Volume. XXXVIII, No. 40
Sunday, 06 April 2014


From The Pastors Heart: HOLINESS


Holiness is one of the central themes in the Bible. In particular, the Book of Leviticus is fully devoted to giving us lessons about holiness. Though it is an important subject of the Bible and of the Christian faith, it has not received proper attention from the people of God. I am going to write about this subject by condensing Joel Beeke’s small booklet, Holiness: God’s Call to Sanctification, published by the Banner of Truth Trust in 1994. I will quote from him freely without quotation marks.

 

The concept of “holy” is also found in other words like saint, sanctify, and sanctification, because they come from the same root word. There are many reasons that this word has not been considered seriously. For some people, it is an archaic word, while for other people it is a sign word of moralistic legalism demanding a lengthy list of prohibitions and regulations, or of a haughty superiority which despises others. For others, it is something that is unattainable perfection, which is not worthy of any discussion.

 

Holiness in Scripture means to set apart. It is primarily spoken of in relation to God as in “The Lord our God is holy” (Psalm 99:9). Holiness is God’s very nature. There are three significant implications in such teaching: (1) God is different from all His creatures. He is above and beyond all His creation; (2) God is apart from all unclean and evil things. His holiness is total righteousness and purity (Isaiah 5:16; Habakkuk 1:13) and (3) God is unapproachable by sinners. It implies that all associated with God must also be holy. The God of love is the “Holy Father” (John 14:11). Jesus Christ is the “Holy One of God” (Mark 1:24; John 6:69). The Spirit of God is denominated as Holy ninety-one times.

 

Holiness in the New Testament highlights three themes: (1) ethical dimension of holiness rather than ritual holiness. Thus, Jesus “committed no sin; nor was any deceit found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:2) (cf. Hebrews 7:26); (2) normative character of holiness among believers: It belongs to all true followers of Christ. A common term for all believers is holy ones, usually translated “saints” (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:30) and (3) transforming power of the total person. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 says, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

Holiness in theology is important: (1) Every believer is sanctified by the sacrifice of Christ. “We are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:10), Christ is our sanctification (1 Corinthians 1:30), and the living Church is sanctified (Ephesians 5:25-26); (2) Though the believers are sanctified, they have not arrived at a wholly sanctified condition. They must strive for sanctity and holiness (Hebrews 12:14; cf. Ephesians 1:4; Philippians 3:12) and (3) Every believer must be conformed to God’s image - (a) Conformed to the character of God the Father as saying, “Be ye holy as I am holy”; (b) Conformed to the image of Christ by “set[ting] Christ before you as the mirror of sanctification, and seek[ing] grace to mirror him in his image. Ask in each situation encountered: ‘What would Christ think, say, and do?’ And then trust him for holiness. He will not disappoint you (James 1:2-7)” and (c) Conformed to the mind of the Spirit as He was sent to conform the believers’ mind to His mind (1 Corinthians 2). The Holy Spirit convicts people (John 16:8), implants desire for holiness, and provides strength for holy life (cf. Galatians 5:16). There is always room for unending growth in sanctification because Christ’s fullness is infinite.

 

Holiness in history has been misunderstood: (1) by asceticism which pursues holiness by forsaking the world literally and engages exclusively in prayer vigils, fasting, and self-mortification, which promotes a total separation between sacred and secular things. It concerns about too much external sin, while ignoring that the root of sin is in the heart of man, wherever he is and whatever he does; (2) by mysticism which promotes purgation, illumination and contemplation to attain to holiness. It puts feeling before the truth and forgets that the calling of the Christian is to be the salt and light in the world; (3) by sacramentalism which imparts holiness automatically to all who receive mass from a priest. It replaces the need for the personal and subjective work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of a sinner. It puts an external act in place of faith. However, on the contrary, Martin Luther tore the double standard of holiness between the religious and the secular, and the clergy and the laity. All believers are called to holiness in equal measure. Hence Luther emphasized on the priesthood of all believers.

 

Holiness for today needs to be practiced because: (1) God has called the believers to holiness (1 Thessalonians 4:7); (2) Holiness gives evidence of their justification and election. Election is the cause of their salvation while sanctification is the evidence of their salvation. Election is known last to them, for sanctification is the earmark of Christ’s sheep; (3) Without holiness, all things are defiled (Titus 1:15); (4) Holiness augments their spiritual health, as John Flavel observed, “What health is to the heart, that holiness is to the soul”; (5) Holiness fosters assurance as Matthew 7:16 says, “Ye shall know them by their fruits”; (6) Holiness is essential for effective service to God (2 Timothy 2:21); (7) Holiness makes them resemble God, as Watson notes: “We must endeavor to be like God in sanctity. It is a clear glass in which we can see a face; it is a holy heart in which something of God can be seen”; (8) The God they love, loves holiness. William Gurnall says: “God would not rub so hard if it were not to fetch out the dirt that is ingrained in our natures. God loves purity so well he had rather see a hole than a spot in his child’s garments”; (9) Holiness preserves their integrity and lastly (10) Holiness fits them for heaven. Hebrews 12:14 says, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.”

 

Beeke ends his booklet by giving us “Six Short Rules for Christians” written by Brownlow North, which is very helpful. (1) Never neglect daily private prayers and when you pray, remember that God is present, and that he hears your prayers (Hebrews 11:6). (2) Never neglect daily private Bible-reading and, when you read remember that God is speaking to you and that you are to believe and act upon what He says. I believe all backsliding begins with the neglect of these two rules (John 5:39). (3) Never let a day pass without trying to do something for Jesus. Every night reflect on what Jesus has done for you, and then ask yourself. “What am I doing for Him?” (Matthew 5:13-16) (4) If you are in doubt as to a thing being right or wrong, go to your room, and kneel down and ask God’s blessing upon it (Colossians 3:17). If you cannot do this, it is wrong (Romans 14:23). (5) Never take your Christianity from Christians, or argue that because such and such people do so and so, that therefore you may (2 Corinthians 10:12). You are to ask yourself, “How would Christ act in my place?” And strive to follow Christ (John 10:27). (6) Never believe what you feel, if it contradicts God’s Word. Ask yourself, “Can what I feel be true if God’s Word is true?” And if both cannot be true, believe God and make your own heart the liar (Romans 3:4; 1 John 10-11).

 

Lovingly,

Your Pastor


More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

*Kitchen Roster Leader: Today: Volunteer. Next Lord’s Day: Bro Boong Atijatuporn.

*Family Bible (Easter) Camp - For catering purposes, all registration forms must be submitted by today.  Your co-operation is appreciated.

*New Sunday School Teachers’ Training  Course starts in June. If Interested, please see Bro Joseph Selvanayagam or Deaconess Purdee Yeo.

*Daily Manna for April/June QTR just arrived. Please help yourself to a copy. Donation $1 per copy.

*RPGs for April/June QTR not available yet.

 

 

Praise & Thanksgiving

1. Journey mercies: Bros Houston Li (Goolwa/Adl) & Raphael Ng (Waikerie/Adl); others who have arrived safely at their destinations. 

2. Church activities in the past week.

3. God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.

4. Visitors & new worshippers.

5. Special Talks last Lord’s Day by A/Prof John Hartnett - good attendance.

6. Healing: Bro Charles Yeo

 

Prayer Items

1. Health & God’s healing - Dr Gary Cohen (USA), Dr SH Tow (S’pore); Rev Edward & Sis Lehia Paauwe; Rev George van Buuren; Grandpa Ki (S’pore); Bro Colin & Sis Kathleen Creaser; Bro Len & Sis Margaret Pearson; Preacher Zhang (Sihanoukville); Bros Surish Dharmalingam (Laos), Elton Law & Kang Fun Tan (Sis Felicia’s father - S’pore); Sisters Nita Chong’s cousin (Mr Seck Aik Foo), Lai Kheng Chiong (KL), Margaret Hooper, Grace Gan’s father (healing), Choon Fong Lee (KL), Ruth Ngoma, Iris Surman’s brother, Corinne Teng, Susan Varadi, Susan Weng & Mavis Wong’s mother (salvation & healing); Mr Swee Liang Ng; Mr Mang Soo Ong; Bro Peng Cheong Wong; Mr Lucas Lee; Mr Tony Zhang; Mrs Maggie D’Mello (Mumbai) & others in affliction.

2. God’s Comfort: Bro Phil & Sis Iris Surman on the passing of Sis Iris’ father (KL).

3. iSketch & Tell Studio, YouTube Ministry: Pr Hai Seng Lim.

4. IBPFM & PMU - guidance & wisdom for board members & their missionaries.

5. Cambodia Missions - Bro Sun Sokha (Phnom Penh); Bro Thi Chhay (Kratie).

6. Batam Missions - Sis Ang Liang Phoa & Ministry; Filadelfia B-P Church, orphanage & kindergarten.

7. New Life BPC (London) - resident pastor; strength & encouragement for congregation.

8. Ministry in Hope BPC - God’s guidance for future - Preacher David & Sis Susan Weng. 

9. Korea Missions: Pastor Okman & Sis Myung Ki (Mar-Apr) - health, strength & wisdom.

10. Journey mercies: Bro Joseph & Sis Chrisanthi Selvanayagam & family (UK/US/Canada); Bros Houston Li (Goolwa/Adl) & Raphael Ng (Waikerie/Adl); & others travelling.

11. Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin.

12. Health in pregnancy: Sisters Kerrie Lam, May Lau & Tabitha Tan.

13. God’s guidance & wisdom for those in authority in Australia.

14. PR application: Sisters Xiao Hui Chye & Yashu Qin

15. Family (Easter) Bible Camp. Speaker: Rev Edward & Mrs Lehia Paauwe; Committee & campers.

 

 

© Hope Bible-Presbyterian Church
PO Box 398, Fullarton, Adelaide, South Australia 5063