About the author (by Peter Wade)
William E. Booth-Clibborn was a powerful evangelist from a powerful Christian family. He was a son of the famed Marechael of France (Booth’s eldest daughter, who pioneered the Salvation Army work in France as a teenager — her exciting life story is still in print) and grandson and namesake of General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army. His mother Catherine married Arthur Clibborn, and at the General’s insistence, changed their name by deed poll to Booth-Clibborn.
So successful was their work in France, that General Booth instructed them to return to London to help him there, but they decided to remain in Europe and won thousands to Christ in Switzerland and other countries.
William Booth-Clibborn, one of their many children, was converted at the age of 12 and then conducted children’s evangelistic campaigns at the age of 15 in Holland, Germany, Poland and Russia while his parent’s preached to the adults (read about this in chapter two). He preached in English, German and French (his native language). The family left the Salvation Army to advocate advanced truths and William Booth-Clibborn had a Pentecostal experience.
He later trained at the Moody Bible Institute and evangelized in the U.S. and then worldwide. He spent over two years in Australia in the 1930s, where the legacy of his labors remain. He founded churches in Europe, Canada, Australia and the United States. He later settled in Portland, Oregon, where he founded Immanuel Temple, and died in 1969. His wife died in 1997 at the age of 98. Before she died she gave her permission in writing for this special electronic edition of this out-of-print book. It is taken from the enlarged second edition published in 1944.
As a young minister, this book had a marked effect on my personal understanding of the scriptures, and I am thrilled to have a part in making it available to a new audience. — Peter Wade.
Preface to the First Edition
Persistently requested by friends and converts of my Gospel labors to write those messages that have proven so blessed and helpful to them, I have decided to grant their request in so far as opportunity will afford me the necessary time and application. These pages are the outgrowth of an address that has been the means of the reviving and deliverance of thousands who were locked up within themselves or whose Christian experience had reached a painful stalemate. For now fourteen years I have preached this sermon under different titles, in as many countries and in every circumstance. It has grown in power and scope to great proportions with the telling, as every preacher knows God-given messages will.
At first in an hour’s preaching I could measure its height, now it has become as high as the heavens! For long in our campaigns this message, under different titles, did service on our Saturday “no limit on the preaching” night. Often from 8:30 p.m. to 12 midnight and beyond we have ‘rung the changes’ on these beautiful truths, the audience accepting the challenge and remaining attentive and jubilant to the last.
It is time, therefore, that it should be given wider usefulness, for there is something about this line of truth that breaks reserve, banishes timidity and flings formality to the winds. How many, who having sought the chrism of the Holy Spirit with little success, have found in these words the solution to their problem. What numbers of believers have been made to see their sinful smallness, their begrudging niggardliness. What riots of glory and power have broken upon the meetings as a result. What a transformation in the atmosphere of the revival. What fling and abandonment followed, what generosity in prayer and praise.
My pen is palsied, this paper is so pale. How can I convey the glowing life. the throbbing stimulation of those occasions. Everything seems to lose spirit and color when confined to the letter! But I have done the best I could with the notes the stenographers have accumulated from repeated deliveries, always conscious that there was something I could not transmit — so before you read these pages, humbly ask God to grant you the illumination and understanding you need. Besides, I have never discovered the man or woman that could correctly take down in shorthand the torrents of truth when really going full tilt ahead under Heaven’s heaviest anointing. I would give much to find that party. These articles appeared in simpler form both in England and in the United States of America, now enlarged and revised they are published with the confident prayer that they will prove a key to many a closed heart — I speak of the believer’s heart — closed to the fuller, larger, more glorious overflowing Christian experience, that is his for the taking. I shall be very glad to know that this work has touched and quickened your spiritual life and ask that you may share its message with others.
In the bond that will never sever
In the love that will last forever — WILLIAM BOOTH-CLIBBORN
Preface to the Second Edition
The complaint everywhere, as the United Nations were worsted on a score of battlefronts in the early days of this last world war was: “Too little and too late.” May we all learn from this that in the greater conflict raging against the Powers of Darkness in which we are all as Christians engaged, our victory is assured providing we obtain the “Too much and right early.”
— WILLIAM BOOTH-CLIBBORN
December, 1932, Portland, Oregon
King David’s Cup
David, the son of Jesse, said, and the man who was raised upon high to be the King of Israel, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel said even he who danced before the Lord: “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.” Psalm 23:5.
When Your Cup Runneth Over
When your cup runneth over No doubt or fear remains,
For angels take charge of you,
O’er your path they will hover
As God your step ordains And prospers the things you do.
Chorus: When your cup runneth over with joy,
When your cup runneth over with joy,
You find it easy to pray And to sing all the day
When your cup runneth over with joy.
When your cup runneth over There is no anxious care
To burden your heart and mind.
Love abundant will cover
And give you grace to bear The things which are most unkind.
When your cup runneth over You never will deny,
Nor ever the Christ betray.
Of your heavenly Lover
Your life will testify, Confirming the things you say.
When your cup runneth over, It is for others too
That they might your blessings share.
For you soon will discover
The wine is ever new, And plenty there is to spare. — William Booth-Clibborn.
1. Life in Abundance
“I have come that they may have Life, and may have it in abundance.” John 10:10 — Weymouth’s Translation.
Christ in this text was speaking of another life, a greater even spiritual life, but there is so much to natural life which illustrates the larger spiritual, that the first serves as a picture of the second — “Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.” I Cor. 15:46. So in Paul’s order we shall consider them both.
The Value of Natural Life
Notice how highly men esteem life. Recall tragic disasters, such as the sinking of a liner, a destructive earthquake, a devastating tornado, a hurricane and tidal wave combined, or some serious public calamity, like the breaking of a dam, a fearful fire — and visualize thousands struggling to the last to retain life, ready to surrender all they possess so as to cling to it. Walk with me through the wards of any large private hospital and I can point to wealthy men and women thinking nothing of pouring out tens of thousands of dollars to effect a cure in order to prolong their lives. Satan sometimes speaks the truth, “Yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life” Job 2:4. God did not deny this statement.
Life is inestimably precious. That is why self-preservation is our strongest instinct. We are here but once and among the teeming millions of the human race there never has been a perfect double. No person was ever born in your mold. Your parentage, characteristics, your face and form are original and there never has been nor ever will be a duplicate of them. This is apparent in the lower creation. Every blade of grass, every leaf and flower has its individual shape and design. It is easy to understand then why all natural life is so highly prized by animals as well as man since it is so diverse, so distinctive and original. All creation is filled with life’s struggle for existence. Once forfeited life can never be restored. How much greater, therefore, should be the value placed by us on that eternal life which is the Gift of God. All things we possess should be utterly contemned in comparison to its acquisition. Besides, should not all our powers be engaged in procuring its more abundant quality. With what zeal we should appreciate and encourage whatever divine life is manifest about us. How quick we should be to commend it, how eager to protect the least spark and fan it to flame. But remember Jesus came not only to give us life — He came to give us life in abundance and this is the truth that must grip your soul. I hope you shall never rest till you are able to enjoy that particular full measure of life Christ died to give you… For here is the secret of happy and victorious Christianity in these darkening days of spiritual declension.
The Wisdom of the World
It is the abounding physical life of youth the world glories in most. What adoration it evokes from the writer, the artist, and the sculptor. How they delight in portraying the perfections of beauty and strength at the zenith of their powers. Death, disease and dotage may awaken interest and sympathy, but never admiration. The decline and decay of age is a travesty, a contradiction of life. There, life becomes a cost instead of a contribution, a debit instead of a credit! It is the supple body, the robust physique, the elastic step of the athlete that expresses life in its most generous and bountiful physical aspect.
It rightly receives the adulation and devotion of all. There is a fascination about the race that tempts you to strip and run too. When I see a lot of lads kicking a football about a field I have all I can do to keep out of the thick of it. Notice this — that natural life is always at its best when it shows a surplus of energy, a prodigality of strength or skill. Is it any wonder that the philosophers wearied themselves to find that fabled fountain of youth? Can you marvel that the resources of science are at work night and day on the hypothesis that life may be extended without limit? That is why the physical culturists are joining in the hue and cry for longevity. Natural life is all that this world has and it is out to make the most of it. Can you blame them? No! Our Lord said rightly, “… the children of this world are in their generation (sphere) wiser than the sons of Light” Lu. 16:8. Weymouth renders it, “… the men of this world are shrewder than the sons of Light.” It is a fact that the world glorifies and esteems the exuberant, lavish vigor of healthy youth above all other expressions of life, whereas Christendom invariably honors and extols a hundred forms of professional Christianity, decadent, dull and dead.
The complicated ceremonialism of a long defunct faith is thought more of than the marvelous scenes of a Welsh revival. The more stylish, stilted and stereotyped the service, the greater the approval and impression. That is why a thousand churches sink into lifeless formalism. The most spiritual and promising revivals die down and are finally ‘capped’ and their stifled flow turned into the regular channels of organized religion without protest. Spiritual life is placed in Paris plaster and divine energy made to perish serving our monotonous church machinery. Whereas, the world wisely puts the emphasis where it should be on natural life in its prime, most of the children of God do the reverse, they are too easily satisfied and soon cease to strive for the expression of the fullest measure of that more abundant life Christ came to give us. This is why the best reformations, the most virile revival movements have always been fought and persecuted in the days of their greatest promise and power. A little life hates much life because its very reckless extravagance, its excessive liberality is a continual rebuke and challenge to the penury, the miserliness of spiritual senility. “Too much” life can afford to be prodigal, whereas “just enough” can not! It has no reserve to fall back on, no surplus to support it.
Life at a Standstill
Large bodies of believers remain totally blinded to their crying need of awakening and revival because they are conscious of a little life in their worship. Christians in groups of large congregations can be so easily misled as to their true condition because in the aggregate — in the large number meeting together — there is bound to be some genuine spiritual life manifested. So it comes to pass that very often the churches that have least life, that are really decrepit, half hearted and worldly, are taken to be representative of true Christianity and held forth as models. What little life is present is made the excuse for not obtaining the “life more abundant,” and instead of their seeking a fuller blessing, a rejuvenation, a pentecostal visitation, they sit in self-complacency, immobile and sterile.
What is true of Christians collectively, is certainly true of each one individually. Too often that limited life a Christian has acquired is played against his necessity of securing more! Why, I have seen them indignant at the suggestion that they stood in need of the overflowing life. They were immediately on the defensive and strongly resented preaching that rooted them up and faced them squarely with their lack and dire spiritual destitution. Instead of being thankful that someone was taking pains to arouse them, they walked off insulted! If the truth were known whatever degree of life they once enjoyed in Christ had long ago petered out; and since they have not sought a new lease, a fresh chrism of power, they have but a vestige of it left and just manage to survive. Multitudes, more honest, cease to make any pretense or profession whatever and fall away to the ways and walk of the world.
