Christian perfection, through entire sanctification, by faith, here and now, was one of the doctrines by which John Wesley gave great offence to his clerical brethren in the Anglican church. From the beginning of his work in 1739, till 1760, he was formulating this doctrine. At the last date there suddenly arose a large number of witnesses among his followers. Many of these he questioned with Baconian skill, the result being a confirmation of his theories on various points.
In public address he used the terms “Christian Perfection,” “Perfect Love,” and “Holiness,” as synonymous, though there are differences between them when examined critically. With Paul he taught that all regenerate persons are saints, i.e. holy ones, as the word “saint,” from Latin sanctus, through the Norman-Fr, signifies (1 Cor 1:2; 2 Cor 1:1). His theory is that in the normal Christian the principle of holiness, beginning with the new birth, gradually expands and strengthens as the believer grows in grace and in the knowledge of the truth, till, by a final, all-surrendering act of faith in Christ, it reaches an instantaneous completion through the act of the Holy Spirit, the sanctifier: 2 Cor 7:1 “perfecting holiness,” etc.; Eph 4:13, the King James Version “Till we all come …. unto a perfect man,” etc. Thus sanctification is gradual, but entire sanctification is instantaneous (Rom 6:6, “our old man was crucified,” etc., a sudden death; Gal 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live”). In 1 Thess 5:23, the word “sanctify” is a Greek aorist tense, signifying an act and not a process, as also in John 17:19, “that they …. may be sanctified in truth,” or truly. (See Meyer’s note.) Many Christians experience this change on their deathbeds. If death suddenly ends the life of a growing Christian before he is wholly sanctified, the Holy Spirit perfects the work. Wesley’s advice to the preachers of this evangelical perfection was to draw and not to drive, and never to quote any threatenings of God’s word against God’s children. The declaration, “Without sanctification no man shall see the Lord” (Heb 12:14), does not apply to the saints, “the holy ones.”
Wesley’s perfection of love is not perfection of degree, but of kind. Pure love is perfect love. The gradual growth toward perfect purity of love is beautifully expressed in Monod’s hymn,
“O the bitter shame and sorrow!”
The first response to the Saviour’s call is,
“All of self, and none of Thee.”
But after a view of Christ on the cross. the answer is faintly,
“Some of self, and some of Thee.”
Then, after a period of growing love, the cry is,
“Less of self, and more of Thee.”
After another period, the final cry is,
“None of self, and all of Thee!”
an aspiration for pure love, without any selfishness.
The attainment of this grace is certified by the total cessation of all Servile fear (1 John 4:18). Wesley added to this the witness of the Spirit, for which his only proof-text is 1 Cor 2:12.
2. Objections Answered: (1) Paul, in Phil 3:12, declares that he is not “made perfect”: (a) in verse 15, he declares that he is perfect; (b) “made perfect” is a term, borrowed from the ancient games, signifying a finished course. This is one of the meanings of teleioo, as seen also in Luke 13:32 m, “The third day I end my course.” Paul no more disclaims spiritual perfection in these words than does Christ before “the third day.” Paul claims in verse 15, by the use of an adjective, that he is perfect. In verse 12 Paul claims that he is not perfect as a victor, because the race is not ended. In verse 15 he claims that he is perfect as a racer.
(2) Paul says (1 Cor 15:31), “I die daily.” This does not refer to death to sin, as some say that it does, but to his daily danger of being killed for preaching Christ, as in Rom 8:36, “we are killed all the day long.”
