Jesus "went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene."
If you are new to our church like thousands are throughout the world, you may be thinking to yourself, "What is a Nazarene?" We call ourselves the Church of
because we follow Jesus the Nazarene who is the Head of our Church (Ephesians 4:15-16).
Even if people are not followers of Jesus, most people today acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the greatest leader who ever lived. His coming to earth cuts our calendar in two. Every time we think about what year it is, we are reminded of how many years it has been since the son of God entered the bloodstream of humanity. God became a person (John 1:1-14), he was born into the world over 2,000 years ago and after living a few short years in Egypt (Matthew 2:19-22), Jesus and his family moved to a town called Nazareth.
Jesus lived for 30 years in Nazareth before he began a three-year teaching and preaching ministry (Luke 3:23). It is a historical fact that he was crucified on a Roman cross, buried in a borrowed tomb and three days later, Jesus rose from the dead and today He is very much alive!
This is the biblical foundation of the Church of "the Nazarene." Our foundation as a Church is built, not just on a theology or a history, but on a Person. In the Church of the Nazarene, we are not just a denomination with great beliefs and tremendous associations. Our allegiance is not just to a human organization. We follow a Person who is alive, the resurrected Jesus. Every time you hear the words Church of the Nazarene, we hope you will first think about us as the Church of
, led by Jesus! Our mission is to follow Him, making Christ-like disciples in every nation of the world.
Our church name has both biblical and historical roots. There are four times in the New Testament we find a reference to the Nazarenes. In the Bible, before the followers of Jesus were called Christians, they were referred to as "Nazarenes." Here are the four references. First, prophets called Jesus a Nazarene. Jesus "went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene" (Matthew 2:23).
Secondly, the apostle Paul was a leader of "Nazarene" churches. When Paul was in Caesarea and brought before Governor Felix, "some of the elders and a lawyer named Tertullus brought charges against Paul before the governor" (Acts 24:1). Their accusation was, "We have found this man to be a troublemaker...and a ringleader of the Nazarene" movement (Acts 24:5).
Thirdly, the night that Jesus was disowned by Peter, "one of the servant girls of the high priest came by" (Mark 14:66). She looked closely at Peter standing by the fire and said, "You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus" (Mark 14:67).
Lastly, on the morning of the greatest event in human history, at the empty tomb it was an angel from heaven who said to the women, "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene? He is not here. He is risen!" (Mark 16:6) The movement of God through the people of God is not centered in just an organization but in a person -
Jesus the Nazarene!
The Church of the Nazarene today is part of the long history of the Church over the past 2,000 years. We identify with the historic church in preaching the Word, administering the sacraments and calling people to live holy lives in full devotion to God. In 18th century England, through the preaching of John and Charles Wesley, tens of thousands of people turned from sin and were empowered for Christian service. (footnote, Nazarene Essentials, p 7)
John Wesley's teaching from the Bible included a call for Christians to not only accept Jesus as their Savior, but also to yield their lives fully to Him, what Wesley called "entire sanctification." Another way to describe this is to be totally committed in your life to the agenda of Jesus, not your own agenda. The apostle Paul explains it as God promising to "sanctify us through and through" until our whole spirit, soul and body is filled with the Holy Spirit and our agenda becomes the agenda of Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24). Entire sanctification to "the whole will of God" (Acts 20:27) is the distinctive teaching of our church.
Thank you for your prayers as I write this summer. Pray that this will continue to be a fruitful time. The above paragraphs are part of the introduction to "MultiplyNaz - Fueling the Nazarene Movement with Love." Your prayer support means the world to me. Thanks for being Christ in Action. Great days ahead - you are loved.