I once received a letter from one of the most devoted young officers I know, in which he said, "I love holiness more and more, but I am just about discouraged. It seems to me that I shall never be able to teach holiness, for it seems that I get things too straight, or not straight enough." God bless him! I think I know just how he feels. One day, a few months after I got the blessing of holiness, I felt most gloomy about my inability to get people sanctified. I knew, beyond the possibility of a doubt, that I had a clean heart; but, somehow, I felt I couldn't properly teach others how to get it.
That morning I met a certain brother who gets more people sanctified than any man I know, and I asked him, "How shall I teach holiness so that my people will get it?" His reply was, "Load and fire, load and fire."
Light broke in on me at once. I saw that it was my business to pray and study my Bible and talk with those who had the blessing, until I got myself so loaded that it would almost talk itself, and then fire away as best I could, and that it was God's business to make the people receive the truth and become holy.
That was on the Saturday. The next day, I went to my people loaded with truth, backed by love and faith, and I fired as hard and straight as I knew how, when lo! twenty people came to the Penitent-form for holiness. I had never seen anything like that before in my life, but I have seen it many times since.
From then till now I have attended strictly to my part of the business, and trusted God to do His part, and I have had some success everywhere I have gone. But everywhere, also, Satan has sorely tempted me at times, especially when the people hardened their hearts and would not believe and obey. Then I have often felt that the trouble must be in my way of preaching the truth. At one time the devil would say, "You are too straight; you will drive all the people away." Then again he would remark, "You are not straight enough, and that is the reason the people don't get holy." In this way I have suffered very much at times. But I have always gone to the Lord with my trouble and told Him that He knew my earnest desire was to preach the truth just right, so that the people would love and trust Him with perfect hearts.
Then the Lord has comforted me, and shown me that the devil was tempting me, in order to get me to stop preaching holiness. A few times, professors of religion have come to me and told me I was doing more harm than good. But they were the kind Paul describes, "who have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof," and I have followed his command, "From such turn away," and have not dared to listen to them any more than to the devil himself. And so I have kept at it, through evil report and through good report, and the dear Lord has never left me alone, but has stood by me and given me the victory, and I have constantly seen some one led into the glorious light of liberty and perfect love. Satan has tried in many ways to get me to stop preaching holiness, for he knew that if he could get me to stop he would soon get me to sin, and so overthrow me altogether. But the Lord put a godly fear in me from the beginning, by calling my attention to Jeremiah i. 6, 8 and 17. The last verse made me very careful to speak just what the Lord said. Then Ezekiel ii. 4-8 and iii. 8-11 impressed me very much. In these Scriptures the Lord commanded me to speak His truth as He gave it to me, whether the people would hear or not. In Ephesians iv. 15, He told me how I was to preach it -- that is, "in love."
I then saw that I must preach the truth Just as straight as I possibly could, but that I must be careful always to keep my heart full of love for the people to whom I was talking.
I read in 2 Corinthians xii. 14, 15, how Paul loved the people. He said, "I seek not yours, but you ... and I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved." Then in Acts xx. 20 and 27, "I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you ... for I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God." This made me feel that to withhold the truth of holiness from the people -- which is necessary to their eternal salvation -- was worse than keeping back bread from starving children, or as the murder of souls is worse than the murder of bodies. So I earnestly prayed to the Lord to help me love the people, and preach the whole truth to them, though they hate me for it -- and, bless Him! He answered my prayer.
There are three points in teaching holiness that the Lord has led me to emphasize continually.
First, that men cannot make themselves holy, any more than the Ethiopian can change his skin, or the leopard his spots. That no amount of good works, of self-sacrifice and denial, of labors for the salvation of others, can cleanse the heart, can take out the roots of pride, vanity, temper, impatience, fear and shame of the Cross, lust, hatred, emulation, strife, self-indulgence and the like, and in their stead put unmixed, perfect love, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance."
Truly, millions who have labored to purify the secret springs of their hearts, only to fail, can testify, "It is not of works lest any man should boast."
Second, I keep prominent the fact that the blessing is received by faith. A poor woman wanted some grapes from the king's garden for her sick boy. She offered the gardener money, but he would not sell the grapes. She came again, and met the king's daughter, and offered her money for the grapes. The daughter said, "father is a king; he does not sell his grapes." Then she led the poor woman into the king's presence, and told him her story, and he gave her as many as she wanted.
