Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Persevering In The Faith

Perseverance = to endure/continue/stand....firm & fast

Last week - distinction between A) persevere generally  AND  B) Persevere ... IN THE FAITH
Example:  Heb. 12:1 - marathon race --- laid out for us.

So, today:  "Persevering in the Faith" - focus being - "IN THE FAITH"  (meaning/definition)

We are called to Persevere in the faith:

1.)  Doctrinally - in truth, according to teachings of Christ, Apostles

2.)  Practically - Christianity is more than head knowledge -- includes hands - action/life style

3.)  Emotionally - point is not primarily feelings But affections - a heart for God, the things of God, for the Faith (truths of God)

4.)  Relationally - Christianity is more than a philosophy, a religion
Christianity includes a relationship with God the Father, Christ the Son, Holy Spirit

We are called to Persevere in the Faith.....

#1.  Doctrinally - in truth, within the proper teachings (orthodoxy = proper belief, right opinion)

Simple concept - if don't accept & embrace the teachings of Christ....???  John 8:31 - 2 Tim. 4:1-5 - stay firm in the faith.
So.... "sound doctrine" - Titus 1:9, 1:13, 2:1, 2:15

#2.  Practically - ie:  in practice, application, lifestyle
Contrast pagan gods - dis-interest in lifestyle, morals, etc.  Jesus expects us to practice this, live it, etc.
Matt.7:24-27  James 2:14-19, 24-26

#3.  Emotionally - focus is not feelings, but affections.
ie:  disposition, inclination, preference, bent, desire, longing, "HEART" = mind, will, emotions
ie:  "HEART" for God, things of God, truth of God, etc.

Matt. 15:7-9  Matt. 22:36-37  Rom. 10:9-10

Again, the point is not primarily feelings, but does mean affections.  - Rev. 2:2-5 - easy to correct practices, but how to correct head?  - repent

Question??  How full, exact, perfect must one be to "be in the faith"?
What % of doctrine, practice, affection??

Answer:  don't know - we don't have a "Christometer" - all fall short, some fall WAY short - example:  David & Bathsheba

But, this we know, there is an area of 'No Tolerance' - Being in the faith.........
#4.  Relationally - being in the faith is not just religion, but a relationship - with God, with Christ, etc.
John 1:12  Rom. 8:14-16  Phil. 3:10  John 17:3 - "Point of Reconciliation"!!!

But,.... "no tolerance"??  - Matt. 7:21-23  - they had..... doctrine, practice, affection ... BUT .... relationship?????

Additional:  We are called to Persevere in the Faith.......
#5.  Personally - point - you are not in the faith because of the faithfulness of your spouse, parents, church, community, denomination, nation, etc.

The point of this message is not to create doubt for those in the faith....
The point is to cause us to stop, consider, examine - selves

2 Cor. 13:5

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Reasons to Persevere in the Faith

2 weeks ago = Phil. 3:10-16
Paul's goal - "to become all Christ saved me to be"
Paul's method - "I press on" - persevere
Paul's conclusion - "all Christians should share this view"

OK for Paul ..... but for me?  Why bother?
1.)  I'll never be an apostle, church planter, scripture writer, church leader like Paul!!!
2.)  Perseverance is HARD WORK!!!

Statement once made in a Sunday school class - why do all this?  When get to heaven it's all a gravy train anyway.

So, here's some Reasons to Persevere in the Faith.

#1.  Persevere because it's the right thing to do.
Note:   A) the call is NOT to simply Persevere, but to Persevere in Righteousness!!! - within the faith.
Heb. 12:1 - "course MARKED for us" - (not YOUR choosing!!!)
           B) - always right do right
                - never right to do wrong!! - Phil. 3:15

#2.  Persevere because righteous actions result in righteous outcomes.
Classic reference:  Gal. 6:7-8
Point:  don't produce good by doing bad.  - example:  Adam and Eve - tempted to "fall up".  (all temptation follows this reasoning
Doesn't mean "do good today and have a good day" - (maybe, maybe not).  "God doesn't settle all accounts in October".  BUT, He does settle all accounts!!
So, ultimately and finally - righteous acts will result in righteous outcome.  Gal. 6:9

#3.  Persevere for Assurance of Salvation
There are two schools of thought:
1)  IF you persevere, you'll be saved.
2)  IF you are saved, you'll persevere
Either way = without Perseverance = question of salvation!!!
Jesus - John 8:31 - "If  you continue in my Word"
Paul - Col. 1:22-23 - "if you continue in the faith"
Peter - 2 Pet. 1:10 
John - 1 John 2:19 - walking away from the faith
On one hand, don't have a 'Christometer' to tell who is saved and who is not, But, one mark of true faith is Perseverance.

