By Charles H. Stalker
Message Delivered at Penn, Sunday Morning, March 30th, 1919
"He answered nothing."
I have wondered what this meeting would be if we could get a conception of God and what His thought is for it. I do not think I was ever in meetings that had more connected with them than these. The network of the Holy Ghost which precedes a meeting and that which follows is just as essential as that which takes place in the meeting itself. A great many people do not recognize that. A meeting is not over in thirty minutes or an hour; a meeting in the Holy Ghost lasts for ever. Other services are a little entertainment, a little pastime and pleasure, and they are over in thirty minutes. The Holy Ghost can show you a vision this morning that you will look upon for ever, and it will be more in a million years from the time He shows it to you than it is now. That is the difference between the temporal and the eternal. The world knows it has to give changes, it has to meet the changes of carnality, but the eternal things are the same yesterday, today, and for ever. That is why a life can be so restful and so fruitful when it is. saved from sin. This world is more than ten million miles from the first letter of the alphabet in the Holy Ghost, and when you see these things you can begin to say and do.
One thing has deeply impressed me and that is the need is greater than the supply. This country has produced workers for everything except Holiness. Millions were ready to die on the battlefield, millions are willing to fill all the places in industry, but there is the need now for fifty men to go with the message of Holiness. The Holy Ghost is faithful in His work and He knows what He is doing. I am glad this morning that we do not have to urge this. If people recognize the fact that it is the work of the Holy Ghost, they will be obedient and walk in the light.
"And when He was accused of the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing. Then said Pilate unto Him, 'Hearest Thou not how many things they witness against Thee?' And He answered him never a word."
He answered nothing, and He answered him never a word. We find there are a great many people who, through tradition and education, have a very deceptive notion in their minds of the plan of redemption. What a person believes makes him what he is, and the reason why more people are not standing for God and Holiness is because they do not believe it. You see that is true because every effort and every energy of mind and body is expended in the thought of returns and rewards every investment is made with the thought of how much a man will get out of it. And, beloved, when you see and have a vision, that the giving of a life to the Holy Ghost, mentally, physically and financially, spiritually and eternally is more than spending that life in any other way, why, then you will give your life freely and completely. Until you do see it you will never do much. We cannot urge people and show them these things in haste.
Now the plan of redemption is a success because it has defeated all the plans of the devil. Christianity has lived so differently and acted so differently that a great many people have not understood it, and while the thought of God has been slow in being carried out, it has never been a minute late. I want you to notice how carefully the plan of God has been made for the redemption of a lost soul, and God has made man a free moral agent. Your own decision decides your eternal destiny; there may be impressions, and there may be environments that have much to do with your action, but you make your own decision. When God made Adam and Eve out of the dust of the earth and placed them in the Garden of Eden, they were pure and holy and they were in a place of plenty, they enjoyed communion with God. Now to make a man a free moral agent he must have the power of choice. Adam and Eve had this privilege. Then the serpent crawled out of hell and came to Eve and through her he reached Adam. He told them that God was a liar and that if they would help themselves to the forbidden fruit that they would be as gods. They listened to his suggestion and they fell. They lost all they had ever enjoyed, they lost communion with God. They made their choice and everyone has made their choice since. People choose sin instead of Holiness, they choose to wear fig leaves instead of the clothing of God. Every piece of clothing worn by the human race is an acknowledgment of that tragical fall.
Now, the plan of redemption was made before the earth was made, and before the serpent crawled out of hell, and before there was a hell from which he could crawl. God was ahead of the devil. Salvation is older than sin, and Holiness is older than hell. The people of this country make a great point of showing respect for age, so if you wish to respect the oldest, you must respect the man that is sanctified wholly. God had the plan of redemption before man fell, and he was made a free moral agent so that he might accept it or reject it, and he has been choosing or rejecting ever since.
