See SANCTIFICATION T0003212.
involves more than a mere moral reformation of character,
brought about by the power of the truth: it is the work of the
Holy Spirit bringing the whole nature more and more under the
influences of the new gracious principles implanted in the soul
in regeneration. In other words, sanctification is the carrying
on to perfection the work begun in regeneration, and it extends
to the whole man (Rom. 6:13; 2 Cor. 4:6; Col. 3:10; 1 John 4:7;
1 Cor. 6:19). It is the special office of the Holy Spirit in the
plan of redemption to carry on this work (1 Cor. 6:11; 2 Thess.
2:13). Faith is instrumental in securing sanctification,
inasmuch as it (1) secures union to Christ (Gal. 2:20), and (2)
brings the believer into living contact with the truth, whereby
he is led to yield obedience "to the commands, trembling at the
threatenings, and embracing the promises of God for this life
and that which is to come."
Perfect sanctification is not attainable in this life (1 Kings
8:46; Prov. 20:9; Eccl. 7:20; James 3:2; 1 John 1:8). See Paul's
account of himself in Rom. 7:14-25; Phil. 3:12-14; and 1 Tim.
1:15; also the confessions of David (Ps. 19:12, 13; 51), of
Moses (90:8), of Job (42:5, 6), and of Daniel (9:3-20). "The
more holy a man is, the more humble, self-renouncing,
self-abhorring, and the more sensitive to every sin he becomes,
and the more closely he clings to Christ. The moral
imperfections which cling to him he feels to be sins, which he
laments and strives to overcome. Believers find that their life
is a constant warfare, and they need to take the kingdom of
heaven by storm, and watch while they pray. They are always
subject to the constant chastisement of their Father's loving
hand, which can only be designed to correct their imperfections
and to confirm their graces. And it has been notoriously the
fact that the best Christians have been those who have been the
least prone to claim the attainment of perfection for
themselves.", Hodge's Outlines.
First-born, Sanctification of the
A peculiar sanctity was attached to the first-born both of man
and of cattle. God claimed that the first-born males of man and
of animals should be consecrated to him, the one as a priest
(Ex. 19:22, 24), representing the family to which he belonged,
and the other to be offered up in sacrifice (Gen. 4:4).
in the highest sense belongs to God (Isa. 6:3; Rev. 15:4), and
to Christians as consecrated to God's service, and in so far as
they are conformed in all things to the will of God (Rom. 6:19,
22; Eph. 1:4; Titus 1:8; 1 Pet. 1:15). Personal holiness is a
work of gradual development. It is carried on under many
hindrances, hence the frequent admonitions to watchfulness,
prayer, and perseverance (1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor. 7:1; Eph. 4:23,
24). (See SANCTIFICATION T0003212.)
of our Lord on a "high mountain apart," is described by each of
the three evangelists (Matt. 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36).
The fullest account is given by Luke, who, no doubt, was
informed by Peter, who was present on the occasion. What these
evangelists record was an absolute historical reality, and not a
mere vision. The concurrence between them in all the
circumstances of the incident is exact. John seems to allude to
it also (John 1:14). Forty years after the event Peter
distinctly makes mention of it (2 Pet. 1:16-18). In describing
the sanctification of believers, Paul also seems to allude to
this majestic and glorious appearance of our Lord on the "holy
mount" (Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 3:18).
The place of the transfiguration was probably Mount Hermon
(q.v.), and not Mount Tabor, as is commonly supposed.
Called by Galen "the instrument of instruments." It is the
symbol of human action (Ps. 9:16; Job 9:30; Isa. 1:15; 1 Tim.
2:8). Washing the hands was a symbol of innocence (Ps. 26:6;
73:13; Matt. 27:24), also of sanctification (1 Cor. 6:11; Isa.
