Salvation, Justification, & Faith (Intelligent Christian)
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In fact Paul's gospel. By that Spirit we are baptized into Christ and made par-takers of his spiritual condition; so that being crucified with him, we are dead to sin, and having risen with him we live to holiness. Now it is evident that this gospel could not be preached until Christ had died and risen.. Even if the Holy Spirit had been given before, it would not have had its instruments. The facts necessary to salvation were not in existence.
It is manifest that Christ did not enter upon his office as a savior from sin till after his death, from a great variety of such passages as the following: "Though he were a son, yet learned he obedience by the things which lie suffered; and being made perfect , [i.
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In accordance with the doctrine of these passages, Christ speaks of the "new covenant," or what is the same thing, the covenant of salvation from sin, as being " in his blood " Luke 22 : 20, and intimates that his blood must be shed, before men could partake of the blessings of that covenant.
The sins, then, of the disciples, before the death of Christ, stand on the same ground with the sins of the Old Testament saints. They occurred before the Christian dispensation began; i. We must look. That the disciples were not Christians in the proper sense of that term, during Christ's personal ministry, is evident from the language Christ used toward Peter. In one instance he called him Satan Mark 8 : 33, and in another instance he said to him, " When thou art converted , strengthen thy brethren," Luke 22 32, implying that he was not then converted. What has been already said of the condition of the Old Testament saints, as servants under the law, and heirs of the future blessings of the gospel, may be applied, without any essential alteration, to the condition of the disciples before the day of Pentecost.
Finally it may be objected to our doctrine, that the saints of the apostolic age, though they lived after the death and resurrection of Christ and the effusion of the Holy Spirit, and were there fore certainly subjects of the Christian dispensation, did nevertheless commit sin. This objection is more pertinent and formidable than any that have gone before. We come to the issue now on gospel ground. The apostolic age is certainly the period, where the question whether the gospel gives salvation from sin in this world, is finally to be tried.
We admit, if it can be shown that none of the saints of that age were saved from sin, our doctrine, by the test of experience, is proved false.
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And on the other hand we insist, if it can be shown that any in that age were saved from sin, by the same test our doctrine is proved true. Dismissing from our minds, as irrelevant, the history of the saints of all ages before, and of all ages since, we will now bring the gospel to the test of the experience of the primitive church.
Christianity For Dummies
In many cases, the power of an agency is not to be estimated by its immediate effects. The healing efficacy of medicine, for instance, is not to be judged by the symptoms which it produces instantly after being taken. We must wait till it has had time sufficient for a legitimate operation. We affirm that the gospel is a medicine competent to the complete cure of sin.
That medi-. But it does not necessarily follow that on the day of Pentecost, or within any very short period afterwards, it exhibited its full efficacy. The process by which full salvation is effected, is one that requires time, because it is not merely a spiritual operation, but an exhibition and application of truth. The office of the Comforter is to " take of the things of Christ and show them unto believers.
On the day of Pentecost it began its work, but it did not immediately show the disciples all the things of Christ. They then entered the school of the Holy Spirit, but they did not graduate in one day. They were evidently then, and for a long time afterwards, in a great measure, ignorant of the true nature of the kingdom of Christ. It was ten years after the day of Pentecost before they understood that they were at liberty to preach to the Gentiles, though Christ expressly commissioned them to "teach all nations. Their introduction to the truth of the Gospel was progressive, and it began with the most simple external rudiments.
They preached at first the death of Christ as a reason for repentance, and his resurrection as proof of his Messiahship; but there is no reason to believe that they perceived the deep spiritual meaning and efficiency of those great facts of the gospel. It cannot be repeated too often, that salvation from sin is effected by the spiritual application of the death and resurrection of Christ. Believers, beholding these facts by the illumination of the Holy Spirit, receive the assimilating impress of them. Christ's death becomes their death, and his resurrection their resurrection.
Thus they die to sin and live to God. Until these facts are thus apprehended, the truth of the gospel has not had its operation, though the Spirit of the Christian dispensation may have been received. Let us look at a specimen of Paul's preaching on this point. Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised from.
For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection; [this would not follow if the apostle were speaking of water baptism;] knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin; for he that is dead is freed from sin.
Now, if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him; knowing that Christ, being raised from the dead, dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once; but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto Cod through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof; neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin; but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
For sin shall not have dominion over you. Here we have Paul's gospel-" Christ crucified, the power of God unto salvation" from sin. But is it not evident that the truths exhibited in this passage, are among the deepest of "the deep things of God;" spiritual problems, the solution of which would naturally engage the primitive church a long time? It is certainly supposable-indeed, Paul's language plainly implies that believers might have been baptized into Christ, long before they were aware that their baptism involved death to sin, and resurrection to holiness.
