The godly farmer who plows his field, sows seed, fertilizes, and cultivates is acutely aware that, in the final analysis, he is utterly dependent on outside forces for an assured crop.  He knows he cannot cause the seed to germinate, the rain to fall, or the sun to shine.  But he pursues his task with diligence nonetheless, looking to God for blessing and knowing that if he does not fertilize and cultivate, his crop will be meager at best.

Similarly, the Christian life is like a garden that must be cultivated in order to produce the fruits of holy living unto God.  “Theology is the doctrine or teaching of living to God,” wrote William Ames in the opening words of his classic, The Marrow of Theology.[1] God Himself exhorts His children, “Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Pet. 1:16).  Paul instructs the Thessalonians, “God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness” (1 Thes. 4:7).  And the author of Hebrews writes, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14).  The believer who does not diligently cultivate holiness will neither have much genuine assurance of his own salvation nor be obeying Peter’s call to seek it (2 Pet. 1:10).[2] In this chapter I will focus on the Christian’s scriptural call to cultivate Spirit-worked holiness by diligently using the means God has provided to assist him.


The article is by Joel R. Beeke, president and professor of systematic theology and homiletics at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. He is also a pastor of the Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregation, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Click here to read the entire article.

[1]The Marrow of Theology, trans. and ed. John D. Eusden (1629; Boston: Pilgrim Press, 1968), p. 77.

[2]Jerry Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness (Colorado Springs: Navpress, 1978), pp. 13-14.

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