Spiritual Growth


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Spiritual Growth from a Christian perspective means "Moving into the Image of Christ." Becoming like Christ is a command from Scripture that takes reliance on the Holy Spirit, the tools that God has put into our lives, and a dedicated effort on our part. This presentation looks at the scriptural and practical realities of pressing on toward the prize of Spiritual Growth in sanctification.

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Spiritual Growth

  1. 1. Moving into the Image of Christ Jim Sutherland, Ph.D., Director RMNI.org 1
  2. 2. Our Objective • This study will not focus upon how a Christian should live, which is Christian ethics. • Our objective is to learn principles which help us to become more and more like Christ—to examine the subject of how to become more like Christ. 2
  3. 3. Only God Can Make Something Grow • This is true both in the world of living organisms and of spiritual growth. Humans cannot create life and then make it grow. Cloning does not create life. – 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. (the New International Version is used, unless noted.)
  4. 4. Life Comes Before Growth • People cannot grow spiritually if they aren‘t born again. They are still dead in sin. – Ephesians 2:4-5 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. • Spiritual disciplines and methods will not help someone grow who is dead. They often obscure their lost-ness. This was true of John Wesley before his conversion. • You cannot clean a fish before it is caught.
  5. 5. John Wesley & Disciplines • ―John Wesley an Oxford scholar, a man who led hundreds to the Lord, a leader of the Holy Club, on the outside, he was a star student and a servant who was instrumental in helping the poor, he became an Anglican priest after a rigorous seminary education and shortly thereafter a missionary to the Indians, everyone who looked at Wesley, thought of him as the Honorable Reverend John Wesley, you would think that surely this man of God was saved, and yet he writes in his journal as he goes on missions to the Indians: ‗I go to save the Indians, but who will save me?‘‖ • ―He was not saved! Even as an Anglican priest, he had not yet received the Holy Spirit.‖
  6. 6. John Wesley & Disciplines • ―It wasn‘t until May 24, 1737 (born in 1703) when he was 34 years of age, that after a life long journey of struggle and coming to a cliff (figure of speech, Wesley does not write that at any time he was suicidal) where he almost gave up on ministry, that he heard the Word of the Lord, the preaching of a sermon on Romans that he was touched by the Spirit of the Lord, he writes my heart was strangely warmed, and I felt I really did trust Christ. Wesley would write later of that day: ‗By a Christian I mean one who so believes in Christ as that sin hath no more dominion over him; and in this obvious sense of the word I was not a Christian till May the 24th last past.‘‖ – Anonymous, http://files.intellisite.com/1/8/6/8.doc accessed 09/21/2005
  7. 7. Why Do Christians Need Growth? • Because Christians sin. – Two frequently used Greek words are translated ―sin.‖ Sin is ―to act contrary to the will and law of God‖ (hamartia). Louw-Nida Greek English Lexicon of the NT – Second, it is to act unjustly (hadikia). This is also included under the above word (harmatia--1 John 5:17) . – We inherited sin from Adam (Rom. 5:12). – We also add our personal sin. 1 John 1:8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. – Christians aren‘t to practice sin, however—it should be increasingly the exception (1 John 3:6,9; 5:18). I may get angry, but should not be an angry person.
  8. 8. Why Do Christians Need Growth? • Due to sin, we aren’t perfect, even though Adam and Eve were perfect in Eden, before they sinned. • Although we’re made in God’s perfect image (Gen. 1:27), that image is now marred by sin. • Spiritual growth means becoming more like God, in ways possible to us. We’re being restored into the image of God. – We cannot know all, be everywhere and have all power. But we can love, be just and speak truthfully.
