VII.B.2.d The Rejoicing of the Mighty Man

PART  VII – TRANSACTIONAL ASPECTS OF THE LAMP-STAND MODEL

Subpart B – SANCTIFICATION

Article 2 –   Deliverance

Section (d) – The Rejoicing of the Mighty Man

By Daniel Irving

Samson Carries Gate 01

Section (d)

 THE REJOICING OF THE MIGHTY MAN

i.  God’s Glory in the Soul’s Repentance as Cause for Heaven’s Rejoicing

Recall the Lord’s words concerning the penitent sinner:

“I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repents,  more than over 99 just persons, which need no repentance.”                                                                                       Luke 15:7

The object of God’s sacrifice is the repentant heart.  This is where His mercy resides; at the place of the Cross of Jesus Christ.  Repentance is the fruit of His Son’s labors.  Therefore heaven rejoices when the sinner repents from the heart.  Only now can God reveal His kingdom to the hearts of men.  In fact, God Himself rejoices over the repentance of His elect.  For recall the parable of the repentant prodigal son:Prodigal 01

It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead,  and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.               Luke 15:32

The KJV translation is a bit misleading, as the Greek word translated “was meet” is deh-on’,[1] which means “must.”  We find the word used elsewhere in such verses as:

Mat 17:10  “. . Elias must first come”

Joh 3:30  He must increase, but I must decrease.

II Cor 5:10  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ . . .

While the word is sometimes translated “should” or “ought”, it is the universal word translated  “must” in the KJV.  Therefore the statement of the father is “WE MUST MAKE MERRY, AND BE GLAD.”  Why is this?  Why does God consider it a necessity to rejoice and to kill the fatted calf upon the sinner’s repentance from the heart?  The parable itself states the reason!  The fProdigal 03

thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.                              Luke 15:32

There has been a resurrection!  The Feast of First Fruits must be celebrated.  For Christ died that we might be raised again in Him.  And as a symbol of that death given the sinner (that his dead soul might be raised into newness of life) it is necessary that something be killed and its life ministered to him that would live again.  Christ’s work upon the Cross is made effectual via repentance.  The Cross of Jesus Christ gave glory to the Father.  The heart’s closure with the Cross at repentance glorifies God again as He is able to manifest His holy image through the soul’s apprehension of the glory of Jesus Christ.

ii.  God’s Answer for the Weakened Condition of the Lowly-Penitent; Holiness

The prophecy of Isaiah speaks to those of Israel coming into the apprehension of their true estate.  The Spirit of God says to them:Worm 02

“Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee,” saith the Lord, “And thy redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.”                      Is. 41:14

Why would God’s people be referred to as a “worm”?  Consider the prophesying of Job: 

How then can a man be just with God? Or how can he be clean who is born of woman? Job 02 If even the moon has no brightness & the stars are not pure in His sight, How much less man, that maggot, & the son of man, that worm!      Job 25:4-6

Job is lamenting the pitiable condition of man when entering into the judgments of God.  If even the moon and stars have “no brightness” in the eyes of God, how then can man be considered anything more than a “worm” in respect to God’s judgments?  Recall that Job continuously pled with God to remove his gaze from him.  Job had no answer, and no hope for an answer before  God.   Therefore Job called upon the analogy of a worm as descriptive of his condition before the judgments of God.  Through the prophet Isaiah, God now calls upon this metaphor again and reaffirms to Jacob that “yes, you are only a ‘worm’”, however,  ‘“I will help you,” declares the Lord,’

The Lord identifies those to whom He is speaking as; “you men of Israel.”  God is telling His people not to fear what is coming.  As His covenant begins to be established and the kingdom of God begins to encroach upon our normal experiences of life and the natural order of this world, this will bring upon us many things we are apt to fear and so would bring us into danger of withdrawing from the path God sets before us.  But we are solemnly warned against withdrawing from the things of God:

 ‘BUT MY RIGHTEOUS ONE SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; AND IF HE SHRINKS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM.’  But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction,  but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.   Heb. 10:38-39

While the promises of prophecy belong exclusively to the Firstborn of God as “My righteous one,”   we have a part in the promises of prophecy through the presence of Christ within us.  Therefore “My righteous one” is (by definition) not the one that would shrink back.  Christ is that “righteous one,” and He lives in us through the means of faith.  Recall Paul’s words:

 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in meand the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God,  who loved me, and gave himself for me.     Gal. 2:20

There is only one “Righteous One”.[2] ie. “Jesus Christ, the righteous”.[3]  How does this “righteous one” live?  According to Paul, He lives within the believer by means of faith.  By this means, we are in Christ and He, in us.   We become co-heirs to the promises.  Therefore Paul writes:

And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.    Rom. 8:17

Therefore the promises of God are brought to “you men of Israel” through faith in Jesus Christ upon whom all the promises of God are made.  The apprehension of this great truth shall itself be sanctifying as stirring our faith to endure for the sake of God purposes.[4]

God declares to the worm, “I will help you.”  There is help for the worm.  There is help for frail humanity that has fallen short of God’s glory.  For God has established His glory through One; His Righteous One.  How is it that there is “help for a worm” from the creator of the all things?  Consider this prophesy spoken by the Spirit of Christ:gethsemane

But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All they that see me laugh me to scorn; They shoot out the lip & shake their head, saying “He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him; let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.                    Ps. 22:6-8

Who is describing Himself as a worm?  God Himself has assumed our humanity in the Person of the Lord, Jesus Christ.  What does this mean, except the power of God assumed the place of the most lowly of men in order to turn weakness into the power of God.

. . who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,  even death on a cross.                                                                                      Phil 2:6-8

God is telling Jacob “I will help you.”  He calls Jacob a “worm,” which Job (in anguish) professes is all that he amounts to in the wake of God’s judgments.  Yet this is the form that God assumed and took upon Himself when He came to us in the person of Jesus Christ.

Paul understood this powerful relationship between weakness and the power of God quite well, for when he entreated the Lord for the removal of the “thorn in the flesh”,[5] the Lord told him that His grace was sufficient for him, and that “Power is perfected in weakness.”[6]  Therefore it becomes easy to see why Paul endured the trials he did.[7]  He knew that the secret of God’s power was “the worm,” ie. that lowly place of man which Christ assumed in order to redeem men.  Therefore Paul writes:

Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknessesthat the power of Christ may dwell in me.  Therefore I am content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.                      II Cor. 12:9-10

O the paradox that is presented by the mystery that is the kingdom of God!  God, Who will not give His glory to another, has provided that His glory should rest upon “the worm.”  The glory of the Spirit of God bestowed upon the base and the afflicted of humanity.  This is the place of the Cross.Cross of Christ

For indeed He was crucified because of weakness, yet He lives because of the power of God.                                   II Cor. 13:4

iii.  The Rejoicing Spirit of the Mighty One Filling the Weak

The prophecy of Zephaniah declares:

The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing.            Zeph. 3:17

Indeed, the context here in Zephaniah’s prophecy is the “might” of the Lord Jesus Christ.  How is He “mighty?”  The Lord’s “might” is true and spiritual, and profoundly unlike what we would consider to be “might.”  For Paul prayed for the Colossians that they would be: 

Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power unto all patience, & longsuffering with joyfulness;                  Col. 1:11

It would seem that the Lord’s might, is a strength unto divine-righteousness!  The power of the indwelling Christ, is the power of to save.  It is the power to bring the nature of God into the creature so as to allow the creature to share in the indestructible life that is Christ.  While we tend to think of “might” and “power” in terms of the power to “destroy”, ie. as a “destructive” agency, this is not the essential meaning of the power of God.  His “might” is creative, regenerative, and restorative, and nurturing..  Therefore when Paul tells the Ephesians . . . 

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, & in the power of his might                                                                                    Eph 6:10

What is Paul telling them to do?  Helmet 03He is telling them to put on the weapons of the “mighty warrior” that is “Christ in you”, ie. such things as; the knowledge of salvation, faith, righteousness,  God’s word, truth, and the Gospel of God.  These are what make up our spiritual armor.  But as to the flesh, what profit is that?  When we are strong in the flesh, then we are the most weak spiritually.  If we would have spiritual strength; strength of a type that is effective to win spiritual battles; strength of a type that will bring the kingdom and righteousness of God, we must not look for it in fleshly means:

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God  to the pulling down of strong holds;                      II Cor. 10:4

For recall that after Paul prayed for his physical infirmity to be taken away, we are told:

And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.    Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities,  that the power of Christ may rest upon me.            II Cor. 12:9       

The mighty-nature of the Spirit of Christ within the believer is not rightly-apprehended by the carnal-mind.  In fact, the natural man does not even seem to recognize the power of Christ when it is within himself for the effectuating of salvation.  Consider Paul’s words to the Corinthians:

Since you seek a proof of Christ speaking in mewhich to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you.                            II Cor. 13:3


[1] G1163  dei  die, deh-on’  Third person singular active present of G1210; also δεόν deon which is neuter active participle of the same; both used impersonally; it is (was, etc.) necessary (as binding): – behoved, be meet, must (needs), (be) need (-ful), ought, should.

[2] Mat 19:17  “Why callest thou me good?  There is none good but one, that is God.”

[3] I John 2:1

[4] See commentary on Isaiah 45:11  “& you shall commit to Me the work of My hands.”

[5] II Corinthians 12:7

[6] II Corinthians 12:9

[7] Paul makes list of his trials at II Corinthians 11:23-28.

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III.A.7.f Evangelistic Message vs. Plan of Redemption

PART  III –  Application to Pentecostal Theology 

Subpart A  –  The Pentecostal Renewal

Article 3 –Finished Work Doctrine as Incomplete Theology

Section (f) – Evangelistic Message vs. Plan of Redemption

Daniel Irving

i.    The Fallacy Underpinning the Baptistic Model of Redemption

ii.   Understanding Durham’s Advocacy of the Finished Work at Azusa

iii.  The Finished Work as Essential Truth While Incomplete Doctrine

Paul before Ruler 01

The following article may be viewed in video format via the Youtube link below:

Section (e)

EVANGELISTIC MESSAGE vs. PLAN OF REDEMPTION

i.   The Fallacy Underpinning the Baptistic Model of Redemption

A primary contention of evangelical scholars (particularly those of the Baptist perspective) against the principle of a Pentecostal baptism of the Holy Spirit is that it is devalues the Cross of Jesus Christ as the exclusive agency of redemption.  The reasoning is that since salvation constitutes a matter so simple as the bringing together of a confession of the mouth with a simple faith in the heart (Rom. 10:9), then what can possibly be added to this?  If Christ has performed the work of God in its entirety at the Cross, how can any experience be added to that of regenerating faith?  To the Baptist way of thinking, the search for, and even the prospect of, a future redemptive experience undermines Christ’s work on the Cross as the full satisfaction of God.  Horace Ward explains this perspective within Vinson Synan’s book, Aspects of Pentecostal and Charismatic Origins.  Concerning this view, Ward writes:

He believes that any spiritual experience subsequent to regeneration must of necessity demean regeneration by suggesting its inadequacy.  To him, the expectation of a subsequent work by the Holy Spirit implies a low opinion of what Christ has done. [1]

Of course, the slippery slope of this argument is to deny what is the ultimate future work of redemption; the redemption of the body.  If there is no successive redemptive experience after initial regeneration then logically there is no redemptive experience for the body, and thence, no resurrection.  If we be consistent under the “Christ did it all” argument and the Church has nothing yet to experience of a redemptive nature then the resurrection itself must constitute a slander of Christ’s work on the cross.   But naturally, those of the Baptistic perspective would dare not adopt the full extent of their reasoning.  But there is a clear explanation for the error of this perspective.

If those holding the Baptistic model of redemption are willing to make exception for a future redemption for the body, they must also make exception for the redemption of man in his threefold nature of body, soul, and spirit, as Paul tells us plainly that redemption relates to all three:

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.                                                                                     I Thess 5:23

There is even the suggestion by this verse that sanctification relates to all three constituent parts of the man.   If we are to be wholly sanctified, it will be through the means of the Truth:

Sanctify them through Thy truth; Thy word is truth.             John 17:17

Our means of sanctification is Jesus Christ, in His witness as the Word of God as evidenced in the fact it was necessary that Jesus Christ sanctify Himself unto this work: 

And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.                                                                                     John 17:19

Truth is not accessible to the man but through Christ as the atoning sacrifice, the embodiment of Truth, and the Personhood of our resurrection.  Therefore the threefold witness of His life, His death, and His resurrection are indivisible. The sanctification possessed by the saints is Jesus Christ Himself.  They are sanctified by means of His Person and His work; the faith in which constitutes the “work of God” in justifying, sanctifying, and physically-resurrecting the body of Christ.

Where the Baptistic view of redemption falls short is in its failure to account for the threefold nature of man as the object of redemption and the intended beneficiary of Christ’s “Finished Work.” Man requires a redemption of all three aspects of his creation, and just as the redemption of the body (ie. our resurrection) does not occur simultaneously with our experience of first coming to faith (ie. our justification) so there appears nothing to require our deliverance from sin’s bondage (ie. our soul’s sanctification) to occur simultaneously with our justification.   The Second Work doctrine of Wesley recognized the divisibility (although agreement) of Earth’s witness, which is God’s work in the Church, of which John writes:

and there are three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, the water, & the blood; & these three agree in one.                      I John 5:8

On the other hand, the Finished Work doctrine of Durham which derived from his Baptistic perspective, did not recognize this divisible principle that is Earth’s Witness, focusing upon the indivisible witness of Heaven which is the witness of Jesus Christ, of which John writes:

For there are three that bear record in heaventhe Father, the Word, & the Holy Ghost. And these three are one.                               I John 5:7

This is the unified witness of Jesus Christ, which is Sanctification as a Person as He Who is in His nature and work, God.  But as to the witness of Earth, which operates via the Church, what is expressed is sanctification as a verb.  These reflect upon Sanctification through their sanctification of spirit, soul, and body.  Thus the word to the Church is:

. . ., Be ye holy; for I am holy.                I Peter 1:16

Because the redemptive plan for the Church of Jesus Christ involves union with God through conformity within His own Holy nature, the evangelistic message of “Jesus Christ and Him crucified”[2] while constituting the focus of our faith does not integrate the reflexive operation of redemption that is worked within the Church; the body of Messiah.  This explains the fallacy underpinning the Baptistic model of redemption.  And this is why Durham’s Finished Work doctrine constituted, and remains, an insufficient model for Pentecost.

ii.  Understanding Durham’s Advocacy of the Finished Work at Azusa

As a Baptist minister entering the doors of the Azusa Street Mission, Durham mixed with those of a Wesleyan perspective to which his thinking was alien.  Durham 01As related earlier, Pentecost came upon the “come-outers” of Methodism; those holding firm to the Wesleyan teaching of a second definite work of Grace.  Therefore, while Durham accepted the Pentecost that had fallen from heaven upon those professing to the Second Work, he did not bring himself to doctrinally receive the Second Work of Wesleyanism.  One substantial obstacle for him must have been the way in which the doctrine was misapplied by its early Pentecostal adherents so as to insist upon its having been experienced as a precursor to the Holy Spirit’s baptism.  For recall from an earlier article that the Wesleyan Pentecostals did not view an individual as eligible to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit until they could testify to an experience of sanctification which was expanded to mean the full deliverance from the works of the flesh.  To the Wesleyans, evidence of carnality in the believer was evidence they could not have been truly baptized by the Spirit.  Clearly, therefore the Wesleyan Pentecostals stumbled into heresy in this regard.  For consider that even though the Corinthian believers were referred to as “carnal” by Paul (I Cor. 3:1-4) yet they are acknowledged by Paul as having received the Holy Spirit’s baptism (I Cor. 12:13).azusaleaders

Durham’s disinclination toward Wesleyan thought must have grown into a deeper conviction against its teachings when he observed the bad fruit of the doctrine’s misapplication within Pentecost, wherein its advocates were warning seekers they must have a prerequisite experience called “sanctification” prior to baptism, led by a fixation with securing the newly anointed within the mantra of; “saved, sanctified, and filled.”  Further, if one received the baptism absent the testimony they had first received its precursor (as was the case for many if not most) they were often informed their experience was counterfeit; a most horrific judgment to make.  Within this milieu, it is little wonder that a Baptist minister should rise up and declare the reciprocal doctrine.  Durham denounced the mantra, “saved, sanctified, and filled” for the cleaner and less destructive, “saved and filled.”  His preaching quite relieved the judgmentalism and suspicion engendered by the opposite error and allowed the experience of seeking God for the baptism to remain the blessing that it is.

iii.   The Finished Work as Essential Truth While Incomplete Doctrine

The Finished Work doctrine has a very definite ring of truth.  This is because it is substantially the truth.  The Finished Work is able to be preached under the anointing and power of the Holy Spirit because its message is consistent with that peculiar witness of the Holy Spirit which is the finished work of the life, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Recall that when Paul preached the Gospel in power, his message was amazingly simple:Sacred Ht 05

For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.                 I Cor. 2:2

This is the heart of the Spirit empowered preaching of the Gospel and the true Gospel unto which the Holy Spirit will bear witness when preached by those sent.  This tells us that there is really no other consideration in the Spirit empowered evangelistic preaching than the Person and work of Jesus Christ.  Therefore who can reasonably deny that the work of Jesus Christ is a “finished work”; complete and comprehensive for the full redemption of the Church?  The evangelistic message is the proclamation essential truth.

While the Finish Work doctrine constitutes the evangelistic message and the central focus of the Christian faith (whose object is Jesus Christ), the doctrine does not in itself  constitute a model of redemption incorporating the Church.  The Finished Work doctrine is no explanation of the process of redemption within the body of Christ, being rather, the statement of the evangelistic message of the Gospel.  The Finished Work is not the theology of the Church Durham put it forward as being.  

Lamps & Virgins 01The stumbling of the Finished Work as a doctrine of Pentecostal redemption is its failure to consider the divergence in the twofold aspect of the witness of God that is Messiah Head (the Lord Jesus Christ) and Messiah Body (His Church).  As related above, the former constitutes Heaven’s Witnesses and bears allusion to the life, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ as the Finished Work from which Earth’s Witness draws its being.  As to Earth’s Witness, this is a work in progress.  That which bears record in heaven is the finished work of Christ which is indivisible and complete. We cannot receive one of three witnesses of the Lord’s life, death, and resurrection, without possessing all three.  On the other hand, the revelation of that finished work is divisible as indicated by John’s statement “these three agree in one.”  These represent the three redemptive encounters with God destined for the spirit, soul, and body of the man, and which have their manifestation justification, sanctification, and ultimately the glorification of the Church when we have our ultimate encounter with Christ at His coming.  This is the body of Christ. This is the temple of God which Christ declared He would build in three prophetic “days.”

Jesus answered & said unto them, “Destroy this temple, & in three days I will raise it up.           John 2:19

Thus for Durham to advance his properly evangelistic message of the Finished Work (ie. Heaven’s witness of Christ) as somehow a complete explanation for Pentecost and for the Church’s redemption was tantamount to asserting the Church of this age as “finished” as well.  But Paul makes clear that the Church is not experientially finished when he writes:

Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:                                                                                      Eph. 4:13

Just as the Lord Jesus Christ had a course to complete during His earthly witness in order to make a way for us to follow, so must the Church finish the course laid before it as a witness to the world and as a working out of its own redemption. Therefore Paul expresses this sentiment in his letter to Philippi:

. . . that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection  and the fellowship in His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.  Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect,  But I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.              Phil. 3:10-12


[1] Horace S. Ward cites Frederick Dale Bruner who makes this argument.  See Aspects of Pentecostal & Charismatic Origins, Edited by Vinson Synan © 1975 Logos International at pg. 112.

[2] I Corinthians 2:2

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III.A.7.e The Witness of Durham’s Personal Testimony

PART  III – Application to Pentecostal Theology

Subpart A – The Pentecostal Renewal

Article 7 – The Finished Work as Incomplete Pentecostal Theology

Section (e) – The Witness of Durham’s Personal Testimony

By Daniel Irving

i.    Significant Role of the Pentecostal Testimony

ii.   Durham’s Personal Testimony as Paralleling Wesleyan Concept of Sanctification

iii.  Durham’s Personal Testimony of Receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

iv.  The Wesleyan Testimony of an Anti-Wesleyan?

v.   The Unanswered Pentecostal Question

Durham 01

This article may be viewed in video format via the Youtube link below:

Section (d)

THE WITNESS OF DURHAM’S PERSONAL TESTIMONY 

i.   Significant Role of the Pentecostal Testimony

The Pentecostal renewal may represent the most profound advance in the restoration of apostolic doctrine since light began to dawn at the time of the Reformation.   Thus the original pioneers who received the baptism of the Holy Spirit at Topeka and at Azusa Street present a vital witnesses to the work of God in the progress of His kingdom.  Apostolic Faith Group 1910Their ministries, their testimonies, and their lives stand testament for us today and serve as guideposts for our discernment of the work of God in the earth.  January 1, 1901 marked a significant advancement of the Gospel when the experience and doctrine of Pentecost was restored to humanity.  But at the same time, there seemed to have been a turning back of a significant portion of the light that had been previously restored through the ministry and witness of John Wesley, early Methodism, and the nineteenth-century Holiness movement.

