INTRO: When I began my first full time job as a band and choir director in the fall of 1958, was I completely equipped for the array of tasks and challenges which lay ahead? When Joyce and I were married on July 23, 1960, was I completely prepared for the totality of married life? When our first child was born to us on May 16, 1961, was I completely ready for the challenges of parenthood? The answer to all three questions is no. And perhaps a person is never completely equipped even after many years in his job, his marriage, his parenthood. Ah, but usually at the beginning one is not called upon to be equipped for all of the challenges which lay ahead. Life has a way of leading us into those challenges little by little.
I. CONSIDER THE TEXT & THE CHALLENGE OF CANAANS CONQUEST
A. A nation? A national identity? A military? A homeland?
1. remember, these people have been enslaved in Egypt
2. they are just the family of Jacob - a large group of people with just that in common!
3. they know little or nothing about nationhood
B. But they can learn! They can develop the skills, the needs!
1. Ex 23:30 - the conquest would be little by little
2. God recognized the inadequacy of national infancy - Ex 23:29
3. Gods plan for maturing was little by little
II. WHAT ABOUT THE GROWTH OF CHRISTIAN CHARACTER?
A. Jno 3:5 - Think of our beginning as a birth
1. indeed, that is exactly what it is - born into the family of God
2. but is anyone born full grown, mature? no
3. so, 1 Pet 2:2 - ...that ye may grow thereby
B. Christian character requires a growth process
1. one must learn a whole new life style
2. one must learn a new way of thinking and making choices
3. while this does not happen overnight, there must be growth - growth rates may be different among Christians - but there must be growth - little by little
III. WHAT ABOUT GROWTH OF KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORD?
A. Col 1:3-10 - Think of the knowledge one needs to obey the gospel
1. these people had heard of the hope of heaven before in the word...
2. but it is evident here that greater knowledge of the word is a must
3. notice filled with the knowledge and increasing in the knowledge
B. There is not great mystery here growth requires study!
1. this knowledge is going to be the underpinning of Christian character - Christian character absolutely depends on this knowledge
2. Ps 119:148 with Acts 17:11 - such commitment to study leads to growth
3. but one must not be impatient and expect an overnight quantum leap in knowledge of the word ... it is a little by little process - but it must proceed!
IV. WHAT ABOUT GROWTH OF A DISCIPLINED LIFE?
A. 1 Cor 13:11 - Think of leaving immature decisions/behavior behind
1. one of the sad realities here is that too many people simply dont change
2. intemperate, undisciplined behavior of the past continues into future
3. notice, though, 2 Pet 1:6 - ...add...temperance... - and v. 8 which notes, For if these things be in you and abound...
B. There must be repentance, evaluation, following!
1. true, these needed changes do not happen miraculously, instantly
2. but we must compare our thinking, behavior with what we find in scripture and what we see in Jesus and mold our thinking, behavior after it
3. and little by little we will begin to see the changes in our lives
V. WHAT ABOUT GROWTH OF A CHRISTIAN FAMILY?
A. Col 3:18-21 - It all begins before the wedding day with couples decision
1. or, the determination can begin at any point in a familys history
2. and it will take the commitment of both husband and wife to this end
3. too, we must realize that this will be like swimming upstream - why? because the worlds idea of family is not Christian
B. Integral to this is making the Lord and His church central to family life
1. to grow a Christian family without this connection is impossible
2. and there will be challenges, difficulties, problems, setbacks - because we are dealing with a community of human beings
3. but with the commitment to have such a family, little by little the maturing process will come to satisfying fruition
CLOSE: In all of this, though, there must be the belief that it can and will happen ... even if little by little. Phil 4:13.
Cecil A. Hutson
May 1, 2005
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)