Tarrying for the Shine
- And patience, experience.
- —Romans 5:4—
- And hope does not make ashamed.
- —Romans 5:3—
- The path of the just is as a shining light.
- —Proverbs 4:18—
- And oil to make his face to shine.
- —Psalm 104:15—
- A man’s wisdom makes his face to shine.
- —Ecclesiastes 8:1—
- I have learned by experience
that the Lord has blessed me for your sake.
- —Genesis 30:27—
- Arise and shine, for your light has come.
- —Isaiah 60:1—
- For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:6
H eart purity—sanctification—is one of the means to the great end. It is not a finality in the soul’s advance; heart purity only ends carnality. As entire forgiveness, which is the only kind the Holy Spirit can witness to, is the end of all actual transgressions, so entire sanctification is the end of all uncleanness. But God is by no means done with us when He has sanctified us, as many mistaken souls think.
There is that June apple over there in the orchard. As I look at it on this first day of June, I see that all through May it has been a real apple, and possessed all the elements which in God’s laboratory, by the aid of sun and wind, rain and dew, as well as the storehouses of force laid up in the tree, would ripen into a delicious, toothsome2 fruit. But it is not so yet. Though it is a true apple in all respects—pure in the elements that constitute an apple—yet the transformation of all the hidden juices and acids which a couple of weeks from now will produce a luscious ripe apple has not yet been made. Note that it does not have to “grow out” of itself any element that it contains, for it needs every one of these elements which at the touch of the Divine Chemist will combine, as does the soda and acid in a summer drink, into palate-pleasing pulp, rich aroma, and delightsome and refreshing juice, and which will paint its hitherto green-visaged and uninviting exterior into a very beautiful art picture. It has been waiting for the shine. God was not done with it when He endowed it with the perfect qualities of an apple. The consummation was to follow. The shine could not go on till ripeness came.
In the same way, maturity is gradual. The blessing of heart purity is instantaneous. We are to perfect holiness, not before, but after we come into, its possession. That which is impure cannot be matured into purity. The grace that comes down from heaven is “first pure and then peaceable.”3 So entire sanctification comes first in order, before maturity of character. For this same reason entire sanctification always precedes perfect love, as it does also the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Neither of these can be possessed in fullness till after cleansing. This is not mere theory, or bare assertion; nor can it be an arbitrary arrangement of some system of theology, or some man’s theory of the process of salvation. God has put some things together in such shape that they cannot be in any other order, for they do not exist in any other order. When men tell us how impurity can be improved so that it will answer for maturity, or how impurity can be so preserved that it does not get more impure, then we will be more ready to believe the theory that maturity and entire sanctification are the same. One rotten peach put up with the good fruit always spoils all the rest of the peaches in the can. Nor does the shine of perfect soundness ever glow on a rotten apple. People who know their business never waste time trying to put shine on a rotten piece of wood, nor do they ever think that by putting on polish they can make a rotten piece of wood sound.
Such processes are contrary to the laws of nature. God has not put things together that way, and man cannot. The order of salvation is as natural and logical in its processes as any of the laws of the physical world, and the reason of their arrangement is just as wise, and the order of the steps just as necessary. We can no more be sanctified wholly till after we are regenerated, than one can wash a garment before there is a garment to wash. I say it with all reverence, that even God cannot put out a washing before there are garments to wash. He cannot cleanse children not yet born. The new birth must first be, before there can be cleansing. Regeneration and entire sanctification are never coetaneous,4 and neither are entire sanctification and maturity one and the same thing, nor do they stand one for the other, either in order or in experience. No man having experienced entire sanctification in clearness, as something following his regeneration, ever has any doubt on this point. Like one having the experience of a deathly sick headache,5 he feels that he has it, and knows that he has it, and cannot doubt that he has it.
