Redemptive Works of Grace:
Instantaneous and Progressive

Dr. W. Noble King
All Rights Reserved

1. Regeneration.  As a result of the free gift of original righteousness man finds himself in confrontation with the Triune Godhead, and must obey or disobey, yield to or reject the overtures of redemption.  His freedom, to the extent of determining his own spiritual status in time and in eternity has been restored.

Repentance does not refer to a change and a confession because one has been caught.  Repentance follows conviction, and is a sorrowful change away from sin.  Things are confessed and turned away from that never would have been known.  There is also a desire to undo the wrong.  This is Bible repentance (II Cor. 7:9--11).  The three Bible classics on repentance are Adam and Eve in Gen. 3:7--16; the Ninevites in Jonah 3:4--10; the prodigal son in Luke 15:11--24.

Conversion generally refers to the turning of the heart from sin to God.  However, when one turns in repentance then God turns him in heart: "...turn thou me and I shall be turned" (Jer. 31:18c).  This turning of the heart by God, and the turned life are conversion (Ps. 51:10b; Ezek. 18:21a, 23b, 30--32; Acts 11:21; 26:20; Luke 1:16; James 5:20; and Jer. 31:18).

The new birth refers to that aspect of regeneration by which we cease to be children of wrath or of the devil, and become children of God by grace.  It is a resurrection from death, and a birth into the kingdom of grace (palingenesia: Matt. 19:28, and Titus 3:5).  A new beginning in a new family.  A different word is used in John 3:7ff., but it means about the same.

Regeneration comes from the same root word as the new birth.  Indeed the word may be translated either way.  It therefore means a re-birth, a re-beginning, and re-generation.  See John 3:3; II Cor. 5:17; I John 3:14; Romans 8:29; Col. 1:13; Eph. 4:24.  It is marked by victory over the world (I John 5:4), dominion over sin (I John 3:8, 9), love of the saints (I John 3:14; and 5:7, 8), and the practice of ethical righteousness (I John 2:29; 3:7).

Faith is believing God from the heart and acting like it.  We surrender to God, confess to God and man as the cases may be, turn from known wrong in practice and in attitude.  We then believe God for salvation.  That is, we appropriate by faith the merits of the death of Jesus the Christ for our spirit needs on the grounds laid down by the Christ.  Anything short of this and we have merely presumption.  Faith embraces three things:

The assent of the understanding to the truths of the gospel especially as it relates to the death of Jesus as a sacrifice for sin.

The consent of the will and of the affections to the plan of salvation and the renunciation of every other spiritual refuge.

The soulís complete trust in the Savior, and the personal appropriation of the redemptive merits of his death.

Justification is "an act of Godís free grace, where in he pardons all of our sins, and accepts us as righteous in his sight", but only for the sake of, and because of the sacrifice of the Christ.  It is the judicial act of a judge, by which he absolves one from the spiritual results of all of his sins.  As Wesley said, "It is that act of God the Father, whereby, for the sake of the propitiation made by the blood of his Son, he showeth forth his mercy by the remission of sins that are past."  As quoted by Field, p. 197.

Adoption "is the act of God, by which, as our heavenly Father, he graciously receives believers in Christ into his family and vests them with all the privileges of sons; so that they, who were alienated and disinherited by sin, are restored to his favor, and to the title of their eternal inheritance.  They thus become heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ" (Locke, p. 273).  See Romans 8:15; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:5.

The witness of the Spirit.  By prevenient provision the Spirit measurably returned in providential care, and convicts, and points to the Christ, and witnesses to the impartation of spiritual life to the soul from above.  By him we know that we have met conditions laid down by God for salvation, and that our acts of saving faith have been honored.  Wesley expressed the matter very ably in the following quote:

By the testimony of the Spirit, I mean an inward impression on the soul, whereby the Spirit of God immediately and directly witnesses to my spirit that I am a child of God, that Jesus Christ hath loved me and given himself for me, that all my sins are blotted out, and I, even I, am reconciled to God (As quoted by Field, 210).

