Holiness Preaching

by | Dec 1, 2011

It is time for rekindled enthusiasm for the work of holiness, not flagging confidence or substitute aims. Natural gifts are important; if a preacher has the ability to preach creatively, he should be grateful. But such ability spawns heresy unless it is matched by his humility to be a lifelong student and a sanctified preacher who is predisposed to such humility. Only a revitalized generation of such holiness preachers will save the church of our day. If new members admitted to the church are not led into the experience of entire sanctification, it is likely that they will either leave it or destroy it. Surely the Day of Judgment will show that the holiness preacher is the world’s greatest benefactor.

In preparing to preach holiness, a minister’s library is important. For a holiness preacher to own a big car and a small library tell us that something is out of proper balance in his ministry. Select carefully and prayerfully the books and other tools that you will use. Some preachers honestly desire to be effective but have never acquired the skill to be successful communicators, since they have never read a book on public speaking.

Moreover, keep proper balance in your preaching. When we develop a lopsided ministry, it results in a distorted concept of holiness. For instance, preachers have encouraged complacency among their people by failing to preach the Law of God to them. There is an inherent need to preach the Law as a guideline for love.

Our people need to know that any love which is not subordinate to the holy Law of God is not Christian and leads to sordid bondage. Let us not coddle our people into believing that they are fully sanctified and yet remain in the wilderness of vacillation, chronic fetters, and longing for the sinful pleasures of Egypt.

Remember that the end of holiness preaching is to bring men and women to Christian perfection. But do not preach this perfection as if it were flawless perfection, for it is only a perfection of motives. John Wesley said to his brother Charles that

“to make the standard too high is the surest way of driving Christian perfection out of the world.”

Specific preaching on the crisis experience is the hub of holiness preaching. All other themes are spokes in the wheel. We need to tell our people that the sanctifying work of the Spirit will deliver them from selfishness and carnal ambition, restless pride, and ill-will. This will bring new courage in doing the will of God and a new willingness to accept the consequences in doing so.

A new day will dawn in your church if you so lead your people to this rich experience so that they will thereafter grow in the graces of the Spirit.

If the pulpit fails, only one generation stands between a holiness church and an ex-holiness church. Holiness is the only remedy for sin. We must preach it regardless of the cost. We cannot please a holy God without displeasing an unholy devil and his slaves. Holiness begins in repentance, is perfected in entire sanctification, and is completed in glorification. While men are looking for better methods, God is looking for better men. The real test of a man is his Christian manhood. We should be better men than any sermon that we can ever preach.

Every holiness preacher ought to make people feel that it is great to be a Christian and especially one who is entirely sanctified. We cannot help but mourn over the low state of present-day holiness professions and preaching. But a new and better day can dawn when we awaken and throw our very best into preparation and preaching with new vigor and clarity and consistency the greatest message that can be propagated in our day or any day — the message of holiness.

The late Rev. V.O. Agan, a GBS alumnus, was a well-known leader in the early Conservative Holiness Movement and for many years president of the Alabama Conference of the Bible Methodist Connection. This article, condensed by Larry D. Smith, is reprinted with permission from the Convention Herald.