Introduction

The year 2014 was my first year of retirement.  It was a year when I didn’t have to report to an office or focus on deadlines established on behalf of an employer—be it City Hall, a hospital, or a college.  As a result, I was able to invest part of my time in reading and writing.  In these essays I hope to explain why and how I have experienced my life as a complex but integrated and unified person, made up of spirit, soul, and body.  Furthermore, I hope to show how this understanding helps me to read God’s Word, pray, and live my day-to-day life as one who abides in the Lord Jesus Christ and trusts Him in all things.

            My motivation is to share with others how God has shaped and guided my life.   Our Triune God is my firm foundation—the Rock—for my life. I hope to share my testimony with both the current and future generations and to give honor to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  My specific objectives are:

#1: Explain to the next generation our God’s greatness, love, and mercy, by sharing key experiences, emphasizing the guidance and the influence of the Holy Spirit in my life.

#2: Introduce and review Christian writers and pastors who have helped me to know God and myself, and to understand the world, hoping that these writers can also help my readers in these key areas.

 #3: Describe the life changing effect of understanding my soul to be made up of my mind, emotions, and will, and that my whole being is defined as spirit, soul, and body.

#5: Encourage you, my readers, to dig deep into your Bible and see for yourself what God has in store for you.

            My method to reach my objectives is to offer a three-part pamphlet.   The first part is an  essay which shares a series of experiences in my life’s journey.  I will call the first essay, “Stories in my Life’s Journey.”  The second part is an essay that summarizes the work of certain Christian writers who have helped me navigate and understand my life’s journey.  I will call the second essay, “The Case for Life as Spirit-Soul-Body.”  The third part is an essay that describes the Biblical and practical application of the insights of the first two essays.

ESSAY #1: STORIES ON MY LIFE’S JOURNEY

Story 1: From New Jersey to Washington to Michigan back to New Jersey

I have always loved books, learning, and the pursuit of formal education. As a result, after four challenging and successful years in a Christian high school in Northern New Jersey, I was active as a student in higher education for about 15 years, some full-time and other years as a part-time student. Nevertheless, and perhaps because of all this formal education, most of it in secular settings,  I have been confused about the nature of man and the choices that faced me in life with regard to my Christian faith.  With regard to one very life-defining choice, let me tell you a little of myself in the form of a confession—the confession of a seminary dropout.         

            In 1969 I read the Good News New Testament during the Christmas break to make a decision: do I really believe the Bible and its revelation of Jesus Christ?   As a college senior at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., I had already decided to go to seminary, and it was for that reason I was studying Greek, getting ready to attend Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  My complete reading of the New Testament at that time helped me to say, “Yes, I believe!”  I had confessed this three years earlier, when I made  public profession  of faith as a high school senior,  and in the final days of 1969 I was convinced in my mind that my confession had been true and reasonable.

             My original purpose for college in Washington, D.C. was to prepare myself for the political world, perhaps as a lawyer, and to make a difference, using my Christian world and life view.   Certainly, I had said to myself, after thirteen years in Christian schools, I was ready to live, thrive, and practice my faith in the secular world.  With a full-tuition scholarship in hand, it was a simple decision, so I thought, to forgo the normal route at my high school, which was to attend Calvin College in Michigan, and immediately begin to impact the world at a secular university. 

            My doubts did not completely subside after that last week of 1969, when I privately reaffirmed my faith in Jesus Christ.  My courses in philosophy and the history of ideas had taken a toll on my mind and my Christian world and life view. It was a time of major demonstrations in Washington, D.C.: the poor people’s campaign and the anti-war demonstrations.  Then, as I worked part-time on Capitol Hill in 1968 and 1969 I realized that mankind’s real problem was spiritual, not social, economic, or political.  That was one of the reasons I decided to prepare for full-time ministry in the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) by going to Calvin Seminary.

            Within four months in seminary in 1970,   I realized that the role of a student preparing for the ministry in the CRC was not for me.  The main barrier for me in that role was that I did not believe, I did not understand, I had not experienced the work and power of the Holy Spirit in my life.  I was expecting a logical rationale for taking the Bible seriously as the Word of God.  However, after a few months I realized that it all depended on the Holy Spirit, the true author of the Scriptures and the person of the Trinity upon whom we must depend.  

            When asked by one of the seminary professors why I was leaving, I replied, with little hesitation, that I did not believe in the Holy Spirit.  Nevertheless, I stayed at the seminary for a full academic year.  My priority at that time was ethics, particularly the ethical basis for ending the Viet Nam War and for continuing and expanding the war on poverty, and I took courses with professors that met my interests and passions in these areas. 

            Looking back, I can now identify other factors that contributed to my dropping out of   seminary, such as:

  • An incorrect view of worship and my personal neglect of prayer;
  • My disregard for personal holiness;
  • My inattention to a serious study of the Word of God;
  • No personal experience in the presence of our Triune God;
  • A distorted view of the Kingdom of God , with too much emphasis on social-political action;
  • My reluctance to understand and accept doctrines, such as election and predestination;
  • No fellowship with Jesus Christ and no joy in my personal relationship with Him;

                        What was it in my college experience that led to my long term battle with doubt within my Christian walk?  I realized the extent of my doubt and its consequences in 1971 in the quiet of my parents’ home at the dining room while I was doing some morning reading in the Bible.  As I was reading the first chapter of James, God’s Word was very clear and struck me to the core:  “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.  But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.”    James 1: 5—8 (NIV)

            I realized that I was a double-minded, unstable young man.  But what had caused it?  As a graduate with high academic standing of a highly rated Christian high school, I had been confident five years prior to my dining room experience that my Christian faith was firm and would be the foundation by which I could impact the world for Christ’s kingdom.  The causes for my doubt were numerous.  First of all, I had heard and paid attention to a pervasive point of view in my history and philosophy classes: the Bible is not a special revelation from God; it is literature written by human beings and it is representative of the thinking of the ancient world at the time when the various documents were written. 

            Secondly, I heard claims from most professors that there is no historic evidence of certain Biblical stories, such as the stories of Joseph, the 430 year sojourn of the nation of Israel in Egypt, the Exodus that followed, Israel’s 40 years in the wilderness, and the entry and conquest of the land of Canaan. As I reflect upon these false claims today, I ask myself, why not accept as true the historic accounts that the Bible gives us?  Thirdly, geology class was a significant challenge for me, since I was presented with very convincing argument that a six day creation account, one that took place about 6,000 years ago, is not supported by the geologic evidence.  However, even in those college days I had told myself that the age of the earth is not the critical factor.  It is God who is originator of all we see; He is eternal, with no beginning, and he started it all!

            Fourthly, I was intrigued by the various arguments for the existence of God, arguments that we had to examine in my first course in philosophy.  I found the pro’s and cons for the existence of God often difficult to understand, remember and articulate.  Nevertheless, I continued to explore these issues as an undergraduate, even though I soon began to realize that there is no one simple, logical argument either for or against God’s existence.

TED TALKS

            Let me stop here for a moment before sharing my next story.  As a birthday gift in 2016 our oldest son and his family gave me a book that I had never heard of before: How to Talk Like TED. Who was Ted?  I soon learned that TED talks have become very popular on www.ted.com and on U-Tube.  TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design.  A successful TED talk is a eighteen minute talk that is characterized by what  Carmine Gallo calls the 9 public-speaking secrets of the world’s top minds: (Gallo, pages 1—248)

  1. Passion: unleash the master within;
  2. Master the art of storytelling;
  3. Have a conversation;
  4. Teach me something new;
  5. Deliver jaw dropping moments;
  6. Lighten up;
  7. Stick to the 18-minute rule;
  8. Paint a mental picture with multisensory experiences;
  9. Stay in your lane: be authentic, and transparent.

A second book, TED Talks, makes the case that a TED talk is more effective in communicating an idea or concept than a paper, article or book.  According to Chris Anderson, the current head of TED, “Done right, a talk is more powerful than anything in written form.” (p. xi)  For that reason I have considered revamping my written material into TED talks.  There is no doubt in my mind that I prefer the written word.  However, I believe that what is being written here is so important that I would love to find ways to make these claims and insights more readily and effectively available to my intended audiences.  For now, however, let me continue my written stories.

Story 2: The Case for God (1973) and Finding My Wife

            All of the factors in Story 1 were prelude to the most important experience of my life.  During my graduate student internship in the New York offices of the U.S. Department of Labor, my desk was next to a very beautiful and bright woman’s workstation, one that had several pictures of individuals who I assumed were her sons.  One day I sneezed and she said the polite, “God bless you.”  That was all I needed to hear, this was my opening for some communications with this wonderful woman.  At the same time I could put into motion my high-level learning with regard to the arguments for the existence of God.  I responded with the question: How do you know there is a God?  She responded with the best answer anyone can ever give to that question.  Her reply was this: “I have experienced God.”  Wow.  What an answer! There is no better answer and no reasoning or argument can prevail against someone else’s experience.  Once I investigated the precise nature of all the pictures on her desk, I learned that they were all pictures of her one and only son from her first marriage.  Then I learned that she was available.  That was all I needed to know and my pursuit was in high gear, since I had found what I was yearning for: an articulate Christian woman who was smart and spoke her mind.

I now see God’s sense of humor, His love for me, and His sovereignty.  As I spent my Friday evenings with Dolores in her Pentecostal church on the Lower Eastside of New York City, I would often ask myself, “What am I doing here?”  This is not me!  But of course, God knew what He was doing.  After our marriage in 1975 we participated in and became active in churches that were affiliated with the Assemblies of God and later with an independent Pentecostal church up through 1987.

Story 3: Experiencing the Holy Spirit

Many years later, in September 2009 I had a special experience at Brooklyn Tabernacle in Brooklyn, New York.  It was a time when I was close to retirement and Dolores had already retired. My work experience covered 20 years as an administrator in the city hall of Elizabeth, NJ, and 20 years combined as a director of grants for two hospital systems and a county college in Essex County, NJ.  Dolores’s career was with the U.S. Department of Labor, where she finished as the Certifying Officer for Foreign Labor Certification in Region I.  Throughout our lives we had been active in churches, which included the period of 1988 through 2008 as leaders in the Christian & Missionary Alliance Church in Elizabeth, NJ.

