Tuesday, February 19, 2013

got holiness?

There has been much debate and discussion over the years, and even recently about the need for holiness in the life of the believer.  Christianity Today recently ran an article titled “Do American Christians Need the Message of Grace or a call to Holiness?”  Those on the holiness side of the debate feel that without holiness, we get “cheap grace” (I would argue that there is no such thing, only cheap law).  Dietrich Bonhoeffer spoke of "grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate."

There are varying definitions of holiness, but it is generally understood to mean perfection or flawlessness.  The religious definition many times is; “set apart” or “set apart for God.”   Since God himself is described as Holy, I don’t understand how the word can mean “set apart for God.”

The Greek word for holy is hagios.  The definition according to Strong’s concordance is;
“sacred (phys. pure, mor. blameless or religious, cer. consecrated), (most) holy (one, thing), saint.”

Saint?  Meaning those of our Catholic brothers who have passed the test of the miraculous and passed on?  Let’s see.

Look for the uses of the word saint in the New Testament.   There are 63.  And every one of them refers to the seemingly ordinary believer.  Just a few examples;

Acts 9:32
Now as Peter went here and there among them all, he went down also to the saints who lived at Lydda.

Romans 1:7
To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 15:25
But now I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints.

1 Corinthians 1:2
To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

2 Corinthians 1:1
[ Greeting ] Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in all Achaia

Ephesians 2:19
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,

Ephesians 4:12
for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,

Colossians 1:2
To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I think it is clear that when the Bible speaks of saints, it is referring to the follower of Jesus.  As the Amplified Bible describes saints; God’s people.

But wait.  There's more!
Check this out -
The Greek word for saints is also hagios.  
The exact same word that is used for holy is the word used for saint!

So when Paul is addressing a letter to the saints in Corinth, he is calling them holy.  He is calling us holy.  This is confirmed in other verses;

Hebrews 10:10
And in accordance with this will [of God], we have been made holy (consecrated and sanctified) through the offering made once for all of the body of Jesus Christ (the Anointed One). 

1 Corinthians 1:2
To the church (assembly) of God which is in Corinth, to those consecrated and purified and made holy in Christ Jesus, [who are] selected and called to be saints (God’s people), together with all those who in any place call upon and give honor to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:

Colossians 1:22
Yet now has [Christ, the Messiah] reconciled [you to God] in the body of His flesh through death, in order to present you holy and faultless and irreproachable in His [the Father’s] presence.

Acts 10:15
Again a voice came to him a second time, 'What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.'

We don’t need a call to holiness.  We don’t need more self-effort to become holy.  Our holiness is imputed to us just as our righteousness is.  Let us not be sin conscious, let us be cross conscious.

Jesus has made us hagios.

Monday, January 14, 2013


“What is church?”
The premise of the question is incorrect.  It assumes that church is a “what”.  
We will see from scripture that in reality the church is a “who”.  The question then is;
Who is the church?

Let’s look at the root word used in scripture for church;
Hebrew: qahal, 'edah;  Greek: ekklesia -
It means - The people of God; the collective body of believers

The word "church" as rendered in the New Testament comes from the Greek term ekklesia which is formed from two Greek words meaning "an assembly" and "to call out" or "called out ones." In summary, the New Testament church is a body of believers who have been called out from the world by God to live as his people under the authority of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23).

Many people today understand the church as a building. This is not a biblical understanding of the church. The word “church” comes from the Greek word ekklesia which is defined as “an assembly” or “called-out ones.” The root meaning of “church” is not that of a building, but of people. It is ironic that when you ask people what church they attend, they usually identify a building. Romans 16:5 says “… greet the church that is in their house.” Paul refers to the church in their house—not a church building, but a body of believers.

Although no physical building can contain the awesome Creator God, the temple in Jerusalem was called the “house of God” under the old covenant. Even today, it is commonplace to refer to a church building as “the house of God.” But this is not biblically accurate because God’s people, under the new covenant, are now His temple and His house. As Paul wrote, “you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:22).
We often misrepresent Scripture unintentionally. Consider the following dialog from one believer to another:
“Where do you go to church?”
“Faith Community, down on the corner.”
“Oh, the little white one? I love the gardens out front.”
“Yeah, it could really use a new paint job, though.”
Both people are talking about a building rather than the people who gather there. Although this terminology is commonly accepted, we should be careful when using it because the Greek word translated as church (ekklesia) refers to believers, not a building.

Church is not a place.
Let’s look at several verses of scripture;

Acts 7
48 However, the Most High does not dwell in houses and temples made with hands; as the prophet says,
49 Heaven [is] My throne, and earth the footstool for My feet. What [kind of] house can you build for Me, says the Lord, or what is the place in which I can rest?

Acts 17 24 The God Who produced and formed the world and all things in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in handmade shrines.

1 John 4 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.

1 Corinthians 6 19 Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God?

1 John 3
24 And by this we know and understand and have the proof that He [really] lives and makes His home in us: by the [Holy] Spirit Whom He has given us.

Gal 2
20 it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me

Ephesians 2
22 In Him [and in fellowship with one another] you yourselves also are being built up [into this structure] with the rest, to form a fixed abode (dwelling place) of God in (by, through) the Spirit.

I think it is clear that God doesn’t dwell in buildings made by man.

“Don’t you realize that the most powerful thing about the gospel is that it liberates us from the concept that God dwells in any building? For a people steeped in the rites of temple worship this was either great or terrible news. His followers thought it was great. No longer did they have to think of God as cloaked in the recesses of the temple, available only to special people at select times.”
I detected sadness in his voice and stood silent a moment.
“So then, Jake, if it isn’t this building, where is God’s house?”
“We are.” I shook my head at how stupid that sign looked to me now. I wonder if John knew it had been my idea to begin with. I certainly was not going to tell him.
“Then how can anyone go to themselves?” He sighed with frustration. “Do you remember what Stephen said right before they picked up stones to kill him?” ‘The Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands.’ That’s when they turned on him. It reminded them of Jesus’ challenge to destroy the temple and he would rebuild it in three days. People can get very touchy about their buildings, especially if they think God dwells in them.”   - Jake’s Story, Jake Colsen

It is also clear that God lives within the believer. 

You and I ARE the church.

If the Holy Spirit lives within me (and He does), how can I not connect with God?

Genesis 28 gives an account of Jacob seeing the ladder where angels were ascending and descending, and he heard from God. 

Gen 28  
18 And Jacob rose early in the morning and took the stone he had put under his head, and he set it up for a pillar (a monument to the vision in his dream), and he poured oil on its top [in dedication].
19 And he named that place Bethel [the house of God]

Jacob poured oil (symbolizing the Holy Spirit) on a stone that he set up as a monument to the place where he met with God.  The anointed stone symbolized the house of God.
It also symbolized you and I …

1 Pt 2
 And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple.

We are living stones, living houses of God!

“Every believer is a living stone in the spiritual house of God. He lives in us! Stop and consider how incredible this is—the infinite God of the universe has chosen to make His home in your heart. This is even more amazing when we think about the words of Solomon: “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27).”

Church is not a connection.
Church is not a conversation.
Church is not a commitment.
Church is not the “house of God.”
And if you are struggling you better go to Jesus.

“Church isn’t where you meet.
Church isn’t a building.
Church is what you do. Church is who you are.
Church is the human outworking of the person of Jesus Christ.
Let’s not go to Church, let’s be the Church.“
- Bridget Willard