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Our 3 Main Doctrines

By Pastor Tom Anderson

John Wesley famously said the main doctrines of the Methodist movement are these three: repentance, faith and holiness. All Christian doctrines are incorporated under these three.

Repentance–The best illustration of repentance is in Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). After the son had insulted his father by asking for the cash equivalent of his inheritance, he ran off to a far country and spent it all in reckless living. Reduced to abject poverty, he took a job feeding swine–about as low as a Jewish boy could go! Luke tells us that in his hunger and the stink of pig manure, the boy “came to his senses.” That’s repentance!

Repentance is not self-pity. Repentance is not mere regret. Repentance is not self-humiliation. Repentance is coming to your senses and making another choice, “My life is insane. I’ve got to make a better choice. Maybe dad won’t let me back in the family but I could at least ask him to hire me.” Repentance is a firm resolve to choose a new direction in life. I’m not going to do it my way, I’m going to start living God’s way–from now on my life belongs to Him.”

Faith is commanded of us by Jesus, “Believe in God, believe also in me.” (John 14:1) Faith is not mere alignment with the ideas of Jesus. Faith is not limited to discovering and embracing the rational grounds for the teachings of Christianity. Faith can’t be reduced to reciting the pledge that we are “one nation under God.” Faith is a heartfelt trust in Jesus as the Savior, the Lord and the Leader of our lives. Faith is deeply personal and it unites head and heart in the love of Jesus. Faith changes the moral direction of our lives. Faith comes through the operation of the Holy Spirit as we hear the gospel message of Jesus Christ. Faith involves Biblical truths to believe, a new life to be lived and a personal relationship to be enjoyed.

Holiness–the Biblical word for this is sanctification. It refers to the process by which God purifies us from sin and fills us with love. It can happen instantaneously but more often is progressive. The Holy Spirit works within a believer to put to death the misdeeds of our bodies. We become more and more like Christ. We change, grow and transform. We overcome addictions, bad habits and our bent towards unfaithfulness. We increase in knowledge and obedience to God. Holiness is the mighty work of God in our lives. In sanctification we are not affirmed for who we are already in this world but in fact we are being made into our true selves. We don’t look into the mirror or even our hearts to find out who we really are. We look deeply into Jesus Christ who is the source and author of New Creation.

In the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, there is a scene where Indiana (Harrison Ford) is hanging by a single hand on the edge of a chasm. With the other hand he is reaching out to a goblet that supposedly once held the blood of Christ.

As the tips of his hand just graze the edge of the goblet, he’s grunting, “I can just about reach it.” Above him is his father (Sean Connery) who reaches out pleading “Junior, take my hand! Take my hand!” Finally, his father tells him to “Let it go,” and Indiana reaches up for his father to take his hand.

When Indiana’s father reaches down to offer rescue, that’s grace. When Indiana let’s go of his pursuit, that's repentance. And when he reaches back up for his father to take his hand, that's faith. When his father lifts him up from the chasm, that’s sanctification.


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