Our Lost Estate – By Joseph Morrison

Chapter 6

Is Regeneration The Extent Of Salvation In This Life?

If a vote of the Christian world should be taken, as to whether regeneration were the extent of salvation in this life, there can be no doubt but that the people, who believe in a second work of grace, those who believe in a second touch of God’s salvation hand which brings heart cleansing to the humble, consecrated, seeking believer, would be far out-voted. The holiness people are in a minority numerically. If a vote by denominations were taken, it would be found that entire church bodies do not agree that there is anything better than regeneration until one has passed the portals of the grave, and denominationally the people who believe in heart cleansing as a second work of grace, would be in a hopeless minority.

Indeed, when we look at the array of those who are opposed to us in this matter, we find many eminent, pious and learned men. We do not intend to reflect upon their piety or their learning, by taking issue with them in this matter. We only allege that in spite of their learning, and in spite of their piety, the truth of a clean, holy heart, received as a second work of grace, by the baptism of the Holy Ghost, is clearly taught and insisted upon in the holy Scriptures.

A pertinent inquiry might be made just at this point, however. How can learned, studious and godly men be mistaken in so important a matter as this? Our answer is that during the progress of the ages, practically every good and blessed doctrine that has been revealed from heaven, has been lost to humanity, and hidden at various times under the debris of events, and if we refused any doctrine because the pious scholars of any particular age were not at that time accepting it, we would be compelled from time to time to reject every wholesome teaching that God has ever intrusted to mankind. Notice how Israel, in the Old Testament days, forgot at times her heaven-bestowed law, and at one time every volume of it seemed to have disappeared, until one was, at length, found amid the rubbish of the temple. At other times her scholars so incrusted over the plain meaning of the law with their interpretations, as to rob it of all its significance. Some of Jesus’ most determined attacks on the Jewish hierarchy were made at this point.

Then recall how down through the dark ages, every doctrine, practically, was lost amidst the clash of worldly interests and the decayed condition of the church. After the second century, doctrine after doctrine disappeared until even the Sonship of Jesus was invaded by the eminence accorded to the Virgin Mary, who was, in the minds of most people His superior and ruler; and God, himself, was superseded for the most part by the claims of the pope. There were no salvation doctrines taught, or insisted upon, except amidst a fringe of peoples hid away in the mountains and dens and caves of the earth. The Reformation under Martin Luther was the rediscovery of the long lost doctrine of “justification by faith.” When it was propounded by the German monk, the vast majority of the then existing scholarly and pious men declared that Luther was a heretic, and was unscriptural. All the time, there lay the blessed doctrine of justification and regeneration by faith, hidden away in the Bible, and scholarly men by the thousands stumbled over it every time they read the Book, and yet could not see it.

Later on, as God began to bring His people back more and more from the sad darkness of the medieval times, and through the saintly Fox and the godly Wesley restored the teaching of entire sanctification as a second work of grace, is it any wonder that many refused to believe a teaching, that to them was as new as justification by faith was new to the men of Luther’s day? Yet, we believe that we can show to the readers of this volume that it is as surely taught in the sacred Bible, as is the great doctrine over which Martin Luther and the scholars of his day battled.

Look at our own day in regard to unbelief about some of the teachings of the Word of God! Take divine healing. Only a few decades ago, a person was considered to be a gross fanatic who dared to anoint a sick person with oil in the name of the Lord, and pray for his healing. It is becoming more common now, but during all the furor against it, that doctrine was safely lodged in the teachings of the Bible all the time. Take the teaching of the second coming of our Lord. This writer can recall when it was considered the wildest sort of fanaticism, to accept the fact that His coming was imminent and would be bodily and visible. Yet who will have the hardihood to deny that it is not taught in the Word? The fact that eminent men, or that scholarly men, or that pious men pronounce against a teaching is no assurance that it is not scriptural and worthy of acceptance as a portion of the Word of God. The only question to solve is, what does the Bible really teach on the matter? Not what does my church say? Nor what does my pastor say? Nor what do a majority of the people who call themselves Christian say? But is there good and sufficient grounds in the plain utterances of the Bible for us to stand on, in contending. for it? If there is a “Thus saith the Lord,” on any important issue, then all other arguments and contentions sink into nothingness.

Practically all students of the Bible admit that there is taught therein some sort of sanctification. Just what that “sort” may be, is often a mystery to them, but they admit, for the most part, that it is there taught. Some allege that any sanctification accorded to the believer is really conferred in the moment of conversion. This is a Calvinistic idea that the holiness of Jesus, which in reality, it is claimed, can never be ours, is imputed to us, through the kindness of the Lord, when we accept Him as our Savior. The objection to this is, that it passes by so many statements that carry the very apparent import that His holiness may be imparted, and not necessarily imputed. Such a statement as the one where it says “that we might be partakers of his holiness” (Heb. 12:10), and where the Holy Ghost is said to be “in you,” and the numerous uses of the word “be,” in “be ye holy,” “be ye perfect,” and such a statement as “The very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 5:23), can bear no other interpretation than that there is something along the line of holiness, that can be imparted to one, or else language loses all its significance.