            Dolores, and I were sitting in the third row of the beautifully restored theatre in downtown Brooklyn.  That Sunday morning at the conclusion of his message Pastor Cymbala  challenged the church to stand up and come to the front of the church to commit to a life of holiness.  His message was on Peter’s call to holiness in I Peter 1:13—16.   I immediately realized that the message was challenging me to a painful self-examination and a full transformation of my thoughts, feelings, and behavior.    The first chapter of I Peter had always been one of my favorite passages because I liked Peter’s instruction to prepare my mind for action.  My priorities since my days in junior high school were to develop my mind for action, as evidenced by my commitment to higher education and lifelong learning and the award of several degrees, including a Ph.D. in public administration.

            However, Peter’s focus on holiness never had struck me as particularly important or compelling.  But on that particular Sunday I was the first one from the audience of about 3,500 to rush from my seat to stand next to Pastor Cymbala, who laid his hands upon my head as he prayed for me and as I sobbed tears of regret and repentance.  Looking back, it was a Holy Spirit anointed experience that touched my emotions, feelings and thoughts.  It was certainly not my usual experience of objective analysis and reflection.  The Pastor had called upon those in attendance to consider personally the challenge and guidance of the Holy Spirit to “be holy in all you do.”  Peter had explained that certain matters had been told “by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven.”  Peter’s word was for me as an obedient child not to “conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.”  Instead, I was to be holy in all I did, just as “He who called you is holy.” 

            As I listened to this Sunday morning sermon on holiness and as I stood in front of the auditorium’s steps that lead to a large stage where the Brooklyn Tabernacle’s inspirational choir was singing, I realized that ever since my junior high days I had not been pro-active in pursuing a holy life.  Outsiders did not see it, but I had been waging an inner struggle with my flesh and with the world’s spiritual forces and values.  It was a battle that almost destroyed our marriage and my relationship with the Lord.

I am a thinker and a reader.  Expressing emotions and feelings does not come naturally to me.  Therefore, after my transforming experience at Brooklyn Tabernacle on that Sunday morning, I continued my quest for self-understanding through a disciplined pursuit of knowledge through God’s Word   and through the writings of others—Christian leaders who had experienced God, were immersed in God’s Word and empowered by His Holy Spirit.  Included in this group was Pastor Jim Cymbala, whose books, published by the prominent Zondervan publishing house, are an excellent guide as to how a person like me can be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Dolores and I have continued to attend Brooklyn Tabernacle on a regular basis   Our pattern had been to make the 40 minute trip from our home in New Jersey by crossing Staten Island, going over the Verrazano Bridge into Brooklyn, and then returning by way of the Manhattan Bridge and Canal Street through the Holland Tunnel back into New Jersey.  Now that we are both retired, we spend 50% of a week—from Sunday to Wednesday– in our Brooklyn apartment, which is within walking distance of the church.  During the balance of the week we enjoy personal retreats at our country house in Eastern Pennsylvania, where we have an incredible view of the Blue Mountain, ten miles from the Delaware River. Our weekly routine is cruising on Interstate 78 from Easton, PA to the Holland Tunnel, crawling through Canal Street, across the Manhattan Bridge, to our apartment in Brooklyn.

Pastor Cymbala delivers sermons that always seem to “hit the spot.”  I have never been disappointed with his messages and he regularly points his audience to Bible-based truths that are both simple and profound.  One such sermon was on Philippians 4:23, where Paul ends his letter with the hope and prayer that “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.”  Pastor Cymbala’s emphasis was on what he believed to be Paul’s great insight, namely, that it is through our spirit that God by His Holy Spirit draws us to Himself.   This viewpoint is also evident in A.B. Simpson’s Wholly Sanctified, as we shall see in Essay 2 , where we shall refer to a series of Christian writers to make the case for seeing ourselves as an inter-related whole made up of spirit, soul, and body.

Story 4:  CANCER

In early 2015 I had a completely new experience.  I had finished the first draft of this essay and I had circulated copies among some trusted friends for feedback.  It was the beginning of January when I received the news that no one wants to hear—I had prostate cancer.  After a two readings of a high PSA count, a biopsy, and some other tests, it was confirmed that I had an aggressive cancer in and around my prostate.  The urologist reported that without treatment, the prostate cancer would cause death within three years. What to do? I had written about divine healing in my essay, which was now being reviewed by my friends.  I believed that God does heal, both unilaterally without medical interventions and with and through healthcare treatment. One of my first steps was to send out a call for intercessory pray to about thirty men and then with the advice and counsel of Dolores and our son, a medical doctor in New York City, I underwent surgery to remove the prostate and the surrounding cancerous cells at Manhattan’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC).

We kept in touch with our prayer partners throughout the process, keeping them up-to-date with five emails through November, 2015.  In June, 2015, we reported the good news that the PSA as at zero (i.e. actually at an acceptable .05), which is the benchmark for being cancer free once a man’s prostate is removed.  However, in August, 2015, I had to report to our prayer partners that my PSA was .012, which was a reading which was not what we were praying and hoping for. In our email on November, 2015, we advised those who were following my cancer experience and praying for Dolores and me that I would be undergoing a six month radiation plan at MSKCC in Manhattan over an eight week period, which would be combined with anti-hormonal therapy.  The oncologist’s goal for me was to reduce my PSA back to zero.  As of this writing, I thank God for the results of my recent PSA blood tests and an MRI: I am cancer free.  I praise God for my healing and I am very grateful to all those who prayed for me and for Dolores, my supportive, loving and faithful wife.

ESSAY Two: The Case for Life as Spirit-Soul-Body

SECTION 1: Introducing A.B. Simpson

Sanctification

A.B. Simpson’s description of sanctification is based on I Thessalonians 5:23, where Paul pleads for his fellow believers: “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.” (NIV)  Paul continues with a precise description of the three part make-up of man: “May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Simpson bases his view of sanctification on this insight as to the threefold nature of our being, and this insight forms the basis for informing our minds as to how to think, feel and behave as we thrive day to day, living out the doctrine of sanctification.

What follows is a step-by-step description, along with some analysis, of written accounts that have helped me to develop a better understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit in my personal journey.

SPIRIT

      Simpson begins with the spirit, and as he transitions to describe the soul, he observes that “we have already seen in the threefold division of our being that the spirit represents the higher and divine element that knows, trusts, loves, resembles and glorifies God.” (1991, p.41) The spirit, says Simpson, is “the divine element in man, or perhaps more correctly, that which is cognizant of God.”   Simpson claims that “it is not the intellectual or mental or aesthetic or sensational part of man, “but the spiritual, the higher nature, that which recognizes and holds converse with the heavenly and the divine.”(1991, p. 21)

Simpson paints a picture of our spirit that is compelling and convincing.  This picture is summarized in Table 1.

Table 1: A Picture of our Spirit, per A.B. Simpson
Knows God
Recognizes the difference between right and wrong
Chooses, purposes, determines and thus practically decides the whole question of our action and obedience
Trusts God
Loves God
Glorifies God
Enjoys God

            Simpson points out that the spirit is the moral element in human nature.  “It is the region where conscience speaks and reigns.”  He explains that “it is the seat of righteousness and purity and sanctity.  It is that which resembles God, the new man created in righteousness and true holiness after His image.”  He advises us that “everyone must be conscious of such an element in his being and feel that it is different from the mere faculties of the understanding or the feelings of the heart.” (1991, p. 22)

            Simpson challenges us to seek a sanctified spirit.  Sanctification is a basic Christian doctrine which was part of my church’s catechism training as a teenager.  I was expected to memorize the definition: “Sanctification may be defined as that gracious and continuous operation of the Holy Spirit by which He purifies the sinner, renews his whole nature in the image of God, and enables him to perform good works.” (Berkhof, p. 143)

            As I stood next to Pastor Cymbala and being totally shaken, I realized that I had truly blown it. (See Story 3.)  As I now reflect upon that experience and the years of moral erosion that preceded this turning point, I realize that my view of sanctification was inadequate, and, if not lacking in theory, certainly had been ignored or poorly followed.

            Going back to Simpson’s era—the late 19th and early 20th centuries, we can see a much more dynamic view of sanctification as we read his writings.  Abraham Benjamin (A.B.) Simpson has been one of my heroes for the past thirty years.  Born in Canada and trained in the Reformed/Presbyterian tradition, he left the prominent Thirteenth Street Presbyterian Church in New York City when he realized his new commitments to divine healing and adult immersion for water baptism were not compatible with the Presbyterian tradition.   Concerned about New York’s poor and the world’s masses, A.B. Simpson became a leader in an international movement that evolved into a Protestant denomination now known as the Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) .  He was also instrumental in founding and establishing Nyack College, Seminary, and Graduate School, which is now located in Nyack, New York, and New York City. (Tozer, 1943, p. 85)

            Sanctification, said Simpson, means “our voluntary separation from evil.  It is not the extinction of evil.  It is the putting off, the laying aside of evil by detaching of ourselves from it and placing an impassable gulf between us and it.  We are to separate ourselves not only from our past sins but from sin as a principle of life.” (1991, p. 9)        

            A sanctified spirit, according to Simpson, is a spirit that is separated from sin, dedicated to God, and anointed by the Holy Spirit.  Separation involves “an act of will by which we renounce evil in every form in which it is made manifest to our conscience and brought into light.” (1991, p. 10) The next step of separation, says Simpson, is that we “also separate ourselves from the old world and its embodiment of the old natural condition of things and the kingdom of the prince of evil.” As part of this sanctifying process of the spirit, says Simpson, the Holy Spirit leads us to “a deeper separation not only from the evil but also from the earthly.”  (p. 11) The Holy Spirit lifts us into a supernatural life, which Simpson describes by pointing to I Corinthians 15:54—“the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.”

