Q50: Did God abandon His people and His plans because of the turn of Adam and Eve to sin, and their ensuing estrangement to God, and bondage to the Devil?WE BELIEVE that God did not abandon His rule over the earth which He continues to uphold by His providence. In order to bring redemption, God established covenants which revealed His grace to sinful people. In the covenant with Abraham, God bound Himself to His people Israel, promising to deliver them from bondage to sin and Satan and to bless all the nations through them.Q51: Was this all that God did for His covenanted people?As King, God later redeemed His people by His mighty acts from bondage in Egypt and established His covenant through Moses, revealing His perfect will and our obligation to fulfill it. The law’s purpose is to order our fallen race and to make us conscious of our moral responsibility. Q52: How did His People respond to these offers?
Israel rejected God’s rule over her as King, so God established the monarchy in Israel and made an unconditional covenant with David, promising that his heir would restore God’s kingdom reign over His people as Messiah forever.
Q53: How have these promises been kept, seeing that the Davidic Kingships were ended with the conquering of King Zedekiah by the armies of Babylon?
Q54: How did God come among His People?
God came ‘in the flesh’ in the Person of Jesus Christ, who was born of the Virgin Mary (who hence forth understood by the church as the theotokos or god-bearer) in a small stable amongst the stalls of Bethlehem one spring night around 3 B.C. His coming was declared by angels to shepherds in the surrounding hills, as well as to wise men in foreign lands by the stars in the sky.
Q55: How can we best understand the nature of Christ, this god-made-man?
We can best term the coming of the Christ (Messiah) as the “en-humanization” of the Logos (or second person of the Trinity). Jesus the Christ then should be understood as the revelation of what it means to be perfectly human. He also exists as the perfect revelation of who God is.
Q56: How can one person be both God and Man?
Much as we cannot understand how one God is in three persons; we have trouble understanding how one person can at all times be both totally God, and totally man existing in unity and essence of spirit.
Q57: What then was the result of God becoming Man?
WE BELIEVE that when God became man in the person of Jesus the Christ he bestowed on the body a fullness of grace and delivered it from the bonds of corruption and death. Thus becoming the first fruit of a new type of creation, humanity recapitulated as it should be. Just as the first Adam brought death and destruction by his choices, Jesus the Christ represents a new Adam who brings life and peace to all who are in Him.
Q58: How was this accomplished?
He did this by self-exaltation as he renewed the mind to think on God. In his body he broke the chains of sin and bondage; and purified the body from its defilement in sin. Last in his life and teaching, He demonstrated in its fullness, the great love of God both as an example of humility, and as a remedy for the pride that has falsely lifted up and subsequently dashed the hopes of the first Adam. He joined together in one person and body the divine and human such that the church fathers might be able to proclaim the good news that ‘what has not been assumed is not healed but what God is united to is saved.’
Q59: What work did Jesus the Christ accomplish while He walked among us?
WE BELIEVE that Christ came as a prophet to preach, teach, and reveal the coming of the Kingdom of God to earth.
Q60: How did Jesus do this?
First, He led a blameless and spotless life marked by perfect obedience in love to His Father. Second, He was led by and empowered by the Holy Spirit (which was given to Him at His Baptism by John) to great works which showed the Father’s love and mercy to the people of Judea, Galilee, Samaria, and wherever He was led. Third, Jesus spoke in many parables teaching His disciples and the listening crowds about His Father, their Kingdom, and the responsibilities of its citizens. Last, he trained his disciples to do as He had done, and sent them out to do and teach as he had done and taught.
Q61: What work did Jesus the Christ accomplish through His death?
WE BELIEVE that Jesus the Christ came not just to live, but to die for His people. We believe that he was crucified by Pontius Pilate on the hill known as Golgotha. In this way Christ served as the great High Priest offering the once and for all sacrifice of atonement.
Q62: What work did Jesus the Christ accomplish through His Resurrection, Ascension, and Session?
WE BELIEVE that by His resurrection from the tomb of Joseph of Arimethea on the third day, Christ utterly defeated and destroyed the works of the evil one. He also defeated the powers of sin and death. His victory was observed by over 500 people as He walked with, ate with, and talked with His disciples. After that time, He gathered His disciples on the Mount of Olives where he ascended to heaven, and took His place at the right hand of God the Father. Last, He and the Father sent their Holy Spirit (which had empowered Christ himself) to His people waiting in the Upper Room in Jerusalem. In this work we can ascribe the Christ the title and position as King.
Q63: Has Christ then brought forth the fullness of the Kingdom of God as promised by the words spoken through the prophets of old?
No. In his becoming man, Christ won victory over sin, death, and the devil; He offered an atoning sacrifice for our sin; and He inaugurated His rule and reign on earth. He announced to His disciples that they were to go into the ends of the earth; to take His authority and rule to all peoples; and to baptize and to teach all the things that He had taught. Yet He has promised to come again in fullness.
WE BELIEVE that by the blood of incarnated Christ, and the ministry of His Holy Spirit, God the Father is even now calling all people all over the world to turn from their wickedness; to renew their relationship with Him; and to live out the victories won by Christ.
Q65: Does this fact that God’s call goes out to all mean that all will be saved in the end?
No. We believe that salvation from the penalty, plague, and presence of sin and evil necessarily includes two components: God’s call, and the person’s grace-filled response to that call. To that end we must recognize that only those who respond by grace to this call, we be saved. Therefore, those who chose not to respond, to redeem their lives by other means, or to live their lives for themselves only will not be saved and will bring the penalty of death upon themselves.
