Andrew Murray and Sanctification
Andrew Murray’s message throughout his works is to exhort the believer into a life of complete surrender to God, a Christian life that seeks the same power of Jesus through the Holy Spirit. He urges Christians to be more like Christ. Murray exhorts Christians to live a life that produces fruit through the Spirit. He reaffirms Paul’s words in Galatians that the flesh is being crucified and Christ is being revealed through the Christian life (Galatians 2:20). Murray desire for Christians to display the same holiness as Christ. As Murray exclaims, “The desire that God put in your heart he will fulfill.” Murray shows the idea of abiding, surrendering, and resting upon the will of God. He wanted to remind all believers that their strength comes from the Holy Spirit that is within them. Andrew Murray’s longing is for believers to rely upon the Holy Spirit. His own life was marked by surrender to God and his motivation to be known foremost as a follower of Christ. In this paper Andrew Murray shows the process of sanctification in the Christian life. He considers it the second part of the redemptive work of God. Murray shows that sanctification is done through absolute surrender to the Holy Spirit, a consistent prayer life, and being transformed by the Holy Spirit into the image of God. Then through this process, Christ will be a reflection in and through the life of the believer.
Andrew Murray loves the beautiful words of Jesus, “I am the vine, ye are the branches” (John 15:5). The eloquent richness of those words of Jesus is the essence of the core of his works. The full blessing of the vine comes through absolute surrender. Justification, also known as salvation, occurs when a life then moves from a state of spiritual death to life. The fountain of that life is God. He uses the representation of the Christian life in comparison to all the rest of his creation: sun, moon, stars, trees, and etc. Surrender is imperative to relying upon the vine. Murray exclaims, “The vine is the living Lord, who Himself speaks, and gives, and works all that He has for us.” He affirmed the beauty, splendor, and glory revealed in knowing that now in salvation we have the capability of relying upon the very creator of life. The sequence that he moves through in the titles of his books very much affirms the idea of. believers abiding in the power of God such as: Abide in Christ, True Vine, and Absolute Surrender. A very influential voice among Christian evangelists on the area of the “abiding life” is Watchmen Nee. He declares how imperative it is for the realization of the absolute Lordship of Christ in the Christians life. The life of Christ within the believer and the essence of fruit in the life of a Christian is done in surrender to the Spirit. Power that is not found in working and striving but in complete surrender to the Spirit. The Spirit is led by the Father. The life of Jesus represents the correlation of relying upon the Spirit through the power of the Father. That is why Murray continually focuses upon the Vine and the analogy used in John 15. For this reason V. Raymond Edman declared the life of Andrew Murray as the “Abiding life.”
These words by Paul to the church of Galatia helped with the foundation of the indwelling Christ, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). This shows a beautiful picture of a perfect Lord dwelling within the soul of the believer. When Christians have been declared justified before God then the fight begins to enter into His rest. As Murray so poignantly points out in the fifth chapter of Deuteronomy: “He brought us out, so that He might bring us in.” Murray explains that this separated two parts of the redemptive works of God. He says that God brought the children of Israel, out of captivity in Egypt; and that He yearned to lead them into the promise land. Salvation resembles Israel being lead out of Egypt while sanctification is entering into the promise land. Murray then looks at the words of Paul, when he wrote to Philippi and made the famous statement: “I can do all things through Him that gives me strength (Phil 4:13). Paul talks about the power within the believer that makes the outside become alive. The idea that this fleshly body was once held captive to sin but now the soul within is freed from death. God freely gave His spirit to uphold and lift the believer into a life of fulfillment of His will. Therefore no longer is the believer a slave to the flesh but a slave to the Spirit that is within. The idea that a believer can still live in the flesh, as Nee would talk about, but now have the power to live in Christ. Oswald Chambers would state that completeness is found in Christ alone and whenever Jesus is present that is a state of completeness in Christ. The believer can find themselves capable to be all and do all, in Christ, despite living still in the outer flesh.
Andrew Murray believes strongly in the power of prayer. He would compare prayer to the pulse of the human life. Paul would constantly exhort the churches in his letters to pursue the Holy Spirit in prayer. His words to Thessalonica is simply for them to “pray continually” ( I Thessalonians 5:17). The beautiful possibility of a believer having a one on one personal conversation with God. Murray would state in this poignant quote: “Prayer is in very deed the pulse of the spiritual life. It is the great means of bringing to minister and people the blessing and power of heaven. Persevering and believing prayer means a strong and abundant life.” The life of Jesus was marked by His relentless calling upon His Father to give Him strength. Jesus told His disciples to pray to the father and ask him for strength and forgiveness (Luke 11:1–4). Jesus said that the Father would give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him (Luke 11:13). When Jesus entered into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan He called upon the Holy Spirit to enter into Him (Luke 4:1–13). The life of Jesus is the perfect rendition of the Christian life. Paul relentlessly urges the churches through his teaching to become more Christ like. The life of Jesus was marked by prayer and an unceasing reliance upon the Father to fulfill the mission of the Gospel through His life on earth. Therefore the believer is to pray daily for the Holy Spirit to give him strength and grace to be the Gospel.
