||ship > An Urgent Call to Christian Perfection (Part V) Christ: Our Saviour from Sin
An Urgent Call to Christian Perfection
An Exposition of the Doctrine of Christian
by Tom Stewart
||Christ: Our Saviour from Sin
||Jesus (literally, Saviour)
"Thou shalt call His name Jesus: for
He shall save His people from their sins"
(Matthew 1:21). Christ's name, Jesus, reminds us how great a God we have. He came
to save us from our sins... from sin's penalty, from sin's consequences, and from
When we appropriate Christ by faith in all His offices, relations, and capacities
to meet every need in our lives, then we truly are "perfect,
even as [our]Father
which is in Heaven is perfect" (Matthew
5:48). To appropriate Jesus, our Saviour, by faith, meets our need of salvation from
sin's consequences, as well as from sinning itself. Jesus came, not simply "for the remission of sins that are past" (Romans 3:25) and to deliver us "from
the wrath to come"(Luke 3:7), but that
we would "be dead indeed unto sin, but
alive unto God through Jesus Christ our LORD"
(Romans 6:11). Jesus gives us a present tense salvation.
Salvation from sin is not only Jesus revealing Himself as "the
Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe"
(1Timothy 4:10), but also as our present Saviour. "What
shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How
shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" (Romans 6:1-2). To not live longer in sin means to not be sinning.
"What then? shall we sin, because we are
not under the law, but under grace? God forbid"
(Romans 6:15). In response, we shall not sin because we are "His servants... of obedience unto righteousness" (Romans 6:16).
"Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh
away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).
What does the Lamb of God do? He takes away the sin of the world. In what sense?
Only of those of the world who believe. "Believe
on the LORD Jesus Christ, and thou shat be saved, and thy house" (Acts 16:31). Just as the sacrificial lamb of the Old Testament
was necessary to take away sin, so the Lamb of God's once-for-all-sacrifice takes
away all sin in the New Testament.
"God, having raised up His Son Jesus,
sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities" (Acts 3:26). Why did God send and raise up His Blessed
Son Jesus? To bless us. How? In turning away every one of us from our iniquities.
To be without sin is a blessing. You can see that if man is not shackled with the
extra baggage of original sin, a sinful nature, and constitutional sin, then a man
who has turned away from his sin- courtesy of the Father's Blessed Son Jesus- is
truly blessed! That man is perfect in Christ. No metaphysical or theological
sleight of hand is needed to say that the Father's Blessed Son Jesus has blessed
us in making us as perfect as He is perfect. Hallelujah!
||The Head of the Church and the Saviour of the Body
"Even as Christ is the head of the Church:
and He is the Saviour of the Body. Therefore as the Church is subject unto Christ,
so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives,
even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify
and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, that 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
5:23-27). What a mouthful! We are the Church... "which
is His Body" (Ephesians 1:23). Christ
is the Head of the Church... the Head of our Body. "He
is the Saviour of the Body" (5:23).
An example of sanctification is the use of the headship of Christ to the Church,
to demonstrate how the wife ought to be subject to the husband. In the same way,
"as Christ also loved the Church, and
gave Himself for it" (5:25), husbands
ought to love their wives and give themselves for them. This is practical sanctification
or Christian perfection.
The object of Christ in giving Himself to the Church is "that
He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word" (5:26). A pure Church. A clean Church. "A glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such
thing" (5:27). Divorce the Church from
the Word, and you rob the saints of their means to walk as perfect Christians. "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by
taking heed thereto according to Thy Word... Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that
I might not sin against Thee" (Psalm 119:9,11).
