The Road to Godliness Is One of Discipline
2 Peter 3:18
Last Sunday we talked about the biblical words Christian and disciple. According to the Scripture there is there is no difference between Christian and disciple. Words like servant, disciple, follower, are biblically interchangeable with Christian. Discipleship our Christian walk is an ongoing process that why Jesus gives the command “go make disciples.” Discipleship is all about growing. Discipleship was never meant to be an add on program that the church is offering.
But in the 20th and 21st century church we have developed just that discipleship seems to be something beyond being a Christian. Biblically speaking we should never separate being a Christian and being a disciple. Discipleship is what Christ is calling us to. We are in an ongoing process of becoming a disciple – being a Christian, being a disciple is a never ending process of growing and maturing in our faith. So let’s take a closer look at what that means.
Hebrews 6:1-3 (NIV)
1 Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2 instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And God permitting, we will do so.
Hebrews 6:1 (The Message)
So come on, let's leave the preschool finger painting exercises on Christ and get on with the grand work of art. Grow up in Christ.
2 Peter 3:18 (NIV)
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
Babies are cute; they are cuddly; they can do no wrong even when they are wrong. We love them. We laugh when they make faces. We're alarmed at the first sign of a fever. We overlook their inappropriate behaviors; thinking it is cute when they say “see food” and open their mouth which is full of food. But there is one thing that is for certain: As much as we love these little ones, we don't want them to stay babies forever. There are only so many times we want to change diapers or clean up messes on the kitchen floor. We want those darling babies to grow up.
Neither does Christ want us to remain as infants.
We get real excited about spiritual birth. We overlook their faults in the beginning and we answer their never-ending questions. We want them to drink in the milk of the Word so they might grow.
- 1 Peter 2:2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,
- But how long should spiritual infancy last. When do we start on solid food? Hopefully that comes pretty quickly.
- We need to grow up. If you want to be a spiritually mature disciple you have to establish good growth habits so you can grow out of spiritual infancy. It comes down to having a healthy diet and exercise.
- Don't you just hate it when the doctor tells you those words diet and exercise?
- Since we did a spiritual check-up maybe we need to have a prognosis of what we need to do become spiritually fit.
- Dr. Cook prescription is we need to have the right diet and exercise. Let me prescribe a few simple recommendations so that we might continue grow as a disciple.
- We need to begin with the proper nourishment - We need to have A balanced spiritual diet that begins with the word of god.
- Jeremiah writes, "When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart's delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God Almighty." (15:16)
- How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Psalm 119:103 (NIV)
- That is a strange way of putting it - eating the Word of God. But really is that strange? Why should we not crave the right spiritual food? Doctors tell us that we need to drink water and eat a balanced diet.
- If a balanced diet is one of the keys to good physical condition wouldn't be true that a balanced diet of God's food is also needed for our spiritual development.
- John 6:51 (NIV) I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."
- Christ is the source of our living Water John 4:10 (NIV) Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water."
- The proper diet is what builds our spiritual muscles.
- Eating a balanced diet means getting the proper amounts of 5 basic Bible food groups.
- History - like Genesis, Joshua, Acts
- Prophecy - like Daniel, Isaiah, Revelation
- Poetry - like Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes
- Gospel - like Matt. Mark, Luke & John
- Epistles - Romans, Eph., 1 Peter
- Chicken or Krispy Kremes - I know how good Krispy Kremes taste – we can’t make a diet of junk food and think we are going to be healthy physically or spiritually. I think many Christians are eating fast food and junk food to get their nourishment – we need a better diet.
- We need to avoid the junk of quick fast foods that we think is satisfying. Remember when personal computers came out we used the phrase “garbage in garbage out.” Well that is true in our spiritual lives as well. We need to pay close attention to what is being taught in the name of God.
- When we study the Word of God let’s not be satisfied for a snack. Let us dig into the food of God. If you ask me I would rather have a steak and baked potato than an ice cream hot fudge sundae. Even though that sounds good. We need to digest the word of God.
- When you read a Christian book look at how often the Word is expounded upon?
- We need to be careful that we don't rely totally on the teachings of others without studying the Word ourselves - that includes relying totally on this preacher’s words.
- It is reported that in Yellowstone National Park that you are handed by a park ranger a note stating "Do Not Feed the Bears" but many people ignore it.
- There are 2 reasons for this warning - one is real obvious - it's dangerous.
- But the other reason has to do with the health of the bears. It seems that once the bears become reliant on humans for food they lose the ability to find food for themselves and die.
- When we rely solely on others for spiritual sustenance we can become unfit and anemic.
- There is an easy solution to this problem open our own Bibles and eat His Word.
- There are 5 main ingredients we need to look at when we read the Scripture:
- Are there any commands and or principles – if so follow them.
- Are there any promises given – are they conditional one. Meaning if we do something then we will receive something. The Beatitudes have conditional promises.
- Matthew 5:3-12 (NIV)
3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
- What the Word Means by what it says
- How the word applies to us.
- If I were Satan my first line of defense would be to interfere with a believers’ study of the Word. If we are not eating right spiritually because we haven't dined on the Word we are more apt to fall into temptation.
- If we want to be a disciple of Christ, live a godly life, we must be involved in serious study of the Word.
- We ought to crave the Word of God.
- Romans 12:2 (NIV) 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. It is what goes into us that transforms us.
- Not only should we maintain the proper spiritual diet – The Word; we need to be exercising the commands and principles that God give us through His word. Simple exercises need to occur.
- The first exercise is prayer. While many of us say that prayer is important to us; I am not sure how often we do prayer exercises.
- How many of you check the prayer concerns on the web-site or write the names down and pray for each individual.
- How many honestly confess their sins to the Lord.
- Do you think prayer was easy for Jonah in the belly of that big fish?
- Was it easy for Elijah when he confronted all the priests of Baal?
- Or when Jesus prayed in the Garden?
- Prayer is an act of will. Sometimes we just have to make ourselves pray.
- The second exercise is church attendance. Hebrews 10:25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
- The church ought to be a place of blessing. When we gather together it is a time for spiritual recharging.
- Another reason that people attending church is to network with other Christians; it’s called fellowship. I have missed it the last few weeks.
- But the primary reason to attend church is to corporately worship God.
- The most neglected exercise is the exercise of witnessing or confessing our faith to others. Has Jesus made your life better then we ought to tell someone about it.
- We need to be willing to tell our story of faith. Practice that story on each other. We will come back to that over the next few weeks.
His One Mistake”
He brushed his teeth twice a day. The doctor examined him twice a year. He wore water proofed shoes when it rained. He slept with the windows opened. He stuck to a diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. He golfed—but never more than 18 holes at a time. He got at least 8 hours of sleep every night. He never smoked, drank, or lost his temper. He exercised every day. He was all set to live to be 100. The funeral will be Wednesday. He was only 63. He is survived by 18 specialists, 4 health institutions, 6 gymnasiums, and numerous manufacturers of health foods and drugs. He remembered everything, but he forgot God! We need to be spiritual fit as well as physically fit.
If you want to be spiritual fit – proper diet and the right exercises will make you spiritual fit.
- Dine on the Scripture.
- Exercises of: prayer, church attendance, and witnessing will make us fit.
Please click here for slides to accompany the sermon.