In pursuit of personal holiness, Christians must make a daily spirit-powered, Gospel-driven, faith-fueled effort to live as humble servants of Jesus Christ, Pastor Kevin DeYoung told some 8,000 pastors and ministry leaders at the fourth Together for the Gospel (T4G) conference held this week in Louisville, Ky.
During his hour-long talk, titled "Spirit-Powered, Gospel-Driven, Faith-Fueled Effort," DeYoung addressed the importance of task and effort in modern day Christianity, saying that it is through faithful action that one can achieve personal holiness.
In his talk, DeYoung connects the three threads of the Gospel, faith, and spirit that make up the fabric of personal holiness.
"The realities of the Spirit, the Gospel, and the faith do not eliminate the need for human effort," DeYoung told his audience.
DeYoung is the senior pastor at University Reform Church in East Lansing, Mich., near Michigan State University.
The pastor began his talk by discussing the passion he has seen fuel what he calls the "young restless reform movement," which seeks to infuse a sense of passion and purpose in the upcoming, younger generation of Christians.
"I believe for all the good that we see in this new movement or resurgence, represented by the thousands of you here […] I believe that we are known for many things," DeYoung told the crowd of Christian leaders, mostly in their 20s and 30s.
He pointed to the younger Christian generation's commitment to the uniqueness of Jesus Christ and commitment to the doctrines of grace. Most importantly, DeYoung noted the new generation's commitment to the centrality of the Scripture.
Although congratulatory of the resurgence movement, DeYoung did mention two areas which he thinks the youth have yet to show their passion and enthusiasm: an earnest commitment to global missions of spreading the Christian Gospel, and a commitment and passion for personal holiness.
DeYoung argues that this personal holiness can only be achieved through effort and action.
"Are there few things as important as this?" DeYoung questioned of personal holiness, adding that personal holiness in Christianity is the only way to achieve eternal salvation.
"We are striving for a progressive, personal, actual holiness without which we will not see the Lord," he said.
A strong, individualistic, and empowered spirit leads one to personal holiness, but how is this passionate spirit harnessed?
One of the main ways to attain this pure, personal holiness is through exploring the Gospel, where one can learn the art of expressing gratitude and a sense of personal identity.
Gratitude, DeYoung explains, can only be attained through humility.
"The kind of experience of humility and happiness that comes with gratitude tends to crowd out whatever is coarse, or ugly, or mean," DeYoung told the crowd.
Another key ingredient to personal holiness is understanding oneself, as seen in the New Testament.
"One of the central motivations for holiness in the New Testament is to be who you are, to understand your identity and your union in Christ and to live that way," the pastor told the T4G attendees.
The last of the necessary points in the pursuit of personal holiness is faith-fueled effort, which ties the three points together because without effort, there would be no action, and therefore no progress towards personal holiness.
DeYoung argues that although Christians rely on a Gospel infused message, "there's still a command, there's still something to do," adding "the pursuit of holiness is the fight of faith [and] the struggle to grow in Godliness is fueled by God's word."
DeYoung tied his three points together by saying that this new generation of Christians may use God's word, as found in the Gospel, to know themselves better and thus better pursue their personal holiness through action.
"When it comes to sanctification, holiness does not happen apart from trusting, and trusting does not put an end to trying," DeYoung concluded.
The Michigan pastor was one of several speakers to attend the fourth annual Together for Gospel conference, a three-day event which focuses on encouraging other pastors to stand together for the same Christian Gospel.
Founded in 2006 by pastors and theologians Ligon Duncan, Mark Dever, Albert Mohler, Jr. and C. J. Mahaney, this event, which concluded Thursday, is targeted toward young pastors to reveal the importance of the Gospel in Christian teaching.