The Strong Man's Way to God
Musicians talk of an ultimate note. That is a note you will not find on any keyboards. It is a peculiar note. A man sits down to tune a piano, or any fine instrument. He has no guide to the proper key, and yet he has a guide. That guide is the note that he has in his soul. And the nearer he can bring his instrument into harmony with that note in his soul, the nearer perfection he has attained.
There is an ultimate note in the heart of the Christian. It is the note of conscious victory through Jesus Christ. The nearer our life is tuned to that note of conscious victory; the greater the victory that will be evidenced in our life.
In my ministry in South Africa there was a young lady, one of the most beautiful souls I have ever known. She was baptised in the Spirit when perhaps only seventeen or eighteen years old. One of the remarkable developments in her after her baptism in the Spirit was, that the Spirit of God would come powerfully upon her on occasions, and at such times she would sit down at the piano and translate the music her soul heard. Other times the Spirit would come upon her so powerfully that she would be caused to sing the heavenly music in some angelic language.
God gave her the gift of interpretation, so that quite frequently when the Spirit would come upon her, she would re-sing the song in English, or Dutch as the case might be. Her father and mother were both musicians. They soon learned that when the Spirit thus came upon her, they could record the music. The father would stand at one side and take the words of the song as she sang them, while the mother stood at the other side and recorded the music as she played the music on the instrument. In this way a great deal of the music was preserved.
Some years later, Clara Butts, the great prima dona came to Africa. She was singing at the Wanderers Hall in Johannesburg. One evening after the concert, while being entertained at the hotel, I was introduced to her. She said to me, “Mr Lake, I have been very anxious to meet you, for I have heard that among your people is a remarkable woman who receives music in the Spirit, apparently of a different realm than ours.” I said, “Yes, that is a fact.” She inquired if it would be possible to meet her and so a meeting was arranged.
One evening, we went to her hotel, and as we sat down, Clara Butts said to the young lady,” I wish you would sit down and play some of the music I have heard about.” She did not understand that such music only came at such times as the Spirit came powerfully upon the woman. However, the young lady sat down at the piano. I said to the company, “Let us bow our heads in prayer.” As we did and waited, presently the Spirit of God descended upon her, and then there poured through her soul some of that wondrous, beautiful, heavenly music. I waited to note the affect on the company. When the song was finished, I looked especially at Clara Butts, who was weeping silently. She arose to her feet, and coming forward to the piano she reached out her hands, saying, “Young lady. That music belongs to a world that my soul knows little about. I pray every day of my life God may permit me to enter. In that realm is the ultimate which my soul sometimes hears, but which I have never been able to touch myself.”
Beloved, in the Christian life, in the heart of God, there is an ultimate note. That note which is so fine and sweet and true and pure and good that it causes all our nature to respond to it, and rejoices the soul with a joy unspeakable.
All down through the ages some have touched God and heard that ultimate note. I believe that as David sat on the mountainside as a boy, caring for s father’s sheep, God by the Spirit taught him the power and blessing of that ultimate note., I believe at times that his soul ascended into God so that many of the Psalms of David are the real soul note of that blessed expression of heavenly music and heaven consciousness which came into the soul of the shepherd boy.
Mary, the Mother of Jesus, understood that note. I remember when I was a young man in a Methodist Bible Class, which I taught, we were discussing the subject of the Magnificat, that glorified expression which burst from the soul of Mary as she met Elizabeth, when the Spirit came upon her and revealed to her friend that she was to be the Mother of Jesus. In our worldly wisdom we decided of course that the Jewish women of necessity must have been educated to compose that character of poetry spontaneously.
Many a day afterward as I saw the Spirit of God descend upon a soul, and the soul break forth into a song of God, the song of the angels, in a note so high and sweet and pure and clear as no human voice ever had produced perhaps without it, I understood the marvel that was taking place in the soul of Mary when she broke forth into the heavenly expression of that holy song.
“My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath
rejoiced in God my Saviour,” and so on.
It was the Spirit of the-Lord. Her spirit had ascended, bless God, into the heavenlies. Her spirit had touched heaven’s note. Her spirit was receiving and reproducing the song of joy that she heard, possibly of the angels, or perhaps intuitively from, the heart of God.
