Open as PDF
For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. (1 John 5:4)
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. (Revelation 12:11)
These texts show that we must first be born of God; and second, overcome the world, which blessed triumph is through faith by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony; with these must be joined a perfect consecration to God, which includes the very life—“they loved not their lives unto the death.”
I think all will agree with the assertion that no man fully overcomes the world while any of its fallen turbid nature remains in his moral constitution. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:16).
Hence, until the flesh is fully destroyed—the old man entirely put to death—by the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit, perfect triumph is an object of pursuit instead of a present realization. Nearly all find their peace often ruffled, their advancement much embarrassed, and an indwelling and often prevailing tendency to bend to the “course of this world” so long as they are beset with inherited evil; this foe in their nature they must continually battle down or lose their justification. Therefore, it is not true in fact, that such have overcome the world. But in every way we may view it, this world-overcoming power is just what the one hundred and twenty disciples received on the Day of Pentecost, and every soul that is born of God may now experience in the same refining fire.
The object of this all-victorious grace, as pointed out by John, indicates a moral change, an adjustment of our nature to the law of the Lord. “And His commandments are not grievous, for, (because, Diaglott and Doddridge) whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world.” This implies that until the child of God overcomes the world, the divine precepts are somewhat grievous, or difficult’ this fact we have shown in the chapter on “the yoke made easy.” The higher grace of full assurance is often urged as necessary to a complete conformity to the will of God (2 Timothy 2:21; Hebrews 13:20-21).
There is in Revelation a chain of texts that, in my mind—and I think, I have the mind of the Spirit on the same—paint the beauty and glory of this triumphant grace.
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7)
Christ is evidently the tree of life: “Whosoever eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life,” “shall life forever” (John 6:51, 54). The “flaming sword” that God placed at the entrance of the garden of Eden “to keep the way of the tree of life” was graciously removed when “He who is our life, was manifest:” when the Son of God “brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.”
This tree is in the midst of the Paradise of God, indicative of the fact that “where sin abounded”—as the result of Adam’s transgression—“grace did much more abound” through Christ Jesus. As Adam bore the image of God before he forfeited paradise, so we are “renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created us” (Colossians 3:10). In divine likeness, or moral purity, at least, we are, in this life, permitted to return into the very “midst of the paradise of God” from which our first parents fell. This is the “more abundant” gift of life promised by the Savior, not to sinners, but as the “Spirit saith, to the churches.”
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death. (Revelation 2:11)
Should I have missed the real meaning of this text, the ideas I here advance are nevertheless consonant with the Word. The first death is the crucifixion of the “old man,” or “body of sin,” the second may apply to natural death or the final punishment of the wicked, or both taken together. It is a fact that a soul that is entirely sanctified shall never be hurt by either of these, the first is changed into a blissful departure to be more fully with the Lord: the second shall never be seen. “The sting of death is sin,” but in the act of overcoming faith, the soul sinks beneath the “blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, which cleanseth us from all sin.” “Being then made free from sin” “Christ hath abolished death,” for “it is a faithful saying, that if we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him.”
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it. (Revelation 2:17)
The hidden manna denotes the blessed food in store for the soul within the holiest. It is only tasted by those that are dead indeed to sin and self, and have attained the “life that is hid with Christ in God.” The white stone and new name denote the new experience of perfect purity. It corresponds with the hidden life, which no man knoweth saving he in whose breast the invisible God has taken up His permanent abode, and set up His heavenly reign of love. Glory to the God of all grace, for this secret millennium in the soul.
And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. (Revelation 2:26-29)
As we pass over these texts, bear in mind that this triumph over the world is the full assurance of faith and must be preceded by the new birth: hence, it is the second grace.
“And keepeth my works.” This probably refers to good works enjoined by Christ in which the saved should walk, but it may denoted the retaining of the works that Jesus had wrought in the fully saved, i.e., regeneration and entire sanctification. Again, it seems quite natural to apply it to this promise: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth, the works that I do, shall he do because I go unto my Father” (John 14:12), that is, if I go away I will send the Comforter, which will enable you to do the works that I have done and even greater. “And I will give him the morning star,” that is, He give Himself, for saith He, “I am the bright and morning star” (Revelation 22:16). The perfect triumph and full assurance of faith apprehends Christ as the “fullness of the blessing of the Gospel,” as the more abundant life, the complete sanctification, and only guiding star of the soul. To these living temples of the Holy Ghost, the King Eternal gives power over the nations! This fact is abundantly recorded in history: the kingdoms of the earth have trembled at the presence of the Jehovah of Hosts. The church that goes forth in her primitive purity and power is God Himself in motion. This power has shaken whole empires and nations in the person of Saint Paul , Thomas Kempis, Madame Guyon, Archbishop Fenelon, Whitefield, Luther, Wesley, Knox, and others.
“And he shall rule them with a rod of iron.” Holiness is not that flexible, effeminate and hurt-nobody spirit that some think it is. It is radical anti-sin, a terror and destruction to all the works of the Devil. Christ is both the “Lamb of God” and the “Lion of the tribe of Judah ,” and He being the real embodiment of holiness in the soul, suffers wrong with the silent resignation of a lamb, but sallies forth upon the workers of iniquity with the terror of a lion. Yea, he breaks froth as a storm of divine wrath upsetting the tables and breaking to shivers the “vessels of dishonor” that corrupt the temple of His glory. Therefore, he that is not a lion in the defense of truth and denunciation of sin, as well as a lamb to suffer for Christ’s sake, is a false representative of Christ. Hear again what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. (Revelation 3:5)
Here the divine order in dispensing the gifts of saving grace is so clearly defined that a “wayfaring man, though a fool, shall not err therein.” First have the name recorded in the church book in heaven—be born of God. Second, overcome the world, which is through faith, the cleansing blood, and testimony, or the “profession of our faith;” and in the second change to soul puts on the pure “white raiment,” “the righteousness of God,” given to the saints.
Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. (Revelation 3:5)
Here the glorious gift of full salvation is offered “to the churches” in figures that relate to establishing power. Paul says, “Ye are God’s building,” “Ye are the temple of God .” Peter says, “Ye also as lively stones are built up a spiritual house.” To be made a “pillar in the temple of God ” is simply to be mighty through God in his church, “sanctified and meet for the Master’s use,” so that he can safely rest on him the great concerns of his holy edifice. Paul tells us that “James, Cephas and John seemed to be pillars” (Galatians 2:9). Because they were filled with faith and the Holy Ghost, they were the chief upholders of the “House of God, which is the church of the living God.”
“And he shall go no more out,” i.e., his “heart is fixed,” “stablished unblameable in holiness.” We are made pillars by being “made perfect, stablished, strengthened, settled” (1 Peter 5:10).
Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. (2 Corinthians 2:21-22)
Thus we see the full triumph of faith is a comparatively fixed state, wherein the soul, like a mighty column, stands erect in the temple of God , and is able to cry out in every storm of life, “None of these things move me.”
“And I will write upon him the name of my God,” seal him forever with the Holy Ghost unto God.
“And I will write upon him my new name.” This corresponds with the white stone and new name. It doubtless denotes the new relation to and appropriation of Christ, in the higher grace; before He was loved as our pardoning Savior in world-overcoming faith, and then summing up the whole in the gift and indwelling of Himself, the Lord now directs their attention forward to the future glory of His kingdom. Once more the Spirit saith to the churches, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His throne” (Revelation 3:21). Following this promise we have scenes about the throne in heaven.
We have now traced the inheritance of sanctification from the everlasting covenant recorded in Genesis to the end of Revelation on the Isle of Patmos, and we find the oracles of God declare with wonderful harmony that entire sanctification, perfect holiness, freedom from all sin—including inbred unrighteousness—perfect purity, perfect love, the baptism of fire, and the indwelling and perfect fellowship of the Three-one God, through the omnipotent Spirit are all embraced in each other, and constitute a glorious experience, uniformly and exclusively promised to the regenerate children of God. From one end of the Bible to the other, it is “what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”
And if you want more witnesses
We have some just at hand,
Who lately have experienced
The glory of this land.
It comes in copious showers down,
Our souls can scarce contain,
It fill our ransomed powers now,
And yet we drink again.
Thousands have believed these “exceeding great and precious promises” and the result has been a realization of the same in a personal experience; for it is a characteristic of a genuine and well-grounded faith that it results in positive knowledge as Jesus said, “If any man shall do His will, he shall know of the doctrine.” Acting upon a proposed truth is the proper and infallible means of testing it. In the promises of Revelation, as will as in anything else, truth practically believed becomes truth demonstrated, while the infidel “believes a lie” and gropes on in the fog of mere suppositions.
When Columbus believed that there was another continent on this globe, his faith led to action, and that to knowledge. Fulton believed that water could be navigated by steam, and his faith developed the knowledge of that fact. Professor Morse’s faith in the possibility of communicating intelligence by electro-magnetism led to the knowledge of that fact. So the penitent sinner believers the promises of divine pardon, and the immediate result is the “knowledge of salvation by the remission of sin.” So, also, the child of God believes with his whole heart the many promises of perfect salvation from inbred evil, and believing, he is made very whit whole—“pure even as He is pure.”
As Christ said to His disciples who had already followed Him in the regeneration, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed, and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32). When the Christian realizes complete deliverance, the truth that was before believed becomes instantly truth demonstrated, or positively known by conscious experience.
Therefore the “second grace,” the “fullness of God” in the soul, is not a matter of mere probability because thousands have entered into the blessed repose and are actually swelling in the land. To dispute this experience were as if some one would contend that Christopher Columbus was a fool and fanatic for believing that there is a western continent in this world. Would not every man that ever saw this great country set such a man down for a lunatic? Especially would he not appear silly to all who actually live on American soil? Just imagine such an anomaly as this, you that boldly profess your unbelief in the higher Christian grace, and you have before your mind a perfect counterpart to your own folly. What! Admit that there is an American continent, even all the inhabitants of the earth who never saw it, and yet deny the Canaan of perfect love, where thousands have lived before America was discovered, and thousands “inherit the blessing” and are “eating the good of the land” today? Shame on such ego-will incredulity. Why the King of Beulah land is the “Blessed and only Potentate, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords” and “of the increase of His government and peace there is no end.” The history of this great empire of love is crowded with the most brilliant triumphs that have ever been recorded; its location and all its boundary lines are clearly mapped out in the infallible geography given by its Founder. Its inhabitants, especially they that dwell in the interior of the commonwealth, are noted as being able, singly, to chase a thousand aliens, and two put ten thousand to flight. The precious fruits of this holy land fill all the spiritual depots of this wide world. And yet, with all this, some strange cases of chronic unbelief, because they have not seen it with their own eyes, and experienced it in their own hearts, arrogantly deny the existence of this inner and hidden universe of divine love and glory.
What think ye, who say in pride,
“We take the Bible for our guide;”
And yet, with selfish boastfulness
Oppose the cause of holiness.
No more delay, to seek this grace,
For heaven is a holy place;
You cannot stand before your God,
Unless you’re washed in Jesus’ blood.
Come then; lay every weight aside,
And plunge beneath the crimson tide;
Now prove Him, and He will show
The wonders of His love to you.