June 2021

I Never Shall Forget

Another particularly destructive fire season recently took its toll in my country. Tens of thousands of acres of forests, thousands of homes, and several lives have been lost as these massive fires burned out of control for weeks. I live more than 500 miles from the nearest forest fire. However, winds carried smoke and ash from those fires to my home.

The Message of Full Salvation

I have fond memories of the church in Mozambique and the ways it shaped my life. The Church of the Nazarene in Mozambique invests a lot of time in teaching and preaching on holiness. A week or weeks of holiness revival were normal and intended to rekindle interest in, passion for, and practice of biblical holiness of both heart and life. Such revivals focused on three areas: prevenient grace, saving grace, and sanctifying grace.

The Initiative of God: Prevenient Grace and Sanctification

For many of us, the word “sanctification,” like the word “justification,” has come to refer to one particular moment in the life-story of the Christian. We think of justification as that moment when we first come to faith and our sins are forgiven. In the last article in this series of three, we saw that, while that is correct, the word justification has greater depth than that.1

A Community Transformed by Grace: Sanctifying Grace in the Old Testament

Over recent years, an intriguing phrase on social media relationship updates has caught my attention: It’s complicated! I’ve not known exactly how to interpret this ambiguous phrase. I assume that it may describe a struggling relationship or perhaps one’s uncertainty regarding the nature of a relationship. As we encounter the stories of our Old Testament ancestors, it is easy to imagine that our ancestors might also have described the status of their covenant relationship with the Lord as complicated.

Established in Christ

The term sanctification is not a distinct word in the Greek New Testament. The meaning of sanctification, expressed by a number of words, is related to holiness. The adjective “holy” refers primarily to God. The holiness of God the Father is evident everywhere in the New Testament as represented in Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit. Holy ones are God’s people, namely those who belong to Him, relate to Him, and are set apart by Him and for Him.

Help for the Journey

Discipleship is a lifelong journey. Thankfully, God provides help for us along the way. The sacraments are specially ordained means of grace that serve as resources for enduring and victorious Christian living. That is, they are means of God’s sanctifying grace.

Baptism

Sanctification and Original Sin

Reinhold Niebuhr once stated that original sin “is the only empirically verifiable doctrine of the Christian faith.”By this he meant that we only need to look at human history to believe in the reality of original sin. This doctrine goes all the way back to the garden of Eden where we encounter our first parents—Adam and Eve. In Romans 3:23, Paul made clear that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Paul described sin as “missing the mark.” According to Paul, this is the state of all of humanity.

Transformation of a Family Tree

My great grandfather was a sharecropper in Southeastern Alabama, near the Georgia state line. He rented a small piece of land to work, and in return, he would give a portion of his crop to the landowner at the end of each year. My great grandfather decided he wanted a better life for his family than the poverty-stricken fields in the deep South, so he found a job in the cotton mill. Later, my grandfather began working there as well. After one shift, my grandfather realized that was not where he wanted to spend his life—he wanted to continue the pattern of making life better for his family.

Holy Formation

James K.A. Smith opens his wonderful and ground-breaking book on worship and formation, Desiring the Kingdom, by inviting readers to imagine that alien anthropologists from Mars come to earth to study every aspect of humanity. Because they are especially interested in what humanity worships and venerates, they follow a large group of people into what they believe to be a sanctuary.

The Grace of God in Regenerating Those Dead in Sin

Regeneration is an act of God who, by grace, gives new life to those who are dead in sin. The worldwide body of faith identified as the Church of the Nazarene accepts that God graciously livens those who have been spiritually dead in sin. Essentially, regeneration addresses the idea that a person is given new life through the love of the Father, the complete and finished work of Christ on the cross, and the resurrection work of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:11).

Consecration: Knowledge and Trust, Devotion and Passion, Surrender and Service

Coram Deo is a Latin expression that means one is before the face of God. What happens when we are in the presence of God? In Isaiah chapter 6, we see the prophet before God: Coram Deo. This experience incites despair in him. As he faced the Lord, he was so aware of his impurity that he thought he would not be able to continue living. “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5). This is no ordinary event.

Growing in Grace

Last spring, as I walked through our garden, I was thrilled to see the fast-growing tomato plants and the size of the fruit they produced. After several weeks of tending, weeding, and watering, the day came when the tomatoes were ripe and ready to pick. Walking carefully through the tomato vines, I picked several plump, red tomatoes; I thought back to my childhood and the big, lush gardens my parents grew. They always enjoyed gardening, and the fruit from their efforts was a blessing to our family as we sat down to enjoy meals together.

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