Summary: Part 3 in series debunking popular bumper sticker descriptions of the faith
A brief recap:
Week One—“I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”
• We are always dependent upon the grace of God
Week Two—“Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.”
• We are made right before God (positional sanctification)
• We are afforded grace at conversion to grow (progressive sanctification)
Pastor and author Tony Evans says this about God: “Holiness is the centerpiece of God’s attributes. Of all the things God is, at the center of His being, God is holy. Never in the Bible is God called, ‘love, love, love,’ or ‘eternal, eternal, eternal,’ or ‘truth, truth, truth.’ On this aspect of His character, God has laid the most stress.”
Would God call us to live something He doesn’t enable us to do?
I Thessalonians 4:3, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified.”
Philippians 1:6, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Today we look at a level of grace neglected in the life of most Christians...entire sanctification.
For years I have struggled because this issue seemed to be so complicated. But, when you look at the Scripture it becomes very clear.
Most people approach their Christian life as described by a common bumper sticker... “God is my co-pilot.”
• For this person God is the assistant who helps us navigate all of life’s issues.
• He assists me in obtaining salvation.
• He assists me in resisting temptation.
• He assists me in decisions.
• He assists me in my success.
• And so on.
But God desires something much deeper than that for every Christian. In fact He commands something more.
Matthew 22:37-39, Jesus replied: “`Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: `Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
Entire sanctification is simply this: a full surrender to the will of God in every aspect of life that expresses itself in love for Him and others.
Now, how does it come about?
Let’s use a negative Biblical example to illustrate.
Matthew 19:16-22, “Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?"
MT 19:17 "Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments."
MT 19:18 "Which ones?" the man inquired.
Jesus replied, " `Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’ and `love your neighbor as yourself.’ "
MT 19:20 "All these I have kept," the young man said. "What do I still lack?"
MT 19:21 Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
MT 19:22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.”
Steve Deneff, in his book “Whatever Became of Holiness” gives 3 steps of entire sanctification, and always in this order, that will help us understand this encounter with the rich young ruler.
1. Wait on God
a. Still focuses upon the necessity of God’s grace
b. The people of God are not merely to mark time, waiting for God to step in and set right all that is wrong. Rather, they are to model the new heaven and new earth, and by so doing awaken longings for what God will someday bring to pass.
— Phillip Yancy
c. As a matter of fact it is God’s prevenient and progressive sanctifying grace that prompts us towards hunger for a deeper walk. A little boy constantly fell out of bed. No matter what his parents did, the boy couldn’t sleep without rolling out of bed. An uncle came to visit and in the middle of the night the usual thump and cry was heard. In the morning the uncle teased the boy and asked him why he fell out so often. The little fellow thought for a moment and then said, “I don’t know, unless its because I stay too close to the place where I get in.”
d. Waiting through observation of spiritual disciplines (these cultivate the soul for God to plant what He wants within us—John 15...we are simply to be the branches and remain close/attached....God produces the fruit).
i. Corporate worship (primary revelation of God throughout scripture)
ii. Bible study (not simply reading as a task) A minister who was visiting one of his members found the lady of the house was trying to impress him about how devout she was by pointing out the large Bible on the bookshelf and talking in a very reverential way of it as "the Word of God". Her young son interrupted the conversation, "Well, if that’s God’s book we better send it back to him because we never read it!"