THE DEEPER LIFE
Baptism with the Holy Spirit.
A B Simpson clearly taught the necessity of a baptism of the Holy Spirit subsequent to conversion. Tozer wrote, "When a man is filled with the Holy Spirit, he knows it!" - a definite experience. I believe it was also Tozer who wrote, concerning "Dispensationalism" - the belief that the church received its baptism in the Holy Ghost at Pentecost and we require nothing more now than we received at conversion. He wrote, "Dispensationalism is more dangerous than liberalism - liberalism has cost us our message, dispensationalism has cost us our power!"
In 1905 Simpson wrote a long article for the Alliance magazine, Living Truths, on the subject of The Baptism of the Holy Spirit, A Crisis or an Evolution. He concluded: "The truth I have been endeavoring to demonstrate is intensely practical. So long as people think they have it all, there is little incentive to rouse themselves and claim their full inheritance. When God's people however see that like the Israel of old, they are still toiling in the wilderness under His displeasure, that they are neglecting a great salvation, that they are out of fellowship with Christ and grieving the Holy Ghost, motive is supplied of overwhelming power and they are led to a heart searching, humiliation and unceasing prayer. A new impulse then comes into their lives like a great tidal wave over the ocean of love. An experience comes to the soul as much higher than conversion as conversion was better than the old life of flesh and sin. This is the deepest need of the church today. One such consecrated, Spirit-filled life means a score of souls for God. 'Let us therefore fear lest the promise left us of entering into His rest any of you should seem to come short of it.'"
Why are we so afraid of experiencing the Holy Spirit?
We are told to be on our guard against emotions, failing to realize that love is primarily an emotion. Paul prayed that we might “know” Him (Eph 1:17). All theologians acknowledging that this ‘knowing’ is far more than just head knowledge, but a ‘knowing’ of intimacy. Tozer wrote concerning our attitude toward the third member of the Trinity:
“A doctrine has practical value only as far as it is prominent in our thoughts and makes a difference in our lives. By this test the doctrine of the Holy Spirit as held by evangelical Christians today has almost no practical value at all. In most Christian churches the Spirit is quite entirely overlooked. Whether He is present or absent makes no real difference to anyone. Brief reference is made to Him in the Doxology and the Benediction. Further than that He might well as not exist. So completely do we ignore Him that it is only by courtesy that we can be called Trinitarian….
…The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of life and light and love. In His uncreated nature He is a boundless sea of fire, flowing, moving ever, and performing as He moves the eternal purposes of God. Toward nature He performs one sort of work, toward the world another and toward the Church still another. And every act of His accords with the will of the Triune God. Never does He act on impulse nor move after a quick or arbitrary decision. Since He is the Spirit of the Father, He feels toward His people exactly as the Father feels, so there need be on our part no sense of strangeness in His presence. He will always act like Jesus, toward sinners in compassion, toward saints in warm affection, toward human suffering in tenderest pity and love.
It is time for us to repent, for our transgressions against the blessed Third Person have been many and much aggravated. We have bitterly mistreated Him in the house of His friends. We have crucified Him in His own temple as they crucified the Eternal Son on the hill above Jerusalem. And the nails we used were not of iron, but of the finer and more precious stuff of which human life is made. Out of our hearts we took the refined metals of will and feeling and thought, and from them we fashioned the nails of suspicion and rebellion and neglect. By unworthy thoughts about Him and unfriendly attitudes toward Him days without end. “The Forgotten One,” from The Divine Conquest (or, God’s Pursuit of Man), pp. 64-75
Fire of God Thy work begin, burn up the dross of self and sin, Burn off my fetters, set me free and through the furnace, walk with me. – A B Simpson.
Evidences of a “Spirit-filled” life
I often hear people describe themselves as "Spirit-filled" believers and wonder just what they mean by that. As I want to be truly such, I seek the Scriptures to see how I can 'measure' myself.
Whereas the ‘deeper life’ (or the Higher Life, as I would prefer!), begins with a sovereign work of God in baptizing one with the Holy Spirit in response to a consecrated, hungry longing for God Himself, it is our responsibility to ‘keep on being filled with the Spirit’ (Eph 5:18). It is so easy for us, having experienced God on the mountain-top, to fall back into the old ways, relying upon our own thoughts and strengths (weakness). How then can I maintain that ‘higher life’? I believe Ephesians 5 should be understood in this context.
