************ Sermon on 1 John 2:6 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on January 20, 2002
1 John 2:1-14
1 John 2:6
"Walking With God" - Cadet Sunday
I Live Out Your Faith
A What sorts of things do you boys do in Cadets (GET A BOY OR BOYS TO ANSWER)? [get answers like badges, pine wood derby, camping, Bible study ...]
Is it possible to fail Cadets? Pete, have you ever given anyone a big fat "F" for Cadets?
Let's broaden this question. It is possible to fail GEMS, Church School, Catechism, Bible Study? Can you fail church?
Yes you can. But not in the same way that you can fail school.
In school, if a student doesn't learn his lessons and do his homework he fails a test or flunks a course.
So, how can a Cadet fail Cadets? A Cadet can fail Cadets if he does not believe and live out what he hears and learns every week.
[This brings me to our Christian school for a moment. If our children and youth merely learn their lessons and do their homework, they still have failed – no matter how high their marks may be. You see, in a Christian school we not only want our children and youth to learn their lessons and do their homework, we also want them to develop and live out a mature faith, belief, and trust in God.]
In this evening's text, John talks to us about our "walk." What he calls you to do, Cadets, is to walk with God, to live out your faith, and to practice what you preach. John wants you to realize that belief without morality is meaningless, faith without works is dead, head knowledge without heart knowledge is empty. The knowledge and even worship of God is but a chasing after wind if there is no service of the Lord.
B One of the greatest heresies that the Apostle John faced in the early church was Gnosticism. Now, Gnostics did not walk with God. They thought that knowledge was enough. They thought that knowing about God and Jesus was all they needed. They thought that doctrine had no effect on day-to-day life. The result was that many of them slipped into an immoral lifestyle or a completely joyless faith. Christianity, for the Gnostics, was but cold doctrine; it was merely a matter of believing the right things and in the right way.
We shouldn't condemn the Gnostics too quickly. I have met all too many Reformed and Presbyterian people who are just like the Gnostics. These people put great stress on doctrinal orthodoxy, a strict adherence to our Creeds and Confessions, on believing the right things in the right way; yet, their lives are empty of such qualities as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Like the Gnostics, they do not walk with God, live out their faith, or practice what they preach. Theirs is a dead orthodoxy.
C One of the greatest charges that unbelievers always level against the church is the charge of hypocrisy. Non-Christians are so quick to accuse us when we say one thing but do another, when we do not practice what we preach, when we do not walk with God. The world mocks us and Satan smiles when Christian singles have sex, when Christian businessmen engage in unethical practices, when Christian fathers sexually abuse their daughters, when Christian children shop-lift, when Christian teenagers drink and drive, when Christian marriages fall apart, when Christian husbands and wives commit adultery, when Christian young people get into drugs and alcohol, when Christian boys pick on the new kid in school and mock him and poke fun of him and leave him out of all their games. The only way to silence the world, congregation, is for all of us to live out our faith and walk with God.
Let me also say a few words to those who are leaders in the church. It's been over 13 years since Rev. Jimmy Bakker and Rev. Jimmy Swaggart have been caught in adultery; yet, the world still remembers and still points the accusing finger. Those who are leaders in the church have a special responsibility to walk with God, to live out their faith, because it isn't only the church, but also the world, that is watching.
So all of us – young and old, male and female, clergy and layperson, leader and follower – must walk with God. We must all live out our faith. We must all practice what we preach.
D As an aside, you all know that we must not only walk with God but we must also talk about God; we must not only practice what we preach but we must also preach what we practice. Too many members of the Christian Reformed Church think they can go through life without ever once speaking of their faith or witnessing to God's great love towards us in Christ. More than once I have heard a bereaved family tell me the departed one was not one to talk or speak of his faith – a believer, but a silent one. How sad! How disobedient! How this grieves the Lord's Spirit. For believers ought never to be silent about their faith. They must not only walk with God, but they must also talk about God.
II Imitate Jesus
A The verse in front of us this evening contains one of the central truths of Scripture: those who are believers live in Christ. We used to be "in Adam," or "in sin." But now we are "in Christ."
Are you boys "in Christ"? If you are, then you believe in Him and have given Him your heart. If you are "in Christ," then you know Him and love Him.
It is only in Christ that you can be saved. The Apostle Paul tells us that Christians are elect in Christ and die in Christ; are raised, sanctified, and blessed in Christ; are enriched in Christ, wise in Christ, safe in Christ; and, the whole church is one body in Christ.
B As people who live in Christ, you "must walk as Jesus did." That's what John says. You must imitate Christ and follow His example.
What can we say about the example of Christ? He did not come "to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mt 20:28). He was obedient to the point of death. He humbled Himself and put aside for a time His glory as part of the triune Godhead. He loved His friends and treated them perfectly. He spent time and energy on unpopular people: like tax collectors, lepers, prostitutes, and Samaritans. He resisted temptation. He criticized self-righteous people but accepted those who knew and admitted they were sinners.
C Now, Cadets, if you are in Christ, you "must walk as Jesus did." You must imitate Christ and follow His example.