As related in Section (b) of this article, the ministry of William Durham following his baptism at Azusa Street was characterized by remarkable Pentecostal power, and his teachings quickly assumed a central role in the formation and promulgation of the doctrines of classical Pentecostalism.  In addition to the evangelistic doctrines of justification by faith in Jesus Christ, deliverance from sin, and holiness of life, Durham zealously preached the Pentecostal doctrine of Initial Evidence that had been restored at the Topeka outpouring of 1901.[1]  His unique contribution to the direction of the Pentecostal movement was his doctrine of the Finished Work of Calvary which effectually dissuaded Pentecostalism from the stance assumed by the original (Wesleyan) Pentecostals that the baptism of the Holy Spirit must sequentially follow the Second Work of Sanctification taught by John Wesley.  Wesley - John 02However, as also related in Section (b), Durham’s attacks upon the Pentecostal Second Work struck deeper than the Pentecostal form of the doctrine, implicating as well the central doctrine that had been the strength of the Holiness movement and early Methodism and which had represented the chief vehicle for religious revivalism over the previous 150 years.

Given his central role in the restoration of the Pentecostal witness, as well as his central role in Pentecostalism’s rejection of the Wesleyan-Holiness testimony, Durham’s ministry, life, and testimony become for us a matter of great pertinence in our effort to study and to discern the work of God in our own day.  Much of his testimony and ministry has been preserved for us today through the publication of his periodical entitled The Pentecostal Testimony.

ii.  Durham’s Personal Testimony as Paralleling Wesleyan Concept of Sanctification

Durham tells of his initial coming to Christ as constituting little more than a change of mind.  He writes:Durham 01

I was born and raised in the State of Kentucky, where I united with the Baptist Church about the year 1891.  I was sincere at the time, but I was not converted.  Therefore my experience was a great disappointment to me, for I knew that, as a member of the church, I ought to have an experience; but I had no joy or peace, or knowledge of salvation.[2]

Through a mental assent to the truth, Durham entered upon a mouth’s profession of Jesus Christ.  Yet he acknowledges that during this period he did not know salvation.  Therefore by his own testimony Durham existed for a time in a disappointing condition of wanting to know Christ, but absent the equipping of faith.  But Durham entered upon yet another phase.  He writes:

In the year 1898 . . . the Holy Spirit deeply convicted me of sin.  This came about through reading the Word of God; and being convinced of its truth, I was made to see that I was a guilty sinner.  The Spirit was so faithful in dealing with me, that I could find no rest or peace, until I resolved to yield myself to God the best I knew how, and call upon Him for mercy.  Crucifixion FeetThe moment I did so, the Holy Spirit revealed Jesus Christ to me hanging on the Cross, and said to me, “Christ died for your sins.”  Faith instantly sprung up in my heart to accept Him as my full Savior, and the moment I did so, I felt the quickening power of the Spirit, was made a new creature in Christ, and unutterable joy filled my soul.  The Spirit bore faithful witness to me that I was a child of God.  I knew beyond doubt, that I was washed in the Blood of Jesus, and the peace that passes all understanding filled my soul.  I would have soon met God as my dearest friend.[3]

Durham describes an awakening of faith that occurred for him in 1898.  This was the year he came under conviction for sin and the truth of his forgiveness became a vital reality.  Having made the mental assent and the mouth’s profession to the truth of the life, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, God was able to awaken him from the dead in order to speak to his heart and to reveal the truth on a much deeper level; the truth that Jesus Christ bore the penalty for his sin.  With this knowledge, he was able to truly believe what before he could only make mental assent to and an outward profess of.

But apparently Durham continued to have trouble.  He acknowledges that somehow he was not entirely in a place he would have hoped to be, and his life was continually marked by stumbling, for he continues:

I had no one to tell me that the next step was to be buried with Him, in Whom I had died and had been made alive.  Had I been taught the truth, as the Apostles taught it, had I been baptized and had hands laid on me, I would have at once received the Holy Ghost.  I should then have been taught to reckon that I was “dead indeed,” and that I was to live and walk only in the Holy Spirit; but I could not walk in Him Whom I had not yet received.  Like thousands of others I drifted. [4]

Although Durham had experienced an awakened condition which allowed him to close with God in terms of belief and to accept the forgiveness of his sins, the period that followed was not a period of stability.  Even now, Durham does not yet consider himself truly established.  He does not consider that he has found the experience of sanctification.  But he continues:Heaven 01

After two years of investigating the theories of men and struggling in every way known to me to obtain the experience of sanctification, and failing in all, I finally had grace given me from God to yield myself to Him, and trust the merits of the Blood alone, just as I had done three years before, when as a trembling sinner, I stood before the Cross and had a glimpse of the glorious Son of God, who died thereon, given me.  [5]

Durham brings us up to the year 1901 as the time wherein he experienced an event of Grace being imparted to him for the purpose of his establishment in sanctification.  He describes this event as so profound, he originally believed it to be the moment he received the Holy Spirit.  He writes:

To my unutterable joy this step brought me back into the same state of entire sanctification and heavenly rest, peace and joy, which I had the first time I stood in the same  place.  As in the case of all who remain under the Blood, the Spirit dealt wondrously with me.  The influence of His presence with me was so real and precious, that I really thought I had received the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Nonetheless, having been powerfully established, he nonetheless realizes what he has experienced was not the same experience recorded in the book of Acts.  He writes:

My greatest difficulty was in harmonizing my experience with that in the Acts of the Apostles.   Paul before Ruler 01My difficulty was, that I mistook soul rest and peace, and the sweet holy joy of salvation, and the witness, and influence of the Spirit, for the gift of the Spirit.  O, how many are making this sad mistake!  I knew my experience did not measure up to the standard of the Acts of the Apostles, but like all holiness teachers and people that I have met, I either kept out of the book of Acts, or confounded the wonderful outpourings of the Holy Spirit recorded there, with sanctification.  What a sad mistake.  What could be more ridiculous than the teaching, that it was sanctification, or any other work of grace, the Apostles received on the day of Pentecost.[6]

It would be nearly six years thereafter (1907) that Durham would go on to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  His testimony relating to the process of his sanctification is quite remarkable in that while Durham stood in rejection of the Wesleyan theology of a graduated process of redemption marked by a definite event of “sanctification,” his own experience ran consistent with the experience professed by the Wesleyans.  The difference is Durham did not interpret his experience the same as did the Wesleyans due to his roots in Baptistic theology which oriented him toward a non-graduated view of redemption.  Neither does Durham come out and identify his experience as “sanctification” as would have Wesleyans.  Such disinclination to place a label upon experience is understandable given the Baptistic tradition oriented toward redemption as a singular principle focused upon the Cross of Jesus Christ. Durham writes concerning the tendency of Christians to misidentify spiritual-experience:

The fact that someone had an experience, has little weight with us, if that experience is not according to the word of God.  We do not doubt, generally speaking, that a person has had an experience, nor that it was a good experience, but we do believe that in very many cases people call their experiences by the wrong names.  In fact the mistake of the age is misnaming experiences.  This has resulted in many of us being compelled to acknowledge, with shame, that we had professed, in all honesty, that we had some particular experience, and when God opened our eyes to see His Word on the subject, we saw that we had had an experience, and called it by a very much larger name than we had any Scriptural warrant for calling it.[7]

Indeed, Durham would likely have rejected anyone attempting to place the label of “sanctification” upon any one of his experiences given that for Durham, sanctification was not limited to a moment-in-time event but was a life’s process of perpetually turning toward that singular truth that is the Cross of Jesus Christ. Therefore he adamantly rejected that men should look to anything other than the Cross of Jesus Christ.  For to do so, as he maintained, invited stumbling.  He writes:

. . . young and even old converts have been told that what they needed was a second work of grace, when they should have been told that what they needed was to get back under the Blood and reckon themselves dead, and live the overcoming life.  Instead of telling folks that there is an experience that removes the necessity for bearing the daily cross, they should have been taught that the Christian life is a battle from conversion to glorification.

He continues:

This is the reason there are so many up and down experiences.  People are saved, and the glory and power of God fills their souls, but they grow careless and lose the joy of their salvation, and often get into darkness and confusion.  They are often told while in this state, that they should seek to be sanctified.  This is of course true.  They need to be sanctified, but reclamation would be a much better name for it.

Durham pointed to the bad fruit of the Second Work doctrine as evidence of its error:

It is a sad thing that so many, who never had any experience that they could call a “definite second work of grace” have been rejected and refused fellowship or started to seeking for an experience that is not to be found in the word of God.  Many have gotten into awful confusion on account of this very thing, and it is high time the truth was taught and the people undeceived. [8]

Therefore the thrust of his teaching, as related by The Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements was as follows:

Sanctification for Durham was a gradual process of appropriating the benefits of the finished work of Christ, not a second instantaneous work of grace subsequent to conversion.  Durham therefore did not restrict the time of sanctification either to the moment of regeneration or to any other particular subsequent moment in the Christian experience.  He objected to the doctrine of entire sanctification because he felt it circumvented the need for an ongoing sanctification process in the life of the Christian.[9]

Durham maintained that it was not a second work, but rather the original work of grace that would be provided us upon repentance:

God will restore us over and over, if we truly repent when we fail, but it must be an insult to Him for us to teach that it takes more than one work for Him to save us from all sin if we meet His conditions faithfully. [10]

iii.  Durham’s Personal Testimony of Receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

In 1906 Durham’s home church in Chicago was beginning to feel the effects of Pentecost.  Several persons in his congregation had received the baptism in the Holy Spirit and he too became convinced the experience was of God.  He also heard reports of the amazing events transpiring in Los Angeles relating to the outpouring of God’s Spirit at Azusa Street.  However, he did not at that time accept the doctrine of Initial Evidence that was being proclaimed at Azusa.  He writes:

But when I heard the teaching, that speaking in tongues was the evidence of the baptism in the Holy Ghost, it stirred me to the depths.  I fearlessly denounced this point of doctrine as false; but when I saw the people who were filled with the Spirit and speaking in tongues, I knew that their experience was genuine.  I simply thought they were wrong on this point.  If this teaching were true, I had not the baptism.  This would mean that I would have to come down and take the place of a seeker.  It is easy to see how hard it would be for me to do this, as I had preached the Gospel for about five years, and all the time professed to have the Holy Ghost, and tried to lead others into the same experience.  So I said, “no man can ever convince me, that I have not received the Holy Ghost.”  No man ever could have done it; but God did it.” [11]

Durham relates that in the fall of 1906 the Spirit began to fall upon people in his city of Chicago.  When he observed the joy, the glory, and the power that came upon their lives and when he heard the speaking in tongues with God’s glory upon them he knew he must seek the experience for himself.  Durham decided to lay aside his pastoral duties and travel to Los Angeles for this purpose.  He writes:Azusa Building

I shall never forget my first day in Azusa Street Mission.  As soon as I entered the place, I saw that God was there.  There were hundreds of people present, yet no man seemed to have anything to do with what was happening.  The Holy Ghost seemed to have perfect control.  My soul was melted down before the Lord.  After a few hymns had been sung, a wave of power and glory seemed to sweep over the place, and a song broke forth in the Spirit, known in this movement as the Heavenly Anthem.  It was the sweetest music that ever fell on my ears.  It was the Spirit of God Himself, and I knew it.  I could not sing in that choir, though I would have given much to do so.  I had not received Him, who was doing the singing.  I saw clearly, for the first time, the difference between having the influence and presence of the Spirit with us, and having Him dwell within us in person. [12]

Durham commenced upon a regimen of tarrying at the Azusa Street Mission for the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  He writes:

I simply waited, claiming God’s promise, trusting in the merits of the Blood of Christ alone.  On the 26th day of February, 1907, I went to the afternoon service.  I was at the end of everything; and the Lord knew it.  There were 30 or more people present in the prayer room.  Three of God’s dear children came to me, and as they stood over me, one of them said, “Just cease trying to do anything, and surrender all to God.”  I did so; when, O, joy, a thrill of power went through me, followed by another.  Instantly it appeared as if everyone of my pores were suddenly opened and a mighty current of power turned into me from every side; and so grat was the infilling, that it seemed as if the physical life would be crowded out of my body.  I literally grasped for breath, and fell in a heap on the floor.  My strength was gone, but I was perfectly conscious of everything; so kept lifting my heart to God and earnestly entreating Him to finish the work.  So intense was my longing to have the work finished, that I was reaching Heavenward with one hand all the time.  God knows best how to do His work.  I am glad He did not finish the work the first time the power came upon me.  My experience has been much more valuable as He gave it to me.  No tongue can tell what passed between God and my soul these first two hours I was under His power.  It was glorious and wonderful.  It was heaven.  Such love, such sweetness, such a revelation of the Blood as the only remedy for sin, such a revelation of Christ as the only Savior, and many things that it is impossible for me to tell.  After two hours He withdrew, leaving me the great benefit I had received from is visit, but with a consciousness that He Who had so wondrously wrought, had departed from me.  I was disappointed, but knew He would return and finish His work. . . . He made me to know that this was simply my own spirits being brought into a state of rapture, and that the baptism was not yet completed. [13]

And he continues:

The Lord permitted me to walk in this state for two days and nights.  Then, as I knelt before Him, the Spirit again fell on me.  Again, I fell to the floor, and for two hours His mighty power was upon me.  This time there were more manifestations, shakings, etc.  Still I did not get the baptism.  In spite of my earnest pleadings, He again left me, and I was conscious that the work was not finished.  I had come to believe that speaking in tongues was the evidence of the baptism; and besides this my own heart told me there was more. [14]

It seems noteworthy that Durham did not receive the baptism until after coming to accept the doctrine of Initial Evidence that had stood precedent since the events in Topeka of January 1, 1901.  After many days of tarrying at Azusa, he would eventually receive the seal that included the sign of speaking in tongues.  He describes his experience as follows:

The next night, I knelt at the altar again, holding before God the words of Christ, that if they ask for bread He will not give them a stone, etc.  Again the Spirit fell on me, and again I went down under His mighty power.  For three hours He wrought wondrously with me.  I have never witnessed anything just like it.  My body was worked in sections, a section at a time.  Even the skin on my face was jerked and shaken; and finally I felt my lower jaw begin to quiver in a strange way.  This continued for some time, when finally my throat began to enlarge and I felt my vocal organs being, as it were, drawn into a different shape. . . . Last of all I felt my tongue begin to move and my lips begin to produce strange sounds, which did not originate in my mind. Seymour - William In a few moments He was speaking clearly through me in other tongues, and then I heard Brother Seymour, the Pastor, say, “He is through now,” etc.  He said that he had retired to rest early in the evening, and that the Spirit had spoken to him and said “Brother Durham will get the baptism tonight,” and that he had arisen and come down.  Then he lifted up his hand and prophesied that where I should preach the Holy Spirit would fall on the people.  The Lord them permitted me to rise to my feet, and He, for Whom my soul had longed, did not leave me this time, but remained, and for a long time I could not help speaking in tongues. [15]

His experience at Azusa Street convinced him of the certainty of the doctrine of Initial Evidence, ie. that the speaking in tongues as the Spirit gives utterance marks the completed work of the believer being sealed of God.  He continues:

I have emphasized the Spirit’s dealing with me before he remained in me, to make it plain that one can have wonderful experiences and yet not receive the personal Holy Ghost. Fire Sky 07 In fact, up to the time I saw the Spirit’s work in the Pentecostal movement, I had never seen anything so wonderful, as the operation of the Spirit upon me, in the two experiences I have described, before He finished His work and took up His abode within me; yet in neither one of them did I receive the Holy Spirit. . . .  It is now nearly four years since I received the Holy Ghost, as he took up His abode within me, March 2nd, 1907.  And every day of this time I have been perfectly conscious of His indwelling presence.  The baptism is only the entrance into the Spirit-filled life, as after receiving Him, He teaches us all things, bringing to our remembrance the words of Jesus, bears His fruits in our lives, imparts His gifts unto us, searches and reveals the deep things of God, and guides us into all truth. . . . Dear reader, the Spirit may not deal with you just as He did with me; but when He comes within you, to take up His abode, He will speak in tongues and magnify God. [16]

iv.  The Wesleyan Testimony of an Anti-Wesleyan?

As the chief agent of the unsettling of Wesleyan theology among Pentecostals, it is remarkable that Durham’s testimony in fact runs perfectly parallel to the Wesleyan model of sanctification as a graduated (ie. phased) process.  This seems to make a case on some level for the validity of Wesleyan teaching.  While it would be understandable for Wesleyans themselves to interpret their experiences with God through the lens of their own doctrinal preconceptions, this was not the case for Durham.  As a staunch Baptist he was virtually immune to the Wesleyan preconceptions of redemption as a graduated process.  And yet, his experience was remarkably similar to that described by the Wesleyans.

Durham’s willingness to travel to Los Angeles to seek an experience in addition to that experience he knew upon his awakening to faith and coming to know something of the power of the Cross is quite remarkable.  His willingness to accept that God does hold forth an event available for those that will ask for it, and who will seek for the experience under the auspices of the Cross of Jesus Christ, ran against the grain of his Baptistic orientation.  Any redemptive event in addition to saving faith was not intuitive to the Baptistic line of thought.  Thus Durham had been given the insight to lay down some of the doctrinal obstacles which might have stood in the way of his receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  This willingness to change his mind upon Scriptural evidence also allowed him to change his mind on the doctrine of Initial Evidence so as to truly receive both the experience as well as the doctrine of Pentecost.

v.  The Unanswered Pentecostal Question

Durham describes a day of Grace he experienced in 1898 which was followed by a yet more intensive day of Grace near the year 1901.  In fact, he describes his 1901 experience as so profound, he originally believed it to be the moment he received the Holy Spirit.  He writes:Heaven 01

To my unutterable joy this step brought me back into the same state of entire sanctification and heavenly rest, peace and joy, which I had the first time I stood in the same  place.  As in the case of all who remain under the Blood, the Spirit dealt wondrously with me.  The influence of His presence with me was so real and precious, that I really thought I had received the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Yet this was apparently not the common experience of many who were receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit in those days, as indicated in the Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements:

One of the reasons for the success of Durham’s viewpoint was that many people seemed to be receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit without first having experienced entire sanctification, despite the belief by second work of grace advocates that entire sanctification was a necessary prerequisite.[17]

This was a point which Durham himself acknowledged in his periodical:

It is a sad thing that so many, who never had any experience that they could call a “definite second work of grace” have been rejected and refused fellowship or started to seeking for an experience that is not to be found in the word of God.  Many have gotten into awful confusion on account of this very thing, and it is high time the truth was taught and the people undeceived. [18]

However, this calls for thoughtful observation.  If it was so that Durham’s preaching fell upon the ears of those who did not necessarily share his precursor experience of a powerful day of Grace, exactly when were his listeners to experience their own Day of Grace?  And if they had not experienced their own revelation of Calvary, to what were they (in Durham’s words) to “return to?”  The only logical answer was that those receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit must also have their own profound experience at the Cross.  Heaven 01Further, if these Spirit-baptized were destined for their own day at the Cross wherein God would reveal the glory of Jesus Christ, this would certainly have constituted for them a second definite work of Grace as that eloquently taught by Wesley (see his Plain Account of Christian Perfection) and that zealously held forth by the Holiness ministers of the nineteenth-century.


[1] See Part 1, Subpart G, Article 1 Topeka and the Re-advent of Tangible Experience for the account of the 1901 outpouring and its meaning in terms of Pentecostal doctrine.

[2] From article in The Pentecostal Testimony entitled; Personal Testimony of Pastor Durham, by William Durham. (published posthumously in 1912) Vol. II, No. 3, pg. 3.

[3] Ibid. pg. 3

[4] Ibid. pg. 3

[5] Ibid. pg. 3

[6] Ibid. pg. 3

[7] The Pentecostal Testimony Vol. I, No. 8 (circa. 1911) , pg. 7 – The article is; The Second Work of Grace People Answered, by William H. Durham.

[8] Ibid. Sanctification, by William Durham.

[9] Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements © 1988 Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI, pg. 308.

[10] Ibid. Sanctification, by William Durham.

[11] Ibid. pg. 3

[12] Ibid. pg. 3

[13] Ibid. pg. 4

[14] Ibid. pg. 4

[15] Ibid. pg. 4

[16] Ibid. pg. 4

[17]Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements © 1988 Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI, pg. 308.

[18] Ibid. Sanctification, by William Durham.

