The Secret Of Success In Christian Life And Work
By D. L. Moody
"Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (1 Corinthians 3:16).
Is it not clearly taught in Scripture that every believer has the Holy Spirit dwelling in him? He may be quenching the Spirit of God, and he may not glorify God as he should, but if he is a believer on the Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit dwells in him. But I want to call your attention to another fact. I believe today that though Christian men and women have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them, yet He is not dwelling within them in power. In other words, God has a great many sons and daughters without power.
What Is Needed
Nine-tenths at least, of the church members never think of speaking for Christ. If they see a man, perhaps a near relative, going rapidly to ruin, they never think of speaking to him about his sinful course and of seeking to win him to Christ. Certainly there must be something wrong. And yet when you talk with them you find they have faith, and you cannot say they are not children of God. But they have not the power, they have not the liberty, they have not the love that real disciples of Christ should have.
A great many people are thinking that we need new measures, new churches, new organs, new choirs, and all these new things. That is not what the Church needs today. It is the old power that the apostles had. That is what we lack, and if we have that in our churches, there will be new life. Then we will have new ministers – the same ministers renewed with power, filled with the Spirit.
I remember when in Chicago many were toiling in the work, and it seemed as though the car of salvation didn’t move on. Then a minister began to cry out from the very depths of his heart, "Oh, God, put new ministers in every pulpit!" On the next Monday I heard two or three men stand up and say, "We had a new minister last Sunday – actually the same minister, but he had got new power." I firmly believe that is what we need today all over America. We want new ministers in the pulpit and new people in the pews. We want people quickened by the Spirit of God, and the Spirit coming down and taking possession of the children of God and giving them power….
It is possible a man may just barely have life and be satisfied, and I think that a great many are in that condition. In the third chapter of John we find that Nicodemus came to Christ and that he received life. At first this life was feeble. You don’t hear of him standing up confessing Christ boldly, and of the Spirit coming upon him in great power even though he possessed life through faith in Christ.
In the fourth chapter of John it speaks of the woman coming to the well of Samaria, and Christ held out the cup of salvation to her. She took it and drank, and it became in her "a well of water springing up into everlasting life" (v. 14). That is better than in the third chapter of John. Here it came down in a flood into her soul. As someone has said, it came down from the throne of God, and like a mighty current carried her back to the throne of God. Water always rises to its level, and if we get the soul filled with water from the throne of God it will bear us upward to its source.
But if you want to get the best class of Christian life portrayed, turn to the seventh chapter of John and you will find that it says of him that receives the Spirit through trusting in the Lord Jesus, "out of [him] shall flow rivers of living water" (v. 38).
There are two ways of digging a well. I remember as a boy on a farm in New England, there was a well with an old wooden pump. I used to have to pump the water from that well on washday and to water the cattle. Many a time I had to pump and pump and pump until my arm got tired. But they have a better way now. They don’t dig down a few feet and brick up the hole and put the pump in, but they go down through the clay and the sand and the rock and on down until they strike what they call a lower stream. Then it becomes an artesian well which needs no labor, as the water rises spontaneously from the depths beneath.
I think God wants all His children to be a sort of artesian well, not to keep pumping but to flow right out. Haven’t you seen ministers in the pulpit just pumping, and pumping and pumping? I have many a time, and I have had to do it too. I know how it is. The ministers stand in the pulpit and talk and talk and talk, and the people go to sleep and they can’t arouse them. What is the trouble? The living water is not there. They are pumping when there is no water in the well. You cannot get water out of a dry well. You have to get something in the well, or you can’t get anything out. I have seen these wooden pumps where you had to pour water into them before you could pump any water out.
So it is with a good many people. You have to get something into them before you can get anything out. People wonder why it is that they have no spiritual power. They stand up and talk in meeting, and don’t say anything. They say they haven’t anything to say, and you find it out soon enough; they need not state it. They just talk because they feel it is a duty, and they say nothing.
