A Helpful Illustration
I heard a story a few years ago that went something like this (I have forgotten where I heard this); one summer, a father gathered his two sons and told them that he had a job for them. Behind their home was a small grove of trees that he wanted cut down and the stumps uprooted. The trees were located among blackberry bushes, poison ivy, and other smaller trees. Although the two sons had never done such a job, they agreed to remove the trees. Their father provided them an axe, a shovel, and a short saw, every tool that was required to complete the job. The young men went to work and the job was completed after several weeks of sweat and hard work. In celebration of this accomplishment, the father and his sons burned the huge pile of trees, vines, and debris. It was a task that could not have been achieved without the right tools and the desire to use them.
The same is true for the Christian life. It is of great importance that we know the ‘what’ and the ‘why’s’ of the Christian faith. After all, the Scripture is clear that every Christian must be grounded in Biblical truth and able to give a defense of that truth (1 Peter 3:15). The problem is, if we only dwell in the land of the why and what of our beliefs, without ever applying them, we are in danger of either seriously stunting our spiritual growth or possessing a faith that cannot and will not save (James 2:14-19). In the first post, I laid out a Biblical case for the pursuit of holiness. In this post, I would like to share a few tools that will be most helpful to us in our pursuit.
The Tools For Pursuing Holiness
The Word Of God (Bible)
The Bible has been given to us so that we can know God. It is not a history book, a math book (although it does contains these things) and it most certainly is not a self help book. The Bible encourages us to pursue personal and corporate holiness as we;
- listen to it in the context of the local church (sermons and lessons)
- read it (personally and as a part of our corporate worship gatherings)
- study it
- memorize passages of Scripture
- thinking through what God’s Word says and how it applies to my life.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon has stated, “No man can be in the kingdom of heaven who does not pray.” Prayer is a vital part of the believer’s walk but how do we pray? Jesus’ model prayer in Matthew 6 serves as one example:
- Worship: Our Father!!! Who is in heaven
- Praise: Hallowed (Holy) be Your name
- Petition For The Gospel To Spread: Your Kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
- Reliance: Give us this day our daily bread
- Confession: Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors
- Protection: Do not lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil
- Praise: For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen (NASB)
We can accomplish nothing of lasting value apart from God’s work in our hearts and lives. The believer then is called upon, not to live in his or her own power but in submission to the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. As R.C. Sproul, in his book, “Essential Truths of the Christian Faith” has noted, “The Spirit comforts, guides, and teaches the elect (John 16). These activities are done in a manner that involves intelligence, will, feeling, and power. He searches, selects, reveals, comforts, convicts and admonishes. Only a person could do these things. The response of the Christian, then, is not mere affirmation that such a being exists, but rather, to obey, love and adore the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity”.
The church’s mission (which is expressed as we corporately and individually live on mission daily) to the world is evangelistic. That is to say that we are to corporately and individually bring the saving message of Christ to those who do not belong to Jesus Christ through faith. The pastors of the local church are charged with training and coaching the church (corporately and individually) to engage their local community with the gospel.
Gathering With Other Believers
The Christian life is not meant to be lived in isolation. God has graciously given us the gifts of corporate worship, fellowship and accountability and the ordinances (just to name a few) and has tied our furtherance in holiness with sharing life with other believers. (Hebrews 10:24-25).
While what I have laid out for us in this post is far from exhaustive, my hope and prayer is that we will begin (if we haven’t already) to fight for your joy in Jesus Christ through the daily pursuit of holiness. If you are interested in reading more on this topic then I would recommend:
- Anything by Jerry Bridges
- Spiritual Disciplines For The Christian Life by Don Whitney
- Pursuing Holiness In The Lord by Jonathan Edwards
- The Hole In Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung.
Grace And Peace