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III.A.7.d Testing Durham’s Per Se Disavowal of a Second Work

PART  III – Application to Pentecostal Theology

Subpart A  –  The Pentecostal Renewal

Article 7 – The Finished Work as Incomplete Pentecostal Theology

Section (d) – Testing Durham’s Per Se Disavowal of a Second Work

By Daniel Irving

i.     The Contradiction of the Wesleyan and Baptistic Views Resolved by Scripture

ii.    The Witness of the Patriarchs

iii.   The Witness of the Law

iv.   The Witness of the Prophets

v.    The Witness Christ’s Teachings

vi.   The Witness of the Apostolic Writings

vii.  Conclusion

Open Bible

This article may be viewed in video format at the Youtube link below:

Section (c)

TESTING DURHAM’S PER SE DISAVOWAL OF A SECOND WORK 

i.  The Contradiction of the Wesleyan and Baptistic Views Resolved by Scripture

If the Wesleyan Pentecostals erred in their application of Wesleyan doctrine to the baptism of the Holy Spirit, it might also be argued that the Baptistic (ie. Finished Work) Pentecostals succeeded only by virtue of the non-specific nature of their own theology as a construct merging all experience into one, thus removing the need for theological arrangement or sequencing of experience.   But whether holding to the Wesleyan or the Baptist perspective, the fundamental evangelical rule is that all doctrine is to be tested by Scripture.  This rule is founded in the writings of Paul, who even wrote Scripture, and who stated that:

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:                                                                                      II Tim. 3:16Durham 01

Therefore Durham rightly premised his objection to the Wesleyan teaching of a Second Work of Grace upon the authority of Scripture as did Wesley rightly premise his own doctrines in the same.[1]

Durham writes in 1911:

. . there is not even one Scripture that teaches that sanctification is a second work of grace . . . To my mind the second work theory is one of the weakest, and most unscriptural doctrines that is being taught in the Pentecostal movement, and therefore ought to be ruled out as damaging. [2]

On the other hand, Wesley writes – between 1767 and 1777 :Wesley - John 02

But we do not know a single instance, in any place, of a person’s receiving, in one and the same moment, remission of sins, the abiding witness of the Spirit, and a new, clean heart.[3]

That two of the most prominent theologians of Christiandom, both of which were so mightily used of God in their day could hold such contradictory positions on a matter so fundamental as the plan of redemption in the Church seems cause to marvel.

Durham writes that rather than a second work of grace, there is needed diligence in those things that would progress us in sanctification:

It requires continual vigilance, prayer, and faith to overcome. . . To walk in the Spirit, to put off the old man with all that pertains to him, to put on Christ with all that is of, and like Him, he exhorts to crucify the flesh and yield to the Spirit, but not one word is ever said about any second work of grace.[4]

Durham writes that when we fail, we return to the cross for repentance and restoration:

God will restore us over and over, if we truly repent when we fail, but it must be an insult to Him for us to teach that it takes more than one work for Him to save us from all sin if we meet His conditions faithfully.[5]

Therefore Durham perceived any work of grace as a return to that place from whence we came, ie. the cross.  By the test of Scripture, Durham concluded Wesley to be incorrect that salvation involved discrete dispensations of grace as events by which God transacts upon the man throughout the course of the man’s life.  Durham concluded rather that it was the Baptistic construct of redemption that should guide Pentecostal doctrine wherein salvation is viewed as one indivisible event; ie. the moment of belief, albeit worked out progressively over the course of one’s lifetime.  This quite simplified the matter for Pentecostals in that issues of timing and sequencing of the baptism of the Holy Spirit were now theologically off the table.  All cynicism could now be left to the Wesleyans, as it indeed was.

Nonetheless, it was the Wesleyan construct that had been more closely identified with revivals of religion and dramatic moves of God’s Spirit over the previous 150 years. Methodists 1839Durham would seem to have been overturning 150 years of proven experience with Holiness teaching based upon ten years of bad experience with the Pentecostal Second Work doctrine.  Given that the Finished Work implicated Wesleyan teaching as error, it becomes necessary to test Durham’s assertion that Wesleyan-holiness teaching is entirely without basis in Scripture.  When we test Durham’s assertion, we find that while the term “Second work” is not found in Scripture, there are many references to subsequent or successive works or events which may be found in type, prophecy, the teachings of Christ, and the apostolic doctrines.  We begin with . . .

ii. The Witness of the Patriarchs

The prophecy of Isaiah exhorts the Church to “Look unto Abraham your father”.[6]  When we do, we find that Abraham’s life involved a series of dispensations in God’s dealings with him beginning with his call out from the land of Ur when his name was Abram.[7]  God thereafter spoke to him saying;Abraham Journeys “To your descendants I will give this land.”  His journeys included the building of a series of altars at various locations in the land of promise.  After leaving the land for Egypt he experiences confrontation with Pharaoh over the identity of Sarah.[8]  Returning to Bethel Abram revisits his former altar and calls upon the name of the Lord.  After he parts company with Lot due to quarreling amongst their herdsmen, God makes Abram another promise:

“…look…northward & southward & eastward & westward; for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever.  Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you.”            Gen. 13:14-17

His next home is Hebron where he builds another altar to the Lord.    While living here, a fugitive from Sodom comes to inform him of Lot’s capture by four kings.  Abram leads a party to rescue Lot and is thereafter met by Melchizedek who blesses him with:

“Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven & earth; & blessed by God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”                                                                                      Gen. 14:19-20

This is the first mention of the tithe. Abram gave Melchizedek  “tithes of all.”  Abram then received a vision; “Do not fear Abram, I am a shield to you; Your exceedingly great reward.” [9]  Upon Abram’s inquiry that he has no heir, God tells him that an heir shall come from his own body.  He then shows Abram the stars, and says to him, “So shall your descendants be.”  Abram lays out a sacrifice, protects it from the birds of prey, and a deep sleep comes upon him.  He experiences darkness and terror and learns that his descendants shall be 400 years enslaved and oppressed.  A smoking oven and a flaming torch then pass between the pieces of the sacrifice and God promises Abram that his descendants will be given all the land between the river of Egypt and the river Euphrates.Abrahm Sarah & Hagar

In a presumptuous attempt to assist God in His promise, Abram accepts the offer of Sarai (who is barren) to utilize her maid Hagar as a surrogate mother for the child of promise.  This produces Ishmael who is born when Abram is 86 years old.[10]

At 99 years of age he receives the sign of circumcision.  God commands him;  “Walk before Me and be perfect” and changes his name to Abraham.  God commands that all males in his house be circumcised as “the sign of the covenant between Me and you.”  He changes Sarai’s name to Sarah and promises a son to her the following year.  Abraham’s response is laughter and he suggests that God use Ishmael instead.  God allows that Ishmael be a great nation with twelve princes; nonetheless His covenant shall be through Isaac who will be born “at this season next year”.  That same day Abraham circumcises himself, his thirteen year old son Ishmael, and all his house and servants.

Following the event of Abraham’s circumcision he and Sarah are visited by three men at the oaks of Mamre who tell them a son will be born “this time next year,” a proposition at which Sarah laughs.  The Lord informs Abraham what He is planning against Sodom & Gomorrah and a dialogue ensues between God and Abraham regarding God’s willingness to spare the cities for the sake of ten righteous men. 

Following the destruction of Sodom and its cities Abraham journeys to the city of Gerar where Sarah is taken by Abimelech.  God intervenes and speaks to Abimelech, saying You are a dead man.”[11]

Isaac is born when Abraham is a hundred years old,[12] and at the weaning celebration Ishmael is overheard by Sarah to be mocking.  Abraham Rejects HagarHagar and Ishmael are led out to wander in the wilderness of Beersheba where God shows her a well of water.  Ishmael thereafter lives in the wilderness.  Beersheba is the site where Abimelech and Phicol visit Abraham to make a covenant of no-harm.  Abraham presents Abimelech with seven ewe lambs as a witness that it was Abraham who dug the well there.

God then calls Abraham to MountMoriah to sacrifice of his “only son” Isaac.  Yet God intervenes and provides his own sacrifice, telling Abraham; “…now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”   God then tells Abraham that because he has not withheld his son from Him, that He will “greatly multiply” his seed as the stars of heaven and as the sand on the seashore, that his seed will “possess the gates of their enemies” and that in his seed, “shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”[13]  The next event is Sarah’s death at the age of 127.

According to the prophecy of Isaiah we are to “Look unto Abraham [our] father”.  In what way are we to “look to Abraham”?  The epistle to the Hebrews may give us insight.  In the faith chapter of that epistle we read:Abraham Journeys

By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; & he went out, not knowing where he wentHeb 11:8

And so Abraham serves as an example for those that are called by God unto salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.  Implicit to this call, is that they commence upon a walk that they do not understand; armed only with the promise of an eternal-inheritance.  We are told to trust as did Abraham that God will bring us to that place of promise through the gift of Himself.  Therefore the prophets write such things as:

Who is among you that fears the LORD, that obeys the voice of his servant,  that walks in darkness & has no light?   Let him trust in the name of the LORD, & stay upon his God.                                                                                      Is. 50:10

Just as Abraham “went out, not knowing where he went” so those that are called of God commit to the same walk of faith; guided by means other than their own understanding and instincts.

By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country,  dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac & Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:                                                                                     Heb 11:9 

Do we see in Abraham’s life a Divinely-appointed schedule of events?  We see many.  And yet, his walk was characterized by wanderingGod kept his Divine appointments with Abraham and ensured Abraham was in the right place and circumstance to keep his appointments with God.   And as with Abraham, so with his children beginning with Isaac.  And Isaac’s son Jacob had a similar sequence of Divine appointments to keep; a process that God will work out with every child of Abraham who is a true child of Abraham through faith.  Abraham chose to walk in the unknowing that God had called him to walk in; a darkness wherein he was to trust God for the promises God had made.  And Abraham’s circumstance was by no means an isolated case.  He stands as the archetype for all who walk by faith!  Therefore we are commanded in Isaiah’s prophecy to “Look unto Abraham your father”.[14]  For he stands example for our obedience to the prophetic command:

Who is among you that fears the LORD, that obeys the voice of his servant,  that walks in darkness and has no light?   Let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God.                               Is. 50:10

Does the life of Abraham present a redemptive pattern God will work out within the Church?  According to Paul, that is precisely the meaning we should take.  Abraham’s reception of  circumcision late in life even constituted a particular sign of this and a token of the covenant that he had with God all along since the day  of his calling out; the hidden covenant of faith.  Paul writes: IMG_0123

And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:         Rom 4:11

Therefore the children of Abraham receive like-experience; the circumcision of Christ upon their heart as a work subsequent to initial faith.

& circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; & his praise is not from men, but from God.           Rom. 2:29

Therefore we might now ask ourselves the question: Is there evidence in the type offered in the Patriarchs for a distinctive dispensations of God’s redemptive work in those He has called?  Certainly, we must conclude there is some evidence for this in the example of the Patriarchs.

iii.  The Witness of the Law

The children of Abraham became the nation of Israel.  These sojourned in Egypt until it came time for God to drive out His enemies in Canaan.  He brought them through the wilderness where He gave to them a law they were to keep. Red Sea Crossing 01 This law consisted primarily of rules and ceremonies which stood in type for something that was to come – the inauguration of a covenant pertaining to spiritual things.  While they left Egypt circumcised, they became an uncircumcised nation by virtue of their wandering in the wilderness and the dieing out of those who had originally left Egypt.  Thus Joshua performed a mass circumcision just before Israel was allowed to enter Canaan.[15]

As with the covenant of circumcision, the Judaic law was merely “a shadow of good things to come”.[16]  Thus as pertains to the kingdom of God, Paul writes:

Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day – things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.                       Col. 2:16-17

These shadows of spiritual things involved ceremonies and rituals not the least notable being the feast days wherein the children of Israel were to keep their Divine appointments, particularly that of the Passover, which included seven days of eating only unleavened bread.  The Law reads:Unleavened 4

  Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.             Ex. 12:15

And this is only one of many examples of an ordered structure of times and seasons God had put in place as an outward symbol of something He would work out in each of the children of Israel, ie. the body of Christ.  There was also the Day of Atonement of which the Law reads:

& this shall be a statute forever unto you: that in the 7th month, on the 10th day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all,  whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourns among you:                                                                                     Lev 16:29 

True conversion involves the conversion of the soul from an orientation toward the love the world, to an orientation towards the image of the invisible God that is Christ.  The Levitical Feast Day which typifies this spiritual process is the Day of Atonement as the soul of a man moves toward  conformity with the Living Word of the Living God that is the revelation of the Person of Jesus Christ as the perfect and true standard of God that is His Son. This is clearly a process that involves Divine appointments; ie. redemptive events in the believer’s life.

That the Law, in establishing a system of feast days made up of various distinctive and sequential parts phases of God’s dealing with the children of Israel, would seem to clearly signify a phased process of redemption lending credence to the Wesleyan view of distinctive dispensations of the grace of God toward the man.

iv.  The Witness of the Prophets

Continuing with – for instance – the type presented in the Day of Atonement are many prophetic allusions to a future work wherein distress of soul brings relief and new spiritual strength through the revelation of Christ as the soul comes into turmoil due to its guilt and inadequacy before God.

Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul.    Ps. 69:1

Then the waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone over our soul                                                                                    Ps. 124:4 

  But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me.                        Ps. 49:15 

The agency of our sanctification is the Word of God as a spiritual witness.  Having acknowledged its guilt, having seen the perfect standard revealed of God, God allows the soul access to Himself via the agency of the Spirit of Christ; the eternal Word of God:

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.                          Ps. 19:7

Through trouble upon the soul God may reveal His mercy unto the same.  This presents God’s grace to the soul as its everlasting source of life and sustenance:

When wisdom enters into thine heart, & knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul.                                                                                      Prov. 2:10

  So shall they be life unto thy soul; & grace to thy neck.                                                                                     Prov. 3:22

He that getteth wisdom loveth his own soul;  he that keepeth understanding shall find good.   Prov. 19:8

  Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with thee.                                                                                    Ps. 116:7

  Surely I have behaved & quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother:  my soul is even as a weaned child.              Ps. 131:2

The converted soul may then attend upon God and avail herself to her Husband who is Her Maker:

Unto thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul.       Ps. 25:1IMG_0974

Our soul has received the revelation that only Christ is her hope and salvation:

Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation.                                                                                      Ps. 62:1

My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him.   Ps. 62:5

  I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, & in his word do I hope.        Ps. 130:5-6

If this process of the man’s redemption through the revelation of Christ be intended for the Church, then it would seem such experience must be termed a future work of grace at least in the sense of it following subsequent to the initial experience of one’s initial conversion and one’s initial experiencing of regenerating faith and Spirit baptism.

As well, the witness of the prophets is replete with allusions to a coming Day of the Lord wherein judgment is brought to bear upon the soul and God is sanctified in the man.  If the Church at large has yet to have experienced this event, then it must be regarded as a; future, second, or subsequent work of the Holy Spirit.  Clearly, there is a basis in the prophets for the Wesleyan position of a second definite work.

v. The Witness Christ’s Teachings

The teachings of Christ include allusions to the Divine life as progressing through three distinctive stages of development.  In His parable of the seed, the Lord relates that . . .Wheat White on Black

 “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; & goes to bed at night & gets up by day, & the seed sprouts up & grows – how, he himself does not know.  The soil produces crops by itself; First the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head. But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.          Mark 4:26-29

Therefore Jesus taught a three-phase process of; 1st the blade, 2nd the head, and 3rd the mature grain.  What does the bare blade represent?  The blade indicates life albeit without fruit.  It signifies life in the Spirit absent the true fruit of righteousness that is our entering into the kingdom of God.  This represents justification by faith rather than by works that the righteousness may be shown clearly as coming from God.

The Lord marks a second stage of development characterized by the forming of fruit within the stalk.  This relates to the fruit of righteousness that comes with sanctification through having had an encounter with Jesus Christ.  This experience allows us to see Christ when we could not before.  This begins the growth of the grain and represents sanctification by faith.

Thirdly, something occurs that signifies the end is about to come.  We grow into the maturity of sanctification that is the image of the Son of God.  This is the “mature grain”, which the apostle Paul referred to as the “mature man”, and as the “fullness of Christ” when he wrote:

Till we all come in the unity of the faith, & of the knowledge of the Son of God,  unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:                                                                                      Eph. 4:13

Herein reveals the mystery of earth’s witness of; Spirit, Water, and Blood.  Once mature, there is a third phase of the “sickle,” wherein we lay down our lives for the purposes of Christ, ie. the witness of “Blood.”  Thus our Lord Himself taught three distinctive phases of the kingdom of God.  While some may counter that a seed conveys rather a progressive quality; that it does.  But how is this anywise inconsistent with Wesleyan holiness teaching?  Wesley taught both event and process in regards to sanctification.

During the Lord’s earthly ministry, Peter had received the revelation that Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”[17]  Yet the Lord refers to a future day when Peter would himself be truly “converted” (Luke 22:32).  In fact, the Lord spoke to all of His disciples on the eve of His crucifixion in such a manner as to suggest they had not all entered as yet upon their establishment (John 14:29).  The Lord taught a conversion experience wherein the heart becomes as a little child (Matt. 18:3), an experience the disciples had not apparently come into during the Lord’s earthly ministry.  Clearly, there is a basis in the teachings of Christ for the Wesleyan position of a second definite work.

vi.  The Witness of the Apostolic Writings

  John

When we overlay the parable of the seed atop John’s first epistle it is easy to see the congruity of this principle of kingdom growth as an unfolding revelation of Jesus Christ.   The manifestation of the Spirit’s work in the earth is the sanctification of the Church.  Sanctification manifests in the love of God; the laying down our own lives for the sake of His body.  Thus John writes:

Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.                                                                                      I John 3:16

This is a chief quality of the unity of the Holy Spirit; when those advanced in the kingdom of God (ie. “fathers”) remember what they perceived in the very beginning when they were but spiritual “children.”  Thus John writes:

I write unto you, fathers, because you have known Him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because you have overcome the wicked one.   I write unto you, little children, because you have known the Father.                                                                                      I John 2:13

Thus John’s allusion to “fathers” represents the full-circle return of the witness of the Holy Spirit.  The revelation of Christ brings realization of the same grace of God which justified us as “little children” spiritually-speaking.  In the absence of this grace we could not have been saved.  John clearly taught a phased-sanctification.  Clearly, there is a basis in Johannine teaching for the Wesleyan position of a second definite work.

ii.  Paul

Paul acknowledged his designation as the apostle to the Gentiles.[18]  Was he limiting this title to the common meaning of Gentile?  Paul Preaching 02For just as the term Jew has both a common and spiritual meaning,[19] so does the term Gentile.  The term Gentile is a prophetic allusion to the unregenerate sinner, as someone that has not been circumcised in their spiritual nature.  Therefore we find such allusions in Scripture as:

  We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the GentilesGal 2:15

For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousels, drinking parties, & abominable idolatries.     I Peter 4:3

Is a natural Gentile – within his nature – any less a sinner than is a natural Jew?  Of course not!  Both Paul and Peter are using the term Gentile in its allegorical and prophetic sense.  Paul’s great task was to present an offering unto God that God would sanctify; an operation of turning the sinner into the sanctified through redemptions processes.  Thus Paul writes:

That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God,  that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.                  Rom 15:16 

But there were those of the Church that had not yet become spiritual Jews via a work of the Holy Spirit.  Therefore Paul writes to the Corinthians:Paul in Prison 01

Awake to righteousness, and sin not;  for some have not the knowledge of God:  I speak this to your shame.        I Cor. 15:34

Therefore the concept of “Gentiles” as a prophetic principle relates to those of humanity yet to have the necessary revelation of Christ (ie. the true circumcision) unto the putting off of their sin nature.   Although the assembly at Corinth may have been “Gentiles according to the flesh”, they were made “Jews inwardly”[20] by virtue of the knowledge of God in Christ.  With the advent of the gospel in the first-century, the prophetic meaning of a Gentile was explained by the apostle Paul as a contrast to the spiritual meaning of a “Jew.”  The distinction is not one based upon race or national identity, but is a distinction based upon the principle of “circumcision,” which has its gospel fulfillment in the work of the Spirit upon the heart with the subjugation of sin’s authority to the authority of Christ within the believer, now rendered a true Jew.[21]

In light of these things, we must conclude that if sanctification is limited to a progressive work, so is circumcision.  For circumcision is that prophetic principle, the occurring of which empowers sanctification.  However, it seems clear that the circumcision of Christ is an event that may be anticipated by any believer having properly come into Christ. Thus Paul’s Gospel was event oriented as well as a message of progressive growth.  Else why would Paul point the Romans toward a day of their establishment

Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel & the preaching of Jesus Christ . . .                                Rom. 16:25

Clearly, there is a basis in Pauline teaching for the Wesleyan position of a second definite work.

            –   Peter

While Peter had the revelation of Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the Living God”,[22] even Peter had a future work awaiting Him according to the Lord, who said to Peter:

But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted strengthen thy brethren.     Luke 22:32

And Peter speaks of an anticipated day of grace in the form of Christ’s revelation being brought to our heart; an event we may anticipate, facilitated by our continuous regard for God’s Word.  He writes:   Heaven 01

And so we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns & the morning star arises in your hearts.                       II Pet. 1:19

Was Peter speaking to unbelievers, or even to the converted but non-Spirit-baptized?  No.  He was speaking to them that had already “obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ.”[23]  Clearly, Peter is telling the church they may look forward to the happening of an event brought forth in their heart by the resident Spirit of Christ within them.  Clearly then, there is a basis in Petrine teaching for the Wesleyan position of a second definite work.

vii.  Conclusion

In the light of these things, it seems apparent that Wesley’s holiness system of theology which taught that the redemptive processes of God involved discrete dispensations of grace as Divinely-transacted events wrought throughout the course of a believer’s life was correct.  Therefore Durham was incorrect when asserting that Wesley had no Scriptural basis for a subsequent or second work of grace following initial regeneration.  Recall the protests of his 1911 article:Durham 01

. . there is not even one Scripture that teaches that sanctification is a second work of grace . . . To my mind the second work theory is one of the weakest, and most unscriptural doctrines that is being taught in the Pentecostal movement, and therefore ought to be ruled out as damaging. [24]

In fact, we hardly need a review of Scripture to determine Durham’s words as overstated as there were certainly doctrines then being taught within Pentecostalism far more unscriptural than Wesley’s!  Nonetheless, Durham would be absolutely correct if his statement was limited to the doctrine at issue, ie. the Pentecostal Second Work doctrine taught within Pentecostalism.  Unfortunately, Durham over-extended his attack when he pursued Holiness doctrine generally as implicated in the error of the Pentecostal Second Work.

