This Doctrine of Holiness class is a struggle for me. My quest to understand what the Nazarene church believes about holiness and entire sanctification started last year, when I was preparing to face my District licensure interview. I asked questions of my youth pastor and of MNU faculty and I read articles about the subject. I had to answer that question on the District license application, “Do you believe in Entire Sanctification and do you believe you have been entirely sanctified?” I did thinking and praying and came to the conclusion that I believed I had. While this class has challenged me, it has not changed my belief that I have been.
Nazarenes want dates, but I do not remember the date. I do, however, remember the moment. I was sitting at the bottom of my stairs in the basement of my house. I was sitting on a bench that has a flower-patterned seat and opens up (we keep mittens and other winter items in it—you collect a lot of winter hats and gloves when you live in North Dakota). I was bawling my eyes out because I was having as close to a breakdown as I have ever had. I had given my life to Christ years before, but this night, I was letting go of everything of me and giving it all to God. I think that I was as entirely sanctified as I could have been at that point in my life.
Fast forward to the beginning of fall semester, I was sitting in Doctrine of Holiness class. I took this class literally only because Dr. Fine teaches it and I took it at the time I did because I had this fear that he was going to retire. I know it is weird that I am taking this class while I am still a sophomore. Let me just say that I do not care. I do not think that because I have not taken a bunch of religion classes that should put me at any more of a disadvantage in understanding holiness. (Although this has made it a fun semester of classes—my Tuesdays and Thursdays look like this: Ethics, Chapel, Systematic Theology I, The Minister as Counselor and Doctrine of Holiness.)
So, will you come with me as I journey along in learning what holiness looks like and learning what it can look like when I live it out in my own life?
Tuesday in class, Dr. Fine presented a handout, breaking down the first chapter of Ephesians. When Paul says, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,” he is saying more than just a greeting. While it is a greeting, it is a loaded greeting. According to J. Hampton Keathley, III (http://bible.org/article/grace-and-peace): “By [offering grace and peace as a greeting] he placed the focus on the unmerited blessings given to believers in Christ. Through God’s marvelous grace sinners are delivered from their sins and brought into a saving relationship with a holy God by the work of God on their behalf completely free of charge.”
This unmerited favor—it is hard to understand. It is even harder to accept. Yet, in Christ we have this undeserved favor. I wonder what my life would look like if I took some rest in that. I wonder what it would take for me to accept that God looks on me with favorable regard.