Summary: Conversion does not mean arrival. It signals the beginning of a journey of growth. We are to be like Christ, and this growth requires disciplines.
[Most of the thoughts in this sermon come from Dallas Willard’s book The Spirit of the Disciplines.]
“…to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.”
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Conversion is not the end of the road.
• When we become a Christian, it doesn’t mean we have arrived.
• It was never meant to be. We are to grow to be like Christ.
The Bible says the church is here to ‘prepare God’s people’ and to ‘teach them’.
• In order words, there is a training going on and we are all in it.
• We are trainees, whether you know it or not; whether you want it or not.
We tend to ignore this part.
• Dallas Willard says this is the great omission from the great commission.
• We focus on grace so much that being saved by grace through faith is all we care about.
• And so we let go of our guard once we are Christians, or when we feel we are going to church and doing fine.
The Bible says we need to be trained, because we need to grow.
• Not to grow old, but to grow up – to be like Christ.
• Conversion is not the end of the road, it’s just the beginning.
Salvation is a life. It is about the newness of life.
• Not just the forgiveness of our sin.
• Jesus says He has come to give us life and life more abundantly.
• His message was not just about repentance, but a new creation.
Salvation therefore cannot be the mere mental assent to things about Jesus.
• If we are to be light of the world, salt of the earth, then Christianity has to do with life.
• There is an impartation of a new life in Christ – and this affects all aspects of our life.
We need to watch this growth process, to make sure that this ‘light’ still shines and this ‘salt’ keeps its flavour.
• We need to look at the disciplines of our life – the habits, the things we do.
• They can either fuel growth or retard it because of our negligence.
• We are not saved by our efforts, but without any efforts we cannot grow.
• The Bible says we need to be equipped; we need to be taught and trained.
We know the popular bumper sticker: “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.”
• This phrase is flawed. It is not either-or but both.
• We are called to be perfect just as the Father is perfect, the Lord says.
• This phrase nullifies serious effort toward spiritual growth, as if it is not necessary.
Conversion is just part of the story; we are to grow up and be like Christ.
• It is not an optional good-to-have. Salvation is a life, not a conversion experience.
• Jesus saved us to be like Him. This journey has just begun.
Therefore we have to watch our disciplines, our spiritual habits.
Think of someone who idolizes an outstanding sportsman or performer.
• They want to be like them. So what do they do?
• They try to behave exactly as their idol does – the way they move, talk and sing.
• They try anything and everything their idol does, hoping to be like him.
• They buy the type of shoes the star wears, the same racket he uses, adopt the same hairstyle.
Will they succeed in performing like the star? We all know that answer quite well.
• We know that they won’t succeed, if all they do is try to copy him.
• No matter how alike they may look. And we all understand why.
The star performer himself didn’t achieve that standard by trying to behave in a certain way ONLY during the show.
• His behaviour at the show was the result of a long period of learning and practice.
• If we study the regimen of professional sportsmen, we’ll understand.
• The performance is the outflow of a life of preparation - of the mind and body, of countless hours of stressing muscles and tuning his reflexes.
The amazing performance is not the result of the few short hours at the race itself.
• In fact, that one minute race could be the result of one year of running.
• It is the result of a daily regimen over a long period, where no one sees.