51:16; Ps. 24:3, 4). In Ps. 77:2 the correct rendering is, as in
the Revised Version, "My hand was stretched out," etc., instead
of, as in the Authorized Version, "My sore ran in the night,"
The right hand denoted the south, and the left the north (Job
23:9; 1 Sam. 23:19). To give the right hand was a pledge of
fidelity (2 Kings 10:15; Ezra 10:19); also of submission to the
victors (Ezek. 17:18; Jer. 50:15). The right hand was lifted up
in taking an oath (Gen. 14:22, etc.). The hand is frequently
mentioned, particularly the right hand, as a symbol of power and
strength (Ps. 60:5; Isa. 28:2). To kiss the hand is an act of
homage (1 Kings 19:18; Job 31:27), and to pour water on one's
hands is to serve him (2 Kings 3:11). The hand of God is the
symbol of his power: its being upon one denotes favour (Ezra
7:6, 28; Isa. 1:25; Luke 1:66, etc.) or punishment (Ex. 9:3;
Judg. 2:15; Acts 13:11, etc.). A position at the right hand was
regarded as the chief place of honour and power (Ps. 45:9;
80:17; 110:1; Matt. 26:64).
Thessalonians, Epistles to the
The first epistle to the Thessalonians was the first of all
Paul's epistles. It was in all probability written from Corinth,
where he abode a "long time" (Acts 18:11, 18), early in the
period of his residence there, about the end of A.D. 52.
The occasion of its being written was the return of Timotheus
from Macedonia, bearing tidings from Thessalonica regarding the
state of the church there (Acts 18:1-5; 1 Thess. 3:6). While, on
the whole, the report of Timothy was encouraging, it also showed
that divers errors and misunderstandings regarding the tenor of
Paul's teaching had crept in amongst them. He addresses them in
this letter with the view of correcting these errors, and
especially for the purpose of exhorting them to purity of life,
reminding them that their sanctification was the great end
desired by God regarding them.
The subscription erroneously states that this epistle was
written from Athens.
The second epistle to the Thessalonians was probably also
written from Corinth, and not many months after the first.
The occasion of the writing of this epistle was the arrival of
tidings that the tenor of the first epistle had been
misunderstood, especially with reference to the second advent of
Christ. The Thessalonians had embraced the idea that Paul had
taught that "the day of Christ was at hand", that Christ's
coming was just about to happen. This error is corrected
(2:1-12), and the apostle prophetically announces what first
must take place. "The apostasy" was first to arise. Various
explanations of this expression have been given, but that which
is most satisfactory refers it to the Church of Rome.
a forensic term, opposed to condemnation. As regards its nature,
it is the judicial act of God, by which he pardons all the sins
of those who believe in Christ, and accounts, accepts, and
treats them as righteous in the eye of the law, i.e., as
conformed to all its demands. In addition to the pardon (q.v.)
of sin, justification declares that all the claims of the law
are satisfied in respect of the justified. It is the act of a
judge and not of a sovereign. The law is not relaxed or set
aside, but is declared to be fulfilled in the strictest sense;
and so the person justified is declared to be entitled to all
the advantages and rewards arising from perfect obedience to the
law (Rom. 5:1-10).
It proceeds on the imputing or crediting to the believer by
God himself of the perfect righteousness, active and passive, of
his Representative and Surety, Jesus Christ (Rom. 10:3-9).
Justification is not the forgiveness of a man without
righteousness, but a declaration that he possesses a
righteousness which perfectly and for ever satisfies the law,
namely, Christ's righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 4:6-8).
The sole condition on which this righteousness is imputed or
credited to the believer is faith in or on the Lord Jesus
Christ. Faith is called a "condition," not because it possesses
any merit, but only because it is the instrument, the only
instrument by which the soul appropriates or apprehends Christ
and his righteousness (Rom. 1:17; 3:25, 26; 4:20, 22; Phil.
3:8-11; Gal. 2:16).
