One of the miracles of our salvation is that God makes us into his very own home. Most of us would pass on such lousy building material. But God, being the master builder he is, lays Christ the cornerstone and then transforms rotten lumber into a holy temple.
Ephesians 2:22 speaks of this wonder, “In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” God sanctifies individuals and He sanctifies churches. But how does He grow churches in holiness? The question is an important one; there is a lot on the line. The 1689 Baptist Confession says, “The purest churches under heaven are subject to mixture and error. Some have degenerated so much that they have ceased to be churches of Christ and have become synagogues of Satan” (2LBC 26.3). How might churches avoid such degeneration and welcome the refining work of a holy God? Here are three principles for how local churches can grow in holiness:
- Churches do well to remember they have been called for the purpose of holiness. God’s effectual call of the elect must serve as the foundation for the church’s pursuit of holiness. Jesus says in John 10:16, “I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” With this call, God works grace in his people as “He takes away their heart of stone and gives them a heart of flesh. He renews their wills and by His almighty power turns them to good and effectually draws them to Jesus Christ” (2LBC 10:1). If a church neglects this call, or even downplays it in the teaching ministry of the church, then that church will be liable to fall into ditch-despair on one side or ditch-pride on the other as they walk sanctification’s path. How wise our 17th century Baptist brothers were to include this line regarding the church in their confession: “They are called so that they will live before Him in all the ways of obedience that He prescribes for them in His Word” (2LBC 26:5).
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SOURCE: Founders Ministries