A Call to the Conservative Holiness Movement

by the President and Faculty of the Division of Ministerial Education,

God’s Bible School and College, Cincinnati, Ohio

INTRODUCTION. Deeply concerned for the future of the Holiness Movement, and especially of the Conservative Holiness Movement of which we are a part, we issue this call for the full and vigorous recovery of our heritage as Christians of Wesleyan conviction. We share the distress of those who warn of “historical drift,” spiritual apathy, and surrender to the depraved secular culture that surrounds us. We submit that a renewed commitment to the essential principles of scriptural Christianity which we have received in classical Methodist belief, piety, and mission will prepare and strengthen us for the challenges that confront us. We appeal, therefore, to our entire movement to unite with us joyfully in this commitment, pledging uncompromising faithfulness to God’s Word and to creative relevance in our ministry. Upon the original foundations of our movement, therefore, we must build determined, effective, and contemporary witness to God’s unchanging summons to holy hearts and holy lives.

Implicit in this recovery are the following specific themes:

A CALL TO BIBLICAL FIDELITY

As Wesleyans we affirm that the Holy Scriptures, as the inspired and inerrant Word of God, are the basis of authority in the Church, normative for all our faith and practice. We declare with the English Reformers, “Holy Scripture contains everything that is necessary for salvation, so that whatever is not stated in it, or cannot be proved by it, must not be required of any man as an article of belief or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.”

Yet we have often focused on issues and made demands which we cannot legitimately establish from the Scriptures. As a result, trivial notions and speculations at times have marred our witness. We call, therefore, for renewed submission to the absolute authority of the Bible, not as a revered icon, but as the touchstone for both our personal lives and our public proclamation. For in every age, the Church must submit itself unconditionally to the Word of God, interpreting it in harmony with itself, in keeping with the best insights of historical and literary study, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and with respect for the historic understanding of devout Christian scholarship.

A CALL TO HISTORIC ROOTS AND CONTINUITY

 We gladly affirm our allegiance to the classical Christianity of the centuries, confessing its faith, sharing its historic witness, living out its godly discipline, and claiming all of its treasures as our own. We give God praise for our legacy of evangelical Christianity magnificently set forth in the heroic lives of ancient Christians, the faithful witnesses of the Middle Ages, the stalwart testimony of the Reformers, the biblical proclamation of the Wesleys, and the earnest piety of the early Holiness Movement. We rejoice in the lives and ministry of earnest followers of Our Lord from every branch of orthodox Christianity.

But too often we have smugly disconnected ourselves from our Christian past; and in so doing we have become theologically shallow, spiritually weak, and blind to the work of God in the lives of others. We have withdrawn ourselves into protected enclaves, congratulating ourselves on our superiority over other Christians, sometimes refusing fellowship with them because of our disagreement in doctrine or in practice, and ignoring the continuing work of the Holy Spirit throughout all the universal Church. At best, this is lamentable ignorance, and at worst, sectarian bigotry. We call therefore, with John Wesley, for a “league offensive and defensive with every soldier of Christ,” reclaiming the richness of our Christian heritage and our essential unity with all who truly confess Him as Lord.

III. A CALL TO CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY

Union with Christ establishes membership in His Church, the community of the faithful, in all times and places. It is founded by Our Lord and established upon Himself, and we claim His infallible promise that the gates of hell shall never withstand it. As we live out our faithfulness to Him, we must also live in faithfulness to the Church, which is His body and bride, living and dying in its communion. We affirm the traditional Protestant insistence that the visible Church is the congregation of the faithful in which the “pure Word of God is preached and the sacraments duly administered according to Christ’s ordinance.”

Too often, however, we have adopted a narrow and individualistic approach to our Christian Faith. Sometimes we have so emphasized personal spiritual relationship that we have forgotten that relationship must be realized, strengthened, and advanced within the company of God’s people. At other times, we have imagined that we were the Church, or at least that the Holiness Movement was its most significant component rather than only a tiny segment of its fellowship. We call, therefore, for renewed understanding of the biblical doctrine of the Church as “the pillar and ground of the truth,” reverence for its orthodox confessions, submission to its holy discipline, and faithfulness to its common life. As a coalition of holiness believers within its communion, we gladly but humbly offer our gifts to the universal Church—gifts which center in our historic focus on holiness of heart and life.

A CALL TO CHRISTIAN HOLINESS

Holiness of heart and life flowing out of love for God, as we believe, is the “central idea of Christianity,” for this is God’s redemptive purpose for our fallen humanity. Holiness is both His gift and our pursuit, and as the writer to Hebrews reminds us, without it none of us shall ever see the Lord. Negatively, holiness is separation from all that is sinful and unlike Chris; and positively, separation unto godliness, righteousness, and full Christlikeness. It begins in regeneration by the Spirit, flourishes in the work of entire sanctification, and advances throughout our lives. As Wesleyans, we reassert the biblical passion of our forebears “to reform the continent and spread scriptural holiness over these lands.”

We confess, however, that our passion for holiness of heart and life has sometimes been reduced merely to external codes and prohibitions, and “holier-than-thou” attitudes toward those who differ from us. As such we have become shell without substance, and betrayed the Scriptural mandate to be holy, because the Lord our God is holy. We therefore call our movement to a renewed love for God from which will blossom consistent and winsome lives of holiness, first in motivating purpose, and second, in outward conduct. This means that we must continue to accentuate both of the definitive moments we identify as works of divine grace, conversion and entire sanctification, all the while giving proper attention to the progressive growth in grace by the Spirit and the increasing separation from the world which our Methodist forebears so firmly stressed.

A CALL TO METHODIST PIETY

Our Methodist heritage has underscored the necessity of devout personal piety grounded in sincere love and profound reverence for God. This implies binding and lifelong covenant with Him, living faith in Christ our great sin-bearer, allegiance to the inner principle of “jealous godly fear,” commitment to disciplined discipleship, faithful obedience to His holy Law, dynamic growth in grace, and faithful use of the means of grace. All holiness of heart and life must be grounded in sober and steadfast love for God.

