The Parable of the Persistent Widow for Today

The Parable of the Persistent Widow for Today

(Photo from: http://access-jesus.com/Luke/Luke_18.html)As the future grows bleak and some wonder what it might hold or how bad it may get, it is important to remember that Jesus taught that just prior to His coming, things would get really bad, nothing like what we may experience in the next few years.  I’m not one who carries a sign and cries, “the end is near!”  I don’t even spend much time studying end-times prophecy.  I am one, however, who takes seriously Jesus’ admonition to watch and be ready; with “being ready” as the thrust of that admonition.

With that in mind, however, Jesus does offer some help for when times are tough. While Jesus was talking about really tough times- like when you don’t pause to gather your belongings before high-tailing it out of town, or you dare not attempt to go back to your house from the field before running for safety; I believe that the help He offers is also available today when Christians feel like things are bad enough to call on Him, really call on Him.  Let’s look at this parable to see how to access that help:

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:1-8, NIV)

To correctly understand this parable of the Persistent Widow found in Luke 18:1-8, we must be sure that we understand the preceding passage which has Jesus telling His disciples about coming trouble.  This passage in Luke 17:22-37 equates the days before Jesus’ return with the days before the judgment of the world in Noah’s lifetime and the days before the judgment of Sodom in Lot’s lifetime.  Jesus makes clear that life will be going on as usual, eating, drinking, marrying, etc.  This seems to agree with other statements of Jesus where He makes clear that people of the earth cannot fully know the day or the hour of His coming.

This passage in chapter 17, however, indicates extremely difficult times, from which escape will be difficult and those being plucked away in that persecution and/or judgment will be swift and apparently indiscriminate.  It is in these terrible days that Jesus says the disciples will be driven to long for the day when He was physically with them, offering His sound wisdom, comforting words, and powerful intervention.  His disciples of future generations will also long for days that they had not known, but will greatly desire Jesus’ physical presence.

It is to these fearful days that Jesus brings the teaching on prayer that we find in the parable of the Persistent Widow.  The Biblical author introduces the parable with his suggestion of why Jesus shared this parable with his disciples:  “to show them that they should always pray and not give up” (v. 1).

The judge that Jesus describes is one likely not recognizable to Christians today.  21st century judicial systems, at least in the developed world, are generally fair and impartial so that someone bringing their case before the court can be reasonably assured of fair and just treatment.  Today’s Christian needs to try to imagine a judge who has no regard for the rule of law, no fear of personal retribution for his rulings and no real concern for people who come before his bench.  This is the type of judge which Jesus presents in this parable.

The widow who Jesus introduces could be more easily recognized by 21st century Christians.  Many people today know that little old lady whose husband died years ago and who either never had children or whose children don’t live near her and therefore offer her little assistance.  Before he died, her husband squeaked out a respectable, but meager, living which now barely provides for the essential needs of his surviving wife.

Now this widow finds herself in need of legal help, “justice” as Jesus puts it.  As she peruses the docket, she discovers that her deepest fear is realized.  Again, her case was assigned to the worst judge in the county, the one who seems not to care at all about her case and has little concern for how much she needs his help.  But again, just as she has done countless times before, she patiently pleads her case to the inattentive judge, hoping that maybe this time he will show some compassion and find in her favor.

But relief, yet again, eludes her.  Once again the judge denies her request and once again she goes home discouraged, hopeless, alone.  But still, as often as she can get her case on the docket, she goes back to the courthouse.  And just as often, she gets that same judge who continuously denies her request.  Until one day, after countless retellings of her complaint and repeatedly hearing the “whack” of the gavel accompanied by the angry word from his lips, “denied!” she hears the unexpected.  The judge relents; he gives in to her request and grants her relief.

The judge readily admits that  he has little concern for her case, that he does not care whether she gets the help she needs or not, but he is sick and tired of her constantly coming before him and wasting his time with the same old complaint, week after week.  So to finally be rid of her, he grants her request.

In our passage, Jesus contrasts this judge who “neither feared God nor cared about men” (v. 2) to the Heavenly Father.  All of the original readers would understand that the Heavenly Father is nothing like this unjust judge.  Christians today, with the benefit of the rest of the Bible, know that God cares about all of His creation.  He cares about the needs and burdens of His children, His disciples.  Everyone who knows God knows that He hears their prayers.  In this contrast Jesus asserts with His ratorical question what should be obvious to all who believe, “And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night?” (v. 7)

But Christians should be careful not to confuse this loving and caring God with a judge similar to one I came before once as a teenager during my wild oats-sewing days.  I found out after I got off with a minimal fine that he was known as the “freedom judge” because he so often lets people off, or with only minor fines.  God will not give to those who ask Him anything they want.  He will not just be the go-to-God for any whimsical desire or shallow plea.  To see the answers that God wants to provide, believers need to seek, as they  pray, the divine will of God in their situation.  It could be deliverance, healing or rescue.  Or perhaps it could be grace to persevere in the midst of trials or inner peace that allows one to live within  a society without peace and full of turmoil.  It may be  healing, deliverance or rescue that is provided by the passing from this life to the next.  Or, sometime in our future, it may mean martyrdom, dying for your faith.

So Christians today need to be aware that there are difficult days ahead.  They may feel that after the recent election that this country is in the midst of those days, but rest assured that this is nothing compared to the days that are coming just before Jesus returns to the earth.  There will be persecution; there will be great fear as everyone wonders who can be trusted or who may be watching who to report to the authorities for their Christian witness.

When these days come, or even when Christians experience difficult days in their lives today, Jesus wants them to remember that God will hear their prayer for help.  He will see as they earnestly come to Him with their request, praying for the will of God to be accomplished in their lives and their world.  But as this parable reveals, it is those who pray persistently, who come to Him “day and night” (v. 7) who will receive His sure and effective answer.

Jesus concludes this parable with the rhetorical question, “However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (v. 8) The Christian’s faith grows with every answer to prayer that God provides.  The Christian’s faith grows as he or she observes God’s hand at work.  The Christian’s faith grows as obedience and holy living produces the promised results of an abundant and full life.  So as Christians live their lives as the Scripture teaches, their faith will ultimately grow and this faith, along with that of millions of other Christians around the world who have also persevered, will greet Jesus when He comes in the air to receive them unto Himself, answering His question with a resounding, “Yes, He will find faith on the earth!”

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(Sermon by Daryl Densford)

The Mission of God for the People of God (A Sermon on Luke 4:14-21)

Introduction

Jesus used much of the time He spent with His disciples both telling them and showing them why He came to Earth.  Beyond His salvific mission there is the broader Mission of God or Missio Dei that was first declared by God in Genesis and has continued throughout the Old and New Testaments and continues with His Church today.  The mission is that the nations or peoples of the world would be blessed.

This blessing ultimately is a restoration of the relationship between God and man that was lost in the Garden.  But the blessing, and thus the mission, goes beyond just having a personal relationship with God.  It includes a meeting of the simplest –and yet most profound—needs of the poorest and most oppressed people as well as those of the richest and most powerful.  This mission has a global initiative.  It includes our own communities, yes.  In the United States, however, even though the needs are great, they pale in comparison to the needs around the world.

As the Church has been called and commissioned to continue the Missio Dei; the Church, you and I, need to be familiar with all that it entails.  Our passage this morning goes a long way in helping us understand a little better what this mission is and what it means to us.

Introduction of the Text

Not too long into His public ministry, Jesus returned to His home town of Nazareth.  Being the Sabbath day, he went to the Synagogue as any good Jewish man of His day would do.  Perhaps because he was there as a guest or maybe because word had spread all over Galilee about what He was preaching and doing, He was asked to read the days Scripture reading.

I’m not certain if the reading for that day was actually Isaiah 6:1-2 or if he scrolled through the scroll a bit to find it, but what He read was a powerful message.  Let me give you the entire Luke passage in context:

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: 

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:14-21, NIV).

I remember when I was younger; I used to wonder why He sat down.  If he was going to preach, get behind the pulpit and preach!  Well my worldview was from a Western, Protestant standard.  In that religion in that time, the guest would read the passage then sit down to discuss it.

OK, fine but His introduction sure seems like it would have been off the wall.  Imagining myself as a Jewish man sitting in that synagogue in the 1st century, hearing that passage from Isaiah, and then the first line of His discussion, I think I would be scratching my head saying, “huh?”

But looking back from the 21st century, having read the rest of the story, it is clear to us that Jesus realized, and was trying to communicate to the Jewish men in that group, that He was that anointed one on a mission mentioned in Isaiah.

Our service this morning doesn’t allow me time to delve into the whole of the Missio Dei that runs through the Bible from nearly the beginning clear through to the end, but let me briefly say that God’s mission was to bless the nations, the peoples, of the world first through Israel. This continued through His new covenant people, His Church.  Jesus was announcing that He was continuing that mission.  I want to look more closely at what this mission is, but first let’s consider why it’s important for us to understand what Jesus’ mission was.