There are others who insist that after a genuine regeneration, there is nothing further that one can possess in this life, except to grow and develop toward a better condition of spiritual life. The holiness people all happily agree in growing in grace.’ They claim, however, that one must get into grace before one can grow in it. In other words they make a distinction between growing into grace and growing in grace. We believe that the Scriptures clearly teach that one can grow up toward regeneration, for instance, and maybe take some time in reaching a full case of conviction, sufficient to enable one to surrender and trust the grace of God, and thus enter the experience of justification. But when the surrender is complete, and the faith is exercised, the change from the state of a sinner to that of a justified believer is instantaneous. In the same way, a converted soul that is now become a Christian, may grow toward holiness and spend considerable time, it may be, getting light on that wonderful second work of grace, or the seeker may use weeks or months in bringing himself to the state of complete consecration, or in exercising a faith that is perfect enough to bring about the. cleansing baptism from on high, but finally, when these preliminary conditions are complete, the experience of full redemption from the carnal mind is instantaneously conferred.

Following the reception of the experience of heart cleansing, or entire sanctification, there may be, indeed, ought to be, a great growth and development in all the graces of the Lord Jesus Christ. But this is the growth of the soul in the grace of holiness, and not its growth into it. One must be planted in the house of the Lord, before he can flourish in the courts of our God.

Still another theory, is that Christian believers are sanctified at death. The persons holding this view claim that this is conferred as a dying grace. The claim is made that all our lives we must be tormented with the assaults of inbred carnality, and battle against it, but never be delivered from it, until the hour we come to die. Then, in our efforts to be ready to meet God in peace, we can reach the stage of full sanctification of the soul.

There can be no doubt but that there is some truth in this theory. But the truth is there, not because of the impossibility of securing the blessing of a clean, holy heart before the hour of death, but because many did not genuinely try, owing to their believing this erroneous theory, to secure the sanctifying grace any sooner. Then, too, there are many who have never heard of the second work of grace, and when they came to die, they fulfilled all the essential qualifications for securing this gracious work of God’s atoning grace, and entered naturally into the possession of it. Their death was glorious and happy. Not because they had secured some special unction known as “dying grace,” but because, though they did not know the name of the experience they had received, nevertheless, they had secured that entire sanctification without which no man shall see the Lord.

However, they might have received it much sooner, if they had been properly taught and led. Just as a man with a check for a goodly sum of money in his pocket, cannot buy himself any dinner until he has the check cashed, and goes hungry, we will imagine, all day, and then just before the bank closes at night hurries in and secures his money. He gets at last, what he might have possessed early in the morning. He buys a good meal at nightfall, when he might have had one any time during the forenoon, had he but presented his check. So, no doubt, hundreds of people are sanctified wholly just as they come to die, because they had never faithfully tried to get it before that hour. They might have had it in the morning of their lives, and enjoyed the sweet cleansing, and blessed power of His Presence all the day through, instead of waiting till the night-fall of death.

The final theory that we present, is what we believe to be the true one, that God’s solution for the sin problem is involved in two great works of grace, Justification (which includes, of course, the idea of regeneration), and Sanctification. That the former comes to the poor, lost sinner, reeking with crimes, it may be, and lost from God, dead in trespasses and in sins, and because of his surrender of himself to Jesus Christ, and through faith in His atoning blood, brings forgiveness of all his sins and transgressions. At the same time, he is simultaneously born again — from above, and made a new creature in Christ Jesus, with the new -Christ life implanted in his heart, and his name written in heaven, and himself consciously adopted into the family of God. Then, the moment that this has really occurred, and he is a child of God, he becomes eligible to the second work of grace, or that of entire sanctification. Just as soon as he can intelligently offer himself as God’s living child to his heavenly Father, in a full, deep, lasting, perpetual, all-inclusive consecration, and can then exercise his faith for the cleansing of his heart, the baptism of his soul with the Holy Ghost, that moment, God is ready, and according to His promise, will undertake for that soul its utter cleansing from the inherited carnality, the inbred corruption, the Adamic nature, the racial depravity which he has inherited, and will at the same time fill it with the light, love and fullness of the Holy Ghost.

This is the solution of the sin problem. If such a soul will continue to maintain such a full consecration, and will continue to exercise such a complete faith in the promises of God, that person can live in the sweet possession of such a mighty deliverance from the principle of sin, and can enjoy a wondrous degree of the presence and fullness of God’s holy Spirit. He is then delivered from all sin both actual and inherited. He is ready for the most satisfactory service that he can render. He is also ready, so far as the question of sin is concerned, to meet his Maker, and to render his account at the Judgment bar of Christ.

After the soul is entirely sanctified it is not delivered from all its infirmities, such as poor judgment, faulty memory; a frail, infirm or sickly body; impaired reasoning faculties; inability of seeing both sides of a question, or narrow-mindedness; the difficulty of always instantly detecting the sometimes varying line between right and wrong; a disposition toward intensity that occasionally breeds fanaticism. All of these may sometimes be found in those whose hearts are pure. It is at this point, it seems to us, that the wide differences obtain between that school of Christians which claims that it “sins in thought, word and deed” every day, and those who profess holiness. We feel sure that such people mistake infirmities, and fallen human characteristics that still adhere to the wholly sanctified, as sins. Then when they hear the holiness people claim that God has cleansed them from all sin, and still see in the holiness people the same infirmities that they have mistaken in themselves for sin, they feel that the professedly sanctified are sadly mistaken, and the sanctified people feel that the others are surely not saved at all, if they, as they profess, sin every day. Possibly if there could be a little clearer definition of what is sin, and what is not sin, but is mere fallen humanity, offered to the Christian public, there would be less of unkind criticism among the people who claim Jesus Christ as a Savior.

All of these infirmities will, however, be removed from the redeemed ones when they reach the resurrection day. A new body will then be given God’s children, and a new, perfect mind will be accorded. Then, with holy hearts received here below, and with perfect minds and bodies given us at humanity’s crowning day, we can rejoice with eternal life in the renewed earth, glorify God and enjoy Him forever.