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- When the Holy Ghost is Come - 5/29 -
sanctification of the Spirit" (1 Peter i. I, 2). Here it is the Spirit that sanctifies or makes clean and holy.
Is there, then, confusion here? Jesus says, "the truth"; John says, "the blood"; Paul and Peter say, "faith," and "the Holy Ghost." Can these be reconciled? Let us see.
Here is a child in a burning house. A man at the peril of his life rushes to the spot above which the child stands in awful danger, and cries out, "Jump, and I will catch you!"
The child hears, believes, leaps, and the man receives him; but just as he turns and places the boy in safety, a falling timber smites him to the ground wounded to death, and his flowing blood sprinkles the boy whom he has saved.
A breathless spectator says: "The child's faith saved him." Another says: "How quick the lad was! His courageous leap saved him." Another says: "Bless the child! He was in awful danger, and he just barely saved himself." Another says: "That man's word just reached the boy's ear in the nick of time, and saved him." Another says: "God bless that man! He saved that child." And yet another says: "That boy was saved by blood; by the sacrifice of that heroic man!"
Now, what saved the child? Without the man's presence and promise there would have been no faith; and without faith there would have been no saving action, and the boy would have perished. The man's word saved him by inspiring faith. Faith saved him by leading to proper action. He saved himself by leaping. The man saved him by sacrificing his own life in order to catch him when he leaped out.
Not the child himself alone, nor his faith, nor his brave leap, nor his rescuer's word, nor his blood, nor the man himself saved the boy, but they all together saved him; and the boy was not saved till he was in the arms of the man.
And so it is faith and works, and the word and the blood and the Holy Ghost that sanctify.
The blood, the sacrifice of Christ, underlies all, and is the meritorious cause of every blessing we receive, but the Holy Spirit is the active Agent by whom the merits of the blood are applied to our needs.
During the American Civil War certain men committed some dastardly and unlawful deeds, and were sentenced to be shot. On the day of the execution they stood in a row confronted by soldiers with loaded muskets, waiting the command to fire. Just before the command was given, the commanding officer felt a touch on his elbow, and, turning, saw a young man by his side, who said, "Sir, there in that row, waiting to be shot, is a married man. He has a wife and children. He is their bread-winner. If you shoot him, he will be sorely missed. _Let me take his place._"
"All right," said the officer; "take his place, if you wish; but you will be shot."
"I quite understand that," replied the young man; "but no one will miss me"; and, going to the condemned man, he pushed him aside, and took his place.
Soon the command to fire was given. The volley rang out, and the young hero dropped dead with a bullet through his heart, while the other man went free.
His freedom came to him by blood. Had he, however, neglected the great salvation, and, despising the blood shed for him, and refusing the sacrifice of the friend and the righteous claims of the law, persisted in the same evil ways, he, too, would have been shot. The blood, though shed for him, would not have availed to set him free. But he accepted the sacrifice, submitted to the law, and went home to his wife and children; but it was by the blood; every breath he henceforth drew, every throb of his heart, every blessing he enjoyed, or possibly could enjoy, came to him by the blood. He owed everything from that day forth to the blood, and every fleeting moment, every passing day, and every rolling year but increased his debt to the blood which had been shed for him.
And so we owe all to the blood of Christ, for we were under sentence of death--"The soul that sinneth it shall die"; and we have all sinned, and God, to be holy, must frown upon sin, and utterly condemn it, and must execute His sentence against it.
But Jesus suffered for our sins. He died for us. "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities;... and with His stripes we are healed." "Ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold... but with the precious blood of Christ" (i Peter i. 18, 19); "Who loved me, and gave Himself for me" (Gal. ii. 20). And now every blessing we ever had, or ever shall have, comes to us by the Divine Sacrifice, by "the precious blood." And "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?" His blood is the meritorious cause not only of our pardon, but of our cleansing, our sanctification; but the Holy Spirit is the ever-present, living, active Cause.
The truth or word which sanctifies is the record God has given us of His will and of that Divine Sacrifice, that "precious blood." The faith that purifies is that sure confidence in that word which leads to renunciation of all self-righteousness, that utter abandonment to God's will, and full dependence on the merits of "the precious blood," the "faith that works by love," for "faith without works is dead." And thus we draw nigh to God, and God draws nigh to us, and the Holy Ghost falls upon us, comes into us, and cleanses our hearts by the destruction of sin, and the shedding abroad within us of the love of God.
The advocates of entire sanctification as an experience wrought in the soul by the baptism with the Spirit subsequent to regeneration call it "the second blessing."
But many good people object to the term, and say that they have received the first, second, third, and fiftieth blessing; and no doubt they have; and yet the people who speak of "the second blessing" are right, in the sense in which they use the term; and in that sense there are but the two blessings.
Some years ago a man heard things about a lady that filled him with admiration for her, and made him feel that they were of one mind and heart. Later, he met her for the first time, and fell in love with her. After some months, following an enlarged acquaintance and much consideration and prayer, he told her of his love, and asked her to become his wife; and after due consideration and prayer on her part she consented, and they promised themselves to each other; they plighted their faith, and in a sense gave themselves to each other.
That was the first blessing, and it filled him with great peace and joy, but not perfect peace and joy. Now, there were many blessings following that before the great second blessing came. Every letter he received, every tender look, every pressure of the hand, every tone of her voice, every fresh assurance of enduring and increasing affection was a blessing; but it was not the second blessing.
But one day, after patient waiting, which might have been shortened by mutual consent, if they had thought it wise, and after full preparation, they came together in the presence of friends and before a man of God, and in the most solemn and irrevocable manner gave themselves to each other to become one, and were pronounced man and wife. That was the second blessing, an epochal experience, unlike anything which preceded, or anything to follow. And now their peace and joy and rest were full.
There had to be the first and second blessings in this relationship of man and wife, but there is no third. And yet in the sense of those who say they have received fifty blessings from the Lord, there have been countless blessings in their wedded life; indeed, it has been a river of blessing, broadening and deepening in gladness and joy and sweet affections and fellowship with the increasing years.
But let us not confuse thought by disputing over terms and wrangling about words.
The first blessing in Jesus Christ is salvation, with its negative side of remission of sins and forgiveness, and its positive side of renewal or regeneration--the new birth--one experience.
And the second blessing is entire sanctification, with its negative side of cleansing, and its positive side of filling with the Holy Ghost--one whole, rounded, glorious, epochal experience. And while there may be many refreshings, girdings, illuminations, and secret tokens and assurances of love and favour, there is no third blessing in this large sense, in this present time.
But when time is no more, when the ever-lasting doors have lifted up, and the King of Glory comes in with His Bride, and, for ever redeemed and crowned, He makes us to sit down with Him on His throne, then in eternity we shall have the third blessing--we shall be glorified.
"HAVE YE RECEIVED THE HOLY GHOST SINCE YE BELIEVED?"
THE WITNESS OF THE SPIRIT.
"Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you."
How shall I know that I am accepted of God?--that I am saved or sanctified? The Bible declares God's love and pity for sinners, including me, and reveals His offer of mercy to me in Jesus Christ, on condition that I fully repent of my sins, and yielding myself to Him, believe on Jesus Christ, and taking up my cross, follow Him. But how shall I know that I have met these conditions in a way to satisfy Him, and that I am myself saved?
1. The Bible cannot tell me this. It tells me what to do, but it does not tell me when I have done it, any more than the sign-board
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