Jewish tradition refers to Deuteronomy 6:4-5 as the Shema. Shema is a Hebrew word that means “hear” and is the first word in this Jewish text: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Jesus, of course, quoted the Shema when He was asked, “What is the greatest commandment?” Adding the command to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18), Jesus revealed that all of the other commandments flow from these two—love God and love others.
These two commands continue to hold the most vital place in the hearts of holiness people today. As Nazarenes, we hold firmly to the belief in the work of entire sanctification. It was part of the reason for the birth of the Church of the Nazarene in 1908. The Manual states, “We believe that entire sanctification is that act of God, subsequent to regeneration, by which believers are made free from original sin, or depravity, and brought into a state of entire devotement to God, and the holy obedience of love made perfect.”1 Loving God and loving others are the greatest expressions of the life of an entirely sanctified believer.
What I found particularly interesting in studying Deuteronomy 6 is that immediately following the Shema is a strong admonition to parents: “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).
Moses called parents in the Israelite community to teach this fully surrendered life to their children!
I began to reflect on whether or not Christian parents are impressing the fully surrendered life in God on their children as Moses instructed. I have heard parents plead to God for the salvation of their children. They teach their children to pray and learn Scripture. And, praise the Lord, I’ve seen parents often lead their children into saving faith in Jesus.
In 26 years of pastoring, however, I must admit that I have not seen this same passion and intentionality in parents for helping their children experience God’s grace in entire sanctification. While we believe in this second work of grace, sadly we don’t seem as committed to helping our children experience the joy of walking in such a wonderful relationship of full surrender to God. I don’t hear parents pleading with God for their children to be entirely sanctified. I rarely hear testimonies of children who have entered this wonderful relationship of the abundant life in Christ. Think about this for a moment. Do we want our children to know the forgiveness of sins but to never experience the “holy obedience of love made perfect”?
My wife, Jenni, and I want to declare our desire for both our daughters, Bekah and Sarah, to experience not only the grace of salvation in Christ but also the Holy Spirit’s work of entire sanctification. We pray that our girls “may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19). We earnestly pray, “night and day . . . that we may . . . supply what is lacking in [their] faith” (1 Thessalonians 3:10). We pray that “the God of peace, [will] sanctify [our daughters] through and through. May [their] whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23). We commit to impressing this on our children and calling other parents to do the same. We receive this responsibility personally as parents, and we commit to discipling our children through the entire journey of grace! Will you join with us in making this commitment to intentional parenting?
Scott Rainey is global director of Sunday School and Discipleship Ministries International.
1. Church of the Nazarene Manual, 2017-2021, ¶10.
Holiness Today, January/February 2021
Please note: This article was originally published in 2021. All facts, figures, and titles were accurate to the best of our knowledge at that time but may have since changed.