Summary: You certainly don’t have to look very far to find plenty of bad examples, but the child of God is exhorted to follow after the Best Example.
THE BEST OF EXAMPLES
INTRO. There are 7 instances in the New Testament of specific examples being left by some for the benefit of others.
1. Sodom and Gomorrah - examples of what will happen to those that live ungodly. [2Pet. 2:6, Jude 7]
2. Children of Israel in the wilderness - [Go to I Cor. 10:5-11]
3. The Old Testament Prophets - an example of suffering, affliction, and perseverance. [James 5:10]
4. Paul and his traveling companions suffered many things in order to be examples to the believers at Philippi and Thessalonica. [Phil. 3:17, 2Thess. 3:9]
5. Peter and Paul both wrote that the pastor is to be an example to the flock of study, love, faith, and leadership. [1Pet. 5:3, 1Tim. 4:12]
6. Paul said the church at Thessalonica had become an example of faith, perseverance, and joy to all the believers of Macedonia. [1Thess. 1:7]
7. But the ultimate example is found in our text for today -- I Peter 2:21
The word "example" has reference to an original that is meant to be copied or imitated. Certainly we can agree that the life of Jesus Christ is one that is to be imitated in a general sense. But this is far more specific than that.
The meaning is somewhat obscure in the English, but in the Greek language the word "example" is actually plural. This is the only time in the whole New Testament when it is used this way. Not only are we, as Christians, to imitate His life in vague generalities (goodness, kindness, loving, etc.) but also in particular specifics.
For instance, Christ is to be our model, our pattern for...
Suffering - In that He suffered at the hands of wicked and ungodly men for no other reason but that He was righteous.
Submission - In that He submitted Himself to the authority of His earthly parents and to the will of His heavenly Father.
Servitude - In that, at the Last Supper, He washed the apostle’s feet. In Matt. 20:28 He said, "The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister."
Sacrifice - In that He left His throne, glory, and position. So that He might offer His life as a sacrifice.
I. THE ERROR OF MODERNISTIC TEACHING.
A. As fundamental conservatives we stand against the misleading doctrines of those who are liberal in their theology. Such erroneous teachings as...
1. Jesus was just a good man.
2. The denial of a literal hell.
3. The idea that man is basically good and must simply "work out" the godliness that is in him.
4. Since God is love, He will not discipline or punish sinners.
This is the spirit of anti-christ "whereof ye have heard that it should come, and even now already is it in the world." (I Jn. 4:3)
B. While we vehemently disavow these doctrines as being false. The truth is that the majority of God’s people, instead of being transformed by the renewing of our minds, have actually been conformed to the teaching of the world as to what we think a Christian is supposed to be.
C. How would you describe a Christian?
1. Saved (most people stop here); Baptized and name on church roll (some will include this); Go to church, pray, give money, Sunday School, teach, sing, visit (even fewer will recognize this).
2. Most people seem to think of the Christian life in the same way they might think of options on a new car. The car is salvation. Baptism and church membership are the airbags (for safety). The other things are the A/C, radio, tilt wheel, etc. Consequently, the general idea (even among preachers) is, the more you do - the better you are. This kind of thinking leads people to believe that there are degrees of Christianity. The result is that everyone who is saved wants to wear the label of Christian, no matter how haphazard their witness.
3. What I’m telling you is that a person can be saved (believer) and even conveniently faithful and still not be a disciple of Jesus Christ. And here is the point -- THAT’S NOT O.K.!!
D. How many claim true Bible Christianity but have traded commitment for convenience, sacrifice for satisfaction, and service for selfishness.
1. None of these (commitment, sacrifice, service) will come until the heart is right. All the options we discussed are great but they are of little value if the motor won’t run. There must be a sincere and honest desire in the heart to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.
a. (Rom. 8:29) - "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."