David Jeremiah - A Life Beyond Amazing
What kind of people do we need to be to live in this culture that is so messed up and hard to define and we don't know where it's going and it always ends up where we didn't think it would be? We are told that when the Holy Spirit completely controls the life of a believer, this is what it will look like: the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. God's description of a man for all seasons. So in response to the question, "What kind of people should we be at such a time in history as this," here is God's answer. He calls us to be people of love and joy and peace. He wants us to have endurance in our lives. He wants us to have compassion for those who need our help.
We should be people of generosity. This is God's ideal person and, believe it or not, we can become like that. We were meant to be like that. Could I just say it this way? Christ died so that we could be that kind of a person. The Lord Jesus Christ said in John 10:10, "I have come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly". Sounds like life beyond amazing. But there are some roadblocks that we need to get out of the way if we're gonna get to the place we wanna be. If there's a gap between the promise of what our Lord wants us to have and what we're experiencing, what is causing it? What is happening to us that this abundant life that Jesus died for so that we could have it seems to always be at the end of our fingers but not quite in our grasp. And I'd like to suggest to you the three things that I've thought of in preparation for this that might help us understand this a little bit.
First of all, I think for many of us, we misunderstand our salvation. Most Christians today view salvation strictly in the past tense. Salvation is something that has happened to us. It's history. Our salvation, according to many Christians, is a done thing. But the Bible doesn't view salvation like that, men and women. The Bible views salvation in three different tenses. The Bible views salvation like this. I have been saved. If I've trusted Jesus Christ as my Savior, as many of you have, you've become a Christian, then you can say of yourself, "I have been saved," and you point to the day when you trusted Christ. But the Bible also teaches that once you're saved, you continue being saved. You're saved eternally but it's true that once you have been saved, as you go forward in your life, you are being saved. And one day, the Scripture says, you're gonna stand before the Lord and you're gonna be just like him and then the Bible says you will be ultimately saved.
So here's the way that works. You are saved from your sin, from the very penalty of sin. During your lifetime as a Christian, you're gradually being saved from the power of sin over your life and ultimately, one day, praise God, we're all gonna be saved from the very presence of sin. There won't even be any sin. But please hear me. If you get stuck in the past tense, you won't be the kind of person who can have a life beyond amazing because salvation is more than just "I have been saved". It's "I am being saved and I ultimately will be saved". That's why Paul said to the Romans that "now is our salvation nearer than when we believed". What was he talking about? Not past salvation; that was already done. Not present salvation; they were all living that. The salvation of the future when you stand before the Lord and you are made like unto him.
Sometimes we miss what God wants for us in the Christian experience because we misapply the concept of works. Here's the dilemma that people have. I'm supposed to be saved but it's not by works. But then I am saved. Now what do I do? So let me help you with that. Two passages of Scripture that are very clear. First of all, Ephesians 2:8-9, notice: "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God," now watch this, "not of works, lest any man should boast". Or try this one. Paul wrote to Titus, his young protégé and he said, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit". Paul, in both of these passages, reminds us clearly, indelibly, unconditionally, there is no such thing as being saved by works. You can't do enough works to become a Christian. You were saved by the grace of God, apart from works. Everybody got that?
All right, now don't stop here because after Ephesians 2:8-9 comes Ephesians 2:10. Have you read that? "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them". Not saved by good works but you're saved for good works. Same thing with Titus chapter 3. Here's verse 8 and same chapter. This is even more powerful. "This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men". So sometimes, we don't get what we should get out of this life as Christians because we misunderstand salvation and we think it's already over, that everything has happened. Sometimes, we don't get it right because we misunderstand how works are so wonderfully commanded of us as believers. And here's the third one, and this is a little more mysterious but if you've been around the church as long as I have, you'll get this one in a hurry. Sometimes, it's mistaken idea of spirituality.
Here's what I know, men and women, after all these years of studying this and I wanna be very clear about this. The New Testament calls upon Christians to take action. It does not tell us that the work of sanctification is going to be done for us. We are in the good fight of faith and we have to do the fighting. But thank God we're unable to do it for the moment we believe and are justified by faith, we're born again by the Spirit of God, we get the ability. The New Testament method of sanctification is to remind us of that. Now, having been reminded of it, let's go do it. Now, let me hurry quickly to the roadmap of a life beyond amazing and I want you, if you have your Bibles, to turn to the 2nd chapter of Philippians. I love the book of Philippians. Do you love Philippians? Yes, what a great book this is. It seems like it speaks to so many things. But I'm gonna read to you these verses and, having explained to you what I've explained to you, you'll sort of get this now in the way that I hoped you would get it.
Philippians 2:12-13: "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence," listen carefully, "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure". And you're gonna say, "Wait a minute, didn't you just tell me you don't have to work for your salvation"? Yes, I did because that's what the Bible says and I'm not contradicting it. You're just not reading carefully. It doesn't say, "Work for your salvation". It says, "Work out your salvation". Some of you are so opposed to work out, you won't even read that. In that same text, it says, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; because it is God who works in you".
