Dear Beloved, Loved by God, at KCPC,
As you plan your calendars for the new year of 2018, may you also have a plan for holiness. The Apostle Paul both encourages and commends the Christians at Thessalonica because their election by God was demonstrated very specifically in that the gospel came to them not only in word, but â€œalso in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full convictionâ€ (1 Thess. 1:3-5). As a congregation, they had learned of Godâ€™s love for them in Christ, and they had become imitators of the Lord Jesus and other godly Christians. Even through great affliction, their faith and joy in Jesus shone through to all (1 Thess. 1:6-8). This was a sanctified congregation that possessed a measure of holiness by Godâ€™s grace. Yet the Apostle Paul encouraged them to â€œdo so more and moreâ€, and reminded them that the will and purpose of God was for them to be sanctified/holy (1 Thess. 4:1, 3, 8). They were to pursue holiness and grow in Christ.
How might we grow more and more in holiness in Christ in this coming year? As the Christians did at Thessalonica, it was primarily through a deeper knowledge of Godâ€™s Word by the power of the Holy Spirit. Here are some ways that other Christians before us have sought to grow in holiness. Let me encourage us to do the same in this new year, praying for the blessing of Godâ€™s Spirit in our flourishing and maturity as a congregation in Christ. Let us â€œmore and moreâ€ pursue holiness (some of the below we have included in our worship services, so that you will do this at least once a week).
- Law of God/10 Commandments: Memorize the Law of God and go over it regularly on 2 hands and 10 fingers, remembering the 2 tables to love God and neighbor as self (cf. Matt. 22:37-39), and 10 commandments that summarize our privilege and duty in Christ before God. See how gracious God is in His condescension to sinners that He would make the summary of how to love Him and neighbor as ourselves so easy to memorize and meditate upon each day (Psa. 1)?!
- Lordâ€™s Prayer: Memorize, and seek to regularly pray the Lordâ€™s Prayer from the heart, meditating upon each petition regularly. Praying â€œThy will be doneâ€ reminds us to be self-less, and dependent upon Godâ€™s Word alone, and praying â€œForgive us our debts as we forgiveâ€¦â€ reminds us to be merciful.
- Apostleâ€™s Creed: Memorize, and seek regularly to think of these petitions and summaries of Godâ€™s salvation in Christ. Let your subjective faith that God has given to you by His Spirit, be built up in this objective summary of your most holy faith.
- Bible Reading/Meditation: Seek to regularly read through the Bible (perhaps annually?), and meditate upon truths that are highlighted by Godâ€™s Spirit to teach and guide you (I write them out on 5X7 cards for memorization, prayer, meditation, further Bible study, etc. I invite you to do the same if helpful). There are so many good apps for accomplishing this regular reading of Scripture, particularly helpful are the ESV Bible app (with many Bible reading plans), and Reading Scripture app that helps you to get an overview of redemptive-history and a helpful, Christ-centered introduction to each Bible book.
- Westminster Shorter and Larger Catechisms: Memorize these excellent catechisms with your family, starting with the Shorter Catechism, and then seeking to feed on and digest more fully the Larger Catechism. Much wisdom in these!!
I pray that this will be useful for us to grow in holiness â€œmore and moreâ€ in 2018! All of this must be undergirded by unceasing prayer for illumination and power by Christâ€™s Holy Spirit. Remember, Beloved of Jesus, holiness means greater glory to our Covenant LORD and Triune God, and more happiness for us His people.
For true holiness is nothing more than true happiness!
â€œNow may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do itâ€ (ESV 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).
In Christâ€™s love,