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Christian Living

What Is Sanctification?

We Are Sanctified in Jesus and by the Holy Spirit

I don’t often use the word sanctification, but I should. It sounds too much like a theological construct that someone made up to explain God. Yet it’s in the Bible. So is sanctify. Therefore, it’s worthwhile for us to understand and embrace its meaning.

Let’s look at sanctification, the act of sanctifying. By definition, sanctify is to set apart, refine, or make holy. A related word is consecrate, which means to declare or set apart as sacred. Though they sound synonymous, and the dictionary uses one in the definition of the other, we need to make a distinction.

Consecration

The word consecration appears a few times in the Old Testament, but it’s root word, consecrate, occurs many more times throughout the Bible, though mostly in the Old Testament.

The main context for consecrate is for people to set someone or something apart for God or for religious service. This includes consecrating priests, God’s people, clothes, offerings, bread, animals, the temple, and temple furnishings.

Sanctification

The word sanctification occurs less often and is not in all translations of the Bible. Sanctification—along with sanctify—is a New Testament word. Whereas consecration is something that God commands his people to do, sanctification is something that God does in us. He sets us apart and makes us holy. We can’t sanctify ourselves; God does.

Sanctification is being made holy and set apart for God’s purpose. Click To Tweet

The Amplified Bible explains sanctification as “being made holy and set apart for God’s purpose” (Romans 6:22). This is a most helpful illumination. Therefore, it’s a process of God making us—his children—right and therefore ready to carry out his intentions.

In Jesus and by the Holy Spirit

The Bible makes it clear that we are sanctified in Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:2) and by the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:16). Both occur in 1 Corinthians 6:11. To realize that sanctification comes through Jesus and by the Holy Spirit, it makes sense that the word only appears in the New Testament.

When we follow Jesus as his disciples, we are sanctified in him and by the Holy Spirit to be set apart and made holy for our Lord’s purpose.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Visiting Churches

Discussion Questions for Church #53

As a reference, I share attending our home church on Easter Sunday. This marks the end of 52 Churches and the start of More Than 52 Churches. Though I strive to remain objective in visiting churches, our home church forms the lens I look through.

Consider these seven discussion questions about Church #53.

I see value in worshiping God with family, and for Easter we go with our children and their spouses. What can we do to attend church and celebrate Jesus with our family?

The 150-year-old building, even with many improvements, still feels dated. What can we do to make our church facility as conducive to worship and community as possible? 

Though the shortcomings of a worship space shouldn’t block us from God, they can. How can we minimize the cumbersome facility elements we can’t change so they don’t get in the way of us encountering God?

There’s no plan for the service, only a general intent. The Holy Spirit will guide the leaders in what to do and for how long. How much of a role do we let the Holy Spirit play in our church services?

Though we were gone for a year, I listened to the messages online. In what ways can we extend the church worship experience and teaching to those who can’t attend in person?

Baptism at churches varies from a reserved rite, to a public declaration of faith, to an enthusiastic celebration. What can we do to better embrace baptism as the early church did in the Bible?

As we leave the building ninety minutes later, some are already arriving for the second service. Not looking at efficiency, but focusing on the human aspect, how can we foster a better transition between services?

Overall, it was a great Easter Sunday, worshiping God with family

[Read about Church 53, Church 54, or start at the beginning of our journey.]

Get your copy of More Than 52 Churches and The More Than 52 Churches Workbook today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Can We Have a Superhuman Spirituality?

Don’t Be Merely Human

Paul reprimands the church in Corinth for many things. One time he points out that they envy one another and argue a lot. There is jealousy and quarreling in their church. It happened then and it’s still happening now.

We want what others have. Although this often relates to money, possessions, or prestige, we can also envy the faith of others, their spiritual journey, and even their intimacy with God. Though it seems spiritual, it is just as wrong. Jealousy is jealousy, regardless of what we long for.

Next is their quarrels. We disagree and fight with words. It seems no church is immune to arguing, yet Paul decries this as wrong. Don’t do it.

Jealousy and quarreling are worldly traits. They are not godly, but worldly. By allowing these conditions to persist, we are mere humans.

By saying mere humans, Paul implies there is another way, a higher ground we can take. We don’t need to be merely human; we shouldn’t be merely human.

