Summary: Until believers embrace holiness in our lifestyles, revival in the church cannot begin. A life changing message from Paul to the Colossians.
The Scottish preacher John McNeill liked to tell about an eagle that had been captured when it was quite young.
The farmer who snared the bird put a restraint on it so it couldn’t fly, and then he turned it loose to roam in the barnyard.
It wasn’t long till the eagle began to act like the chickens, scratching and pecking at the ground. This bird that once soared high in the heavens seemed satisfied to live the barnyard life of the lowly hen.
One day the farmer was visited by a shepherd, who lived in the mountains where the eagles lived.
Seeing the eagle, the shepherd said to the farmer, "What a shame to keep that bird hobbled here in your barnyard! Why don’t you let it go?"
The farmer agreed, so they cut off the restraint. But the eagle continued to wander around, scratching and pecking as before.
The shepherd picked it up and set it on a high stone wall. For the first time in months, the eagle saw the grand expanse of blue sky and the glowing sun. Then it spread its wings and with a leap soared off into a tremendous spiral flight, up and up and up.
At last it was acting like an eagle again.
A. What a lesson for the church of Jesus Christ.
B. We gather for nights of revival, conduct evangelistic services, schedule special events and programs; while we continue to live beneath our calling. A calling of divine significance.
C. We are like eagles; designed by God for greatness in Christ; who are perfectly content to continue to live like those around us. The sad truth is, we are surrounded by chickens
01. Oh, we speak better; not like those foul-mouthed neighbors of ours
02. We go to church on Sundays, prayer meetings on Wednesdays, maybe even a small group session during the week
03. We curb our vices; don’t smoke, drink or chew (and don’t hang out with girls that do)
04. We seem healthy on the outside; nothing seems wrong; yet we aren’t living the way God intended us to live
05. God doesn’t need eagles to be chickens; he has chickens for that!
D. Studies by Barna Research suggest there is little difference in the lifestyle of those who profess to be born again Christians and those who do not profess such a faith.
01. We wonder why revival doesn’t come; why aren’t sinners drawn to the church?
02. Why should they be? What do they see in us that would compel them to know Christ?
03. Perhaps we’re experiencing a reversed-revival; one where the world is converting Christians instead of Christians converting the world.
a) Is it possible that chickens are re-training eagles? If they are, it wouldn’t be the first time it happened.
E. In the church at Colosse, the young believers were struggling with their new faith. They were beautiful new creatures in Christ Jesus, yet they were surrounded by those who challenged their faith, and kept them from seeing the full measure of God’s desire for them.
01. They wanted them to fit in…be like they were
02. Like the eagle that was restrained and could no longer see over the wall, these young believers were losing sight of the life of holiness they were called to.
03. Paul writes to encourage, admonish and correct them. He reinforces the doctrine they have been taught, and gives them rules for Holy living that will not only affect them, but those around them. Turn with me to Colossians 3: 1-17. (READ)
F. Let’s look at four components of holiness that will pave the way for revival in the church
2. Set Your Heart on Heavenly Things (vv.1-4)
A. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ
01. If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation! (2 Cor. 5:17)
02. The things that the old man wanted should no longer drive you
03. They are part of the “deceased”; those things died when you died in Christ!
B. As you focus on these heavenly things, Christ becomes alive in you, and you begin to prepare for his return as you should
01. Let me assure you that this commitment will change you, and cause others to wonder “what happened?” to the one they “used to know”.
a) This is the beginning of one-on-one evangelism and the probable source of any modern day revival (apart from God)
b) Times have changed; society has changed; chance are we won’t get the unsaved to the cross and into the church in the same ways we used to.
(1) That doesn’t mean we throw everything out; it means we adapt our method to meet people where they are
(2) WE ADAPT THE METHOD, NOT THE MESSAGE