SEEK 2018 – Saturday Morning – Terry Smith -The Alliance Perspective on Sanctification – Toledo

July 17, 2018

42:14

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“Sanctification involves being filled with the Holy Spirit who can do in us and for us and through us what we can never do ourselves.”

Transcript

The following is a raw, unedited transcript provided by a digital transcription service and may contain grammatical or spelling errors.

 

Terry Smith: Well, good morning everyone.

Audience: Good morning.

Terry Smith: It’s great to be in Toledo and at Westgate and with you this morning and it is always a sacred privilege to bring God’s word to you. So let’s pray and ask that the Lord would speak to us this morning.

Spirit of God, we again welcome you and your presence in this room and in our lives. We pray that you would orchestrate our look into your word, that you would orchestrate how it moves on our hearts. And, Lord, we commit to you that we will listen to your voice and that we will obey what you’re asking to do. May Jesus be exalted and glorified in these moments. It’s in his name we pray. Amen.

I came to faith in Christ at age 13. It was a powerful experience where I knew without a doubt that Jesus forgave and came to live in me. He was my savior and at times I was living under his influence. But more often this not, I found myself living under the influence of peer pressure, which is not unique to teenagers, by the way, and that peer pressure resulted in my life looking more like the world than like Jesus. And I’d get to church on Sunday, feel guilty, head to the alter, ask God’s forgiveness and promise Him that I’d do better. But come Monday, I was right back to the old ways. So I was living in this frustrating cycle of sin, confession, trying to do better and failing. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

I suspect some of you, young, old or in between, can relate to what I’ve just said. Like a spiritual hamster on its wheel, in spit of all of your efforts and best intentions, you don’t feel like you are getting anywhere and you’re not sure what to do about it. Today I want us to focus on the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, which is at the core of the deeper life message of the Alliance. Framing these words in our mind, the Holy Spirit can do in us and for us and through us what we can never do ourselves.

Primarily, I want us to be in Roman 12 this morning, so you can open your Bibles there and just stick a finger there for right now. But look with me at First Corinthians chapter 1, versus 1 and 2, first and then we’ll flip over and read a couple of verses from First Thessalonians chapter 5 as well. First Corinthians chapter 1, verse 1, “Paul, called to be an apostle Christ Jesus by the will of God and our brother Sosthenes, to the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people.”

Romans chapter 12, verse 1, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. This is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind and then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is. His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

First Thessalonians chapter 5, verses 23 and 24, “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

So it’s likely that some of you would say this morning, “Terry, I know I’m a Christian. I remember when I sincerely gave my life to Jesus Christ, but I’m still struggling with some of the same sin issues.” Or, “I’m struggling with some habits and addictions that I can’t seem to break.” Or, “I’m struggling to follow God’s call on my life. I really want to live my own dream and have my own way.”

Well, the answers to their common dilemmas are found in the Biblical truth on what it means to be sanctified and filled with the Holy Spirit. So what it this big theological term, sanctification, all about? Well, sanctification is defined as being made holy. The Greek word translated sanctification as agiasmós, which carries the meaning of being made holy. This sanctification happens as we set ourselves apart to God. It has to do with being solely dedicated to God for His use and for His purpose. Being sanctified includes the idea of being separated from sin and consecrated to God, but also, as a part of God’s sanctifying work in us, we are filled with the Holy Spirit.

Dr. A. B. Simpson highlights this part of the meaning in his book, Holy Sanctified. He says, “Sanctify means to fill. The literal translation of the old Hebrew word to consecrate is to fill the hand. It suggests that deepest truth in connection with sanctification that Christ, himself, must be the substance and supply of our spiritual life and fills us with his own spirit and holiness. After the most sincere consecration, we are but an empty possibility which he must make real.”

So, you see, sanctification involves being filled the with Holy Spirit who can do in us and for us and through us what we can never do ourselves. Dr. Simpson was, of course, the founder of our alliance movement, which is a deeper life movement. Sanctification is an alliance distinctive. It’s one of those things that we underline and put in bold print. It’s part of the four-fold gospel, which focuses on the centrality and sufficiency of Jesus Christ as savior, sanctifier, healer and coming king. Jesus Christ has provided us with, has gifted us with his Holy Spirit to do his sanctifying well in us. And sanctification is part of the CNMA Statement of Faith. It’s statement number seven. I’m sure you’ve memorized these. It is the will of God that each believer should be filled with the Holy Spirit, be sanctified holy, be separated from sin and the world and fully dedicated to the will of God, thereby receiving power for holy and effective service. This is both a crisis and a progressive experience wrought in the life of the believer subsequent to salvation.

Now I’ve been involved in dozens of licensing and ordination  interviews over the years and this statement, statement seven, is the most likely sticking point for candidates. What in the world does it mean and where do we see it in scripture? Like the statement of faith of any group or organization, ours is only as good as it can be backed up with scripture and we’ll seek to do that as we move forward.

So we’ve linked the theological term, sanctification, with the experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit, but I don’t want to confuse you. Sanctification must not be misunderstood. We cannot think that we don’t experience anything of the Holy Spirit in our lives until we come to what we will see in a few minutes as the crisis experience of sanctification. In reality, at salvation, the Holy Spirit comes to live in us. At the moment we trust Jesus as savior, the Holy Spirit comes to live in us. There is no way to be saves apart from the presence of the spirit coming to abide in your life.

John 3, verse 8, Jesus refers to salvation as being born of the spirit. The spirit’s entrance into our lives is what brings new birth and new life to us. Romans chapter 8, verse 9, “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” So someone might think or say, “Well, I have Christ, but I’m not sure I am the Holy Spirit. I don’t think I have the Holy Spirit.” No, it’s impossible. Every believer in Christ is indwelled by the Holy Spirit who again can do in us and for us and through us what we cannot do ourselves. Follower of Christ, the Holy Spirit, the third person of the triune godhead, lives in you.

So there’s no way to be saved apart from the spirit coming to live in us. Salvation is where the spirit enters our lives and then the experience of sanctification involves the Holy Spirit filling our lives. Sanctification is not a matter merely of us having the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, but of now surrendering to the control of the Holy Spirit so that we are filled with the spirit, immersed in the spirit. Someone has said of this feeling that it’s not so much that we get more of the Holy Spirit, but that he gets more of us. I would add to that that he gets all of us.

So as we begin to dig a little deeper in to this concept of for sanctification, let’s summarize some different aspects of sanctification and then delve into each aspect specifically. So there are two big aspects of sanctification. One of those is positional sanctification, which had to do with who we are in Christ. The second aspect then is experiential sanctification, which has to do with the actual increasing life condition of holiness, living it out or, better yet, having it lived out through us.

And here, with this idea of experiential sanctification, there are two aspects that we saw in statement number seven. First there’s the crisis. Not meaning some traumatic life experience like we usually think of a crisis, although the two could conceivable come together. But here we’re talking about a turning point in life. Then there’s the progressive aspect of experiential sanctification, which the life-long process of becoming more and more like Jesus that is accelerated following that crisis turning point.

Let’s expand on all that and talk first about positional sanctification. Positional sanctification happens when we trust in Christ. It involves how God sees us in Christ. From the moment of our salvation, God sees us as sanctified wholly. W-H-O-L-L-Y. He sees us as H-O-L-Y, holy, because we are now in Christ. So when God looks at us, He sees what? He sees the holiness of His son, Jesus Christ. And that is the case even though we are not living perfectly holy lives. So positionally in Christ, the Corinthians were sanctified even with all of their sin issues.

In First Corinthians 1:2, Paul calls the believers in Corinth sanctified and then you’ve read the rest of letter, right? Proceeds to confront them with numerous sin issues in lives of disunity in the church, of lawsuits that were inappropriate, of sexual immorality, of abuse of the Lord’s supper, just to name a few. So how could Paul say they were sanctified? Well, he says, “To those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy.”  They were sanctified because, positionally, they were in Christ. And that same truth applies to us as believers in Christ. We are sanctified because we are in Christ.