            The sanctified spirit is also dedicated: “…wholly given to God, to know Him, to choose His will, to resemble His character, to trust His Word, to love Him supremely, to glorify Him only, to enjoy Him wholly, and to belong to Him utterly, unreservedly, and forever.” (p. 30)

SOUL

Simpson also describes the sanctified soul.  He reminds us that “everyone of us is conscious of certain elements of the soul, such as understanding, tastes, affections, passions, and appetites.”  He adds, “all of these need to be sanctified and used for their highest ends—the glory of God, the good of others, and our welfare.” He completes the picture of a sanctified soul by suggesting that all the attributes and faculties of the soul are separated from sin and dedicated to God; they are also to be filled with the Spirit and life of God.” (1991, 41—46)

             One step towards a sanctified soul is to ask the question, “Have we learned to withdraw our attention and perceptions from all that is unholy and to refuse the forbidden things?” He recommends that “we also should separate ourselves from thoughts as well as objects that are not purifying.”  He suggests that we must suppress evil thoughts and unnecessary thoughts: “A great many people wear their minds out with useless thinking.  Much of the waste of brain and dead pain in the cerebellum is not due to overwork for God, but is due to a thousand cares and questions which did nobody any good and did us infinite harm.”  He adds that “our imaginations and thoughts must be suppressed until we learn to wait in stillness, for God’s voice and God’s thoughts.”  Simpson warns us that “we must also cease from the unholy activities of the memory as it dwells on the forbidden past and of the imagination as it builds its vain castles in the air or makes temptation vivid and real before the fascinated soul.” (1991, 47-50)   In today’s world this means to be very selective and deserving in what we watch in TV shows or movies, what Internet sites we visit, what we read, and what we focus on via our smart phones.

            A second step is to be separated from sin, dedicated to God and empowered by the Holy Spirit.  Simpson observed that we must learn to cease from sinful activities and “to hold ourselves unto God for His complete direction and possession.”  Dedication of all aspects of the soul to God is also crucial for the Christian.  For example, Simpson asks, “Is our whole power of thought and reason and judgment and decision wholly yielded to Him, to know and do His will?” (1991, p. 50)

The third step towards a sanctified soul is for God and his Holy Spirit to fill our understanding and intellect: “The Holy Spirit is a quickening force to the consecrated intellect.” To elaborate, Simpson points out that “minds that have been dull and obscure before have risen beneath His touch to the highest intellectual attainments and the mightiest achievements of human achievement.”  He points to Augustine, who was “the teacher to twelve centuries and the father of evangelical theology,” and also to Wilberforce, a young, aristocratic Englishman, who was instrumental in stopping the slave trade in the early part of the 19th Century.  “From the hour in which he gave himself to God,” says Simpson of William Wilberforce, “every power in his intellect seemed to be awakened and intensified until he became the champion of the greatest movement of modern philanthropy and the honored and successful leader of his country in one of the greatest social movements of English history.” (1991, 51—52)

            Simpson tells us that there is a distinct baptism of the Holy Ghost for the mind as well as for the spirit. (p. 53) Table 2 shows us the distinctions suggested by Simpson.

Table 2: Baptism of the Holy Spirit
FOR THE MIND (i.e. aspect of the soul) FOR THE SPIRIT
Soundness of judgment Earnestness
Clearness of expression Faith
Pungency of thought Love
Power of utterance Courage
Attractiveness of style Unction
  Heavenly fire

            Simpson also applies his three-part prescription of separation, dedication and Holy Spirit empowerment to the emotions and affections of the heart, which he calls the “most interesting class of our mental qualities.”  He asks the question, “Are you willing to separate your heart and your love from all forbidden love, every unhallowed friendship and every purely selfish affection, and to let Christ be the Master of your heart and its chief object of affection and delight?” (p. 59)

BODY

            Spirit. Soul. Body. Simpson also addresses the body in terms of a body separated from sin, a body dedicated to God, and a body filled with the Holy Spirit.  He makes some very practical suggestions that apply to our culture as well as his:

  • “A sanctified tongue is a true tongue.  It is cleansed from every form of falsehood, equivocation, deception and lying, whether it be the daring perjury of the criminal, or the polite prevarication of fashionable society.” (p. 66)
  • A sanctified tongue “has learned the golden habit of stillness and finds its greatest blessing in its own suppression and habit of silence and communion with God.” (p. 67)
  • “The sanctified body is a body that has been cleansed from the sins of the eyes…It refuses to see the faults of others or to dwell upon the spectacle of temptation or the fascination of vice.” (p. 67)
  • “The sanctified body is a body whose dress is free from worldliness and sin, and marked by that modesty that neither attracts attention by its being excessive or defective.”             (p. 69)

My wife and I have often made the observation that people today, particularly women, are very careless, or are purposeful, in the way they dress.  Minimal clothing and maximum skin exposure seem to be their guidelines in the streets and in the office, on the TV screens and in the news rooms, in the ads, and, sadly, even in church.  Simpson’s practical suggestions certainly address what we observe in our everyday world.

THREE OBSERVATIONS

Let us make three observations with regard to Simpson’s view of man’s threefold being and the doctrine of sanctification.  First of all, not all philosophers, theologians and students of human nature agree with Simpson’s analysis.  For example, Berkouwer, the theologian who informed and guided much of the Reformed interpretation of the Scriptures in the Christian Reformed denomination, where I was raised, suggests that “in our discussion of man we are dealing with the whole man, and that we can never gain a clear understanding of the mystery of man if, in one way or another, we abstract mere components of the whole man.” (1962, p. 194) Berkouwer seems to reject Simpson’s view that the spirit is “higher” or “closer to God” than other parts of his make-up, by pointing out that it is “unlikely that the Biblical view of man will distinguish a higher and a lower part in man implying that the higher part is holier than the lower and stands closer to God, the lower as such then being impure and sinful and further away from God of life.” (p. 203)

            However, I think there is much value in Simpson’s perspective and I believe that Simpson’s view is consistent with the Bible.  Supporting this view,  J. Rodman Williams, speaking  in 1972 at the  at the National Presbyterian Conference on the Holy Spirit in  St. Louis, Missouri, observed that  “Among countless numbers of people today in many churches an event or experience is happening which makes vivid the narrative of Acts 1 and 2 as contemporary event.”  Williams then made the claim that “There has been a breakthrough of God’s Spirit into their total existence—body, soul, and spirit—reaching into the conscious and subconscious depths, and setting loose powers hitherto unknown.” (1972, p. 2)

            Secondly, Andrew Murray (1828—1917) and A.B. Simpson (1843–1919), appear to be insubstantial agreement on the tripartite nature of man.   It is for that reason that I have coined a new phrase: Prepare for the 21st century by studying the 19th century.  But how can you say that about the late 1800’s, I have been asked, when it was also a period that introduced key challenges to the Bible, creating the roots of today’s liberalism in Christianity?  That is a valid question.  However, I think we do ourselves a disservice by not studying and understanding the contributions of Christian leaders such as Simpson and Murray and other gifted, Christian writers of that century.  Their contributions address many of the talking points that occupy us in Christendom today, and their contributions have withstood the test of over a hundred years.

            Thirdly, let’s get back to holiness.  Andrew Murray and Samuel Chadwick lived in different parts of the world, but their writings indicate that they were in agreement about God’s desire and provision for personal holiness.  Murray was a Reformed church pastor in South Africa; Chadwick was a Wesleyan pastor, teacher and principal in England.  They both lived in the latter part of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century.  They both are excellent guides for Christians in the 21st century.

            Murray tells us that God has an answer to the question, How could sinful man become holy?  The answer is “Christ, the Holy One of God.”  Says Murray, “Abiding by faith in Christ is the simple secret of the holy life.” (1979, p. 29)  Murray advises us not to “look not upon a life of holiness as a strain and an effort but as the natural outgrowth of the life of Christ within you.”(1979, p. 34)

            Chatfield points out that the term holiness “has ceased to attract even good people.”  He makes observation that seem to describe today’s culture rather than his own time, which was about 100 years ago: “There are many who regard it with suspicion, and some who dismiss it with scorn.”  To this problem Chatfield makes a strong and convincing claim: “The New Testament insists upon its necessity, urges its experience, and enforces its obligation.” (1937, p.  42)

            Chatfield insists that holiness is not optional, even though “there is little exposition of its character, and still less insistence upon its urgency.”  Then, he makes an observation that is, for me, profound and life changing: “Another mistake made by many earnest Christians about holiness is that it comes by a gradual growth and a steady progress of spiritual discipline.” It is not an achievement or an attainment, but a gift of grace in the Holy Ghost.  It comes not by works, but of faith.” (1937, p. 43)

            Chatfield describes holiness in terms that I never really heard or thought about. First, he makes a statement about sanctification that sounds quite familiar to what I was taught in catechism class: “The Scriptural method of sanctification is through the personal work of the Spirit of God.”  He suggests that “no two experiences are alike.’  Then he introduces what is new to me and a way of looking at sanctification and holiness that I had never before considered: “There is a conviction of need and a revelation of grace, a hunger and a search, a process and a crisis, an act of faith, and an assurance of cleansing.”  He summarizes it all through a statement of theology: “It is as distinctly a second work of grace as regeneration is a New Birth.”  The way to holiness, suggest Chatfield, “must be sought in the Holy Word and by the Holy Spirit, and the twofold guide will not fail those who seek with all their heart.” (p. 44) That was my experience, I believe, on that Sunday morning when I was overcome by tears and the Holy Spirit in response to Pastor Cymbala’s message on holiness. (See my Story 3.)

SECTION 2: Introducing Andrew Murray

In terms of age Andrew Murray was fifteen years ahead of A.B. Simpson, and in terms of geography he was many miles distant, with Simpson’s primary location being in New York City and Murray in South Africa.  Both traced their ancestry to Scotland.  Picture the year 1895.  Murray was 62 and Simpson was 47.  Note also that Dwight L. Moody, America’s great evangelist, was 63, and the man who was to take over part of Moody’s work, Reuben Archer (R.A.) Torrey was 34.  Grover Cleveland was President of the United States in that year.

Andrew Murray died at the age of 88. Our inside front cover gives his portrait at a much earlier age, a picture of a mature young man at the threshold of his ministry.  He is described by one of his biographers as having “an anointed” pen because he had an anointed heart.”(Choy, 2000, p. 21)  He wrote about 240 books and tracts which were published in fifteen languages and many of his books are being reprinted today, as is evident in visiting the Internet or a Christian bookstore.  Yes, I must also note that Murray wrote all his books originally in the Dutch language, which is special to me, since I was born in the Netherlands. 

