Open as PDF
Some, unable to deny the two works of grace wrought in the first converts of the Gospel, have assumed that it was because the kingdom was then in process of erection; and that, when all its elements were once present, one grasp of faith appropriated all the “salvation that is in Christ Jesus.” This, to some, may appear plausible; but would the all wise King of kings place upon record, at the beginning of his reign a precedent, which would lead astray all who subsequently attempt to follow it? The position is repugnant to reason, and without a shadow of Scripture warrant.
Some have overlooked sanctification as a sharply defined transition in the experience of primitive Christians; because they have failed to identify it with the Holy Spirit baptism. As conversion, justification, regeneration, and adoption, represent different features of the initial work of grace, and one is generally used inclusive of the rest, so heart purity, sanctification, “fullness of God,” fullness of joy, “assurance of faith,” “full assurance of hope,” baptism of the Holy Ghost, “perfect love,” etc., are concomitant blessings included in the higher Christian experience.
Heart purity is entire sanctification attained and witnessed by the consciousness of faith; for “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the same purity intensified in experience; and become more fully a matter of knowledge; being distinctly witnessed by the Sanctifier. It is believed that when the heart is “purified by faith,” it is always immediately indwelt by the personal Comforter. This is evident from the fact that He is the real sanctifying power. Therefore, the experience cannot precede His coming to the soul.
This also accords with the experience of nearly all; but, for some reason, doubtless in order to discipline and strengthen faith, the Lord in some instances withholds His manifestation to our consciousness sometime after faith has appropriated the all cleansing blood. It is to this fact that the Apostle probably alluded, when he said, “Ye have need of patience that AFTER ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise” (Hebrews 10:36).
In the merely justified state, the faithful believer receives some Spirit manifestations, but they pass off like the morning dew, leaving no special change; while the “Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost,” received in entire sanctification, “abideth forever,” and is the beginning of a new and “more abundant life” in the soul. It is full and permanent, because received in a “clean heart.”
That the baptism of the Holy Ghost is only another representation of the uttermost salvation expressed by entire sanctification is clearly taught by the Bible.
Christ identifies it with the baptism of fire. Of this fire a great deal is said in the bible. Read Isaiah 4:4, “When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem (the church) from the midst thereof by the Spirit of judgment and the Spirit of burning.” The baptism of fire is the Spirit of burning that purifies the church.
“And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness” (Malachi 3:3).
“Awake, O sword, against my Shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts: smite the Shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn my hand upon the little ones . . . And I will bring the third part through the fire and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, it is my people; and they shall say, the Lord is my God” (Zechariah 13:7-9).
Now, when did Christ apply this refining fire? Not in the regeneration of His disciples; but just before leaving them He told them to tarry at Jerusalem , for not many days hence He would send the “promise of the Father upon them:” even the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire. So then, on the day of Pentecost this great Refiner brought one hundred and twenty disciples through the fire, “refined them as silver is refined,” and “purged them as gold;” “That they might offer an offering in righteousness.”
Thus we see that, in the Holy Spirit baptism, there is a purging or purification of believers; and that is just what the Bible attributes to entire sanctification.
Returning to the quotation from Zechariah we read, “Smite the Shepherd and the sheep shall be scattered, and I (the Shepherd) will turn my hand upon the little ones.” Now, Christ’s little ones are “disciples,” such as “belong to Christ,” and “believe on Him” (Matthew 10:42; 18:6: Mark 9:41-44). Upon such who are already Christians, and not upon sinners, the Shepherd turns his hand. But what does this mean?
“Thus saith the Lord, the Mighty One of Israel: ‘I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin’” (Isaiah 1:24-25).
Here, again, the crucible is used to represent the work of Jesus purifying His disciples, or such as have believed unto justification. Now read Mark 9:41-50. These “little ones,” who “belong to Christ,” are informed that they are not only exposed to offenses from others, but within themselves there yet remained an offensive nature.