Q66: Does this mean that God’s will is spited or ineffective in any way?
No. It is God’s good and perfect will that all will be saved to live the good lives He meant for them; yet God has allowed humanity to make decisions by their own will (either freely as in the case of Adam, or in bondage as is the case of sinful humanity). All our decisions on this crucial issue are all to be considered as grace-filled, and effective to His end purpose.
Q67: Does God not know all that will happen, or is He is anyway not aware of these free decisions by each human as to salvation or damnation?
No. As mentioned earlier God is bound by time as we are. All of time is summed up in Him, and he knows everyone who does or does not believe.
Q68: Does this knowledge determine our fate in anyway?
No. Just as our knowledge that the sun is shining (or behind a cloud) does not cause the sun to shine (or not shine), God’s pre-existent knowledge of our decisions does not coerce our decisions in anyway.
Q70: How then can we describe this gracious work of renewal in our lives?
WE BELIEVE that we can say that all people in God’s Kingdom should assert that they are in the process of being saved. That is each person can claim that they have been saved (pardoned from sin), are being saved (are achieving holiness), and will be saved (will inhibit heaven). We claim that we have been freed from penalty of sin by Christ’s death, that we are being saved from the plague of sin by the Spirit’s redeeming work of sanctification, and that we will be saved from the presence of sin when God establishes the new heaven and new earth.
In this way we talk of the via salutis, that is the way of salvation. In another sense we can talk of salvation being like building a house. The foundation and roof of the house rests on the propitiation made by Christ’s blood and his ensuing victory over sin, death, and the devil. The porch of the house consists in God’s prevenient grace. The door to the house consists of God’s justifying grace. Last the rooms of the house might be built and furnished by God’s sanctifying grace. In the sense we are talking about not one act of salvation or justification, but a lifetime of acts within the ever increasing partnership between God and one of His called-out people
Q71: How does God move in prevenient grace?
‘Pre-venio’ means that ‘which comes before.’ In this sense we are talking about the movement of the Holy Spirit amongst humanity everywhere drawing, nudging, and awakening the senses of the unregenerate in order to bring him or her into repentance.
Q72: How does God move in justifying grace?
Justification may be understood as how God realigns humanity and restores relationship with a man or a woman. In this He cuts through the self-induced alienation and estrangement to establish a new relationship built upon His grace and mercy. Our justification is often understood in terms of regeneration and / or new birth.
Q73: Is there a qualitative difference between Justification and Regeneration?
To some degree, yes. One might describe justification as that which God does for us: forgiving our sins, and imputing righteousness to us. Regeneration is that work which God does in us: renewing our fallen nature, and imparting righteousness to us.
Q74: Is there a temporal difference between Justification and Regeneration?
To some degree, yes. In a sense it is almost impossible to separate the two temporally as they occur as two sides of the same coin. In understanding salvation as including God’s call and humanity’s response, one must put the work of regeneration before justification (in understanding salvation as God’s effective call alone, one would effectively reverse the order).
Q75: How does God move in sanctifying grace?
Q76: Is there a qualitative difference between Justification and Sanctification?
To some degrees yes. We can describe the changes that occur in the regenerate or called-out person of God in terms of the real change that occurs in regeneration; as well as in the relative change that occurs as humanity’s relationship with God changes from enmity to acceptance.
Q77: Is there a temporal difference between the two?
To some degree, yes. In a sense the finished work of Calvary seems to require that Justification and Sanctification be seen as two sides of one coin. We must argue that in some sense this work is to be seen as a prolepsis with God. That is, through Christ’s blood, God sees us not as we are, but as we will be. In this sense of our God who sees the end from the beginning, salvation is a finished work, and our righteousness is assured. Yet in discussing the process of Sanctification for our vantage point, it is important to see how our experience of imparted righteousness must be built upon our understanding of imputed righteousness. In this sense the experience of Justification most exist as the ground or foundation upon which our sanctification is built.
Q78: Is Sanctification a work of humanity?
Just as we are saved solely by grace, we believe that we are to walk out our salvation by grace. In this sense, we learn to “let go and let God” be made manifest in our lives.
Q79: What else can we say is accomplished by Sanctification?
The atrophied spiritual senses are renewed and restored as the Moral Image is renewed. In this sense we might say that knowing transforms the knower. In this we talk of our lives as per testimonium spiritus that is a life of participatory knowledge of the Spirit as it testifies to our spirit.
Gen. 17:3-8; 15:4-6. Rom. 4:3-5, 16; 20-25. Gal. 3:6-9, 13-14.
1 Pet. 2:24.
This section is meant to be a broadening out and interpretation of the passages about Christ and the Spirit (1 Jo. 5:6-9 and others) as they have been reflected by the confluence of traditions that have honored the passion and reality of Christ in one’s daily life (including but not limited to Ireneaus, Origen, Tertullian, the Eastern Fathers, the Mystics, the Moravians, the Pietists, the Proto-evangelicals, Wesleyans, the Holiness Movements (both Wesleyan and Higher Life), the Pentecostals, the Charismatic Movements, Third-Wave Pentecostals, and the Younger Evangelicals).
Ex. 35:21. Ps. 104:19-30. La. 1:20. Eze. 3:12. Hag. 1:14. Jo. 6:63; 14:17. Acts 6:10; 11:12, 15; 15:8; 20:23. Romans 1; 2:29. I Cor. 13:10. II Cor. 5:5. Gal. 3:5, 5:5. Eph. 2:2. I Thess. 4:8. Heb. 10:15. I Peter 1:12. Rev. 1-2.