(3) 1 John 1:8: “If we say that we have no sin,” etc. (a) If this includes Christians, it contradicts John himself in the very next verse, and in John 3:9, sin,” “Whosoever is begotten of God doeth no and John 8:36, “If …. the Son shall make you free,” etc., and in all those texts in the New Testament declaring sins forgiven.
(b) Bishop Westcott says that the expression, “to have sin,” is distinguished from “to sin,” as the sinful principle is distinguished from the sinful act in itself. It includes the idea of personal guilt. Westcott asserts that John refers to the Gnostics, who taught that moral evil exists only in matter, and never touches spirit, which is always holy; and, therefore, though guilty of all manner of vice, their spirits had no need of atonement, because they were untouched by sin, which existed only in their bodies, as it does in all matter. When told that this made the body of Christ sinful, they denied the reality of His body, saying that it was only a phantom. Hence, in the very first verse of this Epistle, John writes evidently against the gnostic error, quoting three of the five senses to prove the reality of Chrtst’s humanity. (By all means, see “The Epistles of John,” Cambridge Bible for Schools, etc., 17-21.)
3. Required for the Highest Success of the Preacher: The relation of this doctrine to the Methodist Episcopal church in the United States is seen in the following questions, which have been affirmatively answered in public by all its preachers on their admission to the Conferences: “Are you going on to perfection?”; “Do you expect to be made perfect in love in this life?”; “Are you earnestly striving after it?” The hymns of the Wesleys, still universally sung, are filled with this doctrine, in which occur such expressions as:
“Take away our bent to sinning,” ….
“Let us find that second rest,” ….
“Make and keep me pure within,” ….
” ‘Tis done! Thou dost this moment save,
With full salvation bless.” ….
5. Its Glorious Results: To the preaching of Christian perfection Wesley ascribed the success of his work in the conversion, religious training and intellectual education of the masses of Great Britain. It furnished him a multitude of consecrated workers, many of them lay preachers, who labored in nearly every hamlet, and who carried the gospel into all the British colonies, including America. It is declared by secular historians that this great evangelical movement, in which the doctrine of entire sanctification was so prominent, saved England from a disastrous revolution, like that which drenched France with the blood of its royal family and its nobility, in the last decade of the 18 th century. It is certain that the great Christian and humanitarian work of William Booth, originally a Methodist, was inspired by this doctrine which he constantly preached. This enabled his followers in the early years of the Salvation Army to endure the persecutions which befell them at that time.
6. Personal Testimony: On March 6, 1760, Wesley enters in his Journal the following testimony of one Elizabeth Longmore: I felt my soul was all love. I was so stayed on God as I never felt before, and knew that I loved Him with all my heart. …. And the witness that God had saved me from all my sins grew clearer every hour. …. I have never since found my heart wander from God.’ Now this is what I always did, and do now, mean by perfection. And this I believe many have attained, on the same evidence that I believe many are justified.”
We have Wesley’s only recorded testimony to his own justification in these words (May 24, 1738): “I felt my heart strangely warmed …. and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins,” etc.
DANIEL STEELE

