We Are a Holiness People

God, who is holy, calls us to a life of holiness. We believe that the Holy Spirit seeks to do in us a second work of grace, called by various terms including "entire sanctification" and "baptism with the Holy Spirit"-cleansing us from all sin, renewing us in the image of God, empowering us to love God with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, and our neighbors as ourselves, and producing in us the character of Christ. Holiness in the life of believers is most clearly understood as Christlikeness.

Because we are called by Scripture and drawn by grace to worship God and to love Him with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, and our neighbors as ourselves, we commit ourselves fully and completely to God, believing that we can be "sanctified wholly," as a second crisis experience. We believe that the Holy Spirit convicts, cleanses, fills, and empowers us as the grace of God transforms us day by day into a people of love, spiritual discipline, ethical and moral purity, compassion, and justice. It is the work of the Holy Spirit that restores us in the image of God and produces in us the character of Christ.

We believe in God the Father, the Creator, who calls into being what does not exist. We once were not, but God called us into being, made us for himself, and fashioned us in His own image. We have been commissioned to bear the image of God: "I am the LORD . . . your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy" (Leviticus 11:44).

Jesus Christ revealed the one holy God to us and modeled worshipful, holy living for us. Our hunger to be a Holiness people is rooted in the holiness of God himself. The holiness of God refers to His deity, His utter singularity of being. There is none like Him in majesty and glory. The appropriate human response in the presence of such a glorious being is worship of God as God. God's holiness is expressed in His gracious redemptive acts. Encountering the God who reveals and gives himself makes worship possible, and worship becomes the primary way of knowing Him. We worship the holy redeeming God by loving what He loves.

Our worship of the great and gracious God takes many forms. Often it is praise and prayer with the faith community. It also expresses itself in acts of private devotion, thanksgiving, praise, and obedience. Evangelistic sharing of the faith, compassion toward our neighbor, working for justice, and moral uprightness are all acts of worship before our God of blazing holiness. Even the ordinary tasks of life become acts of worship and take on a sacramental significance as worship of a holy God becomes our way of life.

Jesus informs our understanding of holiness through His life, sacrifice, and teachings as found in the Gospels, particularly the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). As a Holiness people we seek to be like Jesus in every attitude and action. By His grace God enables believers who worship Him with their whole hearts to live Christlike lives. This we understand to be the essence of holiness.

God has also given us the gift and responsibility of choice. Because we were born with a tendency to sin, we are inclined to choose our own way rather than God's (Isaiah 53:6). Having corrupted God's creation with our sin, we are dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). If we are to live again spiritually, God, who calls into being what does not exist, must graciously create us anew through the redemptive acts of His own Son.

We believe that God uniquely entered our world through the incarnation of His only Son, Jesus of Nazareth, the historical God-man. Jesus came to renew the image of God in us, enabling us to become holy people. We believe that holiness in the life of the believer is the result of both a crisis experience and a lifelong process. Following regeneration, the Spirit of our Lord draws us by grace to the full consecration of our lives to Him. Then, in the divine act of entire sanctification, also called the baptism with the Holy Spirit, He cleanses us from original sin and indwells us with His holy presence. He perfects us in love, enables us to live in moral uprightness, and empowers us to serve.

The Spirit of Jesus works within us to reproduce in us His own character of holy love. He enables us to "put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness" (Ephesians 4:24). To be like God is to be like Jesus. Having had the divine image restored in us in God's act of entire sanctification, we acknowledge that we have not yet arrived spiritually; our lifelong goal is Christlikeness in every word, thought, and deed. By continued yieldedness, obedience, and faith, we believe that we are "being transformed into his [Christ's] likeness with ever-increasing glory" (2 Corinthians 3:18). We participate further in this process as we live a life of worship expressed in many ways, including embracing the spiritual disciplines and the fellowship and accountability of the local church. As a body of believers in a specific congregation, we endeavor to be a Christlike community, worshiping God with our whole hearts and receiving His gifts of love, purity, power, and compassion.

As a Holiness people we do not exist in a historical and ecclesiastical vacuum. We identify with the New Testament and the Early Church. Our Articles of Faith clearly place us in the tradition of classical Christianity. We identify with the Arminian tradition of free grace-Jesus died for all-and human freedom-the God-given capacity of all to choose God and salvation. We also trace our ecclesiastical heritage to the Wesleyan Revival of the 18th century and to the Holiness Movement of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Through the centuries the Holiness people have had a "magnificent obsession" with Jesus. We worship Jesus! We love Jesus! We think Jesus! We talk Jesus! We live Jesus! This is the essence and overflow of holiness for us. This is what characterizes Holiness people.

All Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.