Saturday, February 26, 2011

“The Almost Christian”

Matthew 22:36 – 39
“The Almost Christian”

[John Wesley’s 2nd “Standard Sermon.” I have modified the sermon...]

I. What is “almost” a Christian?

A. “Heathen honesty” [Discuss Augustine’s concept on humanity’s “free will” being broken to the point where it is impossible for a human to do any good without God’s grace.]

1. Living by the rules of what is socially accepted.

2. Generally much is correct: we reject murder, robbery, etc...

3. Love and basic assistance is expected.

B. “Having a form of godliness” (but denying its power)

1. On the outside... look like a Christian.

a. Act right.

b. Use the right language.

2. Abstain from things.

a. Don’t do all the “don’ts”

b. Keep the “Golden Rule.”

3. Generous and sacrificial.

a. Involved in good things.

b. Involved in evangelism and even ministry.

4. Faithful

a. In church attendance... but not in authentic worship.

b. Seem to go through the motions... but are spiritually indifferent and listless.

5. Consistent in family matters.

a. Also private devotions.

b. “Serious behavior.”

6. A seeming sincerity.

a. Internally motived to be good and do good.

b. Yet motivated to “AVOID”

Good people avoid sin from the love of virtue (what we think is right). Wicked people avoid sin from fear of punishment.

7. A real desire to serve God.

a. There is a “hearty desire” to do God’s will.

b. There is a “wanting to serve.” (Wesley considered this a mark of a false prophet.)

The uniform practice of outward religion is a from of godliness... but all this can be empty of meaning.

John Wesley’s testimony: diligent, worked hard, serious behavior, sincerity, missionary, good intentions BUT his conscious and the Holy Spirit clearly would not give him peace.

II. What is an “altogether Christian?”

A. The love of (for) God.

1. Matthew 22:26 – 28

a. Engrosses the whole heart, fulls the entire capacity of the soul.

b. It is displayed in joy and delight.

c. It is displayed in thankfulness.

2. “Crucified”

a. “Crucified to the world, and the world crucified to him.”

b. Crucified the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eye, and the pride of life.

B. The love of (for) our neighbor.

1. Matthew 22:39

2. Reflection of our love for God.

C. Faith

1. Repentance leads to love leads to good works.

2. Trust and confidence to be saved from eternal damnation by Christ.

3. Purifies the heart.

a. From all unrighteousness.

b. Brings a love that is stronger than death... for God... and people.

III. The question for us.

A. “Are you “almost” or “altogether” Christian?”

1. Is it just the outside that is Christian?

2. Are you motivated by things other than love?

B. “Are you conscious, that you never came thus far?”

1. “You have never intended to devote all your words, works, studies, business, entertainment, to God’s glory?”

2. “You have never desired to be a living sacrifice?”

C. “Is the love of God shed abroad in your heart?”

1. “Do you desire nothing but Him?”

2. “Is He your glory, your delight, your crown of rejoicing?”

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