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Summary: Once we have come to know Christ, the rest of our life should be spent in pursuit of spiritual growth as disciple of Jesus Christ. Let’s look at two of many reasons why this is so.

Evidence

(2 Thessalonians 1:1-5)

1. I received a call from the Kokomo Perspective about my opinion regarding the movie, "The Golden Compass."

2. Although the movie is toned down from the books, the author of the series is an avid atheist with an anti-Christian agenda.

3. Many movies assume an atheistic or agnostic background; but that is different than being anti-Christian.

4. For example, the Star Wars movie present a view of God that is basically Buddhism: God is a force with a good and dark side. This is very different from Christianity, but it does not directly attack Christianity like the Da Vinci Code, for example.

5. The Chronicles of Narnia presents a Christian viewpoint, but does not directly target other religions.

6. So Christian parents must take ownership of what their kids see and the influences upon their lives, but many Christian parents have other priorities.

7. But sometimes I wonder how many Christian parents really are Christians themselves?

8. In a way, these challenges to the faith might clear the church of pretending believers; we might have more possessing Christians and fewer professing Christians.

9. Becky is informing us about the Persecuted Church; the persecuted church is a suffering church, but much more likely to be a genuine church.

Main Idea: Once we have come to know Christ, the rest of our life should be spent in pursuit of spiritual growth as disciple of Jesus Christ.

Let’s look at several of many reasons why this is so.

I. Because Spiritual GROWTH Is A Motivator for Other Believers (1-4)

Faith hope and love are not light toggle switches, off and on; more like light dimmers with differing degrees of brightness…

A. In FAITH (3a)

The word for "faith" means trust or dependence, but also faithfulness; the kind of faith that saves has a starting point; we are justified at that point in time. But this kind of faith shows itself in faithfulness, a faith that endures and grows…as distinct from a temporary faith as in the parable of the sower…

B. In LOVE toward other believers (3b)

Sharing hard times together helps nurture love…

C. In PERSEVERANCE (4)

Hope is missing in our text, but perseverance is used in our text in lieu of hope. Perseverance is the fruit of hope. In I Thessalonians 1:3, Paul wrote:

"We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ."

D. Despite PERSECUTIONS and HARDSHIPS (4)

John MacArthur comments: "Instead of being consumed with personal happiness, fulfillment, comfort, success, or prosperity, they were living out Jesus’ command to ’seek first His kingdom and His righteousness’ (Matt. 6:33). That perspective enabled them to successfully endure the inevitable persecution that comes to the bold faithful."

In our country, teen and college age students often bear the greatest brunt: to be a consistent Christian, you have to be wiling to be different, to stand against peer pressure and sometimes bullying from college professors…

But adults, too, have pressure when it comes to making money, priorities of family, or determining whether or not to keep up with the Joneses…

E. Their example MOTIVATED Paul and Other Churches (4)

1. My home church was such a church in its heyday; others imitated.

2. Is it right to boast about another’s spiritual growth?

3. Salvation is totally of God, and God works in the lives of His own, but our will is also involved…God may predispose us, but we still make choices…in a sense, we have a freer wills once we come to know Christ than when we were slaves to sin…

4. If you think it is wrong to commend someone for their growth or zeal, you are wrong (or Paul was, take your choice!).

Once we have come to know Christ, the rest of our life should be spent in pursuit of spiritual growth as disciple of Jesus Christ.

My growth is an important influence upon other believers: I must grow to please God and for their sakes; Growing into maturity is a way to love God and my fellow believer.

II. Because Spiritual Growth Is EVIDENCE of God’s Character (5)

You worship God in the truest and surest sense of the Word by growing in Him!

Evidence is defined by Webster as, "something that makes another thing evident; indication; sign; something that tends to prove; ground for belief; LAW something presented in a legal proceeding, as a statement of a witness, an object, etc., which bears on or establishes a point in question.

A. Is God’s judgment is RIGHT? (5a)

Romans 3:25-26,

"God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus."

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