Everyone wants to be special. The world knows this, and businesses capitalize on it. It’s why we’re offered different levels of “specialness” for doing business with them. Hotels, airlines and others tout gold, silver and bronze levels for its participating members. The more you patronize their service, the higher you get bumped up in membership, with all kinds of favor for discounts and rewards. They make you feel special for choosing their business.
What keeps us pure? That’s the question behind a key point of Christian theology called sanctification. I have read all kinds of books on sanctification. Yet in reading page after page, I have only grown more and more confused. It seems every church leader had his own idea on the subject. After much prayer, I believe God gave me a way to understand his work of purifying and sanctifying us. Here is a simple definition, as the Holy Ghost explained it to me.
I’m moved by the Holy Spirit to tell you the simplest thing you’ll ever hear. You might think that as we go through life we need a deeper, more complex theology to understand it all. But the opposite is true. The most important thing I could ever tell you is this: Your Father loves you.
No truth, no fact, no reality is greater, deeper or better than this one. Maybe you think, “I know that already. It’s step 1 in the Christian life. Why is this supposedly revelatory news?”
This spring, I was in a hotel in Amman, Jordan, when I had an experience that changed me profoundly. I’ve written hints about this experience previously, but I haven’t shared it in full. I do so now because it has everything to do with our vision at World Challenge and our partnership with you in serving Jesus.
“Soon afterward Jesus went with his disciples to the village of Nain, and a large crowd followed him” (Luke 7:11). When Jesus approached the city of Nain, there was a huge procession behind him. He’d been ministering in the hills and meadows, healing the sick, feeding hungry crowds and preaching the arrival of God’s kingdom. Now many of the people he’d healed and fed joined his growing number of disciples. Try to picture this dancing, joyful throng as they approached the city: They must have looked like a massive caravan of joy.
In the Old Testament, Habakkuk gives us an amazing prophecy about the end times. This praying prophet’s name means “embraced by God.” Scripture indicates Habakkuk was a man who wrestled with the Lord faithfully in prayer. And his prophecy came during a time of gross immorality.
I travel around the world for ministry, and when I’m in a Buddhist nation I pray for the people there to know Jesus. When I’m in the Muslim world, I pray for the people there to have a revelation of Christ. And when I’m in Israel, I pray for every Israelite to know Jesus. I want all the peoples of the world to know the reality of Jesus. Then when I return home, I pray every Christian would know Jesus too!
If you need the power of God in your life, Jesus has special words for you. Just before he ascended to heaven, Christ knew his disciples needed power to do the works of his kingdom on earth. So he instructed them, “Behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49-50).
The instruction was simple: “Stay in the city.” But note this qualifier: “…until…” Jesus was saying, “Your lives will remain the same until the Holy Spirit comes upon you with power.”
Let me tell you about two men I knew. Both are converted drug addicts and alcoholics, and at one time they led horrible lives. Both are married with children – and while they were addicted, they had problems with lust, pornography and adultery. They were con artists, trying to fool their wives and families about everything, hustling and conning their way through life.