Sermons

Summary: The fifth in a sixteen-sermon series on the Nazarene Articles of Faith. This sermon explores the doctrine of sin and the way in which we can have an "Independance Day" in our lives.

Article of Faith #5 - Sin, Original and Personal

Date: Sunday, July 4, 2004

Author: Rev. Jonathan K. Twitchell

Before we begin our study today, I’d like to take a moment of pastoral privilege. A couple of weeks ago you took some time to recognize some special occasions in my life; my birthday, and our 7th wedding anniversary. I wanted to thank you for the kind words and the gifts which you gave to us.

As I contemplate those occasions, I’m reminded of one of the running jokes among some pastors on the Maine District. There are those who try to keep me humble by reminding me that churches keep me around because they get Melody as part of the bargain. As funny as that may seem, we all know that there is a great deal of truth to the statement, as she is a vital part and support of my ministry. We’ve always believed that God put us together to be a team, and to minister in His Name. And so, I want to take a moment to thank you, Melody…for being a great support, for using your gifts and abilities so well, and for being the best wife a man could ever ask for. I love you, and thank you…for simply being you!

But, a 7th wedding anniversary is not the only anniversary that is celebrated. I don’t know if you know it or not, but today—the first Sunday in July--is also another anniversary. You may not believe it, but two years ago we moved from Redbank Village in South Portland to your beautiful parsonage on Susan Rd. Two years ago this Sunday was my first Sunday in the pulpit as your pastor. And so, I want to take a moment to thank you for being such a wonderful congregation and for taking such good care of us. I want to thank you for your support in my various ministries, however unconventional they may appear. I want to thank you for inviting us into your lives, to be part of your families. Many pastors identify a moment—usually 3-to-9 months into their ministry with a particular congregation—when the ‘newness’ wears off and the excitement fades. They often speak of that moment as the “honeymoon” being over. While I was at PALCON this week, I was thinking about that, and realizing that I can’t identify any such moment here at Cape Elizabeth , and that is truly extraordinary. Now, I don’t believe for a moment that I am an extraordinary minister, and so I’m firmly convinced that the honeymoon continues for two reasons: 1) because we serve and extraordinary God, and 2) because you are an extraordinary church. I feel blessed and fortunate to have been called here, and want to tell you that we love you, and we look forward to whatever future God has in store for us together! May the honeymoon continue….

We turn our attention this morning to the 5th Article of Faith in the Church of the Nazarene. You can find this article and its supporting scriptures in the inside flap of your bulletin. As we arrive at this Article of Faith, we arrive at a topic which is not a popular topic in our culture today. People don’t often like to hear about sin, unless it is to point out someone else’s sin. Jesus had a keen understanding of human nature when He exhorted His listeners to first take care of the plank in their eye before worrying about the speck in their brother’s eye.

Before we look at the Article of Faith, I’d like to ask you a question to think about. “How are we aware of sin? How are we, as humans, even able to identify sin or bad behavior?” I suppose, first and foremost we would say that our parents taught us right from wrong, and before them their parents taught them, and their parents before them, and so on. But before that, how were people aware of sin? How were they able to identify bad behavior?

I want you to think about this for a moment: the very fact that we are able to identify sin is evidence of the Grace of God at work in our lives. Simply because we can identify evil is evidence that we have encountered good. We know there is a God, because woven into each of our lives is a moral fabric.

If you think about it, you realize that in order to identify sin, we must have some experience with holiness—else we would not recognize sin in our midst. Clearly, humanity has—at some point in its history—encountered a holy God, or else it would be entirely unable to recognize that which is less than holy.

I am reminded of Isaiah’s vision recorded in Isaiah chapter 6. You will recall that he:

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