Posts Tagged With: holiness

How Vast The Benefits Divine

toplady_a

National Portrait Gallery

How vast the benefits divine which we in Christ possess!
We are redeemed from guilt and shame and called to holiness.
But not for works which we have done, or shall hereafter do,
Hath God decreed on sinful men salvation to bestow.

The glory, Lord, from first to last, is due to Thee alone;
Aught to ourselves we dare not take, or rob Thee of Thy crown.
Our glorious Surety undertook to satisfy for man,
And grace was given us in Him before the world began.

This is Thy will, that in Thy love we ever should abide;
That earth and hell should not prevail to turn Thy Word aside.
Not one of all the chosen race but shall to Heav’n attain,
Partake on earth the purposed grace and then with Jesus reign.

“How Vast The Benefits Divine”, hymn by Augustus M. Toplady, 1774

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A Signpost To Heaven

(The pastoral letter to Hope Congregational Church, August 2013, from Pastor Riley Fraas)

Love, grace, and peace be yours abundantly from God the Father, through Jesus Christ our Lord!  I rejoice greatly in the shared communion and life that we have together in Christ.  It is something that should never be taken for granted, something that we will enjoy together forever with Him in heaven, of which we now enjoy a blessed foretaste. 

For human beings walking through life, there is a choice between two roads.  One leads to life everlasting, and the other leads to eternal death.  In the word of God, in Matthew 7:13-14, we learn, “…wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:  Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”  The narrow road which leads to life is characterized by faith in God’s promises, especially salvation through faith in Christ, and a way of life that indicates a changed condition of the heart which makes it to be oriented toward God.  The broad road leading to everlasting punishment under the wrath of God in hell is easy to travel; and large crowds are going that way all the time.  It is characterized by a coldness toward spiritual things, self-righteousness, self-centeredness, greed, pride, lust, and apathy.

When you see a sign on the road pointing to a desired destination, you are informed which way you ought to go to get there.  We have recently seen one of our own go home to be with Jesus in glory and everlasting happiness.  There are those like her, who, by their example of faith, walking with God, and service to the saints, leave by their lives a signpost in the fork of the road.  Those who are on the way of life can be distinguished from those who are on the broad road that leads to destruction by the conduct of their lives and the ripe fruits that show the Holy Spirit’s work in them.  They do good works of love and compassion for those they can, and abound with the peace, love, and joy that only comes from peace with God through Christ, applied to the soul by the Holy Spirit.  It even shows in their personality.  By the legacy of their lives, they show the way to heaven which is their destination.  Like a sign in the road reading “To Heaven,” their path shows to those in their family and community the way of live which leads to everlasting happiness with the glorious Savior: a life by, from, and through grace, with steadfast faith in God’s promises in the Bible, which reflects the love of God in Christ to others out of thankfulness to Him for His precious gift of salvation.signpost

Let us, brothers and sisters, consider carefully what message we are leaving to our children, grand-children, great-grandchildren, fellow Christians, and neighbors, minding our pattern of life, deeds, and conversations.  If we walk consistently in love by the grace of God through faith, then when they day comes when we no longer walk this earth, we may leave by our life’s example a signpost pointing the way to heaven, so that if there were any doubt which way were the way to get there, it will have been made plain to those we know and love.

May the free and undeserved grace of God through Jesus Christ be our sustaining foundation for life, both now and forever.

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7 Habits for Holiness

Reblogged from the Harvest Community Church Blog:

7 Habits for Holiness

In a recent Ligonier article, Pastor (Dr.) Pipa explained from the Bible why Christians don’t have to be enslaved to lust, and then quoted the following counsel from John Flavel as to what can be done about it. This is advice that would be helpful with any sin, and particularly for young men:

In the booklet Impure Lust, John Flavel gave seven directions for dealing with lust:

1. Beg of God a clean heart, renewed and sanctified by saving grace. We must always begin with the heart, for it is the fountain of all else (Matt. 15:19), and God promises to answer our prayers as we pray according to His will (John 14:13–14). We must seek the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit.

2. Walk in the fear of God all the day long, and in the sense of his omniscient eye that is ever upon you. How often our behavior is dictated by who is watching. We forget that He sees all.

3. Avoid lewd company, and the society of unclean persons; they are panderers for lust. Evil company corrupts good manners. Remember that this direction not only includes our personal contacts but those we encounter through movies, music, books, magazines, and computers.

4. Exercise yourself in your calling diligently; it will be an excellent means of preventing this sin. You have heard the adage, “Idleness is the Devil’s workshop.”

