The Time Between Regeneration And Entire Sanctification
18. How soon after regeneration may the soul be entirely sanctified?
1. There is no time stated in the Scriptures which must elapse after conversion before the soul can be entirely sanctified. The only prerequisite to the seeking of holiness is the justified and regenerate state. Even “babes in Christ” are exhorted “to go on unto perfection;” and all believers are included in the command, “Be ye holy, for I am holy.” The declaration, “It is the will of God, even your sanctification,” is true of every believer, and was originally addressed to heathen converts who were but babes in Christ. “Today,” the present time, is the voice of both the Law and of the Gospel in regard to our sanctification. It is the duty and privilege of all believers to have hearts cleansed from sin, and filled with love at once.
2. When first converted, we should press on into this goodly land which flows with milk and honey. When the kingdom of God is first set up in our hearts, the course is short, the difficulties are comparatively few, and we can not be too early, or too much in earnest, seeking purity.
3. Ancient Canaan was a type of gospel privilege, and is frequently used in the Scriptures to illustrate truth and duty. As entire holiness is the objective point in the whole Christian system; so Canaan was the objective point to the Israelites when they left Egypt. After they left Horeb, on the shores of the Red Sea, they consumed only eleven days in reaching the borders of Canaan, in sight of the beautiful hills of that goodly land. Joshua, the faithful servant of God, seeing their privilege and duty, said to them: “Let us go up at once, and possess it: for we are well able to overcome it.” But the unbelieving Israelites remained forty years in the wilderness, with all their disabilities and sorrows, when they might have entered their long promised Canaan in less than a month.
Are there not ten times six hundred thousand in the Christian Church today who ought to pass over at once into the Canaan of perfect love? And some of these, we fear, have been more than forty years in the wilderness.
Pray, dear reader, that the Lord may raise up a thousand Calebs and Joshuas to lead the people into the green pastures of our spiritual Canaan.
This question is of such importance, we will give several authorities upon it.
Rev. John Wesley says: “I have been lately thinking a good deal on one point, wherein, perhaps, we have all been wanting. We have not made it a rule, as soon as ever persons are justified, to remind them of ‘going on unto perfection.’ Whereas This Is The Very Time Preferable To All Others. They have then the simplicity of little children and they are fervent in Spirit, ready to cut off a right hand or pluck out the right eye. But if we once suffer this fervor to subside, we shall find it hard enough to bring them again even to this point.” — Letter to Thomas Rankin.
“Every one, though born of God in an instant, yea, and sanctified in an instant, yet undoubtedly grows, by slow degrees, both after the former and the latter change. But it does not follow from thence that there may be a considerable tract of time between the one and the other. A year or a month is the same with God as a thousand. It is therefore our duty to pray and look for full salvation every day, every hour, every moment, without waiting until we have either done or suffered more.” -Vol. vi. p. 764.
Many at Macclesfield believed that the blood of Christ had cleansed them from all sin. I spoke to these forty in all one by one. Some of them said they received that blessing ten days, some six, some four, some three days, after they found peace with God, and two of then the next day.” — Vol. iv. p. 135.
With God one day is as a thousand years. It plainly follows that the quantity of time is nothing to him. Centuries, years, months, days, hours, and moments are exactly the same. Consequently he can as well sanctify in a day after we are justified as a hundred years. There is no difference at all, unless we suppose him to be such a one as ourselves. Accordingly, we see, in fact, that some of the most unquestionable witnesses of sanctifying grace were sanctified with a Few Days after they were justified.” No wonder that he exclaims, Oh, why do we not encourage all to expect this blessing every hour from the moment they are justified?” — Vol. iv. p. 451.
Mr. Wesley wrote to Freeborn Garrettson in 1785: It will be well, as soon as any seekers find peace with God, to exhort them to go on unto perfection.”
Bishop Peck says “There is surely no time fixed in the Scriptures which must elapse before the work can be accomplished. The Saviour prays for his disciples, ‘Sanctify them through thy truth,’ assuming that they were all at that time eligible to this great blessing Indeed, there has been such variety in the periods of entire sanctification as to show clearly that no specific time must elapse before the converted man may enter into the rest of perfect love.” — (Central Idea, p. 110.
President Mahan says: “This is the very sentiment which is invariably impressed by the Spirit of God upon the young convert in the warmth of his early love.”
Rev. Luther Lee says “This progressive work may be cut short and finished at any moment, when the intelligence clearly comprehends the defects of the present state, and faith, comprehending the power and willingness of God to sanctify us wholly, and do it now, is exercised.” — Theology, p. 214
“We are generally inclined to the opinion,” says Rev. J. S. Inskip, “that between our justification and sanctification there must necessarily be an extended period of many months or years, or well-nigh a lifetime. This is a most grievous error. — Methods of Promoting Perfect Love, p. 14.
Rev. Asa Kent, late of the Providence Conference, says. “Fifty and sixty years ago, young coverts were exhorted to improve their ‘first love,’ while their hearts were warm, in seeking for full sanctification that this would prevent their backsliding, and secure a permanent peace within. Before I had been in society one year, my soul hungered and thirsted after a clean heart, and I was resolved never to rest without it.” — Article in Guide, 1858.
The Bible says: “Now is the accepted time, NOW is the day of salvation.” The command, “Be ye holy,” is in the present tense, and binding upon all believers, without regard to the length of time since their conversion. Paul wrote to heathen converts in the city of Thessalonica, not more than six months old: “This is the will of God, even your sanctification.” Any delay of entire sanctification beyond the period necessary to acquire a knowledge of its necessity, its nature, and the conditions of its attainment, is justly chargeable upon ourselves.
To hasten over into the spiritual Canaan of perfect love is among the first lessons of the Holy Spirit gives the young convert.