WHERE SANCTIFICATION IS SPECIFICALLY TAUGHT IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
Matthew i. 21: “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.” The reader will notice that Christ is here promised to save his people from their sins, not sinners. Let the person who insists that the regenerated are made holy in conversion read this verse and be convinced to the contrary. All through the Scriptures there is attributed to Christ at his coming a peculiar work in behalf of and in his people. He will thoroughly purge his floor and cleanse his wheat; he will sit as a refiner, will purify the sons of Levi, and will save his people from their sins.
It refers to a work subsequent to regeneration, and that work is sanctification. Sanctification purifies the sons of Levi and saves Christians from all sin. John vii. 38: “He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given.)” This passage cannot be read without perceiving that it holds up for the believer a second blessing.
The Holy Ghost had been given as a Pardoner and Comforter long before. David had prayed: “Take not thy Holy Spirit from me.” Paul says that holy men wrote the word as they were “moved by the Holy Ghost.” Evidently, then, the promise in the passage above is for the gift of the Holy Ghost in a new form or office–viz., as the sanctifier.
This, then, is the second blessing: “They that believe [that are already believers] shall receive the Holy Ghost.” After this living waters shall rise up and flow uninterruptedly from the heart and life. John xiv. 23: “Jesus answered, if a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” Here is unquestionably something of a wonderful nature done some time after conversion. The promise is to a regenerated man, for the heart cannot love Christ unless it has been born again.
Now read: “If a man loves me, keeps my words”–all this is in the present. Now comes the assurance of something in the future: “We” — that is, the Father and the Son –” will come unto him and take up our abode with him.” This constant abiding of the Father and the Son in the soul is one of the wonderful and gracious features of sanctification. This is also the fulfillment of what was shadowed in the most holy place, in the perpetual shekinah, the glorious indwelling of God. John xv. 2: “Every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” Here the Christian is represented as a branch on the vine, Christ, and as bearing fruit. After this, and while bearing fruit, it is suddenly cleansed.
The Greek word kathairei, translated “purgeth” in the verse above, has for its main meaning, according to the lexicon, “cleanseth and purifieth.” Take it any way, this verse is a death-blow to those who insist that we are made holy in regeneration, and need only time for development. It plainly teaches that there is a cleansing after conversion, and that this purification, done by Christ himself, comes not to a backslider, but to a branch on the vine–to a Christian bearing fruit. John xvii. 16, 17: “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth.” Christ is speaking of the disciples. He declares that they are not of the world–are spiritual and unworldly, even as he is. In other verses he says that they had received his word, that they were his, that he was glorified in them, and that they had kept his word.
All this settles the fact of their regenerate and spiritual state; and yet he immediately adds, in prayer to his Father: “Sanctify them.” Notice that something else is to be done to them, and they (the disciples) are not to do it. Here is not an exhortation to grow in grace, but the prayer is to God to “sanctify them.” In plain language, here is a second work of God. Acts i. 4, 5: “And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.
For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence .” This is Christ speaking. He is telling his disciples about a blessing that is soon to come upon them. He calls it the promise of the Father. He affirms that he had spoken to them about it before –“which, saith he, ye have heard of me.” It was so great and gracious a blessing, so distinctive and important as a divine work, that he had repeatedly before spoken of it, and in a measure prepared them for its reception.
It was not pardon; for he long before had said their names were in the Book of Life, and that they were branches in the true vine. It was not the enjoyment of his peace, that he had before breathed upon them.
It was not the receiving of the Holy Ghost for the first time; for several weeks before this he had breathed upon them, and said: “Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” The blessing he told them to wait in Jerusalem for was “the promise of the Father,” uttered a long time before, and through many lips. It was the baptism of the Holy Ghost, prophesied by Joel; the circumcision of the heart, predicted by Moses; the cleansing from all filthiness and idols, promised by Ezekiel; the holiness, mentioned by Isaiah; the healing, alluded to by Malachi; the serving God without fear, declared by Zechariah; the enduement of power from on high, mentioned by the Saviour; and the sanctification, spoken of by Paul and the Lord himself. “Wait for it,” said the Saviour. “Depart not from Jerusalem until you obtain it.”
