Sermon for 3/25/2007
In God’s Book We Are Going to Be Winners
There was a perfect man who met a perfect woman. After a perfect courtship, they had a perfect wedding. Their life together was, of course, perfect.
One snowy, stormy Christmas Eve this perfect couple was driving along a winding road when they noticed someone at the roadside in distress. Being the perfect couple, they stopped to help. There stood Santa Claus with a huge bundle of toys. Not wanting to disappoint any children on the eve of Christmas, the perfect couple loaded Santa and his toys into their vehicle. Soon they were driving along delivering the toys. Unfortunately, the driving conditions deteriorated and the perfect couple and Santa Claus had an accident. Only one of them survived the accident. Who was the survivor?
Answer: The perfect woman. She’s the only one that really existed in the first place. Everyone knows there is no Santa Claus and there is no such thing as a perfect man.
A Male’s Response: So, if there is no perfect man and no Santa Claus, the perfect woman must have been driving. This explains why there was a car accident.
A. Perfection. “Nobody’s perfect.” “I’m not perfect, but I’m trying.” “You’re not perfect, you know.” Most of us are quite free to admit our imperfections. We almost take pleasure in it. Everybody’s imperfect. It can’t be helped. So we relax and don’t try very hard to be perfect. But is this the kind of attitude that God and the Word approve of? Is it? Mediocrity is fine!
B. What does our English word perfect mean? The word as we use it today means complete and faultless. A perfect person is all he ought to be and nothing he ought not to be. Does anyone fit that description?
Thesis: This morning I want us to think of perfection in reference to time: Perfection in the past, perfection in the present, and perfection in the future.
Perfection in the past
A. Now the Bible makes it clear that God is perfect. He was perfect, is perfect now, and will always be perfect. The Bible talks about God’s perfect works, God’s perfect way, God’s perfect knowledge, God’s perfect faithfulness, God’s perfect will, and God’s perfect power. In Matthew 5:48 (we will look at this in a few minutes) it says that God is perfect period.
B. Now contrast that with human beings. We see from the Old Testament that the Bible is very honest. It presents many heroes of the faith. It presents there good points and there bad points. After looking at these people from the past, we know that no human was ever perfect. Most of them were far from perfect.
C. When we come to the New Testament we find characters like ourselves. However, the New Testament introduces us to one individual who was perfect.
D. He had a miraculous and perfect birth. He had a perfect childhood. He had a perfect work record. He had a perfect spiritual record. He even had a perfect death. In his sufferings he was perfect. (Heb 2:10 NIV) In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.
E. How could this be? God is perfect and considering that Jesus Christ was the Son of Man and also the Son of God, Jesus Christ lived a perfect life in the flesh. (Heb 7:28) For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.
F. The Bible tells us that he was really made perfect through his sufferings and death, at least perfect for us. (Heb 5:8 NIV) Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered(Heb 5:9 NIV) and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him
G. We get his perfection, his salvation when we: Give brief plan of salvation.
H. Many of us have already done this. The perfect man lived in the past, and our initial salvation for many of us was in the past.
Perfection in the present
A. Through Jesus Christ, we are perfect. Now wait a minute! Certain people like to bring up a teaching that we can be perfect in this life. We are above sin and through the Holy Spirit we live on a different plane. We have reached perfection!
B. Charles Spurgeon- Did you ever see a perfect man? I did once. He called upon me, and wanted me to come and see him, for I should get great instruction from him if I did. I said, "I have no doubt of it, but I should not like to come into your house; I think I should be unable to get into your room." How is that? "Well, I suppose your house would be so full of angels that there would not be room for me." He did not like that; so I broke another joke or two upon his head; whereupon he went into a fit. "Well friend," I said to him, "I think I am as perfect as you after all; for perfect men get angry?" He denied that he was angry, although there was a peculiar redness about his cheeks that is very common to persons when they are angry; at any rate I think I rather spoiled his perfection.
C. No, I agree that in this life perfection is not possible. Therefore, we can just settle for mediocrity. Just let it all hang out. Do not give your best effort to attaining perfection because it is not possible. Just give halfhearted worship, halfhearted offerings, halfhearted evangelism, halfhearted service, and halfhearted devotion to Christ. We are saved and that is all the matters. Is this what the Bible says?
D. (Mat 5:48) Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Some would like to dismiss this statement of Jesus by explaining that in the context we are to love our enemies and do good to them. But does this explanation really help? Even in that limited way, is anyone as perfect as the Heavenly Father?
E. I think Paul will help us here. (2 Cor 13:11 NIV) Aim for perfection. This word perfection really means an end or goal or aim or purpose in this context.