Now, when Jesus was born in the Bethlehem manger, it was a great event. Holiness was born in simplicity and humility and it has lived there ever since. You have never found a holy man or a holy woman who was not living a simple, humble, childlike, victorious life. While Holiness is born in simplicity and humility and lives in purity, it always dies in victory. You never find it fighting for victory, but fighting with victory. It never fears anything it has to face.
Now, if Jesus had come in great pomp and with authority, He would have been accepted of the Jews, but because He was born in a manger and cradled there, they never understood Him.
After Jesus was baptized with the Holy Ghost He was tempted by the devil. He was tempted as the Son of Man but He overcame as the Son of God. He received the baptism of the Holy Ghost, not for the destruction of sin, but as a preparation for His life's work and as an example to His followers. Now, when the devil came to Jesus it was a real onslaught of hell. The devil wanted to defeat Him. He said, "If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread." Jesus answered, "It is written." There was no room for argument. When you have the knowledge of forgiveness of sins and the baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire, all you have to do is to give the devil the word of God. He hates it. It is one of the strongest weapons in the Christian's hand. "Heaven and earth shall pass away but my word shall not pass away." Jesus answered the devil with the word of God. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." He was ahead of the devil. Then the devil tried to meet Him with His own weapon, but he made such a mess of quoting the scripture that he has never tried since. And all the followers of the devil make a mess of the Bible. A person that has the Holy Ghost can have the victory in his soul all the time. I never like to hear people in argument. It is not the work of man to convince people of the realities of salvation and Holiness, that is the supreme work of the Holy Ghost. He did not send out the hundred and twenty to convince people, He sent them out filled with the Holy Ghost to preach the message of full salvation.
Now after the devil had made a fool of himself and failed, Jesus quoted two passages of Scripture. He quoted Scripture to the devil three times, but the devil only quoted it once and then he left the best out of it. The devil is leaving the best part out of the Bible today, the carnal preachers are leaving out the best, and that is the baptism of the Holy Ghost. And, beloved, with all due respect, there is no way of getting the light to others unless you have it yourself and are walking in it. Argument will not do it, explaining the Scriptures will not do it, but they can never get around your simple testimony how God has saved you from sin and baptized you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.
Carnality hated Holiness so much that it was determined to get rid of Jesus by some means or other. Only one person of the Godhead has ever been allowed to be handled by carnality, they could not handle God the Father, He appeared and disappeared, He thundered from Sinai, He appeared at Abraham's door, He spoke to His people, but they could not get to Him, they could not shake hands with Him they could not look into His eyes. Man fell so low that the Son of God had to come down and take upon Him the likeness of flesh and He condemned sin in the flesh. Carnality had a chance at the Son of God from the time He begun His work until He was crucified. You know what they did, they hated Him, they did all they could against Him until they killed Him. God looked down on the scene, and the only time He turned His back on His Son was just that moment when He bore the sin of the world. It brought from the heart of Jesus the cry, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?
Before Jesus uttered that cry He had prayed that the Holy Ghost might come to abide for ever. It was mentioned so much that when He, the Holy Ghost came, He would stay. He came, and carnality has never been able to get to Him. The people have hated Him and sought to kill those who have received Him They have sought to express their awful hatred in that way. They can kill the people that have Him, but they cannot kill Him, although He is a real personality, the third person of the Trinity. Today, He is carrying out the thought of God.
When you start a Holiness meeting, there are some people who will try to stop it. They will call the committees, they will give their authority, some will have papers in their pockets and they will seek to stamp it out. Holiness was born in a manger, and just look at that hell-bound king. He said, "Go and find where He is, that I may come and worship Him." He should have said, "I will come and kill Him." No one knew how Holiness came in the manger, no one knew how it came into Jerusalem or on Olivet's hill. Holiness is on the mountain tops, and in the dungeons and the dangers, and amidst the deserts and the sands, and it is living today where nothing else can live.
