by Dr. Bill Ury
National Ambassador for Holiness It took me years to appreciate fully the all-encompassing Gospel that produced The Salvation Army. “Blood and Fire” is not just a catchy slogan or an emotional pump-up; it is a summation of the entire Gospel.
If you look closely, everything was different on that first Pentecost after the cross, the resurrection and ascension of Jesus—blood! Something happened that day that turned the world upside down. That is why we find the historical evidence of entire sanctification so clearly in Acts 2. The promised bestowal of the Holy Spirit was not just for illumination and power but for transformation of believing disciples who were spiritually impotent—fire!
Every self-centered attitude and action of the disciples was countered by a blazing reorienting power of the Spirit. First, they began to think like Jesus. His purposes were no longer unclear to them and with the first proclamation of the undiminished Gospel in one afternoon thousands of people came to believe in Christ. Second, a selfless, yet powerful, ministry ensued. In Jesus’ name, redemptive power flowed to human need. The disciples knew the risen Christ could meet every need of the heart. Third, the disciples had a new, committed love for each other. They liked each other. Fourth, they loved those who had repulsed them. Indiscriminate, inclusive holy love poured out of them. The Spirit enabled them to cross racial and social barriers without a whit of condescension. Lastly, they stayed committed to Jesus no matter what it cost them. They loved Him with a love that was not of their own making.
All of this and more was given to them in an ongoing, intimate, daily relationship with the Holy Spirit. Only the word “entire” could encapsulate what had happened. Their lives never returned to the emptiness and hopelessness of those years before Pentecost. The will of God, their sanctification, had taken place.
The concept of sanctification is central to the Bible and Christian thought. The Gospel Salvationists believe will never separate Easter from Pentecost, cross from Upper Room, Jesus from the Holy Spirit, or blood from fire.
God does not offer a Gospel that merely pardons sin and leaves us mired in the quandary of abject selfishness. Without the possibility of an Upper Room experience we are left behind locked doors just like we find the fearful disciples at the end of the Gospels. Without the fire-like purifying baptism of the Holy Spirit, the Church is just like the disciples before Pentecost. As one evangelist said, “Without Pentecost, we are simply ornamenting the dead.”
But the Holy Spirit in fiery glory has come! If anyone yields by faith to His full presence, He can come and produce in us the life, power, purity and love of Jesus. Then, there is hope we also can live each day as a “Gospel” day. This is what the Gospel means—the life of God in the soul of every person, the presence of Jesus pervading all of me. That is why Salvationists proclaim, but more importantly, live “Blood and Fire,” Golgotha and the Upper Room, pardon and purity. Pentecost was the first Gospel day.
The question is, are we willing to live in the reality of this Gospel day by day? Experiences are wonderful, but it is the daily life of the mind renewed by the power and love of Jesus that reveals those who are formed by the Gospel. If you have ever known a Gospel day, it will set the course for every day to follow because it is all about the presence of the risen Lord in your heart filling you with His love, power and purity. Today can be your first Gospel day. What a prospect!