We could possibly also quote from Dr. Hannah as follows:

The witness of the Holy Spirit is that which directly ascertains to us the blessing of our acceptance with God, and which, impressing on our hearts a sense of his paternal love towards us in Jesus Christ, creates within us that great element and principle of the new nature--love to him in return (Also quoted by Field, p. 210).

See Romans 8:15, 16; Gal. 4:6; I Cor. 2:12; I John 4:13.  Indeed at times we may be so conscious of this presence that we feel like stepping over to make room for him to walk by our sides.  If such a consciousness were constant there would be no need for faith.  Hence at other times we may be with Job--only knew that he walked according to his last directions, that the Spirit was pointing to no specifically wrong thing, and that he had no heart condemnation (separated from the consciousness that he was an erring being with a fallen human nature).

The witness is direct and immediate: there are no symbols used.

This is proved by the meaning of the word employed: "The Spirit beareth witness".  Spirit with spirit.

It is proved by the content of the testimony: the forgiveness of sins, and adoption into the family of God.
Nothing but this can make our consciousness of salvation coeval with the fact of our adoption.  Otherwise we might be saved and not know it; or unsaved and think we are saved.

It is an accomplished fact with the witness; thus his Spirit witness first to our spirits.  Job had it right when he refused to believe otherwise until Godís Spirit witnessed otherwise.


Wiley, II, 357, 322, 364, 367, 382, 403, 428, 431, etc.
Pope, II, 358--414.
Field, 193--223.
Locke, 231--291.
Wakefield, 403--447.
Miley, II, 309--350.
Banks, 163--182.
Binney, 119--128.
Ralston, 325--439.
Watson, II, 243ff.

2. Entire sanctification.  In regeneration one is forgiven back to the innocency of childhood, born again, and adopted into the spiritual family of God.  The carnal nature, however, with which he was born, remains in his heart.  This heart state is natural to him as a member of a fallen race (Eph. 3:2).  This carnal nature affects the total man--a fungus generated in the soul of Adam as the result of an act of disobedience. It is now genetically passed on from generation to generation.

This carnal entity or thing in itself has attributes and acts in its own right.  Paul says, "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like" (Gal. 5:19--21a).  The terms used with regard to its possible removal declare it a thing in itself or an entity: wash--dirt is removed; cleanse--something undesired must be removed; prune, circumcise, remove this body of death--these all call for a form of amputation.  Wakefield points out that the figure of speech cannot be more real or surpass that which is symbolized or prefigured (Christian Theology, 642).

This carnal disease is referred to as the flesh (Tape).  There is no difference in the word for flesh as such, and the fleshly carnal nature; but the setting always determines which is meant:

All flesh of both man or beast, etc. (Gen. 6:17).
All flesh of animals alone (Gen. 7:15).
The flesh of human beings along (Gen. 2:21; I Tim. 3:16).
The living animal organism (Gen. 9:17).
To blood relatives (Gen. 37:27; Romans 11:14).
To persons (Romans 3:20).
The faculty of comprehension (Romans 6:19).
Believing human nature (Joel 2:28).
Rational intelligence (Ezekiel 21:5; Gal. 1:16).
Fallen human nature (Gen. 6:12; Gal. 2:16).
Carnal human nature (Romans 7:18; Gal. 5:17, 19, 24; 6:8; Phil. 1:22).
To human descent (Romans 1:3).
To the gripping power of the carnal nature (Romans 7:5, 17, 25).
To the carnal nature itself as opposed to the new spiritual nature received in regeneration (Romans 8:4--13).  They were in the flesh physically, but not in possession of the moral disease called flesh.

