It is our purpose in this booklet to write mainly upon the manner of a Christian’s life, but we thought it well to set before the reader as briefly as possible the plan of redemption, or how we came into possession of the perfect fullness of the Christian experience.
Now it is sure we must be born again (John 3:1-7). But we do unmistakably find by searching the Scriptures that this is not all. The disciples as they journeyed with the Savior before his death enjoyed the experience of the new birth. We shall prove this by a few texts. In Matthew 16:15-16 Jesus is asking the disciples whom they believed him to be, and Peter making reply said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Again in John 6:69, Peter speaking to the Savior said, “We believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” Now by reading 1 John 5:1 we find what such believing effects: “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.”
From this we can safely conclude that the disciples were regenerated at the time they thus confessed their faith in Christ. Now I know we are in awful times of peril and deception, but it is perfectly safe to take the plain statements of God’s Word. It is thought by some that none enjoyed the power of regeneration until after the resurrection, but we learn that He gave those who believed on Him power to become the sons of God before His crucifixion: “He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:11-13) The disciples believed on Him: they received Him and consequently were born of God. Jesus speaks to the seventy of their names being written in heaven (Luke 10:20). They were preaching the gospel, healing the sick, casting out devils, etc., and surely they were sons of God by the new birth.
But we obviously find yet an element in their nature discordant with the nature of their Savior. It is in the plan of redemption that we be restored to the image or nature of God. Christ came in the nature of God, and we in the fullness of His salvation are partakers of His nature; i.e., we are of a like nature with Him: “The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.” (Luke 6:40) Not in outward life only shall we be like Jesus, but in our very nature: “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.” (John 4:17) From this text we learn that it is not only in heaven that we shall in our nature be like Jesus, but like Him in this world as well. We are to be perfect in love as He is. For proof of this we shall quote Matthew 5:48: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” By reading a few above verses we find there is a perfection of love, and such a perfection can only result from a Christlike nature. In the fullness of salvation we are as merciful in our nature as God is merciful: “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.” (Luke 6:36) We are holy like Him: “Be ye holy; for I am holy.” (Pet. 11:16) We are to be righteous as He: “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he [God] is righteous.” (1 John 3:7) We are to be pure as our Savior: “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” (John 3:3) We as Christians are to be one, as Christ and God are one: “And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one.” (John 17:22) From the above texts we unmistakably learn that Christians in the “uttermost salvation” are holy, righteous, and pure in their nature as God is. They are as perfect in love and merciful in their nature as He is. They are naturally one even as the Father and the Son are one.
We have heretofore by a few texts positively proved that the disciples during the ministry of Christ were converted, regenerated, or born again. Now we will as positively prove by their actions or manner of life that there was an element in their nature unlike their Master. In reading Mark 9:33-34, we find the Savior rebuking the disciples because they had disputed among themselves, who should be greatest. Here we discover an element of pride or love of preeminence in the nature of the disciples, which is not found in the nature of Christ. In Mark 10:37, we read where the two sons of Zebedee asked the Savior to grant them the privilege of sitting the one on his right hand and the other on his left in his glory. By the answer he made them as recorded in verse 40, the disciples understood him to make them promise of such positions, and in verse 41 we learn the ten were much displeased with James and John. Here we plainly discover an element of envy or jealousy in their nature. Thus they are found to be unlike their Savior in nature.
In reading the account of the betrayal in John 18, we see manifest an element of resentment and resistance when Peter with his sword smote off the high priest’s servant’s ear. Jesus commanded him to put up his sword. Elsewhere it is said that Jesus touched the wounded ear and healed it. Peter inflicted the wound; Jesus healed it. We see the dissimilarity in the natures of Peter and Jesus. The Savior, desiring the disciples to be restored to the divine nature, prays the Father to sanctify them: “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” (John 17:17) While the disciples were only regenerated, we discover an element of division in their nature, resulting in disputings as to who should be the greatest, and envyings and jealousies, consequently they were not one; but in reading John 17:17-22, we find that the experience of sanctification makes them one. In Hebrews 2:11, we are taught that sanctification makes all one. When was this element of division destroyed or cleansed from the nature of the disciples? We answer, at the reception of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. In Acts 4:31-32, it is said that all that were filled with the Holy Spirit were of one heart and one soul, consequently the experience of sanctification destroys all elements of division.
Paul rebuked the brethren for this same element of division that was found in the disciples before their sanctification. They were in Christ, but they had yet a carnal or fallen nature. In Acts 8, reading from verse 5, we have the account of Philip preaching Christ to the Samaritans. There were many lame and palsied healed, and evil spirits cast out. There was great joy in that city. In verse 12 it is said the people believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, and were baptized, both men and women. Verse 14 says that when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John down there, who, when they were come, they prayed for them, and laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. Here we find full salvation obtained by the people of the city of Samaria in the same manner as the apostles obtained it. They first received the word of God: they believed, and were baptized and were unquestionably regenerated, and like the apostles subsequently received the Holy Spirit.
In Acts 10 there is recorded how God wonderfully accomplished the sanctification of Cornelius and his family. We find him a devout man and one that feared God and prayed to Him always. His prayers and almsgiving came up as a memorial before God. How beautiful! Surely he was a Christian. He enjoyed the blessed experience of pardon, but not the glorious experience of sanctification; therefore, he was directed by an angel to call for one Simon who would tell him what to do. I would advise the reader to read the whole of this chapter. Toward the close of the chapter you will read where, as Peter preached to them, the Holy Ghost fell on them.