Clearly, the main premise upon which the Pentecostal doctrine of the Second Work was theologically overthrown must be ruled invalid.  Nevertheless, even a full vindication of Wesleyan teaching would not amount to a vindication as well of the Pentecostal Second Work (aka Third Blessing) doctrine; for the Second Work was a specific application of Wesleyan teaching to Pentecost; an application that failed the test of good fruit in the early days of Pentecost until withdrawing to the fringes of Pentecostalism.  Therefore while the ship that was Wesleyan-Holiness was once seaworthy, it seems to have been dry-docked given its misuse by Second Work Pentecostals who treated it as a doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Spirit rather than as a doctrine of sanctification.

This study should force us to conclude Durham’s rejection of the Wesleyan concept of a salvation as involving a sequential a process consisting of distinctive events as unsupported in Old Testament type, prophecy, the teachings of Christ and the teachings of His apostles, was incorrect and constituted a shortsighted posture for the Church of Christ to assume.  Peter exhorts that the Church look to the prophetic writings until that day of revelation comes to us!

     And so we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns & the morning star arises in your hearts.                                        II Pet. 1:19

Traditionally, the Church has not looked to the prophetic word because the Church has not understood the prophetic word.  In fact, Peter’s word of exhortation may constitute some indication as to why the Finished Work doctrine has failed Pentecostalism as an incomplete grasp of God’s purposes in baptizing His Church. Reference Lampstand No Text0001

The lamp-stand model provides insight into why the Finished Work doctrine constitutes an incomplete model for Pentecost.


[1] Wesley’s doctrines wre developed upon his undertaking strenuous study of the Bible.  He begins his pivotal thesis A Plain Account of Christian Perfection by stating; “In the year 1729, I began not only to read, but to study the Bible, as the one, the only standard of truth, and the only model of pure religion.”

[2] From article in the Pentecostal Testimony entitled; Sanctification, by William Durham. (Cir. 1911) Vol. I, No. 8.

[3] A Plain Account of Christian Perfection, by John Wesley (1767-1777) within point 13.

[4] From article in the Pentecostal Testimony entitled; Sanctification, by William Durham. (Cir. 1911) Vol. I, No. 8.

[5] From article in the Pentecostal Testimony entitled; Sanctification, by William Durham. (Cir. 1911) Vol. I, No. 8.

[6] Isaiah 51:2

[7] Genesis 12:1-3

[8] Genesis 12:12-20

[9] Genesis 15:1

[10] Genesis 16:16

[11] Genesis 20:3

[12] Genesis 21:5

[13] Genesis 22:15-18

[14] Isaiah 51:2

[15] Joshua 5

[16] Hebrews 10:1

[17] Matthew 16:16

[18] Romans 11:13

[19] Romans 2:29, Philippians 3:3

[20] Romans 2:29  But he is a Jew which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

[21] See commentary on Isaiah 52:1  For the uncircumcised & the unclean will no more come into you.

[22] Matthew 16:16

[23] II Peter 1:1

[24] From article in the Pentecostal Testimony entitled; Sanctification, by William Durham. (Cir. 1911) Vol. I, No. 8.

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III.A.7.c Durhams Over-Extended Refutation of Wesleyan Holiness Teaching

 

PART  III – Application to Pentecostal Theology

Subpart A – The Pentecostal Renewal

Article 7 – The Finished Work Doctrine as Unfinished Theology

Section (c) – Durham’s Over-Extended Refutation of Wesleyan Holiness Teaching

By Daniel Irving

 i.    The Tremendous Influence of William Durham Upon the Pentecostal Renewal

ii.   The Finished Work of Calvary Doctrine Brought to Los Angeles

iii.  The Pentecostal Doctrinal Divide

iv.  Durham’s Broad Refutation of Wesleyan Teaching

Indian Archer 01

Section (c)

DURHAM’S OVER-EXTENDED REFUTATION OF WESLEYAN-HOLINESS TEACHING

i.   The Tremendous Influence of William Durham Upon the Pentecostal Renewal

The seven sections of the previous article (2.E.2) dealt with that half of the Pentecostal doctrinal divide known as the Second Work. We now turn our attention to the opposite side of the divide to consider that doctrine to which most Pentecostals adhere today; the Finished Work of Calvary effectively advocated by William Durham as a response to the Second Work (aka Third Blessing) doctrine of Wesleyan Pentecostals.

The Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements describes the ministry of William Durham following his baptism at Azusa Street as marked by phenomenal Pentecostal power:Durham 01

When Durham returned to his church in Chicago, the Pentecostal revival spread quickly through his ministry.  His overcrowded meetings lasted far into the night and sometimes until morning.  Durham reported in his periodical, The Pentecostal Testimony, that “it was nothing to hear people at all hours of the night speaking in tongues and singing in the Spirit.” (Brumback)  “A thick haze . . . like  blue smoke” often rested upon the mission.  When this was present, those entering the building would fall down in the aisles.”[1]

Not only was Durham’s ministry one of the most remarkable for the presence and power of God, it  soon succeeded the Azusa Street Mission and its Apostolic Faith newspaper as the primary mouthpiece of the Pentecostal Movement and became the most influential communicator of the Pentecostal teaching. Although Durham would live only a few short years following his baptism, during that time his ministry seems to have become the primary touchstone of the Pentecostal movement in terms of the proclamation of doctrine and the dissemination of the Pentecostal experience.  The Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements relates further that:

“. . . thousands came to hear Durham preach, and all went away with the conviction that he was a pulpit prodigy.” (Frank Ewart)  At one point there were as many as twenty-five ministers from out of town at his meetings seeking the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  Many people who later became prominent pioneers of the Pentecostal movement attended Durham’s meetings, including A.H. Argue; E.N Bell; Howard Goss; Daniel Berg, found of the Assemblies of God in Brazil; and Luigi Francescon, a pioneer of the Pentecostal movement in Italy.  Semple-Aimee 1910Aimee Semple, before her marriage to Harold McPherson, was instantaneously healed of a broken ankle through Durham’s ministry in January 1910.  Durham’s church soon became a leading center for the Pentecostal Movement worldwide. [2]

Along with the evangelistic doctrines of justification by faith in Jesus Christ, deliverance from sin, and holiness of life, Durham zealously preached the Pentecostal doctrine of Initial Evidence that had been restored at the Topeka outpouring of 1901.[3]  The difference however in Durham’s ministry was his Baptistic doctrine of the Finished Work of Calvary which dismantled the stance taken by the original (Wesleyan) Pentecostals that the baptism of the Holy Spirit must sequentially follow the Second Work of Sanctification taught by John Wesley.  The Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements states that:

Durham became well known for his repudiation of the Holiness doctrine of sanctification as a “second work” of grace, arguing that the “finished work” of Christ on Calvary becomes available to the believer at the time of justification.  The benefits of Calvary are therefore appropriated for sanctification over the entire period of the Christian’s life, rather than at a single subsequent moment, as was believed by most Pentecostals in Durham’s day.[4]

Durham’s doctrine of the Finished Work reshaped classical Pentecostal teaching away from its original Wesleyan form which presented the Holy Spirit’s baptism as a Third Blessing sitting atop the Second Work of sanctification.

ii.  The Finished Work of Calvary Doctrine Brought to Los Angeles

As earlier stated, the Finished Work of Calvary was preached by William Durham as a response to the Second Work (aka Third Blessing) doctrine of Wesleyan Pentecostals.  This was the doctrine Durham preached to a beleaguered movement in 1910 resulting in the renewal known by early Pentecostals as the Second Azusa or the Second Shower of the Latter Rain.  Durham writes of the state of affairs he met with when arriving in Los Angeles:Azusa Building

The work in Los Angeles was in a sad condition. Those who had been the leaders, in most cases, had proven so incompetent that the saints had lost all confidence in them, and this had resulted in a state of confusion. Scores were really in a backslidden state, and yet in their hearts they longed to follow Jesus.  Scores of others were, and for months had been, crying to God to send some one who would preach the truth and lead His people on.  The suffering of many had been great indeed. [5]

God blessed Durham’s message directing the Spirit-baptized back to the cross of Jesus Christ as His provision for their sins and His provision for the sanctification of His Church.  Durham’s preaching refuted the Wesleyan teaching that a second work of grace awaited the believer, asserting rather that since the entire work of our justification – and so, our sanctification – was performed at Calvary, there is no additional “work” to be performed.   As related by The Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements:

Sanctification for Durham was a gradual process of appropriating the benefits of the finished work of Christ, not a second instantaneous work of grace subsequent to conversion.  Durham therefore did not restrict the time of sanctification either to the moment of regeneration or to any other particular subsequent moment in the Christian experience.  He objected to the doctrine of entire sanctification because he felt it circumvented the need for an ongoing sanctification process in the life of the Christian.[6]

As Durham preached at the Azusa Street Mission in the absence of William Seymour large crowds returned to the mission that included many recipients of the earlier outpouring.  Garr-Alfred SrSuch notables as Alfred Garr and his wife were present having recently returned from their missionary work in Asia.  The gift of tongues had not been the answer to foreign missions as they had supposed.  Their experience was instrumental to conclusion reached within the Pentecostal movement that Parham had been incorrect in his assumption that the gift of tongues was given for the purpose of missionary work.

Once he was notified of Durham’s activities, and given his Second Work orientation, Seymour immediately returned to Los Angeles to lock Durham out of the Azusa Street Mission.  Durham thereupon took to preaching to large crowds elsewhere with further dramatic results which included conversions, healings, Spirit-baptisms, and the reclamation of many backsliders.[7]  Durham describes those subsequent meetings as follows:

One after another would stand up in the meetings and confess that they had gotten their eyes off Jesus, and go to the altar, and in almost every case the anointing of the blessed Spirit would be renewed, till soon the very air was filled with notes of praise and shouts of victory. Durham 01From the very first, sinners were saved, and an average of at least ten a week were baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke tongues, as He gave them utterance.  Week after week went by, and still the interest did not wane, but on the contrary the power increased, till the gory of God literally filled the place.  At times the Spirit would move upon the saints, and they would sing in the Spirit, and praise the Lord in the most wonderful way I ever heard.  At times there could be no regular order of service; no one could preach or even testify.  All we could do was to sit with our souls bathed in a sea of heavenly glory, and praise the Lord with all our hearts. . . . Some of the hardest sinners were saved.  I believe that literally hundreds who had more or less backslidden were restored, and many real cases of healing were witnessed. [8]

In the wake of the Spirit’s work in Durham’s ministry, the Azusa StreetMission lost significance overnight and the doctrine of the Second Work would fade into relative obscurity in the decades that would come.

iii.  The Pentecostal Doctrinal Divide

The tremendous early zeal of each side in advocating its viewpoint created considerable enmity.  In January of 1912, At the height of the controversy, the original leader at the Topeka outpouring of 1901 sought to invoke the Divine judgment and issued a severe ultimatum toward William Durham.  Parham 01Charles Parham published in his Apostolic Faith magazine his prayer that God would take the life of the man (either himself or William Durham) that was teaching error on the Second Work/Finished Work issue.  That July, William Durham died unexpectedly at just 39 years of age.  His newsletter, The Pentecostal Testimony attributed his death to a “terrific strain” which “brought about a general break down,” and stated:

His last request to God was that he might be given strength to travel home to Los Angeles and see his beloved friends before he died.  God graciously granted this request, and accordingly he left for Los Angeles on Tuesday, arriving here on Friday, July 5th, and early Sunday morning his Spirit went home to God.[9]

Upon his death, his newspaper, The Pentecostal Testimony recounts:

About eighteen months ago God led him to fearlessly proclaim the great truth, the finished work of Calvary.  It met with strong opposition, but God confirmed the truth in such a way that men were forced to listen.  In February 1910, he came to Los Angeles, the great Pentecostal centre, to deliver his message, and amidst persecution and opposition of every kind, God baptized hundreds in the Spirit in a few months, and established an assembly of over six hundred people who stand for the truths of the finished work of Calvary, and the baptism in the Holy Spirit.  Last             February he went to Chicago much weakened by continual labors to hold a two weeks’ convention, and God gave him the greatest revival of modern times.  God thus signifying to the world his approval of his servant up to the last. [10]

The divide between Second Work and Finished Work Pentecostals was profound.  For many advocates of the Wesleyan Second Work, Durham’s teaching was a sacrilege against the Holiness principles within which the Holy Spirit’s baptism had been restored.  Nevertheless, the power of God followed Durham’s ministry, and those to whom Durham preached received the Holy Spirit’s baptism in large numbers.  According to The Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements:

One of the reasons for the success of Durham’s viewpoint was that many people seemed to be receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit without first having experienced entire sanctification, despite the belief by second work of grace advocates that entire sanctification was a necessary prerequisite. [11]

This doctrinal divide grew wider as Second Work proponents and institutions withdrew from fellowship with those of the Finished Work.  This polarization of views relating to God’s purposes in the baptism of the Holy Spirit had the effect of pushing the two sides to doctrinal extremes. The Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements continues:

Those who believed in sanctification as a second work of grace began to refer to the experience of entire sanctification as an eradication of their sinful nature, not merely a complete surrender to God. Finished work advocates, on the other hand, often minimized the need for experiential sanctification in the life of the believer, resting in the knowledge that provision for this had already been made by the death of Christ. [12]

The majority of Pentecostal assemblies ultimately accepted Durham’s doctrine of the Finished Work, and those denominations which held to his teaching have experienced far greater success in terms of numerical growth than have Second Work denominations; the latter tending toward static growth and denominational isolation.  Durham’s Baptistic perspective prevailed within the Pentecostal movement given the common experience of many recipients of the baptism.    Finished-Work denominations tended to be evangelically-oriented which factored heavily into outreach, church growth and church propagation.  On the other hand, a lack of discernable holiness has been a criticism that has followed the Finished Work denominations of Pentecostalism.

iv.  Durham’s Broad Refutation of Wesleyan Teaching

In addition to his preaching across the U.S. and into Canada, Durham also effectively promoted this doctrinal alternative to the Second Work through his periodical, The Pentecostal Testimony which promulgated the main thrust of Durham’s message, which was the classic Pentecostal doctrine of Initial Evidence and Durham’s doctrine of the Finished Work of Calvary.  In one article he writes:

. . there is not even one Scripture that teaches that sanctification is a second work of grace . . . To my mind the second work theory is one of the weakest, and most unscriptural doctrines that is being taught in the Pentecostal movement, and therefore ought to be ruled out as damaging. [13]

We might observe that Durham’s writings on the Finished Work of Calvary came primarily in the form of responsive arguments to Wesleyan teaching.  For instance, he writes:

Nor do the advocates of the second work theory today attempt to prove it from the Scriptures . . . Wesley - John 02Most of them however simply refer us to the teaching of Mr. Wesley, or some other good man, and seem to expect that we will accept them as authority, whether their teaching is Scriptural or not. . . . We believe that God raised up Mr. Wesley to preach holiness unto the Lord, and that his message was a great blessing to the world, but we do not believe that God sent him to preach that holiness or sanctification was and could be received only as a separate and distinct work of grace.  Again I can nowhere find where Wesley ever taught dogmatically that sanctification is and must be a second instantaneous work.  In his Plain Account of Christian Perfection, he admits that one can come into a state of sanctification in the first work of grace, and also that it may be entered by a gradual process.  Further, almost all of his teaching on this line, so far as we have had time to examine it, is based upon experience, and not upon the Word of God. [14]

Durham pointed to the bad fruit of the (Pentecostal) Second Work doctrine as evidence of its error:

It is a sad thing that so many, who never had any experience that they could call a “definite second work of grace” have been rejected and refused fellowship or started to seeking for an experience that is not to be found in the word of God.  Many have gotten into awful confusion on account of this very thing, and it is high time the truth was taught and the people undeceived. [15]

Rather than seeking for an experience that Scripture does not teach, Durham directed believers to “reckon themselves dead.”  He writes:Sacred Ht 01

The Scripture clearly teaches that a converted person is to reckon himself dead, Rom. 6:11.  Such a one is exhorted to present himself to God as alive from the dead, Rom. 6:13, not to seek for a second work of grace. . . . Living faith brings us into Christ, and the same living faith enables us to reckon ourselves to be “dead indeed” and to abide in Christ. [16]

Durham maintained that it was not a second work, but rather the original work of grace that would be provided upon repentance:

God will restore us over and over, if we truly repent when we fail, but it must be an insult to Him for us to teach that it takes more than one work for Him to save us from all sin if we meet His conditions faithfully. [17]

Although Second Work leaders came to Los Angeles to field a resistance to Durham’s message and stiff resistance was offered throughout the movement, the Finished Work doctrine would be embraced by the greater portion of the Pentecostal movement as the accepted doctrine relating to the baptism of the Holy Ghost.  By so doing the vast majority of Pentecostalism rejected that a definite work of sanctification as described by Wesley must necessarily precede the baptism.  The Pentecostal movement’s acceptance of the Finished Work viewpoint removed an artificial barrier to the baptism that had been erected by the Holiness movement’s interpretation of Wesley.  The Finished Work also removed a  significant point of doctrinal stumbling for those having received the baptism without experiencing an event they could call “sanctification.”  On the other hand, Durham’s criticisms of the Pentecostal Second Work tended to strike deeper against Wesleyan teaching than merely at its late-developing Pentecostal offshoot.  Durham’s preaching tended to strike against the principle of a definite work of grace distinctive to initial regeneration altogether.   In so doing, he sprang against a principle held largely responsible for 150 years of Spirit-empowered revivalism.  In objecting to what he perceived as doctrinal slavishness to Wesley among Second Work advocates, Durham carried his argument further.  He writes:Durham 01

Nor do the advocates of the second work theory today attempt to prove it from the Scriptures . . . Most of them however simply refer us to the teaching of Mr. Wesley, or some other good man, and seem to expect that we will accept them as authority, whether their teaching is Scriptural or not. . . . Further, almost all of his teaching on this line, so far as we have had time to examine it, is based upon experience, and not upon the Word of God. [18]

While refuting the late-invention of the Pentecostal Second Work – which at the time of his writing had an existence of a mere ten years – Durham inexplicably broadens his argument so as to incorporate the teachings of early Methodism and the Holiness movement.  By so doing, he castigated 150 years of remarkable revivalist history, Spirit-empowered preaching, and dramatic movements of God that occurred under the Wesleyan doctrine whose distinctive traits were  Christian Perfection and the Second Work of Grace.  The Wesleyan-holiness record in terms of its effectual use as a vehicle of the Spirit of God could be little more than envied by Durham’s own Baptistic tradition.   In coming against the Pentecostal doctrine of the Second Work Durham clearly swung his axe deeply, driving into the roots of the Holiness movement and early Methodism.

In considering Durham’s words, we must also consider the vital place he occupied in the historic restoration of apostolic doctrine.  After centuries of slow progress since the Reformation and Great Awakening, a Pentecost all but lost since apostolic days had been suddenly and dramatically restored on January 1, 1901.  azusaleadersThat message was carried to Azusa Street from whence it burst forth around the globe through a few key recipients of the baptism, Durham being perhaps the most key recipient if we judge the matter by tracing the global spread of Pentecostalism, the rise of key Pentecostal ministries, and the establishment of Pentecostal denominations.  There was certainly no other Pentecostal figure more key than William Durham in terms of establishing what would become the classical Pentecostal teaching on the baptism of the Holy Ghost.  Because of this key place Durham occupied in the restoration of Pentecost, his doctrine and presuppositions become tremendously significant, as does the historical and factual context within which his doctrine was brought.  Durham’s broadening of the scope of his argument against the Pentecostal Second Work doctrine to incorporate Wesleyan holiness teaching, requires his own Finished Work doctrine be – as well – judged in the light of the previous 150 years of Church history, rather than in the limited scope of a few years of then-existing Pentecostal history.  In so doing, we will find that while his teaching fairs well within the limited scope of Pentecostal doctrine, it begins to break down within the broader scope to which he carried it.

While Durham asserted the Pentecostal version of the Second Work teaching as an incorrect orientation upon the baptism of the Holy Ghost, he did not limit his attack to the Pentecostal version of the doctrine.  Durham 01Durham rather brought his Baptistic background to bear upon the pre-Pentecostal Second Work teaching as a misguided invention of Wesley and a mistaken path of the historic holiness movement.  While it was one thing to label the newly-contrived Pentecostal doctrine of the Second Work as error, it was quite another to lay the same label upon the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition which proclaimed a definite work of deliverance which one could expect as distinct to that of initial regeneration, ie. the Wesleyan Second Work.  And it is very easy to overlook the fact that the Pentecostal Second Work and the Wesleyan Second Work did not represent precisely the same thing.  And if Durham overstated his case by extending his attack so as to refute that doctrine which formed a substantial basis of revivalism throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, this would understandably pose consequence for the Pentecostal Church of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries in receipt of his teaching.  In light of this prospect, a reevaluation of this aspect of Durham’s teachings may be in order.


[1] Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, Regency Reference Library Zondervan Publishing © 1988, pg. 255.

[2] Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, Regency Reference Library Zondervan Publishing © 1988, pg. 255.