 Things that entire sanctification does not do for us in this life:

Make us perfect in all attributes as God is perfect.
Endow us with Adamic perfection.  That is, Paradisiacal perfection--perfection as Adam enjoyed it before the fall.
Endow us with angelic perfection.  Angels are bodiless spirits, and are living in a perfect and spiritual order.
Vest us with resurrected and glorified perfection as Moses and Elijah were when they appeared on the mount of transfiguration.
Bring about the cessation of spiritual warfare.  In many respects spiritual warfare is intensified, as the best trained and best equipped soldiers are given the hardest battles to fight.
Does not deliver us from physical infirmities.  Those infirmities are due to the fall racially, and are neither good nor bad in themselves.
Does not bring about the cessation of wandering thoughts while praying or reading the Bible, etc.  A perfect heart is one thing, and a perfect mind is quite another thing.
Does not deliver us from scary, unpleasant, and improper dreams.  Such, I think, would be modified a little.  Daniel Steele deals with this matter very ably in Love Enthroned, pp. 87f.
Does not remove possible agitation at expected bad news, or the fear of bad news, or sudden fear in great danger--storms.
It is not a state of constant ecstacy and joy.  This is not possible in a world of sorrow and death and loss.  Neither is it desirable for that matter.
It is not the removal of the possibility of further sinning.  This is neither implied nor stated in the Bible.
It does not enable us to serve God perfectly as Adam did before the fall.  We serve him with perfect intention from a pure heart, but not with perfect performance with a perfect mind.
It does not deliver us from physical death, nor yet from the pains and ills relative to the life-long approach of death.

 Certain differences between the two works of grace:

In regeneration the rebel against God surrenders unconditionally, ceases from his sins, makes his past right to the best of his knowledge and ability.  In entire sanctification the regenerated child of God consecrates his all--past, present, and future; the known and the unknown to the will of God.

In regeneration one is made spiritually alive, or born of the Spirit.  He is saved back to the innocency of childhood.  All the graces of the Spirit that he necessarily ever will have, are received in the act of regeneration.  The carnal opposites of those spiritual graces remain in his heart however.  In the act of entire sanctification those carnal opposites are all cleansed away.  This cleansing is accompanied by a corresponding Spirit anointing.  This cleansing and anointing are the two aspects of the baptism with the Spirit.

Regeneration is a perfect half: it is a total work in its own field.  Entire sanctification is also a perfect half, and is a total work in its own field.  Two perfect halves make a perfect whole with regard to sin--committed and inherited.  The first we call partial or initial sanctification, and the second we call entire sanctification.  The time element between the two works of grace is determined largely by the person himself, his environment, and light.  Both are finally by an act of faith in appropriating the merits of the cross of the Christ.

 There are but two works of grace dealing with sin:

Peter, in his first sermon after the Pentecost presented two works of grace: "Then said Peter unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 2:38).  Here we have repentance for forgiveness, and the baptism with the Spirit.

Then, with regard to the home of Cornelius, Peter restated his position and explained it.  The baptism with the Spirit there cleansed their hearts, as Peter said that it also did theirs at Pentecost.  Hence we have repentance and forgiveness; cleansing of the heart and the baptism with the Spirit: "And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith" (Acts 15:8, 9).  The needs were the same, the works were the same, the results were the same (Acts 11:15, 17, 18; 10:44).

Then in Paulís great God-given commission to the gentile world we have the two works of grace set forth: "...that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me" (Acts 26:18bc).  This is in harmony with all of his epistles except Philemon.

 Those two works of grace are both attainable in this life:

We find no statement in the Bible stating that we cannot be cleansed from all sin while in life and health.  Not one passage even hints that entire sanctification must be postponed to the end of life.  A present experience is always inferred.

Nowhere are we taught that the soulís connection with the body is a necessary obstacle to its entire sanctification.  Indeed, the body, with all of its powers, is to be sanctified to God (Rom. 6:13; I Cor. 6:19, 20; II Cor. 4:10, 11; I Thess. 5:23; Heb. 10:22).

It is the blood of the Christ, and not physical death (the last enemy) that cleanseth from all sin (I John 1:7; Rev. 1:5).  And that blood cleanseth now--on conditions laid down by God.

