A. T. Pierson wrote, “Our Father, who seeks to perfect His saints in holiness, knows the value of the refiner’s fire. It is with the most precious metals that a metallurgist will take the greatest care. He subjects the metal to a hot fire, for only the refiner’s fire will melt the metal, release the dross and allow the remaining, pure metal to take a new and perfect shape in the mold.” (SID p. 407)
The procedure required to turn an impure heart into a burning heart for God is similar-only a continual refining fire will purify our motives and cleanse our character, making us beautiful and valuable treasures, useful for God’s purposes. That fire is available to us in the person and presence of Christ and through the constant indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
In the 1947signed pledge by the Fellowship of the Burning Heart, God impressed Bill Bright and his friends to define their whole-hearted devotion to Him by making lifetime commitments to sobriety and sexual purity. It’s worth at least considering why those two specific tenants were so important to them.
I don’t believe the Fellowship of the Burning Heart forged their pledge out of legalism, but out of a desire to live and lead lives that burned brightly for the living, loving God. Neither do I believe they were attempting to turn people toward their “way of thinking.” They were, for themselves, deciding how best to express and maintain their passion for God, their willingness to be holy as He is, and to be powerful tools in His hand for His work and His name for a lifetime. And they invited others of like-minds and conviction to join in.
The extent to which culture and society in the 21st century has exploded in the exploitation of sex, drugs, alcohol, pornography, and vulgarity, even in the Christian community, was utterly unimaginable in 1947. The fact that these men and women of God saw sexual purity and sobriety as two core issues that provided maximum opportunity for either depleting or amplifying their effectiveness for God, makes the tenants of their contract all the more relevant to us today.
Why is the call to holiness missing in the Christian culture of this generation?
Perhaps because the content of the message is difficult to hear, difficult to live, and difficult to give?
I have heard and felt the call upon my life to both live and give this message. My heart is guided by Paul’s words in Titus 2:12-15, “and we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with self-control, right conduct, and devotion to God, while we look forward to that wonderful event when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us and make us his very own people, totally committed to doing what is right. You must teach these things and encourage your people to do them, correcting them when necessary. You have the authority to do this, so don’t let anyone ignore you or disregard what you say.” (NLT)
If there is nothing different about how we live, think, believe, and speak compared to the world around us, what evidence is there that we are truly on fire? If we desire to remain forever in love with and useful to God, I believe we must be convinced that God asks us to be holy-not through our own willpower, but through the power of His Holy Spirit within us. We must also believe that the more pure and holy we are, the more powerful our impact and enthusiasm will be for the God we serve. And finally, we must acknowledge that purity and holiness means being set apart and different than the rest of society-something that isn’t always easy or comfortable.
When we are convinced that those who reflect a holy God shine brightest in a dark world, we will no longer allow the absence of holiness and the presence of darkness in our lives to diminish His Spirit in us.
Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, Colossians, Thessalonians, Timothy and Titus, along with the two letters of Peter gives every generation a clear and absolute call to holy living. They repeatedly challenge, beg, and implore believers to take their salvation seriously by living lives set apart for God. I encourage you to read these New Testament letters and ask the Holy Spirit to give you a burning heart for God through purity