Friday, October 14, 2011


Here are some exerts from J I Packer's book on a Passion for Holiness: ( He sure does like his commas and dashes, as Josh and I discovered with typing it out last night together )

Truths of Holiness:

(1) "Holiness, like prayer (which is indeed part of it) is something which, though Christians have an instinct for it through their new birth, as we shall see, they have to learn in and through experience. As Jesus "learned obedience from and through what he suffered" (Hebrews  5: 8) - leaned what obedience requires, costs and involves through the experience of actually doing his Father's will up to and in His passion - so Christians must, and do, learn prayer from their struggles to pray, and holiness from their battles for purity of heart and righteousness of life.

Talented of youngsters who go to tennis school in order to learn the game soon discover that the heart of the process is not talking about the tactics but actually practicing serves and strokes, thus forming new habits and reflexes, so as to iron out weakness of style. The routine, which is grueling, is one of doing prescribed things over and over again on the court, against real opponents, in order to get them really right. Prayer and holiness are learned in a similar way as commitments are made, habits are formed and battles are fought against a real opponent ( Satan, in this case), who with great cunning plays constantly on our weak spots." (p15)

(2) "The process of learning to be holy, like the process of learning to pray, may properly be thought of as a school - God's own school, in which the curriculum, the teaching staff, the rulers, the discipline, the occasional prizes, and the fellow pupils with whom one studies, plays, debates, and fraternizes, are all there under God's sovereign providence.....

we must be clear in our minds that whatever further reasons there may be why God exposes us to joys and sorrows, fulfillment and frustrations, delights and disappointment, happiness and hurts, that make up the emotional reality of our lives, all these experiences are part of His curriculum for us in the school of holiness, which is His spiritual gymnasium for our reshaping and rebuilding in the moral likeness of Jesus Christ." (pp16 &17)

(3) " In God's school of holiness our Lord Jesus Christ ( the Father's son and the Christian Savior) is with us, and we with Him in controlling relationship of master and servant leader and follower, teacher and student. It is crucially important to appreciate this." ....

Some who trust Jesus as their savior have formed the habit of going to Him about everything that comes up in order to become clear how they should react to it as His disciples. ("Going to Him" is an umbrella phrase that covers three things: praying; meditating, which includes thinking, reflecting, drawing conclusions from Scripture, and applying them directly to oneself in Jesus' presence; and holding oneself open throughout the process to specific illumination from the Holy Spirit.) These Christians come to see how events are requiring them to:

-consecrate themselves totally to the Father, as Jesus did;
-say and do only what pleases the Father, as Jesus did;
-accept pain, grief, disloyalty, and betrayal, as Jesus did;
-care for people and serve their needs without either compromise of principle or ulterior motives in practice, as Jesus did;
-accept opposition and isolation, hoping patiently for better things and meantime staying steady under pressure, as Jesus did;
-rejoice in the specifics of the Father's ways and thank him for his wisdom and goodness, as Jesus did;

Kept by this means from bitterness and self-pity, these Christians cope with events in a spirit of peace, joy, and eagerness to see what God will do next." (p18)

Further he discusses what holiness is

"Holiness is not primarily about submission to authoritarian rules or narrow or conformist notions of acceptable behavior. It is about the celebration of our humanity...
Christians are meant to become human as Jesus was human. We are called to imitate these character qualities, with the help of the Holy Spirit, so that the childish instability, inconsiderate self seeking, pious play acting, and undiscerning pigheadedness that so frequently mar our professedly Christian lives are often left behind. "holiness, rightly understood is a beautiful thing and it's beauty is a beauty and tenderness of divine love" - which is precisely the beauty of truly mature humanity. (pp27-29)

"Holiness is about relationships... Reformers re-conceived holiness as the fulfilling of ones relationships, the stewarding of one's talents and time, and the maintaining of love, humility, purity, and zeal for god in ones heart. The idea of isolation was then jettisoned completely and replaced by an insistence that holiness - viewed now as the consecrated life of the grateful, forgiven sinner - must be worked out in the way in which as worshiper worker and witness one related to ones family, church, and wider community. It is not open to dispute, however, that Reformers had the Bible on their side. (p29) 

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