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Before we proceed to the Scripture proofs of the above proposition, it is necessary to state just what we include in Regeneration.
We often hear it said that God does not do His work imperfectly. This is all true. Regeneration is a complete work by itself; so also is entire sanctification. It is distinct from the former, and like it, must be entered into by experience before it can be known. Neither can be comprehended from a standpoint without, no more than a blind man can understand color, or a deaf man sounds.
Holiness writers and teachers, as far as my knowledge extends, uniformly hold up a sinless life as the true test and Bible standard of regeneration. They all teach that regeneration includes the pardon of all past sins; the removal of guilt and condemnation; adoption into the family of God; the witness of the Spirit to pardon and sonship; spiritual life and a new, moral nature including all the Christian graces. And because this new principle of action is loyal to God and enthroned in the heart, “whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin”(1 John 3:9).
I know of no one who attributes more to regeneration that the above. Let every professor measure himself by this divine rule and then remember that entire sanctification is a distinct experience beyond this.
If all would do this, many who oppose this “more excellent way” would remain silent and humbly confess that they know nothing about the thing they so bitterly denounce; not even having the pre-requisite grace.
He who denies that there is a definite moral change to be experienced after conversion simply publishes the fact that he never attained it himself; and stultifies himself as much in the minds of all who have as he who denies the experience of pardon does in the estimation of all who have that experience. In either case, the person proves himself unqualified to testify, having no personal knowledge of the point in question.
As proof of the two distinct works of grace, I will commence with the first disciples of our Lord.
Recently, one of the many whose disturbed minds rush them into public print to oppose the special holiness work took the position that the disciples were not converted until Pentecost. Another in the same paper, the Church Advocate, pronounced them both converted and sanctified. Thus, each, in the estimation of the other, was driven to untenable ground in order to obviate the second work. Both are alike contrary to the Word of God.
The disciples of Christ were either regenerated, or were all yet in their sins. Which was it? Did Christ, in his personal ministry, possess and exercise justifying power?
“Jesus said to the sick of the palsy, ‘Son, be of good cheer: thy sins are forgiven thee.’” These words spake Christ, we are told, “that they might know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins” (Matthew 9:2-6).
Take another instance—Luke 7:39-50. No physical infirmity is ascribed to this woman, but “she was a sinner.” Her strange conduct Christ attributed to her much love for Him, for having pardoned her sins “which were many.” “And he said to the woman, “Thy faith hath saved thee, go in peace.’”
Now, if Christ pardoned, saved and spake peace to his poor sinner, why not to all that come unto Him. His invitation was to “all ye that labor and are heavy laden;” with the promise, “I will give you rest.” He fulfilled that which was written of him, namely, “By his knowledge shall my righteous Servant justify many” (Isaiah 53:11).
If the disciples were not converted, then Christ ordained and sent sinners to preach the Gospel and command other sinners to repent (Mark 3:14 and Matthew 10:16). Strange that these sinners should be as sheep and others as wolves.
Christ said to them (Matthew 10:20), “When they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak, for it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father, which speaketh in you.” Possessing the divine Spirit and God being their Father is indubitable evidence that they were born of God.
Again, says Jesus, “Rejoice not that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). “And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you; that ye which have followed me in the regeneration; etc.” (Matthew 19:28).
An attempt to wrest these Scriptures into harmony with the theory that the disciples were not regenerated would only be a contradiction of Christ. Read John 17. Christ says that they had “received the Word” of God through Him and “believed” that God had sent Him.
John testifies that “as many as (thus) received Him, to them gave he power to become sons of God, even to them that believed on His name which were born . . .of God” (John 1:12-13).
Christ further testifies that “they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:16). “While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost” (John 17:12). None of them were lost because Christ kept them all in their sins if so be that they were still unregenerate.
Christ’s remark to Peter, “When thou are converted . . .” has been cited as proof that the conversion of the disciples was yet in the future. Let us read the Word: Luke 22:31-34: “Simon, Simon; behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he might sift you as wheat.” Now, if Peter had not been translated from the kingdom of this world, there would be no occasion for this satanic wish; for then Satan actually had him.