The Bible connects our entire sanctification, with subsequent holy acts performed in the body of this life.  That is, we are made holy in heart, we then act holy in conduct, and then we die physically (Rom. 6:6, 19, 22; II Cor. 7:1; I Thess. 5:23).

The Bible also requires us to bring forth the graces and the virtues of a sanctified or holy life on this earth (Gal. 5:22--25).  Now is the accepted time for salvation, and now is the accepted time for entire sanctification also (Luke 1:74, 75).

God commands us to be sanctified wholly.  Why should God command the impossible?  A flying-goal that can be approximated would be great discouragement (Deut. 6:5; Luke 10:27; Matt. 5:48; Romans 6:11; II Cor. 7:1; Heb. 6:1; Heb. 12:14; James 1:4; I Peter 1:15, 16).

God promises to sanctify us wholly in this life.  Now if we cannot be, Godís promises must fail; but God cannot lie (Deut. 30:6; Ezek. 36:25--29; Matt. 5:6; I Thess. 5:23, 24; I John 1:7--9).

Christ himself, and holy and inspired men prayed for it for the Church.  If it is not attainable then the Holy Ghost deluded those men, or else they claimed inspiration when they were not so inspired (John 17:20--23; Eph. 3:14--21; Col. 4:12; I Thess. 5:23; Heb. 13:20, 21; I Peter 5:10).

The Bible points to entire sanctification as the great object of all of Godís dealings with men.  It is the object of Christís mediatorial work (Luke 1:68--75; I John 3:8; Eph. 5:25--27; Titus 2:14).  It is the purpose of the Christian ministry (Eph. 4:11--13; Col. 1:28).  It is the promise of the gospel (II Peter 1:4).

It is proved by the fact that the Bible gives us examples of those who did realize it in this life before death.  Holiness theologians refer to the Old and New Testaments without discrimination in this matter.  The only difference is in ethics, as their ethical light was much dimmer in the Old: Enoch (Gen. 5:24).  Noah (Gen. 6:9), Job (Job 1:1, 8, 22; 2:3; 42:7, 8), Abraham (Gen. 17:1), Asa (I Kings 15:14), the disciples (Acts 15:8, 9), Barnabus (Acts 11:24), St. John (I John 4:17), St. Paul (Phil. 3:15), and inspired Old Testament writers were said to be holy (II Peter 1:21) (Field, pp. 231, 232).

 The variable biblical causes of our entire sanctification:

The First Cause is the holy Father: "To them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called" (Jude 1).

The Procuring Cause is the holy Son: "Husbands love your wives, even as Christ loved the Church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify, and cleanse it" (Eph. 5:26).

The Efficient Cause is the Holy Spirit: "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father through sanctification of the Spirit" (I Peter 1:2).

The Determining Cause is the divine will: "By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Heb. 10:10).

The Meritorious Cause is the sacrifice of Jesus: "Wherefore Jesus also that he might sanctify the people with his own blood suffered without the gate" (Heb. 13:12).

The Instrumental Cause is the truth of God: "Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth" (John 17:17).

The Conditional Cause is faith in Christ: "To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sin, and inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith that is in me" (Acts 26:18).

3. Progressive sanctification.  The Greek equivalent of the term sanctification is __________.  The Latin breakdown of the word is sanctus: pure, holy, righteous; facio: to make, --to make pure, holy or righteous.  Thus our word sanctification, meaning to make one pure, holy, or righteous in heart.  When man does it, it is gradual or progressive; when God does it, as in regeneration or heart cleansing, it is instantaneous.  Most dictionaries give sanctification a fourfold meaning: (1) to separate; (2) to dedicate; (3) to consecrate; (4) to make pure in heart.  The first two meanings are related to the work of regeneration; the second two meanings belong to the entire sanctification of the heart.

Partial and entire sanctification.  In common Wesleyan usage progressive sanctification merely means that sanctification should progress from the partial cleansing in regeneration, to the entire experience in heart purity.  Those two stages are both instantaneous and complete in their respective fields.  Thus entire sanctification is achieved in two steps with regard to the sin problem.  The word sanctification, however, is used in a broader sense than this, and is so interpreted by Methodist holiness theologians.

