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13 - XIII. Sin After Regeneration

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21 Sept. 2008 AM

Tree Of Life Wesleyan Church

Billings, MT

XIII. Sin After Regeneration

John 15:4-6; 1 Tim. 4:1, 16; John 1:9; 2:1

               

                Students of a Sunday school class were asked to write down what they liked best about Sunday school.  One little boy, who also happened to be the pastor’s son, thought for a moment and remembered all the songs the class had sung during the year.  His spelling was not as good as his memory, for he wrote, “The thing I like best about Sunday school is the sinning.”

        Eddie Martin said, I have met a few people who have tried to convince me that they were not bad sinners. I met such a lady in Bluefield, West Virginia. This well-dressed woman came forward on the salvation invitation. I took her hand and prepared to give her a prayer to repeat after me. The prayer I usually give is, “Dear Lord, I know that I am a no-good sinner. I know I can’t save myself. I do need forgiveness for my awful sins. I can’t do without you, Jesus. Please forgive me for my many sins. I here and now receive You into my heart as my personal Savior. I’ll try to live for You from this night on. I pray my prayer in Jesus’ Name. Amen!” Thousands of people seeking to be saved have prayed this prayer with me.   I took this woman’s hand and began to give her the prayer to repeat after me. “Dear Lord, I know I’m a no-good sinner.” She never said a word. I looked at her and said, “Don’t you want to be saved?”  She said, “Yes, Eddie, I do want to be saved, but I’m not a sinner.”  “Then you can’t be saved,” I said, “Jesus only died for sinners.”  “But, Mr. Martin,” she replied, “I m a good sinner.”  “A good sinner! Lady, there are no good sinners. You will have to take your seat. God can’t save you until you become conscious that you are a no-good sinner and need His forgiveness.”  “But, Mr. Martin, you don’t understand. I’m really not a bad sinner.”

I told her to go back and sit down. She held on to my hand with a vise-like grip. Finally she looked me in the eyes and said, “Oh, please forgive me. I know I am a no-good hell-deserving sinner. I am a proud, no-good sinner. I do need Christ to forgive me of my sins.”

“Wonderful! Now, lady, you are ready to do business with God.” We prayed together there at the front, thousands of people looking on. The lady came clean with God. God saved her. But she never would have been saved if she had not changed her attitude. None of us are good sinners. We are all big sinners, bad sinners.

                The forgiveness of sin is such a wonderful thing – our great Creator provided the means for that gift of forgiveness.  But sometimes things happen, we get involved with people we shouldn’t, we try to do good on our own – without the help of the Holy Spirit, we find that we’ve walked away from the wonderful gift that God has given us.  There are some religions that will tell you that there are “X” number of people who are going to heaven – God has already chosen them.  They believe that if you are one of the select, there is nothing that you can do to become “unselected” and if you are one of the select, you don’t have to do anything – because God has selected you.  We do not believe this.  We believe that we must ask forgiveness of our sins with a truly repentant heart, seeking God’s forgiveness – and at that point we become regenerated, or renewed, reborn if you will.  We also believe that there is a possibility of walking away from this renewal and back to your old way of thinking and living – back into a sinful life – that you walked away from God and turn down His salvation.  Article 13 of the Wesleyan’s articles of religion is Sin after Regeneration, and it states:

                We believe that after we have experienced regeneration, it is possible to fall into sin, for in this life there is no such height or strength of holiness from which it is impossible to fall.  But by the grace of God one who has fallen into sin may by true repentance and faith find forgiveness and restoration.  (Discipline)

                Let’s go back to that first sentence, we believe that after we have experienced regeneration, it is possible to fall into sin, for in this life there is no such height or strength of holiness from which it is impossible to fall.  There are some who will tell you that if you fall or backslide into sin, that you were never really saved anyway – but I want you to look at John 15, verses 4-6:

                Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. (NIV)

                Jesus starts out by saying: Remain in me.  Why would He say that if it were impossible to leave a holy walk?  Remain in Me, and if you do, then I will remain in you.  He is only going to stay with those that actively try to stay with Him.  Then He goes on again to refer to us as branches that bear fruit.  Last week we talked about how a good tree or in this case a good branch could be determined by the fruit it was producing.  But here He takes it a step further and says that “no branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine – or part of the tree.  And neither can you bear fruit – good fruit or Christian fruit, unless we remain in Him.  Again, He says, remain in Me – giving the impression that we can leave if we so desire.  “If a man remains – or stays – in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.  And if you do not remain in Me, you will be like a branch that is thrown away withers; those type of branches are picked up and thrown into the fire and burned. 

                There are trees in front of the parsonage.  At one time in their growth life, these trees were beautiful, they were strong.  They produced wonderful shade with their leaves.  But time and bugs and taken their toll on these once beautiful trees.  Slowly the branches are dying off and when the wind blows they fall out of the tree that has supported them for years.  After these wind storms we gather up the branches and throw them into the garbage.  It can happen in the life of a Christian too.  We are brought up in the tree of Jesus, but for whatever reason, through the bugs and diseases of the world, the people we come in contact with, we start to separate ourselves from the tree – we stop going to church, we stop reading our Bibles, we stop associating with other Christians, and then a strong wind comes up and knocks us out of the tree completely – if we don’t get back into the tree, we will wither and die and be gathered up and thrown into the fire.

                Let’s look at a few more passages that show that even though we were once saved, there is a possibility that some may leave the safety of the cross.  1 Timothy 4:1 says,

                The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.

                I am not promoting that we have time to sin, but I want us to be aware that some will fall away, some will abandon the faith – some that were the strongest Christians, may be tempted by whatever means, and be lead astray to follow the ways of evil deceiving spirits.  But there is hope – not all is lost when this happens.  Going back to Jesus’ illustration of the branches and vines, I learned something by helping my grandfather in the orchards – if you take a branch that has been blown out of the tree – as long as there is still some sort of  life in the branch – it can be grafted back into a living  tree and it will continue to grow. 

                Article 13 continues on and says, “But by the grace of God one who has fallen into sin may by true repentance and faith find forgiveness and restoration.”   John tells us in 1 John 2, verses 1-2

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

                Did you notice what it said?  If anyone does sin.  No where do we find that it says that we WILL sin after we have been born again, but if we do, and if we truly repent, Jesus will speak to our heavenly Father on our behalf, and we will be forgiven. How do we know this to be true?  John tell us in 1 John 1:9   If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

                I have to tell you, I am thankful for this!!  We often talk about God’s mercy and the way He gives us second chances.  I’m thankful that He gave me a second chance – and probably more chances than that!!  We have a wonderful forgiving Father, who wants us to be with Him.  Many people use the passage that talks about how nothing can remove you from the hand of God – but what they fail to realize is that we can remove ourselves, that’s why its so important to continue on in faith, by reading our Bibles, by going to Church, by associating with other Christians, by keeping ourselves away from those things that might temp us to follow the ways of the world. 

            1 Timothy 1:16 was written by Paul to Timothy, a young preacher, and that is what we all are, preachers.  Here is what he wrote:  Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.. 

            Have you walked away from God and was unsure of how to get back to Him – Nothing has changed.  He’s still here, waiting for you, all you have to do is turn from your ways and live your life for Him.  Its wonderful to know, God is the God of second chances!!

11 Aug, 2002 AM

Miles City Wesleyan Church

Miles City M

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