Again, would Satan desire to sift his own? “But I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not.” You see Peter had faith—was a believer. Neither did his faith fail; but his courage only. “And when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” Peter understood this as a prediction that the tempter would so assault him as to turn him from Christ; and, more conscious of his attachment to Jesus than his own weakness, he thought it could not be.
He said unto him, “Lord, I am ready to go with Thee: both into prison, and to death.” But Christ, knowing the crisis that was so near, said, “I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt deny that thou knowest me.”
Thus, by reading the word in its connection, all is made plain. Peter’s conversion, here referred to, being based by Christ upon his fall, must relate to his restoration; which, doubtless took place shortly afterward: for, we are told, he “went out and wept bitterly” (verse 62).
Such always find pardon of the Lord. Hence, when Jesus appeared to the disciples, after His resurrection, though Peter was deeply humbled by the Lord’s thrice repeated question “lovest thou me” by which he was reminded of his thrice denying Him. Yet, with the assurance of a true child of God, he could appeal three times over to Jesus, whom he recognized as “knowing all things,” saying, “Thou knowest that I love Thee” (John 21:15-17).
The word convert means to turn; and, though it is used to represent the sinner’s turn from nature to grace, it is properly applied to Peter’s turn of mind when he had passed through the overwhelming temptation and began to repent and seek pardon. The Emphatic Diaglott and the Bible Union versions both render it thus: “When thou hast turned, strengthen thy brethren.” George Campbell renders it thus: “Do thou therefore, when thou has recovered thyself, confirm thy brethren.” Recover means to re-gain, hence would not apply to one who had not been converted before.
The following is Doddridge’s translation and paraphrase:
And let me now exhort thee, that when thou art returned from those wanderings into which I know thou wilt fall, to the paths of wisdom and duty, thou wouldst be sure to make it thine immediate care to strengthen thy brethren.
The New Testament record leaves no particle of doubt that the disciples of Christ were “born of God,” or regenerated under his personal ministration. They even possessed a high degree of spirituality and faith. Read Luke 24:50-53.
And He led them as far as Bethany : and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. And it came to pass while He blessed them, He was parted from them and carried up into heaven.
And they worshipped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God.
This does not look like a meeting of unconverted sinners. If all church members enjoyed as high a state of grace as was manifested in this first New Testament holiness meeting, there would be few opposers and many more passing through the Pentecostal fire than there are.
The Scriptures not only positively teach that the one hundred and twenty were God’s children before Pentecost, but Paul testifies that, after the resurrection of Christ, He “was seen of above five hundred brethren at once” (1 Corinthians 15:6). Who is presumptuous enough to exclude from the family of God those recognized by the Elder Brother?
As further proof of the above proposition, let it be remembered that Christ gave His disciples no promise of pardon or regeneration in the future.
It is, therefore and indisputable fact that the disciples of Christ were adopted into the family of God before the crucifixion. And the inspired Record is no less clear in directing their minds forward to another great moral change, even their
ENTIRE SANCTIFICATION TO BE EXPERIENCED IN THE FUTURE.
Hear the Savior’s prayer:
Sanctify them through Thy truth; Thy Word is truth. (John 17:17)
Christ certainly knew that they were not yet fully sanctified or He would not have prayed the Father to accomplish that work in the future. It is claimed that this petition related to the qualification of the apostles for the work of the ministry.
Very true. But how many now-a-days venture out upon this sacred work without this enduement; and how fruitless too, their efforts. They pray for power and success; but God in mercy withholds it lest they dishonor Him and endanger their own souls by taking part of the glory; a subtle and common trick of unsanctified nature.
But it was not the apostles alone that Christ prayed for; but all “them which thou hast given me” (verse 9).
