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A Vision for Holiness

Love is the key to holiness.

I want to invite you to meditate with me on a biblical text which has come to mean a great deal to me over the years. I have quoted this text, I think, daily in prayer for maybe 20 years. I name it as my favorite text when I am asked. This text is of first-class importance to all of us if we are concerned about holiness.

I refer to Galatians 5:22-23, the great text about the fruit of the Spirit. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such there is no law."

I've meditated, I think, on those two verses more than on any others. They've come to mean so much to me that I quote them every morning. I did again this morning in my own private devotions. From these verses, I would like to draw five affirmations about love.

Love is the pre-eminent Christian grace.

The first is that love is the pre-eminent Christian grace. The fruit of the Spirit is love. It's quite true that the apostle lists nine qualities which he calls the fruit, or the harvest, of the Spirit, but love has pride of place in this list. Love is the first fruit of the Spirit.

We hear a great deal about the Holy Spirit today. He is no longer the neglected member of the Trinity. Indeed, I sometimes think that he is positively embarrassed by the publicity he is given today. Because the Holy Spirit is a reticent spirit, he does not appreciate publicity. There are many people today who are claiming rather spectacular manifestations of the Holy Spirit. But I want to remind you and them and myself that the first fruit of the Spirit is not power but love.

Let us ask ourselves this question: What is the chief distinguishing mark of the child of God? What is the hallmark that distinguishes ...

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John R. W. Stott (1921 – 2011) is known worldwide as a preacher, evangelist, author, and theologian. For 66 years he served All Souls Church, Langham Place, in London, England, where he pioneered effective urban evangelistic and pastoral ministry. During these years he authored more than 50 books, and served as one of the original Contributing Editors for Christianity Today. Stott had a global vision and built strong relationships with church leaders outside the West in the Majority World. A hallmark of Stott's ministry was his vision for expository biblical preaching that addresses the hearts and minds of contemporary men and women. In 1969 he founded a trust that eventually became Langham Partnership International (www.langham.org), a ministry that continues his vision of partnership with the Majority World Church. Stott was honored by Time magazine in 2005 as one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World."

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Sermon Outline:


I. Love is the pre-eminent Christian grace

II. Love brings joy and peace

III. Love results in patience, kindness, and goodness

IV. Love is balanced by self-control

V. Love is the fruit of the Spirit