I have the same impressions and convictions that I had the first time I ever came to this little room. I have thought about them and prayed over them, and talked of them while crossing the ocean. I have come back after a few years and the Holy Ghost has been and is carrying out those very convictions. I did not see much then, but you have the biggest thing on hand today that you have ever had in Penn. God is going to honor someone here, and it is going to defeat all hell, you will never hear the last of it. That is a fact. I want you to know that there is nothing in hell or out of hell that can ever touch Holiness.
The Holy Ghost is faithful. Faith never rests upon things that are seen and heard, and, beloved, when you are conscious that you are in the will of God, it does not matter whether you are hated or beaten or at the Cross. There is no way the devil has of getting to you if you will walk in the light.
Before the Holy Ghost came Jesus said, "I have many things to say unto you., but ye cannot bear them now." Carnality can never understand the secrets of the Holy Ghost, it never understood a life of fasting and prayer, it never understood the baby born in the manger, and it never understood the dead man in the tomb. But when the Holy Ghost came they understood. Persecution, starvation and isolation has always been the ground work of revelation. We would never have had the Bible if they had not suffered the persecution, and we would never have had the last book of the Bible if one had not been willing to receive the Holy Ghost, and as a result of his testimony, he was banished to the Isle of Patmos. If he had been placed out there with carnality in his heart, he would have hated his persecutors, and tried to make good his escape. Instead, he recognized that God had allowed him to be put there, and so lie laid his head on the burning sand and received those special revelations from heaven. On a Sunday morning, and on that hot sand, under the hot sun, he had a Holiness meeting. He said "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day." It is a wonderful thug to have the Spirit within you and to stay in the Spirit. It is quite possible for people to have the Spirit in them and yet they are not always in the Spirit. You can have the Holy Ghost in you, but if you are not careful you can let some little thing or some environment hinder, so that you are not in the Spirit.
He was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and he looked up and saw. He could not have seen these things if the others had been around, with Judas amongst them; he could not have seen them when the five-thousand were being fed, but he could see them in isolation, and the Holy Ghost gave him a book that has staggered people for twenty centuries. We have the Bible, it has been given us by the Holy Ghost and by holy men and holy lives. The Holy Ghost comes to talk of the things of Christ and reveal them unto us. The Bible is not yours while you have carnality. You can get an answer to prayer for salvation, and God will answer your prayers for other things, but when you come up to the light of Holiness, you cannot get an answer to prayer if you do not walk in the light. When you come to the light you become regenerated, but when you walk in the light you get sanctified. You cannot find a condition that is not covered by Holiness.
Now when Jesus was before Pilate, His life was being tested, and He was silent. His silence answers all the queries of man. A living salvation is more than dead talking, and there at that supreme moment, that was the supreme answer. When He met the personal devil He answered him with the word of God, but when He met a product of the devil, He answered in silence. When you get into the secrets of God there will be times when it will seem you ought to speak, but you will be silent.
There is nothing in hell and carnality that can get a word out of Holiness when it ought to be silent. Silence brings great conviction. What does God want now, in this country and in our country, and everywhere? He wants people saved from sin and baptized with the Holy Ghost and with fire, people who will live just the same, no matter what their surroundings.
People often say, "Cannot you answer this question? " I cannot, and I am glad of it, I am glad there are a lot of things I do not know. Salvation is at your nose and toes, and I want to encourage some of my crowd. I really believe some of you do not know much more than I do. The Holy Ghost is faithful and there is nothing that will open the door of opportunity to everybody but the baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire. I believe I would have been in hell if I had not received the light. There is such gratitude in my heart for the light, and I just mean to spend my life in taking it to others. Now, if you attempt to answer the arguments of carnality, they will keep you talking all the time, but when you get to the place where faith gives you victory, and you simply believe God has carried out His plan, you can afford to let carnality run its length.