Sometimes, however, our emphasis on external regulation and dutiful performance has ignored the principles of authentic piety. Our appeals to holy conduct, which are both legitimate and necessary, have often been based more in the impulse to preserve the taboos of our religious subculture than in allegiance to the Word of God and its demands. The heart of all Christian obligation is loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and then “to fear Him and keep His commandments.” Not only are we called to do what is right but also to love what is right, for this reason abstaining from all that He condemns and embracing all that He enjoins. We will never stop the “historical drift” among us merely by enforcing traditional legislation but by vigorous and renewed insistence upon authentic relationship with God and passionate pursuit of Him. Gladly we reaffirm our traditional emphasis upon simplicity, modesty, stewardship, separation from the world, and conscientious lifestyle, but all this must be within this warm and gracious context of loving what God loves and hating what God hates.

As Methodists, therefore, we call our movement to return to our originating commitment to principled covenant with God, which, according to the General Rules of 1743, demanded these commitments: (1) the renunciation of all known sin; (2) the embracing of all positive virtue, and (3) the faithful practice of the means of grace, especially “the instituted means of grace,” defined as the Word, prayer, fasting, Christian fellowship, and the Lord’s Supper. This demands disciplined life within the community of the Church, a renewing of our historic pattern of spiritual formation through small accountability groups, such as the class meeting, and faithful submission to healthy and holy discipline, while at the same time we are altogether dependent upon the gracious work of the Spirit who changes us “from glory to glory” into the likeness of Our Lord.

A CALL TO AUTHORITY IN THE CHURCH

Christ Our Lord has delegated the powers of government to duly-appointed officers in the Church, and we are mandated to obey them faithfully. All Christians are to be in practical submission to one another and to these designated officials in the Church. The edifying and equipping of God’s people and the administration of church discipline are committed especially to faithful pastors who are called not as “lords over God’s heritage,” but as examples and as shepherds of His flock.

We therefore deplore the spirit of autonomy and even anarchy which so often has marked our movement. Too often in our congregations and denominational life we have exhibited rebellion against the authority structures which God Himself has established, boasting our independence of them, and refusing to submit to their godly discipline. This has been evidenced by continuing divisions among us, often over matters unconnected with allegiance to Scriptural truth. As the heirs of classical Christianity, we have not so learned Christ. “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable to you” (Heb. 13:17).

We call therefore for renewed exposition of the Scriptural qualifications for leadership within the Church, corporate exhortation to beware the deceitfulness of sin, and biblical obedience and submission to those whom God has made under-shepherds over us. God grants no Christian autonomy from mutual submission and accountability within the Body of Christ. We must therefore repent of our oft refusals to exercise the Scriptural means of restorative discipline within the Church and commit ourselves to loving one another even as our Father loves us in chastening and scourging every son whom He receives.

VII. A CALL TO CORPORATE WORSHIP

Corporate worship is the exalted glory and central pulse of every Christian congregation. At its core, worship is the adoration of God, Holy, Blessed, and Undivided Trinity, and by apostolic mandate, it is to be conducted with decency and order. In the public worship of the Church, as the old Methodist communion service reminds us, we join “angels and archangels and all the company of heaven [to] laud and magnify” the Lord of hosts, joining in their eternal hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts, Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory.”

As Wesleyans we have a two-fold heritage in Christian worship. On the one hand is the warmth and earnestness of fervent and joyful devotion. On the other is the sober restraint of form, dignity, and tradition. Both are essential. Too often, however, we have emphasized the first and neglected the second. We need not neglect the subjective emphasis so characteristic of our services, but we must ground our sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving in the great objective acts and truths of God Himself.

We call therefore for the renewal of our corporate worship, based in the mandates of Scripture and in the tradition of evangelical orthodoxy, centered in the faithful ministry of Word and Sacrament. Our preaching must be based in conscientious interpretation and earnest proclamation of the Holy Scriptures, and our administration of the sacred ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper must be meaningful and faithful. We lament our neglect of baptism and the Lord’s Table, for this is to slight the Saviour who so kindly has established them to fortify our faith, calm our fears, and nourish us with grace.

VIII. A CALL TO CONSISTENT DISCIPLESHIP

Christ commissioned His followers to make disciples through Trinitarian baptism and instruction in all His commands. The early church responded to Our Lord’s call to aggressive evangelism by taking the gospel to every corner of their world. Yet they realized that the central thrust of the Great Commission was discipleship accomplished through baptism and teaching, so they largely invested their time and energy in systematically teaching new converts the whole counsel of God and equipping them for ministry. This same emphasis elevated Wesleyan Methodism to towering stature in the kingdom of God, while without it Whitefieldian Methodism proved “a rope of sand.” We confess that, despite our heritage, evangelism has languished among us. We have largely abandoned our Methodist system of spiritual formation and forgotten how to fulfill our Lord’s command to make disciples. We have sought revival without preparing to preserve its fruits. We have emphasized spectacular conversions and neglected the biblical necessity of disciplined growth in faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. We further acknowledge that where evangelism is taking place among us, a systematic plan for incorporating new converts into the visible Body of Christ through baptism and instruction is largely non-existent.

We call, therefore, not merely for a reaffirmation of the importance of evangelism and discipleship, but for a commitment to equip our laity for the work of the ministry, for the establishment of solidly Wesleyan curricula for systematic discipleship, and for the implementation of these training methods in all our churches. This will necessitate a concerted effort on the part of our leaders to reclaim the skills of discipleship, reinstitute regular systems of accountability and affirmation, and to resume obedience to Scripture’s mandate to teach faithful men who shall be able to teach others also. We shall begin again to bear much fruit when our disciples themselves become disciple-makers.

A CALL TO CHRISTIAN SOCIAL WITNESS

Our Lord’s call to take up the cross and follow Him is a call to Christian social witness, for everywhere the Master went He ministered to both the spiritual and physical needs of people. We have been created in Christ Jesus for good works (Eph. 2:10), indeed, saving faith works through love (Gal. 5:6), first in meeting the needs of fellow believers, and second in doing good to all men. Love for Our Lord and passion for holiness should impel us to minister compassionately to the sick, the suffering, and the forsaken, and to resist courageously societal structures that oppose divine purpose and degrade human dignity. “Whenever the Christian lives an authentic life, the world around is permeated with God’s presence…,” as Dr. Leon Hynson has written. “[He] raises the quality of life, makes social justice, equity, and integrity work. The pure in heart not only ‘see’ God, but become the letters through which society sees Him.”

Unfortunately, we have sometimes withdrawn from that society into the cloistered walls of a narrow and narcissistic piety. But this was not the pattern of our spiritual forebears who raised Christian consciousness in all the forums of public life and who filled their land with works of grace and mercy. Their stated mission, “to reform the continent and spread scriptural holiness over these lands,” asserted God’s sanctifying purpose to transform lives and in consequence to transform culture.

We call therefore for renewed commitment to Christian social witness. This means that we will lovingly and forcefully proclaim Christ’s power to liberate from sin, both public and private, asserting the claims of His Kingdom against all that militates against it. This commitment will also lead us to minister compassionately in His name to the imprisoned, the needy, and the oppressed.

A CALL TO RESURGENT HOPE

All Christian life is centered in the resplendent hope that we have through Christ’s victory accomplished in His incarnation, atoning death, and resurrection. The sure and certain anchor of the soul, this hope has given gladness and assurance to faithful believers all throughout the centuries of the Church’s struggle with the forces of entrenched evil. It assures us of present victory in our personal lives and corporate ministry, but it also points to the final triumph when every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Never have we so needed a renewed sense of the hope that we have in Him. We know the power and devastation of sin, and we acknowledge the increasing degradation of our culture. We are Wesleyans, however; and as our theologians have said, the keynote of our theology is not the “pessimism of [fallen] nature” but the “optimism of grace.” We therefore call our movement to the joyous expectation of victory which so motivated our spiritual forebears to claim the American frontier for Jesus Christ. We cannot cower before the darkness, paralyzed by “the encircling gloom” which continually we must confront. “But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” The same power which brought the Roman Empire to bow before the cross, renewed the Church in the days of the Protestant Reformation, and reshaped the culture in the Wesleyan Revival is also ours as we encounter the moral depravity and sneering secularism of our times. Let us be joyfully faithful, then, creatively relevant, and utterly confident that Jesus’ victory is our own. With gladness we do the work which He has given us, even as we await the consummation when all the earth shall echo with the song of conquest, “Alleluia! The Lord God Omnipotent reigns!”

 

High Places

Mention the name “High Place” and God reaches into His vocabulary and uses a word that expresses His most severe moral disgust – “abomination.” Mentioned over a 100 times in the Bible, the high places were originally centers for Canaanite idol worship. Located on mountain tops or elevated pieces of ground (hence the name high place), some of the most detestable things imaginable took place in the worship of false gods. Even before the children of Israel crossed the Jordan into Canaan, Moses commanded them to demolish all the Canaanite high places … “or they shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell” (Numbers 33:52, 55). Yet despite Joshua’s passionate destruction of such places, these pagan worship centers continued to plague the nation of Israel (Judges 2:12-13, 17; 1 Kings 14:22-24).
Tragically, it was Israel’s leaders who allowed worship on the high places to continue. King Solomon actually built high places for gods such as Ashtoreth, Milcom, and Chemosh (1 Kings 11:6-7). King Jeroboam established high places in Bethel and Dan so the northern tribes would not travel to Jerusalem to worship the true God (1 Kings 12:25-33). In their time each leader in Israel and Judah had to decide what he would do with the high places. When a good King would come to power, he would rid the land of idols and demolish the high places (II Kings 18:4; 23:4-20). Evil Kings, like Ahaz and Manasseh, would give full support to the high places and even offer sacrifices on them (II Kings 16:4; 21:1-3).
Over time the scriptural record notes that even among the good Kings “the high places were not taken away” (I Kings 15:14; 22:43; II Kings 12:3; 14:4; 15:4; 35). The surrounding cultural pressure to be like the other nations was so strong that most of Israel just “winked” at the remaining high places. Eventually, these high places became so entrenched in Israel’s culture that they seemed normal. They were so common, so ordinary, so much in keeping with the way things were, that even the best of Kings did not think to remove them. So the old high places that were an abomination to God became the “new norm” for the nation Israel.
Is there a lesson here for today’s Church? Have we accepted things into our lives (the way we behave and think) and into our culture (the values that we embrace) that at one time were considered an abomination to God? Are there issues we have grown so weary of opposing that we have simply yielded to the surrounding culture and subtly accepted them as the “new norm”? I believe the answer is yes and I believe these things are our “high places”.

“Sensuality” is one of our High Places
If we could transport Christians from the past into our present day, I think the thing that would surprise them most is how much at home we are and how tolerant we have become with the pervasive sensuality of our culture. Sexual perversion is not new to the Church. To be certain the church has always had to fight against sexual sin. It is on every list of vices in the Bible. It heads the list of things the Apostle Paul says are not fitting for a Christian. Yet today, mainline denominations are on the fast-track of accepting, even celebrating, homosexuality, same sex marriage and all other manner of sexual perversion. Even though most evangelical Christians still oppose these more blatant sins, they are far too accepting and tolerant of the sexual crudeness, vulgarity and carelessness of today’s world. Even worse, many entertain themselves with movies, television programing and novels that celebrate homosexuality, marital infidelity, fornication and nudity while often mocking purity and abstinence. This has become so common, so ordinary, so much in keeping with the way things are, that many Christians have ceased to cry against it. This has become the new norm!
One of the most visible indicators of the churches acceptance of this “new norm” is the immodest dress of America’s Christians. Actually the two are tied closely together. Whenever a sense of modesty is lacking, human sexually becomes fatally trivialized. And when human sexuality is reduced to consumer merchandise, the display of the body becomes the main billboard to advertise its sexual value. Even though the problem of immodest attire is widely acknowledged, few church leaders (men or women) offer guidance and biblical instruction. Their fear of becoming legalistic or offensive keeps them silent while the voice of a fallen world has no such inhibitions. This is one of our high places.

“Spiritual Mediocrity” is another High Place
With the proliferation of electronic media the average Christian has available to him more preaching and teaching – more information about the Bible and Christian living than ever before in the history of the world. We are clearly the most informed Christians that have ever lived! Yet one leading American pastor was forced to ask himself, “Why is today’s church so weak? Why can we claim more people with more conversions but have less and less impact on the surrounding culture? Why are our Christians indistinguishable from the world?” Dallas Willard’s response to this dilemma is interesting. He claims that it is not in spite of what the church is teaching but precisely because of it! He goes on to say that the church has pitched its message too low! It has offered a form of “miserable sinner” Christianity that tells believers we are but miserable sinners and that moral failure is expected. Hence we offer a gospel of “sin management” where the essence of the gospel is simply the forgiveness of sins – a message that neither offers nor expects any real transformation of life and character. As a management expert would say, “This system is designed to yield the results it is getting.”
This low level of spiritual living has become so common, so ordinary, so much in keeping with the way things are, that many Christians have ceased to expect anything else. This has become the new norm! But you can be assured of one thing; this is not the true gospel! The gospel not only offers the forgiveness of my sin but the real transformation of the heart! It clearly teaches that through the power of the Holy Spirit and the abundances of God’s grace we can live in full obedience to the commands of Jesus – “not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (I Cor. 15:10).

“Worldliness” is a High Place
I am using the term “worldliness” in the Biblical sense as to how people “think” and subsequently “behave” (Rom. 8:5-7; 12:2) The word for world (kosmos) means an order or an arrangement of things. Hence we can define the world as “Human ability organized historically and socially into a system where humans use natural ability (their own resources) to achieve what they want and to promote what they value, a great deal of which is in active hostility to God.” The Bible defines “living in the flesh” in much the same way. When the New Testament speaks of those who live in the flesh it speaks of those whose lives are oriented around themselves and who know only their own resources. A “man of the world” or someone who “lives in the flesh” is someone who thinks and acts from a point of view that leaves God out of the equation. To them the only reality is the temporal – what they see, touch and know.
True Christian living is the antithesis of this. Christians place the eternal over the temporal. They live from an alternate reality. Their life is drawn from divine resources. This way of living is in significant contrast to the world and has two major implications for the Christian. First, he thinks differently than the world thinks! His thinking is not limited to the confines of mere human understanding. He doesn’t determine his course of action by what Godless men say, no matter how brilliant it sounds (Psa.1:1). Second, he behaves differently than those who are of this world. He doesn’t seek after the “the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes” nor is he controlled by the “pride of life.” To him the world is “passing away” and lacks permanence. Hence he “sets his affection on things above” and “stores up treasure in heaven.” This makes his life recognizably different; distinctly unique from everybody who is not a Christian (Matt. 5:47). He is in the world but not of the world.
The only problem here is that the description I just wrote of the Biblical Christian is not recognizable, much less acceptable, to the average Christian today! Our obsession with the material, our addiction to more, our love of the good life and our captivation with this modern day Sodom hardly receives a slap on the hand by even the most radical of prophets. Worldliness has become so common, so ordinary, so much in keeping with the way things are, that many Christians have ceased to it see as a problem. This has become the new norm!
The high places of our lives may be varied and unique but they are all equally despised by God. We may have changed the words we use for them but God still uses that same old word from long ago – abomination!

A Tribute to Wingrove Taylor

This past May, the Board of Trustees of God’s Bible School and College gave a sad farewell to its longest serving member Dr. A. Wingrove Taylor. At age 92, Dr. Taylor felt that he did not have the physical strength necessary to continue his role as a Trustee – a role that he filled with distinction for 44 years.   His interaction with the board was always professional, his contributions profound and his influence powerful. No man alive, who has not actually been an employee of the school, has had more impact on the life of this institution than Wingrove Taylor.

The Taylor connection to GBS began in 1905 with the arrival to campus of Irene Blyden (Dr. Taylor’s mother).   She was from the Caribbean Island of Sabba. It was at GBS that she met another student from the Caribbean Island of St. Kitts, Richard Taylor, who came to GBS to prepare for the ministry. Some years later they married and gave a lifetime of service to the development and expansion of the Pilgrim Holiness Church on the Caribbean Island of Nevis.

Wingrove came to GBS in 1948. He enrolled in the Christian Workers Course but eventually moved to the college where he completed two diplomas in music, a ThB degree and a BA degree. He graduated with honors in 1953. He returned to the Caribbean where he gave 41 years of service as a pastor, District Superintendent, College President, Field Superintendent and finally as the General Superintendent of the Wesleyan Holiness Church of the Caribbean. Dr. Taylor served as an annual camp evangelist for the GBS Camp meeting for almost 40 years.

Dr. Taylor had a remarkable influence on thousands of GBS Alumni and friends through his pulpit ministry and personal counsel. His influence on me personally was profound. Immediately after I became President Elect in December of 1994, he asked me to accompany him to the “old” men’s prayer room. We sat down in a couple of chairs and he talked to me about the value of prayer in the life of a leader and then prayed for me. In the following 20 years, I have turned to him again and again for wisdom and advice.

Dr. Taylor was gifted in so many ways. He was a musician, singer, scholar, author, preacher and administrator. He was peerless; he was fearless; he was orderly (he once told me that next to his Bible Roberts Rules or Order was his most treasured book); he was saintly; he was professional; he was careful; he was logical; he was Biblical; he was sensitive; he was sensible; he was authentic. However, the greatest gift he has given to me and to all who know him, is not what he has done in ministry, but what he has become while doing ministry.

The people I have put on a pedestal and felt they were worthy of emulation have been very few indeed, but Wingrove Taylor is one of them!

Ain’t Anybody Gonna Cry?

Healthy Christians have an appropriate balance of up-reach (worship), in-reach (spiritual formation) and outreach (evangelism). If we lack any one of the three we lack the kind of spiritual health taught in scripture. If we fail to give proper attention to any one of them, it will create a deficit or imbalance in the other two. We need the vigorous engagement of all three to be all that God wants us to be. With that in mind, I want to focus on the one that troubles my spirit and prompts this article – outreach.

God wants to work through you and me to reach a lost world. It is one of the primary roles we fill as Christians. It is true that we were made to enjoy an intimate relationship with the triune God but it is a working relationship! Just as Jesus was sent by His Father into the world on redemptive business, so we are being sent by Jesus to work in the family business – the business of saving lost men. This is our job! It is the primary reason given and illustrated in the book of Acts for the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). He was given to fortify us with the kind of power necessary to testify of Jesus even in the face of death. Yet, while 80 percent of Christians believe they have a duty to share Christ with others; and 75 percent believe they can effectively carry out that duty; over 60 percent make no endeavor to witness to or win the lost. This is appalling! James S. Stewart put it this way, “The threat to Christianity is not atheism, materialism or communism. The greatest threat to Christianity is Christians who are trying to sneak into heaven incognito without ever having shared their faith.”

The obvious question is, “Why do so many Christians make no attempt to be a

channel that the Holy Spirit can use to bring someone to Christ?”

