Sunday, August 01, 2010

Contending Earnestly For the Faith (Sermon)

This is a little farewell message I gave to the Christian Fellowship that I was running at my old high school before I graduated. I gave it to a group of about 10 members (including myself) as an exhortation to continue working for God's glory in the coming years. I just thought it might be a good idea to post it here for posterity's sake.

Sermon Title:
Contending Earnestly For the Faith

Sermon Text:
Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.
(Jude 1:3, NASB)

Sermon Proposition:
We need the Holy Spirit to come... to bring about a revival.

Bible translations used:
ESV – English Standard Version
NASB – New American Standard Bible

I want you all to know that it has been a great pleasure being with you and having fellowship together. I thank the Lord God for every moment that we have had together, especially with those of you whom we have done prayers and evangelism outreach with. Since I am leaving [name of high school deleted], and will no longer be with you next year, I decided to leave you all with this short message to encourage all of you for the following school year and the rest of the years to come.

Now, you just heard the bible passage from Jude which I am basing my message on. I want this to be the theme of this Fellowship for those of you who will continue to take part next year. Never forget, brothers and sisters, that we are living in a world that is perishing in sin and depravity. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “the god of this world [that is, Satan] has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4, ESV). Many around us appear lively and energetic, but God’s word makes it plain that spiritually, they are “dead in trespasses and sins... [being] by nature children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:1,3). And what shall we do about this? The answer is given to us by Jude: We must contend! We must “contend earnestly for the faith” by doing everything that God has granted us to do so that light may come to this world. Let us proclaim to the world “our common salvation,” which we have received from God by His free grace. My contention then, brothers and sisters, is that we need the Holy Spirit to come upon this school—this neighbourhood even—to bring about a revival.

Yes, you heard me right. I said revival. I long to see the days of the great awakening come to life in this age, and I long to see God bring up preachers like Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield of old; men who were empowered by the Spirit to proclaim the Gospel fearlessly, show sinners their lost state and need for Christ and win thousands of souls into eternal life. May the Spirit quicken us today just as He did back in those days. For this to happen though, there are three important things that I want you all to bear in mind:

First off, I want you to remember that a true revival is one that is initiated by the Spirit of God. When the masses linger in their deadness, the only thing that can make any difference is the reviving, regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. Do not think that we can accomplish anything by our own effort and willpower. We have no strength of our own to rely upon. As the Psalmist once put it, “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labour in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain” (Psalm 127:1, NASB). Always remember that those who are born again are born “not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13, NASB), and that “no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except in the Holy Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:3, ESV). “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9, ESV). When we evangelize, are but tools in the hands of the Sovereign Architect. One proverbs states, I am not one to entertain the idea that we have any spark of goodness that we should choose God on our own. My friend, those of us who have made the good confession have done so because we are in the Spirit. And we must pray that God may send forth His Spirit to make others born again and as a result believe. It’s like what it says in that old hymn,

Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing.

Let God go forth ahead of us, that the Lord Christ may be the general to lead this army into victory. Pray for the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, for He who was able to change our hearts and cause us to be born again is able to do likewise towards others as well.

That being said, let us also remember that we must constantly check ourselves against the measuring rod of God’s word. It is the only sure standard that we have; Do not go “beyond what is written” (1 Corinthians 4:6)! Remember that “Scripture is breathed out [or inspired] by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (1 Timothy 3:16-17, ESV). I am afraid that we often replace scripture with gimmicks and programs to entice people into believing. My friends, neither Jesus nor the apostles nor anybody in the early church ever did that. Whatever you are doing, make sure it is in accordance with scripture. Read it regularly. Get a daily reading plan. Memorize some verses. Make sure you’re not neglecting your bible study. Most important of all, make sure that you’re applying the Word to all that you do in life. Do not be led astray by fleshly emotions or traditions of men. If you think you are being led by the Spirit, check the scriptures to see if you are being lead according to God’s word. This is the surest way to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (1 John 4:1, ESV).

Finally, learn to communicate effectively to those around us. Paul said in his epistle to the Colossians that you must “conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, by salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person” (Colossians 4:5-6, NASB). We run into different people every day, and we must know how to answer each of them according to where they are. This is where your bible knowledge comes in. Use the Word to answer. Don’t be afraid to make use of all the resources that God has made available. Remember that you must, in the words of the apostle Peter, “sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to every one who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15, NASB). If you can learn how to redeem the time, you will be able win countless souls over into the Kingdom of Heaven.

There are many more words that I wish to say to you, but because time is short, I leave you with these words. For all of you who are coming back next year, may you keep the light shining for all to see. May you be like that great preacher Jonathan Edwards, who resolved to live for God even if nobody else would do so. And let us never cease praying that God may bring about spiritual revival in our school, in our families and in our neighbourhood. Finally, since we began with a passage from Jude, we shall end with one from Jude as well. Verses 20 onward state:

But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever.

(Jude 1:20-25, ESV)

And may Lord God be with you on your journey through this present life, and may you always be working for the glory of His name.

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