  9. 9. What Is Christian Spiritual Growth? • It is for a Christian to become more like Christ. • Christ is the Christian‘s standard of maturity, as is the Father. – Christians are to ―be perfect,‖ as the Father is (Matt. 5:48) – Christ, although sinless (2 Cor. 5:21), was ―made perfect‖ (Heb. 5:9) by suffering, and is the unmarred ―image of the invisible God‖ (Col. 1:15). – Colossians 1:28 We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. 9
  10. 10. Christ is our Goal • Ephesians 4:15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. • 2 Corinthians 3:18 18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. – Note that transformation is an ongoing process (Greek present tense), not a completed event. Also note that the Holy Spirit is the active agent who transforms Christians. 10
  11. 11. Christ the Goal • Hebrews 12:1-3 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith • 2 Peter 3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. • A mature Christian thinks and acts like Jesus. 11
  12. 12. Restoring the Image of God • Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. • Colossians 3:9-10 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
  13. 13. Restoring the Image of God • The hardest place to demonstrate the image of God is with our family. Our wife or husband knows us best. • We do not have normal social constraints within the privacy of our family circle. 13
  14. 14. Kingdom Growth • Growth is normal to life—failure to grow is abnormal. If we are living precisely as we lived 10 years ago, we haven‘t grown. If we give or pray as much as we gave 10 years ago, we haven‘t grown. • The Kingdom of God grows, as people become Christians. – It cannot be stopped: Matthew 13:31-32 He told them another parable: ―The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.‖ 14
  15. 15. Kingdom Growth – 33% of humans profess Christianity, and 20% Islam. Christianity is the largest religion on the planet. Islamic growth in the 1990s was 96% by natural increase (excess births to deaths) and 4% by conversion (less defections). Christian growth globally was 90% natural increase and 10% by conversion. Hindu growth is entirely by birth (they have a negative conversion rate). • Michael Jaffarian, ―The demographics of world religions entering the 21st century,‖ in Between past & future, J. Bonk ed. 2003, pp. 257-258. – Annual Growth Rate of: • All Christians 1.31% • Muslims: 1.93% • Hindus: 1.49% Barrett, Int‘l Bulletin of Miss. Research, Status of Global Mission, 1/05 15
  16. 16. Growth • Christianity grows globally (horizontally), but also in depth— Christians becoming more like Christ. • Christians grow at different rates. – Mark 4:20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop-- thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown." 16
  17. 17. Positional and Actual Holiness 17
  18. 18. Growth Emphasized • Christians are holy due to the sanctifying work of Christ (positionally), yet we are becoming holy (actually). – Heb. 10:14 because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. – 1 Corinthians 1:30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God-- that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 18
  19. 19. Christian’s Positional Sanctification • 1 Corinthians 6:11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified [point in time], you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. – Sanctification here means ―set apart.‖ • Hebrews 10:29 How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 19
  20. 20. Various Views of Sanctification 20
  21. 21. God’s Part Stressed— Can We Please God? • Some in the Calvinistic tradition stress our positional sanctification and the sovereign love of God so much that they question the validity of even trying to please God, since they believe that we already please and are accepted by Him. But… – Colossians 1:10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God – 1 Thessalonians 2:4 On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts. – 1 Thessalonians 4:1 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. 21
  22. 22. Growth Emphasized • Progressive sanctification is another name for ―growth.‖ Some in the ―holiness‖ tradition teach that Christians at some moment in time attain to entire sanctification, or sinless perfection. This contradicts that we are ―being made holy,‖ and other scriptures already quoted. – I met a man who could not recall any sins he‘d committed. An exasperated older friend burst in, ―What about the woman you‘re living with?‖ [they weren‘t married] – There are ―spiritual‖ and ―worldly‖ Christians—I haven‘t met a perfect one (1 Corinthians 3:1-3). 22
  23. 23. Concepts of Sanctification • ―The Wesleyan-Arminian concept of holiness maintains that ‗the Christian‘s tendency to sin is extinguished‘, while others, such as the Keswick Convention, teach that this tendency is ‗merely counteracted by victorious living in the Spirit‘.‖ – The New International Dict. Of the Christian Church, 1974. s.v. ―Keswick Convention,‖ Ian Sellers, p. 564. – 1 John 1:8 If we say that we have [ongoing] no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. • Others teach ―absolute surrender‖ to God or to ―let go and let God.‖ Both are passive states, and while good as far as they go, do not provide the energy or direction needed to walk the Way. 23
