Wednesday, April 28, 2010



W. T. Purkiser (1910-92) was a prolific writer, respected scholar, and well-loved preacher within the Church of the Nazarene who also had a significant voice in the larger evangelical Christian community. He authored and contributed to some of the most widely disseminated and enduring works in the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition.

For better or for worse, we live in an age that is incurably psychological. The post-Freudian world can never be the same as the world before Freud. This is not all bad. Whatever we can learn that, will help us understand the nature of man will help us understand a little better the experience of holiness.

Just as archaeology and secular history have shed light upon places and events reported in the Bible, so the sciences of human nature -- psychology, anthropology, sociology may help us understand better what it was God created when He formed man of the dust of the earth and breathed into him the breath of life, so that man became a living soul fashioned in the image of his Maker.

Theology itself has felt the impact of psychology. Archbishop William Temple, who anticipated so much that has come to the fore in contemporary theology, wrote: "Our theology has been cast in a scholastic mold, i.e. all based on logic. We are in need of and we are gradually forced into, a theology based on psychology. The transition, I fear, will not be without much pain; but nothing can prevent it." [1]

It, is only necessary to add that, if the psychology upon which such theology is based is biblical psychology the gain will be great.

I. Never should we underestimate the divine element in our sanctification. What God does in and for us is nothing short of a miracle. Yet right along with this is another truth that needs to be brought into focus. Divine grace does not cancel our humanity.

We still live in an imperfect world, conditioned by a hundred factors over which we have no control, some of which go back into infancy and early childhood. And God works within the limits of that humanity.

"We have this treasure in earthen vessels,' " wrote the Apostle Paul (II Cor. 4:7). I have never had the temerity of the seminarian who took this as his text and spoke in his preaching class on "The Glory of the Cracked Pot." But the truth is, some of the vessels are chipped, some of them are marred, and some of them are a bit, cracked.

Psychology can help us understand better the complexity of our motivations, the degree to which our reactions are conditioned by past experiences, the way in which apperception actually alters our grasp of truth, and the unsuspected ways in which the unconscious colors and affects conscious experience. It may aid us in freeing ourselves from the myth that people always react alike and are equal in temperament and personality.

Our psychological age should also alert us to the need to be careful in our modes of expression. Carelessness in the use of psychological terms sometimes involves us in saying what we do not mean.

A prime example of this is the term "self."' We sometimes talk about the eradication or destruction of "self."' We know what we mean, or at least, it is to be hoped that we do. We mean self in the sense of "selfishness."' We mean the eradication or destruction of the sinfulness of the self. In this sense we may talk about "self' being "crucified and slain, and buried deep, and all in vain may efforts be to rise again'" In this sense we understand the prayer we sometimes hear,

"Lord, slay the self in me.

But self more properly means the real inner being, the ego, the core and soul of personal identity. It is the "I", the "me," that persist through all modifications and changes from birth to death. If this psychological ego were to be crucified or destroyed in any literal sense, the result would be nonentity.

Whatever else it, is, carnality is the human self corrupted, diseased, fevered, and warped.

Holiness cleanses the corruption, heals the disease, takes away the fever, and straightens the warp. But it does not destroy the self. That self must be consecrated and cleansed and committed to the purposes of God.

Paul the Apostle expressed it all in one of his great paradoxes: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2:20). Here, as Dr. William Greathouse has so well expressed it, is a sinful "self" to be crucified with Christ, a human self to be controlled by Christ, in order that the true self may be realized in Christ.

E. Stanley Jones testified: "I laid at His feet, a self of which I was ashamed, couldn't control, and couldn't live with; and to my glad astonishment He took that self, remade it, consecrated it to Kingdom purposes, and gave it back to me, a self I can now live with gladly and joyously and comfortably." [2]

Such a surrender is the heart and soul of Christian consecration. Consecration is not chiefly the surrender of possessions, things, or even other people. It is the submission of the central self to the sanctifying will of God. Possessions, things, and others are involved in the believer's consecration. But it is only when the final "Yes" is said which permanently admits the Saviour to the innermost recesses of the soul that consecration becomes real and complete.

This is the insight expressed in the order in Frances Ridley Havegal's familiar "consecration" hymn. Life, hands, feet, voice, lips, silver and gold, will, heart, and love are all presented in that sequence. The process might go that far and still fall short were it not for the final, climactic gift of all:

Take myself and I will be

Ever, only, all for Thee.

The radical, uncompromising claim of Christian consecration is sketched in clear outline by the late C. S. Lewis in his spiritual autobiography, Surprised by Joy. When he turned from atheism to Christianity, he found, so he said, that "there was no region even in the innermost depth of one's soul (nay, there least of all) which one could surround with a barbed-wire fence and guard with a notice, No Admittance. And that was what I wanted; some area, however small, of which I could say to all other beings, "This is my business and mine only." "But God would not be satisfied with less than all."

