The Work Of The Holy Spirit

The Work Of The Holy Spirit

I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you. A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father.” (John 16:12–16)

 

 

Note: The reader would do well to first read the following article on the Divine Essence.

 

The Scriptures tell us that the Holy Spirit is eternal (Hebrews 9:14), and thus has no beginning or ending. Thus it is when we see the very beginning, we are not surprised to find that the Holy Spirit was active in the Creation. “Inthe beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:1–2) When man was created, the Spirit of God was busy. “The Spirit of God hath made me, And the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.” (Job 33:4)

We then see the Spirit of God calling men to repentance for a time. “And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the Lordsaid, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.” (Genesis 6:1–3) The Scripture later speaks of this as the longsuffering of God (1 Peter 3:20). Jesus also told us that the Spirit would convict men of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:7-11), pointing men to Jesus.

When a person trusts Jesus, the Spirit applies to that person the benefits available to us in Christ. “Through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” (Ephesians 2:18) He sanctifies, redeems, justifies, and cleanses us. “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11) Taking residence within us, He is the earnest of our inheritance, thus promising to bring to us all of the blessings of Christ in this world and in that which is to come (Ephesians 1:13-14).

The Spirit has worked in people, giving them various gifts and skills that they might do the work God desired of them. “And the Lordspake unto Moses, saying, See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: and I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship,” (Exodus 31:1–3) The Spirit was laid upon men for leadership positions also (Numbers 11:16-17;28:17). “And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the Lordcommanded Moses.” (Deuteronomy 34:9) We see similarly in 1 Samuel 10:6;16:13. This continues to this day within the body of Christ, as “the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” (1 Corinthians 12:7 and context) We are warned that we need not think that we can work without the aid of the Holy Spirit. “This is the word of the Lordunto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, Saith the Lordof hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6)

The Spirit also guides us (John 16:13;Acts 8:29;10:19;11:12;16:7;21:4) Being omnipresent and omniscient, He is a perfect guide who is always with us. “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: If I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, And thy right hand shall hold me.” (Psalm 139:7–10) In His guidance, He instructs us. “Yea, when they had made them a molten calf, and said, This is thy God that brought thee up out of Egypt, and had wrought great provocations; yet thou in thy manifold mercies forsookest them not in the wilderness: the pillar of the cloud departed not from them by day, to lead them in the way; neither the pillar of fire by night, to shew them light, and the way wherein they should go. Thou gavest also thy good spirit to instruct them, and withheldest not thy manna from their mouth, and gavest them water for their thirst.” (Nehemiah 9:18–20) It is important to note that the Holy Spirit guides us by instructing us. We must never think that our feelings and opinions are important or crucial in being guided by the Spirit, because He directs and guides us by teaching us. Holy Spirit guidance is Word based guidance.

It is very important that we understand that the Spirit is deeply involved in the work and ministry of the Word. We read, “Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, And the man who was raised up on high, The anointed of the God of Jacob, And the sweet psalmist of Israel, said, The Spirit of the Lordspake by me, And his word was in my tongue.” (2 Samuel 23:1–2) Thus, He spoke to the prophets (Cf Ezekiel 2:1-3;Micah 3:8;Zechariah 7:12;1 Peter 1:10-12;2 Peter 1:16-21). We also find that the Holy Spirit was active in giving to us the New Testament. “These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:25–26) He was promised to testify of Christ, using the apostles to bear witness (John 15:26-27), which they did (See 2 Peter 3:1-2, where Peter states that the writings of the apostles are of the same authority as those of the Old Testament Scriptures.). Jesus promised that the Spirit would guide us into all truth, telling us things to come (John 16:12-15). We see this throughout the New Testament Scriptures, as the writers often acknowledge their words as being of the Spirit, or God’s Word (1 Corinthians 2:10-14;7:40;1 John 5:6,9;Revelation 1:9-20). In fact, Peter was so bold as to call Paul’s writings by the name “Scripture” (2 Peter 3:14-16), and John placed his writings on the same level as the law (Revelation 22:18-19 Cf Deuteronomy 4:1-2). Yes, the Spirit has given to us the Scriptures we have today.

Not only does the Spirit give to us the Scriptures, but also He helps us understand them. “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:9–16) We are taught in the Scriptures that God gives to us understanding (Proverbs 2:1-9;James 1:5;John 16:12-16;Ephesians 1:15-17;2 Timothy 2:7). Because we have the Holy Spirit within us, we can understand the wonderful gifts and words of God to us in the Scriptures.

The Scriptures present to us many promises of the Spirit being poured out upon the earth and upon men. It is then that the earth will be renewed and filled with righteousness and peace (Isaiah 32:15-20;44:1-5;Ezekiel 39:25-29;Joel 2:28-32;Acts 2:17), and men will be transformed. This promise began to be fulfilled on Pentecost (Acts 2), and continues to be fulfilled in everyone who believes to the saving of the soul (Romans 5:5;8:9;1 Corinthians 12:13;Galatians 3:26-29;Ephesians 1:13-14). (See the article The Baptism Of The Spirit.)