(from International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Electronic Database Copyright (c)1996 by Biblesoft)

My thoughts:
Though, I do not fully agree with everything, this sheds some light on our current theological situation. For ministers who find themselves focusing on results, the nuance of love is lost. Love is the basis and spring of holiness. God’s active grace within the believer produces a passion for love and for holiness. I am especially chewing on point two. What do you think?

God bless

Pastor Jeremy

Grace and Holiness: A Broken Relationship
Grace, Licentiousness, Holiness, and Legalism

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
Paul declares, quite famously, that he is not ashamed of Christ’s gospel. God’s Good News, As Athanasius called it, the Glorious exchange. In 2 Corinthians 5:21 Paul elaborates; “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” And again, 2 Cor 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” Back to Romans; Paul quotes the Old Testament Prophet Habakkuk 2:4- “the just shall live by faith”.
This indicates the true nature of salvation, even within the Old Covenant; salvation is by faith alone, not of works. As Paul uses the phrase, righteousness of God in verse 17, he is demonstrating God’s method of justification of sinners. God judicially positions sinners in right standing with Himself by faith, not by works.
Scholars believe these two verses sum up and introduce all Paul has to say in Romans. Paul announces the theme of righteousness and defines righteousness. To fully understand grace and holiness, let us look at righteousness.
Technically this article is not addressing righteousness; however, understanding God’s work in and through making us righteous is foundational to understanding and receiving His work of holiness in and through us as well.
Righteousness is:
In the Old Testament holiness is understood as God’s nature and His righteousness. It also becomes known as God’s saving activity. His nature and His righteousness are intricately connected His saving activity.
There are two interpretative ways to look at this verse: Righteousness of God-comes from God. Or righteousness which belongs to God—(Greek sentence construction allows for both interpretations: attributive-subjective or objective genitive). OT evidence suggests that His righteousness is more than character or nature…..it is also God’s saving activity and contains an ethical content. This passage has a strong emphasis on His saving work. Psalm 71:5 demonstrates His righteousness is His saving work. Isaiah 51:5 llustrates the synonymous parallelism between righteousness and salvation. Isaiah 45:21-24 states He is righteous God and Savior. Righteousness and salvation are synonymous.
Psalm 98:2- similar to Romans 1:16-17—God has made His salvation known and revealed His righteousness to the nations.
Paul’s notion of salvation comes from the OT.
1. Signifies deliverance from physical evil—I Sam. 11:9-13 (Phil 1:19—release from prison)
2. Salvation describes the deliverance of the people of God-Exodus
3. Prophecy of Messianic salvation Joel 2:28-32, Matthew 1:21—Save His people from their sins. Not in sins, not to sins.
Paul’s theology is eschatological. (Meaning, he is looking forward, to the end of our time, when God fully redeems and reconciles us to Himself). Indicating that salvation does not end once we enter into life with Christ (Union with Christ) but it begins. Salvation is more than a mere event or an initiation into the church. Salvation is life in Christ.
Three tenses of salvation in Paul/parallels the three OT tenses.
We have been saved.
We are being saved.
We shall be saved.
Sozdo (Greek verb meaning to save) is translated as salvation, healing and deliverance—He died to save me holistically. His work on the cross, and His work alone, provide my salvation.
Paul’s gospel is an exposition of the gospel of deliverance from sin and the grace needed to sustain a right relationship with God.
How can a sinful man come into a right relationship with a holy God?
How can a sinful man sustain this relationship?
These questions are answered or outlined in Romans 1:16-17. Faith alone quickens His righteousness within us and salvation is wrought. Paul further writes in Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (NIV)
Paul does not say the gospel has saving power. He says it is THE POWER of God to save. The gospel is power. God’s own power is personal, omnipotent, etc. It is not the proclamation of the gospel that is the power to save—it is the content of the message. There is nothing stronger nor more comprehensive than the message of the Gospel. The Gospel is rooted in grace, and His grace, as the root of the Gospel, produces His fruit. The fruit of peace (which is huge, peace from and peace with God-equally a new identity, removing the need for performance-based acceptance!). Secondly, in a culture of peace, holiness emerges as His fruit in our lives!
Paul’s preaching is merely a witness to the events/actions of God’s saving power. At the same time, we have to deliver the content of the message in the power of the Spirit. It is not either or it is both/and.
The gospel is God’s means of restoring righteous control over a disobedient creation. Paul could have used the Greek word ergon instead of dunamis (for power). Energy would be process, power is source. God’s only means of salvation is the gospel. It is the Source. The Word of God is living and powerful.