#4.  Persevere for Growth in Salvation
Example:  tomato plants with a free will - decide whether or not to stay planted in the fertile, nourishing soil, or take off to West Texas, Las Vegas, etc. for a period of time.  The fruit will be cut back considerably if not consistently hooked up to the nourishment of the garden spot. 
Cannot produce good fruit when on and off, up and down, etc.

#5.  Persevere that Christians be encouraged.
Contrast:  discouragement - seeing Christians quit and walk away from the faith
               ENcouragement - observing the faithful
A)  We FEED on one another.   And,
B.  You are to give as well as Receive.  Heb. 10:23-25 - We are obligated to feed others as well.

#6.  Persevere that people be Saved.
2 Tim. 2:8-10 - "for the sake of the elect, I'm suffering for the gospel"
On one hand, we are not ultimately responsible for their decision, but my actions do bear on their decisions.  It shouldn't be that way, BUT it IS that way. 

#7.  Persevere for the Rewards Promised.
2 Tim. 4:6-8 - "for those that endure", "for those who overcome"
Challenge:  1)  get in the faith, if not already there
                2)  examine self - are you in THE faith - walking in HIS faith.
                3)  Continue in the faith.

Closing:  Heb. 10:35-39

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Last week - New Year's Resolutions + 7 traits to cultivate for success:
1)  Sensitivity - to the inner voice which we all have (reason, conscience, common sense, Holy Spirit)
2)  Introspection - ie:  self-examination - looking into self in light of scripture, not in light of feelings or world around you.
3)  Admission - to self, to God
4)  Resolve - which = determination plus declaration
5)  Request for assistance - from God, from man
6)  Resilience - ability to 'bounce back'
7)  Acceptance - of your human-ness - are going to fail, fall
                        - of God's forgiveness

ADDED "indwelling of Holy Spirit - (through the New Birth).  The above is helpful for anyone.

On one hand, it's helpful to breakdown and make a list - pieces
On the other hand, if lumped them together - can call it perseverance.
Definition (synonym) - steadfastness, persistence, endurance, diligence, tenacity, resolve, determination, stubbornness, relentlessness, etc.

Use, Application usually  - do well in face of adversity, trial, difficulty
Perseverance doesn't mean will never fall - means will always get up.
Doesn't mean never deviate from path, does mean always com back to the path.

In Christian life .... to progress, grow, develop, achieve, accomplish, to mature, become, requires Perseverance.

So, look at passage where Paul lumps it together.  Phil. 3:10-16

We'll see:
I.  Paul's goal - to become all Christ saved him to be
II.  Paul's Method - (in a lump) - "Press on", ie:  perseverance
III.  Paul's Conclusion - "All Christians should share this view.."

Text:  Phil. 3:10-16

I.  Paul's Goal - become all Christ saved him to be!
He assumes:
A.)  saved for a purpose - not just for eternity
B.)  saved for an earthly purpose - Eph. 2:10
C.)  that purpose discovered and fulfilled in Christ
Therefore, if never receive Christ/never follow Christ - will never discover yr. purpose here

NOTE:  #1 - Goal = combination of doing (achievement) 
                                                        being (character) not one or the other but  = both - doing and being
NOTE:  #2 - Paul experiencing "holy discontent"
Contrast:  Heb. 13:5 - "be content with such things..." - content with things you have
  with:        Matt. 5:6 - "blessed are those who hunger and thirst...." - discontent with relationship with Christ
We've flipped it over.  Most are discontented with amount of "things" and very contented with relationship with Christ.

