By David F. Gray
What I am concerned about is that it seems to me we are losing sight of the real meaning of several good Bible words such as holiness, worship, revival, freedom, etc.
Holiness has come to mean long sleeves or not wearing rings. Worship means shouting or clapping hands. Revival now refers to a great influx of souls, and freedom to run the aisles of the church.
Brother Gray, is that really what the apostles meant when they wrote the New Testament (or rather what God meant when He inspired the writers)?
I am sure you know the answer or you would not have asked the question as you did. However, for the benefit of others, especially new converts, let us briefly examine these words.
Holiness (Greek HAGIASMOS) means separation unto God and its resultant state, the conduct of those so separated (Vine). Its results are far-reaching in the life of a consecrated saint who is “perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (II Corinthians 7:1) by separating himself from all forms of sin, inward and outward.
It must start as an inward work (Matthew 23:25, 26), but when the heart is purified and separated unto God the work must continue until the outside is cleansed also. This will include among other things our attire and ornamentation (I Timothy 2:9,10). God wants us to be holy inside and out (I Peter 1:15,16), and our outward dress will often reveal the inward state of our hearts.
The Articles of Faith of the United Pentecostal Church International have a section on “Holiness” (1989 Manual, pp.23,24). It starts by saying, “Godly living should characterize the life of every child of the Lord, and we should live according to the pattern and example given in the Word of God.” Then a number of Scriptures are quoted finally ending with this paragraph:
“We wholeheartedly disapprove of our people indulging in any activities which are not conducive to good Christianity and Godly living, such as theaters, dances, mixed bathing, women cutting their hair, make-up, any apparel that immodestly exposes the body, all worldly sports and amusements, and unwholesome radio programs and music. Furthermore, because of the display of all these evils on television, we disapprove of any of our people having television sets in their homes. We admonish
all of our people to refrain from any of these practices in the interest of spiritual progress and the soon coming of the Lord for His church.”
Holiness is so vital in the life of a child of God that we are told without it “no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
Worship (Greek PROSKUNEO) means to make obeisance, to reverence, or to do an act of homage or reverence (Vine). Again, it cannot be limited to mere outward actions, or the exercise of doing some act apart from right heart attitudes. Worship must be based on love for God, and that love will then seek to express itself in actions of adoration to Him. Mere outward actions such as clapping hands without heart worship mean nothing to God (Joel 2:12, 13; Matthew 15:8,9).
Isaiah lists all the various methods of Old Testament worship which God himself had ordained and which Israel was doing, and declared these things to be abomination and iniquity because they were mere outward actions and not done from a heart of love for God and devotion to godliness and right living (Isaiah 1:11-20). God is seeking for those who will worship him “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Then such expressions of worship as shouting and clapping hands become true worship and acceptable to Him. But let us not confine our worship to stereotyped forms and merely habitual expressions. If your heart is right you will seek to express your worship in actions of love and devotion.
Revival comes from the word revive (Hebrew CHAYAH) which means to refresh, to rebuild, to restore to life. It is an Old Testament word used to express a work of God in bringing God’s people back into fellowship with him (Psalm 85:6; 138:7; Isaiah 57:15, Hosea 6:2; Habakkuk 3:2). Revival today is first of all God renewing His saints, refreshing them and refilling them with the Holy Ghost. The result isbound to be seen in new souls being brought to God as the saints are fired up to a new place of devotion and witnessing for the Lord (Acts 1:8).
The last word you mention, freedom, is taken from the word free (Greek ELEUTHEROS) which primarily refers to freedom from the slavery and bondage of sin (John 8:34-36; Romans 6:18-22); also the Jews being set free from the law when they come to Christ (Romans 8:2; Galatians 4:26; 5:1). Therefore, it expresses the beautiful freedom we enjoy in Christ since we are set free from bondage. This includes freedom to express ourselves in worship by physical manifestations that are dear to all Pentecostal people: Dancing, shouting, leaping for joy, etc.
However, freedom is not license. Someone said to a man who was swinging his arms, “Your freedom ends where my nose begins.” Another, expressing the limitations of freedom of speech, pointed out that this freedom does not give liberty to shout “FIRE!” in a crowded auditorium.
So then, our freedom must be used in a responsible way, always being concerned about the good of others, and that all things be done to edify the church (I Corinthians 14:26).
Yes, my dear brother, these words have a greater, deeper, and more blessed meaning than is often attributed to them. And I am sure we could all add to your list.
However, while you may resent the great Scriptural expressions being used in a very limited and undeniably deficient fashion, realize that many who do this are sincere and loving children of God who as yet are in an infantile stage of development, but are in need of someone taking them lovingly by the hand and leading them out of the “ankle deep” waters into “waters to swim in” (Ezekiel 47:3-5).
And then too, Friend, if you search your heart, maybe, just maybe, you will find that one reason you resent the application of the Bible words in the direction they are used is that you do not wish to have pointed out to you areas in which you are weak. Because, although the real substance of the words are larger and greater than the usage you indicate, those things are still part of the meaning, which you may not like to admit.
Honestly, now, isn’t that so?
(The above material was published by THE GOSPEL TIDINGS, September 1993)
Christian Information Network