Renewing the Message

Renewing…the first image that comes to mind is taking that library book back and giving the lady at the counter your card. You get to take the book or cd or dvd back home again for another week or month. Renewing the subject of sanctification might take us to other connotations. How long has this book been checked out? What exactly did we do with it? How long has this dusty, bent up, beat up book been hiding under my bed? For many United Methodists, Nazarenes, Wesleyans and other ‘holiness’ minded people, the subject of sanctification might just be something that no one talks about any more. (What kind of a library fine am I looking at for not returning this book sooner? Or, in the Christian’s case ‘renewing the subject’ and letting the message go cold?)

And, if you do talk about it, what direction has the subject taken you? Do we strictly make it about our own personal pureness and godliness? Does it take you into a venture on spiritual gifts and headlong into works of services?  Does sanctification carry with it the inception of charismatic inspiration and then on into manifestation of tongues? What I have seen in my time in the Christian church is that either people don’t talk about, they don’t know anything about it, or they have their own take on what it actually means and see fit to indoctrinate others with their school of thought.

What is the message of sanctification really about? What does the Bible actually say on the subject? If we might be so bold as to get into a ‘quadrilateral’ on the subject – what does Scripture, Tradition, Reason & Experience tell us about sanctification? John Wesley spoke of it. The Methodist movement of the 18th century was engulfed with it. “The Holy Club” and Wesley’s preaching was saturated with the idea of a perfecting grace. Accountability, dependence on your fellow brother and sister in Christ, a movement of the Holy Spirit in one’s heart and soul so as to be totally dependent upon God and the heavenly resources. Is it so possible to want to be with our God, serve our God, to be like our God?

I have spent the last 20 years surrounded, engulfed, bothered, mesmerized, burdened, and intrigued by this subject. I have eaten, slept and drank this message. I have laid it down and not wanted anything to do with it. It has come back to haunt me, nearly make me insane, inspire me, and lift me up. There is no getting around it. Sanctification is, as I see it – for many in this Christian life, the missing piece of the pie. Oh, how I remember “how the fire fell” as many Nazarenes might recall from an old hymn. Have you ever been in a service and felt a ‘strange warming feeling’ as Wesley might have described? Is there anything in your life that might need to be turned over to Jesus and let go of our strong grasp? Have you ever laid it all out in front of God and said “It’s all your Lord, I don’t own it any more.”

I never will forget my first time really going to an altar to pray inside a Nazarene church. I had been reading Acts 4 that day. I read about John & Peter going into the temple. How they healed the man outside the gate. How they spoke boldly in defense of Jesus Christ. These were not the same men from the Gospels. Something had changed. There was something in connection with the Holy Spirit. I knew I needed this same boldness. It was a Sunday evening service in September of 1992. I went forward and explained my case to the pastor as I knelt down. I am not sure he completely understood what I was asking for, but I remember and know what I was asking. I left that service feeling like I was on Cloud 9. Nothing could touch me. There was a certain feeling of peace. I got in my friend’s car as he drove me home. With my foot propped up on the dash, I just had an indescribable feeling inside.

What kind of encounters have you had with this subject? Good? Bad? Do you even know what this word means? It is my hope that this writing might help renew the subject, bring new life to it, open the door of God’s holy message to many who have never heard it before and bring renewed talk to those who have laid it aside as irrelevant. I wasn’t able to describe or understand everything that had begun inside me that day. Later it would be more clear. A journey had begun. An up and down, round and round, drag me through the desert, race running pursuit of what in the world this was all about. And, in many ways, I feel as if I am still trying to get a grasp on it. There are ways to over-simplify the subject, as we will get into later in this writing. I do not think we can say enough about the subject. Sanctification is God’s means of bringing us closer. “This is the will of God. Your sanctification” (1 Thess 4.3) God wants to do this. The Lord God Almighty seeks to bring believers of Jesus the Christ closer in fellowship with the God who gave us life and salvation. It is my hope that you might find some level intrigue, some desire to go further in your understanding of this Christian life. 

If there is anything I can say in this writing to help with that, anything I can quote or bring to light then to God be the glory. Great things He has done.

Thank you to my best friend Matt Holcomb – you brought me into this mess, won’t you help me clean it up?

To my children Gabriella and Caleb – you make me happy every day. I have watched you grow. You were just little ones when I started writing about all this. I hope someday that it might be beneficial to you. God Loves You both and so do I.

To my wife Melissa – you have put up with me through this journey. Won’t you go just a little further with me dear? 

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