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The cardinal doctrine of our church is redemption, deliverance from sin through the death and resurrection of Christ. Our distinctive doctrine is entire sanctification, the cleansing of the heart from inbred sin, wrought through the blood of Christ and the power of the Spirit. Our theological position is supported by the character of God, by the content of the Bible, and by the cry of the human heart.
Entire sanctification is the distinguishing doctrine of the holiness churches and they were raised up for the express purpose of proclaiming this hallowed truth. Therefore, when this message is not preached, taught, and experienced we fail our Lord, our forbears, and our generation. When the ministry of a church is silent on any particular doctrine for a generation, that doctrine, in a very large measure, will be lost to the church.
To preserve the doctrine of entire sanctification and the life of holiness, ministers and teachers of the churches must be faithful to proclaim and teach it. The reason many have joined the Church of the Nazarene and supported it, often sacrificially, is to hear this truth expounded.
Dr. W. E. McCumber, in his book entitled Love Conquers All writes: “Against the clear and earnest proclamation of this truth a rising measure of resistance has developed. This prejudice has been rationalized by citing the aberrations of some who preached it and the hypocrisies of some who professed it. Such arguments, however, could be used to justify discreet silence on every cardinal doctrine of the Christian faith.”
He further wrote, “A Nazarene preacher who is silent on the subject needs to ask himself if he maintains that silence because he lacks the experience. A Nazarene layman who is opposed to the preaching of holiness needs to ask himself if his objection rises from an unwillingness to reject the world’s values and subject his whole life to the Lordship of Christ.”
Holiness is the habitat of every Christian. A habitat is the proper climate where one can live, grow and be fruitful. In the beginning God created man and placed him in the Garden of Eden, a holy habitat. Paul tells us in Ephesians 1:4, “according as He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.” It was God’s choice for man long before He created him. However, through disobedience Adam forfeited holiness and was driven from his original habitat.
It was required and even planned that if man rejected his created state that Jesus would condescend to come into the world and through His death on the cross, make provision for his redemption. (Revelation 13:8) He would once again restore him to the lost image and recover him to his appropriate habitat. He fulfilled the oath which He swore to our father Abraham, “That He would grant unto us, that we, being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our life.” (Luke 1:73-75) Thus holiness that is begun in regeneration and made perfect in entire sanctification is the only proper habitat of the Christian living in this world.
If man is faithful unto the end his final habitat in glory will be a holy heaven. Heaven will indeed be a holy place. John writes, “there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Revelation 21:27)
I recall hearing John Church, evangelist in the Methodist church, preaching on holiness many years ago. He said that he could never understand why anyone who is not interested in living holy in this world would ever be interested in going to heaven after they die. After all, he said, heaven is a holy place where sitting on His throne is the thrice Holy God. All the holy angels along with all the holy saints of all the ages will be singing, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts.” He said that if they did not have a change of heart down here they would climb the walls to get out up there.
Notice once again that holiness is the only proper habitat for man who was created in the image and likeness of his Creator. In the past it existed in the Garden of Eden as a principle before any of the other parts of the Christian system were necessaryfollowing the fall in the Garden. (Parts such as: conviction, repentance, renunciation, consecration, crucifixion, and faith.) At present it far eclipses all other experiences of the soul. In the future it is the only part of the system that will carry us beyond the tomb. In heaven there will be no need of the various parts of God’s redemptive scheme but, “without holiness no man shall see the Lord.”
That is why, we who are called to herald this great truth, must be faithful to the men and women that He has put under our charge. Ours is not only to preach the Gospel to sinful men and women that they be saved but to also preach the message of holiness to the believer that they might be entirely sanctified. There is a double efficacy in the blood:
1. “God so loved the WORLD that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
2. “Christ also loved the CHURCH, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5: 25-27)
We might just as well expect the WORLD to be saved without the preaching of the Gospel as to expect the CHURCH to be sanctified wholly without the preaching of holiness.
The experience and ethics of holiness in this world is to prepare us for the climate of heaven in the next world. Holiness is heaven begun below. Sanctification is a fore-gleam of glorification which enables us to receive a bit of heaven’s environment in our hearts down here so that we won’t have to get used to it when we get up there. Let us be faithful to proclaim this great truth far and wide without fear or favor of man’s opinion.
There’s a blessed and triumphant song:
It is sung by the mighty blood-washed throng:
Holiness forevermore! Holiness forevermore!
We will sing it, shout it, preach it, and live it: