11 - XI. Justification, Regeneration and Adoption
28 July, 2002 AM
Miles City Wesleyan Church
Miles City Mt.
XI. Justification, Regeneration and Adoption
Romans 8:16; Acts 13:38-39; 2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 2:10;
After the Sunday school teacher told the story of the prodigal son to the class, she asked, “Was anyone sorry when the prodigal son returned?” One boy answered, “Yes, the fatted calf.”
In the classified section of a newspaper an ad appeared that read: “I would like to announce that the ad I put in this newspaper last Saturday was in error. I will be responsible for any debts incurred by my wife. And I will start paying as soon as I get out of the hospital.”
Repentance, seeking forgiveness of something that we have done wrong. This poor guy, got beat up by his wife, so it seems, because he said he would not be responsible for her debts. Last week we talked about repentance, our need to tell God that we are sorry for the sins in our lives. This is prompted by the work of the Holy Spirit and once we do it something wonderful happens and that is what article 11 of the Wesleyan’s articles of religion is all about, Justification, Regeneration and Adoption. We are going to break this up into three parts and the first part reads:
We believe that when one repents of personal sin and believes on the Lord Jesus Christ, that at the same moment that person is justified, regenerated, adopted into the family of God, and assured of personal salvation through the witness of the Holy Spirit.
We believe that justification is the judicial act of God whereby a person is accounted righteous, granted full pardon of all sin, delivered from guilt, completely released from the penalty of sins committed, by the merit of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, by faith alone, not on the basis of works.
So what does this mean? It means that after the Holy Spirit convicts of our sins and works on our hearts, like we talked about last week, we are moved to a point that we ask God to forgive us of our sins and ask His forgiveness and thank Him for what Jesus did for us on the cross. At that point, at the same second, we believe that the person doing the repenting, is justified, regenerated and adopted into the family of God, and is assured of their salvation through the same work of the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit who was just seconds before convicting us of sins now confirms and makes us fully aware that we have become a child of the King. Romans 8:16 says, “The Spirit himself testifies (or speaks) with our spirit that we are God’s children.”
But let’s back up just a bit and talk about justification. We said, “justification is the judicial act of God”. What does justification mean? Luke said in Acts 13:38-39, “Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses.” I heard once a very good explanation for justified – justified means “Just – if – I’d” never sinned. When we believe on Jesus Christ, we are ‘just-if-I’d’ never sinned from everything we could not be justified from by the law of Moses – which is -- all sin.
“Justification is the judicial act of God whereby a person is accounted righteous, granted full pardon of all sin, delivered from guilt, completely released from the penalty of sins committed”. I don’t know about you, but I think this is fantastic!! God looks at me “just – if – I’d” never sinned and He finds me righteous – which is the only way we are able to go into the presence of God – is when we are righteous. We have been granted a full pardon – did you notice, it does not say, we have been granted a parole? With a parole, whenever we mess up, we are thrown back in jail, but with this full pardon, God says, I know there may be times when you will mess a up a bit, but I’m here – you’ve repented once so you know how to do it, just come to Me and say your sorry. Of course you have to really mean it – then and only then, will God accept our repentance.
Not only are we fully pardoned – we can be delivered from all associated guilt dealing with our sins – if we will turn it over to God – and this will release us from the penalty of our sins which we had committed. But there is a catch. This can not be done by something we do, it can only be done through faith! We must have faith in what Jesus Christ did for us – He paid the price for our sins – He who was sinless – and He bought our pardon – not our parole, our pardon! And it just gets better from here!!
Article 11 goes on: We believe that regeneration, or the new birth, is that work of the Holy Spirit whereby, when one truly repents and believes, one’s moral nature is given a distinctively spiritual life with the capacity for love and obedience. This new life is received by faith in Jesus Christ, it enables the pardoned sinner to serve God with the will and affections of the heart, and by it the regenerate are delivered from the power of sin which reigns over all the unregenerate.
2 Cor. 5:17 states: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” That’s what regeneration means – rebirth, renewal, revival, rejuvenation – we are no longer of the world, we are no longer of a sinful nature – when the Holy Spirit lets us know that we have been justified, He also lets us know that we have been born again, created new – that our moral nature has been given a distinctively spiritual life – far different from our old self! No longer do we want to participate with those that lie, cheat and steel, we understand that these things, as well as many others, are displeasing to God, and our spirit now tells us that we should want to please God above all else – this is our number one priority!! This spiritual life that we have been given has the capacity for love and obedience – instead of hate and disobedience.
Eph. 2:10 says, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” We are created to do good works, not bad, or works that do not glorify God, and once we have been regenerated, or revived, or renewed, we will want to do those things that glorify God and not man. This regeneration or new life is received by faith in Jesus and it enables the pardoned sinner to serve God – a person who has not been pardoned can not truly serve God – they might look like they are serving Him, but they are only serving themselves, making themselves look good – trying to receive the glory that belongs only to God.
A truly pardoned sinner will serve God will all the affections of the heart. We will not do it just to show others the works that we can do, we do it out of love and respect for our Heavenly Father. Eph. 4:24 talks about the new life and says that we are to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. When we think about this, God can not lie, He can not deceive, He is always truthful and holy, and that is what we have been created to be also – truthful and holy and holy means being set apart for God’s work. Are you living your life as if it were set apart for God’s work?
When we are regenerated, or renewed, or reborn, we are delivered from the power of sin which reigns over all the unregenerate. This means that sin no longer has control of our lives – when we fully trust in Jesus. Did you notice what this sentence of article 11 said? It said that those who are unregenerate, those that have not been born again, those that have not renewed their lives in Jesus Christ, have something that reigns over them – something that is king in their lives – and that something is sin. We who have been born again, have something else in our lives that is in charge and its not sin – it’s the King of kings and Lord of lords, and He has the power to save and provide eternal life. By believing, by putting our faith in Jesus’ saving power, not only are we justified, and regenerated, we are also adopted into the family of God. The third part of this article states:
We believe that adoption is the act of God by which the justified and regenerated believer becomes a partaker of all the rights, privileges and responsibilities of a child of God. We become a child of the King!! We are adopted into the family of God, God is our Father and Jesus our brother! Paul tells us in Gal. 3, starting with the 26 verse: “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
I have to tell you something, my Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills. Oh, and by the way, He owns the hills too! Did you notice the lawn outside, we take care of it, but it belongs to my Father. The trees, they belong to my Father, the sun, moon and stars ---- my Father!!!! When we are adopted, we become partakers of all the rights and privileges of being a child of the King. We need to live our lives in such a way that everything we do will bring glory to our Father! We also have responsibilities, and they come from our big brother – Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore 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. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
WOW!!! How many of us have been doing what we have been called to do as an adopted child of God? Think about that this week. Maybe you need to do some changing in your life – maybe you need to get back down on your knees and talk to our heavenly Father – maybe you need to truly repent of your sins – and when you do, remember, you will be justified, just – if – I’d never sinned, you’ll be regenerated – in other words, you will be reborn, renewed, revived, rejuvenated – a new creature, and you’ll be adopted into the greatest family around – the family of God, with God as our Father.
I don’t know about you, but I sure like it!