Murray concludes that prayerlessness is a spiritual deficiency that reveals the true condition of the heart. Murray would further examine that reliance upon Christ would be possible only if the believer remains in consistent prayer to God. Murray could see the battle against prayerlessness as warfare in the Christian life. This state of prayerlessness by believers can be defeated only by surrendering of self and realizing their desperate need for God. Murray desire is for the believer to repent of his state of prayerlessness and realize through that the strength he would receive Christ’s healing power. Paul ends every letter urging the church to pray for him. Paul urges the church of Ephesus, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind be and always keep on praying for all the Lords people” (Ephesians 6:18). Prayer is the believer’s connection with God and is how His will is revealed through the Christian life. Paul would say to the church that “you were bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20). When the Holy Spirit has entered into a life then that life has been transformed from depraved to righteous. There is a holy communion between that life and God, and the will of God is revealed through prayer. Murray would say that for God’s will to be accomplished on earth that prayer is an “indispensable condition.” Murray would furthermore mention: “the entire dispensation of the New Testament, with the wonderful outpouring of the Holy Spirit, is the outcome of the prayer of the Lord Jesus.” Murray would conclude that the victorious life of Christ revealed in the believer’s life becomes renewed and sanctified by prayer. He would determine that prayer is what gives us power and victory in Christ.When a Christian prays unto God, he acknowledges lack of power of self and absolute surrender to God. The act of being crucified with Christ, surrendering to God, and being fully reliant upon the Spirit is done in earnest prayer unto God. Gary Neal Harris says it best in writing about the ministry of Murray: “He creates a way for Protestants to consider prayer as a real vocation”. Prayer is indeed a vital part of sanctification in the eyes of Murray as seen throughout his works.
Murray’s desire is for Christians to pursue a Christ-like life and his exhortations were very similar to Paul’s. This verse says it best: “Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died unto sins, might live unto righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24). In Romans 3, Paul lays down the state of the human condition. He exclaims that no one is righteousness, nobody seeks after God, and no one desires to do good. Murray would parallel the death of Jesus and the sacrifice of His atonement, and the realization of the believer that he also died with Christ on that cross. The Christian life is for the Christian to be pursuing the very nature of Christ. Apostle Peter said these fateful words of Jesus: “Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). The price of being a follower of Jesus is living a life in accordance and reverence to the Father. Jesus, in the gospels, laid out the foundation for being a disciple. Murray called for Christians to lay down their desires and lean upon the Spirit to fulfill the Gospel through their lives.
A Christian should desire for the glory of God to be revealed through their life. In the doctrine of Christian Hedonism it says: God is most glorified when we are satisfied in Him. When the glory is given its proper ownership to God then a Christian’s life is in proper reverence and submission to God. Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Mathew 11:28–30). Murray’s desire was for all believers to enter into complete adoration of God. He hopes for all believers to surrender themselves to God purposes and therefore the Glory of God would be revealed through their lives. The final words of one of his prayers for Christians is: “that the crucified Lord Jesus may be glorified in us.” A sanctified life is a life that seeks to glorify God in everything.
The sanctification process of the Christian life can be painful but endurance through faith can only be done by leaning on God for strength to endure. The Christian is not saved of works but for good works through the power of the Spirit. Paul to Philippi exclaims: “for it is God who works in you to and to in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Phil. 2:13). Faith is the core of the Christian worldview. It is Faith that Jesus came and died for the propitiation of the sins of mankind. It is Faith that the Holy Spirit still lives in and through the life of all believers. Murray would explain: “The faith of Gods working in us is the measure of our fitness to work effectively.” Nee would say that it is the believer leaning on the Spirit for what has already been accomplished and is then revealed by faith in the Spirit’s working. The perfecting of faith is the perfecting of the Christian life of the believer. In the book of Hebrews the author would exclaim: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Heb. 11:1). Faith is what brought believers into repentance, therefore faith is the key component to the perfecting work of Christ through a believer’s life.
When salvation happens the first part of changing a depraved life into the image of Christ is accomplished. The second part of the redemptive process begins once salvation happens and this process in many way is more miraculous than the first. Once salvation occurs a life will never be the same but in order for a life to bear “fruit” the working of Christ in and through the life begins. The New Testament, especially after the four gospels, is focused upon sanctifying the Christian’s life into the image of its Savior. Murray desires for Christian’s is similar to Paul’s and that is for the believer to be all and through all in Christ. He wants Christians to realize who now dwells within them, the Holy Spirit. He taught that the work is already accomplished, therefore Christ is now a work within the believer’s life for His glory. He persuades the believer to know God more through consistent and constant prayer. He knew that salvation is accomplished through faith and ultimately sanctification is also through faith in the working of God through the believer’s life. Murray ultimately knew that Christians are used to bring glory to God. When Salvation happens believers are justified before God. When sanctification is happening a believer is being made into the image of Christ. Finally when glorification happens believers are made into eternal likeness with God.