The act of faith which thus secures our justification secures
also at the same time our sanctification (q.v.); and thus the
doctrine of justification by faith does not lead to
licentiousness (Rom. 6:2-7). Good works, while not the ground,
are the certain consequence of justification (6:14; 7:6). (See
GALATIANS, EPISTLE TO T0001413.)
cutting around. This rite, practised before, as some think, by
divers races, was appointed by God to be the special badge of
his chosen people, an abiding sign of their consecration to him.
It was established as a national ordinance (Gen. 17:10, 11). In
compliance with the divine command, Abraham, though ninety-nine
years of age, was circumcised on the same day with Ishmael, who
was thirteen years old (17:24-27). Slaves, whether home-born or
purchased, were circumcised (17:12, 13); and all foreigners must
have their males circumcised before they could enjoy the
privileges of Jewish citizenship (Ex. 12:48). During the journey
through the wilderness, the practice of circumcision fell into
disuse, but was resumed by the command of Joshua before they
entered the Promised Land (Josh. 5:2-9). It was observed always
afterwards among the tribes of israel, although it is not
expressly mentioned from the time of the settlement in Canaan
till the time of Christ, about 1,450 years. The Jews prided
themselves in the possession of this covenant distinction (Judg.
14:3; 15:18; 1 Sam. 14:6; 17:26; 2 Sam. 1:20; Ezek. 31:18).
As a rite of the church it ceased when the New Testament times
began (Gal. 6:15; Col. 3:11). Some Jewish Christians sought to
impose it, however, on the Gentile converts; but this the
apostles resolutely resisted (Acts 15:1; Gal. 6:12). Our Lord
was circumcised, for it "became him to fulfil all
righteousness," as of the seed of Abraham, according to the
flesh; and Paul "took and circumcised" Timothy (Acts 16:3), to
avoid giving offence to the Jews. It would render Timothy's
labors more acceptable to the Jews. But Paul would by no means
consent to the demand that Titus should be circumcised (Gal.
2:3-5). The great point for which he contended was the free
admission of uncircumcised Gentiles into the church. He
contended successfully in behalf of Titus, even in Jerusalem.
In the Old Testament a spiritual idea is attached to
circumcision. It was the symbol of purity (Isa. 52:1). We read
of uncircumcised lips (Ex. 6:12, 30), ears (Jer. 6:10), hearts
(Lev. 26:41). The fruit of a tree that is unclean is spoken of
as uncircumcised (Lev. 19:23).
It was a sign and seal of the covenant of grace as well as of
the national covenant between God and the Hebrews. (1.) It
sealed the promises made to Abraham, which related to the
commonwealth of Israel, national promises. (2.) But the promises
made to Abraham included the promise of redemption (Gal. 3:14),
a promise which has come upon us. The covenant with Abraham was
a dispensation or a specific form of the covenant of grace, and
circumcision was a sign and seal of that covenant. It had a
spiritual meaning. It signified purification of the heart,
inward circumcision effected by the Spirit (Deut. 10:16; 30:6;
Ezek. 44:7; Acts 7:51; Rom. 2:28; Col. 2:11). Circumcision as a
symbol shadowing forth sanctification by the Holy Spirit has now
given way to the symbol of baptism (q.v.). But the truth
embodied in both ordinances is ever the same, the removal of
sin, the sanctifying effects of grace in the heart.
Under the Jewish dispensation, church and state were
identical. No one could be a member of the one without also
being a member of the other. Circumcision was a sign and seal of
membership in both. Every circumcised person bore thereby
evidence that he was one of the chosen people, a member of the
church of God as it then existed, and consequently also a member
of the Jewish commonwealth.
Faith is in general the persuasion of the mind that a certain
statement is true (Phil. 1:27; 2 Thess. 2:13). Its primary idea
is trust. A thing is true, and therefore worthy of trust. It
admits of many degrees up to full assurance of faith, in
accordance with the evidence on which it rests.