  24. 24. God‘s Part in Sanctification 24
  25. 25. What is God‘s Part in Sanctification? 2 Peter 1:3 ―His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.‖ God provides the means. – If we don’t grow spiritually, it is not God’s fault. – He provides the ―means of grace‖ and means of growth—primarily the Holy Spirit, the Church and the Bible. He both actively moves to make us grow, and provides means to make us grow. 25
  26. 26. God is Able to Make and to Keep us Holy 1 Thessalonians 5:23 ―May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.‖ This is entire sanctification. Sanctify = άγιάζμόρ ―make holy, consecrate‖ Friberg Greek Lexicon Jude 1:24 To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— – 1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. 26
  27. 27. While God Provides the Means, We are Responsible for our Growth Hebrews 12:14-15 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many Άγιάξω = holy, sanctified, pure Friberg Lexicon #212 – WE are to make ―every effort‖ to be holy. At the same time, we must not miss the ―grace of God,‖ which enables us to deal with others’ sin. – We cannot be passively holy, or find holiness through meditation or right doctrine. Holiness is shown in the furnace of life, and requires our active cooperation. 27
  28. 28. While God Provides the Means, We are Responsible for our Growth Colossians 1:22-23 But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation-- 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. 28
  29. 29. God‘s Direct Means for Growth: 1. The Spirit 2 Corinthians 3:18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. – Romans 8:4 in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. – The New Testament is more demanding in its commands than the Old (Matthew 5:21-48, for example). The only possible way to keep them is to live according to the Spirit. 29
  30. 30. The Spirit Sets us Apart Before as well as After Salvation 1 Peter 1:2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood 2 Thessalonians 2:13 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 1 Corinthians 6:11 But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. – When we choose a bride, she is ―perfect‖ to us. 30
  31. 31. The Spirit Purifies Us Galatians 5:16-18 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. Romans 8:13 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, – I once was mastered by a sin as a Christian. Finally I cried out to God to put it to death in me, because I couldn’t. Within a few days the Spirit had put it to death. The sin simply was not worth the pain it brought. 31
  32. 32. The Spirit Leads Us Galatians 5:22-25 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. – This is the character of Christ that the Spirit produces. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. – The Spirit may have us refrain from a particular ministry. He makes us uneasy until we engage another ministry. He burdens our hearts. He shows us when to stop something He earlier led us to engage. 32
  33. 33. Keeping up with the Spirit We need to carefully keep up with the Spirit, neither getting ahead of Him, or lagging behind. Our spirit needs to be tuned into the Spirit— listening to nudges to go or to wait or to stay. – Once after a time of prayer I asked God if He had anything that He wanted to say to me. Into my mind came, ―I want you to go to Africa.‖ I hadn’t been there and hadn’t thought of going to Africa for about 10 years. I told Him that I was certainly willing. About 10 days later two friends at church were discussing who could go to Africa with one of them. They asked me if I know of someone, and I said that I was interested. All the funds had been already raised, and within 50 days of God speaking I was on a British Airways jet headed for Uganda. This was the first of 10 trips to Africa. We need to actively crucify sinful ―passions and desires,‖ even when in step with the Spirit (God). Here again is the interplay between God’s work and our work. 33
  34. 34. God‘s Direct Means for Growth: Discipline Hebrews 12:7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? Hebrews 12:10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. – God actively steps in to stop our sin by providing immediate negative consequences. 34
  35. 35. Accept Discipline to Grow Discipline--―to provide instruction, with the intent of forming proper habits of behavior‖ Παιδεςω Louw-Nida Lexicon # 33:226 Hebrews 12:11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. – So we need to welcome this gracious instruction from God. I was rebuked by a ―prophet‖ for saying harsh things to my wife. – Psalm 32:8-9 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. 9 Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. 35