All great Bible truths are foreshadowed or illustrated by types or symbols or figures.  For example we have the "Sun of righteousness", "the day Star", "the Lily of the valley", "the Lion of the tribe of Judah", "the Lamb of God".  Those symbols would not exist as symbols at all if they did not point to something far greater than themselves, and concretely stated elsewhere.  Thus the term sanctification is also used in a lower or symbolic field to illustrate a higher and more important field concretely stated elsewhere.  Symbols are not ends in themselves.

(1) Certain days, and times, and seasons or occasions were said to be sanctified: "And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it" (Gen. 2:3); the day of deliverance from Egypt became the Hebrew Sabbath, and was to be sanctified and observed as an holy day (Deut. 5:12; Exod. 12:17).  Their seven special feasts--especially the three important ones--were said to be sanctified, as well as their new year (Exod. 12:2--14).

(2) The outer and inner curtains, the enclosures, the tabernacle itself, the altars, and the instruments connected therewith were also said to be sanctified in that they were separated from common usage and dedicated to sacred usage (II Chr. 29:19; Exod. 29:44; 40:10, 11; II Chr. 7:16).

(3) Human beings were also sanctified with regard to office.  This type of sanctification is generally stated, but always inferred.  It did not carry with it personal salvation, nor yet did it guarantee the continuation of personal salvation: Adam was sanctified to found the human race; Noah was sanctified to continue the human race; Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the twelve patriarchs were sanctified to found a new Nation.  Cyrus was also sanctified to deliver Israel from Babylonian and Assyrian captivity.  Aaron and his sons were sanctified to the office of the priesthood, and the levites to the levitical office.  The Hebrew prophets and the Hebrew kings were also sanctified to those offices.  It was in this sense that Jeremiah and John the Baptist were said to have been sanctified at or before birth (Jer. 1:5; Luke 1:15).  This type of sanctification did not necessarily carry with it personal salvation, nor yet did it guarantee continuance in a state of salvation, nor guarantee against final apostasy.  They were separated from a something, and dedicated to a something (Exod. 19:14; 28:14; II Chr. 7:16, 20; Lev. 8:10, 15, 30).

(4) Human beings also sanctified themselves, and sanctified others, or were sanctified by the influence of others whether intentionally or unintentionally.  The people are said to have sanctified themselves in Lev. 11:44.  We read: "For I am the Lord your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, ..." (Lev. 11:44--45).  The people were sanctified by their leaders: "And the Lord said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them today and tomorrow, ..." (Exod. 19:10).  Members of a family were sanctified by members of the same family: "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now they are holy" (I Cor. 7:14).

(5) This ceremonial, official, national, and political sanctification also carried with it the idea of cleansing whether in or out of the human field: At one time the temple had fallen into disuse, and had to be cleansed.  All the dirt and rubble were taken out, and dumped at the brook Kendron and destroyed.  It took eight days to thus cleanse or sanctify it (II Chr. 29:15, 16).  In their self-sanctification, or in their sanctification by other people, they washed at least their faces, hands, feet, and clothes.  This washing was for the purpose of the removal of dirt.  But dirt is a type of the carnal nature, and water is a type of the Holy Spirit.  Thus when sanctification refers to the ethical or moral area, moral or spiritual cleansing is taught as the necessary heart state to meet God (Exod. 19:10, 11).

(6) There was, however, a double cleansing, and sprinkling, and anointing for people, priests, and kings.  The first cleansing was partial, and the first sprinkling with blood and anointing with oil were limited.  The second cleansing and anointing were complete.  The whole body was washed with water; the physical organs representing the whole body--right ear, right thumb, right toe--were sprinkled and anointed (Lev. 14:7, 8, 14, 9--18; Lev. 13:6, 34, 58; also Num. 19:7; Lev. 15:8, 11; 17:16.  For single cleansing only see Exod. 30:19, 20, 21; 40:31; Lev. 14:7--9; Exod. 29:4).