Fundamentally, I believe the Body ought to return to preaching the Gospel rather than preaching holiness or preaching grace. Focusing on one particular aspect of the Gospel tends to divide the Body while preaching THE Gospel unites the Body. As we have discussed, His very own righteousness moves Him to graciously redeem us. As we will see, His righteousness and grace move Him to produce holiness within and through us.
There seems to be a lot of confusion concerning grace and holiness within the Body of Christ. Holiness, Grace, Legalism, and Licentiousness are terms that are closely associated in theological discussions. My basic premise is holiness is more closely related (actually produced by) grace than grace’s relationship to licentiousness or holiness and legalism. In fact, grace produces holiness and quite literally preserves holiness. Legalism does not lead to nor does it protect holiness. In fact, legalism actually destroys practical holiness within the life of the believer. Furthermore, licentiousness is neither a product of grace nor holiness. Licentiousness is a second legalism, a pure denial of God’s scandalous and miraculous grace. It is a rebellion against legalism and a denial of God’s holiness which leads to a legalism of the flesh; slavery to sinful nature. Paul speaks to this issue in many of his epistles, none more directly than Romans and Galatians. We will examine a small portion of Scripture to address each of these pressing topics.
Licentiousness
As stated before; Licentiousness is a second legalism, a pure denial of God’s scandalous and miraculous grace. It is a rebellion against technical legalism which leads to a legalism of the flesh; slavery to sinful nature.
God desires His people to taste and see that He is good—the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). Amazingly, this Old Testament verse is speaking about holiness and joy together. The Lord exhorts the people to not mourn but actually rejoice greatly, to eat, to drink, and to send out portions for the day is holy. (Nehemiah 8:11) God’s holiness is to be enjoyed and celebrated. The modern church has often viewed holiness in such negative ways we have robbed ourselves of His joy and His strength. He and He alone, through grace, can produce holiness within His people.
Our primary understanding of holiness tends to be couched in living a morally pure and consecrated life. Christians view holiness in behavioral terms. This lifestyle tends to focus on doing good, not doing bad; living up to God’s righteous requirements. To be fair, the OT and NT biblical terms for holy (qadosh, hagios) do carry strong moral connotations. (Being set apart-namely, from sin, but primarily set apart toward or for God) However, many preachers and Christians alike have fallen into an easy ditch of believing that salvation, and more specifically sanctification, are primarily about changed lifestyle or behavioral modification. Being a better person often becomes the goal of Christian discipleship. Truthfully, changed behavior should be a fruit of the Christian life.
Galatians 2:17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! Paul, here in Galatians speaks to the issue of licentiousness.
Dr. Matt Richard elaborates
In this verse the Apostle Paul shows us that it is not a fair conclusion to link lawlessness to the freeing message of the Gospel. To put it in another way, the proper effect of the Gospel of Jesus (i.e. justification by faith alone) does not grant a license to sin nor lead us to lawlessness. The Gospel is not and cannot be held responsible for lawlessness. For if lawlessness did come about by the preaching and teaching of the Gospel, then that would make Jesus Christ a promoter, supporter and distributor of sin and rebellion! In other words, Paul is declaring, “God Forbid this rationalization!” So, what does this mean for us as people of the Cross? It means that there is Freedom for the Gospel! We do not have to hold, restrict and condition the Gospel of Jesus. We get to preach the full freeing message of the Gospel without having to fear that by doing so we are bringing about lawlessness. We get to teach and live the full freeing message of the Gospel without having to worry about issuing a sin license to others. Furthermore, we can also know by Galatians 2:17 that if lawlessness and a license to sin exist, that these perverted freedoms can be traced back to something else other than the Gospel of Jesus Christ, namely our sinful nature. May our souls resonate today with Paul’s words from Galatians 5:1,
“Christ has set us free! This means we are really free. Now hold on to your freedom and don’t ever become slaves of the Law again.”
Legalism
Let me allow the Gospel to speak concerning legalism. Legalism becomes a man-made attempt to protect salvation or worse, earn salvation. Often, believers slip into the temptation to believe that grace saves but works maintain our fragile salvation. The following are but a few scriptural examples of legalism being rebuked and damned.