Faith is the result of teaching (Rom. 10:14-17). Knowledge is
an essential element in all faith, and is sometimes spoken of as
an equivalent to faith (John 10:38; 1 John 2:3). Yet the two are
distinguished in this respect, that faith includes in it assent,
which is an act of the will in addition to the act of the
understanding. Assent to the truth is of the essence of faith,
and the ultimate ground on which our assent to any revealed
truth rests is the veracity of God.
Historical faith is the apprehension of and assent to certain
statements which are regarded as mere facts of history.
Temporary faith is that state of mind which is awakened in men
(e.g., Felix) by the exhibition of the truth and by the
influence of religious sympathy, or by what is sometimes styled
the common operation of the Holy Spirit.
Saving faith is so called because it has eternal life
inseparably connected with it. It cannot be better defined than
in the words of the Assembly's Shorter Catechism: "Faith in
Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon
him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel."
The object of saving faith is the whole revealed Word of God.
Faith accepts and believes it as the very truth most sure. But
the special act of faith which unites to Christ has as its
object the person and the work of the Lord Jesus Christ (John
7:38; Acts 16:31). This is the specific act of faith by which a
sinner is justified before God (Rom. 3:22, 25; Gal. 2:16; Phil.
3:9; John 3:16-36; Acts 10:43; 16:31). In this act of faith the
believer appropriates and rests on Christ alone as Mediator in
all his offices.
This assent to or belief in the truth received upon the divine
testimony has always associated with it a deep sense of sin, a
distinct view of Christ, a consenting will, and a loving heart,
together with a reliance on, a trusting in, or resting in
Christ. It is that state of mind in which a poor sinner,
conscious of his sin, flees from his guilty self to Christ his
Saviour, and rolls over the burden of all his sins on him. It
consists chiefly, not in the assent given to the testimony of
God in his Word, but in embracing with fiducial reliance and
trust the one and only Saviour whom God reveals. This trust and
reliance is of the essence of faith. By faith the believer
directly and immediately appropriates Christ as his own. Faith
in its direct act makes Christ ours. It is not a work which God
graciously accepts instead of perfect obedience, but is only the
hand by which we take hold of the person and work of our
Redeemer as the only ground of our salvation.
Saving faith is a moral act, as it proceeds from a renewed
will, and a renewed will is necessary to believing assent to the
truth of God (1 Cor. 2:14; 2 Cor. 4:4). Faith, therefore, has
its seat in the moral part of our nature fully as much as in the
intellectual. The mind must first be enlightened by divine
teaching (John 6:44; Acts 13:48; 2 Cor. 4:6; Eph. 1:17, 18)
before it can discern the things of the Spirit.
Faith is necessary to our salvation (Mark 16:16), not because
there is any merit in it, but simply because it is the sinner's
taking the place assigned him by God, his falling in with what
God is doing.
The warrant or ground of faith is the divine testimony, not
the reasonableness of what God says, but the simple fact that he
says it. Faith rests immediately on, "Thus saith the Lord." But
in order to this faith the veracity, sincerity, and truth of God
must be owned and appreciated, together with his
unchangeableness. God's word encourages and emboldens the sinner
personally to transact with Christ as God's gift, to close with
him, embrace him, give himself to Christ, and take Christ as
his. That word comes with power, for it is the word of God who
has revealed himself in his works, and especially in the cross.
God is to be believed for his word's sake, but also for his
Faith in Christ secures for the believer freedom from
condemnation, or justification before God; a participation in
the life that is in Christ, the divine life (John 14:19; Rom.
6:4-10; Eph. 4:15,16, etc.); "peace with God" (Rom. 5:1); and
sanctification (Acts 26:18; Gal. 5:6; Acts 15:9).
All who thus believe in Christ will certainly be saved (John
6:37, 40; 10:27, 28; Rom. 8:1).
The faith=the gospel (Acts 6:7; Rom. 1:5; Gal. 1:23; 1 Tim.
3:9; Jude 1:3).