"Unto them who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to the saints." I reverently received a belated Fathers Day gift on my 56th birthday. Our oldest son, David, presented me with a replicated version of Indiana Jones' famous fedora hat. Jones is a secular, fictional motion picture "archeologist" who is always searching for religious relics. I'd like you to join with me in "this" article as we search for a hidden treasure (2 Corinthians 4:3-7).
The relic is the Bible doctrine of entire sanctification, the second definite work of God's grace. Many times you'll hear me or someone else testify, "I am saved, sanctified and filled with the Holy Ghost." Jesus prayed in John 17:17-19, "Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth." (see Hebrews 2:11)
To sanctify means to "set apart." In the original Greek, the same word applies to "saint." A former pastor once said, "We're either saints or aints." Between the 13th and 20th centuries were great visionary reformers of Christian faith. John Wycliffe and John Huss were considered as "morning stars" of the Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther followed with the restoration of "Justification by Faith." To succeed their efforts were Zwingli, Calvin, Knox, Whitfield, Edwards, Wesley and others.
Christian theologian John Wesley (June 17, 1703-March 2, 1791) took his place in history in part to teach and preach about the "peculiar" biblical doctrine of entire sanctification and Christian perfection. Influenced greatly by Moravian-Anabaptist teaching, he developed an understanding through the scriptures of what Christ prayed in John 17, "Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth."
In many of Wesley's sermons, he emphasized "prevenient grace," preaching personal salvation by faith, the witness of the spirit and sanctification. In 1790, Wesley referred to sanctification as the "great depositum." He taught that sanctification was obtainable instantaneously by faith, between justification and death. It was not "sinless perfection" that he contended for; but he believed that those who are "perfect in love" feel no sin (1 John 4:17-18). Two messages by Wesley pertaining to this theme are John Wesley, Sermon 17 titled "The Circumcision of the Heart" (Romans 2:29) preached at St. Mary's Oxford before the University on Jan. 1, 1733; and Sermon 124 titled "The Heavenly Treasure in Earthen Vessels" (2 Corinthians 4:7). Both sermon texts are derived from the 1872 edition (www.raptureme.com).
Nineteenth and 20th century Church of God pioneer Ambrose Jessup Tomlinson was known for his fervent prevailing prayers. In Bible school, a sign was placed on his door that read "The Prevailer." During this time of study, he learned more fully about sanctification, the second definite work of grace that revealed a richer, fuller experience with God. He was never satisfied and never ceased to seek the deeper experience with God until he was gloriously sanctified.
An excerpt from Tomlinson's "Answering the Call of God" tells of his experience. "It was about 12 o'clock in the day. I cried out in the bitterness of my soul, 'Now! Now! You've got to give it up now! Now!' I felt him begin to weaken and quiver. I kept the 'sword' right in him, and never let go. That sharp two-edged 'sword' was doing its deadly work. I did not pity him. I showed him no quarters. There we were in that attitude when all of sudden came from above, like a thunderbolt from the skies, a sensational power that ended the conflict, and there lay the 'old man' dead at my feet, and I was free from his grasp. Thank God! I could get a good free breath once more. It was an awful struggle, but the victory was won ... I was indeed sanctified wholly." (From by A.J. Tomlinson.)
In 1992, Dr. R.W. Shambach preached a message in Columbus, Ohio, and referred to his own experience of entire sanctification this way - to paraphrase - "After you are saved or born again, next comes sanctification. 'Saved and Sanctified," I didn't say 'crank-ti-fied,' I said 'sanctified.' I've read books about those Wesley boys that recall the accounts of old fashioned, saintly women who, under God's power would 'shake' until the hair buns on the back of their neck, would turn loose and crack like a buggy whip!"
Reported accounts of mid-19th century "brush arbor" days tell of "shaking and quaking" occurring as God's spirit would move within a sanctified believer's heart. This was "before" the latter day outpouring of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost in the late 1800s and early 1900s (Isaiah 28:11 and 33:19; Joel 2:28-29; Matthew 3:11; Mark 16:17; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 2:3-4 and 11, 2:39 and 10:44-47).
"Sanctification is the second definite work of grace, subsequent to justification. It is an instantaneous work wrought in the regenerated heart by the Holy Ghost with the blood of Christ, by faith. Sanctification restores man to holiness in Jesus Christ and enables him by God's grace to live a life of holiness (Romans 6:19 and 22; 1 Thessalonians 3: 13 and 4:7 and Hebrews 12:14). It also makes one eligible for the baptism of the Holy Ghost" (excerpt from White Wing Publishing House "Important Bible Truths").
Sanctification will help a "believer" conquer addictions such as tobacco, alcohol, pornography, drugs and "all" the works of the flesh, as mentioned in Galatians 5:19-21. Verses 22 and 23 list the nine fruits (fruit) of the Spirit. Sanctification will help produce this fruit. Jesus tells us to "abide in the True Vine" (John 15:1-13). Upon receiving this blessing, we must patiently learn how to possess our vessel in sanctification and honor (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4, Hebrews 12:1, Galatians 4:30, 1 John 2:1 and Revelation 14:12).
Referring to the use of tobacco and other 'weeds,' Paul admonishes us in 2 Corinthians 7:1, "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." James 1:21 says to "lay apart all filthiness." "Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost" (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). Author, pastor and friend the Rev. Croft Pentz who was promoted to heaven in July 2008, twice shared a story with me about the celebrated 19th century preacher Charles Spurgeon. Spurgeon was known to smoke cigars "until" passing by a store on a street corner with a sign in the window that read: "We sell the cigars that the Rev. Charles Spurgeon smokes." After that event, being convicted by the Holy Spirit and with God's sanctifying deliverance, Spurgeon abstained from smoking.
King James (Stuart) I warned his subjects about using tobacco in a book he authored 400 years ago. He believed that tobacco was bad for your internal organs, as well as "second-hand" smoke being harmful to others. This famous Scottish and English monarch, who authorized his King James Bible translation of 1611, wrote about this harmful product during the early days of American colonization, while tobacco was, as it is today, a profitable cash crop. James published his concerns centuries before the 1960s radio and TV ban of tobacco commercials and the surgeon general's warning on the "pack."
As a result of Adam and Eve's Eden transgression, we are born into this world with an "Adamic Nature." David declares in Psalm 51:5, "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me." Christ, the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45), was crucified, shed his blood, died, arose from the dead and ascended back to the father to free us from the bondage of sin (John 3:7 and 16 and 1 John 1:7 and 9). Paul tells us that we must become "a new creature" (2 Corinthians 5:17). "Put off the 'old man' and his deeds" (Colossians 3:9-10 and Ephesians 4:22). Be "crucified with Christ" (Galatians 2:20). "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication" (1 Thessalonians 4:3, 4 and 7).
Surrender "all" our will, bad habits, bad tempers and desires completely to Jesus (Matthew 6:8, 7 and 7-11)! He will sanctify us wholly and holy (I Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 10:1-22 and 13:11-13; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Jude 1; Luke 24:50-53; and Acts 13:52)!
(The opinions of this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Inter-Mountain, the Randolph County Ministerial Association or the author's church affiliation.)