God’s beautiful gift: Holiness

Nov 2012    

SEPT 3-8, 2012

GOD’S DIVINE NATURE is one of in God’s nature godliness and holiness, emphasised the Rev Lily P. Twist, Chairman of the Scotland Synod of The Methodist Church in Britain, in her sermon on Sept 6 – the fourth day of the 10th Session of the General Conference (GC).

She was here as a representative of the British Methodist Church, and was one of the three overseas guests at the GC session.

The other two were Bishop Amat Tumino, Chairman of the Council of Bishops of the Methodist Church in Indonesia, and the Rev Steward Damat, President of the Sarawak Iban Annual Conference, Malaysia, both of whom also preached during the conference session.

The Rev Twist’s sermon, entitled “The Beauty of Holiness”, was focused on the godliness and holiness manifested in Jesus, as recognised by Peter in Luke 5:1-11 when he fell at Jesus’ feet in awe. is, the Rev Twist said, echoed the actions of Isaiah, Moses, and Jeremiah when they met God – conscious of their own sinfulness, they fell down and worshipped Him.

She pointed out that Peter not only fell when he met Jesus, but continued to fall thereafter as he could not live up to the standards of Jesus. He had the desire to be holy, but was unable to do so based on his own effort.

Referring to 2 Peter 1:5, the Rev Twist acknowledged that Christians are urged to “make every effort” to gain God’s virtues, one of which is holiness. She likened this to athletes training for the Olympics, and quoted 1 Timothy 4:7-8 to encourage training in holiness, which “has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come”.

“But,” she added, “effort, commitment and discipline are not enough as Peter, Paul and Wesley testified.” She highlighted that Paul wrestled with the effort of being a holy person and John Wesley had made every effort to practise holiness but even as an ordained minister was never sure of being acceptable to God.

“God has not called us to holiness, then destined us to failure and frustration,” she emphasised. “We are saved from these by ‘His divine power (which) has given us everything we need for life and godliness’ and His ‘great and precious promises’ (2 Peter 1:3-4). We are promised forgiveness and promised His precious Holy Spirit to enable us to share His holiness.

“There is only one way to be holy and that is by having the Holy Spirit within.” However, the Rev Twist noted that holiness seems unpopular and unattractive today even among Christians. She speculated that perhaps some saw “holy” as having negative implications of being separated and solemn, or having a “holier than thou” attitude. On the other hand, some might picture holiness as having the solemnity and self-deprivation of the desert fathers.

Yet, she noted, neither image fitted with the character of Jesus who was not detached and above people, nor void of bringing joy and laughter to others. Instead, she pointed out that joy is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit and some people have been moved to tears of joy at the fuller realisation of God’s love for them.

She closed her sermon with a video of the song “Light of the World”, encouraging delegates to worship God for His beauty and holiness as they listened to the song lyrics and viewed photographs of the beautiful landscape of Scotland to depict God’s divine nature shown in creation.


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