Although, “with their minds they served the law of God,” Jesus well knew they would “see another law in their members warring against the law of their mind;” and endeavoring to “bring them into captivity to the law of sin.” But this is not the normal state of the Christian: the Refiner’s crucible must yet be passed through, and the “body of sin” destroyed. And, though this “old man,” or inherited depravity, be so interwoven with our very being as to seem like the members of the natural body, even as dear as the “right hand” and “right eye,” yet so imminent is the danger of falling into sin and being at last “cast into hell-fire” that Christ urges the destruction of these offensive members however painful the death of sin might be.
“For,” the Savior adds, “every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. Salt is good, but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it. Have salt in yourselves and have peace one with another.” There is an allusion here to offering under the law, which were typical, both of the sacrifice of Christ, and that of believers (Romans 12:1). “And every oblation of the meat offering shalt thou season with salt. Neither shalt thou suffer the sale of the covenant of thy god to be lacking from thy meat offering; with all thy offerings thou shalt offer salt” (Leviticus 2:13). How explicitly Jesus declared that every one of His little ones who had believed in Him, should make a sacrificial offering of themselves to God: and that every such “living sacrifice” should be salted, not literally, but “with fire.”
How very expressive these two figures! Fire symbolizes the refining and purifying power of the Spirit. Salt His office of preserving the saints; for says Christ, “Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you,” and Peter says, “We are kept by the power of God through faith.”
Thus, the Spirit is the Refiner’s fire by which all our dross—unrighteousness—is consumed, and the salt by which we are preserved, “Holy and without blame, before Him in love.” Therefore, says Christ, “Have salt in yourselves and have peace one with another;” that is, be filled with the Spirit, and the result will be perfect fellowship, love and peace. That the abiding reign of the Comforter is synonymous with entire sanctification is further confirmed by the testimony of Paul and Peter. The latter, referring to Cornelius, and his friends said:
And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that He said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. (Acts 11:15-16)
Referring to the same instance he said, “And God, which knoweth the hearts, bear them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as He did unto us; and put no difference between us, and them, purifying their hearts by faith.” (Acts 15:8-9)
Let us now hear Paul’s version of Gentile salvation, “That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the Gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost” (Romans 15:16).
These Scriptures teach the following facts:
1. That the plan of salvation is uniform.
2. The promise of the Father, or baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire, was not to terminate with its fulfillment on the Day of Pentecost, but that every disciple, whether “Jew or Gentile,” “after that he believed, was to be sealed with the same Spirit of promise.”
3. That the Gentiles did receive the Holy Spirit, according to the same promise, and in the manner that the first disciples did; and that was after regeneration, by faith and instantaneous.
4. That in receiving this baptismal fire they made themselves an “offering” acceptable to God.
5. Peter identifies the Holy Ghost baptism of the Gentiles with the purification of their hearts by faith and avers that there was “no difference between us and them.” So there must have been a purification of hearts on the Day of Pentecost.
6. Peter pronounces that Gentiles accepted of God, because He had “shed forth upon them the baptism of the Holy Spirit.” Paul says they were “made acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” Thus, the two apostles corroborate the Scriptures, already noticed in identifying entire sanctification, purification of the heart, and baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Having established this identity, and the fact that the disciples received the glorious experience after regeneration, I now prove by the following Scriptures that the same order continued under the apostolic ministry: Acts 2:38-39; 8:5-17; 10:2-40, 41-47; 11:15-16; 19:2-6; Romans 5:1-5; Ephesians 1:13; 3:13-20; Titus 3:4-5. These texts need but little comment. I will just call your attention to the points of proof they contain.
Perhaps few texts have been more subjected to the controversial rack than Acts 2:38-39. Supposing that the only distinctive reception of the Spirit is in connection with pardon, the orthodox have been much perplexed to interpret it so as to avoid the doctrine, that baptism must precede pardon; and while our disciple friends are compelled to rely chiefly upon it to prove this, their favorite doctrine, it is at the same time fatal to their dogma, that the “promise of the Father” terminated at Pentecost and the house of Cornelius.
