The Crisis In The Christian Life
“Judah was his sanctuary, and Israel his dominion.”—Psalm 114:2
I gather from this verse that God in a collective sense has His people, and then inside of His family, among those who are His own children, He has another special little group in which He peculiarly works, in which He peculiarly lives, in which He peculiarly shows His grace, His power and His blessing.
The whole Jewish race was God’s chosen people, and yet one of the twelve tribes of the Jews was particularly selected by God as his sanctuary, says our text. When God selected His king, He was from that tribe, and the Messiah was to come from the tribe of Judah.
I do not believe Jesus Christ selected His inner circle. I believe He chose His twelve disciples, and that He loved them all (He knew that Judas was a devil ahead of time), and chose them that He might give out His testimony through them; but I believe those men, by their own actions, by the working of their own lives, determined their places in the group.
There was a group of men meeting in Antioch—five of them (as the Scripture says) were praying, and as they prayed the Holy Ghost said, “Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” Here again is a peculiar treasure unto the Lord. Here we see the peculiar way in which God acts with some hearts because they are open to Him, willing to be used of Him. They are susceptible to His touch, they have yielded to Him in a peculiar way.
Judah was no more Jewish than the whole Jewish race in a general sense, but in a peculiar sense it was the essence, His sanctuary, God’s particular dwelling place through which He was to show His power and His working. Inside of the group called Christians, Christ has a little internal group. In Ephesians the first chapter the truth is set forth that every Christian can say, “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance,” or, “He hath made us accepted in the ‘Beloved.’” One who is a Christian, in the Body of Christ, is complete in Him, blood-washed, knitted in.
In the 18th verse of the first chapter of Ephesians he says, “That ye may know…the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” We all have a complete inheritance in Him, but in this verse He turns it around and says, “What is my particular inheritance in you? You have everything in me; what have I in you?” There is a group within the Body of Christ in whom Christ has found a peculiar inheritance, a “sanctuary.”
It is to this message that God has especially directed my life, and I am sure I have been more misunderstood in this connection than in anything else in my ministry. There is a kind of teaching in this country which states that the believer has everything in Christ when he is saved, and they stop right there. I stand with them exactly as far as my possession and position in Him are concerned. We are then complete in Christ, accepted in the Beloved; but how about His real possession and position in us? Every believer in the world possesses the Holy Spirit when he is born again; but the great question of actual spiritual life is: Does the Spirit possess you? Has Christ His possession and inheritance in you? Are you His sanctuary?
On the other hand God has shown me in His Word that although you possess Him, you do not allow Him to wholly possess you. Although His power is yours, you do not appropriate it. Until you come to a crisis hour in your Christian life when you reckon the flesh to be dead, and completely surrender to Jesus Christ and your will is broken, He hasn’t His inheritance in you. There is a time, when, viewed from His side, you become His peculiar treasure, when you give Him an inheritance in your life which He has not had heretofore, which He has not as yet been allowed to use. Not that you are putting anything new into Christ, but that you are giving all the newness which He gave you when you were saved a chance to have its full way, yielding yourself fully to Him, not hindering Him by your flesh life.
There is a crisis in the Christian experience where your will is broken, where you submit to the will of Jesus Christ. In that hour the Holy Ghost in His fullness can fill your heart and the things of Jesus become actively, practically yours. Then you really become His sanctuary, and new experiences of victory, love and powerful service begin.
Every man who has ever been peculiarly used of God has had such a crisis. I do not believe anyone would doubt that Jesus had more of an inheritance in Peter and John than He had in Matthew, or that He had more of an inheritance in Moody than in some others as soundly saved as Moody. There is no difference in the inheritance of believers in Christ, but, O, what a difference in His inheritance in various saints.
Now I am not an eradicationist. I do not believe the old nature is annihilated, but I believe that we can reckon it dead by faith in Christ’s death for it; and live and walk in the Spirit in victory. When we have fully yielded He fully blesses. “Not I, but Christ.”
I came in backward into the fullness of His Spirit. I got the experience before I ever knew anything about the Book. I know what I received and how I received it. I know the Holy Spirit took full possession of my life after three days and nights of awful battle. Finally, at 4:30 on the third morning as far as I was concerned I absolutely gave up to Jesus Christ and let Him come into my life and slay every desire, and every hope, and every ambition, and my will. I reckoned myself a completely dead man in that hour, and Jesus Christ my very life. In that hour the Holy Ghost in His fullness filled my heart, ran over and soaked the ground roundabout me, and has been soaking others ever since. I know what I am talking about, and it is biblical.