Kings were also anointed on being selected, and then on being crowned (I Sam. 15:1, 17).  Priests were specially anointed on taking office also (Exod. 28:41; 40:13--15; Heb. 10:22).  We should probably observe the following scriptures on this whole matter: Exod. 28:41; 30:30; Lev. 8:12; Exod. 29:35; 30:26; Lev. 8:10, 11; Exod. 40:8--12; Num. 7:1; 19:4; Exod. 40:13; Lev. 7:35, 36).

Thus we have a double washing with water, a double sprinkling with blood,  and a double anointing with oil.  The second washing and sprinkling and anointing was always more profuse than the first.  The time between the two differed according to circumstances.  Hence we have two works of grace taught side by side throughout the redemptive economy in both symbol and fact.  With regard to this matter, at this point we would also refer to Davidís prayer for a double washing or cleansing (Psalm 51:2, 7, 10, 12); and to Naamanís perfect number of dips (II Kings 5:13ff.); and to Jeremiahís reference to the second washing (Jer. 4:14).

Now, the part that the convicted sinner plays in meeting Godís requirements for him in repentance, and confession, etc. is a self-sanctification, and is progressive.  Then the gradual consecration and death to self between the two works of grace, on the part of the regenerate who are walking in the light, are progressive; then growth in grace, and conformity to the character of the Christ, after the cleansing of the heart, are also progressive.  The two works of grace themselves--regeneration, and entire sanctification--are instantaneous: thus sanctification is both progressive and instantaneous.


Wiley, II, pp. 479--517.
Pope, III, pp. 35--44.
Banks, pp. 185--187.
Miley, II, pp. 354--383.
Field, pp. 224--241.
Ralston, pp. 457--472.

1. Granting a free rational omnipotent God, revealed as Father, Son, and Spirit who created all, including the rational creature man, it then becomes reasonable to think that both Creator and creature would wish to meet and communicate.  This they did by means of revelation.  Illumination refers to the operations of the Holy Spirit, directly and indirectly, on our minds so that we shall be able to understand, in part at least, the given.  Inspiration refers to the giving of the message to men, and then the enablement of those men to impart that message, so given, to their fellows.  Revelation would refer to all truths given by God to man, other than, possibly, those truths which man is capable of discovering for himself at the time.

2. The sources of revelation: general, and special or written.  General would include every manifestation of God by means of physical nature, providential government, or the constitution of the human mind.  Special would refer to the written, and would also embrace the works, and words, and Person of the Christ.  Man belongs to two orders by constitution: with regard to his physical nature, and physical animation or soul he belongs to nature; with regard to his immortal spirit he belongs to the spiritual order--both could be sources of reception of revelation of God.

(1) Physical nature would have been the first revelation of God of which man would have been conscious.  It would call for a certain kind of Creator.  Nature objects are used to typify the Persons in the Godhead, etc.--the sun, moon, morning star, rose, lily, rock (Psalm 19:1, 2; Romans 1:19, 20; Gen. 1:1--2:18).  Until nature was cursed by the fall, and until the understanding of man was darkened by sin Nature was a good general revelation of God.  Apparently sin veiled the presence of God in nature from man, as disobedience veiled the glory of the law, and the glory of the face of Moses from the Hebrews (Gen. 3:17, 18; Exod. 34:33; II Cor. 3:13--16).

(2) Experientially, at least, man is a three-fold being--body, soul, and spirit.  Body and bodily animation or soul with their attributes and intuitions are of nature , and God speaks to man through them as he speaks to man through physical nature.  But man is also a rational spirit, and as such, belongs to the spiritual order.  Thus God spoke directly either orally or innately to the spirit of man in Eden before the fall, and before nature was veiled (Gen. 2:16, 17).  However, man as a rational self is one; but the approach to that self-hood may be either physically or spiritually.

