When you join others for corporate worship, do you sing with such passion and joy and exuberance that God is seen to all together beautiful and praiseworthy? My hope for Nelspruit Bible Church is that we evidence God’s worth every time we meet for corporate worship – that our singing would demonstrate to visitors and to one another that God satisfies us, delights us, and is worthy of ALL praise and glory and worship. Such singing demonstrates that we are filled with the Spirit — anything else grieves the Holy Spirit and dishonors God.
What is a real Christian? In this passage the apostle Paul gives us three characteristics of a true believer. It is not just a person who attends church, or is generous, or seeks to live like Christ and love their neighbor — but a true believer is someone who has died! Such a person is united to Christ, and is thus alive to God and living for God. This person, by God’s sovereign and active grace, has not only been given life and brought out of the tomb, but they are also delivered from the old clothes that characterized them whilst in the tomb.
This is an urgent imperative, a command, for all believers. Yet it is possible to have such an aversion to the false teaching on what it means to be filled with the Spirit, that we play down or even ignore this command. This is not a command to seek a one-off experience of the Holy Spirit — all believers are already indwelt by the Spirit of God — nor is this a call for us to have more of the Spirit of God. Rather this is a command that we let Him have more of us! This sermon looks at the necessity of being filled with the Spirit, the meaning of being filled with the Spirit, and the means by which we are filled with the Spirit.
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise (Eph 5:15). It is all too easy to walk aimlessly and to get nowhere. In these few verses, believers are commanded to have a spiritual health-check, to look carefully and diligently and earnestly at how they are walking. But you and I are not only to look carefully at what we are doing 24/7, but also why we are living in such a way — we are to examine the manner and the motives of our life. Here we have two instructions on walking wisely to the glory of God to help us with such an examination.
When life is difficult we can “hope” that things will get better, and we can “imagine” how our circumstances may change and get better. But such hope is transient and uncertain. However, as Jeremiah laments the tragic and total destruction of Jerusalem he “calls to mind” the character of God, and thus he has real hope. His circumstances do not change, but by considering the character of God he has hope. This sermon gives us four reasons for a believer to have a secure and joyful hope in all the storms of life. Lamentations 3:24 — “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
There is much confusion today in the church about the purpose of the Lord’s Supper, as well as how it should be practiced — it is has been forgotten by many that it was given to be a vivid reminder of Christ. Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19). This portion of Scripture gives us three distinctives of the Lord Jesus which we remember at the Lord’s Supper, distinctives which should make us all the more bemoan our sin and adore our Saviour.
It has been well said that to imitate God is the Christian life, and to be perfectly like Christ is the goal of the Christian life. This morning we will look specifically at God’s example of love, of mercy, of forgiveness, and of giving Himself – along with the exhortation believers are given to follow His example, to the praise of His glory and grace.
We all know the pain of words that hurt, whether they are from our mouths or from the mouth of another. James writes, And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue (James 3:6–8).
In this passage we see the gravity of ungracious speech, and in particular we are given four reasons why we must replace ungracious words so that we can be a means of grace to others. Supremely ungracious words hide Christ from view, the Word who became flesh and gave Himself up for us, something every true believer should want to avoid.
In Romania there is a word pocăit. Roughly translated, it means “repenter.” It was a derogatory label given to evangelical believers in the last century. There were cultural “Christians,” and then there were pocăiții – “repenters” who believed an ongoing life of repentance was essential to the Christian life. The nick-name, repenter, set them apart from those who called themselves Christians but did not demonstrate any repentance in their lives. People who grew up in the church, called themselves Christians, but had never truly repented, who are not truly saved. The same is sadly true today.
Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matt 7:21).
This morning we will consider last two marks of genuine conversion so that you may know who you are. In particular we are going to put true, biblical repentance under the spotlight – so that you can determine whether or not you have truly repented unto eternal life.
How is your love for Christ? If you are honest then it waxes and wanes according to your moods. Think of the love you had for your Saviour when you were saved. How is that love for Christ now? It is all too easy to love the world and the things of the world – to have a growing affection for our possessions or our achievements, our family, or even our ministry, and to grow out of love for Jesus – the One who is all-together lovely.
In looking at this passage we see three aspects of love for Christ which, I hope, will make us examine our love for Christ, will make us want to love Christ more, and will give us the means by which we can pursue love for Christ.