Terms Signifying Complete Gospel Salvation
1. What terms are commonly used to express full salvation? The scripture terms are, “perfect love,” “perfection,” “sanctification,” and “holiness.” These terms are synonymous, all pointing to the same precious state of grace. While they denote the same religious state, each one of them indicates some essential characteristic, and hence these terms are significantly expressive of full salvation. The word “sanctification” has the double meaning of consecration and purification, — the Old Testament sense of setting apart to a sacred service: “sanctify yourselves and be ye holy;” and the New Testament sense of spiritual purification: “sanctify them through thy truth.”
The word “sanctify,” and its derivatives, occur in the Scriptures, with reference to men and things, over one hundred times. The term “perfection” signifies completeness of Christian character; its freedom from all sin, and possession of all the graces of the Spirit, complete in kind. “Let us go on unto perfection.” The word “perfection” and its relatives, occur one hundred and one times in the Scriptures. In over fifty of these instances it is predicated of human character under the operation of grace. The term “holiness” is more generic and comprehensive than the others, including salvation from sin, and the possession of the image and spirit of God. To be holy is to be whole, entire, or perfect in a moral sense, and in ordinary use is synonymous with purity and godliness. “Follow peace with all men, and holiness without which no man shall see the Lord.” The word “holy” and its derivatives, occur not less than one hundred and twenty times in their application to men and things. The word “justify” and its derivatives, occur seventy four times in regard to men; and the word “pardon” with its derivatives, in their application to penitent sinners, occur only seventeen times.
The phrase “perfect love” is expressive of the spirit and temper, or moral atmosphere in which the wholly sanctified and perfect Christian lives. “He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him;” and, “Herein is our love made perfect.”
These terms are used indiscriminately in this book. They are scriptural and significant, and Christians should not ignore them. No one of them should be employed to the exclusion of the others; nor should other terms be chosen to their exclusion. The substitution of “higher life,” “the rest of faith,” “rest in God,” “the fullness of God,” “the full assurance,” &c., in the place of the highly significant Bible terms, is of doubtful propriety. It is unwise to be wise above the word of God. These uninspired names come of the various predilections of the different Christian denominations. Although names may be of minor importance, and little harm may come from their use, yet it is wise and safe to adhere to Scripture terms, such as the Holy Spirit has given to express His own work in the soul. The Saviour says: “Whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory.”
2. Are not these terms applicable to the beginning of the Christian life?
They are not usually, and some of them are never so applied. There is a sense in which all Christians are denominated holy, and sanctified; and the terms “holiness,” and “sanctification,” with their derivatives, are occasionally applied in the Scriptures to the merely regenerate, as when a part is put for the whole, a thing not uncommon in the Bible. All Christians are pardoned, sense as compared with their former condition. The terms used in the Scriptures to express the commencement of the Christian life, are, “born of God,” “born again,” “born of the Spirit,” “converted,” and “regeneration.”