CHAPTER XVIII. MAY ONE LOSE THE BLESSING?
The question trembles from many a lip—If I get the blessing, may I lose it? Most certainly. But, glory be to God! He has made ample provision for failure. There is no reason why we should fail; God has made ample provision against failure; we must not expect to fail; but in case we do fail, provision has been made. The most prolific cause of loss is disobedience—disobedience either to one of God's written commands, or to the inward promptings of His Holy Spirit. "The Holy Ghost whom God hath given to them that obey Him" (Acts 5:32). This all-glorious gift is not only obtained but retained in connection with obedience. It is absolutely necessary to maintain the attitude of complete self-surrender, for the slightest act of disobedience—that is, the asserting of our own will in opposition to His will—may cost us the loss of the blessing, such as, neglecting to speak to a man about the great salvation, or, refusing to give a tract to some one when we knew God wanted us to do so. We must learn to be obedient to the promptings of the Spirit. "Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord" (Psalm 25:15) must be our constant attitude.
If we possess the blessing, and desire to retain it, there is another matter of the last importance that must be attended to, viz., letting "the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom" (Colossians 3:16). The Spirit-filled man will be a Word-filled man. A neglected Bible is responsible for much of the lost blessing from which many of God's children are suffering to-day. If we would retain the blessing in its fullness and freshness, we must feed daily and feed much upon Christ as He is revealed to us in the Holy Scriptures. It is the function of the indwelling Spirit to take of the things of Christ, and to show them unto us (John 16:14). He does not speak from Himself or of Himself, but of Jesus; and so He will be continually drawing us to the Word, that He may have the opportunity of drawing our attention to fresh beauties in Immanuel. There is much so-called reading of the Bible that is not "searching the Scriptures" (John 5:39), not "delighting in the law of the Lord," not "meditating in it day and night" (Psalm 1:2), not "letting the Word of Christ dwell in you richly." You cannot live a Spirit-filled life, and be content with a shallow, meager acquaintance with the Divine Word. The Spirit-filled man gives God's Book its own proud place, the premier place, in all his reading. It is instructive to compare the effects of being filled with the Spirit and of being filled with the Word. "Be filled with the Spirit; speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:18). "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto God" (Colossians 3:16).
Have we then, unhappily, through disobedience or neglect, lost the blessing which once we possessed? Is there one saying, "Oh that I were as in the months of old!"? (Job 29:2.) It may be "all joy" with you again, for if you have lost the blessing, just go back and search for it, and you will find it where you lost it! Just there and nowhere else. Have you found the spot where your obedience failed? Yield and obey just there, pick up your obedience where you dropped it, and there you may obtain the blessing, again as you obtained it at the first; but just there and nowhere else. An illustration of this is found in 2 Kings 6.The Divinity Students of those days were going down to build a new Divinity Hall on the banks of the Jordan, and they asked Elisha, the man of God, to go with them. The story tells us that as one of the students "was felling a beam, the axe-head fell into the water; and he cried and said, Alas, my master! for it was borrowed. And the man of God said, Where fell it? And he shewed him the place. And he cut down a stick, and cast it in thither; and the iron did swim. And he said, Take it up to thee. So he put out his hand and took it," and having re-fixed the axe-head on the handle, he went on again with his felling (verses 5-7). Where was it that the student got his lost axe-head? Where he lost it! in the very spot where it fell into the Jordan's waters—it was just there that he found it. So if you lose the blessing, the only spot on earth where you need look for it, if you wish to take it up to thee again, is the very spot where you lost it. Let us all learn by root of heart what the student did not do. After the axe-head flew from the handle, he did not continue at work chopping with an axe-handle. No; but as soon as he lost his axe-head, he stopped till he got it on again. Oh that many a Christian worker would read, mark, learn; and inwardly digest! Then some Sabbaths there might be many a pulpit without a preacher, and many a Sabbath School class without a teacher, and many a sphere of Christian labor without its worker. Why? where are they? Away looking for their axe-heads! Away to the banks of that river of disobedience, in whose sluggish waters they lost them! Alas! that there should be so many to-day with an axe-handle, trying in this way to fell beams for the house of our God! working with the blessing lost! Hard labor this, and very little to show for it—except earnestness! "And isn't it a fine thing to be in earnest?" Yes, but it is a finer to have a little of that uncommon thing—homely common sense, at the back of the earnestness, and the man who is hewing with an axe-handle doesn't impress one as being overburdened that way! If we have enjoyed and have lost the Fullness of the Spirit, let us confess, betake us to the open fountain and obey, and He will put away our sin; and then, let us start afresh, let us come to Him again for the Fullness, as at the first, and we will find that "He abideth faithful: for He cannot deny Himself" (2 Timothy 2:13). For the sake of the Sacred Heart, for His Name's glory, for the sake of souls, and for our own sake, we must not, we will not try to live and labor without being "FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT."
Transcriber's note: Obvious printer errors have been corrected without comment.