Our lesson is in the first Epistle of Peter, chapter 1.
Whenever, in the history of the world, there has been a divine revelation, God coming forth in some manifestation of His Spirit, there have been antagonism and opposition to the same with persecution of those who received such manifestations or revelations. In the old dispensation, as well as in the new, when the Spirit of God has been moving mightily, there has been trouble and difficulty.
Why is this? It is because there are some things very much against revelation of God and the operation of the Spirit of God. First, there is the flesh, the natural man, because, “The carnal mind is enmity against God.” The very fact that men throughout the world, as a rule, are opposed to the working of God, is evidence of the truth of this statement of Scripture.
Out of this enmity of the mind of the natural man against God grows the opposition of the world, which is the mass of these antagonistic individuals. Our Lord Jesus Christ has made it unmistakably plain to all His followers for all time that the world is contrary to Him and to His kingdom. He said concerning His disciples, “I have given them thy word; and THE WORLD HATH HATED THEM, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”
The devil and all his evil hosts are also arrayed against all manifestations of God. The devil is “the prince of this world;” and he is “the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.” All these are opposed to God and His working; but they can never defeat the purposes of God.
So far as the human eye can see, God’s cause is often in the minority; but viewed by those who have spiritual eyesight. “They that be with us are more than they that be with them.” So, as Elisha said to his servant, “Fear not.” Wickedness may increase and abound; but when the Lord raises His banner over the saint, it is victory, though the saint may seem to be in the minority.
So we read in the first verse that these saints were “scattered abroad,” meaning that they did not have much liberty to meet together, but were driven from place to place. In the days of John Knox of Scotland the people who served God had to be in very close quarters, because the Roman church set out to destroy them. They were in the minority from the human viewpoint, but they swept through to victory, and the Roman power was defeated in Scotland. Cry to God that it may not rise again, for it has always meant bloodshed to the saints of God and opposition to the working of the Holy Ghost.
The Holy Ghost wants us to understand our privileges—“elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit.” This work of the sanctification of the Spirit does not refer to cleansing from sin. It refers to a higher order of redemptive work. The blood of Jesus is all-powerful for cleansing; but when sin is gone, when we are clean and when we know we have the Word of God in us, and when the power of the Spirit is bringing everything to a place where we triumph over all evil, then comes a revelation through the Spirit which lifts you on to higher ground and unveils the fulness of the life of Christ within us in such a way that we are led on till we are “FILLED unto all the FULNESS of God.” This is the sanctification of the Spirit. It is the great work for which the Spirit is given. This is the purpose for which God has called you; but whether you haye accepted your election, whether you proved yourself worthy of your election, whether you have allowed this Spirit to thus sanctify you, I do not know; but if you yield yourself to God and let His Holy Spirit have His way in your spirit to lead you into the will of God, as it is revealed in the Word of God, He will not fail to “do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.”
This word “elect” is a very precious word to me. It shows me that, before the world was, God planned to bring us into such glorious triumph and victory in Christ that “unto him (shall) be the glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” Feed upon these words. Let them sink into your heart—God has purposed to do for those in the church something which will redound to the glory of His Name unto the endless ages. This is the most solid ground for faith—that salvation is to be “to the praise of the glory of His grace.” God has predetermined, has planned, has made full provision to accomplish this wondrous work in all who will not “frustrate the grace of God.”
Some people pervert this blessed truth; they say, “Oh, well, you see, we are elected; we are all right.” I know manv who believe in that kind of election. They say they are elected to be saved; and they believe others are elected to be damned. It is not true. Everybody is elected to be saved; whether they come into it or not is another thing. This perverted view of this precious truth makes souls indifferent to its great purpose, the “sanctification of the Spirit.” This is one of the ways in which Satan opposes the work of God in the world—by perverting it, making it to appear to mean something that it does not mean; so that souls are kept from pressing on into the glorious purpose of God for which salvation was planned. That would be a poor salvation which did not deliver man from the thing which causes all the sorrow and trouble in this world—SIN.
Notice again, this sanctification of the Spirit is “unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” There is no sanctification if it is not sanctification unto obedience. There would be no trouble with any of us if we would all come definitely to the the place where we understand and accept that Word of our Lord Jesus whcn He said, “For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth.” When you come into the election of the sanctification of the Spirit, you will be obedient to everything revealed in that Word; and in the measure that you are not obedIent you have not come into the sanctification of the Spirit. A little thing spoils many good things. People say, “Mrs. So-and-So is very good, but—” “Oh, you know that young man is progressing tremendously, but—” There are no “buts” in the sanctification of the Spirit. “But” and “if” are gone, and it is “shall” and “I will” all the way through. Beloved, if there are any “buts” in your attitude toward the Word of Truth, it indicates that there is something unyielded to the Spirit. I do pray God that we may be willing to yield ourselves to the sanctification of the Spirit, that we may enter into the mind of God regarding this election, in actual possession of it.
