The ability to study the Bible allows a person to carry better out living a holy life. Here, the concept of a holy life or holy living refers to a lifestyle that is set apart from the lifestyle of the world in that a person is grounded and firm in living a righteous life with his or her eyes on the Word of God. As John MacArthur writes in an article entitled “The Power of a Holy Life” (https://www.gty.org/library/print/articles/A300), (1) holy living honors God’s Word, (2) holy living silences the opposition, and (3) holy living makes the gospel attractive. By knowing how to study the Bible, a Christian can know (1) why he or she ought to live a holy life, and (2) how he or she can live a holy life.
The life of every believer includes three basic concepts. The first concept is justification which takes place once and for all at the conversion event. Dr. Wayne Grudem in his Systematic Theology defines “justification” as:
justification: An instantaneous legal act of God in which he (1) thinks of our sins as forgiven and Christ’s righteousness as belonging to us, and (2) declares us to be righteous in his sight. (36)
Grudem, W. A. (2004). Systematic theology: an introduction to biblical doctrine (p. 1246). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House.
The third concept is glorification which takes place upon the second coming of Jesus Christ. Using the definition by Dr. Grudem, “glorification” means:
glorification: The final step in the application of redemption. It will happen when Christ returns and raises from the dead the bodies of all believers for all time who have died, and reunites them with their souls, and changes the bodies of all believers who remain alive, thereby giving all believers at the same time perfect resurrection bodies like his own. (42)
Supra at pp. 1242-1243.
The second concept, which is between the first and third concepts, is “sanctification.” It is the process by which a Christian spiritually matures. Dr. Gruden defines “sanctification” to mean:
sanctification: A progressive work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and more like Christ in our actual lives. (38)
Supra at p. 1253.
It is the sanctification process with which this article concerns itself.
Every believer should want to live a life with increasing sanctification. In other words, a Christian should desire to live a life continually growing in holiness. The simple reason for that desire is God wants a believer to live a holy life. Bible study facilitates the capability of a believer to live an increasingly sanctified life. Holy living is especially critical given the staggering decline in morality in American society as well as in the American church. The culture is changing the church, and the church is not changing the culture. Therefore, Bible study, and with that knowing how to study the Bible, becomes all the more critical.
No doubt due in part to the relativistic thinking prevalent in American society, even in some church circles, holy living is not in vogue. The Christian Post CP Church & Ministries internet publication dated April 16, 2018, in an article entitled “John MacArthur: Evangelical Christians Today ‘Tolerate False Gospel,’ Avoid Sanctification for ‘Relevance’” (https://www.christianpost.com/news/john-macarthur-evangelical-christians-today-tolerate-false-gospel-avoid-sanctification-for-relevance.html) reported on a sermon MacArthur delivered at the 2018 Together for the Gospel (T4G) Conference. The article points out that MacArthur says that too many pastors do not encourage sanctification, i.e., holy living, “…because they are too concerned with being ‘relevant.’” The article reports that in his concluding remarks, MacArthur said that you are a true shepherd of the people if the carnality, lack of devotion to Christ, sin, weakness in your congregation pain you, disappoint and depress you. If this is not the case, then MacArthur opined that such a pastor was seriously off track.
Another recent internet article from Christianity Today (https://www.christianity.com/theology/salvation/5-false-gospels-within-the-evangelical-church.html) entitled “5 False Gospels within the Evangelical Church” by Edwin Lutzer, which is an adaptation and abridgment from his 2018 book The Church in Babylon: Heeding the Call to be Light in Darkness, at Christianity.com, lists five false gospels that have permeated the evangelical church. The first and the fourth false gospels demonstrate that holy living is critical to the 21st evangelical Christian church in America.
The first false gospel is that some churches advance what he calls the Gospel of Permissive Grace. Permissive grace is a perversion of grace so that what they teach and preach results in unconditional acceptance of a person’s lifestyle whether or not it is holy. Bible study is the way to address the error that defines the gospel of permissive grace movement.
The fourth false gospel is the Gospel of My Sexual Preference and title is rather self-explanatory. In referring to one church that permits anyone to join, Lutzer writes:
… this church was reluctant to raise the bar of church membership beyond vague generalities.
Bible study would help a church such as the one Lutzer referenced to appreciate that there are absolute, black and white truths that demand compliance such as in the area of sexual holiness. With Bible study, people with a sexually permissive attitude would at least have the chance to realize that the gospel of “my sexual preference” is gross error flying directly in the face of holy living. Based upon where some of the church is heading, the need for holy living, which can only really be achieved by Bible study, is painfully apparent.
Holy living is a lifestyle every Christian ought to deeply desire. 21st Century America desperately needs holy living.
NOTICE OF PERMISSIONS
I am mindful of and respect the rights other authors and/or publishers possess in their works. I thus try my best to not violate any copyright laws or rights other authors and/or publishers possess in their works. The below copyright permission statements are the result of my best efforts to understand that limited usage or “fair use” is available and/or to secure direct permission for specific works.
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version) copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.