By Benjamin Maxson, Director, General Conference Stewardship
Summary: We live in a world that defines Christianity as irrelevant and powerless. Religion has become the object of mockery and derision. Is Christianity doomed? Will culture or the God of Scripture define how you and I will live?
1. To explore the power of a dynamic Christian life.
2. To return to and re-articulate a biblical definition of Christianity.
We live in a world that defines Christianity as irrelevant and powerless. Religion has become the object of mockery and derision. Is Christianity doomed? Will culture or the God of Scripture define how you and I will live?
A. How dare you present this childish drivel?
B. Compare stated disbelief—mental disbelief—with practical paganism of our cultural Christianity.
Where are we as a Christian people?
What has happened to us?
Where are we going?
I. What is normal?
A. Secular, post-Christian era.
1. People passionately in love with the God of Calvary turned the world upside down, producing the Christian era.
2. The dynamic Christian movement drifted into the intellectual and spiritual darkness of the medieval world.
3. Spiritual drift continued into the predominant culture—a cultural church shaped by the forces of sin. (Although God touched groups down through history and kept the story alive, the spiritual drift continued.)
B. Normal Christianity:
1. Cultural mirror—reflected and shared values
2. Where the average Christian lives comfortably with the world around us, and the world cannot see any difference
3. Where we become so comfortable with our culture and its sin that we are uncomfortable with the committed life of the real Christian passionately in love with Jesus Christ
C. A form of godliness that denies its power (2 Tim. 3:1-5)
1. We see that form in religious debate
2. We see that form in our own frustrated feelings
Does it have to continue this way?
II. In Christ, the power accepted
A. News break—Salvation is here
B. Reality of being in Christ:
III. Christ in me, the power revealed!—living discipleship
A. Defining discipleship
B. Describing disciples
1. Passionately in love
William Miller: ?In this state he continued for some months. ?Suddenly,’ he says, ?the character of a Saviour was vividly impressed upon my mind. It seemed that there might be a being so good and compassionate as to himself atone for our transgressions, and thereby save us from suffering the penalty of sin. I immediately felt how lovely such a being must be, and imagined that I could cast myself into the arms of, and trust in the mercy of, such a one. But the question arose ?How can it be proved that such a being does exist? Aside from the Bible, I found that I could get no evidence of the existence of such a Saviour, or even of a future state. . . .’
?I saw that the Bible did bring to view just such a Saviour as I needed; and I was perplexed to find how an uninspired book should develop principles so perfectly adapted to the wants of a fallen world. I was constrained to admit that the Scriptures must be a revelation from God. They became my delight; and in Jesus I found a friend. The Saviour became to me the chiefest among ten thousand; and the Scriptures, which before were dark and contradictory, now became the lamp to my feet and light to my path. My mind became settled and satisfied. I found the Lord God to be a Rock in the midst of the ocean of life. The Bible now became my chief study, and I can truly say, I searched it with great delight. I found the half was never told me. I wondered why I had not seen its beauty and glory before, and marveled that I could have ever rejected it. I found everything revealed that my heart could desire, and a remedy for every disease of the soul. I lost all taste for other reading, and applied my heart to get wisdom from God.?—S. Bliss, Memoirs of Wm. Miller, pp. 65-67. Also read The Great Controversy, p. 319.
2. Regular intimacy—D. Livingston’s death.
3. Integrating Christ in life
4. Christ priority in decisions—Christ’s reliance on Father.
5. Share Christ
C. The Greatest Argument
1. By this shall all men know . . . (John 13:35)
2. E. G. White—?lovable Christian?
?The badge of Christianity is not an outward sign, not the wearing of a cross or a crown, but it is that which reveals the union of man with God. By the power of His grace manifested in the transformation of character the world is to be convinced that God has sent His Son as its Redeemer. No other influence that can surround the human soul as such power as the influence of an unselfish life. The strongest argument in favor of the Gospel is a loving and lovable Christian.—The Signs of the Times, 08-12-08. (Also read Ministry of Healing, p. 470).
A true, lovable Christian is the most powerful argument that can be advanced in favor of Bible truth. Such a man is Christ’s representative. His life is the most convincing evidence that can be borne to the power of divine grace. When God’s people bring the righteousness of Christ into the daily life, sinners will be converted, and victories over the enemy will be gained.—Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, 01-14-04. (Also read In Heavenly Places, p. 318.)
So what is the answer?
Matthew 11:28—Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 19:14—Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.
John 6:37—All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.
John 6:44—No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.
John 7:37—On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ?If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.
Col. 2:6, 7—Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him.
Col. 3:1-4—Set your hearts on things above.
Heb. 12:1, 2—Throw off everything that hinders.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus. Or better yet, Love the Lord your God with all heart and with all your mind.