The self is not to be slain. It is to be surrendered. It is the "vessel unto honor" of which Paul wrote: "sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work" (II Tim. 2:21). What makes the difference is that self is no longer on the throne, pretending to be the lord of the life. Self is in the servant role, on its knees, consecrated to the Lord of all life – no longer central but submissive.

II. The distinction between humanity and carnality is of prime importance for a psychological interpretation of holiness. Theoretically, it is not hard to state the difference. Practically, one man's "humanity" may be another man's "carnality," and what would be condemned as carnality in others may be excused as humanity in oneself.

Objections to the possibility of holiness usually fall into one of two classes. Either it is claimed that human nature as such is sinful or it is said that the source of sin is in the physical body.

Neither of these views is defensible. Those who claim that human nature as such is sinful have a twofold problem on their hands. They must either hold that God did not create Adam and Eve as truly human or else that He created them as sinful beings. And they must either hold that the sinfulness of human beings is eternal or that the redeemed will be transformed into something other than human when they enter heaven.

Neither pair of alternatives is very promising. Adam and Eve were created in the image of God in innocence and primitive holiness, untested but still real. They were created as human beings. The very name Adam" means "man. . .

Nor do the finally redeemed become anything other than human beings in heaven. The Saviour, who took upon Him the nature of man, is still "the man Christ Jesus" (I Tim. 2:5), although exalted to the right hand of God. In the new heavens and the new earth, the dwelling of God shall be with men and they shall be His people (Rev. 21:3).

The view that the seat of sin is the physical body is equally mistaken. It is true enough that many of the sins common to human life are those which come through the pull of bodily appetites and desires. Yet in the 17 works of the flesh listed by Paul in Gal. 5:19-21, the majority have no physical basis whatsoever -- as, for example, "idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings."'

The idea that the body is sinful also runs head on into the doctrine of the incarnation. Every evidence in Scripture points to the fact that Jesus of Nazareth, the sinless, holy Son of God, had a normal human body. He grew hungry and tired; He slept; He ate; He rejoiced; He suffered; He was subject to every kind of temptation we have, "yet without, sin" (Heb. 4:15).

Sin in human nature is an intrusion. It does not belong in man as he was designed to be. It is no necessary part of anything essential to a full and normal human life.

But where is the dividing line between the human and the sinful? How can one tell the difference between those tendencies, inclinations, and desires which are part of our necessary human existence and those which come from and together constitute the nature of inbred sin?

There is an important clue in the statement, about "the mind of the flesh" in Rom. 8: 6-7, "For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it, is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."

In the phrase "not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" we have the line of distinction drawn. Whatever is human within us -- part of man's normal psychological makeup -- can be and is subject, to the law of God. Whatever is carnal is not and cannot be subject to God's law.

In fact, the entire purpose of the moral law is to give guidance and direction to human nature and its varied expressions. Every human instinct,, need, and desire has a possible legitimate expression within the guidelines laid down by God's law. Each of the Ten Commandments, for example, establishes limits and guidelines for human tendencies which are legitimate and right in their proper place.

On the contrary, no carnal impulse, attitude, or tendency can find an expression in Christian life within the law of God. None is subject to His law. All are outlaw propensities and inevitably lead to sin.

Consider the sorry list: envy, malice, animosity, bitterness, retaliation, selfish temper, pride, covetousness, grudge holding, lovelessness, divided loyalty, double-mindedness. How can one be envious or malicious in keeping with the law and nature of Christ,? How can one manifest, animosity and bitterness in harmony with Christian ideals? Even to ask the question is to see the answer.

Human psychological impulses and tendencies, as Paul said of the physical body, are to be "kept under" (I Cor. 9:27). All carnal impulses and the other hand, are to be eliminated by that divine conditioning of our selfhood by the indwelling Spirit, who alone enables us to love God supremely and our neighbors as ourselves.

III. Involved in the psychological interpretation of holiness is the need to learn to live with limitations. We all have to walk the narrow path between the too easy acceptance of our limitations and the futility of constantly heating our heads against a stone wall. Some too quickly surrender to their obstacles. They accept as inevitable what they should attack and overcome. Others make themselves and everyone around them miserable by a hopeless struggle against limitations in their lives they should learn to accept.

It is important that we rightly measure our limitations. Some of them we may overcome by direct action and with the help of God. Others we must come to terms with and learn to live with.

There are limitations in the measure of health and strength. There are limitations in education and training. There are limitations in native ability and talent,. There are limitations that come with advancing age. And there are limitations in circumstances, past and present. A man cannot lift himself by his bootstraps when he has no boots.

The New Testament has a comprehensive word for limitations. It is the word "infirmity," and it literally means lack of strength, weakness, or "inability to produce results."

Paul, more than any other New Testament writer, speaks of infirmities. He gives us the promise that the Holy Spirit "helpeth our infirmities"' (Rom. 8:26). While the particular weakness in view is lack of knowledge about what to pray for, the term is plural and the statement is general.

The very word "help" is full of meaning. When a person promises to help us with something, it does not mean that he is going to do it for us. The only way we can need help is to be doing something too big to be done alone.

