Summary: This sermon looks at Basic Equipment For Spiritual Growth 1. I Need A Good BIBLE 2. I Need A Good TRAINER 3. I Need Exercise SPACE
God’s Part and My Part – In Changing Me
Most of you know the story of how I became the pastor here. It was not because of my theological education. It was not because of my denominational affiliation. It was not because I knew someone – who knew someone – who knew someone. It was because of the fruit trees that I have in my yard.
You see several years ago I planted some Asian Pears and about four years ago I had a fantastic crop of fruit. I did not want the fruit to go to waste – so I brought them to the Farmer’s Market that takes place here in the church parking lot and the rest is history. I guess you could say it turned out to be a very fruitful experience in more ways than one.
I considered my fruit to be so important that I did not want it to go to waste. But do you know that there is other fruit that we should care about? It is the fruit of the Spirit. The Bible says this about that fruit:
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things
there is no law.” Gal 5:22-23 (NASB)
Here are nine qualities that describe the character of a fruitful – productive Christian. How do we get these character qualities? How do they become real in our lives? Obviously, God doesn’t just zap us one day and all of a sudden these qualities materialize in our lives. He uses a process. He uses a two part process to help us display these qualities. The process is found in Philippians chapter two where it says:
“…work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you.” Php 2:12b-13 (NASB)
It sounds like a contradiction, doesn’t it? But it not – it’s a paradox. As you work out your salvation God is at work too. The key to understanding this paradox is the little word “out” in verse twelve. Notice that Paul doesn’t say, “work ‘for’ your salvation.” He says “work ‘out’ your salvation.” There’s a big difference here. To work ‘for’ something means you earn it – you deserve it. The Bible clearly teaches that salvation in not something you earn or deserve. It is not something we have to work for. It is a free gift of God. But as we are being saved – we should strive to become better Christians.
It is like saying, “If you want to be healthy physically – you need to exercise. If you want to be healthy spiritually – you need to exercise as well. Work out your salvation.”
What do you do in a physical workout? You exercise your muscles. What do you do in a spiritual workout? You exercise your spiritually.
I have found that when I exercise physically I need the right type of equipment. I need the right type of shoes – the right type of clothing – the right type of gym equipment. If I have the right type of equipment they help me become physically strong.
To become spiritually strong I need some equipment too.
Basic Equipment For Spiritual Growth
1. I Need A Good BIBLE
The first tool God uses in changing us is the Bible. Through Scripture God teaches us how to live. The Bible says:
“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
2 Tim. 3:16-17 (NASB)
What this passage of scripture tells me is that if I read the Bible – if I study it – if I meditate upon it – it can change my life. It can equip me “for every good work” that God wants me to do. Has the Bible transformed your life? Has your life been changed by the reading of God’s word?
I heard about a converted cannibal on an island in the South Seas who invited an anthropologist to dinner. When the anthropologist arrived the native was sitting by a large pot reading his Bible. The anthropologist approached him and asked, “What are you doing?”
The native replied, “I’m reading my Bible.”
The anthropologist scoffed and said, “Don’t you know that modern civilized man has rejected that book? It’s nothing but a pack of lies – full of fairy tales. You shouldn’t waste your time reading that.”
The cannibal looked him over from head to toe and slowly replied, “Sir, if it weren’t for this book, you would be dinner instead of being invited to dinner!”
If you are serious about changing your life, you are going to have to get into the Bible. You need to read it, study it, memorize it, meditate on it, and apply it.