WHAT IS THE CHRISTIAN LIFE?
This will be our fifth and final lesson on our series of lesson called WHAT IS THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. One last time, I want to give you a quick way of review of what we covered in the first four lessons. We learned that the Christian life is a life of:
Our final lesson begins with this point:
The Christian life is a life of Christian influence.
We must never forget that people are always watching us whether we realize it or not. As Christians, we must always do our best to be good examples to those that are around us because, what we do and how we behave does make a difference. Living the Christian life is about being a Christ-like example. For example, consider what Paul told Timothy:
1 Timothy 4:12 Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
We must never underestimate the influence we have on others by the examples that we give. As Christians, our goal is always to be an imitator of Christ. As Peter said:
1 Peter 2:21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 22 "Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth"; 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness -- by whose stripes you were healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
Jesus is our master example. The closer we can live like Him and do the things that He would do the better influence we will be. One place we can start is stated by Jesus:
John 13:34 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.† 35 "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."†
If you want to show the love of God and show that you are a disciple of Christ it begins with loving the brethren because if you cannot love those who are like-minded and show them the respect they deserve, how in the world are you going to be able to show people in the world the love of God?
It is not always easy to love the brethren because sometimes we allow worldly things to get in the way or minor disagreements. However, Paul describes what attitude we should be towards our brethren in:
Philippians 2:1 Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
Like I said, this can be challenging for us to do sometimes, but if we want to be like Christ and show others what He would do, we must learn to love our brethren and have this same humble attitude that Jesus did. When we follow this example, it will not only show others what the love of Christ is like, it will strengthen His church and her influence.
We are also to be to be Christ-like examples to the world. Peter says:
1 Peter 2:11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, 12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. 13 Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether to the king as supreme, 14 or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men --
Proverbs 4:18 But the path of the just is like the shining sun, That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.
We are to be a shining light for the cause of Christ. When we live like Him and do things He would do, we can influence people to open their eyes to the way of righteousness and we can help guide them to the love of God. We are to be walking epistles for our God.
For example, Peter tells us how Christian woman can influence her nonChristian man:
1 Peter 3:1 Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives,† 2 when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.
Let us never forget to be a good example to our children and grandchildren. Consider this little poem by Joanna:
More Like Jesus
Let us be more like Jesus
In everything we do;
Letís live a life of service,
A life thatís fresh and new.
Letís relinquish worldly things,
And not be slaves to fashion;
Letís fill our hearts with love,
Forgiveness and compassion.
Yes, letís be more like Jesus,
Being always in Godís will,
For if Jesusí light shines through us,
Our earthly purpose weíll fulfill.
By Joanna Fuchs
The Christian life is a life of looking forward, not backwards.
Paul explains this thought the best in:
Philippians 3:3 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,† 4 though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so:† 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee;† 6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.† 7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.† 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ† 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;† 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,† 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.† 12 ∂ Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.† 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,† 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.† 15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.
Paul was a very revered man among his fellow Pharisees. He was on the path to becoming of the most well-known Pharisee of his time. He was a man that was determined to wipe out Christianity. He had lots of blood on his hands, but as we all know, he was converted. He changed his ways because understood that the way of Christ was the right way to go. Paul would become one the hardest working apostles in the 1st century and set up more churches than any other apostle. Instead of becoming a famous Pharisee, he became one the most well-known Christians of his day.
However, if he had held on to his past and the awful things he did, his work in the kingdom would have no doubt suffered. When we hang on to our past, it can tear us down and cause us to hold back because we will think that we do not deserve to have such an active role for the Lord. Thankfully, Paul understood, as every Christian should understand, that our past is behind us and we cannot change it, so we must move forward and simply count those bad things in our life as a loss.
Paul likes to use a race as an example of what a Christian is suppose to do:
1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.† 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. †
When running toward a goal, you cannot look back or it will slow you down or cause you trip. Instead, you do not worry about what is behind you, you focus is what is front of you, which for Christians, the goal is heaven. The writer of Hebrews puts its this way:
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,† 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.† 3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.
The great cloud of witness is referring back to all those men and women of faith in Chapter 11. They showed that they were able to accomplish great things for God because the put their faith and trust in God and they stayed focused on their goal. We should be encouraged by the many examples we have in the Bible of men and woman that have shown us how to keep our eye on the goal of heaven without letting the world or anything else distract us from crossing the finish line with our faith in the Lord intact.
While it is ok to peek at the past and make sure we do not repeat it, let us make sure that we make our main focus on moving forward toward the goal of heaven so that we can use the time we have left in this life wisely for the Lord. As the poet writes:
afraid to keep moving on,
For what was before, now has gone,
God wants to accomplish so much more,
But we need to move forward in the Lord.
†By M.S. Lowndes
Our final point for this series is:
The Christian life is the only life that will bring eternal life.
Eternal life in heaven can only be given by God.
1 John 5:11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.† 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.† 13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.
Eternal life in heaven came through Jesus.
John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.†
As Christian, we can know that becoming a Christian and living the Christian life is the only way we can have eternal life in heaven. Paul told Timothy:
1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
Eternal life in heaven does not come from just believing in Christ, it includes fighting the good fight of faith until the end. We are told in several verses that we must endure until the end of our lives.
Matthew 10:22 "And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.
John 12:25 "He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
Revelation 2:10 "Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.†
This is why the N.T. warns it readers repeatedly to keep the faith, and do not turn away from God and His Word. Only those found in Christ will be saved:
2 Timothy 2:10 Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.†
If we remain faithful to the Lord, then we can be encouraged by what Jesus said in:
John 14:1 "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.† 2 "In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.† 3 "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.† 4 "And where I go you know, and the way you know."
Eternal life in heaven is ours as long as long as we stay committed to serving our Lord faithfully. However, those not found in Christ and those who are not living faithfully to Lord will not find their way into heaven. Jesus makes this abundantly clear in:
Matthew 7:21 " Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.† 22 "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?'† 23 "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'†
Also Paul says:
2 Thessalonians 1:7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels,† 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.† 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,† 10 when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.† 11 Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power,† 12 that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.†
Nobody likes to think about the fate of the unfaithful or the unbelievers because sometimes these are our loved ones, but we must understand that their fate is going to be a reality because of the path the chose to take, but we cannot linger on their choice. Instead, as we talked about earlier, we must press forward to the goal of heaven and influence as many people as we can so they might escape the pathway that many others have taken so they can understand the joy of living the Christian life and everything it stands for.
There are certainly more topics that could be added to this series, but I hope you have enjoyed the topics that we did cover. I hope these topics have †made you think about your own Christian life. We can always make improvements in the way we live our lives for the Lord and I hope these lessons have challenged you to continue to grow and make improvements in those areas that you a weak in.