What is meant by the following exhortation :—“There is the surrender that claims the filling of the Spirit”? Is this “Keswick” teaching?
Though never having been present at what is called the Keswick Convention, one naturally has a certain acquaintance with the so-called “Keswick” teaching. The motto, “All one in Christ Jesus,” is a commendable recognition of that blessed unity created by the baptism in the Holy Spirit, which exists between all true believers in this dispensation (1 Corinthians 12:13) in spite of the sad divisions which rend them externally. It is good to recognise this at least during one week of the year, and better still during the remaining fifty-one. In fact, we are responsible to do so on the basis of the seven-fold unity of Ephesians 4:4-6, and to put away everything which man has set up in addition to, or in diminution from, these seven basal facts, which may mar that unity of the Spirit, which we are enjoined to keep in the bond of peace. We are never told to keep the Unity of the Body, but to recognise it, and carry it out practically, not by forbidding the introduction of any subject, or Bible truth on which people differ, but by separation from everything which will not bear the test of God’s Word.
No doubt God has blessed the meetings at Keswick, and that, not because of any particular panacea of sanctification, peculiar to the place, but because the Word of God is generally preached on evangelical lines, and Christ presented as the object of faith and as God’s sufficient resource for every need. It is impossible for this to be done without blessing resulting. When we come to details. I fear it must be said that “Keswick” teaching concerning the reception of the Spirit by an act of faith subsequent to conversion and based on “absolute surrender” is seriously at fault. The case of the twelve disciples at Ephesus in Acts 19 is adduced as a typical example of this. On the contrary, it is quite unique. I never heard of such a case happening in any country in the world since. The question which seems to lend itself to the erroneous notion here combated, “Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?” is a mistranslation, as the R.V. (based on the literal Greek) shows, for, “Did ye receive the Holy Ghost when ye believed?” The normal order is given in Ephesians 1:13: “m whom having believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.”
The case of these twelve disciples may be taken up later. It may suffice here to remark that the filling of the Spirit is not an attainment reached once for all, and which may puff up the recipient, or put him on a pedestal above his fellow Christians, as some spurious fillings of the Spirit seem apt to do, but a humbling and self-emptying experience, true to faith and which makes Christ more real to the soul. Such an experience is repeated and progressive. Directly that teaching on the Spirit puts Him forward as the object of faith, and eclipses the Lord Jesus Christ ever so little, the teaching is so far off the lines. Certainly “full surrender” is good and reasonable, but how much it implies is perhaps realised by few who claim to have made it. It is generally associated in men’s minds with going out as a missionary to the ends of the earth; it is needed as much and perhaps more, for the humdrum tasks of everyday life in the home, or for separation from “religious” practices and associations, which have no divine authority.
There is always danger of connecting blessing with some spiritual “Mecca,” some sacred geographical spot on earth, instead of with the Person of Christ of whom the poet sings:
“Where’er they seek Thee, Thou art found,
And every place is hallowed ground.”