As is evident in their writings, Murray and Simpson were in agreement about the nature of man.  Writing in 1884, Murray sets forth that the “account of creation tells us that man is composed of three parts.” (Divine Healing,  p. 365)  Murray reminds us that God first formed the body from the dust of the earth after which he breathed into it “the breath of life.”  (Genesis 2:7)  Murray tells us that God caused “his own life, His Spirit, to enter into it, with “it” being the body.  He calls this the “union of Spirit with matter, by which the man became a living soul.” (Genesis 2:7)

Murray observes that the soul, “which is essentially man, finds its place between the body and the spirit.”  He describes the soul as “the link that binds them together.”  Murray’s view of what he believes that Bible teaches about the nature of man is captured by this statement:

By the body, the soul finds itself in relation to the external world; by the spirit, it relates with the invisible world and with God. (Divine Healing, p. 365)

Murray restates his claim once again:

“By means of the soul, the spirit can subject the body to the creation of the heavenly process and, thus, spiritualize it; by means of the soul, the body can act on the spirit and attract it earthward.” (Divine Healing, p. 365)

Murray is making these major claims, I believe, based on his thorough reading and study of Scripture. He adds what I call one of his most major claims:

“The soul, subject to the solicitation of both spirit and body, is in a position to choose between the voice of God, speaking through the spirit, or to the voice of the world, speaking through the senses.  (Divine Healing, p. 365)

The manner in which Murray framed the choice that the soul must make is still relevant today, even though he described it some 125 years ago.  Through many years during and after my college experience, my soul was listening to the voices of the world through my senses, particularly the word’s demands to have all truth to be verifiable and for our senses to be entertained by anything that helped me to feel good through the lust of my eyes.  (See my Story 1.) I personally faced that choice when Pastor Cymbala’s message on I Peter 1:13–16 prompted me to go forward to confess my sin with regard to a life-time disregard for holiness. (See my Story 3.)

  Andrew Murray’s books have been my most favorite source of reading for the past five years.  What follows is a summary of some key themes in his writing.  The themes and the specific books that present his insights are displayed in Appendix A.  The topics that we will discuss are the Holy Spirit, Abiding in Christ, Prayer, God’s Indwelling, God’s Power, Holiness, Waiting on God, Fellowship, Healing, and Humility.

ANDREW MURRAY TOPIC #1: THE HOLY SPIRIT

            Andrew Murray tells us that his small book, Experiencing the Holy Spirit, (1984) “brings a simple but solemn message.  The one thing needed for the Church in its search for spiritual excellence is to be filled with the Spirit of God.”  Pastor Murray’s main points are: (pages 7-8)

  1.  “The will of God for every one of His children is that they live entirely and unceasingly under the control of the Holy Spirit.”
  2. Without being filled with the Spirit, it is impossible for an individual Christian or a church to ever live or work as God desires.”
  3. “In the life and experience of Christians, this blessing is little used and little searched for.”
  4. God waits to give us this blessing, and in our faith we may expect it with the greatest confidence.”
  5. “The self-life and the world HINDER and USURP the place that Christ ought to occupy.”
  6. “We cannot be filled with the Spirit until we are prepared to YIELD OURSLEVES to be led by the Lord Jesus—TO FORSAKE AND SACRIFICE EVERYTHING for this pearl of great price.”

            Pastor Murray also introduced a theme that he often repeats–WAITING: “Am I willing to wait on Him, in quiet trust until He gives me this supernatural gift—His own Spirit.” I can say with confidence that Experiencing the Holy Spirit gives the essence of Pastor Murray’s life teaching.  The themes that he covers in his many books are in this 133 page paperback book, which Dolores first gave me on Valentine’s Day, 2002.  I could have avoided a lot of pain for both her and me if I had paid attention to his message in these pages when I first received it.  My book notes show that I read it several times since 2002, but the key message has not really penetrated my spirit and soul until very recently.  The book is still readily available today.

Chapter 6 explains how the Holy Spirit is to be obtained by us as a second blessing.  As Christians we can agree with Murray that we could not have made our initial commitment to Christ, the step of justification, without the Holy Spirit.  However, he makes the case for what I have experienced—the second blessing of the Holy Spirit.  If I had not experienced this blessing prior to, September, 2009, at Brooklyn Tabernacle, I certainly experienced it then.(See my Story 3.) Table 3 describes the steps suggested by Pastor Murray for this second blessing.

Table  3: Andrew Murray’ s Suggested Steps in Obtaining a Second Blessing of the Holy Spirit
Step 1: Develop and maintain a firm confidence that the blessing is actually within our reach. (p. 62)
Step 2: Admit that you do not have this blessing. (p. 62)
Step 3: Abandon all power and hope in yourself so that you can receive this full blessing as a free gift of divine omnipotence. (p. 66)
Step 4: “Believe that God has given you the fullness of the Spirit.” (p. 68)
Step 5: “Know, not be reasoning but by experience, that you have actually received the Holy Spirit.”  (p. 69)

Murray’s writings on the Holy Spirit appeared prior to the 20th Century’s rift within American Christianity when Pentecostalism emerged, or we might say “broke out”, starting on Azusa Street in Los Angeles and spreading throughout our nation in the 1900’s and beyond. (Bartleman, 1925, 1962)  To what extent Murray’s writings contributed to this movement of the Holy Spirit is subject to the research of scholars who use the tools of the historians to examine the past, looking for cause and effect and the development of trends and movements.  Based on what we observe today, however, it is very possible that contemporary Christians who are uncomfortable with Pentecostal Christians might be suspect of any title that references the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, I am delighted to introduce another great book by Pastor Murray: Abide in Christ.

ANDREW MURRAY TOPIC #2: ABIDING IN CHRIST

Murray’s Abide in Christ first appeared in 1860, written in the Dutch language, and it was very well-received.  According to his biographer, the book has changed the lives of countless saints. (Choy, 2000)   The book is still very popular today and a wonderful guide to Christian living.  It is based on Jesus’ teaching on the Vine in John 15:1—12.  This passage, the favorite of many, reads:

     “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.  You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.  Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” (John 15:1—4, NKJV)        “I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them in the fire, and they are burned.  If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.  By this My father is glorified that you bear much fruit, so you will be My disciples.”. (John 15: 5—8, NKJV)        “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.  If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” (John 15: 9—10, NKJV)      “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.  This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. (John 15:11-12, NKJV)

            Pastor Murray gives us an overview of his key points in the book’s preface and first chapter. As Point #1, he asserts that orthodox (i.e. conservative, Bible-based) churches focus on the atonement and the pardon of sin (i.e. through intellectual assent) but not on abiding in Christ (i.e. the daily/hourly experience of our union with Christ).  Here Murray presents his argument:

IF in our orthodox churches, the abiding in Christ, the living union with Him, the experience of His daily and hourly presence and keeping, were preached with the same distinctness and urgency as His atonement  and pardon through His blood, I AM CONFIDENT  that many would be found to accept with gladness the invitation to such a life, and that ITS INFLUENCE would be manifest in their experience of the purity and power,the love and joythe fruit bearing,and all the blessedness that the Savior connected with ABIDING WITH HIM.” (1979, p. 44)

      For Point #2 he asserts that there is a true benefit of repetition –daily, monthly—in the focus of abiding in Christ.  He explains that it is only by frequent repetition that a child learns his lessons.  It is only by continuously fixing the mind for a time on one of the lessons of faith that the believer is gradually helped to take and thoroughly assimilate them.”  Pastor Murray is very specific as to how he views the reading of Abide in Christ, as he indicates here.

      “I have the HOPE that to some…it will be a help to come for a MONTH, day after day, and read over precious words, “Abide in Me,” with the lessons connected with them in the parable of the VINE.”  “Step by step we will get to see how truly this promise-precept is meant for us, how surely grace is provided  to enable us to obey it,how indispensable the experience of its blessing is to a healthy Christian life, andhow unspeakable the blessings are that flow from it.   “As we listen, meditate, and pray—as we surrender ourselves and accept in faith the whole Jesus as He offers Himself to us—the Holy Spirit will make the Word to be spirit and truth.”   “This word of Jesus, too, will become to us the power of God unto salvation, and     through it will come the faith that grasps the LONG DESIRED BLESSING.”                                         (1979, pages 8—9)

For Point #3 Pastor Murray reminds us “it takes time to grow into Jesus the Vine; do not expect to abide in Him unless you will give him that time.” (p. 9)  Point #4, as explained by Murray, is that Jesus wants us not only come to him but to abide in Him. (p. 15)

There is much more that can be said about Abide in Christ.  However, the most important point that I can give to my readers is to go, get, and read this fantastic book that has been available to the reading public for over 155 years.  The web site book seller (www.christianbook.com)  makes it available for $ 9.49.  Barnes and Noble (www.bn.com  has it from the “Create Space Independent Publishing Platform” for $7.95.  What a bargain!  What a blessing!

ANDREW MURRAY TOPIC #3: PRAYER

It becomes clear as we read more and more of Pastor Murray’s writings that his favorite topics all inter-connect with each other.  For example, writing in 1895 in what would become a very popular book on prayer, he points out as he refers to Jesus Christ that “the more we abide in Him and grow to be like Him, the more His priestly life will work in us.  Our lives will become what His is—a life that continuously prays for men.” (Book 4, Prayer, p. 315)

In his introduction to his second book on prayer, Pastor Murray pointed to four truths about prayer. (1998, Book 5, Prayer, pp. 465—468).  The first two truths, he said, were presented in his first book, With Christ in the School of Prayer.  The first truth is “the certainty that prayer will be answered.  The second truth is that certain conditions affect how prayer will be answered.  These conditions are the faith of the petitioners, perseverance of praying in His name, and praying in the will of God.”  This second truth, says Murray, is summarized in John 15:7, which teaches us that Christ taught us that “if you abide in me, ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you.”

Truths three and four are presented in The Ministry of Intercession.  The third truth sets forth the claim that “Christ actually meant prayer to be the great power by which the church should do its work and that the neglect of prayer is the great reason  the church has not greater power over the masses in Christian and heathen countries.”  Finally, in the fourth truth Pastor Murray claims that “we have far too little conception of the place that INTERCESSION, as distinguished from prayer for ourselves, ought to have in the church and the Christian life.”

ANDREW MURRAY TOPIC #4: GOD’S INDWELLING

The Master’s Indwelling is derived from a series of addresses delivered by Andrew Murray in Northfield, Massachusetts in the summer of 1895.  This conference at Northfield Seminary was the tenth time that D.L. Moody had organized a Bible conference of this nature, one that was well-attended by college men, including students from Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. (www.thecrimson.com )   As summarized by the editor of the Christian Classics Ethereal Library, which makes this 79 page book available on line at no cost, Master’s Indwelling is Andrew Murray’s compilation of 13 meditations that encourage Christians throughout the stages of their spiritual walk. (www.ccel.org)

Master’s Indwelling was Pastor Murray’s message to America, one which he delivered in person.  It is now available to Internet users at no cost, and it addresses all of the topics that Murray has addressed in his many books and writings.

