Friday, January 27, 2012

Simple Faith: Be Like Jesus

Last Thursday night, Jon continued the Simple Faith series with a message called 'Be like Jesus'. I really loved Thursday night because Jon communicated his heart for us as a ministry and as individuals. It was a really powerful moment that really connected with me.
2 Peter 1:3-11 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Kevin DeYoung wrote an article called 'The Hole in our Holiness'. I would highly recommend that you take the time to read it...it's not very long, the rest of this post relies heavily on the words written by DeYoung, and it would be such a benefit to you. Seriously...stop, click the link, and read that article before you continue with this post...
"God’s mission in the world is to save a people and sanctify his people. Christ died “that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Cor. 5:15). We were chosen in Christ “before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him” (Eph. 1:4). Christ “loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her…so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27). Christ “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14)." - Kevin DeYoung
DeYoung also writes 'be careful how you walk'. Don't just be passionate about what you are saved from but also what you are saved to...Christ-likeness. Don't just play with Jesus and don't just play with the mission because it won't work. What we do, we do together as a ministry and the body of Christ. Individual failures are failures as a community. Are you really a disciple or are you just playing along? You must be like Jesus before you are used by Jesus.

If you have simple faith, trust int he gospel, and consider yourself a Christian - you must make every effort to live like Christ. The call of discipleship is a call to be like Jesus.

The Christian life begins when God calls you as a disciple. Your life is all about putting off old ways and putting on Christ-like ways. Note that Jesus called the disciples...they didn't go looking for it. It's not a decision...it's following. You come to a person that you are called to follow.

Forsake rebellion, respond in faith, accept righteousness. Don't live life on your own terms or love things that put Jesus on the cross. Grow and become more like Christ. Come out of rebellion and under God's rule. Verse 4 talks about coming out of our former life...escaping the corruption of the world. We have a new identity...to serve, obey and to be like him. The call is not just a mindset, it's a call on your life.

So the question then is: Are you a disciple?

If you have examined yourself, then you need to ask what does being a disciple look like in your life? True disciples make every effort to be like Christ. That statement directly contradicts today's cultural Christianity. True Christianity and discipleship takes work. So simply, start doing work...exhaust your resources. Christ-likeness is your #1 goal. The entire reason we love people, live in community, and evangelize isn't because those things are our goal...the reason we do those things is because Jesus did them and we want to be like him.

Now, let me clarify for a moment...we are saved by grace not by works. Nothing we can do will earn salvation. I'm talking about sanctification not justification. Justification is a one time thing that Jesus did on the cross...as my dad used to say 'just as if I never sinned' to help me remember the difference. Sanctification is the process of growing to be more like Christ. Once we are saved (by grace) we must work and strive to follow Jesus.

Now...2 Peter mentions 8 qualities that we should have.
Starting with faith...faith leads to virtue which means that we live a virtuous life, Jesus lived a perfect life and while we know we cannot attain perfection, we are to strive in that direction. Virtue leads to knowledge...we are to be students of the Bible, Jesus knew God personally...he has a relationship with him...we are to gain knowledge of God by studying. Knowledge leads to self control...we are to be constrained by God's will, living our lives only for Him. Self control leads to endurance...we are to run the race for the rest of our lives. Endurance leads to godliness...when we begin to reflect God's character and grab ahold of the fact that we are created in His image and likeness. Godliness leads to brotherly affection, which is love for others around you...and brotherly affection leads to love.

Verse 8 says that if these qualities are yours...and are increasing...then you won't be ineffective as a Christian. Make every effort to put on these qualities.

On the flip-side, if you don't have these qualities...

If you never change after you encounter God, you are blind to the reality of God. You don't know God or the truth of his word. You don't understand what is required of you. Unfortunately, these Christians are everywhere.

Examine yourself...are you so concerned with the world or yourself or the things that happen in your life that you've forgotten God?

You might ask, 'so is that Christian really saved if they don't have those qualities?' Well...stop...what I'm about to say is important. When we ask that question, we are looking for middle ground. It's easy to live that way, shirking our responsibilities...but there are only two options: you either radically follow the Lord or you don't. There is no middle ground.

Examine yourself again for a second...have you obediently listened to God's call and have you done what he commands of you? Have you felt his nearness? Are you more like Jesus now than the first time you met him?

If you answered no to any of these questions then you need to put your faith in him and begin to live the life he calls you to live. If you say 'well, I've just strayed a little'...then you need to come to Jesus in repentance and put your faith in him afresh.

Honestly deal with your sin. Examine your life. Too often, we encounter God...we stray...and then we're standing there confused (aka 'what just happened). We are to live lives of continual...note the word continual...repentance and faith. That's how you follow him day to day. The promise is the same...be diligent, if you practice these qualities then you have a place in the kingdom. Come, repent, have faith, go to work...you will see Jesus one day!

Jon shared that sometimes he thinks that maybe when he sees Jesus at the end of time, Jesus will look somewhat familiar to him. Because of the life we are called to, because of the Spirit growing us, after a full life of discipleship, we will partly resemble him. I wonder that if we can see Jesus in each other, if Jesus will be all the more familiar to us now and then.

Live a life that is passionately reflecting Jesus. Actively try to grow...ask yourself where do you need to follow God better. Meditate on 2 Peter 1:3-11. Be passionate for Jesus fame on campus, at work, and in every other aspect of your life. Holiness is not an option, it is our purpose as disciples.

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