POSSESSING OUR POSSESSIONS.
A Message Given at the Young Women's Conference, Saturday Morning, July 20, 1901.
"The house of Jacob shall possess their possessions." Obadiah 17.
There is all the difference in the world between possessions and possessing, between having possessions and having possession. There is a little boy in England, about seven years of age, who has prospectively, I suppose, the largest possessions of any child of his age in the world—the British Empire. But that little boy is not in possession of his possessions. He is like any other child; and yet the fact is that he is heir to the throne of Great Britain.
But take the illustration given here, "the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions." What a difference there was between what belonged to those people and what they actually possessed. God had given them the promised land. He had said, "Every place that your foot shall tread upon, that shall be yours." When they went up to spy out the land, Caleb said: "Let us go up at once and possess it, for we are well able to overcome it. It is a good land, and we are well able to overcome it, we are able to enter into possession." But the others gave discouraging reports and complained of giants in the way. You know the result. They turned back and wandered for forty years in the wilderness, and that generation of people never possessed their possessions; they died in the wilderness without having entered the promised land. Afterwards, when their children went up again to the borders of the land, God said to them: "I have begun to give; begin to possess, that ye may inherit." That was God's message to them before they went up there to the walls of Jericho: "I have begun to give; begin to possess."
In this conference, great and glorious things which our God has promised, have been put before us. My heart goes out in deep longing, that we may not fail at least to possess our possessions. What a difference there is, an immeasurable distance, between what we may have and ought to have and what we are actually in possession of most of the time.
I shall only mention two of our possessions. We must possess the life of deeper fullness in Jesus Christ, that life of heart rest and satisfaction, that life of victory. We are saints, we are sanctified; we must possess that fact, we must live it out. What is the fact? Of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit says, "In Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and in Him, ye are made full." That is the fact; is that our experience? We want to be honest with God and our own hearts. Are we made full in Jesus Christ? Are we ready to go back to face life in city and college and home, that we have faced before? "In Him ye are made full." And the experience of many of us is that we are very empty. We all of us know that up-and-down life, sometimes full and rejoicing in the Lord, sometimes conscious of inner victory and power; sometime we know that power that enables us to bear personal witness and do personal work. At other times, we are so dry in ourselves; we have nothing to give to anybody. What can you pump out of an empty well to satisfy anybody's thirst? Do you not know that life; sometimes able to pray and enjoy the study of God's Word, and at other times, no desire for it at all, no joy in prayer or in the Bible—up and down, up and down, a changing, varying, unsatisfactory experience? That is not our possession in Jesus Christ. We must go beyond that and come to Him in Whom we are made full.
Our Lord Himself knew all about that thirsty, unsatisfied longing of people's hearts. He said, "He that cometh unto Me, shall never hunger; and He that believeth on Me, shall never thirst." Have you come to the place where you never hunger and never thirst? That is your possession in Christ Jesus; have you possessed it? or do you, day by day, stifle down that heart hunger that is not satisfied, to thirst and long and feel so dry and empty in your soul, and to go on continually like that? Is it true as Jesus said that if you come to Him, you will never hunger and never thirst? The meaning there is, "He that cometh continually to Me shall never hunger and never thirst." Is that true?
Mr. Hudson Taylor, the founder of the China Inland Mission, was a missionary many years before he came to see that this was his possession in Jesus Christ. He had known that up-and-down life of which we have been speaking; he had known the hunger, the thirst, and he was at one time brought almost to despair, feeling that he could not go on as a missionary, preaching to others, unless he could get beyond that unsatisfactory experience. It was then that the Holy Spirit brought this word home to his heart. He read, "shall never hunger and never thirst," and thought, "That is just what I want." He laid claim to the promise, possessed that possession, believed it, appropriated it, received it. He looked to Christ and said, "O Lord, I thank Thee that my hungry days are all past, my thirsty days are all gone forever." He knew that the Lord Jesus meant what He said. "Never" means "never," and "hunger" means "hunger," and "shall never hunger" means "shall never hunger." Mr. Taylor said, "That is for me," and it has been his possession ever since. Have we done that? Have we possessed that fullness for our own hearts?
But there is more than that. The Lord Jesus said directly after that, in the last day of the feast, "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink; and He that believeth on Me, from within him, shall flow rivers of living water." They shall flow out, not for ourselves only, but for others. Do the rivers flow? In your college, in your place of business, it may be, in your association, in your home, do the rivers flow? That is what is wanted, rivers to flow from our lives, of living water to refresh other hearts away into the driest, darkest places of the world. Jesus said, "If you will come to Me and drink, the rivers shall flow." This spake He of the Spirit. You need those rivers to flow. That, too, is our possession in Christ.
"This spake He of the Spirit." That brings me to the last point about possessing our possessions. The fullness of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and lives is not a luxury for some eminent Christians to enjoy, for people who speak on platforms, and have missionary work to do; it is not a luxury that you can dispense with, but a necessity for your own heart life. Some of you are going back to homes and circles where there is no one who will sympathize, and talk with you about these spiritual things, no one who will understand. There cannot but be in our minds the thought, Will the blessing I have received, stay with me? The secret of a steadfast life, of going on always to more and more fullness is this: the Holy Spirit. He is our possession in Jesus Christ.
Have you been filled with the Holy Spirit? Are you filled with the Holy Spirit now? You do nothing without Him. We know that He dwells in our hearts. He is in us and with us; but have we given ourselves absolutely to Him that He may really possess us in every part of our lives and that we may actually, practically, possess His fullness?
We need a helper who will never leave us. Other helpers may go away, but we need someone who will abide with us. The Holy Spirit is that helper. We need a teacher to go on teaching us, to whom we may bring our questions. The Holy Spirit is that teacher. We need love to flow into our hearts. That love comes from the Holy Spirit. We need joy, the joy of the Lord, not as a fitful experience, but as a continuous presence. That joy comes through the Holy Spirit. We need peace in the midst of disquieting circumstances; we need patience, we need grace, we need goodness, the fruit of the Spirit, to be good in our family relations, in all our relations. We need self-control, another fruit of the Spirit. The Spirit only can bring these things into our lives. I myself never came into the life of deeper rest in Jesus Christ and more abiding fullness until I received into my heart by faith the Holy Spirit. It was after I had been in China a good many years. Oh, what a hungry, thirsty life I had lived far away in China. At last, I felt: "It is impossible to go on like this. If I cannot have something more in Christ, I must give up missionary work altogether and go home." Then one day, I saw what I had been coming to see for a long time, that what I needed was to be filled with the Spirit of God, and I saw that this was my possession in Christ and that I must possess that possession. In other words, I must open my heart and soul and mind and every part of my being to Him, and in faith, receive His fullness, ask Him to come in and take possession of all. All alone one day in China, I did that, and He came to me. Has He come to you in that full, overflowing measure? Life has never been the same to me since then. Oh, the consciousness of resting upon an ocean of fullness and power, the Divine Spirit. In that one week, the Lord gave to me to see more than twenty souls brought to Him through my instrumentality, and for a long time, I had not seen any people brought to the Lord.
We cannot do without the fullness of the Holy Spirit. I beseech you, do not rest without possessing your possessions. Ask the Lord to show you what He wants to give you. Come into contact with the blessed personal Holy Ghost. Open your heart to Him. Possess your possessions.
"Northfield Echoes" 1901