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Jesus’ ministry opened with the announcement from one who was baptizing in the Jordan River, “Behold, the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world.” It was Jesus of whom John had spoken, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance; but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear; he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire! Whose fan is in his hand and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather the wheat into the garner; but will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3:11-12 Jesus’ mission was greater than Johns. He was to administer a far greater baptism, so much more complete and needful that John proclaimed, “I have need to be baptized of you.” It was a destroying baptism; burn up the chaff. It was a saving baptism; gather his wheat. It was a separating baptism; separate the wheat from the chaff. It was a cleansing baptism; thoroughly purge his floor. It was a keeping baptism; gather wheat into the garner. Little wonder that John stated his need of such a baptism. Could we desire less? In the baptism with the Holy Ghost there are things in the heart of the regenerate that needs to be burned up. A destroying element of fire must consume all chaff of carnal traits. All pride, selfishness, malice, hatred, all that is not holy, or consistent with a Christlike life. The old man must be destroyed, all carnality must be eradicated if we would live a life of holiness. But Christ does a complete work, “He will thoroughly purge.”
Be not fearful; but allow the Baptizer to take you into death that you may be raised with him and hear the Father witness, “this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” When all is removed from the heart that is alien to the nature of holiness, we have a witness of the Holy Ghost of our sanctification. In such a state there will be a growth in love. There will never come a period either in this life or in that to come, when there may not be an increase in holy love. This is Christian perfection. This does not bestow freedom from temptation, but freedom from sin; nor is it freedom from spiritual warfare, but freedom from defeat. Holiness or Christian perfection is required of all Christians, and if required it is our privilege to obtain it. It is God’s gift to his children, to be received by faith. One has asked, “but what is complete Christian perfection?” If the inquirer is anxious to know he will find the answer in the word of God. At one time Jesus was asked, “Which is the great commandment of the law?” the answer, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment, and the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the Prophets.” All meaning and teaching of the Old Testament, therefore hinge upon these two commandments. Love God, and love man. The writer of the Roman letter confirms this by, “Love is the fulfilling of the law.” Romans 13:10b Now all that God requires of us to be perfect in heart and perfect in action is centered around a love unfeigned, which “love is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” Romans 5:5 He who loves aright fulfills the law, pleases God, and is in a lawful or Christian sense perfect. Love flowing from a pure heart, a conscience void of offense and a complete faith is Christian perfection or Holiness. “Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.” 1 Timothy 1:5 Jesus said, “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another.” This commandment included all our moral obligation to each other, for true love motivates action. “But whosoever keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected.” 1 John 2:5 “If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.” 1 John 4:12 Christian perfection, therefore, is nothing else than perfect love. Dear reader, the Holy Ghost inspired the Apostle to tell us that the height of Christian experience is love. “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity (perfect love), I am become as a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 By this we know that nothing is profitable; nothing is of value without this experience of Holiness (perfect love). Tongues, prophecies, knowledge, being able to grasp the mysterious, or faith and works of sacrifice means nothing to God without this love of God which is shed abroad in our hearts by the incoming of the Holy Ghost. Oh! what completeness, what fullness is ours through his Divine presence. Jesus the baptizer, has done a complete and full work in the heart of the sanctified. “In him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead, bodily, and ye are complete in him.” Colossians 2:9-10 What glorious provision is ours.
What grace! “You that were some time alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight.” Colossians 1:21-22