A study of the book “The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification” By Walter Marshall – part one
As I grow in my faith and dare I say “sanctification.” I have been led by the spirit to take a more in-depth look into this part of being a Christian. My research led me to the book written by Marshall and published in 1692. He was a Puritan and suffered persecution by the Church of England when they demanded that only certain teachings be done. He and several other ministers refused to sign the “Book of Common Prayer” and as a result he lost his parishes on Black Bartholomew’s Day in 1662.
After his own struggles with faith and belief as well as fought the hard fight against those teachings that are called Antinomianism. That being the belief that faith alone is all you need to be saved. As well as Neonomianism, which is the legalistic following of the Bible. He reached the point to write the book entitled above.
Direction # 1 – That we may acceptably perform the duties of Holiness and Righteousness required in the Law, our first works is, to learn the powerful and effectual Means whereby we may attain to so great an End.
What struck me the most was his approach to the greatest commandment, which is to love God with all your heart, mind and soul. He states that if you love God you will be willing to sacrifice all, to the point of even abandoning your own desires and wishes. You would follow to the best of your ability all the commandments within the Bible. For as he puts it, are a guideline to the second greatest commandment of love thy neighbor. For by practicing and obeying all the commandments that deal with social interaction and behavior you show your love towards God.
Even I fall short in this department. Why?
Because in today’s society and culture we no longer follow the majority of, as Marshall puts it, the Laws of the Bible. This is not totally our own faults, but those of our parents and their parents. This is something that does not happen overnight, over a few years, but over decades and through generations.
To correct this is to first acknowledge there is a problem with not just how the Bible is taught, but read. Most in today’s society have an Antinomianism understanding of the Bible. This as a result is a key factor in the disintegration of social and cultural behavior in Europe and the United States.
Can it be corrected on whole?
From the way the Bible is written, I would say no. However, for those willing to listen. For those willing to understand that by accepting this path towards sanctification they are in essence signing their own death warrant upon this temporal life we now live.
Is this a drastic statement?
Most definitely, but we must come to that understanding.
Look to what happened to Walter Marshall when He refused to sign the conformity requirements that the Church of England forced upon their clergy in 1652. His life for a short time was shattered. However, he did find a new parish and continued in the good works towards his own sanctification.
As we come into this age that is actually described within the Bible as the signs of the soon return of Jesus Christ. We must accept that by adopting to truly seek after sanctification. By following the commandments, which are in reality laws given to those willing to listen, by God and through His Son Jesus Christ. We face the fact that society on whole will reject us to the point of martyrdom, as is written within the Bible.
John MacArthur said, and I paraphrase, that to live the commandments and not accept Jesus, will not lead to salvation. However, once we are saved we cannot ignore the commandments if we seek after sanctification.
Yet, as mentioned above, most do not even attempt to follow just the Ten Commandments let alone all we truly are required which are in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, which have not been made void by Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. There are many laws that deal with everyday life and interaction with others. Most have in actuality been turned into human laws in most Christian based nations. However, the majority now takes them for granted or are totally ignored.
Few attempt to gain sanctification. Mostly due to not being aware that it is something that is required of all when accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior. I myself was under this same misunderstanding for decades. As a result I drifted further and further away from God and my Savior, Jesus.
It took God literally destroying my life in 2013. Since that “year of Job,” as I call it, returning to God through Jesus Christ as been a goal that has taken me down a road I never thought I would ever see in my lifetime. A life with true happiness, due to God’s blessing as I endeavor to travel down the narrow and least traveled path towards Him.
I have been on a journey within my faith that has led me ever closer to our Creator. The scales have fallen from my eyes and I now see what is causing all the strife and turmoil in the world at large. I know it is due to the abandonment of God by most within this world, and especially those that live within the United States of America.
Most do not even know what “sanctification” is or truly means. I know, because I was one of them.
When I read the words of a man that has been dead for nearly four hundred years and seeing that his thoughts echoed my own. I came to the realization that God’s promise is never ending, never changing. Only humanity forgets this and must learn it all over again. Time and time again. As the Israelites learned to their dismay, over and over.
Comprehending that in the 1600’s people were struggling with the same issues we are today. That his teachings helped become the core of the Puritan’s religious beliefs. A group that led to factions like the Quakers, which led one of these Quakers to be given a land grant by the British king. Which allowed this Quaker to form the colony that came to be known as the state of Pennsylvania. His faith that from his beliefs became that colonies constitution, which led to the lion share of what is now the Constitution of the United States.
This trail should make people reawaken to the need to seek out sanctification by returning to the laws within the Bible and obeying them. Not in a legalistic way like the Catholic and Greek Orthodox Church, but truly following and living all the commandments in the Bible. In faith and love of God and His son the Lord Jesus Christ. To once again treat them, not as suggestions, but what they are: laws, we are to adhere to and follow to the best of our abilities.
The sheer insightful and unapologetic honor for the body of Christ and his commandments makes this such a delightful read. Thank you.