Superhuman Spirituality

Through Jesus and the power of his Holy Spirit we can rise above being mere humans. We can become more than human, superhuman, if you will: not superhuman in physical strength but superhuman in a spiritual sense, a superhuman spirituality.

As followers of Jesus, being merely human is who we were, but our future is a superhuman spirituality.

Are we willing to pursue it?

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is 1 Corinthians 1-4, and today’s post is on 1 Corinthians 3:3.]

Read more in Peter’s book, Love is Patient (book 7 in the Dear Theophilus series).

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

The Bible Tells the Church to Meet Together, Worship, and Witness

We Can’t Witness for Jesus When We Sequester Ourselves on Sunday Mornings

Just before Jesus leaves this world to return to heaven, he instructs his followers to go into the world and make disciples (Matthew 28:19). In an expanded version of this incident, Jesus tells his followers to wait for Holy Spirit power and then be his witness, both near and far (Acts 1:4-9).

Witness and Make Disciples

The church of Jesus doesn’t do a good job of being witnesses and making disciples. To do so requires an outward perspective, yet most all churches have an inward focus: they care for their own to the peril of outsiders, with many churches excelling in doing so.

Yes, God values community and wants us to meet together (Hebrews 10:25). And the Bible is packed with commands and examples of worshiping God, with Jesus noting that “true worshipers” will worship God in the Spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24).

Meeting Together and Worship

Most churches do the meeting together part reasonably well, albeit with varying degrees of success. Many of those churches have a time of worship as they meet together, though perhaps not always “in the Spirit” or even “in truth.”

Yet few churches look outside their walls in order to go into their community to witness and make disciples. Though Jesus said to wait for the Holy Spirit, he didn’t say to wait for people to come to us, to come to our churches so we could witness and disciple them.

No, we are supposed to leave our church buildings to take this work to them. We can’t do that at church on Sunday morning, safely snug behind closed doors.

Maybe we should forego the church service in order to be a church that serves. Click To Tweet

Go into the World as a Witness

Yes there is a time to come together and a time to worship, but there is also a time to go. And we need to give more attention to the going part.

I know of two churches that have sent their congregations out into their community on Sunday mornings, foregoing the church service in order to be a church that serves. One church did it a few times and stopped after they saw little results and received much grumbling.

The other church regularly plans this a few times each year and garners a positive influence on their community.

Shouldn’t every church make a positive impact on their community? Yet so few do. They are too busy meeting together and worshiping.

Read more about this in Peter’s new book, Jesus’s Broken Church, available in e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.

Read more about the book of Acts in Tongues of Fire: 40 Devotional Insights for Today’s Church from the Book of Acts, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover. [Originally published as Dear Theophilus Acts.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Why is Pentecost Important?

Celebrating Holy Spirit Power

In another post we talked about the four main Christian holidays. In succession, they celebrate that Jesus came to earth (Christmas), died so we could live (Good Friday), overcame death to prove his mastery of it (Easter), and having completed his mission, he gave us a gift (Pentecost).

Pentecost is the conclusion of the Easter story.

Here’s the progression of events leading up to Pentecost:

Jesus Goes Home

Having completed his mission here on earth, Jesus returns to heaven (Mark 16:19).

Jesus Prepares a Place for Us

As followers of Jesus, we look forward to the time we will join him in heaven and spend the rest of forever with him. As we wait for that day, he is getting ready to welcome us (John 14:2-3).

Jesus Listens to Our Prayers and Intercedes for Us to God the Father

How wonderful to know Jesus is in heaven as our advocate, representing us to his Father, our Heavenly Father (Romans 8:34 and Hebrews 7:25).

Jesus Sends Us the Holy Spirit on Pentecost

This is the climax; this is Pentecost. When Jesus returns to heaven, he does not abandon us; he sends the Holy Spirit to comfort us and guide us. The Holy Spirit is God’s presence in us, an essential aspect of putting our faith into action (John 16:7).

Pentecost reminds me of these things, foundational to my faith: that we will one day join Jesus in heaven, that we can pray to him now, and that we can live in concert with the Holy Spirit every day.