Paul’s epistle to the Galatians, a book written for the entire area of Galatia and intended to be circulated among all the churches, addresses the age-old struggle for believers to fully embrace God’s saving grace and His saving grace alone. Legalism tempts believers to add law and moralism to God’s amazing grace. This is a subtle slide, a casual temptation that seems good and even healthy, however, as Paul demonstrates, it is destructive. At the root of legalism lies distrust and pride. Legalism distrusts the grace and power of God to fully, wholly and eternally save. Legalism displays pride by assuming self-righteousness and works-righteousness are strong enough to save. Legalism embraces levels of self-salvation; trusting in one’s ability to rescue and contribute to one’s rescue. Paul, in the following verses, debunks legalism and its appeal. Grace alone through Christ’s cross can save.
Galatians 1:6-I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.—Legalism has no place within the church. PERIOD.
Galatians 2:16 knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. 17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I build (work to establish) again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. 19 For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ: it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now life in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.
But know this; the law is good! The law is holy! But, what purpose does the law serve? What distinguishes between law and legalism?
Galatians 3:19 What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. …verse 21 Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law…verse 24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
1 Timothy 1:8 But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, 9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners…
Grace
“The joy of the Lord will arm us against the assaults of our spiritual enemies and put our mouths out of taste for those things for which the tempter baits his hooks! –Matthew Henry
Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. 15 Speak these things, exhort and rebuke with all authority, Let no one despise you.
What a powerful passage! Paul teaches Titus that it is grace that teaches. It is grace that leads and empowers the believer to deny evil and to live holy. This one passage illustrates grace’s relationship with holiness. This passage, furthermore, demonstrates how legalism is not the redeemer from lawlessness; it is in fact grace that fulfills the law! A strong allusion in this passage is that Christ is actually grace! For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,….what is the Holy Spirit actually saying through the Apostle Paul? Grace has appeared to all men? Where? When? How? If not, in and through Christ, then I’m not sure. God is revealing that His grace is incarnate in His Son. Jesus is grace. And this grace has appeared to all men. Once His grace gets ahold of us, we experience a new zeal and passion for good works. He redeems, He is our great God and Savior! Praise God that sin and worldly lusts are pulverized by His grace! We are free!
Now, current trends and thoughts about grace are not all congruent with Scripture. Grace is not weak. Grace is not ‘mushy and soft’. Grace is strong; grace is not afraid of sin nor is grace afraid of confrontation. Grace loves, perfect love casts out fear. The Apostle Paul was a strong preacher of grace, this does not mean he turned a blind eye to sin, nor did he leave sin to chance. Paul in 1 Corinthians 5 rebukes sexual immorality in the church. 1 Cor 5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles…Paul goes on to inform them they are puffed up. They assume they are displaying Christian maturity by tolerating this gross immorality while in fact they should be mourning. Paul goes further to clarify that this man is a member of the body, stating it is impossible to refrain from fellowshipping with sexually immoral unbelievers, they are expected to act in such ways. However, this member of the body is to be disciplined. Current trends of misunderstandings of grace tend to fear judging sin or placing legalism on individuals. Grace teaches us to live in holiness. Grace empowers us to live in holiness. Grace crucifies sin. Grace blesses us (through His divine power—not ours!!) with all things that pertain to life and godliness (holiness) (2 Pet 1:3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust)) God loves us too much to simply save us in our sins or to save us to sin. No, we are free and free indeed, it is for freedom sake (not sins sake) we have been set free! We are saved from legalism and from sin at the same time! We are new creations in Christ!
Our self-righteousness is like filthy rags. Our works righteousness doesn’t work. God demonstrates that we can’t, but He did!
Hebrews 13:8 Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 9 Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, by with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them.
Grace and holiness are established in a relational tone throughout the gospel. Grace produces holiness. There is no holiness apart from grace. Often behavioral modification and moralism rise to the surface of discussion of holiness because these are much more readily measurable than Christ at the center of our lives. God desires to fully encompass and engulf our lives. He is not simply looking for moral adherence.
Holiness
Sacrifice – to make sacred. Or, to be set apart from sin for God; this has become our primary working definition. It is accurate, in a sense.