Perhaps to encourage you, it wiil be helpful to show you what election is; because there is no difficulty in proving whether you are elected or not. Why are you interested in this book? Is it because you have a desire for more of God? If so, it is God who has given you that desire; and God is drawing you unto Himself. If you have truly received Jesus as your Lord and Savior, it has been because the Father drew you to Him; for He said, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” And we may be sure that God will not go back on what He has begun to do; for our Lord Jesus added to the above, “And I will raise him up at the last day.” Also the apostle Paul says, in Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
When I think of my own case, I recall that in my childhood I was strangely moved upon by the Spirit. At the age of eight years I was definitely saved; and at nine, I felt the Spirit come upon me just as when I spoke in tongues. You may say, “When I was in sin, I was troubled.” Thank God for it; for it was His Spirit that troubled you.
It is a most blessed thought that we have a God of love, of compassion, and of grace, who willeth not the death of one sinner. God has made it possible for all men to be saved, by causing Jesus, His well beloved Son, to die for the sins of the whole world. It is true that He took our sins; it is true that He paid the price for the whole world; it is true that He gave Himself a ransom for many; it is true, beloved, it is true. And you say, “For whom?” “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” What about the others? It would have to be a refusal of the Blood of Jesus; it would have to be a refusal to have Christ reign over them; that’s it. It is “Whosoever will,” on the one side, and “Whosoever won’t” on the other side; and there are people in the world who “won’t.” What is up with them? “The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believed not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”
Through sanctification of the Spirit, according to this election, you will get to a place where you are not disturbed. There is a peace in the sanctification of the Spirit, because it is a place of revelation—of heavenly places into which you are brought. It is a place where God comes and makes Himself known unto you; and when You are face to face with God you get a peace that passeth all understanding, and which lifts you from state to state of inexpressible wonderment. Oh, it is wonderful!
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” This sanctification of the Spirit brings us into definite line with this wonderful “lively hope” of the glory of God.
A lively hope is exactly the opposite of something dead. A lively hope means movement. A lively hope means looking into what we hope for. A lively hope means pressing into that which is promised. A lively hope means leaving behind you other things. A lively hope means keeping the vision. A lively hope sees Jesus coming. And you live in this lively hope. You are not trying to make yourself feel that you are believing. But this lively hope keeps you waiting, and ready, and filled with the joy of expectation of the coming of the King. Praise the Lord! If the thought of the coming of the King is not such a lively hope to you, you need to search whether you have ever truly enthroned Him as King over your own life. God has this in mind for you. There is real joy in expectation of His coming; and there will be infinitely greater joy in the realization.
I trust that you will be so reconciled to God that not one thing will interfere with your having this lively hope. If you have any love for the world, this hope cannot be a lively hope to you; for His coming will mean the overthrow of the world. If there is in you the pride of life, this hope cannot be to you a lively hope; for every high thing will be brought low in that day.
Salvation is very much misunderstood. That which comes to you in a moment of time, through believing, is only the beginning, Salvation is so wonderful, so mighty, so tremendous, that it goes on and on from one degree to another until there shall be nothing in us from which we need to be delivered, either in spirit, or soul, or mind, or body, Everything is ready so far as God is concerned, and is waiting for man to get ready to receive it. Sin began in the spirit of man, and salvation must be wrought out there before there can be deliverance from the consequences of sin. In the meantime, if we rest our faith in the power of God, we will be “kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
You have no idea what God wants to do for you through trials and temptations. They do two things for us: Where there is anything wrong in us which we are not recognizing, they bring it to the surface, that we may see our need of God’s salvation in this respect. But why are the most faithful also of God’s children tried and tempted? It is that their very faithfulness and loyalty and the purity of their faith may be MADE MANIFEST, and “found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” Gold has to he tried with fire, and it is made more precious thereby. Your faith, Peter says, “is MUCH MORE PRECIOUS than gold that perisheth.”
One day I went to a certain place and a gentleman there said to me, “Would you like to see the purification of gold?” I replied, “Yes.” So he got some gold and put it into a crucible, and put a blast of heat under it. First it became blood red, and then changed and changed. Then this man took an instrument and passed it over the gold. It drew off something, which was foreign to the gold. He did this several times, until every bit of that foreign substance was taken away. Then he said to me, “Look!” And there we both saw our faces in the gold! It was wonderful!
My brother, the trial of your faith is much more precious than of gold that perisheth. As you are tested in the fire, the Master is bringing the dross to the surface, that He may take it away, all that hinders His image being seen in you—taking away all the dross from your life, all that is not enduring, all that is not precious in His sight.
It is lovely to know that, in times of misunderstanding, times when you are in the right and yet are treated as though you were in the wrong, God is meeting you, blessing you, accomplishing something which will not only glorify His name, but be to your “praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” So do not chafe or fret; let the fire burn; it will do you good.
“Whom having not seen, ye love.” Oh, how sweet! There is no voice so gentle, so soft, so full of tenderness to me, as His; and no touch. Is it possible to love Him when we have not seen Him? God will make it possible; and, “though now ye see him not, yet believing,” He will enable you to “rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory,” Rejoice! We have something to rejoice over. Oh, what a salvation God has provided for us in all our worthlessness and nothingness and helplessness! I entreat you from the Lord to be so reconciled to Him that there will be no division between you and Him. Will you give Him preeminence in all things? Shall He not have His rightful place, and decide for you the way and plan of your life? Beloved, when you allow Him to decide for you, when you want nothing but His blessed will, when He is in very deed Lord and Sovereign of all, you will have a foretaste of heaven all the time. The Lord bless you with grace to leave all and say, “I will follow Thee, Lord Jesus.”
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon