Summary: Number Nine in a 16-part series on the Nazarene Articles of Faith, this sermon deals with those things that occur during our conversion.
Article of Faith #9 - Justification, Regeneration, and Adoption
Date: Sunday, July 25, 2004
Author: Rev. Jonathan K. Twitchell
Before we begin our study on the Ninth Article of Faith this morning, I’d like to take a moment for a very quick review of the first eight articles.
We began our study at the beginning of the summer with a look at the nature of God. The first three Articles of Faith spoke of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In week four, we spoke of how the primary purpose of Scripture is that we might encounter God within its pages, learning from them the His plan of redemption and salvation.
The Bible also tells us of the sinful condition of humanity, and how each of us are born into the state of Original Sin, which gives us a tendency toward actual or personal sin. It is that actual sin which violates the law of love and breaks our relationship with God.
But, as we learned in week 6, God’s grace abounds to us, for "He so loved the world that He sent His one and only Son," in order that we might not perish. We spoke of how Christ’s perfect sacrifice on the cross was available to all, and effective for those who repent and believe.
In week 7, we learned that we can respond to (and accept) the atonement only because of God’s grace which calls us to Him. We specifically spoke of how it is only because of His grace that we are aware of our sinful nature and aware of the holiness of God. It is only because of His grace that we are able to have a seed of faith, and only by His grace that we might repent from our sins. It is this grace that we call Prevenient Grace: the grace which goes before.
It is this Grace which calls us to repentance, which is more than simply being sorry for our sin, but turning away from our sin. Turning from ourselves toward God. When we respond to God’s grace, we are able to repent and believe.
Precisely what happens at the moment of repentance and belief is the subject of this week’s Article. In your bulletin, you will find the Ninth Article of Faith, and I’d like to read the final paragraph for you first:
12. We believe that justification, regeneration, and adoption are simultaneous in the experience of seekers after God and are obtained upon the condition of faith, preceded by repentance; and that to this work and state of grace the Holy Spirit bears witness.
I do apologize this morning, for I will have to charge you three times as much for this sermon. Typically I only charge twenty dollars for these sermons, for they only contain one "Twenty Dollar Word." But, it appears as though this week’s article has given us three "Twenty Dollar Words" to look at, and so I guess this must be a "Sixty Dollar Sermon."
We believe that at the moment of salvation-that moment when we respond to God’s grace, repent of our sins, turn from ourselves toward God, and believe that Jesus died for our sins-we believe that three things happen all at once-the sinner is justified, regenerated, and adopted.
Justified bears within it the root word of justice. The concept of being justified carries a sense that God’s justice has been met. The atonement-Christ’s death on the cross-was, in part, about God’s justice and His mercy coexisting in such a way that the penalty for our sin might be paid for. You may have heard me say that when I was justified, in God’s eyes it was "just-if-I’d never sinned." It is in justification that we are forgiven, that we are saved from the penalty of our sin, we are pardoned. Justification follows repentance, as illustrated in this parable told by Jesus in Luke 18, beginning in verse 9:
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ’God, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ’God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14"I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
The Gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ.