HOW is it that so many who have been justified by faith make no progress in grace but fall into the dead formalism of religion or openly renounce their profession and forsake the Church’s membership? Indeed, there is a cause. What is it? Where may it be found? Is it in the individuals themselves, or are those who have charge of them as ministers or teachers? It may probably be found in both.
It is to be feared that many who enter a justified state seldom look any farther. They rest in sin forgiven and have little or no thought for sin eradicated and purged away. They are in Christ but are not impressed with the importance of growing in Him. They are on the course but forget that they must run to reach the goal. They have entered the battlefield, but they seem to act like victories could be won without fighting.
And because of this ignorant or careless regard for growth in the higher life, the results are such as stated above. When these results are facts in the experience of such, a revival or a reconversion of them is a work challenging for them to realize. There may be the occasional excitement and resolution, but where is the fixed, steady, persevering pursuit after perfection in Christ Jesus? It seems that for an old believer, who has rested in justification for years, to cooperate with Divine influences to raise him into holiness. As it is for an old unbeliever, who has rested in carnal security, to cooperate with Divine powers to raise him into life in Christ Jesus. It should be the aim and the effort of everyone born into the family of God to grow up into the strength of young men and into the maturity of fathers. They should learn this as a lesson from the very nature of the life which they have received. They should feel that to maintain that life in a healthy condition, not to say perfect, they must leave the beginning and go on to the fullness of salvation.
The results we have mentioned above may in part be attributed to those who have charge of them in spiritual things. The lessons taught maybe only such as pertain to a low state in the Divine life. The standard setup may be no higher than what they have already attained. The teacher himself may not have advanced farther than they were taught. The clear exposition of the higher life, leading into it, and earnest appeal to follow may be defective or absent. Being converted and members of the Church may satisfy. So that no reproach is brought upon the “cause” by gross immorality, they are considered good members. General teachings on general topics constitute the rut in which the teachers move. Present, prompt, entire consecration to God is rarely insisted upon as the daily privilege of young and old Christians, of those just converted and those who have been in the way for years.
With such general incomplete teachings on the perfection to which they are called, how can we wonder at the continued low state of spiritual life among Christians? As teachers, the apostles, and Jesus Christ were ever urging and leading their disciples on to further and yet further attainments in grace. They not only required them to retain a sense of sin forgiven, a consistent deportment before the world, a holy heart and life, so far as being free from the guilt of sin went but by all the force of argument, of appeal, of example, of promise, of ready provision, of the Holy Spirit, etc., they urged them on to PERFECTION in Christ Jesus. This the reader will see by noting their epistles to the various Churches.
The EditorBate, John, ed. 1870. The Guide to Holiness and Class Leader’s Magazine. Vol. 1. London: Amos Osborne.