Sunday, May 31, 2009

What is a Christian?

This is a synopsis of the messages given by Steve West at the Sovereign Grace Youth Retreat last weekend. He preached from the book of Ephesians. Of course, he had many illustrations to flesh this out, but hopefully you'll get the idea.

What is a Christian?
Often to define something we need to define what it is NOT.
A Christian is not just someone who is raised in a Christian home.
A Christian is not just someone who feels bad about wrong things they've done--that just means you have a conscience.
A Christian is not just someone who is afraid of hell.
A Christian is someone who knows that, if not for Jesus, he would have no hope.
A Christian has repented of his sin and has faith in Jesus Christ.
Faith is not "hope so", or believing in something you don't believe to be true, or believing something in spite of evidence to the contrary.
Faith includes believing the right things about God and ourselves, and trusting (resting) in the finished work of Christ. He was our Substitute.
We recognize that God will never punish us for our sin, which we deserve, because He has punished Christ.
We have moved from death to life.

Prayer Life
Some words to describe your prayer life: inconsistent, humbling, selfish, strong.
If you wanted to learn to pray, go to Scripture. Model prayers in John 17, the Lord's Prayer, the book of Acts.
Paul tells the Ephesians how he prays for them.
Distractions and Daydreams during prayer: try talking out loud. It's not common to carry on a sustained monologue. Also keep your eyes open, have a passage open before you.
He gives thanks for the Ephesians faith in God and love for each other.
He prays regularly and consistently that they may know God better.
He prays that they'll understand how precious the church is to God. It is the inheritance of Jesus.
Churches this side of glory are not perfect.
Paul's prayer-life was radically "other-centred".
Do you pray like that for anyone other than yourself?
Do you only pray for God to make your life more comfortable?

The Old Life vs. The New Life
In the first century, you were either a Jew or a Gentile.
Gentile was a non-Jew, and a pagan.
Paul commands them not to live as they used to live.
"In the futility of their thinking." All self-centred thinking that rejects God is futile.
You are missing all the facts that make it all make sense--Who God is, who you are--You miss the main point of the whole universe.
"The ignorance in them"--culpable for their sin.
Hard hearts.
Lost sensitivity--the idea of calloused skin.
When you don't feel your need of Jesus, it proves you do need Him.
Leprosy is a picture of sin. In leprosy you lose your sensitivity to things.
Put on the new self, created to be like God.
We are moved from death to life.
Paul gives specifics of what that life looks like:
Put off lying. That includes leaving things out, making excuses and spinning the story.
Lying can start out small.
Don't stay angry--find a forgiving spirit.
Not controlling your anger gives Satan an avenue into your life.
Stop stealing. Instead, work honestly, share with those in need.
Old self--it hurts you to get what I want.
New self--I'll work hard to help you if you need it.
A radical change.
No unwholesome talk: cursing, blasphemy, gossip, slander, boasting, criticizing.
Rather, build others up with your words.
Do not grieve the Spirit--related to your words.
The Spirit speaks to build up the church. He lives in you--He doesn't want to hear your lives and slander.
Forgive, as you've been forgiven. They can't do anything to you that compares with what you've done to God.

Sexual immorality should be far removed from the church.
Our society has changed so that what was formerly wrong, is right, or at least, morally neutral.
Sexual immorality is self-centred.
50% of engagements are broken off, so the idea that "we're going to be married" is not valid.
Such a person has no inheritance in the kingdom of God.
People will trade their souls for foolish things.
Let no one deceive you with vain words. Don't be partners with them. If you are partners in the act, you'll be partners in the wrath.
Expose these things to the light.
Pay attention to how you live.
Don't entertain yourself to death.
Make the most of the short life you have.
Don't be foolish, but discerning.
Don't be drunk. Rather, thanksgiving, control by God's Spirit.
Your life should be characterized as worship to God.
God takes great interest in our singing.

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