We see all through the Gospels and the first part of Acts, Jesus preparing the disciples to take on His ministry.  In John chapter 17 Jesus prays for Himself and His disciples.  In verse 18 He prays, “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” Jesus sent His disciples into the world with the mission that the Father sent Jesus into the world with. His disciples have been sent.  Now the question for you today is, “are you His disciple?”

In John 14: 12 Jesus told His disciples, “whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”  What works had He been doing?  Well for one, He had been doing what this text in Isaiah said He was anointed to do.  He then said His believers would be doing those works and more!  Another question for you today is, “Are you a believer?”

Finally in Matthew 28 and again in Acts 1 His disciples (that’s you and me, right?) were told to “go.”  To go be His witnesses, to go make disciples, to go baptize and teach them to obey.  We are called to go and continue His mission, the Missio Dei, the mission of God.

So when we speak of what Jesus was anointed to do, I believe that we can safely say thatHis mission is our mission, that we are a part of the Missio Dei.

Now on to Jesus’ mission as described in this passage.

I. The first aspect of the mission is to “proclaim good news to the poor.”  

I used to spiritualize this passage when I would preach it.  I would equate the “poor” with those who were spiritually poor because they didn’t know Jesus and our mission was to share with them the Gospel message so that they could experience the riches of God’sspiritual Kingdom.  I now think that was at least partially an incorrect interpretation.  Sure, we are supposed to share the Gospel with those who do not know God in a saving way, that is clear all through the New Testament.  But I don’t think that is what this particular passage is talking about, not completely.

You see, there are some 2000 verses in the Bible that talk about the poor.  Did you realize that?  The poor are all around us.  I think many of you, like I was, are a part of the remnant of a bifurcation that happened in the Church around the turn of the century. If I may, I would like to give you a little bit of a history lesson about that.

As you probably know, the Church of the Nazarene started in Los Angeles with Phineas F. Bresee; and the big thing that he was concerned about was reaching out to the poor.  It was sharing the Gospel, but it was also meeting the needs of the poor.

And that is what the Church was about.  From the early Church, we can see that.  It was about reaching the poor.  But as the church went on, and as things happened in our country, things in the Church began to change.  Maybe you remember or at least remember reading about the “Scopes Monkey Trials” in the twenties.  In Tennessee they passed a law that it was illegal to teach evolution in the schools (haven’t times changed!).  So it was illegal in Tennessee but this teacher taught evolution in his classroom anyway and he was brought to trial for it.  He was charged with teaching evolution.

Clarence Darrow (left) and William Jennings Bryan (right) during the Scopes Trial in 1925

Clarence Darrow, a famous lawyer of the time was the defending attorney and William Jennings Bryan was the prosecuting attorney.  Bryan was a popular evangelist; he was what we might call the “Evangelical Right” today and Darrow would be on the other side.  This made news.  Probably the closest thing today that we could relate it to would be the O.J. Simpson trial.  Remember: every day, every time you turned on the news, they were talking about what was going on in the O.J. Simpson trial:  “If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit” and all of that.

This is the way it was for this trial, the Scopes Monkey Trial.  Scopes was the teacher’s name.  This was an American phenomena and it helped to solidify the separation between the Mainline Church and the Evangelical Church.  So the Evangelical Church saw anything having to do with this liberal theology as taboo.  One of the things that the “left” was active in was reaching out to the poor, it was “social justice,” it was “social action,” it was taking up the causes of the oppressed.  Since this was part of liberal theology, Evangelicalism went the other way and started to focus nearly exclusively on personal evangelism, on winning souls for Christ, on sharing only the Gospel of Jesus as it applies to personal salvation.

Now clearly, in many parts of the world, the missionaries didn’t make this separation and in fact, for the most part, around the world except in the United States, the Church didn’t have this “bifurcation.”  They realized that there was a need for sharing the Gospel message as well as the need for evangelism and often times missionaries, even from the United States, saw needs and they met the needs.  The Gospel was part of it, but the “meeting of the needs” was part of it, as well.

In the United States, though, there was this bifurcation, this separation, and it went on for decades until probably late eighties, early nineties.  Then people started reading the Scripture, Scriptures like our text today, and realizing that the Church is missing it and losing out on part of their ministry.  The Evangelical Church started to realize that there was more to the Gospel than just the Gospel.  Then the Church started coming back around.  The Church of the Nazarene has been a part of this return:  in the early eighties they established Nazarene Compassionate Ministries as a separate Department which “represented an intentional, organized effort to alleviate human suffering caused by global poverty” (NCMI website).  They also developed Nazarene Disaster Response, which is involved bringing relief to tragedies or disasters.  So we have come back around.   But this bifurcation has been so much a part of our thinking that anything having to do with “Social Justice” has been considered liberal and taboo. So, here we are today.

If you were poor, (and this is the first thing Jesus read, “To preach good news to the poor”); if you were poor, what would be “good news” to you?

Let me pause for a point of clarification here:  Jesus said to preach “good news.”  He does not say to preach the good news, it is not translated “Gospel” here, it is “good news,” to preach good news to the poor.

OK, so if you were poor, what would be good news to you?  I mean really poor, not just not having enough money to get anew car every two or three years, or not being able to take European vacations or Caribbean cruises every year.  Really poor.  The kind of poor where you don’t know where your next meal is coming from.  The kind of poor where you don’t know whether you will get a bed in the shelter or will have to sleep outside.  The kind of poor that means you have to suffer with that disease that is killing you without medical care.  I’m talking about the kind of poor where you don’t feel like you have any hope.  If you were that kind of poor, what would be good news to you?

Do you think some guy coming along and promising that someday in the future you can live in Heaven with God if you receive His son into your heart and life today, would that be good news? Now, that is good news for us, we are Christians.  We are in the Church.  We have got (clearly) plenty of food to eat, a roof over our head, a car to drive.

But if you don’t know where your next meal is coming from, something that is going to happen fifty, sixty, seventy years from now . . . is that good news?

Now again, I don’t want you to think that I’m one of those who say the Gospel is not all that important, we just need to take care of physical needs.  That is not what I’m saying.  The Gospel is our ultimate priority!  The salvation message is our ultimate priority!  But do not think though, that you can give someone a meal and that is your ticket to share the Gospel with him.  That just rings hollow.  If you are going to feed the poor, you need to feed the poor just because they’re hungry, not because you may have a chance to witness to them.

Thinking more about his good news, even if you said, “but look, this isn’t just about the future-you can have joy today, you can be happy today . . .” I don’t think that is good news, not the good news that they want to hear because they will still have to scrounge for food and look for a place to sleep and suffer with their health . . . but they could be happy!  Would that be good news?  I don’t think so.

I think that the good news the poor want to hear is news of how they can get food in their stomachs, a roof over their heads, a place to live, and medical care.  I think the good news that they want is a relief from their poor-ness.

“Isn’t that what welfare is for?” you ask.  ”Aren’t the soup kitchens and compassionate ministries there for them?”  “Isn’t there some ministry to do that?”  If all these things were good enough, we wouldn’t have many poor left, would we?  Remember what Jesus said: “He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.”  He wasn’t anointed to point the poor in the direction of the nearest soup kitchen.  He wasn’t anointed to write a check. He wasn’t anointed to sit back and let someone else do it.  He was “anointed to preach good news to the poor”!

II. The second aspect of the mission is to “proclaim freedom for the prisoners.”  

How many of you have ever been in jail . . . let me rephrase that:  How many of you have ever visited a prison or a jail?  How many of you have spent time with prisoners?  I’ve been on both sides of the bars.  Mostly, I’ve gone in as a pastor to state prisons and county jails, as some of you have.  I have gone in to visit with prisoners and to minister to them and I can say that for a prisoner behind bars (unless they are counting down the very few days until their release) the good news for them is not something that is going to happen fifty or sixty years away.  Sure, it will help them through their incarceration and we can make a compelling case that if they give their life to Christ, it won’t be so bad, and Jesus will help them through it.  I’m not against that.  I hope you hear me, salvation is essential!  I’m not giving up on salvation.  But sometimes there needs to be more.

That prisoner in jail, in prison, what he wants is freedom!  Jesus was anointed to “proclaim freedom for the prisoners.”  Now that does not mean a big “jail-break!”  I don’t know that I can give many details on how to do this.  How do we bring freedom to the prisoner?  I’m not sure but that is what Jesus was anointed to do.  Maybe this one is more of a spiritual application, but I don’t think so.  I think that there is something more here.  We just have to discover what it is.

So we have the poor, we have the prisoners.

