WHAT IS THE CHRISTIAN LIFE?
Our lesson this morning begins with the parable of the four soils. First, we will look at how Jesus presents the parable and then we will read His explanation of the parable.
Matthew 13:3 Then He
spoke many things to them in parables, saying: "Behold, a sower went out
to sow.† 4 "And as he
sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured
them.† 5 "Some fell on
stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang
up because they had no depth of earth.† 6
"But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root
they withered away.† 7
"And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them.† 8 "But others fell on good
ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.† 9 "He who
has ears to hear, let him hear!"
Many of the parables
Jesus spoke are not explained by Him and we are left to figure out the meaning.
Sometimes the answer to the parables is straight forward, other times there are
several meanings we can glean from them, but this is one of those parables that
Jesus explains for us. Here is His explanation:
Matthew 13:18 "
Therefore hear the parable of the sower:†
19 "When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not
understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what
was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside.† 20 "But he who received the
seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it
with joy;† 21
"yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when
tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he
stumbles.† 22 "Now he who
received seed among the thorns is he who hears the
word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the
word, and he becomes unfruitful.† 23
"But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and
understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold,
some sixty, some thirty."
I could easily make an
entire lesson out of this one parable, but I will not today. The main reason I am starting out with this parable is to show that
every person can fit into one of these 4 general areas and perhaps some of us
may have been in all 4 categories in different times of our lives.
The first category is the
hard hearted or we might say the hard headed. This is the kind of person who
has no interest in hearing the Word of God. They do not believe in it, nor do
they think they need any saving. They are happy where they are in their life
without God or His church. Obviously, this is not what the Christian life is
about because this type of person wants nothing to do with God or His precious
The second category is
the kind of person that tends to make decisions based on an emotional response,
but their commitment to those kinds of responses is very weak. These are the
kinds of people that will attend a gospel meeting or go a to a worship service
with a friend and will love what they hear about God and what He promises us
and they are quickly converted and love everything about the idea of God as
long as they remain on their emotional high. However, as soon as Godís Word or
the lifestyle of being a Christian gets in the way of something else that gives
them an emotional high, they are quick to move away from God because they
really were not committed to Him. So, as soon as things got tough or something
different comes along that they are passionate about, they will move on. While
these people may have become Christians, this is not what the Christian life is
about because the Christian life is more than just becoming one.
The third category
describes those who are heavily planted in the way of the world and are influenced
by it. This is the kind of person who hears the good news of Jesus and
understands that they need to make changes in their life, but the problem is
that their faith is weak. Since they continue to surround themselves with
worldly pleasures, it slowly but surely drags them away because they find more
pleasure in satisfying their flesh. Since they know that worldliness and
Christianity do not mix, they will be like the rich ruler Jesus talked to who
turned away from Him and went away because His riches ended up being more
important Him than Jesus. Worldliness is something that all Christian struggle with in one way or another, but the Christian that
allows the world to push God out of their life also has a lack of faith and
commitment to the Lord.
The fourth category
describes those who are ready to hear the Word and allow it to sink deep into
their heart. These are the kind of people who put a lot of thought into what it
means to be Christian and the commitment that it takes. They realize that it is
a lifetime commitment and not a passing phase. This is the kind Christian that
struggles with worldliness and difficult times, but because of their deep
commitment to living the life of Christian, they manage to keep pressing
forward toward the goal of heaven without allowing the temptations of the life
to drag them away from God. I hope everyone one this room is currently in this
fourth category because it is the only category you can be in and make it to
We must never forget that
when we obeyed the gospel which included being baptized into Christ for the
forgiveness of our sins, we signed up to become Christian soldiers. At the
point of our baptism were united with Christ.
Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace
may abound?† 2 Certainly not!
How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?† 3 Or do you not know that as many
of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?† 4 Therefore we were buried with
Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was
raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should
walk in newness of life.
