Completed Once For All
Consecration is not only complete as embracing the whole man, but it is to be completed once for all. So it does not need to be done every day, but done once for all, like any other transaction that involves a contract. This may be seen in the very nature of consecration. It is the marriage covenant between Jesus Christ and his church. A true marriage is a permanent contract between two parties. It is made once for all. And nothing but death or infidelity to the contract can break it. The modern innovation of consecration meetings once a month is as absurd and as impotent as would be a marriage ceremony celebrated once a month between the same parties. In his word God speaks of nothing short of an everlasting covenant, never to be broken. He says, “I will make with thee an everlasting covenant.” Until the believer understands this he will ever be at a disadvantage in contending against the temptations of Satan. Until he has got the matter forever fixed, as positively and definitely as a wedding day and its vows, he will be a prey to the temptations of Satan, who will tempt him on the point of his emotions and feelings. He will be tempted to think that he is not saved because he does not feel as at some other time, or as some one else feels, or as he expected he would feel. But when he has once settled the matter to be unreservedly the Lord’s, he can in the fierceness of temptation declare that he is entirely given up to God since that day, he has taken nothing back and is wholly the Lord’s, no matter what the enemy may say or suggest. We shall refer to this point again. We can never get quite to the point of a complete consecration until we get this covenant signed and sealed once for all, for a very good reason: when the same individuals come to the altar again and again for a consecration which they expect to go all over again at a stated interval, they never get the consecration complete, because “the old man” dies hard. If there be an idol we do not quite want to destroy, a Benjamin or Isaac that we do not wish to part with, the temptation is to defer the matter until “a more convenient season.” This is in accordance with human nature: to put off disagreeable things as long as possible. The “old man” will put off entire consecration just as long as he can because it means death to him. We have heard leaders at camp meeting ask all who would consecrate themselves to God “for this camp meeting,” to come to the altar for that purpose. How about the next week when the camp meeting is over? How about the time when the protracted meeting ceases? Ought we not to be entirely the Lord’s all the time? Is it not presumption to even suggest the idea that God will accept short-time consecration? And yet there are many churches who feel the need of the Holy Ghost for the winter revival season, who consecrate for that brief period, as they suppose, but it is only a religious spasm and not a Scriptural consecration.
But it has been asked, “How shall we know when we have made this complete consecration?” We reply, when we have given ourselves to God the very best we know and are so anxious to give all we do not know, that we would be real glad to have God tell us what more we can be or do for him, then we are entirely his. The angels in heaven can do no more than to give up themselves as well as they know and be willing and eager for God to show them anything lacking so that they may yield it to him. When two souls stand before the altar and pledge their love and devotion each to the other, it is not only for the present but for all time, “for sickness or health, prosperity and adversity.” It is for all the unknown future. The part that is unknown is bigger than that which is known. So with consecration, it is for the unknown future as well as the present. When new duties come up in the future or new leadings of Providence or new opportunities of being the Lord’s, we are simply carrying out the covenant once and forever made. God will give us new light as we go along. We were not capable of receiving all the light at the start, but he accepts the will for the deed and opens new fields of privilege and opportunity and duty as fast as we can
When the expedition under General Butler sailed from New York during the late Civil War, sealed orders were given them, which were not to be opened until they had been several days at sea. On opening the orders on the appointed day, they found they were commanded to go to the mouth of the Mississippi and take New Orleans. There was no shrinking or drawing back, for the soldiers had taken the oath when mustered into the service of the United States, binding them to loyalty and strict obedience. Therefore they went gladly to the task set before them. Every entirely consecrated Christian gives himself up to go and do and be and suffer as God says. He has sworn allegiance to the government of heaven, and he is ready for the unknown will of God as fast as God reveals it to him. Here is where the “old man” draws back, afraid of being injured. But any shrinking here is for one of two reasons: either from a doubt of the goodness or the wisdom of God. Some doubt the wisdom of God and are fearful that he may call them to something that is not the very best thing for them after all. There is an element of self-conceit here in thinking they know better than God. Most unbelief comes from self-conceit.
Others doubt the goodness of God; they fear that if they give up to him unreservedly something terrible would happen. The devil tells many people that if they are wholly given up to God, they will be treated meanly. Somebody will die, or they will be sick or lose their friends. He makes them believe that God will punish them for being good and that the more obedient they are the more they must suffer. There are some people who actually seem to think that it is unhealthy and even dangerous to be very good. That it is a sign that we shall soon be called to die. Their idea of saintliness is a pale, bloodless face, a consumptive frame and a soul just ready to depart from this wicked world. The Sunday school books we read when a child had the unhappy custom of allowing the good boys to die young, and the idea is instilled in many minds too much that to be real good means to have a real sad, gloomy time of it. There are people still who believe that if we are real good and entirely submissive to God that he will take an unfair advantage of us and treat us meanly.
He who believes in the perfect wisdom and infinite goodness of Almighty God will trust his whole case in the divine keeping, for the present and the future, for time and eternity. He who wants to cling to unbelief and the self life will make excuses and find an excuse for keeping back part of the price.
Some pretend not to see any need of entire sanctification, after a man has been soundly converted, and stoutly maintain that we are entirely sanctified when regenerated. If we are entirely sanctified when converted, then there should not be the least shrinking from entire consecration. The very fact that men do shrink from being entirely given up to God proves that there needs to be another work of divine grace to remove this unwillingness to be or do or suffer all the will of God.