It is a great pity that so much precious time and labor is wasted in efforts to reconcile the Bible to the standpoint of men; when the grace of God offers all an experience that will perfectly adjust them to the Bible.
To all who have received the “second grace,” this Scripture comes very natural.
He said unto them, repent (repentance is unto life—terminates in pardon), and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for (because of) the remission of sins; and (following all this) ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost; for the promise is unto you and your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.
This promise was made to such, and only such, as had previously passed through regeneration; hence, Peter is perfectly in order when he promises the Holy Spirit after conversion.
Acts 8:5-17. “Philip preached Christ,” ”they gave heed” to the word, and “when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.” We are also told, “There was great joy in that city.” What was this if not the joy of pardon?
The news of this great revival soon reached Jerusalem . And when the apostles learned “that Samaria had received the word of God,” they sent Peter and John thither, “Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive, (not pardon of sin, but) the Holy Ghost.”
The Spirit had doubtless given them knowledge of salvation by the remission of their sins; but, as the personal abiding Comforter, he had as yet, we are told, “fallen upon none of them.” “Then laid they their hands upon them and they received the Holy Ghost.” This record will only harmonize with the divine plan of two distinct degrees in grace.
THE CASE OF CORNELIUS – ACTS 10,
It is thought, furnishes an instance, where conversion and the Holy Spirit baptism were simultaneous. I do not cite this case particularly for proof, but to show that it does not form an exception to the Bible order of two-fold salvation.
There are good reasons for believing that Cornelius was in a justified state before Peter came to his house. Whatever was the moral condition of Caiaphas the high priest, it is evident that he spake by inspiration when “he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation, (the Jews), and not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad” (John 11:51-52). God had children outside of the Jewish nation. “Other sheep,” said Christ, “I have, which are not of this fold” (John 10:16).
No one will doubt the true piety and justification of Zacharias and Elizabeth; of Simon, of whom it is said that he was “just and devout.” Just what is affirmed of Cornelius, of Anna and other saints of that age? If they were children of God; why not Cornelius? He “was of good report among all the nation of the Jews” (verse 22). Hence, he had all the means of grace they had. He is declared to have been a “just man and one that feared God.” May we not infer from this that he was a justified man? The word “feared,” (phobeo), though sometimes used with reference to slavish fear, usually denotes filial regard for God. Therefore, Robinson’s Standard New Testament Lexicon defines as follows: “Morally, to fear, to reverence, to honor; also in the sense of religious awe and piety; to worship, to adore God.”
Cornelius surely was already accepted of God; for says Peter, “In every nation, he that feareth God, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him,” and this he did. But his religious status is further described as being a “devout man.” There is no word in the English language that ascribes a more full and intense religious character than the word devout.
Webster defines, “Devout, from devote, to dedicate.
• Exercising the feelings of reverence and worship.
• Given up to religious feelings and duties.
• Absorbed in religious exercises—pious—reverent—sincere.”
Devout is from “eusebes,” the same word is rendered Godliness. 1 Timothy 2:2, 3:16. 4:8. 6:3, 5-6, 11; 2 Timothy 3:5; Titus 1:1; 2 Peter 1:3, 6-7, 3:11. Holiness. Acts 3:12. Godly. 2 Peter 2:9; 2 Timothy 3:12; Titus 2:12.
It is defined by Robinson’s Standard New Testament Lexicon by piety, reverence, in the New Testament, only as directed towards God; denoting the spontaneous feelings of the heart, Godliness, righteousness, religion. To reverence and to worship God; “to be religious—devout.”
It is also highly probable that those “kinsmen and friends” that he had called together were kindred spirits with him in the worship of God. “He gave much alms, and prayed to God always;” he also fasted, and his prayers, alms and fasting were not pharisaical, but they “came up before God,” and were “accepted.”
Would you not know such a man by his fruits to be a true Christian? His fervent piety and devotion was recognized by his servants, by all the nation of the Jews, by Peter, and by God Himself, who showed a special regard for Him by sending an angel to confer with him and for his sake rebuked Peter saying, “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common or unclean.”