Now the very reason why tens of thousands have failed to see their need of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is that they pit their past Christian experience against the promise and prospect of a greater one. If you are that kind you remind me of the man who refuses to sell his old car and turn it in on a new one when offered an astounding bargain. He thinks that with a touch of paint and a tinker or two, the old bus will run a long while yet, forgetting that it is continually depreciating in value. This scripture should be shouted aloud to such as you, “For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have MORE ABUNDANCE: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath” Matt. 13:12. There is the problem in a nutshell! Shut yourself up in self-sufficiency, declare your experience adequate and you will begin to decline from that moment.
Backsliding starts generally in the church pew when a soul refuses to seek God afresh, when it deceives itself into thinking it need no longer “hunger and thirst after righteousness.” Perpetual hunger is a sign of normal health as well in natural as in spiritual life. We stand in constant danger of losing what we have received if we fail to press on until we attain the MORE ABUNDANCE. It is a law of nature also, that nothing is truly at a standstill for if we do not advance we really retrograde. The Spirit-filled Christian also better take heed and go on from abundance to abundance, for he may not lean on his past blessings and anointings or spiritual attainments without seriously retarding his progress.
Things spiritual are not so easily discerned as things natural. That is why it is with difficulty we recognize the multitudes of Christians who are half alive about us, whereas, in regards to natural life we easily perceive such as are sickly and therefore do not enjoy life to the full. So many children at a delicate age have survived a violent malady that has atrophied their development and stunted their growth. They are dead weights on their loved ones, unable to take their normal place in life and shift for themselves. Various diseases and plagues ravage the human race and in their wake leave a lot of wreckage. Deformity and hereditary weaknesses also add to the number of derelicts that manage nevertheless to keep afloat. They are physically alive and yet as good as dead. Many of them would greatly prefer death to such a tame and tiresome existence.
Old age takes its toll also, it bows down the strongest and depresses and conquers the happiest spirit. Emaciated and broken, how miserable it must be to be led by the hand, to hardly have strength left to drag one foot after another. Others seem born with an incurable melancholia, inert in disposition, the thought of the least endeavor fills them with fear and apprehension. They are a burden to themselves and to all those about them. Still another sort who are only half alive are the bloodless, the anaemlc. Any exertion exhausts them, life is one prolonged effort for which they have no stamina, no reserve strength. Insipid of face, flabby of muscle or bloated with fat, they present a pitiful sight. These dispeptics are morbid, quarrelsome, become diet devotees and eat herbs. All such represent life at its low ebb. But is this really living? Is this what life was originally intended to be? No! A thousand times, No! It is mere existence! Such are cheated out of the best in life. For them it is not complete, not well rounded nor satisfying. They alone know the acute suffering that such keen disappointment and deprivation causes, it exasperates and irritates them. It writes itself into the deep lines of their faces.
But, it might be objected, it is the entrance of sin into the world that has brought all this about. True, and it is the evil influences of the powers of darkness that are continually depriving the majority of Christians of the satisfying life abundant that Christ promises. For let us remember that every type we have described has its counterpart in spiritual life. We have spiritually deformed and atrophied Christians needing constant care and kindness and every degree and sort of sick saint to deal with. We have them underfed and ill-fed, dispeptics and fadists, unsteady and unstable. We have delicate hot-house plants that can not stand any opposition or persecution. We have those whose varied ailments and complaints are chronic. They seek comfort, flounder about and go from one leaning post to another, incurably relying on props and crutches.
So Many “Hospital” Cases
The bloodless anaemic believer can not cope with the onslaught of Satan and sin, he is forever downed and needs to be resuscitated and nursed. The malborn child of God who inherits queer and questionable viewpoints and ideas from his mother-church, who in her turn had hardly strength enough to launch her spiritual child into the Kingdom, must be continually coddled, namby-pambied, tucked in bed and spoon fed. He has no spiritual hearth or happiness for his heritage. Like a hand-hatched chicken he cannot stand on his own legs. What an ordeal Christian life must be for all such. What an effort it must be for them to testify or work for God at all. If they speak of their experiences, it is an endless repetition of trials and troubles. What do they know of vibrant, jubilant faith? Of welling, rapturous joy? If they ever felt it, if ever experienced, it was temporary and now but a memory. Legions of Christians are ‘hospital cases’, and indeed like patients must be humored and petted, have their temperatures taken and be waited on hand and foot!
We may divide present-day Christians into two main classes: The first are in the majority and consist of those who have just enough life to keep their noses above the waters of sin. With what struggling and fighting and panting do they succeed! What a commotion they make! They splash and plunge about. They are always in a state of exhaustion. But, thank God, there is another class. The second consists of those who have such an abundance of divine strength that they not only keep afloat, never in the danger of sinking, but valiantly swim the waters of sin with buoyant delight, and expend their extra, their “too much” life, saving others and pulling them out of its waters.
Now, except we get God’s “too much,” we will be useless. It is only as we overflow with the life and glory of Christ, that we may be able to bless those about us and convince the world of the reality of the Christian religion.
Who saves his life, Or cross doth shun,
Loses a hundred, holding one;
And he who fain his life would spare
Keeps from the multitudes their share.
Oh, who can hear starvation’s cry
And still refuse in love to die!
Thus dying daily do we live;
Thus, poor, we richest gifts do give;
Thus, having nothing, we have all;
And being down we fear no fall.
When from their works our souls do cease
God is our rest, and power, and peace.
Love knows not how to grasp or hoard
‘Tis faith that ever spreads it’s board
From sharing all it never quails,
And hence it’s barrel never fails.
Love ever gives it’s life and dies,
In richer harvests to arise.
— Arthur S. Booth-Clibborn.
From the out-of-print book Too Much: The Filled to Overflowing Experience by William Booth-Clibborn. Used by permission.
You can save this page as a text file from your browser (File / Save As) and read it off-line. It is about 16K.
Too Much: The Filled to Overflowing Experience
2. “Too Much Religion”
“I labored more abundantly than they all:
Yet not I but the Grace of God that was with me.” — I Corinthians 15:10.
It is alarming to see, as we have, to what extent Christians are living on half-fare and what multitudes are merely existing instead of living to the full. I propose to show both from Nature’s laws and from certain scriptures that God’s full provision for us is nothing short of a life so rich, so intense, so copious as to easily provide us the strength and power to overcome all obstacles! Not only making us successful, personally, but giving us such strength that we are able to help others. I will show why it is that many do not obtain this abundant life and on what conditions it may be received and retained.
First, let me speak of an incident that occurred in my life as a school boy, which made a great impression upon me and which caused me to take an entirely new view of this whole question.
The Pentecostal Outpouring in Germany
I was converted at twelve years of age by an instant miraculous transaction that simply transformed my life. This took place when I was all alone. At the time I was the worst boy in school. The very God of Heaven seemed to come down, put His arms around me and claim me as His own. It was a tremendous experience, so revolutionary as to make me verily a new creature. I wrestled until four in the morning and knew the “peace that passeth all understanding.” Thereafter, I stood firm against the ridicule and persecution of my schoolmates and witnessed to them as best I could, and had the exceeding joy of leading many of my chums to Christ.
At the age of fifteen, God graciously filled me with the Holy Spirit, and called me to the ministry. With my father, I traveled all over Holland and Germany and parts of Poland and Russia, preaching the Gospel and the message of the Pentecostal outpouring.
We visited many large centers in Germany and in every city great children’s revivals broke out. In Hamburg, Elmshorn, Dusseldorf, Posen, Bromberg, Breslau, Leignitz, Glogau, Neustadt, Laskowitz, and many other smaller towns and settlements where we ministered, father took care of the adult service whereas in the meantime I devoted my energies to the young people’s groups and Sunday Schools with most encouraging results. The churches advertized me as the “Yugend Missionar” and the pastors were surprisingly co-operative, as in Germany we found all such efforts. for children to be frowned upon and the attitude to be ultra-conservative. God’s Spirit moved upon these men however and so it was that I saw hundreds upon hundreds of children converted in my own revival meetings, whose names I collected in a book. These exceeded one thousand, the majority of them receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
You can well imagine how difficult it was for me to settle down to the common curriculum of school life after the adventure, excitement and joy of victorious, fruitful revival work. Upon my return to England, it was decided that my education must be completed; but I did not see it that way and was filled with misgivings and grief. I begged father and mother to allow me to continue preaching, promising to do my school work “on the run,”
A Revival in My College
What a purgatory that school life proved to be! It was an agony of soul to be suddenly snatched from such a glorious revival atmosphere to the petty foolishness and commonalities of a large college teeming with unconverted boys. It proved a cruel cross! After living in the Heavenlies, I was brought back to earth with a thump! I set to praying determinedly that God might bless this period of my life and make it fruitful, and that, though the circumstances were so discouraging to aggressive Christian work, God would open the way whereby I might win some of these boys to Christ.
Night and day, I was eaten up with the zeal of God’s house. I lived in strong crying and weeping. Many were the evenings that I left the games and fun making downstairs and retired to my room to wet my pillow, and groan in spirit by the hour. I often travailed in prayer so long that I lay weak and helpless prostrated on the floor. I recognize now that God’s hand was in this bitter disappointment, this sudden cutting off from the work that had captured my heart. Every grace I had obtained, every gift He had granted, must now be tested in these unfriendly flames. The humiliations I endured, the peculiar situations that arose, as I felt constrained to even rebuke the teachers and preach to the boys, were certainly not easy, but the Lord walked with me and talked with me every day.
Oh, how I longed to be preaching again! But where there is a will, there is a way. To satisfy this hunger, I started noon prayer meetings, with glorious success. Persecution increased. Such annoyances sound trivial but may seriously affect study and a conduct record. They took my study books out of my desk, so when preparation period came I had no books to work with and as a consequence poor marks. At our noon prayer time they turned the hose on us, or locked the door as we were on our knees making us tardy for dinner. In a dozen petty ways they would do all possible to irritate and trouble us. We started with three but soon had a dozen attending.
My precious brother Eric, who passed away as a missionary in Haute Volta, French North Africa, stood by me wonderfully. We experienced a real revival in that school. I continued in intercession at every opportunity, and would steal away by myself, to cry to God for help. I discovered a little room in the school belfry turret of the large dormitory building where, in solitude, I could pour out my heart to God.
My Bitterest Enemy
I will never forget a certain Sunday afternoon. I was on my knees in one of those unutterably sweet moments of sacred communion and fellowship with God. I had been weeping for about an hour when the door suddenly opened, and there stood before me Mr. Hargreaves, one of the teachers, with his pipe in his mouth. He sized up the situation at a glance, and, taking the pipe out of his mouth, he exclaimed in a tone of disgust and contempt, “Ah! Booth-Clibborn, you have got too much religion!” I just stared at him with tear-filled eyes, and never answered. After a moment’s hesitation, he went out, closing the door behind him.
