Were the “carnal” Corinthians sanctified or not?

Sanctification –  is it a state you reach or one you are always in? Is it an event, or a work in progress?

Most reasonable believers agree that sanctification, according to the Word of God, is a lifelong process. Yet there are quite a few people who believe that receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit and sanctification are one and the same thing and these two occur, not at conversion, but later, when a person is prepared and in a state of complete submission to God’s will. Many Methodists, and most Holiness Pentecostals, believe this is a “second work of grace”; that it is promised to all believers and destroys or removes the “old man”, otherwise referred to as the sinful nature. Of course, the evidence of this is held to be quite different between different denominations. Tongues are a predominant sign to many Charismatics that one has received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The gift of prophecy is also highly prized as a sign, but non-Charismatics believe that the true sign is the ability to live perfectly before God, completely able to live sinlessly.

I have heard and read where many of this “perfectionist” persuasion claim two rather absurd things:

1. Cornelius was saved BEFORE Peter visited him and his household and

2. The twelve disciples of John the Baptist were also saved prior to Paul finding them and baptising them in the name of the Lord and laying hands on them so they would receive the Holy Spirit.

In other words, these folks believe that the evidence of the Holy Spirit falling upon Cornelius and his guests and Paul’s laying on of hands are evidence that these folks were already saved and were receiving the SECOND gift of the Holy Spirit. These same folk teach that a believer must reach a state where they are completely ready to sacrifice their bodies (Romans 12:1) and their wills to God before they can receive the Holy Spirit. Yet Peter says, in Acts 2:38, that Belief, repentance, and baptism confer the free gift on the spirit to everyone!

Obviously, Cornelius was NOT SAVED until after he heard the gospel (Acts 10:34-44 and 11:13-14) according to Peter’s own words as well as Cornelius’s. Also, the twelve disciples of John only knew that the Messiah was coming. They had not yet heard and believed the gospel until Paul explained it to them (Acts 19:1-6).

People place far too much confidence these days in two things: worldly wisdom and logic (which Paul says is a bad thing to rest your faith on (1 Corinthians 2:1-5) AND feelings, which are completely untrustworthy. Nowhere in God’s Word are we told to rely on how we feel, or what we “get out of it” when it comes to devotion and worship.

Keep in mind though, that having the spirit poured out on you isn’t proof you are saved or even godly. Saul was hunting David down in 1 Samuel 19 and had already received an evil spirit (1 Samuel 18:10-12). Yet Saul experiences the gift of prophesy, or at least glorifies God in preaching, “… And the Spirit of God came upon him also, and as he went he prophesied until he came to Naioth in Ramah. And he too stripped off his clothes, and he too prophesied before Samuel and lay naked all that day and all that night. Thus it is said, “Is Saul also among the prophets?” (1 Samuel 19:23-24 ESV)What do you think?

I will post my scripturally supported understanding later. This is what I consider “untying a knot” and is what I purpose to do for myself and others. Comments, opinions, and thoughts on this subject are appreciated.


23 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by memnan on July 26, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    I won’t reply to your direct question yet…I want to think on it a bit…*: ) However, the “untying a knot” caught my interest…More than a few years back, when I was going through some difficulties, God showed me a series of knots tied on a string, one on top of the other, making a rather large bump…then He said…It will take a bit to get the knots untied…be patient…I will do it.

  2. I am being very patient, Nancy. I don’t have much choice as I’m nowhere near a popular blog and I don’t wish to be unless God would will it. I ask this question simply because I am presently convinced that Wesley and Warner, among others, were wrong in their beliefs about santification and also because I was raised to believe otherwise.

    I am flattered you would still be checking up on me 🙂

  3. Posted by memnan on August 4, 2008 at 10:35 am

    I think your blog is worth reading… *: )I have noticed you have a strong connection to Church of Christ and so naturally suppose that a good percentage of your theological stance would come from this viewpoint…using my human logic that is.

    I have a Calvinistic theological view, so naturally my world view is peppered generously with God’s grace…which I have found to be thankfully in abundant supply. *: )So, that being said…Sanctifican of course begins with choosing…God’s choosing that is..*: )and continues throughout the mind renewal phase(the rest of our lives.) And of course without the Blood of Jesus, we couldn’t even get our name on the picking list, much less entered in the Book of Life. Sanctification comes through the Blood; Father God choose where the Blood is applied. We see this specifically in the OT.