There is a Christianity, that has that high note in it, Bless God. Indeed, Christianity in itself, real Christianity is in that high note of God, that thing of heaven, that is not of earth and is not natural. Bless God, it is more than natural. It is the note of heaven. It comes to the earth. It fills the soul of man. Man’s soul rises into heaven to touch God, and in touching God receives that glorified expression and experience into his own soul, and it is reproduced in his own life and nature.
Beloved, there is a victory in God, the victory that characterises the common walk of a high born Christian. It is the strong man’s salvation. It is the salvation that comes from God because of the fact that the spirit of man touches the Spirit of God and receives that experience that we commonly speak of as the blessing of salvation from God.
But Beloved, the soul that receives from God into their spirit that heavenly touch, knows, bless God, he does not have to be told by man, he knows by the Spirit of God that he has become the possessor of the consciousness of union with the Spirit of God which has enlightened his heart, filled his soul with holy joy, and caused his very being to radiate with God’s glory and presence.
The hunger of my soul for many a long day has been that I might be able to so present that high true note of God, that the souls of men would rise up in God to that place of power, purity, and strength where the presence and character and works of Christ are evidenced in and through them. There can be no distinction between the exercise of the real power of God as seen in Jesus and its reproduction in a Christian soul. There is a purity, the purity of heaven, so high, so holy, so pure, so sweet that it makes the life of the possessor radiant with the glory and praise of God.
During one of the periods of extreme necessity in our great work in South Africa, our finances became cut off for various reasons. I was anxious that there should be no letting down of the work we were then doing, and was trusting that it would not be necessary to withdraw our men, who had laboured and suffered to get the work established on the frontier.
However, not being able to supply funds to those on the front, I deemed it the only wise thing to do to get them all together in a general conference, and decide what was to be our future action. By great sacrifice, a sacrifice too great for me to tell you of this afternoon, we succeeded in bringing in our missionaries from the front for a council. I told them the existing conditions and we sat down in the night time to decide what would be our future policy. After a time I was invited by a committee to leave the room for a minute or two. While I was in the vestry the brethren in the body of the tabernacle continued their conference and went on discussing the general question. When I returned, they said to me, “Brother Lake, we have arrived at a decision.” Old Father Van de Wall spoke for the company. He said, “We have reached this conclusion. There is to be no withdrawal of any man from any position. We feel that the time has come when your soul ought to be relieved of responsibility for us. We feel we have weighted your life long enough, but now by the grace of God we return to our stations to carry on our work. We live or die depending on God. If our wives die, they die, if our families die, they die, if we survive we survive, but we are going back to our stations. This work will never be withdrawn. We have one request. Come and serve the communion of the Lord’s supper to us once more while we stand together.”
And as I took the cup they arose and stood in a large circle. I took the bread and passed it. It went from hand to hand around the circle. When it came time to pass the wine I took the cup in my hand, and with the usual statement that Jesus gave in the committal of Himself to God, “My blood in the New Testament,” I passed it on, and the next one, looking up to God, he said too, “My blood in the New Testament.” And so it passed from hand to hand clear around the circle.
With in a few months I was compelled to bury twelve out of that company. Every one of them might have lived if we could have supplied the ordinary essential things they ought to have received. But beloved, we had made our pledge to God. We had declared by the love of God in our souls, and because of what Christ had done for us, that we would be true to Him, and that in the Name of Christ His gospel should be spread abroad as far as it was in our power to do.
Men have said that the Cross of Christ was not a heroic thing, but I want to tell you that the Cross of Jesus Christ has put more heroism in the souls of men than any other event in human history. Men have lived and rejoiced, and died, believing in the living God, in the Christ of God whose blood cleansed their hearts from sin, and who realised the real high spirit of His holy sacrifice, bless God. They manifested to mankind that same measure of sacrifice, and endured all that human beings could endure, and when endurance was no longer possible they passed on to be with God, leaving the world blessed through the evidence of a consecration deep and true and pure and good, like the Son of God Himself.
We see the note that was in the soul of Paul, and which characterised his message, when he made the splendid declaration which I read from Romans 1:16:
“I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the
power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth;
to the Jew first, and also to the Greek”
You see the note that touched the souls of men, the note that rang down through the centuries, and which rings in your heart and mine today. Christianity NEVER WAS DESIGNED BY GOD TO MAKE A LOT OF WEAKLINGS. It was designed to bring forth a race of men who were bold and strong and pure and good, blessed be God. The
greatest and the strongest and the noblest is always the humblest.