Cleansing from sin and preventing sin, come from the Christian's voluntary compliance
and conformity to the Word of God. "Sanctify
them through Thy Truth: Thy Word is Truth"
(John 17:17). Christian perfection means that we are cleansed and set apart to Christ
for His service by the instrumentality of the Word of God. The result is a body of
Christians who are "holy and without blemish" (5:27) not merely in theological theory, but in actual
Christ, the Saviour of the Body, prayed for our Christian perfection in His exemplary
prayer... "Thy kingdom come. Thy will
be done in earth, as it is in Heaven"
(Matthew 6:10). Inspite of all the limitations of our flesh, the Saviour of the Body
prays for our present compliance "in earth,
as it is in Heaven" (Matthew 6:10) that
we "should be holy and without blemish" (Ephesians 5:27). If this does not teach you Christian
perfection, what else must the Head of the Church and the Saviour of the Body do?
||Our Redeemer from All Our Iniquity
"Looking for that Blessed Hope, and the
glorious appearing of the Great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave Himself
for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself
a peculiar people, zealous of good works"
(Titus 2:13-14). Who is the Blessed Hope? Christ is the Blessed Hope of the Christian.
"Unto them that look for Him shall He
appear the second time" (Hebrews 9:28).
Christ inspires hope in His people. Why has our Great God and Saviour Jesus Christ
given Himself for us? "That He might redeem
us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good
works" (2:140. The Word of God says it.
We ought to believe it. How much iniquity? "All
iniquity." If Christ is not Our Redeemer
from All Our Iniquity, then how can He "purify
unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works" (2:14)? When professed Christians do not walk in purity, then Christ
is not their Redeemer from all their iniquity.
||Mercy Seat for Our Sins
"He is the propitiation for our sins:
and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the world" (1John 2:2). We are the children of God because "as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the
sons of God, even to them that believe on His name"
(John 1:12). The Apostle John addressed the first epistle of John to "my little children"
(1John 2:1). John told his "little children"
that Jesus Christ is the "propitiation", or
mercy seat, for our sins. In the Old Testament, the mercy seat was the covering of
the ark where the LORD accomplished atonement for His people. When Christ is represented
as the Mercy Seat for Our Sins, it is difficult for the Christian to not be overwhelmed
with a sense of gratitude to Christ for cleansing all our sins and making
us one with Himself.
||In Him Should All Fulness Dwell
"For it pleased the Father that in Him
should all fulness dwell; and having made peace through the blood of His cross, by
Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in
earth, or things in Heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in
your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled. In the body of His flesh through
death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight: if
ye continue in the faith grounded and settled,and be not moved away from the
hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature
which is under Heaven" (Colossians 1:19-23).
The evidence can be continually accumulated to prove that Christ was manifested to
take away our sins, in the plural-- not the singular, in the present-- not simply
the past, in the actual-- not simply the theoretical. Who else but Christ can be
called In Him Should All Fulness Dwell? This One reconciles, or brings "at-one-ment",
to His people who "were sometime alienated
and enemies" of His. And what is His purpose?
Again, "to present you holy and unblameable
and unreproveable in His sight" (1:22).
Does this sound like a partial redemption from sin, or a future event that takes
place when we finally get to Heaven? Not hardly. His salvation is complete, and His
redemption is now. Notice the "if" provision attached to the end of this passage... "If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled,
and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel"
(1:23). Our continuing in the faith is the basis of His presentation of us "holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight" (1:22). To not continue is to not be presented "holy and unblameable and unreproveable". "You... hath
He reconciled... to present you holy and unblameable... if ye continue in the faith
grounded and settled" (1:21-23). To not
be presented is to not be reconciled. You cannot say you had what you thought you
had if you do not continue. This method of evidence is acceptable to Him in Whom
All Fulness Should Dwell. It makes sense to me, too.
"Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom
we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present
every man perfect in Christ Jesus" (Colossians
1:27-28). The Hope of Glory is a worthy name for Christ. The Hope of Glory is in
you, if you know Him. Think of it: We are "perfect
in Christ Jesus" Who is "in you, the Hope of Glory".
With all of that working for us, should not Christians be embarrassed to continually
be talking about sin areas and sin problems that they are still working on? As if
sin, especially their sin, was so complex a problem that it could not be immediately
dealt with! What is the solution for sin? "Except
ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke
13:3). Repent. That is to take sides with God against yourself, just like David (Psalm
51). How do you prevent sin from returning? "Thy
Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee" (Psalm 119:11). The Word of God hidden in our hearts, ready
to be claimed and obeyed-- not just memorized in our minds-- is the Hope of Glory's
sin prevention program.
