By Charles J. Fowler
Nothing is clearer in the word of God and in the experience of his people, than the fact of salvation from sin. This is not only true, but this salvation may be permanent -- it may be constantly and unbrokenly kept. More than this is true, and it is, that the power, the blessing and usefulness of this salvation may ever increase. Bless God!
Still it is true that this salvation may be lost, this beautiful experience may be snatched away. Indeed, one may become a real and an awful backslider from even so great a grace. This is clearly taught in the Scriptures and in the experiences of people all around us.
These opposite truths should cause people both to rejoice, and yet to tremble; to take heart, and yet to take heed. That salvation may be lost, should put all on their guard.
One of the secrets of maintaining the experience of sanctification is to recognize that no experience sustains itself. We have all heard the statement and the most of us have made it, "get holiness and it will keep you." This has been said to encourage people who have been tempted to think that if they would get sanctified, they could not keep it.
In saying to such, "if you will get sanctified, it will keep you," we have intended to state what was true; but the fact is, it is not just so. The fact is that no experience keeps an experience; we are not sustained in a certain state of salvation by that state, but by Him who gave it to us. That the experience of holiness places one in a safer place, and girds him with an added power, is unmistakably true; but it does not keep one. Experience may properly be called it. Some object to our teaching sanctification as a "blessing" because they regard the experience as an "it;" they prefer to speak of the "Blesser" rather than the blessing; of him instead of it.
There is truth here mixed with confusing error. Sanctification or holiness is an "it." "Faithful is he that calleth you who also will do it." But this blessing is from the Blesser; the "it" from the "him."
For keeping we must look beyond the gift to the Giver. One is not kept sanctified by sanctification, but by the Sanctifier! This must be kept in mind. The psalmist said:
"The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.
"Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
"My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth."
Here is a great and constant keeping, but he -- the Lord -- does it! Peter also declared the same when he said, "Kept by the power of God unto salvation."
Physical life demands attention. However powerful and promising, it does not sustain itself. Here is a young man of splendid form and force -- he has broad shoulders, strong limbs, straight back, good blood -- in a word, he is well. Is this splendid life of his self-sustaining? Is his health to continue just because he has it? Let this strong young fellow ignore certain laws that condition the continuance of these powers and see how long his strength and quickness of step will remain with him; let him neglect sleep, food and exercise and see how soon he is as weak as any other man who boasts of no strength.