Some, whose chief idea of religion consists in “compassing Mount Sinai ” apply the Savior’s prayer to “works of righteousness,” or obedience. “Sanctify them through the truth,” they understand as of keeping the commandments enjoined in the Word; but this is the work of the believer, while the sanctification under consideration is the work of God.
“Through the truth” simply means through the “exceeding great and precious promises” by which we partake of the divine nature, and “perfect holiness” (2 Corinthians 7:1 and 2 Peter 1:4). This is the part the “word” performs in our sanctification. It points to the cleansing blood and its sure promises are the stepping-stones of our faith.
The sanctification of Christ in verse 19 is also adduced to convey the above view. It is claimed that Christ, being pure, His sanctification, and consequently ours also, denotes mere consecration. What sayeth the Word? “And for their sakes I sanctify myself that they also might be sanctified through the truth.”
The sanctification of Jesus is the ground and cause of ours. Read Hebrews 10:29. “Of how much sorer punishment suppose ye shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith He was sanctified, and unholy thing.” “For it became Him for whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through suffering” (Hebrews 5:8-9). These Scriptures fully describe the sanctification of our Redeemer. It was that process by which He was made perfect as our Savior, i.e., His suffering, shedding of blood and death: a legal sanctification—a fulfillment of the law or conditions upon which He became invested with power and authority to save guilty man. He made Himself an offering to offended justice that we, through Him, might be an acceptable offering unto the Lord. That is, He sanctified Himself that we might also be sanctified.
Because He ever was free from sin, His sanctification involved no moral purification: ours does. The following points of resemblance are noticed:
1. In His sanctification, He consecrated Himself to God to perform His will in the redemption of lost man. We also must render ourselves wholly to God, to do His will alone.
2. His sanctification involved the “humbling of Himself unto the death of the cross. Ours demands a complete humiliation—an utter abandonment of self—a “crucifixion of the old man,” or death to sin.
3. He was sanctified with His own blood (Hebrews 10:29). With His precious blood we are also sanctified (Hebrews 13:12).
4. Both His death for us and our death unto sin is by the grace of God. (Hebrews 2:9)
5. His sanctification made Him perfect as a Savior; ours makes us perfect Christians. (Hebrews 2:10; 10:14)
6. He was a “Son” before He was “made perfect” (Hebrews 2:10, 5:8-9); we are sons of God before we are perfected in God’s holiness (Hebrews 10:14; 12:5-10).
Therefore, to return to our subject, we remark that Christ prayed for the sanctification of the disciples by which He meant another real moral change which they must yet pass through. And as a foundation of their faith to appropriated the same. Jesus gave them many clear
PROMISES OF THIS ALL PERFECTING GRACE.
He promised it, as the “glorious Comforter”—the personal indwelling Spirit—“whom the world can not receive,” and who was to “teach them all things,” “guide them into all truth,” “testify of Jesus” and “show them all things.” (John 14:15-17, 25; 15:26; 16:13-14)
He promised it as the fullness of joy. (John 15:11; 16:24; 17:13)
He promised this divine life, as the coming and indwelling of Himself and His Father. (John 14:13)
He promised it to them as the “baptism of the Holy Ghost and of fire.”
And, lest some of the disciples should think that, having been born of God it was immaterial as to whether they sought this additional experience, He enjoins it as “a new commandment: that ye love one another as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this; that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 13:24; 15:12-13)
It having been prayed for, promised and commanded by the Lord, let us now see whether
THE DISCIPLES RECEIVED A SECOND EXPERIENCE OF SAVING GRACE.
The hundred and twenty faithful followers of Christ obeyed His directions; awaiting, in a very spiritual prayer meeting at Jerusalem , the baptismal power. And when the day of Pentecost came their united faith prevailed. The Holy Ghost came down and filled the place where they were assembled; tongues of fire indicated his refining power, hence, the Comforter Jesus promised, and the sanctification he prayed for was all suddenly realized. This wonderful experience came not to the apostles alone; but “They were all filled with the Spirit.”
