Then and Now Ö the Need for Vigilance and Holiness

 

Prelude

Consider writing down these references.

*†† Jude 1:3-4

*†† Jude 1:17-23

*†† 2 Peter 1:3-11

Later you might enjoy referring to them to see what Problems, Answers, and Questions they raise in your own mind. These are a few things the Lord put upon Sherry and me.

The problem

(Jude 1:3-4 NIV)Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.

*†† We, Christians, are not contending as we once contended. We are afraid of being contentious! Strive, appeal, argue, debate, dispute, and struggle. It implies rivalry.

*†† Are we ashamed? Is Christ, Messiah, the Lord, our King ashamed of you?

*†† Are we afraid? Do we fear the opinions of mere man over the judgments of God?

{4} For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

*†† This is not just the big-ticket items, abortion, adultery, homosexuality, perversion of justice, and banning of God in public places.

*†† Itís more subtle and is manifested in attitude towards the big ticket items. Abortion becomes pro-choice, adultery becomes consenting adults, homosexuality becomes an alternate lifestyle, justice has taken off her blindfold and God in public places is said to violate a non-existent constitutional mandate called separation of church and state.

*†† Donít think this is just in the world! These attitudes are running rampant among many Christians. Whatís worse, these issues are being ignored, tolerated, and in some cases even approved by the clergy and elders.

*†† Faith, active faith, is being sacrificed at the altar of political correctness.

*†† The enemies of God become ever more bold while the people of God become ever more timid and reluctant to stand up and be recognized.

*†† There are actually debates in Churchianity about whether the word of God is divinely inspired and whether or not the miracles of Jesus are real or perhaps exaggerations. In fact there seems to be no end of efforts to reconcile the miracles of God to science.

(Jude 1:17-23 NIV)But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. {18} They said to you, "In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires."

*†† Never in my 70 plus years has this been more true than it is today.

*†† Through out Europe and yes the Americas as well it is becoming more and more acceptable to ridicule and attack fervent followers of Christ.

*†† France is a particularly good example. Laws are in place that allow prosecution of people for merely calling for fasting and prayer.

*†† In Sweden? freedom of speech does not allow condemnation of homosexuality from the pulpit.

{19} These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.

*†† And divide they do by specious arguments that mislead the young and naÔve.

*†† Oral sex isnít SEX

*†† Becoming a nation of whores, gigolos, debauchers, and bastards.

{20} But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.

*†† The Holy Spirit is powerful and yet I donít seem to see that power today as I did as a child..

{21} Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. {22} Be merciful to those who doubt; {23} snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear--hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

*†† When was the last time you saw someone snatched from the fires of hell?

*†† The Greek for snatch is 26. harpazo, har-pad'-zo; from a der. of G138; to seize (in various applications):--catch (away, up), pluck, pull, take (by force).

The Answer

(2 Pet 1:3-11 NIV)His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. {4} Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. {5} For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness;

*†† Remember, faith is less a matter of what you believe and more a matter of how you live.

*†† Goodness comes from God-ness

and to goodness, knowledge; {6} and to knowledge, self-control;

*†† To know God is good, to be known by God is better!

*†† Self is not inclined to do right, donít listen to that sly fox.

and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; {7}

*†† Perseverance means you have to keep on keeping on!

*†† You have to hold your hands up high and grab the hands of God. He wonít let go of you. Be sure you donít let go of Him.

and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.

*†† First to your brothers in the Lord and then to the brotherhood of man.

*†† Love is the umbrella that covers everything else. It protects us from the rain and also the sun!

{8} For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. {9} But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

*†† Try not to embarrass yourself by having to be forgiven over and over again.

*†† And how do I avoid that?

{10} Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall,

*†† The difference between falling and failing is an ďI.Ē F-a-l-l versus F-a-i-l. Get rid of that old self and become a new person in Christ.

{11} and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The Questions

1.      Why is there little or no church growth?

2.      Where is the fruit in the church and in our personal lives?

3.      Why isnít there an irresistible hunger to reap souls?

4.      Why does it seem the Spiritual lives of so many are not growing?

5.      Why does it appear the gifts of the Spirit are lacking in churches and so many lives of believers?

6.      Why is it that so often we canít seem to determine what God wants to do in our lives?

7.      Why is there so much knowledge and yet so little understanding?

8.      When we have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus, why do we keep playing in the mud?

9.      Why do we keep trying and trying only to keep stumbling and falling.

10.  Are we part of the problem or part of the Answer?

11.  When will we finally ďLet goĒ and Let GodĒ?

 

I invite you to join me in prayer