When the Spirit of God is resting upon us for service, we are anointed. Then we can do great things. "I will pour water upon him that is thirsty," says God (Isa. 44:3). Oh, blessed thought! "…they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness… shall be filled" (Matt. 5:6).
I like to see someone full of living water, so full that they cannot contain it, so full that they have to go out and publish the Gospel of the grace of God. When a man gets so full he can’t hold any more, then he is ready for God’s service.
When preaching in Chicago, Dr. Gibson remarked in the inquiry meeting, "Now, how can we find out who is thirsty?" Said he, "I was just thinking how we could find out. If a boy should come down the aisle, bringing a good pail of clear water and a dipper, we would soon find out who was thirsty. We would see thirsty men and women reach out for water. But if one should walk down the aisle with an empty bucket, you wouldn’t find it out. People would look in and see that there was no water and say nothing. So," said he, "I think that is the reason we are not more blessed in our ministry. We are carrying around empty buckets, and the people see that we have not anything in them, and they don’t come forward."
I think that there is a good deal of truth in that. People see that we are carrying around empty buckets, and they will not come to us until they are filled. They see we haven’t any more than they have. We must have the Spirit of God resting upon us, and then we will have something that gives the victory over the world, the flesh and the devil. We have something that gives the victory over our tempers and our conceits, and over every other evil, and when we can trample these sins under our feet, then people will come to us and say, "How did you get it? I need this power. You have something that I haven’t got. I want it."
Oh, may God show us this truth. Have we been toiling all night? Let us throw the net on the right side. Let us ask God to forgive our sins, and anoint us with power from on high. But remember, He is not going to give this power to an impatient man or to a selfish man, or to an ambitious man whose aim is selfish. He will not give it till this man is emptied of self, of pride and of all worldly thoughts. Let it be God’s glory and not our own that we seek, and when we get to that point, how speedily the Lord will bless us for good. Then will the measure of our blessing be full.
Do you know what heaven’s measure is? Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. If we get our hearts filled with the Word of God, how is Satan going to get in? How is the world going to get in? Heaven’s measure is good measure, full measure, running over. Have you this fullness? If you have not, then seek it. Say that by the grace of God you will have it, for it is the Father’s good pleasure to give us these things.
He wants us to shine down in this world. He wants to lift us up for His work. He wants us to have the power to testify for His Son. He has left us in this world to testify for Him. What did He leave us here for? Not to buy and sell and to get gain, but to glorify Christ. How are you going to do it without the fullness of the Spirit? That is the question. How are you to do it without the power of God?
Christ said, "Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8). On the day of Pentecost, ten days after Jesus Christ was glorified, the Holy Spirit descended in power. Perhaps some question the possibility of having the power of God now. They think that the Holy Spirit never came afterward in similar manifestation, and will never come again in such power.
Turn to Acts 4:31 and you will find the Holy Spirit came a second time at a place where they were, so that the place was shaken and they were all filled with this power. The fact is, we are leaky vessels, and we have to keep right under the fountain all the time to keep full of Christ, and so have a fresh supply. A mistake a great many of us are making is that we are trying to do God’s work with the grace God gave us ten years ago. If it is necessary, we say, we will go on with the same grace. What we need is a fresh supply, a fresh anointing and fresh power. If we seek it and seek it with all our hearts, we will obtain it.
The early converts were taught to look for that power. Philip went to Samaria, and news reached Jerusalem that there was a great work being done in Samaria, and there were many converts. John and Peter went down, and they laid their hands on the converts, and they received the Holy Ghost for service. That is what we Christians ought to be looking for – the Spirit of God for service that God may use us mightily in the building up of His Church and hastening His glory. In Acts 19 we read of twelve men at Ephesus who when the inquiry was made if they had received the Holy Ghost since they believed, answered: "We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost" (v. 2). I venture to say there are very many who, if you were to ask them, "Have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed?" would reply, "I don’t know what you mean by that." They would be like the twelve men at Ephesus who had never understood the peculiar relation of the Spirit to the sons of God in this dispensation.