You've got to love the heart of the Apostle Paul, too. Preaching, warning, and teaching
"every man in all wisdom" (1:28). Cooperating with the Holy Spirit, Paul strove to
secure the sanctification of his readers and listeners. He preached and taught, but
he also had to warn. Recall that Paul was warning Christians. "And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind
by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled"
(Colossians 1:21). Christians are reconciled.
Is it proper to warn Christians? Obviously, yes! Warn them of what?
||Necessity of the Christian to continue
Warn them to continue.
(1) If ye continue... Then you are a true disciple. "If
ye continue in My Word, then are ye My disciples indeed; and ye shall know the Truth,
and the Truth shall make you free" (John
8:31-32). Live in God's Word because it is you life. "Man
shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceedeth out of the mouth
of God" (Matthew 4:4). Measure your spirituality,
or lack of it, by your relationship to the Word of God. "And
His name is called The Word of God" (Revelation
19:13). Freedom is not measured by what human government allows its people, but by
how much Truth has found its place in your heart... "ye
shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).
(2) If ye continue... Then you are truly reconciled. "You...
hath He reconciled... to present you holy and unblameable... If ye continue in the
faith" (Colossians 1:21-23). To be reconciled
to God is to be made at one with God. Christ's reconciliation is conditional. Though
it is offered to whosoever will and "the
world" (John 3:16), reconciliation only
effects the one who puts his trust in Christ. "He
that believeth on Me hath everlasting life"
(John 6:47). Reconciliation is conditioned upon faith. "If
ye continue in the faith grounded and settled"
Faith, by its very nature, requires the believer to continually exercise that faith
to receive the promised blessings of that faith. "The
other disciples therefore said unto [Thomas]
, We have seen the LORD. But [Thomas] said unto them, Except
I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print
of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe [present tense unbelief].
And after eight days again His disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then
came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto
you. Then saith He to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold My hands; and reach
hither thy hand, and thrust it into My side; and be not faithless, but believing [present tense faith].
And Thomas answered and said unto Him, My LORD and my God. Jesus saith unto him,
Thomas, because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed [past
tense faith]: blessed are they that have not
seen, and yet have believed [potentially, future
||Scope of what it means to continue
is a more important word in the Christian vocabulary, than many have been taught.
Notice the scope of what a Christian is enjoined to "continue
in"... the love of God, the grace of God,
the faith, His goodness, prayer, the doctrine, the things which you have learned,
brotherly love, and that which you have heard fro the beginning.
||Continue in the love of God.
"As the Father hath loved Me, so have
I loved you: continue ye in My love" (John
||Continue in the grace of God.
"Now when the congregation was broken
up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking
to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God" (Acts 13:43). Grace is given by God and is necessary for salvation...
"For by grace are ye saved through faith" (Ephesians 2:8). Again, though grace is given by God, we
must be persuaded to continue in it... "Paul
and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God" (Acts 13:43).
||Continue in the faith.
Paul and Barnabas "returned again to Lystra,
and to Iconium, and Antioch, confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting
them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into
the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:21-22). Again,
faith to be true faith must be a continuing faith. Faith does not rest simply on
what it has believed or even upon what it will believe. Faith must continually
work... "Even so faith, if it hath not
works, is dead, being alone" (James 2:17).
||Continue in the goodness of God.
"Behold therefore the goodness and severity
of God; on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue
in His goodness: otherwise thou shalt be cut off"
(Romans 11:22). God's goodness, like His grace, only gives us benefit "if thou continue in His goodness". God's goodness is conditional, even upon those who have
already received His goodness. If you do not continue in the grace of God,
then "thou shalt be cut off", just like unbelieving Israel... for "blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness
of the Gentiles be come in" (Romans 11:25).
"Continue in prayer, and watch in the
same with thanksgiving; withal praying for us, that God would open unto us a door
of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds" (Colossians 4:2-3). "Pray
without ceasing" (1Thessalonians 5:17).
"Be careful for nothing; but in every
thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known
to God" (Philippians 4:6). Paul was a
bold apostle, fearlessly opening his mouth where no man had gone before, but he still
asked the help of fellow Christians that he would have the opportunity to utter "the mystery of Christ"
(Colossians 4:3). Why is it a mystery? Because we have yet to discover all the Truth
as it "is in Jesus" (Ephesian 4:21).
||Continue in the doctrine.