– We are the most human when we are close to God
– Made in God, to image God; in His image.

– We must be separate from all that is unlike God.
– Fellowship follows Grace

– Rather than just one event – Grace is a marriage.
– God has purchased us. We are His.

Recalling God is and was holy before sin ever entered in, allows us to discover a more fundamental understanding of holiness. Holiness is more than simply being removed or set apart from sin. Holiness is, in a primal sense, wholeness.
Christ is our Savior, Sanctifier, Healer, Spirit-baptizer and Soon-coming King. As the Word, Spirit and Son sanctify the believer, what does this look like, practically? The Spirit sanctifies us by bringing the whole personhood of Christ into and alive in our entire personhood. Sanctification looks a lot like looking and acting like Christ. Now, this is more than mere behavior modification. Sanctification and holiness are far more than upholding a righteous requirement of the law (Which Christ did for us). Holiness and the process of sanctification are much deeper than outward adherence. The Spirit and the Word, through Christ’s work, sanctify our inner being. We become new creations. Salvation is radical and swift!
Is God concerned with practical holiness? The answer is, of course! Much of the epistles address behavior. However, the structure of the texts gives us beautiful theological insight. Paul lays out a divine indicative in the first half of many of his letters. Meaning, he states doctrinally what God has already accomplished for us through Christ. In short, he re-preaches the gospel via letter to his recipients. Typically, the second half of the letter spells out the horizontal imperative, or how we are now to live in light of what God has done for us.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:23, Paul prays for the believers in Thessalonica: “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” His words reveal three aspects of sanctification or holiness, which is the same as full recovery of the three-part nature of man (spirit, soul and body).
1. Holiness/sanctification is for now.
2. Holiness/sanctification is something God Himself will do in you.
3. Holiness/sanctification involves your peace, completeness and wholeness.
A Story
One of the earliest stories recorded in Scripture beautifully and powerfully outlines God’s grace in action. Genesis 2 through 5 records God’s creation of the first two humans ever. What a moment! Human life begins. One beautiful thing I take from this story is God creates humanity for intimacy and fellowship with Him, based on no merit of our own. God began with grace and mercy. He initiated life because He is love and He desired to share Himself with creation. Adam and Eve neither one earned any fellowship with the Father, it was simply granted. This is a continual ‘wow’ moment for me! Nothing I do grants me His love. I simply receive by faith! Again, wow! (Back to our story….)
Of course, like any good story, the original story has a sad and destructive twist. Introducing; the Serpent. Satan, in the form of a serpent, introduces Adam and Eve to deception, temptation and sin. Eve gives way to the serpent’s cunning lies concerning the tree of knowledge of good and evil and she shares the forbidden fruit with her husband (who by the way is not a victim. Adam was fully aware of the gravity of the situation). Basically, Satan baited our First Family into believing God was not enough, that there is more. More knowledge, more revelation and more freedom than He alone provides. Satan convinced our first parents that God’s law (do not eat…) was prohibitive rather than protective. This lie or half-truth the enemy sold them does bring revelation and knowledge. However, the knowledge it brought was painfully and tragically revealing. Without God’s grace and holiness covering naïve couple, they were naked and ashamed. Many of us find ourselves in the same predicament today. Rebelling against His grace and holiness, naked and ashamed.
Much like our first parents, we tend to lean toward self-salvation. Our own self-righteous works, man-made laws or even (on the other end of the pendulum) our antinomianism (rebellion toward His Law). Adam and Eve sought to hide and fix their transgression by their own ingenuity. Sewing together fig leaves to cover their brokenness. Again, too many modern day examples in my own life emerge to bolster this ancient tendency. Our efforts to cover, pay for or out run our transgression and fractured Father relationship always amount to inadequate and further condemning efforts.
The beauty in this story is God….God will never leave you nor forsake you. A statement I have found myself saying for a year now sums it up: God loves you too much to stay away. God pursues us in loving-kindness. One translation of Psalm 23:6 Surely goodness and love (mercy) will follow me all the days of my life-points to the verb follow as pursue or hunt down. God’s nature of love, mercy and goodness compel Him to hunt us down and to overtake us with His loving-kindness. This is precisely what He does with Adam and Eve.
God searches for our naked and ashamed couple to fix this mess the only way He can. God sheds blood (without which there can be no forgiveness of sin). God, once again, covers His creation. Until Christ’s ultimate sacrifice for sin on the cross animal blood covered the sins of God’s people in His grace and mercy. Now, however, Christ has died once and for all. He has risen as our first fruits of resurrection power! The greatest act and gift of grace has poured out on Calvary through Christ. Christ cried out, ‘tetelestai’ – It is Finished! Paid in full! God continues to make us holy via His grace. There is no holiness apart from His great grace. His precious grace produces holiness within and through us. let us labor to enter His rest and provision of grace and peace in turn producing holiness; a fruit that will remain.
Our holiness is not so much a matter of what we achieve as it is the grace our God provides as we continue to allow Him to live through us. Remember, it’s no longer I who live, but Christ lives through me. Grace is God’s willingness to look at us from the perspective that sees His holy Son in our place.
Church, always remember that while our work for the Lord is important, even inevitable; His work for us is infinitely more important! Remember this too, our work is really WITH Him not so much FOR Him. And, finally, our work should be a worshipful response to His already completed work for us. The Apostle Peter informs us that it is His divine power that has given us ALL THINGS that pertain to life and godliness (holiness) God is so good! He has already provided all you need in Christ! Receive by faith today! His love, joy, grace and power empower me and compel me to work with and worship Him and to partake of His divine nature! Be loved in His peace; be grounded in His grace; be at rest in His Rest. I love you and I am proud of you!
It is my prayer that we have an ear to hear what the Spirit says to the church. I believe divisive teachings have divorced grace and holiness from one another, robbing the body of peace, joy and fruit.
I will conclude with this prayer for us;
Col 1:9-14
9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
God bless,
Pastor Jeremy

Romans 14:1
Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.

