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14 - XIV -- Sancitfication Initial, Progressive, Entire ptI

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28 Sept, 2008 AM

Tree Of Life Wesleyan Church

Billings MT

XIV. Sanctification: Initial, Progressive, Entire

Ezek. 36:25-29;

                What is a Christian?  In a letter to Diognetus, which dates back to the second century AD, an anonymous writer describes a strange people who are in the world but not of the world, it says:  Christians are not differentiated from other people by country, language, or customs; you see, they do not live in cities of their own, or speak some strange dialect . . . They live in both Greek and foreign cities, wherever chance has put them.  They follow local customs in clothing, food, and the other aspects of life.  But at the same time, they demonstrate to us the unusual form of their own citizenship.  They live in their own native lands, but as aliens . . . Every foreign country is to them as their native country, and every native land as a foreign country.  They marry and have children just like everyone else, but they do not kill unwanted babies.  They offer a shared table, but not a shared bed.  They are passing their days on earth, but are citizens of heaven.  They obey the appointed laws and go beyond the laws in their own lives.  They love everyone, but are persecuted by all.  They are put to death and gain life.  They are poor and yet make many rich.  They are dishonored and yet gain glory through dishonor.  Their names are blackened, and yet they are cleared.  They are mocked and bless in return.  They are treated outrageously and behave respectfully to others.  When they do good, they are punished as evildoers; when punished, they rejoice as if being given new life.  They are attacked by Jews as aliens and are persecuted by Greeks; yet those who hate them cannot give any reason for their hostility.

                Many people think that once you accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, that that’s all there is to being a Christian, but there are changes that take place – or should take place – these changes come about by the work of the Holy Spirit.  We call it sanctification and article 14 of the articles of religion is Sanctification: Initial, Progressive, Entire – and it states:

                We believe that sanctification is that work of the Holy Spirit by which the child of God is separated from sin unto God and is enabled to love God with all the heart and to walk in all His holy commandments blameless.  Sanctification is initiated at the moment of justification and regeneration.  From that moment there is a gradual or progressive sanctification as the believer walks with God and daily grows in grace and in a more perfect obedience to God. This prepares for the crisis of entire sanctification which is wrought instantaneously when believers present themselves as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God, through faith in Jesus Christ, being effected by the baptism with the Holy Spirit who cleanses the heart from all inbred sin. The crisis of entire sanctification perfects the believer in love and empowers that person for effective service. It is followed by lifelong growth in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The life of holiness continues through faith in the sanctifying blood of Christ and evidences itself by loving obedience to God’s revealed will. (Discipline)

                Those of us in the Holiness Movement – Wesleyans, Nazarenes, Salvation Army – and others, believe in something called “Sanctification.”  This is not something that we happen upon or something that is given to us by the pastor or the local board – sanctification is given to us through the work of the Holy Spirit.  In the book of Acts, Luke records these words in the first chapter, this is after Jesus rose from the grave but before He ascended to heaven, he records:

                On one occasion, while he (Jesus) was eating with them (the disciples), he gave them this command:  “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.  For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.  (Acts 1:4-5)   And Jesus goes on to say in the 8th verse:

                But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  (vs. 8)

                Sanctification is a gift from our heavenly Father – a gift that Jesus told us was to come.  He even tells us that it is different than our water baptism – it is a baptism of the Holy Spirit.  I really think it’s important for us to talk about the Holy Spirit and sanctification in general today, in preparation for a more in depth study on Initial, progressive and entire sanctification.  We must lay some ground work before we move on to framing up our understanding of sanctification. 

                We just heard Jesus say that God was going to send the gift of the Holy Spirit but what about the Old Testament – in the Old Testament we constantly read about His work.  Think about it this way – There was a man who was both a judge and a physician.  As a physician he would seek to save a criminal’s life, and as a judge he might sentence him to death.  There is nothing contradictory in the two offices or professions combined into one man.  The Holy Spirit worked throughout the Old Testament, but Jesus talked about Him being sent in a special capacity to do the work of the Sanctifier to perfect the Church and the church is the body of believers – not a building – the church is each and every one of us here today.  The multiple work of the Holy Spirit in human life is set forth in scriptural symbols.

