THE DOCTRINES OF SALVATION
Regeneration begins the new life in the soul; justification deals with the new attitude of God towards that soul, or perhaps better, of that soul towards God; adoption admits man into the family of God with filial joy. Regeneration has to do with our change in nature; justification, with our change in standing; sanctification, with our change in character; adoption, with our change in position. In regeneration the believer becomes a child of God (John 1:12,13); in adoption, the believer, already a child, receives a place as an adult son; thus the child becomes a son, the minor becomes an adult (Gal. 4:1-7).
I. THE MEANING OF ADOPTION.
Adoption means the placing of a son. It is a legal metaphor as regeneration is a physical one. It is a Roman word, for adoption was hardly, if at all, known among the Jews. It means the taking by one man of the son of another to be his son, so that that son has the same position and all the advantages of a son by birth. The word is Pauline, not Johannine. The word is never once used of Christ. It is used of the believer when the question of rights, privileges, and heirship are involved. It is peculiarly a Pauline word (Gal. 4:5; Rom. 8:15, 23; 9:4; Eph. 1:5). John uses the word "children," not "sons," because he is always speaking of sonship from the standpoint of nature, growth, and likeness (cf. 1 John 3:1, R. V.).
Exodus 2:10 and Heb. 11:24, furnish two splendid illustrations of the Scriptural sense and use of adoption.
II. THE TIME WHEN ADOPTION TAKES PLACE.
1. IN A CERTAIN SENSE IT IS ETERNAL IN ITS NATURE.
Eph. 1:4, 5--Before the foundation of the world we were predestinated unto the adoption of children. We need to distinguish between the foreordaining to adoption, and the actual act of adoption which took place when we believed in Christ. Just as the incarnation was foreordained, and yet took place in time; and just as the Lamb was slain from before the foundation of the word, and yet actually only on Calvary. Why then mention this eternal aspect of adoption? To exclude works and to show that our salvation had its origin solely in the grace of God (Rom. 9:11; 11:5, 6). Just as if we should adopt a child it would be a wholly gracious act on our part.
2. IT TAKES PLACE THE MOMENT ONE BELIEVES IN JESUS CHRIST.
1 John 3:2--"Beloved, now are we the sons of God." Gal. 3:26--"For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." See also John 1:12. Sonship is now the present possession of the believer. Strange as it may be, inconceivable as it may seem, it is nevertheless true. The world may not think so (v. 1), but God says so, and the Christian believing it, exclaims, "I'm the child of a King." Formerly we were slaves; now we are sons.
3. OUR SONSHIP WILL BE COMPLETED AT THE RESURRECTION AND COMING AGAIN OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.
Rom. 8:23--"Waiting for the adoption, to-wit, the redemption, of the body." Here in this world we are incognito; we are not recognized as sons of God. But some day we shall throw off this disguise (2 Cor. 5:10). It doth not appear, it hath not yet appeared what we shall be; the revelation of the sons of God is reserved for a future day. See also I John 3:1-3.
III. THE BLESSINGS OF ADOPTION.
The blessings of adoption are too numerous to mention save in the briefest way. Some of them are as follows:
Objects of God's peculiar love (John 17:23), and His fatherly care (Luke 12:27-33).
We have the family name (1 John 3:1; Eph. 3:14, 15), the family likeness (Rom. 8:29); family love (John 13:35; 1 John 3:14); a filial spirit (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6); a family service (John 14:23, 24; 15:8).
We receive fatherly chastisement (Heb. 12:5-11); fatherly comfort (Isa. 66:13; 2 Cor. 1:4), and an inheritance (1 Pet. 1:3-5; Rom. 8:17).
IV. SOME EVIDENCES OF SONSHIP.
Those who are adopted into God's family are: Led by the Spirit (Rom. 8:4; Gal. 5:18). Have a childlike confidence in God (Gal. 4:5, 6). Have liberty of access (Eph. 3:12). Have love for the brethren (1 John 2:9-11; 5:1). Are obedient (1 John 5:1-3).
