The Face of Holiness Part 2


“Living the Christian Life”      

              Personally, I feel that even after being a Deacon, after directing various ministries, being an Elder and even an Elder/Pastor of a small bilingual church; when faced with troubles, I totally failed as I did not have much internalized knowledge of true Christian Living. I felt like a great arrogant fighter getting ready for a heavyweight championship fight, thinking that I was more than ready to win easily by knockout. However, when the temptations really came my way, when the storms started blowing their winds of troubles, when I found myself face to face with my opponent in the center of the ring of life I quickly discovered how unprepared I really was. I did not have enough power to put the enemy away and I did not have enough knowledge to stay away from his attacks. I relied on my self and went down as one more embarrassing failure. Within seconds of the first rounds of tribulations I found myself knocked out, hurt, bleeding and with no stamina to stand. But I thank God for Jesus, who picked me up on time; who is healing all of my wounds including my self-inflicted ones, who is restoring my soul and teaching me through His consuming fire. What is it that I was so much lacking? I was lacking the power and revelation of true Christian Living.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

(Romans 12:1-2) 

            Here we see the Apostle Paul, almost as if he is making an introduction for what the face of holiness should look like in our hearts. On these verses we can clearly see the following:

1. There is urgency on the matter of the way we ought to live. This is not a topic to be taken lightly. The Apostle Paul tells us: “Therefore, I urge you brothers.”

2. Paul sees this urgency through the glass of God’s mercy. We can’t carry out this Christian Life without God. We need the mercy of God to hold back the judgment that we deserve for our many shortcomings; however, we can’t use our natural condition as an excuse to sin. 2 Peter 1:3 serves a reminder that “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” God wants us to pursue this holy living and in Him we are able. 

3. The Apostle Paul presents us with what true worship is. “…to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.” In John 4 we learn that God is looking for worshipers that would worship Him in “Spirit and in truth.” But what does that worship looks like? How can we worship Him that way? What songs are appropriate? What instruments are acceptable? Here we can see that worship has absolutely nothing to do with music or music styles. Our act of worship is to present our bodies as living sacrifices. Every time we make-up our minds to get a hold of our divine nature; every time we walk in the Spirit, we are giving God Worship. Glory be unto God!

4. As long as we continue to follow the pattern of the world we will never be able to live holy.

                If we are born again, positionally we are already holy because of the sacrifice of Jesus in Calvary. However, unless you drop dead after receiving Jesus as your Savior, you and I have a duty to be holy as He is holy (for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” {1 Peter 1:16) To be conformed to the pattern of this world is contrary to being holy. Holiness means, “Dedicated or set apart.” To live a holy life means, “Living according to a higher moral spiritual system.”

5. Holiness challenges even the secrecy of our thinking.

Paul tells us to “…be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Holiness is transformation; holiness is not staying the same and doing what everybody is doing. Hebrews 8:10 tells us:

 

This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel
      after that time, declares the Lord.
   I will put my laws in their minds
      and write them on their hearts.
   I will be their God,
      and they will be my people.”

Holiness will change our thinking; therefore; holiness will change our behaviors and therefore, holiness will transform our lives.

6. It is then that “we will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Many of us have not tested the ways of the Lord and how good they are for us; therefore we still find ourselves disapproving God’s ways and fighting against His will.

How does a man or woman of God look like? We are in pursuit of the answer to this question as we continue taking a look at the face of holiness.

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

10 thoughts on “The Face of Holiness Part 2

  1. We then must be especially Christlike in how we present our beliefs. “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Romans 12:18) “and Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14). We must all be careful of self-righteousness, whether we’re on the “we do” or the “we don’t do” side of the fence. Either can serve to look at others who don’t see things as we do with a less-than attitude. Whether I’m being accused of pride or accusing others of it, I had better check my own humility-meter and be sure I’m operating out of a grateful and humble heart of love toward others including those who don’t see things as I do. None of us has all the pieces of the puzzle on our own, or even our own group.

