This post is based on the Sunday Night lessons that we are doing over a four week period of time at South Side Church of the Nazarene (Muncie, Indiana).The lessons are being built from the Nazarene Publishing house set called “Holiness Made Clear / Living the Sanctified Life”. Let’s get started.
The book “Holiness Made Clear / Living the Sanctified Life” says:
“Holiness is God’s saving Love reflected in a God-Centered life, expresses in a promise of spiritual cleansing, and experienced in a covenant relationship with God.”
Well, that clears that up. Let’s go home. J
Holiness, entire sanctification, Christian perfection… All of these terms have been used to express what Christians call Holiness.
When Nazarene Ministers are Ordained there is this beautiful part of the ceremony when the entire room will sing a song.
Called unto holiness, church of our God,
Purchase of Jesus, redeemed by His blood,
Called from the world and its idols to flee,
Called from the bondage of sin to be free.
“Holiness unto the Lord” is our watchword and song.
“Holiness unto the Lord” as we’re marching along.
Sing it, shout it, loud and long,
“Holiness unto the Lord,” now and forever.
What is this call to Holiness?
If you’re new to the Church you may have heard all of these words and wondered what they mean. Is this some weird group who thinks I have to be perfect all the time to get to Heaven. First, No… Well yes… Well we’ll cover that. But know this… We are not talking about human perfection.
For now understand that being ‘sanctified’ is God’s word. It is also not unique to the Nazarene denomination.Every Christian denomination teaches it: Roman Catholic, Baptist, Pentecostal, Lutherans, and Methodist.
But what does all of that mean?
Holiness, as a doctrine, declares that believers may be sanctified wholly as a definite work of God’s grace.
What do we Wesleyan / Arminians teach about it? I ain’t a Wesleyan… I am Nazarene and I for darn sure ain’t from Armenia!
Well No, but Nazarenes come from a line of Churches known as Wesleyan / Arminian Churches. (United Methodists, Wesleyans, etc.)
And all that really matters about that to us today is that we come from a line of Churches that agree that the way these two men, Jacobus Arminius and John Wesley, taught the Gospel were well thought out and supportable ways to learn it.
Jacobus Arminius: Taught that people had the free will to accept or reject the saving grace of God.
John Wesley: Taught us these things as well, but he was most famous or infamous for teaching the concept of entire sanctification, (a.k.a. Christian Perfection or Holiness) the idea that people could live a truly Holy life.
In his later years John actually was not welcome in many Churches in his denomination (Anglican) because he taught that man could achieve Christian Perfection while on earth. We Nazarene’s agree.
There is a God centered way of Life and we are called to it.
Please don’t stop reading, but hear me out. I believe human’s can live a Holy life. Let’s understand what is meant by our Holiness or Christian Perfection.
First let’s discuss what Holiness isn’t: (Video – ‘Despicable Me’ – The Rules)
For so many Holiness is obeying a set of rules.
How do people do with lists of rules? “Does this count as annoying?”
·The Tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 3)
·The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20)
·Lot’s Wife (Genesis 19)
Holiness, as it applies to Christians, simply means belonging to God.
If we look back as the history of humanity and our relationship with God what we see is God showing us again and again that it isn’t about the rules.
·The Tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil
oGod dressed them in animal skins (Genesis 3:21)
oJesus tells the people of his day that Moses allowed them to do things that were never part of God’s plan, but they were stiff necked. (Matt 19:8)
See God is more about the relationship we have with him that he is about some set of rules to follow. If we look back through our Bibles we see again and again that the people God considers to be Men or Women after his heart are not those who we would consider Holy.
·David: Committed Adultery, Killed, Danced Naked in the streets
·Samson: Killed thousands with the Jawbone of an ass, slept around, was cruel
·Noah: Got drunk and fell asleep naked in his tent, then cursed his son for seeing him that way
·Jacob: Stole, lied, cheated
·Rahab: was a prostitute
With the exception of Rehab all of these people did these things after being called the chosen one of God. But if we look these people up in the New Testament we find them in the faith all of fame (Hebrews 11)
What did they do that got them there?
·David: David was not afraid to do God’s bidding at any cost, David always returned to God… Even in his error
·Samson: In his defeat and at his dying moment he called upon God
·Noah: When no one else even believed in God, Noah built an ark on dry ground because he believed it was God’s desire.
·Jacob: When he stood as a man covered with riches, wives, and children he wrestled with God and came to have a relationship with him.
·Rahab: Did the will of God are the risk of her people, her family, and her home.
As we go through the next few weeks we will be looking at what God has in mind when he says:
“Be holy, because I, the Lord your God, am holy” (Leviticus 19:1).
Jesus puts is a bit differently
“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
Holiness is a God centered way of Life
Impossible commands, right? But listen to the gospel for today:
Jesus has done for us and is doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Praise be to God! “He has made perfect forever, those who are being made holy.” This verse is the climax of all that the writer of Hebrews is trying to say.
We will get into that much deep as we go, but for the moment what I want us to concentrate on is the connection that the people in Hebrews had with God.It was not adhering to some set of rules, it was a change of heart. It was about living each day as if God was real and you belong to Him.
Holiness makes us one in spirit with every true Child of God
God wants us be a part of His family, to walk with Him. Not some days, every day.
The idea of being a part of His family means divorcing ourselves from the world as our primary focus and focusing on the things of God.We find Christian perfection when we find ourselves becoming a part of His flow, His motivation, His desires.
Paul put it this way:
Holiness is a Holy covenant relationship with God
The book of Romans should really be called “a letter to Paul’s friends in Rome”, but it is also an incredible theology text. He does a great job of describing our duty to live this covenant life with God.
As we go through the next few weeks we will look more deeply at what it means to live a Holy life as human beings.
You may find that you have been doing it for years.
You may find that you once understood, but have left the trail.
You may find a deeper richer relationship with Jesus Christ than you ever imagined possible.
You just might find the relationship that you always wanted.
You won’t find instructions on how to live as a perfect human being. But you may find how to live as a Perfect / Holy Child of God.