The central aspect of the Master’s Indwelling is the Holy Spirit.  Murray makes an important observation: “It is the Holy Spirit alone who by His indwelling can make a spiritual man.” (CCEL download, p. 10)  Murray suggests four steps in becoming a spiritual man: 1) know that there is a spiritual life; 2) experience the shame of living a carnal life; 3) accept the spiritual life as a free gift of God in Jesus Christ; and 4) give up the ‘self’ entirely to the power of the Holy Spirit. (CCEL download, pages 6—10).

ANDREW MURRAY TOPIC #5: GOD’S POWER

Receiving Power from God is based on the book of Ephesians. (Book 4, Secrets of Authority)  Consisting of 20 short chapters in 84 pages, the book can easily be read as a day-to-day devotional for 20 days, as Pastor Murray intended this books to be read.  This book can also be treated as a wonderful introduction of Murray’s thinking as well as an excellent guide to the reading of Ephesians. 

Chapter 2, “The New Testament Standard,” gives us a good introduction to Murray’s points of emphasis.  He directs our attention to the New Testament standard and, upon understanding it, “we become convicted of the great sin of unbelief in the power of Jesus to keep us from sin and to enable us to walk pleasing to God.”  Although this standard may be impossible for people, “it is not impossible with God because he works in us by the power of His Holy Spirit.”(p. 123)  Murray restates his position later in his narrative with his claim that “The New Testament standard of Christian living consists of access to God’s holy presence and love through the living union with Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.” (p. 145) 

Chapter 2 also sets the stage for Murray to make a theological point, one that perhaps helps explain why the Christian Reformed Church, the denomination that molded my first 20 years of Christian thinking, does not seem to embrace Pastor Murray, even though he was ordained by the Dutch Reformed Church in Africa throughout his entire pastoral life.  Murray explained that “all the strength of the Reformers was required to free the great doctrine of justification by faith from the errors under which it had been buried.”  Murray makes a major claim, stating that certain truths were left to later ages, namely the full exposition of the doctrine of sanctification, the power and work of the Holy Spirit, and the calling of the church to preach the Gospel to the heathen. (p. 125)  For orthodox, conservative churches to hear that the Reformers, such as John Calvin and Martin Luther, left something out might be considered heresy.  It certainly would be troubling to individuals who are fully convinced that a reformer such as John Calvin has “figured it all out,” based on his understanding and knowledge of the Bible.  As my wife and I agree, she introduced me to Jesus Christ, I introduced her to John Calvin.  For 20 years my learning and education was shaped by John Calvin.  I now want it shaped by the Holy Spirit. At the same time, I can share with others, when the occasion arises, the value and benefits of understanding the contributions of John Calvin, an important leader in the great Protestant Reformation.

ANDREW MURRAY TOPIC #6: HOLINESS

The Holiest of All is a 567 page book based on Hebrews.  With 130 chapters, Pastor Murray stuck to his writing practice of offer short chapters, but to read his entire book would take longer than one month, if one followed the reading of one chapter per day.  Murray observed that the book of Hebrews is the divine answer to pastors whose greatest complaint is “the lack of wholeheartedness, of steadfastness, of perseverance, and of progress in the Christian life.” (p. 5) Holiness through the power of the Holy Spirit is certainly an answer to this complaint.

Andrew Murray’s message regarding holiness can also be found in Chapter 14, “Holiness” in the New Life, which is published by Barbour Publishing. (Book 2, The Essential Works of Andrew Murray, pp.158—160)  New Life can also be found on the Internet, as described in Table A in the Appendix.  In New Life’s Chapter 14, he points out that cleansing precedes holiness, and he references  II Corinthians 7:1,  Ephesians 5:26-27,  as well as  II Timothy 2:21.  Holiness, he says, is the filling with that which is good, divine, and with the character of Jesus. “Conformity to Him—this is holiness.”  Murray adds that “Separation from the spirit of the world and being filled with the presence of the holy God—this is holiness.”  Christ’s life in us is our holiness, says Pastor Murray. 

Pastor Murray addresses the young Christian in New Life.   His encouraging words ring true for all Christians, young and old, new and mature: “the Three-One God is the Thrice-Holy (Isaiah 6:3, Revelations 4:8 and 15:3-4).  And this Three-One God is the God who sanctifies you: the Father by giving Jesus to you and confirming you in Jesus; the Son, by Himself becoming your sanctification and giving you the Spirit; and the Spirit, by revealing the Son in you, preparing you as a temple for the indwelling of God and making the Son dwell in you.  Oh, be holy; for God is holy.” (pp. 159—160)

ANDREW MURRAY TOPIC #7: WAITING ON GOD

Waiting on God was delivered as a lecture in Exeter Hall, England on May 31, 1895.  Divided into 31 “pieces,” as he called his chapters, more than half of this material was written on board a ship, probably from South Africa to England.  He tells us in his preface that “before my trip to England, I had been very impressed by the thought of how , in all our Christianity, personal and public, we need more of God.”  He adds that he felt “needed to train our people TO WAIT  on God more, to cultivate a deeper sense of His presence, to seek more direct contact with Him, and to rest in entire dependence upon Him.” ( Book 3, Prayer, p. 239)  Pastor Murray ends each chapter with the soul’s plea: “My soul, wait thou only upon God,” which comes from Psalm 62:5 (KJV).

Every chapter starts with a verse of Scripture.  Chapter 8 starts with Psalm 27:14 (KJV): “Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”  Pastor Murray lists a series of possibilities as to what we may be waiting for, such as:

  • “It may be waiting for God in our times of prayer to take His place as God and to work in us the sense of His holy presence and nearness.”
  • “It may be a special petition to which we are expecting an answer.”
  • “It may be our whole inner life in which we are on the lookout for God putting forth some part of His work.”
  • “It may be the whole state of His church and saints, or some part of His work, for which our eyes are ever toward Him.”  (p. 254)

            Pastor Murray ends Waiting on God with a plea to his soul: “O, my soul, let it no longer be necessary that I repeat these words, ‘Wait upon God.’  But let all that is in me rise and sing, ‘Truly my soul waits upon God (Psalm 62:1). ‘On thee do I wait all the day’ (Psalm 25:5).” (p. 308)

ANDREW MURRAY TOPIC #8: FELLOWSHIP

Daily fellowship with God is the focus The Deeper Christian Life, (www.ccel.org)  and the first two pages describe ten essential elements for daily fellowship with God.  In preparing this essay, I thought that I could combine the topic of “waiting,” with “fellowship.”  However, a closer reading of Murray made me realize that there is value in separating what he has to say about “waiting” from his description of “fellowship with God.”  A summary of these ten essential elements are as follows:

  1. “I must every day have fresh grace from heaven, and I obtain it only in direct waiting upon God Himself.”
  2. “…let your first act in devotion be a setting yourself still before God.  In prayer, or worship, everything depends upon God taking the chief place…Take time till you know God is very near.”
  3. “When you have given God His place of honor, glory, and power, take your place of deepest lowliness, and seek to be filled with the Spirit of humility.”
  4. “Then accept and value your place in Christ Jesus.  God delights in nothing but His beloved Son, and can be satisfied with nothing else in those who draw nigh to Him.”
  5. “This Christ is a living Person.  He loves you with a personal love, and He looks every day for the personal response of your love.  Look into His face with trust, till His love really shines into your heart.”
  6. “We have not only Christ’s life in us as a power, and His presence with us as a person, but we have His likeness to be wrought into us.  He is to be formed in us, so that His form or figure, His likeness, can be seen in us.”
  7. “The likeness to Christ comes chiefly in two things—the likeness of His death and resurrection, (Romans 6:5).” 
  8. “All this can only be in the power of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in you.”
  9. “As you meditate on this wondrous salvation and seek full fellowship with the great and holy God, and wait on Him to reveal Christ in you, you will feel how needful the giving up of all is to receive Him.”
  10. “ ‘By faith’ must here, as through all Scripture and all the spiritual life, be the keynote…Just yield yourself in the faith of a perfect trust to the Ever Blessed Holy Trinity to work out all God’s purpose in you.”  (pp. 2-3)

            Pastor Murray also addresses unbelief in this book.  He suggests that “if there is to be any deepening of the spiritual life in us, we must come to the discovery and the acknowledgement of the unbelief there is in our hearts. (p. 8).  Doubt is certainly related to unbelief, and it was doubt and unbelief that I had to wrestle with after finishing college and during my time in seminary and thereafter. (Story 2)  The answer for me had to be the Holy Spirit working through my spirit to touch and change my soul—my mind, emotions, and will.  As stated by Murray, “I must be full of the Holy Spirit if I am to be a whole-hearted Christian.” (p. 12)

ANDREW MURRAY TOPIC #9: DIVINE HEALING

First published in English in 1900, each of the thirty-one chapters is based on a scripture related to healing.  According to his biographer, Murray regarded this book as the testimony of his faith in divine healing.”  (Choy, p. 252)   In his preface, he tells us that he can “no longer keep silent.” (Book 4 in Secrets of Authority, p. 338)  He had been stopped for more than two years “in the exercise of my ministry.”  He reports that “I was healed by the mercy of God in answer to the prayer of those who had seen in Him ‘the Lord that healeth thee’ (Exodus 15:26).   Murray intended to show that ‘the prayer of faith’ (James 5:15) is the means appointed by God for the cure of the sick.”

