Sanctify is our current sermon series at Central. As you might hazard a guess with such a title, the series is devoted to proclaiming that God was actually serious when He said (over and over in the Bible), “Be holy as I am holy.” We’ve been camping out in 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 and basically (ALERT: sharing a preacher’s secret) the messages have been the same each week, just repackaged in a different way. Over and over I’ve been telling people a very simple formula. When one invites Jesus into his or her heart— Jesus comes in. No jumping through hoops required. It’s quite simple. Ask and you shall receive. Simple. Through God’s grace we get all of Jesus at that point. It’s not a partial amount; we don’t get half Jesus now and some more of Jesus later. We get all of God— from top to bottom when we are saved. So the formula looks like this:
Salvation = Getting all of God.
The sanctification formula, on the other hand, looks like this:
Sanctification = God getting all of us.
Like at the point of salvation, one isn’t sanctified holy because they are doing more or working harder or have learned the secret handshake (What secret handshake? I must have missed the secret handshake day in my doctrine of holiness class with Dr. Kenneth Grider). Salvation and sanctification are both free gifts from God. To be sanctified through and through, God does a deep heart cleansing work in us. It’s God’s action, God’s power and God’s might at work in a person. I can’t make myself holy. I can’t will it, earn it, or script it. If I am going to be holy— it is only as God Himself makes me holy in every nook and cranny of my life.
So that’s what I’ve been preaching— over and over the past few weeks. Salvation is getting all of God; sanctification is God getting all of us.
Well, this past Sunday night following the second sermon in the Sanctify series, one of our young teens was getting ready to volunteer at a Christian camp. As part of the application process to serve at the camp, she had to write down her faith journey.
She wrote that she became a Christian at age 3. She was baptized at age 8. And then she wrote, “and today God got all of me!” She explained to her mom that during the response time in the morning service she had slipped out of her pew, went to the altar and “God got all of her.” Her parents hadn’t noticed that she even when down to the altar (taller students were blocking their view). She was convinced that God had done something deep within her that morning! What a great moment!
In 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, Paul declares that God’s desire is for us to be sanctified through and through, but he also affirms that God is faithful and He will do it. One of our teenagers discovered that good news for herself on Sunday morning! She not only has all of God, but now God has all of her! Holy living is possible in the 21st century— and you don’t have to have white hair to live it.