬selves to repent.
One cause of spiritual dearth and loss is lack of prayer and waiting on God, and spending much time in communion with Him. "We must pray always with all prayer and supplication," and wait continually on God. However deep the baptism received, it will leak out if we fail, to live on our faces before God.
Another cause of backsliding is failing to keep as fully abandoned and pliable to the Spirit as when we were first baptised. This attitude was not to be merely an act to receive the Spirit, but it is the essential state of a Spirit-filled life.
A very disastrous cause of pentecostal backsliding is fear—fear of fanaticism and the flesh. The work of the Spirit has been stopped or seriously impaired and souls marred by teachers and leaders attempting to separate what they deemed irregular and not of God. A certain work was in a blaze of power. The pastor said that a cloud of glory settled down around him when he preached. People were often baptised or healed when they shook hands with him. A preacher in whom he had great confidence came and told him that there was too much shaking and speaking in tongues. So he rebuked these manifestations. The cloud departed and the deep anointing subsided. He saw his mistake and for months sought in vain for the return of that anointing. Brethren, the irreverence and recklessness with which we commit Uzzah's rashness, doubtless make angels tremble and devils wonder. (2 Sam. 6: 6.) There is not a man on earth wise enough in himself to tell where the Spirit ends and the flesh begins, or when people should or should not speak in tongues. Human reason can never fathom these things. "The natural man receiveth not the things of God." Only he who has sufficient love, humility, and abandonment to receive discernment from God can know them. And he would not dare to act, even if he understood, until the Spirit showed him how and what to do. This work in the Holy Ghost is to be, all of it, and constantly, not by rule but by revelation.
We have been, more or less, formalists, holding the truth in the mind. When we get the baptism instead of sounding the pentecostal note, waiting for God to give us the truths by the power of the Spirit, we go back to preaching the old doctrines that are mixed with human wisdom; and the Spirit is hindered and the power subsides. So many pentecostal preachers have fallen into this error and are not at all as effective as they should be. If you preach only what the Holy Ghost gives you there will be the constant and varied, new, unanticipated, and miraculous witness of God as described in Heb. 2: 4.
Some have grown barren because they have failed to deliver some messages the Spirit has moved them to give out, some song that they should sing, some duty they should have performed. This, continued, makes one like a desert, parched and barren. "The fear of man bringeth a snare." Talkativeness, carelessness in conversation, idle words, criticism, sharpness, letting love leak out, and judging one another will wreck the most heavenly experience. Oh! how many lose out in this way. Also neglecting the gift that is in you, allowing it to lie dormant, wrapped in a napkin and buried in your earthly nature. I have met some pentecostal preachers who, because they did not see immediate results by people being baptised or healed, or because they saw someone lay hands on whom they felt was not right— for fear of criticism stopped exercising this Scriptural order of prosecuting the work of the Lord. How can we expect greater gifts if we do not stir up the gifts that are already in us?
Are you a backslider in measure? Rev. 2: 1-5, is to such. The exhortation to you is, "Remember from whence thou art fallen and repent, and do thy first works." It is exceedingly humiliating to admit, after we have been sanctified and baptised with the Holy Ghost, that we have need to confess that we have failed, and have need to repent.- A humble spirit of frank, full confession, is one of the best protections against fanaticism. We are safe in exercising the powers of the world to come while we keep a tender, humble, broken and contrite spirit. It is not an evidence of weakness to weep over and confess our short¬comings, We all have them. We are not yet humble enough for the Lord to dare to heal them all. Humility is the rarest of flowers grown on clay soil. Equal parts of confession and repentance make excellent fertilisers. "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees." Be candid and examine yourself. Have you all the richness you had at first? Have you lapsed at all? Do not neglect your own experience, nor be discouraged and faint. Repent. Return. "Do thy first works." It is said that John Fletcher was very charitable with others, but exacting with himself.
S. D. K., "The Full Gospel Evangel."