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HOW I ENTERED THE REST
My initial salvation experience with God was very powerful. I felt God’s presence come
into my soul the moment I yielded my life to Him and this inward presence grew throughout that first day to such an extent that I could never doubt that God had saved me. I had immediate victory over all sin and as I walked with God this victory continued to my great comfort and delight. How grateful I was to find the living God, the answers to this existence and the power to lead a holy life. God Himself was my Father and I was His son by adoption. I was truly awestruck by it all.
For over sixteen and a half years God’s presence, blessings, and direction for my life were
with me and, as I maintained daily communion with Him, He was faithful to preserve me in my walk towards heaven.
As soon as I began to understand that a second work of grace was to be done in the heart of
a believer, I prayed to God that He would never allow me to be satisfied until I had obtained that blessing. I was well aware after my conversion that there remained in me “the motions of sin,” such as anger, pride, or covetousness which might cause me to sin if I were not careful to make use of God’s grace to preserve me in the time of temptation. The existence of this root of sin grieved me much and I longed for the deliverance that this second blessing was to provide.
Because of vacillating ideas as to just exactly what this blessing was and how it was to be
obtained, I also vacillated in my earnest pursuit to obtain it. My inconstancy hindered God from granting me what I so desired to obtain. But God, in His, oh-so-great, faithfulness so ordered things in my life that I became forced to do that which is absolutely necessary in order to prevail, namely, to seek Him with all my heart, soul, and strength.
The circumstances which brought about this single-hearted pursuit of Him was the apparent
dissolution of the church to which I belonged. As a result of an eruption of some internal problems that existed in the church, we went from a membership of forty-three to a membership of four in a
period of about four months. Having no pastor, the four of us who were left had no choice but to cleave to God with all our souls and strength if we desired to maintain our salvation. This is what we did and this is exactly what God had been desiring that we should do. What looked outwardly to be a hideous disaster was secretly the pathway to a pure heart, the second blessing.
We went to God in earnest supplication that He would care for, preserve, and encourage
our souls. And our Precious Savior was not slack in this regard. Almost immediately He gave us hope for the recovery of the church, only in a new and better way.
For the next two and a half years I spent much time in prayer, fasting, and reading. I began
to take an interest in Church history in general but this soon gave place to the pursuit of the history of perfection within the Church. I met with many individuals in my reading who professed to have arrived at elevated spiritual states of holiness and perfection. What George Fox and the early Quakers possessed was always before my eyes as the ideal of what I was looking for. However, I had always had a desire to look into a certain phenomenon which took place in the mid to late 1800’s which has been called the Holiness Movement. I began to familiarize myself with the writings of the people who started the movement and of the later ones who carried it on.
Almost right away the Spirit of the Lord opened up to my mind the weakness of the
movement. There was no singular united church. It was an interdenominational movement. Thus it lacked unity and harmonious leadership. Those involved did not constitute a church. It was a movement within churches.
But I could not get around the testimonies of many of these Holiness people. They spoke of
a definite spiritual work that took place after conversion that put their souls at rest and in a “large place” — of peace, purity, love, and happiness. I wanted it. I prayed for it, persistently presenting to the Father the words of His Son, “Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you shall find. Knock and the door shall be opened unto you.”
I had always had an inward feeling that the attainment of this blessing would somehow
involve faith, since faith plays such an integral role in a Christian’s whole walk with God. However, I had no idea how much faith or how that faith was to be employed. I also had a vague notion that the Holy Ghost had already been poured out once and for all. It seemed as though this blessing of the Holy Ghost was my privilege as a Believer if only somehow I could attain to it.
Earlier in my walk I had made an abortive attempt to rather recklessly “take it by faith” I
got down on my knees and said, “Lord, I believe that I’m sanctified!” and then got up and tried to believe that I was. But it was not long till something tripped me up unawares and I felt anger rise up in my heart. This episodes set me back somewhat and my pursuit for holiness slackened. It seems as though I simply lacked sufficient faith and knowledge to successfully attain to this blessing.
But now the outward circumstances of my life forced me to be serious in my pursuit in a
way that I had never been before. With only four of us left, we did earnestly cleave to God and He was faithful to knit us together in heart and mind. Without knowing it, we were all reading books
by authors who had been involved in the Holiness Movement. Our regularly appointed meetings for worship became very precious to us.
About two and a half years after the church troubles had begun, the Lord began to give us
messages for meeting that would direct us into a closer walk with Him, a walk that would give Him more glory. One message, for example, was that we ought not to attempt to do personal combat with our evil propensities at the moment of temptation but rather to turn the battle over to God and wait in Him for the victory. Thus when victory comes He is magnified and not self in any way.
