Apart from the challenges from Ben and Mr. Phillips regarding music and aesthetics, the other place in which I was challenged was in my pursuit of godliness.
The first breakout session I went to caught my attention because of the title: The Sufficiency of Scripture for Personal Sanctification. I circled it immediately. It was taught by Mr. Andy Davis.
He started off by stating a question that enters my mind more frequently than I’d like – “Why did God leave me here after salvation?”
He then embarked on explaining two infinite journeys – not that the journeys last forever, but that we need an infinite power source to complete them. The first is sanctification, and the second, disciple making.
The reason for our being left here is for God’s glory. Our salvation comes in stages – although we are considered righteous in God’s eyes, we are not righteous until heaven.
Regeneration is the waking of the spiritually dead, and when God exchanges our heart of stone for one of flesh. Then begins the constant struggle of sanctification, until in heaven we reach glorification.
In 2 Peter 1:3-8, it says that we have everything we need for the journey – scripture and God! We as humans put no effort into regeneration and justification, but we labor in sanctification.
Then Mr. Davis went through four things about the journey – knowledge, faith, character, and action.
He explained that knowledge is both factual (from a mind saturated in scripture) and experiential (knowledge from seeing God’s power at work). Knowledge primes the pump for the other three aspects of life. Knowledge feeds faith which transforms character which leads to action (leave out character and you’ll be a hypocrite).
The universe is the theater of God’s glory. We can learn things about His glory by living them – but scripture stands over it. As for knowledge by experience, we know what “humble” means because we’ve seen it or not seen it. Israel was taught by experience.
Faith is the assurance of and commitment to spiritual truth. Faith is trust in Christ as provider for propitiation. Our trust belongs completely to Christ, but there are things that compete for that trust, even our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6). A mature faith looks to Christ for every need, for Christ sustains the work of grace.
Character is internal nature that conforms to Christ. It’s affection (what you love), desire (what you seek), will (submitting to God), thought (meditating on God), and emotion (patterned after God). The goal of sanctification is that we will love what He loves, seek what He seeks, submit to His will, meditate only on Him, and be angry at sin, compassionate, etc. These are virtues. Situational virtue is knowing when to use what.
Action is habitual obedience. Some things in sanctification require a not-do, however. Sanctification is meant to humble and crush us to bring us frequently to Him.
In Church Mr. Horn spoke more about sanctification and godliness as he helped us practically see how what we learned should affect us when we return home. He preached on 2 Timothy 3:10-17, which is in the middle of a letter from Paul to one he loved as a son. Paul tells Timothy that when you preach the word, men will rise up against you – most of these men are in the Church. The Covenanters were persecuted by the Church of England.
This is not to say that there should be no divisions in a healthy Church. See 1 Corinthians 11:18-19. There should be some divisions, because people should be seeking the sufficiency of scripture. Work through the division, and God will be glorified because we will know Him better. Never agree to disagree when it compromises scripture, because that misrepresents Christ, who is the Word of God.
Paul says there will be problems, but he also says “I’ve been through them, and this is how to handle them.” There are new challenges in the modern world, and new application, but doctrine – God’s doctrine, not ours – is the same. Apply doctrine to where Satan is attacking the Church today.
We will go home and people will be angry at us. But our words won’t have effect if our lives don’t follow. If our purpose in changing our home is not to glorify God, then we’re FOOLS.
Paul writes that it’s a blessing when people persecute you for living according to scripture. You are cursed when you make peace with the world and blessed when the world hates you (Beatitudes). But without love for Christ and others, they have a right to persecute us. We must confront them with love, and speak the truth because we love the person we’re speaking to. One way we don’t love our enemies is by withholding Truth.
Persecution is unjust punishment. If we’re punished for your faults, you deserve it. If you’re punished because of others’ sin, you’re BLESSED. Christ suffered more pain for the gospel than anyone – be conformed to Christ. If we proclaim Truth like Christ, it’s likely we’ll be put to death.
The world loves its own. If the world loves you, BE AFRAID!
To hear the Word and not respond is to not love God. Doctrine is what we learn so that our life changes and aids sanctification. We must wield the Word, but wield it properly. Like a sword, Scripture does nothing when used poorly, but it changes flesh when it is used properly.
We – you, me – will be persecuted for pursuing godliness (2 Timothy 3:12). I feel it, I do. When I feel like no one agrees with me, like I’m all alone. Though I need to check myself more, and make sure I spoke in love.
It will be hard. Not just because of persecution, but because sanctification is hard and painful. As Mr. Swanson said while speaking about people who pack their kids off to schools, “To keep your life clean, keep the kids out. But God doesn’t work that way, sanctification occurs in relationships”
Sanctification is learning to speak in love. To make sure persecution is because of the pursuit of godliness, not my own sin.
Chew on it for a while.