A Brief History of and Explanation of Sanctification

The idea of sanctification (the process of becoming holy or being transformed into holiness, or eliminating intentional sin) as a work of the Spirit was first propagated by John Wesley in the mid to late 1700′s.  “Wesley held that, in this life, Christians could come to a state in which the love of God, or perfection, reigned supreme in their heart.” (1)  Wesley held that this was an additional work of the Spirit secondary to the salvation experience.  Thus. It was coined the “second work of grace.”  This view remained prominent throughout Christianity until the early 1900’s.  It was emphasized during the great Azusa Street revival in Los Angeles.  William Seymour, the leader of the revival, writes in his newsletter, the Apostolic Faith, “Ten here have received sanctification, and five are filled with the Holy Ghost and speaking in tongues.” (2)  They saw sanctification as an event rather than a process and many would, “pray through to sanctification.”  This view was challenged in 1910 by William Durham, who had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit at Azusa Street.  Durham developed the “Finished Work” theology.  “Durham emphasized that sanctification was a matter of identification with Christ and that by faith in what was accomplished on the Cross, the Christian could live victoriously.  As the believer identified in faith with Christ’s death and resurrection, the sin nature was crucified and the resurrection power was made available.  For Durham and others who adopted his views, sanctification was progressive and ongoing transformation in contrast to an emphasis on a crisis experience.” (3)  This teaching, which is embraced by most Protestants today, while it’s rooted in scripture, it tends to de-emphasizes the need for sanctification.  From the time of Wesley to the early Pentecostals, Christians pursued sanctification.  They prayed for it and many actually received an impartation of the love of God.  In modern times, this need has been de-emphasized by “finished work” theology.  The reality is that both positions, Wesley and Durham, have benefit for today’s Christians.

It is absolutely biblical that Jesus purchased, on the cross at Calvary, our justification (forgiveness of our sins), our sanctification (the power for us to move to holiness), and our baptism in the Holy Spirit (empowerment for ministry).  Nothing else is required by God for us to move into all three of these areas traditionally known as the “Full Gospel.”  It is absolutely possible for a believer to experience all three of these at the time of salvation.   It happens and it is biblical.  However, more often than not, the three are received over time as the Christian continues to grows in Christ.  The concern, in our time, is that Christians have stopped pursuing an experience where they are so filled with the love of God that they desire to stop intentional sin.  Many times the identity crisis of Christians will be solved with an infilling of the love of God.  This infilling of love is a work of the Spirit.  It is recommended that Christians suffering form the identity crisis pursue it.  It has transforming effects.  Worshipers form the Azusa Street revival would encourage us to “press-in” for it.  It will only come from the Spirit and we should put ourselves into a position for the Spirit to impart to us all that Jesus purchased for us.

Endnotes

1.  Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Wesley.

2.  Hyatt, Eddie, Fire on Earth, Creation House, Luke Mary, FL, 2006, page 97.

3.  Hayford, Jack; Moore, David, The Charasmatic Century, Warner Faith books, New York, NY, 2006, page 116.

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The Kingdom of God: Repentance

“Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent…‘” (Acts 2:38)

Jesus emphatically states that one must be “born again” if he is to see the Kingdom of God.  God is Spirit (John 4:24) and His Kingdom is of the spiritual realm.  Jesus describes His Kingdom as not “being of this world” (John 18:36).  This tells us that the kingdom of God is not a physical place in the physical realm.  It is not a place that one can travel to, not a destination, it doesn’t have a current address.  The Kingdom is of the spiritual realm or the invisible realm around us.  The physical realm we experience with our five senses but the spiritual realm requires a spiritual re-birth in order to experience.

Humans are born into a natural fallen selfish and sinful condition that is generally incapable of spiritual insight.  Paul writes, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” ( I Corinthians 2:14)  In order to see into the spiritual realm, one needs the Sprit of God living inside of them.  The only way to receive the Spirit of God is through the remission of sin.   God is Holy and cannot live in the presence of sin.  Therefore, sin must be atoned for in order for the presence of God to take up residence and remain.  The only way to atone for sin is through the shedding of blood. (Leviticus 17:11)  Hence, a sacrifice is required.  A sacrifice that is powerful enough to change the inner man to allow humans to become the dwelling place of God.  There is no greater love for a human than for one person to lay down their life for another.  Consequently, the willful sacrifice of Jesus qualifies to minister the Spirit of God unto us.   Upon the belief that Jesus was fully God and fully man, that he died for ones sins and that He has risen from the grave, a person may begin to sow into the spiritual Kingdom.  With this faith, in the person and work of Jesus, confession of sin can be made and the supernatural work of repentance begin inside of the soul.  The Spirit of God invades the persons heart and takes up residence making them a “new creation”.  Once this happens, we have entered into and can now see, the Kingdom of God.  The invasion of the Holy Spirit causes this “born again” experience.  We have become sons and daughters of the Royal Family and our now heirs with Christ.

The pre-requisite to receiving the Holy Spirit, is a conviction of sin that leads to a heart change with a subsequent impact on lifestyle.  This change is called repentance.  The word repent, in Greek, is actually a combination of words that mean “after” and “to think”.  Repentance is a decision that results in a change of mind which in turn leads to a change of purpose and action.(1).  Repentance is the ultimate act of humility.  It is admitting to oneself and God that my thinking and my lifestyle have been in error and I recognize this and desire to change it.  It’s the admission that my mind, thoughts and opinions are not great sources of edification but actually are a source of stumbling.  It is both a supernatural act (One that is driven by the Spirit) and an act of the will.  .  Benny Hinn writes, “Repentance is a daily experience.  And it‘s supernatural experience, not something you can humanly accomplish by yourself.  It‘s a gift of the Holy Spirit…That‘s the true meaning–not only confessing, but also forsaking.  Have nothing to do with it anymore.  You get on you knees and you say, ‘Lord, never again‘ and you don‘t walk out until the thing is dealt with.” (2)  Having a repentant heart is essential for growth in the kingdom.  Jesus says, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” (Matt. 4:17)

The degree to which we have a repentant heart, is the degree that we move into the deeper things of God.  Frank Bartleman of the Azusa Street revival writes, “the depth of revival will be determined exactly by the depth of the spirit of repentance.” (3)  Christians will continue to go deeper into the kingdom so long as we are willing to have the Spirit show us and remove areas of sin from our character.  Any revival, either corporate or individual, will cease growth when the repentance of the heart ceases.

Endnotes

1.  Hayford, Jack, The Spirit-filled Life Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN page 1407.

2.  Hinn, Benny, “The Anointing”, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 1992, page 130.

3.  Bartlemann, Frank, “Azusa Street”, Whitaker House, New Kensington, PA, 1982,  page 19.