Now, we might conclude that our position in Christ has no practical application, makes no practical difference in terms of how we live, but I would argue that that is not the case. Our position in Christ is more than just a theological doctrine on a piece of paper. A few years ago, I read Neil Anderson’s book, Victory Over the Darkness.

PART 1 OF 3 ENDS [00:15:04]

Terry Smith:… Neil Anderson’s book “Victory over the darkness.” And one of the things that I came away with from reading that book was that in my zeal, to emphasize experiential sanctification, I had under emphasized this whole idea of positional sanctification. In reality, some believers have never gone very far in experiential sanctification precisely because they don’t understand and believe positional sanctification. Here’s a summary of what Anderson writes on this subject quoting.

He says, “The greatest tension in the New Testament is between the indicative, what God said … God says, says already what God has already done and what is already true about us and the imperative what remains to be done as we respond to God by faith and obedience in the power of the holy spirit. You have to know,” he says, “And believe positional truth to successfully progress in your sanctification or you are going to try doing for yourself what God has already done for you. The balance between the indicative and the imperative is about equal in scripture, but I have not observed that in our churches.”

“Most preaching I have heard focuses on the imperatives. People could go to a good evangelical church for a year and never hear a message that they are children of God who are alive and free in Christ. We need to worship God for all he has done and rest in the finished work of Christ. We need to hear again and again the wonderful identity and position that we already have in Christ, then we will be better prepared to receive the instructions and assume our responsibility for living the Christian life.” End quote. And Amen.

So positional sanctification, understanding who we already are in Christ is foundational to experiential sanctification. Who we are in Christ is essential to becoming what we are supposed to be and do as followers of Christ. If I don’t see myself as being in Christ, so that God sees me in Christ holiness, then Satan will convince me of his lies. That I am a worthless, hopeless, piece of spiritual trash destined to keep on sinning. On the other hand, if we see ourselves as holy in Christ, which is the truth, according to God’s word, then our lives will be drawn in that direction with a sense of hopefulness.

So positional sanctification is very important, very practical, very powerful. We must understand it, we must believe it, we are holy in Christ. Flowing out of that then, experiential salvation or sanctification rather, involves ongoing growth in the holiness of Christ being lived out in our daily lives. While positional sanctification is important as we’ve said, even foundational, the obvious goal of the Christian life goes beyond just being declared holy in Christ. The goal is to see Christ’s holiness actually being lived out through our daily thoughts, attitudes, words, and behaviors.

Experiential sanctification is not a matter of us trying harder to do better, trying harder to be more holy. But it is a matter of allowing the holy spirit to bring the life of Christ to us and live out the holiness of Christ through us. It is not so much a matter of our nitty, gritty effort, but rather a matter of our full surrender. Surrender to the holy spirit who can do in us and for us and through us what we can never do ourselves. Therefore this experiential sanctification begins with surrender. It begins with what we call in the alliance “the crisis experience of sanctification.”

The crisis, you see, is a turning point of first time whole life surrender. Look at Romans 12:1 again. “Therefore I urge you brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. This is your true and proper worship.” So as you look at that verse, here’s the question, who is being addressed? Is it believers or non-believers? Well Paul calls them brother and some versions brothers and sisters. So we clearly understand that they are what? They are believers. Those who have already at some point put their faith in Jesus Christ.

So what Paul is talking about here is something that happens following, or as our statement of faith says, “Subsequent to our salvation experience.” And what is it that we’re being urged to do here as believers? We’re being urged to offer our bodies, our whole selves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to god. Now think about that first logically. Is the offering of a sacrifice a single event or some kind of a process? Well, it’s an event. A sacrifice happens at a point in time and is over and done with. And then think about it linguistically. The word offer here, in the original Greek, is a verb in the aorist tense. aorist tense indicates point in time action as opposed to continuous ongoing action.