[3] See Part 1, Subpart G, Article 1 Topeka and the Re-advent of Tangible Experience for the account of the 1901 outpouring and its meaning in terms of Pentecostal doctrine.

[4] Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, Regency Reference Library Zondervan Publishing © 1988, pg. 256.

[5] From article in the Pentecostal Testimony entitled; The Great Revival at Azusa Street Mission-How it Began and How it Ended, by William Durham. (Cir. 1911) Vol. I, No. 8, pg. 3.

[6] Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements © 1988 Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI, pg. 308.

[7] According to witness Frank Bartleman; “The fire began to fall at old Azusa Street as at the beginning.”.

[8] From article in the Pentecostal Testimony entitled; The Great Revival at Azusa Street Mission-How it Began and How it Ended, by William Durham. (Cir. 1911) Vol. I, No. 8, pg. 3.

[9] The Pentecostal Testimony Vol. II, No. 3 (Summer 1912).  Article is In Memoriam, pg. 2.

[10] The Pentecostal Testimony Vol. II, No. 3 (Summer 1912).  Article is In Memoriam, pg. 2.

[11] Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements © 1988 Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI, pg. 308.

[12] Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements © 1988 Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI, pg. 308.

[13] From article in the Pentecostal Testimony entitled; Sanctification, by William Durham. (Cir. 1911) Vol. I, No. 8.

[14] Ibid. Sanctification, by William Durham.

[15] Ibid. Sanctification, by William Durham.

[16] Ibid. Sanctification, by William Durham.

[17] Ibid. Sanctification, by William Durham.

[18] Ibid. Sanctification, by William Durham.

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III.D.3.b A Salvation to be Revealed

PART  III  –  Application to Pentecostal Theology

Subpart D  –  The Positive Confession Movement

Article 3  –   The Genuine Positive Confession

Section (b)  –  A Salvation to be Revealed

By Daniel Irving

a.   Salvation through Confession of a Hope

b.  The Revelation in Sanctification

c.  Windows of Heaven Opened for the Heavenly Hope

d.  Jealousy; the Rage of the Heathen

Almanor 01 Section (b)

THE GENUINE POSITIVE CONFESSION; A SALVATION TO BE REVEALED

a.   Salvation through Confession of a Hope

As related in the previous article entitled; Application to Second Definite Work, most denominations of Christianity accept there is a time wherein a man, woman or child, truly believes unto a change of heart if they will act upon that faith so as to make a profession of Jesus Christ and follow him into water baptism.  This is the same principle expressed by Paul in the profoundly simple statement:

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.                                                                                      Rom 10:9

 As also related through these articles relating to the Positive Confession error, this Pauline doctrine of the mouth’s confession was distorted through a teaching which developed into the doctrinal system known as Positive Confession Theology; originally formulated by the controversial theologian, E.W. Kenyon.  Kenyon’s doctrinal misconstructions found entrance into the Pentecostal Movement of the 1920’s and 1930’s, but truly flourished within the Charismatic movement of the latter half of the twentieth-century through some particularly high-profile ministries. Price Charles 01 Modern Positive Confession teaching has developed into a distinctive religious culture under such banners as Word of Faith given its emphasis upon the spoken word as the means of giving a material activation to faith.  As explained by Dr. Charles Price (see article I.J.3 The Real Faith; the Testimony of Dr. Charles Price), the Positive Confession movement’s definition of faith is dangerously false.   

We are shown what is the genuine positive confession by the apostle Paul.  Paul is even so specific as to tell us what is the true “word of faith:” where he writes:

. . . the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart – that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.”                                                                                      Rom 10:8-9

Notice what is the result of the mouth’s confession . . . “you shall be saved.”  Does Paul point to health or material prosperity?  Does he point even to such good things as stable families, employment, or any measure of success in this life?  Paul does not say, “Confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and you shall not become sick, or know trouble,” rather he says, “Confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, [and] you shall be saved.”  But when we envision a material objective in confessing Christ, we aim low of the mark.  We deploy faith in a mean and carnal way.  Therefore Jesus told us:

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness;  and all these things shall be added unto you.                               Matt. 6:33

The Lord commands our focus to be on things above.  We are to desire the things of heaven rather than the things of earth.  Heaven 01Our hope and our affections reside in Christ, Who will justify, sanctify, and glorify His elect.  Our “faith” is not to be spent upon the things of this world which stand antagonistic toward Christ and His purposes.   Therefore Paul exhorts the Colossian believers: 

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.              Col. 3:1

The assurance all men have that Jesus was raised from the dead is the assurance of faith. This is something that only God can give.  We cannot will ourselves to believe.  We do not recite positive statements and Bible verses in an effort to force God’s hand.  For it is God’s will we must want, and not our own.  When God gives us faith, it is often to do a thing we would not within ourselves choose to do.  This can only be accomplished through having a hope based in something higher than our earthly condition, and more substantial than the things of the body and this temporal world.  This is an assurance from God through the agency of His Spirit.  This revelation is by faith, and it has application in the present-tense hope (as regeneration) and a future fruition (as the Regeneration.)  Because the revelation is by faith, God may grant it even now by revelation, even if its fulfillment is not yet.  This is what it means to hope.  And this hope even constitutes our salvation.

For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hopeFor why does one also hope for what he sees?   But if we hope for what we do not see, with perserverance we wait eagerly for it.                         Rom. 8:24-25

This is the true principle of faith; that which empowers hope in what we cannot see; things laid up for us in heaven with Jesus Christ.  This is Paul’s meaning when he states: 

For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness;  and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.                     Rom. 10:10

It is this confession of our hope that strengthens us in the salvation of God.  Therefore Peter tells us to confess that hope.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:                    I Peter 3:15Road Blind Hill

To confess Jesus Christ in a spirit of meekness and fear is to demonstrate the true faith.  And so, faith, is that which sets us and keeps us upon the pathway of hoping for a salvation to be revealed.[1]  When we experience faith, and follow it with a mouth’s profession, we are begotten unto a process of hoping in God:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,  which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope  by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.              I Peter 1:3

And it is remarkable in what order Paul relates what are the three pillars of our redemption, when he writes:

But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.                    I Cor 13:13

Faith stands predecessor to Hope, a process whose fulfillment is Love.  Faith is that which forms the basis of hope.  Faith and hope bring that fulfillment of the Law, which is the love of God; not as abstract principles, but faith and hope, having as their object the Lord Jesus Christ.  This is the Faith that God gives:

Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.            I Peter 1:21

By these things we understand that the faith of God is not that which considers the material world a thing to be held.  This is contrary to an immense proliferation of Word of Faith teaching, which has presented Faith as a principle through which men may utilize spiritual means to manipulate the material realm for their own earthly purposes.   

b. The Revelation in Sanctification

This process of hoping in Christ is even the process of our sanctification.  By hoping, we are purified through the agency of God, as His Spirit reveals Christ to the inner man.  Therefore:Almanor 01

. . .  every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.                                                        I John 3:3 

Having been established by faith, the revelation of Jesus Christ and His righteousness must ultimately come, and that, through the faithfulness of God:

For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.                                                                                    Gal. 5:5

This is even the work and purpose for us having received the Spirit.  For this breaking of Sin’s bondage and entry into righteousness is itself the entry upon the covenant of His mercy.  There is a truth in the heavens to be revealed to the earth; the mercy of God and free pardon poured upon humanity at the place of the cross of Jesus Christ.  Recall the chorus of the old hymn:

Mercy, there was great, and grace was free.  Pardon, there was multiplied to me.  There, my burdened soul found liberty, at Calvary.    

Thus our deliverance from Sin and progress in holiness which constitutes our sanctification, is a fulfillment of the faith of Abraham, and a fruition of the hope held at the time of initial regeneration. Thus faith begets hope.  Hope that is persevered within, begets the love of God that is the image and sanctification of Jesus Christ.

c.  Windows of Heaven Opened for the Heavenly Hope

In the revelation given John, we read:

Therefore rejoice ye heavens and ye that dwell in them.  Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.                   Rev. 12:12 

How does the Devil know that his time is short?  He knows his time is short based upon a pronouncement from heaven:

And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christfor the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.  And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony;  and they loved not their lives unto the death.                        Rev. 12:10-11IMG_1005

The final tier of overcoming in this world is to love not our lives unto the death.  This is as much a part of overcoming as the power of the blood and the word of our testimonyLoving not this life is a process beginning with establishment under the blood of Christ, and continuing through the cleansing waters of sanctification.  Having been established in these, we may be called unto faithfulness through death.  Jesus said:

“He who loves his life loses it; and he who hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal.  If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall My servant also be; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.”                                                                                      John 12:25-26

God will honor those who follow Jesus Christ in His blood witness.  Therefore the tables are turned in heaven:

  Therefore rejoice ye heavens and ye that dwell in them.  Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.                    Rev. 12:12 

d.  Jealousy; the Rage of the Heathen

At the time Jacob appeared before Pharaoh, he was 130 years old.  He told Pharaoh that his life had been unpleasant, and yet he did not tell Pharaoh that they had been “long”.  No, but rather Jacob told Pharaoh:Pharaoh Receives Jacobs Sons

“The years of my sojourning are 130; Few and unpleasant have been the years of my life, Nor have they attained the years that my fathers lived during the days of their sojourning.          Gen. 47:9

Normally when we describe a period as being “unpleasant,” we describe it as being “long.”  But this is not our true condition.  Our years are unpleasant, but we also recognize that they are painfully short.  For even an unpleasant life is precious.  We have been made subject to futility, and the best life has to offer will end in death.  Psalm 89 says:

Remember how short my time is:  wherefore hast thou made all men in vain?                                                                                      Ps. 89:47

Strangely, Satan himself shall be made partaker in the futility of a short existence.  He shall suddenly realize “his time is short.”  This same vanity and futility of existence shall apparently be awarded to Satan as the entity through whom came the offense.  Therefore, it appears that Satan’s days shall become as the days of a man.

The kingdom of God shall become highly magnified and desirable in the consciousness of created things, and to be found outside of the kingdom of God is to become conscientious of a witness within oneself that one’s time is agonizingly short.  For prior to this time men’s eyes were mercifully covered and their consciousness’ dimmed so that they did not perceive of their death.  The life of the natural man is to “. . . eat, and to drink and to enjoy. . . ”[2], for as Solomon tells us, a man:

. . .  will not often consider the years of his life, because God keeps him occupied with the gladness of his heart.                        Eccl. 5:20

Man as a creature has but a short time.  To identify with the creature rather than to the Creator is to identify with one’s own mortality rather than the eternal life that God has prepared for humanity by virtue of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Prior to the awakening of the creature, unbelief dominated his thinking and his spirit.  Natural things were the focus of his pursuits and hopes.  But when men are called of God to lay down this life under the apprehension of the kingdom of God, the tables have turned in the spiritual realm.  No longer is the man content to eat and to drink, to marry and to give in marriage as if life were to go on without end.  The man understands very keenly he has one short life to live, and that it is best lived in the laying of it down for the purposes of God in Christ.

On the other hand, when the unsanctified enter upon this same knowledge, and apprehend in the spirit the very fleeting nature of natural existence, they shall receive the terrible witness of Satan coming down to them.  They have chosen this world, and they shall receive its god.  Their prince has been deposed and comes down to them with this dreadful witness.  While the world is receiving the witness of perdition, the children of God will simultaneously be entering into His rest buoyed by the abiding knowledge that their existence is open-ended, for they have – eternal life.

The consciousness of eternal life allows us to enter into His rest.  tumultuous battleThe consciousness of the wicked that they will perish only serves to enrage their spirit against the children of God.  This is why the psalmist asks;  “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?” [3]  They rage for the reason given in the Proverbs;  jealousy is the rage of a man.” [4]  There will be an intense jealousy against the sanctified that will be manifested by those of the world’s spirit; the Satanic  antithesis to holiness.   Because the lost have been awakened to their own mortality, they shall act out precipitously against Christ and those that belong to Him.

Saul acted out precipitously when he offered the sacrifice without Samuel.  As his own mortality was upon him, he could not look beyond his own temporal existence in order to identify with the eternal purposes of God.  We identify with the eternal purposes of God at the moment we experience the true heart’s faith; the moment we make the genuine positive confession:

that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.”                                                                                       Rom 10:9

Again, does Paul point to health, material prosperity, stable families, employment, or any measure of success in this life? Fire Sky 07 If our eye be single upon the things of God that are stored up for us in Christ, then God may bring a Divine installment of His power.  If the true hope of our heart is upon: knowing God, receiving the Holy Spirit, abiding in His presence, acquiring His knowledge, attaining unto His holiness, then He can bring upon us the fire from heaven that is the true Spirit and the REAL FAITH.


[1] I Peter 1:5

[2] Ecclesiastes 5:18

[3] Psalm 2:1

[4] Proverbs 6:34

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III.D.3.a The Real Faith; the Testimony of Dr. Charles Price

Part III  –  Application to Pentecostal Theology

Subpart D  –   The Positive Confession Error

Article 3 – The Genuine Positive Confession

Section (a) – The Real Faith; the Testimony of Dr. Charles Price

By Daniel Irving

i.     Conversion & Early Ministry

ii.   Pentecost Experienced through Ministry of Amy Semple McPherson

iii.  Anointed Ministry

iv.  The Real Faith

Price Charles 03

Section (a)  – THE REAL FAITH; THE TESTIMONY OF DR. CHARLES PRICE 

i.  Conversion & Early Ministry

Although a corrupted message was beginning to infiltrate the Pentecostal movement of the 1920’s and 1930’s in the form of Positive Confession Theology, there were also powerfully anointed ministries raised up to declare the truth concerning the faith.  One of the most effectual healing ministries with a true testimony concerning the faith was an offshoot from the ministry of Amy Semple McPherson.  This was the ministry of Dr. Charles S. Price.

Price was an immigrant from England who was converted to Christ through an experience he had in Spokane, Washington.  One night while leaning against a lamp-post listening to a small band of Methodist mission workers as they sang.  He writes:

When the street meeting was over a little old lady detained me.  “Do you know God wants you?” she said.  Suddenly I felt uncomfortable.  I am afraid that I was rather rude in the way I excused myself and hurried away.  Halfway across the Monroe Street Bridge, I stopped.  A peculiar feeling had come over me.  I began to feel as if God had spoken to the old lady and a feeling of dread and awe came upon me.  Slowly I retraced my steps and I arrived eventually at the mission.[1]

Price responded to an altar call at the mission.  While he states he “did not have the great emotional experience,” he would later have, he knew that his commitment to Christ was sincere and effectual.  He labored at the mission under Wesleyan Holiness teaching and was later ordained a minister.  While serving as a Methodist minister in Spokane, he heard news that Pentecost had been restored in Los Angeles through the outpouring at Azusa Street.  Apostolic Faith Group 1910He agreed to meet with one of its missionaries in order to seek the experience himself, but as it happened, he was  convinced away from the experience.  He writes:

On my way to the prayer meeting the next day I met a certain minister.  I enthusiastically explained the situation to him and that I was on the way to a prayer meeting.  To my amazement he gripped me by the arm and said, “Price, I cannot let you go.  You’ll wreck your future-your life.  You are young and inexperienced.  If you take this step you will regret it as long as you live.”  Listening to his voice, I yielded.  He pleaded for the chance to show me wherein these people were wrong.  All afternoon I sat with him in his study, and when I left he had given me half a suitcase of books that I promised to read.  I did not go to the prayer meeting.  That was the turning point of my life.  With all my heart I believe that God led me to Spokane so that I might step through the open door into the glorious experience that I am enjoying today, but I listened to the voice of a modernist, and by my own act I closed the door.  I foolishly turned my back on the Cross and started along the trail that led to the labyrinth of modernism.  I very soon got to the point where I could explain every religious emotion from the standpoint of psychology.  The result of it all was that I drifted down the long highway that led to modernism.  I never gave an altar call – never led a soul to Jesus – never preached the glory of the born-again experience.  I was spiritually blind, leading my people into the ditch.[2]

Price was promoted within the Methodist Episcopal Church and became a popular speaker in churches throughout the region.  He would later deeply regret these years he spent in dead religion, when they “might have been filled with so much good for God.”[3]

ii.  Pentecost Experienced through Ministry of Amy Semple McPherson

After spending some time in Alaska, Dr. Price assumed the pastorate of a church in Santa Rosa, California, followed by another in the city of Oakland, and another in the city of Lodi.  While pastoring the First Congregational Church in Lodi, he was brought into contact with the Pentecostal ministry of Amy Semple McPherson during her San Jose campaign of 1921.  Semple McPherson & Jennings BryantThe account begins when a member of his congregation met him on the church lawn exuberantly saying to him, “Hallelujah – I have been to San Jose and I have been saved – saved through the Blood.  I am so happy I could just float away.”[4]  Price was unimpressed, and when he learned other members of his congregation were visiting McPherson’s San Jose meetings, “a bitter antagonism commenced to creep into [his] heart.”  Price decided he would attend one of Ms. McPherson’s meetings in order to disprove their miraculous nature.  He ran an advertisement in the newspaper announcing that his Sunday sermon would be entitled, “Divine Healing Bubble Explodes.”   He then traveled to San Jose with pen and paper in hand in order to debunk the notion that God moves in Pentecostal power in the present day.  He writes:

I intended to return the following Sunday and blow the whole thing to pieces.  As I neared San Jose, a peculiar feeling came over my mind.[5]

Dr. Price arrived at the large tent seating a capacity audience of six thousand with large crowds unable to even get in.  He recognized several individuals from his denomination, one of whom met him and declared, “Charles, this is the real gospel.  I have been baptized in the Holy Ghost.  It is genuine, I tell you.  It is what you need.”  Another old acquaintance, a Swede who was acting as an usher, met him with, “Hallelujah!  Praise the Lord Jesus!  I ban been filled with the Holy Ghost!”[6]  His usher-friend led him to the front of the audience and found seating for him among the cripples who were hoping for healing.  Price writes that to his embarrassment, his friend:

. . . pointed to a chair that was empty in the section reserved for cripples.  That was where I belonged, but I did not know it at the time.  All the way down the aisle I could hear people mentioning my name.  My face turned red.[7]Semple McPherson 1921 Denver

After leaving the meeting, Dr. Price found himself unable to sleep, restless with doubts concerning the course his ministry had taken since his rejection of Pentecost.  He returned the following night to hear a sermon from McPherson that seemed to dismantle his modernistic theology and to pierce his heart.  He went again for a third night, and as he was wandering about looking for a seat, a minister-friend led him to the front row.  As an altar call was made, a minister sitting next to him said to him, “Charles, she is calling for sinners.  She is calling for people who need to be saved.”  When McPherson called, “Come down and kneel before the Lord.  Come ye weary and heavy laden and He will give you rest,” Price came forward to the front, knowing he would be recognized by many in the audience.  He writes:

I was in the act of kneeling at the altar when the glory of God broke over my soul, I did not pray for I did not have to pray.  Something burst within my breast, an ocean of love divine rolled across my heart.  This was real!  Throwing up both hands I shouted, “Hallelujah!”  So overcome was I with joy that I commenced to run across the altar.  Dr. Towner followed me and wept for joy![8]

Overwhelmed by the presence of God, Dr. Price began visiting the Baptist church night after night in order to “tarry” for the baptism in the Holy Spirit.  On the night  of his baptism he entered the Sunday school room of the church to see many people under the power of God.  He noticed a little space behind the piano where he thought he could remain inconspicuous and took with him the piano stool to rest his arms upon as he prayed.  He writes:

I started to pray and I prayed and prayed until I lost all sense of time.  About 1 o’clock in the morning Dr. Towner came along with two deacons and started moving the piano.  He looked at me and said: “Why don’t you get out in the middle of the room where the power is falling?  Get where God is blessing the people.” [9]

As Dr. Towner began to pray with him, Dr. Price raised his hands above his head for the first time.  He writes:

When my hands were up for a little while I felt an electrical feeling staring down my fingers and when it got to my arms, my hands began to tingle and I looked at them and they were shaking.  I was surprised, and I couldn’t have stopped if I had wanted to, and I wouldn’t resist the Spirit.  Then down it came to my body, glorious, wonderful power; and I suddenly got a whole bolt of glory.  Did you ever watch the waves of the ocean as they break and roll and break?  A wave breaks and then rolls back and then another wave?  Then, with my eyes closed, I seemed to be looking up into the dark.  Suddenly like a knife, there appeared in that awful dark, a light and it flashed like a lightning flash across the blackness above my head.  The heavens were split and they commenced to fold up until I could see the glory of a light through that opening in the sky.  Then as I gazed at that beautiful light, a ball of fire came down towards me; lower and lower it came until it got to the level of the darkness on either side.  It began to shoot out darts of fire.  Then the ball came down a little lower.  It shone so brightly it banished the darkness.  I just watched, fascinated and entranced, those tongues of fire.  It then touched me on the forehead and I felt a quiver go through my body and then my chest began to heave and I started praising God.  The Comforter had come![10]

iii.  Anointed Ministry

Upon his return to his Lodi congregation, Price found a new strength resonating in his message.  He writes of the following Sunday:

How easy it was to preach that morning!  The glory of God flowed like a river until I could hardly speak for the sobbing of the people.  “As long as I am pastor,” I said, “you will hear one burning message from this pulpit – Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”  At the conclusion of the sermon I gave an altar call.  To my amazement over eighty people knelt at that altar.  My own church people were hungry for more of God.  We commenced to hold meetings and multiplied the number of prayer services.  The power of God commenced to fall.  Attendance reached the thousand mark and the church auditorium and the Sunday school rooms would be full of praying people.  People came from neighboring cities.[11]

Dr. Price’s church became a catalyst for a growing Pentecostal revival throughout the city of Lodi that did not diminish until higher church authorities began to interfere.  On August 17, 1922 he bid a sad farewell to his Lodi congregation and commenced a career as an itinerant evangelist.

