I'm cleaning out the email this weekend as the new semester approaches.
Here is a response I sent to one of my students in the first on-line Christian Beliefs courses taught at MVNU. This was back in July 2010. I believe it was a question about the Nazarene teaching on two works of grace. As follows:
There are two ways to look at the Christian life:
1) I'll sin everyday but I'm forgiven and will go to heaven anyway (a little on the pessimistic side)
2) I'm a Christian--a child of God--I don't have to sin, but how? (on the optimistic side, but still searching for a better way)
The question of sanctification responds to the second question. As a believer, we don't have to sin, but sometimes we do bad stuff. I have yet to meet a new Christian that didn't struggle with the question "So, why do I keep screwing up even after I become a Christian?"
I think the second work of grace brings about the possibility of the purity of intention as a sort of doorway, a moment where God's grace enters our lives in such a way that we can believe and obey--that we really don't have to sin any more. I can make better choices [because I am aware that they are even a possibility whereas before I had neither real knowledge nor desire to do good]. Instead of relying on myself, I trust wholly in God to give me the power and ability to do what He asks. We have more growing to do, and sometimes, we might screw up again, but we are committed with our whole lives, not just our hearts, to "walking with the Spirit."
Sure, we might stumble, but not intentionally, and we might even really screw up, but we understand the burden of our responsibility to God--the need for forgiving and receiving grace, allowing God to lift us back up.
We also know what it means to live in a way that draws others toward God.
I think the first work of grace allows us to see God for Who He is, and the second work of grace allows us to see ourselves as God sees us.
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