Sometimes limitations can be taken away. More often, we climb on top of them.

Paul, again, is our teacher. Whatever his "thorn in the flesh" may have been, it seems almost certain it was a physical fact. The apostle prayed three times for deliverance and the idea is clear that these prayers were not casual wishes beamed Godward, but prolonged and intense seasons of supplication.

When the answer came, it was not exactly as the apostle had expected. But it satisfied him fully. Christ said to him, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in [your] weakness."

Then Paul gives us our best secret for successfully living with limitations. He said, "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me"" (II Cor. 12:8-9).

This is turning liabilities into assets. When one is not so gifted, he works harder. When one cannot run like a hare, he plods like a tortoise -- and usually comes in ahead.

We can, to be sure, put up with our limitations. We can accept them and suffer them. But, it is better to use them for stepping-stones and climb over them. We grow by working away at the edges of our liabilities. We may not completely overcome them. But if we face them honestly and bravely, we shall find that in the long run we are both bigger and better for the effort.

IV. The best of saints still have a long road to travel. There are rough places to be smoothed, kinks of mind and personality to be straightened out,, failings and weaknesses to be faced, corrected, and strengthened.

As James McGraw has well put it, "Psychological weakness is not necessarily spiritual wickedness." One may have the baptism with the Spirit and still need help with personal problems of emotional adjustment.

We must not forget that people may be pure in heart but immature in personal development. Paul described the aim of the Christian gospel as not only "the perfecting of the saints" but also "that we may henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine" and that we may "grow up" (Eph. 4:12-15).

Sanctified people may have problems with prejudices that have been drilled into them from early childhood until they have become a stubborn part of their entire outlook on life. One has only to recall Peter's struggle over establishing fellowship with Gentile Christians, as reflected in Acts 10 and Gal. 2:11-14, to see a vivid illustration of this. When Peter was sanctified at Pentecost, he didn't lose his Jewish prejudices overnight.

Sanctified people may have problems that arise from differences of judgment, or from the emotional conditionings of close family ties. We have but to remember the disagreement between Paul and Barnabas over John Mark (Acts 15:36-41) to see this.

Without, the Spirit's help, we could never cope with our human weaknesses effectively. Without the indwelling Spirit, Peter never would have conquered his prejudices, nor would he have written about "our beloved brother Paul" (II Pet. 3:15) after Paul took him to task for them. Without the openness of perfect love, Paul never would have conceded that John Mark had vindicated himself (II Tim. 4:11).

But the problems still arose and had to be faced. If they had not been solved, they could have defeated the purpose of God in the lives of Peter, Cornelius, Barnabas, Mark, and Paul. Without the Holy Spirit, they could not. Without their honest effort, He would not.

V. Important to the psychology of the sanctified life is an understanding of the place and function of emotions in our humanity. Many seem to expect an experience of constant joy and blessing. Because peace with God and the witness of the Spirit to a clean heart often find expression in high emotional tides, some have tended to make feelings an indicator of the spiritual state.

The problem is, of course, the emotions have a way of changing from day to day. They are affected by factors that have no relationship whatsoever to one's spiritual and moral condition. There is nothing but danger in identifying feelings with the grace of God.

Even Jesus is described as "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief" (Isa. 53:3), whose tears flowed when He was confronted with the sorrow of His friends and the hardness of those He had come to help (John 11:35; Luke 19:41 Paul confessed his continual heaviness and sorrow of heart for his own nation (Rom. 9:1-2), and found occasion to need encouragement from Christian friends (Acts 28:15).

Peter writes to those "who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of our faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ" (I Pet. 1:5-7).

John Wesley wrote

A will steadily and uniformly devoted to God is essential to a state of sanctification, but not a uniformity of joy, or peace, or happy communion with God. These may rise and fall in various degrees; nay, and may be affected either by the body or by diabolical agency, in a manner which all our wisdom can neither understand nor prevent. [4]

Emotion and blessing play an important part in Christian life. A religious experience which had no effect on the feelings would not meet the needs of the whole person. It would not go far enough.

But the purpose of emotion in religion is akin to the purpose of emotion in other areas of life. It is not primarily to be enjoyed. It is to be employed. It is the natural prelude to action.

There is more in common between "emotion" and "motion"' than the fact that the two words differ by only one letter. God has given us physical feelings, for instance, as part of the preparation for some sort of physical action. Fear is a good example. In fright, the glands pump additional adrenaline into the bloodstream, the heartbeat is quickened, and the body is prepared for "fight or flight."

Conversely, the appropriate action strengthens the emotion which corresponds to it. Running away increases the fright. Clenching the fists strengthens anger. Whistling tends to lift the spirits.

The application of this to the spiritual life is not difficult to see. God gives high tides of blessing and joy, not simply for the sake of making us happy, but to prepare us for service to the Kingdom and to our fellowmen. Just as emotion in the physical life can actually be harmful unless followed by action appropriate to it, so blessing and spiritual joy miss their purpose unless they work out in heightened devotion. Emotion which is not expressed in devotion eventually dries up.

