The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
This is the time of the year when I look back over the past year. I’m a “list person” so I make a list of all those blessings that the Lord has poured out on me, my family and our church. As I write my list of blessings, I acknowledge that I’ve forgotten more than I can remember. However, the greatest blessing that one can ever experience and never forget is the blessing of knowing God through His only Son, Jesus Christ. The blessing of salvation is the only one that sustains the one who has received it in the midst of all of life’s circumstances. I know that God did for me that which I was unable to do. He saved me by His grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone and my response is to worship Him!
As a “list person”, I also make a list of things that I would like to do for the New Year. This list contains my resolutions. When I look at my list, it often contains many of the same ones I made the previous year. Rather than look at unmet resolutions, I prefer to look forward making a new commitment to do them.
One resolution that is on my list every year is to be holy, always pursuing holiness.
This resolution is not unique to me. It is God’s will for everyone who is in Christ. Two things require explanation. The first is the meaning of being in Christ. The second is the meaning of holiness. Both the first and second are rooted in God. Those who are in Christ have been brought there by God and holiness is God’s work of free grace that progressively makes the one in Christ more and more like Him.
The Bible declares that those who are in Christ are chosen by God. “… He (God the Father) chose us in Him (Christ) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.” Ephesians 1:4 Notice that God the Father acted by choosing men and women before He laid the foundation of the world. He chose them to be in Christ. This is all by the sovereign will and action of God. This truth revealed by God is called Unconditional Election.
So then, those who are in Christ are there solely by the grace of God, Ephesians 2:8-9. God makes Christians! It is necessary to be clear on what it means to be a Christian. A genuine Christian is a sinner chosen by God to be holy in Christ. God does this through the gospel. The gospel is God’s power to save, Romans 1:16. God raises a dead sinner to life and through God’s gift of faith the sinner places his trust in Jesus as He is offered in the gospel.
Salvation doesn’t end there. The resolution that will be kept is that Christians will be made holy. The Bible makes this statement, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful – for He cannot deny Himself.” 2Timothy 2:13 Further, God has said, “… He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6
In addition, God’s will for those who are in Christ is holiness, 1Thessalonians 4:3. God will complete what He starts but those who are in Christ are not robots. Christians are exhorted to work out their salvation because God is at work in them, Philippians 2:12-13. I have been made a Christian by God’s grace alone and He causes me to pursue holiness. I have the assurance that I am in Christ by my desire to obey Him. God has said that He confirms that I belong to Him by His Spirit speaking to my Spirit, Romans 8:14.
It is a tremendous joy to know that you belong to God. He accepts us as we are and loves us so much that He will not let us stay that way. He will cause His children to both make the resolution to pursue holiness and keep it. The Bible teaches that we will not be perfect this side of heaven. But, when we leave this life and enter the next we will be absolutely pure, perfect and our holiness will be brought to completion. May you make the resolution to pursue holiness this year and all those that follow knowing that God is working in you!