  36. 36. God‘s Direct Means: Trials Trials may be translated (1) as God's examination of man--test (1Peter 4.12); (2) as enticement to sin, either from without or within temptation– Πειπαζμόρ (LU 4.13); 21267 Friberg Lexicon – God uses it to examine us, while Satan uses it to entice us to sin. Potiphar’s wife was likely both a test and a temptation to Joseph. – Discipline is more targeted, as a parent disciplines for specific reasons (the root word of discipline is ―child‖--παιζ). 36
  37. 37. God‘s Direct Means: Trials James 1:2-4 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – God seems to be more interested in our holiness than in our happiness. 1 Peter 1:6-7 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that your faith-- of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire- - may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. – God may use financial trials to purify us. 37
  38. 38. God‘s Direct Means: Trials Trials impel us to seek God, and to purify our motives and behavior. – I owed $800.00 in taxes 2.5 weeks before due and sought God based on Psalm 50:14-15. Going into the world with the Gospel involves us in trials. We need funds, protection, wisdom and guidance that isn’t needed if we remain home. We learn that God is with us (Matt. 28:20) and will never forsake us (Heb. 13:5). Job, Joseph, David, Joshua, Paul and many others grew in their knowledge of God through trial. 38
  39. 39. Freedom in the Spirit 2 Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. – Is there freedom in your church? Galatians 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. 39
  40. 40. Freedom We must not get so wrapped up in disciplines that they become a tyranny, or begin to look down upon others who don’t share our favorite disciplines. Disciplines can easily degenerate into ―the righteousness of man‖ and into legalisms. – Legalism is a system of righteousness other than that of Christ’s righteousness, imputed to a person by faith in Christ. Fasting became a legalism to me. I was afraid not to fast and indecisive as to when to fast. – Romans 10:2-4 For I can testify about them [Israelites] that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. 3 Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. 4 Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. 40
  41. 41. God‘s Plan for Growth: 2. Church Ephesians 4:11-13 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. The Church is God’s garden for growth. 41
  42. 42. Growth in Church The work of the church is to get Christians to look like Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. – Each Christian has at least one spiritual gift, to be used for the good of the Church. Evangelists are used to give birth to (baby) Christians. – Converts need to become members of churches. This can be very difficult. 42
  43. 43. Growth in Church Pastors teach the Bible, counsel, comfort, challenge, rebuke and encourage their flocks to become mature—to be like Christ. Teachers go deeply into Christian doctrine and application. – Colossians 1:28 We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. Prophets (according to one’s theology) speak a direct word from the Lord, but not on the same level as the Bible in authority. 43
  44. 44. Growth in Church The church is God’s enduring institution. – Matthew 16:18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. – No other institution—schools, mission agencies, NGO’s— has lasted for 2,000 years and has Jesus’ promise that even the Devil will not conquer it. – The church both broadens, by evangelism, and deepens, by maturity, the work of Christ. – She is the Christian’s primary community. 44
  45. 45. Church‘s Sacraments: Communion Regardless of one’s theological view of this sacrament, at the very least it should provoke self-examination and repentance—always necessary for growth. Sin must be identified and admitted before it is forsaken. Others, such as John Wesley, and many in the Reformed tradition, have taught that it conveys God’s grace http://gbgm-umc.org/umw/wesley/disciple.stm accessed 9/21/05 – 1 Corinthians 11:28 A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 45
  46. 46. Church‘s Sacraments: Baptism Baptism is a symbol of dying to the old man and being raised to new life: – Colossians 2:12 having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. Baptism means public identification with Christ, and as such is an act of obedience. – Matthew 10:32 "Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.‖ – That public identification can motivate us to represent Christ well. 46
  47. 47. God‘s Means of Growth: 3. The Bible Next to the Spirit and the Church, the Bible is God’s most important instrument for spiritual growth. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. – Hebrews 4:12 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. 47
  48. 48. God‘s Means of Growth: The Bible 48 1 Peter 2:2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation… – ―crave‖ = ―long for, desire; perhaps yearn over (James 4.5)‖ Barclay-Neuman Greek-English Dictionary έπιποθέω #2480 Mark 4:20 ―Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop-- thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown.‖ – Obedience to the Word of God determines spiritual productivity.