When the Spirit comes upon a person, He also indwells him. “If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” (John 14:15–18) This wonderful indwelling of the Spirit is the very presence of both the Father and the Son within us (See Romans 8:9-11, where the Spirit is spoken of as the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ. See also Colossians 1:27.) Not only so, but the promise of Jesus is that the Spirit will be with us forever. God has promised never to leave us, nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5-6), and His Spirit will ever be within us.

As the Spirit works within the child of God, we have already seen that He instructs us and enlightens us regarding the Word of God; but He also is at work in us to sanctify us. Paul stated, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:22–25) The Spirit works within us to give us the will and the power to please God (Philippians 2:13), and He enables us to put to death sinful lusts and live holy to the glory of God (Romans 8:1-14).

The Spirit also assures us of our salvation and son ship. “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:” (Romans 8:12–16) We know that we belong to Christ because of the presence of the Spirit within us transforming us into His likeness (Ephesians 1:13-14;1 John 3:24), and giving to us promise of greater and more perfect things to come (Romans 8:9-11;Galatians 5:5;Titus 2:11-15).

This is but a very small portion of the things that can be written concerning the work of the Holy Spirit within us. It is a beginning for us. Let us search the Scriptures, pleading with God to fulfill His promise of giving to us enlightenment and understanding, so that we might indeed know the things He has freely given to us. “Open thou mine eyes, That I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” (Psalm 119:18)

 

 

The Presence Of God

The Presence Of God

“Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: If I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, And thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; Even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; But the night shineth as the day: The darkness and the light are both alike to thee. For thou hast possessed my reins: Thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:7–13)

Introduction

The text above presents us with three important things to meditate upon: 

1.     The omnipresence of God: the fact that God is present everywhere.

2.     The comfort of God’s presence.

3.     The awe-inspiring reality of God’s presence.

God’s presence should inspire awe within us, because we know that He is everywhere at all times, seeing all things. There is nothing secret from Him. This should inspire comfort within us as His saints, because God’s presence means that He is with His people to guide, bless, strengthen, and comfort them; and He will eventually bring us into His eternal dwelling place to forever be with Him.

In this study we shall consider that God is omnipresent, that He is always present with His people, that there are warnings regarding losing God’s presence, and the fact that one can be eternally banished from God’s presence.

The Omnipresence Of God

            The Bible begins with the presentation of God as transcending (existing above, exceeding the limits of) time, space, and matter. You ask, “how?” The Scripture tells us that He is before all things, because, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) Being the Creator of time, space, and matter, we know that God is greater than these things. 

            Scripture tells us that God lives beyond time and space: “For thus saith the high and lofty One That inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, With him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” (Isaiah 57:15) God inhabits eternity. God does not live in time, though He does use time for His purposes (E.g. Psalm 31:15;Ecclesiastes 3:1): God lives in eternity, which is without limits. Not only so, but this also speaks of God living beyond the bounds of space. There are no limits to God’s size: He is eternal. This means that there is no place where He is not present.

            Scripture teaches us of God’s omnipresence when it speaks of God’s being larger than the universe. Solomon spoke of God’s omnipresence by saying that the newly built temple could not hold Him. “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?” (1 Kings 8:27) Though we often speak of God living in the highest of heavens, yet such speech is truly only figurative: the heavens and the highest of heavens cannot hold God, because He transcends space. God led Isaiah to write, “Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: Where is the house that ye build unto me? And where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, And all those things have been, saith the Lord: But to this man will I look, Even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, And trembleth at my word.” (Isaiah 66:1–2) Here God declares that He is larger than the universe, or created space. A building cannot truly house God, because it would mean that God is limited. God is not limited, but is infinite and eternal: this is why God is omnipresent, because He is beyond the limits of space and time and is present in every place at every moment.

            God’s omnipresence is also one of the reasons that God is spoken of as being omniscient, or all-knowing. The Psalmist spoke of God’s omnipresence and omniscience as being complementary attributes of God (See Psalm 139). Jeremiah was also led to write, “Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord.” (Jeremiah 23:23–24) Because God fills the universe, He is able to see and to know all things. For the saint this is comforting (Psalm 139), but for the sinner this should be disturbing (Jeremiah 23:23-24). There is no greater comfort to the saint than knowing that God knew him even before his birth, and will be present with him beyond his death. On the other hand, the sinner should greatly fear, because there is not one thought in his heart, nor one deed that he does that can escape God’s knowledge and judgment. “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, Beholding the evil and the good.” (Proverbs 15:3) 

