As we have pointed out in the past, it is very difficult to unlearn things which have been drummed into our minds since childhood. This is especially true when it comes to religious doctrines which have often been relayed to us by teachers for whom we have the highest respect. We must always be extremely careful in our consideration of Bible doctrines that we do not rely upon whims or unsubstantiated concepts which we might lightly spring upon. “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” (2Pet 1:20)
The Apostle Peter is specifically referring to the necessity of two things in a proper consideration of what the scriptures teach. The first is that in order to rightly divide the Word of GOD, we must compare all that is said in the scriptures rather than simply relying upon the opinions of men or one or two scriptures which seem to support our own opinion. The man who lives by a “proof text” may also die by it when the whole of the record is examined. The example of the Bereans serves as an illustration of this point. “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” (Acts 17:11)
The second necessity (not in order of importance) is that we must be guided and led by the SPIRIT of GOD, lest we go astray and value intellectualism rather than fact. “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” (1Cor 2:10-13)
We must be extremely careful in our criticism of the understanding of other brethren, ever keeping in mind, that we know nothing as we ought to know and that every one of GOD’s children are given the measure of understanding which HE is pleased to grant to each one. Having said that we must also earnestly contend for the faith which has been given to us, knowing that we could be mistaken to some degree, but willing to stand firm in what we believe to be true, until as those Bereans we are shown otherwise, receiving our correction with gladness.
We are not of the opinion that we can change the mind of others by the things which we say, but we are also convinced that we must say those things which we have been caused to believe to be true in such fashion that we would change their minds if we could. This is called “testifying of those things which we have seen and heard.” It is just such a mind that moved Paul to say; “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” (Rom 9:1-3)
This scripture from the book of Jude is a most glorious declaration of the standing of the sons of GOD. As are all of the scriptures, Jude’s epistle is not “general in nature”, but is addressed to a specific people which he describes as “sanctified”, “preserved”, and “called”. This narrows his address down to a smaller number than the whole population of the earth. It is very much akin to Peter’s address of his first epistle to the “strangers”, which he then describes as “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” (1Pet 1:2) He then goes on to further manifest their “peculiarity” by saying; “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.” (1Pet 2:9-10)
When the terms “sanctify”, “sanctified”, or “sanctification” are mentioned, most folks immediately think of this activity as a present work which is being performed in each one of the children of GOD. We are certain that there is indeed an ongoing work which the SPIRIT of GOD is performing in the sons of GOD. However, we do not find that this work is described in the scriptures by those terms.
A very popular concept among many is that GOD’s people are being “cleansed” in some daily, ongoing fashion. The LORD JESUS, speaking to HIS disciples said, “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” (John 15:3) John says, of the bride. “And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” (Rev 19:8) The saints of GOD are perfectly clean or “clean every whit.” (John 13:10) “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common (i.e. unclean).” (Act 10:15) That which is “unclean” cannot be found in the presence of GOD nor vice versa.
There is no “progressive sanctification” taught in the scriptures. The SPIRIT does indeed subdue the flesh, through warfare and restraint but that which is “sanctified” is not referring to a work performed in the mortal bodies of the saints but rather a “setting apart” of them in CHRIST JESUS as the sons of GOD. This is the “sanctification” which Jude and Peter speak of. Jude clearly speaks of being “sanctified” as something that is already done rather that something that is continuing to be done.
A man cannot continually be “sanctified” anymore than he can be continually “justified”. The “sanctification” of the saints is describing the position which they have gained by the decree of a most merciful FATHER. “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” (1Cor 1:30)
Jude says the saints are “preserved”. This is a glorious consideration which is again a statement of a condition in which they presently dwell and not one which shall occur at some time in the future. When my dear mother took vegetables from our garden and through an arduous process, canned them in glass jars, that produce was “preserved”. She did not continue that process, and one could see the fruit of her labor in the jars on the shelf.
Such are those whom the LORD has “preserved”. They are exhorted to view themselves in the light of CHRIST’s labor for them, recognizing that their present state is due to that which HE has performed in their behalf. “For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom 6:10-11) HE shall indeed keep them from falling because they are “preserved”, even as the vegetables, which my mother canned, were kept from spoiling because she “preserved” them in jars. We are preserved “in CHRIST”.
Then he uses a most appropriate adjective to describe, those who are the “sanctified” and “preserved”. He uses this word “called” which speaks both of that work which is done for the saints of GOD, as well as in them. All that GOD does is eternal since HE alone “inhabtiteth eternity.” HE is unchangeable and unchanged. Whatsoever HE has decreed is as certain as HE is who HE is.
Men, being finite creatures of a mere span, are unable to grasp that which is without beginning and without ending, so, in HIS mercy, HE has determined to manifest the “calling” of the people of HIS choice as an event which takes place in time though ordered before any man drew his first breath or had his first thought. “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance (i.e.; irrevocable)” (Rom 11:29) HIS calling of HIS people precedes their belief of that that which HE has called them unto. We see this illustrated in Acts 13:48; “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” (2Tim 1:9) Have you known the HOPE of HIS calling?mam