S.D. Gordon.

Quiet Talks with World Winners online

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crowds they understood the great significance of what He had said.

That last talk[24] they had together in the upper room and along the
Jerusalem streets, on the betrayal night, was full of teaching about the
Holy Spirit. And the next time after that that they met, in the upper
room,[25] on the evening of the resurrection day, He breathed strongly
upon them, and said, "Receive ye the Holy Spirit." And the very last word
on the Olivet slope was, "Wait; wait until the Holy Spirit comes." He
burned in deep that their dependence must be entirely upon the Spirit.

The Partnership of Service.

Jesus Himself is an illustration of what He told them about this. He was
on a missionary errand. He had been sent by His Father, even as later
these men and we have been sent. With awe ever growing, one remembers that
the divine Jesus in the days of His humanity gave Himself over to the
control of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit was the dominant factor in His life
and in all His activities. All His teachings and movements were at the
suggestion and direction and control of the Spirit. The power in speech
and action, in healing, in raising the dead, and in the wondrous mastery
of Himself was the Holy Spirit's power working upon and through Jesus.

Then it was that as He was going away He said, "As the Father hath sent
me, even so I send you." And with that He coupled the significant
breathing upon them, with the word, "Take ye the Holy Spirit." We are to
be as He, both in our utter dependence upon the Spirit and in our
assurance of His power in us.

Ever since then that has been the effective partnership for world-service:
men and the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit and men. If you are thinking of
the human side you say, "Men and the Holy Spirit." If you are speaking
of the divine side, you say, "The Holy Spirit and men." The two belong
together. Where men have failed to go the Spirit has been hampered in
speaking to men. He has spoken, but the story of salvation through Jesus
has not been known. The Spirit's mouth-piece for the telling of that story
was lacking. That seriously hindered Him in His work.

Where men have gone without the Spirit, that is without yielding
themselves habitually to His control, they have been sorely hampered. It
is like having the kindling wood set in order for a fire, but the fire not
started. There is no heat, nor any of fire's results. The kindling must
have the flame, and the flame must have the coals. The two are partners in

This partnership belongs peculiarly in the world-wide service of winning
men. If anybody needs the Spirit's presence, he does who attempts to win a
man to Jesus anywhere. But if any man-winner needs that presence more than
another, he does who goes into the peculiar atmosphere of a non-Christian
people. And, on the other hand, if anybody can be sure of the Spirit's
presence and power always with him, and working through him, he can who
has gone out on the world-errand.

That man is in the direct line of obedience to Jesus' command. The Spirit
Himself is sent by Jesus, and comes to us in direct obedience to Jesus'
desire. These two, the man and the Spirit, are as one in the purpose that
controls them. That man may depend on the gracious, irresistible Spirit's
power at every turn. He is a thrice West man, if he have learned to
depend upon His unseen Partner.

The Power That Never Fails.

You and I have to remind ourselves constantly that our chief dependence is
not upon organization, nor method, nor personal talent, nor personal
training, but upon the Holy Spirit working through these. The better
organized the human machinery, the better the methods used, the more there
is of personal gift, and the more thoroughly one's powers have been
drilled, the more there is at the Spirit's disposal for Him to use. The
practical bother is to remember this; to get it rubbed in until it is like
an instinct in us, that the power is all from Him, through us. Not without
Him, and not without us; the two together; but always His the far greater
part - indeed, the real part.

The Holy Spirit has a double work to do: with us who go; and upon those to
whom we go. Within us He has to work out the character of Jesus. He opens
the Word, making its meaning stand clearly out. He wakens the mind up to
do its best work. He guides in our decisions, suggesting and directing and
controlling our thoughts, and in our actions, in our dealings with men. In
things that are little in themselves, but on which so much hinges, He

It constantly occurs that we are not at all conscious of His control at
the time. But afterward we can see how He has been deftly, softly
guiding, with His rare light touch upon us. When, in the thick of work,
we may be pressed hard, and a bit wearied, and in doubt, He sends the
quiet, quick suggestion into our thoughts that leads out of the tight
corner and into the achievement of the thing desired. He works through us,
and through what we do, giving power that otherwise would not be there.
While you are talking in conversation or in public address, He is working
through what you are saying.