God’s Presence With His People

            One precious promise upon which God’s people can always rely is that of His presence with His people. God’s presence with His people is more than the fact that He is everywhere: it means that God intends to bless His people. “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect towards him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9) God’s presence with His people is different from His omnipresence in that His presence with His people is always beneficial to them. Some tend to focus on God’s judgment and fail to remember His mercies and His grace; yet we need to recognize that God’s people are not under judgment (See John 3:17-18;Romans 8:1-4), but do forever partake of His grace (Psalm 23:6;Ephesians 2:5-7). It is for this reason that Moses pled for God’s presence to go with the children of Israel and lead them into the land of promise (Exodus 33:12-20). It was also this to which Ezra clung when heading from Babylon back to Jerusalem: “For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him.” (Ezra 8:22) So, too, did David trust in this promise, saying, “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: What can man do unto me?” (Psalm 118:6)

            Numerous times God has promised His special presence to His people. To Isaac He said, “sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father;” (Genesis 26:3) Likewise to Jacob He made the same promise: “And behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.” (Genesis 28:15) This same presence was promised to Moses: “And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.” (Exodus 3:12) Joshua was a recipient of this same promise: “And he gave Joshua the son of Nun a charge, and said, Be strong and of a good courage: for thou shalt bring the children of Israel into the land which I sware unto them: and I will be with thee.” (Deuteronomy 31:23) Israel was reminded of this once again many years later: “But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, And he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burnt; Neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God, The Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.” (Isaiah 43:1–3) This same promise has been repeated to the saints in Christ when Jesus said He would be with us always (Matthew 28:20), that the Holy Spirit would be with us forever (John 14:15-18), that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5-6). With this in mind, we should embrace the glorious reality that God is gracious and merciful to His children and will never abandon them, nor leave them alone at any time.

The Warnings Of Losing God’s Presence

            One important thing that we must bear in mind is that God’s promise to His children is that they shall be His forever. We read that the Spirit is within the children of God until the time that He redeems us at the resurrection (Ephesians 1:13-14;Romans 8:9-11). Nothing will pluck us out of the hand of God, Jesus said. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.” (John 10:27–30) God’s power is so strong that there is nothing and no one that can take us out of His hand or cause us to lose His presence with us. This promise is repeated quite strongly by Paul: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35–39) Child of God, never fear! Jesus went to the cross and died for you. He went to the grave and arose for you. His promise is that He will return to take you into His presence forever (John 14:1-3;1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). Such a great love as God has for His saints compels Him to graciously bless us with His presence forever!

            That being said, we must consider the warnings that Scripture gives about losing the presence of God. What do they mean, and to whom do they apply?

            First of all, let us consider Israel, the nation who received the promises of God, and how God promised His presence and yet warned of the loss thereof. 

            1. The promise of God’s presence was given to Abraham when He promised to give him and his seed the land of Canaan (Genesis 12:1-7). God kept this promise and repeated it to Isaac (Genesis 26:1-3). Samuel reminded rebellious and sinful Israel of this same promise, saying, “For the Lord will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the Lord to make you his people.” (1 Samuel 12:22) In the midst of great destruction and woe, Jeremiah was reminded of this daily, because He knew Israel was not spared for her faithfulness, but because God remained faithful. “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22–23) During the captivity, God did not spare Israel as a nation because they were righteous, but because He was merciful and because He is faithful to His promises. God always keeps His promises and will never leave those who trust in those promises.

            2. God did, however, give warnings regarding the loss of His presence. What does that mean? Consider: “And the spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded: and he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The Lord is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.” (2 Chronicles 15:1–2) God warned Israel that they were not to defile themselves (Leviticus 18:24-30;Deuteronomy 28) because they would find themselves being chastened sorely should they do so. They were warned that idolatry would lead to God’s judgment upon them (Joshua 24:19-20). David’s seed received a similar warning (2 Samuel 7:14-16), and he passed it on to Solomon (1 Chronicles 28:1-10). Manasseh was warned likewise (2 Kings 21:10-15). Do these things mean that God contradicted Himself and did actually forsake His people utterly? Not at all, because we read, “I am the Lord, I change not; Therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” (Malachi 3:6) What we can say about this is that God has kept His promise to Israel and never has forsaken them. When Israel sinned, however, God did at times withdraw much of His blessing and they did appear to have been forsaken. One of those times was when Jerusalem was destroyed and many were taken captive into Babylon. It was at this time, however, that we find God promising that He would forever be faithful to His people (Jeremiah 30:1-31:40) and make a new covenant in which their sins would forever be forgotten. Despite the great suffering and heartache that sin brought to them and the judgment that God placed upon them, He remained merciful to them and faithful to the promises He made. 