The reason why many of the people who are teaching the doctrine of the Holy Spirit do not admit that there is a crisis time in the believer’s life, is because they are not filled with the Holy Spirit themselves. There is no doubt about the believer having the Holy Spirit, but there is every doubt in the world about the Holy Spirit having all there is of many believers. When the believer comes to that crisis hour where he yields his will and consents to death to his will, and to his own affections, and own desires—in that crisis moment the Holy Spirit rejoices within him over the “spoil” that is before him. Then Christ Jesus, our Lord, becomes altogether lovely, His power reigns, and His victory banners are real and flap in the heavenly breezes.
That does not do any damage at all to the Word of God—not a bit. It is a question of what inheritance He has in you. You have everything in Him, but can He turn around and say the same of you?
Some of you Christians who are complete in Him, accepted in the Beloved, have a contest on with your Saviour because Jesus cannot get you to do any personal work. He has been at you for years, but you are so stuck on yourselves, so proud, think so much of your own reputation that He cannot put into your heart any compassion for the lost. In that sense He has no inheritance in you. If He asks you to go out for Him you haven’t been broken and you will not mind Him. He hasn’t the inheritance in you that He wants. When He wants anything done He has to go to Judah, His own particular crowd, the broken crowd.
In many places when they wanted a revival men yelled for Moody. Why did not some fellow get down on his knees like Moody did, like Pierson did, and pray, and pray until God blessed him? There never was a preacher who, if he went at it right with God couldn’t have a revival break roundabout. But no, they called for Moody, as if God had especially picked him to do all the work. I know God did pick him, but I know, too, that there was an hour when Moody especially picked God. You cannot find a man filled with the Holy Ghost who has gone out to help his own generation and bring souls to Christ who was not picked by God; but, bless God, there was an hour when all within that man chose God. Don’t forget that!
Paul chose Jesus above everything, and said, “Things that were gain to me I count but loss.” Wasn’t he complete in Christ when he accepted Him? Yes. Then why did he count things but loss? It was that Christ might have a bigger inheritance in Paul. It is giving Him His inheritance that the Church of Jesus Christ needs to see today.
People say to me of my eradicationist friends (and I love them with all my heart), “Why do you preach to those Holiness people?” Listen! They may be a little wrong on the doctrine end, but they are not wrong on the Holy Ghost end; for they are filled with the Holy Ghost, if I know a Holy Ghost crowd when I meet it. I will fellowship with any believer who is filled with the Holy Ghost and shout along with him. I have met many of these men, and we have gone to the Word of God together. I know three holiness preachers who were flaming fires. They went down into discouragement because they found the Word of God would not bear them out in what they believed. They believed they were dead and that the least vestige of the rising of self would never come again; they believed the old sin nature was eradicated, annihilated root and branch. They went around a few days walking in victory, and then something happened! That old nature they thought was eradicated—bless your heart was growling again. They were honest men, and did not know what to do, so they said, “I guess I did not get it as I ought to have gotten it.” They went back to the altar and took another “dip” to see if they could not kill that sin nature. Many of them have gone on that way for years. They knew they were filled with the Holy Ghost; they knew there were hours when they walked with God spotless, uncondemned before Him. They knew that, and could not go back on that truth.
How glad they are when you show them the plain Scripture that there are two natures—the old Adam, and then the new life in Christ, but that Christ wants us to live as if the old nature did not exist, to reckon it dead by counting on what He did to the old nature on the cross, and to count on the new life which He brought from the tomb. When I get my new body it will prove that on the cross He put away all sin and the old nature. I am to reckon it now by faith, and by faith to live in Him as if I had my glorified body. Truly then, if I turn from the old nature, fully yielded, I can by faith in Him walk in Him; it is no more I, but Christ.
I know the devil tempts me to get the lid off of the garbage can of the old nature and pull the garbage out; but Christ will have nothing to do with it. If I, by faith, trust Him, I can live outside of the garbage can and live in the parlor of the Holy Spirit, and live in victory. The cross stands between the parlor life of victory and the garbage life of the old nature as my assurance of His ability to conquer for me. I reckon my old nature on the other side of the cross, and I dare to walk on this side in all the power of His resurrected life.
I have two reckonings—one, the old nature to be under His feet; the other, that I am alive in Him. The whole affair then, is just Himself enough. I do not suppress my old nature—I, by faith, turn it over to Him who died for it, and by faith I take His life and He undertakes for me.
If my flesh life is dead and will never rise, there is no battleground. This, my experience contradicts. The experience of all saints contradicts this theory of eradication.
Now the battle and the crisis hour comes when you choose which one of these natures you will follow—whether you will follow your pride, and your own reasoning, and the things of self, or whether you will follow this Holy Ghost that is within you. After God has taken you over rough places, and you have seen your failure, and your utter, absolute inability to live the life in Christ by your own effort, then you throw up your hands and say, “Lord, I am no good.” Then He says, “That’s what I have been trying to tell you all the time.”