F. What is the goal? It is better defined in (Eph 4:13 NIV) until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
G. This is the goal of life on the earth is to become more like Christ. How do we do that? By reaching maturity. To be a mature Christian is to be like Christ, and that is to be perfect. We may not reach that goal in this life, but still it is our goal, our aim. As long as we live on earth it is our duty and our joy to keep on growing toward that mature state.
H. also refer to (Phil 3:12 NIV) Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.(Phil 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, (Phil 3:14 NIV) I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3:15 NIV) All of us who are mature should take such a view of things.
I. In Vs. 12 Paul states that he is not perfect. Jesus has captured him and is leading him on to more maturity (perfection). Paul is pressing on to capture that perfection for which he has been captured, but he does not have it yet. Then in Vs. 15 he calls those who are perfect to be minded as he is minded. And how is he minded? He is minded to think he is not already perfect (vs. 12). What is he saying? He is calling those who are perfect to think they are not perfect. Why?
J. Because when we think we have made it, we do not improve! Paul is saying to us that we are not perfect and we need to press on toward perfection. He is calling the most mature Christians among us to keep on growing, to keep on progressing.
K. Chuck Swindoll- When the Ritz-Carlton Hotels won a prestigious award; I had the opportunity to congratulate the owner of that organization, Mr. William Johnson, my good friend who lives in Atlanta. In typical humility and his wonderful “Southern drawl,” Bill gave others the credit. He added that now that they had won this prestigious honor, they would need to work even harder to earn the respect that came with it. “Quality,” he said, “is a race with no finish line.”
L. This is March Madness time! Play the clip from Hoosiers: Scene #25 to 1:17:13 on the counter
M. If we adopt the same attitude toward our Christian life, in God’s Book we are going to be winners. Also as Christians we have something living inside us that will keep us pressing on the upward way and that is the Holy Spirit.
N. For perfection we can substitute the word maturity. Also for perfection we can substitute the word excellence. I think this is a healthier way of looking at this than the modern concept of perfection. I have a good friend of mine who loves to say that she is a perfectionist. Let me say that she does pursue excellence but because she is a perfectionist, she rarely has a calm and joyful soul. If we are looking for perfection in this life, we are not going to find it. Everything is life is not as it should be so if we will not tolerate anything but perfection we are going to live a miserable life.
O. Edwin Bliss said, "The pursuit of excellence is gratifying and healthy. The pursuit of perfection is frustrating, neurotic, and a terrible waste of time."
P. Great illustration of a perfectionist. John Quincy Adams held more important offices than anyone else in the history of the U.S. He served with distinction as president, senator, congressman, ambassador to major European powers, and participated in various capacities in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and events leading to the Civil War. He was a faithful Christian and even wrote some hymns that survive to this day. Yet, at age 70, with much of that behind him, he wrote, "My whole life has been a succession of disappointments. I can scarcely recollect a single instance of success in anything that I ever undertook."
Q. This goes against the concept in (Isa 26:3 NIV) You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. And also the concept in (1 Th 5:16 NIV) Be joyful always.
R. Let me say that because we are pursuing what is best for Christ and His Kingdom, it is okay to fail. The worst thing that can happen to a perfectionist is that they fail. What happens the next time an opportunity comes along; they don’t take it because they might fail again. Did any of the apostles ever fail?
S. But I only have one life to live and if I screw it up it would mean disaster! We are free to try and maybe fail because of the next point!
Perfection in the future
A. (Phil 1:6 NIV) being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
B. (Psa 138:8 KJV) The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me.
C. The Lord- He is perfect and He can and will do it. My confidence must not be in what I can do, or in what I have resolved to do, but entirely in what the Lord will do.
D. The Lord will- Our faith deals with the future not just the present. Oh, leave the future to God! Also, it is not the Lord may, but the Lord will
E. The Lord will perfect- (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. He will perfect my body, and perfect my soul.
F. The Lord will perfect that which concerneth- WE have many a fear and many a doubt and many a question, one day the Lord will put all of these to rest.
G. The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me- That’s personal.
H. When are we mature, when are things excellent, when are we perfected? At the end!
Conclusion and invitation:
A. The Lord will perfect us. Teaching that says that we should do nothing at all.
B. "If the Lord intends to feed me, he will feed me, and I will go without my dinner.”
C. "If the Lord wants to keep me warm today, he will do it; so I will not put on my coat."
D. “If the Lord wants to give me a job, He will do it: so I will just stay here and wait for the phone call.”
E. Silly! Belief leads one to action. (Acts 22:16 NIV) And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.’