Our God, your Father, is King of kings. He will not sell His holiness and the graces of His Spirit, but He will give them to all who will ask in simple, childlike faith. Truly He will. "Ask, and ye shall receive. Where is boasting, then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? Nay: but by the law of faith ... Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law." By faith the law of God is written on our hearts, so that when we read the command, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart," we find a law of love in us because we have within us a law that corresponds to the command. The Apostle says, "With the heart man believeth unto righteousness" (Rom. x. 10), and that statement is true to our experience, for where real heart-faith is, it makes the impatient man patient, the proud man humble, the lustful man chaste, the covetous man benevolent, the quarrelsome man meek, the liar truthful, the man who hates loving; it turns misery into joy, and gives peace and constant comfort.
Third, I emphasize the truth that the blessing is to be received by faith NOW. The man who expects to get it by works will always have something more to do before he can claim the blessing, and so never comes to the point where he can say, "The blessing is now mine. But the humble soul, who expects to get it by faith, sees that it is a gift; and, believing that God is as willing to give it now as at some future time, trusts and receives it at once.
By thus urging the people to expect the blessing "just now," I have sometimes had them get it just while I was talking. People who had often been to the Penitent-form, and had wrestled and prayed for the blessing, have received it while sitting in their seats listening to the simple "word of faith which we preach."
"Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name "(Ps. ciii. 1).
Samuel Logan Brengle (1860-1936) was an American Methodist born in Indiana who joined the Salvation Army in the 1890’s. He was mightily used of the Lord even more so by his many books. They were chiefly written during a convalescence following being badly injured while street preaching. This is the first chapter from his book The Soul Winner’s Secret, and deals with the soul-winner’s personal experience with God.
Every soul-winner is in the secret of the Lord, and has had a definite personal experience of salvation and the baptism of the Holy Ghost, which brings him into close fellowship and tender friendship and sympathy with the Saviour.
The Psalmist prayed, “Hide Thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Thy presence; and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation; and uphold me with Thy free Spirit. Then,” said he, “will I teach transgressors Thy ways and sinners shall be converted unto Thee.” (Psalm 51) He saw that before he could be a soul-winner, before he could teach transgressors the way of the Lord and before he could convert sinners, he must have his own sins blotted out; he must have a clean heart and a right spirit; he must be a partaker of the Holy Ghost and of God’s joy. In short, he must himself have a definite, constant, joyful experience of God’s salvation in order to save others.
It was no “hope-I-am-saved” experience that he wanted; nor was it a conclusion carefully reasoned out and arrived at by logical processes; nor an experience based upon a strict performance of a set round of duties and attendance upon sacraments, but a mighty transformation and cleansing of his whole spiritual nature and a glorious new creation wrought within him by the Holy Ghost.
I. This must be a definite experience, that tallies with the Word of God. Such only can give that power and assurance which will enable you to lead and win others. You must possess knowledge before you can impart knowledge. You must have fire in order to kindle fire. You must have life to reproduce life. You must know Jesus and be on friendly terms with Him to be able to introduce Him to others. You must be one with Jesus, and be “bound up in the bundle of life” with Him if you would bring others into that life.
Peter had repented under the preaching of John the Baptist, had forsaken all to follow Jesus, had waited with prayer and unquenchable desire until he received the baptism of the Holy Ghost and of fire, and had been anointed with power from on high, before he became the fearless, mighty preacher who won three thousand converts in a day.
Paul was mightily converted on the road to Damascus, and heard the voice of Jesus telling him what he was to do, and was baptized with the Holy Ghost under the teaching of Ananias before he became the apostle of quenchless zeal who turned the world upside down.
Luther was definitely converted and justified by faith on the stairway of St. Peter’s at Rome before he became the invincible reformer who could stand before popes and emperors and set captive nations free.
George Fox, Wesley, Finney, Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, James Caughey, and William Booth who became the Founder of our great Salvation Army, each and all had a definite personal experience that made them apostles of fire, prophets of God and saviours of men. They did not guess that they were saved, nor hope that they were saved, but they knew whom they had believed, and knew that they had ‘passed from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God.’
This experience was not evolution, but a revolution. No evolutionist ever has been or ever will be a great soul-winner. It is not by growth that men become such, but by revelation. Men do not become soul-winners until God bursts through the veil of their hearts, reveals Himself by the exercise of faith in His dear Son, gives a consciousness of personal acceptance with Him, and sheds abroad His love within, destroying unbelief, burning away sin, consuming selfishness, and filling the soul with the passion of Jesus.