                Air is often used to symbolize the Holy Spirit.  When men began to talk about spiritual truths, they had to use physical things to illustrate their meaning.  We do the same thing – think about this phrase we use when we say we “grasp a subject.”   We don’t mean that we take hold of it with our hands, what we mean is that we take hold of it with our minds.  In the same way, the word air came to be used for spirit from the most ancient time.  In Gen. 1:2 the Hebrew says the “ruach of God brooding on the waters.”   Here ruach is literally the “breath of God,” and the text means that the Spirit of God brooded over the chaos of the ancient world like a bird brooding over her eggs. 

                In Gen. 2:7 we are told, “the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”  Again, we have the word “ruach” – meaning the breath of God, the spirit of God – I always envision God leaning down and giving Adam CPR – breathing the breath of life into him.  I want you to think about Ezekiel and the valley of dry bones – remember, Ezekiel was taken to a valley that was full of dry bones and God said to Ezekiel,

                “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!  This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath (spirit) enter you, and you will come to life. . . . I will put breath in you, and you will come to life.  Then you will know that I am Lord.’” 

So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.

                Then He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’”  So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet – a vast army. (vs. 4-10)

                So the Holy Spirit brings life in the form of air or breath.  We also often hear of the Holy Spirit in terms of Fire.  Throughout the Bible fire appears repeatedly as an emblem of the presence of God.  The Old Testament prophets saw God in visions as “a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself” (Ezekiel 1:4 KJV).  Moses saw God in a burning bush of flame.  The fire teaches many truths; maybe the most important is that of cleansing.  The baptism of the Holy Spirit fell upon the disciples on the Day of Pentecost as “tongues of fire” (Acts 2:3 NIV).

                Not much has changed when it comes to refining gold since the Old Testament days, gold was purified by fire, which melted the ore together so that the dross or impurities came to the top.  This was skimmed off and cast aside, leaving only the pure gold, in which the workman could see his face reflected.  This is the work of Christ when He purifies hearts in the baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire.  This is the fire promised in the preaching of John the Baptist:  “But after me will come . . . He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”  (Matt. 3:11)

                We also see the Holy referred to as Water.  In Isa. we have these words: For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.  They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams. (Isa. 44:3-4; NIV)

                Here water represents the refreshing and stimulating power of the Spirit.  “ . . . just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” (Eph 5:25-27)

                The Holy Spirit is also referred to as Oil.  Charles Ewing Brown, a great Holiness preacher wrote these words in regards to the Holy Spirit as Oil, he said, “Oil had a value to the ancients of Palestine beyond our conception in this modern day.  In that age men had not learned how to preserve food for livestock so as to keep them throughout the winter.  Consequently, fat meat food was considered a great luxury.  Because the olive tree took many years to grow, it was considered an emblem of peace.  Such factors as these contributed to make any kind of oil seem much more important then than now.  Perfumed oil was also esteemed a great luxury . . Priests and kings were anointed with oil in elaborate ceremony to signify the granting of power and privilege which were granted by their office.  Prophets, too, were anointed for the prophetic office . . . Oil also appears in the Old Testament as the symbol of the communication of the Spirit.

                Even the word “Christ” means “anointed,” as the Scriptures have said: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound” (Isa. 61:1; KJV)  According to Acts 10:38, “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power.”  The anointing of the Old Testament, according to Brown, seems to signify the granting of authority to rule, for the kings, to minister, for the priests, and to teach, for the prophets.  Translated into the framework of New Testament ideals, this would signify the noble character of divine self-control, the capacity to lead men to God, and joyous insight into the truth; for the New Testament saints are kings and priests unto God and they have an anointing that teaches them.

                We have seen the Holy Spirit referred to as Air or breath that gives life, as fire that purifies, as water that refreshes and stimulates and as oil that which anoints and signifies that we have been given something.  I want us to read one last verse and we will see this verse again next week.  Its from the book of Ezekiel the 36 chapter starting with the 25 verse – it says;

               

                I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols.  I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.  You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God.  I will save you from all your uncleanness. I will call for the grain and make it plentiful and will not bring famine upon you. 

 

                The Holy Spirit is a wonderful gift from God – and He does many many things for us – but we must understand His power and be willing to accept what He has to offer and that’s where we will pick up next week as we talk about initial, progressive and entire sanctification. 

18 Aug, 2002 AM

Miles City Wesleyan Church

Miles City Mt.

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