II.  Paul's Method - "Press On" - Persevere
Implies:  A)  effort
             B) serious effort
            C)  continual effort
These three = perseverance.  (doesn't mean will never fall or deviate)  It's getting up and coming back
           D)  Goal orientation - which is more than "press on" - means to press on TOWARD  something specific
          E)  Focus on the present & what supposed to be doing
"forgetting" does not wipe out memory.  Means don't allow past to hinder
Past can = former failures, could also be former victories
        F)  dependence on Christ, coupled with Perseverance - Col. 1:29   1 Cor. 15:10

III.  Paul's Conclusion - vs. 15 - "all Christians should share this view"

Meanwhile .... vs. 16 - already have some knowledge, capabilities, etc. - live up to that as you press on.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

New Year's Day

People celebrated "New Year" for as long as there is written history (natural response to cycles/seasons)

I.  The Day - varied with peoples, cultures, places
A.)  Winter Solstice - Return of the sun
B.)  Vernal Equinox - Spring - return of growing season
C.)  Jan. 1st. - established by Roman Senate about 153 BC - affirmed  in Julian Calendar (named after Julius Caesar) - 46 BC

So, Jan. 1st. was dedicated to the god Janus - hence "January"
2-faced god that: A.  looked forward and looked back
                           B.  god of doors, gates, etc.  -  god of transition

Gradually January 1st. became the official New Year's Day for much of the world.

II.  The Celebration?
A.  Often religious - petition gods for blessings this year.
B.  Often was just a reason to party (Babylonians celebrated to 11 days)

III.   The New Year's Resolution?  (also ancient)
Example:  Babylonians - "pay debts, return borrowed items"
Romans - promises to Janus on Jan. 1st

So, on one hand recognition and celebration of the New Year seems natural 
BUT... - the (almost) universal notion of a new beginning, new start, concerning Behavior?? - Seems inherent, programmed, wired in -- not living up to what we should

POINT:  What man is generally aware of ..... need to do better - right and wrong
Christians can know more specifically/exactly....

HOW???  Compare general revelation (nature/conscience) with Special revelation (Scripture)

Assuming... the Word is  A)  Special revelation and B) for practical application  - 2 Tim. 2:16-17
Then??  What can we learn (from Scripture) concerning... "resolutions"??? new starts/beginnings/changed behavior??

A few things we need to cultivate (develop/pursue)

#1.  Sensitivity (awareness, internal recognition of the need to do better.  Call it heart/mind/conscience/Holy Spirit - Rom. 2:14-15
Note:  awareness enhanced by  A)  exposure to the Word  and B)  openness to the Holy Spirit

#2.  Introspection (self-examination)
A) this is more than sensitivity/openness - it is a deliberate, intentional examination

B)  Examination - should be done in light of Scripture - not feelings
(feeling is a good indicator, motivator BUT not necessarily a good Judge!!

#3.  Admission  (confession .... of truth)
TO A) self    B) God - Homologeo - ta say the same thing as.
Psalm 51:3 - David knew all along he was wrong, but, not man enough to admit it.

#4.  Resolve - ie.  A) to determine to do better and B) to declare your determination - to a) self; to b) God, to c) others (accountability)

#5.  Request (for assistance)
A)  Divine - "Holy Spirit continue to convict me" - "Father, help me"
B)  Human - James 5:16

Admission + resolve + request = ????
Admission + resolve + request = Repentance

#6.  Resilience - ie.  ability to adjust/recover from pressure/stress/change/misfortune/failure....
Simple fact - we will fail miserably this year.  We are human!!

Question??  Why need?  A 2007 study at the University of Bristol found that 88% of New Year's resolutions fail!!  A Big Part of the Christian life is the ability to get up and continue on after repeated failures.

#7.  Acceptance.
Of - A) your human-ness  (sinfulness, tendency to fail) - doesn't mean therefore you don't bother to strive.  It does mean "don't despair"
Of - B)  God's forgiveness - 1 John 1:8-9 - doesn't give us license to sin or be lax or lackadaisical.

Note:  1-7 are helpful in reformation (ie:  change of behavior)
BUT, God's intent/will for you is more than reform, it = transform through growth.

Scripture = "new heart, mind, nature....etc" - John 3:4-7 - born again

These steps will work for anyone, but transformation comes from Jesus Christ.