Confidence, June 1916.
The thought that has been pressing upon my mind for some time is the thought of “abiding,” and the joy of being at that place where I can always count upon being in the presence of power, where I know God’s presence is with me, leading to a place where victory is assured. Let us get hold of this thought—that if we keep in a certain place with God wonderful things may happen, for we shall then be in a place where we reach such spiritual attainment that marvels may be wrought because we are there. Then God will have his own way through us.
The anointed Jesus. In the fourth chapter of Luke, first verse, we read: “And Jesus, being full of the Holy Ghost, returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.” Mark speaks about being “driven” by the Spirit. Whatever Mark means or Luke means, there is one thing certain, and that is this—we see a power, a majesty, falling on the Lord Jesus. He is no longer the same man. He has received a mighty anointing power of God, and in this place he realizes that the only thing for him to do is to submit to God, and as he submits he is more and more covered with power and led by the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit takes him away into the wilderness, with its darkness and great privations. For 40 days he was without food, but because of the presence and the power within and on him, he is certain of victory. With this power he faces the wild beasts of the wilderness and the privations as to every human sustenance, and then at the end of 40 days, in that holy attainment, he is forced into such persecution and trial as probably has never attacked man before; and in the place where he is, God sustains him mightily. With what? With this holy—and I want you to think about it—this holy, blessed unction which is upon Jesus, and which so brings prophecy to bear upon Satan that Jesus has a sword with which he can, as it were, defeat and almost slay Satan every time with prophecy by reminding him “It is written.”
In the 14th verse you will see that “Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit, and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about; and he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all.” I want you to understand that after the trials, after all the temptations and everything, he comes out more full of God, more clothed in the Spirit, more ready for the fight. The enduement with power had such an effect upon him that other people saw it and flocked to hear him, and great blessings came to the land.
Take another incident: He is among his kinsfolk and relations, and in the spirit of this kind of holy attainment he goes into the synagogue. There was delivered to him a book, and he read: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor.” It is well to keep before us where the “anointing” came in. How was he anointed? How did it come to him? You know how that was.
Now in like manner I see that the Holy Ghost also fell upon the disciples at Pentecost. I see that they were anointed with the same power, and I see that they went forth and success attended their ministry until the power of God swept through the whole “inhabitable world.” I want you to see that it was because of this unction, this power, that when Peter and John spoke to the lame man at the gate of the temple he was able to rise and leap for joy. The Holy Ghost coming upon an individual is capable of changing him and fertilizing his spiritual life and filling him with such power and grace that he may not be able to say what would happen. What can not happen, what is not possible—if we reach this place and if we keep in it, if we abide in it?
Ezekiel’s vision of dry bones. I want to turn to a portion of the Old Testament scriptures, 37th chapter of Ezekiel. I want you to see here particularly how a man was so full of the Spirit, was always so much in the Spirit that he could see that the hand of the Lord was upon him, and who was led out in the Spirit. He was in a place of rest, and I want you to keep that before you. He had come to the place where he could rest and where he knew God was with him, and that he could rest there. This is an important point. Some people have an idea that they have to be doing something by way of breaking every rule and every movement. I beseech you, by the power of the Holy Ghost today, that you see that there is one thing only that is going to accomplish the purposes of God, and that is being in the Spirit. I don’t care how dry the land is; I don’t care how thirsty the land is, or how many vessels or how few there are round about; I beseech you, in the name of Jesus, that you keep in the Spirit. That’s the secret.
Here is a man who was in the right place and at the right time, and God well knows it. “The Lord knoweth them that are his.” Ezekiel said: “The Lord carried me out in the Spirit, and set me down in the midst of the valley, which was full of dry bones; and caused me to pass by them round about; and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And he said unto me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ And I answered, ‘O Lord God, thou knowest.’” The vision is the Lord’s, and you can see the Lord’s vision only by being in the Spirit. When you are in the Spirit and dry bones are round about you and barren conditions all about, and you think everything is exactly opposite to your desires, and you can see no deliverance by human power, then, knowing that your condition is known to God and that God wants men and women who are willing to submit, and submit, and SUBMIT, and yield, and yield, and YIELD to the Holy Spirit until their bodies are saturated and soaked with God; you realize that God your Father has you in such condition that at any moment he can reveal his will to you and communicate whatever He wants to say to you. “Can these bones live?” “Thou knowest, O Lord.” “Yes, I know. What do you think?” “From what I have known of you, blessed Master, in the past, I believe that these dry bones can live, for you say so.” “Very true, my child, go on and prophesy. Do as I tell you.”
Now I want you to understand that there is something more in it. I want you to see that God is everything to us, and I believe that we have to come to a place where we have to submit ourselves to the mighty unctionizing power of God, and where we shall see we are in the will of God, and I pray God the Holy Ghost that he will show us our leanness, our farness from this place. What we want is a great hunger and thirst for God. He said, “O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.” I would like you to understand that God speaks first, and he speaks so loud and so clear and so distinct that this man (who was filled with the Spirit) of the Lord heard every word. Still there is not a move in the valley. Until the word of the Lord is uttered the bones are as dry as at the beginning. But what is the matter? God has spoken and the message has gone forth. What is it? Ah, it is only that the word of God has gone forth through his servant the prophet. The world has to be brought to a knowledge of the truth, but that will only be brought about through human instrumentality, and that will be when the human instrument is at a place where he will say all that the Holy Spirit directs him to say. The man rose up, and clothed with the divine power he began to speak, he began to prophesy; and then as soon as he began to speak there was a rattling among the bones, and if we had been there we should have seen a bigger stir than we had ever seen before. Bone to bone at the voice of the man filled with the Spirit of the living God. God had given him victory. God in like manner wants to give us victory. What does the word say? “Be still, and know that I am God” —the place of tranquility where we know that he is controlling and moving me by the mighty power of his Spirit.
