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entering their hearts thereby, He cleanses them from the pollution of iniquity, and “purifies them a peculiar people zealous of good works.”
But we have yet another thing to note as to the way in which Jesus sanctifies his own. While by his Spirit it is that he accomplishes the work, what are the means which He makes use of for that end ?
St. Paul explains this also : “the word,” the word of God, this it is that Jesus employs, and by that word his Spirit works in those whom He has redeemed. The great truths of divine revelation, these are brought to bear upon the heart and will of a redeemed sinner, and, the power of the Holy Spirit causing him to feel those truths, his affections are drawn heavenward, and he walks in newness of life.
Hence when Jesus, on earth, prayed for his Church, we read this striking petition," sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth.' You note the means of their sanctification,
through thy truth, thy word is truth.”
Yes, let but a sinner's heart be made to feel those great and gracious things with which the word of truth is filled ; let him know that God has loved him, and that from everlasting ; let him know what this heavenly love has done for him, how it has wrought a wonderful redemption for him, that Christ hath died to save him, and that God for Christ's sake hath forgiven him, that he is reconciled unto God by the death of his Son, pardoned and saved eternally through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus : O, the
heart that really knows, believes, and feels such things as these, how will it be henceforth affected toward sin and the world on the one hand, toward God and holiness on the other ?
Christian, you can tell. ". The word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation,”
you know what a change it has been the means of accomplishing in you. You hate sin, you forsake the world, you love God, you delight in holiness, and why? Because the word has taught you, and the Holy Spirit given you by Christ, has made you feel this precious truth, that by grace, free grace, the grace of God in Jesus Christ, you, a guilty sinner, have been ransomed, forgiven, everlastingly saved.
Here then we behold the sanctification of the Church. “ Christ hath sanctified and cleansed it, with the washing of water, by the word.”
IV. What is it that Christ hath yet in view as it regards his Church ? What is to be the issue of that eternal love which He hath borne toward her, and of that marvellous redemption which He hath effected for her, and of that work of sanctification which by his Spirit and his word He hath wrought in her ? It is declared to be this, “THAT HE MAY PRESENT IT UNTO HIMSELF A GLORIOUS CHURCH, NOT HAVING SPOT OR WRINKLE, OR ANY SUCH THING, BUT THAT IT MAY BE HOLY, AND WITHOUT BLEMISH.
A state of glory then, a state of glorious perfection, this is that which Christ designs as the end and consummation of all his plans and acts of love toward his people. Glorious perfection, I repeat, for this you observe is the state described. The Apostle declares that the Church is to be “a glorious Church :” but wherein shall her glory consist? It shall consist in this, her freedom from spot or blemish, yea, her holiness, complete unsullied holiness, in one word, her likeness to her Lord.
On earth, indeed, the Church, in a certain comparative and limited sense, is holy. “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people.
True Christians are changed in heart. They are separated from the world. They love God. They choose his ways. They follow after holiness. But perfectly holy they are not.
Blessed be God, however, they shall be so. In that day when Christ shall come to gather together his elect, and take them to the mansions in their Father's house, then each one of them shall be found blameless, yea, “ without fault before the throne of God," clothed in that “fine linen, clean and white, which is the righteousness of saints,” not that righteousnesss for justification, which they have from Christ imputed to them, but that which constitutes their sanctification, wrought in them by his Holy Spirit, and in which they shall stand “perfect and complete in all the will of God.” Then it is that the Church
a glorious Church,” sinless, pure, and holy, like to Christ. Most blessed thought ! “When He shall appear, we shall be like Him.”
Now this then is the issue of the Saviour's
plan of love. All the counsels of eternal mercy had this for their end, the glorious perfection of the Church. All that Jesus did and suffered for his people, and all that by his Spirit He now works in them, is to terminate in this one result, their spotless holiness. And when that result is gained, Jesus will be satisfied. This will be his joy, to “present to Himself,” to have before Him, in the day of his appearing, as his own possession, this sanctified Church, holy, and without blemish.
Let me close with one or two reflections. And first, let us mark the instruction which our subject yields : instruction as to what is the real character of Christ's salvation. Take the mass of men in this Christian land, ask them what it is that Christ, as a Saviour, hath done for his people? He has died for them, you will be told : and why has He died for them ? you ask : To deliver them from hell, will be the reply: and there, with the vast majority of people, lies the whole of Christ's salvation. Deliverance from hell, this is the grand blessing which men, for the most part, think of Christ, as procuring for his people. They go no further. But let me ask, Is this the whole of Christ's salvation ? Is it merely our rescue from eternal woe ? Far otherwise. There is much more than this. This is but a part.
Yes, and in fact it is but a step to something else. Christ delivers his Church from God's wrath and damnation, in order that He may do something more .
Observe the text: He“ loved the Church, and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and
cleanse it : here was the end and purpose of his redemption : for this it was He saved his people from eternal death, that He might have them a possession for Himself to sanctify, and make them pure, spotless, holy, and perfect for ever.
The instruction then is this. See the object of the Gospel See what has been the Redeemer's aim all through. It is his people's sanctification. He could not make them holy while the wrath of God was yet abiding upon them. Therefore this is the first act of his love. He gives Himself for the Church, to ransom her from wrath and ruin, in order that then He might sanctify and cleanse her, and present her atlength unto Himself glorious in her perfection.
Then secondly, I would say, out of this truth there arises a very important admonition.
It is this. Have any of us been wont hitherto to think of the salvation of Christ only as a deliverance from condemnation? Has this been all that we were anxious for ? Did we know that we were safe from hell, should we be satisfied, and say that it is all we want? Then plainly we know nothing aright of Jesus and his Gospel. We do not understand what salvation is.
Sinner, it is so with you. Men of the world, it is so with you. All that you look to Christ to do for you, all you ask, all you hope, it is simply this, that when you die you may not go to hell. Now, let me warn you, that is not the salvation of Christ. The salvation of Christ is a deliverance from sin, the love of sin, the power of