Many times this theme of imitating Christ is sounded forth in Scripture. Remember the time just before the Passover Feast when Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. "I have set you an example," said Jesus, "that you should do as I have done for you" (Jn 13:15). Before telling us about the humility and obedience of Christ, the Apostle Paul says, "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus" (Phil 2:5). And, the Apostle Peter could say, "Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps" (1 Pt 2:21).
D Cadets, if you are in Christ, you must walk as He did. You must follow His example. In His parable of the Sheep and the Goats, Jesus tells us what is expected of us: like Him we are to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, befriend the stranger, clothe the naked, look after the sick, visit the prisoner (Mt 25:31ff). If we do this, we walk with God, we live out our faith, we practice what we preach.
To imitate Christ, to walk with God as Christ did, means we also have to look beyond ourselves, our needs, our wants, our desires; we have to cease being self-centered and self-indulgent and think about others.
Topic: Self-CenteredHow many times aren't we like Nabokov: while people around us are dying how often don't we chase butterflies? All around us are people in need, but too often we are too busy pursuing our own dreams and goals and wants to bother ourselves with them. Cadets, is there a boy who is being left out, is there one with no friends, is someone at school lonely – if you are in Christ then you think of them and NOT just yourself.
A story is told about Vladimir Nabokov, the Russian-born novelist who achieved popular success with 3 different novels.
One summer in the 1940s, Nabokov, and his family lived with a friend in Alta, Utah. Nabokov took this as an opportunity to enlarge his collection of butterflies and moths.
One evening at dusk he returned home from his day's excursion saying that during hot pursuit of a butterfly near Bear Gulch he had heard someone groaning down by the stream.
"Did you stop to check it out?" he was asked.
"No, I had to get the butterfly."
The next day the corpse of an aged prospector was discovered there.
Paul can urge us to imitate the excellencies of Christ to be found in His life. In the same way we should not hesitate to imitate the Christ-like virtues to be found in fellow believers today. For example, some Christians visit prisoners once a week. It isn't easy work. After all, some prisoners are dangerous people and often prefer four letter words. Other Christians reach out by visiting lonely seniors. Every day across the world Christians struggle to teach peasants to farm, adults to read, beginners to pray. Wise and strong Christians assist pregnant teenagers or drug abusers. To imitate Christ, to walk with God, we would be wise to follow the example of these fellow believers.
Cadets, all of you have Christian examples you can follow. Look at parents and grandparents and counselors and teachers and elders who read the Bible and pray, who attend church and Bible study, who give generously to the church and kingdom. Look at them and follow their Christ-like example.
Another way to imitate Christ, to walk with God, is to strive for obedience in all your life and to firmly resist temptation. Joseph was this way with Potiphar's wife. And, Jesus was that way when He faced Satan.
E Jesus never told us it would be easy to imitate Him. Often it takes sacrifice and courage to walk with God. Think for a moment of Daniel and his friends. Everyone else was eating the king's food, drinking his wine, and bending the knee before his golden image; but Daniel and his friends decided to be different and live out their faith. Can you imagine the peer pressure that was put on them to conform and be like everyone else? It's never easy to stand out and be different.
One of the greatest stories in the history of the Christian church concerns Telemachus.
Topic: CourageDo you see what happens, Cadets, when one person has the courage to cry out, to imitate Christ, to walk his talk and talk his walk?! This is the sort of courage you all should have.
Subtopic: Examples of
Telemachus was a 4th century Asian monk who lived in a remote village, tending his garden and spending much time in prayer. One day he felt called of the Lord to go to Rome, so he obeyed, setting out on foot. Weary weeks later, he arrived in the city at the time of a great festival. The little monk followed the crowd surging down the streets into the Colosseum. He saw the gladiators stand before the emperor and say, "We who are about to die salute you." Then he realized these men were going to fight to the death for the entertainment of the crowd. He cried out, "In the name of Christ, stop!"
As the games began, he pushed his way through the crowd, climbed over the wall, and dropped to the floor of the arena. When the crowd saw this tiny figure rushing to the gladiators and saying, "In the name of Christ, stop!" they thought it was part of the show and began laughing.
When they realized it wasn't, the laughter turned to anger. As he was pleading with the gladiators to stop, one of them plunged a sword into his body. He fell to the sand. As he was dying, his last words were, "In the name of Christ, stop!"
Then something strange happened. The gladiators stood looking at the tiny figure lying there. A hush fell over the Colosseum. Way up in the upper rows, a man stood and made his way to the exit. Others began to follow. In dead silence, everyone left the Colosseum.
The year was A.D. 391, and that was the last battle to the death between gladiators in the Roman Colosseum. Never again in the great stadium did men kill each other for the entertainment of the crowd.
Is it possible to fail Cadets? It is possible to fail GEMS, Church School, Bible Study? Can you fail church? Yes you can, if you fail to walk with God. For, you see, those who live in Jesus must walk as Jesus did.
However, if you do live out your faith, if you strive to be like Christ, then God gives you a big, fat "A" and says, "well done, my good and faithful servant."
Cadets, do you get an "A" or do you get an "F"?!
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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