Can you tell me, please, the first step to take in obtaining the experience of entire sanctification? I have heard much about it, have heard many sermons on it, too; but the way to proceed is not yet plain to me, not so plain as I wish it were. Can't you tell me the first step, the second, third, and all the rest? My heart feels a hunger that seems unappeased, I have a longing that is unsatisfied; surely it is a deeper work I need! And so I plead, "Tell me the way."
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Gladly will the endeavor be made to point out the way into the "holiest" of all (Hebrews 10:19). Probably the very first thing to know is that you must understand whether or not you are sanctified. Are you, or are you not? On which side of the Jordan are you, on the Canaan side or on the wilderness side? A definite answer to this question is essential. Sometimes there are doubts in your mind whether you are or are not sanctified. Well, let us first get rid of all doubts. The experiences of God in the soul are too definite to need their possession entertained with a doubt; and to know where we are spiritually is unquestionably our privilege.
If you find yourself on the wilderness side of Jordan, the next thing to find out is whether you are yet out of Egypt -- whether you are justified before God, whether your sins are all washed away and you are a child of God.
If you are sure you are justified now, but have not by faith entered the Canaan experience -- are not wholly sanctified -- then you may know for certain that the experience awaits you.
Then there is one more very essential thing -- you must believe with all your heart that sanctification is unquestionably an experience which the Bible holds out to all believers. Do you thus believe? If so, all is clear, and all you need to do is to go forward; or, in the words God used to Joshua, "Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan" (Joshua 1:2).
Do you need your faith strengthened in this particular doctrine? Let it then meditate and grow upon these promises and words of God:
"Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate" (Hebrews 13:12).
"Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth" (John 17:17).
"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" (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
"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 5:25-27).
"Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Corinthians 7:1).
After you have meditated on each of these texts for ten or fifteen minutes, consider these further promises concerning the giving of the Holy Ghost:
"And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world can not receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you" (John 14:16, 17).
"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (John 14:26).
"That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith" (Galatians 3:14).
"And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith" (Acts 15:8, 9).
This great experience which Peter speaks of came to the disciples on Pentecost, when the Holy Ghost filled the whole company, and it changed a band of common men into the most powerful gospel band the world has ever seen.
Nothing feeds the soul as does the Word of the Lord. Meditate on the texts given, drink in the full meaning, comprehend what all of grace and love and spiritual power they hold for you; yea, consider at what a cost these blessings were purchased for you by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ!
That you may see what your duty is in the matter, permit reference to these things:
On the cross of Calvary Jesus gave all, all for you and your salvation. There He cried, "It is finished." There He paid the last debt of all of us. There He proved His love, perfect, fadeless, unfathomable, boundless.
Go to the foot of that cross! See the Savior hanging there! Every motive that can move a soul finds its fountain there. Can you, in the shadow of the cross, be anything less than a full Bible Christian? Can you do less than give all to Him? Does not any selfish feeling or thought of holding back the full surrender seem sinful, utterly displeasing to your soul and to God?
Your duty, then, is clear. From henceforth you can not be less than all for Christ, you can not do less than go all the way for Him. Being a faithful Christian, you can not do less than your duty, once duty is clear.
Since conviction is a matter of knowledge, consider this: Christ's work hobbles along because there are so few whole-hearted, wholly consecrated souls to work for Him, whereas Jesus expects all to be whole-hearted in their service to Him.
Will you think also of the sin there is in the world, gnawing ugly wounds in the hearts and marring the lives of millions, and yet Jesus died to save every mother's child of them.
What is Jesus going to do if there are not a greater number of volunteers to carry on His work? For every sanctified soul is all the Lord's, ready for anything.
After Jesus died on the cross, He ascended to heaven. One day the angel Gabriel met Jesus and said: "Master, did you not suffer great pain on the cross?"
"Yes," answered Jesus simply and quietly.
"And, Master, that suffering was to redeem men to God, was it not?"
"Yes," answered Jesus.
"Well, how many know of your death and your suffering to redeem men? How will the world of sinners find it out? Have you made any plans?" asked Gabriel.
"I have told Peter and his brother Andrew, and James and John, and the rest of the twelve to go tell the people about it," said Jesus.
"Suppose they do not go?" asked Gabriel. "Have you made any other plans?"
"No, I am counting on them," said Jesus.
This is only a story, but it illustrates the point of how necessary it is for us to be consecrated and ready for the Master's service. Jesus is counting on us!
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So you conclude you are still on the wilderness side of the Jordan? Very well, thank God you are out of the Egypt of sin, that the wilderness journey through justification is behind you, and that Canaan, that fair land where milk and honey flows, lies just before you. Only the Jordan intervenes. Of course the Jordan always is running strong and out of its banks every time, it seems, when souls are to cross, just as it was for Israel in Joshua's day. But this is only a necessary test to prove the sincerity and valor of the soul.
Thousands have made bold to strike their feet in Jordan's waters in the name of God and start across. You can see them over on the other side from where you are. Be encouraged; cross over the Jordan and enter the Canaan of soul-rest.