  49. 49. God‘s Means of Growth: The Bible John 17:17 ―Sanctify {17 Greek hagiazo (set apart for sacred use or make holy)} them by the truth; your word is truth.‖ – The Bible is God’s Word, and God does not lie. The Bible has the amazing effect of making us holy. – Acts 20:32 "Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.‖ 49
  50. 50. God‘s Means of Growth: The Bible The Bible contains nurture both for new Christians (―milk‖) and for more mature Christians (―solid food‖), who gain insights into what is right and wrong. Colossians 1:10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God 50
  51. 51. God‘s Means of Growth: The Bible – ―Knowledge‖ =έπιγινώζκω--'to know about, to know definitely about’ 28.2 Louw-Nida Lexicon – The Bible is the best and most reliable way to know God. A growing knowledge of God pleases Him. – Experience must be judged by the Bible, and the Church and her preachers must be judged by the Bible. 51
  52. 52. God‘s Means of Growth: The Bible The Bible almost takes on a life of its own. It’s impact upon people is powerful and its spread worldwide. Of the 6913 global languages, 3000+ may need Bible translation, but 5% of languages account for 94% of earth’s population. www.wycliffe.org/wbt-usa/trangoal.htm www.ethnologue.com/ethno_docs/distribution.asp?by=size – Acts 12:24 But the word of God continued to increase and spread. 52
  53. 53. God‘s Word Spreads Like the Church, the Bible spreads. – Acts 6:7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith. – Acts 19:20 In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power. – Colossians 1:6 that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God's grace in all its truth. – One of the best evangelism strategies is to give the Bible or portions of it to the lost. It helps to determine if a person is spiritually ripe for witnessing. 53
  54. 54. We Must Exercise Our Will 54
  55. 55. The Will and Work of God in Us  Philippians 2:12-13 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed-- not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence-- continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.  We work out our salvation through obedience.  God plants His will into our will and His purposes into our plans. 55
  56. 56. In Two Minds  As discussed already, God provides the means, and we are expected to use them. His means for growth are worthless if we ignore them.  I meet Christians who ignore God‘s means for growth. They are too weak-willed to resist temptation and obey Christ, even at small cost.  In fact they are double-minded, wanting to have both God and the pleasures of sin. 56
  57. 57. Satanic Strongholds  If we willingly allow sin in some area of our life, we give Satan ground, and a stronghold of Satan is established. We begin to rationalize the presence of the sin, and come to believe a lie of some kind.  Colossians 1:13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves  We have been rescued from Satan‘s power. Don‘t submit again to it.  Colossians 2:10 and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.  The only way to escape Satan‘s grasp, is to come back under Christ‘s authority.  Colossians 2:15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. 57
  58. 58. In Two Minds  James 4:4-10 You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." {6 Prov. 3:34} 7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double- minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. 58
  59. 59. Our Will: Put Off & Put On  Christians are told in Scripture to put off sin and to put on righteousness. Therefore, we must be able to do both.  Ephesians 4:22-24 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. 59
  60. 60. Our Will: Put Off & Put On  Similarly, ―Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ [put on], and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.‖ Romans 13:14  Paul lists sins to put off:  Falsehood, simmering anger, unwholesome talk, bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander  And actions to put on:  truthful speech, take a useful job, helpful talk, kindness, compassion and forgiveness 60
  61. 61. Our Will: Put Off & Put On  Similarly,  Romans 6:11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.  Romans 6:12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.  Our wills are potent. We can choose the good and resist sin. The demons cannot force us to sin. God always provides an escape in temptation (1 Cor. 10:13). 61
  62. 62. Our Will and our Body  One of the most important decisions is to give God our body. Another is not to let the world conform you to its way of thinking.  Romans 12:1-2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-- this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-- his good, pleasing and perfect will. 62
