Summary: Falling away from the faith should not be a possibility if the believer puts into practice the principles of goldly living found in the Bible.
1. The American Frontier invited many adventurers to tackle the formative challenges of the West. Mountains, deserts, weather, animals, and the natives always posed a serious threat to the lives and wellbeing of the frontiersman and pioneer.
2. Last week I introduced to you a man by the name of Jedediah Smith—a man of faith and courage—a frontiersman of extraordinary valor and ingenuity. Jedediah faced every danger imaginable to the mountain-man. He was shot at by Indians, attacked by a grizzly bear, nearly frozen in the Rocky Mountains of Wyoming, and almost died several times for lack of water and food.
3. And if you think that danger is relegated to a time two hundred years ago, then you haven’t been reading or watching the news the last several months. The Mountains today can be difficult and deceiving. One of the cardinal rules of hiking and backpacking is that if you get lost stay put—don’t attempt to find your way to safety (let people find you).
a. Family gets lost in the mountains and snow—wife and baby stay with the car—husband leaves to find help. Wife and baby are found alive, husband found dead.
b. Three men climb Mount Hood and get into trouble—they separate to find help—all die.
c. Several climbers on Mount Hood fall—they stay put—are found alive and are rescued.
4. Just like hiking or backpacking, there are important rules in successfully navigating the challenging narrow road of Salvation and Eternal Life. Falling away from the faith should not be a possibility if the Believer puts into practice the Principles of godly living found in the Bible.
5. This morning, from Paul’s letter to the Philippians, I want to introduce you to five “rules” for successfully traveling on the narrow road of life. Following these “rules” will help you stay the course and finish the race.
6. Caution: this is not about “achieving” or “earning” salvation. It is about receiving God’s gift of grace through living by faith. Embracing and experiencing these “rules” are expressions of faith—trusting in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life.
7. TRANSITION: The first rule of the road so you wont get lost is:
I. Honestly Evaluate Your Spiritual Standing
1. Text: Philippians 3:12a (NIV) “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect…”
2. Paul expresses an honest evaluation of his spiritual standing in Christ—he has not yet achieved perfection. One of the challenges to the believer concerns the matter of salvation—the now-and-not-yet principle.
a. When we received Jesus as Lord and Savior, we received Salvation—our sins forgiven and the promise of eternal life.
b. However, we struggle to live a life pleasing to God—devoid of sin and transgression. In fact, John the Apostle wrote in his first epistle: 1 John 2:1 (NASB95) “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
c. Salvation then also points to the promise that one day—the day of our resurrection—we will be made perfect in Christ.
3. Supporting Text: 1 John 3:2 (NIV) “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”
4. Second rule of the road:
II. Aggressively Pursue Your Life in Christ
1. With the backdrop of honest evaluation there is an aggressive, take-no-prisoners pursuit of our life firmly established in Christ Jesus.
2. Text: Philippians 3:12b (NIV) “…but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”
3. One of the weighty struggles that burden many believers is the frustration of imperfections. There is assumption that once we are saved then all temptation to sin ceases to be effective.
4. However, we must remind ourselves that regardless of our past or even our present frustrations, we must, with all our might, press on and take hold of this truth: Jesus has saved us, forgiven us, and has promised to come back for us.
5. There is no giving in or giving up or giving out. We pursue with everything we have and everything we are. Why? Because we are dead to sin and alive in Christ.
6. Supporting Text: 1 Timothy 6:12 (NIV) “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
7. Third rule of the road:
III. Persistently Aim Your Focus on the Eternal
1. Text: Philippians 3:13 (NIV) “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead…”