Entire sanctification is the normal state of man; hence the privilege and duty of every child of God; and the special qualification for every station, from the ministry down to the humblest position in life. It is our perfect adjustment to self, to God and our fellows; to this world and our future home. Notwithstanding the antecedent work of regeneration, a great moral transformation was now manifest in all the disciples.
1. In their purification, having passed through the refiner’s fire into this second state of grace we see no more manifestations of carnality; such as vain ambition, strife and self-confident boasting; no more carnal weapons nor spirit of resentment.
2. Another marked change was their deliverance from all fear. The disciples, we are told, were all “assembled in an upper room, for fear of the Jews;” but perfect love “having cast out all fear,” they came forth and confronted the vast concourse with perfect intrepidity.
3. An increase of power also marked this wonderful change. Inbred sin is an element of weakness. Christ had promised them an endowment of power, which was now realized by the purging away of all sin and the infilling of the Holy Spirit. They who gave way to discouragements after the crucifixion of Christ and resumed their fishnets were now raised above circumstances and qualified to “fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness, and the work of faith with power.” Behold the wonderful result that attended their labors: Converts were numbered by the thousands. Who is so blind as not to see the comparative destitution of the church for the want of the same power? Paul made more converts in three successive Sabbaths than all the missionaries in China and India together did in as many years. No wonder Satan is alarmed at the preaching and testimony of full salvation and through prejudice and carnality stirs many professors to oppose the good work.
4. This new experience wonderfully illuminated the disciples’ minds and disclosed the Scriptures to their comprehension. God now “shined into their hearts to give them the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” Therefore Peter was able at once to explain the wonders of the occasion. Before this, the plainest lessons of their Teacher were dark enigmas; but having now received the “anointing that abideth and teacheth all things,” they were able to expound all the hidden wisdom of His kingdom. This accession of spiritual light and new unfolding of divine truth is equally if not more marked than that received in justification.
5. The Pentecostal experience induced a wonderful change in the affections of these Christians. The love of the world was entirely destroyed out of their hearts; and their love to God and each other was so perfected and intensified that all they possessed was joyfully placed upon the altar of a common cause. This fullness of “love and bond of perfectness” so united them that they all remained together and ate their meals from house to house, continually rejoicing and praising God. (Acts 2 and 3) Now, if this purging from all inbred turpitude, this perfecting of love and wonderful increase of spiritual power and wisdom, does not constitute a great moral change; then it is difficult to conceive what would.
I conclude this chapter with the following deductions:
1. If these disciples needed this great work of sanctification and endowment of power from on high after their regeneration, then others do, unless it can be shown that God’s plan of salvation is not uniform.
2. If the Lord bestowed it upon them, he will upon all others for “God is no respecter of persons.”
3. If they could not obtain it by growth or works, then no one else can; and the whole Christian world does not furnish an instance.
4. If, in them, it was wrought by the Holy Spirit through prayer and faith, then it “is by the faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all that believe, for there is no difference.” (Romans 3:22)
5. If, with them, it was a second definite and instantaneous work of grace, such it must be to all; for our heavenly Father “put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.” (Acts 15:6; Romans 10:12)
Neither the premises nor deductions of the above propositions can be gainsaid.
We are waiting, blessed Lord,
IN THY COURTS, WITH ONE ACCORD.
At thine altars, bending low,
Kindred souls together flow;
Yearning love and strong desire,
To Thy throne of grace aspire,
And with kindred faith we pray—
Holy Spirit, come today.
In the closet, all alone,
Help us, Christ, to touch thy throne!
As we walk and talk and sigh,
Hear, oh hear, they people’s cry;
Bring us nearer to the heart—
We would dwell no more apart;
Sweep the barriers all away—
Holy Spirit, come today.
Come today. Yes, come today!
While we wait, and weep and pray;
Holding fast in Jesus’ name,
All the promise we may claim.
Come in one grand, glorious hour,
With the burning fire and power,
And the wonders long foretold,
Of the Pentecost of old.