Pastor Murray also addresses unbelief with respect to divine healing.  In Chapter 2, opening with a reference to Matthew 17:19-20, he explains why, in his day, “divine healing is very little believed in because it has almost entirely disappeared from the Christian church.” (p. 344)  Murray then sets forth to prove that it is “the church’s unbelief that has lost the gift of healing.” (p. 345).  Throughout Divine Healing Andrew Murray maintains that “Jesus still heals both soul and body.”(p. 346) Certainly a belief in  divine healing is currently an exception in the American churches today, as it was, according to Murray, in his day.  Therefore, his observations based on Scripture, as described in Divine Healing, are also relevant today:

  • “Wherever the Spirit acts with power, He works divine healing.” (p. 353)
  • “God grants healing to glorify the name of Jesus.  Let us seek to be healed by Jesus, so that His name may be glorified.” (p. 353)
  • “God is ready to manifest the power of His Son, and to do it in striking ways in bodies as well as in souls.” (p. 354)
  • “Divine healing is a spiritual grace that can be received only spiritually and by faith before its effect is felt on the body.” (p. 363)
  • “In the same way that the Holy Spirit brings to our souls and spirits the life of Jesus—His holiness, His joy, His strength—he comes also to impart to the sick body all the vigorous vitality of Christ as soon as the hand of faith is stretched out to receive it.” (p. 366) (See my Story 4.)
  • “The gift of healing is one of the most beautiful manifestations of the Spirit…Divine healing is the work of the Holy Spirit. It is Jesus who heals, Jesus who anoints and baptizes with the Holy Spirit, and Jesus who baptized His disciples with the same Spirit.  It is He who sends us the Holy Spirit here on earth to take sickness away from us and to restore us to health.”  (p. 384)
  • Murray pointed out that James 5:16 “shows us that the prayer of faith that asks for healing is not the prayer of one isolated believer, but that it ought to unite the members of the body of Christ in the communion of the Spirit.” (p. 416)

ANDREW MURRAY TOPIC #10: HUMILITY

There are two paths to see what Andrew Murray has to say about humility.  The first path is to go to Chapter 17 (“Humility”) in New Life, which is available on line and also in hard copy.  Chapter 17 in New Life warns us that “one of the most dangerous enemies against which the young Christian must watch is pride or self-exaltation.”  Pastor Murray advises his reader in this chapter that “the more he forgets and loses himself, desiring to be nothing so that God may be all and be alone glorified, the happier he will be.” (The New Life, www.ccel.org, p. 45)  He supplies us with ample Scripture verses to show that “humility is highly praised to scriptures as one of the first virtues.  Some of these verses are displayed in the box below:

Bible Verses on Humility Romans 12:3,16;   I Corinthians 13:4;  Galatians 5: 22,26; Ephesians 4:2 Philippians 2:3; Colossians 2:13; Matthew 20:26,28; Luke 22:27; John 13:14,15 Philippians 2:7,8.   Source: New Life, Chapter 17, p. 45 (found through www.ccel.org   )

Humility by Andrew Murray is a second path to take in understanding the nature of humility and how it can be assimilated into our lives.  In this book Pastor Murray has written twelve meditations, which are published as twelve chapters, “to direct our attention to the humility that is suitable to us as men and women.”  (Humility, 1982, p. 10) These meditations (i.e. chapters) are:

Humility: The Glory of the CreatureHumility: The Secret of RedemptionHumility in the life of JesusHumility in the Teaching of JesusHumility in the Disciples of JesusHumility in Daily Life Humility and HolinessHumility and SinHumility and FaithHumility and Death to SinHumility and HappinessHumility and Exaltation

Pastor Murray ends Humility with a prayer that he recommends for Christ’s followers to pray as often as possible for an entire month.  He recommends that we “neither write, nor read, nor debate anything within yourself.  Stop all the former workings of your heart and mind.”  The prayer is as follows: (Humility, 1982, p. 123)

“Lord, I pray that of Your great goodness You would make known to me, and take from my heart, every kind and form and degree of pride, whether it be from evil spirits, or my own corrupt nature; and that You would awaken in me the deepest depth and truth of the humility that can make me capable of Your light and Holy Spirit.”

SECTION 3: Introducing Watchman Nee

            Written in 1928 at the age of 25, Watchman Nee’s The Spiritual Man[i] is truly an amazing book, one that has captured my attention in January, 2013.   The Internet reports that Nee “received much enlightenment and help” from certain Christian writers of his time, as well as from the best Christian books from the first century forward and, most importantly, through his diligent study of the Word.  This website reports that two specific works that influenced Nee were by Andrew Murray (1828—1917): The Spirit of Christ and Abiding in Christ.  I have been reading and studying the works of Andrew Murray for the past five years and I definitely see the influence of Murray on Nee. (www.c-f-p.com )

            Watchman Nee (1903—1972) died in prison in Communist China in 1972.  He served twenty years in prison due to his boldness in articulating and proclaiming his Christian faith as a result of voluntarily returning to the mainland from Shanghai after the Communist takeover of mainland China in 1949. (www.c-f-p.com ) Written originally in Chinese, the book is not a quick read.  It is published in three volumes that total over 600 pages.  As he points out in the Second Preface, Volume I, he may “have touched upon one truth or another many times, hoping the children of God would thereby better remember.”  (p. 16)

            Watchman Nee opens Volume I by acknowledging that “the ordinary concept of the constitution of human beings is dualistic—soul and body.”  He then points out that “the Bible never confuses spirit and soul as though they are the same.”  He concludes the opening paragraph with I Thessalonians 5:23, which is the same verse[ii] on which  A. B. Simpson bases his description of the sanctified life. (Simpson, Wholly Sanctified…)

“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.  May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  I Thessalonians 5:23

            In discussing what I now believe to be the Biblical teaching that all human beings are made up of three parts—body, soul, and spirit–our oldest son challenged me by asking the question, What difference does it make for you personally? The question before us is this: since many Christian thinkers, scholars, theologians and pastors teach and believe in the dualistic nature of mankind, why does it make a difference for me to be convinced that what God has created are people who operate and live as a unified, but three-part human being: sprit, soul and body?

            The pages that I will describe are a sample of Watchman Nee’s thinking.  I believe that they form the basis for my belief that Watchman Nee, at an incredibly early age of 25, has set forth the Biblical case for a basic truth, which I am now trying to apply to my own life and which I believe has proven true in my own experience.

Personal Point #1:  I NOW HAVE A DAILY PRIORITY

            I desire that my spirit “filled with God’s power” will have full sway over my soul and body. It is my daily priority that “every thought, desire, sensation and intent is now governed by (my) spirit.”  (Volume II, p. 28)

 Personal Point #2: I NOW HAVE A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF MY PAST. 

            It is an explanation, not an excuse.  Furthermore, “a transformation from soulish to spiritual does not guarantee that I as a believer “never again will walk according to the flesh.”  Watchman Nee points out that “an ever present danger exists of falling back into it.”  All too often I fail to acknowledge the reality and existence of Satan, that prince of the world who is “constantly alert to seize every opportunity to cause” me to “plunge from a lofty position to a life below par.”  It is therefore “highly necessary” for me as a child of God to be watchful at all times and to follow the Spirit” so that I may remain spiritual.  (Volume II, p. 28)

 Personal Point #3: THE UNDERSTANDING HELPS TO DEVELOP MY EMOTIONS.

             “The emotion of a spiritual man is completely under his spirit’s regulation…” I must continue to identify and express my emotions.   I can be guided, however, by Watchman Nee’s guideline: “The emotion now rejoices  solely in what the spirit likes, loves only what the spirit directs, feels merely what the spirit permits…when the spirit stirs, emotions responds.”  (Volume II, p. 32)  Admittedly, this is a big challenge for me.  I do want to meet and respond appropriately to my wife Dolores’s expressions of her emotions; I want to meet her emotional needs, and I can do so if I allow myself to be controlled by the Holy Spirit.

Personal Point #4: I WANT MY MIND TO COOPERATE WITH THE SPIRIT.

            “The mind of the spiritual man likewise cooperates with the spirit, wandering no more as in the past.”  (Volume II, p. 32). This sets the stage for me to be obedient to Paul’s challenge as to what to think about.  (Philippians 4:8)

Personal Point #5:  MY WILL TO CONFORM TO THE WILL OF GOD

            I will be guided by Watchman Nee: “The spiritual man also retains his will, yet it to is no longer independent of God, but now decides according to the dictate of the spirit, having abandoned self as its center.  The will does not insist upon its desire as before.  It consequently is fit to obey God.”  (Volume II, p. 32).

Personal Pont #6: MY BODY WILL BE SUBJECTED TO THE SPIRIT. 

            Per Watchman Nee, the body “can serve today as an obedient servant to the spirit’s order as that order is communicated to the body from the spirit through the soul.”  (Volume II, p. 33)  This insight is the basis for me to believe in divine healing

SECTION 4: Introducing Dallas Willard

            This section presents some key points from Dallas Willard, who is author of many great books, including Knowing Christ Today.  Having recently passed away, Dr. Dallas Willard was a bestselling author and professor at the University of Southern California’s School of Philosophy. He was the kind of person with whom I would have loved to have a deep discussion about the questions and issues that arise in the history of ideas and philosophy.  When l was at George Washington University–from 1966 through 1970—I decided to be intellectually brave and daring by taking philosophy courses.  What I did not realize is that studying philosophy in a secular setting, without the day-to-day guidance from the Holy Spirit and without the help from a great Christian intellectual, such as Dr. Willard, is a very dangerous path indeed.

            Dr. Willard says that his hope and purpose for this particular book is “to enable intellectually serious people, Christian or not, to understand the indispensable role of knowledge in faith and life.” (p. 7) Typically college professors and instructors will present students with “knowledge” and opinions which they proudly present as factual, true, and based on reality.  They typically minimize belief and faith. One of Dr. Willard’s key points is that Christians should not allow someone to minimize our belief and faith.  In fact, we should insist, in a very humble but confident way, that our faith and belief is based on knowledge.  This knowledge, he says, involves “truth secured by experience, method, and evidence that is generally available.” (p. 17)  Dr. Willard provides us with four points that he thinks are essential to our  knowledge:

  1. Existence of a personal God;
  2. God’s intervention and direction in human affairs;
  3. The spiritual nature of human beings;
  4. The fundamental reliability of the Bible and the central teachings of the church. (p.9)

            On the other hand, says Dr. Willard, secularism, which is the predominant world view in higher education, holds that all four points “have been discovered to be false or without credible evidence, that Christianity has been “found out,” and that Christianity is a set of humanly contrived myths and traditions.” (p. 9)   Dr. Willard has dedicated his life to the study of philosophy and he has done so in the setting of secular higher education.  Therefore, we can accept with some confidence when he tells us that the university has no responsible and authoritative answers to life’s four questions:

  1. What is real?
  2. What is well-being?
  3. Who is really a good person?
  4. How does one become a really good person?

