“Made for Holiness,” podcast #1 in the series on the Biblical Basis for Christian Holiness
“Lord, you have removed sin’s guilt from us so that we will not die for it as a crime. Now break sin’s power in us so we do not die from it as a disease. Help us put sin to death. Rom. 8: 13.” (Matthew Henry, A Way to Pray, edited and revised by O. Palmer Robertson, Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2010, p. 91). What a wonderful prayer for the people of God!
This prayer shows awareness of sins debilitating power and expresses urgency for deliverance. How the contemporary church needs to regain this awareness and urgency. Many seem to feel that, provided one has made a “decision” for Christ, sin doesn’t much matter. This situation is little different from the abuse of indulgences that Martin Luther faced in the sixteenth century—except then people actually had to pay something for their false assurance. Is it any surprise that the behavior of Christians differs little from that of unbelievers or that Christian leaders fall into open sin?
The Wesleyan movement has the potential to proclaim an alternate, more Biblical vision of salvation that offers health to the church at large. A small and ever-shrinking minority from our movement still clings to the formulaic understanding described in my last blog. Their approach has little that is attractive for most people seeking to know God more deeply. One student from a non-Wesleyan background told me that they were attracted to Wesley Biblical Seminary by disillusionment with the cheap grace they had been taught and by a desire for holiness, but were then alienated by the formulaic approach to holiness that made claims not reflected in the life of the community. The rest of the Wesleyan movement speaks with an often confused and ambivalent voice.
Several years ago, I was talking with a very distinguish and capable leader of one of the Wesleyan denominations. He told me that his denomination had abandoned the old way of looking at holiness but had not found a new or effective way to communicate the message of God’s transforming grace in the modern world. He also told me that many people viewed Wesley Biblical Seminary as an advocate for that old, ineffective way. I assured him that I followed a different approach and shared with him material from my course “The Biblical Basis for Christian Holiness.”.
Since I am retired, I can no longer speak for the leadership of Wesley Biblical Seminary, and the views I am expressing may not represent their views. However, I began to articulate what I believe to be a Biblical and effective understanding of holiness in the first of these three blogs. I attempted to address some errors in the second. God willing, I plan to continue this teaching with a series of short, 8 to 10 minute podcasts, beginning today. These podcasts will take those interested through the essence of that course on Biblical holiness. Look for a new podcast each Thursday. Be prepare for a fascinating journey through Scripture. You will find the first of these podcasts, “Made for Holiness,” at the top of this blog. Listen today.