  63. 63. Deciding to Remain in Christ  John 15:4-5 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  ―It is sovereign grace from start to finish, but the responsibility of abiding in Christ is placed squarely upon man‘s shoulders, exactly where it belongs. Without exertion there is no salvation. But the power to exert oneself and to persevere is God-given!‖ Wm. Hendriksen, The Gospel of John, p. 299, ISBN: 0801040515 63
  64. 64. Deciding to Remain in Christ  We cannot serve God independent of a close walk with Christ and close observance of his commands (John 15:10). The heart of discipleship for Christ was obeying His commands.  Fruitfulness is dependent upon the vine.  Trying to be fruitful apart from Christ is trying to live the Christian life in the flesh. 64
  65. 65. Our Will: Christian Disciplines  We cannot touch upon every biblical command to Christians, but will mention various disciplines which help us to abide in Christ.  Repentance  This was the first command to the unsaved of John the Baptist (Matt. 3:1-2), of Jesus (Matt. 4:17), and of the apostles (Mark 6:7-12; Acts 3:19; 26:20). Yet Christians must also repent.  Revelation 2:4-5 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5 Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.  Christians must continually repent of known sin, and ask God to reveal secret sins (Psalm 139:23-24; James 5:15-16). Fathers should be the quickest and best ―repenters‖ Joe Novenson 65
  66. 66. Our Will: Purity  Purity--consecration, dedication, sanctification, holiness= άγιασμος Barclay-Neuman Greek-English Dictionary, # 41  Avoid sexual immorality and impurity (1 Thess. 4:3,7).  2 Tim. 2:21 If a man cleanses himself from [―ignoble‖ purposes, v. 20], he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.  The more pure we are, the more God can use us.  Holiness is not being ―pious.‖ It is not wearing large crosses and clerical clothing. It is not being sanctimonious, such as were the Pharisees—conservative Bible-believing Jews who loved to be honored (Matthew 6:1-6). Holiness is simply being like Jesus. 66
  67. 67. Purity  2 Peter 3:11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness (New American Standard Bible).  Romans 6:22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 67
  68. 68. Our Prayers Lead to Growth  Amazingly, we can pray, and Christians will mature.  Colossians 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.  2 Corinthians 13:9 We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is for your perfection.  Ephesians 6:18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.  For whom are you praying for maturity? 68
  69. 69. Denying Self Promotes Growth  Galatians 5:24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.  Notice that it is I who crucifies myself. This is a decision.  Missionaries crucify themselves by denying their own culture, including language and customs and close proximity of their extended family.  They discomfort themselves and may expose themselves to danger.  When we forsake sinful pleasure, we crucify self. For example, I refuse myself a second or third look at a beautiful woman. 69
  70. 70. Denying Self Promotes Growth  Luke 9:23 Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.‖  Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves (New American Standard Bible)  Others are not intrinsically more important, but we regard them as more important. We take the place of least importance—of servanthood--instead of the place of prominence.  Self denial helps us to deal with a self-centered perspective on life. 70
  71. 71. The Discipline of Fasting  Matthew 6:16-18 "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.  Fasting distances us from life‘s immediate and normal concerns. It allows us to focus upon God in prayer. Jesus assumes that His followers will fast and says that the Father will reward fasting. 71
  72. 72. The Discipline of Fasting  You should not reveal the fast.  Your wife needs to know of your fast, however, since you need her permission to abstain from normal relations with her.  1 Corinthians 7:5 Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 72
  73. 73. Growth in Faith 73
  74. 74. Growing Faith  God does not seem satisfied with our current level of maturity (if we aren’t perfect). He finds challenges to our faith. – 2 Thessalonians 1:3 We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing. – 2 Corinthians 10:15 not boasting beyond our measure, that is, in bother men's labors, but with the hope that as your faith grows, we will be, within our sphere, enlarged even more by you 74