Price’s first evangelistic campaign was to the city of Ashland, Oregon where an auditorium was rented with a seating capacity larger than the city’s population.  As he preached to overflowing audiences, the power of God fell on the people.  In fact, the first person he prayed for was both healed and fell under the power of God.  This made him fearful, but when those that had fallen stood back up proclaiming they had been healed, he was encouraged to continue.  “Scores and scores would be prostrated under the power at one time.”[12]  God’s power was evident as he preached up through the Pacific Northwest into the Canadian cities of Victoria and Vancouver.

His Vancouver meetings drew a quarter of a million people over a mere three weeks.  One particularly well known incident there was the healing of Rev. W.J. Sipprell whose large goitre disappeared on stage before the eyes of all as Price prayed for him.  The healing of  Ruby Dimmick from curvature of the spine seemed to awaken the province of British Columbia.  After Vancouver, Price campaigns were held throughout Canada and the upper Midwest drawing phenomenal crowds and resulting in powerful demonstrations of the power of God.  Dr. Price would go on to preach in the power and demonstration of the Holy Spirit throughout the world, until his death in 1947 at the age of 60.

iv.  The Real Faith

During the 1920’s and 1930’s (through newly itinerant ministries such as F.F. Bosworth’s) the Pentecostal movement was subjected to the influences of the distorted theology of E. W. Kenyon known as Positive Confession, kenyon ewwhich presented Faith as a principle through which men may utilize spiritual means to manipulate the material realm for earthly ends.   If any Pentecostal ministry was effective in combating this doctrine, it would have to be the ministry of Dr. Charles Price, who eloquently described the true principle of faith in his best known book entitled, The Real Faith.

Dr. Price begins, not by emphasizing the many healings that occurred throughout his ministry, but by reflecting upon those that never received their healing.  He writes:

The crowds were shouting because of some who were healed; but I was weeping because of those people who dragged their tired, sick bodies back to their homes – just as needy as they were before they came into the services . . . Why were some healed in such a miraculous way, and others dismissed with an appeal to keep on believing . . .?Price Charles 01 . . . There are thousands and thousands of these miracles; and they prove conclusively that Jesus is really the same yesterday, today, and forever.  Not that we should rely upon experience to prove the Word, but it is blessed indeed when we can see manifestations of answered prayer.  Yet, from those meetings, I have gone home with the faces of poor supplicating people haunting me.  I have seen them do their best to rise from the wheel chair, only to sink back again in sorrow and disappointment.  I have been moved by the groans, cries, and intercessions around altars, until they have lingered with me for days after the services were over.[13]

Dr. Price concluded that faith is a living thing that can only come from God.  While many make faith “a condition of mind,” it is rather a matter of “divinely imparted grace.”  We may end our foolish struggle to “believe” at such time we “come to the realization that we can receive faith only as He gives it.”[14]

Dr. Price cautioned against any teaching which tries to manipulate the mind into “believing.”  He writes:

. . . when we try to believe ourselves into an experience, we are getting  into a metaphysical realm.  But faith is spiritual . . . warm and vital . . . it lives and throbs; and its power is irresistible, when it is imparted to the heart by the Lord.  It is with the heart that man believes unto righteousness.  Heart belief opens the door of communication between us and the Lord and a divinely imparted faith becomes possible.[15]

Price reminded his readers of the Lord’s admonition that a mere mustard seed portion of faith is sufficient for a Herculean task.  As for the methods of the Positive Confession teaching, Price found them dangerous.  He writes:

The mistake with many people has been that they have confused their own ability to believe for the faith which is of God.  To sit down and repeat over and over – I am healed – I am healed is not only unscriptural, but extremely dangerous spiritually.[16]

Price stressed that faith is simply not intellectual.  Rather it is “the deep consciousness divinely imparted to the heart of man that it is done.[17]  Price provides accounts of various persons who came to him for prayer, many of whom he could see before ever praying for them whether or not they possessed the faith to be healed.

Price tells of a hardened and scoffing atheist who lived alone in a hotel room.  This man requested private meetings with Price to discuss the issue of Faith, yet flatly maintained he had no faith to believe.  Price asked him, “Do you want to know the truth?”  The man replied, “What is truth?”  Price turned to a painting on the wall depicting Christ in the garden of Gethsemane, and said, “He is Truth.  He is the Way.  He is your Life and Faith.  He has an abundance of what you say you do not have. . . . He came to make you free . . . free from doubts like yours . . . free from fears and misgivings . . free from unbelief and free from sin.”  A week later the man returned.  Price writes:Price Charles 03

When I looked at his face, I knew the miracle had happened.  Into his heart there had come not only the conscious knowledge of sins forgiven, but a manifestation of the sweetness and love of God which had made him a new creation in Christ Jesus.[18]

The man explained to Price that he had confessed to God that he had no faith to believe until he sought it from Christ.  The man said, “so He gave me His faith, and I believed.  The work is done.”  This experience demonstrated for Price the importance of always crying aloud, “Whosoever will may come,” because he knew “that He will impart the faith which is needful to every sincere heart.” [19]

Price tells of a godly woman over whom he and her children prayed earnestly many times for the healing of her terminal condition, yet to no avail.  One day she came to him radiant.  When he asked if she had been healed, she replied:

“No, not yet; but I shall be tonight.  I have been prayed for publicly, and I believe my Lord wants to touch me by His power in the service tonight, so that all may see that He is faithful.”   There was no strained, tense atmosphere; no struggle; but rather, sweet and beautiful rest in the Lord.  Then she told me her story. [20]

The woman had been shown an unforgiveness she harbored in her heart.  She heard her Master say, “And when ye stand praying, forgive.”[21]  She went and had spent an hour in prayer with the person she had harbored the unforgiveness for, resulting in God having placed within her heart a deep and beautiful Christian love.  God had now spoken to her heart, telling her she was healed:

Wonderful place of communion, where we talk to God, and in which God talks to us!  The wounds are healed!  The envy melted away, and the love of Jesus flowed in.  When at last she arrived home, she told the family at the supper table that she would be healed that night.  She knew it; but she did not know how she knew it.  The consciousness of it was as real as life itself.  There was no doubt about it.  There was no intercession.  That had been a work of the past.  There was no agonizing and pleading.  It was done; and yet it was not!  That is the paradox of faith.  Then she said to me, “My brother, do you know what Jesus has done? . . . He has given me His faith,” she said.  “Honestly, I do not know the moment I received it; but, praise His name, I know it is here.”  And it was.  That night the heavenly breezes blew.  That night the Christ of the healing road touched  with the power of Omnipotence, the sick, weary body of His needy child.  That night a cancer was melted by the touch divine.  A mountain was moved by the faith of God which had been imparted to a sick woman by the Lord of Glory Himself. [22]

Dr. Price told such accounts as these in order to show “the difference between human effort to believe, and the faith that is the gift of God.”  He noted how much better, and more scriptural, it is to wait until Jesus of Nazareth passes by and speaks the word of faith to the needy heart, than to mistake our belief in healing for the faith which He alone can give. [23] Price explained that faith is not something within the man to invoke and to operate, but true faith is the province of Christ alone.

In other words, all true faith begins and ends in Him.  It does not say that He is the Author and the Finisher of His faith alone, but it states that He is the Author and Finisher of my faith and of yours.  There is nothing before the Alpha and nothing after the Omega. He begins it, and it begins in Him.  He ends it and it ends in Him.  When I want it, I must seek His face!  I cannot get it anywhere else, but from that matchless One of whom it is said, He is the Author and the Finisher of our faith.  Not of His alone but of yours and mine.  . . . Remember that faith acts, but the act comes from the faith, rather than faith from the act.  That is why it is very easy to step over the border line from the Faith God imparts into the realm of presumption. [24]Price Charles 03

Price stressed that true faith comes from God, and has its object in Jesus Christ.  He said, “Our chief difficulty is that we seek healing instead of the Healer.”  He writes:

Do you not see how foolish we are to struggle, and to try to believe mentally, when we ought – according to the Word – to believe spiritually?  There will be head belief, for the mind will acquiesce; but the renewed mind will say “Amen” to all the works of grace, by faith.  Fundamentally, faith is born in the heart.  The heart will accept the unreasonable.  It believes what the mind says is impossible.  It counts the things that are, as though they were not; and the things that are not, as though they were.[1]

Price quotes the words of Paul when discoursing on the faith of Abraham, who said:

. . even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.        Rom. 4:17

In an era when doctrinal disorder and spiritual presumption began their inroads into the Pentecostal movement, God provided the movement with an anointed teacher on the subject of Faith. Dr. Price’s book, The Real Faith is a much under-read classic which may prove of tremendous benefit to this present generation, much in need.


[1] Taken from article: The Story of the Conversion and Healing Ministry of Dr. Charles S. Price as Told by Himself (Installation I) from the Voice of Healing (magazine) issue date December 1952 at pg. 2.

[2] Ibid. pg. 16

[3] Ibid. pg. 16

[4] Ibid. pg. 16

[5] Ibid. pg. 16

[6] Ibid. pg. 16

[7] Ibid. pg. 16

[8] Taken from article: The Story of the Conversion and Healing Ministry of Dr. Charles S. Price as Told by Himself (Installation II) from the Voice of Healing (magazine) issue date April 1953 at pg. 12.

[9] Ibid. pg. 12

[10] Ibid. pg. 12

[11] Ibid. pgs. 12-13

[12] Ibid. pg. 13

[13] The Real Faith, by Dr. Charles S. Price – Chapter 1, – In Which I Confess

[14] Ibid. Chapter I – In Which I Confess

[15] Ibid. Chapter I – In Which I Confess

[16] Ibid. Chapter II – Till All Our Struggles Cease

[17] Ibid. Chapter II – Till All Our Struggles Cease

[18] Ibid. Chapter IV – The Origins of Faith

[19] Ibid. Chapter I V – The Origins of Faith

[20] Ibid. Chapter II – Till All Our Struggles Cease

[21] Mark 11:25

[22] Ibid. Chapter II – Till All Our Struggles Cease

[23] Ibid. Chapter II – Till All Our Struggles Cease

[24] Ibid. Chapter II – Till All Our Struggles Cease

[25] Ibid. Chapter VI – Your Mountains are Moved

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VII.A.6.b The Error of Salvaging the Moral Law as Justifying

PART  VII  –  Transactional Aspects of the Lamp-Stand Model

SUBPART A  –  JUSTIFICATION

Article 6  –  Doctrinal Impairments

Section (b) – The Error of Salvaging the Moral Law as Justifying

By Daniel Irving

i.    Righteousness Appropriated by Faith, Rather than Law

ii.   The Antithesis to Justifying Faith Not Limited to the Ceremonial Law

iii.  The Heresy of a Self-Made Righteousness in the Name of Christ

iv.  Parsing of Paul’s Reference to Law as Leaving Gap in the Apostolic Teaching

v.   Parsing the Law as Confusing the True Standard of Righteous Judgment

vi.  Charles Finney on the Subject of the Deliverance from Sin

vii. Pitfall of Accepting Conformity to a Moral Code as Justifying; Stumbling in Judgment

Sinai 01

Section (b)

THE ERROR OF SALVAGING THE MORAL LAW AS JUSTIFYING

i.  Righteousness Appropriated by Faith, Rather than Law

One substantial feature of Pauline teaching is the principle that salvation is not based in doing the Law.  We find this principle stated as a continuous refrain in his epistles.  A few examples are:

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.             Eph. 2:8-9

. . . if righteousness comes through the Law, Christ is dead in vain.                                                                                  Gal. 3:21

Where then is boasting? It is excluded.  By what kind of law?  Of works? No, but by a law of faith.                   Rom. 3:27

When we seek after God’s kingdom and His righteousness, but do not pursue it by the explicit means exclusive to the work of God, we go astray as did Israel after-the-flesh, of whom Paul wrote:

 . . . but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law.  Why?  Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works.  They stumbled over the stumbling stone.           Rom. 9:31-32

Israel stumbled even as the Lord was in their midst and speaking the “words of eternal life.”[1] They stumbled, presuming the work of God was their own to perform if only they had the right formula. Recall the dialogue:

Then said they unto him, “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?”  Jesus answered and said unto them,  “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”            John 6:28-29

The righteousness of God does not come through adherence to a religious formula or code of conduct.  The righteousness of God comes via the Spirit of Life accessible through faith in the Person and work of Jesus Christ; a condition which is only evidenced by holding to His words and walking in His ways.  To those who inquired as to what they needed to do in order to themselves perform God’s work, the Lord said:Unleavened 4

 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.   John 6:53 

The righteousness of God is Living, because the righteousness of God is a Person.  When we look to any rule, any system of thought, or code of conduct as the means for knowing God, this is antithetical to faith and can only be antagonistic to the ways of God.  The legal mind is that which trusts in its own efforts and falls away from the simplicity of Christ.  Thus Paul wrote to the Galatians:

Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.          Gal. 5:4

Our own efforts, no matter how noble, will fail to bring us into the righteousness of God that is our eternal life.  That eternal life is Christ, upon whom we must fall in the day our own works are shown for what they are.  Therefore any message exalting an alternative to faith in Jesus Christ, no matter how righteous it may sound or exalting of God’s Law it may seem, only leads into bondage so as to constitute a curse upon the listener.

ii.  The Antithesis to Justifying Faith Not Limited to the Ceremonial Law

While the failure of the Law to justify men is widely accepted in principle, there is often confusion as to the scope of Paul’s meaning when he refers to the Law as being non-justifying.  Sadly, some well-meaning teachers, out of concern relating to the abuse of the doctrine of grace, have attempted to bolster the cause of righteousness through non-Gospel means.  One common non-Gospel means is to teach that moral righteousness is, in some way, in fact, justifying.  Such teachers rationalize that what Paul intended by the Law (as that principle antithetical to faith) was merely the ceremonial ordinances of Moses.  To their way of thinking, the moral law of God remains justifying, as all Paul was in fact repudiating, was the dependence upon such things as the Jewish dietary practices, observance of festivals, rituals, etc.  These teachers make such statements as:Pharisee 04

–  “A closer look at the fourth chapter of the book of Romans may reveal that Paul was contrasting faith and the Law of Moses.”

–  “Paul was comparing faith in Christ with obedience to the Law of Moses.”

–  “He was attempting to prove to Jewish leaders that they can be righteous apart from the Law of Moses.”

Such statements work to marginalize Paul’s meaning by confining the thrust of his teaching to the mere ceremonial ordinances of the Jews.  But clearly, Paul did not limit the meaning of his references to “the Law” to the ceremonial ordinances of Moses.  Paul’s message clearly treats the Law of Moses as exemplifying that broader and spiritual principle governing the human condition.  When Paul disallows the Law as justifying, he refers to “the Law” as that principle which holds the whole of humanity in the spiritual condition of Death.  The Law is that spiritual principle which governs the life of the flesh.  Humanity innately trusts what it sees with its eyes, hears with its ears, and senses through its natural faculties.  In so doing, the world trusts in the flesh rather than being in possession of faith in the power of God.  This trust in flesh secures humanity in Sin and so, in Death.  This is not only clear from reason, but more importantly, from Scripture.  Recall that it was to Gentiles that Paul wrote the words: 

For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sinswhich were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.        Rom. 7:5

Mind you, the Roman believers were never under the ceremonial ordinances of Moses.  Therefore this statement makes very little sense unless Paul speaks of a broader and spiritual principle governing all men, not just the orthodox Jew.  Thus when Paul refers to “the Law,” he is speaking broadly; alluding to that spiritual principle governing humanity, which feeds Sin, and leads to Death.  This is clearly a principle shared by the Jewish and the non-Jewish alike. The Law is a spiritual principle:

For we know that the Law is spiritual; but I am flesh, sold into bondage to sin.                                                                                     Rom. 7:14

The Law constitutes a principle so universal as to cast its shadow over all men, from the most scurrilous heathen, to the most devout, dutiful, and obedient professor of Christ.  Therefore to limit Paul’s allusion to “the Law” to ceremonial ordinances represented in the Judaistic forms is error.  Not only is this marginalization upon Paul’s doctrine faulty reasoning, it is error bearing heretical implications.

iii.  The Heresy of a Self-Made Righteousness in the Name of Christ

Anyone who has entertained this form of “righteousness” teaching wherein the Gospel doctrine becomes marginalized, should ask him/herself, What practically does this mean?  What is the logical implication of dividing the Law into two principles (ie. the ceremonial and the moral), and then limiting Paul’s repudiation to only one of these two principles as non-justifying?  The clear implication is that we may, in fact, be justified through the observance of the other; that the keeping of the moral law will commend us before God.  This is the logical implication of the teaching, and thus it is a heresy against the Gospel because it holds out a phantom hope.  This would constitute; “mine own righteousness,” which Paul disclaimed any hope in, when he writes:

And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:        Phil. 3:9 

To what is Paul referring when he says, “mine own righteousness?”  Is he merely referring to the  ordinances of Judaism?  Is he not, rather, referring to anything he might do which would constitute his own effort toward the righteousness required by God?  If Paul allowed that our own efforts formed any basis for justification, then we must take the whole of Protestantism, the works of the Puritans, the writings of Luther, Bunyan, Owens, Edwards, Wesley, etc., and cast them aside, as their writings left no room and spared no adjective in asserting that any human effort offered as justifying in the iota is “death in the pot.”  For . . .

“if righteousness comes through the Law, Christ is dead in vain”.                                                                                      Gal. 3:21

But is Paul now (ie. Gal. 3:21) referring to the moral law, whereas elsewhere in Galatians he was only referring to the ceremonial law?  We cannot have it both ways.  If we argue he is now speaking of the moral law, then we must accept the whole of Galatians as an impassioned plea for those Christians, suffering under conviction for sin, to forsake their hope in the moral Law and flee to Christ for the grace to overcome sin in order they may attain unto the holiness that comes by faith.  In that case, Paul is not changing the subject or mixing his terms when he writes further:Tempest 10

Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.            Gal. 5:4

In keeping the ordinances of Judaism, the Galatians were opting to only one of many possible forms of outward conduct.  But if one argues that Paul limited his meaning (when speaking of “the Law”) to Judaism, then one must acknowledge their argument to leave the moral-law, as a refuge to which the Galatians may have fled rather than to Christ!  This, of course, would be nonsensical and heretical.  Would Paul tell the Galatians that they were not to trust in the Mosaic rituals for their justification, but leave open the hope that they could trust in their own efforts to keep the universal moral Law of God as their justification?  The implications of interpreting Paul in this way are not only untenable, but troubling.  Those who teach the Gospel in this way quite dilute its effect and effectively keep their listeners outside the gates of the kingdom of God, ever trusting in a thing that cannot justify them.   They foster a condition of bondage of which Isaiah prophesies:

  And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off:  for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.              Is. 59:14

We may gather from this prophecy that the prevention of judgment is the prevention of righteousness.   For the advent of righteousness comes by way of mercy; ie. God’s Grace; His consent to dwell with the sinner, judged so to be.  Sacred Ht 01The teaching that judgment must precede mercy may sound contradictory, but it is no more contradictory than the fact that electrical resistance  is required before one can have voltage.  Just so, the righteousness of God, which He would bring to the man, requires the realization of His mercy, which we do not truly perceive while operating within the false trust of our own efforts; a trust in that which can only condemn.  This is the Law; not the mere ceremonial forms, but that spirit under which we strive with men and even strive with our own selves.  Christian teaching that props up principles of moral righteousness in such a way as to displace the hope in Jesus Christ and His blood shed upon the cross, negate the redemptive effects of judgment.

iv.  Parsing of Paul’s Reference to Law as Leaving Gap in the Apostolic Teaching

We might also consider that by limiting many of Paul’s references to “the Law” as that merely ceremonial in nature, we indulge a tremendous gap in the apostles’ doctrine.  When we consider the two principles side-by-side; ie. the moral law vs. the ceremonial law, the moral law stands out as far more encompassing and universal.  Consider that when Paul discoursed to the Romans, he opened up to us a truly monumental principle.  He introduced us to the principle of “the Law” as being the spiritual governor of humanity.  By so doing, he did not limit his meaning of “Law” to the Judaistic ordinances.  Rather, he spoke of the Law as a universal principle governing the whole of humanity; the “Law” as being of spiritual nature, and having spiritual effect.[2]  This is the Law which appears as a common allusion of OT prophecy and type.  Therefore, for Paul to leave off this monumental principle which meant death to himself, and which stands as that operating principle effectuating our own deaths so that we might be raised again into newness of life, in order to focus upon some lesser principle as constituting the profane alternative to hope in Christ, would leave one to wonder.

While the opening chapters of Romans make reference to the Jews as wielders of the Law, it is clear that Paul uses the term as encompassing the universal moral law, and that he makes no substantive distinction betwixt the two.  The most notable evidence of this is in the second chapter of Romans:

For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves.    Rom 2:14IMG_0123

Do the Gentiles “by nature” circumcise their foreskins?  Do they “by nature” refrain from the eating pork?  They do not.  Therefore Paul is alluding to the universal moral law that guides mankind through innate sensibilities of equity, goodness, and decency.  He is clearly not referring exclusively to the ceremonial ordinances of Moses.  Further, he refers to “the Law” in such a way as to encompass all distinction between that written and that by nature.