(3) Even before the fall of man nature was not capable of getting through to man on all levels.  For instance the prohibition against eating of the fruit of a certain tree was not revealed by nature, but by word of mouth to man.  At least God spoke directly to his spiritual self-hood, and he innately knew (Gen. 2:17, 18).  Also after the fall he spoke to them most minutely (Gen. 3:9--19).  Then later he spoke to chosen representatives, and Noah, and the Patriarchs before the law was given.

(4) He then gave mankind the written word, probably starting with Moses, and coming on down to Malachi in the Old Testament.  Then finally the New Testament.  During this time people had both sources--the written as it was being written, and the spoken during the time of the writing of it.

(5) Then that written revelation prophesied of and finally told us of the Logos.  The Logos of course is revealed in nature, and in and to the intuitional consciousness of man; but more particularly is he revealed in what we call the written word.  He is our highest source; but we have to go to the Bible to learn of him.  There are various theories of revelation with which we shall now deal:

Natural inspiration.  Inspiration is identified with genius of a high order.  Shakespeare and all such would be inspired in this view.

Universal Christian Inspiration.  Wherever there are Christians there is inspiration--great Christians great inspiration, lesser Christians lesser inspiration.  Inspiration is not confined to any day or age.

Conceptual or thought inspiration.  Only the thoughts or the concepts were given by inspiration.  The writers supplied the rest themselves.

Partial inspiration.  This theory holds that the Bible contains the word of God.  The problem then is what is the word of God, and what is the word of man?  Man must himself decide; so man is our highest authority.  Modernism likes this view.

Organic inspiration.  The Holy Spirit acted on the writers in harmony with the laws of their own inner beings.  He used them just as they were, and recognized their characters, temperaments, gifts, education, vocabulary and style.  They were also guided in the expression of their thoughts.

Dynamic inspiration.  Only the writers themselves are affected, and not their writings directly.  Their mental and spiritual grasps were raised to a high level.  Their writings were only indirectly affected.  This theory differs but little from the illumination theory or all Christians.

Mechanical inspiration.  In a sense God gave the very words and guided the hand of the writer, as though the writer were as passive as a pen.  The minds of the writers contributed to nothing.  This theory gives too much and ignores too much.

Verbal inspiration.  The very words of Scriptures were given, but possibly given from the writerís apperceptive mass.  Thus their minds and personalities were not set aside.  This theory differs somewhat from the mechanical theory.

Plenary inspiration.  Every part of the Bible, and the Bible itself is inspired in its totality.  The writers could use dreams, visions, events, pages from history, conversations, essays and sermons, and work them into his message.  In its finality God approved his material and his language--for that matter to the very words.  In its finality it is as accurate as though it were verbally given; indeed that can be one of the methods by which the writer obtained his message and terminology.  The whole is inspired, and the writer has the witness of the Spirit that it is.

We do not like natural inspiration; universal Christian inspiration; partial inspiration; mechanical inspiration; and dynamic inspiration.

We like in part only, conceptual inspiration; organic inspiration; and verbal inspiration.

We like best of all plenary inspiration, as it seems to fit the total picture better, and makes a place for the human equation in the divine impartation.

We cannot go with the theory of the Neo-Orthodox group which holds that events in history coming in contact with the intuitional nature of man produces a result and that result is revelation.  When it is written down, it is ruined.  Inspiration becomes a humanistic mysticism, and the results on the individual is revelation.


Wiley and Culbertson, pp. 51, 52.
Evans, pp. 193--209.
Berkhof, pp. 18--23.
Binney and Steele, pp. 21, 22.
Field, pp. 53--81.
Sell, pp. 120--127.

John Ross OneTexan
Top of Page
John Briscoe Webmaster

Texts may be freely used for personal or scholarly purposes, provided they remain unaltered, Dr. King is given full credit, and this website is referenced. 
Texts may not be redistributed in any for-profit form or mirrored at any other website without the expressed, written consent of John Ross.
If you charge anything for accessing this material, even a "nominal disk copying fee", you must register with us and obtain written permission. 
The material is NOT SHAREWARE and may not be distributed by
 shareware dealers without our written permission.