But the very best state of grace will not guarantee high emotions all the time. Holiness is not hilarity. Feelings are a by-product of spirituality and neither its cause nor its measure.

C.W. Ruth used to say, "Feelings are the most undependable dependence anyone ever depended on!" He would comment that the only man in the Bible who went by "feeling" was Isaac, who as a result blessed the wrong boy!

Faith is the supreme condition for salvation. Holiness is a relationship based, not on feelings, but on faith. Faith anchors to facts: the fact of God's promises, and the fact of consecration and obedience. Feelings are swayed by circumstances, and may have no direct relationship whatsoever.

Feelings are conditioned by the physical tonus of the individual. The state of health and the condition of one's nerves make a great deal of difference in the emotions he has.

Two excerpts from the journal of a pioneer New England circuit rider serve to illustrate this point. The first entry is dated Wednesday night at bedtime:

Arrived at the home of Brother Brown late this evening, hungry and tired after a long day in the saddle. Had a bountiful supper of cold pork and beans, warm bread, bacon and eggs, coffee and rich pastry. I go to rest feeling that my witness is clear; the future is bright; I feel called to a great and glorious work in this place. Brother Brown's family are godly people.

But the next entry, written late on Thursday morning, tells a different story:

Awakened late this morning after a troubled night. I am very much depressed in soul; the way looks dark; far from feeling called to work among this people, I am beginning to doubt the safety of my own soul. I am afraid the desires of Brother Brown and his family are set too much on carnal things. [5]

Because feelings vary, will and purpose must govern our lives and not feelings and impulse. Every Christian must learn to do what is right whether he "feels like it" or not.

Conviction, not convenience must be our guide to conduct. It, is well to go to church, to serve in the Kingdom, to read the Bible, and to pray -- when we "feel like it." It is better to do these things whether we feel like it or not,.

While we cannot always account for the fluctuation of our moods and the changing tide of emotions, we need not surrender to them. The peril of uncontrolled moods is discouragement, one of Satan's most powerful tools.

There are some important lessons at this point in the story of Elijah, "a man subject to like passions as we are" (Jas. 5:17). After the tremendous victory on Mount Carmel, under the threats of Jezebel, Elijah fled to the wilderness, fell under a juniper tree, and wished to die. His emotional collapse was complete. Utter discouragement filled his soul.

In this extremity, God did three things for Elijah.

First, the Lord provided for the prophet' s physical needs. An angel fed him, and he slept soundly. His nerves had been stretched to the breaking point. His reserves were exhausted. Good emotional health is closely connected with good physical health.

Second, God gave Elijah normal companionship. He directed him to find Elisha and call the younger man to be his associate. The tendency of those who are discouraged is to withdraw from friends and Christian associations. This is the worst possible thing to do. One way to throw off undesirable moods is to seek the company of good Christian friends.

The third step in Elijah's recovery was the challenge of a new task. Instead of sitting and brooding over his difficulties, the prophet was given a new assignment. To be active, to find a job and do it wholeheartedly, is a sure cure for the "blues."

There are two elements more fundamental than feelings in holiness. These are obedience and faith -- the two "feet" whereon the child of God must walk.

When high feelings subside, and "heaviness through manifold temptations' " comes, then one should check his consecration and obedience, "dig in,'" and hold on by faith. Like all trials, "this, too, will pass"; and faith, so much more precious than gold, though it be tried in the fire, will "be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ."

1. Quoted by J. G. McKenzie, Psychology, Psychotherapy, and Evangelicalism. (London: George Allen and Unwin, Ltd., 1940), p. vii. 2. Mastery: The Art of Mastering Life (New York: Abingdon Press, 1955), p.97. 3. (New York: Harcourt,, Brace and Company, 1955). The last two chapters illustrate this point. 4. Letters, VI. 68; quoted by J. Baines Atkinson in The Beauty of Holiness (London: The Epworth Press, 1953), pp.131-32. 5. Leslie R. Marston, From Chaos to Character (Winona Lake, Ind: Light and Life Press, 1944), pp.76-77.


Thursday, February 18, 2010



W. T. Purkiser (1910-92) was a prolific writer, respected scholar, and well-loved preacher within the Church of the Nazarene who also had a significant voice in the larger evangelical Christian community. He authored and contributed to some of the most widely disseminated and enduring works in the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition.

"Theology" is a forbidding word to many. It suggests hairsplitting and dry-as-dust distinctions without, end.

But theology is a very important part of the total Christian enterprise. It is, by definition, the systematic arrangement and exposition of truth about God and man in redemption. It seeks to bring religious truth into a coherent pattern in which each fact or datum finds expression. It is concerned with wholeness, with relatedness.

A theological interpretation of holiness will point out its lines of connection with every other major truth in Christian doctrine.

I remember a discussion years ago with Dr. H. Orton Wiley, author of the monumental, three-volume Christian Theology. The discussion concerned a course in the college curriculum dealing particularly with the doctrine of holiness.