III. The next aspect of the Mission is to “proclaim recovery of sight to the blind.” 

Have any of you seen a blind person healed?  All though Scripture we see Jesus healing the blind.  Now that is not always the way God works. That is not always necessarily the way that we are going to work.  But imagine being blind, that is hard for us to do, I realize, but imagine being blind.  What is good news for you?  That you will be able to see.  Now it could be that healing is in your future as a blind person.  It is possible.  But maybe there is some other way to bring sight to the blind.

At one of the churches that my wife and I worked at many years ago, we somehow got an inroad into a blind residence inCincinnati.  We would pick up some of the residents who would come to church.  There was one blind woman who came pretty regularly, though I do not remember her name.  She had this blind stuff down pretty well, though.  I don’t know if she was blind from birth or not but she could pull out her wallet and give you a five dollar bill and know that it was a five. She would arrange the bills a certain way and fold them a certain way.  She had that blind stuff down, but when there was a church dinner, it would get a little more difficult.  You have all of those selections, and then once you get it on your plate it gets more difficult.  I remember one dinner my wife got a plate for her and had to describe where everything was:  “OK, at 12:00 are the potatoes, at 3:00 are the green beans, and at 6:00 is the meat loaf.”

In a way, that was giving her sight but I don’t know it that is enough.  I’m not sure that is what this passage is referring to.  But there has to be a way of bringing sight to the blind.  Maybe it is physical healing; maybe we just don’t have the faith.  But that is part of the mission:  recovery of sight to the blind.

IV. The fourth aspect of the Missio Dei in this passage is to “set the oppressed free.” 

Pull out any newspaper, go to the “World” section and you can read about the oppressed around the world.  You can see how people are treated, you can even see in the laws that exist around the world that there is oppression.  People who are being held down, people who do not have an equal opportunity, people who because of maybe the color of their skin or their ethnic background, or their parents just don’t have the same opportunities.  So you go to one of them who does not feel like they have a future or hope and you give them “good news.”  What do you think that good news for them would be?  Again, I don’t think that it is something that is going to happen for them way down the road.  I think that good news for them is some way of being released from their oppression, being set free.  We need to help them, but what do we do?

V. Jesus continues with the fifth aspect of the mission, which is to “proclaim the year of the Lord’s Favor.” 

This phrase that is used here is referring to the “Year of Jubilee.”  In the nation of Israel, in Judaism, they had this every 50 years.  It is what they called “The Year of Jubilee,” when everything was renewed.  Those who had debt, it was cancelled.   Those who were sold into slavery were given their freedom.  Anyone who had to give up their property or had to sell their property, it reverted back to the original owner or their heirs.  This was a renewal of everything, a “making right” of everything, a getting back to the way things are supposed to be.

Jesus is talking about this renewal; He says that this is part of His mission, to “proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  I think that of all the aspects of the mission in this passage, this one may be the aspect that offers hope for the future.  In the Kingdom of God, there is a sense of the “already” because Jesus said, the Kingdom is here.  There is the sense that as we become a believer, a follower of Jesus, that we become a part of His Kingdom and this Kingdom of God is active in the world.  So there is that “already” aspect of the Kingdom, but there is also the “not yet” aspect because it is not completely fulfilled.  If the Kingdom was fully come, we wouldn’t have poor among us, we wouldn’t have blind among us, we wouldn’t have full jails and prisons, there wouldn’t be the oppressed.  But the Kingdom of God is not fully here.

So the idea of this restoration, this renewal, this making everything right is a hope that we have for the future, hopefully the near future.  It is a hope for a “making everything right.”   But I think that even with that, it involves more than just the future, more than just the “not yet.”  There is an element of the “acceptable year of the Lord” that should be “already.”  That is the mission that Jesus, in this passage, was saying that He was on:  part of the Missio Dei, the Mission of God.

Now, remember what we said earlier that as His disciples, as believers, we are called and commissioned to continue the Missio Dei.  So what are we going to do with this?  What are we going to do with the poor, the prisoners, the blind, and the oppressed?  Well, Jesus said to take them the good news, proclaim freedom and recovery of sight, set the oppressed free.  Again, these are not just words that He is taking them, I hope you understand.  We are to take the good news, to proclaim freedom, the recovery of sight, the year of the Lord.  How are we going to do that?

Remember a few weeks back whenGovernor Mike Huckabee called on believers to eat at Chick-fil-a one particular day to show support for therestaurant owner’s stand on Biblical values? My wife and I and our kids did that.  We had to drive about an hour to get to our nearest Chick-fil-a, but we did it.  We waited in line for a while and finally got our chicken.  We felt good showing our support for this Christian business-owner.  I posted pictures on Facebook.  We did our part.

As I read different posts about this event over the next couple days, I read things (mainly from opponents to the owner’s statements) about how that was such a waste of time and money, how it didn’t really help a real cause, or even the poor. It hit me that while we did show support for something we believed in, the owner of Chick-fil-a probably didn’t need our money.  I think my goal was “I’ll show them!” instead of actually doing good.

That Friday as I was online ordering pizza for my family, I was invited to “share a slice of hope” and donate a dollar to World Hunger Relief.  I did it, and I felt good.  The next time I ordered from Pizza Hut I did it again.  Then the next time I gave 2 dollars!  So now I’ve given $4 for world hunger, but how has that helped the family downtown who just got evicted with nowhere to go?  How did that help that homeless vet who doesn’t know where his next meal is going to come from?  How did that 4 bucks really help anybody?

I’m not saying there is no value in that; I’m still going to do it.  But it is not enough.  It wasn’t a sacrifice for me.  It didn’t hurt a bit.  I need to do more.  I think you need to do more.

So what do we do?

VI. A further understanding of the Mission of God.

Matthew 25 goes into this mission a lot and I think will give us a better understanding of our text.  This is a bit of a lengthy passage, but I think that we ought to look at it here.  It gives us more of a clue as to our responsibility.

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life(Matthew 25:31-46, NIV).

When we look at this passage we see that they were being judged, not according to how long they had been a Christian or even if they were Christians, though it is assumed they were, or at least thought they were.  They were not being judged according to how many times they went to church or how much their tithe was.  Not according to how many dollars they gave to “share a slice of hope.”  They were judged according to how well they accomplished the mission of God.  Whether or not they fed the hungry, clothed the naked, visited the prisoner, cared for the sick.  Those who didn’t were allowed to continue on their path to eternal punishment while those who did, to eternal life.  I think this gives us a glimpse of the seriousness of this mission of God.

Application

The significance of the Missio Dei should drive us on to be more a part of that mission, but what is our part?  What can we do?  There are a few things that all of us as believers should definitely consider:

First, we should all pray.  We should pray for the Mission of God around the world.  We should pray for those who have answered God’s call and are serving in particular ministries around the world, accomplishing the mission of God.  We should pray specifically, by name, for missionaries and ministers both in the United States seeking to live out today’s passage, as well as missionaries around the world who are doing the same.

Second, we can give financially.  I’m not talking about the buck or two that doesn’t hurt, but sacrificially giving to help the mission of God around the world.  In our church that means giving to the World Evangelism Fund that supports our missionaries that are in over 150 world areas.  It means giving to the Alabaster Offering which helps to build buildings in mission areas around the world.  It means sponsoring a child throughNazarene Compassionate Ministries (NCM) to help meet the needs of impoverished children around the world.  It means giving to NCM to help alleviate poverty around the world, as well as right here in the United States.  It means giving to Nazarene Disaster Response as they seek to help those who have experienced some tragedy or disaster.  It includes giving generously for deputation offerings when missionaries visit our church or our district.  The list really could go on and on.  The point is to give sacrificially as God directs you.

Third, we should all be willing to personally go if God calls us.  Yes, there are many needs right here in our community, in the places where we work and live.  But there is also great need for people to serve the cause of Christ around the world, both taking the Gospel message of salvation, as well as the good news to the poor, blind, imprisoned and oppressed.  There is a need for people to follow God’s call cross-culturally to help ensure God’s mission is accomplished to “the least of these.”  We all need to be willing to go and need to listen for God’s call.

Finally, now what are you going to do?  Where are you going to go?  I can’t tell you specifically what you are supposed to do.  But I do know who does know and it is in our text in Luke.

In Luke 4:14 we read, “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit.”  In verse 18 Jesus read from Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me . . .” I think this is the key to finding the answer of “how?” of what we are supposed to do: the Holy Spirit.

We read in the Gospels how much the disciples bungled their ministry until after Acts 2. What happened in Acts 2?  Let’s go there:

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. (Acts 2:1-4, NIV)

Do you see that, “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit”! Then their ministry took off! Then they were able to preach, they were able to heal, they were able to continue the Missio Dei. We notice later in that chapter what else that infilling of the Holy Spirit did for them:

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.  Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved (Acts 2:42-47, NIV)

Do you see what they did?  The apostles taught, they had fellowship, they broke bread and prayed.  They performed wonders and signs, they had everything in common, they sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.  They continued to meet together; they broke bread in their homes and ate together.  And they grew.