Frankly, there are barriers on both sides of the outreach door. Lost people erect emotional, intellectual and volitional barriers that make it very difficult, and at times impossible, for anyone to penetrate. These can be overcome with relationship building, patience and a willingness to answer objections graciously. Barriers for believers can be numerous but the list I have developed in short and to the point.

Intercession

Dennis Kinlaw notes, “Nothing saving ever originates with us. God takes the initiative in everything that is saving”. Yet this God, who alone can save, has chosen not to work alone. He has called us to work with Him in the saving of souls. One of the jobs He asks us to do is to be intercessors (one who causes to meet). Remarkably, God wants someone who will stand between the lost soul and Himself and be a channel of His grace to that lost person. When is the last time you paid the price of soul travail that allowed you to lift the reluctant hand of a lost friend toward the outstretched hand of a merciful God?

Religious Isolation

In a recent interview, Francis Chan said that as a young Christian in high school he used to cry over his friends when he thought about them spending eternity in hell. The same was true when he worked in a restaurant, he used to cry over the waiters and waitresses and pray, “God you’ve got to save these people”. However, after he began working in the church, he didn’t weep very much over the lost. Chan is being very transparent about what can easily happen to any Christian when they isolate themselves within the community of believers. Unless we interact with lost people there can be no outreach through us. There is no impact without contact. You need to ask yourself the question, “How many sinners do I have a close enough relationship to that the Holy Spirit could effectively use me to reach them for Christ?”  If your answer is none, then you clearly aren’t even trying to reach the lost.

It’s not my job!

Pastors regularly tell their congregations that it is his job to equip the church to do the work of the ministry. Congregations often respond (under their breath) that the pastor and his staff are being “paid” to reach people! The end result is that no one feels like it’s their job! Scripturally, the “going” shoes of the Great Commission fit the feet of all believers – clergy and laity alike!

Indifference

My gut feeling is that most Christians just don’t care. Indifference has robbed us of a broken heart for lost people. It has stolen the passion and commitment to do whatever it takes to be an instrument or the means of someone’s conversion. A well-known pastor shared the story of shaking hands with a group of Sunday school kids when one little boy informed him that he was moving and would never be able to come back to his church. The pastor simply patted the boy on the head and continued shaking hands with the other children. Suddenly, the pastor felt someone tugging on the back of his suit jacket. He turned around and there was the same little boy who had announced he was moving. The boy looked longingly into the eyes of his Pastor and said, “ain’t you even gonna cry?”

Does any lost soul know that you care enough to cry? More importantly, does God know that He can reach a broken world through your broken heart?

Holiness

– March 2012

Holiness

I was sitting in the barber’s chair when my barber, Tony, asked me what I was working on that day.  I told him I was writing.  He asked me what I was writing about.  I told him I was writing on the subject of “holiness.”   He grew very quiet and finally said, “That’s a subject nobody talks about.  Of all the things that get talked about in here I have never heard anybody talk about holiness”.

Tony is right. Purity and moral excellence is certainly not in the top ten lists of today’s societal values.  The media will only talk about it when they have the opportunity to mock a morally decent person as a hypocrite– otherwise the subject is just too boring.  Movies typically cast the morally upright as some “out of touch simpleton” whose attempts to do the right thing are valued only for a few laughs.  Sadly, most people have never heard a sound, scriptural discussion on holy living – not even in church.

The subject of holiness desperately needs to be re-discovered and re-introduced into the culture and values of America.  That process should begin in the church.  The practical presentation of holiness has long since been cast out of the pulpits and publishing houses of the people that made it a household word in America – the Methodists.  Actually, many of the twentieth century holiness groups (descendants of Methodism) have also de-emphasized the message or abandoned it altogether in their quest for respectability and acceptance at the table with mainstream evangelicals.  It is true that Evangelicalism has become the dominant expression of Christianity in America.  But it is also true that the moral and spiritual life of the nation has collapsed while embracing its flimsy offers of cheap grace, the promise of heaven no matter how you live and the disgusting doctrinal conclusions that Christians are just “saved sinners” who are far from “perfect” but are “forgiven” nonetheless. It shouldn’t surprise any of us when surveys show that there is almost no difference at all in the core values between the churched and the unchurched in America!  What is missing?  Holiness!

The Biblical call to holiness leaves no room for Christians who want to coddle sin and live in a state of perpetual immaturity and worldliness.  Not only does scriptural holiness teach that Christians can be liberated from willful sin and empowered to live lives of obedience to Christ; it also teaches that the Christian can be cleansed from the inner propensity to rebellion, selfishness and pride through the work of the Holy Spirit.  A holy life is a life where spiritual and moral character is taking root and being lived out in a sensible, upright and godly way.

This is the message that birthed the Wesleyan Revival, took 19th century America by storm and raised the level of social and moral concern on two continents!  The post-Civil War holiness revival impacted numerous denominations in America and influenced many Christian Leaders outside the Methodist holiness tradition.  Oswald Chambers, a Scottish Baptist, was significantly affected both spiritually and theologically by his association with the American holiness movement.  In his popular devotional My Utmost for His Highest he wrote, “Continually restate to yourself what the purpose of your life is. The destined end of man is not happiness, nor health, but holiness….God has one destined end for mankind, viz., holiness. Never tolerate through sympathy with yourself or with others any practice that is not in keeping with a holy God. Holiness means unsullied walking with the feet, unsullied talking with the tongue, unsullied thinking with the mind – every detail of the life under the scrutiny of God.”

Many in the broader holiness movement today would be embarrassed by Chambers words.  They would see them as extreme, maybe even hypocritical.  However, there is still a clear witness to the historic message of scriptural holiness!  The Francis Asbury Society is a strong voice among Methodists. The mainline holiness groups still have a few scholars, pastors and laity who aren’t ashamed to lift the torch for scriptural holiness. The most welcoming home for the holiness message is among the Conservative Holiness Movement.  They write it in their church disciplines, teach it in their Bible Colleges, preach it in their pulpits, editorialize it in their periodicals, celebrate it in their testimonies, and emphasize it in their conventions.  For the most part, the CHM is strongly committed to the message of holiness.

However, providing the message of scriptural holiness a home and keeping it healthy are not one and the same.   The Call to the Conservative Holiness Movement addresses this in Article V.  The Call points out certain weaknesses that can and will undermine the message.  Let me enumerate some of my own concerns with the CHM’s stewardship of the holiness message.