Paul expresses the doctrine of grace elsewhere in such non-ambiguous terms as can leave no room for reasonable controversy.  One such place occurs in his epistle to Titus, which would seem, by itself, to settle all controversy on the issue of whether he singled out Judaism as non-justifying.  Paul writes:

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;                                                                                     Titus 3:5

While the law is good, and we are to strive to keep the law, and if we reject the Law, we ourselves are rejected, . . . . this is not the basis of our salvation.  Rather, the foundation of our redemption is faith.  This is because it is only the blood of Jesus Christ which justifies.  Christ performed the work of redemption, and His Holy Spirit performs upon that work of redemption in us.  The “work of God” that is our redemption, is expressed by the Lord Himself when He told those who would “do the works of God”:

This is the work of God, that you believe in the One Whom He hath sent.                                                                                      John 6:29

Do our own wanderings and captivity to sin and death occur because we misguidedly trust, as did the Jews, in the ceremonial aspects of the Mosaic covenant?  They do not.  When Paul bluntly tells the Galatians that their trust in the Law has severed them from Christ, he is not limiting himself to a particular form upon which to rely.  Whether the Galatians were looking to the Judaistic form, or whether they were looking to their own devices, their stumbling came from their choice of a mean and earthly path to knowing God.   This is particularly clear by Paul’s use of the word “flesh.”  Notice what he actually says to them:

Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh                                                                                    Gal 3:3 

Trusting in one’s own efforts constitutes the “arm of the flesh.”  This is what constitutes apostasy from the Gospel

  Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm and whose heart departeth from the Lord.                  Jer. 17:5

We might further consider that any teaching marginalizing Paul’s meaning of “the Law” is self-defeating given that the Mosaic Law even incorporates the moral law via the commandments given at Sinai.  The Ten Commandments distill the moral law, and are incorporated into Judaism via Sinai.  This renders any distinction between the moral and the Mosaic Law moot.

v.  Parsing the Law as Confusing the True Standard of Righteous Judgment 

Paul’s doctrine clearly presents the Gospel as substantially an issue of the righteousness of law versus the righteousness of faith, only the latter of which is justifying.  Heaven 01But while no flesh shall be justified by the Law,[3] this does not dispense with the concept of righteousness as the basis for judgment.   What is often not perceived is that “the Law,” in terms of the letter, and as a demonstration of outward moral conduct, (ie. “righteousness”) is not, and has never been, the true standard.  Rather the true standard is something internal and spiritual which has been given over to Jesus Christ to wield as the spiritual head over humankind:

For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment unto the Son.  That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father.  He that honors not the Son, honors not the Father which has sent Him.         John 5:22-23

Christ wields a quick and active authority of judgment that excels the Law.  The Law is blunt and unyielding, whereas the judgment of Christ is perfect and penetrating.[4]  The judgment of Christ also contemplates the love of God manifested and accessible via the atonement which He Himself has offered.

Once we have misguidedly divided the righteousness of the Law into two parts, we are actually left with three competing principles of righteousness, of which one is justifying, one is not, and one is a phantom. Pharisee 02 We have contrived three paths for men seeking justification, ie.: 1) through faith, 2) through the moral law, and 3) through the Torah.  Thus we have a ready made stumbling-block in that what was once two clear, distinct, and antithetical principles, are joined by a third principle (ie. the Torah), which stands as a surrogate for the moral law, to bear the brunt of Paul’s excoriations, while Paul’s true and intended nemesis to faith is off the hook and free to offer its services as an alternative to Christ.  The danger this presents is that the “righteousness” which is now asserted to be real and demonstrable (rather than merely credited) and which is now asserted as constituting the true evidence of faith, is actually the same principle Paul denounces, when he writes:

And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:                                                                                     Php 3:9

The practical effect of dividing Paul’s reference to the Law into three distinct forms of righteousness, is to confound his argument so as to:

a)       leave open the door to the moral law as justifying, (and to)

b)       imply that outwardly moral righteousness is, in fact, justifying.

vi.  Charles Finney on the Subject of the Deliverance from Sin

The utter futility of the Law, as that spirit within which men struggle and fail to attain to true righteousness, was a common theme of the Reformers and of the Puritans.  Puritan clergyman, Walter Marshall’s work, The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification, is widely regarded as the most definitive Christian treatise on the subject of sanctification, and is really, a study of the nature of true justification.  The work is a powerful warning concerning, and repudiation of, a variety of commonly entertained, but false assumptions made by persons seeking justification in Christ. While the book has tremendous doctrinal benefit, it is a difficult read.  A full reading of The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification is available on this website under the page labeled “Audio MP.”  The works of John Bunyan are also excellent studies on the subject of justification.

In an article published in 1874, shortly before his death, Charles Finney explained the futility of referring men to legal and self-based means for the deliverance from sin:Finney  Charles 02

Resolving and fighting against it fastens the attention on the sin and its source, and diverts it entirely from Christ.  Now it is important to say right here that all such efforts are worse than useless, and not infrequently result in delusion. First, it is losing sight of what really constitutes sin, and, secondly, of the only practicable way to avoid it. In this way the outward act or habit may be overcome and avoided, while that which really constitutes the sin is left untouched. Sin is not external, but internal. It is not a muscular act, it is not the volition that causes muscular action, it is not an involuntary feeling or desire; it must be a voluntary act or state of mind. Sin is nothing else than that voluntary, ultimate preference or state of committal to self-pleasing out of which the volitions, the outward actions, purposes, intentions, and all the things that are commonly called sin proceed. Now, what is resolved against in this religion of resolutions and efforts to suppress sinful and form holy habits? “Love is the fulfilling of the law.” But do we produce love by resolution? Do we eradicate selfishness by resolution? No, indeed. We may suppress this or that expression or manifestation of selfishness by resolving not to do this or that, and praying and struggling against it. We may resolve upon an outward obedience, and work ourselves up to the letter of an obedience to God’s commandments. But to eradicate selfishness from the breast by resolution is an absurdity. So the effort to obey the commandments of God in spirit–in other words, to attempt to love as the law of God requires by force of resolution–is an absurdity.” [4.1]

Finney continues:Finney - Charles 05

“Should we become anchorites, immure ourselves in a cell, and crucify all our desires and appetites, so far as their indulgence is concerned; we have only avoided certain forms of sin; but the root that really constitutes sin is not touched. Our resolution has not secured love, which is the only real obedience to God. All our battling with sin in the outward life, by the force of resolution, only ends in making us whited sepulchers. All our battling with desire by the force of resolution is of no avail; for in all this, however successful the effort to suppress sin may be, in the outward life or in the inward desire it will only end in delusion, for by force of resolution we cannot love. All such efforts to overcome sin are utterly futile, and as unscriptural as they are futile. [4.2]

Finney goes on to explain what is the Scriptural path to freedom from sin:

The Bible expressly teaches us that sin is overcome by faith in Christ. “He is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.” “He is the way, the truth, and the life.” Christians are said to “purify their hearts by faith” –(Acts xv, 9). And in Acts xxvi, 18 it is affirmed that the saints are sanctified by faith in Christ. In Romans ix, 31,32 it is affirmed that the Jews attained not to righteousness “because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law.” The doctrine of the Bible is that Christ saves His people from sin through faith; that Christ’s Spirit is received by faith to dwell in the heart. It is faith that works by love. Love is wrought and sustained by faith. By faith Christians “overcome the world, the flesh, and the Devil.” It is by faith that they “quench the fiery darts of the wicked.” It is by faith that they “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and put off the old man, with his deeds.” It is by faith that we fight “the good fight,” and not by resolution. It is by faith that we “stand,” by resolution we fall. This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. It is by faith that the flesh is kept under and carnal desires subdued. The fact is that it is simply by faith that we receive the Spirit of Christ to work in us, to will and to do, according to his good pleasure. He sheds abroad his own love in our hearts, and thereby enkindles ours.” [4.3]

Finney writes with great clarity regarding what is the fundamental and crucial element of every release from sin’s bondage:

Every victory over sin is by faith in Christ; and whenever the mind is diverted from Christ, by resolving and fighting against sin, whether we are aware of it or not, we are acting in our own strength, rejecting the help of Christ, and are under a specious delusion. Nothing but the life and energy of the Spirit of Christ within us can save us from sin, and trust is the uniform and universal condition of the working of this saving energy within us. Finney - Charles 07How long shall this fact be at least practically overlooked by the teachers of religion? How deeply rooted in the heart of man is self-righteousness and self-dependence? So deeply that one of the hardest lessons for the human heart to learn is to renounce self-dependence and trust wholly in Christ. When we open the door by implicit trust he enters in and takes up his abode with us and in us. By shedding abroad his love he quickens our whole souls into sympathy with himself, and in this way, and in this way alone, he purifies our hearts through faith. He sustains our will in the attitude of devotion. He quickens and regulates our affections, desires, appetites and passions, and becomes our sanctification.   Very much of the teaching that we hear in prayer and conference meetings, from the pulpit and the press, is so misleading as to render the hearing or reading of such instruction almost too painful to be endured. Such instruction is calculated to beget delusion, discouragement, and a practical rejection of Christ as he is presented in the Gospel.  Alas! for the blindness that “leads to bewilder” the soul that is longing after deliverance from the power of sin. [4.4]

And finally, Finney asserts sanctifying faith as the active state, called “holiness:”

Faith itself is an active and not a passive state. A passive holiness is impossible and absurd. Let no one say that when we exhort people to trust wholly in Christ we teach that anyone should be or can be passive in receiving and co-operating with the Divine influence within. This influence is moral, and not physical. It is persuasion, and not force. It influences the free will, and consequently does this by truth, and not by force. Oh! that it could be understood that the whole of spiritual life that is in any man is received direct from the Spirit of Christ by faith, as the branch receives its life from the vine. Away with this religion of resolutions! It is a snare of death. Away with this effort to make the life holy while the heart has not in it the love of God. Oh! that men would learn to look directly at Christ through the Gospel, and so close in with him by an act of loving trust as to involve a universal sympathy with his state of mind. This and this alone is sanctification.  [4.5]

vii.  Pitfall of Accepting Conformity to a Moral Code as Justifying; Stumbling in Judgment

There are serious pitfalls to a doctrine limiting Paul’s denunciations of the Law to the ceremonial law of Moses.  One such pitfall is that it inevitably leads to stumbling in judgment.  Bronze Gilding 02This is because once we perceive moral righteousness as justifying, we begin to perceive the moral deficits of others as evidence they are not justified.  Evidence of carnality in believers, rather than being perceived as evidence of immaturity, becomes, to our thinking, evidence they are not justified.  But what did Paul say of the carnal believers in Corinth?

Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the coveteous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you;    but you were washed,  but you were sanctified, but you were justified  in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.                          I Cor 6:9-11

Paul did not take their carnality as evidence of their non-justification.  But if we perceive the Gospel as a matter of man’s dutiful effort toward righteousness, and we do so at the expense of the principle of simple faith in Jesus Christ, we fail to discern the true work of God, and begin to fail judgment ourselves when we begin to improperly discern His body.  We might ask ourselves, What role is there for outwardly moral conductWhat is the role of the Law in salvation?

Recall that John the Baptist directed his listeners into outward and concrete righteousness.  There was no deliverance from sin’s bondage implicit within his demand. The deliverance is in Christ, of whom John only prepared the People to recognize and to receive.  While it might be said that conformity with John’s admonition constituted “works of faith” that were “justifying”, it is clear that this principle did not contemplate the release from sin’s bondage.  The Church is to teach and to declare the righteous requirements of God expressed in His Law, and to demand of the believer that he/she turn away from all known areas of sin in his/her life.  Crucifixion FeetBut the true testimony of the Church is not to demand the sinner free himself/herself from Sin’s moral bondage.  This requires the lifting up before their eyes, Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.[5]  Only this can accommodate the presence and strength of God that brings deliverance from Sin.  Only this can establish men in sanctification, which is the knowledge of our justification as the Spirit communicates to us Calvary.[6]  But when we perceive and teach that one’s carnality constitutes evidence we are not justified, how can the work of God proceed?  The discovery of the disease itself becomes the loss of the cure!

The law declares that God will not justify the wicked.[7]  And yet Paul declares that God has done just that for those able to be believe has done just that through the Cross. (Rom. 4:5)  But this is a spiritual work, and it is an experiential transaction; the rejection of which, is the rejection of sanctification by the Spirit; a rejection of the God, Who gives us His Holy Spirit.[8]  On the other hand, we cannot take carnality or evidence of Sin reigning in the body as evidence we are not justified, as it is for this very reason we require the justification of Christ. If we lose hope in our justification, neither do we have cause to hope for release from sin’s bondage.  The Spirit-baptized will wage a struggle against carnality while under apprehension that the power of the flesh is stronger than their own strength of will to overcome.   But the power of the flesh should not be admitted as evidence they are not justified!  Therefore directing the struggling carnal-believer into “good works” as the grounds for either their justification, or their release from bondage, is to set their minds upon themselves and their own efforts, rather than upon the object of their deliverance from sin.  We set the sinner upon that course Paul warned us against: 

For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, & going about to establish their own righteousness have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness  of God.                                                                                      Rom 10:3 


[1] John 6:68

[2] Romans 7:14  “For we know that the Law is spiritual”

[3] Romans 3:20, Galatians 2:16

[4] Hebrews 4:12  For the word of God is quick, & powerful, & sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul & spirit, & of the joints & marrow, & is a discerner of the thoughts & intents of the heart.

[4.1] Article is How to Overcome Sin, by Charles Finney, published in the Independent, New York, January 1, 1874.

[4.2-4.4]  Ibid.

[5] I Corinthians 2:2

[6] Isaiah 49:16

[7] Exodus 23:7

[8] I Thessalonians 4:3-7

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VII.A.6.a Orthodoxy vs. Heterodoxy on Doctrine of Justification

Part  VII  –  Transactional Aspects of the Lamp-Stand Model

SUBPART A  –  JUSTIFICATION

Article 6  –  Doctrinal Impairments to Justification

Section (a)  –  Orthodoxy vs. Heterodoxy on Doctrine of Justification

By Daniel Irving

i.   The Orthodox Tension between Faith & Works

ii.  The NON-Orthodox Conflict between Faith & Works

Abraham-Isaac Sacrifice 02

Section (a)

ORTHODOXY vs. HETERODOXY ON THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION

One of best-known controversies of Christiandom was the schism that occurred in Methodism between John Wesley and the Calvinists at Trevecca College. Wesley - John 02 John Wesley and George Whitefield fundamentally disagreed on what should be the proper emphasis of the gospel; Whitefield emphasizing salvation as by grace through faith, and Wesley emphasizing the works of faith as the only observable evidence of salvation.  While the two nonetheless maintained a good relationship, this disagreement severed their ministries, one from the other.  Upon Whitefield’s death, Wesley preached the superiority of the latter doctrine at Whitefield’s memorial services, reigniting the controversy between the two camps.

When Wesley heard Whitefield insist, “We are saved by faith” he perceived an opening for presumption allowing men to rest their hope upon mere mental assent to the doctrines of Christ without something more.  Whitefield - GeorgeTherefore he emphasized the truth that salvation is inseparable from the works of faith.  On the other hand, when Whitefield heard Wesley insist, “We are saved through sanctification, he perceived this to be a distortion of that inviolable principle that salvation is by “grace, through faith.”[1]  The argument seems academic until it comes time to preach the gospel, at which point the ministers of each persuasion seem in contradiction. One seems to be pressing the door shut, while the other is flinging-it-open.  One seems to impede the desperately needy sinner with red-tape, while the other seems to be allowing the careless and recalcitrant dangerously liberal access to Christ.  What is interesting is that powerful, Spirit-attended, revivals were preached by both men, as well as by men of both doctrinal persuasions throughout the last 200 years.

Thirty years after Wesley’s death, the powerfully anointed evangelist, Charles Finney began his ministry in the state of New York.  Finney’s preaching was characterized by an emphasis upon moral righteousness.   Finney - Charles 05He notes in his account of the powerful revivals of those years that his message seemed to have particular power given the hyper-Calvinistic over-emphasis upon “grace” that had dominated New England in the previous decades so as to dilute the Gospel’s efficacy there.  Finney is commonly regarded as the “John the Baptist” of his generation; disabusing presumption and disrupting souls from a slumber brought upon them by the over-taxing of one truth at the expense of another.  The religious preaching of his day is what led to presumption in the things of God, out of step with what the Spirit of God was saying.  Recall the Lord’s words concerning the children of this generation, who call out:

“We have piped unto you, & you have not danced; we have mourned to you, & you have not wept.                     Luke 7:32

The preaching that created this poor condition among the Christ-professing was no doubt guided by the principles of this age.  But the message of the Spirit-anointed messenger was something different.  Finney had received the baptism of the Holy Ghost in 1821, and although he was perceived as a “works” preacher, he describes receiving a revelation at the time of his baptism as follows:

. . . the whole question of Gospel salvation opened to my mind in a manner most marvelous to me at the time.  I think I then saw, as clearly as I ever have in my life, the reality and fullness of the atonement of Christ.  I saw that His work was a “finished work”; and that instead of having, or needing, any righteousness of my own to recommend me to God, I had to submit myself to the righteousness of God through Christ. [2]

Newly-baptized and in-step with the Spirit of God, Finney commenced upon an evangelistic career wherein the Spirit moved powerfully in the work of conviction, through a demand for “repentance” and “works” that confounded Calvinism,.  Finney was widely and fiercely-criticized from Calvinistic-pulpits in his more evangelistic days) as a “legalist,” and a promoter of a “self-salvation of works.”[3]

After over twenty years of preaching a John the Baptist message, the evangelist suddenly became exercised concerning his own salvation.  He describes a time of distress he entered into in the 1840’s wherein “Scripture seemed to me all ablaze with light” and having a power that; “stung me almost like an adder.”[4]    Ultimately, he was led into a deeper sense of peace and of God’s grace.  He writes concerning the effect of this time of distress:

My bondage seemed to be, at that time, entirely broken; and since then, I have had the freedom of a child with a loving parent.  It seems to me that I can find God within me, in such a sense that I can rest upon Him and be quiet, lay my heart in His hand, and nestle down in His perfect will, and have no carefulness or anxiety.

He describes his preaching and teaching as thereafter oriented around the subject of sanctification.  He later retired to Oberlin College where he would preach, teach, and write.  He wrote an article called; “How to Overcome Sin”[5] that was remarkable for its denunciation of the doctrine (then common in virtually all denominations) that deliverance from sin’s bondage required a substantial act of the will.  Rather, Finney vigorously asserted there to be no other way for deliverance from sin’s bondage than the miraculous intervention of God that is possible through faith in Jesus Christ.

Despite his desire to dwell in the rich teachings of sanctification, Finney found that he was now preaching over the heads of his listeners:[6]Finney  Charles 02

But in preaching, I have found that nowhere can I preach those truths on which my own soul delights to live, and be understood, except it be by a very small number.

And he writes:[7]

When preaching to impenitent sinners, I am obliged, of course, to go back to first principles.  In my own experience, I have so long passed these outposts and first principles, that I cannot live upon those truths. I, however have to preach them to the impenitent to secure their conversion.

Charles Finney was denounced in his day, and heavily criticized in our own, with the accusation he preached a gospel of “works.”  Strangely, the opposite criticism followed him in his latter years.  When, as an anointed evangelist, he preached moral righteousness he was condemned as being of the Law, and when he taught deliverance and sanctification through faith he was criticized for encouraging spiritual passivity.  Thus we find a remarkable-similarity between these criticisms and those made against John the Baptist: 

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, “He has a devil.”  The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say,  “Behold, a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners.   But wisdom is justified of her children.                                                                                      Matt. 11:16-19

The Jews stumbled as if out of time with God’s Spirit, which, according to the Lord, was because they did not receive the true testimony of the Spirit heralded by John.  They were critical of his hard line against indulgences, excesses, and his exacting-standard of righteousness.  Death AngelThe Lord explained to them that this was the cause of their stumbling,[8] ie. they did not truly receive the Law of Moses exemplified in John’s testimony of the sinfulness of sin.  Therefore when the true grace of God was revealed in mercy and sanctification, they criticized that as indulgence and passivity.   They stumbled at the witness of God.

Not only the ministry, but the life of Charles Finney seems to stand illustration of the genuine  preaching of gospel works, followed by the advent of Gospel grace.  For it is the true Gospel which prepares the way for true holiness.

ii.   The NON-Orthodox Conflict between Faith & Works

We recognize today that both Wesley and Whitefield held orthodox views of salvation even if they differed in their sensibilities as how to best keep the oxcart on the road.  Their faithfulness to orthodoxy arose from the fact that neither repudiated the truth emphasized by the other. Were they to have actually repudiated the doctrine preached by the other, their names would not be so well known nor regarded today.  As well, Charles Finney did not undermine the doctrine of grace by virtue of his preaching the Law of God intrinsic to his demand for immediate moral righteousness.    Neither did he, following his new apprehension of grace, disavow his younger-days of evangelism which emphasized the essentiality of immediate moral-righteousness.

