Holiness belongs to salvation as well as righteousness.
The deliverance from the guilt of sin is a precious gift to God’s child. It is basic and fundamental. Without it he will never obtain holiness. Even though it would give us the right to escape hell’s torment, it cannot, however, bring us into heaven. In Hebrews 12:14 we read, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” There it is! Without holiness we shall not see the Lord.
That does not mean that God ever gives us only one of these. “. . . whom He justified, them He also glorified.” And do not forget that holiness is the glorification of the soul. God has glorified us. He will glorify our bodies in the day of Jesus Christ. But whom He predestinated and justified He also glorifies in this life. He makes the soul beautiful by the work of sanctification. And this is necessary. We shall not see God without holiness.
This, therefore, ought to receive far more emphasis in the preaching than it usually receives in this day and age. Holiness must come to its own in the preaching of the gospel. In this day and age of a sentimental love of God that actually denies love to God, we had better get our feet back on solid ground. Satan gave a wrong picture of God in paradise and succeeded in bringing the friend-servant of God into a life of rebellion against God. And thus it has been through the ages. All false doctrines, in one way or another, from one viewpoint or another, present a corrupt picture of God. If it is not His sovereignty that is denied, it is His justice. If it is not His righteousness, it is His love and grace. Satan is not particular which doctrine you corrupt, as long as you present God in such a way that holiness does not follow in your life.
And it is quite possible to preach a love of God that actually has no love to God in it. We have swung far to the left as we have reached the end of the ages. Sin came into this world with a philosophy and lie that God was not man’s friend, lied to man and was afraid of man. He was presented as not really loving us; and that lie served to turn us from Him. Now a sentimental love, in which God has all the foolishness and foibles of our flesh, is presented at the expense of His own love to Himself and His Son. The Almighty, Independent, Self-sufficient One can actually be brought to tears by a speck of dust that spurns Him!! His plans are shattered! His hopes are cast down! The sinner does not respond to His love, and God must enter an eternity of sadness that He has been rejected and of shame that the creature has triumphed over Him; and Satan’s work succeeds in spite of God’s promise to put enmity in the heart of the woman’s seed.
Shall we deny the power of the cross of Christ? Shall we relegate it to the background and soft-pedal it in the preaching? God forbid! Paul preaches nothing less than the cross of Christ; and all preaching that ignores and soft-pedals that cross is a Christless preaching, regardless of how often His name is used therein. But we say that it is a corruption of the truth of that cross and a wrong emphasis upon it that knows nothing but a love of God to save from hell by that cross. God loves everybody? And He wants to save them all in that love? From what does He want to save them, simply from hell? He does not love them so much that He wants to make them holy? Well, then why does He not do so? A love that can and does not is not much of a love in my book. O, He loves them so that He does not want to force His will upon theirs? What kind of love is the “mother-love” that allows her child to refuse the necessary medicine for recovery from a critical disease? And God’s love is not strong enough to save all from hell whom He wants to save? Indeed, we have swung far to the left, and have a God left who is no God. We have the kind Satan is quite content to have us worship, the flesh of man that lords it over Jehovah and makes decisions for Him.
Nay, but in a divine, efficacious love God wills to make His people holy. And yet men fear to have this as their starting point in missionary activity. No, the approach must be God’s love to bring man out of hell. The preaching must either coax a man into heaven or frighten him out of hell. And God and His holiness must take a back seat. You can begin to talk about that later on, after you have gotten the “decision” for Christ. But understand well that holiness is rooted in and characterized by love to God. That without holiness no man shall see God means that without the love of God in his heart, no man shall see God. And God’s love to the world is not a sentimental sensation whereby He offers,—if almighty man will let,—to lift a man out of hell’s torment; but it is that efficacious impulse of God’s will whereby He puts His love in us. It is not a matter of sentirnentality, but of sovereign, unchangeable will.