This particular teacher was one of the bitterest enemies that I had. He was second to the Head Master and therefore, had considerable authority in the school. He took care to check, if not altogether to frustrate me in my attempts to glorify Christ and to speak to the boys about their souls. In a scripture class, he would cross me and contradict me at every turn, though his deductions from Holy Writ were the most ridiculous I ever heard. He would insist he had the proper interpretation of every passage and hold my words up to scorn.
An essay that I had written on Christ’s cleansing of the Temple, he flung at me clear across the class room, in a towering fit of rage. So you can imagine my feelings at his discovering my secret retreat for prayer that Sunday afternoon. The remark intended as a dash of cold water upon my soul, calculated, no doubt, to discourage and dishearten me, proved to be one of the greatest blessings of all that trying period of my life. It is strange how often God chooses to use our worst enemies or the most dreaded circumstances as the means to bring to our hearts His deepest revelations. I just wept all the more, and it seemed all of heaven came down to comfort me. The Voice of God spoke so sweetly, “That’s just it, William, you do have too much religion. Had you just enough for yourself to keep you true to Me and do My Will, you would not care for your school chums. Nor would you have enough to spare to pour out your soul in prayer this way for them. You would not be concerned about the spiritual welfare of every boy in the school.” And much more did He say to me in that glad hour.
The “Too Much” That Brings Success
Oh, what a refreshing was mine! What showers of blessing filled my soul up in that little turret room, as I cast myself afresh at His Feet, and put my hand in His Hand, and told Him that I would be true by His grace till death, if He would only give me, for my hire, the hearts of those boys, that I might be the means of the salvation of their souls. Praise God, it was the “too much” that kept me true to Christ in that school, and gave me sufficiency “to spend and be spent” without reserve for the salvation of my fellow students. It bore me up under all their persecution, ridicule and the thousand and one little mean expressions of opposition that invariably followed my every attempt to witness for Christ and to win them to His cause. Oh, praise God for the way He opened His truth to me, for the passion He put in my heart for the Scriptures, and for the fruit He finally gave us in our little noonday meetings in the shoe-shine room where we used to shut ourselves in for prayer.
We finally had five courageous converts to join us every mid-day besides other boys who were interested. Sunday afternoons we would go out on the school grounds, climb up a big oak tree, perch on its branches like so many birds, and then I would read and expound the Scriptures to them, while on occasion the whole student body would vainly thrash the bush for “the saints.” When they passed underneath our tree, we would hold our breaths as it were. We had plenty of excitement and adventure. The stories I could relate! But time forbids. It was the “too much” that took me through. Had I merely had religion, that is, a sufficiency to keep myself separate from the world, just to support my soul in the dark hours that beset me, in the fierce temptations that assailed me, I really doubt that I could have made a success of it. I must have finally fallen into indifference, become careless and, losing my desire for prayer, would have backslidden altogether. It seems to me the very energy I expended in reaching others reacted on my soul and kept me in the grace and favor of God and so it must always be. It was the “too much,” that little extra measure, that made success possible.
The Meaning of the Word “Religion”
Now the word religion is used in various senses: For instance, we commonly hear people say, “Thank God, I haven’t got religion; I’ve got salvation.” But the least examination will convince us that the word religion may be rightly used of salvation and all that concerns salvation, though it may also be used of that cold and dead professionalism which has but too often blighted the work of God. However, I wish to use it in its positive sense, in its best meaning.
What is the etymological construction of the word “religion”? It comes from the Latin verb Religare, which means to bind back or to tie again — this is quite significant. Now, Latin verbs have many tenses. So has the verb Religare, one of which is Religio, from which we get the word religion. Indeed, we get many words from the Latin root Religare, in French as well as in English. The French Lieger means to tie up. Ligate and Ligature are two English words which mean to bind and bandage. But get this: Ligio, the latter part of the word Religion, means to tie up. The prefix Re makes it mean to be tied up again, for wherever you find Re, as a prefix, in the English language, it means that something is to be done again. Thus: bound, rebound; publish, republish; call, recall; capture, recapture; claim, reclaim; gain, regain; commend, recommend; cover, recover; create, recreate; form, reform; fill, refill; etc., etc. There are scores of them.
Now, the whole plan of salvation is in that one word Religion, in its very construction. If the word Religion means to be bound back again, then it shows that we have all been loosened from God at one time. The whole human race has fallen away. “We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God.” And Religion’s chief business is to bind us back to the God from whose love and knowledge we fell. The word Religion, therefore, suggests the fall, and, at once, also suggests the possibility of undoing the damage of the fall, and restoring us and reconciling us to our Creator. Now, let me ask you a point-blank question at this time. Can we get too much religion? Can we be rebound too closely to God? My answer is “No!” Whereas in Old Testament times, they could only, in a degree, be restored to intimacy and communion with God, and enjoy a measure of divine life and power, the Lord Jesus asserts in John l0:10 that He came to earth for the express purpose of restoring us fully to the closest communion with God and to the enjoyment of an abundance of divine life. Is not this the best of Good News! We are really favoured to be living in the time of the DAY of grace and salvation. Nothing should be able to keep us from enjoying God’s whole provision — all that Christ purchased for us on the Cross.
3. The Extra In Things Natural
“Doth not even nature itself teach you” — I Corinthians 11:14.
Let me convert you to this truth by giving you plenty of proofs, by showing you the law of the “too much” at work in the natural order of things.
Look at Your Children
We have already touched on the fact of the exuberant life of youth and its consequent achievements, but let me repeat that no child is considered healthy unless he has a super-abundance of vitality. Children may be boisterous, noisy, full of pranks and ingenuity, but it is only an expression of that surplus of natural life. Our business as parents is to guide this excess of energy into right channels by teaching the children muscle developing games and body exercises, and lead them on jaunts and adventuresome trips across the country.
If we continually rail at them with our “Don’t! Don’t! DON’T!” all day, cuff their ears and beat their heads, as is often done, we get nowhere with them. They think we are not enterprising, just wishing to show our authority. Perhaps we really are unwilling to sympathetically stoop to their level. That is entirely a wrong procedure.
One day I returned home after a seven-months’ absence from my children. First of all we went blackberry picking. When we had enough of that, I blew up the football, and we all kicked it high and wide. Then I made a butterfly net. You would have been horrified to see a dignified preacher dashing about, stumbling and sprawling all over the place in his effort to net some wily Red Admiral or a couple of Swallowtails.
Next, we went hiking all over the woods, making paths and building bridges. The way the children entered into it made it a double pleasure for me. I was exhausted but they had plenty of go left in them at the end of the day.
Two Little Terrors
Here is another illustration:
I was once invited to tea by a nervous, fussy and talkative English lady. As I opened the door, Jack, her boy, was standing on his head in the corridor, his big feet up in the air. He righted himself in a hurry, and blinked at me. “How do you do, Uncle,” he said, “want to see me climb the stairs on my head?” Up went his legs again, and he actually started to perform a feat of which I never could boast! I watched him with interest and admiration. His sister Mary was sitting on top of the stairs, shouting advice between peals of laughter. He reached the fourth step; doubled up like a jack-knife, and tumbled down. Mary laughed so long and heartily that she lost her balance, and came tumbling down the whole flight, landing on top of him.
A side door burst open and in came my hostess. The two little pieces of humanity unscrambled, and shot through the door in one dash. Profuse with apologies, calling those two little scamps of hers, “perfect terrors,” throwing her hands up in the air in disgust that this should have been my welcome, she sat me down to a dainty table — to a lot of transparent sandwiches and started to pour out the tea into tiny cups, talking the meantime about those dreadful children of hers. She never had peace night or day. No rest, they just ran her ragged from one thing to another. I was not listening. My attention was elsewhere. A pair of inverted shoes passed across the window pane. And Mary was tantalizing him, pushing him over and screaming with laughter. Spring had its brightest colors on. I was tempted to bolt and join them. My hostess followed my eyes, opened the window and scolded them thoroughly. She finally sat down, and pantingly asked what she should do with such children. I told her I saw nothing wrong with them. I asked her whether she would rather have them confirmed invalids or that way. Would she prefer them stretched on the sofa suffering from some chronic malady or all life and mischief as they were? I told her what I am telling you.
Quiet children, as a rule, are sick. Bedridden people must be moved cautiously. Noise is not permitted around hospitals. If that is so in the natural, it is so in the spiritual also. Action, movement, noise, appetite, emotion, are associated with life, not with death. There is nothing the matter with life, but there is a great deal the matter with death. So much of modern religion is not an expression of spiritual life but death. The fling, the joy, the exuberance, the jubilance, the abandonment, the risk, the adventure — all have, for the most part, gone out of it. We may admit it has some life but decidedly not the extra, the abundant life. No wonder it is hard to get red-blooded people interested in it.
Consider Your Clothes
Sir! is that the only suit you have? Your Sunday-go-to-meeting best? Most probably not! A man would not feel comfortable except he had one for most occasions: first, second and third best, as you will. To meet varying needs a man should have several suits. No one feels well dressed with a limited wardrobe. That is a beautiful tie you are wearing. But on a rack over the dresser at home, you have quite a few more of every color and description!
How about you women? One peep at your wardrobe would reveal a good many dresses besides the one you have on your back right now. This is as it should be, for, if the one you are wearing got torn, it would really be disastrous. You would have to go to bed while someone fixed it. The same can be said about collars, stockings, shoes, and shirts. As far as clothes are concerned, so as to be at ease, and have peace of mind, we all endeavor to have a little in excess of our actual needs. The extremely poor may have to wear all he owns on his back but that is not a normal condition. The ideal is a little extra, a change of apparel.
Behold Your Food
We live in a land of abundance. Our grocery stores are stocked with the greatest variety of produce, both domestic and imported, to fit every purse and to please the most fastidious taste. Look at our fruit stands. They present one kaleidoscope of colors. When nature is given a chance she repays the tiller of her soil generously; plenteous harvests, bumper crops are the rule. The far-reaching development of railroad and steamship transportation facilities makes it possible for us to enjoy the fruits and vegetables of distant climes. We eat things in season and out of season. Lettuce, tomatoes and celery appear on our tables while the snow covers the ground. Foreign fruits flood our markets: bananas from Cuba, pineapples from the Hawaiian Islands. Oh, the sumptuous way we fare compared to the limited menu of our forefathers! We sit down to enjoy meals fit for a king, whereas the pioneers had to satisfy themselves with cornbread and coffee, milk and molasses.
Is there anything wrong with this superabundance? No! It is a good thing. But mark the distress of the housewife in her kitchen when there is not enough to go around the table. A shortage of food for her guests is a breach of etiquette. Therefore her larder should be full. She will then seek to always spread plentifully and to satisfy fully. Should not the church be as rich in spiritual provision for the starving masses? Is God unwilling to supply more than our needs when His creation is so bountiful?