Today is Pentecost. Even though I’ll go to church, I don’t expect they’ll celebrate what this day means; they may not even mention it. This is a travesty, which is why I’m remembering it now.

Today, whether privately or with friends, I hope you’ll celebrate Pentecost and all it means.

Happy Pentecost!

Read more about this in Peter’s new book, Jesus’s Broken Church, available in e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

God’s Spirit to Be Poured Out on All People

The New Testament Cites the Old Testament

Many passages in the New Testament of the Bible quote parts of the Old Testament, which was written hundreds of years before. In some versions of the Bible, footnotes—added by the translators—refer us to the original text.

Holy Spirit

One verse, however, cites the source in the text, not a footnote. It’s in the book of Acts, where Peter directly references what the prophet Joel said. Here’s what happens:

Jesus tells the disciples that he will send the Holy Spirit to them to help and guide them. The Holy Spirit shows up and things get crazy. There’s the sound of a strong wind, the appearance of flames of fire, and the disciples preach in other languages (Acts 2:1-13).

The people can’t comprehend what’s happening. They freak out. They blame it on too much wine. This explanation is plausible for the crowd, who has never seen the Holy Spirit at work, empowering people to speak in other languages.

God’s Spirit

Peter sets them straight. He reminds them that Joel foretold about this infilling of the Holy Spirit, God’s spirit. The prophet wrote, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people” (Joel 2:28-30).

Joel says it will happen. Peter and his pals experience it. And spiritual power and reality changes forever. God gives the Holy Spirit to them. And from that day forward, all who follow Jesus will have God’s Spirit in them too. Yes, everyone—all. That means them, and it means us. You and me. All. 

As a result, crazy, Holy Spirit things can happen to us too. But many of Jesus’s followers today dismiss this indwelling Holy Spirit. In doing so, they dismiss the power of God’s Spirit in them and in directing their lives.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Joel 1-3, and today’s post is on Joel 2:28-29.]

Read more about this in Peter’s new book, Jesus’s Broken Church, available in e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.

Read more about the book of Acts in Tongues of Fire: 40 Devotional Insights for Today’s Church from the Book of Acts, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover. [Originally published as Dear Theophilus Acts.]

Learn more about all twelve of the Bible’s Minor Prophets in Peter’s book, Return to Me: 40 Prophetic Teachings about Unfaithfulness, Punishment, and Hope from the Minor Prophets

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Who Teaches You?

Do Sermons Belong in Church?

We go to church to learn about God, right? So sermons belong in church, right?

Who told you that? It was likely the minister at your local church. That’s who I’ve heard it from, and church is always the place where I heard it.

Isn’t that self-serving?

Think about it. A church hires a preacher. The church pays the preacher. The preacher tells us we need to be in church every Sunday to learn about God and that he is the one to teach us. One of the things he teaches us is to give money to the local church, often 10 percent of our income.

Why does the local church need money so badly? In large part, it’s to pay the preacher. The greatest expense at almost all churches is payroll, usually over half of their total budget, sometimes much more.

We don’t need preachers to teach us; that’s the Holy Spirit’s job. Click To Tweet

So we hire someone who tells us we need him and then asks for money so he can stick around. If we didn’t revere our preachers so much and cling to our sacrosanct practices, I’d call this a racket.

As I read about the church in the New Testament, there is plenty of preaching. But I wonder if sermons belong in church. In the Bible, the preaching is always directed at those who are not following Jesus, the folks outside the church.

Yes, there is teaching inside the church, but I’ve not yet found any passage that says it happens every Sunday or is given by paid staff. In the examples I see, missionaries do the teaching when they come to visit or the congregation instructs one another as they share with each other.

John writes to the church and tells them plainly: “You do not need anyone to teach you.” Then he clarifies: “His anointing teaches you about all things.”

So it is God’s anointing, the Holy Spirit, who reveals truth to us. Therefore, we don’t need anyone to teach us, especially a paid preacher. John says so.

I suppose, then, if we go to church to learn, what the preacher should be telling us is how to listen to the Holy Spirit. Once we’ve learned that, the preacher’s job is done; we don’t need him to teach us anymore.