            Dr. Willard observed that “modernity has, after centuries of struggle, found no credible answers to the basic questions of life.”  He adds that “universities, our primary institutions of research, simply have no intellectually responsible responses to those questions.” (p. 56)         Dr. Willard also points out that there are three basic worldviews that try to answer these questions.  A world view, he says, “consists of the most general and basic assumptions about what is real and what is good—including assumptions about who we are and what we should do.” (p. 43).  The three basic world views are the 1) the theistic story, 2) the Nirvana story (ie. Buddhism and the New Age movement), and 3) the naturalist story (i.e. secularism).” (p. 61)

            The exciting, good news is that the world view in which many of us have been trained  by our parents, the world view that is also promoted by many of our grandparents, is the worldview that Jesus Christ has given us.  Therefore, we have knowledge; this is wonderful and true!  We should not let anyone dislodge us from this truth.  Therefore, we can approach these four basic questions with the answers that Jesus Christ gives us.  We can do so confidently.   These questions and answers are described in Table 5 below.

TABLE #5: Dallas Willard and the Answers to Four Basic Questions  
BASIC QUESTION ANSWERS FROM JESUS CHRIST:
What is real?  What is reality? God and His Kingdom (p. 50).  The “kingdom of God is God reigning.”  “If, at the invitation of Jesus, we place ourselves by belief and commitment under the kingdom of God, then we will be under its care and can come to know its reality.” (p. 51)
Who is well-off, blessed? “Anyone who is alive in the kingdom of God.”  …That is, “anyone who is interactively engaged with God and the various dynamic dimensions of his reigning.”  …“Such engagement with God is an eternal living, an eternal life.”  (p. 51)
Who is really a good person? “A really good person, as Jesus teaches, is anyone who is pervaded with love: love for the God who ‘first loved us’ and  who in his Son taught us what love is (I John 4:9—11).” (p. 53)
How do you become a really good person? “You place your confidence in Jesus Christ and become his student or apprentice in kingdom living.” (p. 53)

            Let us add another dimension to this important message so that we can combine biblical knowledge with God’s power as demonstrated through the Holy Spirit.  Jim Cymbala, Pastor of Brooklyn Tabernacle says in his book Spirit Rising that “A divine book must have a divine teacher so that its message can be revealed on a spiritual level.  Otherwise the message just crumbles into facts that reside only in our brain cells.  So it is absolutely necessary for the Holy Spirit to be our teacher if the Bible is to be truly understood.  The Spirit can overcome the human limitations of voice, ear and brain.”   (pages 58—59)

SECTION 5: Introducing Pastor Jim Cymbala

Pastor Jim Cymbala stands in substantial agreement with the tripartite view of human nature—body, soul, and spirit,  as is evident in the books that describe his ministry, his values, and his view of how God changes lives and guides, directs and blesses Christ’s church through the power of the Holy Spirit.  He also seems very much in step with both Murray and Chatfield, and I first learned about Chatfield through footnotes in Cymbala’s Fresh Power. Some of the key points in Pastor Cymbala’s books are as follows.

            One point is Cymbala’s claim that there “is no holy living outside of the Holy Spirit’s control.”   The Holy Spirit, he says, “works deep inside us to change our desires from pleasing ourselves to pleasing God.”  He explains this role of the Holy Spirit as follows: “He uses the Word of God to enable us to control our thought lives.  The Holy Spirit is the only one who can subdue the strong urgings of the lower nature.  He is the only one who can break habits that have been repeated countless times.  He is the only one who can overcome Satan and all his subtle temptations.” (2008, You Were Made for More, p. 74)

            A second point is that Pastor Cymbala observes that there is a positive relationship between holiness and the blessings on our efforts.  He points out that “the fact of his holiness cannot be compromised.”  Therefore, when we disobey him, he says, “ we hurt ourselves and we break communication with him.”  He concludes that “only when this is restored can we realize his blessing on our efforts.” (2001, Fresh Power, p.51)

            A third point is that Pastor Cymbala highlights the role of the Holy Spirit in “directing individuals into kingdom work.”(2001, p.65) The Holy Spirit, he says, takes us with all our limitations and raises us up to handle challenges that otherwise scare us.  He makes the critical difference in our work for the Lord.”(2001, p.68)  It is from the Holy Spirit that Christians can expect to power to be more efficient in the Lord’s service. (2001, Fresh Power) What we need, says Pastor Cymbala, “is that unique merger of divine truth, human personality, and Holy Spirit gifting that produces effective ministry for Christ.”(2001, p. 140)

            A fourth point in Pastor Cymbala’s framework is that “we forget about the Holy Spirit even while holding to orthodox doctrine.”  This neglect of the Forgotten One, he says, “is probably the greatest cause of spiritual malaise.” (2008, p. 77)  Cymbala’s Fresh Power (2001) cites Samuel Chadwick (1860—1932) four times.   Fresh Power’s closing chapter points out that the needs of the church in Chadwick’s time, say about 100 years ago, are the same as the church’s need today, and that the answer is still the same, quoting Chadwick: “…the demonstration of a supernatural religion, and the only way to a supernatural religion is the abiding presence of the Spirit of God.” (2001, p. 190)  Chadwick seems to have had a similar view like Simpson of the nature of man with regard to man’s spirit and its interaction with the Holy Spirit.  Chadwick writes:

The Spirit of God dwells in the spirit of man; and from that center of life and power He quickens, directs, controls, and sanctifies the whole man.  He indwells sanctified men and women.  He becomes the spirit of their spirit, the mind of their mind, the heart of their heart.  (Chadwick, 1937)

            A fifth point in Pastor’s Cymbala points of emphasis and focus is that Christians must allow the Holy Spirit to take over our lives and our plans.  The answer, he says, “is not in an  human methodology.”  Cymbala described how in 1994 he was engaged in spiritual warfare the night he spoke to a gathering of 10,000 at a Christian music conference in Indianapolis, with the result that he God gave him an entirely different message from what he had originally prepared. (2008, pages 9—19) The message he delivered, which his still available on U Tube, presents the Holy Spirit’s counsel to us that Jesus expected and desires His Father’s house to be a house of prayer. (Cymbala, 1994)

            A sixth point that becomes clear in Pastor Cymbala’s writings, talks and sermons is that prayer is the engine that empowers the church.

            The STORM is Pastor Cymbala’s recent book. (2014)  The message of the STORM is birthed in the life of the Brooklyn Tabernacle, which started as a church of 30 people in the 1970’s and is now a non-denominational church that serves about 10,000 people per week and is known for its Grammy award winning, 300 voice choir and its powerful Tuesday night prayer meetings.  It is the church around which my wife and I have organized our current life style, now that we are no longer working our full-time jobs. 

             The church building is a theater restored to its original beauty and is immediately accessible to many of New York’s subway lines that connect the church to all five boroughs in NYC.    As the third largest auditorium in New York, Brooklyn Tabernacle is a church that serves New York City, the region around it, and is a destination for visitors from many places, both global and national.

            What does STORM seek to achieve?  I would suggest seven purposes.  First, STORM cautions us not to buy into the models of church growth and development that are currently being promoted.  Second, the book encourages us to rely on prayer, a true crying out to God from our hearts, as the principle means of asking God for renewal in our churches and expecting our Lord to answer.  Third, STORM contrasts the practices of current church leaders with the ways of Jesus and the apostles (Chapter 5).  The writer observes that “when the love of God is controlling us, we will start reaching out to others in ways we have never imagined.” (p. 68)

            Fourth, as author and frequent speaker at pastoral conferences, both in the U.S.A. and abroad, Pastor Cymbala pleads with the Christian community to return to the “absolute dependence on the Holy Spirit.” (p. 76, Chapter 6).            Fifth, STORM presents the great purpose of God, which is “to save people who have been separated from Him by their sin and to see them reconciled back to him.”  (p. 104, Chapter 8).  Sixth, the book identifies twelve examples of  “skewed gospel messages” currently being heard, rather than the true gospel of the person of Jesus Christ (pp. 108-111, Chapter 8).  Seventh, the author gives us a principle for understanding the Bible, namely: “No command or promise in the Old Testament can be applied to Christians today unless it is found repeated and illustrated in the New Testament.”  (p. 160, Chapter 11).

            As is true of most of Pastor Cymbala’s books, STORM gives the readers short biographical testimonies of four members at Brooklyn Tabernacle—stories of lives that have been totally changed as a result of the Gospel (Chapters 4,7, 9, and 11).  It is obvious that in their praise and worship Brooklyn Tabernacle’s congregation reflects the gratitude and joy of people who have been changed due to God’s power and mercy.  This can also be observed on the church’s website, www.brooklyntabernacle.org .

            The STORM addresses just about the concerns and issues I had in my early years, including the doubts and disappointments that led to my leaving seminary.  I am now happy to report that I am able to supplement my mind-based “Christian world and life view,” which was tinged with lots of doubts and second thoughts, with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, empowered by the divine gift of the Holy Spirit.  Through much prayer, thought, and reflection over recent years, I clearly see that a Christian world and life view cannot be separated from close fellowship with Jesus Christ, completely guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit.  This is the STORM’s message for individuals, for the church, and for the world.

SECTION 6: Introducing Other Writers

            R.A. Torrey  (1856—1928) is one author who endorses the framework that we are presenting here.  Reuben Archer Torrey was born in Hoboken, NJ.  He graduated Yale University in 1875 and Yale Divinity School in 1878.  A few years after graduation he joined Dwight L. Moody in his evangelistic work in Chicago and became the pastor of the Chicago Avenue Church.  He was selected by D.L. Moody to become the first dean of the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago. (Torrey, 1996, p. 251)

            Torrey acknowledges that “it was a great turning point in my ministry when, after much thought and study, I became satisfied that the baptism with the Holy Spirit was an experience for today and for me, and set myself to obtain it.”  He points to Andrew Murray’s The Spirit of Christ as one of the two books that particularly helped him come to that conclusion. (1972, p. 11) Torrey describes the baptism with the Holy Spirit as “the Spirit of God coming upon the believer, taking possession of his faculties, imparting to him gifts not naturally his own but which qualify him for the service to which God has called him.” (1972, p. 27)

Table  7 : Seven Steps to be Baptized with the Holy Spirit, per R.A. Torrey
Step # Description
1 We accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and our Lord. (Acts 2:38)
2 Renunciation of sin—repentance: “a change of mind from that attitude of mind that loves sin and indulges sin to that attitude of mind that hates sin and renounces sin.” (p. 207)
3 “Open confession of our renunciation of sin and our acceptance of Jesus Christ.” (p. 210)
4 An absolute surrender to God.  Obedience. (Acts 5:32)
5 An intense desire for the baptism with the Holy Spirit. (John 7:37-39)
6 Definite prayer for baptism with the Holy Spirit.  (Luke 11:13)
7 Faith: “Therefore I say unto you, What things so ever you desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” (Mark 11:24)