Some one may say, that if he were a child of God already, why is it that Peter was to “tell him words whereby he and his house should be saved?” I answer that God “saves us by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost.”
Salvation, it is here seen, applies both to regeneration and the experience received by Cornelius. See Acts 11:14-15.
Cornelius knew God, whom to know is eternal life; and, like the Samaritans, only needed some one to teach him the “unsearchable riches” to which he was a full heir. Christ said the world cannot receive the Holy Comforter; but Cornelius did receive it; hence, like the first disciple, he was “not of the world;” was not an alien. Next we consider the
TWELVE DISCIPLES AT EPHESUS . – ACTS 19:1-6.
These were recognized as disciples and believers. Their pardon of sin, and faith in Christ was not at all questioned by Paul; but “Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?” He well knew that they received the witness of the Spirit to their pardon when they believed; but, with a view of “perfecting these saints,” he talks to them of a full and distinct measure of the Holy Ghost to be received “after that ye believed.”
If Paul did not believe in the reception of the Spirit of God as a personal indwelling Comforter subsequent to conversion, his question could have no meaning at all. It cannot be denied that this language bears upon its very face the idea that true faith and discipleship does exist distinct from and prior to the complete anointing of special power. Either the one work theory is incompatible with the “faith once delivered to the saints,” or the apostle’s question is, for the two will not harmonize with each other; hence cannot both be consistent with the divine plan. Either Paul was out of order in asking such a question, or religious teachers are badly out of order—yea criminal—in the sight of God for not urging the same question now.
Of this glorious gift of the Spirit, these believers had not yet been apprised; but they now received it by the laying on of Paul’s hands. It will do no good to say that this was an abnormal case; that they had not been properly converted; therefore were re-baptized by Paul. Even if we admit all this, it is evident that Paul knew better than to baptize unpardoned sinners, and yet they received the Holy Spirit after baptism. But I do not think they were re-baptized.
1. Because their case did not parallel with that of the Samaritans and Apollos: “Only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 8:16). “Knowing only the baptism of John” (Acts 18:25). “They said unto John’s baptism” (Acts 19:3). These expressions signify the same thing, i.e., the act of baptism as an expression of faith in Christ and the sign of a new life.
This Christian rite was introduced under John’s administration, hence is called John’s baptism in contradistinction to the baptism of the Holy Ghost, which is preeminently Christ’s baptism; see Matthew 3:11; Acts 1:5 and 11:16.
If the former two cases did not require re-baptism, why these Ephesians?
2. Their supposed re-baptism is based upon just what John had preached. (Verse 4) Paul would not repeat their baptism on a reiteration of the same faith they had been baptized in.
3. Believe on Him that should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this (i.e. when they heard John thus preach Christ), they were baptized. The baptism here spoken of was in the faith of a Savior yet to be made manifest.
4. When were they baptized? “When they heard.” Emphatic Diaglott: “When they had heard; i.e., “when they had heard” John “ saying to the people that they should believe on Him which should come; they were baptized.” The italic “this” in the expression “When they heard this,” naturally connects their baptism with Paul’s teaching; but that word is not in the original text at all. Remove it and the inferences are all in favor of the above conclusion. However, as already stated, whether baptized or not, they received the Holy Ghost in His fullness and impartation of the gifts after conversion and water baptism.
Next, on two-fold salvation we will have the
TESTIMONY OF PAUL, ROMANS 5:1-5.
First comes justification by faith through Christ: “By Whom, also, we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand and rejoice in hope of the glory of God;” and even “glory in tribulations:” and “our hope maketh not ashamed because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which (in this grace following justification), is given unto us.” Thus, the infilling of the Holy Spirit is not connected with justification but with the “also” grace.
PAUL’S TESTIMONY CONTINUED. EPHESIANS.
“In whom, also, after ye believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” (Ephesians 1:13)
The gift of the Spirit here referred to is that which Christ designated as “the promise of the Father,” and the “Comforter,” which, He said, “The world could not receive;” but the church, with whom He already dwelt, and, in the perfected state, “shall be in them;” hence it was not received in conversion, but, “after that they believed.”