Banished From God’s Presence

            Scripture tells us that one could descend into hell and that God would even be there (Psalm 139:7-10), yet those who are lost will finally be banished from the presence of God. Jesus said, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:22–23) He stated that, at the great day of judgment, many would hear Him say, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:” (Matthew 25:41) How can God be present everywhere, even in hell, and yet the sinner be cast into hell and forever banished from His presence? Remember that we saw earlier that God’s presence with His people is a special presence in that it brings His promises and blessings. The lack of God’s presence must certainly bring quite the opposite of blessings. In fact, we find the following said regarding those who will experience God’s judgment: “It is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.” (2 Thessalonians 1:6–10) In other words, those who experience the second death (Revelation 20:11-15) experience the loss of the blessings of God, the loss of God’s mercy, the loss of the pleasure of His glorious saving power, and the loss of the opportunity to glorify and enjoy Him forever. Yes, sinners forfeit the rich blessings of the presence of God refusing to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior! 

The Joys Of The Presence Of God

            Time will not permit, neither can the human mind comprehend the joys of the presence of God. It is this joy, however, that the saint anticipates experiencing in eternity. David said, “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: In thy presence is fulness of joy; At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Psalm 16:11) God is eternally joyful, and so are the joys that are in His presence. Jesus prayed that we would experience God’s presence and joy, saying, “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:24) We will experience nothing but eternal grace (Ephesians 2:5-7) and the joy-filled love of God forever, when we are taken into His presence. Oh, how we should long for the day that we hear, “enter thou into the joy of thy lord!” (Matthew 25:21) 

Baptism, Church Membership, And Landmarkism

Baptism, Church Membership, And Landmarkism

            In previous articles we have considered the significance of baptism, the baptism that is in Romans 6:1-7and Galatians 3:27, the administrator of baptism, and the authority of the churchin receiving members; so in this article we shall try to build upon these things and briefly deal with the issue of baptism and church membership.

            The pressing question of Landmarkism that was posed by James Madison Pendleton in his, “An Old Landmark Reset,” was, “Ought Baptists to invite Pedobaptists (That is, those who baptize babies.) to preach in their pulpits?” A.C. Dayton also dealt with the issue of “Pedobaptist And Campbellite Immersions,” and whether they were valid or not. Both men concluded that the questions should be answered in the negative, and we certainly agree.

            The problem with inviting men to preach who have been sprinkled instead of baptized is the issue of their not truly being subject to the authority of a local church. Where there is no true baptism, there can be no true church nor true church membership. This is a matter of great importance, if we are to respect the biblical order of binding and loosing that Christ has instituted in His church. The body of Christ is visibly manifest in the local church, and the pattern found in Scripture is for believers to be baptized and then united with the local church. Where this is absent, those who lack baptism and church membership should not be received as valid members of a church. They can neither be recommended by a church, nor received by a church in any capacity until they have submitted to true baptism. This is a matter of obedience to Christ and His commands, so we must expect those who would be regular ministers of the gospel to set the example of obedience to Christ.

            Why should we not accept the baptisms performed by those who are Campbellites (Church of Christ or Christian Church Disciples of Christ), Pedobaptists, Methodists, Anglicans,  United Pentecostals, or those of similar beliefs? The answer is that they baptize for the wrong reasons. In some fashion or another, each of these groups speak of baptism as conferring some sort of spiritual blessing, and often demand that a person be baptized in order to have the remission of sins. That is not true baptism, as we have already seen. True baptism is symbolic in nature, and confers no grace to the one being baptized; but is simply their profession of faith. 

While Pendleton’s and Dayton’s conclusions were valid, their arguments were not. The important issue is not that of church authority in baptism, but rather of the validity of sprinkling as baptism and the validity of receiving the immersions performed by those who hold to erroneous views on baptism.

            Having said these things, it is my earnest desire that my Landmark Baptist brethren understand and accept that we arrive at the same conclusions regarding the above questions. Brothers, we are on the same team. We are brothers in Christ. We are members of the church that Jesus established and promised that He would build and be present with forever. The issues that are before us should be issues that we discuss with kindness and brotherly love rather than stridently and with anger. “Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.” (Romans 15:7) 

Romans 6:1-7 and Baptism

Romans 6:1-7 And Baptism

“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.” (Romans 6:1–7)

Does This Text Speak Of Water Baptism?

Does the above passage speak of water baptism? This passage has been used to show that water baptism shows our identification and participation with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. Is this so? Does water baptism cause us to die with Christ and rise to walk in a new life? Does water baptism join us to the local body of Christ? To answer the question concisely, no, it does not. That is what we shall seek to establish in this article.

The first thing that we must do is notice the greater and the immediate context. The greater context shows us that Paul has been teaching the Romans about justification by faith rather than by works (Romans 1:16-17;2:27-30;3:21-28;4:1-5,24-25). The immediate context is that God’s grace in Christ reigns unto life where sin had once reigned unto death. “Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:20–21)

The opening verse asks if we should continue in sin that we might experience the abundance of God’s grace. After all, where sin is abundant, grace is superabundant (Romans 5:20-21). Yet grace reigns unto life. Grace conquers sin. For this cause we cannot sin in order to continue to receive great grace: we have died and are alive, as we see taught in Romans 5:20-21. God forbid that we think that the gospel encourages sin by giving grace to sinners (Cf Romans 3:1-8), when the gospel is the message of God’s conquering of sin.