Dr. Wiley objected. "How can you teach the doctrine of holiness without relating it to the doctrines of sin, salvation, the Holy Spirit, Christ, the atonement, grace, love, and all the rest?" he asked.

There was no answer.

The truth is that every major theme in Christian theology is important for an understanding of holiness. No truth stands alone. It is supported by, and has implications for, every other truth in the whole system of doctrine.

There is a new interest, among theologians today in the doctrine of sanctification as it.

develops in the New Testament. Such is the contention of William Hordern, president of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Saskatoon, Canada, in the chapter entitled "Sanctification Rediscovered" in Volume I of New Directions in Theology Today. [1] Dr. Hordern writes:

"An important development in recent theology is a renewal of interest in sanctification. The theological analysis of Christian salvation is often divided into justification and sanctification. Justification deals with how a man becomes a Christian. It describes God's forgiving acceptance of the sinner and the sinner's response of faith. Sanctification is the act of God whereby the forgiven man is made righteous, it describes how a man grows in his Christian life.

Dr. Hordern goes on to comment that this new theological concern with sanctification comes at a very appropriate time in the history of the Church. There is abroad in the world today a widespread wave of criticism directed against the life and practice of the Church, as contrasted with former criticisms of its teachings.

During the fifties of this century, as Hordern notes, the Church, in America at least, "sailed on a wave of popular approval." There was little serious criticism. "Happily, for the sake of the church's soul," Dr. Hordern writes, "those days have passed."

From within and without,, organized Christianity is being subjected to searching criticism.

There are deep doctrinal issues being raised. But more painfully, it is the life and practice of the Church which is being challenged most seriously.

Because sanctification is that aspect of salvation that deals primarily with the character and life of the Christian, the challenges of today are leading theologians to take a new, long, hard look at the biblical teaching about this neglected subject. Sanctification has to do with the inner changes the grace of God makes. In words that are correct as far as they go, justification is "Christ, for us," while sanctification is "Christ in us.

Bonhoeffer, Brunner, Barth, and DeWolf, as well as the "new conservatives," are among those cited as having shown special interest in taking a "new look at the doctrine of sanctification."

There is in all of this a broad use of the term "sanctification." Yet the closing paragraph of Hordern's chapter is noteworthy:

The concern for sanctification, as we have discussed it, transcends theological schools of thought. Those who are dedicated to it are not in complete agreement with one another. But the fact that men of different theologies and backgrounds are converging on this doctrine indicates that it represents an area of vital concern to theology and the church today.

It is this convergence of "men of differing theologies and backgrounds" and the surprising unity of opinion among them in defining sanctification theologically that should be underlined here.

R. H. Coats wrote in The Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics: "In general, sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit of God, in delivering men from the guilt and power of sin, in consecrating them to the service and love of God, and in imparting to them, initially and progressively, the fruits of Christ's redemption and the graces of a holy life." [2]

Presbyterian Kenneth J. Foreman wrote in The Twentieth Century Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge:

In Protestant thought, sanctification is the name given to what in Roman theology is called infused grace; but with a difference. In the latter, grace is conceived as a force, sometimes all but impersonal; in the former, sanctification is a continuing activity of God by his personal Spirit. Sanctification is what makes goodness possible; it is not the good and gracious acts of men, but that operation of the Spirit which produces these acts. [3]

Southern Baptist Charles A. Trentham wrote: "Sanctification is thus the perfecting of the Christian life or the progressive cleansing of the soul." [4]

Dr. Charles Hodge is recognized as one of the leading Calvinistic theologians of the nineteenth century. He wrote: "Sanctification, therefore, consists in two things: first, the removing more and more the principles of evil still infecting our nature, and destroying their power; and secondly, the growth of the principle of spiritual life until it controls the thoughts, feelings, and acts, and brings the soul into the image of Christ." [5]

Admittedly, these definitions stress the progressive element in sanctification, and some of them imply that it cannot be completed during the course of this earthly life. But all agree that the goal of sanctification, as it has been understood in Protestant theology of all schools, is the removal of the principle of evil still infecting the nature of the believer or complete deliverance from sin. All agree that sanctification is not identical with nor effected at the time of justification. And all agree that there is a sinful nature remaining in believers which must be dealt with.

It is this which brings into special significance the truth of I Thess. 5:23-24, "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it."

There are instances in the New Testament where the context shows the sanctification described to be ceremonial or partial and incomplete (cf. Matt. 23:17, 19; I Cor. 1:2; 6:11; 7:14; I Tim. 4:5; Heb. 9:13; and I Pet,. 3:15).

Where such indication is lacking, we should consider the sanctification referred to as "whole" or "entire" in the Pauline sense in I Thess. 5:23. Such uses include John 10: 36; 17:17, 19; Acts 20:32; 26:18; I Cor. 1:30; Rom. 6:19, 22; 15:16; Eph. 5:26; I Thess. 4:3, 7; II Thess. 2:13; I Tim. 2:15; II Tim. 2:21; Heb. 2:11; 10:10, 14, 29; 12:14; 13:12; I Pet,. 1:2; and Jude 1.