The experience that makes a man a soul-winner is two-fold:
1. He must know that his sins are forgiven; he must have recognized himself to be a sinner out of friendly relation with God, careless of God’s claim, heedless of God’s feelings, selfishly seeking his own way in spite of divine love and compassion, and heedless of the awful consequences of separating himself from God; and this must have led to repentance toward God—by which I mean an entire turning away from sin, and a confiding trust in Jesus Christ as his Saviour. He must have so believed as to bring a restful consciousness that he has been adopted into God’s family and made one of His dear children. This consciousness results from what Paul calls ‘the witness of the Spirit,’ and enables the soul to cry out in deep filial confidence and affection, ‘Abba Father.’
2. He must be sanctified; he must know that his heart is cleansed, that pride and self-will and carnal ambition and strife and sensitiveness and suspicion and unbelief and all unholy tempers are destroyed by the baptism of the Holy Ghost. He must experience personal Pentecost and the incoming of a great love for, and loyalty to, Jesus Christ.
II. It must be a constant experience. People who frequently meet defeat and fail of victory in their own souls will not be largely successful in winning others to Jesus. The very consciousness of defeat makes them uncertain in their exhortation, doubtful and wavering in their testimony, and weak in their faith, and this will be unlikely to produce conviction and beget faith in their hearers.
Finney, Wesley, Fletcher, Bramwell, Mrs. Catherine Booth and scores of others walked with God, as Enoch did, and so walked ‘in the power of the Spirit’ and constantly, as to be soul-winners all their lives.
III. It must be a joyful experience. ‘The joy of the Lord is your strength,’ said Nehemiah (Nehemiah 8:10). ‘Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation,’ prayed David (Psalm 51:12). ‘I feel it my duty to be as happy as the Lord wants me to be,’ wrote McCheyne, the gifted and deeply spiritual young Scotch preacher, who was wonderfully successful in winning souls.
‘Oh, my soul is very happy! Bless God, I feel He is with me,’ cried Caughey, while preaching his sermon on ‘The Striving of the Spirit.’ No wonder he won souls.
Whitefield and Bramwell, two of the greatest soul winners the world ever saw, were at times in almost an ecstasy of joy, especially when preaching, and this was as it should be.
John Bunyan tells us how he wrote ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’ in his filthy prison cell. He says, ‘So I was led home to prison, and I sat me down and wrote and wrote because joy did make me write.’
God wants His people to be full of joy. ‘These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you and that your joy might be full,’ said Jesus (John 15:11). And again He said, ‘Ask and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full’ (John 16:24). ‘And these things write we unto you that your joy may be full,’ wrote John (1 John 1:4). ‘The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,’ wrote Paul to the Galatians (Galatians 5:22), and again he writes, ‘The Kingdom of God is... righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost’ (Romans 15:17). ‘Joy in the Holy Ghost’ is an oceanic current that flows unbroken through the holy, believing soul, though surrounded by seas of trouble and compassed about by infirmities and afflictions and sorrows.
We have so often thought of Jesus as ‘the Man of Sorrows’ as to overlook His fullness of exultant joy.
Joy can, and should be, cultivated, just as faith or any other fruit of the Spirit is cultivated:
1. By appropriating by faith the words that were spoken and written for the express purpose that we might have fullness of joy. ‘Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,’ wrote Paul to the Romans (Romans 15:13). It is by believing.
2. By meditating on these words and holding them in our minds and hearts as we would hold honey in our mouths until we have got all the sweetness out of them.
3. By exercise, even as faith or love or patience is exercised. This we do by rejoicing in the Lord and praising God for His goodness and mercy, and by shouting when the joy wells up in our souls under the pressure of the Holy Spirit. Many people quench the Spirit of joy and praise, and so gradually lose it. But let them repent, confess, pray and believe and then begin to praise God again. He will see to it that they have something to praise Him for, and their joy will convict sinners and prove a mighty means of winning them to Jesus.
Who can estimate the power there must have been in the joy that filled the heart of Peter and surged through the souls, beamed on the faces, and flashed from the eyes of the one hundred and twenty fire-baptized disciples, while he preached that Pentecostal sermon which won three thousand bigoted enemies to the cross of a crucified Christ.