Holiness All Inclusive
The experience of holiness includes all that is comprehended by the terms, “entire sanctification,” “the baptism with the Holy Ghost,” “perfect love,” “the fullness of the blessing,” “filled with the spirit,” “second blessing,” “heart purity,” etc. While these terms are not synonymous, because they represent different phases of the experience, no one can have the experience of holiness without having all that these various terms stand for.
In some localities there are those who teach that a person should “seek their Pentecost,” and “be baptized with the Holy Ghost and fire” after they are sanctified. We would insist that it is the baptism with the Holy Ghost and fire that sanctifies and makes us holy. Whoever is truly sanctified and in the experience of holiness, has the baptism with the Holy Ghost and fire. Hence they, who have not had their Pentecost, or the baptism with the Holy Ghost and fire, have not been sanctified and made holy. These terms do not represent two or three different experiences. To have the one is to have the other.
As in the experience of justification there is the pardon of sin, the “washing of regeneration,” the quickening into newness of life, adoption, and the witness of the Spirit, and whoever has the one has the other, seeing they are inseparable, so it takes all that is included by the first named terms to make up the experience of holiness. Not only so, but he who has the experience of holiness has all that is included in the terms used to indicate and designate the experience of justification.
While there is a constant and endless development, expansion and growth in grace in the experience of holiness, we would insist there is no other work of grace, or higher state of grace than is comprehended in the experience of holiness, until we reach the state of glorification. So when any one pretends or professes to have an experience or something better or superior to the experience of holiness, we know they have become unscriptural and fanatical. There is positively nothing better than the experience of holiness in this life; and what is more, they who in reality have the experience of holiness want nothing better.
The gifts of the Spirit, such as the “gifts of healing,” miracles,” “speaking with tongues,” etc., are all of less value than the experience of holiness. For after enumerating all the gifts in the 12th chapter of 1st Corinthians, the inspired apostle exclaims, “And yet shew I unto you a more excellent way,” (v. 31), and gives us the thirteenth chapter, on LOVE, which is none other than the experience of holiness. Note, he plainly says this is “more excellent.” So we would repeat, he who has the experience of holiness has the best there is this side of glorification.
He who knows he has the best there is, will not likely become excited, and carried away by every new fad and doctrine that may come along. While there may be some gifts that he does not have, for no one is supposed to have all the gifts, he knows he has that which is “more excellent,” and so is perfectly satisfied.
Not only is holiness all inclusive as relating to all that is included in these various terms and comprehended by the highest state of grace this side of the state of glorification, but it is the objective point of every commandment and every promise — of every provision in the atonement. The purpose and object of the whole scheme of human redemption is our complete recovery from sin and restoration to holiness. He has “blessed us with all spiritual blessing… according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, THAT WE SHOULD BE HOLY, and without blame before Him in love.” (Eph. 1:3, 4.) This is the objective point of every “spiritual blessing,” “that we should be holy.” “Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned, from which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling.” (1. Tim. 1:5, 6.) There is nothing beyond “the end” – whether “the end” he the objective point or the terminus — but “vain jangling.” Again we say, pure love in a pure heart, which is the experience of holiness, is “the end” — the highest and best state of grace there is. “Love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Rom. 13:10.)
A person may reach heaven who does not have the “gifts of healing,” the “gift of tongues,” or any of the “gifts of the Spirit,” but no one will reach heaven without holiness. Hence we must stick to the “main line,” and “follow peace with all men and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” (Heb. 12:14.)
In the language of Bishop Foster concerning holiness in the Bible, “It breathes in the prophecy, thunders in the law, murmurs in the narrative, whispers in the promises, supplicates in the prayers, sparkles in the poetry, resounds in the songs, speaks in the types, glows in the imagery, voices in the language, and burns in the spirit of its whole scheme, from its Alpha to its Omega, from its beginning to its end.” “Holiness! Holiness needed! Holiness required! Holiness offered! Holiness attainable! Holiness a present duty, — a present privilege, a present enjoyment, — is the progress and completeness of its wondrous theme! It is the truth glowing all over webbing all through revelation; the glorious truth which sparkles, and whispers, and sings, and shouts in all its history, and biography, and poetry, and prophecy, and precepts, and promise, and prayer – the great central truth of the system.”