Mature Class Study, pastor Dave Goble.
About 1899 there was a debate in the church about whether a person could be cleansed thoroughly not only from committed sin but also from inbred sin or the carnal nature. The Church of God has taught that a person needs two works of grace. The first work for justification is cleansing from all committed sins. The second work is a filling of the Holy Spirit, also called a second cleansing. The teaching was challenged again in the early 1970s. There was a debate about whether the Bible teaches a second cleansing. This study presumes we don’t know anything and we’re asking the Holy Spirit to guide our thoughts to truth about a second cleansing. It’s important to understand why we believe what we do according to what the Bible teaches, not just from what we’ve been taught. If we only mimic what we’ve been taught, it can produce error. Someone could teach a little error from misunderstanding or human thinking, not from evil intent.
Romans 5:12 refers to Adam as the one man through whom sin entered into the world. What does the phrase mean, “until the law sin was in the world”? From Adam until Moses sin was in the world. Sin was not imputed (people weren’t held accountable) until the law was given. The nation of Israel was held accountable when the law was given to them. This doesn’t mean sin isn’t present but that a person isn’t accountable for it. (Paul also said people who weren’t Israelites were accountable to a law in their consciences. Romans 2:14-15). The similitude of Adam was that he sinned by disobeying God when he ate fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. That commandment was only given to Adam and Eve. Others sinned after Adam did but it was for other reasons. Some presume this verse refers to the carnal nature but they add in other scripture to come to that conclusion. We say “the figure of him that was to come” refers to Jesus.
Romans 5:12-14 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.
Some say the “free gift” is free will. Others say it refers to salvation that comes through Christ. The offence of one is Adam’s sin so many are dead through his sin. There’s also a dispute about “so many are dead” and whether it’s because of the nature that is transferred from Adam to his offspring. Then we would ask how does this occur? Somehow sin entered into the world through Adam’s sin. Now the scripture introduces a solution for death, “For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace…by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.” The solution of the grace of God comes through Jesus. The grace of God abounds more to conquer sin. Verse 16 speaks of justification or being made right with God, “the free gift is of many offences unto justification.” The gift or grace leads us, not to condemnation, but to justification.
Romans 5:15-16 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.
The grace of God given to us by Jesus allows us to reign over death in life. Reading the first 5 chapters of Romans, we see that Paul had a burden for his people, the Jews, to be saved through Jesus. The book of Romans speaks directly to the nation of Israel in defense of Paul for the gospel’s sake. It is to prove Jesus is the Messiah and is the solution for evil and sin for the Jews. God inspired Paul to write this and all scriptures were inspired for all mankind and for all time.
Romans 5:17-21 For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus…
In the doctrine of two cleansings, it’s important that humanity has inherited something from Adam’s sin. If we haven’t inherited something, arguments can be made that we aren’t inherently sinful. What we believe has been influenced by what has been taught over the last 2,000 years. There’s a teaching called the doctrine of original sin. It is not Adam’s sin. The doctrine of original sin addresses what happened after Adam sinned. Original sin is the teaching that when Adam and Eve sinned by disobeyed God in the garden, they introduced a corrupted nature into humanity that was somehow passed from Adam to Cain. Cain killed his brother Abel so something was wrong with Cain. Adam and Eve had another son, Seth. Somehow Adam’s sin was passed on to their offspring. People ask how does it happen that we’re born with a sinful nature? The doctrine of original sin is disputed and not believed by some in the Church of God. Some teach that no corruption or depravity of the human nature followed Adam’s sin. In other words, they say Adam’s offspring were not corrupted by Adam’s decision to sin. They support that teaching by the scripture in Ezekiel that says the sins of the father are not passed on to the sons. This teaching changes how people understand Romans 5. The teaching we have grown up under is that we inherit original sin after the similitude of Adam’s fallen nature.
Iraneus was a man from Symna Turkey born 130AD. He ended up in France and was a bishop. He wrote to warn against heresies and wrote much about Gnostics. The Gnostics taught about a secret knowledge. Iraneus argued that there was no depravity of nature from Adam. He wrote that each of us has free will but that we’re destined to sin because of our fallen nature. If one is destined, then they really don’t have a choice or free will. Free will is important because it allows us to choose to be saved after we’ve sinned. People who try to proved the one cleansing doctrine start from a theory that there is only one cleansing, then they find scriptures to prove it by the same scriptures used that show two cleansing. Starting a study with a theory already in mind, where you try to prove an idea by human thinking, is a danger. When we start from the bottom up, we let the scripture prove itself. Different church fathers have been influential to all churches and theology in what they wrote. In the early church we read how Jude and Peter were in a fight for orthodoxy. There were competing interests trying to say what truth was as the early church was forming. Priscilla and Aquila told Apollos about receiving the Holy Ghost (Acts 18:24-26). We read in the book of Acts about Paul, apparently trying to solve problems that had arisen from heresies. These things are important to consider as we’re guided by the Holy Spirit in our study.