REGENERATION, SANCTIFICATION AND GROWTH IN GRACE
1. “Therefore having laid aside all malice, all guile, hypocrisies, jealousies, and all calumniations.” This dark catalogue constitutes the motley cohort of inbred sin, here revealed as surviving in the hearts of the regenerate, keeping up an annoying civil war till expurgated in entire sanctification, here indicated by apothemenoi, “laying aside.” This participle pursuant to the constant usage of New Testament writers, denotative of God’s work in full sanctification, is in aorist tense, which always denotes an instantaneous action, forever annihilating the gradualistic theology of sanctification out of the Bible. All gradualism in both works of grace is human, simply involving our approach to God, till we come in contact with them, when He always does His work instantaneously. The gradualistic theology of sanctification is all man’s work without God, and therefore utterly spurious throughout. Dr. Clarke well says, “Gradual sanctification, like seriatim pardon, is to be discarded as a Romish heresy.”
2. “As newly born babes desire the pure milk of the Word in order that you may grow thereby into salvation.” The order of the Holy Ghost in this passage is beautiful, edifying and inspiring. Regenerated people, having unhesitatingly pressed forward into entire sanctification instantaneously received, are importunately commanded to appreciate and utilize the pure Word of God, in order that they may grow in grace, till they reach final salvation, which is the glorification of the soul and the body. In this invaluable argument a most important clause “eis sooteerion,” into salvation, does not appear in the English. It is the keynote in the heavenly music which rings through this beautiful paragraph, constituting the climax of Peter’s clear head and powerful exegesis of the gracious economy. In the days of Martin Luther if a man claimed to know that he was converted, it was thought he ought to be hung for blasphemy. In the time of Wesley, a profession of sanctification was anathematized by the clergy as preposterous impudence. Nowadays many of the holiness people look with suspicion upon the experiences of grace subsequent to sanctification, as conducive to fanaticism. You see Peter sweeps all embargoes from the field, opening up the Gospel stadium illimitable and infinitesimal to the enthusiastic adventurer. He would first have you gloriously regenerated by the Holy Ghost. Then in your newly-born babyhood press forward into the experience of instantaneous and entire sanctification. Then you become homo unius libri — a man of one book. Secular papers, novels and trashy literature are thrown away, the Bible and holiness books alone encumbering your center table. Oh, how you voraciously devour and fatten on the blessed Word of God! The grand enthusiasm of this triumphant, spiritual progress is that you actually grow into gianthood and ripen into that glorious spiritual maturity, which culminates in transfiguration, held up so conspicuously by the inspired writers as “salvation,” in its ultimate and transcendental sense.
3. “If you have tasted that the Lord is good.” Just as the body has the senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch, so the human spirit is invested with the same. Though a dead man has all these organs, he is utterly destitute of sensation, till quickened unto life by the Holy Ghost. Still his spiritual sensation is more or less obtuse till entire sanctification expunges all hereditary ailments and disabilities, rendering his spiritual susceptibilities and sensations intensely acute and supernaturally delightful.
THE SPIRITUAL OFFICE
4. All sinners are the devil’s dead rocks, while Christians are God’s living stones. The Church of God, the divine ecclesia, not human ecclesiasticism, is here symbolized as a beautiful and majestic stone edifice, the apostles and prophets constituting the foundation, while Jesus Christ is the head of the corner The two pairs of parallel walls, i.e., Jew and Gentile constituting the grand quadrangular superstructure, are consolidated in the corners by the Chief cornerstone, secure against all the storms dashing against it by the caprice of men and the rage of devils.
5. “And you as living stones are built up a spiritual house.” You see how every saved soul becomes a constituent stone in that grand and majestic superstructure, destined forever to stand towering among the angels, the delight of cherubim and seraphim, and the admiration of the universe. Pursuant to this beautiful and instructive imagery, all truly sanctified people, in the capacity of efficient soul savers, are stone-masons. We go out into the devil’s mountains with an ample supply of God’s dynamite. We drill down into Satan’s profound strata, deposit the dynamite, apply the celestial electricity and witness smashings, explosions, blowing up and disintegrating the devil’s rock. This is the Sinai Gospel of a true spiritual conviction. Then every fellow lights on his own rock with his chisel, transforming it into the shape requisite for its place in the glorious edifice, beautifying it with the gorgeous luster of celestial splendor, transporting it on the salvation wagon to the building site and depositing it in its proper place in the gorgeous superstructure. All this is the Calvary Gospel of regeneration. Now the stones gathered from Satan’s mountain ranges, girdling the globe, have all reached their predestinated places in the glorified Church of the First John, there to abide, unjostled, despite earthquakes and volcanoes, in perfect and imperturbable rest through all eternity. This is the Pentecostal Gospel of entire sanctification, the soul’s sweet, unutterable and eternal repose.
