Time to Wake the Sleeping Giant
A Call to be Jesus to this World
– This morning we looked at the call to an outward focus, in the life of every Christian. We looked at 3 matters of importance in the passage: (1) the benefits of being a Christian, (2) the need for unity in the Body of Christ, and (3) the command to be others-centered.
– It is interesting to think about how many people are sounding the battle cry that the enemy that Christianity faces is: secularism. The truth is, secularism is not our enemy. Strangely enough, the United States is more religious and more interested in spiritual matters than ever before. Most of the best selling books and magazines deal with world religions, self-help, astrology, new age (eastern mysticism repackaged), Hollywood likes “Scientology”, and the list goes on and on. The reality is, people are just not interested in Christianity. Often we blame this on the lost world, but too many times they have entered our doors or exited our doors, finding nothing more than a group of people holding on to preferences (not the faith) and do not see anything like the like transforming faith that Jesus introduced over 2,000 years ago. Whose fault is that? Not theirs. They will take notice, when we begin acting like Jesus!
– Paul exhorts the Philippians to be acting like Christ, being witnesses and testimonies to the lost people around them.
– In this passage we are going to see 2 Keys to being Jesus to this world.
1) The need for spiritual growth (12-13)
a) Work out your salvation with fear and trembling (12)
– There should be a continual progression toward Christ-likeness, it is not merely a gift received once for all, it expresses itself in an ongoing process in which the believer is strenuously involved – the process of perseverance, spiritual growth and maturation
> “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.
Everyone who competes in the games exercises self- control in all things.They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” 1 Cor 9:24-27
> “For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end,” Heb 3:14
> “But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way. For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end,” Heb 6:9-11
> “Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self- control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Pet 1:5-8
– Fear and trembling – not because of doubt or anxiety, rather, an active reverence and a singleness of purpose in response to God’s grace b) God is working in every true believer (13)
– Will – God is changing how we think and feel, so that through the aid of the Holy Spirit we will want to do what He wants
– Work – God is working in us so that we will do what He wants, the way He wants
2) The need for spiritual evidence (14-16) – God wants His people to act godly, being witnesses and testimonies to the lost people around them.
a) Our attitude (14)
– Don’t grumble or dispute
* Grumbling – being discontented with God’s will is an expression of unbelief that prevents one from doing what pleases God – v. 13
> “Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.” 1 Cor 10:10
* Disputing – over debatable points that do not need to be settled for the good of the church –
> “But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.” 2 Tim 2:23
> “But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.” Titus 3:9
b) Our reputation (15)
– Blameless and innocent – not absolute sinless perfection, but wholehearted devotion to doing God’s will
– Children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation
* A description of the unbelieving world –
> “And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying,‘Be saved from this perverse generation!’” Acts 2:40
> “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of the flesh, indulging in the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” Eph 2:1-3
> “And Jesus answered and said, ‘You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to me.’” Matt 17:17
– Lights in the world – the contrast, like light in darkness, Christians are to be a contrast to the world around them
> “nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matt 5:15-16
> “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.” 1 Pet 2:11-12,15
> “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,” Eph 4:1
> “For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you; but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” 1 Pet 4:3-5c) Our witness (16)
– Hold fast/forth the word of life – people should see the word lived out in our actions, and they should hear it in our words
– “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Cor 5:17-21
– Christians are to act like Christ, being witnesses and testimonies to the lost people around them.
– The 2 Keys to this are: (1) spiritual growth; (2) spiritual evidence – which involves: our attitude, our reputation, and our witness.
– So we must ask ourselves some important questions.
1) Are we growing spiritually? Specifically, are we loving God more with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; are we growing in genuine relationships with other members of the body of Christ; are we growing in influence with unchurched people? If the answers to these questions are a little sketchy, then the answer is probably no.
2) Secondly, is there spiritual evidence in our lives – are we living like Christ – in our attitude, our reputation, and our witness?
– The answers to these questions will tell us if we are answering the call to be Jesus to this world. But, there is hope. Go before God today, tell Him you are sorry for not growing spiritually, and for not having evidence spiritually for the world around you to see. Then ask Him to help you to grow spiritually, and to have evidence for the world around you to see Christ in you.
– Next Sunday AM – Time to Wake the Sleeping Giant – A Call to Reckless Abandon – Philippians 3:7-11