And so this offering of our bodies, this offering of all of ourself, first Thessalonians 5:23, “Body, soul, and spirit is a point in time event.” It’s a turning point that we call “the crisis experience.” It’s what I call “first time whole life surrender to Jesus Christ.” So we’ve known Christ previously. We’re saved. The spirit of God already lives in us as we’ve said. No doubt there is already some spiritual growth happening because of that. But now comes a new and deeper understanding. The understanding that I’m not able to get where I need to be spiritually in my own strength and effort.

That there are still areas of life to be dealt with and shaped into the image of Christ. There are things that I’ve held back and haven’t opened up to the Lord for him to change. There are still areas where I’m exerting my own control. There are some sinful habits still in my life, maybe even addictions in my life. I belong to Christ, but I have never yielded total control to him and to the ministry and work of his holy spirit. But now in this crisis moment, I offer all that I am to the Lord and ask his spirit not only to live in me, but to fill me and control me so that my weakness and struggle are replaced by his overcoming power and victory.

And when you make that choice, now for the very first time, all of your life is surrendered to Jesus Christ and to the control and fullness of his holy spirit, who can do in us and for us and through us what we cannot do ourselves. So you may have been a believer, four months, four years, or 40 years, I ask you have you ever had that crisis experience of whole life surrender to Jesus Christ? So we ask then what are the outcomes of this first time whole life surrender, the crisis experience? Well let’s first see what the outcomes are not.

The crisis point is not eradication. In other words, it is not the old man being torn out of us by the roots. I mentioned ordination exams. My least favorite one was my own, where I was sitting on the wrong side of the table, I prefer the side of the table that ask the questions. But one of the gentlemen in my ordination exam had actually been the academic dean at Toccoa Falls when I was there. Suit and tie, very serious. Terry, what happens to the sin nature at the crisis of sanctification? And so I waxed eloquently for five minutes or so, and then he looked at me again and he said, “Yes. But what happens to the sin nature at the crisis of sanctification?”

Well I was having a crisis right then and there. Thankfully somehow I passed. But I now know the answer to that question. 35 years later. You see, the crisis experience brings to us new power from the holy spirit, to live with the flesh, the old man, the sin nature, under control. But it does not eliminate that part of us. It gives us increased power from the spirit to experience victory in the struggle, but it does not eliminate the struggle. A crisis point is not eradication. A crisis point does not bring about sinless perfection. That will not happen until we stand face to face with Jesus someday. Yes, we will be more empowered to make more progress and overcoming sin, to make more progress in becoming like Jesus, but this is a life long process.

It is a process that affects every part of my life, holy sanctified body, soul, and spirit, but it is still a work in process and always will be this side of heaven. And this initial crisis point will not be the last time we will need to surrender. Following that first time whole life surrender, there will be times when we retake control of certain areas of our lives. The flesh will start to rear its ugly head in some specific area, selfishness, impatience, lust, anger, materialism, so on and so forth goes the list. And when we realize this then we have to go back and surrender that area of our lives again.

That first time, whole life crisis experience is vitally important, but over the course of our Christian lives, following that crisis, there will be many, many crises, that is M-A-N-Y, multiple M-I-N-I, smaller, but still significant crises where we re-surrender some area of our lives to Christ and to the fullness of his spirit. The real outcome of the crisis aspect of sanctification is accelerated spiritual growth. What we call “the progressive aspect of sanctification.”

So the crisis, moment in time, leads us to a process over the course of a lifetime. And this is a life long process of being empowered for spiritual growth as well as for mission. And that’s what Romans chapter 12 verse two, talks about, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is, his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” So the question here is, is it still possible for a believer to be living in conformity to the pattern and mold of this world? And the answer is absolutely. That’s the struggle, isn’t it? That’s the challenge we face.