            Lester Sumrall has written Spirit, Soul and Body, a book that clearly endorses the framework that I am describing.  In his exploration of the inner man, Lester Sumrall describes the unity of the human personality. “He shows how the three distinct parts of the human person can function in harmony and how to yield each part to our Lord Jesus Christ. Learn how to understand the division of your spirit, soul, and body so that you can live a fulfilling, victorious life.”  (See description of this book at www.christianbook.com )

            Dr. Lester Sumrall (1913-1996), world-renowned pastor and evangelist, ministered for over fifty-five years in more than 110 countries, including Soviet Siberia, Russia, Tibet, and China. He established Feed the Hungry in 1987. In addition, he wrote over 130 books. His evangelistic association, LeSEA, headquartered in South Bend, Indiana, is still actively spreading God’s Word. Dr. Sumrall’s goal was to win 1,000,000 souls for the kingdom of God, and the ministry continues this vision. LeSEA ministry includes such outreaches as the World Harvest Bible College, a teaching tape ministry, and numerous publications. Sumrall also founded LeSEA Broadcasting, which owns and operates Christian television stations, a local radio station, and an international shortwave radio station, all with the special purpose of bringing millions of souls to heaven. (See his biography at www.christianbook.com )

            Sumrall is very clear on his understanding of man’s composite nature.  He explains that he had read the Bible “dozens of times,” but he did not understand man’s nature until God showed him that “the spirit and the soul are distinctly different.”  He quotes Hebrews 4:12 and I Thessalonians 5:23. He points out that “if we are going to know the difference between our soul and our spirit, it will come from the Word of God.”  What he says about our colleges and universities rings true to my own experience during 15 years as a student in higher  education: “We can study psychology in all the universities of the world and not come up with an answer, because God says His Word has the answer.”  It is very clear from Sumrall that each of us is comprised of spirit, soul, and body. (1984, pp. 10—11)

            The third writer that endorses this framework is A.W. Tozer, a favorite of many Christians and a pastor and writer whose appeal and popularity crosses many theological and denominational lines.  My personal library’s version of the 58 page book that is entitled How to Be Filled with the Holy Spirit  has notes that show that I first read this book in 1973.  That notation amazes me, since it is obvious that I ignored this message, or perhaps even rejected it, for many years.  Tozer’s booklet also gives us some steps for how to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  As we can see from Andrew Murray (Table 4) and R.A. Torrey (Table 7), these pastoral leaders are in agreement with Tozer as to the necessary steps to be filled with the Holy Spirit, even though each pastor may have a different point of emphasis.  Tozer suggests these steps, per Table 8:

Table 8: Steps to Receive the Holy Spirit after Regeneration According to A.W. Tozer
Step # Description
#1 Present your body to God. “God can’t fill what he can’t have.” (p. 47) Romans 12:1-2.
#2 Ask.  “Ask of me, and I will give thee” is always God’s order; so why not ask?” (p. 47). See Luke 11:9—13.
#3 Obey God.  “God gives His Holy Spirit to them that obey Him.” (p. 47). (Acts 5:32)
#4 Have faith.  “We receive Him by faith as we receive the Lord in salvation by faith.”  See Galatians 3:2.
#5 Let us sing The Comforter Has Come.

Tozer concludes his presentation of the five steps by pointing out that we should sing and celebrate the Holy Spirit’s coming to our heart in fullness, “because He has come.”  He adds: “He will fill our vessel, if we will ask and believe.”  Tozer ask the key question: “Will you do it?”  (Tozer, p. 48)

Third & Final Essay: Some Practical Applications

Dear reader, I would like to thank you for coming to this point. You may have  persevered through all the pages or you may have come here by speed reading, scanning or skipping everything but these final words  Whatever the case might be, I thank you.  Now I will try to clarify and summarize what I have tried to present in this personal essay.

These essays are essentially a personal testimony in which I share how God’s Word and several pastors guided me to a better understanding of myself, particularly in seeing myself as an integrated whole made up of spirit, soul, and body.  These essays are also a personal testimony of how in the last 45 years God transformed me from an intellectually proud but Christ-professing young professional to a more mature, Holy Spirit-controlled Christian who is fully, and hopefully humbly, in tune with our Triune God and His plan for my life, including my wife’s and our family’s, both immediate and extended.        

            As a final reminder to my readers and to myself, what follows are nine points of emphasis that I have found in my life, items that I have tried to explain and present in these essays.  These points I have learned from my own life experience and from readings that I have described and summarized.  In short, these points have emerged from my life to date as I interacted with our Triune God and His written Word.  These points are:

Point #1: A person consists of spirit, soul, and body. The soul is our mind, emotion, and will.

Point #2: We can know God’s plan for ourselves by reading and studying God’s Word.  God’s purpose must be preached.  His purpose is “to save people who have been separated from Him by their sin and to see them reconciled to Him.” (Cymbala, STORM, p. 104)

Point #3: God the Father desires that each person not only comes to Christ for salvation but also abides in Him.

Point #4: A thorough reading of God’s Word or a concise evangelistic message based on God’s Word will demonstrate how the Holy Spirit will touch a person’s spirit so that he or she will turn to Christ as Savior, Lord, and King.

Point #5: God’s Word will also show us step by step, aided where necessary by pastors and Christian leaders who thoroughly know and believe in God’s written Word, as to how to allow the Holy Spirit to be an additional blessing, so that we as Christians can live totally controlled by the Holy Spirit.

Point #6: God calls us to holiness, which is only possible through the Holy Spirit working in each person’s total being so that Christ can and will dwell within each Christian’s mind, emotions, and will (i.e. each person’s soul).

Point #7: We must rely on prayer, a true crying out to God from our hearts, as the principle means of interceding for ourselves and others and asking God to renew the church’s ability and capacity to respond to the needs of a dying world and to promote justice in our world.

Point #8: We can and should enjoy daily fellowship with our Triune God and continually demonstrate Christ’s love and joy in our hearts, words, and actions.

Point #9: Praise and worship should be an integral part of our personal and church lives.

CONCLUSION:       Readers, here it is.  My third essay. Thank you for sticking with me until the end.

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Watchman Nee. 1968. The Spiritual Man. (Three Volumes in one book).  New York City: Christian Publishers.   Available from: www.c-f-p.com. 11515 Allecingie Parkway, Richmond, VA 23235

Simpson, A.B. 1991. Wholly Sanctified, Living a Life Empowered by the Holy Spirit. Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications.

Lester Sumrall. 2002.  Spirit, Soul and Body. New Kensington: Whitaker House.  The summary statement is from a summary of the book which is available, as of December 30, 2014, on the web site of www.christianbook.com .  The summary is located at http://www.christianbook.com/spirit-soul-body-ebook/lester-sumrall/9781603744874/pd/33146EB?event=ESRCG

Sumrall, Lester. His biography  is found on the web site of www.christianbook.com .  As of December 30, 2014, the exact citation is http://www.christianbook.com/spirit-soul-body-ebook/lester-sumrall/9781603744874/pd/33146EB?event=ESRCG

Torrey, R. A. 1972. The Baptism with the Holy Spirit.  Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers.

Torrey, R.A. 1996. The Presence & Work of the Holy Spirit. New Kensington: Whitaker House.

A.W. Tozer. No publication date. How to be Filled with the Holy Spirit.  Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, Inc.  An Internet search for this title shows that a more recent and expanded version of this book by the same author and with the same title is as follows: A.W. Tozer. 2008. How to be Filled with the Holy Spirit. WingSpread Publishers.

Tozer, A.W. 1943 Wingspread. A.B. Simpson:  A study in Spiritual Altitude. Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications

J. Rodman Williams. 1972. The Pentecostal Reality. Plainfield, NJ: Logos International,

APPENDIX A:  Some Key Books by Andrew Murray
# Topic Books
1 The Holy Spirit Experiencing the Holy Spirit. 1984. New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House Andrew Murray on the Holy Spirit. 1998. Whitaker House.
2 Abiding in Christ Abide in Christ. Available in Andrew Murray’s On Prayer.1998. Whitaker House Also available as a single volume from Whitaker House (1979 ), CLC Publications (1997), Bethany House (2003), IVP Connect (2009).  Also available in Essential Works of  Andrew Murray. 2012. Barbour Books.
3 Prayer The Prayer Life. Available in Andrew Murray’s On Prayer.1998. Whitaker House. With Christ in the School of  Prayer. Book 4 in Andrew Murray’s on Prayer. 1998 The Ministry of Intercession. Book 5 in Andrew Murray’s on Prayer. 1998.
4 God’s Indwelling The Master’s Indwelling.  1895.  Delivered as a series of addresses at the Northfiled Conference, USA. Available via the Internet at http://www.ccel.org/ccel/murray/indwelling.html  
5 God’s Power Receiving Power from God. Book  2 in Secrets of Authority. 2002. Whitaker House.
6 Holiness The Holiest of All. 2004. New Kensington: Whitaker House.
7 Waiting on God Waiting on God. Book 3 available in Andrew Murray’s On Prayer. Whitaker.  Also available as Book 11 in  Essential Works of Andrew Murray. 2008.2012. Barbour..
8 Fellowship The Deeper Christian Life.  Available as of January 6, 2015, as a download at http://www.ccel.org/ccel/murray/deeper.html .  Also recommended is Andrew Murray, Absolute Surrender, which is available as a paperback from Whitaker House, and as Book 10 in Essential Works of Andrew Murray. 2008.2012. Barbour.
9 Divine Healing Divine Healing.  Available as Book 4 in Secrets of Authority. 2002. Whitaker. Also available as a single volume from Whitaker House ( 1983 ) and CLC Publications.
10 Humility Humility. 1982. New Kensington: Whitaker House.
  All Topics The New Life: Words of God for Young Disciples.  Available free via the Internet:  http://www.ccel.org/ccel/murray/new_life.html.  Also available as Book 2 in Essential Works of Andrew Murray. 2008.2012. Barbour Books.

Credits for the Artwork: Both illustrations are based on photographs found in the New York City Public Library.  The artwork was sketched and completed by Ansel Pitcairn, 1460 Sterling Place, Apt. 5C, Brooklyn, NY 11213. anselgraphics@gmail.com  The inside cover is an illustration of Andrew Murray at an early age.  The inside back cover illustrates A.B. Simpson.


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About the Author Neil DeHaan

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