Change, challenge, confusion. Words that are somewhat descriptive of our culture in 2023, no matter what part of the world you call home. I suppose many of those from times that far precede our own could describe their piece of history similarly. Yet the fact remains we live in rapidly changing, challenging, and confusing days that some would say are reminiscent of the description in Matthew 24 of the End Times. You remember the picture painted by the words of Christ: false messiahs, wars and rumors of wars, nation rising against nation, famines and earthquakes, persecution, many turning away from the faith, false prophets, deception, an increase of wickedness, love of most growing cold (reference Matthew 24:4-14).
When I read these passages about the future and look around at our society, the striking similarities are blatant. Please don’t misunderstand me; I am not predicting the culmination of the age, although it may be sooner than we anticipate.
I would simply like for us to consider a question, bearing in mind the world in which we live:
How do we as God’s people, redeemed by His wonderful grace, make a godly impact in our world today?
Christ’s mission is very specific: “For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost” (Luke 19:10, NLT).
The Great Commission expands on this thought. “Jesus came and told His disciples, ‘I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age’” (Matthew 28:18-20, NLT).
I trust these Scriptures are very familiar to you, as they are to most Christians. Could I ask you, How are we doing regarding this mission, specifically, here in North America?
Yes, the last few years have been difficult for individuals, families, communities, and the Church. Most of you reading this article are familiar with the statistics, and they are not very encouraging. Our current situation seems more like defeat than victory.
So, what is the answer?
Is there a key that will open new possibilities, turning defeat into victory, darkness to light, bringing new freedom and empowerment to fulfill the call and commission of the living God?
The key I believe is found in these familiar words:
“...Entire Sanctification is that act of God, subsequent to regeneration, by which believers are made free from original sin, or depravity, and brought into a state of entire devotement to God, and the holy obedience of love made perfect. It is wrought by the baptism with or infilling of the Holy Spirit and comprehends in one experience the cleansing of the heart from sin and the abiding, indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, empowering the believer for life and service. Entire Sanctification is provided by the blood of Jesus, is wrought instantaneously by grace through faith, preceded by entire consecration; and to this work and state of grace the Holy Spirit bears witness” (from Article X 2017-2021, Church of the Nazarene Manual).
Volumes of theology books have been written on this distinctive Holiness doctrine of entire sanctification. Dr. J. Kenneth Grider—one of many Holiness Theologians—has written much on this subject. In his book entitled A Wesleyan Holiness Theology, he discusses the components of the Experience: “A Separation to God’s Use, A Cleansing Away of Original Sin, The Baptism with the Holy Spirit, An Empowerment, A Sealing, A Growing State of Right Relationship, A Perfection, An Establishing Experience, The Component of Love, The Social Component, The World Mission Interest, and Its Otherworldliness.”
Let me highlight one sentence from Article Ten of the Manual: “It is wrought by the baptism with or infilling of the Holy Spirit and comprehends in one experience the cleansing of the heart from sin and the abiding, indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, empowering the believer for life and service.”
Again, let me reference Dr. Grider in his work, A Wesleyan Holiness Theology, page 388: “An Empowerment. While the Holiness Movement has stressed the cleansing away of original sin, we have also known that power, as well as purity is associated with the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:8 makes this clear: ‘You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth’” (NASB).
Dr. Grider continues, “The Holiness Movement could well emphasize the aspect of our Pentecost more than it does. And it could well admit that the power means power for witnessing for Christ. It is more than just the power to live a holy life. Jesus Christ sits on the edge of our lips, waiting to be talked about. He will give us the power to tell people, in more or less winsome ways, whose we are, and He will help us as we seek to lead them to Him.”
Our world, North America, especially, is in desperate need of a Holy Spirit-led Holiness revival where anointed preachers fearlessly proclaim the power of the Holy Spirit unleashed to bring transformation at every level—individuals, families, and communities. A revival where the strongholds of the enemy are broken, people are set free to follow Jesus with completely yielded lives, allowing the Holy Spirit to direct them in making an eternal difference. We need the “Baptism with the Holy Spirit” power residing in our pastors, church board members, Sunday School teachers, and every attender of our congregations.
Can you imagine with me a mighty host of Spirit-filled, completely consecrated, sold out, on fire, children of the Living God, who are seeking to be on mission, following the Holy Spirit’s leadership in sharing His Love and bringing the Good News of the Gospel to those in desperate need of hope, help, and healing?
I don’t know about you, but I want to be part of this kind of Holiness movement—one very close to the heart of God the Father, bringing glory to Jesus the Son, and empowered by the Holy Spirit. I believe it rings true to the promise found in 2 Chronicles: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (7:14, NIV).
My heart cries out for another Great Awakening, another powerful revival, another time in history that our Living God breaks into the fabric of culture in all His transforming life-giving power. May it be so.
“No, Aleck, no! The danger of ruin to Methodism does not lie here. It springs from quite a different quarter. Our preachers, many of them, are fallen. They are not spiritual. They are not alive to God. They are soft, enervated, fearful of shame, toil, hardship… Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen, such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven upon earth.”
- John Wesley—writing at age 87 to Alexander Mather—quoted in Luke Tyerman’s The Life and Times of the Rev. John Wesley, Vol. 3, page 632 (London, 1871).