Friday, August 17, 2012

The Goal is the Process

The Goal is the Process

Many see and hear singers and think that these are especially talented people; that they have a gift, and only those gifted can do it.  As if, singing does not require technique to be learned and mastered.  The truth is that as with many things in life, there is a method or process for singing.  And, as with many things, the process for singing requires technique.   A technique is a practical (or mechanical) skill applied to the process or method to perform and complete a task.  Often more than one technique is needed, if the task is complex.  In fact the more complex the process the more technique is needed.  The process of singing happens to be pretty complex. 

For a singer a large part of the technique is breathing.  They have to breathe correctly and at the right places of the song.  Among other parts of the technique are how to open the mouth, where to put the tongue, and when to raise lower the volume.   All of these must be learned and mastered before the performance.   So, throughout the song a major focus of the singer is to stay connected with the techniques required in the process of singing.  The idea is that if the singer has the technique right then the voice will sound right.  So, for the singer the outcome is not the goal, but the process.   

The same goes for the Christian walk.  Many mistakenly think that the goal is to act a certain way.  But, that is not God’s goal for us.  God’s goal is the process.  If we follow God’s process the behavior will come automatically.  God’s process is called sanctification; and, according to Paul, “this is the will of God, even your sanctification” (1 Thessalonians 4: 3).  The word in Greek is holiness, which verse 7 says that that is God’s call for us.  Our quarterly states that, Verse 3 builds on verse 1, where Paul reminded the Thessalonians of how they were to “walk” (NKJV) - “live” in many translations -a Hebrew concept used to describe daily moral and ethical behavior.  In verse 3 he uses another Hebrew concept to describe spiritual life and growth, “holiness” or “sanctification.”

A typical definition of holiness is “set apart for sacred use.” But Paul gives the term more specific meaning in this letter. Holiness is the condition the Thessalonians will be in at the return of Jesus (1 Thess. 3:13). But in chapter 4 Paul chooses a form of the concept that emphasizes process rather than outcome. It is a noun of action: “sanctifying” more than “sanctification.” It is the will of God that we be engaged in this process (1 Thess. 4:3).

So, what is this process of sanctification?  Before, we answer the question we should establish that any contemporary study of "holy living" must include the context of the unique Seventh-day Adventist doctrine of the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary.  To understand the heavenly sanctuary God has given us the earthly sanctuary and its services and sacrifices.  Because, what happened in the earthly is a representation of what happened in the heavenly.  Every day ceremonies of sacrifices were made for forgiveness of Sin.  By faith and figuratively all the sins forgiven daily were accumulated in the sanctuary for a year.  Once a year other ceremony of sacrifice was made to cleanse the Sanctuary from these Sins.  The Sins were blotted out.  This event pointed to the time – of age - when all the Sins of the World, placed on the Heavenly Sanctuary, would be cleansed.  The Sins are blotted out.  We are living in this age now: the Cosmic Age of Atonement. 

However, the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary is a work that includes the people and extends to them. It provides for the perfection of their character in Christ on the one hand; and on the other hand in the final destruction of sin and sinners and the cleansing of the universe from all taint of sin. It is Christ fully formed in each believer. The sanctuary itself cannot be cleansed so long as God's people continue to pour into it a constant stream of sinning. The stream will be stopped at its source in the hearts and lives of God's people. The ministry of Christ in the Most Holy Apartment does make "the comers thereunto perfect" (Heb. 10:1) and does perfect "forever them that are sanctified" (vs. 14).  This is the work of the Holy Spirit in us.  Blotting out all self from us and in its stead writing in our hearts and mind the commandments and statutes of God (Jeremiah 31: 33; Hebrews 10:16).   This is the process.  For this to happen we must permit it to happen.   This is our focus.