And He works upon those to whom we go. He opens doors; the doors of
circumstances that we find locked and double-padlocked against us. He
opens the yet tighter-shut, harder-to-open human doors. He inclines men
favorably toward us personally, and to our message. Under His touch the
message becomes as a tongue of flame, kindling, disturbing, softening,
burning down, and moulding over into new shape the inner man to whom the
message comes.

Sometimes quarrymen find a very hard kind of rock in the stone quarries.
They pick little grooves for the iron wedges, and then with great
sledge-hammers drive these wedges into the hard rock. But sometimes this
fails to split the rock. The iron wedges and big sledges have no effect at
all on the stubborn stone. Then they go at it in another way. The iron
wedges are removed from the narrow grooves. Then little wooden ones, of a
very hard fibre are selected. These sharp-edged, well-made wooden wedges
are first soaked in water. Then they are put in the grooves tightly while
wet, and water is kept in the grooves. The sledges are not used. They
would smash the wooden wedges.

The water and wedges are left to do their work. The damp wood swells. The
particles must have more room as they swell. The granite heart of rock
can't stand against this new pressure. It takes longer than with iron
wedges and sledge, but after a while the rock yields and lies split
wide-open. The water works on the wood, and that in turn on the stone. The
iron wedges sometimes fail, but the wood and water never fail.

It seems to be a part of our make-up to make plans, and to count on the
plans. And planning does much. We don't want to plan less, necessarily,
but to learn to depend more in our planning on the soft, noiseless, but
resistless power of the Holy Spirit.

"The day is long, and the day is hard;
We are tired of the march and of keeping guard;
Tired of the sense of a fight to be won,
Of days to live through, and of work to be done;
Tired of ourselves and of being alone:
Yet all the while, did we only see,
We walk in the Lord's own company.
We fight, but 'tis He who nerves our arm;
He turns the arrows that else might harm,
And out of the storm He brings a calm;
And the work that we count so hard to do,
He makes it easy, for He works, too:
And the days that seem long to live are His -
bit of His bright eternities - and close to our need
His helping is."[26]

The Trinity of Service.

Now, we want to mark keenly that full power depends upon three things.
There is a trinity of service, a human-divine trinity. The full results
can come only through its working. The ideal winner of men needs to
believe thoroughly in this trinity.

First of all is the message. There needs to be a clear understanding of
the Gospel. That is the winner's message. That is the direct thing he uses
in approaching and laying siege to some man's heart. It is a simple
message, but very often it is grasped only partly by those who tell it.

That message needs to be understood clearly and fully by the man who would
have the greatest power in winning men. From its first plain teaching
about sin, on to the terrible results that sin left to itself works out;
through the blessed teaching of love as shown most in the sacrifice for
sin which Jesus made on the cross; the need of a clean cutting with sin,
and clear-out surrender to Jesus as Saviour and Master; the work of the
Holy Spirit in one's heart; and then the climax of service out among
men - this simple message needs to be grasped fully and clearly. This is
the first great essential hi the trinity of service.

There is a second thing, yet more important, that must go with this first.
And that is a man who embodies the message in himself. It isn't enough
to know the story of the Gospel, nor to tell it. It must be lived. That
is the best telling of it. The man must be a living illustration of the
truth he is telling. He may be conscious of not illustrating it as he
should. The earnest man is never aware that he is as good an illustration
of it as he is. He may think himself a poor illustration. He is quite apt
to. But he is yet more apt not to be thinking of that side as he attempts
to win men. He will be all taken up with Jesus, and with getting men to
know Him.