Our lesson is not focused
on baptism, but these verses clearly show that baptism is the point that we are
buried with Christ and put into Him. When we are baptized into Christ, Paul
says that we become a new creation in 2 Cor. 5:17. Now notice as Paul continues
† 5 For
if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also
shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,† 6 knowing this, that our old man
was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with,
that we should no longer be slaves of sin.†
7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.† 8 Now if we died with Christ, we
believe that we shall also live with Him,† 9 knowing that Christ,
having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion
over Him.† 10 For the death
that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He
lives, He lives to God.† 11
Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God
in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Paul is telling us that
when we were baptized into Christ, we were united together with Him having our
old man crucified, which did away with our sins. Let us not miss the point that
baptism is the point that our sins are removed. So, those who claim that
baptism is not necessary for salvation will have to say that one can be saved
without being in Christ, without being united with Him, and without having your
sins removed. I would hope that all of here will accept Paulís words on this
mater because what he says comes from God and not man.
After we are baptized
into Christ for the forgiveness of our sins, we are to realize that we have
become dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Paul expounds on
Romans 6:13 And do
not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but
present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments
of righteousness to God.† 14
For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under
then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?
Certainly not!† 16 Do you not
know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's
slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading
to righteousness?† 17 But
God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from
the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.† 18 And having been set free from
sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
Paul is teaching us that
when we obeyed the gospel, we made the commitment to live for God. We made the
commitment to keep sin out of our life. We only have two choices in this life.
We can either be slaves of sin or slaves of righteousness. If we choose to be a
slave of sin then we will be spiritual dead. If we physically die in that
state, we will spend eternity in hell. If we choose to be a slave of
righteousness, we will be alive spiritually. If we die physically in that
state, we will get to enjoy eternity in heaven.
So, far in this lesson,
we have learned a few things about what the Christian life is not and a few
things about the Christian life is like. If we want to
make it to heaven, we must make sure that remain in the 4th category
I talked about earlier.
Now letís begin to take a
closer look at what the Christian life is all about.
The Christian life is a
life of faith. As Paul said:
Galatians 2:20 "I
have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives
in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the
Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Paul tells us that faith
comes from hearing of Godís Word (Rom. 10:17). A man without faith is like a car
without an engine. We must have faith to be pleasing to God (Heb. 11:6).
The Christian life is a
life of obedience.
5:8 though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which
He suffered.† 9
And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who
Jesus showed us what it
meant to be obedient, and we are certainly not better than Him. So, we too must
be obedient to the will of God. If we are not, we will not receive eternal
salvation. Some like to think all they have to do is have faith in God. While
that is a necessity, we are not saved by faith alone. James makes this crystal
James 2:19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the
demons believe -- and tremble!† 20
But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?
We must have an obedient
faith to be pleasing to God. Just so there is no confusion, James is not
talking about works of merit that is where we can earn our salvation, he is
talking about works of obedience in which we do things in the name of our Lord
for His glory because no amount of good works can earn us salvation. Only God
was able to make salvation possible for us. Jesus explains works of obedience
"And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to
him when he has come in from the field, 'Come at once and sit down to
eat'?† 8 "But will he not
rather say to him, 'Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and
serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and
drink'?† 9 "Does he thank
that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think
not.† 10 "So likewise
you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty
to do.' "
As Christian, we are to
serve our Lord because He is our master. We understand that we are nothing
without Him and He certainly does not owe us thanks for what we do for Him.
Instead, we owe Him thanks for allowing us to become His servants and giving us
opportunities to serve Him.
A Christian life is a
life of repentance.
Repentance means that we
will change our ways to Godís way. When we became Christians, part of obeying
the gospel was repentance as seen in:
Acts 2:38 Then
Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the
name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift
of the Holy Spirit.
In essence we were saying
to God that we were going turn away from the sin in our life and conform
ourselves to His ways. Well, guess what? Repentance is ongoing process. It
would be great if we had some magically way of recognizing every sin in our
life so that we could repent of it immediately, but here is the thing, many
times a new convert has much to learn between right and wrong. Some new
Christians may be doing some things that they have no idea are wrong. In fact,
I am sure all us can look back over our Christian lives and remember some
things just like this. This is why repentance is not a one time action, but
something that will continue throughout our Christian lives.