God’s anointed one will teach us and reveal truth to us. Then we can spend Sunday mornings sharing with each other what we’ve learned through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

But that will never happen. Preachers need to be needed, and they need us to pay them. They would never say anything to work themselves out of a job.

They want their paychecks too badly to tell us plainly what John said and what his words truly mean for the church of Jesus: We don’t need preachers to teach us; that’s the Holy Spirit’s job.

[1 John 2:27]

Read more about this in Peter’s new book, Jesus’s Broken Church, available in e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

The Two Most Influential Books I’ve Ever Read

Study Scripture and Then Use Other Resources as Needed

My book Jesus’s Broken Church was about a decade in the making, perhaps longer—maybe even a lifetime. When I sensed something wasn’t right with how today’s church functioned, I begin praying and searching for answers. Over time, piece by piece, God’s Holy Spirit revealed the answers to me. And they all came from the Bible.

This took years, but eventually a full picture emerged. That’s when I began writing, first in various blog posts and eventually a book.

Two Most Influential Books

Along the way, two additional sources opened my eyes to prepare me to hear what God would tell me. These came in the form of two books. Aside from the Bible, they are the two most influential books I’ve read in my entire life.

They provided insight and a firm foundation for me to stand on as I considered building on these works to determine what would happen next, of what should happen next.

Pagan Christianity?

The first book was Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices by Frank Viola and George Barna. (Check out my review of Pagan Christianity?)

Pagan Christianity? looks at the past. It delves into what was to uncover the influences of our church practices today. Much of what we do today at church is a result of our predecessors’ taking practices from secular society and adapting them to church. In short, many of our Christian traditions don’t have a spiritual origin but one that is more so pagan in nature.

The result of realizing these many shocking revelations was that I begin to ask why, a lot. I looked at every faith practice to examine its relevance and see how scripturally germane it was.

The result was a nagging feeling that our church practices today are far off base from what Jesus intended.

That’s why Pagan Christianity? is one of the two most influential books I’ve ever read.

The Great Emergence

The second of the two most influential books I’ve ever read is Phyllis Tickle’s The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why. (Check out my review of The Great Emergence.)

Whereas Pagan Christianity? looks at the past, The Great Emergence explores the future. Building on a history of semi-millennia religious shifts, Tickle posits that we are on the precipice of another grand transformation.

She envisions what this reformation will look like and its impact on today’s church. Spoiler alert: today’s church will be much less relevant in the future, with other forms of spiritual community and connection supplanting it.

That’s why The Great Emergence is the second of the two most influential books I’ve ever read.

Today’s church — for all the good it does — isn’t functioning as it should, as Jesus intended. Click To Tweet

Jesus’s Broken Church

Standing on the firm foundation of the two most influential books I’ve ever read emerged a biblical prescription and how to move forward. I dared to suggest that today’s church—for all the good it does—isn’t functioning as it should, as Jesus intended it to.

Building on Scripture, Jesus’s Broken Church advances a new vision of what church could be and should be. But claiming that it’s new is incorrect. In truth, this isn’t a new understanding, but the reclaiming of an old one, one that’s nearly two thousand years old.

Read more about this in Peter’s new book, Jesus’s Broken Church, available in e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

The Fruit of the Spirit

Consider the Fruit You Bear as a Follower of Jesus

Paul tells the church in Galatia that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

When we follow Jesus and the Holy Spirit resides in us, this should result in changed behavior, a better behavior that’s more aligned with the example that Jesus set for us.

Let’s break down these key outcomes of having the Holy Spirit in our lives. As we study these words, we often see the fruit of the Spirit interconnected in various passages:

Love

Love is not a feeling or emotion. True love is an attitude expressed through action. Paul best explains this in his letter to the church in Corinth. There he defines the elements of true, God-honoring love.

He writes that love is patient and kind, not envious, boastful, or proud. Love honors others and isn’t self-serving or given to anger. Love doesn’t keep track when others cause us harm. It celebrates truth and laments what is evil. Love protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

Joy

Joy is more than being happy. It transcends happiness. The Bible doesn’t give us a definition of joy, but looking at the more than sixty verses in the New Testament that talk about joy, we get a sense that joy is ecstatic spiritual pleasure that comes from God and through serving him.