Paul exhorts us to ‘walk in love’, and as children of light, we must have no fellowship with works of darkness, redeeming the time. We shall be able to do this as we keep on being filled with the Spirit (as I believe the meaning in the Greek implies). There follow three evidences of such a “Spirit-filled” life. V19: we are to have a worshiping attitude. I cannot claim to be a “Spirit-filled” Christian if I am not a worshiper. The Spirit now filling us has but one goal and that is to glorify Christ in and through us. Don’t tell me you are a “Spirit-filled” believer if there is anything of self in which you glory. You may not be able to sing but your greatest delight is to sit at His feet in adoration while your heart is singing love songs to Jesus. I love to go alone out in the countryside where there is no one (and no cell phone!) to interrupt the sweet communion I enjoy with the Lord.
V20: we are to have a thankful attitude. I cannot claim to be a “Spirit-filled” Christian if I readily complain about things; if I am easily offended, often critical. Can I say “thank You” even when I am struggling through a dark valley, knowing that He is there with me? Do we really believe it that “ALL things work together … to them who are called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28)? My wife’s favourite verse is Phil 4:6 with its promise … and the peace of God which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. How well she has proven this through her present bout with cancer.
V21: we are to have a submitted attitude. This means I am to live as your servant, to ‘wash your feet’ by encouraging and refreshing. I am to be a “one another” man, caring, exhorting, loving, etc. for others in the Body of Christ. I cannot claim to be “Spirit-filled” if I am only happy when I am in charge, when I have a need for honours and acknowledgment of others. We do not find it easy being submitted to others. It goes ‘against the grain’!
Paul goes on to show how this submitted life is seen in the relationships between a man and wife, children and parents, masters and servants. (By the way, husbands are to be submitted to their wives as well as vice-versa!! The word “submit” is not found in the Greek original of 5:22)
The Crucified Life
I have just listened to a YouTube presentation of Tozer’s comments re “The crucified Life”. This was another expression he used for the “Deeper Life”. It’s well worth a listen.
In recent years I have had the privilege of moderating a number of conferences on Revival, sponsored by Sermonindex.net. At the Q & A sessions the speakers were asked to name their favourite books – top of the list was The Calvary Road by Roy Hessian, also dealing with the crucified life.
It strikes me that no one can crucify himself – it has to be a sovereign work of God – but I can sign my own death warrant!
A B Simpson wrote a poem on the same theme, which has become a great blessing to me and a prayer of my heart. It goes as follows:
There is a foe whose hidden power, the Christian well may fear,
More subtle far than inbred sin and to the soul more dear.
It is the power of selfishness; it is the willful “I”
And e’er my Lord can live in me, my very ‘self’ must die!
There is, like Anak’s sons of old, a race of giants still;
Self-glorying, Self-confidence, Self-seeking and Self-will.
Still must these haughty Anakim by Caleb’s sword be slain,
E’er Hebron’s heights of heavenly love, our conquering feet shall gain.
“O save me from Self-will dear Lord, which claims Thy sacred throne,
O let my will be lost in Thine and let Thy will be done.
O keep me from Self-confidence, and Self-sufficiency,
Let me exchange my strength for Thine and lean alone on Thee.”
“O save me from Self-seeking, Lord; let me not be my own.
A living sacrifice I come, Lord, keep me Thine alone.
From proud vain-glory save me, Lord; from pride of praise and fame;
To Christ be all the honor given, the glory to His name.”
“O Jesus, slay the self in me, by Thy consuming breath;
Show me Thy heart, Thy wounds, Thy shame, and love my soul to death.
When the Shekinah flame came down, e’en Moses could not stay;
So let Thy glory fill me now and self for ever slay.”
“O Jesus, come and dwell in me, walk in my steps each day,
Live in my life, love in my love and speak in all I say.
Think in my thoughts, let all my acts, Thy very actions be,
So shall it be no longer “I”, but Christ that lives in me.”
A B Simpson
The Deeper Life is a Fruit-bearing life
When we immigrated to Canada many years ago, we bought an old house in Toronto. In the garden were four fruit trees but of which kinds I did not know, not being a horticulturist. One summer’s evening my wife and I sat on our garden swing listening to a strange groaning noise as though someone was in pain. Then I noticed a branch on a tree was straining and swelling until out popped a beautiful red apple. Then another apple came with accompanying groaning and swelling. My wife and I sat astonished! We looked at the other trees as they also produced fruit with effort and groans. Soon we had a wonderful orchard of apples, plums and cherries.
Now I’m sure none of my readers believe what I have just written – such foolishness! No fruit ever grows that way. It’s just as foolish as the man or woman who tries to produce the fruit of the Spirit by their own efforts! It cannot be done! Such fruit only comes to the one who is ‘like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth his fruit in his season;’ Psalm 1:3. Today’s devotional by A B Simpson identifies that river of water as the Holy Spirit without whom the fruit of the Spirit would be impossible. Such fruit must not be identified with personal attributes – love, joy, peace, etc., admirable though they may be, even in an unbeliever. The natural man cannot receive them – they are foolishness to him (1 Cor 2:14). Only the Spirit- filled believer can have these in them and they do not grow ‘overnight’.