PRIESTHOOD AND HIGH PRIESTHOOD
5...”Into a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices unto God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” In the Gospel dispensation the Levitical priesthood has been transferred to the membership. Therefore regeneration makes you a priest, giving you license to preach while sanctification makes you a high priest, the former putting you in the sanctuary to worship and officiate, while the latter escorts you into the sanctum sanctorum and permits you to stand amid the splendors of the glorious shekinah, in the effulgent light of the divine presence, with access to the sweet manna in the golden pot ever fresh and delicious, and the luscious fruits constantly ripening on Aaron’s budding rod, while the heavenly cherubim with celestial pinions regale your face with the breezes of glory. Ecclesiastical tyrants are everywhere threatening God’s holy people with clerical ostracism and decapitation. Stop all your whining. If they want your license, let them have it. You will then be in as good fix as Paul and Peter. Wake up to the glorious fact that regeneration makes you a priest, i.e. a preacher, and sanctification, a high priest, i.e., bishop. God is now raising up an army of lay preachers, male and female, with license from heavenly headquarters to preach the everlasting Gospel to the dying millions of a lost world and bring on the millennium.
6... “Let him that believeth on Him not be ashamed.” Shame is the inseparable concomitant of sin. A genuine case of salvation takes away all shame and makes you courageous as a lion. You see from this Scripture that shame is incompatible with true faith. What is to become of the popular churches where ninety out of every hundred evince the sad fact that they are ashamed of Jesus, because they will not publicly testify to his power to save.
8... “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.” In all ages the people have stumbled over the Christhood. The whole Bible is the biography of Christ. The Old Testament of the excarnate and the New of the incarnate, is God in Christ redeeming the world. The Holy Ghost is the disembodied Spirit of Christ. Satan fought the divine Fatherhood four thousand years, breaking down in signal defeat, polytheism collapsing and monotheism triumphant. Upon the Incarnation lie turned all the battering rams of earth and hell against the divine Sonship, even dividing the Church between Arians and Trinitarians, waging a desolating war through the centuries, again suffering signal defeat, the Christhood of Jesus coming to the front in universal recognition. We are living in the time of the devil’s last war against the Christhood. Now all the batteries of the pandemonium are turned against the Spirit of Christ, i.e., the Holy Ghost, His personal successor. We have no war against the holiness movement; it is all against the personal Holy Ghost. The fallen churches, like the wicked world, are everywhere stumbling over the glorious Christhood in the person of the Holy Ghost.
“They stumble over the word disbelieving, for which they were also appointed.” This sounds quite Calvinistic. We have no creed but the Bible, since God has gloriously saved us from everything but Himself. God made room in heaven for all the people in this world. He is doing His best to keep them all out of hell, and take them to heaven. Under His protest and through his dying love they rush into hell by millions because they love sin, which is the way to hell and brings hell into them, and congenializing them to live in hell forever. God sits upon the throne of the universe sees the way of every human being pursuant to his own will, and recognizes his destination in heaven or hell.
9. “You are an elect race.” We are nominated for heaven in conversion and elected in sanctification, and crowned in glorification. “Royal priesthood.” The high priest was always recognized as a member of the royal family. While conversion makes you a priest, sanctification makes you a high priest. “Holy nation.” This world has many nationalities, designated by races and colors, and separated by oceans and seas. Among them God has a nationality distinctly marked, dispersed in all lands, peculiar and recognizable in every clime. Isaiah 62 says they shall be called a “holy people.” It is a significant fact that the people who believe in entire sanctification by a second work of grace are alone called “holy” among all the nations on the earth at the present day. The world is very apt to call things what they are. So you had better get where the world will call you “holy.” If you are not holy in the end, you would better never have been born. “A people unto conquest.” God’s holy people, though few, poor, and persecuted, like Joseph in Pharaoh’s dungeon, who came forth to rule over all the land, are destined to conquer the world for Christ, and come to the front to stay and rule the world forever in the glorious coming kingdom. “In order that you may proclaim the power of Him who calleth you out of darkness into His glorious light.” Satan’s counterfeit Christians are a dumb herd. God’s true people have always been very noisy, and doubtless will be more so after they get to heaven. They have always been a great annoyance to Satan’s dumb dead churches.