So we're to work out what God has worked in. God has given us these things that we need. But that doesn't mean we just sit and hold them. What is really responsible for your Christian walk, your Christian growth? Is it just sit back and wait for the Holy Spirit to zap you? How many have been zapped? No, and we wonder, "Why isn't this working". Well, we're looking for the wrong thing. Each generation of believers carries on its own debate over this question. But here's what I want you to know. The Bible holds the tension between man's role and God's role in perfect balance. When you became a Christian, you got everything you need for life in godliness. How many of you believe that? The Bible says it. We have to believe it. He said, "God gave us". What did he do? He put it in us. Like he puts ore in the earth, he puts these things in us. Not only that, the Scripture says he gives us precious promises. What is that? That's the Bible, the guidebook. He gives us everything we need for a life in godliness and then on top of that, he gives us these precious promises to help us.
Here in Philippians, remember it says, "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it's God who works in you both to will and to do of his good purpose". What would that look like? Well, let me just tell you what it would look like. Verse 14 comes next: "Do all things without complaining and disputing". That's a good place to start. How many of you could use a little help there? You probably complained 'cause you couldn't find your parking place this week. And I know some of you complained 'cause somebody sat in your seat when you came to church this morning. So you all need some work, that's what I'm telling you. The reason why we need to work out what God has worked in is 'cause it's not all working, amen? And it goes on to say that when we do this, we'll become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in this world".
The Bible says that the reason we're not making more of an impact on the world, why we're not shining as light, is because we haven't taken seriously the opportunity we have to take the things that God has given us and max them out for his glory and for our good. We're not just gonna sit and wait for God to make us the people that he's called us to be. The Bible won't allow that. If you don't know that, there's hundreds of other Scriptures I could bring to you that call us to put on the new life, to take off the old life, to walk in holiness. These are commands. These are not suggestions. So what is character? What will we look like if we develop this character in our life? People of strong character are usually people that are very disciplined. They have fortitude, integrity, ethical strength. These are attributes that will distinguish you from one another. These are the things that make you shine as a light in the darkness. You're a different kind of person.
Character is an attitude that every young person, every middle-aged person, and every old person should have embedded in their minds. Character is returning extra change at the grocery store. Character is keeping appointments and being on time. Character is honoring your commitments and honoring your word. Character is choosing the harder right instead of the easier wrong. Character is setting priorities that honor God and family and country. Character in marriage is working through the tough times rather than throwing in the towel and looking for divorce. Character is being committed to the wellbeing of your family and friends, associates and others, even if it's personally costly. And character is setting a good example. A married person of character acts married all the time.
A person of character is self-disciplined and self-controlled. Character implies the courage to stand for what is right, if necessary all alone, to oppose what is wrong, and to make the effort to discern the difference. Character is being truthful in all things while being sensitive to the fact that sometimes truth hurts and needs not be spoken. Character is being selfless rather than selfish. Remember, character is the only thing that goes in the casket with you to the hereafter. And believe it or not, it's the only thing that people will remember about you when you're gone. And it should be something we desperately want to develop in our lives. Here's where I'm at, folks. I can tell you we used to talk about this years ago. We used to talk about character. We used to even teach it to our children in school.
Do you remember that? We had courses in character. Not now. We've got characters in our school but we don't have any character in our school. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't do it, does it? Because nobody's been doing it recently? Would you say that one of the great needs we have in our culture is more people of character? Don't you wanna be a person of character? I know I sure do. I wanna learn everything I can about what it means to be a man of God and have character because, whether you like it or not, at some point people whose opinion matters will be paying a lot of attention to you and to me. They'll be watching what we do and how we react. We might not even know it but they'll be looking at you for an example because they need an example to follow. They'll be looking for a leader. Maybe the children will be looking for parents to do the right thing. And each time you enter a room, each time you go to a practice or a meeting, every time you involve yourself in the life of another human being, you have the opportunity to leave a positive legacy behind because you're a person of character.
Ladies and gentlemen, what I've been talking about is called sanctification. And sanctification is best defined in this word. Sanctification is becoming in practice what you already are in position. Everything God calls us to be, we already are in his mind but he calls us now to become every day what we already are in heaven. You know, the greatest illustration of what I've been talking to you about today is this. Almighty God has loved us before the foundation of the world. And that would be enough, would it not?
He loves us. But God didn't leave it at that. He loved us and he sent us his own Son to prove it. God took action to demonstrate his love to you and to me. And if you've never received that love because you've never understood how much he loves you, I'd like to ask you to do that today. God loves you so much that he didn't even keep his own Son in heaven with him. He sent his only begotten Son to this earth, let him become like us, and go to the cross and pay a penalty for our sin, which we could never have paid so that we can have a standing before the Father. If you've never trusted Christ, ask yourself this morning, "Why not"? Maybe it's time for you to make that decision, to decide to become a christian.