All that they did is great and it is what the Church should be doing, but I want to zero in on more than just what they did, and it’s not really written in the text but is clearly implied:

They knew what to do!  

This was all new to them.  For the last three years they always had Jesus to tell them what to do.  This whole “Christian Church” thing had never been done before, so they couldn’t read the stories of the pioneers who had gone before them. They were the pioneers!  They were on their own. It was sink or swim!

Now I Know that the Scripture record doesn’t give us every thought and detail but I believe that it gives us what we need to know.  And I don’t see a struggle here among the believers about what they should be doing.  They were filled with the Holy Spirit, and then the Holy Spirit guided them and helped them to know what to do.

We could go beyond the 2nd chapter of Acts into the rest of recorded Scripture and see them doing it over and over again:  preaching, healing, providing, continuing the Missio Dei!

Conclusion

So let’s get ourselves back to the 21st century.  We are told to take good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom to the prisoners, recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.  How do we do it?  What do we do? Where do we go?  We let the Holy Spirit guide us.  More than His guidance though (or as a prerequisite of His guidance) we need His filling!

If you haven’t been filled with the Spirit, you are just a believer without power.  If the Spirit hasn’t filled you, you’re just a disciple who doesn’t know fully what to do for the poor. I want to encourage you today to seek the Holy Spirit!  Ask Him to fill you!  Open yourself up to Him!

As we come to Him beyond salvation for His filling, we need to first consecrate our all to Him.  We need to be willing to give to Him all that we are, all that we have, and all that the future holds:  our families, our lives, our careers, our riches.  We need to not just be willing to; we need to give those to Him.  Lay them on the altar, consecrating our all to Him—not holding anything back.  When we give Him our all and invite Him to fill us, that is when He fills us.  It may be instantaneous or it may take time, but He will fill you fully and that is when you can know how to accomplish the mission of God.  You won’t have to wonder, the Holy Spirit will guide you!

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(Sermon by Daryl Densford.  Preached at Lebanon, Missouri Church of the Nazarene on October 21, 2012)

How to Know Jesus

How to Know Jesus

1. Recognize that God loves you and has a plan for your life.

His love includes you. 
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
He has new life for you. 
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

2. Recognize that sin separates you from God and others.

“Sin” is walking our own way in rebellion against God’s will. When we walk away from God, we walk away from life.

Everyone has sinned.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

Sin brings death. 
“For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

Our own efforts cannot save us. 
As sinners we futilely try to find life’s true meaning in the wrong ways and places.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

3. Recognize that Jesus Christ died and rose again for our sins.

Jesus Christ died in our place.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

He is the way to new life. 
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

He gives inner peace. 
“We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

He gives freedom. 
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).

He gives eternal life. 
“But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

4. You must repent and ask God for forgiveness.

Admit and confess your sins to God. 
“He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

Repentance means:

•  To acknowledge your sins.
•  To be sorry for your sins.
•  To confess your sins.
•  To be willing to forsake your sins.
•  To have your life changed by Christ.

Forgiveness is promised. 
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

5. Place your trust in Christ and receive Him as your Savior.

Christ is ready. 
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will go in” (Revelation 3:20).

Receive him now. 
“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

Pray this prayer: 
Lord Jesus, I want to have life. I know that I have sinned. I need Your forgiveness and pardon. I believe that You died and rose again for my sins. I now accept You as my personal Savior. I will forsake my sinful life. I know that Your grace and power will enable me to live for You. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and for giving me a new life.

For help in living a meaningful life in Christ:

•  Be assured of Christ’s forgiveness.
•  Read your Bible and pray daily.
•  Find a concerned pastor and other Christians.
•  Become a vital part of that church.
•  Share your faith with others.

A caring Nazarene church family meeting in a “brick and mortar” building is waiting to accept you and help nurture you as a Christian. You can locate a Church of the Nazarene near you through this site.

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All Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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(from:  http://nazarene.org/ministries/administration/visitorcenter/knowjesus/display.html)

History of the Church of the Nazarene

The Church of the Nazarene traces its anniversary date to 1908. Its organization was a marriage that, like every marriage, linked existing families and created a new one. As an expression of the holiness movement and its emphasis on the sanctified life, our founders came together to form one people. Utilizing evangelism, compassionate ministries, and education, their church went forth to become a people of many cultures and tongues.

Two central themes illuminate the Nazarene story.

The first is “unity in holiness.”

The spiritual vision of early Nazarenes was derived from the doctrinal core of John Wesley’s preaching. These affirmations include justification by grace through faith, sanctification likewise by grace through faith, entire sanctification as an inheritance available to every Christian, and the witness of the Spirit to God’s work in human lives. The holiness movement arose in the 1830s to promote these doctrines, especially entire sanctification. By 1900, however, the movement had splintered.

P. F. Bresee, C. B. Jernigan, C. W. Ruth, and other committed leaders strove to unite holiness factions. The First and Second General Assemblies were like two bookends:

In October 1907, the Association of Pentecostal Churches of America and the Church of the Nazarene merged in Chicago, Illinois, at the First General Assembly.

In April 1908, a congregation organized in Peniel, Texas, drew into the Nazarene movement the key officers of the Holiness Association of Texas.

The Pennsylvania Conference of the Holiness Christian Church united in September 1908.  In October 1908, the Second General Assembly was held at Pilot Point, Texas, the headquarters of the Holiness Church of Christ. The “year of uniting” ended with the merger of this southern denomination with its northern counterpart.

With the Pentecostal Church of Scotland and Pentecostal Mission unions in 1915, the Church of the Nazarene embraced seven previous denominations and parts of two other groups.(1) The Nazarenes and the Wesleyan Church emerged as the two denominations that eventually drew together a majority of the holiness movement’s independent strands.

“A mission to the world” is the second primary theme in the Nazarene story.

In 1908 there were churches in Canada and organized work in India, Cape Verde, and Japan, soon followed by work in Africa, Mexico, and China. The 1915 mergers added congregations in the British Isles and work in Cuba, Central America, and South America. There were congregations in Syria and Palestine by 1922. As General Superintendent H. F. Reynolds advocated “a mission to the world,” support for world evangelization became a distinguishing characteristic of Nazarene life. New technologies were utilized. The church began producing the ” Showers of Blessing ” radio program in the 1940s, followed by the Spanish broadcast ” La Hora Nazarena ” and later by broadcasts in other languages. Indigenous holiness churches in Australia and Italy united in the 1940s, others in Canada and Great Britain in the 1950s, and one in Nigeria in 1988.

As the church grew culturally and linguistically diverse, it committed itself in 1980 to internationalization-a deliberate policy of being one church of congregations and districts worldwide, rather than splitting into national churches like earlier Protestant denominations. By the 2001 General Assembly, 42 percent of delegates spoke English as their second language or did not speak it at all. Today 65 percent of Nazarenes and over 80 percent of the church’s 439 districts are outside the United States. An early system of colleges in North America and the  British Isles has become a global network of  institutions. Nazarenes  support 14 liberal arts institutions in Africa, Brazil,  Canada, Caribbean,  Korea, and the United States, as well as 5 graduate seminaries, 31  undergraduate Bible/theological colleges, 2 nurses training  colleges, and  1 education college worldwide.

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1 The seven denominations were: the Central Evangelical Holiness Association (New England), the Association of Pentecostal Churches of America (Middle Atlantic States), New Testament Church of Christ (South), Independent Holiness Church (Southwest), the Church of the Nazarene (West Coast), the Pentecostal Church of Scotland, and the Pentecostal Mission (Southeast). Several mergers occurred regionally before regional churches, in turn, united together in 1907 and 1908.

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(from:  http://nazarene.org/ministries/administration/visitorcenter/history/display.html)

We Are a Missional People

We are a sent people, responding to the call of Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit to go into all the world, witnessing to the Lordship of Christ and participating with God in the building of the Church and the extension of His kingdom (Matthew 28:19-20; 2 Corinthians 6:1). Our mission (a) begins in worship, (b) ministers to the world in evangelism and compassion, (c) encourages believers toward Christian maturity through discipleship, and (d) prepares women and men for Christian service through Christian higher education.

A. Our Mission of Worship

The mission of the Church in the world begins in worship. As we are gathered together before God in worship-singing, hearing the public reading of the Bible, giving our tithes and offerings, praying, hearing the preached Word, baptizing, and sharing the Lord’s Supper-we know most clearly what it means to be the people of God. Our belief that the work of God in the world is accomplished primarily through worshiping congregations leads us to understand that our mission includes the receiving of new members into the fellowship of the church and the organizing of new worshiping congregations.