Alternate translation of this verse: “Welcome the man who is weak in the faith, but do not introduce him straight away to the discussion of questions which can only raise doubts.” —some are so strong-no debate will shake them—however, there are others.

Our culture is one that is fond of discussion for discussion’s sake.
Christianity is not a series of questions simply for debate, as some would have us believe.
G.K. Chesterton, “We have found all the questions that can be found. It is time we stopped looking for questions and started looking for answers.”
Goethe, “Tell me of your certainties I have doubts enough of my own..”
Questions are not wrong-however, we must conclude with affirmation.
–Dr. Barclay-Romans 14.

I recently taught this chapter on our Wednesday night Bible study at our church. There is this whole group of young leaders who tend to question and deconstruct all things church and church tradition. Incorporating deeply challenging questions to core tennets of the faith as a means of discipleship. Claiming these questions and this exposure is actually strengthening their faith. I whole-heartily agree that shepherds/pastors should be thoroughly versed in these issues, however, I’ve been thinking about the role of the shepherd.

Leadership, within the church, is to provide nurture, protection and guidance. (Yeah, of course, the occasional rebuke etc) Recently I have heard criticism aimed at leaders that are bringing to light heretical teachings of others. These leaders aren’t dealing simply with “disputable matters”, they are dealing with issues of orthodoxy. The Emerging Church is at the forefront of this discussion. These emerging leaders are incredible communicators and wonderfully persuasive. They speak about the Word of God as so complicated and mysterious that no one can understand it. They lean on a progressive reasoning and human logic to lead to conclusions about hell, eternity, judgment and other key issues that the Scriptures do not provide. Conclusions that are truly against Scripture.
Evangelicals that bring to light issues of orthodox theology should not be painted as mean-spirited or judgmental. Pastors and leaders have a biblical mandate to speak the truth in love. The Apostle Paul addressed the heresy of the Judizers. The Apostle John debunked the Gnostics, Jude, Peter etc. These men took drastic measures to protect the sheep.

It definitely looks as if social action (gospel) is the new theological gateway drug to universalism. By the way, universalism is more damning than legalism (Apostle Paul) and as damning as Gnosticism (Apostle John). It is up to us to not allow this.

Well, all for now. I hate reading long blogs, so…. (FYI–didn’t proof this)

The Jews were still asking, “How can a man enter into the right relationship with God so that he too may inherit this great promise?” Their answer was, “He must do so by acquiring merit in the sight of God through doing works which the law prescribes.” That is to say, he must do it by his own efforts. Paul saw with absolute clearness that this Jewish attitude had completely destroyed the promise. It had done so for this reason—no man can fully keep the law; therefore, if the promise depends on keeping the law, it can never be fulfilled.
Paul saw things in terms of black and white. He saw two mutually exclusive ways of trying to get into a right relationship with God. On the one hand there was dependence on human effort; on the other, dependence on divine grace. On the one hand there was the constant losing battle to obey an impossible law; on the other, there was the faith which simply takes God at His Word.
On each side there were three things:
1. On the one side there is God’s promise. There are two Greek words which mean promise. Huposchesis means a promise which is entered into upon conditions. “I promise to do this if you promise to do that.” Epaggelia means a promise made out of the goodness of someone’s heart quite unconditionally. It is epaggelia tha Paul uses of the promise of God. It is as if he is saying, “god is like a human father; He promises to love his children no matter what they do.” True, He will love some of us with a love that makes Him glad, and He will love some of us with a love that makes Him sad; but in either case it is a love which will never let us go. It is dependent not on our merit but only on God’s own generous heart.
2. There is faith. Faith is the certainty that God is indeed like that. It is staking everything on His love.
3. There is grace. A gift of grace is always something which is unearned and undeserved. The truth is that man can never earn the love of God. He must always find his glory, not in what he can do for God, but in what God has done for him.
On the other side there is
1. Law. The trouble about law has always been that it can diagnose the malady but cannot effect a cure. Law shows a man where he goes wrong, but does help him to avoid going wrong. There is in fact, as Paul will later stress, a kind of terrible paradox in law. It is human nature that when a thing is forbidden it has a tendency to become desirable. “Stolen fruits are sweetest.” Law, therefore, can actually move a man to desire they very thing which it forbids. The essential complement of law is judgment, and, so long as a man lives in a religion whose dominant thought is law, he cannot see himself as anything other than a condemned criminal at the bar of God’s justice.
2. There is transgression. Whenever law is introduced, transgression follows. No one can break a law which does not exist; and no one can be condemned for breaking a law of whose existence he was ignorant. If we introduce law and stop there, if we make religion solely a matter of obeying law, life consists of one long series of transgressions waiting to be punished.
3. There is wrath. Think of law, think of transgression, and inevitably the next thought is wrath. Think of God in terms of law and you cannot do other than think of Him in terms of outraged justice. Think of man in terms of law and you cannot do other than think of him as destined for the condemnation of God.