I firmly believe that the Church has laid this knowledge aside, mislaid it somewhere, and so Christians are without power. Sometimes you can take one hundred members into the church and they don’t add to its power. That is all wrong. If they were anointed by the Spirit of God, there would be great power if one hundred saved ones were added to the church.
When I was in California the first time, I went down from the Sierra Nevada Mountains and dropped into the Valley of the Sacramento. I was surprised to find on one farm that everything about it was green – all the trees and flowers were blooming; everything was green and beautiful. Just across the hedge, everything was dried up and there was not a green thing there. I could not understand it until I made inquiries and found that the man who had everything green irrigated. He just poured the water right on, and he kept everything green, while the fields that were next to his were as dry as Gideon’s fleece without a drop of dew.
So it is with a great many in the Church today. They are like these farms in California – a dreary desert, everything parched and desolate, and apparently no life in them. They can sit next to a man who is full of the Spirit of God, who is like a green bay tree, and who is bringing forth fruit, and yet they will not seek a similar blessing. Why this difference? Because God has poured water on him that was thirsty; that is the difference. One has been seeking this anointing and he has received it. When we want this above everything else, God will give it to us. The great question before us now is, do we want it?
When I first went to England and gave a Bible reading, about the first that I gave in that country, a great many ministers were there. I didn’t know anything about English theology, and I was afraid I should run against their creeds. I was a little hampered, especially on this very subject about the gift of the Holy Spirit for service. A Christian minister there had his head bowed on his hand, and I thought the good man was ashamed of everything I was saying, and of course, that troubled me. At the close of my address he took his hat and went away, and then I thought, "Well, I shall never see him again." At the next meeting I looked for him and he wasn’t there. At the next meeting I looked again, but he was absent. I thought my teaching must have given him offense.
But a few days after that at a large noon prayer meeting a man stood up and his face shone as if he had been up in the mountain with God. I looked at him, and to my great joy it was this brother. He said he was at that Bible reading, and he heard there was such a thing as having fresh power to preach the Gospel. He said he made up his mind that if that was for him, he would have it. He went home and looked to the Master and he never had such a battle with himself in his life. He asked that God would show him the sinfulness of his heart that he knew nothing about, and he cried mightily to God that he might be emptied of himself and filled with the Spirit. He said, "God has answered my prayer!"
I met him in Edinburgh six months from that date, and he told me he had preached the Gospel every night during that time. He said that he had not preached one sermon but that some remained for conversation, and that he had engagements four months ahead to preach the Gospel every night in different churches. I think you could have fired a cannon ball right through his church and not hit anyone before he got this anointing, but it was not thirty days before the building was full and aisles crowded. He had his bucket filled full of fresh water, and the people found it out and came flocking to him from every quarter. You can’t get the stream higher than the fountain. What we need very especially is power!
There was another older minister whom I have in my mind, and he said, "I have heart disease. I can’t preach more than once a week," so he had a colleague to preach for him and do the visiting. He had heard of this anointing, and he said, "I would like to be anointed for my burial. I would like before I go hence to have just one more privilege to preach the Gospel with power." He prayed that God would fill him with the Spirit.
I met him not long after that and he said, "I have preached eight times a week on an average, and I have had conversions all along." The Spirit came on him. I don’t believe that man broke down at first with hard work so much as with using the machinery without oil, without lubrication. It is not the hard work that breaks down ministers, but it is the toil of working without power.
Oh, that God may anoint His people! Not the ministry alone, but every disciple. Do not suppose pastors are the only laborers needing it. There is not a mother but needs it in her house to regulate her family, just as much as the minister needs it in the pulpit or the Sunday school teacher needs it in his Sunday school. We all need it together, and let us not rest day or night until we possess it. If that is the uppermost thought in our hearts, God will give it to us if we just hunger and thirst for it, and say, "God helping me, I will not rest until endued with power from on high!"
– From Secret Power by D. L. Moody.