The Christian Life ~ 20200601 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
05/18 Foundations: The Christian Life; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20200601_walk.mp3
Walking as Christians
This is foundations; an overview of the basics of what Christians believe. Tonight I want to get very practical and talk about how to live the Christian life. What does it mean to live as a Christian?
Doctrine and Practice
We’ve been talking about what Christians believe, and that is foundational and essential. It matters what you believe about the triune God. It matters what you believe about who Jesus is. It matters what you believe about salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone for the glory of God alone. It matters what you believe about the Bible as the only and sufficient authority for faith and life. You can’t rightly call yourself a Christian if you reject the essentials of the historic Christian faith. It matters what you believe.
Disciples, Brothers, Believers
The New Testament has a few different words it uses to refer to Christians; Disciples, indicating that we are learners and followers of Jesus. Servants or slaves, pointing to the fact that we have a new and worthy Master. Brothers (and sisters), indicating the family relationship we are born into through the new birth of the Holy Spirit. And Believers, indicating that above all we are those who believe in Jesus, those who live and walk by faith.
There’s a term being used that I think is helpful; it’s ‘practical atheism’. An atheist is someone who denies the existence of God. A practical atheist may be a person who claims to believe in God, they may even claim to be a Christian, but they live as if God did not exist. In their day to day life and decisions, they act as if there is no God. They may affirm the historic truths of the Christian faith, but their lives are shaped more by the culture than by the truths they profess.
This is not a new problem. James and John both address it in their short letters.
Jesus himself says
It matters what we believe, and it matters that our actions demonstrate that we truly believe what we say we believe. We must live consistent with what we believe.
Walk the walk
The Christian life is most often described in terms of walking. On occasion the metaphor of running a race is used, and in Ephesians 6 a battle metaphor is used and we are told to stand firm and stand our ground. But the most common metaphor by far is walking. Walking is unexciting, unimpressive, simply putting one foot in front of the other and plodding along. But it is movement in a direction.
Romans 4:12 says we are to ‘ walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had’; 6:4 says that we can now ‘walk in newness of life’; 8:4 that we ‘walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.’; 13:13 urges ‘Let us walk properly as in the daytime’; 14:15 we are rebuked for not ‘walking in love’
Walking is a fitting metaphor for the Christian life when we look back at one of the repeated miracles of Jesus and his apostles, who caused the lame or crippled to walk. Ephesians 2 tells us that
And after describing the mercy of God that made us alive by his grace as a gift, it says:
From one point of view the Christian life is extraordinarily ordinary, it’s not very exciting, it’s just walking. It is just doing what we do. It’s waking up and putting on our shoes and brushing our teeth and eating breakfast and going off to work.
And yet from another point of view it is absolutely supernatural. We were once the walking dead, and now we walk every day in the good works that God prepared in advance for us to do. Waking up, brushing our teeth, going to work, now not for ourselves, but for the glory of God.
To Glorify God
And that is our overarching purpose.
We have been made alive to live for a higher purpose. We live no longer for ourselves. We live for him. Back in verse 9 he said ‘we make it our aim to please him.’
He prays that the Colossian believers would ‘be filled with the knowledge of his will’
We were made to know God, to please God, to live in relationship with God.
We now belong to God, and we are to live to the glory of God. This affects absolutely everything;
Whatever we do is rather comprehensive. Everything we do, eating, drinking, working, playing, all is to be done intentionally to please and glorify our Father.
Walk By Faith
One natural question is how? How do we live to the glory of God? How do we even know how to live for the glory of God? This sounds impossible! 2 Corinthians 5:7 says ‘we walk by faith.’ Galatians 2:20 says:
Faith is dependence or trust. The old me is dead. Christ now lives in me. So I am to live depending on Christ in me, allowing him to live through me. I now live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. I am to live for him, but I also live through him. Paul goes on to rebuke the Galatians in chapter 3:
This is crucial to understand. He warns that they were saved by believing the message of Christ crucified. They received the Holy Spirit by hearing the good news with faith, trust, depending on him alone to do what they could never hope to do. Now they are trying – trying to live the Christian life. They are working at it, as if they could do it. No, no, no! Stop trying. Go back to trusting. It is not by works. It is by hearing the gospel with faith. That hearing of the good news, trusting, depending on the good news brought Holy Spirit transformation. We are not to begin by the Spirit, by faith, believing the gospel and then move ahead to maturity in the Christian life by effort. We are to keep on believing the gospel, walking by faith, dependence, trusting Jesus to finish what he started, allowing the Holy Spirit to work his work in us for his glory.
Preach the Gospel to Yourself and to One Another
So what can we do? Is our part merely passive, leaning back and letting God do his thing while we just veg? No, God uses means to accomplish his purpose. As in evangelism, so in the Christian life. Paul says in Romans 10
And then he asks:
Saving faith is a work of God in the human heart. But God uses human means to accomplish his sovereign purposes. “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1Cor.1:21 KJV).
God does the work, but he uses the preaching of his word by human instruments to accomplish his work. Paul concludes:
In salvation, so in the Christian life. We walk by faith, and faith comes from hearing. We need to be preaching the gospel to ourselves. Daily, We walk by faith, and we need daily reminders of the good news that Jesus died for me, a sinner, to make me new, to make me his, so that I can live in relationship with him, enjoying his favor and bringing him glory. We need to preach the gospel to ourselves and to each other. Faith comes by hearing, and we need constant reminders. We need to be listening regularly to the word preached. We need to be feeding daily on the word written.
We need to be filling our hearts and minds with God’s truth. We need each other. We need to be connected to the body of Christ where we can receive from others.
Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 2:
The word of God received is at work in you believers. The word of God is living and active and powerful, it is at work transforming you as you hear and receive it.
Live as Lights
And as you are being transformed, be a light to others. Jesus says in Matthew 5:16
Be a disciple who makes disciples; allow others to see the transformation God has brought about in your life in such a way that they know it is God who has transformed you by the gospel. And pray that they too would find forgiveness and freedom and purpose by trusting Jesus. Let your light shine before others.
One of the ways our lights shine brightest is in suffering. Don’t be surprised by suffering. God can be greatly glorified or greatly dishonored by how we respond to suffering. Jesus prepared his followers for suffering. Jesus said in John 15:16 ‘I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide’; and then he said:
Jesus teaches that we should expect opposition. We are to follow him in the way of the cross, laying down our lives for the good of others. That is where the light shines brightest.
There’s so much more to say, but this is the core of the Christian life. Love God and love others. Walk by faith, dependence, trust, believing the good news that you were lost, and Jesus came to seek and to save you. Remind yourself of that great good news over and over and over. Make it your aim in all things to please him, to bring him glory, even in, especially in, your suffering. Let your light shine before others. Enjoy your blood-bought relationship with him, listening to him, talking with him, following him.
Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org