Orthodoxy, it is a safe proposition, is that which tends to fulfill the purposes of God in the redemption of men.  In contrast, it is heterodoxy which tends to subvert the same.  Fish in Net 05 The purer the Gospel message, the likelier it will find the ear of the elect and to have its fruition in holiness.  The more corrupted the message, the likelier it will be to draw up the bad fish, gather together the non-elect, and to generate chaff.  But there is a standard!  And certainly the apostles’ doctrine is that standard.  And so we may ask ourselves, Did the apostles assert an emphasis upon either side of this issue?  The answer is clearly they did not.  Their gospel declared both truths as immutably the same, ie.:

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that, not of yourselves.  It is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.     Eph. 2:8-9

. . . and . . .

Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not:  whosoever sinneth has not seen Him, neither known Him.                  I John 3:6

While these may appear to outside observation as conflicting statements, they are not.  They are one and the same.  It is only while Sin remains an aloof and abstract principle, that John’s words and Paul’s words appear paradoxical.  When once we feel the true character of Sin, as the agent of our destruction, and as a condition leading to Death, these two verses begin to harmonize.   It was Paul who wrote that “the wages of sin is death.”[9]  When we apprehend that for our soul to Sin is for our soul to Die, we can then understand that Grace and Deliverance are, in actuality, the same thing.

And so, the logical question becomes:  At what point do the proponents of a grace-emphasis or the proponents of a “works-emphasis”, indulge a leaven that undermines the fruition of holiness so as to constitute heterodoxy or apostasy from the gospel?  The answer would seem obvious, ie. when the Holy Spirit’s work is frustrated through the use of one truth to impair efficacy of the other.

The following sections will address some of the ways the doctrine of Justification has been wrested so as to impair the effect of the Gospel, and hinder the apprehension of the Kingdom of God in men.


[1] Ephesians 2:8-9

[2] The autobiography of Charles Finney, Chapter II.

[3] “. . yet it was long time before the cry ceased to be heard that I denied the agency of the Holy Ghost, in regeneration and conversion.  It was said that I taught self-conversion, self-regeneration; and not unfrequently was I rebuked for addressing the sinner as if the blame of his impenitence all belonged to himself, and for urging him to immediate submission.”  Autobiography of Charles Finney – Chapter XII.

[4] Autobiography of Charles Finney – Chapter XXVII

[5] How to Overcome Sin, Charles G. Finney, published by The Independent of New York, January 1, 1874.  Excerpts from this article are attached to the end of this letter.

[6] Autobiography of Charles Finney – Chapter XXVII

[7] Autobiography of Charles Finney – Chapter XXVII

[8] Matthew 21:32  For John came unto you in the way of righteousness; & you believed him not:  but the publicans & the harlots believed him: & you, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that you might believe him.

[9] Romans 6:23

Posted in 7A. JUSTIFICATION (Transactional Aspects) | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

VII.C.4 The Principle of Innocent Blood

PART  VII – Transactional Aspects of the Lamp-Stand Model

SUBPART C  –  GLORIFICATION

Article 4  –  THE PRINCIPLE OF INNOCENT BLOOD

By Daniel Irving

a.  Those He Justified, He Glorified

b.  The Tumult of Strangers Against the Sanctified of Christ

c.  The Principle of Innocent Blood

d.  The Broken Neck in a Defiled Land

e.  Lost Inheritance of the Murderous Heart

Lamb Sacrifice

Article 4  –  THE PRINCIPLE OF INNOCENT BLOOD

a.  Those He Justified, He Glorified

The prophecies of Isaiah include the question:

Who hath believed our report?  And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?                                                                                      Is. 53:1

What report?  The Gospel report that God has walked in flesh in the Person of His only begotten Son;[1] and that He has offered the propitiation for the sins of humanity through the Person of His only begotten Son.  This is the vital truth that shall be vindicated against all controversy.   And “who has believed our report?”  Those justified by the blood of that  sacrifice.  And concerning those who shall be made a part of this vindication, God’s Son declares:

“. . . fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul:  but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”       Matt. 10:28

For these, it will be the fear of God which begins to operate as the more vital reality than fear in the natural.  These justified by His blood shall be given a new awareness of the eternal.  They shall be given  armor whereby they need not fear the natural.  They can rejoice in the Lord’s words:

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake:  for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.    Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.  Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven:  for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.                Matt. 5:10-12

Having no more quarrel with men, they will find their quarrel to be against the spiritual agency responsible for darkening humanity’s understanding, and preventing men from knowing a day of salvation through the knowledge of Christ.  Natural strength is of no benefit in this new quarrel.  This quarrel belongs to God.  God has declared he shall conclusively reckon upon this controversy with a terrible finality:    Fire Sky 07

For it is the day of the LORD’S vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion.              Is. 34:8

Those justified by faith, shall lay down their lives for the purposes of God by that same faith.  Thus the justified by faith, shall glorify God by faith.  And God shall glorify them within Himself within Christ.

b.  The Tumult of Strangers Against the Sanctified of Christ

The third chapter of Joel’s prophecy relates to the nations coming presumptuously against the sanctified body of Christ.  When the hostility men have for God is directed against those beginning to bear His image in the world, there shall be a sudden and terrible consequence of the forfeiture of their own eternal life.  We read:Wall Looking Up

Egypt will become a waste, and Edom will become a desolate wilderness, because of the violence done to the sons of Judah, in whose land they have shed innocent blood.                                                                                      Joel 3:19

Why shall Egypt and Edom become a waste?  Egypt signifies the world spirit.  Edom signifies the natural man.  There is a time foretold when the world will go head to head with the Jerusalem-above, meaning those confirmed in Christ through sanctification by the Spirit.  In so doing, the nations outside of Christ and acting out against God’s purposes in Christ and His body, shall be decisively crushed beneath the rock that is the truth of Jesus Christ.  Recall that Christ said:

“And whoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.”                     Matt. 21:44

Isaiah as well prophesies of a terrible stumbling that shall befall the nations when they come against the sanctified of Christ.  God tells Zion:

Moreover the multitude of thy strangers shall be like small dust, and the multitude of the terrible ones shall be as chaff that passeth away; yea, it shall be at an instant, suddenly.             Is. 29:5

This Hebrew word translated “multitude”[2] in both the NASV as well as the KJV (and used twice here) is normally used in reference to a large crowd.  The word is most used in context with the nations of the world or the enemies of Israel, and seems to suggest uproar or a disquieted condition.  We find it used as follows:tumultuous battle

Gen 17:4           . . .  thou shalt be a father of many nations.

Jdg 4:7             Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude;

When the Philistines captured the ark in battle, Eli said . . .

1Sa 4:14          What meaneth the noise of this tumult?

When speaking of the army of the Philistines, it is written . . .

1Sa 14:16        . . . and, behold, the multitude melted away,

To avoid having to tell the king his son (Absolem) was dead, Ahimaaz said . .

2Sa 18:29        I saw a great tumult, but I knew not what it was.

Ps 65:7             Which stilleth the noise of the seas, the noise of their waves, and the tumult of the people.

Is 13:4              The noise of a multitude in the mountains, like as of a great people; a tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together:    

Prophecy foretells of the elect being brought low and suffering affliction in anticipation of a glorious resurrection.

  But thou hast cast off and abhorred, thou hast been wroth with thine anointed.  Thou hast made void the covenant of thy servant:  thou hast profaned his crown by casting it to the ground.  Thou hast broken down all his hedges; thou hast brought his strong holds to ruin.  All that pass by the way spoil him: he is a reproach to his neighbors.  Thou hast set up the right hand of his adversaries; thou hast made all his enemies to rejoice.  Thou hast also turned the edge of his sword, and hast not made him to stand in the battle.  Thou hast made his glory to cease, and cast his throne down to the ground.  The days of his youth hast thou shortened: thou hast covered him with shame.  Selah.                                                                                      Ps. 89:38-45 

The elect shall be brought into acute affliction as a prelude to a future work of God.  Job 02Job, in his sufferings spoke in similar manner, lamenting,  “He has stripped my honor from me, and removed the crown from my head.”  However, for those strangers to God, there is a different result.  God tells Zion that the strangers that rise against her “shall become like fine dust.”  This word “dust” is not the same word translated in the preceding verses as “dust.”  This Hebrew word [3] is rarely used for “dust”, and the translators seem agreed that the connotation is that of a finer dust.  The Interlinear Version renders it, “ the host of your strangers shall be as fine powder,” while the King James Version renders it, “the multitude of thy strangers shall be as small dust.” The Hebrew word translated “small”[4] in the KJV and “fine” in the NASV derives from the Hebrew word for “crush.”[5]  Its rare usage in scripture includes:

And he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the Lord, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small and bring it within the veil.”   Lev 16:12

Clearly, the prophet declares that in contrast to Ariel, who shall be only driven into the dust, those who oppose Ariel shall in fact become very fine dust that is blown away.

Who are these that are ground to powder in this way?  The Hebrew word translated “enemies” [6] by the NASV and “strangers” by the KJV, is never the word for “enemies” in the KJV.  “Enemy” is not even a listed meaning in the Hebrew lexicon.  It is not the enemies of Ariel that shall be ground to fine powder, it is the strangers to Ariel.  While not the most common word for stranger in the KJV, it is rendered this way in several instances, e.g.:

Ex. 29:33          & they shall eat those things wherewith the atonement was made                                     To consecrate & to sanctify them; but a stranger shall not eat thereof, because they are holy.

Ex. 30:33          Whosoever compoundeth any like it, or whosoever puts any of it                                     upon a stranger, shall even be cut off from his people.

Lev. 22:10         There shall be no stranger eat of the holy thing;

Num 1:51          & when the tabernacle is to be pitched, the Levites shall set it up;                                     The stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death.

Num 18:7          I have given your priest’s office unto you as a service of gift; and the stranger that comes nigh shall be put to death.

Ps. 69:8  I am a stranger  unto my brethren, & an alien unto my mother’s children.

This word therefore has particular application when referring to outsiders concerning the things of God, ie. those that do not belong to the congregation of God’s people.  The principle of strangerhood expresses the contrasting relationship of those authorized to enter into the holy things.  To understand its meaning in terms of the Gospel, it would appear that, particularly in light of Exodus 29:33 (above), it would most fundamentally refer to those not within the mystical “body of Christ, or (at least) not solidly within a valid profession of faith in Jesus Christ.  Yet in verse seven of Isaiah’s prophecy these are said to “wage war” against Ariel.  The implication is that those outside of Christ will begin to wage a persecution of the body of Christ.  In fact, there is a prophecy of David which also uses the same rare word for stranger:

For strangers are risen up against me, and oppressors seek after my soul; They have not set God before them.                    Ps. 54:3

The Spirit of Christ is opposed by a spirit that rises up in the ungodly.  The “ungodly” being “strangers” to the things of God, who have not “set God before” their eyes.  They have not brought faith into the equation of their lives.  Because they have never chosen to set God and his righteous requirements before themselves in any way beyond a superficial sense, their consciences run unhindered despite the approach of judgment.

Recall that such occurred when the Pharisaical Jews opposed Christ when he declared to them the parable of the wicked husbandmen.  After the Lord told them this parable, they “sought to lay hands on Him.”[7]  After delivering to them the parable, Jesus states:

“And whoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.”                  Matt. 21:44

The meaning therefore of being crushed to “fine dust” refers to perishing in judgment due to opposition to the Person or purposes of Christ Jesus.

c.  The Principle of Innocent Blood

Looking again to Joel’s prophecy, we read:Wall Looking Up

Egypt will become a waste, and Edom will become a desolate wilderness, because of the violence done to the sons of Judah, in whose land they have shed innocent blood.                                                                                      Joel 3:19

There is a high-sacrilege represented in violence against the image of God that is Christ.[8]  The crucifixion of Christ itself was the fulfillment of this violence and constituted the altar sanctifying all suffering under this principle.   This violence as well, constitutes the unwitting “rod” God uses to perfect those entering into the kingdom of our Lord.

What is the “innocent blood” that God shall avenge?  This concept of innocent blood was laid down in the Law.  We read in the Law of Moses:

  Keep thee far from a false matter;  and the innocent and righteous slay thou not: for I will not justify the wicked.            Ex 23:7

Moses gave particular warning against becoming responsible for the slaying of innocent blood, particularly in light of Israel having assumed its place in the land of their possession. Lamb 03

That innocent blood be not shed in thy land, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, & so blood be upon thee.   Deut. 19:10

Despite this plea that no “innocent blood” be laid to the account of the nation of Israel, what in fact occurred?  Israel ultimately did shed the innocent blood of Christ upon His visitation into the world and among His own.  Therefore these received the denunciation of the Lord,:

“Woe to you, scribes & Pharisees, hypocrites!  Because you build the tombs of the prophets & adorn the monuments of the righteous, & say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the  prophets.’  Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves  that you are the sons of those who murdered the prophets.”                  Matt. 23:29-31

But was it all of Israel that received this rebuke?  No, for there were also those in Israel that received Christ and entered upon the fulfillment of the true and spiritual Israel.  The “innocent blood” was shed in the midst of Jerusalem, the rightful place of the great king; a point which was made in the prophecy of Jeremiah concerning the reprobate Jews that did not go into exile into Babylon:

for thus says the Lord concerning the king who sits on the throne of David, and concerning all the people who dwell in this city, your brothers who did not go with you into exile –thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Behold I am sending upon them the sword, famine, & pestilence, & I will make them like split-open figs that cannot be eaten due to rottenness.  & I will pursue them with the sword, with famine, & with pestilence; & I will make them a terror to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, and a horror, & a hissing, and a reproach among the nations where I have driven them, because they have not listened to My words,’ declares the Lord ‘when I sent them again & again by My servants the prophets; but you did not listen’, declares the Lord.                      Jer. 29:16-19

The prophecies of Jeremiah declared that something wonderful lay in store for those of His people that had settled in Babylon – ie. that God had “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give [them] a future and a hope.”[9]  In light of their rejection from the land, one would think they were in the least position to hope in the Lord, particularly considering those that had steadfastly held onto the indicia of salvation despite the Spirit’s witness against them of Sin.   They proved themselves resilient to the witness of the Word, a characteristic that did not accommodate the redemptive purposes of God.

At a time when Israel was divided and God’s word ignored – a time when the strength of God’s people lay predominantly in the flesh – there were those that ascended to prominence and thrived, ie. those that were the most resistant to the Divine witness against them – those that had the least true belief in the efficacy and power of the Law’s witness, or at least little truth within themselves by which to perceive their own non-conformity therewith.  This placed them in a vulnerable spiritual condition against which the Law itself had bid them fair warning, “saying, ‘Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.’” [10]  Despite the solemn warning delivered them by Moses, they shed the blood of the righteous that co-existed with the unrighteous in the same land, incurring blood-guilt of a type not possible in any other nation.

d.  The Broken Neck for a Defiled Land

Despite the warning of the Law against incurring blood-guilt, there was nonetheless a means for purging the land.  There was a provision for the purging of guilt after the slaying of innocent blood.  When a man was found murdered in a field, the innocent blood had to be purged.  Thus a heifer was brought into a valley where there was running water and its neck was broken.  The elders of the nearest city were to wash their hands and call unto the Lord as follows:

  Be merciful, O LORD, unto thy people Israel, whom thou hast redeemed, and lay not innocent blood unto thy people of Israel’s charge.   And the blood shall be forgiven them.   So shalt thou put away the guilt of innocent blood from among you, when thou shalt do that which is right in the sight of the LORD.     Deut. 21:8

Note this sacrifice mentions nothing about purging the sin of the perpetrator.  Rather the sacrifice was for the purging of the land, meaning that God considered the whole population defiled by the shedding of innocent blood.  Notice the unusual mode of killing the sacrifice.  While the normal mode of killing the sacrifice was to release its blood,[11] the method used for the sacrifice for the shedding of innocent blood was to kill it in such a way that the blood remained within the animal.  This was also the method for killing any firstborn (ie. that belonging to the Lord) that was not to be redeemed:

And every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb;  and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break his neck  and all the firstborn of man among thy children shalt thou redeem.        Ex. 13:13 

All firstborn sons of God were required to be redeemed by blood sacrifice – a symbol of the elect, redeemed by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  But if there be a firstborn that is not to be redeemed, it shall have its neck broken.

The Law pronounced a special curse concerning the man that accepted a reward for the killing of the innocent.Crucifixion Feet

  Cursed be he that taketh reward to slay an innocent person.  And all the people shall say, Amen.                  Deu 27:25

Judas realized exactly what he had done after delivering up Christ to the Jews:

Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood.  And they said, What is that to us? See thou to that.  And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.                  Matt. 27:4-5

Why did Moses warn the people concerning the shedding of innocent blood?   The nation was ultimately destined to shed the innocent blood of Christ.  For the day would come to Israel when the Righteous One[12] would present Himself, and His innocent blood they would shed:

When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made,  he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude,  saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.  Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.                   Matt. 27:24-25 

Despite the warning of Moses, those claiming stake under the Law were eager to shed the blood of the righteous just as their fathers had done before them.  But the Lord’s sacrifice would call forth many more of “the righteous;” those made righteous through the justification of God and cleansing of conscience provided in the blood of the Cross; those following in the Lord’s example:

Little children, let no man deceive you:  he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.                     I John 3:7

If this is the case, ie. if the sanctified in Christ are “righteous, even as He is righteous,” then shedding the blood of the saints also constitutes the “shedding of innocent blood.”   Thus the Jewish nation heaped wrath upon itself through its continual persecution and killing of the body of Christ in the earth, even as it had persecuted and killed their Head.  This went on until its land was hopelessly defiled.  Paul writes concerning the nation of Israel:

Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved,  to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.        I Thess. 2:15-16

And to think that this was formerly God’s own people!  Hopefully this will be a warning to us today lest we presume upon the things of God and fail to perceive when the Spirit of Christ is at work sanctifying men in the present day.  For Paul warns us that just as they were broken from off the olive tree, the same is true of us.[13]  Just as God’s people that rejected Christ and who rose against the sanctified in Christ in the first century became the unwitting tools of antichrist, so can God’s people today become the unwitting tools of the antichrist spirit through unbelief.[14]  For this is the basis for our attachment to, or detachment from, the Lord; “. . they were broken off for their unbelief; but you stand by your faith.”[15]

e.   The Lost Inheritance of the Murderous Heart

Consider that the epic struggle of king David was not against Goliath, nor was his primary struggle against the Philistines.  The first book of Samuel begins with the transgression of the priesthood of Israel, ie. between God and His own people.  Ultimately, the book develops into the epic struggle between David and SaulSaul Speers DavidSaul sought to kill David with maniacal zeal.  Yet, David had done nothing untoward except to sanctify the God of Israel.  Therefore Saul’s own son, Jonathan, delivered to his father this rebuke:

For he did put his life in his hand, and slew the Philistine, and the LORD wrought a great salvation for all Israel:   thou sawest it, and didst rejoice: wherefore then wilt thou sin against innocent blood, to slay David without a cause?                                                                                                 I Sam. 19:5

Those rejected by the Lord and continuing in unbelief, shall receive a deluding spirit.  It shall manifest as hatred (ie. a spirit of murder) within the Church.  Prior to judgment upon Jerusalem, Jeremiah prophesied:

Thus saith the LORD; Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor:  and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place.                                                                                      Jer. 22:3

Who is the oppressor?[16]

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.         Eph 6:12

If the “oppressor” be “spiritual wickedness in high places,” then who are the “spoiled?”  Those that have been spoiled of their inheritance in Christ due to the oppression of Satanic agency; “spiritual wickedness in high places.”  The “spoiled” reside in Sin, and so in Death, due to the lies and oppression of Satan until such time as they receive faith to overcome.   Those having life in the Spirit abide in a place to receive from the Lord and to give to those in need.  But those living in the flesh can only trample upon the things of God.   This is the work of “Edom” (ie. the flesh), and therefore the prophecy denounces the violence done by Edom.  Edom is destined to become a permanent desolation from the Spirit of God; “because of the violence done to the sons of Judah, in whose land they have shed innocent blood.”


[1] John 14:10-11

[2] H1995   hâmôn  hâmôn   haw-mone’, haw-mone’   From H1993; a noise, tumult, crowd; also disquietude, wealth: – abundance, company, many, multitude, multiply, noise, riches, rumbling, sounding, store, tumult.

[3] aw-bawk’ (Strong’s No. 80) meaning; dust or powder.

[4] Dak (Strong’s No. 1851) meaning to “crush”, thence; small, thin.

[5] Derives from daw-kak’ (Strong’s No. 1854) meaning; to crush.

[6]“zoor” (Strong’s No. 2114) from a root meaning to “turn aside”, therefore the meaning is; “stranger, stranger, foreigner, profane”

[7] Matthew 21:46

[8] See commentary on Isaiah 59:6  & an act of violence is in their hands.

[9] Jeremiah 29:11

[10] Psalm 105:15 and I Chronicles 16:22

[11] Exodus 12:7, 24:6, 29:11-12, 29:20, Leviticus 1:5, 1:11, 3:2

[12] I John 2:1   “. . . advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.”

[13] Romans 11:18-21

[14] Note this is the context of Romans chapter 11 – “. . they were broken off for their unbelief; but you stand by your faith.”

[15] Romans 11:20

[16] See commentary on Isaiah 51:13  because of the fury of the oppressor, as he makes ready to destroy?

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