To live in victory over the persuasive, powerful pull of the world and the culture that we live in, when it has very real appeal to that old sin nature. The spirits sanctifying work enables us to experience that victory, enables us to see done in our lives what we could never do ourselves. This is an ongoing process of transforming us by the renewal of our minds. Instead of being conformed to the world, we are, the verse says, “To be transformed by the renewing of our minds.” The Greek world transform speaks of a metamorphosis, a caterpillar becoming a butterfly, a worm becoming a thing of beauty, and you see that’s the work of the holy spirit in us to take us as sinners and progressively create in us the beauty of Jesus Christ.

The phrase “the renewing of your mind” … sorry for another Greek lesson, is a participle in the present tense in the Greek language. So we said, aorist tense is point and time action. Now see that present tense is continuous ongoing act-

PART 2 OF 3 ENDS [00:30:04]

Terry Smith: Now see that present tense is continuous, ongoing action. So this crisis turning point of our first time whole life surrender, offering our bodies, our whole selves, as living sacrifices whereby the Holy Spirit comes and fills and control us, controls us, then leads to this accelerated, ongoing, lifelong process of being radically changed as our minds are being continually renewed. Because of the work of the Spirit of God in us, more and more, we believe rightly, we think rightly, and therefore, we live and behave rightly.

What exactly does that renewed and transformed life look like? Well, it looks progressively more like the rest of Romans Chapter 12. A clear understanding of God’s will, the willingness to embrace it, and the power to live it out, second part of Verse Two. Not having an exalted view of ourselves, Verse Three. The ability to decern and exercise spiritual gifts, Verses Four through Eight.

Being devoted to one another in brotherly love, Verse 10. Having spiritual zeal and fervor, Verse 11. Prayerfully enduring trials with hope and patience, Verse 12. Sharing generously with others, Verse 13. Treating people well, even though they treat us poorly, Verse 14. Identifying with other peoples’ joys and hurts, Verse 15. Living in a humble, harmonious way, Verse 16. Not being vengeful, Verses 17 to 20. Living in peaceful relationships, Verse 18. And experiencing victory over evil, Verse 21.

In other words, this renewal and transformation involves being made more and more like Jesus Christ, and more empowered to fulfill His mission through the filling and power of His Holy Spirit. This is a process that takes a lifetime, one that will only be completed on the day when we stand face-to-face with Jesus Christ.

But here’s the key. We’ll never live in the experience of Versus Three through 21 if we aren’t living in the transformation and renewal of Verse Two. And we’ll never live in the transformation and renewal of Verse Two if we haven’t found our way to the experience of Verse One, that first time, whole life surrender.

As we draw to a close, I want to tell you a little bit more of my story. As I mentioned, I came to faith in Jesus at age 13. I knew I was a sinner. I knew I needed Jesus. I know I was forgiven that day. And Jesus came to live in me, but as I said, I still struggled to live in victory over sin. Although I did begin to grow some spiritually, especially after the Lord moved my family 1,100 miles from Illinois to Florida, and graciously extracted me out of my peer group. But there was still this struggle within me over my way versus God’s way.

As a teenager in the midst of that struggle, I did hear God’s call to ministry. Ruth and I got married. I graduated from high school one Friday night, we got married the next Friday night. When you find a good thing, don’t hesitate. Make your move. Get that in your notes. And we headed off to Toccoa Falls College the next week. In the fall semester of my senior year at Toccoa Falls College, my major struggle was with God’s call on my life to pastoral ministry.

So the Lord and I were in negotiations. I was telling Him that I didn’t have what it took to do pastoral ministry, and I wanted Him to let me go into business. I was working for Wendy’s, and at the time, Wendy’s was a 10-year old corporation, and you could climb the ladder, and I wanted to climb the ladder and own my own Wendy’s franchise. I wanted to give my life to making double cheeseburgers and money. And I promised God, I would give lots of money to missions, kind of presumptuous about the success I would have.

Well, that semester, I was taking Greek III class, which by the way, I tried desperately to get out of unsuccessfully. But in Greek III class, our highest goal was to get the professor off track. To get him talking about some deep theological subject, as opposed to us having to parse Greek verbs and translate Greek verses. Well, on this particular day, we succeeded, and he started talking about the connection between water, baptism, and the fullness of the Holy Spirit, using Jesus’ baptism as an example. Do you remember when Jesus comes up out of the water? What, the dove, the Holy Spirit is descending on Him.