So we come to that part of our experience that lies along the brace of life after we have entered the Canaan of perfect love. It is without doubt true that were we in the true order of God all the way along after our conversion, we would come soon to the Jordan crossing, so that the great bulk of life would occur in Canaan, and but little in the wilderness.6 “Perfecting holiness”7 is no small affair. The obtainment of holiness is instantaneous, but the perfecting of it after having obtained it is quite another thing. Having experienced the blessing, we next have to learn what to do with it, and how to keep it. This opens a wide field of experience. Like one who has read about a telescope or a microscope, but never having had access to either has never used them, so we have never before been able to look at things out of holy eyes, and do not know just how they looked until we did. We are surprised to find a whole world where we were never able to see one before. It takes some time to get used to it, and to adjust ourselves so as to get its full benefits.
It has been the mistake of not a few to think that the experience of heart purity, or sanctification, ended all temptation and trial. Instead, it is the special reason for these experiences. It is only then that God can say to us, “Count it all joy when you fall into various temptations” (James 1:2). Why? Listen to His own explanation: “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith produces patience” (James 1:3). So also this same apostle says, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he is tried he shall receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised them that love Him” (James 1:12). So we are taught that the testing processes culminate in patience and in crowns. God wants a patient spirit, and a condition of spirit to which He can give a crown. This testing seems to deepen these channel ways of grace, and give God a chance to send the current of life bank-full8 for our benefit.
Time also, and the experience of aging wean us from undue attachments to the things of time and of our five senses. Their values fade away as the glory of that which is to come breaks in on our charmed vision. So it comes to be that the soul wears an inward serenity and peace otherwise unknown, and the face cannot but change its signal service to suit. That service scarcely ever shows cloudbursts of anger or approaching storms, and the fair weather flag remains up for months at a time unchanged.
There is much of the no-longer-needed that it takes quite a while for us to give up. God bears with us, for in life’s battles we sorely needed these things; but the time comes when they must be left behind, and if we are teachable, He will bring us to the separation as easily and contentedly as a tree gives up its leaves some beautiful fall day after having been robed in state for a week or more. If we listen to His voice He will gather us “as a shock of corn,”9 and not wrench these from us with pain and groans of the dying.
“Perfecting” of the soul continues in the way of the soul’s enlargements: its skill in the use of things spiritual; the ease with which it wears the various graces; the fineness of texture on which the image of the Master can be photographed; the delicacy of touch with which it is able to respond to spiritual impress; and the advance education in the school of Christ in which He makes His children meet for the inheritance of light (Colossians 1:12). When the inner elements of His own character are received and so ingrained by practice that they shine through the face till He can clearly see His own image; and further, so fixed by practice, they are not put on from the outside as with paint, but like the color of perfect health come to the surface from the inside circulation, He can say, “The polish is on, the shine that heaven needs is on the soul. Come up higher, for your earthly mission is ended.”
(This concludes the final chapter of “How They Grow.”)
- The text itself is public domain. The original book, How They Grow, was transcribed by Jim Kerwin, biographer of Isaiah Reid, and co-edited and emended with Denise Kerwin. Annotations and emendations are copyright © 2008, 2011 by Jim Kerwin along with his other contributions to the online, print, and e-book versions of Isaiah Reid's How They Grow. ↩
- Toothsome: pleasing to the taste ↩
- The allusion is to James 3:17. ↩
- Coetaneous: of the same duration or age. Reid’s point is that regeneration and entire sanctification don’t happen at the same time. ↩
- Deathly sick headache: the old-fashioned (and very apt) description of a migraine. ↩
- One of the best-loved Old Testament analogies of the holiness movement depicted the experience of entire sanctification as leaving the wilderness (the saved, but unsanctified life), crossing over the Jordan River (the “crisis experience” of sanctification), and the conquest and possession of the Promised Land (the sanctified life). Reid is saying that if it were left up to God, we would come into that life earlier in our Christian experience, rather than later; being misinformed about God’s desires in this regard, or lacking faith to appropriate God’s provision of a pure heart, condemns us to spending a needless “forty years in the wilderness.” ↩
- Reid refers to Paul’s exhortation in 2 Corinthians 7:1: “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” ↩
- Bank-full: in other words, flowing so fully that the river is up to very top of the river banks. ↩
- The reference is to Job 5:26. ↩