The response to the question is that we are dead to sin. How shall those who are dead to sin continue to live in sin? We know that is logically impossible. Scripture tells us that we are new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) who are crucified with Christ. “For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” (Galatians 2:19–21) We are also risen with Him. “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved.)” (Ephesians 2:4–5) (See also Galatians 2:19-21) This came through the grace of God when we believed.

Paul asked the Romans if they were aware that they, by way of being baptized into Christ, died to sin and risen to walk in a new life (Romans 6:3-4). Ask yourself this question: Does water baptism bring about this great change, or is it the free, justifying grace of God in the believer that makes this change? We have already seen that it is the work of free grace that changes us.

Paul continues and tells the Romans that in baptism we share in Christ’s death and resurrection, that the body of sin is destroyed, all to the purpose that we would not serve sin. Does water baptism do all of this? We have already seen that this occurs by the free grace of God when one trusts Jesus and is justified by faith. Furthermore, Paul teaches us in Colossians that it is by the blood of Christ that we are forgiven our sins, rescued from the power of darkness, and made citizens of the kingdom of Christ (Colossians 1:13-14). This deliverance from sin is the very essence of the doctrine of redemption through grace. “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” (Ephesians 1:7) The context of this passage speaks of God’s grace in Christ being to God’s glory. We do not contribute anything to our salvation. Redemption and deliverance from sin come because Christ died for us and rose again. This is why God gets the glory and not man (Cf Ephesians 2:8-10).

Then we find that Paul states that the person who is dead is freed from sin (Romans 6:7). Interestingly enough, the word “freed” is the same word that is more often translated “justified.” Dare we say that water baptism justifies us and frees us from sin? Dare we, who contend for the free grace of God in the gospel and justification by faith, proclaim that this is water baptism in Romans 6:1-7, if the text tells us that this great change is wrought by baptism? The Word of God does not allow us to do so.

What Baptism Is This?

If this is not speaking of water baptism, then of what does the text speak? What baptism is this? This can only be the promised baptism of the Spirit. Let us consider what the promise was.

The promised outpouring of the Spirit was to give to God’s people cleansing, new life, and liberation from sin. “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. I will also save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you.” (Ezekiel 36:25–29) God promised Israel that He would put His Spirit in them, change them, and liberate them from sin. In a similar manner, He said, “Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns and briers; Yea, upon all the houses of joy in the joyous city: Because the palaces shall be forsaken; The multitude of the city shall be left; The forts and towers shall be for dens for ever, A joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks; Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high, And the wilderness be a fruitful field, And the fruitful field be counted for a forest. Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, And righteousness remain in the fruitful field. And the work of righteousness shall be peace; And the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, And in sure dwellings, And in quiet resting places;” (Isaiah 32:13–18) Again, notice that there is great liberation from the curse of sin when the promised outpouring of the Spirit comes.

Again he says, “And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh: that they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” (Ezekiel 11:19–20) Once more we see that the promise of the Spirit will bring a change of heart in the people so that they will be liberated from sin to serve God. This promise is also given in Joel and fulfilled in Acts 2. “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: and on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: and I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: and it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Acts 2:16–21) “Then Peter said unto them, 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. For 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. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.” (Acts 2:38–40) It is quite evident that the promised gift of the Spirit is given in order that we might be saved, cleansed, delivered, forgiven, and made anew.

Paul spoke of this when he referred to the seal of the Spirit that is given to us: “in whom 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, which is the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13–14) This seal is not one such as we think of on a jar of beans, but a seal such as we see when papers are notarized. It is a mark that signifies that something is official or genuine. Thus we read, “And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.” (1 John 3:24) The Spirit within us is what signifies that we are God’s children. When we trust Jesus we receive the promised gift of the Holy Spirit and the love of God is poured out (See Romans 5:5, where the text tells us it is “shed abroad in our hearts,” or poured out.) in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

Thus we see that the baptism which clothes us with Christ (Galatians 3:26-29), buries us and raises us through faith (Colossians 2:12), and causes us to die, buries and raises us, and justifies and liberates us from sin (Romans 6:1-7) is nothing less than the promised baptism of the Holy Spirit, which is given to all who trust Jesus.

The Significance Of Baptism pt 2

Baptized In The Name…

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” (Matthew 28:19)

Then Peter said unto them, 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.” (Acts 2:38)

            What does it mean to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost? What does it mean to be baptized in the name of Jesus? Is this a series of words that must be said over the one being baptized, or is there another significance? 

            The preposition ες is often translated in, into, unto, or for and is seen in both of these texts as well as 1 Corinthians 10:1-4, where Israel is spoken of as being baptized unto Moses. “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” (1 Corinthians 10:1–4) 

(It is interesting to note that there is a parallel to be seen here: Israel was redeemed by blood and then baptized in the Red Sea, and the saints are redeemed by the blood of Jesus and then baptized in water.) Notice that Israel was baptized unto Moses. Just as we are baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus Christ, unto repentance, and for the remission of sins, Israel was baptized unto Moses. Were they baptized in order to receive Moses into their hearts? Were they baptized to be joined unto Moses? No, they were baptized in identification with Moses. They were identified with Him as their leader as they followed the visible presence of the LORD in the fiery and cloudy pillar.