Worship is the highest expression of our love for God. It is God-centered adoration honoring the One who in grace and mercy redeems us. The primary context for worship is the local church where God’s people gather, not in self-centered experience or for self-glorification but rather in self-surrender and self-offering. Worship is the church in loving, obedient service to God.

Worship is the first privilege and responsibility of God’s people. It is the gathering of the covenant community before God in proclamation and celebrative response of who He is, what He has done, and what He promises to do.

The local church in worship is at the core of our identity. The Church of the Nazarene is essentially local worshiping congregations, and it is in and through the local congregation that our mission is fulfilled. The mission of the church finds its meaning and orientation in worship. It is in the preaching of the Word, the celebration of the sacraments, the public reading of the Scripture, the singing of hymns and choruses, corporate prayer, and the presenting of our tithes and offerings that we know most clearly what it means to be the people of God. It is in worship that we understand most clearly what it means to participate with God in the work of redemption.

B. Our Mission of Compassion and Evangelism

As people who are consecrated to God, we share His love for the lost and His compassion for the poor and broken. The Great Commandment (Matthew 22:36-40) and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) move us to engage the world in evangelism, compassion, and justice. To this end we are committed to inviting people to faith, to caring for those in need, to standing against injustice and with the oppressed, to working to protect and preserve the resources of God’s creation, and to including in our fellowship all who will call upon the name of the Lord.

Through its mission in the world, the Church demonstrates the love of God. The story of the Bible is the story of God reconciling the world to himself, ultimately through Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:16-21). The Church is sent into the world to participate with God in this ministry of love and reconciliation through evangelism, compassion, and justice.

Both the Great Commission and the Great Commandment are central to the understanding of our mission. They are two expressions of a single mission, two dimensions of the one gospel message. Jesus, who directs us to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37, 39), also tells us to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).

The mission of the Church in the world extends to all humanity, as all people, being created in the image of God, have ultimate value. It is our mission to love and value people as they are loved and valued by God, who seeks to bring them peace, justice, and salvation from sin through Christ. It is our mission to have compassion upon and to care for those in need. It is our mission to oppose social systems and policies that devalue or disempower people.

The mission of the Church extends to the whole person. God has created us as whole persons, and it is our mission to be ministers of God’s love to people as whole persons-body, soul, and spirit. Our mission of evangelism, compassion, and justice is a single integrated mission, engaging people in their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.

The mission of the Church in the world extends to all humanity because Jesus Christ has come into the world to save all who call upon His name. As the people of God, it is our privilege and responsibility to share the good news of the gospel with all who will hear. Whether in public services or in personal one-on-one witnessing, our passion is to take every opportunity to invite people to faith in Jesus Christ.

The mission of the Church in the world extends to all people because the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was poured out upon all humanity (Acts 2). It is our mission to present the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ to every person on earth. We are empowered by the Spirit to go into the world proclaiming the Kingdom and participating with God in the building of the Church.

It is with a spirit of hope and optimism that we engage our God-given mission in the world. It is more than an expression of human concern or human effort. Our mission is a response to God’s call. It is our participation with God in the Kingdom mission of reconciliation. It is the Church’s faithful witness to and expression of the love of God in the world in evangelism, compassion, and justice. It is our faith in the ability of God’s grace to transform the lives of people broken by sin and to restore them in His own image.

C. Our Mission of Discipleship

We are committed to being disciples of Jesus and to inviting others to become His disciples. With this in mind, we are committed to providing the means (Sunday School, Bible studies, small accountability groups, etc.) through which believers are encouraged to grow in their understanding of the Christian faith and in their relationship with each other and with God. We understand discipleship to include submitting ourselves to obeying God and to the disciplines of the faith. We believe we are to help each other live the holy life through mutual support, Christian fellowship, and loving accountability. John Wesley said, “God has given us to each other to strengthen each other’s hands.”

Christian discipleship is a way of life. It is the process of learning how God would have us live in the world. As we learn to live in obedience to the Word of God, in submission to the disciplines of the faith, and in accountability to one another, we begin to understand the true joy of the disciplined life and the Christian meaning of freedom. Discipleship is not merely human effort, submitting to rules and regulations. It is the means through which the Holy Spirit gradually brings us to maturity in Christ. It is through discipleship that we become people of Christian character. The ultimate goal of discipleship is to be transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18).

By studying and meditating on the Scriptures, Christians discover fountains of refreshment in every thirsty valley on their discipleship journey. Invigorated by the washing of the Word, refined by immersion in the Word, drinking deeply the truths of the Word, disciples discover to their happy surprise that they are being “transformed by the renewing of [their] mind” (Romans 12:2). The Christian way opens before them like a high and open road. Nerved by God, they proceed on a way of life that eclipses mere human and cultural values. Refreshed by the fountain of the Word, disciples give their lives away in self-transcending service.

We affirm the life-giving value of the classic spiritual disciplines in the training of women and men as disciples of Christ. The disciplines of prayer and fasting, worship, study solitude, service, and simplicity are at the same time natural expressions and intentional commitments in the life of the believer.

Discipleship requires mutual support and loving accountability. On our own, few of us will develop the spiritual disciplines that lead to Christian maturity. We believe that we are to encourage the mutual support provided through such means as Sunday School classes, discipleship groups, Bible study groups, prayer meetings, accountability groups, and Christian mentoring as necessary to our spiritual formation and maturity. Recognizing the role of accountability in the Wesleyan class meetings encourages us to support its place within the contemporary Christian congregation.

D. Our Mission of Christian Higher Education

We are committed to Christian education, through which women and men are equipped for lives of Christian service. In our seminaries, Bible colleges, colleges, and universities, we are committed to the pursuit of knowledge, the development of Christian character, and the equipping of leaders to accomplish our God-given calling of serving in the Church and in the world.

Christian higher education is a central part of the mission of the Church of the Nazarene. In the early years of the Church of the Nazarene, institutions of Christian higher education were organized for the purpose of preparing women and men of God for leadership and Christian service in the global spread of the Wesleyan-Holiness revival. Our continued commitment to Christian higher education through the years has produced a worldwide network of seminaries, Bible schools, colleges, and universities.

Our mission of Christian higher education comes directly out of what it means to be God’s people. We are to love God with our whole heart, soul, and mind. We are therefore to be good stewards in the development of our minds, of our academic resources, and in the application of our knowledge. In this light, we are committed to the open and honest pursuit of knowledge and truth coupled with the integrity of our Christian faith. Christian higher education is an essential arena for the development of the stewardship of our minds. It is intended to be an arena characterized by the discussion and discovery of truth and knowledge about God and all of God’s creation.

In Christian higher education, faith is not compartmentalized but rather is wonderfully integrated with knowledge as faith and learning are developed together. The whole person is cultivated with every area of thought and life understood in relationship to the desire and design of God. Christian character and the equipping of Christian leaders for service in the church and the world are forged in the context of learning about God, humanity, and the world. This commitment of Christian higher education to the formation of the whole person is critical for the development of Christian men and women for missional leadership in the church and the world.

As a redeemed people called to Christlikeness and sent as agents of God’s love in the world, we participate with God in the work of redeeming humanity. Christian higher education contributes significantly to our ability to fulfill our mission and is necessary for effective service to God in our various vocations. Our faithful participation in God’s redemptive work requires that we raise up men and women of God who can take their place as Christian servant leaders in the church and in the world.

The world in which we are called to serve is becoming more closely connected and more profoundly complicated each day. As God’s work of redemption advances in present and future generations, our faithful witness to the Lordship of Christ and effective participation with God in the building of the church will continue to require a vital commitment to Christian higher education.

All Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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(from:  http://nazarene.org/ministries/administration/visitorcenter/values/missional/display.html)

We Are a Holiness People

God, who is holy, calls us to a life of holiness. We believe that the Holy Spirit seeks to do in us a second work of grace, called by various terms including “entire sanctification” and “baptism with the Holy Spirit”-cleansing us from all sin, renewing us in the image of God, empowering us to love God with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, and our neighbors as ourselves, and producing in us the character of Christ. Holiness in the life of believers is most clearly understood as Christlikeness.
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Because we are called by Scripture and drawn by grace to worship God and to love Him with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, and our neighbors as ourselves, we commit ourselves fully and completely to God, believing that we can be “sanctified wholly,” as a second crisis experience. We believe that the Holy Spirit convicts, cleanses, fills, and empowers us as the grace of God transforms us day by day into a people of love, spiritual discipline, ethical and moral purity, compassion, and justice. It is the work of the Holy Spirit that restores us in the image of God and produces in us the character of Christ.

We believe in God the Father, the Creator, who calls into being what does not exist. We once were not, but God called us into being, made us for himself, and fashioned us in His own image. We have been commissioned to bear the image of God: “I am the LORD . . . your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44).

Jesus Christ revealed the one holy God to us and modeled worshipful, holy living for us. Our hunger to be a Holiness people is rooted in the holiness of God himself. The holiness of God refers to His deity, His utter singularity of being. There is none like Him in majesty and glory. The appropriate human response in the presence of such a glorious being is worship of God as God. God’s holiness is expressed in His gracious redemptive acts. Encountering the God who reveals and gives himself makes worship possible, and worship becomes the primary way of knowing Him. We worship the holy redeeming God by loving what He loves.

Our worship of the great and gracious God takes many forms. Often it is praise and prayer with the faith community. It also expresses itself in acts of private devotion, thanksgiving, praise, and obedience. Evangelistic sharing of the faith, compassion toward our neighbor, working for justice, and moral uprightness are all acts of worship before our God of blazing holiness. Even the ordinary tasks of life become acts of worship and take on a sacramental significance as worship of a holy God becomes our way of life.

Jesus informs our understanding of holiness through His life, sacrifice, and teachings as found in the Gospels, particularly the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). As a Holiness people we seek to be like Jesus in every attitude and action. By His grace God enables believers who worship Him with their whole hearts to live Christlike lives. This we understand to be the essence of holiness.

God has also given us the gift and responsibility of choice. Because we were born with a tendency to sin, we are inclined to choose our own way rather than God’s (Isaiah 53:6). Having corrupted God’s creation with our sin, we are dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). If we are to live again spiritually, God, who calls into being what does not exist, must graciously create us anew through the redemptive acts of His own Son.

We believe that God uniquely entered our world through the incarnation of His only Son, Jesus of Nazareth, the historical God-man. Jesus came to renew the image of God in us, enabling us to become holy people. We believe that holiness in the life of the believer is the result of both a crisis experience and a lifelong process. Following regeneration, the Spirit of our Lord draws us by grace to the full consecration of our lives to Him. Then, in the divine act of entire sanctification, also called the baptism with the Holy Spirit, He cleanses us from original sin and indwells us with His holy presence. He perfects us in love, enables us to live in moral uprightness, and empowers us to serve.

The Spirit of Jesus works within us to reproduce in us His own character of holy love. He enables us to “put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). To be like God is to be like Jesus. Having had the divine image restored in us in God’s act of entire sanctification, we acknowledge that we have not yet arrived spiritually; our lifelong goal is Christlikeness in every word, thought, and deed. By continued yieldedness, obedience, and faith, we believe that we are “being transformed into his [Christ’s] likeness with ever-increasing glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18). We participate further in this process as we live a life of worship expressed in many ways, including embracing the spiritual disciplines and the fellowship and accountability of the local church. As a body of believers in a specific congregation, we endeavor to be a Christlike community, worshiping God with our whole hearts and receiving His gifts of love, purity, power, and compassion.

As a Holiness people we do not exist in a historical and ecclesiastical vacuum. We identify with the New Testament and the Early Church. Our Articles of Faith clearly place us in the tradition of classical Christianity. We identify with the Arminian tradition of free grace-Jesus died for all-and human freedom-the God-given capacity of all to choose God and salvation. We also trace our ecclesiastical heritage to the Wesleyan Revival of the 18th century and to the Holiness Movement of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Through the centuries the Holiness people have had a “magnificent obsession” with Jesus. We worship Jesus! We love Jesus! We think Jesus! We talk Jesus! We live Jesus! This is the essence and overflow of holiness for us. This is what characterizes Holiness people.

All Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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(from:  http://nazarene.org/ministries/administration/visitorcenter/values/holiness/display.html)

We Are a Christian People

As members of the Church Universal, we join with all true believers in proclaiming the Lordship of Jesus Christ and in affirming the historic Trinitarian creeds and beliefs of the Christian faith. We value our Wesleyan-Holiness heritage and believe it to be a way of understanding the faith that is true to Scripture, reason, tradition, and experience.

We are united with all believers in proclaiming the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We believe that in divine love God offers to all people forgiveness of sins and restored relationship. In being reconciled to God, we believe that we are also to be reconciled to one another, loving each other as we have been loved by God and forgiving each other as we have been forgiven by God. We believe that our life together is to exemplify the character of Christ. We look to Scripture as the primary source of spiritual truth confirmed by reason, tradition, and experience.

Jesus Christ is the Lord of the Church, which, as the Nicene Creed tells us, is one, holy, universal, and apostolic. In Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit, God the Father offers forgiveness of sin and reconciliation to all the world. Those who respond to God’s offer in faith become the people of God. Having been forgiven and reconciled in Christ, we forgive and are reconciled to one another. In this way, we are Christ’s Church and Body and reveal the unity of that Body. As the one Body of Christ, we have “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” We affirm the unity of Christ’s Church and strive in all things to preserve it (Ephesians 4:5, 3).

Jesus Christ is the holy Lord. For this reason, Christ’s Church is not only one but also holy. It is to be holy in its parts and in its totality and holy in its members as it is in its Head. The Church is both holy and called to be holy. It is holy because it is the Body of Christ, who has become for us righteousness and holiness. It is called to become holy by God, who chose us before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless. As Christ’s one Body, our life together as a Church should embody the holy character of Christ, who emptied himself and took on the form of a slave. We affirm the holiness of Christ’s Church, both as a gift and as a calling.

Jesus Christ is the Lord of the Church. For this reason, the Church is not only one and holy but also universal, including all who affirm the essential beliefs of the Christian faith. We affirm the apostolic faith that has been held by all Christians everywhere and at all times. We embrace John Wesley’s concept of the universal spirit, by which we have fellowship with all those who affirm the vital center of Scripture, and we extend toleration to those who disagree with us on matters not essential to salvation.

Jesus Christ is the Lord of the Scriptures. For this reason, the Church is not only one, holy, and universal but also apostolic. It is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets and continually devotes itself to the apostles’ teaching. The Church especially looks to the Scriptures, which are the Church’s only norm of faith and life. The Lordship of Jesus over the Scriptures means that we are to understand the Scriptures through the witness of the Holy Spirit as they testify to Jesus. To confirm and correct our understanding of the Scriptures, we honor and heed the ancient creeds and other voices of the Christian tradition that faithfully explain the Scriptures. We also allow our understanding of the Scriptures to be guided by the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to us in repentance, faith, and assurance. Finally we test our understanding of the Scriptures by seeking the reasonableness and coherence of their witness to Jesus Christ.

We are especially called to witness to the holiness of Christ’s Church as embraced in the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition. We affirm the principles of salvation by grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ our Savior. In doing so, we continue to affirm that Christ’s Church is one, universal, and apostolic. But our special calling is to hold before the eyes of the world and the Church the centrality of holiness and to encourage the people of God to live in the fullness of the Father’s holy love. For this reason we affirm the Wesleyan-Holiness understanding of the Christian faith and seek to remain faithful to its principal teachings: God’s prevenient grace and the means of grace, repentance, faith, the new birth, justification, entire sanctification, assurance, the Christian community and its disciplines, and the perfection of love.

All Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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(from:  http://nazarene.org/ministries/administration/visitorcenter/values/christian/display.html)

What are the “Articles of Faith”?

PREAMBLE

In order that we may preserve our God-given heritage, the faith once delivered to the saints, especially the doctrine and experience of entire sanctification as a second work of grace, and also that we may cooperate effectually with other branches of the Church of Jesus Christ in advancing God’s kingdom, we, the ministers and lay members of the Church of the Nazarene, in accordance with the principles of constitutional legislation established among us, do hereby ordain, adopt, and set forth as the fundamental law or Constitution of the Church of the Nazarene the Articles of Faith, the General Rules, and the Articles of Organization and Government here following, to wit:

ARTICLES OF FAITH

I. The Triune God*

1. We believe in one eternally existent, infinite God, Sovereign Creator and Sustainer of the universe; that He only is God, [creative and administrative,] holy in nature, attributes, and purpose[;]. The God who is holy love and light [that He, as God,] is Triune in essential being, revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

(Genesis 1; Leviticus 19:2; Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Isaiah 5:16; 6:1-7; 40:18-31; Matthew 3:16-17; 28:19-20; John 14:6-27; 1 Corinthians 8:6; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Galatians 4:4-6; Ephesians 2:13-18; 1 John 1:5; 4:8)

II. Jesus Christ

2. We believe in Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Triune Godhead; that He was eternally one with the Father; that He became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and was born of the Virgin Mary, so that two whole and perfect natures, that is to say the Godhead and manhood, are thus united in one Person very God and very man, the God-man.

We believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins, and that He truly arose from the dead and took again His body, together with all things appertaining to the perfection of man’s nature, wherewith He ascended into heaven and is there engaged in intercession for us.