10. This verse alludes to the glorious call of the Gentiles to full Gospel rights and privileges, which God honored Peter to inaugurate at the house of Cornelius.
Abraham, the father of the faithful, though God had enriched him with silver and gold, herds and flocks, refused to build himself a house lest it might alienate his heart from his home in heaven, journeying to which he was a pilgrim and a stranger among the nations of the earth. I visited the old site on the plains of Mamre, where he pitched his tent ever and anon, and where Jehovah and two angels honored him with a visit, announcing the conception of Isaac, and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorra.
11. “Whether do you know that those who are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.” Galatians 3:7. Hence you see all the true people of God are the children and successors of faithful Abraham. Therefore as we are all pilgrims and strangers in this God-dishonoring and God- forgetting world, traveling to a home beyond the stars, we can not afford to be encumbered with real estate.
12. “Having your deportment beautiful among the heathen, in order that whatsoever they calumniate you as evil doers, seeing from your beautiful works they may glorify God in the day of visitation.” The flower of truly saintly example is omnipotent, utilized by the Holy Ghost. About forty years ago a very learned, honest and deeply pious Hindu priest fortuitously encountered a New Testament. Reading and studying it with alacrity and enthusiasm, he becomes literally enamored with the beautiful characters of Jesus Christ and His disciples. Learning from the record that the former had ascended up to heaven, he gave up all aspiration to cultivate His acquaintance. At the same time conceiving the idea that His disciples still survived on the earth, he gave way to a consuming avidity to cultivate their acquaintance, and learn more about that wonderful religion. Amid his daily inquiries in the city of Bombay, India, falling in with an Englishman, he says, “Have you ever seen any of the disciples of Jesus Christ?” “Oh, yes, I know a goodly number of them in this city.” “Will you be so kind as to introduce me to them?” “With the greatest pleasure.” Now he escorts the priest around and introduces him to a number of English merchants in the city, who claimed to be the disciples of Jesus Christ. With the utmost delight he congratulates them, fully expecting to see the holy virtues of Peter, Paul and Mary exemplified. To his unutterable surprise, chagrin and disappointment, as he observes their daily deportment, he finds them, if possible, bigger rascals than the heathens. Therefore, giving up in utter despair, acquiescing in the conclusion that if Jesus Christ ever had any disciples on the earth they were all dead and gone, and as He was gone His religion was now like many of the Hindu gods, utterly and hopelessly inaccessible to mortals. Therefore, he goes back to his Hindu religion with greater devotion and assiduity than ever, believing it to be the best he could get. Meanwhile Bishop Taylor arrives in that country and spends four years preaching the Gospel, God signally blessing his labors among the English and Europeans, enabling him to organize the South India Conference. Fortunately this priest attends Taylor’s revivals, witnessing the mighty works of God. Among others crowding the altar he recognized those same English merchants in whom he had been so sadly disappointed. He now soliloquizes: “I’ll see what becomes of these fellows; I’ll give them another chance.” Behold, they fall down at the mourners’ bench, weep bitterly, and after awhile they rise with radiant faces and testify that they have found Jesus Christ. The Hindu soliloquizes, “Perhaps they were mistaken before, so I will watch them again.” This time they fully verify his expectations, exemplifying the beautiful characters described in the New Testament, at the same time turning a flood of Christian kindness, fervent prayers and instructions on him. Then all of his quibbles ceased. He sought and found Jesus Christ, “the fairest among ten thousand and altogether lovely,” and became a powerful preacher of the Gospel.
