By Seth Rees
"Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us" (Romans viii. 37).
It is a tremendous thing to be a conqueror in all the conflicts of the holy war, but it is vastly greater to be "more than conqueror in all these things."
There are a great many of God's own people who are terribly chagrined again and again by at least temporary defeat. If God has provided for a life of victory, a life of perfect triumph, we ought to know it; and if the Atonement made on the Cross provided a salvation that is as big as all our need, we ought to possess it; and if there is such a thing as being a "conqueror," yea, "more than conqueror," we can not afford to come short of it. We ought to know tonight what it means. After a careful study of the Word of God we are thoroughly convinced that to be "more than conqueror" means, first, a decisive victory at home, in our own heart, and our own life, and the narrow limits of our own domestic or social circle. There are a great many people who continue to leave the question as to their final victory so open as to invite the enemy to make another attack. There is such uncertainty in many minds as to their ultimate success that the enemy has great encouragement to recollect his forces and come again.
To be more than conqueror means to get a victory that settles something permanently; a Gettysburg, a Waterloo, a Sebastopol, a certain, indubitable victory that fixes something so it will stay fixed. When we get this victory, we say "No" to Satan so loud that it rings through every corridor of hell and lets all the devils know that they are defeated and that we are triumphant. When this occurs Satan is not everlastingly renewing his attack at the same point. Do you know that a real Christian's trials and testings ought to be new ones, and that he ought not to be fighting the same battle again and again? Today we ought to get a victory that will settle things, so that when Satan comes again he will have to attack us from another quarter and with some new scheme.
There is something radically wrong when a Christian's temptations are the same again and again. It is possible for us to have a victory, and have it so the devil will know it, and have it so the angels will know it, and have it so that the folks in this country will know it, and we will know it, and it will be no longer an open question, no longer an inducement to Satan to come again with rallied forces. Great God, give us something that is fixed! He wants to do it. It is His will tonight.
A decisive victory would settle it in our thought as to whether we are going to get through or not. A great question with thousands of people today is as to the final outcome of this whole thing. I admit it is important. It is one thing for a vessel to throw off her lines, spread her spotless canvas to the wind with all her flags flying, and sail proudly out of the harbor, but it is another thing for her to meet the raging tempests and set her prow across the rolling billows and successfully ride the high sea and come safely into port. It is one thing for a man to be converted, to be gloriously converted, to throw off the lines and restraint of sin, to spread his canvas to the wind and with hopes and flags flying high, sail out in the time of a series of meetings, and it is another thing for him to meet the storms of next week and the raging billows of next month, and the blackness and darkness of the awful nights that may come in January and February or in the stormy month of March. It is another thing for him to meet these trials and testings and come finally in, not like an old battered ship with her sails all torn away, drawn by a tug, but with flags and pennants flying come sweeping into the Kingdom of Jesus Christ with "an abundant entrance."
If God has provided a gospel that will settle us well, He has provided grace that will keep us settled. If He has provided a salvation that will give us a victory today, He has grace enough to run us up across next week and over the trials and difficulties of next month, and on and up forever; and He has grace enough to carry us over the Alleghenies, and over the Rockies, and over the Alps, and over the Milky Way, and run us into heaven. God help us to believe it, and expect it, instead of fixing a place to fall.
Again, beloved, to be more than conqueror means to get a victory from which we derive benefit and help to qualify us and fit us for future encouragement. It is one thing to chase the enemy, and it is another to capture him and bring him back and make him fight in our ranks. To be conqueror is to fight the devil and defeat him, but to be more than conqueror is to capture him and make him act as slave for us.
Most Christians feel satisfied if they succeed in chasing the enemy, but God clearly teaches us that we are not only to chase our enemies, but we are to overtake them, and we are to capture men from the ranks of the devil and bring them back to the Cross and have the devils cast out and angels put in, and make saints out of sinners and warriors for God out of men that have been possessed of the devil. We are never more than conquerors until we have power enough to do that very thing.