When It Comes to Money
How many are satisfied with just enough money to get by? Not one! It is that little extra money that makes life enjoyable. To have barely enough to exist on makes life an intolerable burden, for it forces one to continuous scrimping. The ambition of the business man, the desire of the head of every family is to get ahead of this constant “nip and tuck” race with bills. When you take an automobile trip, the little extra in your purse, in case of a blowout or other unforeseen circumstances, drives worry and anxiety away. In financing the family budget the “too much” comes in very well in a pinch, as when a relative suddenly takes sick or daughter gets married. Indeed, unless you have something extra, how can you ever help the man who has nothing? Then the following Scriptures would have no meaning:
“But whoso hath this world’s goods, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” I John 3:17.
“And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.” I Thes. 4:11,12.
“Let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” Eph. 4:28.
Contrary to the notions of many, God is not a Socialist in the literal sense of that word, but a Capitalist in matters not only material but spiritual. For he saith, “Whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.” Matt. 13:13. That is the trouble with too many of us. We are satisfied with having just a little, and some day, we will wake up to find that that little is gone. God wants His children to be economically solvent. He does not believe in idleness. He says, “Work with your hands,” and adds, “and he that will not work, neither let him eat.” Any other policy would ruin our churches, for what would the tithe amount to if we did not work? And it is not only the tenth which keeps the work going, but it is a little of that “too much” that makes up the love offering, besides the tenth. It is this extra that really counts for the missionary field, for the home field, for the pastor, for the poor, for the sick, for the needy and for the helpless. Would to God that we were as sensible and sound in spiritual affairs as we have proved ourselves to be in the mere paltry, monetary matters of everyday life.
The Example of Business
The store that has the biggest trade is the one that carries the largest stock. There you are again. Unless a tailor has an extensive assortment of suits on display, not only as to quality but as to color, texture, size and price, you are not liable to find what you want, and he will likely lose your trade. He looks out for that. That is why he keeps such a large variety of goods on hand. And what is true of the clothing business, is true of every other business. It is better then to have “too much” stock than too little.
It is the “too much” that keeps business going in the matter of profits. There is not a concern in the world today that could exist without a continual income over and above all its expenses. That is why books are kept in which entries are made every day, the debts on the debit side and the income on the credit side. And, at the end of the month, a balance is struck. If there is a profit, all’s well! It is that which keeps things going. But if, for a succession of months, there is a loss, the business is headed for bankruptcy, and must close shop sooner or later. In this respect any failing business displays far more sense than some Christians, for how many of you should have closed shop long ago, declaring yourselves spiritually bankrupt! Then you would have been in a position to make a new start. However, you have been trying to cover up your backsliding, your lack of power and maybe a dozen other things. The world again proves itself wiser in their generation than the children of light. A concern that has gone on the rocks does not cover things up. No! It declares itself insolvent, and seeks the mercy of the bankruptcy courts. The receiver demands a showdown and the true position is made public. The court does not force it to pay all its debts, but only so much on the dollar. Then it has a chance to start all over again. But alas! Look at the millions of church members who are running their Christian profession at a loss!!!! What they should do, is to seek the backslider’s court of mercy, and then make a fresh start. You, who have not gone that far take a lesson — you can not run a business without profit, neither can you be a successful Christian without surplus life.
This Law in Building and Construction
The bridges that span thousands of rivers and canyons are built to stand about double the strain caused by the passage of trans-continental flyers or ponderous freighters hauling an extra load. Allowance is always made to meet the fury of the elements in an occasional cyclone or hurricane. The action of heat and cold must also be taken into consideration. The same is true regarding these towering skyscrapers. The engineers must take into account the tremendous force of the winds that sweep about these tall buildings. They are not put up just barely able to hold their own weight. In some of these ‘vertical cities’, oftentimes ten thousand to fifteen thousand people are about its endless corridors and offices. This also calls for added strength in the form of extra foundation-work. Gigantic steel shafts are run right into solid rock.
Now, do you mean to tell me that God has given us a religion just strong enough to keep us from toppling over? We who have to face the chilling blast of a mocking world, endure the severest winters of trial and persecution, and survive the torrid heats of test and temptation, have we a religion that is not a match for these emergencies? Did the Author of Christianity fail to anticipate these things in providing us a salvation not fully adequate to overcome every obstacle and difficulty? Never! If that were so, I would not have Him, nor His religion! If your religion is having a hard time trying to survive, you got it wrong in the beginning. You got it by the tail-end instead of the head-end. Or maybe, when the getting was good, you did not get enough. That is the trouble with many of our converts today.
A man can not run many miles on soup. It takes a substantial fuel-food to run up a considerable mileage. Figuratively speaking, hundreds of our promising beginners are making their entire spiritual meal of soup. The roasts and the dessert sweets, besides the goodly portions of greens and other side dishes, are not included in the fare! They do not wait on God long enough for Him to serve them the meat course and the dessert of heavenly sweets and all the spiritual nuts and fruits. Oh, blessed be the name of our God! He is able to make us strong in the faith, bold and intrepid in the face of danger, ready and fit to buck the violence and fury of all the world, and come through with flying colors!
The Prodigality of Nature
Did God provide the trees with just enough fruit to reproduce their own kind? If that had been the original plan it would be impossible for us to taste the luscious pear or the juicy plum. Such an arrangement would be impractical. Nature provides plentifully. Orchard trees should be loaded down with fruit. If not, they are pruned and sprayed, dug about and strawed until they produce abundantly. They must warrant their existence, if not they are torn up by the roots to give place to other trees that will give a rich return. Luke 13:7. It is their superabundance that furnishes our markets and supplies our pantries. That is not all. For one look at the orchard ground, littered with the rotting fruit, will convince you that some of that enormous surplus also goes to fertilize the sod. What liberality!
The farmer must raise more than just enough grain for the next year’s planting. He must have some to feed his own family the whole year through. Besides, he must be able to turn an immense yield into cash, so as to finance his whole enterprise, and purchase the thousand and one necessities he lacks, and still come out with a profit. Sometimes the trouble is not with the farmer’s ability or willingness to work but the land is no good. It can not provide a proper return and is accursed. Then they let it grow to wild grass, a few horses are turned loose to graze on it and they proclaim their purchase a bad bargain. Oh, there are scores of ways in which I can illustrate this law. Wherever you turn in life, whatever you consider, it must be made worthwhile by an adequate interest and return on the investment of labor, trouble and money involved. As I look into this sea of faces, I am made to marvel that so many Christians are able to keep going at all. I hardly think that God can find in His books in Heaven, sufficient profit to warrant all the investment of blessing and salvation and teaching He has spent on them. Where is the Apostolic boldness, the daring and dynamic in your life? If, as we say, the grade is getting steeper these last days, well, you can not run the car of Christianity with less gasoline nor with a run-down storage battery. A weak, vacillating, negative, reticent, apologetic faith, is worse than useless because you are forever placed on the defensive.
Oh, come, our Lord is still on the giving hand. Get recharged, revived, refilled with the positive, glorious power of the Holy Spirit; for our God who established this law of plenty, of the “too much,” in nature, who imprinted upon His creation this principle that preaches so loudly to you, will never be content until it is made manifest in you. Unless you have from Christ obtained this more abundant life, you are not living up to your God-given, Blood-bought privileges!
If You Want My Coat
If you want my coat, You can have my waistcoat, too;
If you ask one mile, I will go with you for two.
Strike my face, I’ll smile, Turn the other cheek to you;
Chorus: For those that love the Lord,
Can everything afford.
When so rich as I, You’ll have lots of grace to spare
You won’t search my eye, Try remove the moat that’s there.
But the beam you’ll pry, From your sight with tears and prayer;
Throw your bread away, On the sea of humankind;
Twill return some day With an increase you will find;
Lend without repay, Expect nothing to be signed;
Tis more blest to give Than to ev’rything retain
The best way to live Is to lose and not to gain.
Christians primitive Had things common and things plain;
Learn, with cream repay, All life’s skimmed milk thin and rare
Treat your enemy With the Kindest thought and care
If friends come to stay, Always show them lots to spare;
— W. Booth-Clibborn
4. A Liberal God
“Let him ask of God that giveth to all men liberally.” –James 1:5.
Did I say that nature was prodigal? Yes! Everything God does is stamped with His largeness of heart. There is a greatness, a vastness or minute infinity in all creation characteristic of the Hand that brought it forth. Snowflakes by the centillion, clouds as armies unnumbered, the sands on a thousand coral strands strewn with shells without count, boundless oceans with waters of unfathomed depth. Who can tell it all? It has taken six thousand years to identify and classify the millions of earth’s creatures and yet they are not all listed! The forests, the ferns, the flora and fauna in thousands of species taxes the skill and challenges the intellect of man. A myriad marvel stars, like fields of countless sparkling diamonds wait to dazzle the eye that intrudes into the secrets of the nocturnal heavens through the telescope. The immensity, the enormity of it all is incomprehensible, unutterable! But all of this eternal abundance is not necessarily benefit. We see the liberality of God in those places where the earth produces the wherewithal of life. But this entire globe is by no means a garden.
The Best Climes Are Generous
Wherever creation bows deepest under its curse, it belies its Creator. There is nothing kindly about an unending desert, a useless swamp or an eternal barren land of lava rocks. The Sahara sands do not express God’s thought of an ideal country. That which approximates God’s first thought is where the climate is most congenial and the zone temperate. Here nature wears gorgeous apparel and is extravagantly munificient, bearing the imprint of God’s own character of generosity. Its soil is rich and rolling, its vegetation luxuriant, its waters cataract down a hundred mountainsides, crystal pure and plenteous. Here the rain falls in copious showers, the sunshine smiles with seven guiles, and on every breeze is borne a blessing. That was the kind of country that the Lord our God brought the children of Israel into. A land worthy and willing, where earth’s broad breast breathed an Eden rest and disclosed the fullness of her generous heart. Where the ground was different from that of any other region, and with the encouragement of man’s hand to dress it, would become lavishly fruitful in its benefits.
Listen to the promises of its opulence, the wonderful descriptions of its bountiful qualities and quantities. All this language is in the superlative degree. While you hear — ask yourself this question — “Am I living in the promised Land of the New Testament or am I merely professing a Canaan experience whilst still dragging my feet in the Wilderness?”
A Milk and Honey Land
“I am come down to deliver them out of the land of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey.” Exodus 3:8.
“For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks, of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and honey; a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it.” Deut. 8:7-9.
There was nothing small about this. There is nothing mean about such words as — large, flowing, without scarceness.
“For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs: but the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven: a land which the Lord thy God careth for: the eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.” Deut. 11:10-12.