  75. 75. Growing Faith  How does our faith grow? Through overcoming obstacles. – God makes something increasingly difficult, to flex the muscles of our faith.  When considering returning for a graduate degree for three 3-month periods (about 625 miles away), I had one child in college, and three expecting to enter. I had no money for the courses, or a second car, and there was no room available at the school. After my wife and I prayed, in one day God provided all three.  For the next 3-month period God provided less money, and even less for the last period, yet He provided so that I graduated (after 10 years) without debt, and all four children graduated from colleges. 75
  76. 76. Growing Faith  Veterans of our short-term mission trips each year find greater challenges to raising the needed funds. In 2004 I was given $2,000 USD to come to India. In 2005, $1,200.  George Mueller, who founded orphanages for over 2,000 orphans, found that some of his most severe trials of faith came when he was in his 70s.  Often we don’t see trials as opportunities to see God at work (see Mark 8:14-21). Jesus expects growth from us. – We need to break out of the exoskeletons of current faith, as locusts break out of their shells and fly. 76
  77. 77. Growth Through Prayer 77
  78. 78. Growing Faith by Prayer Faith grows as we see God’s answers to prayer. Therefore, we need to have an intentional prayer life. Construct a list of the most important needs of your life, including those of your family and ministry. Praying through this list produces great hope. I have greatest hope when I’ve just prayed. As God answers we are given boldness to pray for the less and less likely items on our list. 78
  79. 79. Like Christ, Praying Jesus spent much time in prayer. – Mark 1:35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. – Luke 11:1 One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples." – He said, “I do nothing on my own…” (John 8:28). Before selecting the 12 apostles, He spent the entire night in prayer (Luke 6:12-13). Prayer demonstrates our dependence upon the Father, and our sonship. 79
  80. 80. Like Christ, Praying Matthew 6:6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. – Jesus assumes that we’ll pray and that God will reward secret prayer. The priority of the apostles was prayer (Acts 6:4). What is your priority? 1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray continually – Colossians 4:2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. As we commune with the Father, our goals, vision and desires are conformed to His. We invite this. 80
  81. 81. Growth by Personal Discipleship 81
  82. 82. Growth Through Discipleship • Growth also comes from someone who intentionally helps you to grow—but the disciple needs to be willing and able to learn. • “Amazing as it may seem, all Jesus did to teach these men [the apostles] His way was to draw them close to Himself. He was His own school and curriculum.” – Robert Coleman, The Master Plan of Evangelism, p. 38 • A leader gets his people involved, carrying them into action. Jesus demonstrated before He delegated. 82
  83. 83. Christ’s School • Demonstration: “He appointed twelve— designating them apostles—that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.” Mark 3:14-15. • Luke 8:1 After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him…” He mentored the 12. 83
  84. 84. Christ’s Discipleship Model • Delegation: Luke 9:1-6 When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. 3 He told them: "Take nothing for the journey-- no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic. 4Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. 5 If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them." 6 So they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere. – Jesus put them to work. He went beyond Bible studies. – How would this mission strengthen their faith? 84
  85. 85. Christ’s School • Christ gave them ―power and authority.‖ Power is the ability to do something, and authority is the right to use that ability. He didn‘t regard them as threats, or as people to keep busy, but as arrows in the hand of God. He sent them out! • Christ also gave them a very specific job, including how to do that job (Luke 9:3-5). • Then the apostles reported back to Jesus (Luke 9:10). 85
  86. 86. Christ’s School • Christ didn’t appoint people to stay with Him. He brought them alongside to serve with Him, then He sent them out. – These were not associate pastors selected to simply sit behind the pulpit and orbit the pastor. – They were not sent to temples (other churches) or told to show up whenever the temple opened. Their job was not to stay, but to go fight spiritual warfare on the fringes of Christianity. • They eventually fanned out around the world—Thomas to India, by strong tradition. 86
