Summary: sermon on Justification, Regeneration, and Adoption

"Twenty Dollar Words"

Article of Faith #9

Justification, Regeneration, and Adoption

May 17, 2009

Last Sunday, I had the chance to sit in on the Sunday school lesson for a little bit. The one who was suppose to teach had another obligation she had to take care of – so the class was faced without a teacher at the last minute. It was a blessing to me to see how the class responded. They quickly got organized, appointed a leader and had a really wonderful class.

Some very deep questions were asked. Some very relevant questions were asked. One of the subjects that came up had to deal with one of our articles of faith in the Nazarene Manual. I used a couple of twenty dollar words that I didn’t have time to explain to my satisfaction, so I thought we would take a little closer look at them today.

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 to get you up to speed. Most of you probably haven’t read it for awhile – so let me refresh your memory.

Our Articles of faith, which are the pillars that our denomination is founded on, begin with a look at the nature of God. The first three Articles of Faith speak of the Trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The fourth article is our doctrine on the Bible. We believe the primary purpose of Scripture is that we might encounter God within its pages, learning from them His plan of redemption and salvation.

The fifth article is on sin. The Bible tells us of the sinful condition of humanity, and how each of us is 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, 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. Christ’s perfect sacrifice on the cross is available to all - and effective for those who repent and believe. We can respond to (and accept) the atonement (Sixth Article) only because of God’s grace which calls us to Him. 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 (#7) - the grace which goes before.

It is this Grace which calls us to repentance (#8), 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 the Article I want to talk about today. 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.

(Nazarene Manual)

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, because 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." Fortunately for you I accept IOU’s.

We Nazarenes 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 has 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-as-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. To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable:

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