Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 12, 1960

The Holy Spirit -- (XI.)

Arthur W. Atkinson, Jr. Columbus, Ohio

This will be the last in our series of articles on the Holy Spirit. In this article we will consider the Holy Spirit and the point of pardon. Many want to know, and I believe should know, just when it is that they are pardoned from their past sins. In substance we told you in our previous lesson. But we will make a more detailed study here.

I do not believe that God would keep us ignorant concerning this point of pardon. We should know when we are pardoned so that we might be able to tell others that they might also know just when it will take place. So, let us turn to the scriptures and find out just when it is that we are pardoned.

Man is lost in sin. To that there should be no doubt nor any disagreement. Rom. 3:23, "But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe." Man cannot continue in sin and be saved. Rove. 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Therefore we want to know how to be cleansed from our sins and just when this cleansing takes place.

There is a way out of sin just as there was a way into it. Man entered into sin deliberately and voluntarily. He must come out of it the same way. In Eden man heard the words of the devil, believed the lie that was told, and obeyed and ate of the fruit of the forbidden tree. Man must now hear the words of God, believe the truth, and obey the commandments contained in that truth. Man is always free to either accept or reject the salvation that God has offered.

There are four theories of salvation. There is the unconditional theory which is very popular in our day and age. Those who propose it say that there is nothing that man can do. We know that this is false for the Bible is full of commandments which must be obeyed.

There is the fixed theory. Those who purpose this once called it predestination. You are either chosen to be saved or lost and there is nothing that you can personally do about it. We know that this cannot be true for it does away with the "whosoever will" of the Bible and makes God a respecter of persons.

There is the salvation is free and conditional theory but a miracle is needed to bring it about. This is the direct operation of the Spirit method. We have seen in previous articles that this is not so.

The final one should not really be called a theory for it is not. It is the truth of the matter as is found in the scriptures. Salvation is free, yet it is conditional. Man hears and obeys and thus is saved. This is the only one that can be right.

Now the question comes, what are the terms of pardon and where is the point of pardon? If God made provision for pardon, he must have revealed when it takes place. We intend to find out just when this is. The Spirit will reveal it to us through the medium of the word. Everyone must reach this point at the same place and in the same way.

First let us notice that pardon is a matter of grace. Eph. 2:8, "For by grace are ye saved . . ." Grace means the unmerited favor of God. God does not owe us pardon. We cannot do anything here and now that would merit it. It is by grace of favor. The fact that there are things that we must do to obtain it does not do away with grace.

Pardon through the blood of Christ. Heb. 9:22, "And almost all things are by the law purged by blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission." But it is not the blood of bulls and goats that brings this remission. Heb 912, "Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the Holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." Thus, the blood of Christ takes away our sins. This however does not discount our part. Many build theories around the grace of God and the blood of Christ and try to make people believe that that is all there is to salvation. Their main objection is that we are trying to earn salvation if we do anything else and thus do away with the grace of God and blood of Christ. Is it possible for a man to do something to receive another thing and still not earn the gift offered? Yes, of course it is. It is by God's grace that we are saved but we must meet the terms of pardon to receive it. If we do what God has commanded, we have not earned our salvation. We have simply complied with the terms of pardon. We could work the rest of our lives and never earn salvation.

When we search for the terms of pardon we should not place undue emphasis upon any one word, verse, phrase, sentence or paragraph. For example we could take Rom. 5:9, "Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him," and emphasize it to the exclusion of all other verses and say that Christ's blood is all that there is to salvation. But were we then to read Born. 5:1, "Therefore being justified by faith, . . ." we would have to conclude that there was a contradiction. But is there a contradiction? No; we must use the two together and not emphasize one above another.

Also, we must realize that when a general statement is made that it must be all inclusive and not all exclusive. An illustration of this would be the following scripture. Matt. 18:11, "For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost." This is true. However, it is also all inclusive. The means of man's salvation is not mentioned. Yet this surely includes the means.

In John 3:36 we read another all inclusive statement. "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life. . ." This of course cannot and does not exclude the acts of God in our receiving everlasting life, nor the act of Christ, the work of the Spirit and our obedience. It must include them and to use this verse to exclude some things and include others is to use it in the wrong way. Another example would be I Peter 3:21, "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ." If I reasoned like some of my religious friends and neighbors do, I would make that exclude everything but the one act of baptism for the salvation of our souls. We can see that this would be misusing the scriptures. This must include anything and everything elsewhere mentioned as necessary for the remission of sins. So also must John 3:36 include baptism and all else mentioned elsewhere in the Bible which has to do with salvation. One does not contradict the other. Both are taken together to understand God's plan for mankind.

We should also realize that when any word, phrase or verse is apparently susceptible to two interpretations — we must always interpret it in such a way so as to harmonize with all other revealed truth. Always remember this principle. John 3:5, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." Many religious leaders have been wondering for years what to do with that word water and how they could logically explain it away. They cannot explain it away. It means what it says. When we compare this verse with many others mentioned in the New Testament we learn that water has an important part in the salvation of man. He is told to be baptized in water for the remission of sins. Acts 8:38, 39; Rom. 6:1-5; Eph. 5:25,26; Heb. 10:22; Acts 2:38 and others. Thus in the light of all these scriptures we must conclude that water means water. There is nothing else that it could mean.

The point that we have been laboring to make is that we must take all the given scriptures on a subject and draw our conclusions from them all, instead of just a few. By taking all the scriptures we learn that the point of pardon comes after our obedience to the commands to believe in Christ, Mk. 16:16; to repent of past sins, Luke 13:3; to confess the name of Christ, Matt. 10:32, Rom. 10:10; to be buried with our Lord in baptism for the remission of sins, Acts 2:38.

I John 5:8, reads, "And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood; and these three agree in one." To see the importance of this verse we must realize that the Spirit is that which begets the new life and begins the process of birth. You may read of the life giving power of the Spirit in John 6:63. There you will also learn that the Spirit is made manifest through the word. We have already learned that blood is necessary for the remission of sins. Heb. 9:22 & 12. Water is prominent in the great commission and is the only act that is to be performed in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Spirit guides us, the blood atones for our sins, and it is in the waters of baptism that we reach the death of Christ and come in contact with that blood which cleanses us from all sin. These three thus bring us to one point — the point of pardon when we receive the remission of sins. Thus they agree in their objective — and are one in that sense.

But someone wants to know whether or not they should feel good when they are converted. Most certainly they should. There should be rejoicing after conversion. After we have passed the point of pardon we should rejoice. The thing we want to impress upon your mind is that rejoicing or feeling good is not evidence of pardon but comes after you have evidence of pardon. In Acts 8:39 we read of a man rejoicing. He did so after he had complied with the terms of pardon. Acts 16:34 we read of another case of rejoicing. It was after the man had complied with the terms of pardon that he rejoiced. These men had believed, repented, confessed and been baptized before they did their rejoicing.

Thus we see the point of pardon is reached at the time we have complied with all the terms set forth by our Lord. If you have not complied with all these terms you have not been pardoned. You might have felt that you had, but you have not.

It is at the point of pardon that the Bible teaches us that we receive the "gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). This "gift" has caused much concern to many people. Just what is it? I believe that the Bible itself gives us the answer to the question. It is not some miraculous measure of the Spirit for it is promised to every believer. It is referred to in Acts 5:32. "And we are witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him." Those who have been obedient to the commandments of the Lord have received what we might call the "indwelling measure" of the Holy Spirit.

We trust that this series of articles has been beneficial for saint and sinner alike. We have tried to cover the subject fairly thoroughly but realize that we have left many questions unanswered. I originally wrote several sermons on this subject for radio and pulpit work some seven years ago and then revised those sermons into these articles. I owe a great deal of credit to Ashley Johnson's books, The Holy Spirit and the Human Mind, which I feel is the best book in print on this subject. I also have read other books, pamphlets, tracts, sermon outlines, etc. on the subject and have been helped greatly by all. However, I feel that if any person really wants a thorough understanding of this difficult subject, he will find the above mentioned book very helpful. Obviously the Bible itself is the only final source of truth on the subject.