In 325 AD the Nicene Creed defined the Church by giving it 4 marks saying this in the last paragraph: “And we believe in One, Holy, catholic, and Apostolic Church.”
Today we turn our attention to this second mark of the Church: Holy.
Tim Challies has said, “The subject of holiness is of the deepest importance for every Christian. I am aware that, in speaking of this, I could have chosen a subject perhaps more agreeable, and I know for a fact I could have chosen a subject easier to handle than holiness, but I’ve chosen such a topic this morning because I aim to make you aware that few things are as profitable to the eternal well-being of our souls than the subject of holiness.” To this we now turn.
When I was young and thought of the word ‘holy’ I would think of certain people from history like Ghandi, Mother Teresa, and even Jesus. But when someone spoke to me of holiness I would think of rules, regulations, laws, structure, discipline, and work. My thoughts as a young boy reflect how the world thinks about the concept of being holy or holiness, and after having been a Christian and spending large amounts of time within the Church I think that, though there are exceptions, by and large the Church feels the same way about holiness as the world does.
This reveals something about us that we should just be honest about. We don’t really care about holiness do we? I mean, we love the gospel, we love the cross, we love the resurrection, and we love the grace of God. And this is right for us to love grace this deeply, God has saved us from so much hasn’t He? But why is it that we give so little attention to all that God has saved us too? With this in mind Kevin DeYoung asks a probing question in his recent book The Hole in our Holiness saying, ‘Shouldn’t those most passionate about the gospel and God’s glory also be those most dedicated to the pursuit of godliness?’
Perhaps it really is because we don’t care about holiness.
Perhaps it’s because we have no idea what a holy life really looks like and think holiness is a simple refrain of don’ts. ‘Don’t dance, don’t smoke, don’t chew, and don’t go with girls who do.’
Perhaps we fear being legalistic, or getting into a religion of rules and are frightened by words like effort, discipline, and work thinking they’ve got no place in a faith centered on grace.
Well, whatever you’re opinion of holiness is I’ve found that most people have one thing in common – we know we’re not holy. We’ll look deeper into this in the next few posts.