I have always wondered how the entire world could be swept away so easily by evil. I have also agonized over why the church of our day is being led into lukewarm Christianity. Why are most satisfied with a daily prayer, the reading of a few verses in Scripture, the chasing after the latest prophetic message, and a weekly worship service? While most of Christianity is on the verge of dying, all they can talk about is the great escape before things get too bad. Almost no one is talking about strengthening what remains and perfecting their works before God. Hardly anyone is talking about transformation in Christ and becoming all that God wants us to be. The Bible says, “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God” (Revelation 3:2). We will discover together how to strengthen those things which remain and how to perfect our works before God. If we don’t then those things which lie ahead will drag us further down into a pit of misery and the Great Tribulation meant to refine and awaken His Church.
As athletes practice and work out daily to win the prize, so does the believer in Christ. Walking the aisle and deciding to follow Jesus Christ is only the first step in a long journey of enduring many different trials and tribulations. It’s a lifelong journey of overcoming many obstacles and dangerous pitfalls sent by the enemy. Yet through all this, the Christian grows stronger as he learns to walk in his faith every hour of every day. As he keeps in step with the indwelling Spirit, he learns all the disciplines of the Christian faith. He learns very quickly that the beginning of his strength comes from putting off the old life and the ways of the fallen world that have pulled him down from the cradle. He learns that everything in the world of fallen humanity is directed by the powers of evil and the wiles of the devil to keep him from experiencing the joy of his salvation. As the athlete strengthens his muscles to accomplish his goals, the Christian’s real strength comes from putting on the new life in Christ, but again this is only the first step. However, it is a very important step because one must really believe that they have a new life in Christ. Without belief in the new life, the old devil will continue to pull you down convincing you that you are not worthy of the new life in Christ. Or convincing you that you need the help of fallen humanity to succeed, which is a lie of the devil.
Let’s digress a bit and discover together how today’s Christian has suffered such a great loss and needs to strengthen what remains. Simply put, today’s Christian has believed the lie of the devil. He no longer believes in the new life in Christ. He no longer believes that old things have truly passed away, which is a direct contradiction of the Bible that says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Corinthians 5:17). Furthermore, Christ does not give us this new life and then depart back to heaven leaving us to work things out on our own. On the contrary, He gives us the indwelling Spirit whose express job is to help us put off the old life and put on the new life in Christ through what is known as transformation in Christ. The indwelling Spirit does not come empty-handed but has all the resources of the Godhead that has been written down in Holy Scripture conveyed to us as we grow from one degree of glory to another. The Bible says, “According to his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue” (II Peter 1:3). Yet, fallen humanity and the carnal Christian no longer believe this truth and have suffered a great loss because of it.
So, the first step to strengthen what remains is to reject the lie of the devil and start believing the truth. Once that takes place then we need to learn “all things that pertain unto life and godliness.” The best place to start is the inward discipline of meditation and prayer: to study, understand, and apply God’s Holy Word to your life. For example, if we read in the Sermon on the Mount that we need to turn the other cheek and go the extra mile along with many other beautiful truths, then through prayer and meditation we learn how to apply these truths to our lives. Step by step as the indwelling Spirit leads, we learn and apply each truth to our lives thus helping us to grow closer to Christ and to experience the power of the transformation, becoming all that He wants us to be in Christ. Friends, the world cannot do this. The unbelieving or carnal Christian cannot do this. This is only possible through faith, believing with our entire heart, and obedience to God’s direction through the indwelling Spirit. The good news is, the more we grow in Christ, the easier it becomes to throw off the yoke of the fallen world and the lies of the devil. Depression, anxiety, loneliness, grief, anger, along with hundreds of other so-called disorders pass away and are dealt with easily through the power and truth of the indwelling Spirit.
The second step is to learn and apply the outward disciplines of simplicity, solitude, submission, and service. We begin by learning that we are no longer controlled by a desire to amass wealth and prosperity. Our true treasure is stored up in heaven as we give ourselves fully to others through both financial and Spiritual gifts. We learn that our true wealth is in our solitude before a holy God. We love and appreciate the truly quiet life of allowing God to speak to us through the indwelling Spirit. Allowing Him to direct us along the narrow path as we meditate on God’s written Word in the Holy Bible. No longer afflicted with loneliness we enjoy hours of quiet meditation before the Lord in solitude. We learn true submission to others through humility by honoring others above ourselves, seeking their opinion even if they are considered less than us. And then finally in our last outward discipline, we learn service to God and to others. Simply put, we live to serve others. All that we do, we do for others that God might be glorified. Each step of the way we begin to realize the Spiritual growth that is taking place within us as we experience the power of transformation in Christ.
Finally, as we seek to strengthen those things that remain in our Christian faith, we don’t ignore the corporate disciplines that are also essential to our Spiritual growth. The Bible says that we should confess our sins one to another. We all stumble by saying and doing things to others that are not right, that can be hurtful and even cause a weaker brother to stumble. It takes a mature believer in Christ to humbly confess one’s faults to another seeking their forgiveness as we also seek absolution from God alone. Although there are many other disciplines, we have only chosen to look at a few for this particular study. The next outward disciplines we will look at today are worship and evangelism. To worship God with others, even if it’s only a few others, is valuable to your faith in that we garner a much higher experience in both knowledge and insight through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says, “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31). And of course, this leads into our last discipline to be discussed which is evangelism or sharing the gospel, or simply being able to explain to someone about the hope that you have in Christ Jesus. There is no greater help to your faith and growth in Christ Jesus than sharing it with others. An essential discipline to help us to strengthen the things which remain and being ready for the return of Christ in glory. Amen
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