1 TIM 6:12
INTRO: Some months ago I made some notes to myself about the struggle of faith. I do not remember what precipitated those thoughts. But I have kept the notes on my desk in full view so that I would not let them slip from my mind. This past week I decided I would flesh out those thoughts a bit in the hope they would be helpful and useful to all of us. There is no denying that the Christian life has its obstacles, its challenges, its struggles. Much that is written in the various letters of the New Testament acknowledges that. There is a fight to be fought. In our text the apostle Paul counsels Timothy to Fight the good fight of faith.... This morning, then, I want us to consider Fighting The Good Fight Of Faith.
I. THERE ARE BATTLES TO BE FOUGHT IN OUR LIVES
A. With temptation...
1. 1 Thes 3:5 - inspiration acknowledges that temptation is very real
2. Satans purpose is to entice us to sin ... to undo our faith
3. Heb 2:18 - in His humanity Jesus was not exempted from this battle!
B. With our desires (lust)...
1. 1 Jno 2:16 with Jas 1:14 - desire and temptation go hand in hand
2. desire may not be wrong of and in itself - but illicit desire, in ordinate desire!
3. this battle is waged in our minds ... so, 2 Cor 10:3-5
C. With our peers...
1. Prov 1:10-16 - here is an admonition having to do with peer influence
2. for all of us (not just the young) the pressure of peer influence is real - at school, at work, at play, in entertainment - everyone does it
3. often the real struggle is with aloneness when conviction separates us
D. With things...
1. 1 Tim 6:9 - ...they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare...
2. interestingly, this does not necessitate that one be rich to have the problem ... it those who desire, who covet after, etc.
3. things (desire for them, devotion to them) is a struggle for ones faith whether he is young or old!
II. FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH REQUIRES...
A. A desire to fight the good fight
1. this has got to be more than lip service to the struggle - talking the talk?
2. somehow we must reach point of knowing were in a life and death struggle
3. Acts 20:22-24 - I keep coming back to this passage for inspiration
4. by contrast? Heb 10:32-35 - the desire to fight was apparently waning
B. A daily life punctuated by prayer
1. as I grow older, I find myself realizing more and more the need for prayer
2. I do not have all the answers to lifes dilemmas - so, I rely on prayer
3. Eph 6:17,19 - in this passage dealing with Christian armor (thus, the Christian warfare, fight) comes the vigilance, the patience of prayer
4. the psalms of David are evidence of the power of praying in fight of faith!
C. A foundation of knowledge of the word of God
1. I think that most Christians do too much flying by the seat of their britches (tell story of John Buchanans pilot who refused the navigators role)
2. the only way God will give you specific direction in through revealed word
3. Ps 19:7-14 - the prayer of v. 14 is answered through vv. 7-11 - the information needed for fighting the good fight is available to you
4. still, people try to fight with their own wisdom ... and in their own ignorance
D. A willingness to make decisions based on deferred blessings
1. now we have to deal with the immediate vs. the eternal
2. and most of our daily decisions are based on the immediate need/reward
3. 1 Tim 6:12 - ...lay hold on eternal life...(2 Cor 4:16-18)
4. there is no doubting that we must forgo some things which we may desire, which may be attractive to us in view of the ultimate reward ... and this is very hard for impatient, now generation people
E. A strong connection to the fellowship of the church
1. listen to the wisdom of Eccl 4:9-12
2. Christians who are less than vitally involved with the fellowship of the church are choosing to lose the good fight of faith!
3. Heb 10:23-24 - note esp. v. 23 - maintaining unwavering faith
4. fighting the good fight of faith together makes the struggle more hopeful
CLOSE: And we must have a great knowledge of Gods promises. Standing on the promises that cannot fail... - if the promises are not part of our lives, the standing will be impossible.
Cecil A. Hutson
31 August 2003
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)