Well, we got him off track, but I fell under conviction that day because I had never been baptized by emersion as a believer. Long story, I was baptized before I was saved. Confession, I lied to the preacher. Never do that. And I went down a dry sinner and came up a wet sinner. Came to faith in Christ a few years later, but never really took care of this matter. But that day, I knew I had to take care of it because I knew it was a matter of obedience to Jesus. That’s the connection, by the way.

How can the spirit fill us when we haven’t obeyed Jesus in this most basic matter? Within a few weeks, we were on fall break, back in our home church, and my pastor baptized me, an experience that I will never forget. A couple months later, Tom Allen spoke at Toccoa Falls College for Spiritual Emphasis Week. And sure enough, my obedience in this area of baptism led me to this first time experience of the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

I came to that crisis point of my surrender that week on a Friday night. As a bunch of students gathered around a fire, I threw some stuff into that fire. But most importantly, from my heart, before God, and before those other students, I said these words, “All for Jesus.” And that was my first time whole life surrender.

And it ended this struggle that I was having about God’s call to ministry. Ended it once and for all. The struggle about doing life by my plan, not God’s plan. And it set me on a path of lifelong transformation and renewal. For you, there may be some supernatural manifestations. We still believe in that in the Alliance. But for me, in that moment, it was just a quiet moment, where victory came in my struggle.

Now have I been perfect from that time until now? All of God’s people said, “No.” My wife said it the loudest. She has examples. We will not let her speak. Many times, I’ve had to make my way back to the place of full surrender, to experience a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit. To this day, the spirit continues to do a deeper work in me and I don’t want Him to stop.

But all of His deeper work in me traces right back to January 1981, when as a 22-year old senior at Toccoa Falls College, self-willed young man, who wanted to set my own plan for my life, I gave in and made my first time whole life surrender to Jesus Christ, and experienced the fullness of His spirit.

Here’s the question I have for you. Whether you’ve been a believer for a short time or a long time, have you personally come to that place of complete surrender? And if not, will you do so today? Your issues may be similar to my issues, wanting to do life your way, not God’s way. Or, it may be another issue. It may be some habits, some sinful habits, some addition, some lousy attitude that has established a stronghold in your mind, and has negatively impacted relationships.

Could be any number of things. You know what it is right now because the Spirit of God is pointing it out to you. Whatever it is, it can only be changed and transformed, as you surrender to Jesus Christ, and allow His Holy Spirit to fill you. The Spirit of God will do in you, and for you, and through you what you can never do.

Adam’s going to come play some music for us in the background. We’re going to spend several minutes in quiet reflection. Allow the Spirit of God to speak to you this morning and follow His prompting. Do what He’s asking you to do. For some of you, you can deal with it right there in your seat. For others of you, like me, sometimes it takes walking an aisle and kneeling at an alter of prayer to break self-will. And to say, “I’m not going to care about what anybody thinks. I’m only going to care about what the Sprit of God is doing in my life in this moment.”

Maybe for some of you, it’s going to be a first time whole life surrender. Maybe others of you, you’ve done that. But you know today because the Spirit of God is convicting you. You know some area in you life where you’ve taken back control and you need to release that and surrender it to Jesus today. And ask Him to fill you again, a fresh filling of your Holy Spirit.

Would you pray with me and then we’ll just be in quietness and you respond as the Lord would lead you. Father, what a gift you’ve given us in your son Jesus, who’s given us a gift of the Holy Spirit. Lord, we confess. If we do it ourselves, it’s failure and futility. Spirit of God, you are the only one who can break the power of sin, set us free, and enable us to live lives that are transformed, not conformed to this world. So in these quiet moments, Spirit of God, we invite you to speak. We invite you to do the work that needs to be done in us, to make us more like Jesus. Thank you, Lord Jesus, in your name.

PART 3 OF 3 ENDS [00:42:14]

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