Published in the Pentecostal Evangel, June 12, 1926.
"Only believe! only believe! all things are possible, only believe!" Praise God, He has made all things possible. There is liberty for everyone, whatever the trouble. Our Lord Jesus says, "Only believe." He has obtained complete victory over every difficulty, over every power of evil, over every depravity. Every sin is covered by Calvary.
Who are of the tribe of Abraham? All who believe in Jesus Christ are the seed of faith, Abraham's seed. If we dare come believing, God will heal, God will restore, will lift the burden and wake us up to real overcoming faith. Look up! Take courage! Jesus has shaken the foundations of death and darkness. He fighteth for you and there is none like Him. He is the great I AM. His name is above every name. As we believe we are lifted into a place of rest, a place of conformity to Him. He says to us as He did to Abraham, "I will bless thee and thou shalt be a blessing." He says to us as He did to His people of old, "With loving kindness have I drawn thee." Hallelujah: "He'll never forget to keep me, He'll never forget to keep me; my Father has many dear children, but He'll never forget to keep me." Believe it. He will never forget.
In the sixth chapter of Acts we read of the appointment of seven deacons. The disciples desired to give themselves wholly to prayer and to the ministry of the Word, and they said to the brethren, "Look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business." And they chose Stephen (a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost) and six others. We read that Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people, and his opponents were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spake. When his opponents brought him before the Sanhedrin, all that sat in the Council looked steadfastly on him, and they saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.
I see many remarkable things in the life of Stephen. One thing moves me, and that is the truth that I must at all costs live by the power of the Spirit. God wants us to be like Stephen, full of faith and full of the Holy Ghost. You can never be the same again after you have received this wonderful Baptism in the Holy Spirit. It is important that day by day we should be full of wisdom and faith, and full of the Holy Ghost, acting by the power of the Holy Ghost. God has set us here in the last days, these of apostasy, and would have us be burning and shining lights in the midst of an untoward generation. God is longing for us to come into such a fruitful position as the sons of God, with the marks of heaven upon us, His divinity bursting through our humanity, so that He can express Himself through our lips of clay. He can take clay lips, weak humanity, and make of such an oracle for Himself. He can take frail human nature and by His divine power make our bodies meet to he His holy temple, washing our hearts whiter than snow.
Our Lord Jesus says, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." He longs that we should be filled with faith and with the Holy Ghost and declares to us, "He that believeth on me the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father." He has gone to the Father. He is in the place of power and He exercises His power not only in heaven but on earth, for He has all power on earth as well as in heaven. Hallelujah! What an open door to us if we will but believe Him.
The disciples were men after our standard on the line of the flesh. God sent them forth, joined to the Lord and identified with Him. Peter, John and Thomas, how diverse they were! Impulsive Peter, ever ready to go forth without a stop! John, the beloved, leaning on the Master's breast, how different! Thomas, with hard nature and defiant spirit. "I won't believe, unless I put my finger into the print of the nails and my hands into His side." What strange flesh! How peculiar! But the Master could mold them. There was no touch like His. Under His touch even stony-hearted Thomas believed. Ah my God, how Thou hast had to manage some of us. Have we not been strange and very peculiar? But oh, when God's hand comes upon us, He can speak to us in such a way—a word, a look, and we are broken. Has He spoken to you? I thank God for His speaking. Back of all His dealings we see the love of God for us. It is not what we are that counts, but what we can be as He disciplines and chastens us and transforms us by His all skillful hands. He sees our bitter tears and our weeping night after night. There is none like Him. He knows. He forgives. We cannot forgive ourselves; we oftentimes would give the world to forget, but we cannot. The devil won't let us forget. But God has forgiven and forgotten. Do you believe self, or the devil, or God? Which are you going to believe? Believe God. I know the past is under the blood and that God has forgiven and forgotten, for when He forgives He forgets. Praise the Lord! Hallelujah! We are baptized to believe and to receive.
In making provision for the serving of tables and the daily ministration, the disciples knew who were baptized with the Holy Ghost. In the early days of the church all who touched the work had to be men full of the Holy Ghost. I am hungry that I may be more full, that God may make choice of me for His service. And I know that the greatest qualification is to be filled with the Spirit. The Holy Spirit has the divine commission from heaven to impart revelation to every son of God concerning the Lord Jesus, to unfold to us the gifts and the fruit of the Spirit. He will take of the things of Christ and show them unto us.
Stephen was a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost. God declares it. God so manifested Himself in Stephen's body that he became an epistle of truth, known and read of all. Full of faith! Such men never talk doubt. You never hear them say, "I wish it could be so; or if it is God's will." No IFS. They KNOW. You never hear them say, "Well, it does not always act." They say, "It is sure to be." They laugh at impossibilities and cry, "It shall be done!" A man full of faith hopes against hope. He shouts while the walls are up and they come down while he shouts! God has this faith for us in Christ. We must be careful that no unbelief is found in us, no wavering.
"Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people." The Holy Ghost could do mighty things through him because he believed God, and God is with the man who dares to believe His Word. All things were possible because of the Holy Ghost's position in Stephen's body. He was full of the Holy Ghost so God could fulfill His purposes through him. When a child of God is filled with the Holy Ghost, the Spirit maketh intercession through him for the saints according to the will of God. He fills us with longings and desires until we are in a place of fervency as of a molten fire. What to do we know not. When we are in this place the Holy Ghost begins to do. When the Holy Ghost has liberty in the body He wafts all utterance into the presence of God according to the will of God. Such prayers are always heard. Such praying is always answered; it is never bare of result. When we are praying in the Holy Ghost, faith is in evidence and as a result the power of God can be manifested in our midst.
When there arose certain of the various synagogues to dispute with Stephen they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which He spake. When we are filled with the Holy Ghost we will have wisdom. Praise God! One night I was entrusted with a meeting and I was jealous of my position before God. I wanted approval from the Lord. I see that God wants men full of the Holy Ghost, with divine ability, filled with life, a flaming fire. In the meeting a young man stood up, a pitiful object, with a face full of sorrow.
I said, "What is it, young man?"
He said he was unable to work, he could scarcely walk. He said, "I am so helpless. I have consumption and a weak heart, and my body is full of pain."
I said, "I will pray for you." I said to the people, "As I pray for this young man, you look at his face and see it change."
As I prayed his face changed and he was in a strange way. I said to him, "Go out and run a mile and come back to the meeting."
He came back and said, "I can now breathe freely."
The meetings were continuing and I missed him. After a few days I saw him again in the meeting. I said, "Young man, tell the people what God has done for you."
"Oh," he said, "I have been to work. I bought some papers and I have made $4.50."
Praise God, this wonderful stream of salvation never runs dry. You can take a drink, it is close to you. It is a river that is running deep and there is plenty for all.
In a meeting a man rose and said, "Will you touch me, I am in a terrible way. I have a family of children, and through an accident in the pit I have had no work for two years. I cannot open my hands."
I was full of sorrow for this poor man and something happened which had never come before. We are in the infancy of this wonderful outpouring of the Holy Spirit and there is so much more for us. I put out my hand, and before my hands reached his, he was loosed and made perfectly free. I see that Stephen, full of faith and of power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. This same Holy Ghost filling is for us, and right things will be accomplished if we are filled with His Spirit. God will grant it. He declares that the desires of the righteous shall be granted.
Stephen was an ordinary man made extraordinary in God. We may be very ordinary, but God wants to make us extraordinary in the Holy Ghost. God is ready to touch and to transform you right now.
Once a woman rose in the meeting asking for prayer. I prayed for her and she was healed. She cried out, "It is a miracle! It is a miracle! It is a miracle!" That is what God wants to do for us all the time. As sure as we get free in the Holy Ghost something will happen. Let us pursue the best things and let God have His right of way.
All that sat in the council looked steadfastly on Stephen and saw his face as it had been the face of an angel. It was worth being filled with the Holy Ghost for that. The Spirit breaking through. There is a touch of the Spirit where the light of God will verily radiate from our faces.
The seventh chapter of Acts is the profound prophetic utterance that the Spirit spoke through this holy man. The word of God flowed through the lips of Stephen in the form of divine prophecy so that they who heard these things were cut to the heart. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said, "Behold I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God." Right to the last Stephen was full of the Holy Ghost. He saw Jesus standing. In another part we read of Him seated at the right hand of God. That is His place of authority. But here we see that He arose. He was so keenly interested in that martyr Stephen. May the Lord open our eyes to see Him and to know that He is deeply interested in all that concerns us. He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities.
All things are naked and open unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. That asthma, He knows. That rheumatism, He knows. That pain in the back, that head, those feet, He knows. He wants to loose every captive and to set you free just as He has set me free. I do not know that I have a body today. I am free of every human ailment, absolutely free. Christ has redeemed us. He has power over all the power of the enemy and has wrought out our great victory. Will you have it? It is yours—a perfect redemption.
And they stoned Stephen, who called upon God and said, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge." And when he had said this he fell asleep. Stephen was not only filled with faith but he was also filled with love as he prayed just as his Master prayed, "Father, forgive them."
It is God's thought to make us a new creation, with all the old things passed away and all things within us truly of God, to bring in a new divine order, a perfect love and an unlimited faith. Will you have it? Redemption is free. Arise in the activity of faith and God will heal you as you rise. Only believe and receive in faith. Stephen, full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, did great signs and wonders. May God bless to us this word and fill us full of His Holy Spirit, and through the power of the Holy Ghost more and more reveal Christ in us.
The Spirit of God will always reveal the Lord Jesus Christ. Serve Him, love Him, be filled with Him. It is lovely to hear Him as He makes Himself known to us. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is willing to fill us with the Holy Ghost and faith just as He filled Stephen.