Summary: The final sermon in our series on the Nazarene Articles of Faith, this sermon looks at the future hope of the resurrection of the dead.
Article of Faith #16 - Resurrection, Judgment, and Destiny
Date: Sunday, October 3, 2004
Author: Rev. Jonathan K. Twitchell
Today we reach the conclusion of our sixteen week study on the Articles of Faith. I know that several of you have enjoyed our study and found it a helpful refresher of what it is that we believe, and why. I know this because you’ve told me so. Some of you have had a chance to study our doctrines closely for the first time, others have benefited from a review of our stand on these important doctrines. Some have grown from the study of our denominational distinctives, while others have appreciated the reminder that we are a part of something much larger than ourselves…part of the universal Body of Christ.
I’d be deceiving myself, however, if I didn’t recognize that there are some of you out there today who are breathing a sigh of relief because we are finally through a very long study…complete with twenty dollar words and theological concepts that might not always appear to have clear practical applications to our lives today. I want to thank you for being patient with our study, and I do hope that you were able to glean some benefit from our studies on these beliefs. Next week will be our Faith Promise Convention for Missions, and following that, I will return to the Gospel of Luke for the remainder of the Liturgical Year.
Before we look at the sixteenth and final article of faith, it may be helpful for us to take a brief survey of some of our lessons so far. We began our series with a look at the Triune God. Eternally existing in three-persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—God is Holy Community, showing forth divine love. We learn from the doctrine of the Trinity that God is most basically described as “Holy Love.”
Since God is relational, he created us to be in relationship with Him. We know that the sin committed by Adam and Eve in the Garden broke that relationship, the consequence being that each one of us is born with an inherited propensity toward committing actual (or personal) sin. In other words, even though we were created to be in relationship with a Holy Relational God, sin prevents us from being in perfect relationship with Him. If the Grand Narrative ended there, however; we would be without hope, for we are completely unable to reconcile ourselves to God.
However, we know that Jesus, fully-divine and fully-human, enrobed Himself in human flesh in order to make atonement for our sins. It is the death of Christ on the Cross that allows for our sins to be forgiven, and it is His resurrection from the grave that gives us hope for New Life in Christ.
We recognize that it is only because of God’s grace—unmerited favor—that Jesus came to earth. It is only by His grace that Christ died and rose again. It is only by His prevenient grace that we were called to Him before we even knew we needed a savior. It is only by His grace that we can have the faith necessary to receive the free gift. It is only by His justifying grace that justice and mercy can be served at the same time and we can be justified. It is only by His sanctifying grace that we can be remade in His image. It is only by His sustaining grace that we can have strength for each new day. Indeed, we learned that it is all about God’s Amazing Grace. We have spoken of how our faith is the necessary and appropriate response to God’s grace, in order that we might be saved.
In recent weeks, we spoke of the ways in which God’s plan is manifest on earth today, through the church and through the sacraments. We spoke of what it means to be part of the Body of Christ as expressed in local churches, denominations, and traditions. While there may be much that separates us from other denominations, there is far more that holds us together.
Last week we spoke of the certain hope that we have in Christ’s return to this earth. We were reminded to encourage each other with these words, “Christ will come again!...When it seems like darkness and death are winning, when it seems like the forces of evil are too strong, when the clouds are covering the sky…look to the east, for Christ will come again."
Today we turn our attention to the additional events that will happen at the end of time as we know it. Our Sixteenth article of faith is entitled “Resurrection, Judgment, and Destiny.” You can find the article in the inside flap of your bulletin, along with scriptures for you to read and study during the week.