    Like

    1. Good warning Dennis! However, in part, it is this kind of answer to the topic of holiness that is keeping many from not speaking or teaching about it. Not contradicting or disagreeing with your statement, but when expressions such as “Self-righteousness”, “Checking our own humility-meter” and “None of us has all the pieces to of the puzzle” etc. is thrown into the pot, who can then dare speak about holiness? How can we even learn about holiness if we don’t search the Scriptures? So the issues is not our condition; our condition is clear, many of us are a mess; the issue is to pursue holiness, to know what holiness looks like, to pray for God’s Spirit to form the character of Jesus in us and to be holy as He is holy. Let’s focus on the face of holiness as we, in humble adoration asks God for His divine power for us to be able to walk this thing out. How can we get out of our mess if we don’t have a clue of how God’s ways looks like? So it is not the time to look at us; but to look at God, hang around Him, pray to Him, love on Him and we will be holy like HIM. Love you brother!

      Like

  2. Isaiah tells us about the way to holiness (Isa 35:8-10). Behold the way of holiness. Sorrow and sighing flee away. The highway to holiness is the way to God, not religion. It is the way of life in which all judgments, negative consequences and problems of the sinful, unclean life – those things which brought death into our world – are eliminated from our lives “No unclean…no lion…nor vicious beast”” will be found there. Much of the spiritual warfare that fed upon our ignorance, unbelief and sinfulness is simply non-existent for the holy.

    The wonderful experienced knowledge that we are redeemed fills our hearts with joy. They “shout for joy over their portion” (Isa 61:7). This is the end result of holiness. It is nearness to God; it is joy worth shouting about and full of glory. That is why I like to think of holiness as a tree laden with spiritual fruit, a tree rooted in the Presence of God. For Jesus said, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give to you” (John 15:16). Therefore, we are chosen not because of our outward appearance, but because of the nature of God. This is unconditional. His love isn’t seasonal. It doesn’t change each year. “By this the love of God was manifested in us that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10).

    The Hebrew people knew God was holy – that was both their virtue and their problem, for he was too holy for them as sinful individuals to face. They served him without relating in love to him. For the vast majority of the Jews, their offerings were not born out of an eagerness to seek God’s Presence as much as they were an effort to satisfy his unchangeable justice.

    Many Christians celebrate forgiveness of sins in Christ, but they end their experience with God there. Jews, who knew historically the fearful justice of God, still live outside his presence because they do not understand the forgiveness of sins in Christ. But it is the union of both truths that produces power in our lives and leads into the reality of God.

    Like

    1. “And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not journey on it; it will be for those who walk in that Way; wicked fools will not go about on it. No lion will be there, nor will any ferocious beast get up on it; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there, and the ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.” (Isaiah 35:8-10)

      Dennis, look at how many times we see the word “Will” in these verses. Again; not in disagreement, but let’s learn about this thing we call holiness together! That is all I am saying! There is a highway of holiness that will be there (In our hearts!) We want to rejoice, but we still unclean, we still walking in our foolishness. The songs are coming, gladness and joy will overtake us as sorrow flees from our hearts. Then we will experience sighing (Deep audible breath in relief or weariness!) I am not meditating on what is; I am looking at what will be; but I must not close my eyes to the reality that is not yet. This is not a topic of God’s love, for we know His love is non-negotiable; this is about God’s holiness and learning about His awesome way of living.

      “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

      The truth is being suppressed and it is time for the fullness of the truth to be released in America. No one will have any excuse! In love!

      Like

  3. I respectfully disagree! The highway of holiness is not just a matter of the heart. Christian living from this perspective is inescapably inward and spiritual. We need holiness of heart and life.

    This new life begins with a new birth and it grows in us culminating in what he called Christian perfection or perfection in love. So it isn’t that God just looks upon us in a new way but that God acts in our lives. Grace is not only what God has done for us in the person and work of Jesus Christ, grace is also what God does in us through the Holy Spirit.

    This understanding of holiness is one of the great contributions of John Wesley. He believed that where Christ was dwelling, personal transformation would follow. But the key to Wesley’s teaching is that he kept the right relationship between justification and works.

    I believe repentance is the way God calls holy. Faith is essential to reaching purity of heart for you must first believe that holiness is possible or you will never achieve it. But without repentance, faith is held hostage by the lawlessness of sin. Sin is not merely missing the mark, it is missing the kingdom. It is living in death when we could be living in life.

