David prayed, 'Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. . . . Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation; and uphold me with Thy free Spirit. Then will I teach transgressors Thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto Thee' (Ps. li. 10, 12, 13). He recognized that the blessing of a clean heart would give him wisdom and power and the spirit to teach sinners, and to so teach them that they would be converted. It is the same truth that Jesus expressed when He said, 'First cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye' (Matt. vii. 5). The beam is inbred sin; the mote is the transgressions that result from inbred sin. The following are some of the results of a clean heart:
I. A clean heart filled with the Spirit makes a soul-winner out of the man who receives the blessing. It was so on the day of Pentecost, when the disciples, having their hearts purified by fire and filled with the Holy Spirit, won three thousand souls to the Lord in one meeting. With the blessing of a clean heart comes a passion of love for Jesus, and with it a passionate desire for the salvation and sanctification of men. It makes apostles, prophets, martyrs, missionaries, and fiery-hearted soul-winners. It opens wide and clear the channel of communion between God and the soul, so that His power, the power of the Holy Ghost, works through him who has a clean heart, surely convicting and graciously converting and sanctifying souls.
II. The blessing results in a constancy of spirit. The soul finds its perfect balance in God. Fickleness of feeling, uncertainty of temper, and waywardness of desire are gone, and the soul is buoyed up by steadiness and certainty. It no longer has to be braced up by vows and pledges and resolutions, but moves forward naturally, with quietness and assurance.
III. There is perfect peace. The warring element within is cast out, the fear of backsliding is gone, self no longer struggles for supremacy, for Jesus has become all and in all, and that word in Isaiah is fulfilled, 'Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee' (Isa. xxvi. 3), and the soul is made possessor of 'the peace of God, which passeth all understanding' (Phil. iv. 7)
The soul had 'peace with God' -- that is, a cessation of rebellion and strife -- when converted, but now it has the 'peace of God,' as the bay has the fullness of the sea. Anxiety about the future, and worry about the present and past go. It took perfect faith to get a clean heart, and perfect faith destroys fret and worry. They cannot abide in the same heart. Said a saint, 'I cannot trust and worry at the same time.' John Wesley said, 'I would as soon swear as fret.'
IV. Joy is perfected. There may be sorrow and heaviness on account of manifold temptations, there may be great trials and perplexities, but the joy of the Lord, which is his strength, flows and throbs through the heart of him who is sanctified like a great Gulf Stream in an unbroken current. God becomes his joy. David knew this when he said, 'Then will I go . . . unto God my exceeding joy' (Ps. xliii. 4).
Probably not all who have the blessing of a clean heart realize this full joy, but they may, if they will take time to commune with God and appropriate the promises to themselves. Jesus said, 'Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full' (John xvi. 24.) And John said, 'These things write we unto you, that your joy may be full' (I John i. 4). And again Jesus said, 'I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you' (John xvi. 22).
This joy could not be beaten out of Paul and Silas with many stripes, but bubbled up and overflowed at the midnight hour in the dark dungeon, when their feet were in the stocks and their backs were bruised and torn. It turned Madame Guyon's cell into a palace, and Bedford Jail into an ante-room of Beulah Land and Heaven, from which the saintly tinker saw the Delectable Mountains and the Citizens of the Celestial City. Glory to God! It makes a death-bed 'soft as downy pillows are.'
V. Love is made perfect. To be born of God is to have Divine love planted in the heart. 'Like begets like,' and when we are born of God we are made partakers of His nature. And 'God is love.' But this love is comparatively feeble in the new convert, and there is much remaining corruption in the heart to check and hinder, if not to destroy it; but when the heart is cleansed, all conflicting elements are destroyed and cast out, and the heart is filled with patient, humble, holy, flaming love. Love is made perfect. It flames upwards towards God, and spreads abroad toward all men. It abides in the heart, not necessarily as a constantly overflowing emotion, but always as an unfailing principle of action, which may burst into emotion at any time. It may suffer, being abused and ill-treated, but it 'is kind.' Others may be promoted and advanced beyond it, but it 'envieth not.' It may be subjected to pressure of all kinds, but it vaunteth not itself.' It is not rash. It may prosper, but it 'is not puffed up.' Love 'doth not behave itself unseemly,' or, as John Wesley said, 'is not ill-bred.'
Love 'seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil,' is not suspicious. Love 'rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.' An evangelist was abused: his enemies were professing Christians, but 'they backslid. His friends rejoiced, but he grieved. His heart was full of love, and he could not rejoice in the triumph of iniquity even over his enemies. Love 'beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.' Love 'never faileth' (I Cor. xiii. 4-8).
VI. The Bible becomes a new book. It becomes self-interpreting. God is in it speaking to the soul. I do not mean by this that all the types and prophecies are made plain to the unlearned man, but all that is necessary to salvation he finds and feeds upon in the Bible. He now understands the word of Jesus, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God' (Matt. iv. 4). Like Job he can say: 'I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food ' (Job xxiii. 12) and like David, rejoices in it 'as one that findeth great spoil' (Ps. cxix. 162). Like the blessed man, he meditates therein day and night, that he may observe to do according to all that is written therein, that his profiting may appear to all.
