Delivered By
C.C. Risenhoover
Delivered On
June 25, 2017
Central Passage
Ephesians 4:23-24
Attached Document
Open Document
Description

In Ephesians 4:23-24, Paul writes these words: “Take on an entirely new way of life – a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces His character in you.”

 

What God wants from you is easily understood if you simply read…and believe…what the New Testament says…especially what Jesus said. Many people…believers and unbelievers…want to complicate what God wants from them…which is highly dangerous for an unbeliever who is truly seeking spiritual light for his or her soul.

 

Jesus was perfect…but even the best Christian isn’t. There’s a dark side…a sinful nature…to every Christian. And he or she must fight against it every day. As Paul told us in Scripture, it’s a never-ending battle “to press toward the mark of the high calling that is in Christ Jesus.”

 

A Christian is a person saved by faith in Jesus Christ…God’s grace exemplified in a manner that is impossible for an immoral human mind to understand. Even Christians have difficulty understanding that God loved us so much that He engaged in an act of divine sacrifice to save us from our sins…a divine sacrifice that is God’s redemptive plan for every human being on the face of the earth.

 

There are no exceptions to God’s plan…no other way in which a person can be saved except through faith and belief in Jesus Christ. And while we know that Jesus shed His blood on the Cross so that every person on the face of the earth can be saved…we know that’s not going to happen.

 

We know that because a majority will always love sin more than they love God. We know that because…even if people believe in God…they don’t believe God.

 

And, of course, we have a lot of people in the world who think they’re smarter than God. They don’t understand why God does things the way He does…and because He doesn’t do things the way they want they choose to believe He doesn’t exist. Because they don’t believe in God…they don’t believe in the Bible or in heaven or hell.

 

It’s important to understand how to be saved…and it’s important to understand how to act after you’ve been saved. So, after we’ve been saved…God wants us to act like a Christian is supposed to act…which is what most of the New Testament letters to the churches are about.

 

Being a Christian is special…but no matter how good a Christian is…he or she can’t redeem a lost person from their sins…nor can he or she forgive the sins of a lost person. So, if any person wants to be forgiven of their sins…he or she must make that request to Jesus Christ alone.

 

But what God wants from a Christian is for him or her to be forgiving of their fellow human beings as He has been of their sins…which is one of the most difficult of Jesus’ teachings. God gave every human being freewill…the right to choose his or her destiny…and Christians have that same freewill when it comes to forgiving others. So, while it’s up to you…and you alone…to take that step of faith that loosens you from Satan’s grasp and puts your eternal life into God’s hands…the decision to forgive is also up to you.

 

What God wants of a Christian is for him or her to be different when they’re born again. It’s often the actions and attitudes of people who claim to be Christians that cause unbelievers to question the reality of the new birth. So, perceptions of Christianity and actual Christianity are often entirely different. That’s why much of the thinking about Christianity today is flawed, goofy and hypocritical.

 

For example, church people are quite willing to pay someone else to do evangelism. It’s somewhat akin to hiring mercenaries to fight a war so you won’t have to get your hands dirty…or so you won’t have to take any risks.

 

But the truth is…if a church was comprised of people who were filled with the Holy Spirit…as people were on the day of Pentecost…then evangelism would never be a problem because everybody would want to do it. But, unfortunately, it now takes a back seat to almost everything else most churches do.

 

It seems that from the get-go people have been much more interested in what the church could do for them than in what they could do for Jesus and His church. The primary difference between the early church and now is that now there’s even more emphasis on entertaining church attendees. There are a lot of good people who just want to make church fun. But church attendance…going through the motions of worship without any attempt to share God’s love with others in the world…is hypocritical.

 

Witnessing about God’s grace through Jesus Christ is the most important thing a Christian can do. There’s no doubt that it’s what God wants each of us to do…that it’s the most important part of worshiping God. You can’t find mention of a greater responsibility in the entire Bible than for a Christian to share the grace of God through Jesus Christ.

 

Ask any unbeliever what’s wrong with the church and they can give you a hefty list…all based on their relationship with…or knowledge of…church members. They don’t know God…but they know church members.

 

If an unbeliever is honest…he or she can’t find a single thing wrong with the teachings of Jesus…but they can find plenty wrong with those who claim to be His followers. So, Christians must be what Jesus taught…and, obviously, that’s a tough assignment.

 

What God wants is truth from His followers…the truth about their purpose in life based on what Jesus taught. Christianity isn’t some meaningless event or program that has nothing to do with redemption. Everything about real Christianity is about redemption from sin.

 

What God wants from a Christian is the reflection of His perfection. And even though no mortal can achieve such perfection…he or she should never quit striving for it. No Christian is perfect…and no church is perfect. But instead of excusing their imperfection…Christians are to strive for perfection.