The Psalmist declares that the fruit-bearing man is as a tree “planted”. This implies stability and endurance. Jesus said it this way; “Abide in Me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me” (John 14:4). Every born-again believer has Christ within and is “in Christ”, but many are still carnal, having not come to the place of abiding (dwelling habitually).
I suggest that this is another aspect of the “deeper life” – an abiding life – a fruit-bearing life. “O Lord, as I hunger after You, please establish me and prune me to be a tree bearing fruit in its season.”
The Overcoming Life
In his first letter, the apostle John gives us a very simple measuring rod for the deeper life. (1 John 2:12- 14)
He classifies believers into three groups; little children, fathers, and young men. Evidently, these groupings do not exclude women nor are they meant to be based on chronological ages.
Little children are those whose sins have been forgiven and who know the Father. This surely is the claim of all born-again believers. We might not know much about church history, nor understand the Scriptures, but we can say that our sins are forgiven and we can call Him “Father”. What a blessing to be such – a little child. BUT we are not meant to remain there for that is childishness –we must progress toward the goal of being “Fathers”.
Fathers are those who have come to know Him who is from the beginning. Surely this is the deepest experience anyone can have – it is not an intellectual ‘knowing’ but experiential. Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian church was that they might receive a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. (Eph 1:17). Such knowledge only comes by revelation from the Holy Spirit. There is no short cut to becoming a ‘father’. One must progress via the path of ‘young men’.
Young men are those who have overcome the evil one, because they are strong and the word of God abides in them. They know they are in a battle for righteousness but are overcomers in that battle. They know the tactics of Satan and how to wear the armour. They defeat the lies of Satan by the truths of God’s word; they are not frightened by the roaring lion. They do not fear the terror by night nor the arrow by day for they dwell in the secret place (Ps 91). To such as these the Holy Spirit is pleased to grant ‘wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him’.
“O Lord, teach me Your Word so that I might be an overcomer; live out Your life in mine that I might be conqueror, for ‘greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world’. May You be pleased to make Yourself more known to me – for Your name’s sake.”
The Resting Life
A B Simpson saw a wonderful type of the Christian Life in the journey of the Children of Israel. Their coming out of Egypt was a picture of the believer being delivered from the taskmaster of sin because of a lamb’s blood being applied. The crossing of the Red Sea shows their separation through the sacrament of water baptism. It was never God’s intent to keep them in the wilderness but to bring them into the place of Promise – Canaan. However, through unbelief, it took them 40 years to come into their earthly inheritance. This is like so many believers who never enter into the Deeper Life the Lord calls us to. Instead they are satisfied with manna and quails in the desert, not able, through unbelief, to taste of the grapes and honey of Eshcol, having sand in their mouths and sand in their feet, totally unaware that such a life is not the ‘normal’ Christian Life but a sub-normal (as Watchman Nee would call it) . It is only when they cross the Jordon (which Simpson sees as the Baptism with the Spirit) that they begin to claim their inheritance. Imagine how Caleb and Joshua must have felt, pining for 40 long years for the fulfillment of what they had seen earlier! I can imagine them sitting in their tent, often with Moses as companion, reminiscing of the wonders they had seen, but which their fellow men were not willing to enter into.
The writer to Hebrews says “Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should come short of it.” (4:1). He continues by showing how God rested after His creation and now calls us to enter into His rest. “Today, harden not your hearts … for there remaineth a rest for the people of God” – (4:9). This is not heaven in the future, for there are battles to be won here, there are promises to be claimed here, there are miracles (of walls being torn down) to experience here. This is the Deeper Life for which we are called. For he that has entered into his rest, has ceased from his own works, as God did from His. This is the life where God is in control, leading His people, showing them His hand at work.
“Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” (4:11). We will acknowledge, I am sure, that no man can enter heaven by striving – that is a blessing already bought for us by the blood of Jesus which we receive by faith. So what is it that we are exhorted to strive for? – Surely, a ‘deeper life’ here on earth wherein we experience the ‘rest’ of God.
“O Lord, like Caleb of old, I would seek to dwell in the high mountain with you. Give me Hebron (though giants dwell there) for that is the place of close fellowship (the meaning of the word ‘Hebron’). As I live my life below, help me to allow the Christ within to live His life out through me – ceasing from my own labours but yielded so You can work through me. ”