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WE ARE MADE HOLY IN CHRIST

Written by: on January 14, 2020

I want to reflect on chapter 5 from the book “Evangelicalism in Modern Britain” because it resonates with my own Methodist experience. I want to focus primarily on “The Methodist Holiness Tradition.” as I perceive it.

There are two points that I come to mind as I read the chapter;

WE ARE MADE HOLY IN CHRIST

The New Testament tells us that every believer, in principle, is sanctified by the sacrifice of Jesus 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). The status of the believer before God is holiness in Christ, even though his character is not yet perfect in holiness (1 Corinthians 1: 2). (Cf. 1 Peter 1: 1-2; Hebrews 2:11; 9: 13-14; 10: 14,29; 13:12).

CONFORMITY TO THE IMAGE OF CHRIST

Despite his sanctified state, the true Christian has not yet reached a completely sanctified situation. We must continue to strive for holiness and godliness (Hebrews 12:14). Growth in holiness will come after regeneration (Ephesians 1: 4; Philippians 3:12). Paul prays that the Thessalonians will be completely sanctified, as something that is yet to be accomplished.

Sanctification is something you have in Christ before God, so you must strive with the power of God. Your state of holiness is already granted, but your holiness position has to be achieved. Through Christ, you are sanctified in your relationship before God, and through Christ, you are called to reflect a relationship by being holy in your daily life. By grace, you have been called to be in real life what you already are in principle.

There are three things to look for, specifically.

  1. Conformity to the character of God the Father. God says: “Be holy as I am holy.” Strive to be like your heavenly father in righteousness, holiness, and integrity. In the Spirit, fight to think as God thinks, following him with the help of His Word, to live and work as God himself wants you to do.

 

  1. Conformity to the image of Christ. Of course, you will not be able to be holy with your strength. All our justice is like dirty rags (Isaiah 64: 6). Do not pretend to conform to Christ as a condition for salvation, but as a fruit of salvation received by faith.

Search in Christ for Holiness, as Calvin would say: Put Christ before you as a mirror of sanctification, and ask for the grace to reflect his image. In each situation, ask yourself: What would Christ think, do, or say? And then trust Him for your sanctification. He will not leave you or forsake you (Joshua 1: 2-7).

  1. Conformity to the mind of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit was sent to conform your mind to the mind of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2). He came to be sinners to saints. Lean fully on him.

In conclusion;

“We must exhort all Christians to gain all they can, and save all they can; that is, in effect to grow rich”[1]

At a time when we are wondering about “theological fidelity” to the Wesleyan tradition of holiness, when we are concerned with “identity”, and when there is a need to grow and expand we like to keep in mind our heritage and its principles so that we are not “simply another generic evangelical denomination” paralyzed and immovable because we first need an “impenetrable system.”

The theological quintessence of our Wesleyan heritage functions as a compass for the practical implications of our faith. God wants to renew us in his image the image of a holy and loving God. This renewal encompasses our understanding of God (orthodoxy), the practice of our faith (orthopraxis), as well as the spiritual reality of God’s transforming presence in our lives (orthopathy).

The theological quintessence (essence) and the principles that flow from it can help us to “discern the spirits” and continue straight in what God has called us to do. If we are faithful to who we are, we cannot be afraid of the future or of our heritage. The core of Wesleyanism exhibits an “optimism of grace.” Therefore, let us continue to spread biblical holiness through our land and bravely believe with John Wesley: “The best of all of us is God with us!”

Ray Dunning, Grace, Faith, and Holiness: Wesleyan Systematic Theology. Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press, 1988, p. 47.

Runyan, p. 163. This point, surely, is expressed in Wesley’s well-known formulation: “There is holiness, but there is no social holiness.” (Works 14: 321).

Baker, Frank. “Practical Divinity – John Wesley’s Doctrinal Agenda for Methodism” in Wesleyan Theological Journal, Volume 22, No. 1, Spring 1987. Pages 7-16.

Bebbington, D. W. Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s. New ed. n.p.: Routledge, 1989.

Clark, Jason. Evangelicalism and Capitalism: A Reparative Account and Diagnosis of Pathogeneses in the Relationship. 2018. Pg 83

 

About the Author

mm

Joe Castillo

7 responses to “WE ARE MADE HOLY IN CHRIST”

  1. mm Greg Reich says:

    Joe,
    Thanks for the words of encouragement. Do you find that world events and denominational challenges causes individual believers to lose focus on the importance of a daily walk of holiness before God? Have we becomes so engrossed with the national headlines that we forsake our own spiritual pilgrimage in Christ? Can we truly assist others in need if we ourselves are dieing on the vine? I am reminded every time I travel that to assist others in a crisis I need to first assist myself by putting on my own oxygen mask. Could it be that by failing to assure our own health we are dooming not only ourselves but those we are called to help?

    • Simon Bulimo says:

      Indeed its through Christ that our Holiness can be manifested. Also conforming to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is essential. In our context denominations have come up with a style in which one is become Holy. The doctrine has been overemphasized till the idea of Holiness is loosing meaning. I appreciate the way you have come out so clearly with holiness issue

  2. mm Darcy Hansen says:

    Joe,
    I hear great hopefulness in your words. I was baptized in the Methodist church, and the belief of holiness is engrained in my thinking. What do you think about the division that is threatening the Methodist church? Which holiness is the best holiness, and who gets to determine that? It seems to me that dogma (non-negotiables of Christian faith) is often confused with doctrine (denominational preferences). When doctrine becomes dogma, division happens. When that happens, I think orthopraxy and orthopathy fall by the wayside. My main concern of the holiness movement is it’s black and white, right and wrong theology that seems to be, based on historical evidence, more divisive than uniting. Where do you see Weselyanism’s “optimism of grace” being played out in an effective way?

  3. mm Dylan Branson says:

    “If we are faithful to who we are, we cannot be afraid of the future or of our heritage. The core of Wesleyanism exhibits an ‘optimism of grace’.”

    This was super encouraging, Joe. When every outlook around us seems bleak, it’s easy to get wrapped up in despair. This optimism is important to our understanding of the future; Christians by their very nature are supposed too be a people of hope. We look forward because we have confidence and assurance of what will come in the end, even if the path ahead looks full of pitfalls and snares. But through God’s grace, we’ll make it. Through God’s grace, the world isn’t as dark a place as it could be.

  4. mm Shawn Cramer says:

    Joe, I appreciate your direction connection between holiness and the presence of God/Christ.

    What challenges or opportunities do you see in emphasizing holiness in the 21st century?

  5. mm Steve Wingate says:

    Joe, I was asked in my post about what ancient boundaries we should not breach. Your three points are 3 of the very few I would include.

    Faithfully meeting together (being discipled and worshipping together)

    Grace (not do what we want but to be able to do what God wants and to be fully human as God intended in the beginning)

    We already have the mission. The vision is contextual, usually.

    Deut 6:4-7

    Just a couple more

  6. mm John McLarty says:

    Thanks Joe. I wonder how the witness of the Church might shift if we were simply to live into our Christian identity and admit we don’t have all the answers? If we were to invite people into an honest conversation and allowed the Spirit to work in us and shape us, could that lead to conversion?

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