So here was a blessing that had not come with regeneration. What a death-blow are the words of Christ to that teaching which affirms that we are made holy in conversion, and that nothing more is needed but development, or growth in grace! The promise here is not growth in grace. The disciples are not told to wait until developed into holiness and spiritual power. It was not for man’s work they are exhorted to linger, but for an additional work of God done subsequent to regeneration. The reader, by perusing the second chapter of Acts, will see how and when that work was accomplished. And he will notice what changed men the disciples became from that time. Courage, fearlessness, devotion, love, compassion, and holiness are now the marked features of their lives. They did not grow into this state, but were suddenly translated into it by the baptism of the Holy Ghost–by sanctification, which, is the promise of the Father.
Does any one think that this gracious second blessing was simply for a band of Galilean peasants, tradesmen, and fishermen? Perhaps some of the observers on the day of Pentecost thought so. Perhaps, with sad hearts, they said so. Perhaps the reader, with equal blindness and ignorance of his high privilege in Christ, may have said so many times. Because of this very possibility of doubt and fear the Lord inspired Peter to stand upon his feet and say, with a joyous, exultant voice to the crowds that looked on: “The promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” Acts ii. 38: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
How wonderfully clear the second blessing, or sanctification, appears in this verse! The remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Ghost, which is one of the names of sanctification, are both mentioned, and that, too, in different parts of the verse. If they meant the same thing, the Holy Ghost would not have used both expressions. If they meant the same, the verse becomes a silly repetition, and would read: “Ye shall receive the remission of sins and remission of sins.” In confirmation of the fact that the expression referred to two different acts of grace we notice that the remission of sins had been received, and now to that the promise is given in the future tense: “Ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
The instances of the believers in Samaria, and of Cornelius, who evidently received the blessing of sanctification, inasmuch as the Bible says that he was before that a devout man, I have to pass over because the scripture necessary to be quoted would be more than the limits of this chapter would allow. Let the reader turn to Acts xiii. 5-17 and Acts x., and be satisfied for himself. Acts xix. I, 2, 6: “Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus; and finding certain disciples, he said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?” “And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.”
We fail to see how the second blessing, or sanctification, could be presented in a plainer and more forcible manner than is done here. Of the men mentioned above it is said they were disciples, and that they had believed. This settles the fact of their regeneration. A man cannot believe and be a disciple without being regenerated. To these disciples Paul comes, and informs them of another and higher blessing. They replied that they had not heard of it. Under his preaching and instruction they seek for and obtain the blessing. The sixth verse shows us that it was not conversion, but the identical blessing received by the disciples on the day of Pentecost. Acts xxvi. 18: “That they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” This verse is so convincing in itself that it needs no extended remark to call attention to the two classifications of Christians presented so unmistakably. The comma after the word “sins,” the force of the italicized word “and,” the separation of the two blessings by punctuation, and their recognition by actual phraseology, are sufficient to convince anyone but the man who is determined not to believe.
Romans i. 11: “For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established.” Paul is writing to Roman Christians. That they were regenerated men appears from his statement that “their faith was spoken of throughout the whole world.” And yet he writes to them that he desires to impart unto them another gift. Let the reader mark the force of the different words of this verse. It is a gift he wants them to have, not growth in grace. And the verse says “a spiritual gift.” So there was something else to be added to regenerated people; not a development, but another gift. The Greek word charisma, translated “gift,” has also “grace” for its meaning, and a third meaning is a “work or gift of the Holy Ghost.” A truer translation will drop the word “some.” So that the sentence reads: “I long to impart unto you a spiritual gift or grace.” The concluding expression is striking and significant: “To the end ye may be established.” The purpose of the grace or gift was to establish them. Now the question is: What gift or grace establishes the believer?