"He answered nothing." They wanted to get hold of something. They wanted Him to say something, but the silence of Divinity made the old governor open his ears, and he said, "My! my! here is a man condemned to death, and He is as still and as silent as a stone and as comfortable as a star. I cannot understand it," I want to tell you that persecution and privation and the burning stake and the dungeon have produced characters that have brought conviction on the world. He had all power, but He did not use it. He had all wisdom, but He did not say a word. He could have spoken one word and Pilate would never have spoken again. He could have spoken a word and Pilate would have fallen dead. That is the secret, and when you can take the criticism and the crusty looks and the cold shoulders, the devil knows he cannot down you. I do not mean that you are not a free moral agent, but God will give you such a revelation that you will see more in living in the will of God than you see in living on the outside. Man is a free moral agent before he is saved and he is a free moral agent after he is saved from sin. It is impossible to reach a place where you cannot sin, but you can reach a place where you are free from sin, and you do not want to sin. There are a great many things you can do, but you leave them undone because you do not want to do them. The devil cannot make you sin, and it is none of his business. His is the sinning business, but God is interested in the Holiness Movement.
Now, when the Holy Ghost comes He does an instantaneous work of destruction, but He also brings the plan of God, and His supreme work is continuous. He comes to reveal the thought of God for your individual life and to adjust you to all the environments where you are to perform all the will of God. When people say, 'You cannot do that," I always think I can. "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." When we get that thought in our hearts we see that these little barking dogs and these little obstacles have nothing to do with God's thought. The stoning of Stephen had nothing to do with God's thought, it just made Holiness go further up the road, have a good time, live on nothing, and shout the victory for ever. Holiness was born in humility, lives in simplicity, but it abides in victory.
Now the purpose of Jesus in being silent before Pilate was to let him see that His work was finished. He answered the devil with the Bible, but Pilate was a product of the devil, and He answered him in silence. No matter what the devil does, he cannot keep the plan of God from being worked out in a holy life. Somebody says, "You are preaching predestination." I am preaching full salvation, and if you will behave yourself after you get it, you can always shout the victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil. While carnality has made hell on earth, Holiness brings heaven on earth and in the heart. It brings heaven here and hereafter. I am ready for the Lord to come, and I am looking for His coming, but all those matters are in the hand of God. The plan of God is more than a hole in the ground, or a hole in the sky, and it is worked out by simple faith. Paul knew the secret and he said, "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain." If they killed him, he would only go on ahead and be for ever with the Lord. I like to believe the Bible, it just glistens with truth and food and fruit and fire and unction. It is full of comfort and consolation, inspiration, and blessing. "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away."
"He answered nothing." They could do what they please, but He had come to do the will of His Father. God's thought goes on through the prison as well as through the pulpit, and it is carried out on the cross, and all the devil has to tell is that it is victory. You go on as though everybody in the community was standing by the Holiness Movement.
This is a dear place to me, and always will be so, but I want to tell you that it all came in answer to prayer. They have let me come to this country to preach Holiness when they would not let others come to see the sights. I have no words to express my gratitude for this privilege. Do not miss the thought of God or you will regret it for ever.
In the silence of Divinity there was real victory, and all you have to do is to get in the plan of God, and then have sense enough to stay there. Do not criticize the people who persecute you and do not try to understand the things that come from hell, but treasure the secrets revealed by the Holy Ghost to your heart.
Pilate walked away, he could not understand it. The Holy Ghost can give victory anywhere. Words are nothing unless they are spoken in the power of the Holy Ghost, but when you get into the realm of the supernatural and the unspeakable, you can put a dagger in the heart of people that will take real effect.
While carnality has authority and intellectuality and brains, yet God is able to give such victory in silence that will answer all the arguments of carnality. "He answered nothing." The answer of Holiness to carnality, for time and eternity, is in the silence of Divinity.
Now, you can make your choice, I have made mine. We are free moral agents, and if you have enough sense to pass out through that door you can be saved from all sin and stand before the brains of this country in simplicity and in victory. The question is, Will you do it?