Are you looking for us? We believe in Personal Holiness
…That is, we believe in the doctrine of sanctification.
For this to make sense at all, we must again affirm that we believe the Bible. We believe that the ethics of the Bible are unchanging and that they are the only ethics that are pleasing to God. In fact, the life that runs in opposition to God’s law is headed to eternal ruin. Personal holiness is, simply put, our conformity to the ethics of the Bible resulting from the Work of God’s grace. This process is called sanctification and is defined in the Westminster Shorter Catechism’s question 35: “Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.” So, we view the pursuit of personal holiness as a transformed heart gladly living under the Lordship of God, having been given the desire and ability to do His will (Phil. 2).
Enabled by His Grace to die to sin and live to righteousness, we are now able to put off sin and put on righteousness. This is the daily struggle in which every true believer is engaged. The Christian life is not marked with perfection; rather it is identified as a fight, a struggle, a great spiritual battle which calls us to put on the full armor of God (see Eph. 6). This battle is organically connected to the work of regeneration and that is why James could say so boldly that faith is not real faith if it is not the kind of faith that produces Christian works (see James 2).
Those who truly profess Christ will be serious about following Christ. It is because of this union of saving faith and faithful obedience that our membership vows require those seeking church membership to affirm that they “resolve and promise, in humble reliance upon the grace of the Holy Spirt, to endeavor to live as becomes the follower of Christ”. And we take these vows realizing that no one is able in this life to live in sinless perfection. We are at the same time saints having been set apart to holiness and sinners struggling with temptation and failure. We are sinners who have been saved by God’s grace, who strive for holiness by grace, and who look to that same grace when we falter. Our hope, past-present-future, is God’s redemptive-enabling-forgiving grace.
We are committed to the pursuit of personal holiness. We are committed to encouraging and helping one another toward holiness. We are committed to forgiving and rejoicing with those who turn from their sin to once again serve our living God. And we are committed to the pursuit of personal holiness through the ordinary means of grace in the life of the church. That is, we believe that sanctification is best nurtured by making use of the ordinances that God has given us to accomplish that end, ordinances such as the use of the Bible, especially the preaching of God’s Word, prayer, and the right use of baptism and the Lord ’s supper. Our sanctification is not a passive “let go and let God” experience but a wonderful transformation that God works in us that works itself out by our glad obedience to God’s Word. By such obedience we are more and more and more and more transformed into the image of Christ whom we love.
We believe in sanctification. Though it is sometimes messy and often slow, we are assured that God will work in us according to His promise and by His means. There is always room for another struggling sinner here at Fifth Street Presbyterian…we would love to have you join us as we grow together in our love for God. If you are looking for a place to grow in personal holiness this may be the church for you.