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Sanctification by J. W. Byers

CHAPTER II The Apostolic Experience

|All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.| -- 2 Tim.3:16, 17.

In our study of this theme we find that the word of God is our only standard to prove that sanctification is a Bible doctrine. The experience and testimony of the Bible writers and the other apostles of the early church also prove to us and teach the nature of this doctrine and its relative position to the experience of justification. It will be important and profitable for us to review these experiences, not only to establish the doctrine in our faith, but also to examine our own hearts and see that our experiences are truly apostolic.

The author of this treatise was sanctified at a time when there was a battle raging against the doctrine as a second work of grace. He had himself taken a stand against it for some years, because it did not seem that the scriptures and apostolic testimonies were sufficiently clear to establish the second-work doctrine. In this he had been blinded by the theories on the opposing side, notwithstanding the brilliant testimonies to the contrary of those whose lives were unimpeachable. Of course it was impossible to consecrate for and receive the experience under such circumstances, and consequently years of unsatisfactory experience passed by, until at last the indisputable symptoms of inborn depravity, and the deplorable weakness of the heart and will to cope with the mighty power of the enemy, brought the struggling soul into depths of despair at the feet of Jesus, crying, |Forgive me, O Lord, for all my sad failures, and 'create in me a clean heart, O God.'| It was not a question at this crisis about it being a second work of grace. The crying need of the soul was a clean heart. It was all too evident that the heart was not clean, and it was also evident that it was the will of God, even my sanctification; and dear loved ones were daily proving by life and testimony that the experience was attainable.

It will be sufficient to say at present that the definite consecration and definite faith in the definite promises of God brought the definite experience. The inward struggle was over, and the soul had entered into its promised land -- the heavenly rest; |for we which have believed do enter into rest.| -- Heb.4:3. Experimentally, the question of the second work was most thoroughly and satisfactorily answered, and it seemed as clear as the noonday sun in a cloudless sky. The internal evidence was overwhelming, and now it only remained necessary to become established scripturally, which, by the study of the apostolic experiences and testimonies, was by the anointing received in due time. Praise God!

Were it not for the perverted teaching, every truly justified child of God would soon be led by the Holy Spirit into this grace, because it is the inheritance of the soul, and its normal state. The apostles before Pentecost needed it, and so does every other child of God. Let us briefly consider the experience of the apostolic brethren, both before and upon their Pentecost.

=They were born of God before Pentecost.= This is very definitely established by the following scriptures. |Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God| -- 1 John 5:1. |He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered This is sufficient to prove their experience, both before and after the death and resurrection of Christ. Some would contend that the disciples could not have been regenerated in a true New Testament sense before Pentecost, because the plan of salvation was not finished before Christ's death on the cross. If this were true, there is sufficient in the foregoing text (John 20:27-29) to prove that the eleven were enjoying the regenerating grace; for they all had at least as much faith as Thomas, that Jesus is the Christ; and when Thomas was invited to prove to his own satisfaction that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead, he at once acknowledged him |My Lord and my God.| This was after the atonement for sin was made, and the disciples believed in him and beyond doubt were justified and born of God in the perfect New Testament sense. This not only is true of the eleven, but equally so of all who believed that he arose from the dead; for he said, |Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed.|

The language of the apostle to the Roman brethren (Chap.10:9, 10) adds to this testimony -- |That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.| The apostle John says (1 John 2:29), |If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.| He also says, |Every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.| -- 1 John 4:7.

=Their names were written in heaven.= |Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.| -- Luke 10:20. The critic will say that this was said of the seventy and not of =They were not of the world.= |If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.| -- John 15:19. |I have given them thy word; and the world hat =They kept the word of God.= |I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have re Peter's Testimony

In rehearsing this wonderful event to the brethren and apostles at Jerusalem he testified to the unquestionable leading of the Spirit to this company of believers. He said (Acts 11:15, 17), |And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?| Upon another occasion at Jerusalem Peter again spoke of the same event, saying, |And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare 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. But Peter testified to the fact that the Gentiles are placed upon a level with the Jews, not only in the reception of the Holy Spirit, but in the experience of cleansing. He testified to these two phases of sanctification, equally wrought in the hearts of the Jews and Gentiles, making |no difference between us and them|; and in this same testimony he plainly states that |purifying their hearts| was an experience co-incident with the reception of the Holy Ghost -- |giving them the Holy Ghost,| |purifying their hearts,| |even as he did unto us.| Opposers of this truth have argued that Peter's statement, |purifying their hearts,| in the Greek text reads, |having purified their hearts,| the word |having| signifying that their hearts were purified previous to the event of their reception of the Holy Ghost; but this objection has no foundation in scripture, history, or experience. If there could be a shadow of meaning in this form of this word in the Greek text, to signify that the |purifying their hearts| occurred prior to the outpouring of the Holy Ghost, it simply has reference to the order of these two phases of sanctification, which were effected within them upon this occasion.

It is evident that in the divine order of sanctification purifying the heart by faith is preparatory to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. He must have a pure heart in which to make his abode. However, there is no lapse of time perceptible between the =negative= and =positive= phase of sanctification. How easily this is understood by those who have truly received the Pentecostal experience. How the |anointing| teaches us and witnesses in our hearts to the testimony of Peter; but to those who have not yet had their Pentecost, and especially such as are blinded by theory and the doctrines of men, there is likely to be discussion and argument of words. The apostles and brethren at Jerusalem had no argument to make when Peter rehearsed his experience. They simply |glorified God.|

Paul's Testimony

|Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to me of God, 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 15:15, 16.

This testimony agrees with Peter in his account of the outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon the Gentile believers. It is not plainly stated that Paul has reference to this event in his testimony quoted, yet we can see clearly that he does have reference to the experience of sanctification, and that it is identical with that of all believers, being a specific work of the Holy Ghost.

Experiences of the Brethren at Samaria

|Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. But 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.| -- Acts 8:5, 12. About three years prior to this time there was a greater One than Philip at Samaria preaching the words of life, and many more than the woman at the well believed, and they said to the woman, |Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.| -- John 4:42. This was an effectual introduction of the gospel, and when Philip went to that city he found much good soil for the precious word in the name of Jesus Christ. There is no room for doubt as to the acceptable condition of these converts. They believed in the name of Jesus and were baptized. Some had doubtless remained firm believers since Jesus' visit to that city; others believed through the preaching of Philip. Certainly they were justified by faith in the name of Jesus, but like the disciples before Pentecost they were not yet sanctified, and when the apostles at Jerusalem heard of this work of grace at Samaria they sent down Peter and John, |who when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus) then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.| -- Acts 8:15-17.

How clearly the inspired record here proves the second work of grace, and how beautifully this event harmonizes with the others relative to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. And then, how glorious to have an experience like it in our own hearts. Praise God for this glorious, vivid, and living reality which by its divine power pales every theory into utter obscurity.

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