In other words there was to be none of that everlasting treading of water wheels, a wearisome work of lifting the Nile waters up into little irrigation channels by foot power — a slow laborious process that gave scant reward — but God would supply a superabundance of heavenly rain and regularly too. For He furthermore promised:
“And the Lord shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground, in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers to give thee. The Lord shall open unto thee His good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and THOU SHALT LEND UNTO MANY NATIONS AND THOU SHALT NOT BORROW.”
More Than Their Needs
Such was to be the magnanimity of God’s providence to them that they were to become a wealthy resourceful people, so that from their surplus stores and reserve treasure they could become creditors to all nations. For this scripture continues, “And the Lord shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath” Deut. 28:11-13. That means that they were to sit a-top of the world. A people without a national debt, living on such an affluent scale that there would not be a poor person in the length and breadth of their land.
What a contrast to their position in the bondage of Egypt! These promises they proved true to the letter. When they tasted the enormous grapes of Eschol, sampled the new corn and wine they rejoiced to know the benevolence of their Saviour-Redeemer. Such recompense made it well worth-while serving Him with faithfulness. In the wilderness they had known all their needs supplied. As God’s own testimony so their experience: “These forty years the Lord thy God hath been with thee: thou hast lacked nothing” Deut. 2:7. “Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years” Deut. 8:5. But in Beulah they were to find “an exceedingly good land” (Num. 14:7) — “A large place” (Ps. 18:19), and everything there was to be on a magnificent scale. Not merely their actual needs, as in their wanderings, but much more was to be their inheritance when at last they should be at rest.
“The fountain of Jacob shall be upon a land of corn and wine; also his heavens shall drop down dew” (Deut. 33:28).
“Your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time; and ye shall eat your bread to the full” Lev. 26:5.
No scantiness here; no meagre existence this! And Nehemiah centuries after reminded them of those manifold mercies and abundant blessings in these words: “They took the strong cities, and a fat land, and possessed houses full of goods, wells digged, vineyards, and oliveyards, and fruit trees in abundance: so they did eat and were filled, and became fat, and delighted them selves in THY GREAT GOODNESS” Neh. 9:25.
All that concerned the conquest of Canaan occurred on this completely ample scale. They were more than a match for their enemies, more than capable, more than conquerors. Every force of nature did them homage. Jordan’s waters were stayed in their course. Jericho’s walls fell prostrate at their feet, the sun and moon saluted them for a double day. Not a single soldier suffered on their side. Their armies were stronger after each test of strength. Five chased a hundred and a hundred put ten thousand to flight. Thus in a glorious, exalted, overwhelming, rapid campaign, their victorious banners over-ran the whole country, sweeping every obstacle and opposition before them.
The Grace That Does Much More Abound
Their whole experience is analogous to ours if we will but believe our God today. What a throb and thrill there is in militant aggressive Christianity. Its rewards are never small nor its fare scrimpy and the Captain of its battle permits the full enjoyment of all legitimate spoil. But why is it that so much of modern faith is so feeble and so faint? Surely Jehovah has not changed. If He treated natural Israel so generously all the more should we expect Him to so treat spiritual Israel, we who are His children born of the Spirit. Ours is a greater inheritance than theirs; and whereas they were able only to obtain a good report through faith, we can receive the full promise, the pentencostal power, the life more abundant, “God having provided some better thing for us” Heb. 11:40. It seems to me we have never properly gripped the truth that God is inexhaustible in His liberality. This is one aspect of His nature we hear so little about, but it was one of the first attributes proclaimed as He made His Name to pass before Moses. Let it inspire faith in your hearts as I quote it, “And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and ABUNDANT IN GOODNESS and PLENTEOUS IN MERCY” Ex. 34:6. Glory to God! That should make us all rejoice! Especially in relation to His tolerance of the wicked and the unrepentant is this true. “He is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil” Lu. 6:35.
“He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” Matt. 5:45.
“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy” Ps. 103:8.
“For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive… all them that call upon thee” Ps. 86:5.
“With Him is plenteous redemption” Ps. 130:7.
“God who is rich in mercy…” Eph. 2:4.
“In whom we have redemption through His blood; the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” Eph. 1:7.
“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: And let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, FOR HE WILL ABUNDANTLY PARDON” Isaiah 55.7.
All these scriptures attest the ample “too much” in God’s providence and pardon for sin and transgression. Paul saith in Romans 5:20, “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” That is God’s handsome way of doing things. Why it is God’s very nature to be liberal. It is part of His divine consistency and character! No wonder that when He gives, He gives freely, excessively, extravagantly, and ungrudgingly! James writes that God “gives with openhand to all men and without upbraiding” James 1:5 Weymouth.
A Wrong Approach and Attitude
Now if God goes to such lengths with a sinner that comes to seek His salvation, if He much more than covers his iniquity, if He abundantly pardons, then surely He will mete out in the same liberal measure, if not in a greater, the necessities of His saints. He already overlooks so much in them, He is so kind and gentle and forgiving with His own, as the Psalmist says, “He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities” Ps. 103:10.
It seems to me that multitudes of saints make their requests known unto God with little gratitude, and approach Him in a wrong attitude. They disregard God’s generosity, and a hundred promises proclaiming it — these are the very horns of the altar that they should lay a hold of! The majority of people have the idea that God is stingy and that He only deigns to give reluctantly. Their prayers degenerate into a groveling, ceaseless begging; their supplications become much like the pitiable repetitions of the heathen.
The strain of such an attitude reveals itself but too plainly in the whole spirit of our worship, especially in the protracted service after the altar call and in the seeker’s meetings. How we set about with exhausting efforts to overcome God’s apparent unwillingness! What a complex problem the chronic seeker becomes as nightly he resigns himself to his fate and sets about his previous task of seeking God with grim determination only to be further disappointed and discouraged. This whole attitude is contrary to the sense and teaching of God’s word. For, is He not more willing to give than we are to receive? The fault is in us, not in Him. We fail to really grasp His readiness, we fail to take hold of His willingness. We should draw near happily, boldly, with the intimate confidence that children have in their parents.
For it is written: “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children; HOW MUCH MORE shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?” Lu. 11:13. Notice that “Much More” and imagine your children around Christmas time in their hilarious expectancy of receiving presents. Is it reasonable to think that our Heavenly Father would deliberately tantalize us by dangling before us a coveted place of holy relationship, or some long desired gift or blessing and then deny it to us? No! No! Never! Lay hold on that MUCH MORE.
Brought to the Banqueting House
Our Lord invites us to an unending dinner, a feast! The invitation “Come all things are ready” declares the meal already prepared and laid. How could the occasion be but the happiest festive celebration with the Provider of all good things at the head of the table? Why the very thought of it ought to make your mouth water and your tongue hang out. Do not delay, come in and sit down to this sumptuous repast. He “satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Ps. 103:5), and He serves but the best quality. Skimmed milk and crackers are not on the menu. Nor is the miserable food of Egypt. No cucumbers, garlic or onions, no leeks and melons. Oh! Horrors no! No smelly, greasy flesh-pots but the Bread of Life is there, made with “the finest of the wheat” Ps. 147:14. And it is buttered on both sides. All helpings are five times the size of any you have ever seen — Benjamin portions all, Gen. 43:34. You settle down to “eat and worship” (Ps. 22:29), at the same time.
Isaiah foresaw this time of spiritual plenty when he prophesied, “In this mountain (Christ’s present Kingdom) shall the Lord of Hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined” Isa. 25:6. You will soon realize that it is an everlasting “banqueting house” that He has brought you to, and that His love and hospitality know no bounds. Flagons are produced, gorgeous apples, and over you He has placed His banner of Love. S.o.S. 2:4, 5. The rarest fruits beguile your lips, the flavour of figs, the blood of pomegranates. Each platter is filled to excess and drips its glory all over the golden tablecloth. Every cup overflows and spills its life on your fingers and hands.
There is no need to ask for second and third helpings for no dish is ever drained. The large cruses can not be emptied, every chalice is charmed. When you sample each beautiful bowl of dessert, the level of the contents never lowers, it bubbles up again and brims over with blessing. An ecstasy seizes your soul, fragrant oil comes pouring down upon your head, your teeth seem to melt together, your lips drop as the honey-comb (S.o.S. 4:11), honey and milk mix under your tongue. Then your mouth is filled with laughter; you sing a new song so sacred and sweet that your whole being is transported. Marvel not if your tongue is loosed and stammers a speech unknown. Many would obtain that language of heaven if they would only linger longer at the table of God! Do you not wish to be entertained “in the secret of His pavilion” (Ps. 31:20), and feast there with your Lord?
God Prepares the Table
The “too much” experience is the fulness of the Spirit of God. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit initiates you, introduces you, as it were, to that “abundant overflowing life” but in itself is no guarantee to your continued attendance at that table. But the chances are that once you eat and drink your fill there you will never cease to be a guest. “Blessed be the Lord who daily LOADETH us with benefits” (Ps. 68:19), will be your every day experience for: “The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing” Ps. 34:7. And “the blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and He addeth no sorrow with it. The desire of the righteous shall be granted” Prov. 10:22, 24. If you decide to claim God’s best and refuse to be denied you shall be made rich too.
Speaking to the world He saith, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me” Rev. 3:20. Think of it, He presides at the meal. More, He waits upon us Himself and personally prepares the soul-satisfying sweets. He lays the table providing the Heavenly food for a never-ending feast. David declares in the twenty-third Psalm, “THOU PREPAREST a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; My Cup Runneth Over.“
“My Cup Runneth Over”
In the original this phrase reads “My inebriating wine cup overflows” — Glory to God! Now, wine is symbolic of joy — so this must be the “joy unspeakable and full of glory” Peter speaks of, I Peter 1:8. When we have this spilling cup, then it is we have a surplus for him that is athirst, a refreshing quaff for those who are ready to faint. No marvel David shouted and danced harder than they all and chased his enemies on every side. His enthusiasm, enterprise and daring valor was tireless. His exploits of strength and skill were phenomenal. Why? Because he was full of the joy of the Lord — “For the joy of the Lord is your strength” Neh. 8:11.
In the face of all these facts what is the matter with Christianity all around us? For the most part it is weak, vacillating, apathetic and dull. If Christians could see themselves as God does, they would be horrified. Some are gaunt specters creeping about emaciated and starved like famine victims. Others chase around, the power and delight long since departed from their experience. They are looking for some preacher, revival or circumstance to resuscitate them. Their faith is the most pitiful, pathetic confession of failure. Why? God said His people “shall grow up as calves of the stall“ Mal. 4:2. Again, “The trees of the Lord are full of sap; the cedars of Lebanon, which He hath planted” Ps. 104:16.
It is astonishing that many believers survive at all on the starvation diet they seem contented with. With no exuberance in their lean lives they become confirmed pessimists and look askance and with suspicion at everyone that is happy. Our formal churches have them in legions, spiritual paupers subsisting on humanitarianism, preaching of good morals, or merely on external ceremonialism and other substitutes for the true Gospel. That they can stand the continued prostitution of the pulpit without protest is astonishing indeed. What they are given in the preaching soon manifests itself in their life and conduct which patterns after the world.
Every saint should be prosperous in soul, rich in Christ Jesus. Paul admonished the early church, I would “that ye come behind in no gift“ I Cor. 1:7. His commandment to all the churches is found in Ephesians 5:18, “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is (a tendency to run to) excess, but be ye filled with the Spirit.” The best reading of that text renders it “Be ye filled to overflowing with the Spirit.” When we are fully controlled and subdued by the Power of God, we are made partakers of His attributes and graces — we are filled with love, with grace, with faith and with joy. For all these are the fruits of the Spirit. Scores of scriptures come to mind for this truth permeates the Bible.
There is a blessed type of Full Salvation in the instance where Moses brought forth water from the rock. We read: “Water came out abundantly and the congregation drank” Num. 20:11. Thus it is with the infilling of the Holy Spirit “the renewing of the Holy Ghost, which He shed on us abundantly“ Titus 3:5,6. It is all given copiously — OUR GOD is a LIBERAL GOD. In these days of the Latter Rain, when God is pouring out His Spirit upon all flesh — as was prophesied by Joel and quoted by Peter following the first Pentecost — there is no excuse for us to live in any other place than in a spiritual Canaan of abundant power and plenty.
5. Shaken Together and Running Over
“For with the measure that ye mete withal, it shall be measured to you again”— Luke 6:38.
There is one scripture that contains four superlatives, or promises of the “too much” measure, all in a row. This passage is so beautiful, so limitless, that I wish to quote it in full. It is found in Ephesians, the third chapter:
Exceeding, Abundantly, Above All
“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto Him that is able to do
EXCEEDING — too much No. 1;
ABUNDANTLY — too much No. 2;
ABOVE ALL — too much No. 3;
THAT WE ASK OR THINK — too much No. 4.
“According to the power that worketh in us. Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”
Oh! I wish we could get the measure of the majestic immensity of this unlimited promise into our souls, we would rise to live on a higher plane, in another world. That last phrase shows it to be possible — “according to the power that worketh in us” — is evidence that it should become our constant normal experience. The disciples cried “Lord, increase our faith” (Lu. 17:5), so do not fail in faith but raise yours up and fix it on His Word. For, “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” Rom. 10:17.
Rains, Rivers, Waters to Swim In
I am going to preach the “too much” to you till you drown in Ezekiel’s river of blessing and power, Ez. 47. Till you follow the man with the line in his hand past ankle deep, that will bring your walk under the control of the Spirit of God. Then he will measure another thousand cubits and you will follow him till the waters are above your knees, that will acquaint you with the true prevailing prayer life of the Christian. Then I hope you follow him still deeper till the tide has reached your heart and all your affections and desires are subdued and brought under the sway of God’s Will and Word. Finally, let us hope you will go in so far that you’ll not touch bottom any longer for there will be “waters to swim in” and your hands, a figure of all your work, your eyes, a symbol of your vision, and your mouth and tongue will all be filled with water under the control of God’s Spirit. Oh, Hallelujah! Then shall you shout with the Psalmist: “They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of Thy House and thou shalt make them drink of the river of Thy pleasures” Ps. 36:8. Are you going to remain on the bank just dipping your toe in the glorious current, or are you going to swim where the full tide will sweep over your body, spirit and soul?
Speaking of the visitation to come in the last days upon the people of God, Joel prophesies: “Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord, your God; for He hath given you the former rain moderately” — (NOTICE THAT!) — “And He will cause for you to come down the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month” (BOTH RAINS TOGETHER, a double portion at the same time), “And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the vats shall overflow with wine and oil” Joel 2:23, 24. Here is “too much” wheat, i.e., the Word of God — our food; “too much” wine, i.e., joy unspeakable — our strength; and “too much” oil, i.e., filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit — our very life: and all of these promised us in one text. Who could ask for more? But there are insurmountable hindrances to our enjoying this desirable condition. I will point them out.
Our Incurable Stinginess
There is one word of Christ that has been a well of life to me. I must pass it on to you! It is of vital importance when the question arises, as it does so frequently in our evangelistic campaigns, “Why can I not obtain the Promise of the Father”; or as often, “I have lost out with God, was once in the fulness of blessing but have grown cold and careless, can I be restored?” Here is the answer in Luke 6, verse 38 — May it prove a fresh source of life abundant to you!
“GIVE, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. FOR WITH THE SAME MEASURE THAT YE METE WITHAL, IT SHALL BE MEASURED TO YOU AGAIN.”
Now, we must consider this Scripture as having two applications. One to our relations with man and the other — by far the greater application — in reference to our relations with God. It has so often been handled in the first aspect that its larger meaning has been almost obscured. Let this arrow strike you! If it be true that in what proportion you mete out to your fellow man, he shall mete out to you in return; then it is twice as true that God — who can not lie — will press back into your bosom more than the measure you mete out to Him.
We are so incurably stingy, so small in all our dealings with God, that it is not to be wondered that our whole experience is so miserably wanting. IT IS OUR FAULT! No life overflowing for us — we are too mean, too miserly with our worship and waiting on God. And this niggardliness enters into every effort and function of our religion. Oh! how we are exhorted in vain to:
Give “thanks always for all things” Eph. 5:20.
“Rejoice evermore” I Thess. 5:16.
“Pray without ceasing” I Thess. 5:17.
“Seek His face continually” I Chron. 16:11.
“Set the Lord always before us” Ps. 16:8.
“Watch ye therefore, and pray always” Lu. 21:36.
“Always abound in the work of the Lord” I Cor. 15:58.
The Mean Measure We Give God
Only seven texts of a multitude of like tenor! But our conduct contradicts the most of them. We sandwich a few minutes’ prayer between the secondary absorbing duties of the morning. A moment we kneel at the altar, once a week, and think it a feat of piety! We repeat a few sentences, mere platitudes worn threadbare by habitual use. As to rejoicing we may say “Praise the Lord” a time or two — and we are done. Up we get and away. Plenty of excuses: it is late; I am tired; I don’t feel well, etc. God knows our wretched beggarly hearts. His searching All-Seeing-Eye pierces to the depth of our sparing, scrimpy souls. He sees there that smallness, that begrudges Him the full surrender of our lips, our love, and the right of way in our lives. No wonder the heavens are brass above us and God withholds the blessing.
Our measure is mean, we mete it meagerly, we try to get by with giving as little as possible. Wretched ingrates that we are, as churlish as Nabal, as sullen as Saul, as penurious as Judas! We have to be coaxed and forced to prayer which should be the chief delight of the believer. Our praise is studied, calculated and short. It is not the welling of a thankful heart. We live far from these words: “I will bless the Lord at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth” Ps. 34:1. “My tongue shall speak of thy righteousness and of thy praise all the day long” Ps. 35:28. Rather than praise, we grumble and growl and find fault with everything. We begrudge God our lips and our time. Instead of making Him feel at home in our hearts we shove religion in a corner and our hospitality to our divine guest is wanting in affection, interest and sincerity. We are incurably stingy.
A Red-Haired Scotchman
The Scotch people are often accused of parsimony. Much of this is unjust abuse for experience has taught me that it is an unfair reputation. But the stingiest rascal I ever met happened to be a red-haired Scotchman — an incongruous combination. I shall never forget our brief stay in his home, north of Edmonton, Canada, while evangelizing. The German brethren for whom we were holding meetings had made arrangements for myself, wife and baby to board and room with the scoundrel, who nearly froze us to death, saving his coal as if it had been gold. It got to be thirty and forty below zero. I implored him in vain to warm up the place. We would wake with icicles on the bed covers from our breath.
If, because of protracted meetings I arrived late for meals, the old skinflint would scowl and forbid his wife to provide a thing. Otherwise he would keep his eyes on my plate and take account of its contents. I never dared ask for a second helping of anything. Oh if there could have been a hole in that floor we would gladly have sunk into it for very embarrassment and shame. That base miser made me fairly afraid to taste my food. You know there is no enjoying a meal when someone envies you your food. What a difference when they tip the table down so all the goodies can reach your end. That is what Jesus did! He took the loaves and fishes, bade the five thousand be seated and fed them till they were full. And they took up twelve baskets full of the “too much.” Glory to God! — But let me finish my story. One freezing morning, I woke at the sound of a fearful rumpus. I grabbed my dressing gown and bounded downstairs just in time to prevent murder.
That Scotchman was chasing his wife from room to room with a butcher knife. I jumped in between, made him drop it and demanded an explanation. When he got his breath, he blurted out that his wife had run up a big grocery bill — and blubbered some other absurdities. I flung him on to the sofa and gave him the tongue-thrashing of his life. That contemptible wretch! And he was being paid good money for our stay in his home. He had never come near the meetings but he got some marvelous eloquence before I got through. He was too little, too small to live. Oh! it is an abomination how petty and mean some people can become. What greedy, grasping monsters selfishness makes of us all! Then his wife confided to us with tears that she had not had a new dress since she had married him!
In Scattering We Increase
Listen to the Proverbs: “He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed” (22:9) — “The liberal soul shall be made fat; and he that watereth shall be watered also himself” 11:25. Paul made it stronger in II Corinthians 9:6, he writes, “But this I say he which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” That is our whole trouble in a nutshell. We are not willing to risk and gamble as much as the farmer does when in good faith he stakes everything on the future and sows his fields with the best seed.
“There is that scattereth and yet increaseth” (Prov. 11:24), but such are not considered very wise by the world. Those who scheme, who heap and hoard riches are looked up to. Yet when we are willing to be lavish with God and abandon ourselves to His service, to His praise and witness, we never lack, we increase, we flourish. Then we squander again and give right and left all the more, and still we increase. The more we spend and are spent, still greater is our replenishing, our refreshing from on High. And to us is fulfilled the promise: “Cast thy bread upon the waters; for thou shalt find it after many days” Eccl. 11:1. It is useless being liberal with man if we are small with God. Though we bestow all our goods to feed the poor and lack in true love to God, WE ARE NOTHING! It is only as a consequence of our loving God with all our heart, strength and mind, that we may love our neighbors as ourselves. God first! Shall we cheat Him out of the measure that is His due?
The Rapids of True Revival
I remember the early days of the Pentecostal visitation. We had plenty of time to spare. We sought God till the wee hours of the morning. All night prayer meetings were a common occurrence. Not a few drops was our reward but again the “too much,” “Showers of Blessing” (Ez. 34:26), fell upon us.
So in the early Salvation Army days they used to announce “Three days and nights with God,” for officers and workers in London. These simple earnest warriors would swarm down to headquarters and, emptied out by their labours in the fields they would eagerly seek to be replenished. Often with fasting they sought God on their faces till the Heavens opened above them, and the “Rushing mighty Wind” would sweep upon them, like a hurricane breaking every barrier down and melting their hearts as one in thanksgiving and praise.