Four specific themes in theology have particular bearing on our understanding of Christian holiness:

I. Central to the Christian faith are the atoning death and the victorious resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Cross is the focal point for all that distinguishes true Christianity from both its rivals and its imitations.

It is a strange fact, as the late Vincent Taylor pointed out, that all theological discussions of the Cross relate to justification -- how the death of Christ makes possible the forgiveness of our sins.

Yet the New Testament makes it clear that the atonement has as much to do with sanctification as it does with justification. "Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word" (Eph. 5:25-26). "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 for ever them that are sanctified" (Heb. 10:10, 14). "Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate" (Heb. 13:12).

It is by the provision of a real cleansing of the heart from the stain of racial sin that the Cross becomes vital in our understanding of holiness. The writer to the Hebrews asks in one of his great rhetorical questions, "For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without, spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (9:13-14)

I John 1:6-7 also makes the same point: "If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not, the truth: but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son cleanseth us from all sin."

In these passages, we have a real inner cleansing as contrasted with the "positional

holiness" or "holy in Christ" view made so popular by the widely used Scofield Bible. The doctrine of positional holiness is, in brief, that the believer's sanctification is not an impartation of the divine nature to him, freeing him from inner sin, but is an imputation of Christ's righteousness by virtue of which God counts him holy in spite of the continued corruption of his heart.

One brother is alleged to have testified in prayer meeting: "The righteousness of Christ in my life is like a beautiful, white covering of new-fallen snow in a barnyard hiding the filth and corruption of my heart."

Someone in the back spoke up: "Yes, Brother, but what do you do when the thaw comes?"

This is a proper question because the thaw always comes.

In its actual development, the "holy in Christ," theory leans heavily on the fourth chapter of Romans, in which it is stated that "Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness" (verse 3). It is assumed that "for" means "instead of," and that Abraham's faith was a substitute for a righteous character.

But God does not deal in fictions. When God counts a man righteous, it, is because His grace has made him righteous. "For" as used here means as a condition of "or as a requisite for."

There is a basic misunderstanding of the very words Paul used. "To count, reckon, or impute" are all English translations of a Greek word which, as C. Ryder Smith has pointed out, is a bookkeeping term and means "to take account of what is." [6] Paul's point here is that Abraham's righteousness was an asset he had received without earning it by works. But it, was an asset that was genuine and real, not fictional or imaginary.

When a bookkeeper enters figures on the asset side of the balance sheet, those figures represent values which actually exist. To put down sums as assets for which there are no corresponding realities is one of the ways embezzling is done. Men go to jail for such practices as this.

God is most certainly not the cosmic embezzler. His books are accurate and true. What He imputes, He imparts. He does not whitewash -- He washes white through the blood of His own Son. The basic issue is whether the righteousness and holiness of which the Bible speaks is fiction or fact, imputed but not actually given -- or imparted. Peter's statement at this point is clear and forceful: "As he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy"" (I Pet. 1:15-16). There is nothing fictional or imaginary about the holiness of God. Nor is there anything fictional or imaginary about the divine nature He imparts (II Pet. 1:4).

Even more specific is John's statement about those who have hope of seeing and being like the Lord at His appearing: "And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure" (I John 3:3). The purity of the believer is to be the same in quality as the purity of the Saviour.

There is no suggestion that a human being will become like God in His infinity and deity. A single ray of sunshine is never the sun itself. But each ray shares the light and purity of the sun. The likeness is a matter of quality, not quantity. But it is a real likeness.

It is through the atonement that the prayer of the Psalmist is answered in the provision of the Saviour: "Purge me with hyssop [the desert shrub with which the blood of the sacrifice was sprinkled], and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow" (Ps. 51:7), is answered with the assurance, "The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin" (I John 1:7).

II. Another theme at the heart of theology is the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Overshadowed in historical theology by the doctrines of the Father and the Son, the doctrine of the Spirit has come to new recognition within the past few decades.

The theology of the Holy Spirit is crucial for an understanding of sanctification. Christian holiness is bought by the blood of the Cross. It is wrought by the Holy Spirit applying the merit of that Blood to the cleansing of the heart.

Everything in Christian experience from the earliest dawn of conscience down to the resurrection from the grave comes to us through the agency of the Third Person of the Trinity. Daniel Steele rightly called Him "the Executive of the Godhead."

a. The Holy Spirit is the Source of conviction for sin and the earliest interest in things spiritual (John 16:7-11).

b. The Holy Spirit brings into human life the power for righteousness which is regeneration, "the new birth' " (John 3:3-7).

c. The Holy Spirit gives us His witness to sins forgiven and sonship to God (Rom. 8:15-17).

d. We are led through the Christian life by the Spirit, (Rom. 8:14), and He guides us into all truth (John 16:13) and helps us pray as we ought, (Rom. 8:26-27).

