Wednesday, November 18, 2015

William Booth and the Pathway to Purity of Heart

COVETING is never normally a good trait; but one exception is that we might covet purity of heart — to take it into the self as a possession for our being.
But only through a fervent search, a work of intensity for a series of seasons, and the finalising transaction with the Christ will one find this:
“The Holy Spirit will produce a delightful persuasion in your soul that all the pride and malice and envy and selfishness have been taken away, and that God has filled you with peace and love.”
Booth (1829–1912), Methodist preacher and founder of The Salvation Army, ingratiated nobody in speaking the truth plainly. The pathway to the Pure Heart is a road etched in sacrifice and the hoarding of every little treasure of virtue. And once these works of God sanctifying us by a repetition of sins overcome have been done, we’re able to go on into the experience of grace — that sense of “delightful persuasion.” Only God himself will convince us. Just as we need to know for sure in the depth of our souls that we’re saved, we must know to the depth of our souls that God is pleased to confer on us this confirmation we have this Pure Heart. What a glorious moment to behold! This is a spiritual perfection to strive for, yet it’s always to be juxtaposed with an inherent knowledge of our intrinsic weakness — humanity in a person is a broken vessel — and, indeed, an inherency of brokenness is such a vital underpinning to virtue in the Pure Heart.
Once we have received this conferral we’re obliged to bed it down. We have such a propensity to slide off the altar of sacrifice. We need to bed down this Purity of Heart such that we can never now lose it. Only with a Pure Heart can we work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). Indeed, it’s in real fear and trembling that we’re motivated to want Purity of Heart in the first place.
And it’s only through asking, seeking and knocking — with resilient passion to want something never as much — that we earn the right of such a focus. God, the giver of every good gift, gives us what we want, when we want it desperately! (James 1:17)
Imagine the blessing of having vices removed for virtues; to have fitted to our character the love, the joy, the peace, and the all-abiding-hope, for the removal of fears, doubting, envious stirrings, and overweening pride.
What has then taken place is the very real experience of cleansing in the blood of Jesus, for we may be cleansed in no other way.
The greatest human experience is this cleansing of soul bringing purity of heart.
There is no human glory that comes close to the experience of the glory of God embodied in our being. God wishes to give us the experience of this, and to maintain it within us. But we must want it enough for such a transformation to take root in our mind, intellect, emotion and will.
Glory to God that we know in our hearts when we’re saved, just as we know that he has cleansed us and made us new.
Nothing is more rewarding in life, and nothing’s worth more, than the felt experience of God’s approval and favour. It’s worth everything to attain it.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.

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