One evening as I was sitting in meeting it came into my mind to read the sixth chapter of
Romans and as I did it occurred to me that the Apostle Paul had addressed the epistle to the whole Roman church. Whether it was a new convert or someone older in the Lord, all were invited and even commanded to live up to the conditions that Paul was describing in this chapter. I saw that in this chapter he leaves no loopholes for sin at all in the life of a Christian, either outwardly in actual visible sin or inwardly in the heart or mind. He said, “knowing this that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed… Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ Our Lord… For he that is dead (with Christ) is freed from sin… Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” It opened up to me that this was the doctrine and experience of the Apostolic church and ought also to be mine. I was astonished at the concept that “the old man” should be considered as crucified already with Christ on the cross and that I should reckon myself to be dead indeed unto sin.
The next morning as I was on my knees in prayer, the concepts which had taken hold of my
mind the night before came freshly into my mind again and were so livingly presented to me that I acknowledged it to be from the Lord and covenanted with Him that henceforth I would reckon myself “dead indeed unto sin.”
As I went about my work-day, the normal temptations and wrong thought patterns would
assault me. But as each combat would come I turned inwardly to God and told Satan or myself that, ”No, I reckoned myself dead to this or that:” and I discovered that there was new power attending me to overcome. Sometimes the combats were fierce but at the end of the day I came out the victor through this new power that had been granted me. Something was stirring deep within me. It felt as though the butterfly of true spiritual liberty was beginning to emerge from its cocoon with my soul.
In a Wednesday night meeting on September 6, 1989, I was again stirred in my soul to read
from Romans. This time it was the seventh chapter which came alive in my mind. As I sat reading it, I saw that Paul was describing a state that he was in before he was sanctified. This description of his former state plainly had been mine also for practically the whole sixteen and a half years that I had been serving the Lord. It was the state of being under the law of conscience in my mind which constantly witnessed against the root of sin within. And as Paul had been striving in his own strength to destroy that root, so had I been, and with as little success. Finally he was made to cry out in desperation, “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death!” And then his response, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” I then saw that lasting victory over evil propensities was to be had through and only through Our Lord Jesus Christ. Things that the Lord had been
whispering to me during the recent months concerning leaning upon Him for victory seemed suddenly to crystallize and become clearly focused in my mind. I stood in the meeting and conveyed these ideas to my brethren.
The next morning, again as I was in prayer, the Scriptures and ideas of the night before
came before my eyes. I knew that all I needed to do was believe that God Himself through Jesus Christ was my sanctifier and to give up my own strivings so that He could do the work in me. I therefore covenanted with God on those terms. At that moment, September 7, 1989, I entered into the rest that there is for the people of God.
There were no sensational feelings attached to this verbal covenant and I felt nothing in
particular after I had made it except that I should tell my wife about it, which I did. It is as though I had discovered that a large parcel of land had been left to me as part of my just inheritance and I did not know about it. When I discovered the fact, I simply took possession by the faith of the contract agreement which I saw plainly opened before my eyes.
Like the woman described in the book of Solomon’s song, I had come up out of the
wilderness leaning upon my Beloved. And truly, all the travail that I had passed through was indeed as nothing in comparison to the magnificence of the possession that has been given to me. Peace is mine. That intense battle with inward sin is over. The days of my sorrows are finished. The Lord is nearer more consistently than ever I knew before. He is more than a Conqueror for me in all the trials and temptations that might assault me. I know that my growth in this state has no boundaries. He has placed me in a large place and it is no longer I that live but Christ that liveth in me. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Without Him I can do nothing. My victory and growth depend on only one thing and that is that I rest and abide in Him. He is my salvation, my sanctification. Glorious salvation, full and free! We do nothing but lean on Him. He does it all. Oh, what misery I could have saved myself if I had known this from the beginning. This is indeed the normal Christian life. This is the apostolic gospel life. Everyone who calls himself a Christian ought to be walking here. It is our privilege, bought with blood by the only one who could purchase it for us, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. It is the Christian’s privilege not to have to fight and war with the old man, our carnal nature, our evil propensities. The battle has already been won. All the Christian has to do is believe this and keep his eyes on the Son through whatever temptation, trial, grief or difficulty that comes along and He will give the victory. All the praise then belongs unto Him. Self has no place here. This is the saint’s rest.
Source: “The Apostolic Christian Live” by James McCusker
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HOW THEY ENTERED CANAAN (A Collection of Holiness Experience Accounts) Compiled by Duane V. Maxey
Vol. I — Named Accounts