    Our experience of Christian living must go beyond just being another interpretation of the Bible; it must expand until our faith is in Jesus. Are we drawing closer, week by week, to knowing and loving Jesus? The virtue of any teaching is in its ability to either equip you to do God’s will or empower you to find God’s heart. There are areas in all our lives that need to be corrected. Unless we are seeking God for an unfolding revelation of his son, our faith is just a lazy indifference. Subconsciously, we may actually want a dead religion so that we don’t have to change. There is a power in godliness. The moment that we stop obeying God, we start faking Christianity. Knowledge of the Lord starts with rebirth and faith in Jesus, but it continues into Christ’s holiness, power, and perfection.

    Here are some scriptures for us to consider as we study this thing called holiness together:

    a. Jesus is called righteousness, our sanctification.

    1 Corinthians 1:30 He is the reason you have a relationship with Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption,

    Holiness means “to be set apart, separate.” It produces separation from sin, but mere separation from sin cannot produce holiness. It is not the absence of sin that produces our sanctification; holiness comes from the presence of God. You may avoid “touching what is unclean,” but if you are not united through love to the fatherhood of God, you will never know true holiness; all you will have is religion. Christ in us is our holiness, for as close as our relationship is with him, to that degree we reflect his holiness.

    John Wesley was strongly against any notion that works would save a person. However, he was very clear that if someone had been justified and was on their way to perfection, then – filled with the love of God by the Holy Spirit – they would exhibit the fruit of the spirit. They would love God and their neighbor. “Good works” would naturally flow out of a life transformed or has he would say, “Having the mind of Christ.” Rather than legalism, Wesley saw the transformed believer as having true liberty – freedom to obey God and live as Christ. Not because they had to, but because they would desire to show their love for God in obedience.

    Yet in the beginning of our walk, we embrace life in our own strength, trusting our own skills for success. We turn to God, but mainly in times of grief or trial. But as the Lord bring us to maturity, what we once considered strengths are actually discovered to be more subtle and, therefore, more dangerous weaknesses. Our pride and self-confidence keep us from God’s help. Indeed in God’s eyes, the best of human successes are still “”wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked” (Rev 3:17).

    In time we discover that all true strength, all true effectiveness – yes, our very holiness itself – begins with discovering our need. We grow weaker, less confident in our abilities. As our self-righteousness crumbles Jesus’ righteousness becomes God’s answer to every person who cries for holiness and power in their walk.

    Jesus is the source of our holiness. We are so eager to do something for Him; anything, as long as we do not have to change inside. God doesn’t need what we can do, he wants what we are. He wants to make us a holy people.

    Our goal is not to become powerful but to grow in holiness with Christ’s presence. But God promises to empower that which he first makes holy.

    b. The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of Holiness, or the Spirit of Sanctification.

    1 Peter 1:2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father by being set apart by the Spirit for obedience and for sprinkling with Jesus Christ’s blood. May grace and peace be yours in full measure!

    1 Corinthians 6:11 11 Some of you once lived this way. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

    c. The symbols for the Spirit of Holiness are:

    (1) Fire: That the Spirit of Holiness should appear as fire is appropriate for many reasons. Just as all physical life depends on the fire that is the sun (cf. Rev 16:8), so does all spiritual life depend on God. Just as fire both purifies and destroys, so does God purify the righteous and destroy the wicked (“for our God is a consuming fire,” Heb 12:29 RSV). Just as fire lights up the blackness of night, so does God overcome the dark powers of evil.

    Matthew 3:11 “I baptize you with water, for repentance, but the one coming after me is more powerful than I am– I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

    Zechariah 13:9 – 14:1 hen I will bring the remaining third into the fire; I will refine them like silver is refined and will test them like gold is tested. They will call on my name and I will answer; I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.'”

    Luke 12:49-53 49 “I have come to bring fire on the earth– and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is finished! 51 Do you think I have come to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! 52 For from now on there will be five in one household divided, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

    Malachi 3:1-3 “I am about to send my messenger, who will clear the way before me. Indeed, the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his temple, and the messenger of the covenant, whom you long for, is certainly coming,” says the LORD who rules over all. 2 Who can endure the day of his coming? Who can keep standing when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire, like a launderer’s soap. 3 He will act like a refiner and purifier of silver and will cleanse the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then they will offer the LORD a proper offering.

