INTRO: I wonderif many people who become unfaithful do so because of the lack of growth and change they see in themselves. It seems to be that there is a lot of emphasis these days on an almost magical and exhilarating change in ones feelings and person at the point of baptism ... and a corresponding lack of emphasis upon what real spiritual growth is. Too, there is a bit of a tendency to let up after serious years of spiritual activity ... as if to say, Ive done mine. Let someone else have a turn. The three verses we have read give sharp, unmistakable contradiction to both ideas! These verses show us The Spiritual Life: A Determined Progress.
I. A DIVINE DISSATISFACTION (3:12)
A. Paul was not satisfied that he had arrived
1. had just mentioned hope of resurrection he knew he wanted to hear Lords Well done ...
2. is not questioning assurance of salvation (2 cor 5:17)
3. but he recognized there is more growing to do!
4. folks, this is a humbling discovery -- if he was dissatisfied with his progress, are we not challenged to wonder about our own?
B. Paul was not satisfied hed accomplished Gods purpose
1. that for which also I am apprehended of Christ
2. several things come immediately to mind here
a. purpose of preaching gospel to Gentiles (Acts 20:24)
b. purpose of living ideal of Christ (Rom 8:29)
c. the whole purpose of conversion ... to give purpose, direction to his life with a final goal to obtain
3. I wonder when one is through, finished ... looking at Paul and looking at myself , I know I. am not
4. a divine dissatisfaction impels us onward to ...
II. A PLAN OF DETERMINED ACTION (3:13)
A. Honesty with self I count not ...
1. I dont know exactly what points in his life concerned him -- I know there were some (1 Cor 9:27)
2. well not grow, well not change, well not progress until we are to be honest with self (2 Cor 10:12)
B. Singleness of mind this one thing ...
1. great purposes can be halted when we become divided in mind
2. how many are the things in life which divert us and our attention from our purpose in Christ (Lk 8:14)
3. somehow in all of the experiences of his life, Paul was managing to keep his purpose sharply defined and that purpose as his set course of life
C. Not affected by the past forgetting ...
1. there was his past as persecutor, sinner ... people can become so immersed in guilt and so unable to accept Gods forgiveness that they grind to a halt in spiritual progress
2. there was his past to which he could have looked very longingly
3. there was his past as a great evangelist resting on laurels
4. point: past is past must no longer influence us
D. Utmost of effort -- reaching forth ...
1. the reaching is a word which says one is putting everything he has into the task, pursuit, enterprise
2. spiritual progress is impossible with half-heartedness
3. yet, this word probably indicts many, many Christians a half hearted, part-time pursuit
4. how devoted are we to growing spiritually? to spiritual maturity? to our purpose in Christ?
E. Challenge of the future those ... which are before
1. what concerns God is our use of the present and our resolve for the future
2. it amazes me that Paul - in prison, in peril for his life - is still thinking of and committed to usefulness, great service in the things that are before
3.. we cannot change the past but we have a great deal to do with the present and future
III. A DISTINCTIVE MOTIVE (3:14)
A. The prize at the end of our calling
B. Everything looked toward that goal
1. and only way to that goal is determined progress
2. in the word press I sense an urgency, an excitement about each day and hour of life ... and the wise use of it
CLOSE: When do we quit? When is the race over? Rev 14:13 answers. Up to that time there is a mission a work for us to do.
Cecil A. Hutson
25 June 2000
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)