The man is more than the message, even when he is less than the message.
When his life fails to live out the truth he is speaking, still even then
he is more. For the life is more than the lips. And, while he is talking,
his life is discounting his words and taking away some of the power that
belongs with them. I do not mean that those he is talking to are making
the comparison, necessarily. They may not know about his life, whether it
embodies the message or not.

I mean that the life that is true breathes a force and power into the man
himself and so into his words. Or it doesn't. The message takes on the
quality of the man. One man's talking catches fire; another's doesn't. The
listeners know that it is so, though they don't usually know why. All the
while you and I are trying to win others, in Sunday-school class or
meeting, in Gospel service or church preaching, in personal conversation
or letter-writing, there's a subtle something that goes out of us, as an
atmosphere, that affects the power of the message we're giving out.

And that something is actually greater in its power than the truth we are
speaking. It may be a touch of flame making the truth burn within him who
is listening. It may be a deadly, dampening chill checking the fire that
is naturally in the truth. The man is always more than the message.

Living on the Top Floor.

Then there is a third thing. It is yet more than the message or the man,
or than both message and man together. It is this: the Holy Spirit
controlling the man who embodies the message. I mean by controlling him
that he has surrendered himself to the Spirit's control. And, further than
that, that he cultivates the Spirit's presence.

There needs to be a habitual cultivation of the Spirit's presence and
friendship, even as we cultivate our human friendships. There needs to be
time spent alone, habitually, with the Book of God. I do not mean just now
merely studying the Bible to get better acquainted with its contents.
Something more than that - thoughtful meditation on its truths; the quiet,
steady holding of one's self open to the searching and stimulating and
enlightening influence of this rare Book. The Spirit speaks through these
pages. Yet it is to be feared that many a careful student of its pages
does not get deeper in than the print. He doesn't know and meet the Person
who speaks in the print and through it.

Then, beyond the quiet time with the Book, there is the holding of one's
whole life open to the Spirit's suggestion and subject to His direction.
He guides through our thinking. And sometimes He guides us when our
thinking, for some reason, has not gotten up high enough for Him to guide
through it. Samuel thought that David's oldest brother was God's chosen
one. But into his rarely sensitized inner ear the Spirit said "No." His
thinking wasn't keen enough to be the channel through which he could be
guided. But he had learned to hold his thinking subject to a higher power.

One time Paul thought it would be good to go over east into the province
of Bithynia, and even tried to make a start that way. But the Spirit made
plain His plan that they were to go in just the opposite direction, to the
west. Had Paul's thinking been more open to the Spirit's touch at that
point, he wouldn't have made the false start. But he was wise clear beyond
the great crowd of us. For at once he dropped his own thought-out plans,
and did as he was bid.

The keener our mental processes are, the better informed we are, the
better poised our judgment - the better can the Spirit reveal His plans to
us through this natural channel, if it is open to Him. But there is one
thing higher up than our thinking powers. And that is the
spirit-perception. The mental isn't at the top. It's a step up to the
spirit floor, the highest of all.

Some men of splendid ability and training and consecration are constantly
hampered because they insist on living on the mental floor. All their
decisions are made there, not subject to change from above. And the Holy
Spirit, who is the Commander-in-chief of all the forces in this campaign,
is unable to use them as He would.

They haven't got the sensitized inner ear of the quiet time that would
lead them up into higher, broader service. They go faithfully plodding
along on the lower level. The Spirit can use them, of course. He does; but
never to the full The Spirit of God controlling the man who embodies the
message - this brings fulness of power in winsome service; and only this
can. It is not by keenness of thinking, nor fulness of learning, nor
shrewd, well-balanced judgment, but by the Spirit of God working through
these, and sometimes working higher up than they have reached.

Partial Weavings of the Strands.

Now it will help us, I am sure, and make the truth stand out more clearly,
to recall a good many variations that belong in here. Running back over
these things brings up certain facts.

