By Harry E. Jessop
THE HOLINESS PEOPLE HAVE A GREAT COMMISSION
"For our gospel came not unto you in word only but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance .... So that ye were ensamples.... For from you sounded out the word of the Lord." I Thess. 1:5-8.
The Commission of the Holiness People is clearly defined. They have been raised up to spread Scriptural Holiness.
Some have raised a critical note here, arguing that such a movement is lopsided, having only one thought to emphasize, whereas, if rightly balanced, its emphasis would be more widely distributed. There are other things to preach, say they, besides Holiness. Why then should anyone be everlastingly harping on the one same old string?
It is possible that in some places such a criticism may not be without foundation. This criticism becomes misleading, however, because of what our critics do with it and the way in which they apply it. That Holiness is our central theme we have no disposition to deny, since it was for this purpose that we as a Movement were raised up. Had there been no necessity for our witness, God would not have called us into being.
Having been raised up for this purpose, there surely should be no criticism on the fact that we are seeking to fulfill what we believe to be our Divinely appointed destiny. Other movements and churches have been no less definite in their distinctive witness, yet they have not been accused so freely of this business of harping on the one string.
The Baptist Church, for instance, stands freely and openly for the ordinance of believers' baptism by the method of immersion. Is this harping on one string? The Temperance Party stands out bravely and consistently for the abolition of liquor. Is this harping on one string? The man of science selects his field of research and explores it to the farthest limits. Is this harping on one string? In the medical world there are general practitioners, and then from among them arise the specialists, selecting some special disease or some part of the body and majoring there. Is that harping on one string?
Would the Church be any worse off if it could be definitely proven that besides its general ministry it had a few men and women who specialized in teaching God's people how to maintain a closer walk with Him? Is it not recorded that when Philip the evangelist had concluded his evangelistic campaign in the city of Samaria, the Apostles which were at Jerusalem sent down Peter and John with a view to leading them into a life dominated by the Holy Ghost? Acts 8:1-17.
Did not our ascended Lord give to His Church, some to be apostles; and some prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints? Eph. 4:11, 12. Would it be correct to say that in the fulfillment of their respective offices these are all harping on one string?
If such an accusation were true concerning the average holiness preacher, it would seem to us to be a cause for thanksgiving that in a day of apostasy and spiritual decay, there are men who hold steadily to at least one Divinely revealed truth and proclaim steadfastly the possibility of such an experience. We have no desire to monopolize the string. There is room for many more harpers upon it.
But is it true that the Holiness preacher in general does harp on one string? Admittedly there are some who may; just as to a limited mind any other line of teaching may become an obsession. We are taking it for granted, however, that our critics take pains to hear our best men, and to listen to their preaching over a period of time. No movement would want to be judged by what might happen on its fringes.
When conventions are held, camp meetings arranged, and special services advertised, the essential purpose of these gatherings is necessarily the propagation of this truth. At that time all else is put aside and in every service some phase of this teaching is presented. In a pastoral charge, however, one meeting each week is set apart for teaching, and, recognizing its centrality, the wise pastor will seek to relate that teaching to all else in Christian experience, as did Wesley and his contemporaries.
One string, did you say? No, my friend, you are wrong. Holiness is no mere string: it is the harmonious blending of the entire orchestra, every other Bible truth lending its tuneful note to the glorious volume of praise.
Yet, withal, while every other truth receives its due emphasis, we are persuaded that this harmonious blending can only be realized as the leading note of sin's destruction is clearly sounded, and the assurance given to every needy heart that by God's wonderful grace they may walk this sin-stained world in white.