The beautiful thing in the gospel is that it eliminates from the life of man that which is of himself and is natural and fleshly and earthly, bless God. It brings forth the beauteous things within the soul of man, the unselfishness, the life of purity, the peace, the strength and the power of the Son of God. How beautiful it is to have the privilege of looking into the face of one whose nature has been thus refined by the Spirit of the living God within. How beautiful it is when we look into the soul of one whom we realise God has purged by the blood of Christ until the very characteristics of the life and attitudes of the mind of Christ are manifest and evident in him to the glory of God.
Christianity is a strong man’s gospel. Christianity, by the grace of God, is calculated to take the weak and fallen and erring and suffering and dying, and by applying the grace and power of God, through the soul of man, to the need of the individual, lift then up to the “Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” Blessed be God.
“Down in the human heart,
Crushed by the tempter,
Feelings lie buried that grace can restore,
Touched by a loving heart,
Wakened by kindness,
Chords that were broken
Will vibrate once more.”
I care not how crushed the soul, how bestialised the nature, I care not how sensual, if touched by the Spirit of the living God, he will shed off that which is earthly and sensual, and give forth once again the pure note of the living God, heaven’s high message, heaven’s triumphant song, heaven’s high note of living praise to the living God. Blessed be His Name.
God is endeavouring by His Spirit in these days to exalt the souls of men into that high place, that holy life, that heavenly state whereby men walk day by day, hour by hour in the heavenly consciousness of the presence of Christ in the heart of man all the time.
And the presence of Christ in the souls of men can only produce, first the purity that is in Him. For the, ”Wisdom that cometh from above is first pure,” bless God. Purity is of God. Purity is of the nature of Christ. Purity is heaven’s highborn instinct, filling the soul of man, making him in His nature, like the Son of God. Upon that purified soul there comes from God that blessed measure of the Holy Spirit, not only purifying the nature, but empowering him by the Spirit so that the activities of God, the gift of His mind, the power of His Spirit is evident by the grace of God in that man’s soul, in that man’s life, lifting him by the grace of God into that place of holy and heavenly dominion in the consciousness of which Jesus lived and moved and accomplished the will of God always. Not the earth-consciousness, born of the earth and earthy, but the Heaven-consciousness, that high consciousness, that holy consciousness, the consciousness of the living God, of His union with Him, which caused the Christ to walk as a Prince indeed. Bless God.
He was not bowed and overcome by conditions and circumstances about Him, but realized that the soul of man was a creative power, that it was within his soul, and common to his nature, and the nature of every other man, to protect, accumulate and possess, as sons of God; that through the creative faculty of His soul, the desires of his heart might be brought to pass. Blessed be His Name.
That is the reason God dared to talk as He did to Moses. That is the reason God dared to rebuke a man when he stopped to pray. That is the reason God said, “Why standst thou here and criest unto me? Lift up the rod that is in thy hand, and divide the waters.”
Beloved, your soul will never demonstrate the power of God in any appreciable degree until your soul conceives and understands the real vision of the Christ of God, whereby He knew that through His union with the living God His soul became the creative power through which He took possession of the power of God and applied it to the needs of his own soul, and the needs of other lives.
“I am the resurrection and the life,” bless God. Lazarus was dead. The friends were weeping, but the Christ was there, Bless God. Opening His soul to God in a cry of prayer the Spirit of God so moved within him that the consciousness of his high dominion in God so possessed Him, that He gave forth that wondrous command, “Lazarus, come forth,” and the dead obeyed the call, and the spirit that had gone on into the regions of the dead returned again, was joined to the body, and Lazarus was restored by the power of God. Blessed be His Holy Name.
When a boy, I received my religious training in a little Methodist class meeting. I wish there were some old time Methodist class meetings in these modern days, the kind that had the power of God, and the needs of men’s souls were met in them; where people could open their hearts and tell of their temptations and their trials and victories and receive council from one who guided the class.
In such a class meeting, and to such a class meeting, I owe a great deal of the development which God has brought forth in my life.
