Avon Park Holiness Camp

Avon Park Camp Association
1001 W Lake Isis, Avon Park FL 33825
Our Distinctive Teaching
by Dr. Burnis H. Bushong

Camp meetings are not new in America. They date back to the colonial days when religious gatherings were held in brush arbors or temporary tabernacles which provided shelter from the sun and rain. In the larger camp meetings more than ten thousand attended. The preaching was very evangelistic and resulted in hundreds of conversions.

The Avon Park Holiness Camp Meeting, established in 1939, is one of the great “holiness” camp meetings of America. We emphasize holiness of heart and life. What do we mean by “holiness?” In this brief discussion of holiness, simple words and concepts will be used. To clarify rather than confuse, theological terms will be minimal. Holiness can be taught by using Biblical terms. Even some of these biblical words may be difficult for some, but comprehension will come if one keeps an open heart and mind.

The Scriptures clearly teach that God is holy and He wants His followers to be holy. In Leviticus 11:45b God stated, “Therefore be holy, because I am holy.” This is again emphasized in the New Testament in I Peter 1:16, “For it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.” Sanctification is a good biblical word that has two meanings: (1) To be set aside for a holy purpose and (2) to be cleansed or made clean.

It is God’s will that we be sanctified. Jesus prayed his disciples would be sanctified as well as those that would follow: “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth . . . My prayer is not for them alone, I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message.” (John 17: 17-20) The Apostle Paul underlined this truth when he wrote, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified . . .” (I Thes.4:3a) Paul converted his plea into a prayer when he wrote, “May God himself, the God of peace sanctify you through and through.” (I Thes. 5:23)

If it is God’s plan that we be holy, and if it was Christ’s prayer and Paul’s plea that we should be made holy, does it not seem reasonable and scriptural to believe that we should be made holy?

Some have erroneously taught that a person cannot be made entirely holy in this life. It would be very unjust, as well as illogical, for God to request us to become something that would be impossible to achieve. Loving parents do not require their young children to do tasks that are beyond their capability. Neither does our heavenly Father. He does give us the possibility of becoming holy through the indwelling Holy Spirit.

The first step toward living a holy life is conversion. This is when we are “born again” or “saved” as we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior. Through repentance our acts of sin and disobedience are forgiven, we become a child of God, and a holy life begins.

However, after conversion God wants to fill and cleanse us with His Holy Spirit. This is what we call entire sanctification or holiness of heart. (I Thes. 5:23,24)

Why cannot God do everything at our conversion? Why is something needed after being born again? God indeed is all powerful, but He will not do that which is contrary to His character. When the unconverted sinner comes to God in repentance, he is sinful and unclean; he is not ready to be filled with God’s Spirit. At conversion the sinner is cleansed from his sins and made clean. After the conversion experience God will anoint the life with the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Thus the sinner needs to be cleansed or forgiven before He is filled with God’s Spirit.

Also we must remember that sin is twofold in nature: (1) The acts of sin, such as lying, stealing, and doing those things in life that are contrary to God’s will. These acts of sin are forgiven at conversion. (2) There remains in the heart of the forgiven sinner, the principle of Sin. This is what we have inherited from Adam. It is a part of sinful humanity. God desires that our “old man” or sinful nature be destroyed. (Romans 6:6). This is why a second work, or sanctification is required. A double need requires a double cure if the sin problem is to be solved.

The Bible provides many examples of two works of God’s grace. The Lord’s disciples were indeed disciples; they had left all to follow Jesus. On occasions they even were given power to perform miracles. It would have been very unreasonable to think that Jesus would give such power to unconverted men. (Luke 10:1-17) After this experience Jesus clearly told them that their names were written in heaven. (Luke 10:20)

The unconverted are not in this category. The disciples had followed Jesus for three and one half years. They were disciples, but they were not ready for ministry. Prior to His ascension Jesus instructed His disciples, “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49) At the time of His near return to heaven, Jesus again declared, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

The converts in Samaria were converted under the preaching of Phillip the Evangelist. When the disciples at Jerusalem heard that those in Samaria had received the gospel, they specifically sent to them Peter and John so that they might receive the Holy Spirit. (Acts 8:5-17) A study of the life of Paul shows that he was converted on the road to Damascus, but was filled with the Holy Spirit in the home of Ananias. (Acts 9: 1-17)

Other examples could be given from scripture showing those that were filled with the Holy Spirit following conversion. The infilling of the Holy Spirit or sanctification is available for born again Christians today. (Eph.5: 18)

The work of sanctification does not mean that the possibility of sin is removed. We can sin. But with the help of the Holy Spirit we do not have to sin. If we do sin or fall, Christ our Advocate is always available to forgive and restore. (I John 2:1) Temptation remains. Even Christ was tempted as we are tempted, but with each temptation, He offers a way to escape. ( I Cor. 10:13, Heb.4: 15) The person that is truly sanctified remains truly human. He will still have human imperfections and weaknesses, but He can have a heart that is perfected in love to God and man.

In summary, we can say that the experience of entire sanctification or holiness may be outlined as follows:

          1. It is a second definite work of God’s grace that follows the new birth.
          2. It is received in response to our complete consecration and faith.
          3. It is followed by growth and continuous development in God’s grace.
          4. It cleanses, fills the heart, and sets us aside for His service.
          5. It is maintained by a life of obedience and faith.
          6. It is attainable in this present life.
          7. It is available for all born again children of God.

As you attend our camp meeting, you will hear additional preaching on holiness and sanctification. Invitations will be given for those wanting to seek this experience. Respond to the invitations or come to us personally. We are here to help you.