    (2) Water: In Christian baptism the immersion in water symbolizes both cleansing and a passage from death to life (Col 2:12). Perhaps the equation of descent into water with death is based on the premise of reversion to watery chaos (a form of dissolution) that precedes the new creation and new life (echoing the imagery of the creation story).

    Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her 26 to sanctify her by cleansing her with the washing of the water by the word, 27 so that he may present the church to himself as glorious– not having a stain or wrinkle, or any such blemish, but holy and blameless.

    (3) Salt: Jesus was clear that his followers are to be servants: “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.” (Matthew 20:26-28) Service flows naturally and inescapably from the teachings and example of Jesus.

    Matthew 5:13 Let me tell you why you are here,” says Jesus. “You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness?

    Colossians 4:6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer everyone.

    d. The ministry of the Holy Spirit, as the Spirit of Holiness and Sanctification, changes and transforms us by:

    (1) Enabling us to overcome the power and dominion of the flesh (old Nature)

    1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 23 Now may the God of peace himself make you completely holy and may your spirit and soul and body be kept entirely blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is trustworthy, and he will in fact do this. Romans 12:1-2 Therefore I exhort you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice– alive, holy, and pleasing to God– which is your reasonable service. 2 Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God– what is good and well-pleasing and perfect.

    1 Thessalonians 4:3, 7-8 For this is God’s will: that you become holy, that you keep away from sexual immorality,… 7 For God did not call us to impurity but in holiness. 8 Consequently the one who rejects this is not rejecting human authority but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

    2 Corinthians 7:1 Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that could defile the body and the spirit, and thus accomplish holiness out of reverence for God.

    (2) Enabling us to be separate from the world (worldly enticements, associations, relationships)

    2 Corinthians 6:14-18 14 Do not become partners with those who do not believe, for what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship does light have with darkness? 15 And what agreement does Christ have with Beliar? Or what does a believer share in common with an unbeliever? 16 And what mutual agreement does the temple of God have with idols? For we are the temple of the living God, just as God said, “I will live in them and will walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 17 Therefore “come out from their midst, and be separate,” says the Lord, “and touch no unclean thing, and I will welcome you, 18 and I will be a father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters,” says the All-Powerful Lord.

    1 John 2:15-17 15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him, 16 because all that is in the world (the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the arrogance produced by material possessions) is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away with all its desires, but the person who does the will of God remains forever.

    Hebrews 12:27-29 27 Now this phrase “once more” indicates the removal of what is shaken, that is, of created things, so that what is unshaken may remain. 28 So since we are receiving an unshakable kingdom, let us give thanks, and through this let us offer worship pleasing to God in devotion and awe. 29 For our God is indeed a devouring fire.

    The Spirit of Holiness continues to perfect the attitudes of our heart, he also provides the means to keep our relationship with him genuine and without barriers.

    In 1765, Wesley wrote “The Scripture Way of Salvation” (incidentally, it was 27 years after his conversion!). This is Wesley’s “summary sermon” in which he addressed faith that saves and the salvation that saving faith brings. The conviction of sin remaining in our hearts is aligned with the clear conviction of sin remaining in our lives. When Wesley spoke of what Christ died to do for us, he used a succession of images: renewed in the image of God; the reception of the mind that was in Christ Jesus; walking as Christ walked; living in the Spirit and not in the flesh; and being perfected in love. The vocabulary was varied, but always biblical. It was clear that salvation was more than a judicial decision on our part; it was God’s answer to what happened to us in the Fall.

    I believe regeneration is a concurrent effect alongside justification. The sense of God’s unmerited favor prompts an inner transformation, a new disposition toward God and neighbor, a new self-understanding, a new outlook and hope. Even so Wesley said, “this is only the threshold of sanctification…” The Christian life goes on from here, in a dynamic process of nurture, piety, activity — and of expectation: that what is imputed in justification will be imparted in Christian life and its fulfillment.

    In Wesley, we have a change of center from justification by faith as expressed by the Reformers to the actuality of the regeneration and sanctification of the justified person. The Reformers stopped at justification. Wesley emphasized full salvation: justification and sanctification. This theology distinguishes evangelical Wesleyan’s from contemporary evangelicalism…and is at odds with them. It is also what makes Methodists unique in our heritage, and it is what we distinctively have to offer our world.

