Pursuing purity

“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning, so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”

(Romans 6:1-4 NIVUK)

Purity. Not a word we hear mentioned much in the media, is it? And is it just my imagination, or has it come to feature far less in contemporary songs and choruses that we sing? Now, there are things that we are certainly getting right, I believe, as we focus on being ‘intentionally relational’ and ‘unashamedly missional’. We are being creative, exploring afresh what it means to be rooted in Christ. But the devil has a way of getting us to lose sight sight of other basics. One of the things we can lose sight of is purity. How is that?

It might be because purity, like punishment for sins and our salvation, starts with God’s initiative and now ours. Now that we are coming to Easter, we are focusing afresh on that incredible, redemptive initiative of God’s goodness and mercy: Jesus died on the Cross to bear the consequence and take the punishment for all our sins. Hallelujah!

But again, it might be because purity also costs us something. As the Apostle Paul points out, we have to die with Christ to be raised with Him: the very thing that believers’ baptist stands for. But if we only focus on a penalty paid at the Cross, we’ll have missed so much of the Christian message. If we see the punishment without seeing the purging and perfecting of our humanity; if we sing about the Cross without seeing the need to celebrate the bodily Resurrection and present reign of Jesus, we will be left with a partial message that is but a fragment of Biblical truth. We need to understand that it is also about purity. And purity costs.

The writer to the Hebrews got this, when he wrote down, in Hebrews 2.10, “In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered.” John Wesley, in his holiness message of the 18th Century got it. Charles Finney, in the great revival of the 19th Century got it. Duncan Campbell, in the Hebridean Revival of the 20th Century got it. Will we get in in the 21st Century?

So much nonsense about accepting impurity is spoken of in the world and sadly, at times, falsely preached about in church. But imagine how it will be when Biblical truth wins the day. When the message people hear and respond to is about all of punishment paid for, perfection manifest and purity pursued. Imagine how it can be when a people rejoice in both the power of the Cross and the resounding power of purity won through through the Resurrection and the power of Pentecost. Imagine it. Pursue it. And witness real revival happen!

jim

Rev Dr Jim Purves

Mission and Ministry Advisor

Baptist Union of Scotland