There are some victories that come to us that are overwhelming, then there are victories that cost almost as much as defeat. There are victories in military life that cost almost as much as defeats. A few more such would ruin the victorious party. There are other victories that are so sweeping and so tremendous and so overwhelming that every one is filled with hope and gratitude. So it is with Christian experience. You may gain a victory over Satan, and yet feel so reduced and weak and "tuckered out" when you get through that you will not be fit for another fight for a longtime.
The text talks about something that is not only victory, but is more than mere victory. It is victory with some left; so that we overcome with resources in store; so that we defeat the devil with grace enough to defeat another devil. This gospel is big enough, and this grace is extensive enough not only to defeat the devils existing, but if there were a million times as many devils as there are, it would defeat them all.
God has grace enough for His people, if they will only accept it, to accomplish the impossible things as well as the improbable things. To be more than conquerors means to do just that. It is a wonderful thing to be a conqueror, but it is a much more wonderful thing to be ''more than conqueror."
David was more than conqueror when he went against the giant with five rounds of ammunition, and slew the giant with one round and came back with four rounds of ammunition left, ready for four more giants. You would probably have fired every round of ammunition you had, and felt good if you downed the giant the last shot, but David felled him the first time. That was "more than conqueror." That was conquering with something left, but the most of folks when they conquer have nothing left; when they conquer the are so weak that they would not like to enter into another engagement at once. God means for us to conquer with enough left for another fight right away.
I remember that when Paul and Silas were in jail they not only got out themselves but they took the other fellows out. That was "more than conqueror." Most of people when they get in jail are glad to get out themselves and do not think about the other folks; but Paul and Silas sang and prayed until the old prison shook and the doors opened and the prisoners were out.
When you and I get the blessing I am talking about tonight, we can afford to go into jail to get some one out. I never go into jail unless I bring some one out with me. God lets me get into some very close quarters at times, but when He takes me out He takes some one else out with me. It is time we had a salvation that would make us sing at midnight in jail, not so much because we are in there, as because the other fellows are going to get out, and God has honored us with the privilege of being turnkey that we may liberate the prisoners. That is more than conqueror.
Daniel was a conqueror when he slept with the lions. It takes great victory of spirit to sleep with lions. Most Christians would sit up and watch the lions. They would say we were told to "watch." Daniel was much "more than conqueror" when he came out. The Hebrew children were conquerors when they could walk in the fire and not be burned, but they were much "more than conquerors " when the Son of God walked with them in the flames and they came out to conquer unbelief and make devils gnash their teeth in powerless rage and go back to hell where they came from.
God in heaven save us from this little two-by-four religion that we have. Give us something that has a swing to it and that will make other folks swing. Something that has life in it and will give other folks life. It is coming. God is opening our eyes to see that we have not seen much and have not had much nor known much, and when we were sanctified wholly we only topped the reservoir, not exhausted it. God wants to raise up a race of people who will dare to go forward in the face of a regiment of devils.
Again, to be more than conqueror is to have an experience that gets spoils. When the children of Ammon, the people of Mount Sier, came up against Jehoshaphat he cried to God and God sent a victory so overwhelming that it took Jehoshaphat three days to gather up the spoils. God means that we should have victories all the way along that will give us spoils.
When the besieged people went out of the city and found that the camp was deserted, Samaria's famine was turned into a great feast in a single day. God means to give us an experience that will send us right out into the famine districts, into the barren wilderness and make it blossom as the rose and convert the famine stricken country into a feast and have all we need. Glory to God!
Again, to be more than conqueror means to take new territory. Do you know, one of the things that is the matter with the Holiness movement is that it has been trotting around in a peck measure? Do you know that there are thousands of people who have evidently been filled with the Spirit, who are powerless today as folks that never were? Why is this? It is because they have been willing to be confined to the narrow limits of present attainments and have been afraid to launch out and take new territory. To be "more than conqueror" means to take new territory. It means not only the knocking down of the walls of Jericho, but it means the conquering of thirty-one kings in succession.
There are a great many people who without doubt have been saved, but they are so afraid of being fanatics, or of being extremists, that they have just settled down to testify to being saved at a certain time and sanctified at another certain time, and that is all there is to it.