            What, then, does it mean when we read of being baptized unto repentance, for the remission of sins, in the name of Jesus Christ, or in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? It simply means that we are identifying with repentance, the remission of sins, Jesus Christ, or the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As we saw earlier, baptism occurs after repentance, which brings the remission of sins (Luke 24:47;2 Corinthians 7:8-10). Baptism neither saves, nor brings the remission of sins. Neither does water baptism join us to Jesus Christ, or the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Baptism is an outward sign that identifies us with all of these.

            Thus it is that, when we are baptized, we are saying that we have repented of our sins, received the forgiveness of our sins, are joined to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and are thus identifying ourselves as such.

The Doctrine of Sanctification

Sanctification/Holiness

Defined

As with most Biblical issues one must begin their study by asking the basic meaning of the issue that they are studying.  What does sanctification mean?  Simply put, sanctification is being separate, or set apart. One who is sanctified, or holy, is set apart from the run-of-the-mill person.  

God is alone in His holiness, and we can learn much about holiness by considering the holiness of God.  God’s holiness sets Him apart from all others.  It is not that God is distant from us.  God’s being separate from us means that He is far greater than we are.  He spoke to us through Isaiah saying, “To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One.”  (Isa 40:25) KJV  There is no comparison to Him, because there is no equal to God. That is why Hannah would say, “There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.”  (1 Sam 2:2)

KJV  Even among the gods so-called there is none like Him.  God is alone in His holiness.  There is none other than He who is so far above men, angels, and all that may be called “god.”  

On the other hand, God calls His people unto holiness.  He has said, “ ye shall be holy; for I am holy.” (Lev 11:44) KJV  Note that God does not say that we become holy as He is holy.  We are called to be holy because God is holy.  In other words, though we will not become holy as God, we are to seek to be holy and set apart unto God.  

Sanctification Exemplified

There are two Biblical examples of sanctification (setting apart, making holy) that will be helpful to our understanding of this topic.  The first example is the Sabbath day.  The Scripture says, “God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”  (Gen 2:3) KJV  God made the seventh day a holy day. He used Moses to elaborate upon the Sabbath saying “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:  But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:  For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.”  (Ex 20:8-11) KJV  The Sabbath is holy because  it is set apart from all other days of the week.  There is no other day of the week that is quite like the Sabbath day.  The LORD spoke further to Moses saying,“Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you.   Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.   Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.   Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.   It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.”  (Ex 31:13-17) KJV  The Sabbath was sanctified so that God’s people would know that He was the one who made them different from all other nations. Had they been permitted to work on the Sabbath day, perhaps they would have felt that they deserved the blessings they had due to their hard work.  Being compelled to rest on the Sabbath meant that there were things that would have to be left undone until the first day of the week. These things may have urgently needed attention, but the work had to be left until the Sabbath day had passed.   This was to remind Israel that God, not themselves, set them apart from the nations around them.  It was a holy day for them to observe, and it was set apart to be the Lord’s day.

We also find people being sanctified for specific tasks.  Aaron and his sons are example of this.  The Lord told Moses, “For Aaron’s sons thou shalt make coats, and thou shalt make for them girdles, and bonnets shalt thou make for them, for glory and for beauty.   And thou shalt put them upon Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him; and shalt anoint them, and consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office.”  (Ex 28:40,41) KJV  Aaron and his sons were set apart  from the other people in Israel that they might be the LORD’s priests.  They were set apart from the people, but to the Lord.  This separateness was not a physical separation, but a separation of service, duty, and life.  The priest’s lives, livelihood, and duties were separate from those of the people of Israel.  Thus they were sanctified people.

Christ Our Sanctification

To get to the heart of the matter, we must study the sanctification of the Christian.  The first thing that must be understood about the Christian’s sanctification is the fact that it is not brought about due to one’s will and determination.  Will power does not a holy man make. Many people have been led away into a performance based sort of holiness and a “holier-than-thou” attitude because they have missed the most crucial of all points concerning sanctification: which point is that Christ is our sanctification.  Apart from Jesus we will never be holy.  Because of Jesus, however, His children are holy.

Jesus’ death was for the purpose of sanctifying His church.  “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”  (Eph 5:25-27) KJV  When Jesus went to Calvary He did so that through His work He might make His people holy.  “When he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law;  Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.   By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”  (Heb 10:8-10) KJV This sanctifying work is a work that will be perfected by Jesus.  His death is spoken of as being “once for all”, meaning that it is sufficient to accomplish the purpose for which it was intended.