    Baptism in the Holy Spirit; this knot takes a bit longer to untie especially if it is entangled with other suppositions as listed in your post.
    The difficulty here is as with a child who had received salvation. Just because it has happened to you…the explaination or the resulting consecquense is not always understood. Have I experienced this “second act of grace”? Yes…Did it make me perfect …Not hardly…not at all. That “old man” the one with the heart of stone…he died at the point of salvation not at the point of Baptism in the Holy Spirit. However, after the point of Holy Spirit Bastism…I was less likely to keep trying to bring him back to life…*: )

  4. Posted by memnan on August 4, 2008 at 10:39 am

    OOps…forgot to use spell check…*: (

    I have attended institutions of higher learning…they thought I should already know how to spell and refused to give me guidance.

  5. Nancy,

    Can you explain more about your second work of grace experience? I find no support for a secondary and qualification based additional work of God in the scripture and would greatly appreciate it being pointed out to me clearly.

    As for what I believe, Peter said very clearly in Acts 2:38 to those who believed his word (that the Jesus the Jews had had crucified was the Messiah) that they still needed to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission[forgiveness] of sins along with the promise that they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    Since the majority of the churches today do not take Peter at his word (and he was full of the Holy Spirit when he said these things so I must consider these words God’s own) I realize you may have an issue with my literal interpretation. But, I am positive that true believers who obey the gospel as Peter prescribes will and have received the Holy Spirit. Not with them, but in them!

    Thank you for your kind and thoughful comments!

  6. Posted by memnan on August 12, 2008 at 9:47 pm

    I really like your new look…It makes it much easier for me to read and type…*: )This may get to be quite lengthy so I might just do this in parts… Best place to start…My testimony…

    I gave my heart to Jesus, in a Baptist Church, when I was 14 trusting completely that He would make the changes necessary to conform me to His likeness. The extent of my discipleship at the time was Sunday morning and evening church. My parents had given me my first Bible for my birthday several years before…while I always had it…unfortunately it would be a few more years before I became a regular reader of the Word.

    When I went off to College, I came face to face with the fact that the world was NOT populated by Christians…Funny as that may seem… I was shocked when my roomie claimed not to be a Christian and more shocking still did not want to be one. This is when it first became evident to me that becoming a Christian was not a normal right of passage…It was also the time in my life that I became aware of Gods keeping grace…as I began searching for validation of His saving grace…

    He had always spoken to me and I had heard Him with spiritual ears this was something I easily understood. What I couldn’t understand was why sometimes it seemed so easy to hear and believe and then, there would seem to be nothing… This continued through my on again off again years…In 1982, during a prayer of crying out to God for change…It came when I repented for not responding to the Holy Spirit… Basically not following through on the promptings He gave me in my heart…being disobedient. I wasn’t living a morally corrupt life…just not living with Jesus as the center of my life. This repentance brought a new fervency to my life…I wanted to receive everything God had for me and to stop the wishy washy condition I had let rule my life…One Saturday morning I felt a strong prompting to turn on the TV…I was up pretty early and the only thing on at that time was an array of Christian programs so trying hard to be obedient I picked one and started watching while drinking my morning coffee. I distinctly heard these words change to channel 5…so I did…There was Jack Hayford teaching on the Lord’s Prayer. After about ten minutes he stopped and said he felt that the Holy Spirit had asked him to change directions and speak about the Baptism in the Holy Spirit…so he did.. He said someone had been seeking God for a deeper relationship. I took notice immediately…While I can’t remember all he said, the gist of the teaching is this…Ask Jesus to Baptise you in the Holy Spirit…so I did…
    No lighting…nothing seemed different… But there was a sweet peace…then he addressed the speaking in tongues part… simple saying you can if you want…it comes with the gift,free for the asking, but no one will make you…the real evidence is a stronger deeper love for people…not just you should love one another…but the promise you will love one another. This love will make you a witness without even trying…What I noticed over the next few weeks was a growing awareness of the presence of the Holy Spirit…and this is where my adventure really began….more later. *:)

  7. Nancy,

    I can relate to a lot of what you are saying. It somwhat reflects my own experience, with some exception. Being raised in the church and a very legalistic one at that, I tried very hard to be a Christian, off and on, throughout my preteen years. I always failed and gave up trying after a short period because of the impossible seeming standard that was taught.

    I left God and the church behind for six years then accepted an invitation to church which I now sense ewas just an emotional “home coming”. As a result I tried, I thought, to be good Christian for almost three years. Somewhere along the line I lost my faith (I now realize most people, including myself don’t really comprehend wht faith is) and abandoned any effort to live for God. Again, I felt the syandard was impossibly high and I could never “pray through” and get the Holy Spirit.

    Only now, when I am in my fifties, do I finally understand what faith is. It is holding on to what God says in spite of any and all evidence to the contrary. I was reminded of my mortality several times in the intervening years and half-heartedly tried to get back into religion. It was not sincere because these times were motivated by fear, not awe, or love, or true appreciation for Christ’s work on the cross. I finally reached the point where I was able to accept what the Bible says and believe on Christ for my own salvation. I was powerfully changed that night. I was weeping with joy and relief that I was able to have faith without relying on someone else talking me through or on my emotions alone. Prior to this I had been growing more and more interested in the Bible and what the truth was.

    After my life changing acceptance of what God has said, I was compelled, in my inner being, to be baptized as soon as possible. I had only started reading the Bible with a fresh and unbiased approach and cannot recall if I had read anything besides the great commission in Matthew 28 concerning baptism. I certainly never heard it emphasized in any way in the churches I grew up in. I worried that I might die before I was baptized, but was reminded of the thief on the cross. That comforted me somewhat but, I still felt I needed to be baptized and not put it off. I was eventually baptized within six weeks. No thunder and smoke, but I finally felt I had become complete in my desire to do what was right before God.

    Ever since, I have been obsessive in my desire to read and study anything related to religion, theology, or the history of the early churches. God really is my primary focus now and I must credit God with giving me the desire and hunger for truth. I have ventured down many paths, including Reformed theology, semi-Charismatic worship, Free Will Baptist, Mennonite and Quaker, Free Presbyterian, and Old Brethren. My quest eventually landed me smack in the middle of the churches of Christ whom I have the most in common with theologically.

    I believe I received the Holy Spirit, as promised in Acts 2:38, at baptism AFTER I had believed and repented of my ways. I have much to learn but I have experienced wonderful witnessing events that were completely unplanned and effortlessly done. As I’ve matured in the faith I recognize that my zeal has many times resulted in ineffective witnessing because I did not let God work through me. You are absolutely right about love being the motivator to seek out and try to save the lost. There is no better compulsion. But, I did not receive, nor do I expect to receive, any secondary or subsequent work of the Spirit beyond my continual training in righteousness.

    This is where I part ways with the idea of being baptized in the Holy Spirit as a second and permanent work. In Acts 2:4 and Acts 4:31 we see episodes where the Apostles and those with them were filled with the Spirit. It appears to me that this was a temporary blessing of exceptional spiritual inspiration and power. The Old Testament is replete with episodes of the judges, including Samson, and kings, including the apostate King Saul, being filled with or baptized with the Spirit of God. The prophets also were episodically filled with the Spirit of God. See Isaiah 59:21 and Ezekial 3:24. I do not believe the scriptures in any way teach that once filled with the Holy Spirit, you remain filled. I believe the Spirit fills a baptized believer as much as that believer allows and that as time passes, hopefully, that believer grows in the knowledge and love of God and the measure of the Spirit in them increases accordingly. Saul was converted at baptism and was filled with the Spirit at that point, per Ananias’ testimony in Acts 9:17. In later parts of Acts at specific times we also read that some disciples and Paul were again filled with the Holy Spirit. If they were always such, why the emphasis at particular occassions of evidentiary miracles and power?

    Anyway, I look forward to hearing the rest of your story Nancy. Thank you for your contribution.