But people who know what we are talking about tonight have something added to the first and second experience. I do not mean a third blessing. I do not mean mighty epochs compared with these two, for they are the two mighty epochs in a man's life, Calvary and the furnace of the upper room. But I do mean that if we keep on we will take victory in our bodies. We will take victory in our circumstances. We will take victory over all sorts of things, and we will be daily coming into new places and new experiences and new joys with new views of God and His grace, with extended appreciation of the magnificence of our inheritance in Jesus Christ. They will never find the ashes of our campfires two nights in the same place. If they want to find where we stayed last night they will have to go higher up the hill than where we stayed night before last. If God had an army of real progressive Christians it would not take long to "give this world fits" and carry out the great commission of Jesus Christ, spreading the gospel to all the world.
The text says "in all these things." What things? Well, the first thing mentioned is under tribulation, and that means "under the harrow." If you have ever been on the farm you know what the harrow is. It is a tool with sharp teeth under which the clods and stones are tumbled and rolled and knocked to pieces. Have you ever been under the harrow? Did you have victory there? Were you more than conqueror in tribulation? Harrowing is a great deal worse than being killed. It is a real luxury to be killed outright, but to be nagged and punched and rolled and tumbled and turned over and over again -- that is tribulation. But "they came up out of great tribulation," and they never came up until they had been "more than conquerors" in it. Unless we have an experience that will keep us sweet when people are poking at us and when they are kicking us and when they are turning us over, we have not got all that God has for us.
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Beloved, God means to make us more than conquerors, not only in tribulation, but in distress; in great distress, in awful distress, and if I should stop to refer to instances in the history of the Church, I would call to mind that again and again the saints of God have been more than conquerors in the most trying times.
Persecution! How do you take persecution, anyway? How do you feel when people persecute you? How do you feel when you hear that some one said a mean thing about you? How do you feel when you know that there are people who desire to injure you and are malicious and underhanded and would do anything in their power to injure you? Are you "more than conqueror"?
There are very few nowadays who can stand persecution. I have been pained even in the holiness ranks to see that when a man is turned down, there is so much made of it. What if folks do turn me down; I would like to know what better than that I have a right to expect. Why is it we expect to be treated so much better than our Master? God help us to stop all this noise and racket about persecution, and wait until we have something to make a fuss about. God in heaven save us from whimpering and simpering and whining and fretting, and give us grace that will make us triumphant over every power that is brought to bear against us.
I know there are some that have this blessing. I know some here who have it. I know a man that has just been reading in different papers the awful things that people say about him that ought to try his patience, but it seems to put a jump in him, and I know if God can put a man up on wires so that he will turn into a jumping jack when people say all manner of evil against him, I know that God can make us "more than conquerors" in persecution. It always gives me great courage to see a sample of what God can turn out. O God, multiply these kind of people, for Jesus' sake.
"And famine." There are a lot of holiness people that freeze up at their mouth and sit down in silence every time they get into a place where there is a "famine," and there are plenty of such places nowadays. One can find a famine in most every city church -- a famine of the gospel, of real soul food, but is that any reason why one should tone down or go into silence and retirement? It is an opportunity to prove that one may be "more than conqueror" in famine. I believe in my soul that a few people loaded down with good, steady Holy Ghost gospel, can turn almost any kind of a famine into a feast. I go into some awfully dry churches sometimes. In New York City sometime ago, when I was on the retired list for a time waiting upon my precious wife, I slipped into a church in that great metropolis. My heart was hungry. I had a great deal to make me hungry, and I wanted some bread. I looked up in the pulpit and there was no bread there. I looked in the pews, and there was no bread there. Then I said, "Well, Lord, you will not fail me, we will eat a little together," and He set the table, put on the linen, arranged the silverware and cut glass and we ate supper together. He brought the supper with Him. When you and I have this experience we can have supper anytime. If the preacher will not feed us we will just let Christ set our own little table and eat and if we can find anyone who can take a piece we will feed them. God make us more than conquerors in famine. There are lots of famines in these days. God give us an experience that will make us like a well of water in a dry place. How dry and hungry people are around us! We do not know how many souls we might water if we had "plenty and to spare." "Nakedness, peril or the sword." You may be astonished at it, but I believe there are more people backsliding today over the question of eating and clothing and the poor house as a final destiny than over any other thing. There were times when Paul did not have scarcely any clothes, but he was "more than conqueror" in nakedness. He never went to making tents until the stingy churches would not pay him, and then he made tents long enough to get him a suit and went on preaching again. But he was just as triumphant when he was making tents as when he was preaching. I want to be like that. I want us to measure up. I see these things are here, and I believe God is letting us come to infinitely greater things than we have yet seen. Shall we possess them?