Paul spoke of Jesus as the one who sanctifies us saying, “Of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:  That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”  (1 Cor 1:30,31) KJV We can never boast of our holiness: it is of Christ alone.  We have no holiness in and of ourselves: Christ is our sanctification.

Positional

The Christian’s sanctification is first of all positional.  That is, it is our standing before God.  When we are saved we are set apart as holy.  “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.   And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”  (1 Cor 6:9-11) KJV  While there may remain much that is wrong in our lives, God has set us apart as special unto Himself, and His purpose is to accomplish a further work of sanctification in our lives.  “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.”  (Eph 1:3,4) KJV  As Paul exhorted the Ephesians unto godliness he told them to “put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” (Eph 4:24) KJV  In other words, being new creatures in Christ (2Cor 5:17) we now are holy people.  Being such, we are to live out that holiness in our daily walk.  

As Paul spoke of his conversion he told us of God’s command to him: “Rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;  Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,  To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”  (Acts 26:16-18) KJV  Notice that sanctification is by faith in Christ. Those who are sanctified through faith in Christ have the forgiveness of sins and an inheritance.  It is obvious that the people of whom he speaks are those who are saved.  These people who are sanctified are not some super-holy people, but common run-of-the-mill people who have been set apart from the world by the saving grace of God.  

Positional sanctification has much to do with the purpose of God in saving sinners. God has set us apart for Himself so that we might live unto His glory.  That is why He said, “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.   For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”  (Eph 2:8-10) KJV  God has saved us that we might walk in good works.  Peter told us that “ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” (1 Peter 2:9) KJV  God has sanctified us that He might be glorified in us.  For this reason John said “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake.”  (1 John 2:12) KJV  We are saved, sanctified, set apart as holy unto God that He might be exalted in and through our lives.

Practical Holiness

Sanctification is not all about our standing with God (positional sanctification): it is also directly related to our lives today.  As we have already seen, we have been saved for the purpose of giving glory to God.  This means that holiness must be a part of our daily lives.  After all, if the goal of saving grace is to make us holy (Eph 1:3,4), then God’s purpose shall be accomplished in us.  Paul was confident in this fact saying, “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”  (Phil 1:6) KJV  He also told the church at Thessalonica the same thing: “The very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.   Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.”  (1 Thess 5:23.24) KJV  If God is determined to accomplish holiness within His people, we can assuredly say that where there is no sanctification there is no salvation.  “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.”  (Heb 12:14) KJV In fact, if Christ is our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption (1Cor 1:30), those who belong to Him must manifest holiness.  We cannot have a partial savior.  Either Christ is all of these to us, or He is none at all.   

How is this sanctification accomplished in us?  We have already seen that it is not the result of our efforts, but is the work of Christ within us.  Paul said, “My beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.   For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”  (Phil 2:12,130 KJV  God is at work in His people to accomplish His purpose in them, but how does He do it?  First of all, we must remember the fact that our minds have been renewed. We are new creatures in Christ. “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;  And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.”  (Col 3:9,10) KJV  We now have the law of God in our hearts (Heb 8:10-12) and the Spirit of God within us as well.  That being so, we are called to work out this renewing of our minds in our lives.  “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,  Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.   But ye have not so learned Christ;  If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:  That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;  And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;  And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”  (Eph 4:17-24) KJV  That change which has been wrought within us is now to change our lifestyle. Our position must become our practice.   Just as as we were changed when we trusted Jesus we are also called to be changed by the Word of God directing our lives.  “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.   And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”  (Rom 12:1,2) KJV   How do we renew our minds?  There is no doubt that our minds are renewed by the Word of God. In fact, Jesus’ prayer was that we would be made holy by God’s Word.  “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” (John 17:17) KJV  In fact, Jesus died that He might renew our minds and sanctify us by His Word.  “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”  (Eph 5:25-27) KJV  Though our minds have been renewed by regeneration we are still in sinful flesh.  Because of this we battle with fleshly lusts (Gal 5:16,17;1Pet 2:11,12).  The only way to conquer sin is to allow the Word of God to work in us.  Paul stated that Scripture is sufficient and designed for this purpose. “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, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Tim 3:16,17) KJV  It is by saturating our hearts and minds with Biblical truth that we correct our lives and keep from sin.  “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.   With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.   Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”  (Ps 119:9-11) KJV What a blessing it is to have the means by which we can be molded into the likeness of our Savior and be holy as He is holy!

Is The Saint’s Practical Sanctification Assured?

This final question is one which it is essential to consider.  Is the saint’s practical sanctification assured? To put it another way, will positional sanctification lead to practical sanctification?  We may also ask the question in this manner: Will the unholy inhabit heaven?  That is, is one whose life is not characterized by submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ a true Christian?  This question is essential for two reasons:  one, it should help the true Christian be assured of his standing with God by observing the sanctifying work of God in his life; two, it should help the careless to examine themselves so that they can ascertain if they are truly regenerate, and it should provoke them unto good works that are to the glory of God.

