II. SANCTIFYING SINNERS
IN THE PROCESS OF THEIR REPENTANCE
AND THEIR BELIEVING IN CHRIST
BEFORE THEIR REGENERATION
The second function of the all-inclusive Spirit is to sanctify sinners in the process of their repentance and their believing in Christ before their regeneration (1 Pet. 1:2a). To convict people is to sanctify them, and to sanctify them is to separate them. The United States is like a big ocean full of all kinds of fish, all kinds of people, for us to catch, but we do not know how to convict them. We do not know the "high tech" way to preach the gospel. The apostle Paul had many different ways to convict people. Once a man is convicted, he is separated, and to be separated is to be sanctified.
God’s sanctification, through His Spirit, of His chosen ones has two sections. The first section is before our repentance and believing, and the second section is after our regeneration. The first section of God the Spirit’s sanctification is a part of the convicting. This is the finding work of the woman, signifying the Spirit, in Luke 15:8-9. Many missionaries went to other countries for the purpose of separating people unto Christ, sanctifying them by convicting them. Many of the Chinese were disciples of Confucius before the missionaries went there. Their philosophy, their logic, and their ethical understanding were based on the teachings of Confucius. Eventually, many in the old, conservative country of China were sanctified, separated, from the teachings of Confucius to the gospel of Christ. First Peter 1:2a speaks of the sanctification of people before they believe in Christ. Before people believe in Christ they need such a sanctification, such a separation unto Christ.
III. GIVING LIFE TO THE BELIEVING ONES
ALL THE TIME
The Spirit also functions to give life to the believing ones all the time (1 Cor. 15:45b; 2 Cor. 3:6b). While the Spirit is sanctifying the sinners and convicting them, this same Spirit is imparting life into them. We need to consider how the sanctifying, separating, convicting Spirit imparts life to the sinners. While the preachers are preaching the word, the sanctifying, separating, convicting Spirit shows the hearers the beauty of Christ. Spontaneously, there is a kind of aspiration within the hearers to appreciate Christ. Outwardly, the hearers may seem hard, saying that they do not want Jesus. But within, while they are hearing the word, there is an aspiration within them to desire Jesus. This appreciation is the beginning of their faith in Christ.
Thus, life is imparted into them, and that life is a person. Life is Christ (John 14:6a; Col. 3:4a). The beautiful, loving, and attracting Christ as life is imparted into them. Some who hear the gospel may be afraid of their parents and relatives, not daring to confess that they would be a Christian, yet within they have a kind of appreciation of Christ. Through the preaching, they get to know this beautiful Christ. Thus, in their heart faith is produced, and that faith is also Christ. The very life they appreciate is Christ, and even the believing act within them is Christ. At the time they believe, they begin to enjoy the Spirit as the life-giving One.
(The Christian Life, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)