(Matthew 1:20-25; 16:15-16; Luke 1:26-35; John 1:1-18; Acts 2:22-36; Romans 8:3, 32-34; Galatians 4:4-5; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 1:12-22; 1 Timothy 6:14-16; Hebrews 1:1-5; 7:22-28; 9:24-28; 1 John 1:1-3; 4:2-3, 15)

III. The Holy Spirit

3. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Triune Godhead, that He is ever present and efficiently active in and with the Church of Christ, convincing the world of sin, regenerating those who repent and believe, sanctifying believers, and guiding into all truth as it is in Jesus.

(John 7:39; 14:15-18, 26; 16:7-15; Acts 2:33; 15:8-9; Romans 8:1-27; Galatians 3:1-14; 4:6; Ephesians 3:14-21; 1 Thessalonians 4:7-8; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2; 1 John 3:24; 4:13)

IV. The Holy Scriptures

4. We believe in the plenary inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, by which we understand the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, given by divine inspiration, inerrantly revealing the will of God concerning us in all things necessary to our salvation, so that whatever is not contained therein is not to be enjoined as an article of faith.

(Luke 24:44-47; John 10:35; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; 1 Peter 1:10-12; 2 Peter 1:20-21)

V. Sin, Original and Personal

5. We believe that sin came into the world through the disobedience of our first parents, and death by sin. We believe that sin is of two kinds: original sin or depravity, and actual or personal sin.

5.1. We believe that original sin, or depravity, is that corruption of the nature of all the offspring of Adam by reason of which everyone is very far gone from original righteousness or the pure state of our first parents at the time of their creation, is averse to God, is without spiritual life, and inclined to evil, and that continually. We further believe that original sin continues to exist with the new life of the regenerate, until the heart is fully cleansed by the baptism with the Holy Spirit.

5.2. We believe that original sin differs from actual sin in that it constitutes an inherited propensity to actual sin for which no one is accountable until its divinely provided remedy is neglected or rejected.

5.3. We believe that actual or personal sin is a voluntary violation of a known law of God by a morally responsible person. It is therefore not to be confused with involuntary and inescapable shortcomings, infirmities, faults, mistakes, failures, or other deviations from a standard of perfect conduct that are the residual effects of the Fall. However, such innocent effects do not include attitudes or responses contrary to the spirit of Christ, which may properly be called sins of the spirit. We believe that personal sin is primarily and essentially a violation of the law of love; and that in relation to Christ sin may be defined as unbelief.

(Original sin: Genesis 3; 6:5; Job 15:14; Psalm 51:5; Jeremiah 17:9-10; Mark 7:21-23; Romans 1:18-25; 5:12-14; 7:1-8:9; 1 Corinthians 3:1-4; Galatians 5:16-25; 1 John 1:7-8

Personal sin: Matthew 22:36-40 {with 1 John 3:4}; John 8:34-36; 16:8-9;
Romans 3:23; 6:15-23; 8:18-24; 14:23; 1 John 1:9-2:4; 3:7-10)

VI. Atonement*

6. We believe that Jesus Christ, by His sufferings, by the shedding of His own blood, and by His death on the Cross, made a full atonement for all human sin, and that this Atonement is the only ground of salvation, and that it is sufficient for every individual of Adam’s race. The Atonement is graciously efficacious for the salvation of [the irresponsible] those incapable of moral responsibility and for the children in innocency but is efficacious for the salvation of those who reach the age of responsibility only when they repent and believe.

(Isaiah 53:5-6, 11; Mark 10:45; Luke 24:46-48; John 1:29; 3:14-17; Acts 4:10-12; Romans 3:21-26; 4:17-25; 5:6-21; 1 Corinthians 6:20; 2 Corinthians 5:14-21; Galatians 1:3-4; 3:13-14; Colossians 1:19-23; 1 Timothy 2:3-6; Titus 2:11-14; Hebrews 2:9; 9:11-14; 13:12; 1 Peter 1:18-21; 2:19-25; 1 John 2:1-2)

VII. Prevenient Grace

7. We believe that the human race’s creation in Godlikeness included ability to choose between right and wrong, and that thus human beings were made morally responsible; that through the fall of Adam they became depraved so that they cannot now turn and prepare themselves by their own natural strength and works to faith and calling upon God. But we also believe that the grace of God through Jesus Christ is freely bestowed upon all people, enabling all who will to turn from sin to righteousness, believe on Jesus Christ for pardon and cleansing from sin, and follow good works pleasing and acceptable in His sight.

We believe that all persons, though in the possession of the experience of regeneration and entire sanctification, may fall from grace and apostatize and, unless they repent of their sins, be hopelessly and eternally lost.

(Godlikeness and moral responsibility: Genesis 1:26-27; 2:16-17; Deuteronomy 28:1-2; 30:19; Joshua 24:15; Psalm 8:3-5; Isaiah 1:8-10; Jeremiah 31:29-30; Ezekiel 18:1-4; Micah 6:8; Romans 1:19-20; 2:1-16; 14:7-12; Galatians 6:7-8

Natural inability: Job 14:4; 15:14; Psalms 14:1-4; 51:5; John 3:6a; Romans 3:10-12; 5:12-14, 20a; 7:14-25

Free grace and works of faith: Ezekiel 18:25-26; John 1:12-13; 3:6b; Acts 5:31; Romans 5:6-8, 18; 6:15-16, 23; 10:6-8; 11:22; 1 Corinthians 2:9-14; 10:1-12; 2 Corinthians 5:18-19; Galatians 5:6; Ephesians 2:8-10; Philippians 2:12-13; Colossians 1:21-23; 2 Timothy 4:10a; Titus 2:11-14; Hebrews 2:1-3; 3:12-15; 6:4-6; 10:26-31; James 2:18-22; 2 Peter 1:10-11; 2:20-22)

VIII. Repentance

8. We believe that repentance, which is a sincere and thorough change of the mind in regard to sin, involving a sense of personal guilt and a voluntary turning away from sin, is demanded of all who have by act or purpose become sinners against God. The Spirit of God gives to all who will repent the gracious help of penitence of heart and hope of mercy, that they may believe unto pardon and spiritual life.

(2 Chronicles 7:14; Psalms 32:5-6; 51:1-17; Isaiah 55:6-7; Jeremiah 3:12-14; Ezekiel 18:30-32; 33:14-16; Mark 1:14-15; Luke 3:1-14; 13:1-5; 18:9-14; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 5:31; 17:30-31; 26:16-18; Romans 2:4; 2 Corinthians 7:8-11; 1 Thessalonians 1:9; 2 Peter 3:9)

IX. Justification, Regeneration, and Adoption

9. We believe that justification is the gracious and judicial act of God by which He grants full pardon of all guilt and complete release from the penalty of sins committed, and acceptance as righteous, to all who believe on Jesus Christ and receive Him as Lord and Savior.

10. We believe that regeneration, or the new birth, is that gracious work of God whereby the moral nature of the repentant believer is spiritually quickened and given a distinctively spiritual life, capable of faith, love, and obedience.

11. We believe that adoption is that gracious act of God by which the justified and regenerated believer is constituted a son of God.

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.

(Luke 18:14; John 1:12-13; 3:3-8; 5:24; Acts 13:39; Romans 1:17; 3:21-26, 28; 4:5-9, 17-25; 5:1, 16-19; 6:4; 7:6; 8:1, 15-17; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 6:11; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Galatians 2:16-21; 3:1-14, 26; 4:4-7; Ephesians 1:6-7; 2:1, 4-5; Philippians 3:3-9; Colossians 2:13; Titus 3:4-7; 1 Peter 1:23; 1 John 1:9; 3:1-2, 9; 4:7; 5:1, 9-13, 18)

X. Christian Holiness and Entire Sanctification*

13. We believe that [entire] sanctification is [that] the [act] work of God[, subsequent to regeneration, by] which transforms believers into the likeness of Christ. It is wrought by God’s grace through the Holy Spirit in initial sanctification, or regeneration (simultaneous with justification), entire sanctification, and the continued perfecting work of the Holy Spirit culminating in glorification. In glorification we are fully conformed to the image of the Son.

We believe that entire sanctification is that act of God, subsequent to regeneration, by which believers are made free from original sin, or depravity, and brought into a state of entire devotement to God, and the holy obedience of love made perfect.

It is wrought by the baptism with or infilling of the Holy Spirit, and comprehends in one experience the cleansing of the heart from sin and the abiding, indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, empowering the believer for life and service.

Entire sanctification is provided by the blood of Jesus, is wrought instantaneously by grace through faith, preceded by entire consecration; and to this work and state of grace the Holy Spirit bears witness.

This experience is also known by various terms representing its different phases, such as “Christian perfection,” “perfect love,” “heart purity,” “the baptism with or infilling of the Holy Spirit,” “the fullness of the blessing,” and “Christian holiness.”

14. We believe that there is a marked distinction between a pure heart and a mature character. The former is obtained in an instant, the result of entire sanctification; the latter is the result of growth in grace.

