The Prize of Our High Calling: Part 2

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To speak of “imputed sanctification” is to diverge from scriptural truth. But sanctification is not merely in practice, which is always imperfect and admits of varying degrees. Mr. G. and his defender were not aware that the word of God speaks of a sanctification by a new nature coincident with being born anew, and antecedent not only to practical holiness but even to justification, of which popular theology is wholly ignorant. It is identical with saintship. This is meant in 1 Cor. 6:1111And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:11): “But ye were washed, but ye were sanctified, but ye were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” The order stated is exact, but it perplexes all who draw their doctrines from man instead of from scripture. 1 Peter 1:22Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. (1 Peter 1:2) may make this truth clear to those that doubt: “elect according to foreknowledge of a Father God, by (or, in) sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience and blood-sprinkling of Jesus Christ.” Here too these human teachers are at sea. Yet the truth revealed is certain and plain. Election as God's children is shown in sanctification of the Spirit for obeying as (not the Jews, but) Christ obeyed, and His blood-sprinkling which cleanses from all sin, that is, for justification. There is a real and vital sanctifying by the Spirit when we are converted to God before we obey as God's sons and know ourselves sanctified. It is a life setting-apart to God, which precedes acceptance, and is overlooked by universal theology, Arminian and Calvinistic; but scripture, as here shown, makes much of it.
No serious person doubts that real Christians may be “carnal, walking as men,” as many Corinthian saints were; but those with whom they were not even to eat were under discipline and put away from among them, as “wicked” persons, no longer in the assembly, nor called a brother though he had been, and might be again if or when restored. But to be regarded as at the same time a saint and a wicked person is merely human theory, unscriptural and pernicious. The old leaven was to be purged out, that they might be a new lump, according as they were unleavened. Therefore, Christ having been sacrificed, we are to celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with leaven of malice and wickedness, but with unleavened [bread] of sincerity and truth. If leaven enters, the church is bound to cast it out when seen, never to sanction its presence, being directly inconsistent; as the form was in Israel, so its reality in us. Some in the church might turn out unjust, but they were not to be tolerated but put away and should not inherit God's kingdom, any more than they had life eternal. None were to be deceived, as they had been. They had been baptized and eaten the Lord's supper, and were none the better but the worse, as chap. 10 warns. Evils such as these involve everlasting ruin no less than loss of the kingdom, though 1 Cor. 5; 11 leave room for repentance in the wondrous grace of God, and if restored, not only for renewed fellowship but for inheriting the kingdom; contrary to this singular theory.
The remark under 4 (p. 3) is quite inept, as far as Rev. 20:44And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4) is concerned; and it is decisive on the point. “Notice the Church is not spoken of as reigning with Christ; but blessed and holy (practical sanctification) is he that hath part in the first resurrection. Unholiness excludes from the first resurrection.” Now it is certain that of no class of believers is holiness so strongly predicated as of the church in Eph. 5:25-2725Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:25‑27): “The Christ loved the church, and gave himself up for it that he might sanctify it, purifying it by the washing of water by the word, that he might present the church to himself glorious, having no spot, or wrinkle, or any of such things, but that it might be holy and blameless.” Where is anything said so deep and full of any other object of grace?
The real bearing of Rev. 20:44And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4) is most comprehensive; for three classes are included. “And I saw thrones; and they sat upon them, and [instead of being judged according to their works] judgment was given to them.” These are the saints of the O. T. as well as the church caught up to meet the Lord at His coming (1 Cor. 15:23, 51, 5223But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. (1 Corinthians 15:23)
51Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51‑52)
; 1 Thess. 4:16, 1716For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:16‑17); 2 Thess. 2:11Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, (2 Thessalonians 2:1)), and seen glorified above from Rev. 4 onward. Secondly, the early martyrs of the Apocalyptic time, Rev. 6:9-119And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: 10And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? 11And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled. (Revelation 6:9‑11). Thirdly, those of the later and severer persecution of the Beast and the False Prophet before the Lord appears in glory. These two are distinguished in the subsequent clause, as “the souls of those beheaded on account of the testimony of Jesus and on account of the word of God;” “and those that did not worship the beast or his image, and received not the mark on their forehead and hand.”
