Saturday, June 09, 2007

Saturday Sermon: Complete Christianity 2

This is the last in a series of eight are links to the first seven...

Careless Christianity

Crisis Christianity

Compulsive Christianity

Compromised Christianity

Conforming Christianity

Continuous Christianity

Complete Christianity 1

And now our primary text for today

Philippians 3

Now here we are at the end of the highway to holiness series, and what do we have at the end, well it is the same thing we had at the beginning, the way to start on the highway to holiness is the same thing that is at the end of the highway to holiness and that thing isn’t a thing at all it is a person, namely Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus puts us on this highway and as we discover more about how we can fail and how He cannot we give in to His way and become more like Him as we travel on this highway. Jesus is the destiny and the destination along the highway to holiness. The highway of holiness is all about dying to self and living for Christ, and not simply morality but God’s power in us giving God the glory due Him alone.

We looked at four OT types and then we spent the last three weeks talking of the conforming process, the doctrine of perseverance, and we even stepped back into the OT to show a type of steadfast faith that trusts God despite any outcome. This week we will finish the series up by looking at the Apostle Paul, who gives us an example of Complete Christianity, a person who was in the process and had made progress and would persevere until the end on that road, the gospel road, and what we have been calling the highway to holiness.

We are talking about repentance and faith, and what it looks like in practice, and not just trying to do it in our own strength. It is about keeping our eyes on Christ more than we keep our eyes on our distractions, knowing Him more, growing in that, and showing forth that. That doesn’t mean isolation it means insulation.

Now let’s take a very quick look at where we have been using our operative phrases of these past seven sermons, so that we can get a grasp on the big picture. Those first four sermons, described the typical pitfalls on or forks in the road, the things we need to see for what they are and try and avoid. Remember? Looking for an opportunity outside the will of God, rebelling against the authority of God, misusing the power of God, and aligning with people away from God are all manifestations of wanting something other than God, and seeing God as a means not as the end. Even when we have moved “beyond” these things they crop up in new forms. We have to stay in a repentant and prayerful state, learning to lean on Christ.

The last three weeks we have been discussing the way that God brings us along the highway, where if we will not yield to one of the four pitfalls but trust in Him, we will have an increased awareness of God’s power in our lives and a sharper focus on our Lord Jesus, thereby becoming more like Him, walking in more of the fullness of God. Okay, let’s look at it using the operative phrases of the last three weeks. Realizing the purpose of God helps you understand how God uses trials in this life to shape you into the image of Christ, and realizing the power of God keeps you in that process without wilting away. Realizing the character of God is what happens when you keep continuing in the conforming process.

We saw last week that Complete Christianity starts with the bedrock of trusting God despite any outcome. This week we will see the Apostle Paul and his recipe for resurrection power, if you will. This is the big picture, the aerial view of the highway to holiness. It is the big picture of the process not the details because what God uses in your life is your own experience. This isn’t cookie cutter Christianity; just because we are all in the same process doesn’t mean we all go through the same experiences. It isn’t just “do this and this” and then “poof” like magic you get it all and you’re done with it. It is a continual process with, hopefully, continual progress. The more we submit to it the more we will see it work.

Now let’s look at what the Apostle Paul wrote for us in Philippians 3. This is but one of many applications of these verses of course, but with our particular emphasis in this series, we wanted to give you the penultimate example in the NT. Now Jesus Christ was walking in the Spirit in a way that was without measure (John 3:34), but Paul gives us an example that shows us without doubt that we can achieve a relatively high level of holiness. Holiness is not about morality, Paul already had more of that than any man on earth, but he knew his righteousness was as filthy rags before the standard of Christ (Isaiah 64:6). Paul wanted resurrection power.

Vs.1 – in order to renew your mind you have to hear it all the time
Vs.2 – beware those who make holiness working for it instead of a working from it
Vs.3 – we must realize the fact that God’s power is the only way to God’s fullness, use the means of grace He has established and don’t go trying to make up your own. We just continue to read our bibles and pray and stay out of the way of those hindrances and keep focusing on Him and continuing despite troubles and we will grow in grace and we will know God’s fullness.
Vs.4-8 – you must be willing to lose it all, you will lose some of it and perhaps all of it, and you must realize that all of it is worthless compared to Christ
Vs.9 – counting it all on the grace of God in Christ
Vs.10 – People today seek the fullness of God apart from personal crucifixion with Christ, and the result is either a limited or a counterfeit experience. The fullness of the Holy Spirit’s power flows from the cross, Calvary was before Pentecost historically and it is experientially. The only way into the riches of the fullness of the Spirit is through our acceptance of our crucifixion with Him. We are made conformable to His death, and then we know the power of His resurrection and fellowship of His sufferings.
Vs.11 – humility
Vs.12-14 – keep at it realizing you aren’t there yet but that you can make real progress, go for what God has got for you, forget the past and press on and press in to the fullness of God
Vs.15-16 – walk in the light you have and God will give more, if not the light will grow dim
Vs.17 – follow those that are doing it right in God’s eyes
Vs.18-19 – stay away from those who want to do it their own way
Vs.20-21 – stay focused; keep your eyes on the prize, the eternal reward. God can take you from the grave and into glory, and He can take your life today and get Himself glory

This was Paul’s plan, and he was ready to die the same as S/M/A. We say we are ready to die but we won’t even die to self, we still do these other four things and we let other distractions take our focus off Christ. You have got to be dead to those things; by giving in to it you’re giving life to it! We aren’t pressing on, pressing in, and persevering in this life, what makes us think we are ready for the power of the next? The disciples all thought they were ready to die for Christ, but they weren’t until they received the power of the Spirit. Even then they had troubles. However, more often than not they were walking in God’s fullness not out of it, and we can be too.

The truth is that we have placed God in a compartment of our lives, just a part of it, but the answer isn’t to just fill up the other boxes we have made, putting God in all our compartments. He could be in every part of your life and still not have your heart. That is why we see people whose lives are nothing but ministry still fall all the way down, because they thought that the only way to avoid themselves was to fill all their time doing things for God. Friend it isn’t about doing things for God. Doing things for God is great, but that isn’t what gets you further on the highway to holiness. Yes it is good to plant good seed but the root of the other tree is still there and we need to put the axe to the root of the problem. We have to pray through and stay through the pain of losing ourselves and finding Christ, and this isn’t done in a half an hour, it is done throughout a lifetime.

Then God’s love will come pouring out of you (John 7:37-39). Then you can know what the fullness of God is really like, and you will want to walk in it, and you will run back to it in prayer when you have fallen out of it, and you will fall out of it less and less as your love for God grows. When new situations arise and the Sprit of God reveals new roots of rebellion to you, you will know the process and the pain, which leads to power, and you will realize the character of God, and press on to victory in Jesus, into the fullness of God.


donsands said...

"Yes it is good to plant good seed but the root of the other tree is still there and we need to put the axe to the root of the problem."


And the new seed needs to be planted by the water, and it will grow strong, and bear much fruit. Our souls need to be watered with the Word, and the Sun of righteousness needs to shine on our souls as well. And we cultivate our souls as we pray and worship.

Even So... said...

Yes...the old paths are the true and straight ways...and they still lead to Life...