Summary: This sermon examines the responsibility of following through on your faith commitment to Jesus Christ.
Several years ago I attended a t-ball game and observed an interesting behavior. A t-ball player brought the crowd down in laughter. His behavior proved he had more to learn about playing ball. This little guy was excited about the game. He was intent about hitting the ball. He tensed his muscles and focused his attention and swung the bat with gusto. He connected to the best of his ability. After hitting he ran straight to first base; however, after getting to first base he did something unusual. He walked off of the field. He thought his job was complete! Can you imagine how boring it would be if all baseball players had this mentality? They work hard to strengthen their muscles in order to be a better batter. They strengthen their legs in order to be a good base runner. All the hard work and preparation is for naught if they do not follow through in playing the game. Follow through is vital. First base is not the goal. First base is not the end. First base is only one step on the path to success.
There is a parallel to this truth in the Christian life. Many people view Christianity much like an insurance policy. Some people think you purchase a policy and get prepared to go to Heaven. They think a commitment to Jesus Christ is an end in itself. Many people stop at first base. There must be follow through in the spiritual life. Follow through is vital in any area of life.
• Suppose a salesman, who sells business machines, makes a contact and finds a customer who is interested in his product. He shares all of the positive benefits of his machine. However, after making the initial contact he never goes back for a follow up visit. Will his business prosper?
• We are in the midst of the college football recruiting season. Coaches are feverishly working to recruit the best players. Suppose a coach finds a talented recruit and makes an in-home visit with the recruit and his parents. The coach sells the benefits of his school. The coach courts the athlete and his parents. However, after the initial visit he never returns to follow up. Will he sign the player?
• Suppose a young man meets a young woman at a party. They flirt and hit it off in their relationship. At the conclusion of the party she gives him her phone number. However, he never gives her a call. Will the relationship go anywhere?
Follow through is vital. The Bible describes this need. Look at Heb. 5:11-14. “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
In using the scripture I would like to share a message entitled “Getting Beyond First Base.” I would like to share three lessons every t-ball player must learn. In addition, every believer should learn these same lessons. These lessons will help you understand what it takes to get beyond first base and follow through on your commitment to Christ.
1. First lesson: a good start is essential. In these verses the writer compares the spiritual life to the birth of a baby. A baby enters life through a birth. Even so, the New Testament calls the beginning of the spiritual life a new birth. We first find this phrase in John. Jesus told a man named Nicodemus “you must be born again.” (3:7) Paul used this phrase in I Cor. 15. He described himself as one “born out of due time.” (vs. 8) Peter described himself as “having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible.” In other words he was born from above and not by the power of men. (I Peter 1:23) The point of these passages is that spiritual life has a distinct beginning and that beginning is called a new birth. A baby cannot enter this life except through a birth. Even so, a believer cannot enter the spiritual life except through a new birth. Thus, a good start is essential.
Illustration: This past summer I, like the rest of the world, watched in awe as Michael Phelps captured his eight gold medals. I watched most of those races. The sports announcers were meticulous in describing Phelp’s swimming style. As the race began they would describe his leap from the platform into the water. They would describe his first lung. They let you know that a good start is important.