14 -2- XIV -- Sancitfication Initial, Progressive, Entire pt
5 Oct, 2008 AM
Tree of Life Wesleyan Church
XIV. Sanctification: Initial, Progressive, Entire (part II)
A little boy who lived far out in the country in the late 1800s had reached the age of twelve and had never in all his life seen a circus. You can imagine his excitement, when one day a poster went up at school announcing that on the next Saturday a traveling circus was coming to the nearby town. He ran home with the glad news and the question, "Daddy, can I go?" Although the family was poor, the father sensed how important this was to the lad. "If you do your Saturday chores ahead of time," he said, "I’ll see to it that you have the money to go."’ Come Saturday morning, the chores were done and the little boy stood by the breakfast table, dressed in his Sunday best. His father reached down into the pocket of his overalls and pulled out a dollar bill-the most money the little boy had possessed at one time in all his life. The father cautioned him to be careful and then sent him on his way to town. The boy was so excited, his feet hardly seemed to touch the ground all the way. As he neared the outskirts of the village, he noticed people lining the streets, and he worked his way through the crowd until he could see what was happening. Lo and behold, it was the approaching spectacle of a circus parade! The parade was the grandest thing this lad had ever seen. Caged animals snarled as they passed, bands beat their rhythms and sounded shining horns, midgets performed acrobatics while flags and ribbons swirled overhead. Finally, after everything had passed where he was standing, the traditional circus clown, with floppy shoes, baggy pants, and a brightly painted face, brought up the rear. As the clown passed by, the little boy reached into his pocket and took out that precious dollar bill. Handing the money to the clown, the boy turned around and went home. What had happened? The boy thought he had seen the circus when he had only seen the parade! Are you experiencing all that God has for you? The Christian life is a marvelous adventure, an exciting journey. Many people, including Christians, seem to be content to float in a sea of mediocrity, settling for second best. Do you want the abundant life that Jesus promised?
We have been promised an abundant life – but this abundant life can only be brought about by the work of the Holy Spirit. Last week we talked about the Holy Spirit – the different ways He is described throughout the Bible – as Air or breath that gives life, as fire that purifies, as water that refreshes and stimulates and as oil which anoints and signifies that we have been given something great. But one of the greatest works of the Holy Spirit is the giving of this abundant life – a life in which we live for God and devote our entire selves for His work – a holy life or as we also call it – a sanctified life. Article 14 of our 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.
What is sanctification? This is a word that used to be thrown around a lot, but today it is not heard very often – but it should be!! Sanctification or sanctify according to the Oxford dictionary is: “treat as holy, free from sin, consecrated, hallow, made sacred; purified, cleansed. So when we say, “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.” We are saying that we believe that a life free from sin, a life that has been made sacred or purified, is the work of the Holy Spirit and this work takes the child of God, the Christian and separates us from sin and brings us into the presence of God and enables us to love God with all our hearts and helps us to walk in God’s holy commandments – and not just walk but to walk -- blameless.
Do you remember the verse we closed with last week? Ezekiel 36:25-29, and 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. (NIV)
God did not just call us to be saved, He called us to an abundant life – a sanctified life – and this is not something that we do on our own, He says that He will clean us, purify us, gives us a new heart and that He will put His Spirit in us. This is not the only place where we hear about the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. If any of the books of the Bible could be called Holiness Books, they would be the books of 1 & 2 Thessalonians. In 2 Thess. 2:13 we have these words from Paul: But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. (NIV) You see, God has chosen each and every one of us to be saved –it does not say God chose only certain people – He chose all of His creation to be saved –but we have to accept that offer. According to 1 Thess. 4:3-8:
It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit. (NIV)
It is God’s will that we live this abundant life, a life that is set apart for Him, in other words, a holy life, a sanctified life, and if we don’t live the life that He has called us to live – what does it say? “He who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you His Holy Spirit.” This is not something that the Wesleyan church has set up, it is something that God Himself has set up and its up to us to live by it – but of course we can not do it on our own – we must seek the Holy Spirit to live in our lives and we must follow His leading – which starts at the beginning of our Christian walk – at the moment we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. 1 Cor. 6:10-11:
Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor. 6:10-11)
Did you notice what Paul said here? He said, that we were washed, that we were sanctified, that we were justified (or just-as-if-I’d never sinned) and these things happen in our lives the moment we accept Jesus as Lord. This is called “initial sanctification.” Article 14 says, “Sanctification is initiated at the moment of justification and regeneration.” This is exactly what Paul just said in the passage we just read. We have to start somewhere and what did we say sanctification was? Being made free from sin, being purified – and that has to start somewhere, and it starts when we start life anew. And if we have an initial sanctification then there must be more and there is, we believe in a progressive sanctification. 2 Cor. 7:1 says,
Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. (NIV)
Here we are told that we are to be perfecting holiness – that means its something that is continuing if it were not, Paul would have said, perfected holiness out of reverence for God, but that is not what he said, he said that we were perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. There may not sound like much of a difference here, but there is a huge difference.
Think of it this way, in sports players practice and even have pre-season games. Why do they do this? To perfect and sharpen their skills. If they were perfect they would not have to do this, but they work at making themselves better. We are to be perfecting holiness – working at it. Article 14 goes on to say: 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. Why do we have to keep perfecting ourselves? Why do we have a progressive sanctification? Article 14 tells us why we are to work at perfecting our obedience to God, it says: 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.
Again, Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:22-24, You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. ( Eph. 4:22-24) We are called to be just like God in our righteousness and holiness and this can only be done when we give ourselves entirely over to God and become 100% His. Just what does this entire sanctification do? The crisis of entire sanctification perfects the believer in love and empowers that person for effective service. So many people say they love everyone, but when they stop and think about it, do they really? Do you love that person who is totally different than you are? Do you truly love that person who continues to laugh at your beliefs? Do you love that person who constantly puts you down? Well, God does! He may not like what the person does, but He loves the person and that is what we are to do also – love unconditionally.
I wish I could tell you that this is the end, but its not. Entire sanctification is a life long growth. But it is realizing that we need to give everything over to God – then and only then can we be truly effective for the service of God. This entire sanctification, according to article 14: 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.
Paul writes about the grace of God and this new sanctified life in Titus 2:12-14:
It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (Tit 2:12-14)
With the help of the Holy Spirit, there is nothing that this world can throw at us that we can not say NO to. No matter how we are tempted, we are able to say no, because are one and only desire is to be like God – to reflect His image through the refined and purified heart that is brought about by the work of the Holy Spirit. There is no time frame for entire sanctification – for some it happens very quickly, for others, its years before they are able to give all things over to God and live whole for Him. Something else to keep in mind as we learned a few weeks ago, even though a person is entirely sanctified that does not mean that they are free from the temptation of sin – we must continue to seek God’s grace and the work of the Holy Spirit – that’s the perfecting work which is a life long journey – but what a journey it is!! A life that is fully devoted to God and serving Him!
I pray that you will seek entire sanctification – but more importantly that you seek the bringer of sanctification – the Holy Spirit. Let Him work in your life, listen to His leading, and act upon it – let your life be set apart for God, and let love fill you to overflowing.
I want to close with one last passage and this is my prayer to you, it comes from 1 Thess., chapter 5
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. (1 Thess. 5:23-24; NIV)
If entire sanctification is something that you are seeking, and if you want to give your life over to God, 100%, why not come forward this morning and let us pray with you – praying that the Holy Spirit come along side of you to give you strength and encouragement and love for all those you come in contact with, with the same love God has for us.
25 Aug, 2002 AM
Miles City Wesleyan Church
Miles City Mt.