 

Many people believe in God…that He exists…but they don’t believe what God says…which is recorded quite plainly in the Bible. But there’s a big difference in believing in God…and in believing in and doing what God says.

 

A Christian’s job isn’t to save people…it’s to teach them what God says that they must do to be saved. And you don’t need a college or seminary degree to do that. A layperson who studies the Bible…and who has had an experience with the Holy Spirit…can know as much about what it takes to be saved as the most highly educated preacher in the world.

 

And you don’t need to know Greek or Hebrew…or to have several sets of commentaries…to show people what the Bible says they must do to be saved. If you truly study the Scriptures…no one can know them any better than you do.

 

Everyone who accepts Jesus Christ as his or her Lord and Savior is called to preach, teach and share God’s Grace. A person may choose not to do those things…or be confused into not accepting these responsibilities because of the teachings of some churches…but the calling is there. God wants and expects that from each of us.

 

Matthew 28:19-20 speaks to all of us with these words of Jesus: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

 

This calling is not based on who you are…or what you were when you accepted Christ. It’s not based on race, gender or some misguided concept of ethnic purity. It’s not based on whether you’re single, married or divorced. It’s not based on whether you’re rich, poor or in-between. And it’s not based on your educational background, church affiliation or ancestry.

 

The calling…no matter what your chosen profession or vocation…is your willingness to respond appropriately to the greatest gift that you have ever received…forgiveness of your sins and eternal life with God. And the appropriate response of gratitude is to share God’s grace with every other human being on the face of the earth…which is what Jesus told us to do.

 

Until you accept the calling…you may believe in God…but you haven’t believed what God said. Believing God is accepting and doing what Jesus asks of you…and what He asks of you is clearly defined in the New Testament.

 

You can, of course, spend an inordinate amount of time analyzing the meanings of Jesus’s commands…or you can simply do what you know Scripture tells you that God wants you and every other Christian to do. The Bible isn’t complicated unless you complicate it.

 

People often excuse themselves from doing what God wants by saying they feel called to do some other alleged religious thing…even though that thing may be meaningless. Lying about some alleged call from God…is a means of avoiding doing the hard work of the gospel that Jesus specifically told us to do.

 

But if witnessing to another person about the grace that God has extended to them is too hard for people who call themselves Christians…then they might want to do a little self-examination to determine if they really allowed God to do anything in, and with, their lives.

 

Salvation is not something to be hoarded and kept exclusively for one’s self…it’s something to be shared. And it’s to be shared with all people…no matter what their color or ethnic origin…or a person’s feelings or perceptions about them. Any resentment or hatred toward other people is supposed to be recycled into love when the Holy Spirit takes control of a Christian’s life.

 

The disciples were not immune to the problem of believing in God without believing God. He told them that following the crucifixion He would be raised from the dead on the third day…but none of them were at the tomb waiting. They may have believed in Him…but they did not believe Him…even though they were present when he raised Lazarus from the dead.

 

A few women showed up at the tomb on the morning of the third day…including Mary Magdalene. It was these women who went to the disciples with the news that Jesus was alive…news that initially was not accepted as truth. More often than not the truth about God is rejected.

 

Mary Magdalene had probably heard Jesus speak of His death, burial and resurrection…but whether that is the reason she was at the tomb…or whether she was there as an expression of grief is unknown. The important thing is that Jesus revealed Himself to these women…and they became the first witnesses of His resurrection.

 

Women did not have leadership roles in Jewish synagogues or in their priesthood…but this indicates to me that Jesus gave them leadership roles in His church. Being the first messengers of His resurrection supersedes everything else.

 

What God wants is for all Christians…men, women, boys and girls…to be witnesses…to present the Word of God to every human being on earth who has not accepted Him as Lord and Savior. This responsibility to present Him to others is not an option…it’s the most important mission of a Christian.

 

If you’re not a Christian…well, you can’t be expected to think in that way. That’s because the most important thing for you right now is to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of your life. Until you do that…you’re not going to be able to comprehend what Christianity is all about.

 

The fact that you’re here today is evidence you’re being called by Jesus to make that declaration of faith in Him right now. He provides the opportunity…but you must take advantage of it. The Holy Spirit…not a preacher or priest…is directing you to make that decision. I encourage you to surrender your life to Christ…to get involved in a church…then to share that forgiveness you have experienced with others. Your mind won’t give you any peace until you do that.

 

I’m not going to tell you that being a real Christian is easy. It’s the toughest work on earth…and the most demanding. Christ doesn’t promise earthy material reward for following Him…He promises eternal life…and a joy that we are incapable of totally understanding this side of Heaven.

 

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that when you get saved all the Christian life entails is simply waiting patiently for Heaven. There’s work to do…not to earn salvation…but because of it. God is not willing that any perish, but that all come to know Him through His Son…Jesus Christ. You’re His vessel for taking that message to the world. Just do it. That’s what God wants.

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