VII. It begets the shepherd spirit, and destroys the spirit of lordship over God's heritage. Peter was not like many that have followed him, for instead of lording it over the flock, he wrote, 'The elders which are among you I exhort, who am . . . a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock' (1 Pet. v. 1-3). If the cleansed man is a superior, it makes him patient and considerate; if a subordinate, willing and obedient. It is the fruitful root of courtesy, of pity, of compassion and of utterly unselfish devotion. 'The Good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep ' (John x. 11).
VIII. Temptation is quickly recognized as such, and is easily overcome through steadfast faith in Jesus. The holy man takes the shield of faith, and with it quenches all the fiery darts of the enemy.
IX. Divine courage possesses the heart. The sanctified man sings with David, 'I will not fear: what can man do unto me?', (Ps. cxviii. 6). 'Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear' (Ps. xxvii. 3). And with Paul, 'I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me' (Phil. iv. 3)' for 'we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us' (Rom. viii. 37).
X. There is a keener sense than ever before of the weakness of the flesh, the absolute inability of man to help us, and of our own utter dependence on God for all things. The pure heart sings evermore, 'The Blood, the Blood -- is all my plea.'
XI. The cleansed man makes a covenant with his eyes, and is careful which way and how he looks. He also remembers the words of Jesus, 'Take heed therefore how ye hear' (Luke viii. 18), and again, 'Take heed what ye hear' (Mark iv. 24). Likewise he bridles his tongue and seasons his words with salt, not with sugar; salt is better than sugar for seasoning, but it is only for seasoning. He remembers: 'That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment' (Matt. xii. 36). He does not despise the day of small things, and he can content himself with mean things. Finally, he realizes that the common deeds of the common day Are ringing bells in the far-away, and he lives as seeing Him who is invisible,' and with glad humility and whole-hearted fidelity discharges his duty with an eye single to the glory of God, without any itching desire for the honor that man can give, or other reward than the ' well done' of the Lord.
The Personal Experience Of The Soul Winner
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 my iniquities. Create within me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within 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 51:10-42.) He saw that before he could be a soul-winner, before he could teach transgressors the way of the Lord and 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 have a definite, constant, joyful experience of God's salvation in his own soul in order to save others. It was no "hope-I-am-saved" experience 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.
It must be a definite experience that tallies with the Word of God. Only this can give that power and assurance to a man which will enable him to lead and win other men. You must have knowledge before imparting knowledge. You must have fire 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 others to Him. 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, and had waited with prayer and unquenchable desire until he had 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 3,000 converts in a day.
Paul was mightily converted on the road to Damascus, and heard the voice of Jesus tell him what 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, William Taylor, James Caughey, Moody and General Booth, 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" so. but they knew "whom they believed." and that they had passed from darkness into 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. It is not until God bursts through the veil and reveals Himself in their hearts through faith in His dear Son. and gives a consciousness of personal acceptance with Him, and sheds abroad His love in the heart, destroying unbelief, burning away sin, consuming selfishness, and filling the soul with the passion that filled the heart of Jesus, that men become soul-winners.
The experience that makes a man a soul-winner is two-fold. First, he must know his sins forgiven; he must have recognized himself a sinner, out of friendly relation with God, and 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 sorrow for and an utter turning away from sin, followed by a confiding trust in Jesus Christ as his Saviour. He must have so believed as to bring a restful consciousness that for Christ's sake his sins have been forgiven and 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." Second: 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 every unholy temper are destroyed by the baptism of the Holy Ghost -- personal Pentecost -- and the incoming of a great love for, and loyalty to, Jesus Christ, before he can be largely used to win souls.
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 men 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 not be likely to produce conviction and beget faith in their hearers
Dr. Asa Mahan lived in the enjoyment of full salvation for over fifty years, and only once felt a slight uprising of temper. Finney, Wesley, Fletcher and Bramwell, like Enoch, walked with God, and so walked "in the power of the Spirit" constantly, and were soul-winners all their lives, even to old age.
III. It must be a joyful experience. "The joy of the Lord is your strength," said Nehemiah. "Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation," prayed David. "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 Bedford dungeon. He says, "So I was led home to prison, and I sat me down and wrote and wrote because joy did make me write." Hallelujah!
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 might be full," wrote John. (1 John 1:4) "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy," wrote Paul, and again he writes, "The Kingdom of God is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost." "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 thought of Jesus as "the Man of Sorrows" until we overlook His fullness of exultant joy. (Luke 10:21; John 15: 11)
Joy can be cultivated and should be, as is faith or any other fruit of the Spirit
(1) By appropriating by faith the words that were spoken and written for the express purpose of giving us fullness of joy. "Now the God of hope will fill you with all joy and peace in believing," Wrote Paul to the Romans. It is by believing.
(2) By meditating on these words and holding them in our minds and hearts until we have gotten all the sweetness out of them as we would hold honey in our mouths.
(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 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 and 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 and 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?
O Lord, still "make Thy ministers a flame of fire," and flood the world with Thy mighty joy!