As these witnesses for God were only raised after the translation to heaven of the first general class, and suffered to death for the truth as far as they knew it, they are here clearly described, seen by the apostle in their disembodied state, and raised from the dead to join the first great class after the Lord appears for the destruction of the Beast, the False prophet, and their armies, as well as for consignment of Satan to the abyss. Hence the announcement of the first resurrection here, in order to include in it these two classes of Apocalyptic sufferers, who might have been hastily thought too late to share the reign with the Christ the thousand years, as well as perhaps spiritually inferior, because their intelligence was small as the Revelation shows. But “Blessed and holy is he who hath part in the first resurrection”; and as they were slain by hostile authority, it is said “over these the second death hath no power.” But to infer that any living members of Christ's body, the church, do not share the rising to reign is wholly incongruous, unintelligent, and wild to the highest degree.
An attempt however is made to find a basis in Phil. 3, a chapter specially setting aside every dependence and boast but Christ, on whose account, says the apostle, “I suffered the loss of all, and count them to be filth, that I may gain Christ, and that I may be found in him, not having my righteousness which is [or, would be] of law, but that which is by faith of Christ, the righteousness that is of God through faith; to know him, and the power of his sufferings, being conformed to his death if any how I arrive at the resurrection from among the dead. Not that I already obtained the prize or am already perfected; but I pursue, if also I may get possession, since also I have been possessed by Christ. Brethren, I do not count to have got possession myself; but one thing—forgetting the things behind, and stretching out to those before, I pursue toward the goal for the prize of the calling above of God in Christ Jesus.” It is really the power of life in faith of Christ glorified which fills the apostle's heart to run the race with that prize in view; as far as possible from the notion of a reward according to works, which is essentially law, sterile and deadly. He utterly repudiates his own righteousness for that which is by faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.
This agrees with what the Lord made of the resurrection of His own in John 5, the issue of what He gives the believer now—life eternal, which loves good, hates evil, and produces good fruit, according to (not law, but) sovereign grace, its opposite. Hence we hear of those that are counted worthy to have part in that age, which is the reverse of the present evil age, and the resurrection that is from among the dead. But He nowhere speaks of it as a reward of our good works, but the fruit of His life in power according to divine grace and its counsels.
No doubt it is a manifest token of God's righteous judgment that the saints should be counted worthy of His kingdom, as their wicked troublers deserve the penalty which awaits them. But this strange doctrine looks at the surface of things, overlooking the spring of grace and the power of the Spirit working in the heart by faith. Yet even while page 4 says that the incorruptible crown, the resurrection from among the dead, and the kingdom of God are different aspects of the prize, it adds that thus all may be lost through disobedience and consequent unholiness, and concludes that none of these is a question of pure grace. Yet the very next paragraph owns that grace is indeed needed every hour to insure them. Is not this to say and unsay? It is to confound those begotten of God with such as are not, in order to countenance the fable of saints left to unholiness, and hence to punishment for the thousand years when other saints shall reign. The simple truth is that the Lord prepares us for unreal professors, for those that say and do not, whom He denies to own, while Mr. Govett and his followers declare that they are His to the great dishonor of His word, the grief of the faithful, and the false hope of the fruitless.
As to failure and sin on the part of true saints through unwatchfulness, there is the plain duty of the church to exercise discipline; and the Lord acts as we read in 1 Cor. 11 to deal even to death of the body; just as the Father judges in loving care, as 1 Peter 1:1717And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: (1 Peter 1:17) no less than John 15 says. They are thus chastened in this life. Nowhere is there a hint of saints suffering in Hades while their brethren reign. Saints by call are disciplined now that they may be saints practically. If all these fail, they are not of God, and only false professors.