Beloved, that is a place which we can reach. This prophecy is for us. Truly God wants to begin this in us. We must always remember that it is God who is the creator, and his creative power is in existence at this moment, and he knows where there is barrenness and where there is thirsty land, and it is he who can bring forth springs of water. There are many dry places. Indeed, nearly every town I go to is said to be the driest of places—“the hardest town in the kingdom,” they will say. What is that to do with you? The Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save. It is man’s extremity that God finds his opportunity, and it is for his word to awaken even you; and so God wants us to cheer up. “All things are possible to them that believe.” But if we are to do the will of God at the right time and place we must yield to the Spirit and obey him, so as to give God a fair chance.
“And I prophesied as was commanded.” He just did what he was told to do. It takes more to live in that place than in any other place that I know of—to live in a place where you hear God’s voice. It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that you can do as you are told quickly and without resistance. “And as I prophesied there was a noise, and behold, a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone.” There is something worth your notice in this. It is only the Spirit that can make the crooked straight.
Some of you, no doubt, have thought some of your neighbors are a bit crooked, and were in fact some of the most crooked of-the-way bones you ever saw in your life, and it would be impossible for them to get saved. That is nothing to do with you. It is for you to live in the Holy Ghost, and he can change the whole circumstance and you will be amazed at the way the crooked bones will be straightened. Nothing can change such circumstances as God can. “Bone to bone,” no crooked places now; but it takes God to do that. Man has been trying to do it all along, but as soon as a man has been truly baptized with the Holy Ghost, God does it. There is power in the Holy Ghost to transform, renew, and change the whole circumstances of life. You have to submit and let God take hold of you. Don’t be troubled because you have not reached the place. You have reached somewhere, but the best is in store. Only yield so that he may have full control of all you are.
“And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them above, but there was no breath in them.” Here’s a condition for them. There was the form, but no breath in it. But you must never give in and think the thing is fairly accomplished if you see the joining of the members and a kind of fellowship. You must never give in with that. They are never in the royal place until the breath of God has come into them and upon them. You must always lead people to receive the Holy Ghost and know that the breath of the Almighty is upon them. Justification will not be sufficient to accomplish the purpose of God. They may be justified and sanctified, but can never be satisfied until they are filled with the Holy Ghost.
There must be a real travailing of the human heart for God to bring forth. People are never safe until they are baptized with the Holy Ghost, and that is why the apostles pressed that fact upon believers, and that is why Jesus was always pointing to the time when they should be filled with unction and power of the Spirit which would carry them all on.
“Then said he unto me: Prophesy… So I prophesied.” Glory to God! It is most wonderful. As soon as he began to prophesy he found there was something in it. Are you not wanting to get there? Don’t you think we ought to be there? Do you think we ought to be satisfied until we are there? How can God be pleased with us until we reach that place? We must get to that place where we shall see God and know his voice when he sends us with a message that brings life and power and victory. “And they stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.”
I know a lot of people who are seeking their baptism in a wonderful way. They see visions, and it is scriptural that they should see visions. I believe that Paul was so imbued with the Holy Ghost and so filled with the glory of God that he could at times see visions and revelations.
John in the Spirit. I want to point out something. John the divine preached all over the country, and the enemies of Christ gnashed upon him with their teeth, and they tried to the best of their power to destroy him. Tradition says that they even put him in a pot of boiling oil, but, like a cat, he seemed to have nine lives, I tell you there is something in the power of the Holy Spirit. When God wants to keep a man, nothing can destroy him. My life is in the hands of God. What can separate us from the love of God? Can heights or depths? Is there anything that can separate us? No, praise God! nothing can separate us. No, his enemies said they could not kill him, so they cast him away on the rocky and desolate island of Patmos. They thought that would be an end of him; and there, on that lonely isle, he was “in the Spirit.” Have you ever been there?" The very place that was not fit for humanity was the place where he was most filled with God, and where he was most ready for the revelation of Jesus.
Oh, beloved, I tell you there is something in the baptism in the Holy Ghost worthy of our whole attention, worthy of our whole consideration in every way. The baptism in the Holy Ghost! Yes, the barren wilderness, the rocky and desolate isle, the dry land, and the most unfriendly place, may be filled with God. You read the first chapter of the Revelation, and you will see that in the 9th and 10th verses that John was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and behind him a great voice as of a trumpet. Immediately a revelation was made to him, which you cannot read without being blessed. The revelation given to him was a series of holy truths that have yet to be fulfilled, and will be fulfilled to the letter. There are wonderful things there. Blessed be God, we can come to that place which he speaks about. Jesus can reveal His mind to us from time to time. If you only think about it, you will see you are in a thousand times better position than John. In that barren place he was filled with the Spirit. You can have no excuse, for the lines have fallen to you in pleasant places. You will see from the second verse of the 4th chapter of Revelation that John was in so living and blessed a condition of fellowship with God that immediately he was “in the Spirit.”
Immediately! What does it mean? It means this: That God wants us to be in a place where the least breath of heaven makes us all on fire, ready for everything. You say, “How can I have that?” Oh, you can have that as easy as anything. “Can I?” Yes, it is as simple as possible. “How?” Let heaven come in; let the Holy Ghost take possession of you, and when he comes into your body you will find out that that is the keynote of the spirit of joy and the spirit of rapture, and if you will allow the Holy Ghost to have full control you will find you are living in the Spirit, and you will find out that the opportunities will be God’s opportunities, and there is a difference between God’s opportunities and ours. You will find you have come to the right place at the right time, and you will speak the right word at the right time and in the right place, and you will not go a warfare at your own charge.