Peace

When we look at peace, there are two forms to consider.

First there is peace with others, living in harmony with those around us and in unity with those in our spiritual family.

Second, there is peace within. It’s an inner contentment that can only come from God.

The fruit of the Spirit exhibits both types of peace.

Patience

Patience is a calmness that exists within us and flows from us. From this as a foundation, we see a patience that endures, tolerates, and exercises restraint. Interestingly, Paul uses patience (along with kindness) in his definition of love.

Kindness

Another godly trait that is part of the fruit of the Spirit is kindness. Kindness is how we treat others, being friendly, generous, and warmhearted in our interactions with them.

Goodness

The idea of being good is living rightly with others. This goes beyond getting along with them. Think of being righteous, upright, and benevolent in how we live our lives and how we treat others. This is goodness.

Faithfulness

To persist in faithfulness, we exhibit devotion and loyalty to God and his ideals. It also includes being faithful in our relationships with others.

Gentleness

Gentleness isn’t meekness, but it’s controlled strength. Jesus personifies gentleness. We should follow his example.

Self-Control

The final characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit is self-control. This means keeping our emotions, attitudes, and actions in check. It’s restraining our negative expressions to allow godly responses to occur.

Pursuing the Fruit of the Spirit

We may have exhibited some of these traits before we followed Jesus. And other of these nine characteristics may automatically emerge from our life through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.

Yet other areas may require intentional effort to achieve. But we don’t pursue these outcomes to earn our salvation, garner Jesus’s attention, or merit God’s love. This perspective is key.

God has loved us from the very beginning, irrespective of what we’ve said or done.

And we already have Jesus’s attention. We know this because he died for us before we did anything to receive it.

Last, if we follow Jesus, we already have eternal life through him and don’t need to earn it. It’s his unconditional gift to us.

We should want to produce the fruit of the Spirit in response to what Father God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit have already done for us. Click To Tweet

Then why should we consider pursuing the fruit of the Spirit, exhibiting these nine key character traits, if there’s nothing to gain from our effort?

We should want to produce the fruit of the Spirit in response to what Father God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit have already done for us. We don’t do this to gain anything but to offer it as a thank you for what God has already done for us.

And if we fall short in any one of these areas, don’t despair. Seek God’s guidance to move forward day-by-day, step-by-step to exhibit a little bit more of these traits in our existence, moving closer to realize the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.

And we do so not out of obligation or guilt, but from a spirit of gratitude.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

What If God Sent a Pillar of Fire to Guide You?

For Forty Years the Israelites Had Two Signs from God to Guide Them

After spending four-hundred years in Egypt, the repressed children of God finally get a chance to leave. This comes under the leadership of Moses.

We know of Moses’s meetings with Pharaoh to negotiate the Israelites’ release, of ten plagues, and the people’s escape through the Dead Sea—as if walking on dry land. Their Egyptian captors, in hot pursuit, don’t fare so well.

Now God’s people are free!

What should they do? Where should they go? They know their destination resides in the Promised Land, the area Jacob left four centuries before when he sought food in Egypt. But instead of heading there on their own, they seek God’s direction.

Pillar of Fire

God sends them a pillar of smoke to guide them by day and a pillar of fire to guide them by night. When the pillars move, the people follow. When the pillars stay put, so do they. They do this for forty years.

I must give them credit. They were content to follow God’s direction for four decades, when they could have reached their destination, the Promised Land, in less than a week.

For all the times his people messed up when they were in the desert, I admire them for being patient and willing to follow God’s leading, even though it didn’t make sense and was taking way too long.

Wouldn’t it be great if God showed us where to go? Click To Tweet

Wouldn’t it be great if God showed us where to go today? If only he would give us a cloud to follow during the day and a fire to blaze our path at night. Then it would be easy to follow him, right?

Yet, God does lead us today. In the Bible he promises to give us his Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit fire (Luke 3:16 and Matthew 3:11). And when the Holy Spirit arrives, what is the visual sign? Fire. Yep, tongues of fire (Acts 2:3).

Yes, God still leads us today. He gives his Holy Spirit fire to blaze our path. All we need to do is listen—and obey.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Exodus 11-13, and today’s post is on Exodus 13:21-22.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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