At, the Last, Supper, Jesus made five historic statements concerning the Holy Spirit -- passages that have come to be known as "The Paraclete Sayings" from the Greek term Parakletos, translated "Comforter" (John 14:15-18, 26-27; 15:26; 16:7-11 and 12-15).

The first "saying"" summarizes the whole. That there is a dispensational or historical aspect to these words is, to be sure, true. But the whole tone of the Last Supper discourse, as well as the specific extension of the prayer of John 17 to "them also which shall believe on me through their word," makes its truth the heritage of believers in every age and clime.

It is Christ's own who are addressed. Those who love Him will keep His commandments (John 14:15). For such, He will pray the Father, "and he shall give . another Comforter" (verse 16). A parakletos is literally "one called alongside to help" -- a helper, an advocate, a counselor, one to support, hearten, and strengthen. "Another" implies that Jesus himself had already been such to them.

The Parakletos is "the Spirit of truth." People identified with the world cannot receive Him, although He convicts them; and when they repent and believe, He regenerates them and begins to dwell with them (verse 17). "With" and "in" do not mean "outside" and "inside" as a first glance might indicate -- for verse 23 uses "with' " in the same sense as "inside." Rather to "dwell in" means to take up a fixed and settled abode -- to "abide with you for ever" (verse 16).

This "abiding forever" is identified in Acts 1:5 as being "baptized with the Holy Ghost," and in Acts 2:4 as being "filled with the Holy Ghost." It is a far cry from the transient and fleeting presence implied in the idea of "breathing out" in daily confession of sins and "breathing in" the Holy Spirit.

It is the Spirit's fullness that fully sanctifies. Sanctification is identified in the New Testament as being the special work of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 15:16; I Thess. 4:7-8; II Thess. 2:13; and I Pet. 1:2).

The continuity of the Holy Spirit's work in Christian experience must always be kept in mind. The new birth is a "birth of the Spirit." He is the young Christian's Guide and Witness (Rom. 8:14-17). "You know him," Jesus said to His disciples before Pentecost; "for he dwelleth with you' " (John 14:15-17).

Holiness is the result of the "baptism with" the Spirit, the fullness of the Spirit. One hesitates to put too much weight on the language of metaphor. But there is an obvious difference between birth and baptism. And in the order of grace as well as the order of nature, birth must of necessity precede baptism.

Nor is there any puzzle as to how the same Spirit may be at one time the Source of regeneration and later become the Source of entire sanctification. He is the same Person in a different relationship. A man may have the same girl as first his fiancé and later his bride. A man may have the same doctor first as his physician and later as his surgeon. It isn't a matter of more or less of the of the doctor. It is a matter of the relationship and the function.

III. The doctrine of sin is central in Christian thought. A theologian's stance in regard to the nature of sin tends to color and control his whole thought about God, man, and salvation. To minimize sin is to minimize the Saviour. To misunderstand sin is to misunderstand salvation. Sin is the source of our whole human predicament.

One of the clearest, distinctions in biblical theology is the distinction between sins as acts or deeds, and sin as an attitude or disposition. Our human problem in regard to sin is twofold. It is the problem of the wrongs we have done, the guilt we have incurred -- what Paul had in mind when he wrote, "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God' " (Rom. 3:23). But it is also the problem of what we are, the nature we have inherited -- estranged from God, corrupted, and bent toward evil. This is what Paul meant when he spoke of the "sin that dwelleth in me" (Rom. 7:17).

The new birth, experienced in any genuine conversion to Christ, puts an end to sinning when understood as avoidable transgressions of the revealed will of God. Some have broadened the idea of sinning to include mistakes, unavoidable faults and failures, lapses of memory, or unconscious deviations from perfect righteousness. But to do this makes nonsense of such scriptures as John 5:14; Rom. 6:1, 15; I John 2:1-4; 3:6-10; and 5:18. If God means what He says, then regenerating grace stops a career of sinning.

But the new birth does not end the problem of inner sin -- sin as attitude, disposition, propensity, or tendency. The New Testament witnesses to this in many ways. There is an echo in the justified life of the struggle Paul describes in Rom. 7:14-25, a struggle not entirely ended until the position described in Rom. 8:2-4 is reached.

The carnal mind is enmity against God (Rom. 8:7). Even babes in Christ experience its presence (I Cor. 3:1-3). Unsanctified Christians need to cleanse themselves of all filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (II Cor. 7:1). "Flesh" and "Spirit" are locked in unrelenting struggle until the "flesh" is "crucified . . . with the affections and lusts" (Gal. 5:17, 24).

The "old man" as the corrupt cause of the former manner of life must be "put off' (Eph. 4:20-24; cf. Rom. 6:6). Sinful dispositions and tendencies are to be put to death (Col. 3:5-7).

God's people must beware of an evil heart of unbelief, the potential cause of backsliding and apostasy (Heb. 3:12). The root of bitterness springing up troubles the believer. Following peace with all men, and holiness, is the cure (Heb. 12:14-15).

There is a double-mindedness resulting in instability and cured only in the purifying of the heart (Jas. 1:8; 4:8).

