Summary: Decisions have much to do with growth in Christ. Growth in Christ has much to do with decisions. Decide to grow in Christ by: 1) Being a good example; 2) Being Forgiving; and 3) Serving faithfully.
Much emphasis is given to the need for one to make the decision to accept Christ as both Savior and Lord. Behind such a decision is the necessity of faith – a loving belief and trust in the Lord. This belief and trust, this faith, includes confessing Christ as Lord and repenting of one's sin. This faith includes making the decision to be immersed into Christ as taught in the Bible for the forgiveness of sin and the gift of His Holy Spirit. This faith must not be considered a decision one makes one time and then is finished or no longer a vital part of one's life. Faith is not something that is of importance only in our coming to Christ, our being born again in Christ. Faith is something that permeates our life. We continue to grow in Christ through faith and in faith. Our decisions in life are based upon this faith as we decide to live by faith in Christ.
Paul wrote of this faith in the letter to the Romans as he quoted from the Old Testament book of Habakkuk 2:4.
17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH."
In Galatians, Paul made it personal as he reflected on his own life.
20 "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me."
Later in Galatians Paul again reflects this important truth from Habakkuk.
11 Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, "THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH."
Those who live by faith make decisions in their life that is based upon their firm conviction of faith in Christ. This morning as we continue in our study of Luke we come to Luke 17. In this passage of Scripture we are going to focus on the importance of making decisions based upon faith in Christ.
1 He said to His disciples, "It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come!
2 "It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble.
3 "Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.
4 "And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, 'I repent,' forgive him."
5 The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!"
6 And the Lord said, "If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and be planted in the sea'; and it would obey you.
7 "Which of you, having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, 'Come immediately and sit down to eat'?
8 "But will he not say to him, 'Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink'?
9 "He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he?
10 "So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, 'We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.'"
I. Decide to Be a Good Example to Others
I have taken a bit of liberty with verse one. In that verse Jesus clearly tells followers of Christ what NOT to do. Do not do anything that would cause another follower (whether a young Christian or one new in the faith) to stumble. That is do not be an instrument that leads another to turn from faith in Christ. What are some ways that can be done? Let's think about it with those who are young, those still living at home. This is a very serious admonition to parents and to grandparents. Those children look up to these in the family for direction. What kind of direction are they getting from the parents and grandparents? Not only in word, but also and perhaps even more important, in deed. Now, rather than making a list of those things that will have a detrimental effect upon those "little ones," let us consider some ways to be a good example, a strong example to help those "little ones" grow in faith. Loving actions. Forgiveness. Faithful service in Christ. Faithful worship. Faithful stewardship. Prayer. Study of God's word. It is doubtful that those "little ones" will come up to such faithful parents and/or grandparents and say, "Your examples of faith are awesome!" But your examples of faith will reap lasting results.