LOYALTY TO HUMAN AUTHORITY FOR THE LORD’S SAKE
13-15. Though Paul and Peter both lived and died under the reign of Nero, the merciless Roman tyrant, they both enjoin submissive loyalty to human authority, both suffering martyrdom under the cruel edict of the brutal autocrat, for the Lord’s sake, while they and the one hundred millions whom the emperors slaughtered during the ensuing three hundred years might all have saved their lives by compromising their religion; hence the legitimate sequence from all these Scriptures relative to Christian loyalty to human authority, is the simple fact that we are to be loyal and obedient when compatible with duty and responsibility to God, otherwise non- resistingly to obey God rather than man, suffering persecution even to bloody martyrdom.
16. “As free and not having liberty as a cover of evil, but as the slaves of God.” We see from this verse that the perfect love slavery of entire sanctification is beautifully harmonious and co-existent with the very highest spiritual liberty. Really, they are synonymous, as perfect submission to God makes us participants of God’s own liberty, which is perfect freedom to do everything good and nothing bad. The Greek in this passage is douloi, “slaves,” and not oiketees, which always means a hired servant. Sinners are the devil’s slaves, unsanctified Christians, hired servants in the kingdom, e.g., salaried preachers, while sanctified people are God’s love slaves, serving him with all the power of soul, mind and body, for no remuneration this side of heaven but pure love alone, at the same time enjoying perfect spiritual liberty, utter freedom from every care.
17... “Love the brotherhood with divine love.” This is not human love which is full of carnality, selfishness and lust, but the holy agapee, poured out into the heart by the Holy Ghost. Romans 5:5.
18. The world was full of human slavery in the Apostolic age. While the Christian religion enjoins submission on the part of slaves, thus conserving peace and harmony, it enjoins upon both master and servant the divine agapee, whose normal effect is to revolutionize human society and forever abolish slavery.
19. “For this is grace, if for the sake of the conscience of God, any one endure sorrows suffering unjustly.” Human conscience, though the highest moral tribunal, and pertinent to be followed under all circumstances simply as the best alternative, nevertheless is not a correct guide unless transformed by the Holy Ghost, rendering it the “conscience of God,” and no longer that of fallen humanity.
20. While punishment corrective of evil conduct is a blessing, when it is received innocently for Christ’s sake alone, it is a transcendent means of grace. No wonder the crown of martyrdom during the persecutionary ages became a universal desideratum among the saints of God.
21. We have flippant singing about walking in the footprints of Jesus. Certainly this is the only way to heaven. We must walk in His footprints up rugged Calvary and be nailed to the cruel cross till the body of sin is crucified, if we would ever ascend with Him to glory, meanwhile we must be a candidate for all the popular contempt, denunciation and persecution which He endured.
22, 23. Nothing but entire sanctification, utterly eliminating the retaliatory spirit, can possibly qualify us to verify the character of our great and only Exemplar, who endured every conceivable insult, even spitting in His face. If we are going to heaven we must have the grace requisite to enable us to walk in His footprints, doing as He did.
LIFE AND HEALTH IN THE ATONEMENT
24. “Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree in order that we being dead to sins may live unto righteousness, by whose stripes ye were healed.” This verse, in beautiful, lucid and cogent simplicity sets forth the vicarious atonement, in which the Son of God actually redeemed the whole world when He died on the cross, sweeping from the field very conceivable defalcation as to the gracious possibility of universal salvation, hence the vile sinner need only, in the utter and eternal abnegation and abandonment of all his sins, in the profound contrition of a broken heart, look to Calvary and by simple faith in the Word of God, receive and appropriate the full and free pardon of all his transgressions, rising with the shout of victory over sin, Satan and hell. Not only is life from the dead for every lost soul purchased by the vicarious atonement of Christ on the cross, but perfect soul health gloriously delivered from the remotest lingering contamination of the diabolical virus engendered by the fall, is abundantly provided for in this triumphant expiation of the human malady, unfurling the banner of entire sanctification to wave triumphantly over the blackest hell-dens of slumdom.
25. The omnipotent, crucified, risen and triumphant Christ is the tenderhearted, loving Shepherd, now calling every human soul this side the infernal portal to come unto Him. Meanwhile to all the spiritually dead He offers life and to all the sick perfect health.
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Godbey, William. "Commentary on 1 Peter 2". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany