Summary: As Wesleyans, also believe that there is a second work of grace. This second work is called entire sanctification.
This morning I want to share with you something that is one of the fundamental messages of the Wesleyan doctrine. Really, it is what sets us apart from many other churches and types of theology. It’s one of the distinguishing tenets, if not the distinguishing tenet, of our heritage. I’m talking about the doctrine of holiness or entire sanctification.
What is holiness? What does it mean to be entirely sanctified? In the year 1741 John Wesley, the founder of Methodism and the man for whom our church is named, preached a sermon entitled “Christian Perfection.” In that message Wesley defined holiness in this way: 1. Purity of intention, dedicating all the life to God; 2. All the mind which was in Christ, enabling us to walk as Christ walked; the renewal of the heart in the image of God; 3. Loving God with all our heart, and our neighbor as ourselves.
As Wesleyans we believe that all men have sinned. There is not a single individual in this room that can claim to be sinless. Paul says, We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And the wages of sin is death. All of us have sinned and if we got what we deserved we would be sentenced to an eternity in hell. But God has made a way for us to be forgiven of our sins. In that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. We can have our slate wiped clean because Jesus already paid the price for our sin. We can be saved from our sins and from our rightful punishment. This is called salvation. It’s God’s work of grace in the lives of sinners.
But we, as Wesleyans, also believe that there is a second work of grace. This second work is called entire sanctification. And this morning I want to share with you about this work. I want to share with you about holiness.
C.S. Lewis once said, “How little people know who think that holiness is dull. When one meets the real thing, it is irresistible.” Many people feel as though this doctrine is too old fashioned. The only people who believe this way are just a bunch of old fogies, a bunch of holy rollers. It’s a hard doctrine to understand. It’s a work that is seemingly difficult to attain. It’s not worth the effort. But I would tend to agree with Lewis, when you meet the real thing, it’s irresistible.
To be honest with you, though, I have never once dedicated an entire message to this subject. While I do believe whole-heartedly in this doctrine, and I have preached about it in other messages, it is one that, at least for me, has been difficult to know how to explain in a way that’s easy to understand. I have been somewhat intimidated by this doctrine. But for quite some time now I have felt like God has been leading me to preach a sermon on this topic. And so, this morning, that is exactly what I’m going to do. And I am praying that the Holy Spirit will take the words that I feel like God has given me and make them plain to all or our ears and hearts, and that He would use this message to do powerful things in each of our lives.
I. The Call To Holiness
The first thing that I want to talk to you about is the call to holiness. Let me draw your attention to 1 Pet. 1:13-16… Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
Paul is quoting the words of God found in Lev. 11:44 where He says, For I am the Lord your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy. Jesus also said these words in Matt. 5:48… Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. There is a call to holiness. God commands His people to be holy people.
You know, there is not much more that we need to know than that. God said it. That settles it. Period. I don’t know how many times as a kid demanding a reason why I couldn’t do something I heard my mom or dad say the words, “Because I said so.” Anybody else every heard that response? Any parents here that use that response? Yeah, “Because I said so.” “Mom, why can’t I stay out till midnight tonight?” “Because I said so, son.” You didn’t have to hear much more than that. You may demand a better answer than that, and it may be good to give a better answer than that sometimes. But it was settled just because mom said so.