By Ismael E. Amaya
One of the most significant characteristics of the redemption of Jesus Christ is that it is a free gift to all who believe and accept it. No one is barred. The conditions are the same for everyone. We are saved and sanctified by accepting what God offers to us freely.
About justification Paul says, "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ . . . for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified" (Gal. 2:16). And about salvation in general (that is, justification and sanctification), he says: "For 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" (Eph. 2:8-9).
The grace of God cannot be bought with money. It might seem strange to suggest that a person might even attempt to buy spiritual power. But Simon tried. His story is told in the Book of Acts. "And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, saying, Give me also this power" (Acts 8:18-19). And this is the strong reproof he received from Peter: "Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness" (Acts 8:20-22).
Entire sanctification is a gift and we can receive it only by giving ourselves completely to God. This consecration of all we have and are to God is what has been called the human side of sanctification. The Bible tells us that we must consecrate ourselves to God. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God" (Rom. 12: 1). "Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God" (Rom. 6:13).
Consecration is a surrender of everything to God. This includes our loved ones, our personal plans and ambitions, our money, our possessions, our time -- our all. God will not, indeed cannot, sanctify a soul that is not completely given over to Him.
There is a big difference between consecration and sanctification. Consecration has to do with what we give to God; sanctification, with what we receive from God. Human efforts can make a Pharisee, but only God can make a saint. Consecration is the human side of entire sanctification. In a sense, a full consecration is to entire sanctification what repentance is to justification. The sinner, in order to be saved, must first repent and then believe. Likewise the believer, in order to obtain the blessing of entire sanctification, must consecrate and then believe.
Dr. A. M. Hills explains it this way: "Consecration is the antecedent condition of sanctification, but not the thing itself. Consecration is man's work; sanctification is God's work. God never consecrates for us, and we never sanctify for God. It is true that the acts of consecration and sanctification are both combined in the work that produces the experience of holiness, yet they are forever separate and distinct. We consecrate; God sanctifies."
Sanctification is a gift of God. Dr. Samuel Young says that evangelical holiness is that "holiness that comes to us through the atoning death of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. It is not a life of self-attainment or personal achievement It comes through the grace of God and is therefore a divine gift." Hannah Whitehall Smith states: 'This blessed life must not be looked upon in any sense as an attainment, but as an obtainment." We do not obtain holiness by struggling, but by surrendering. Nor is it something that we receive because we deserve it, for it is the free gift of God.
Acts 2:38 reads, "Ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." Again in Acts 10:45 are the words, "On the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost." These and other scriptures point out that the Holy Spirit is offered to all freely. All that the needy person has to do is to come to God in simple faith, completely willing to obey Him, and consecrating his life and his all to Him. Then will God honor the sincere request for this gift which is above all other gifts. The Holy Spirit will come in in all His fullness to purify the heart and take up His abode there.