In one of these class meetings one day, as I sat listening to the testimonies, I observed that there was a kind of weakening trend. People were saying, “I am having such a hard time.” “I am feeling the temptations of the world so much,” and so forth. I was not able at the time to tell people what was the difficulty. I was only a young Christian. But when they got through I observed the old class leader, a grey headed man. He said something like this, “Brethren, the reason we are feeling the temptations so much, the reason there is a lack of the sense of victory, is because we are too far away from the Son of God. Our souls have descended. They are not in the high place where Christ is. Let our souls ascend, and when they ascend into the realm of the Christ, we will have a new note, it will be the note of victory.”
Beloved, that is the difficulty with us all. We have come down out of the heavenlies into the natural, and we are trying to live a heavenly life in the natural state, overburdened by the weights and cares of the flesh and life all about us. Bless God, there is deliverance. There is Victory. There is a place in God where the flesh no longer becomes a bondage. Where, by the grace God, every sensuous state of the human nature is brought into subjection to the living God, where Christ reigns in and glorifies the very activities of a man’s nature, making him sweet and pure and clean and good and true. Bless His Holy Name.
I call you today, beloved, by the grace of God, to that high life, to that holy walk, to that heavenly atmosphere, to that life in God where the grace and Spirit and power of God permeates your whole being. More, where not only your whole being is in subjection, but it flows from your nature as a holy stream of heavenly life to bless other souls everywhere by the grace of God.
There was a period in my life when God lifted my soul to a wondrous place of divine power. Indeed, I speak it with all conservativeness when I say that I believe God gave me such an anointing of power as has seldom been manifested in modern life. That anointing remained with me for a period of eight months. One of the evidences of the power of God at that period was that God gave me such a consciousness of dominion to cast out evil spirits that the insane were brought from all quarters of the land, slobbering idiots. In many instances as I approached them, the Spirit of Christ would rise up in me in such dominion that when I got to them I could take hold of them, and looking into their face, would realise that God had given me power to cast it out. Hundreds of times the insane were healed instantly right on the spot.
I have been a student all my life. Not just a student of letters, but of the things of the soul. God helped me by His grace to take note of and analyse the conditions of my own soul. I noted that when that high consciousness of heavenly dominion rested upon my life, there was one thing that stood uppermost in all my consciousness. That was the vision of the triumphant Christ, the Son of God, as pictured by John in the first chapter of Revelation, where He stands forth in the mighty dignity of an overcomer, declaring, “I am He that liveth and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.”
Beloved, I want to tell you that the soul joined to Christ and who exercises the power of God, ascends into that high consciousness of heavenly dominion as it is in the heart of Jesus Christ today, for He is the overcomer, the only Overcomer. But yet, when my soul is joined to His soul, when His Spirit flows like a heavenly stream through my spirit, when my whole nature is infilled and inspired by the life from God, I too, being joined with Him, become an overcomer, in deed and in truth. Glory be to God.
I am glad that God has permitted man, even at intervals to rise into that place of high dominion in God, for it demonstrates the purpose of God. It demonstrates that He purposes we should not only rise into the high place at intervals, but that this should be the normal life of the Christian who is joined to God every day and all the time.
Christianity is not a thing to be apologised for. Christianity was the living conscious life and power of the living God, transmitted into the nature of man until, bless God, man’s nature is transformed by the living touch, and the very spirit, soul and being is energised and filled by His life. Thus you become indeed, as Christ intended, a veritable christ.
That startles some people. But the ultimate of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the ultimate of the redemption of the Son of God, is to reproduce and make every man who is bound by sin and held by sensuousness and enslaved by the flesh, like Himself in deed and in truth, sons of God. Not sons of God on a lower order, but sons of God as Jesus was.
Paul declares, “He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists and some pastors and some teachers.” What for? “Till we ALL come into the likeness of the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Bless God. Not a limited life, but an unlimited life. The idea of Christ, the idea of God was that every man, through Jesus Christ, through being joined to Him by the Holy Spirit, should be transformed into Christ’s perfect image. Glory be to God. Christ within and Christ without. Christ in your Spirit, Christ in your soul and Christ in your body. Not only living His life, but performing His works by the grace of God, That is the gospel of the Son of God. That is the thing that Paul was not ashamed of. He said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. To the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
If any man has a question within his soul of the reality of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as it has been poured out upon the world in these last ten years, that question ought to be settled in your soul forever by one common test. That test is, that it has raised the consciousness of Christianity to realise what real Christianity is.