That the Ephesians were truly converted and adopted into the family of God at the time of Paul’s writing to them is clearly recognized by him. See Ephesians 2:1, 5, 10, 19.
But, thinking that some of them had not reached the glorious temple state, the hallowed indwelling of God, he offered the following prayer for them, which embraces the experience that was received on the day of Pentecost: Ephesians 3: in verses 2, 4, 8, 9, 11, he speaks of “the great mystery of Christ,” “the unsearchable riches of Christ, which God had “purposed in Christ Jesus,” and which he was specially appointed to preach and make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery.
Now all this imports the glorious hidden life of the fully saved; hence the prayer, “That God would grant you, according to the riches of His glory to be strengthened with the might, by His Spirit, in the inner man.”
This petition embraces the richer and higher grace, the sinless and all harmonizing “glory” that Christ gives to the church (John 17:22, Hebrews 2:11); and the “power” He promised (Luke 24:49). “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.” Compare John 14:24. “That ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all (perfected) saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height; and to know the love of Christ which passeth all knowledge.” This prayer comprehends all the communicable fullness of divine love perfected in the soul by the purification of the heart and the gift of the Holy Spirit. See 1 Timothy 1:5 and Romans 5:5.
“That ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.” This wonderful petition is parallel with the promise of Christ to the first church (John 14:23), and that of Paul to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 6:16 and 7:1).
With perfect uniformity between the labors of Christ and the apostles: both made disciples—led them through “the regeneration”—and then directed their minds forward to a purification and fullness of the Spirit of power, and love to be subsequently received.
Neither intimated that this blessed state should be attained by works, or gradual development; “But,” says Christ, “I will pray the Father and He will give you another Comforter, and Paul prayed that “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ would grant them to be strengthened with might by the Spirit,” et cetera.
And, lest they should think his prayer fanatical or transcending divine grace, he concludes by giving “glory to Him that is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think;” and then confirms it with his own experience: “according to the power that worketh in us.” This proves not only a “second grace,” but also that it was divinely wrought.
I conclude with
PAUL’S TESTIMONY TO TITUS,
in which he fully sets forth God’s way of salvation, which is, “not by works of righteousness which we have done; but according to His mercy He saved us by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which is shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior (Titus 3:5-6). Paul here lays down the moving cause of our salvation—God’s mercy.
1. The procuring cause—“Through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
2. The process of salvation—“Regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost.” The full reception of the Holy Spirit is declared to be distinct from, and posterior to regeneration, because,
A. There could be no propriety in mentioning the renewing and abundant out-pouring of the Spirit apart from and subsequently to regeneration if all were included in that one work.
B. Because the language seems to have special reference to the out-pouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, which was upon regenerated believers.
C. The apostle presents this Pentecost baptism preceded by regeneration as the uniform manner in which “God saves us.”
D. The Spirit baptism here referred to as following the new birth has no allusion to the ordinary refreshings of the Spirit common to a devout life; because it is represented as perfecting our salvation began in regeneration.
E. It is also called a “renewing” because it renews us in the true knowledge and pure image of God as first created; hence Paul exhorts his brethren at Rome to render their “bodies a living sacrifice” to God, and be “transformed by the renewing of their minds,” that they might prove the perfect will of God (Romans 12:1-2).
To the Ephesians he says, “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind, that ye put on the new man, which, after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness. (Ephesians 4:23-24)
See also the following parallel texts all describing a work after justification: 2 Corinthians 3:18; Colossians 3:10; Hebrews 12:10; 1 John 4:17; 2 Peter 1:3-4.
Thus, we have shown, by clear Scripture proofs, that the disciples of Christ were first justified, then received the full measure of the Spirit; that the baptism of the Spirit and entire sanctification are inclusive of each other; and, that the order established in the first subjects of the kingdom of Christ, was carried out by the apostles and is God’s uniform plan.
O, precious, cleansing power divine,
Thou sanctifying Holy Ghost!
Descend, and fully now refine,
As on the day of Pentecost.