I am concerned about legalism.  That scriptural holiness has behavioral and lifestyle ramifications cannot be argued: external matters are not unimportant. But when we turn our primary focus away from the heart and onto externals (usually particular standards of dress or modes of behavior) we are in danger of reducing holy virtue to custom and thereby trivializing both.

I am concerned about “works righteousness.”  Holiness people take the formation of moral and spiritual character seriously. However, the balance between God’s work in us and our work in forming holy habits can get out of balance more easily than one might think.  God graciously invites us to work in cooperation with the Holy Spirit through a variety of spiritual disciplines appropriate to our need, but it is always God at work in us. We have nothing that has not been given to us by the Holy Spirit.  All holiness is God’s holiness in us! The temptation to believe that any progress forward is somehow our own doing can be a very real problem.  The tendency to believe that careful obedience to Biblical principles or personal adherence to codes or cultures of lifestyle somehow earns merit or standing with God is a subtle form of pride that must be rooted out. Andrew Murray reminds us that, “There is no pride so dangerous, none so subtle and insidious, as the pride of holiness.”  Deep devotion to Christ and careful attention to righteous living must be motivated by loving obedience or we will fall into the ditch of works righteousness.

I am concerned about perfectionism.  Holy people have not attained a state of “sinless perfection” that renders them incapable of any wrong action. Holiness involves both purity and maturity.  There is still much room for growth in the sanctified life.  Holy habits deepen into fixed patterns of living as we learn to walk in the Spirit.  We can and do make many mistakes.  There may be times when our attitudes or actions are simply wrong. When that happens we should, in good old honest humility, exercise repentance, make amends and learn from our failures. We never learn from failures denied. Only by seeing them, admitting them, and mending them in total meekness will we follow Peter’s admonition to “grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).  This is how holy people respond to failure.  However, perfectionism cuts us off from our essential humanity, forcing us to deny who and what we really are, or to downplay or outright deny what we have done.  When this happens we are simply pretending we are something we are not, and such duplicitous behavior is destructive.   True holiness is not the breeding ground for pretentious behavior or self-righteousness.  Rather it is the womb in which honesty and humility are nurtured.

I am concerned about message drift.  There is a certain amount of tension and balance in which every Biblical truth must be held.  The same is certainly true of the call to holiness.  The balance wheel for holiness is unadulterated love for God and others.  If holiness loses that balance, it will become a crotchety, sterile, loveless way of rules and regulations that values law over love.  One ends up behaving like the Priest who valued unsullied hands for temple service more than helping the wounded Samaritan out of the ditch.  It can also go the other direction and become nothing more than a mental ascent to a positional sanctification that is void of any real sanctity.  The theological concept of being “in Christ” is reduced to nothing more than a convenient semantic cover-up for a life of sin and failure.   I fear both extremes.  Scriptural holiness will not take you down either path.

I am concerned about isolation. The CHM has made valiant attempts to honor the Biblical call to separation from the world but has simply become isolated from the world thereby hiding its candle under a bushel.  The message of holiness needs to be lived out loudly in the market place of life and we are the people to do it!  It needs to be broadcast over the Web, printed in books and argued as the path to true happiness for individuals and families.

My barber is right.  You don’t hear talk about holiness in the barber shops, bakeries or board rooms of America.   But the day will come when “Holiness unto the Lord” will resound throughout the earth and be part of an eternal conversation by those who have “pursued that holiness without which no man will see the Lord.”  I want to be one who promotes the conversation now – don’t you?

 

The Church – A Community of Faith

– Winter 2011

The Church – A Community of Faith

America is blessed with a lot of churches.  Some sit astride prominent street corners proudly displaying their architectural glory while others are tucked away indiscreetly between a used shoe store and a day old bakery in a weary strip mall on the tired side of town.  Some have one word names like “Grace.”  Others have names so long that you can’t say the full name without stopping to breathe. Most have the stereotypical church look, while others resemble something between a cinema and a warehouse.  It is not, however, the architect they display, the appellation they wear, or the affiliations they boast that makes them a church.

The New Testament doesn’t provide a simple concise definition of the Church other than what is found in the meaning of the Greek word for Church (ekklesia) which is “the called out ones.”   What it does provide is long narratives portraying the Church in action, colorful word pictures of what the church is like, specific duties that the Church should fulfill, doctrinal standards that the Church should teach and prophetic insights of how the Church can stray from the path and lose its way.

History has taught us that the Church needs periods of reformation and times of revival to keep it doctrinally sound, morally pure and faithful to its calling. At other times, the Church needs change that is less radical and might be described as a course correction.  These internal corrections need to be made because the Church has a hard time keeping its balance.    Certain imbalances can be attributed to the peculiarities of leadership.  Others are derived from simply over-emphasizing one truth to the neglect of other balancing truths. The worse imbalances, however, grow out of the fertile soil of fear. When the church and its leaders do what they do or fail to do what they should do out of fear, the church will inevitably suffer from some imbalance.

The Call to the Conservative Holiness Movement, by its very nature, is a challenge to the CHM to address particular areas of weakness or failure. The call is not designed to enumerate all the good things that could be said about the CHM.  Article III of the call speaks to the CHM’s community of faith and addresses some of the imbalances in the way the CHM views its own community of faith and the community of faith at large.  I think it is important to note that even though these imbalances are real and need addressed, the average conservative holiness church is a wonderful place to worship.  In my opinion, they still offer one of the best environments available to raise a family; hear the Word of God fearlessly proclaimed; feel conviction for sin while at the same time find the power of grace; hear fervent praying; sense the moving of God’s Spirit; worship with people who are serious about everyday holiness; and find an environment that truly helps one to keep his feet on the narrow path that leads to life eternal!

Nevertheless, the CHM does have a significant imbalance in the way it views its own differing communities of faith as well as how it views the larger community of faith.  The Movement at large and the various denominations within suffer from a culture of suspicion toward those who do not share their particularities.  They also suffer from a certain insularity that robs them of the insight, wisdom and balance that could be derived from the larger Christian community.  This condition varies in degree from denomination to denomination and from church to church, but it is present and needs to be honestly confronted and openly addressed.

