Summary: Many Christians seem to believe that being saved is the end all, that that is all one must do. Our Lord deserves more.
Introduction: In last Sunday morning's sermon was about Grace. In that sermon, I prepared the way for this sermon.
A. This week, I read a survey by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association that says that 60% of Americans say that they are born again Christians. While that number has declined in the last dozen years, it is still a majority of the population.
1. Why then, if the majority of Americans are Christians, have we seen such a rapid decline in Christian values? Why are our news stories so full of political scandals, our television entertainment so full of sinful trash, why is drug use so prevalent, illegitimate birth so high, divorce, why, why?
2. I say it is because so few Christians take their Christianity seriously. We Christians are so surrounded, so enmeshed in our sinful culture, that we are numb and passive to it. We are no longer shocked by sin. God finds this heart breaking.
3. 60% have been saved all right, however many obviously have not moved on to the sanctifying process in which God wants them to join Him.
B. Many Christians seem to believe that being saved is the end all, that that is all one must do. They like salvation, they like being saved, but going on to sanctification, that is busying themselves doing the work of God is not something in which they have much interest.
1. Many seem like a little boy whose mother overheard her son saying his prayers one night. He prayed, "God, if you don't make me a better boy, it's OK. I am having a pretty good time just as I am." That is how many saved Christians act.
2. Many people want to serve God, but only in an advisory capacity. They want God to bless their most coveted sins. The Bible tells us that God wants us to move forward after we have accepted salvation, move on to sanctification.
1. In salvation, we are instantly separated from the eternal penalty of our sins through justification by faith.
2. However, God's pardoning our sins does not end God's saving work. God means for salvation to be only the beginning of your time in Him. After we are saved, we are to move on and embrace the Holy Spirit's progressive work of sanctification. Through the Holy Spirit, we are enabled to increase in knowledge and love of God and in love for our neighbor.
C. In today's scripture, Paul sums up the attitude growing Christians are to have in Romans 12:1-2, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
1. The "being transformed" Paul speaks of is sanctification; the "living sacrifices" is living for God. It is doing God's work. Salvation is a new birth. Sanctification is growing, maturing after that new birth. Salvation is a new beginning, literally being born into a new life. Sanctification is a lifelong pursuit. Salvation is an instant gift of God's love to you. Sanctification is the enduring gratitude of your love to Him. Sanctification is living Christ.
2. Many preachers tell you just come down this aisle and be saved, but what these preachers often neglect to discuss are the bad habits you take down the aisle as you bow and ask Christ into your life. Though saved and filled with the Holy Spirit you carry with you a lifetime of debilitating habits that you are to "put off" as you grow in Christ likeness. The epistles of Paul tell you to join the Spirit in its further work of grace, the removing of your carnal nature, as you become completely the Lord's.
I. You see, the newly saved are babies in Christ, ready only for milk. 1 Corinthians 3:1-4, "And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?" Some Christians never get off their milk diet. They never grow. They remain babies in Christ.
A. Paul is saying that though saved, we have just begun our walk with Christ for are we not still carnal? Are we still imperfect? Are we still weak in the flesh? Have we suddenly learned to love all people? Have we learned to serve others? Have we studied our Bible and learned some of what is in there? Have we discovered the spiritual gifts God has for us? The answer to all of these questions is often no.