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Monday, June 17, 2013

"It is not God's purpose to take us to heaven on flowery beds of ease
...keeping a lollipop in our mouths at all times..."
Samuel Logan Brengle

One of my treasures is an old black and white photo of my great grandfather with Commissioner Samuel Logan Brengle of the Salvation Army.  After Brengle went to their training in London, he returned home to street ministry in Boston.  One night he was struck on the head with a thrown brick and had to spend a year and a half recovering before he could return to his regular ministry.  While laid low, he began writing.  Rev. Brengle will be my guest post while I am on our 40th anniversary trip to the East Coast.  These are excerpts of Brengles as featured in the Salvation Army magazine, "War Cry."
 
 "Blessed are the pure in heart..."


Holiness:
What it is not and it is 
 
"God looks upon the purity of the heart,
the singleness of the eye
and the loyalty of our affection."
 
First of all, holiness is not necessarily a state in which thee is perpetual, rapturous joy.  Isaiah 54:3 tells us that Jesus was 'a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief...'  Joy is the normal state of the holy man, but it may be mingled with sorrow and grief and perplexities and heaviness on account of many temptations.  The low water mark, however, in the experience of a holy person is one of perfect peace...   Jesus and the disciples had to come down off the Mount of Transfiguration and go to casting out devils...

 
Holiness is not a state of freedom from temptation.  This is a world of trial, of conflict with principalities and powers, and terrible evil.  The holy soul who is in the forefront of the conflict may expect the fiercest assaults of the devil and the heaviest, most perplexing and prolonged temptations.
Our blessed Lord was Lord was tried and tempted for 40 days and 40 nights by the devil, and the servant must not be surprised if he is as his Master.  Paul tells us that Jesus was tempted at all points as we are, and that He is able to sympathize with us when we are tempted.  It is no sin to be tempted.
In fact, the Apostle James tells us to rejoice when we are subjected to all kinds of temptations, for the resulting trial of our faith will produce in us strength and force of holy character, so that we shall be lacking nothing. (James 1:2-4)

 
Holiness is not a state of freedom from weakness.  It does not produce a perfect head, but a perfect heart!  The saints have always been surrounded with weaknesses that have proved a source of great trial...the Lord said to him (Paul) 'My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness." (II Corinthians 12:9)   Then Paul cried out, 'Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me...for when I am weak, then am I strong.' (II Corinthians 12:9-10)  In the Epistle to the Hebrews 4:15, we are told that Jesus was 'touched  with the feeling our of infirmities.'  We may be faulty in memory, in judgment, in understanding; we may have many weaknesses of body and mind, but God looks upon the purity of the heart, the singleness of the eye and the loyalty of our affection, and if He does not find us faulty there, He counts us perfect men and women.  It is not in the mere natural perfection that the power and glory of God are manifested, but rather in goodness, purity, love, humility and longsuffering shining forth through weaknesses of the flesh and imperfections of mind.

 
Holiness is not a state of freedom from suffering.  The saints of all ages have been chosen 'in the furnace of affliction.' (Isaiah 48:10)  Job, Jeremiah, Daniel, Paul and the mighty army of martyrs have and shall always come up through great difficulty.  It is not God's purpose to take us to heaven on flowery beds of ease, clothe us in purple and fine linen and keep a lollipop in our mouths all the time.
That would not develop strength of character nor cultivate simplicity and purity of heart.  Nor in that case could we really know Jesus and the fellowship of His sufferings.  It is in the furnace of fire, the lion's den and the dungeon cell that He most freely reveals Himself to His people...the holy man is less liable to suffering than the sinner.  He does not run into the same excesses that the sinner does.  He is free from the pride, the temper, the jealousy, the soaring ambitions and selfishness that lunge so many sinners into terrible affliction and ruin...But while we may be afflicted we can comfort ourselves with David's assurance, 'Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the Lord delivereth him out of them all (Psalm 34:19) 

 
Holiness is not a state in which there is no further development.  When the heart is purified it develops more rapidly than ever before.  Spiritual development comes through the revelation Jesus Christ in the heart, and the holy soul is in a condition to receive such revelations constantly.  And since the finite can never exhaust the infinite, these revelations will continue forever and prove an increasing and never ending source of development.  
 