"Take heed unto thyself, and unto the
doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them
that hear thee" (1Timothy 4:16). What
is the result of paying attention to yourself and the doctrine (teachings of the
Word of God)? "Thou shalt both save thyself,
and them that hear thee" (4:16). Paul
practiced what he preached. "What then?
notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretense, or in truth, Christ is preached;
and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. For I know this shall turn to my
salvation through your prayer, and the supply of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:18-19). Again, salvation is past, present, and future:
(1) past: "Thy faith hath saved thee" (Luke 7:50),
(2) present: "Work out your own salvation
with fear and trembling" (Philippians
(3) future: "This shall turn to my salvation" (Philippians 1:19).
||Continue in brotherly love.
"Let brotherly love continue" (Hebrews 13:1). To continue in brotherly love assures our
hearts that we are the children of God. "We
know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren" (1John 3:14).
"And the very God of peace sanctify you
wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless
unto the coming of our LORD Jesus Christ"
(1Thessalonians 5:23). Who is The Very God of Peace? The One who Paul asked to sanctify
wholly the Church. Already He has pronounced about this Laodicean Church and final
phase of Church history: "I know thy works,
that thou art neither cold or hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because
thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spur thee out of My mouth. Because
thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing, and knowest
not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel
thee to buy of Me gold tried in fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment,
that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and
anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see" (Revelation 3:15-18). "Lukewarm" means that the pot on the stove was hot at one time (just
as Christians were once hot with love to their LORD) but has now cooled off. Cold
is pagan and lost. Hot is true Christianity. Because of Laodicean Christianity's
lukewarmness, Christ is so sick to His stomach that He threatens to vomit these out
of His mouth. Professed Christians who are backslidden from their "First Love" (Revelation
2:40, sense no need of Christ. Speak to them of The Very God of Peace, and they will
wonder at you as to who, what, and why you speak thus. They will say, "Oh, I
already know that. Don't speak to me about that." If you do not realize
your need of Christ, you cannot be wholly sanctified. Without that sanctification
you can only be described as: "wretched,
and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked"
(Revelation 3:17). The Very God of Peace speaks to you: "As
many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent" (Revelation 3:19). That is the warning and the invitation.
The LORD Jesus Christ, the LORD in the midst of the seven candlesticks (Revelation
1:13), makes His personal appeal to His wayward Church to accept Him and His cleansing
and His complete sanctifying: "Behold,
I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will
come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me" (Revelation 3:20).
"Christ Jesus, Who of God is made unto
us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption" (1Corinthians 1:30). Christ, Our Sanctification, has already
given to us the commanding motivation for Christian perfection. "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven
is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). Certainly
the LORD has commanded and we ought to obey, but why should we obey? Simply, because
Because God is, we ought... God is holy (1Peter 1:16), so we ought to be holy. "The Father which is in Heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48), so ought we to be perfect. He who is infinite
gives His all, while we who are finite give our all. This is perfection. Discover
who and what God is and you will know the foundational reason why you are obliged
to be like Him. "Herein is our love made
perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as He is, so are
we in this world" (1John 4:17).
||Christian perfection is to appropriate Christ by faith
in all of His offices, capacities, and relations to meet our every need in life.
ot only does Christ motivate us to Christian perfection,
but He gives us the assistance needed to secure our sanctification. Call it entire
sanctification or Christian perfection. Both describe the same thing. Listen to the
yearning of Christ, Our Sanctification: "Come
unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My
yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find
rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30). What better way to sound the call for
Christian perfection... "Learn of Me"?
All that any Christian needs to know about Christian perfection is based upon our
knowledge of Christ. For this reason "His
divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness,
through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are
given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers
of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through
lust" (2Peter 1:3-4).
Is it any wonder that the Apostle Peter enjoins us at the end of his epistle... "But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our LORD
and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2Peter 3:18)?
Christian perfection demands growth. True growth goes beyond the mere intellectual
assent to what the Scripture states about Christ, but rests upon how we have personally
appropriated Christ, by faith, to be all and do all that He says.
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