If Regeneration has to do with our nature, Justification with our standing, and Adoption with our position, then Sanctification has to do with our character and conduct. In Justification we are declared righteous in order that, in Sanctification, we may become righteous. Justification is what God does for us, while Sanctification is what God does in us. Justification puts us into a right relationship with God, while Sanctification exhibits the fruit of that relationship--a life separated from a sinful world and dedicated unto God.
I. THE MEANING OF SANCTIFICATION.
Two thoughts are prominent in this definition: separation from evil, and dedication unto God and His service.
1. SEPARATION FROM EVIL.
2 Chron. 29:5, 15-18--"Sanctify now yourselves, and sanctify the house of the Lord God . . . . and carry forth the filthiness out of the holy places. . . . And the priests went into the inner part of the house of the Lord, to cleanse it, and brought out all the uncleanness. . . .Then they went in to Hezekiah the king, and said, We have cleansed all the house of the Lord." 1 Thess. 4:3--"For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication." See also Heb. 9:3; Exod. 19:20-22; Lev. 11:44.
It is evident from these scriptures that sanctification has to do with the turning away from all that is sinful and that is defiling to both soul and body.
2. SEPARATION OR DEDICATION UNTO GOD.
In this sense whatever is set apart from a profane to a sacred use, whatever is devoted exclusively to the service of God, is sanctified. So it follows that a man may "sanctify his house to be holy unto the Lord," or he may "sanctify unto the Lord some part of a field of his possession" (Lev. 27:14, 16). So also the first-born of all the children were sanctified unto the Lord (Num. 8:17). Even the Son of God Himself, in so far as He was set apart by the Father and sent into the world to do God's will, was sanctified (John 10:36). Whenever a thing or person is separated from the common relations of life in order to be devoted to the sacred, such is said to be sanctified.
3. IT IS USED OF GOD.
Whenever the sacred writers desire to show that the Lord is absolutely removed from all that is sinful and unholy, and that He is absolutely holy in Himself they speak of Him as being sanctified: "When I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes" (Ezek. 36:23).
II. THE TIME OF SANCTIFICATION.
Sanctification may be viewed as past, present, and future; or instantaneous, progressive, and complete.
1. INSTANTANEOUS SANCTIFICATION.
1 Cor. 6:11--"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." Heb. 10:10, 14--"By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. . . . For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified." By the death of Jesus Christ the sanctification of the believer takes place at once. The very moment a man believes in Christ he is sanctified, that is, in this first sense: he is separated from sin and separated unto God. For this reason all through the New Testament believers are called saints (1 Cor. 1:2, R. V.; Rom. 1:7, R. V.). If a man is not a saint he is not a Christian; if he is a Christian he is a saint. In some quarters people are canonized after they are dead; the New Testament canonizes believers while they are alive. Note how that in 1 Cor. 6:11 "sanctified" is put before "justified." The believer grows in sanctification rather than into sanctification out of something else. By a simple act of faith in Christ the believer is at once put into a state of sanctification. Every Christian is a sanctified man. The same act that ushers him into the state of justification admits him at once into the state of sanctification, in which he is to grow until he reaches the fulness of the measure of the stature of Christ.
2. PROGRESSIVE SANCTIFICATION.
Justification differs from Sanctification thus: the former is an instantaneous act with no progression; while the latter is a crisis with a view to a process--an act, which is instantaneous and which at the same time carries with it the idea of growth unto completion.
