Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Christian is...

2 Peter 3:17 – 18

The Christian is…

 

 

Much has been said to define Christianity.  The difficult has been that most of this has not been informed by Scripture.  In is final statements, Peter gives us three things important warnings. 

 

These are based on basic strategies for living a Christian life.  Let’s look at them.

 

“Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. [18] But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” [2 Peter 3:17 – 18]

 

 

I.          The Christian is alert.

 

(“be on your guard”)

 

            A.        What can we use to make sure we are alert?

 

                        1.         The Bible.

 

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” [Psalm 119:105]

 

“…The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. …  By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” [Psalm 19:9b, 11]

 

“The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails--given by one Shepherd. [12] Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them….” [Ecclesiastes 12:11 – 21a]

 

                        2.         The Holy Spirit.

 

“But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. [8] When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: [9] in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me.” [John 16:8 – 9]

 

“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. [14] He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. [15] All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.” [John 16:13 – 15]

 

“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” [John 14:26]

 

                        3.         The church.

 

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. [12] It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, [13] while we wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, [14] who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. [15] These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.” [Titus 2:11 – 16]

 

“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.” [2 Timothy 2:2]

 

“This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance [10] (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.  [11] Command and teach these things.” [1 Timothy 4:9 – 11]

 

            B.        What does it mean to be alert?

 

                        1.         We are not ignorant.  The danger is that we will be “carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position.”

 

“In order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.” [2 Corinthians 2:11]

 

“Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character." [34] Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God--I say this to your shame.” [1 Corinthians 15:33 – 34]

 

                        2.         We follow the map.

 

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. [14] But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” [Matthew 7:13 – 14]

 

[Negative] “But they will reply, `It's no use. We will continue with our own plans; each of us will follow the stubbornness of his evil heart.'” [Jeremiah 18:12]

 

[Positive] “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” [1 Peter 2:21]

 

 

II.        The Christian life is based on authority.

 

(“so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position”)

 

            A.        What authority do we have?

 

                        1.         Authority in Jesus.

 

“I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. [48] He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. [49] But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” [Luke 6:46 – 49]

 

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. [1 Corinthians 1:18]

 

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” [Acts 1:8]

 

                        2.         Authority in Scripture.

 

“Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” [Ephesians 6:17]

 

“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. [Hebrews 4:12]

 

“Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. [2] For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.” [1 Thessalonians 4:1 – 2]

 

            B.        Response to critics:

 

1.         Inflexibility is good… we all cope with life with some form of inflexibility.

 

2.         Historical anchors are good… the past teaches us and connects us with something bigger than just ourselves.

 

3.         Christian effort is not flawless… life fits belief either by default or deliberate duty. 

 

(Ill. Biblical standard: how we treat others is a reflection of our relationship with God.  A person who sows discord/division through gossip is not of God.  Picture: If someone offends you, the ability to give them grace [smile and nod, walk away, graceful deal with the situation] is a godly skill.  If someone offends you and you run to tell someone… that is not of God.  VERY few people are good at giving grace…)

 

(Indonesian proverb: Only the little dog must bark.)

 

III.       The Christian life is advancing.

 

            A.        How?

 

                        1.         We are told to “grow in grace.”

 

[“Grace” is the free and unearned loving-kindness and mercy of God toward us for no other reason than the fact that God want to.  Grace is God’s initiative in our lives.]

 

                                    a.         If God has given us “grace” how are we going to react to it?

 

                                    b.         If God has given us “grace” how are we going to reflect it?

 

                        2.         We are told to grow “in the knowledge” of Jesus.

 

a.         If you want to know someone, you speak to them, spend time with them… in other words, you read the Bible.

 

b.         If you want to grow, it will take exercise… participate in growth things (like church attendance)

 

            B.        Honest problems:

 

                        1.         Inertia:  Sluggish inactivity, lethargic indifference, apathy.

 

a.         Garfield cartoon.  Garfield is laying on his back.  He says, “I need motivation.”  Jon walks by and says, “Get up and do something you lazy bum.”  Garfield continues to lay in the same position and says, “Yep, that was life-transforming.”

 

b.         This issue is not a matter of the will, it is not one of laziness.  It is a matter of not being in motion (or being in motion the wrong way).

 

c.         What overcomes inertia is being acted upon by an external force (from Physics).  Spiritually we can not change/move unless God changes/moves us.

 

                        2.         The difference between what we know and what we do.

 

a.         Internally: We find ways to change either action or beliefs to avoid unpleasant consequences.  If we feel the pain of sin, we will either repent or disavow the necessity of repentance (disavow Jesus).

 

b.         Externally: We become judgmental.  Humor here… if we are struggling with our own inconsistency we tend to lash out at others.

 

“What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?” [1 Corinthians 5:12a]

 

Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” [Romans 14:4]

 

c.         The answer is found in the pursuit of Christ-likeness as a response to God’s initiative. 

 

 

Questions:  Are you alert (on your guard)?  What is the authority in your life?  Is your Christian life

 

 

 

 

                       

 

 

 

 

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