A Culture of Suspicion

The CHM highly values the Biblical call to separation from the world.  As appropriate and good as this may be, inherent in any serious commitment to “Biblical separation” is the temptation to be suspicious of others who may have a lesser degree or even a greater degree of separation that we do.  Just as the call to holy living can veer off the path into perfectionism, the call to separation from the world can veer off the path into isolationism – an isolation that breeds a carnal suspicion of anyone and everyone that doesn’t see it like I do or share my particular version of how the faithful ought to manifest their faith. This has been a perennial bane for the CHM.   Rev. Tom Reed says this kind of suspicion has caused us to “play God – determining who is or is not a Christian based on the way we see things.”  Clearly if this suspicion is left unchecked, it will lead to a spirit of judging and condemnation of the larger community of faith as well as to divisions within our own CHM family.  Even now many groups within the CHM will not use a speaker from another group within the CHM because of suspicion and fear. Conservative leaders could use their influence and voice to help remedy this disease with a cure that doesn’t require anyone to compromise their corporate values or personal convictions.  It only requires a renewed understanding and commitment to the teachings of I Cor. 8-10 and Rom. 14.  Add to that a fresh supply of the “love of God poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit” and we can be well on our way to removing the ethos of suspicion and division among us.

A Detachment from the Larger Christian Community

In I Cor. 12 Paul reminds us that the Church is a body made up of many different members; each contributing something that the other members cannot give.  This has an application to both the local body and to the larger body of Christ.  It seems to me that God has given the various traditions of the Christian Church particular insights into truth and practice that He has not given in the same degree to all.  He must expect us to learn from one another.  I have learned much about prayer by reading from both Catholic and Evangelical writers.  I have   been immeasurably enriched by the writings and teachings of evangelicals like C. S. Lewis, Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, Ravi Zacharias and Chuck Colson.  The expository preaching and teaching of men like John MacArthur, David Jeremiah and Howard Hendricks have added great value to the life of the whole Church and challenged others to take the Scriptures more seriously.  The work of William Booth, Mother Teresa and Erlo Stegen have challenged me to the core of my spiritual being to be mindful of the downtrodden and disenfranchised among us.  Where would America’s families be today without the ministry of James Dobson?  Personally, no one has challenged me more in the area of spiritual intimacy and holiness than Dennis Kinlaw and John Oswalt.

It must be noted that not a single name mentioned above identifies with the CHM.  Yet each one of them has spoken powerfully into my life and the lives of many conservative holiness people.  In preparation for writing this article I spoke with the Rev. Tom Reed, who is an elder statesman within the CHM.  He shared with me a list of men outside our tradition who have been used of God to advance his own spiritual life.  He mentioned: H.A. Ironsides (a former pastor of Moody church), A.W. Tozer (he visited his church often on Sunday evenings), Paul Rees, Vance Havner, S. M. Lockridge and Howard Hendricks.  He added this insightful comment, “these were not holiness men but they were holy men and I refuse to write them off just because they see some things differently than me”.

The CHM has tended to isolate themselves from these “outside” voices.  They fear that they might be a corruptive or a persuasive influence, or even worse, that if we allow anyone to minister to us that does not fully share all our values we have somehow compromised and demeaned those values.  Some of this kind of thinking grows out of simple fear.  In other cases I think it is because we have failed to distinguish between a Romans 14 category issue (opinions, preferences, interpretations, etc…) and a Galatians 1 category issue (false doctrine or heresy) and have treated all outside voices as if they were in the Galatians 1 category.  Mature leaders should be more discerning than this. I know many laymen who already exercise this kind of discernment by means of radio, books, CD’s and DVD’s that they buy and listen to.

Let me clear, I am not advocating an open door policy on “outside voices”.  I am certainly not encouraging local churches to open up their pulpits to men and women from other traditions.  What I am suggesting is that in our large conventions, conferences and forums we need to occasionally hear what our brothers and sisters outside the CHM have to say to us. God is working powerfully in His world through many of these choice servants. There are many outside our little circle who are far outstripping us in their passion for the lost, their zeal for the disenfranchised, their insight into scripture and their love for holiness. To hear what they are doing, to be challenged by their successes and to learn from their insight will not and does not diminish my love for my Zion nor make me want to jettison my spiritual tradition and values!  It simply makes me a better servant of the Lord!

We Have Something to Offer the Church

The sword of isolation cuts two ways.  We are cut off from what the larger Christian community can give us and the larger Christian community is cut off from what we can bring to it. The CHM is the beneficiary of hundreds of years of rich holiness heritage.  We have grown up embracing and experiencing truths that some in the body of Christ will never know or experience. We have some preachers who are as capable and anointed as any out there anywhere.  Our emphasis on personal transformation, purity of heart, perfect love, real character development, growth in grace and freedom from the power of sin are emphasis that are needed by the larger body of Christ!  Surely what God has freely bestowed on us we ought to freely share with others!

My plea is not for some silly, stupid ecumenicalism!  It is a simple plea for us to both reap and share the bounty of spiritual riches that are ours in Christ and found within the various members of His Body – including our own.  The late H. E. Schmul, one of the greatest conservative holiness statesmen I ever knew, use to lead us in singing, “I don’t care what church you belong to, Just as long as for Calvary you stand.  Just as long as your heart beats with my heart, You’re my brother, so give me your hand”.  Somebody strike the tune and let’s sing it again!

Spiritual Roots

– December 2011

Spiritual Roots

No one possesses a faith that is self-made.  Each of us are indebted to the whole body of Christ for our understanding of scripture and our view of Christian living.  We have all benefited immensely from great spiritual truths that have been developed over the centuries, shaped by revival, purified by reformation and tested by experience.  We stand on the shoulders of men and movements who have forged for us what we now know as our spiritual heritage.   To unwittingly sever ourselves from these spiritual roots is tragic.  To knowingly do so may well be treacherous. Yet many Christians sell their spiritual birthright as thoughtlessly as they sell their unwanted household junk.

What these yard sale saints can’t see is not hidden to historical scholars. They tell us that movements, religious or otherwise, can only maintain vitality and significance as long as they retain a clear understanding of their historical identity. A religious movement’s identity is determined by their dogma, doctrine, traditions, ideals, values, and culture – all of which have been developed over the centuries.  These are the things that tell us who we are and answer the question of why we exist.  Without them, no movement can affirm a clear mission or cast a uniting vision.

