Summary: How to remain a Christian and grow in response to God’s grace

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The Problem with Old-Time Religion

Text: 1 John 2:5-17

Topic: How to remain a Christian and grow in response to God’s grace

A little boy was in a relative’s wedding. As he was coming down the aisle, he would take 2 steps, stop and trun to the crowd. While facing the crowd, he would put his ands up like claws and roar... and he went all the way down the aisle in that fashion. The crowd was near tears from laughing so hard by the time he reached the front. The little boy, however, was getting more and more distressed from all the laughing, and was also near tears ... When asked what he was doing the child sniffed and said "I was being the Ring BEAR."

Perhaps u feel like the little boy, confused and sniffing as you walk down the aisle of Christian life

and trying to be a Christian...

What does it mean to be a true Christian, to remain being one and grow as one?

A. The Problem

1. Most Christians are simply not making progress in their spiritual development.

Few practice what they preach.

Some stats:

85% of Americans say they are Christians (January 2002 press release)

Only 8% say they are evangelicals. 33% say they are born again.

Most widely known Bible verse is not found in the Bible.

Less than one out of every ten believers possess a biblical worldview.

This shows problem with old-time religion.

2. Some equate Christian progress with special knowledge, the problem of gnostiscism in 1 John.

E.g. today pick and choose whatever feels right. Oprah, Deepak Chopra, seminars. Real discipleship is a problem.

B. The Cure

1. True Christians are defined by one word: Relationship. John 13:34-35 Jesus says His way, His new command - it’s all about His love and His disciples loving.

2. “The heart of holiness is the spirit of love,” writes J. I. Packer.

3. Love is a way of behaving - love does something. 1 Jn.2:7-11

7Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. 8Yet I am writing you a new command; ITS TRUTH IS SEEN IN HIM AND YOU, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. 9Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. 10Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. 11But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.

So the cure is recognizing God is after relationship, a relationship of love, that is active, obvious and in action, for "its truth is seen in him (Christ) and you."

Scripture illustration: the church in Acts (Acts.2:42-47) where love of God is shared obviously and practically, resulting in growth.

4. Progress is experienced when there is

a. assurance of forgiveness of sins (2:12)

b. confidence in Christ (2:13)

c. sense of victory over the devil (2:13b)

d. security that a child has with a loving Father (2:13c)

e. joy in the strength of God (2:14b)

f. power of God’s word becoming alive inwardly (2:14c)

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