  87. 87. Christ’s School • Give them freedom and encouragement to serve outside the local church. Have a Kingdom, perspective, rather than local church, perspective. – Send them to evangelize with church members. Send them on short-term mission trips in the US and abroad. – Our purpose is not fellowship, but works of service. – The quickest way to spiritual maturity is to put disciples into situations where they must trust God for success. 87
  88. 88. Concern for More than Souls • Jesus was concerned for the physical and emotional needs of the people—for healing (Matt. 4:24; Mark 3:5), for food (Matt. 14:18-21), for comfort (Matt. 9:36). • James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. – To be like Christ, we will also have compassion for the needs of others. 88
  89. 89. Concern for More than Souls • Mark 1:33-39 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was. 35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: "Everyone is looking for you!" 38 Jesus replied, "Let us go somewhere else-- to the nearby villages-- so I can preach there also. That is why I have come." 39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. 89
  90. 90. Concern for More than Souls –Jesus healed and drove out demons, but His priority was the spiritual needs of the people. Healing may postpone death. We want them to avoid entirely the second death (Rev. 2:11; 20:6). 90
  91. 91. Christ’s School • Where did He send them? First to Israel, but then to Samaria (to Jewish syncretists) and to the uttermost parts of the earth (Acts 1:8). The mission did not begin and end with the Jews. – He made this clear in Matt. 28:18-20, where He told them to ―go and make disciples of all nations.‖ Some try to make even these passages say that we should stay in Jerusalem. – Does the mission of your church and its leaders begin and end with your own people? Or do your people go into all the world? 91
  92. 92. Christ’s School • Jesus was concerned for those outside Israel— the Samaritan woman, for example. He sent his disciples to the uttermost parts of the earth. He died for the sins of the world—not just the Jews‘. – As we grow into Christ, our horizon will rise to the nations, beyond our own people. – If we do not go to the nations, we can go to our neighbors. Witnessing will cause us to depend more upon God and to understand our great salvation. 92
  93. 93. Christ’s School In summary, there are four parts to delegating authority to disciples: – 1. Giving power – 2. Giving authority (Lk. 9:1) – 3. Giving a specific task (Lk. 9:2-6) – 4. Accountability for the outcome (Lk. 9:10). 93
  94. 94. Putting it all Together • We live the Christian life in the spirit. – Galatians 3:3 Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? • Some try to live Christianity apart from the power of God. They start by faith, and go on by works. 94
  95. 95. Putting it all Together – Galatians 5:16-18 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. 95
  96. 96. Putting it all Together Galatians 5:25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. – We wait and proceed as the Spirit speaks to our spirit. An excellent example is Paul: Acts 16:6-8 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. 7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. 8 So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. 96
  97. 97. Putting it all Together Focus upon the Lord, instead of upon self and circumstances. – Hosea 6:1-3 "Come, let us return to the LORD. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. 2 "He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, That we may live before Him. 3 "So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, Like the spring rain watering the earth.― (New American Standard Bible) 97
  98. 98. Putting it all Together Philippians 3:10-16 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 98
  99. 99. Putting it all Together 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. 15 All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained. – Don’t slip in areas where you have matured, as you seek growth. 99
  100. 100. Putting it all Together Matthew 22:36-40 "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37 Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.― – This is the key to most ethical decisions. We move in the direction of love for God and people. Keep studying the Word of God to discern what is best. – Hebrews 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. 100
  101. 101. Finally 2 Corinthians 13:11 Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you. Here is the interplay of God’s work (―be made complete‖ is in the passive), and our own responsibility. 1 John 3:2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. – Perfection is coming, although the road is long and twisting. Be encouraged! END 101