Days of Heaven on earth were also experienced in the Welsh revival where people never thought of time or mere food and sleep, so engrossed would they become in the things of God. The surge of the rapids of that true revival would sweep them off their feet. In tidal waves of Glory the hymns would rise and rise to such a crescendo and volume that sinners fell on their faces and passed from death to life in an instant. We must get back there! We can — don’t do all the shouting now — wait till that vehemence and zeal is ours again, then we shall hear triumphant shouts indeed!
Every great move forward in true religion has been stamped with this characteristic. Work has had to wait, business was laid aside, all other calls on our time and attention had to take a back seat. Alas! that’s not the case with us today! If your relative was to come in tonight from afar you would leave the prayer hour in a hurry. Miserable clock-mongrels that we are. We do not study holiness — we study the time. We would rather a soul come short of complete deliverance than miss our craven suppers. A deafening honk is heard outside! Some impatient friend tooting the car horn for you to go home. So the anointing lifts and you leave and miss the best because you won’t pay the price, place first things first and recklessly abandon yourself to the leading of the Spirit of God.
Going the Second Mile
Liberality manifests itself in many respects. Are we forgiving? Or is there a root of bitterness and hatred against someone, destroying our peace of soul? Jesus said, we should forgive our brother seventy-seven times a day — sounds like “too much” — but the Spirit that cometh from above is easily entreated.
Do we confess our sins and our faults as much as we ought? We can be extremely microscopic removing the mote in our neighbor’s eye, but what of the beam that has almost blinded us? We will strain at his gnat but will swallow our camel, and look innocent. We forget that when we point one finger at him, at the same time, we are pointing three at ourselves, for when the hand shapes itself to point only the index finger points at the other party, whereas meantime three lay against the palm pointing back in the opposite direction at us.
Be liberal if you would have God’s best. Repent properly. Confess “too much” rather than too little. Call it a sin and not a mistake. “Turn ye even to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping and with mourning and rend your heart… and I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, My great army which I sent among you. And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied” Joel 2:12, 25, 26.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus commanded: “Whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain” Matt. 5:41. But what if God asked you to do this, would you GO TWAIN? — OH! I KNOW THIS CAUSES YOU TO SEE YOURSELF IN A BAD LIGHT. May the Spirit of God so convict you that you will cry out for His Grace to convert you and change you, that you become like Christ who gave unstintingly, unreservedly, whole-heartedly, His body and His blood on the cross for you. Oh! withhold nothing in the face of that sacrifice; all we may give, all we can do is insufficient. Go too far rather than not far enough. Always do a little extra, a little more of what is required, for the very love you owe Him, and I promise you before God and all His holy angels in heaven, your barrel of meal shall not fail, your cruse of oil shall never run dry. That is the secret, that is the clue, that is the key that opens the door to God’s treasure house to the “pleasant places” of Psalm 16, where we are made to exclaim, “In Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy Right Hand there are pleasures forevermore.”
The Measure of Our Giving
A hundred assemblies have dried up long ago because they have become thrifty, saving and reserved. The pool that has no outlet stagnates. It gets rank and becomes a stinking swamp. So many saints sit self-satisfied while the world passes their door. They refuse to risk a campaign to reach the lost or to go to any trouble to arrest the masses plunging headlong to hell by going out of their appointed way. Accursed, these churches encumber the ground and dry up at the roots. Oh! It is an appalling tragedy. But revivals alter all of that, we risk, we dare, we become reckless and more than willing. We lose ourselves in a beautiful abandonment to the supreme cause — the salvation of souls — and lavish all we have to that most happy end. A divine impudence is ours, a sweet violence. We dare do things never attempted before in witness and work. The prayer meetings are never too long. The preaching never wearies us. The offering baskets run over. Thousands of dollars are poured out for the missionaries. Yes! wherever you run into the rapids of revival, everything goes with a snap and a zest, a swing and an enthusiasm that carries everyone with it.
Remember, that in relation to money, we, who live in the wealthiest country in the world, have much to answer for. Our offerings have, for the most part, been a woeful disgrace; our selfishness monumental; our failure to adequately support the militant church’s enterprises, a standing reproach! Thus saith the Lord in Malachi 3:10 — “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and PROVE ME NOW HEREWITH, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” Look at that! Floods are promised! A veritable inundation! And the proposition is a good bargain. “If you are liberal with Me,” says God, “I will be liberal with you.”
In Proverbs 3:9, 10, again He strikes the bargain: “Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase; so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.” That is “too much” with a vengeance. But we hardly ever prove God in this matter. When the collection plate comes around, a blanched, clenched fist conceals in a tight grasp a nickel or dime. And we think to receive God’s blessing when we withhold God’s tithes and offerings! I only know of one offering that was ever taken up, that had to be stopped because the people gave “too much.” You will find in Exodus 36:5 where Moses had to stop the people from giving of their gold and silver for the erection of the Tabernacle in the wilderness. I wish we had such offerings today! There is no telling what God would do by way of an answer.
We, who are living in the days of the abundant Latter Rain, never need be dry, spent or withered, and, if we get rid of our wretched miserliness; if we wait upon Him; if we seek His Face; if, even before we go to bed, when wearied and tired out with the day’s duties, we give ourselves to prayer and offer Him the sweet sacrifice of willing praise and supplication, He will descend upon us, turn our weakness into strength, put His Arms round about us, refill, requicken, rebaptize us with His divine power and glory. Then shall we cease to eke out a miserable Christian experience, just barely conquering, as the survivors of a besieged city; but we shall become MORE THAN CONQUERORS, shall overcome the world, the flesh and the devil and that, with “too much” to spare! Hallelujah!
6. Rivers of Living Water
“He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, Out of his belly shall flow Rivers of Living Water.” — John 7:38.
The Curse of Empty Wells
In all the field, there is nothing as sorry, as worthless, and even dangerous, as an uncovered empty well.
I remember, as a boy, out beyond the school grounds, there was an enormous old pit that used to interest us immensely. Way, way down at the bottom there was a little water all overlaid with green slime. We used to saunter out afternoons, and fool around this well by the hour. We would sit on its edge with our legs dangling over, and pick up everything we could get a hold of, hurl it in, and listen to the strange noises the falling objects would make tumbling into its somber depths. Sticks and tin cans and clods of earth or rotten, old vegetables, dead cats and everything else would go in.
Deep down there, when the sun shone just right, we could discern a snake that must have fallen in. The boys made a rock fast to a long rope and danced it up and down on its head, and tantalized it or tried to hit it directly with a stone, but it was too far down there — that wise snake would see it coming and wriggle out of the way. There were some dead frogs on the surface of that stagnant water, floating belly upwards to the sky. And oh, the junk that was dumped down there! I can still see that well yawning, with a foul stench coming up from its gaping mouth.
Empty wells are an eye-sore and disgrace to any community. They become a receptacle for all sorts of debris and garbage. In Bible times, we even read of people being thrown into empty wells after they were decapitated II Kings 10:14. There is nothing so horrid as a useless good-for-nothing, gaping hole in the earth, and that is what many a Christian is like! The devil sends all his imps around with stones and bricks and old cans and sticks, and they dump all the trash they can find into the soul that has lost its experience of the overflow of divine life.
Satan takes peculiar delight to thus mock the defeated Christian. Witness how he abused poor fettered blinded Samson grinding out the Philistine corn hitched to a beam like a mule. All the urchins in town took keenest delight in pelting him with stones, filth and everything they could lay their hands on.
When our Lord spoke to the woman of Samaria, He pointed to Jacob’s well and said “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again; but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” John 4:14. What a marvelous promise! Think of it! To be wells of living water forever flowing to the glory of God and the blessing of mankind around us. What a High Calling! What a precious privilege! — to be not only a depository but a dispensary of the Holy Spirit of God and this is God’s perfect Will for every single Christian. Remember, it is the overflow that puts the Christian over!
But mind you, God is not well pleased with our being merely like a bucket-well from which the water has to be dipped — that would be desirable but it would not be the “too much.” The Words of Christ are, “A well of water springing up”; that is, the water does not have to be brought up through our own effort, but it comes up of its own power and pressure, as from an artesian well. So saturated, so possessed of the Spirit of God, should we be, that these living waters will surge and well up within us with a never ceasing flow. And this is the promise of the Father, the fullness of the gift of the Holy Ghost, for which reason, Jesus left His home in glory, was despised and rejected of men and suffered on the cross.
This experience is not to be compared with any this world could give. It is the life in which the yoke is forever easy, the burden never heavy. When once we have attained it, we should prize it and cherish it and implore God on bended knee to keep us in its blessing, not merely for a season, but for good. How lamentable, how heartrending to see so many fall away from this standard. Somewhere they have failed God in prayer and in praise, or in other ways have grieved His Holy Spirit until Satan has been able to get the best of them. The waters suddenly ceased running over, the flow was stifled, was checked at its spring, and the power of God was quenched and today they are dried up and are like old, stopped-up wells.
All the failures of others, the gossip in the church, the mean criticisms, the sinister whisperings; all the varied evil tempers and distempers of the congregation will gravitate towards the backslider. The Christian that listens to tale-bearing and back-biting, is a miserable empty well to which the refuse and dirt of a whole assembly will find its way. It is hard to explain, but there is something about an old well that just beckons you to throw something in. You can hardly blame the devil for casting all his trash into a back-slidden, lukewarm heart. That empty soul looks like such a tempting, inviting dumping ground.
The Flow Keeps the Refuse Out!
I recall when preaching the Gospel many years ago in Oklahoma, I happened to be staying at a house where the lady had to fetch her drinking water far from home. We moved a big barrel into a wagon and got the horses started, and over the rocky roads we rattled all the way across the hills, to a narrow vale in the center of which was, what seemed in the distance, a small lake. Mrs. Pahlon drove the horses right into the center of the water and here was a wonderful sight.
Out of a large steel pipe there flowed a gushing clear stream of water. With the buckets we filled the barrel we had brought, while the horses stood knee-deep to this artesian wonder which had inundated the entire hollow. They had tried to sink an oil well there, but had struck a subterranean stream which had proved a Godsend to the whole surrounding community. My hostess was for starting back but I would not let the matter rest. I was filled with curiosity and wanted to test the strength of that springing flow. I rolled up my pants, took a rock and threw it into the gushing mouth with all my strength. The waters threw it back at me and I only got a bath for my trouble. It served me right! I had no business to tamper with it.