“Lord, I can’t do it.” “That’s why I brought you into the net.” “I can’t accomplish that.” “That’s why I let you get into trouble, that you might know that you cannot, and that I can.” When you come to the climax of your trouble and yield to Him, and say, “Lord, I let go; I trust you,” your life becomes a yielded life, the power of Jesus in the fullness of the Holy Ghost sweeps into your life and you walk in fellowship with the Holy Spirit, and in victory, and in power—as if there were no flesh. There is no flesh life in Him, and you are walking in Him. Once He walked in you. Now you walk in Him.
Two words are connected with the crisis in the Christian life. One of them is “Yield.” “Yield yourselves unto God as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instrument of righteousness unto God.” The other is “grieve not.” “Grieve not the Holy Spirit.” There is the crisis place, “Shall I yield my members as instruments of righteousness? Shall I yield my life?”
Now if you are not a yielded Christian, and have not absolutely said a big yes to Jesus and allowed Him to have His own way, you are grieving the Spirit of God within your heart; for He cannot let you live in both the flesh and the Spirit and be happy. You cannot serve God and mammon; you cannot serve Jesus and the flesh. If you try to, you will be a double-minded man. We have lots of double-minded Christians without the power of the Holy Spirit because they are men of two opinions. When they are with the flesh crowd they act like that crowd, and when they are with a spiritual crowd they follow them; but the men of God who have been broken, and the women of God who have been broken, walk in the Spirit and do not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. They can cry out, “There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk into after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
There is a special crowd, a sanctuary for Christ, referred to in those words, “Who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” This special group live in victory, walk in the Spirit, sing the songs of the Spirit, their wills have been broken, they have said a complete yes to Jesus, and have given Him His inheritance in them, given Him His way in their lives.
They are a special people among those who are His people. They are filled with the Holy Ghost. They have received Him as a person to rule and reign supreme.
A brick layer attended meetings where this message was preached, but paid no heed. Then he fell down, was terribly injured and became a cripple. I went up and prayed with him in the hospital, and he wouldn’t even pray. I thought he was in so much pain that he could not pray. I went to his home after he had left the hospital, and prayed with him, and he was still mum. “Can Henry talk?” I asked his wife. “He speaks very little,” she answered. “Do you think his brain is affected?” She looked at me and smiled, and said, “Let’s go to the kitchen.”
In the kitchen she said, “You know Henry was asking God to break him, and to bring him to Himself. I have seen different things come into his life, but he has not broken yet, and I have been praying for him for years. I do not think his brain is affected; but I think his heart is. Let us pray that it will break.”
I received a telephone call later and went over there. When I opened the door I caught the perfume of the Holy Ghost in that place. I walked to his bedside, and of all the crying, and tears and rejoicing in Jesus and Jesus alone that poured out! O my, how he knew the Lord! “What about your crippled condition?” I asked. “Say, if I can know Jesus like this I would be willing to have head, arms, anything in the world go!” he exclaimed. O, what a man of intercession he is! I don’t believe I ever saw a smile like the smile on that fellow’s face; but God let him get into a net.
“That is cruel!” No it is not. He has all through eternity with that inheritance and God will take care of the cripple business—that is only for a few years. He could have fought God and cursed God as you, perhaps, object to the way God is treating you; but if you will say, “O God, I will be your man, your woman at any cost,” I tell you God will take the worst circumstance of your life and fill it with the flowers of the presence of Jesus Christ. His way is what He wants—His way. What would seem gain (I am not talking about sinful things) must be counted as loss.
What was there wicked in Henry’s life? Nothing, but back there he had said time after time that he wanted God’s best, and now God had a chance, and He had to make good in that fellow’s life. In a peculiar way that fellow had become God’s sanctuary. Anyone might say, “I am just as well saved as Henry.” You are right, just as complete in Jesus Christ as Henry is; but you have never given Jesus Christ a chance to show Himself like Henry did. You have never become an electric bulb through which Jesus Christ can shine as He does through him. You have never given Him the chance He wants!
There is this crisis hour when Jesus gets all there is to you, when you give up and give Him everything you have, and yield yourself in full surrender to Him. In a peculiar way you then become His sanctuary and in a peculiar way He can then walk in your life. Although you are no more saved than anybody else, yet He has an inheritance in you that He hasn’t in others. He has a place, a ministry, a power, a yieldedness, an exhibit table, a showcase in your life that He hasn’t in others. He becomes to you a sanctuary, and you to Him a place of abiding.
O today let Him speak to you and show you that He is the One altogether lovely, and you lift your hands to Him in full surrender, and say, “Lord, I have kicked against some circumstances in my life. I have objected to some of the things that have come. I have felt I was not getting a square deal; but, O Jesus, I take it now from you. Whatever you send, you brought me into the net, you have broken me, that I might become your sanctuary. Life Thou in me, and live me in a new way.”