5. Put a restraint upon your appetite: feed not to excess. This direction does not mean that we may not enjoy God’s good gifts of food and drink, and the pleasure of feasting with friends, but it is a sober reminder that if we pander to our physical appetites in one area, we will be more prone to fall in other areas.

6. Choose a spouse and delight in the one you have chosen. One of the liberating insights of the Reformation is that within marriage, sex is for pleasure and is a God-given protection against unlawful lusts.

7. Take heed of running on in a course of sin, especially superstition and idolatry: in which cases, and as a punishment of which evils God often gives up men to these vile affections (Rom. 1:25–26). Sin inevitably breeds sin.

In these ways, the church may guard her people. Practice and teach these things.

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John Bunyan on being purified before heaven

When the maidens were gathered together for the great king Ahasuerus, before they were brought to him into his royal presence, they were to be had to the house of the women, there to be purified with things for purification, and that for twelve months together–to wit, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours, and other things, and so came every maiden to the king.  (Esther 2:3, 9, 12, 13)  God also hath appointed that those that come into his royal presence should first go to the house of the women, the church, and there receive of the eunuchs things for purification, things to make us “meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.”  (Colossians 1:12)  None can go from a state of nature to glory but by a state of grace, the Lord gives grace and glory; hence he that goeth to heaven is said to be wrought for it, fitted, prepared for it.  (1 Corinthians 5:5, Romans 9:23)

John Bunyan, “The Greatness of the Soul, and the Unspeakable Loss Thereof“, Works, volume I, (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust), 2009, p. 145.

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Being Sure of Your Salvation: Part 3, The Subjective Evidence of Salvation

By Pastor Riley Fraas

In the last part of this series, I talked about Jesus Christ the Savior being the objective ground of assurance, that is, the believer’s foundational certainty of his or her eternal salvation.  The person who truly believes in Jesus Christ can never be lost because Jesus is his Savior, and Jesus is not a temporary, but an eternal Savior.  Jesus lives continually interceding for His own; and we can be confident that the Father always hears Him.  As a result, they can never be lost.  In this part I would like to talk about the subjective evidence of assurance, in other words, the evidence in the life of a believer that may be seen as proof that one is eternally saved from sin.

In Matthew 7:18, Jesus said,  “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.”  Notice that Jesus is presenting the fruit of the tree as evidence of it being a good tree.  This is an analogy applying to Christians.  Those who believe in Christ, aka. Christians, who have been born anew and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who are truly connected savingly to Christ by faith, cannot help but produce certain fruits in their lives.  A true Christian cannot fail to live in a way that pleases God any more than a good tree can fail to produce good fruit.  If the tree doesn’t produce good fruit, it’s proof that the tree is corrupt.  In the same way a person who is not living for God shows evidence that he or she is not a true believer in Jesus Christ.  Because of this, bearing spiritual fruit is an important aspect of being sure that one is saved.  One is not saved because of the way one lives—any more than good fruit is what makes a tree good inside—but the way in which one lives for God is evidence that one can point to of a true relationship with the Savior.  So one important way to be sure of one’s salvation is to examine one’s life for the distinguishing characteristics and behaviors which accompany salvation.

This is what Peter is talking about when he writes, “give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall” in 2 Peter 1:10.  The way to make sure that one has truly been called inwardly by the Holy Spirit, and that one is truly “elect” unto salvation as the apostle here terms it, is to give diligence to do “these things.”  But what are “these things”?  They have just been named in verses 5-8 of the same chapter:

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;  And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

 There are seven qualities or characteristics listed here which describe those who are truly saved forever:

Virtue – Termed “excellence” in some translations, this trait refers to fulfilling God’s purpose for your being.  When you are living a life in sync with God’s instructions and commandments in Holy Scripture, this is true manhood or womanhood, an evidence of salvation.

Knowledge – Knowing God by studying the Bible and hearing His word in church.  You can’t very well make a case that you have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, if you’re not diligently seeking to know Him better in the way that He’s given us to learn about Him, can you?  That would be like me saying that I love my wife by not getting to know her.  It’s ridiculous.

Temperance – A sober, self-controlled life, free from slavish service to the lusts of the flesh and the temptations of the world is a fruit or evidence of salvation.

Patience – Patient perseverance in faith is a sign of salvation.  Faith in Christ that is here today, gone tomorrow is not a sign of salvation.  Continuing in faith and obedience to Christ, is.

Godliness – Having a God-ward orientation, living for Him, reflecting His character.

Brotherly Kindness – Being kind, gentle, and gracious to other believers in Christ is a sign of one who really has been saved by His grace.  If you’re not gracious to other Christians, have you really experienced God’s grace?  If you know the kindness of Jesus to you, you will also be especially kind to those for whom He shed His blood.