The truth has power of blessing in itself, regardless of who is speaking
it. A bad man may preach the Gospel, and the truth itself will be felt in
spite of the man. There is a life in truth itself, quite apart from the
medium of its transmission. This explains why men who have turned out to
be bad men have had good results attending their ministry. But it was the
truth making itself felt in spite of the handicap it suffered at the
hands of the man talking.

And men whose understanding of the truth is very one-sided and meagre have
been greatly used and blessed in their work. It is striking how a man who
has been rescued from a life of open sin, and who goes into Christian
service with tremendous earnestness, will have great power. His emphasis
of truth may be one-sided. It is quite apt to be. He tells what he has
experienced. The man himself is a living illustration of the truth spoken.
All the truth that can get out through him has the tremendous push forward
of his life. But the extent of his service is limited.

And there are men who have a clear, well-rounded grasp of the blessed
message of Jesus, and who give it out clearly and fully. But they are
hampered by their mental swaddling-clothes, in which they have been
wrapped up in school-days. They never get up out of them into the freedom
of strong action through the Spirit's control.

Then, too, without doubt God's Spirit works alone, without using anybody.
He speaks through nature's beauty and power. He speaks in the inner heart
of every man. He is speaking directly to men all the time everywhere. But
the message is a partial one. The direct revelation of God, in nature and
in conscience, is a limited revelation. The full revelation of God was
made in Jesus. And so it is in this Book that tells of Jesus.

The Spirit of God can speak most fully where that Book is known. He can
work most fully and powerfully through the man who lives the Book. Every
printing of this Bible, or any part of it, is giving the spirit freer
entrance into men's hearts. Every one of us who produces a new translation
of it in the language of his life gives the Spirit a wide-open door where
otherwise the opening had been narrow.

Now, whatever combination of these there may be, some of the blessed power
of God will be seen and felt. The truth unembodied or even hampered; men
who embody the truth they know, but whose knowledge is small; men of much
knowledge, but small practice; men of full knowledge, but who have not
learned to let the Spirit sway them fully; the Spirit Himself speaking
where Jesus is not known, and without any man's help - through each of
these, power of life will go out to men.

But the fulness of power that runs like a mighty stream goes only as the
three things come into one. The message, full and clear, the man who
lives it, the Holy Spirit possessing and controlling the man who lives
the message - this is the trinity of service through which alone the
flood-tide flows.

Unbroken Connection Above.

That blessed flood-tide of power may be much more common than it is. There
needs to be daily quiet time, alone with the Master, with the door shut,
the Book open, the knee bent, the will bent too, to a clear right angle,
the mind quiet and open, the inner spirit unhurried; broad, thoughtful
reading; keen, clear, quiet meditation; the rigorous squaring of the life
up to the standard of the Book; the cultivation of the Spirit's presence
and friendship; and these habits steadily followed until they become
second nature.

Then will be fulfilled the promise, "Out of His inner being shall flow
rivers of water of life."[27] And men have always been drawn irresistibly
to the rivers. And yet, while there will be fulness of power, there will
not be full knowledge of how full the power is. That is reserved for "the

For hundreds of years men have used a contrivance called a diving-bell for
working under water. Practically it enables a man to live out of his
native element. For a man to live in water for any length of time is
impossible. Expert divers do so for a few minutes at a time, but must rise
constantly to get a fresh supply of air. But their work is dangerous, and
very trying on the body. By means of the diving-bell a man may live and
work for hours under the water; that is to say, in an element that of
itself, unchecked, would quickly take his life.

The diving-bell is a sort of huge inverted cup, let down into the water by
its own weight, opening downward, so that the man in the bell faces the
water directly with nothing between himself and it. Death by drowning is
always within arm's length, yet he remains safe. The simple principle on
which the thing is constructed is that water and air can't occupy the same
space at the same time. The bell, being full of air, holds the water out.

But there needs to be a continual supply of fresh air sent down by means
of a tube connected with the upper air. Death by drowning and death by
suffocation, both threaten constantly, and each is held off, one by the
air, and the other by the continual supply of fresh air. The man's ability
to work and his very life depend upon the uninterrupted connection with
the fresh air above.

