I’ve had an interesting day. Been having an interesting email discussion with a very prominant UK savationist leader (who shall remain nameless).
Basic just of the discussion: does the love of God negate the necessity of preaching holiness as part of the gospel?
My answer is no…you can’t preach the love of God without talking about repentance, faith and holiness. I think article 9 and article 10 are key biblical doctrines that need to be upheld to the extent that I was willing to covenant my life to teaching them when I signed my officers covenant almost two years ago. To say that the Christian will inevitably sin it to empty the cross of its power and the Spirit of His keeping power. When we do sin, it messes our holiness rather than our salvation, but continuance to remain in sin will inevitably lead to an aversion to Jesus and a dampening of our conscience to the Spirit which may ultimatly result in lost salvation.
The leaders answer…God’s love combined with our free will IS, in a way, a license to sin. God doesn’t remove our free will. Its better to assure people of God’s love so that when they do sin they won’t fear coming back to God. Of course, we shouldn’t encourage people to sin, but the liklihood is that that they will. Anyway…The Salvation Army’s take on salvation needs updated for the 21st century because the once saved always saved versus obedient faith discussion is in need of modern development. Our sin doesn’t affect God, only us. He is still interested in saving us afterall. God hasn’t stopped him sinning since he became a Christian.
Now, I hope I have done that leaders position justice. Its the overall jist of what he is saying.
There is plenty of nice logic in his position but it fails to grasp God’s hatred of sin, the power of the Spirit to keep us and the commitment and exhortation to living as holy people. It forgets that we are a movement that has long testified that the Spirit can sanctify us and that we CAN be kept blameless until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thess 5). It also fails to address the issue of the will becoming a slave to Christ and the continued battle we are in to subjugate our will to the Lordship of Christ.
Now, sadly I can’t testify that I’ve never sinned since coming to Christ, but I can testify that I’ve gone at least a day without sin by keeping in step with the Spirit. Our co-operation with the Spirit makes holiness possible in us.
This discussion is flying around in lots of places at the moment mainly because I’ve started throwing our holiness doctrine about a bit to whet some appetites for more. It seems to be working. I’m thankful that I’ll be able to teach our strong biblical position on holiness. Nevertheless, we witness the erosion of a precious teaching which is key to life itself.