If any one wants to analyse the development that has come into Christian consciousness during the last two hundred years, all they have to do is to begin and follow the preaching of the great evangelists who have moved the world. Think of Jonathan Edwards, who thundered the terrors of God and what hell was like until men grasped their seats and, hung on to them, fearing, they were falling into hell itself. Men were moved by FEAR to escape damnation. That was believed to be Christianity. Any coward wanted to keep out of hell. He might rot have had one idea in his soul of what was the real true earmark of Christianity.
After a while others went a step further, and you can note the ascending consciousness. They said, “No, saving yourself from hell and punishment is not the ideal of the gospel. The ideal is to get saved so as to go to heaven.” And so men were saved in order to get to heaven when they died. I have always had a feeling in my soul of wanting to weep when I hear men pleading with others to become Christians so they will go up to heaven when they die. My God, is there no appeal outside of something absolutely selfish.
Beloved, don’t you see that Christianity was unselfishness itself. It had no consideration for the selfish individual. The thing held up above everything else in the world, and the only ideal worthy of a Christian was that you and I and He Himself might demonstrate to mankind one holy, high beauteous thing, of which the world was deficient, and that was a knowledge of God. So Jesus said, “Unto all righteousness” and He wrote it on the souls of men and branded it on their conscience, and stamped it on their heart until the world began to realise the ideal that was in the soul of Jesus.
“Unto all righteousness” becoming like Christ Himself, a demonstration of the righteousness of the living God. That is Christianity, and that only is Christianity, for that was the consecration of the Christ Himself.
The test of the Spirit, and the only test of the Spirit, that Jesus ever gave, is the ultimate and final test. He said, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” That is the absolute and final test. “Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?”
So I say to you, if you want to test whether this present, outpouring of the Spirit of God is the real thing, the real pure Baptism of the Holy Ghost or not, test it by the fruit that it produces. If it is producing in the world, as we believe it is, a consciousness of God so high, so pure, so acceptable, so true, so good, so like Christ, then it is the Holy Ghost Himself. Bless God. No other test is of any value what-so-ever.
I want to tell you beloved that the ultimate test to your own of the value of a thing that you have in you heart is the common test that Jesus gave, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” “By their FRUITS ye shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?”
Men tell us in these days that SIN is what you think it is. Well, it is not. Sin is what God thinks it is. You may think, according to your own conscience; God thinks according to His. God thinks in accordance with the heavenly purity of His own nature. Man thinks in accordance with that degree of purity that his soul realises. But the ultimate note is in God. The finality is in God.
When men rise up in their souls’ aspirations to the place of God’s thought, then bless God, the character of Jesus Christ will be evident in their life, the sweetness of His nature, the Holiness of His character, the beauty of the crowning glory that not only overshadowed Him, but that radiated from Him. Blessed be God. And the real life of the real Christian is the inner life, the life of the soul.
“Out of the heart,” said Jesus, “proceedeth evil thoughts, fornications, adulteries” and so forth. These are the things common to the flesh of man. Out of the soul of man, likewise, proceeds by the same common law, the beauty, virtue, peace, power and truth of Jesus, as the soul knows it.
So he whose soul is joined to Christ may now, today, this hour, shed forth as a benediction upon the world the glory and-blessing and peace and power of God, even as Jesus shed it forth to all men to the praise of God.
My God, we bless Thee for the ideal of the gospel of Christ which Thou hast established in the souls of men through the blessed Holy Ghost. God, we pray Thee this afternoon that if we have thought lightly of the Spirit of God, if we have had our eyes fixed on outward evidences instead of the inward life, we pray thee to sweep it away from our souls.
May we this day God, see indeed that the life of God, His inner life, the true life, God’s holy life, His practical purpose, that from a race of sinful men saved through the blood of Christ, cleansed by the power of God, cleansed in the inner soul, in every department of their nature, that the Christ-life is to be revealed and the Lord Jesus through them is to shed forth His glory and life and benediction and peace and power upon the world. Blessed be Thy precious Name.
So my God, we open our nature to heaven today, asking that the Spirit of the living God will thus move in our own soul, that by His grace we shall be so perfectly, truly cleansed of God that our nature will be sweet and pure and heavenly and true, so that we can receive from God indeed the blessed sweetness of His pure, holy, heavenly Spirit, to reign in us, to rule in us, control us and guide us for ever more. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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