As many of you know, CDG had our National Conference May 2-4 in Minneapolis. It was a wonderful time of teaching from the Word, worship, practical training, and delightful fellowship. The theme of the conference was weighty—“The Splendor of Holiness.” In order to help attendees and non-attendees alike, I would like to spend the next month or two highlighting various sessions and seminars from the conference.
To begin with, I would like to focus on the plenary session of Dr. Jason Meyer (Pastor for Preaching and Vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church) and his message “The Splendor of God’s Holiness: The Irresistible Drawing Power of Real Holiness.”Toward the end of his excellent message, he said the following heart-challenging words:
You could make the mistake of focusing exclusively on why children need to be gripped by the splendor of God’s holiness. Here is why that would be a disastrous decision. Wanting to impact children with something that has not impacted you is an unintentional inoculation against being gripped by biblical holiness. Here is what I mean. It is an inoculation because, in the end, it protects them from being “infected” by the power of the truth of God’s holiness. If someone can believe in God’s holiness without loving God’s holiness, then you can have what James calls a dead faith, a demon faith, a useless faith—an empty adherence to teaching that will never change anyone. You can be what Paul says, “having a form of godliness while denying its power.”
Dear friends, if the things you are teaching do not excite you, there is almost no way that they are going to excite children. Children are uniquely gifted in being able to sniff out phoniness. They instinctively say to themselves, “if what you are sharing does not excite you, then why would I want it?”
Or worse yet, they may follow your example. What would be worse—rejecting fake holiness or accepting fake holiness? Embracing fake holiness means that you come to grips with the fact that holiness it is just one of those dull things about God that you are supposed to believe. They may think that they should respond to these glorious things in the same “blah” way as we do. We are modeling for children how they ought to respond to the things of God. When our hearts are unengaged, we end up lying about the very things we are teaching. We are saying, “hey, look everybody, this is the bland way you should engage with these stupendously glorious things.”
That sounds like doom and gloom, but that is certainly not my aim. My goal in warning you about the danger is found in the principle of “forewarned is forearmed.” Think about what happens when you focus on personally being gripped by God’s holiness. You will be gripped yourself. You will be what the Bible calls a “witness.” We need first hand witnesses of God’s holiness for the sake of the next generation….
The only way to teach the holiness of God is as a firsthand witness. You cannot teach the Jesus that your pastor proclaims. You must teach your children about the holiness of God as you have experienced it. This is the way to powerfully proclaim the Word to them…you must be gripped by it yourself.