Not a passing emotion. Not one of the blessings we obtain daily at a throne of grace. Nor could Paul have referred to growth in grace as the establishing blessing, for he said he wanted to come and impart the blessing to them, and how could he impart growth in grace? For growth in grace time is needed, and not Paul. I press the question: What grace or gift establishes the believer? and I reply from the word of God, as found in the first and second chapters of Acts, and in 1 Thessalonians iii. 13, where we hear Paul praying that “God may stablish your hearts unblamable in holiness.” Reader, remember the word translated “holiness” here has for its twin meaning “sanctification.” So it reads: “May God stablish your hearts unblamable in sanctification. “Now turn back to Romans i. 11, and you are prepared to read it intelligently. Thank God that there is a gift or grace that establishes the believer, and that spiritual gift (not growth) is sanctification! It was this blessing that Paul wanted the Roman Christians to possess. And it is this blessing that the writer would be willing to lay down his life in order to impart or bring to the people of God. Romans v. 1, 2: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand.” Who is it that can read this passage and not see two works of grace distinctly and clearly mentioned? In the first verse appears the peace of the pardoned and regenerated man, a peace that comes by faith through the Lord Jesus Christ. Now read the second verse: “By whom also.” There is something else, you see. “We have access by faith (not growth), into this grace wherein we stand.” So there is another grace; and it comes by faith. This was the gift or grace that Paul wrote about to the Romans; and in a little while you will find him writing to the Corinthians about it, and to the Thessalonians and to the Hebrews. You notice that he says that by it he is able to ”stand.” There again is the idea of being established. O how the Scripture harmonizes in all its doctrinal statements and presentations of Christian experience! Let the reader testify as he will to what is the falling experience. Thank God there is a “standing” grace, an establishing grace, and that gift or grace is sanctification. Romans xv. 29: “And I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.” Here Paul, under a slight change of phraseology, is speaking again of the grace and blessings he wrote of in the first and fifth chapters. In the opening chapter he said he longed to come to them, in order to impart the gift that establishes; and here he says, in concluding the Epistle: “I am sure, when I come, I will bring the blessing.” The gospel of Christ brings a blessing, but it has also ” the fullness of blessing.” There is a great difference between the two. There is such a thing as a vessel’s containing a liquid, and a vessel’s being filled with the liquid.
At the day of Pentecost, when the disciples were sanctified, the Bible says “they were filled with the Holy Ghost.” When a man today obtains the same blessing he realizes the same “fullness” in his experience. The old half-empty, yearning, unsatisfied feeling is taken away or disappears in a blessing that permanently fills him with the Holy Ghost. The experience that Paul calls “the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ” has come. I Corinthians i. 30: “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.”
The words “wisdom,” “righteousness,” “sanctification,” and “redemption,” in this verse, are all from different Greek words, and signify different works done in us and for us by Christ. Wisdom, from the Greek word sophia, refers to the convicting and illuminating work of the Saviour. Righteousness, from the word dikaiosune, has the same meaning as justification. Sanctification, from the word hagiasmos, is properly translated, although holiness and purity are additional definitions. Redemption is from the word opolutrosis, and refers evidently to the final release and deliverance from the grave. Here are four words referring to four distinct works of Christ, and they are all instantaneous works, and done at different times. These works are “conviction,” “conversion,” “sanctification,” and the “resurrection.” 2 Corinthians i. 15: “And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before, that ye might have a second benefit.” The word translated “benefit” is from the word charis in the Greek. The following are the three prominent meanings or definitions of the word: free gift, grace, and divine grace. Thus translated, the sentence reads: “That ye might have a second grace.” This is exactly what sanctification is–a second free gift or divine grace imparted to the soul. Certainly no one supposes that these Corinthians had not had another experience of peace and joy since their conversion. Doubtless they had enjoyed a thousand blessings in their souls. The second benefit, or grace, Paul wanted them to have was not a second transitory religious emotion, for this idea degrades or belittles the whole matter. Think of the apostle coming over sea and land to Corinth, just to get a few Christians happy for a few minutes! The second benefit, or grace, he spoke of was the second blessing, or the blessing of entire sanctification . Ephesians i. 13: “In whom [i. e., Christ] ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.” The two blessings and lives are so manifest in this scripture that they hardly need to be pointed out. I simply call attention to the fact of how distinctly they are separated by their position in the verse, and by the verbiage in which they are described. The two italicized words are full of force. Ephesians v. 26: “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” The apostle is speaking of the Church. Let the reader take up the Revised Version, and the verse quoted above will be found to read as follows: “That he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word.” Here is sanctification promised to those cleansed by regeneration. And that it is a momentary act is seen from the aorist tense in which the verb appears. 1 Thessalonians v. 23: “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly.” The following facts appear in this verse. First, that regenerated people are only partially sanctified. Second, that they can be wholly sanctified. Third, that this entire sanctification is the work of God, and therefore not growth in grace, which is man’s work and duty. Fourth, the passage teaches not a future, but a present and instantaneous work. Titus iii. 5: “He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” Here both experiences are again mentioned. If the two terms here used mean the same thing, then does the verse become a senseless repetition. Try it and see — “He saved us by regeneration and regeneration!”