Thus when Christ fills us with His blessed Spirit, our hearts should gush forth with such divine life and virtue that every time the Devil endeavors to throw something in, he gets it thrown back at him, with a bath of divine power in the bargain. Oh, get rid of the scanty rivulet of Christian professionalism that trickles into a small reservoir from which it all too soon evaporates. Claim the living, springing up, bubbling, sparkling, prodigal flow of Living Water Christ has promised you! Let it burst forth in copious, unlimited abundance. Demand this well of divine life that never runs dry! Then from your heart, there will issue peace, gladness and cheer, sweetness, goodness and grace, and all the fruits of the Spirit and it will gush forth so rapidly that nothing will be able to enter from without. For out of the heart are the issues of life, and when we have guarded the heart, we have guarded the fortress, the citadel of our being. He promised, “I shall be in him a well of water.” Insist that the experience be yours! It should not be hard to serve God when He is the Well, He is the Water, and He is the Flow!
Rivers In This Desert World
In Jeremiah 2:13, we read: “My people have committed two evils — they have forsaken Me the Fountain of Living Waters, and hewd them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” That is the reason why Christianity is drying up the world over. They have made them cisterns which can hold no water. This deplorable state can be remedied. You remember Isaac’s wells. He opened up all the wells that had been choked up and they flowed again, full and free. So indeed there is hope for every one of us, for the worst backslider, for the one who has betrayed his faith and fallen into heresy and unbelief.
However, Christ holds even more before us. An artesian well is often the source of one river, but Jesus promises us many. Oh, Glory to God! that is “too much” multiplied by “too much”! That is floods upon the dry ground!
“He turneth the wilderness into a standing water, and dry ground into watersprings” Ps. 107:35.
The prophets foresaw this New Testament blessing! “Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert” Isa. 43:19.
For is it not the same God of Jacob who back there “turned the rock into a standing water, the flint into a fountain of waters?” Ps. 114:8.
Again Isaiah predicts: “I will open rivers in high places and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.” Isa. 41:18.
Why, there is no limit to our God. That is why, during that great day of the feast, the Last Day, Jesus stood and cried, saying: “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive; for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified). John 7:37-39.
The Pentecostal Experience
It was concerning the Pentecostal experience that the one hundred-twenty disciples should soon receive in the Temple, that Christ spoke. These Rivers of Living Water were the fulness of the Holy Spirit of which they were all made partakers, when, with the sound of rushing wind, and with cloven tongues of fire, “They were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” Acts 2:4. The only condition was, “He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said.” That is, not he that believeth in a certain creed or conforms to a certain religious standard or accepts a particular Christian philosophy, but he that believeth on Me — that is to that degree, to that extent that the Scripture instructs him to believe, the result of that sort of faith will be that from his innermost being there shall flow rivers of living water.
The tens of thousands we have seen experience these spiritual rivers of Divine water today attest that the promise stands good. In revivals we have conducted all over the world we have had ample opportunity to prove that the Promise of the Father is still every Christian’s privilege. The Lord Jesus is just the same yesterday, today, and forever! He that humbleth himself and asks of Him with all his heart will readily obtain this experience of the “too much,” and will, like the Apostles and early Christians of old, be filled with faith and joy, power and boldness to declare the Word of the Lord, undaunted, steadfast, unmovable in these terrible, last days of the falling away.
Remember, Jesus promised us Living Waters, not just water, nor still or stagnant water which remind you of an old swamp overgrown with green slime — some putrid duck pond without inlet or outlet. Such placid, quiet waters are never any good; for water without a flow is dead! It is living waters He has promised! Sparkling, tumbling, foaming, rushing torrents of crystal, pure, mountain spring water! Surging, dashing, plunging rapids of glorious life-giving virtue! Streams from the highlands of Heaven! A whole countryside of moving rivers! God grant you the rivers!
In the Oil Fields
Many years ago I visited the town of Taft, California. I arrived at night in time for the meeting in a schoolhouse. Weary with the train and stage journey, I was glad to be shown my room in a believing sister’s home nearby, and immediately retired to rest. All night long I tossed about wondering what the unheard-of noises were that never let up. A screaming, ringing tearing see-saw sound that set your teeth on edge. If my life had depended on it, I could not have told you what it was. I got up with heavy eyes and asked my hostess the cause of this disturbance. She explained it in detail to my great astonishment. So I went out to see for myself before breakfast. Here they were — one hundred and one steel rods reaching away out into the old field in all directions from different power houses. It was their joints and connections that, in singing their metallic tune, had prevented my sleep. These rods were attached in a continual string of action to scores of derricks and by their motion back and forth turned the big pump wheels that coaxed the oil out of the wells. What a disillusionment!
Standing at the foot of one of those wooden towers, I located at last the huge spout from which there dribbled a tiny drip of oil. I was disgusted, it looked ridiculous in the face of all that elaborate scaffolding and expensive machinery. All that outlay of engineering skill and effort for such a puny return. All that noise seemed so out of proportion with the yield of such a few miserable driveling drops! I hastened to the house to discuss it with my hostess. “Why does it not come out of itself ?” I said. She laughed at my protests and keen disappointment. I had long looked forward to seeing a marvelous sight, I confided to her — a country full of wells spouting their liquid gold in all directions! Poor ignoramus that I was! I learned that morning that gushers are very rare, not the rule but the exception. My impressions had been all wrong! But sometimes I think: Oh, how grand it would be if they were all gushers!
Yes! God desires us to be gushers — every one of us. But look about you, such Christians are rare. The common run of them are pump-Christians. At what tremendous cost and effort they are kept at work and in unity, made to attend prayer meeting, offer testimony or give of their carnal means. What a lot of pumping it takes to work up a little enthusiasm. The preacher pumps himself blue in the face, he calls for the evangelist and he pumps till near collapse! Everybody puffs and snorts and staggers about to push things over the top to secure a few new members, to save the church from spiritual and financial bankruptcy. Every trick is resorted to, every scheme is worked. The people are humored, threatened, enticed and denounced in turn. Everything creaks and cracks, the pressure becomes unbearable and finally — Oh! Can it be true — What a miracle! What a wonder! Things begin to move — Ah! A little more oil, it becomes a steady stream. What astonishment it creates! What interest! All hands to the pumps, is the order — now altogether, in dead-earnest this time, and so there is a revival of a sort, or, to quote Ezekiel, a stir among the bones.
But the pastor is prostrate — the evangelist must recuperate, and the Christians all! Well! Things have got to slow down now, this break-neck pace cannot be kept up the year through. Everyone would die of heart-failure! But the pumps must be kept going at all costs. Pump! Pump! Pump! Without the pumps everything would come to a standstill. Things are already at a stalemate in so many places with such helplessness and half-heartedness manifest as to become the despair of the most wide-awake. With all their complicated program, their diversified extensive interests, their slow-moving machinery most of our churches are like so many pump houses working night and day to secure the merest excuse of a stream from their following. The ministers pet and pamper, cajole and indulge the caprice of their crowds — anything to keep a show of activity for the good of the cause. Oh! It is positively sickening!
Is this God’s best? Can we be satisfied with such insignificant returns? Come to Venezuela’s Bonanza — the richest oil field in the world — and I will show you what a gusher looks like. Go to Mexico where they number thousands. In my clipping book I have a picture of a Mexican well called Cerro Azul No. 4, from which there shot a column of oil six hundred feet high that drenched the country with a rain of oil for two miles around and flowed a million barrels a week before they capped it. Look at that stupendous display! What unlimited prodigality!
There is the best representation of the “too much” in nature. There is spontaneity for you. There is resourcefulness and initiative — there are the very qualities the church languishes for. No need of pumps here! Listen to it roar — noise a-plenty but not the cheap, tin-panny grinding, vexing racket of machinery. A deafening noise — yes, the glorious, deep, earnest formidable roar of concentrated life and power. When gushers come in they are always noisy but when finally capped, their rushing flow silently pours its fullness into the reservoirs. The power is under control — even so with us, our first breaking through to the overflow experience gives place to the calm and continued current of power. But there is plenty of oil and it springs up of itself.
Oil is the greatest type of the Holy Spirit in Scripture. This modern last day world has been permitted purposely of God to become so oil conscious that we who await His return might be well aware of its necessity in quantity and of our need of having not only oil in our lamps but in our vessels besides as the wise virgins in the parable, Matt. 25:1. It was in Taft that I also heard a good story concerning a certain man who could not be dissuaded from an idea of sinking an oil well away out beyond the limit of all other prospective ground and staked property.
Tom the Fool
We will call him Tom the Fool. He was obsessed by this hunch of his that he could strike oil way out there, and he simply risked everything on it. It cost him a small fortune to make it a go. His bit broke time and time again, and other things went wrong. Everyone endeavored to discourage him, and thought it a wild-cat scheme. He finally ended bankrupt. It was the same old story at every corner: “Ha! ha! I told you so.” But Tom was not to be outdone. He took to begging. He went everywhere: into the grocery stores, into the hotels, up and down the markets, into barber shops and along the busy street. They had given him up as hopeless. As he entered, they would tap their heads, and wink at each other. But he got a little here and a little there. Some old friend he had written to, sent him a hundred. Another relative, maybe two hundred. An occasional five-dollar or ten-dollar gold piece began to mount until, slowly but surely, he secured quite a considerable sum.
Tom started operations again. He was determined and stopped at nothing. Any time of the night or day, you might see him or his two sons away out there in the sand hills, toiling at the old derrick. He had quite established himself as a quaint and almost legendary character. One bright day, a barefooted, hatless boy galloped furiously into town, shouting at the top of his voice the one word that will electrify an oil town — “GUSHER!” Everybody scrambled into the open. Business, trade, work — everything was thrown to the winds, and a tremendous mob dashed down the main street as fast as they could run. You did not have to tell them where the gusher was. Everyone guessed and they could hear it roar for miles. Away over the sand and through the brush they ran and crowded around the grandest sight ever.
The well had “come in” with lightning suddenness. With a thunder-like roar up went the derrick, the machinery and everybody with it, catapulted into space. And when they dragged Tom out, dripping with the liquid gold, he was not much the worse for his ducking. He wore a ten-million-dollar smile. Everyone that had loaned him anything made sure to remind him of it, and they got it back, let me tell you, with the “too much” added! I do not know, but maybe he said to one, “You loaned me five; there’ll be a thousand for you!” To another, “You loaned me ten; there’ll be five thousand for you!” Tom had risked everything. He had dug deep, and staked all he had, and he did not have as much assurance of the outcome as you have, O Christian, that the promises of God are steadfast and true, unchangeable and sure. But, like Tom the fool, we must dig deep, stake everything, be determined to go through and get the “too much,” the life more abundant, and its Rivers of Living Water.
— THE END —
About the author
From the out-of-print book Too Much: The Filled to Overflowing Experience by William Booth-Clibborn. Used by permission.
This page Copyright © 2000 Peter Wade. The Bible text in this publication, except where otherwise indicated, is from the King James Version. This article appears on the site: https://www.peterwade.com/. Check out our Bookstore.