Preached by W. J. Henry on June 6, 1913
“Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” Eph. 5:18.
Dear friends, I bring you a message today that to my mind is one of the most important in all the Word of God. There never was a time in the history of Christianity when there was such a great lack of spirituality among the mass of Christian professors as there is today; and there is such a great demand for Spirit-filled men and women to lift up Christ by a godly life, and to carry the gospel to many souls who are longing for the truth and right, and who are disgusted with formality. These people can be reached only by the power of God manifested in the lives of his children. As Jesus said, in John 4:23, “The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth.”
God was with Luther when he preached those sermons on faith that shook the world and struck a deadly blow to Romanism. He was with the Wesleys in the great holiness reform; but there came a time when the people of those reformations lost out spiritually and they began to compromise the truth, and conform to the world. God forsook them and their fall should be a warning to us.
We are now living in the greatest reformation the world has known since the apostles’ days; and there are three features prominent in this reformation. First, it stands for the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth; second, it teaches the unity of God’s people; third, it fellowships only a Spirit-filled people.
We are living in the Holy Spirit dispensation, and everything done in this age that will stand the test of time or pass the judgment must bear the stamp of the Holy Spirit.
The gospel was given by inspiration of God. The natural man can not discern it; but “when he the Spirit of truth is come he will guide you into all truth.” The Spirit of God only can instruct us properly in these precious truths, and the Spirit-filled soul only can truly feast on the precious treasures hidden therein. This is the reason why the Word of God is stale to the formal, but precious to the spiritual.
HOLY SPIRIT CONVICTION
No man can come to Jesus except God by his Spirit draw him. The Spirit will accompany the preaching of the Word and reprove men of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment; and men under this kind of influence today, will be pricked in their hearts and made to cry out, Men and brethren, what must we do to be saved? Without the work of the Spirit of God in our efforts, men will never be brought to Christ. Oh, for more old-time conviction!
BIRTH OF THE SPIRIT
In John 3:1–5 Jesus tells us that unless we are born of the Spirit we can not see the kingdom of God. Right here is one of the great danger points of life. Salvation is not a mere reformation but a work of regeneration wrought in the heart and life by the power of the Holy Ghost. Much religious work today is only an outward reformation and but little of the old-time kind that changes the heart. What the people really need is not merely reformation, but regeneration, being born of God by his Spirit. No man can get saved till he is first brought under conviction by the Holy Spirit. And a man can not preach the gospel successfully to get men under conviction unless his preaching is under the Spirit’s anointing. If we tarry before God until we get our messages fresh from the throne we will see more souls saved—not merely reformed on the outside, but regenerated, born again, made new creatures. This, and this only, will put a stop to sin in their lives.
When souls are seeking for salvation, we need to have wisdom in instructing them, that they will get the real experience and not come out with a mere profession. Do not get in a hurry; do not talk or sing them through; let them pray through. Do not urge them to believe till they are on believing ground. Whenever they meet the conditions of God’s Word they will get the experience that their souls desire. Then the Holy Spirit will witness to their hearts that they are saved, and the angels in heaven will rejoice over a new-born babe. There is too much formality in most altar work. Oh, for more real Holy Ghost conviction and regeneration.
The very moment a soul is born of the Spirit there will spring up in his heart a love for God, for his Word, for his people, and for all men, that he has never felt before. All malice, envy, hatred, and anger will be gone; and he will then love his worst enemy and freely forgive him, and if he had the power would gladly carry him in his arms to the Savior he has found. Anything short of this spiritual experience is short of salvation. There is no other way. You must be born of the Spirit.
SANCTIFICATION BY THE HOLY GHOST
In Rom. 15:16 we read that we are sanctified by the Holy Ghost. No man is ever sanctified unless the Holy Ghost puts his seal upon him; and the work must be real, the consecration must be complete, or God will never accept it. It is not merely a profession of sanctification, or simply a hoping or believing we are sanctified, but a real definite experience, that will stand the tests of life and prepare us for heaven. This can only be obtained by a genuine act of consecration on our part, and the operation of the Holy Ghost on God’s part.
“When thy soul the perfect price has paid,
God will send the holy fire.”
Your heart will be made clean from selfishness and every unholy desire, and filled with the love of God. Then and there only can you love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength, and your neighbor as yourself. Every sanctified man in this world is in love with God and in love with all his children.
This experience produces that spiritual fellowship spoken of by Paul in his letter to the Philippians, chapter 2, verse 1. The Holy Ghost in us will produce fellowship, not a doctrinal, or party, or sectarian fellowship; but the fellowship of the Spirit. Our hearts will flow together as one, or as it was said of the saints of old, we will be all of one heart and one soul. Whenever sanctified men meet each other there is a blending of spirits and they are one; they have fellowship with each other. This fellowship of the Spirit brings all God’s people into the unity of the faith.
But the unity of the Spirit comes first and is the most important. I would much rather have the fellowship of the Spirit with a man, and yet not be in perfect fellowship or unity of faith, than to have the mere unity of faith and not the unity of Spirit. There are some who will fellowship a man because he looks all right on the outside or because they agree in belief; but just mere outward change of dress or belief does not put you into fellowship with the people of God. I say again, it takes the Holy Spirit to produce true fellowship. And the only way to keep in fellowship and unity with the people of God is to keep filled with the Spirit of God. We can not keep the unity of the Spirit if we do not possess the Spirit.
FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, temperance. These are the natural results of a Spirit-filled life, the product of the heart filled with the Spirit of God. We will have no trouble in living for God and producing the right kind of fruit if we live spiritual; but if we lose out spiritually, the first thing we know the works of the flesh will be on exhibition. Some may appear quite well on Sunday, or once in a while; but to live for God seven days in the week we must keep our hearts filled with the Spirit.
