The Army’s Birthright

1 John 1:7

The Salvation Army was born not in cloister, nor in a drawing-room, but on a spiritual battlefield, at the penitent-form. And it has been nourished for spiritual conquests not upon speculative doctrines and fine spun verbal distinctions, but upon those great doctrines which can be wrought into, and worked out in, soul-satisfying experience.

One of the Army’s central doctrines and most valued and precious experience is that of heart-holiness. The bridge the Army throws across the impassable gulf which separates the sinner from the Savior, who pardons that He may purify, who saves that He may sanctify, rests upon these two abutments: the forgiveness of sins through simple, penitent, obedient faith in a crucified Redeemer, and the purifying of the heart and empowering of the soul through the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Remove either of these abutments and the bridge falls. Preserve them in strength and a world of lost sinners can be confidently invited to come and be gloriously saved.

It is this holiness—the doctrine, the experience—that we Salvationists must maintain, else we shall betray our trust. We shall lose our birthright; we shall cease to be a spiritual power in the earth; our glory will depart. The souls with whom we are entrusted will grope in darkness and go elsewhere for soul nourishment and guidance. And while we may still have titles and ranks to bestow upon our children, we shall have no heritage of spiritual power, of burning love, of holy triumph to bequeath to them.

Our Lord still baptizes with the Holy Spirit and fire. He has given us a standard. He has given us a doctrine, and He waits to give us an experience that shall incarnate both standard and doctrine in heavenly and all-conquering life.

A Chinese man got full salvation and his neighbors said: “There is no difference between him and the Book.” That should be said of you and me.

Samuel Logan Brengle, The Privilege of All Believers

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