The Call to the Conservative Holiness Movement issued in the October Revivalist pleads for a commitment to historic roots and continuity in Article II. This involves both a renewed commitment to classical Christianity and a renewed understanding of our spiritual heritage as passed down to us through the Methodist Holiness Tradition.   This call is not rooted in a sentimental hankering for the past.  Nor is it some nostalgic desire to re-create methods and means that have long since served their usefulness –that’s what museums do!  It is, however, recognition that we lose something vitally important for our future when we become disconnected from our past.

This appeal to the CHM is particularly urgent for two reasons.  First, the CHM is going through a time of transition. Second, the CHM is too often afflicted with a form of historical amnesia – we have long term memory loss.  Our memory only reaches back about 60 years to the days when we separated from our mother churches.  What happened then is clearly a vital part of our heritage but it is far from all of it.  Nor can that separation point be the sole place from which we draw our identity.  If it is, then we lose the wealth of hundreds of years of rich holiness history.  We also lose important “family traits” and “traditions” that may serve us well in our contemporary struggles. The CHM faces questions today and will certainly face more in the tomorrows that will not be adequately answered without drawing on the wisdom and life experiences of our fore-fathers.  We need our heritage – all of it!

As the CHM seeks to develop a fuller understanding of its historical identity, it is helpful to examine the family tree. We are Christian, we are Reformation Protestants, we are Arminian, we are Arminian/Anglican, and we are Methodist.  From there the branch divides into Wesleyan Methodist, Free Methodist, Pilgrim Holiness and Nazarene.  From there the branches further divide into a dozen denominational groups and a host of independent churches that self-identify as the Conservative Holiness Movement.

The CHM is, for the most part, Wesleyan in its theological opinions, especially in its commitment to the doctrine of entire-sanctification.   However, it can be quite diverse in many other ways.  There is significant variation in views relating to the sacraments, lifestyle practices, social issues (e.g. divorce and remarriage) and church government.  The CHM does find common ground in their opposition to: immodest worldly attire, short hair on women, and the wearing of jewelry. These common ground issues have become the “street level” means of identifying the movement.  As important as these things may be, there are some other very important “family traits” that ought to be front and center when people think of the CHM.  Identity markers that I would love to see become our ”street level” means of identity.  Traits that can clearly be found in our spiritual roots – in particular our Methodist Holiness Heritage!

The early Methodists found their reason for existence and their vision for the future in Wesley’s call “to reform a Nation, and in particular the church; and to spread scriptural holiness over the land.” Responding to that call led them to reap a harvest of souls for God’s kingdom and ultimately altered the religious landscape of England and early America for almost a century.  However, it must be noted that this breathtaking, forward looking, mission statement worked only in a context.  And that context was the theological content and spiritual character of what Methodism truly was.  You could call it their DNA or their family traits. Let’s examine five of those traits.

First, they were known for a distinctive theological understanding of God.  One of the best ways to understand the impact of their theology is to look at how those early Methodists lived it out. Francis Asbury, the founder of American Methodism is a good example to observe. When Asbury arrived in America there were only a few hundred Methodists, but by 1860 one out of every three Americans was a Methodist.  Asbury crossed the Allegheny Mountains on horseback 60 times, slept in 10,000 different cabins and homes, preached 60,500 sermons in 45 years (a little more than one a day), and became more recognizable than George Washington or Thomas Jefferson.  By the end of the 18th century, Methodism had determined the nature of religious culture in America thus setting the stage for the next 100 years.

Why did he and countless hundreds of other Methodist circuit riders do what they did?  It was their theology that motivated them!   Their theology taught them that every man had infinite worth.  They believed that God not only wanted to save every man but that every man could be saved!  To better understand this you need to remember that Calvinism was the prevalent theology of the day and a core component of Calvinism was election.   When the average Calvinist walked down the street he would think, “It is possible that I might even see one of God’s elect today.”  When a Methodist walked down the street he would think, “Every man I see today is one of God’s elect and it is my job to tell him!”

Second, they were known for their optimism of grace.  I am not sure if grace shaped their eschatology or their eschatology shaped their concept of grace but what I do know is that the early Methodists believed so powerfully in the transforming grace of God that they were convinced that they would transform the church, the nation and the world – ushering in the millennial reign!  The optimism of grace drove Methodist circuit riders farther and faster than new invention could drive the feet of commerce.

Third, they were known for a distinctive view of spiritual experience.  The early Methodists believed that every man could be saved, that every man could know they were saved and that every man could be saved to the uttermost!  The doctrine of assurance gave new converts stability and peace.  The doctrine of entire sanctification gave believers victory over sin and power to live a holy life.  Methodism took people out of their “sinning religion” and taught them that they could walk in complete obedience to God!  With such peace, hope and victory, it’s no wonder that the Methodist were known for their exuberant singing and loud shouting!

Fourth, they were known for their distinctive view of the Church and Evangelism. They were flexible and innovative.  They didn’t need a proper church with stained glass windows and comfortable pews. They preached in the highways and byways, in fields and near mines, on the frontier and in the city ghettos.  They introduced a new style of worship to accommodate the large numbers of unconverted people in their congregations. Worship scholars refer to it as “frontier worship”.  It is now the primary worship style we still use today. They operated missions for the down and outer, cottages for the unwed mothers, orphanages for the destitute, camp meetings for the masses, class meetings for the newly converted and circuits for rural churches. They founded training schools, colleges and universities. No aspect of their society was left untouched by the gospel.  Those early Methodist did whatever was necessary to obey the command to “preach the gospel to every creature”.

Fifth, they were known for their stewardshipThe early Methodists looked right through the world that was around them and saw a Kingdom.  It was to that Kingdom and ultimately to its King that they gave their solemn allegiance and perfect love.  Many freely denied themselves the comforts of home, family and marriage to give their lives in His service.  The rank and file who did build homes and raise up families were so well known for their rejection of this worlds values and ostentation that the very name Methodist was spoken in derision and scorn by those who loved to parade their fashion and display their wealth. It was not what could be gained in this world but what could be invested in the world to come that motivated these people called Methodists.

These are a few of the “family traits” of a people and a movement that history says “owned the 19th century”! I see some of these same traits being manifested today in the underground church in China where 20,000 people are converted every day.  It has yet to be decided who will own the 21st century, but I believe it will be owned by the people who have looked long enough and deep enough into the past to see how God will work in the future.  You can figure it out too but you will need to dig deep into your spiritual roots!