  8. P.S. I’m glad you like the new look. Helps all us geezers to be able to read what we’re writing! :0

  9. Posted by memnan on August 14, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    I want to leave this link here for you to read…I think this is an excellent article for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit… This is one of the best I have ever read…only one page long so not tedious…I will pick up later where I left off above…This will give you a better understanding for the background of the experience as I see it…and have experienced it…


  10. Posted by memnan on August 14, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    Acts 8:14-16 Read this in just about any translation it says pretty much the same…Be Blessed…*: )

  11. Posted by memnan on August 18, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    The adventure continues… At this time, since I was not of the pentecostal persuasion, I had never heard anyone speaking in tongues…The closest I ever got was to hear Spanish spoken at the grocery… Jack Hayford hadn’t been any help here either, he just said I could speak in tongues if I wanted to.

    My husband was in the military and while not on a regular basis, we attended the base chapel services and events… I certainly had not seen any hand raising or funny speaking going on there! I was determined not to be left out in the rain on this one… I was on it like a mama duck on a June bug, determined to know what God had to say about it…not what some man THOUGHT God had to say about it…

    It was the Holy Spirit, the Bible, a Strong’s Concordance and me all in conference over 1 Corinthians 14…hmmm better have some of that prophesying as well… During this time I was devouring the Bible starting in Genesis and heading toward Revelation…a practice that I have continued regularly since that time… My prayer time and Bible reading changed to actual worship times as I began to make up “spiritual songs” to sing to the Lord… These songs were prompted by the scriptures I read… When I got to the place where Paul says,”I will sing in the spirit and with my understanding also.” I jumped up with hands raised in joy; it was time to dance…No strange words appeared at this time…just happiness! Unlike David… since my children were in school and my husband was at work…there was no one outside the Holy Spirit to witness my joyful antics…. It was at this time also that the Holy Spirit and I conspired to make some changes in our everyday family life…*: )…to be continued…

  12. Another good post. Thanks. I must agree I know no one qualified to be an Apostle (Acts 1:14-22) and I know no Apostle lay on hands (Acts 8:14-17), so I cannot have the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:45) of miraculous gifts.

    May God Bless You.

  13. Posted by memnan on August 21, 2008 at 7:48 am


    Luke 11:9-13 (ESV)

    9And I tell you,(A) ask, and(B) it will be given to you;(C) seek, and you will find;(D) knock, and it will be opened to you. 10For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11What father among you, if his son asks for[a] a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13If you then,(E) who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father(F) give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”


  14. Memnan

    I agree. I wasn’t speaking of the indwelling of the Spirit and His seal, but the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:45).

    May God Bless You.

  15. Wow! My Bloglines nor WordPress are keeping me informaed about these comments. I apologize for not replying sooner!

    I’m looking forward to the “rest of the story”. You really tease it along! I’m still looking for something beyond what I understand as the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
    As I said in my article, having the Spirit come upon you doesn’t affirm anything about one’s standing with God. That is why I’m convinced that most, if not all, the manifestations we see associated with Jesus’ Spirit are not of Him at all. Speaking in tongues is clearly meant to convince unbelievers of the presence of God (through an unlearned person speaking a foreign [unknown]language and possibly a heavenly one). It is clearly not for the edification of other believers or something we should glory in outside of private worship.

    Thanks for your input and your encouragement!

  16. Posted by memnan on August 28, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    Sorry to leave the story in limbo…my daughter has been home from mission in Germany and I have been otherwise employed…happily! We were having a long discussion about the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, and I’m still Hmmming it over to make sure I’m using “non-confusing” language…

    I really think most (not all) the differences/difficulties that true Christians encounter with each other arise from reading books about the Bible, instead of the Living Word itself. Anyway, I still need a bit of Hmmm time…*: )

  17. Nancy,

    Please enjoy your time with family and mulling this over. And please, please, feel absolutley free to base your beliefs and opinions on what scripture says. I also esteem what I read directly from the Word more highly than any man’s opinion! I base what I say and believe on what I’ve read in God’s Word even when it conflicts with things I’ve heard or been taught all my life.

  18. Posted by memnan on August 30, 2008 at 7:19 am

    Well, after hummming a while, I feel that I have taken a rabbit trail that needs to be wrapped up and then a few questions posed. The result of my experience changed the focus of our whole family…not to speaking in tongues, which in fact did eventually follow…(1 Cor 14 gives good instruction on proper use)…but to Jesus and a more purpose directed life (not as in Rick Warren) but as in experiencing and acknowledging the everyday presence of the person of the Holy Spirit. This is indeed a choice…He is always present…it is up to us to practise the presence…We can stand by the well, or use the bucket provided and drink from the well…or just jump in the well…the water is ALIVE and brings the abundant life promised…*: )

    Ok,nuff said about our family time for a few questions…you can participate with answers and questions also…trying to get this back to the “Book” and out of the experiential realm…*; )

    1. (A Really Big Question) To whom were
    these instructions given?

    Matthew 28:16-20

    The Great Commission
    16Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

    This is not a trick question but needs to be thought out…

    More questions later…*: )

  19. These instructions were explicitly given to the eleven remaining disciples. You can also say it is implicitly given to all believers. The command to baptize new disciples in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit specifically requires an action on the part of the disciples (something they would actively do). Since the baptism of Holy Spirit was done outside the power of man this has to refer to water baptism. It would be redundant to baptize with the Holy Spirit in the triune name of the Godhead.

    “Laying on of hands” was/is also a way to bestow a gift of the Spirit, but I do not believe this is the baptism Christ refers to in Matthew 28; if that is the connection you are trying to make. Paul re-baptized the disciples he found in Acts 19 in water. Afterwards, Paul laid his hands on them and the Holy Spirit “came upon them” which can be considered a baptism, but not the baptism Christ commanded.

  20. Posted by memnan on September 2, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    I think we can say we agree here. The Matthew 28 commission was to the eleven disciples (less Judas); the church is still operating under this commission today even though it was originally given only to the eleven present. The laying on of hands to convey the Holy Spirit mentioned in Acts 19 was subsequent to the actual baptism in water(in the name of the Trinity)…a second/separate act.

    I think some of the confusion on whether or not there is a second act of grace comes from the fact that many times it IS simultaneous. In John 20:22 Jesus breathed on the disciples saying receive the Holy Spirit…this was not the promised gift, but a commission as well. The power from on high given at Pentecost was a second act.

    I’ll let you respond before question 2 ..*: )

  21. Nancy,

    Using the exception as a rule is simply not a good idea. People were baptized with the Spirit in an unconverted state (OT examples of which I gave earlier), the Spirit fell on people who had not been baptized in water yet (Cornelius and friends), and the Spirit fell on people who were converted and baptized, yet not until Paul laid hands on them!

    The fact that the Spirit fell on people does not indicate a second work of grace, to me, but rather a demonstration of God’s witness to an event. It imbued people with power, but many times only temporarily. The Bible uses the term “filled with the Spirit” as indicative of a person under the power of the Holy Spirit being directed to say or do something. It is never, to my understanding, signified as a permanent indwelling beyond what is promised to ALL believers at conversion.

    I believe all of us have more and less of the Spirit than other believers at any given time, depending on how close our walk is with God. But all of us have the Spirit or “…if any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” as Paul says in Romans 8:9

  22. Posted by memnan on September 9, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    In actuality, I think we really agree, that…

    1. Every believer receives the Holy Spirit upon salvation.

    2. Sometimes an additional empowerment of the Holy Spirit is evident in the believer’s life as needed in ministry and as confirmation of God’s seal/witness to an event.

    Questionable…does this additional empowerment come and go?? Or does it reside with the believer??? If it is available when needed as listed in #2 above…does it really make a difference either way??? IMHO not at all…*: )

    Perhaps…the event is actually the recognition by the believer that indeed the very same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in him…and acknowledgement of this fact is what makes the change in mind set….that aha moment could certainly appear to be a second act of grace to the believer experiencing it…*: )

    However you choose to look at it, this still is not a sanctification event… That begins at salvation and continues throughout the rest of our lives.

    Were the Corinthians sanctified…the ones that were truly saved…yes they were sanctified and they were being sanctified.

  23. Nancy,

    I believe you nailed it with this:
    “Were the Corinthians sanctified…the ones that were truly saved…yes they were sanctified and they were being sanctified.”

    And I can appreciate your explanation of what some term a “second work”. It could very well be that some perceive the gift of the spirit in an epiphany of sorts that occurs sometime later in their walk. But, that is insufficient to base a doctrine on or lead believers to seek an experiential witness when we are called to walk by faith and not sight…or feelings, or circumstances, etc.

    Thanks for your insightful and honest comments! They’re much appreciated.

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