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Merida summons the pastor to pursue holiness

by Michael McEwen

Drawing from 1 Peter 1:13-2:3 for his message, Tony Merida addressed the need for pastors today to understand the holy God who is eternal and the holy life the pastor is called to live before God and his congregation. 

Merida, Associate Professor of Preaching, addressed the students, faculty, and staff at Southeastern this past Tuesday. Merida, newly elected to the faculty at Southeastern, preached as to how the pastor is to pursue holiness in his ministry. 

Before noting the pastoral challenges, Merida addressed a couple of misconceptions about holiness. First of many misconceptions, Merida said, is the fundamental difference between positional and practical holiness. “The righteousness of Jesus has been transferred to us––hence positional holiness––and also, we are called to practical holiness.” The second misconception Merida observed was that an isolated life equals a sinless life. “When we look at the life of Christ, we read of Jesus living with and around ‘unholy’ people, yet we also read that he was without sin,” said Merida.  

He exposed from 1 Peter 1:13 the power and hope of the new identity of the Christian, especially the pastor. Merida said, “If you have no holiness, you don’t have a ministry.” 

Merida then discussed the common unhealthy habits of the flesh that pastors struggle with in today’s churches. “Passions are the residues of the old man, and we are never to make peace with our sin,” Merida said. 

The God who is omniscient, Merida said, “perceives every movement, deed, and word that we do or say.” He then explained that a vital component of the pastor’s life is to live before the eyes of God. Addressing the present and future pastors in the chapel, Merida said, “Thus the ultimate question then is, ‘What do you as a pastor do in isolation?’”

Illustrating the implications of a holy life, Merida called the chapel to pursue a pervasive holiness. “Pervasive holiness,” Merida said, “means a sanctification of all of our being, conduct, deeds, and all in the holiness of God.” A characteristic of pursuing a pervasive holiness is to preach the gospel to oneself daily. Merida said, “We are to sing the gospel, hear the gospel, pray the gospel, and adore the gospel to ourselves daily.”

In addition to preaching the gospel to oneself daily, Merida said that the pastor is to feast on the word of God in communion with him: “We need a large communion with God, as well as a varied communion with God.”

Merida concluding his message with a picture of Christ, who in perfect holiness has triumphed over all sin and death. Merida said, “We must believe that Christ is better than sin. Holiness is not about giving up pleasure, but it is about finding pleasure in Christ. What you are wanting is to be found in Jesus. Holiness, truly, is finding satisfaction only in Jesus.”

SEBTS Contact:
Kenneth Bonnett, Director of Communications

About Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

The mission of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Southeastern is an institution of higher learning and a Cooperate Program ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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