What Holiness Requires

by | Apr 1, 2008

Our holiness movement is in desperate need of genuine spiritual renewal.

There is much in the Bible about renewal. “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint,” writes Isaiah (40:31). Saint Paul also notes that though “the outward man perisheth, the inward man is renewed day by day” (II Cor. 4:16).

God, of course, does not become weary, but men do—even the choicest and strongest men. Vigorous, robust youths may stumble and fall. But we are assured that they “that wait upon the Lord” will exchange their weariness for strength. It is certain that we will never rise above the world, the flesh, and the devil without the renewing of the Holy Spirit.

The holiness movement needs this kind of renewal. Our spiritual life does not need to be weak, anemic, or dominated by lassitude and defeat. From the spiritual viewpoint, life is an ascendancy up the hill that leads to the peak of the presence of God.

So our first priority must be renewal in the power of the Spirit of God. Then, there needs to be a recovery of a larger sense of the family of God. God has a big family, which is the Church of Jesus Christ. Those believers in heaven make up the Church Triumphant, while those on the earth are the Church Militant. How wonderful to be part of God’s great family. As John Wesley preached,

“If your heart beats as my heart, you are my brother.

 

So give me your hand.”

The IHC seeks to enlarge a vision of God’s family, for the Convention is an extended hand of fellowship to those of “like precious faith.” We labor together without compromise.

The distinctiveness that brought each group into being can be held inviolate in this family fellowship, as we stand shoulder-to-shoulder. There were twelve tribes of Israel, and each had its own flag. At the sound of the trumpet, each tribe joined together against the common foe. This kind of unity of action needs to be recovered in these perilous times.

While each denominational tribe carries its own banner, let us remember that we all march and fight under the banner of King Immanuel, fighting sin, hell, the world, and the devil. O God! Give us a larger sense of Your purpose through us Your children.

There also needs to be a fresh recognition of our accountability to God. Holiness people must repent of their radical independence that aligns believers against believers in a spirit of competition or even of suspicion and judgment. We are accountable to God for one another and also to one another as to how we have treated other members of the body of Christ.

God’s Word is authoritative, and we are answerable to it. Such authority starts on a personal level, then moves to the local church level. Do we understand? There are no little people nor big people in God’s kingdom. We are all brothers and sisters in the grace of Christ. Let all wrath and all evil-speaking and all backbiting and tale-bearing be set aside, together with all judgmental behavior!

Remember, the great need at all levels of Christian fellowship is not structural organization or reorganization. There is no need for channeling of holiness bodies into a common denomination. But the need is for a genuine spirit of repentance and contrition over our smallness, bickering, backbiting, legalism, and liberalism. Such repentance will lead to renewal, freshness, and fiery service. O Lord! Renew Your work and begin now in me!

Rev. Harold E. Schmul, co-founder and long-term leader of the Interchurch Holiness Convention (IHC), was an eloquent preacher and prolific publisher of classical Wesleyan material. This selection, abridged by Larry D. SMith, is reprinted with permission from The Convention Herald of which Schmul was editor for many years.

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