Holiness is not a state from which we cannot fall.  Paul tells us that we stand by faith (romans 11:16-22), and he says, 'Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall' (I Corinthians 10:12).  It is an unscriptural and dangerous doctrine that there is any state of grace in this world from which we cannot fall.  It is only those who endure to the end who shall be saved.  While here, we are in the enemy's country and must watch and pray and examine ourselves daily, and keep ourselves in the love of God, lest we fall from His grace and shipwreck our faith.  But while we may fall, thank God holiness is a state from which we need not fall...We have our five senses and various bodily appetites, none of which are in themselves sinful, but each of which may become an avenue by which the holy soul may be solicited to evil.  Each must be regulated by the Word of God and dominated by the love of Jesus, if we wish to keep a holy heart, and 'stand perfect and complete in all the will of God' (Colossians 4:12)...Finally, holiness is a state of conformity to the divine nature.  God is love, and there is a sense in which a holy man can be said to be love...As the drop out of the ocean is like the ocean, not in its bigness,  but in its essence, so is the holy soul like God.  As the branch is like the vine, not in its self-sufficiency, but in its nature, its sap, fruitfulness, its beauty, so is he that is holy like God.  This unspeakable blessing is provided for us by our compassionate Heavenly Father through the shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ , and is received through a complete renunciation of all sin, a total consecration to all the known will of God, persistent prayer and childlike faith."

 
"It is not a mere sentiment.  It is not a happy sensation that passes away in a night.  It is a baptism of love that brings every thought into captivity to the Lord Jesus (II Corinthians 10:5) that casts out all fear (I John 4:18); that burns up doubt and unbelief as fire burns flax; that makes one "meek and lowly in heart' (Matthew 1120); that makes one hate uncleanness, lying and deceit, a flattering tongue and every evil way with  perfect hatred that makes Heaven and hell eternal realities; that makes one patient and gentle with the disobedient and sinful; that makes one pure...peaceable...open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere (James 3:17); that brings one into perfect and unbroken sympathy with the Lord Jesus Christ..."  
 
"...absolute perfection...God alone is absolutely perfect in all His attributes and to such perfection we can never hope to attain...There is, however, a perfection, which we are given to understand God requires in us.  It is a perfection not of head but of heart; not of knowledge, but of goodness, of humility, of love, of faith.  Such perfection God desires us to have, and such a perfection we may have.  It is that state of heart, and life which consists in being and doing all the time -- not by fits and starts, but steadily--just what God wants us to be and do."

"He gave me such a blessing as I never had dreamed a man could have this side of Heaven.  It was a heaven of love that came into my heart...Oh, how I loved!  In that hour I knew Jesus and I loved Him till it seemed my heart would break with love.  I loved the sparrows, I loved the dogs, I loved the horses.  I loved the little urchins on the streets, I loved the strangers who hurried past me, I loved the heathen--I loved the whole world."  Brengle's testimony

 
"First be sure your sins are forgiven.  If you have wronged anybody, undo the wrong so far as you can.  Submit to God, confess your sins, then trust Jesus, and as sure as you live all your sins shall be forgiven, and He will blot out all your transgressions as a thick cloud, and remember them no more (Jeremiah 31:34).
 
Second, now that your are forgiven, come to Him with your will, your affections, your very self, and ask Him to cleanse you from every evil desire, from every selfish wish, from every secret doubt, and to come and dwell in your heart and keep you pure, and use you for His own glory.  Then struggle no more but walk  in the light He gives you, and patiently, expectantly trust Him to answer your prayer, and as sure as you live you shall soon 'be filled with all the fullness of God' (Ephesians 3:19).
 
Just at this point, do not become impatient and yield to secret dubs and fears.  God will come to you!  He will!  And when He comes, He will satisfy the uttermost longings of your heart."
 
"Take Time To Be Holy 365 Daily Inspirations To Bring You Closer to God," by  Samuel Logan Brengle, Tyndale House and Salvation Army coming out in October.
 
 


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