Now this is very
important. Once we learn that we have been doing is wrong, then we must be
willing repent of it and stop doing it. This can be challenging for us
sometimes especially if we had been doing that sin all our lives. When we grow
up around a sin and our family and friends engage in that sin, we have tendency
to become desensitized to it. Even when we recognize that it is a sin according
to Godís Word it can be very difficult for us to see it that way especially if
we have not seen any dire consequences come from in our own lives.
No matter how long we
have been doing it or been around it, we must train ourselves to trust in Godís
judgment. If His Word says it is a sin, then we must accept that it is and get
it out of our lives. Some religious groups out there teach a false doctrine
known as once saved always saved. What this doctrine teaches is that you cannot
lose your salvation once you get it. If this doctrine were true, then
repentance would not be necessary. As far as that goes, those Christians we
talked about earlier in the 2nd and 3rd category would
still make it to heaven under this false view.
This is easy false doctrine
to disprove. While I could teach a whole lessons on this topic, I want to show you
very quicklyfrom Scripture how to disprove this.
First Jesus said:
Luke 13:3 "I
tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.††
Without a doubt, without
repentance you will perish. Now all we need is one example to show that
repentance is necessary after one is saved. Here it is:
Acts 8:18 And
when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy
Spirit was given, he offered them money,† 19 saying, "Give me
this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy
Spirit."† 20 But Peter
said to him, "Your money perish with you, because
you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money!† 21 "You have neither part nor
portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God.† 22 "Repent therefore of this
your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be
forgiven you.† 23 "For I
see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity."† 24 Then Simon answered and said,
"Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken
may come upon me."
Simon was a Christian
because we learn in the previous verses that he obeyed the gospel just as many
of the Samaritans had. So, he was saved, yet because of his sin he put his soul
in danger and Peter told him about it right away and told him to repent. So a
person must repent before they become a Christian and they must continue to repent
of sins they commit while living the life of a Christian.
A Christian life is a
life of worship and devotion to God.
I am amazed at the
growing number of people who call themselves Christians who see no reason to
worship God with other people. They have the mentality that if they just call
themselves Christians and mention His name every once and awhile that that is
good enough. What this really shows is lack of dedication for God and what
Jesus made possible for all of us.
We must never forget that
Jesus purchased the church with His blood, and we should not neglect. It should
bring us great joy to assembly with the saints knowing that is how God wants it
done. It is a privilege, not something that is to be dreaded. As the Psalms
122:1 ÖI was glad when they said to me, "Let us go into the house of the
Psalm 132:7 Let us go into His tabernacle; Let us worship at
His footstool. †††††††††††††††††††
As Jesus told the
"But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship
the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship
Him.† 24 "God is Spirit,
and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."
You and I have been
granted the right to assemble wherever we want and worship our God. Though we can
worship Him wherever we assembly, we have not been given the right to worship
Him however we feel fit because Jesus said we must worship Him in spirit this
is from the heart, and in truth that is from His Word. This is exactly what we
see the early Christian doing shortly after the church had it beginning:
Acts 2:42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles'
doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
The apostlesí doctrine is
referring to what they were teaching as inspired men of God. We have the
benefit of having Godís Word in a nice little book we call the Bible. As we
live the Christian life, we will desire to worship our God with the saints and
we will regulate our worship to Him in accordance to His Word because we know
that is what He wants and that He is not interested in us adding or taking away
from His perfect will.
I have much more to say
about the Christian life, and we will talk more about it next week. I hope that
as we look at what a Christian life is about, if you find yourself lacking in
some areas, I hope you will work on them and, if you find that you have been
hanging on to a sinful activity that you will repent of it. To some, living the
life of a Christian is just too hard, but to the faithful Christian, though
they recognize the great challenges of Christianity, they are able to see the
big picture and realize that no matter how difficult it may be to remain
faithful and serve God, it is worth it in the end because a few years of
sacrificing the temporary worldly pleasures is worth eternity in heaven.