The Christian man in this world is living out of his native breathing
element. He needs to have his own atmosphere with him, or else he will
die. And he needs to have a fresh supply continually from above, or his
life will be at very low ebb.

Missionaries in foreign-mission lands speak much of the peculiar,
deadening, moral atmosphere there. There is a strange sense of depression
in it. They always plan to have their children brought home at an early
age that they may be brought up through the tender, impressionable years
in a land where Christian standards of life are recognized.

There is no language strong enough to put this truth, that we must, each
of us, whether here or there, carry our own atmosphere with us, and have
continual uninterrupted connection with the upper air. And that "must"
cannot be too strongly underscored.

Blessed Holy Spirit, breath of God, and breath of my life, help me to let
Thee have full sweep within me, that so my life may be kept sweet and
full; and so Jesus can get freely and fully out of me to the great hungry


The Greatest Doing Is Praying.
At the Other End.
A Weekly Journey Round the World.
Prayer a Habit.
A Praying Bent Of Mind.
The Man Is The Prayer.
Unseen Changes Going On.


The Greatest Doing Is Praying.

The greatest of all things we can do is to pray.

Jesus lived a life of prayer. All that He did and said grew out of His
prayer. There is no way of knowing exactly how far it was so. But the more
I study His life the stronger grows the impression that His teaching and
activity, which form the greater part of these Gospel pages, were actually
less than His praying. He seems to have put prayer first. All the rest was
an outgrowth of it. He was on a world-winning errand. And this was what He
thought of prayer. The emphasis of Jesus' personal habit was laid upon

The Holy Spirit is a prayer-spirit. He is the Master-Intercessor. He
breathes into us the spirit of prayer, and makes it glow into a passion.
He teaches us how to pray. It is a lifelong teaching. You who are teachers
know that patience and skill are more in a good teacher than the knowledge
taught. With greatest skill, and loving, tactful patience the Spirit
teaches us to pray.

And then He does more: He uses each of us as His praying-room, praying in
us with yearnings beyond utterance the prayer to which we have not yet
reached up, but which needs to be prayed down on the earth. All the power
needed in this great winning work is in the Holy Spirit and comes from
Him. And the chief thing He emphasizes is prayer.

The greatest thing each one of us can do is to pray. If we can go
personally to some distant land, still we have gone to only one place. But
our field is the world. It is impossible for us to reach our whole field
personally. But it can be reached, and reached effectually, by prayer. The
place where you and I are sent, whether at home or abroad, is simply our
base of action. It is our field for personal touch. And that means
very much. But it is more than that. It is only a small part of our field
of activity. It is most significant as our base of action, from which we
send out our secret messengers of prayer to all parts of the field.

And then, in the particular town or city or country district to which we
have been sent, or in which we are being kept, the prayer properly comes
before the personal activity. And it runs along side by side with the
activity, and follows along after. We give the personal touch which must
be given, and which may be so marvellous in power, but there's something
even there greater than the great personal touch; and that is the power of

It is through the prayer that the personal presence means most. That
personal presence may become a positive hindrance. It may be a drag upon
the work. It often is just that for lack of prayer. For the real sweetness
and efficiency of personal service out among men is in secret prayer.

And if we give money, it needs even more the prayer to go with it. Money
seems almost almighty. As a winning force, of course, it must be reckoned
far less than personal service. For it is less. It gets its almost
omnipotence from human hands. If the personal touch depends for its subtle
power on prayer, how much more does money! Money given to missions,
unaccompanied by prayer, can no doubt be made to do great good. But it is
a very pauper in its poverty alongside the bit of money that is charged
with the spirit-current of prayer.

At the Other End.

One day I ran across a party of about twenty Pittsburg men on their way to
a men's Christian convention in Cincinnati. There were a few ministers in

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Online LibraryS.D. GordonQuiet Talks with World Winners → online text (page 11 of 14)