Practical Emphasis: Holiness And Commitment
Since God has a right to call and command His church to be holy in Christ, a church that is unholy in practice is an oxymoron. The HRC not only endeavors to buttress the historic Reformed stress Biblically, doctrinally, and experientially, but also practically in daily life. By the Spirit’s grace, it fosters holiness and spiritual growth through opportunities of worship, learning, fellowship, witness, and service. Three such areas warrant further attention.
CALLED TO COMPREHENSIVE HOLINESS
God calls believers to be holy as He is holy (1 Pet. 1:16). God’s holiness testifies of His purity, His moral perfection, His separateness from all outside of Him, and His complete absence of sin (Job 34:10; Isa. 5:16; 40:18; Hab. 1:13). For us, holiness means, negatively, to be separate from sin and, positively, to be consecrated to God and conformed to Christ. We believe, then, that holiness of mind and heart and life must be cultivated in every sphere of life: in privacy with God, in the confidentiality of our homes, in the competitiveness of our occupation, in the pleasures of social friendships, in our interactions with unevangelized neighbors and the world’s hungry and unemployed, as well as in Sunday worship. In short, holiness inwardly must fill our entire heart and outwardly must cover all of life (1 Thess. 5:23).
No one can acquire holiness by his own efforts. But believers are granted holiness in their status with God the moment they trust in Christ alone for salvation. Our holy standing with God in Christ, however, does not imply that we have arrived at a wholly sanctified condition (1 Cor. 1:2). That is why the New Testament presents holiness as something believers have in Christ and something they must still cultivate in the strength of Christ. As believers, our status in holiness is conferred, but our condition in holiness must be pursued. Thus, in Christian living, we are called to be in life what we already are in principle by grace, in dependence on the Spirit. Cultivating holiness means imitating the character of the Father, conforming to the image of Christ, and submitting to the mind of the Spirit. To that end, we must use the means of grace (including diligent Bible study, worshipful church attendance, joyous Sabbath-keeping, deepening prayer and earnest prayer meetings, vibrant family worship, habitual meditation, loving fellowship, heartfelt singing, disciplined witnessing, faithful service, and principled stewardship), all the while reckoning ourselves as dead to the dominion of sin and as alive to God in Christ (Rom. 6:11).
CALLED TO COMMITMENT IN THE WORLD
The HRC believes that this call to holiness is not separate from our call of commitment to disciple believers and to evangelize the world (Matt. 28:18–20). Just as Abram became involved in the affairs of this world by collecting his 318 servants to pursue enemy kings and recapture Lot (Gen. 14), so believers today must fight the good fight of faith and be committed to the world’s welfare in a positive, creative and helpful way. Genuine piety doesn’t escape from the world but seeks to influence the world for good.
The HRC believes our commitment to this world involves being concerned about God’s reputation, the souls of believers around us, and the lost state of millions in our world today. We are called to disciple fellow believers around us by fellowshipping with them, allowing “iron to sharpen iron,” and by encouraging and exhorting each other to immerse ourselves in the Word of God, diligently to use the means of grace, and daily to walk in “the King’s highway of holiness” by keeping all His commandments. Moreover, we are called to reach out to the unsaved and to commit to bringing them the gospel urgently and earnestly in a variety of ways, calling sinners to repent and believe on Christ. We must use our time, resources and gifts to lead people to a saving faith in Christ, a deeper fellowship and fruitful service. We need to be committed to the world, remembering that the church that doesn’t evangelize will fossilize. At the same time, we must remain independent and separated from the world, remembering that we must not be compromised by its way of thinking, speaking and acting.
CALLED TO SEPARATION FROM WORLDLINESS
The HRC denomination takes God’s Word seriously when the Lord commands His people not to mingle with worldly people, worldly customs, worldly practices and worldly places. Not to merit salvation but as an inevitable consequence of salvation, the believer will “come out from the world and be separate” as God’s Word commands (2 Cor. 6:17). Therefore, the church must speak out against that which provokes “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16). Church members are admonished to avoid immodest dress, idolization of sports or movie heroes, ungodly lyrics and music, addictions such as alcoholism and gluttony, materialism, and an uncontrolled use of any modern media that glamorize sin. Scripture plainly states: “Abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thess. 5:22).
This Biblically conservative way of life, far from being meritorious, is a spontaneous outgrowth of bowing gratefully under divine Lordship. The true Christian should war against every desire that would set his heart on sinful trivialities of this world that tend to interrupt his close walk with God.
The Christian’s life is meant to be a preparation for the life to come. His godly walk and tempered concern over the lawful matters of this world will cause him to be the salt of the earth and the light on the hill. His walk, his talk, and even his withdrawal and silence should testify to the living principle of real Christianity within him.
The HRC warns against two extremes in spirituality today: worldliness and “otherworldliness.” On the one hand, it rejects the line of thought that literally separates its members from the world. We maintain the Biblical injunction that Christians must remain in but not of the world. On the other hand, the denomination also rejects the notion that the Christian is so otherworldly that he can sanctify worldly transactions and happenings merely by his or her presence and intervention. We fear that this approach only provides a license to sin and usually ends in lukewarmness and worldliness. It strips the body of Christ of its precious heritage as an antithesis to the world. Instead, in a post-Christian culture, we must strive to be a positive and holy counterforce to the swelling tide of secularism.