"In danger of the sword." How people are threatened nowadays! Threatened in the churches and threatened out of the churches. It is threatened that if you do not stop preaching holiness and testifying to holiness they will put you out of the synagogue. Well, being put out of the synagogue is not so bad, but what we want is victory in our souls when we are put out. Victory in our souls when we have no friends, when there is no one to speak a kind word to us. If we attempt to speak to any one after the meeting, and they seem to be very busy talking to someone else and sort of turn the cold shoulder to us, and do not hardly have time to shake hands with us, we want a salvation that will make us feel so good that we can stop right there and hold a ten days' camp meeting in our souls.
Beloved, there are awful things that may come to us. I do not know what is coming, but I do know we are living in awful times, and I know the text offers to you and me an experience that will make us something "more than conquerors" in any place this side the flaming gates of an endless hell, and by the grace of God I am determined to go through on that line. One thing I know. We never get this experience until we receive the Holy Ghost, for He alone can fight our battles; He alone can defeat our enemies; He alone can bring in the supplies. If we have not received Him, and do not honor Him, and do not serve Him, we can not hope for success. Have you received the Holy Ghost since you were converted? Preached at Cincinnati, O., December 3, 1898.PRAYER
Oh, Lord God, we are so glad tonight that a great many of us have received the Holy Ghost and are more than conquerors. He is here tonight in great power, and He is doubtless talking to some hearts that have not yet received Him, and is greatly encouraging and blessing those who have received Him. Thou art getting us ready for greater things. This meeting tonight is calculated to give us some advance in divine things. Lord, give advancement to me. I would not have Thee come and find me short in spirit or power for anything.
God in heaven, I know Thou hast saved me from all sin. I know Thou hast saved me from all desire for sin. I hate sin; I despise uncleanness, but, O Lord, I know there must be other things on the positive side of this question which I need and ought to have. O Lord, Thou dost not mean for me to preach truth like this and not get something out of it for my own soul.
O mighty God! make us more than conquerors in every single conflict into which we enter. Bring on the fight. We can not do anything, but we trust Thee to bring it on. This meeting is Thine. Lord God, take care of everything. Here are souls who are hungry, but we can not save them. The only thing which we can do is to give them to Thee. Here are poor, burdened souls who are not happy and will never be happy until they are saved, and we trust them with Thee. If Jesus should come tonight, we are ready. If Jesus should come while we are on our knees here, we are ready. God has saved us and filled us, and we are ready. We wish He would come tonight. We long to see this awful tragedy of sin come to an end.
Mighty God! Mighty God! have mercy. Men are being damned. Women are being damned. Church members are being damned. Our own friends are going to hell. They tell us positively that they do not care to be saved. God help them! Turn on the power. Let tonight be an awful night for some souls. Let it be glorious to saints and awful to sinners. Lord, we trust Thee. We wait upon Thee. The Christ of Nazareth, we adore Him; the Son of God whom they spat upon; whom they crucified. They mocked Him with a crown of thorns, but we worship Him tonight. They pierced His side, and from it came forth blessing and salvation; we worship Him, we adore Him. We want the universe to know that we bow at His feet; that we look up into His face and see everything that is nearest and dearest to us. Heaven would not be heaven without Him. Earth would be hell without Him. In His name we pray. Amen, and amen!