The apostle addresses them, as persons who had taken the medicine of salvation, but had not digested it and realized its legitimate operation. Though they were baptized into Christ, they had not reached that radical spiritual identity with him, by which the body of sin is destroyed. The Holy Spirit was upon them, but had not yet pervaded them.
Accordingly, Paul, as a servant of the Holy Spirit, held up before them the things of Christ, viz. Interesting as the inquiry is, we cannot, perhaps, determine at present, exactly at what period in the history of the primitive. But we may safely assume that it was long after the day of Pentecost. All the evidence there is in the case, goes to show that Paul first apprehended and preached salvation from sin, by spiritual identity with the death and resurrection of Christ.
His writings alone present an extended and systematic exposition of that salvation.
The Way of Salvation
If it was given to him, first to know and preach the " mystery of godliness "-Christ in the saints, crucified and risen-such then we must reckon the beginning of salvation from sin from his ministry; and he was not called to faith and apostleship till months, and probably years after the day of Pentecost. However this may be, it is sufficient for our purpose to assume what we believe the evidence and reasoning before us authorize us to assume, that the development of the truth of the gospel in the primitive church after the day of Pentecost, was progressive; that it began with external rudiments, and, proceeding inward, reached the deep spiritual mysteries of the kingdom of God which contain the power of salvation, only at an advanced period of the apostolic age.
With these principles in view, it is obvious that the only fair way of judging the power of the gospel, is to look for test-examples to a period later than the day of Pentecost, and to 'that class in the primitive church who had received the truth of Christ in the maturity of its development. Admitting as we freely do, that in the early days of the apostolic age, sin still had place in the church ; admitting that years after the effusion of the' Spirit, "Peter was to be blamed," and James was obliged to say, "In many things we offend all;" still we maintain that the time came at last when they that continued in Christ's word reached the mighty truth of the atonement, and by it were "made free" - that Christianity, when its power was fully revealed, "made an end of sin and brought in everlasting righteousness.
Thiat epistle was among the latest writings of the New Testament, and as such, is just the testimony we need to determine what was the power of Christianity, when its fruit. John lived to see the full light of that day of righteousness, which began to dawn when Christ came into the world. What were the discoveries which he made in the broad daylight of Christianity?
Let us hear his own testimony. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. And every man that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself, even as he is pure. Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.
Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth, hath not seen him, neither known him.
Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness, is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin, is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil.
Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness, is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. If this is not Perfectionism, we know not how, by any human language, Perfectionism can be expressed.
We are aware that all this testimony - the very burden of the whole epistle - is counterbalanced in many minds by one little text that occurs in the first chapter, viz. But a candid survey of the context cannot but satisfy any discerning person, that this text was not designed to militate against the doctrine of salvation from sin. Let us look at what goes before it. The apostle, having entered into full fellowship with Christ's victory, in advance of the mass of the church, turns toward those who are following him, and announces the consequences of that fellowship.
If we say we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth. If we walk in the light , as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the 'blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. Perfect holiness, then, is the result of the fellowship which he professes to have entered into himself, and which he proposes to them.
He next proceeds to state the terms of admission to that fellowship ; and first, he bars out the self-righteous : "If we say we have no sin , we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. Now if we say we have no sin to be cleansed from -if, before availing ourselves of his saving power , we rest in our own innocence, and deny our need of his salvation, - we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
How Are We Saved?
But the confession certainly is represented as preceding that forgiveness which Christ offers to sinners. Of course the denial is to be referred to those who have not yet accepted Christ's offer. The apostle supposes two ways in which his message may be treated. Some may say they have no sin, and therefore have no need of salvation from sin; these he condemns as self-deceivers 2.
Others may acknowledge their sin and need. The verse in question is guarded from perversion by plain declarations standing immediately before and after it, that Christ pro-poses to cleanse those who receive him, " from all sin - from all unrighteousness. We think it not uncharitable to say that they who persist in construing this verse as opposed to the doctrine of salvation from sin, and in regarding it as sufficient to offset all the plain assertions, scattered through the whole epistle, that perfect holiness is the only standard of true Christianity, belong to that class of persons who "strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.
But we need not rely exclusively on the 1st epistle of John for proof that the gospel, in its mature development, gave full salvation from sin. If our theory concerning the progressive nature of the spiritual experience of the primitive church is correct, we may naturally expect, in examining the records of that church, to find, after the period when the great salvation truths concerning the death and resurrection of Christ began to be seen and preached, evidence of the existence of two distinct classes if believers.
While the mass of the church, and especially the new converts who were added to it from time to time, might yet be in a carnal state, not having apprehended the truth that makes free from sin, there might still be a class of older and more spiritual believers, who had entered into full fellowship with Christ, and thus had attained perfect holiness.