2 Pet. 3:18--"But grow in (the) grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." 2 Cor. 3:18--We "are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit." The tense is interesting here: We are being transformed from one degree of character, or glory, to another. It is because sanctification is progressive, a growth, that we are exhorted to "increase and abound" (1 Thess. 3:12), and to "abound more and more" (4:1, 10) in the graces of the Christian life. The fact that there is always danger of contracting defilement by contact with a sinful world, and that there is, in the life of the true Christian, an ever increasing sense of duty and an ever-deepening consciousness of sin, necessitates a continual growth and development in the graces and virtues of the believer's life. There is such a thing as "perfecting holiness" (2 Cor. 7:1). God's gift to the church of pastors and teachers is for the purpose of the perfecting of the saints in the likeness of Christ until, at last, they attain unto the fulness of the divine standard, even Jesus Christ (Eph. 4:11-15). Holiness is not a mushroom growth; it is not the thing of an hour; it grows as the coral reef grows: little by little, degree by degree. See also Phil. 3:10-15.
3. COMPLETE AND FINAL SANCTIFICATION.
1 Thess. 5:23, R. V.--"And the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved entire, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." "Wholly" means complete in every part, perfect in every respect, whether it refers to the Church as a whole, or to the individual believer. Some day the believer is to be complete in all departments of Christian character--no Christian grace missing. Complete in the "spirit" which links him with heaven; in the "body" which links him with earth; in the "soul" as being that on which heaven and earth play. Maturity in each separate element of Christian character: body, soul, and spirit.
This blessing of entire and complete sanctification is to take place when Christ comes: 1 Thess. 3:13--"To the end that he may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints." It is when we shall see Him that we shall be like Him (1 John 3:2). How explicitly Paul puts the matter in Phil. 3:12-14, R. V. --"Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect: but I press on, if so be that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold on by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself yet to have laid hold: but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
III. THE MEANS OF SANCTIFICATION.
How are men sanctified? What means are used, and what agencies employed to make men holy and conform them into the likeness of Christ? The agencies and means are both divine and human: both God and man contributing and co-operating towards this desired end.
1. FROM THE DIVINE SIDE: IT IS THE WORK OF THE TRIUNE GOD.
a) God the Father.
1 Thess. 5:23, 24, R. V.--"And the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly. . . . Faithful is he that calleth you, who will also do it." God's work is here contrasted with human efforts to achieve the preceding injunctions. Just as in Hebrews 12:2, and Philippians 1:6, the Beginner of faith is also the Finisher; so is it here; consequently the end and aim of every exhortation is but to strengthen faith in God who is able to accomplish these things for us. Of course there is a sense in which the believer is responsible for his progress in the Christian life (Phil. 3:12, 13), yet it is nevertheless true that, after all, it is the divine grace which works all in him (Phil. 2:12, 13). We cannot purify ourselves, but we can yield to God and then the purity will come. The "God of peace," He who reconciles us--is the One who sanctifies us. It is as if the apostle said: "God, by His mighty power will do for you what I, by my admonitions, and you by your own efforts, cannot do." See also John 17:17--"Sanctify them through thy truth." Christ addresses God as the One who is to sanctify the disciples.
b) Jesus Christ the Son.
Heb. 10:10, R. V.--"By which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." The death of Jesus Christ separates the believer from sin and the world, and sets him apart as redeemed and dedicated to the service of God. This same truth, namely, the sanctification of the church as based on the sacrificial death of Christ, is set forth in Eph. 5:25, 27--"Christ loved the church, and gave himself up for it; that he might sanctify it." Christ is "made unto us . . . sanctification" (1 Cor. 1:30). See also Heb. 13:12, R. V.
c) The Holy Spirit Sanctifies.
1 Pet. 1:2--"Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit." 2 Thess. 2:13--". . . . Because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." The Holy Spirit seals, attests, and confirms the work of grace in the soul by producing the fruits of righteousness therein. It is the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus who gives us freedom from the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:2). He is called the Holy Spirit, not only because He is absolutely holy Himself, but also because he produces that quality of soul-character in the believer. The Spirit is the executive of the God-head for this very purpose. It is the Spirit's work to war against the lusts of the flesh and enable us to bring forth fruit unto holiness (Gal. 5:17-22). How wonderfully this truth is set forth in the contrast between the seventh and eighth chapters of Romans. Note the unsuccessful struggle of the former, and the victory of the latter. Note also that there is no mention of the Holy Spirit in the seventh, while He is mentioned about sixteen times in the eighth chapter. Herein lies the secret of failure and victory, sin and holiness.
2. FROM THE HUMAN SIDE.
a) Faith in the Redemptive Work of Jesus Christ.
1 Cor. 1:30, R. V.--"But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who was made unto us wisdom from God, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." Christ is indeed all these things to us, but, in reality, He becomes such only as we appropriate Him for ourselves. Only as the believer, daily, yea, even momentarily, takes by faith the holiness of Jesus, His faith, His patience, His love, His grace, to be his own for the need of that very moment, can Christ, who by His death was made unto him sanctification in the instantaneous sense, become unto him sanctification in the progressive sense--producing in the believer His own life moment by moment. Herein lies the secret of a holy life--the momentarily appropriation of Jesus Christ in all the riches of His grace for every need as it arises. The degree of our sanctification is the proportion of our appropriation of Christ. See also Acts 26:18.
b) The Study of the Scriptures and Obedience Thereto.
John 17:17--"Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." Eph. 5:26--"That he might sanctify and cleanse it (i.e., the Church) with the washing of water by the word." John 15:3--"Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you." Our sanctification is limited by our limitation in the knowledge of and our lack of obedience to the Word of God. How does the Word of God sanctify? By revealing sin; by awakening conscience; by revealing the character of Christ; by showing the example of Christ; by offering the influences and powers of the Holy Spirit, and by setting forth spiritual motives and ideals. There is no power like that of the Word of God for detaching a man from the world, the flesh and the devil.
c) Various Other Agencies.
Heb. 12:14, R. V.--"Follow after . . . the sanctification without which no man shall see the Lord." To "follow after" means to pursue, to persecute, as Saul of Tarsus pursued and followed the early Christians. One cannot become a saint in his sleep. Holiness must be the object of his pursuit. The lazy man will not be the holy man.
Heb. 12:10, 11: God chastens us "for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness." Chastisement ofttimes is intended to "produce the peaceable fruit of righteousness."
Rom. 6:19-32; 2 Cor. 6:17, 7:1. Sanctification is brought about in the life of the believer by his separating himself deliberately from all that is unclean and unholy, and by presenting, continually and constantly, the members of his body as holy instruments unto God for the accomplishment of His holy purposes. Thus by these single acts of surrender unto holiness, sanctification soon becomes the habit of the life.
I. THE IMPORTANCE OF PRAYER.
Even a cursory perusal of the Scriptures will reveal the large and important place which the doctrine of Prayer finds therein. The Christian life cannot be sustained without it; it is the Christian's vital breath. Its importance is seen when we recall:
That the neglect of prayer is grievous to the Lord (Isa. 43:21, 22; 64:6, 7, R. V.). That many evils in life are to be attributed to the lack of prayer (Zeph. 1:4-6; Dan. 9:13, 14, cf. Hosea 7:13, 14; 8:13, 14).
That it is a sin to neglect prayer (1 Sam. 12:23).
That to continue in prayer is a positive command (Col. 4:2, R. V.; 1 Thess. 5:17; we are commanded to take leisure or a vacation for prayer: 1 Cor. 7:5).
That it is God's appointed method of obtaining what He has to bestow (Dan. 9:3; Matt. 7:7-11; 9:24-29; Luke 11:13).
That the lack of the necessary blessings in life comes from failure to pray (James 4:2).
That the apostles regarded prayer as the most important employment that could engage their time or attention (Acts 6:4; Rom. 1:9; Col. 1:9).
II. THE NATURE OF PRAYER.
It is interesting to trace the development of prayer in the Scriptures.
In the life of the patriarch Abraham prayer seems to have taken the form of a dialogue--God and man drawing near and talking to each other (Gen. 18; 19); developing into intercession (Gen. 17:18; 18:23, 32), and then into personal prayer (Gen. 15:2; 24:12); Jacob, (Gen. 28:20; 32:9-12, 24; Hosea 12:4). The patriarchal blessings are called prayers (Gen 49:1; Deut. 33:11).
During the period of the Law. Not very much prominence is given to formal prayer during this period. Deut. 26:1-15 seems to be the only one definitely recorded. Prayer had not yet found a stated place in the ritual of the law. It seems to have been more of a personal than a formal matter, and so while the Law may not afford much material, yet the life of the lawgiver, Moses, abounds with prayer (Exod. 5:22; 32:11; Num. 11:11-15).
Under Joshua (7:6-9; 10:14), and the judges (c. 6) we are told that the children of Israel "cried unto the Lord."
Under Samuel prayer seems to have assumed the nature of intercession (1 Sam. 7:5, 12; 8:16-18); personal (1 Sam. 15:11, 35; 16:1). In Jeremiah (15:1) Moses and Samuel are represented as offering intercessory prayer for Israel.
David seems to regard himself as a prophet and priest, and prays without an intercessor (2 Sam. 7:18-29).
The prophets seem to have been intercessors, e.g., Elijah (1 Kings 18). Yet personal prayers are found among the prophets (Jer. 20--both personal and intercessory; 33:3; 42:4; Amos 7).
In the Psalms prayer takes the form of a pouring out of the heart (42:4; 62:8; 100:2, title). The psalmist does not seem to go before God with fixed and orderly petitions so much as simply to pour out his feelings and desires, whether sweet or bitter, troubled or peaceful. Consequently the prayers of the psalmist consist of varying moods: complaint, supplication, confession, despondency, praise.
True prayer consists of such elements as adoration, praise, petition, pleading, thanksgiving, intercession, communion, waiting. The closet into which the believer enters to pray is not only an oratory --a place of prayer, it is an observatory--a place of vision. Prayer is not "A venture and a voice of mine; but a vision and a voice divine." Isa. 63:7; 64:12, illustrates all essential forms of address in prayer.
III. THE POSSIBILITY OF PRAYER.
This possibility consists in five things:
1. THE REVELATION OF GOD WHICH CHRIST HAS BROUGHT TO US.
John 1:18--"No man hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." Matt. 11:27--". . . . Neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him."
Christ reveals God as a personal God, as a Being who sees, feels, knows, understands, and acts. Belief in the personality of God is absolutely necessary to true prayer (Heb. 11:6).
Christ reveals God as a sovereign God (Matt. 19:26)--"With God all things are possible." God is sovereign over all laws; He can make them subservient to His will, and use them in answering the prayers of His children. He is not bound by any so-called unchangeable laws.
Christ revealed God as a Father (Luke 11:13). In every instance in the life of Christ whenever He addresses God in prayer it is always as Father. The fact of the fatherhood of God makes prayer possible. It would be unnatural for a father not to commune with his child.
2. THE SACRIFICIAL WORK OF JESUS CHRIST.
Heb. 10:19-22, R. V.--"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by the way which he dedicated for us, a new and living way, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having a great priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in fulness of faith." It is because of the death of Christ, which removed the barrier that stood between God and us so that He could not consistently hear and answer our prayers, that He can now hear and answer the petitions of His children.
3. THE INSPIRATION OF THE HOLY GHOST.
Rom. 8:26--"Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." See also Jude 20. The thought is this: Even though we are assured that there is a personal God to hear us, and although we have the confidence that the barrier of sin which stood between us and God has been removed, so that we now desire to pray, we often are hindered because we either do not know what to say or what to ask for. We may ask too ardently for wrong things, or too languidly for the things we most need. And so we are afraid to pray. The assurance that this verse gives us is that the Holy Spirit will pray within us, and will indict the petition, helping us in our prayer life.