"Sin in believers" as John Wesley used the phrase [7] consists not in the choices they make or acts in violation of God's law they commit. It exists as a latent condition or state, a principle or propensity rather than an activity. It is variously described as the carnal mind, the mind of the flesh, the flesh, the old man, the root of bitterness, the seed of sin, indwelling or inbred shaven, original sin, or depravity.

It is with this problem of inner sin that entire sanctification deals. The result is what Scripture describes as a "pure heart" (Matt. 5:8; Acts 15:8-9; Titus 2:13-14; Jas. 4:8; I Pet. 1:22; I John 1:7; 3:3). The baptism with the Spirit thoroughly purges (Matt. 3:11-12). Our "old man" is crucified so that the "body of sin" might be destroyed (Rom. 6:6-7). The "Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" makes us free from "the law of sin and death" (Rom. 8:2-4).

To "be holy" may mean much more but it can never mean less than to "be cleansed" or "made free from" the taint of sinfulness. Only on these terms can we serve God "in holiness and righteousness all the days of our life" (Luke 1:73-75), "holy and without, blame before him in love" (Eph. 1:3-6), "blameless and harmless without rebuke" (Phil. 2:14-16), enjoying a religion that is "pure" and "undefiled" (Jas. 1:27), "holy in all manner of conversation [living]" (I Pet. 1:14-16), "without spot, and blameless" (II Pet. 3:14).

Unless we are to think of God as making impossible and therefore unreasonable demands upon His children, we must recognize that "all His commandments are enablings."

In fact, those who deny the reality of cleansing from sin face a rather impossible dilemma. If God purposes to purify the hearts of His people and cannot, He is not the infinite God the Bible reports Him to be On the other hand, if God can purify the hearts of His people and will not, He is less than holy, taking more pleasure in sin than in righteousness. Neither alternative can be accepted.

The whole tenor of the scriptural revelation of God supports the view that He is both able and willing to fulfill His promises -- breathtaking though they may be. If it be not "thought a thing incredible . that God should raise the dead" (Acts 26:8), it should not be thought incredible that His people would be enabled to walk "in newness of life" (Rom. 6:4).

IV. The great word of both the Bible and theology is salvation. While we have drifted into the habit of identifying "salvation' " or "being saved"' with conversion, the true meaning of the term is far greater. The New Testament uses the term "salvation' " to describe the whole consequence of Christ's redemptive work in human lives.

Salvation in the Bible, therefore, has a past, a present, and a future. We have been saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8; II Tim. 1:9). We are being saved by the power of the Cross (I Cor. 1:18; II Cor. 2:15, cf. Greek). We shall be saved when Christ comes again (Matt. 10:22; Acts 15:11; Rom. 13:11; Heb. 9:28; I Pet. 1:3-5). Salvation is free (justification); it is full (entire sanctification); and it is final (glorification).

In a special way, the human name of our Lord conveys the idea of salvation: "Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins" (Matt. 1:21). The term from is quite emphatic here, and it is a word that suggests deliverance from without. In no possible way can it be considered as meaning "in," "with," or "among."

It is with the idea of salvation from the presence and power of inner sin that we are concerned here. W. E. Vine gives as one of the meanings of "salvation" in the New Testament "the present experience of God's power to deliver from the bondage of sin. This present experience on the part of believers," he says, "is virtually equivalent to sanctification." [8]

In a similar vein, Ryder Smith claims that "it goes without saying that Paul's exposition of such terms as 'justify' and 'sanctify' is an exposition of salvation." [9]

That salvation in its full and unqualified sense includes sanctification is seen rather clearly in II Thess. 2:13, "But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." Salvation is "through sanctification of the Spirit," not "as a preparation for" sanctification.

Titus 2:11-14 also shows that the salvation which comes from the grace of God includes both redemption from all iniquity and the purification unto Christ of a people for His own, marked by their zeal for good works. This is not something to be achieved in a future life, but to enable us to "live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world."

Heb. 7:25 says, "Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." The Phillips translation most accurately catches the meaning of the phrase "to the uttermost" as being "fully and completely.' "

It is of salvation in this full sense that it has been said:

God thought it.

Christ brought it.

The Spirit wrought it.

The Blood bought it.

The Bible taught it.

The devil fought it.

Love sought it.

Faith caught it.

And happy the Christian who can say,

"I've got it!

1. (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1966). The quotations that follow in the text have been taken from the chapter indicated. 2. Edited by James Hastings (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1924), XI, 181. 3. L. A. Loetscher, editor in chief (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1955), p.1053. 4. Encyclopedia of Southern Baptists (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1958), p.1184. 5. Systematic Theology (New York: Charles Scribner and Co., 1872), p.221. 6. The Bible Doctrine of Sin (London: The Epworth Press, 1953), p.140. 7. The title of one of Wesley's "standard sermons." Sermon XIII, Works, V, 144-56. 8. Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (London: Oliphants, Ltd., 1940), III, 316. 9. The Bible Doctrine of Grace (London: The Epworth Press, 1956), p.74.