By Doug Beacham
God in Christ, and His divine presence through the Holy Spirit, is the source of holiness. For the past four months we have examined various aspects of this truth. This month we shift our emphasis to exploring the diverse ways that God is at work in us to produce holiness. Thus, the next issues of Encourage focus on “Illuminate,” shining light on how God is at work in us to bring us into the image of Jesus Christ.
Over the summer months in Encourage we will read what some of our early IPHC church fathers wrote regarding the experience of sanctification. In this issue we also include a look at the message of John Wesley, whose preaching on sanctification helped shape the Holiness and Pentecostal movements. (See the article by Jesse Heath.)
This month we feature an article by the late Joseph H. King, perhaps the most significant early theologian of the IPHC and certainly the most significant General Superintendent in our first fifty years. In the coming months you will have an opportunity to read selections from N.J. Holmes, G.F. Taylor and others.
This four-month emphasis will culminate with an opportunity for local congregations to address this theme in August. For many of you, your teenagers will have returned in late July from an exciting and inspiring Youth Quest in Daytona Beach, Florida. There, nearly 2000 IPHC teens and youth leaders will have learned about holiness, and how to walk in holiness in this spiritually
and culturally dark world. As they return to their congregations, resources for children and adults will be available at iphc.org/holiness for continued attention during August.
The IPHC Articles of Faith have two specific Articles addressing sanctification. Article Nine refers to “complete cleansing” by the blood of Jesus “from all indwelling sin and from its pollution, subsequent to regeneration.” In other words, after we are justified by faith and regenerated (born again) by faith in Christ, there still remains the sinful effects of our fallen condition as children of Adam and Eve. Sanctification is the term we use to describe how Christ brings about this “complete cleansing.”
Article Ten elaborates the IPHC view of sanctification by affirming that it “is initiated in regeneration and consummated in glorification.” In other words, the experience of being born again, of being a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) has within it the reality of living “holy to the Lord” and will conclude in our glorification with Christ (our death).
The Article affirms that there “is a definite, instantaneous work of grace achieved by faith subsequent to regeneration (Acts 26:18; 1 John1:9).” Furthermore, “sanctification delivers from the power of and dominion of sin . . . (and) is followed by lifelong growth in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6; 2 Peter 3:18).”
The hymn “Rock of Ages” is seldom sung in contemporary worship settings. In fact, Google it without reference to ‘hymn’ and the entire first page results are about a 2012 rock and roll movie! Little wonder so few people today know about regeneration, much less sanctification!
The old hymn, written by Rev. Augustus Montague Toplady in 1763 and influenced by the teachings of John Wesley, has this opening verse in many church hymnals: “Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee; Let the water and the blood, From Thy wounded side which flowed, Be of sin the double cure, save from wrath and make me pure.”
In 1776 the hymn was first published and Toplady had the closing phrase of the first verse, “Be of sin the double cure, Save me from its guilt and power.” Toplady recognized the double work necessary in our lives from guilt (forgiveness of sins) and the power of sin (our fallen humanity). The “double cure” is salvation from the wrath of God by being in Christ (Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9) and then purity for service to Christ (Matthew 5:8; 2 Corinthians 6:6; 1 Timothy 1:5; 5:22; 2 Timothy 2:22).
While there are shades of opinion among us regarding certain particulars of sanctification in the ordo salutis (order of salvation), there is clear agreement that following justification and regeneration, the seat of sin dwelling in our fallen nature must be dealt with in order to live an overcoming and abundant life. Sanctification is a reality provided in the atonement and given to us by faith. It is so important that Paul in Romans 6:22 connects holiness with the fruit of righteousness leading to everlasting life. Hebrews 12:14 plainly states, “Follow peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.”
How then are we sanctified? First, by faith in the provision provided in the shed blood of Jesus (Hebrews 13:12). That faith enables us to consecrate ourselves to the Father’s truth by which He sanctifies us (John 17:17, 19). The issue of truth is essential to the sanctifying power of the Word in our lives (2 Thessalonians 2:13). We receive the truth of God’s Word because we have humbled ourselves to the perfecting of holiness in the fear of the Lord (2 Corinthians 7:1).
Indescribably relevant in our contemporary situation, holiness and abstinence from sexual immorality are directly connected (1 Thessalonians 4:3). Finally, God’s plan and commitment is to sanctify us completely in our “whole spirit, soul, and body” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
In the intellectual and moral dark ages in which we live, God has given us life and light through truth, reverence, and sexual morality as significant ways in which He sanctifies us. Let us enter into the reality of His life-giving Word with humility, hope, and joy!
This article was published in the May 2016 issue of Encourage.
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