4. THE MANY PROMISES OF THE BIBLE.
We are told that there are over 33,000 of them. Each promise is "yea and amen in Jesus Christ"; He is the guarantee and the guarantor of them all. They are not given to mock but to encourage us: "Hath he said and shall he not do it? Hath he spoken and shall he not make it good?" See John 14:13; 15:7; 1 John 5:14, 15; Luke 11:9, etc.
5. THE UNIVERSAL CHRISTIAN TESTIMONY.
Christians, by the millions, the world over, can and do testify to the fact that God both hears and answers prayer. The credibility, character, and intelligence of the vast number of witnesses make their testimony indisputable and incontrovertible.
IV. THE OBJECTS OF PRAYER--TO WHOM TO PRAY.
1. TO GOD.
Neh 4:9; Acts 12:5--"Prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him": God is holy--hence there must be no impurity in the life of the one praying; righteous, hence no crookedness; truthful, hence no lying or hypocrisy; powerful, hence we may have confidence; transcendent, hence reverence in our approach.
2. TO CHRIST.
Acts 7:59--"Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." 2 Cor. 12:8, 9; 2 Tim. 2:22.
3. THE HOLY SPIRIT.
Rom. 8:15, 16 sets forth the relation of the Holy Spirit and prayer, as do also Zech. 12:10; Eph. 6:18; Jude 20. The Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3, 4; Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14), hence is to be worshipped (Matt. 4:10; Rev. 22:9).
The normal mode of prayer is prayer in the Spirit, on the ground of the merits of the Son, to the Father: In the Spirit, through the Son, to the Father.
V. THE METHOD OR MANNER OF PRAYER.
1. WITH REGARD TO THE POSTURE OF THE BODY.
The soul may be in prayer no matter what is the attitude of the body. The Scriptures sanction no special bodily posture. Christ stood and prayed (John 17:1), knelt (Luke 22:41), He also fell on his face on the ground (Matt. 26:39); Solomon knelt (1 Kings 8:54); Elijah prayed with his elbows on his knees and his face buried in his hands; David prayed lying on his bed (Psa. 63:6); Peter prayed on the water (Matt. 14:30); the dying thief, on the cross (Luke 23:42).
2. TIME AND PLACE.
Time: Stated times (Dan. 6:10; Psa. 55:16, 17; Acts 3:1; 2:46; 10:9, 30). Special occasions: Choosing the twelve (Luke 6:12, 13). Before the cross (Luke 22:39-46). After great successes (John 6:15, cf. Mark 6:46-48). Early in the morning (Mark 1:35). All night (Luke 6:12). Times of special trouble (Psa. 81:7, cf. Exod. 2:23; 3:7; 14:10, 24). At meals (Matt. 14:19; Acts 27:35; 1 Tim. 4:4, 5).
Place of Prayer: Inner chamber (Matt. 6:6); amid nature (Matt. 14:23; Mark 1:35). In the church (John 17:1; Psa. 95:6). Before the unsaved (Acts 16:25; 27:35). In all places (1 Tim. 2:8, R. V.).
VI. HINDRANCES AND HELPS TO PRAYER.
Indulged known sin (Psa. 66:18; Isa. 59:1, 2). Wilful disobedience to known commandments (Prov. 28:9). Selfishness (James 4:3). Unforgiving spirit (Matt. 5:22, 23; 6:12). Lack of faith (Heb. 11:6; James 1:6). Idols in the heart (Ezek. 8:5-18; 14:1-3).
2. HELPS--ESSENTIALS TO PREVAILING PRAYER.
Sincerity (Psa. 145:18; Matt. 6:5). Simplicity (Matt. 6:7, cf. 26:44). Earnestness (James 5:17; Acts 12:5; Luke 22:44). Persistence (Luke 18:1-8; Col. 4:2; Rom. 12:12, R. V.). Faith (Matt. 21:22; James 1:6). Unison with others (Matt. 18:19, 20). Definiteness (Psa. 27:4; Matt. 18:19). Effort (Exod. 14:15). In the name of Jesus (John 16:23; 14:13, 14). With fasting (Acts 13:2, 3; 14:23).