    People all around us are yearning for this depth and breadth of full salvation, and when they hear the uniqueness of the Wesleyan message, they wonder how they could have been a Christian this long without anyone speaking to them about holiness of heart and life.

    In the Wesleyan Revival, there was always a vital balance between evangelism and mission, between heart and hands, and between our prayers and service. Perhaps there is a loss of spiritual power today because we cut ourselves off from the source of power. Perhaps we have cut ourselves off from the holiness message that energized the Wesleyan Revival.

    There was a transparency in the early Methodism that we have all but lost in the modern church. My heart longs to see manifest what I believe God has carried in his heart from the beginning of time — a church here on earth that adequately reflects his wonderful story of redemption. A church that is so caught up in God’s holiness, so infused by his power — a church so motivated by his love that she burns hot for him.

    Like

    1. I deeply appreciate the respectful discussion!

      Dennis, you wrote:
      “I respectfully disagree! The highway of holiness is not just a matter of the heart. Christian living from this perspective is inescapably inward and spiritual. We need holiness of heart and life.”

      Dennis; It starts in the heart; whatever is in our hearts will manifest in our lives; that is common sense, so I don’t understand the disagreement! What exactly do you disagree with?

      Dennis, you wrote:
      “People all around us are yearning for this depth and breadth of full salvation, and when they hear the uniqueness of the Wesleyan message, they wonder how they could have been a Christian this long without anyone speaking to them about holiness of heart and life.”

      Well said Dennis! This is the heart of what I am trying to say. This is the question: How could we have been Christians this long without anyone speaking to us about holiness? This is my awakening; this is the awakening that is coming to the church! The topic of holiness is deeper than just a few articles and a few responses. As I said before; I know of a Pastor that has been teaching about holiness for 17 Sundays. This topic is fascinating and deeper than our limited brains. Holiness is necessary and it can only be achieved in our lives through the power of the Holy Spirit. In Him we can carry out this Christian life, not in a legalistic way, not in works, not because we have to, not because we follow a list of dos and don’ts, but because God, who is able, will do the work in us and through us. Holiness is not an option it is what we are call to be. Again, the Scripture tells us in 1 Peter 1:15-16:

      “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

      The question is; do we want to be holy? Do we love God more than we love sin? The flesh will always push his/her way; but the Bible tells us in Galatians 5:16

      “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”

      For is in the Spirit that we have the power to carry-out holiness. Without the Spirit we will never be able to stop gratifying the desires of our flesh.

      Like

  4. I agree, the topic of holiness is deeper than just a few articles and a few responses. Perhaps I misunderstood what you were saying, Angel. But entire sanctification, or Christian perfection, is neither more nor less than pure love; love expelling sin, and governing both the heart and life of a child of God.

    I vividly remember my conversion experience and the infilling of the Holy Spirit. I was delivered from a life of rebellion expressed in self reliance. I was radically saved! In an instant my empty life was filled! I was sitting alone on a park bench at the campus of Scarritt College in Nashville. I was there because some of my friends had asked me to go one an Emmaus Walk. The first speaker said I would know what my priorities were by answering three questions: “What do I think about?” “How do I spend my time?” “What do I spend my money on?” As I thought about those questions I realized that most of my time was spent thinking about work. God wasn’t even on my radar screen, let alone my family. Because of my hard work, I thought I had secured my life and was resting complacently. I was a fool – I tried living without taking God in account. I had settled for comfort without commitment.

    As the speakers shared how Jesus had became a curse for us. And how “He himself bore our sins in his body on a tree” (1 Pet 2:24). I began to understand the gravity of my sin and suddenly began grieving over the sin that had separated me from God, my family, and my self. This repentance was a response to God’s initiative and grace. I was overwhelmed by a sense of gratitude for God’s pardoning grace and the proof of it in Christ’s resurrection. Christ went to the cross to die, giving his righteous life for me, I in turn came to the cross to die, surrendering my old sinful life for him. Thereafter Christ lived in me (Gal 2:20).

