Summary: This is an explanation of the tenth article of faith of the Church of the Nazarene. This article is the most central to the Nazarene denomination, since it was the focus that set us apart from other denominations.
This morning, we are going to move to our tenth Article of Faith, which is:
X. Christian Holiness and Entire Sanctification
Here is the description of this 10th tenet of our faith:
We believe that sanctification is the work of God which transforms believers into the likeness of Christ. It is wrought by God’s grace through the Holy Spirit in initial sanctification, or regeneration (simultaneous with justification), entire sanctification, and the continued perfecting work of the Holy Spirit culminating in glorification. In glorification we are fully conformed to the image of the Son.
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.
It is wrought by the baptism with or infilling of the Holy Spirit, and comprehends in one experience the cleansing of the heart from sin and the abiding, indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, empowering the believer for life and service.
Entire sanctification is provided by the blood of Jesus, is wrought instantaneously by grace through faith, preceded by entire consecration; and to this work and state of grace the Holy Spirit bears witness.
This experience is also known by various terms representing its different phases, such as “Christian perfection,” “perfect love,” “heart purity,” “the baptism with or infilling of the Holy Spirit,” “the fullness of the blessing,” and “Christian holiness.”
We believe that there is a marked distinction between a pure heart and a mature character. The former is obtained in an instant, the result of entire sanctification; the latter is the result of growth in grace.
We believe that the grace of entire sanctification includes the divine impulse to grow in grace as a Christlike disciple. However, this impulse must be consciously nurtured, and careful attention given to the requisites and processes of spiritual development and improvement in Christlikeness of character and personality. Without such purposeful endeavor, one’s witness may be impaired and the grace itself frustrated and ultimately lost.
Participating in the means of grace, especially the fellowship, disciplines, and sacraments of the Church, believers grow in grace and in wholehearted love to God and neighbor.
This Article of Faith is the most poorly explained of all of the Articles. The understanding of it has also changed throughout the years. In fact, it used to be called, simply, “Entire Sanctification,” and did not include the words “Christian Holiness.” Those words were added in the 2009-2013 edition of the manual in order to more adequately explain what the Nazarene church, as a whole, believed.
We are going to look at entire sanctification first, because it must take place before Christian Holiness can truly begin.
Because this is such an important part of who we are as Nazarenes, our district began requiring every district licensed pastor to attend a holiness conference at least once. We found that many of our young pastors did not know how to explain holiness or sanctification. Oddly enough, I understood this concept very well because my dad, the Southern Baptist preacher, preached it all the time. In fact, when I was going through his books, I found one of his very old bibles. On one of the blank pages in the front, he had written (show photo) “Sanctification, the Second Work of Grace.” This is one of the terms that we use for Entire Sanctification.
It is important to understand that the Apostle Paul uses different verbs when he talks about sanctification. When using a verb that signifies past tense or a completed event (like ‘have been’ or ‘was’), Paul is either talking about the Salvation experience or the event of Entire Sanctification, which I will explain in a moment. When he uses a verb that signifies an ongoing process (like ‘am being’), he is talking about Christian holiness.
You have heard me, on many occasions, talk to you about the importance of coming to the place where you are willing to stop driving the car. We sing about this moment in our lives when we sing All to Jesus I surrender. Jesus Himself had this moment when He was in the Garden of Gethsemane. He asked that the cup of His crucifixion be taken away from Him, but then said, “not My will, but Yours be done.”
I want to explain the process like this: ^when you were lost in sin, you didn’t have a relationship with Christ and He wasn’t in your life. You told yourself “I can do whatever I want to do.” ‘I’ was in control of everything you did. In all probability, if you were old enough, you bought into the world’s philosophy of “if it feels good, do it.”
^^When the Holy Spirit called you and you realized that you were utterly lost in your sin and that you needed a Savior, you repented and asked for forgiveness, and asked Jesus into your life.