It may sound so sentimentally sweet to say that God loves everybody and wants to save them all from hell. But does such a position express and stem from a sincere love for HIM? Does it reveal a sincere desire to do HIM justice? He forbade Paul and Silas to go into Bithynia and preach the gospel. Throughout the whole Old Testament dispensation He sent His prophets to only one nation and had the truth preached in a very narrow confine. Is the love of God for everybody a New Testament change in this Unchangeable One? Does it explain that He is a consuming fire? Does it explain that before the children were born, or had done good or evil, He loved Jacob but hated Esau? Does it take fully into consideration His righteousness? How can The Righteous One love the unrighteous? How can the Holy One love the unholy? O, indeed, if you throw election away,—and that is not an act of love to Him,—you can speak of a sentimental, emotional love of the flesh in One Who has no sentimental, emotional flesh and is a Spirit of infinite perfections. But you accuse Him of injustice! If Christ did not represent definite people, chosen in Him from eternity, where is the justice of God to punish Him for their sins? It may be sentimentality for a judge to punish an innocent one to get others whom he loves to flee from a particular sin; but it is far from justice and righteousness. And is it love for a God simply to make salvation possible? Do you not magnify and do justice to God’s love rather by maintaining that He DID blot out guilt and remove it completely by the cross? God’s love is eternal, without beginning or end. He loved us before the foundation of the world, and in that love sent His Son as our head and representative,—not as one Whom we might accept as such or not,—and punished all our sins in Him. He had them paid for in full, and not conditionally. His love does not change, diminish, or fade away.
What is more, The Unchangeable One, The I Am Who never says, “I was” or, “I will be,” and declares unequivocally, “I, the Lord thy God, am a jealous God visiting . . . iniquity . . . upon those that hate me,” does He love Himself, if, without a legal basis such as election and the cross of Christ to pay in full for the sins of these and of these only, He can desire merely to save all men from the torment of hell? Nay, in His love He desires to make holy, to make obedient children, who love Him. That is the end or goal of our faith. To the Philippian jailor Paul most assuredly said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved from such evil deeds as you were about to commit.” For faith IS the victory. John does not say that faith gets the victory. It IS the victory. See I John 5:4. And that end God’s love always reaches. His arm is not shortened, but neither is His love. It reaches its goal. And those whom God loves are made holy. Whom then does God love? Only those whom He causes to become holy so that they do see the Lord.
Let emphasis be placed upon this in the pulpit and in the mission field as well. We do not and may not despise justification and the cross. The foundation of the house is extremely important. But let us not stare at the foundation in such a way that we fail to see the superstructure. It is a beautiful temple that God has built. A new and holy man, reflecting all the glory of God, comes forth as the end of faith, a new race, each member of which, is as spiritually beautiful as Christ, is what God’s love produces. Let us look at the foundation of that temple. Let us appreciate to the full the cross which makes it all possible and upon which the whole temple stands. But let us also remember that we are forgiven and justified in order to be sanctified. We must not simply be delivered from physical death and hell, but from spiritual death and rebellion against the living God.
Go ahead then. Preach the law! Preach it not so that man is under that law, under its condemnation and as its slave. But preach it as the pattern after which we are to fashion our lives. Jesus said that not one jot or tittle would pass away till all shall be fulfilled He did that for us. He fulfilled every smallest demand of it by His perfect obedience. But to the salvation which is the end of our faith (I Peter 1:9) belongs this wonder-work of God, that we once again are able to keep every jot and tittle of that law. We will so be filled with the love of God that with mind and will, soul and body and all their faculties we shall serve God unceasingly. That is the salvation of the soul of which Peter speaks. If you are only interested in the salvation of the body, you do not know what salvation is. If all you have to offer to man is a love of God that is sentimental about salvation from pain and death and hell, you may deceive them into wanting that which does not exist; but you have not done God, His love, and His glory justice.
What is more, to be under grace means exactly that. We are under the power of God’s grace whereby He makes us to be holy. We are not under the curse and condemnation of the law. But being under grace, God exactly makes us cry out with the psalmist, “O how love I Thy law! it is my meditation all the day.” See Psalm 119:97. Is that, old fashioned and only an Old Testament joy? Nay, without. holiness no man shall see the Lord. Again Hebrews 8:8-10, “Behold the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel. . . . For this is the covenant that I will make . . . I will put my laws into their minds and write them in their hearts . . .” Not under the law, but that is, because the law is IN us. And this is declared unto the New Testament Church, quite in harmony with the psalmist in Psalm 119.
What is the salvation you desire? Merely of your body? You are no different from the devil. Is it holiness which you desire? Well, then you have the beginning already, for that is part of holiness and of salvation. Then you seek salvation in His fear and not in hell’s fear. Be of good cheer, although your sins still rise up against you prevailing day by day, the end, of your faith is sure because God’s love is unchangeable and He is the Almighty One.