Thus we find that Cornelius and his family were fully saved in the same manner as the apostles and the people of Samaria. Some may be asking what was accomplished in these Gentiles when they received the Holy Spirit. We have already learned that He destroyed the elements of division and made all one. This is because he cleanses or purifies the nature or heart and consequently destroys all elements in opposition to the nature of Christ. We shall give one text to prove that the Holy Spirit purifies the heart: “And God, which knoweth the heart, bare them [Gentiles] witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us [Jews]; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.” (Acts 15:8-9) With this one text all anti-cleansing theories fall to the ground.
In all the New Testament examples we find that men and women were first regenerated and subsequently made pure in heart by the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit. This is the most natural and commonsense plan of restoring fallen man to his creative purity. Because of Adam’s transgression sin entered into the world and death by sin; so death passed upon all men, for all have sinned (Romans 5:12). All have sinned. That is, all are sinful in their nature. This is proven by a saying of the Psalmist: “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Psalm 51:5) The apostle Paul says he was by nature a child of wrath, even as others (Ephesians 2:3). He not only says he was a child of wrath in his nature, but that others are also.
This same is true of every child. The nature of the child in its formation in the womb is depraved. The moral condition of the parents may modify to an extent, but never wholly change that nature. The child does not inherit a depraved nature from its parents; it is not because the parents are sinful that the child is conceived in sin, but because nature is depraved. Understand me, Adam’s sin caused a depravity in the whole realm of nature. The ground is cursed for his sake. Thorns and thistles shall it now bring forth. The world before sin’s entrance was an Eden. Since, it is a land of sorrow, a world of vanity and woe. Man is of few days and full of trouble. It required a supernatural conception to beget a pure child, everything in nature being depraved. The child does not inherit either physical or moral image directly from its parents. In the protoplasm of human life there is implanted a physical and moral image. The child has two hands and two feet, not because its parents have, but because that is the form stamped by the hands of God in the embryo. Adam’s sin struck at the root of nature, caused a change in the moral image implanted in the protoplasm of human life. When a child is born with two ears, eyes, hands, and feet, we say it is perfect in form, because that is the model stamped in the life germ. But should a child have six fingers upon one hand it is deformed, because it is not after the model. Adam’s sin caused a deformity or depravity in the moral image in the life germ, and consequently every child is “conceived in sin,” or in that deformed moral image. For this reason it required a conception from the supernatural world to beget the holy child Jesus. Because of this depravity in nature God’s wrath hung over this world. We are all by nature children of wrath and doomed to eternal punishment had not Jesus presented Himself to the Father as a sacrifice for this depravity in nature. The sacrifice of the Son of God does not correct the deformity in nature (because after the sacrifice was offered the apostle declares we are by nature the children of wrath), we are yet evil in our nature, but the sacrifice of Christ appeases the wrath of God to the innocent. Praise God!
All children dying in their infancy are admitted into heaven through the sacrifice of Jesus. Some depart from the truth because they do not understand how the child can go to heaven and yet be depraved in its nature. They “do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.” (Mathew 22:29) The child is born with a depraved nature. This we have proved by Psalm 51:5; Ephesians 2:3, and it is also clearly proved by observation. Every child manifests an evil disposition. It comes natural for them to do evil things. Do they not learn evil things much more readily than right things? If so, why? Because their nature is evil. If one child is smitten by another, is it not natural for the injured one to smite back? All are compelled to answer, yes. If the child were pure in its nature such would not be the case. Christ was pure in His nature from infancy and had no disposition to resent injuries. A sanctified man is pure in his nature and has no disposition to return evil for evil.
This disposition is in the nature of children. Some have asked, “What is meant by nature?” It is not wise to follow too far and deep the insoluble things of God and nature lest we be led into error. The Scriptures, however, permit us to associate it with the heart, and it affects the whole of man. The Savior said, “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts,” (Matthew 15:19) which is the same as to say, out of man’s nature proceed evil thoughts. When the Holy Spirit purified the hearts of Jews and Gentiles by faith (Acts 15:8-9), they received a purifying of their nature. An impure heart, and a depraved nature, are synonymous terms. But how can a child go to heaven and yet be depraved in its nature? Because the sacrifice of the Son of God has appeased the wrath of God against this deformity in nature. If children were given pure souls or natures at birth, as some do affirm, then all children that die in infancy go to heaven independently of a Savior; consequently there are myriads in heaven to whom the Savior is no Savior. This is contrary to the voice of Scripture.
Should the child depraved in its nature arrive to a knowledge of what was right and what was wrong and then willfully do the wrong it incurs the wrath of God, which is appeased only through repentance and the blood. When the wrath of God because of transgression is appeased by repentance and the blood the individual is returned to his childhood state; therefore Jesus says, speaking to the transgressor, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3) Conversion restores man to the childhood state. Now it is the will of God that he be sanctified. Through the sacrifice of the Son of God he can obtain a correction of the depravity that was implanted in his nature by Adam’s sin, and be made partaker of the divine nature. Now he is like Jesus and lives a Christian life naturally as He did. Praise God!
The purifying of man’s nature or heart is necessary in order that he be not overcome and become a transgressor. Who has known a newly converted man to live year after year without being brought into transgression? The purifying of his heart places him where he for a lifetime is victorious over sin. Glory to our God! If a justified man dies before he receives knowledge of sanctification it is with him as with the infant. But for him to be a constant overcomer along the race of life he needs the cleansing of his nature and the power of the Holy Spirit. “This is the will of God, even your sanctification.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3) “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23)