Charity (or love) – One who personally has firsthand knowledge of the love of Christ will be loving to others, whether they are Christian or non-Christian.  If not, it’s evidence that one doesn’t know that love.

Peter lists these traits or characteristics not only as something to look for to tell if you are eternally saved or not, but as something to cultivate in your life to gain that certainty and assurance that you are truly saved.  He goes on to say,

For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ
A label on a can of soup is not the source of ingredients.  The ingredients are put in before the label is ever glued on.  But, if you want to know what’s inside, you can look at the label.  In the same way, the lives of Christians offer the evidence or proof that they are eternally saved, in relationship with the Savior.  If you want to be certain of your salvation, therefore, it’s necessary to cultivate and reflect the kinds of characteristics and traits that come with salvation.  And we have the promise of God’s word, that if we do these things, we “shall never fall.”…Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  2 Peter 1:10, 11
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Is Holiness Necessary for Salvation?

by Pastor Riley Fraas

Is Holiness necessary for salvation? The Bible says so:

holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14

But what does it mean, and why is it necessary?

Holiness is a setting a part for the use of God, a resignation to Him and from anything that is not pleasing to Him. Holiness extends to every part of human life, implying a pervasive faith, obedient submission, and continual honoring toward God in all of ones life. It necessarily requires a separation from the sinful world, not by living in seclusion or not making contact with unholy people, but by an utter personal rejection of the sins that pervade the world around us including everything which is not in accordance with God’s will as recorded in the Holy Bible.   

Holiness does not mean perfection, for no one is perfect in this life. It does mean a resolve, resolution, and effort to believe in, obey, and honor God in all of life as his will is shown to us in the Holy Bible. The one who is seeking holiness will not be content with compromising God’s instructions for living. He will do his utmost to keep all of God’s commandments in thought, word, and action, praying on his knees continually asking for God to assist him in his effort to obey.

Holiness is not a way of earning acceptance with God. All human beings have already violated God’s law.  Therefore they are utterly without hope of pleasing Him by their own effort. Yet, by His grace, many rotten sinners come to Him. And when they come to Him, they come to be holy, for He is holy. When we say that holiness is necessary for salvation, it does not mean that God accepts us for our holiness. It only means that all those who will one day go to heaven are made holy in this life.

Holiness is required of those who come to Jesus Christ to be saved, because He is holy. Let’s say there is someone who comes to Jesus without wanting to be holy. He wants to be saved from the eternal flames of hell, so he walks down an aisle and prays a prayer. In the meantime he intends to keep practicing his favorite sins. He doesn’t really think he needs to give them up; and deep down, he loves them. He lives in them. Perhaps he has heard a preacher say that he will be saved: that he is eternally secure because he made a decision for Jesus. But has he really come to Jesus, or is it just a figment of his imagination? There are many men named Jesus in the world, especially in Spanish-speaking countries. Just coming to “Jesus” isn’t enough. It has to be Jesus the Savior of whom the Bible testifies! Just forming ones own idea of who Jesus is won’t do, either. The one who comes to Jesus the Savior comes to Him as He is described in the Bible, or he doesn’t come to Him at all. Jesus is the Holy God. He is entirely other, separate, and apart from the sin of this world. That is:  He is holy. He is entirely untainted by sin. In fact, he never sinned. This is why He is the Savior of sinners. The one who comes to Him, must come to holiness, for Jesus is holy. Otherwise, that person has not come to the real Jesus.

Here is what holiness looks like:

1. Hearing and reading the Scriptures to know what pleases God.

You honestly can’t pretend to want to please God if you won’t make the effort to know what pleases Him, can you? Hearing is when you listen to the Scriptures preached in Church. Reading is reading your Bible. These are both equally important.

2. Praying to the Father in Jesus’ name.

Prayer is one of the great means God has provided for us to become holy. He answers prayer that is according to His will. One prime example of this is prayers for holiness.  When we pray for holiness, it engages our minds and our wills toward it as a goal, and puts our faith in the God who makes the unholy holy.

3. Worshiping God among His people.

The solemn worship of God in His Church is not just a formality or a nice option that can be done without. It’s your weekly chance to meet with the God whom you desire to please. This meeting pleases Him. If you don’t love these meetings, you don’t love Him.

4. Loving others.

Those who love God from the heart will also love other human beings, because they are made in His image. They will especially love others who are on the road of holiness because of their common connection to the Savior.

The one who comes to Jesus must come to holiness, because Jesus is holy. The one who doesn’t want to be holy, doesn’t want Jesus.

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