We believe that the grace of entire sanctification includes the divine impulse to grow in grace as a Christlike disciple. However, this impulse must be consciously nurtured, and careful attention given to the requisites and processes of spiritual development and improvement in Christlikeness of character and personality. Without such purposeful endeavor, one’s witness may be impaired and the grace itself frustrated and ultimately lost.

Participating in the means of grace, especially the fellowship, disciplines, and sacraments of the Church, believers grow in grace and in wholehearted love to God and neighbor.

(Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:25-27; Malachi 3:2-3; Matthew 3:11-12; Luke 3:16-17; John 7:37-39; 14:15-23; 17:6-20; Acts 1:5; 2:1-4; 15:8-9; Romans 6:11-13, 19; 8:1-4, 8-14; 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1; Galatians 2:20; 5:16-25; Ephesians 3:14-21; 5:17-18, 25-27; Philippians 3:10-15; Colossians 3:1-17; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; Hebrews 4:9-11; 10:10-17; 12:1-2; 13:12; 1 John 1:7, 9)

(“Christian perfection,” “perfect love”: Deuteronomy 30:6; Matthew 5:43-48; 22:37-40; Romans 12:9-21; 13:8-10; 1 Corinthians 13; Philippians 3:10-15; Hebrews 6:1; 1 John 4:17-18

“Heart purity”: Matthew 5:8; Acts 15:8-9; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 3:3

“Baptism with or infilling of the Holy Spirit”: Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:25-27; Malachi 3:2-3; Matthew 3:11-12; Luke 3:16-17; Acts 1:5; 2:1-4; 15:8-9

“Fullness of the blessing”: Romans 15:29

“Christian holiness”: Matthew 5:1-7:29; John 15:1-11; Romans 12:1-15:3; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Ephesians 4:17-5:20; Philippians 1:9-11; 3:12-15; Colossians 2:20-3:17; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 4:7-8; 5:23; 2 Timothy 2:19-22; Hebrews 10:19-25; 12:14; 13:20-21; 1 Peter 1:15-16; 2 Peter 1:1-11; 3:18; Jude 20-21)

XI. The Church*

15. We believe in the Church, the community that confesses Jesus Christ as Lord, the covenant people of God made new in Christ, the Body of Christ called together by the Holy Spirit through the Word.

God calls the Church to express its life in the unity and fellowship of the Spirit; in worship through the preaching of the Word, observance of the sacraments, and ministry in His name; by obedience to Christ, holy living, and mutual accountability.

The mission of the Church in the world is to [continue] share in the redemptive and reconciling ministry [work] of Christ in the power of the Spirit [through holy living, evangelism, discipleship, and service]. The Church fulfills its mission by making disciples through evangelism, education, showing compassion, working for justice, and bearing witness to the kingdom of God.

The Church is a historical reality, which organizes itself in culturally conditioned forms; exists both as local congregations and as a universal body; sets apart persons called of God for specific ministries. God calls the Church to live under His rule in anticipation of the consummation at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(Exodus 19:3; Jeremiah 31:33; Matthew 8:11; 10:7; 16:13-19, 24; 18:15-20; 28:19-20; John 17:14-26; 20:21-23; Acts 1:7-8; 2:32-47; 6:1-2; 13:1; 14:23; Romans 2:28-29; 4:16; 10:9-15; 11:13-32; 12:1-8; 15:1-3; 1 Corinthians 3:5-9; 7:17; 11:1, 17-33; 12:3, 12-31; 14:26-40; 2 Corinthians 5:11-6:1; Galatians 5:6, 13-14; 6:1-5, 15; Ephesians 4:1-17; 5:25-27; Philippians 2:1-16; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12; 1 Timothy 4:13; Hebrews 10:19-25; 1 Peter 1:1-2, 13; 2:4-12, 21; 4:1-2, 10-11; 1 John 4:17; Jude 24; Revelation 5:9-10)

XII. Baptism

16. We believe that Christian baptism, commanded by our Lord, is a sacrament signifying acceptance of the benefits of the atonement of Jesus Christ, to be administered to believers
and declarative of their faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior, and full purpose of obedience in holiness and righteousness.

Baptism being a symbol of the new covenant, young children may be baptized, upon request of parents or guardians who shall give assurance for them of necessary Christian training. Baptism may be administered by sprinkling, pouring, or immersion, according to the choice of the applicant.

(Matthew 3:1-7; 28:16-20; Acts 2:37-41; 8:35-39; 10:44-48; 16:29-34; 19:1-6; Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:26-28; Colossians 2:12; 1 Peter 3:18-22)

XIII. The Lord’s Supper

17. We believe that the Memorial and Communion Supper instituted by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is essentially a New Testament sacrament, declarative of His sacrificial death, through the merits of which believers have life and salvation and promise of all spiritual blessings in Christ. It is distinctively for those who are prepared for reverent appreciation of its significance, and by it they show forth the Lord’s death till He come again. It being the Communion feast, only those who have faith in Christ and love for the saints should be called to participate therein.

(Exodus 12:1-14; Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:17-20; John 6:28-58; 1 Corinthians 10:14-21; 11:23-32)

XIV. Divine Healing

18. We believe in the Bible doctrine of divine healing and urge our people to seek to offer the prayer of faith for the healing of the sick. We also believe God heals through the means of medical science.

(2 Kings 5:1-19; Psalm 103:1-5; Matthew 4:23-24; 9:18-35; John 4:46-54; Acts 5:12-16; 9:32-42; 14:8-15; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; James 5:13-16)

XV. Second Coming of Christ

19. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ will come again; that we who are alive at His coming shall not precede them that are asleep in Christ Jesus; but that, if we are abiding in Him, we shall be caught up with the risen saints to meet the Lord in the air, so that we shall ever be with the Lord.

(Matthew 25:31-46; John 14:1-3; Acts 1:9-11; Philippians 3:20-21; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Titus 2:11-14; Hebrews 9:26-28; 2 Peter 3:3-15; Revelation 1:7-8; 22:7-20)

XVI. Resurrection, Judgment, and Destiny

20. We believe in the resurrection of the dead, that the bodies both of the just and of the unjust shall be raised to life and united with their spirits—“they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”

21. We believe in future judgment in which every person shall appear before God to be judged according to his or her deeds in this life.

22. We believe that glorious and everlasting life is assured to all who savingly believe in, and obediently follow, Jesus Christ our Lord; and that the finally impenitent shall suffer
eternally in hell.

(Genesis 18:25; 1 Samuel 2:10; Psalm 50:6; Isaiah 26:19; Daniel 12:2-3; Matthew 25:31-46; Mark 9:43-48; Luke 16:19-31; 20:27-38; John 3:16-18; 5:25-29; 11:21-27; Acts 17:30-31; Romans 2:1-16; 14:7-12; 1 Corinthians 15:12-58; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10; Revelation 20:11-15; 22:1-15)


*Constitutional changes adopted by the 2009 General Assembly are in the process of ratification by the district assemblies at the time of posting. Where changes are being made, words in italics are new words and words in brackets [ ] are words being deleted.

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(from:  http://nazarene.org/ministries/administration/visitorcenter/articles/display.html)

What does the Church of the Nazarene Believe?

Agreed Statement of Belief

These are the beliefs Nazarenes hold to be true:

We believe in one God-the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

We believe that the Old and New Testament Scriptures, given by plenary inspiration, contain all truth necessary to faith and Christian living.

We believe that man is born with a fallen nature, and is, therefore, inclined to evil, and that continually.

We believe that the finally impenitent are hopelessly and eternally lost.

We believe that the atonement through Jesus Christ is for the whole human race; and that whosoever repents and believes on the Lord Jesus Christ is justified and regenerated and saved from the dominion of sin.

We believe that believers are to be sanctified wholly, subsequent to regeneration, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

We believe that the Holy Spirit bears witness to the new birth, and also to the entire sanctification of believers.

We believe that our Lord will return, the dead will be raised, and the final judgment will take place.

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(from:  http://nazarene.org/ministries/administration/visitorcenter/beliefs/display.html)

Who is the Church of the Nazarene?

The Church of the Nazarene is a Protestant Christian church in the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition, tracing its roots to an anniversary date of 1908. It was founded to spread the message of scriptural holiness (Christlike living) across the lands. Today the Church of the Nazarene is located in 156 world areas.

The Church of the Nazarene is a Great Commission church. Our mission is to make Christlike disciples in the nations. We believe that God offers to everyone forgiveness, peace, joy, purpose, love, meaning in life, and the promise of heaven when life is over by entering and experiencing a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We are called to take this message to people everywhere.

The Church of the Nazarene is also a holiness church. We believe that Christians can experience a deeper level of life in which there is victory over sin, power to witness and serve, and a richer fellowship with God, all through the infilling of the Holy Spirit.

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(from http://nazarene.org/ministries/administration/visitorcenter/display.html)