Common sense tells us that washing is one thing and renewing is another. So does our religious experience. Lange has a striking passage on the different meaning and reference of the two expressions. He that has had both blessings can say: “He has saved me by the washing of regeneration and by the renewing of the Holy Ghost in sanctification.” Hebrews vi. 1: “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection.” We content ourselves with four simple statements in regard to this passage, that teaches so powerfully the fact of the second blessing. First, the perfection referred to is not a divine or angelic state, but a condition of perfect love and purity and rest brought to and set up in the soul by the Holy Ghost. Again, it is made clear that regeneration does not do all for us in the spiritual life, for we are here exhorted to come into possession of another and higher blessing, called perfection. Again, there is no indefinite and endless growth in grace taught by this passage; but, on the contrary, the words point plainly to a distinct and definite experience to which we may come, and to which we are urged and pressed to go. If there be no such place as New York or Washington, what folly to ask me go there! And if there be no such experience or blessing subsequent to regeneration called perfection, why should I be urged to go on to it? Still again, the passage does not convey the thought of a long lapse of time being consumed necessarily before our entrance upon this blessing. Instead of that, Dr. Clarke says the verb teaches the idea of our being borne on immediately into the experience. Hebrews ix. 28: “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” I know that some will insist that this verse has reference to the day of judgment, and should not be applied to sanctification. In reply, I would lessen the readers confidence–in the fact that this verse refers to the appearance of Christ on the judgment-day by directing him to the second sentence, where it says: “To them that look for him shall he appear.” Will he not appear to all on that day? And does not the Bible teach that many will not be looking for him, and yet he will suddenly appear to all? But leaving this point, which I do not stress, I direct the reader to the double meaning found in many passages of Scripture. Often we find in a verse a near and, back of that, a remote meaning, a narrow and a wider meaning, a close by and a far off thought. It is like seeing the blue, wavy outline of a distant range of mountains just appearing over a nearer line of hills. In Matthew xxiv. 27 and 28 we see, first, the destruction of Jerusalem, and, far away beyond that, the end of the world. The first point of vision is forty years off; the second outline of time is so distant that no one can measure it, and yet it is there plainly beheld. A meaning, and another deeper! In 1 John, first chapter, and the latter part of the seventh verse we read: “The blood of Jesus Christ his son cleanseth us from all sin.” Two meanings are buried here. To the regenerated man it represents one thing; but O how much more it means to the sanctified! To the first it is the cleansing away of all sins, guilt, and depravity that is personal and that pertains to the individual; to the second it means all this, and the utter removal besides of inherited depravity or inbred sin. The soul made to rejoice constantly in the delightful and blessed possession of the experience of a positive indwelling purity!
Two meanings, both blessed, but one so much deeper than the other! And so with the verse under examination. To some, and doubtless to many, it only refers to the coming of Christ at the judgment. But, I bless God, to others, and those not a few, it has another and more spiritual meaning. It teaches–glory be to God!–the second coming of Christ to the soul. This time not as the Pardoner, but as the Sanctifier; this time not dealing with personal sin, but coming without sin unto salvation. We admit that it means the second coming at judgment to save his people, but pushing aside the veil of the first evident thought, climbing up on the range of the first teaching, lo! we see the second and deeper doctrine of the verse, and that is, Christ coming to the soul of the believer the second time, and this time with a salvation from all sin, personal and inherited. “To them that look for him,” shall this occur. If I do not believe in the doctrine of sanctification, I will not look for Christ to come in the office of Sanctifier, and so the verse will remain sealed, and the experience it presents be unknown. But to them that look for him, that seek the blessing of holiness, to them will Christ appear the second time!