    This is the heart of Christian conversion. It is what we mean by the term salvation, or what Christ followers frequently speak of as being born again. Our past sins are not only forgiven, but we are transformed to live a new life with God’s power and grace. The New Testament makes it clear that this gift of salvation, becoming righteous comes by faith, not by works, so that no one can boast (Eph 2:8-9). Faith is not merely intellectual assent but an act of the whole person, involving the mind, the will, and the affections, issuing in a changed life. It centered in Jesus Christ. It is a freely chosen personal relationship of trust in Christ as my Lord and Savior.

    I was blessed to have been part of a Spirit-filled Methodist Church. My Pastor, Wallace Thomas, showed me what a man of God really looked like. He became my spiritual dad, and there was a stirring in my life that I could not define. I became addicted to the Word of God. There was a burning in my heart to be everything that God wanted me to be. I remember talking to Wallace about the restlessness in my life, and how I truly loved God, but felt like there was something else. He wisely guided me into discovering what this stirring in my life was all about. He did not come right out and tell me that I was called to the ministry. He simply taught me how to wait on God. After I started discovering the purposes of God in my life Wallace was there to help confirm and encourage me as I started my exciting journey on the road of discovery. Others can’t call you, but they can certainly aid you as you learn to listen for his voice.

    The first glimmer of my destiny happened when I was young man, about thirty years old. I was at a Shell station in my Toyota Celica waiting for my tank to be filled near Chicago. Suddenly, I saw a large tractor trailer rig run a stop light and head straight for me. As the ICC bumper on the rig got bigger and bigger, I knew I was in big trouble. Bang! I heard the sound of fire crackling, but I couldn’t see. My eyes were covered with blood. Fortunately, I had the strength to climb out of the window of my little sports car. I took three steps away from where the fuel pumps had been and then collapsed. A few minutes later, I heard a siren in the distance getting louder and louder. When the ambulance finally arrived, I heard the attendant say, “He is going into shock!” I thought I was as good as dead. And for the first time in my life I prayed a real prayer. In my mind I shouted, “God, take care of my wife and daughter!”

    My acceptance of God was limited to support during times of crisis. In my helplessness I was brought to a place where place of utter faith in God to do what I couldn’t do. I will never forget the peace that surrounded me after that prayer. Even before I knew him, God answered my prayer. His preventing grace came before my confession of Christ. It was the first dawn of light concerning his will, and the first slight transient conviction of having sinned against him.

    Even now, as I reflect on the events of that day, I am struck by how unaware of the sharp limits of my ability to express my feelings to others. I wasn’t seriously injured; however, it was a wake up call to remind me how precious others — my family –really are. Little did I know that a few years later I would be working for a trucking company and defending truck drivers like the one who hit me? You can’t tell me that God doesn’t have a sense of humor.

    Christian conversion must include turning to other people as well as God. Since God is at work in the world freeing the oppressed, feeding the hungry clothing the naked, and visiting the sick and imprisoned, how can we do any less? John Wesley famously said, “There is no holiness apart from social holiness.” I echoed this call while serving as an elder at La Casa De Padre, a multicultural church with a large Hispanic congregation, where many of the members experienced oppression in their daily struggle with exploitation and marginalization. It is not enough to be comfortable in our gathering places of worship.

    Sanctification is an experience of God’s grace beyond justification or the new birth. It is a stage of experience made possible first by discovering the need for freedom from outward sins; and second by receiving the gift of faith through which one believes for a heart that has been perfected in love as a benefit of the sacrifice of Christ. As a Christ follower, I believe in a hope and expectation; that my heart have been so purified that I am continually surrender my pride, self-will, and anger to God; and thus walking like Christ walked. I have experienced not only freedom from sin in this life, but the freedom to grow in grace and daily to advance in love of God. Christ died to accomplish my perfection in love.

    Some may argue that such perfection is beyond reality. But perhaps they should ask whether their portrayal of an unreal holiness might not be a camouflage for second-rate commitment and third-rate spiritual discipline. All that I mean by Christian perfection is “holiness.” Such holiness has been perfected with regard to our actions in loving our brothers and sisters. God considers Christians to be “perfect” because of Christ’s atoning work on their behalf; it describes a state of grace possible for fallen humanity. It is the possibility and privilege of grace extended to every child of God.

    Contrary to my usual way of thinking, I need both spiritual practices and fellowship in order to grow in holiness. I can continually increase our ability to love as I put God’s love into practice. That is why we should thrust new believers immediately into a quest for perfection — to assist them to believe that God could and to pray that God would cleanse their hearts so that they might perfectly love him. Then, if by faith they came into the blessing of a pure heart, they will understand that only by a moment-by-moment relationship with Jesus Christ, living in complete dependence on his grace, can they be sustained in such a Christian life. Christian perfection is not static; it is a dynamic process which culminates in instantaneous cleansing. It is, in short, not an absolute perfection but perfection in love.

    Like

    1. Powerful testimony Dennis! And powerful truth in your writings. The balance is to teach Christian Living, but at the same time learn to back off and let the Holy Spirit do the changing. Only God can produce the increase! Faith comes by hearing and this is our faith: “That Jesus die for our sins on the cross of Calvary and on the third day he rose again. Today He is seating at the right hand of the Father and Christ is our door for eternal life with the Father. The way to open that door is to confess our sins and call Him into our hearts. We must confess with our mouth and believe in our hearts; if we do so; that simple action will give us eternal life.”

      From that moment on, unless we drop dead, our goal is to be holy. What is it to be holy? That is the majority of what the Apostles wrote about on their letters to the church. That is what great heroes of our faith, such as John Wesley dedicated their lives to teach. Glory to Jesus! This is the revival that is coming Dennis; an awakening of Christian Living; an awakening of the face of holiness. After we give our lives to Jesus; there is nothing more important than holy. God is love; we are call to be holy as He is Holy. Is holiness then the manifestation of Agape love or is Agape love the manifestation of holiness? Can we separate Love and Holiness? I say one can’t be without the other for the same God that is love is also holy. Without love their is no holiness and without holiness there is no love! I appreciate the discussion!

      Like

  5. I appreciate our discussion as well. We all need to think like Kingdom-of-God people, with the collective “mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16) God spoke prophetically to Israel through Isaiah and said, “As for Me, this is My covenant with them, says the Lord: My Spirit which is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of your offspring’s offspring, says the Lord, from now and forever. Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth, and deep darkness the peoples; But the Lord will rise upon you, and His glory will appear upon you” (Isaiah 59:21-60:2). It applies by extension as well to those who have entered into covenant to follow the God of Abraham through Christ Jesus. What is His glory that will be upon us? Righteousness and blessings!

    To me those words apply not only to those in Israel to whom Isaiah declared it, but to their children and to our children. What we teach our children determines destiny. What shall we teach them? God’s ways of righteousness and justice and of blessing. God gave a covenant of blessings to Abraham. He later gave Israel a new covenant, which He spoke through the prophet Jeremiah: “Behold, days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah…. This is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord; I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God and they shall be My people” (Jeremiah 31:31, 33).

    So for those of us for whom God has put His law on our hearts, these words must apply: “You shall be holy for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:45). And part of being holy is to bless! So the key fact and dynamic is this: We must be holy because of our relationship with God – because the Lord has called, liberated, and formed them into a people for God’s mission.

    Leviticus 6 and other passages make it clear that true holiness is moral and ethical, not just ceremonial. Anyone who defrauds or cheats another must make full restitution, adding a fifth to the value. Thus holiness is intimately connected with justice. God is love – holy, just, all-encompassing love. This is the character of God, and therefore (as John Wesley emphasized), it must be the character of God’s people.

    In Jeremiah 31 God promises “a new covenant.” God will write God’s law on people’s hearts. Then truly “I will be their God, and they shall be my people (Jer 31:31, 33). So holiness of heart, not mere ceremonial holiness, has always been God’s goal for his people. God intends inner transformation from the inside out – the cleansing and liberating of the innermost springs of action and motivation. Jesus emphasized that evil attitudes and actions come from within (Mark 7:21-23).  It is the heart, therefore, that must be cleansed.

    John Wesley saw that “holiness of heart” could be misunderstood, however, as solely an interior change. The outward ethical dimension so prominent in Scripture could be missed. So Wesley often used the phrase “inward and outward” (or “all inward and outward”) holiness to forestall any disconnection between inner transformation and outward behavior. Holiness of heart means transformation by God’s grace, enabling people to be holy, loving, and Christ-like in their relationships with one another and with the land.