First of all we should remember the purpose for which we are saved.  “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,  Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”  (1 Cor 6:9-11) KJV  While there may remain much that is wrong in our lives, God has set us apart as special unto Himself, and His purpose is to accomplish a further work of sanctification in our lives.  “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.”  (Eph 1:3,4) KJV   The saints are God’s chosen whom He plans to cause to stand before Him holy and without blame in His love.  In fact, Jesus’ death (as we have already seen) was for the purpose of giving both positional and practical sanctification to His church.  “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,  That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”  (Eph 5:25-27) KJV  We have also seen that the same Jesus who is Savior is also redemption, wisdom, justification, and sanctification (See 1Cor 1:30).  This being so, we must accept that fact that God’s children will be sanctified.  After all, either Jesus is all of these to us or He is none of these to us. We do not have a partial Savior. To declare that there are Christians in whose life God does not do His sanctifying work is to denigrate the person of Christ as well as His sacrifice that is sufficient to accomplish this work.  

The true saint of God should find great assurance in the truth that God will indeed accomplish holiness in his/her life.  When one sees the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22,23) in their life they can be assured that such things are only the work of God within them. The characteristics of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, and faith are not produced by human will-power, but by the supernatural work of God as He uses His truth to transform us.  The obedient child of God will also find great assurance of his/her salvation when they read the words of Jesus Christ as He said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.   Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?   And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.   Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:  And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.   And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:  And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.”  (Matt 7:21-27) KJV While the immediate context is a warning about false prophets, this text also has an application that is relevant to all those who profess Christ.  Jesus stated that “whosoever” would hear and obey His words would endure thejudgment while “whosoever” would hear and not obey His words would not endure the judgment.  For those in whom Christ is working obedience and holiness this passage is a great comfort.  What a joy it is to find that the evidence of the work of Christ in our lives assures us that all will be well with us in the day of judgment!

Often there are those who profess Christ but do not live a life that is consistent with their profession.  What are we to think of these?  First of all we must understand that we cannot make an infallible judgment concerning them: judgment is the Divine prerogative (James 4:12).  It is true that we can know a tree by its fruits (See Mt 7:20), but there seem to be times when the fruit of the Spirit is not soon manifest in the lives of God’s children.  There are also those whose lives are characterized by immorality.  When we consider them we should remember that the Scripture calls the church to exercise discipline in these cases so that the erring one could be brought back to faithfulness. We should also understand that persisting in these things is often evidence of an unregenerate nature. “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,  Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal 5:19-21) KJV  People who commit sins of immorality should be very concerned about their spiritual condition and should ascertain whether they are truly saved or not.  If they are truly saved they should repent of their immorality and seek to walk closer to the Lord.  The Word of God does present to us several saints who did indeed have moral lapses in their lives, some of which were long-lived lapses.  Time would fail us to tell of David’s adultery, Lot’s drunkenness and incest, Peter’s nakedness and cursing, Noah’s drunkenness and nakedness, and many others.  The fact remains, however, that these people who lapsed are still characterized in their lives by righteousness.  Even Lot is referred to as a righteous person.  “If God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;  And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;  And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;  And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)  The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.”  (2 Peter 2:4-9) KJV  Notice the pains which are taken, and the ends to which the Spirit leads Peter in assuring us that Lot was sanctified.  Lot is spoken of as just, righteous, as having a righteous soul, and as being godly.  Whatever else the case may be, many claims have been unjustly made about the life of Lot.  He was not one who lived in Sodom for many years while partaking of their sins. In fact, we cannot be sure that Lot was as fully responsible as we have declared him to be as concerning the sins committed when he lapsed.  The reader will no doubt charitably agree with the writer when he states that Lot’s daughters plotted to get him into an inebriated state so that they could accomplish their sorry goal.  Who knows to what pains they went to accomplish this so that Lot was not fully aware of what was being done to him?  In the end we must accept the Word of God and say that Lot, though lapsed, was a man in whom God did indeed work holiness.  From this we must conclude that, though the child of God may fall under the power of sin for a season he will not remain in sin. God will make him holy through chastening him (See Heb 12:4-11), or He will take the erring saint’s life (See 1Cor 11:30 and 1Jn 5:16).

The child of God who fears because he struggles with sin should take heart in the fact that the struggle of sin is part of the Christian’s life.  “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.   For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”  (Gal 5:16,17) KJV  The great truth that is found in this passage is the fact that, while we struggle with sin, the Holy Spirit is within us giving us strength so that we will not sin so long as we are walking in the Spirit.  The struggling child of God should not be discouraged either, because God promises to sanctify him.  “The very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.   Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.”  (1 Thess 5:23.24) KJV  “Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.   God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.”  ( 1 Cor 1:8,9) KJV  “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ”  (Phil 1:6) KJV  The children of God should take this great truth as an incentive to be attentive to God’s Word, obey it, and rely upon God’s strengthening grace, because He will work through these things to make us holy people.