Summary: Today we finish our series on building our spiritual house and my hope is that next week we can celebrate our journey through this church year and go forward with a new commitment to living as true disciples of Jesus. Today we talk about the hardest part,
Today we finish our series on building our spiritual house and my hope is that next week we can celebrate our journey through this church year and go forward with a new commitment to living as true disciples of Jesus. Today we talk about the hardest part, the actual work and perseverance of building, the effort of putting up the house and keeping going in our Christian walk.
I know many people who read their bibles faithfully, pray, fight against sin and temptation, they have all the tools needed for building this spiritual house, but one final thing is missing, they don’t believe they can do it. How many Christians have given up on holiness, on being fully surrendered disciples because when they read the Scriptures, the description and requirements seem too grand? Or the promises in the Bible are too hard to believe?
How many of us have said, I wish could be that kind of disciple, but there’s just no way I will ever accomplish it the way my life is. I’m good with my salvation and maybe even helping others achieve it, but I could never be that kind of Christian. Do we believe we can build this house?
Perseverance, enduring is one of the strongest expressions of faith, hope. Faith is believing that which is unseen, unaccomplished. Paul tells the Corinthians to walk by faith not by sight, and we read in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”. Again Paul, talking about all the characteristics of love closes with, “Now these three remain, faith, hope, and love”. That is what my message is about today, only these three things are required to finish building - faith, hope and love.
As soon as something becomes visible we no longer need faith. The Christian life is one of faith because we are called to live a certain way with the hope of one day being in glory with Jesus.
It is a life of work, and service, and self-denial, and if we don’t have faith in the final outcome, our efforts soon diminish. Maybe they already have for many of us. Maybe the hope of the seemingly distant future is not enough to motivate us to live as God commands in the here and now. And if so, can that faith save a person, James asks. If I say I have faith but have not works?
Work, perseverance and endurance are the final disciplines needed to build this Spiritual house, otherwise it is unfinished without a roof or plumbing, or electricity. Can it be lived in, in that state? Probably, but I wouldn’t want to live in it, and I doubt if the Holy Spirit would be too enthusiastic about it either coming from the throne of heaven. Without work/action, all the materials for building just sit there and have no purpose. Remember this is about after receiving salvation through grace.
How many Christians do you think believe that being a Christian ends at accepting salvation? I’m guessing not many of you believe that. Now let’s ask it a little differently, how many of you by looking at a person’s Christian life would conclude from appearances that that person’s Christian life was concluded at salvation?
Now this is not meant to be judgmental, and obviously we can’t know a person’s heart or everything they do behind the scenes. But would it be fair to say that many professing Christians pretty much stop at salvation and do very little to live out that faith according to Scriptures?
Why does Jesus say we should count the cost before building in Luke 14. Let’s read it from verses 26-30:
Can we afford to build this spiritual life? Now this is about renouncing everything including our own lives. Another way of putting it is that we are to completely live our lives for Christ, above family and everything else that we hold dear. Jesus isn’t saying I won’t let you be my disciples, but that it is impossible if you don’t do as I have done. Makes sense.
Now this is way out of our natural intention and therefore requires ongoing attention and effort. You see God knew it would be tough to stick with it. He knows that like any other relationship, after the excitement of the early days dies down, our motivation recedes with it. This is why he says to the church in Ephesus in Revelation chapter 2, “You have many wonderful works and you have done what is necessary to endure false teaching, but you have abandoned the love you had at first.”
This says two things. One, that we can do all the right things for the wrong reasons, and two, that love is the most important, the relationship. We have spent a lot of time on how Christians are supposed to be, what kind of disciplines we need to implement, but none of it has any power without the loving relationship with God.