So Paul sets before the Romans two ways. The one is a way in which a man seeks a right relationship with God through his own efforts. It is doomed to failure. The other is a way in which a man enters by faith into a relationship with God, which by God’s grace for him to come into trust. (Barclay, The Letter to the Romans. 68-69)

We are certainly not as familiar with the original usage of redemption as we would like to think. (Pop culture loves to over use this term; leaning toward payback or comeback). Redemption refers to the practice of buying back prisoners of war out of their captivity. A stronger, larger enemy had them in a foreign land under their power. Their rightful place was in their homeland. They could be restored to freedom through the ‘ransom’. Another use, maybe a little more familiar to us; in reference to the release of a slave by the payment of a particular price.

Doulos of sin. Slave of sin. Paul saw us as slaves. Galatians 5:1, Rom. 6:23, I Cor. 6:20; 7:23.

Redemption: Christ, through the Cross bought us out of slavery and took away ALL our sin and gave unto us His infinite righteousness. That’s redemption……I once was lost but now I am found; blind but now I see…

Leadership…
Sometimes you have to let the game come to you. Take what the defense is giving.
I’m not talking about battling the enemy. When facing Satan we are be aggressive and decisive.

I’m speaking primarily about leading those God has entrusted to our care. As leaders we often have bold and daring visions of what the future must look like. However our people are often happy and content where we are now. They rarely see or feel a pressing need for change.
Casting vision, whether for more compelling and passionate worship or for more doing than hearing only, we as leaders, often must take what our defending congregations will give us. Incremental change is often the greatest path toward the radical future God has graciously impregnated within the leaders soul.
We must trust Gods sweet Holy Spirit to be the agent of change. Forced change, begged change is not true transformational change/lasting change. Only through the revelatory power of the Holy Spirit will true and lasting change transpire.

Leader; see the future, yes. But navigate the present.
Prayer, discernment, wisdom, knowledge and understanding from time I’m His Word and Presence are prerequisites for the journey.

Another thought (not really related but doesn’t have the merit to stand alone as a separate post)…

I have heard a lot about redemption and athletes that have blown it. (Vick and others) I love seeing people get a second chance. I love seeing people making well on these chances. However, I’m not too impressed with Christian leaders using redemption so easily. There is no true redemption without the Cross. I am unaware of these athletes spiritual journey. But, again, redemption cannot transpire without godly sorrow, repentance and the reception of pure abounding grace and the gift of His righteousness. I know, I know, I’m over spiritualizing the use of redemption…but someone needs to. Christian leaders and athletes alike cannot have true redemption/reconciliation without repentance and the Cross. There, I said it… thank you for indulging.

Historically, Pentecostals have understood the gifts (charisms) as some being primarily personally edifying, or serving of others, and eschatological (end times evangelism). However, all gifts are for the building up of the community (koinonia).

What category would you place gifts of healings in? Why?