A HOLY GHOST CHURCH
The church of God is not made up of a people who are mere professors; but it is a spiritual institution consisting of spiritual people. We do not get into the church by the right hand of fellowship, or by water baptism. We do not join the church of God. The preacher does not take us in, nor does the congregation vote us in. We might get into some religious denomination that way; but there is only one way to get into the church of God, and that is by being born of the Spirit of God. “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” 1 Cor. 12:13. There may be people who profess to be in the church and who may go along with the people of God, and who either have never had or have lost the Spirit of God; but they are really not in the church. As Paul says in Rom. 8:9, 14, “If any man have not, the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his; * * * “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” Every individual member of the church is a spiritual member. “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” 1 Pet. 2:5. Our preaching, our songs, our prayers, yea, all our worship must be spiritual to be acceptable to God. Formality may do in sects but can have no part in the church of God. For “ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” Eph. 2:22.
A SPIRIT-FILLED MINISTRY
After Jesus gave his disciples the commission to go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15), he commanded them to tarry at Jerusalem till they were endued with power from on high (Luke 24:49). He also told them that they should receive power after that the Holy Ghost had come upon them. (Acts 1:8.) This they did just as Jesus had commanded them; and in Acts 2:1–4 we read that they received “and were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
In the apostolic church only Spirit-filled men were used as preachers, and, beloved, I am persuaded that if God had his way such only would preach today. In the ministry there is nothing so necessary as being filled with the Spirit. The world is tired of dead, formal preaching; but many are ready to receive the old-time salvation when it is presented in the power and demonstration of the Spirit.
Simply to have a knowledge of the Word of God and a good degree of natural ability is not sufficient. God is able to take a dish-washer, a chambermaid, a plow-boy, or a blacksmith, that is filled with the power of God, and use such a one much more to his glory, than the greatest educated or talented man void of the Spirit.
A preacher filled with the Holy Ghost will never willingly compromise the Word of God; he will neither let down nor let up; he will neither be too narrow nor too broad; he will neither be too loose nor too exacting. There is nothing that so tends to keep us well balanced and in the middle of the road as the Spirit experience. Just now we are passing between too great dangers—fanaticism on one side and worldly conformity on the other. Both of these are the result of formality, and the best and only sure protection is more of God’s Spirit in our hearts. With it we will not go far to the right nor to the left till we will hear a voice behind us, saying, “This is the way, walk ye in it.”
We need more wisdom, but we must be sure that it is the kind that comes down from heaven, the kind that will make us wise as serpents and harmless as doves. We need to lay aside everything in our preaching that hinders souls from receiving gospel truth, and preach only the pure unadulterated gospel truth with the Holy Ghost power that will melt the hearts of the hearers. The world is no more of a friend to genuine salvation now than it was in the days of the apostles. I for one have decided to preach nothing for which I do not have a “thus saith the Lord.” Beloved, the Holy Ghost will put His seal on every sentence of truth that He would have us to present. And such preaching will never make division among the people of God.
God wants us to do our duty in preaching the Word. If we will not do our duty, precious souls will be hindered from getting saved. The truth will never be over-thrown. The truth has come to stay. The sun shall go down no more; the apostasy has passed. The world once more sees the gospel truth that was hidden for ages. But if we are not careful individually we will lose our spirituality, become cold and formal, and while this glorious reformation goes on to eternal victory we will be left behind. We need to get more knowledge, more wisdom; we need to get nearer to each other and nearer to our fellowmen; but above all, as ministers of God, we need to get closer to him and be filled more with the Holy Ghost.
THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT
In 1 Cor. 12:1–13 we have the different spiritual gifts mentioned; and in the last verse of the chapter we are told to covet earnestly the best gifts. Now all these gifts are in the body of Christ, the church; but we must remember that they are only given to spiritual men and women, imparted to each member by the Spirit of God as he wills and as he sees we can use to the edifying of the body of Christ. The one great reason today why these gifts are not more often manifested is the great lack of spirituality among the professed Christian people. The more spiritual we become the more these gifts will be manifested, and the less spiritual we live the less they will be manifested. And again, God will never give these gifts to us to exalt self or to advertise men. The man possessed with these gifts will feel like hiding himself, but exalting Christ. That spirit that puts self on exhibition and causes people to be carried away with self to the ignoring of others, is not of God, but comes from the wrong source, and will result sooner or later in the downfall of man and in the reproach of the cause of God. Beloved, if we would be used of God and stay in line with his people we must keep humble and filled with his Spirit.
WALK IN THE SPIRIT
In Gal. 5:16 we read, “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh.” Of late I have been so forcibly struck with the import of this text. A similar one is found in Rom. 8:1—“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Beloved, we will have no trouble in keeping out of sin so long as we keep in the Spirit. We will not want to dress like the world or partake of their ungodly pleasures. The more spiritual we become the farther we will be separated from the world, and the easier it will be to live as God would have us live. Salvation does not destroy human nature or individuality; and after we are saved we will find weaknesses in our humanity which, without the grace of God, would soon drag us down again into sin.
We need to be strengthened daily with might by his Spirit in the inner man, so that when the enemy comes in like a flood the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him. Jesus said, “Without me ye can do nothing.” John 15:5. Paul says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthened me.” So if we would be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might we must keep filled with the Spirit.
I pray God to bless our hearts today and to so fill us with his Spirit that our songs, and prayers, and sermons, and testimonies, shall be freighted with the power of God; and that he will mightily use us in every way possible to herald this glorious truth to the ends of the world, till all men shall know of the power of God to save to the uttermost. Thus may he find us laboring together when he comes to receive us to himse
Source: Gospel Trumpet. (1913; 2007). Camp-Meeting Sermons 1913 (pp. 35–43).