    John Wesley’s common phrase “inward and outward holiness” emphasized the essential link between heart holiness and holy living. Referring to 1 Peter 1:15, Wesley writes, “perfection is another name for universal holiness – inward and outward righteousness – holiness of life arising from holiness of heart” …. God works in the Christian to produce “both inward and outward holiness.” The Holy Spirit strengthens our will so as to produce “every good desire, whether relating to our tempers, words, or actions, to inward and outward holiness”

    First Pet 1:15 instructs us, “as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct.” No dimension of life, from our attitudes and sexuality to our use of money and care of the earth, fall outside the scope of holy living. We are to have the mind of Christ (Phil 2:5), walking just as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6).

    From the Life Application Topic “Holiness” found in Leviticus 11:
    Many of the rules and regulations about being clean seem complex and, perhaps, confusing: nevertheless, we can learn about holiness from them. Holiness is not merely an inner experience; it is a way of shaping every aspect of ordinary life to please God. Holiness involves all our habits, manners, and behaviors. Not only is holiness the offering of ordinary life to God but also it is a goal for ordinary people. One does not have to have extraordinary gifts to be a holy person, only a willingness to do everything in a way that shows reverence for God.

    From the LAT “Holiness” found in Hebrews 7:
    Holiness, sanctification, perfection, having in us “the mind of Christ”: these are not earned by our own efforts or achieved for us by an agent of the church on our behalf (such as a human priest). We grow in grace and in the knowledge and love of God through Christ, an intermediary and intercessor who ultimately reveals the heart and mind of God. Wesley was clear that all Methodist activity should be founded in Christ, be derived from Christ, grow in Christ, and lead to Christ. Christ’s life, death, and resurrection serve as the ultimate self-revelation of God, and of God’s grace, love and intention for us all.

    These do not exhaust the topic of holiness. I could easily add several more topics that touch on holiness in some way – especially if we expand the concept to cover sanctification, perfection, and salvation. But at the very least I believe that holiness is the sign of mature faith and commitment.

    In Isaiah 58: 1-11 God instructed the prophet Isaiah to call on the people to look upon themselves in terms of their commitment. The people had their fasts and the Sabbath which were derived from the law, yet God judged their attempts at godliness to be shallow and insincere. It is clear from this passage that God is never satisfied with formal rituals when the hearts of his people remain insensitive to the sufferings of others. So if God is not pleased with prayers offered by insincere hearts, what does please him?

    “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter– when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” (Vv, 6-7)

    In The Hole in our Gospel, Richard Stearns says, “These words describe a people and a society characterized by justice, fairness, and a concern for the poor. They portray not just a personal ethic but also a community ethic.” He says “the reference to “break[ing] every yoke” suggests that any system, law, or practice that is unjust must be broken – whether personal, social, political, or economic.” This sounds a lot like what Jeremiah described as the “good way,” inherent in a missional community that reflects the holiness of God in and for the world. And for this kind of missional community, a people whose actions demonstrate this level of authentic personal and social change God offers this amazing promise:

    “Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail” (vv. 8-11).

    We need to understand that purpose brings promise. When we begin to walk in the purposes of God, God releases promises to us that are connected to that purpose. Then, the promises will bring provision. When God releases the promises, they release vision in us. When it is His vision, then it’s His provision. Stearns says, “God will delight in his people when they obey him. When the hungry are fed, the poor cared for, and justice is established, he will hear and answer his servant’s prayers; he will guide and protect them, and they will be a light to the world. This is a vision of God’s people transforming God’s world in God’s way.” He says, “This is what Jesus meant when he prayed, “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” Charity, equity, mercy are the marks of the kingdom of the Messiah, and Christ wanted it to begin on earth.”

    If we are to be part of this coming kingdom, God expects our lives – our churches and faith communities too – to be characterized by these authentic signs of our own transformation: compassion, mercy, justice, and love – demonstrated tangibly. Only then will the light break forth like the dawn, our healing quickly appear, and our cries for help be answered with a divine Here am I.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s