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Topical Sermon Outlines: Seven Pillars of Christian Growth: First Pillar: God's Word PDF

Seven Pillars of Christian Growth | First Pillar: God's Word

Mk 11:12-14; 20-21

There two lessons in this passage - to have faith, but also that God expects fruitfulness.

ILLUS - I would rather eat a fig than a fig seed. But to get a fig, you have to put this seed into the ground, water it, look after it, and hope that one day it will be fruitful.

How disappointing when a fruit tree fails to grow or to bear fruit!

God's Word

God has planted the seed of the gospel in our lives.

And the question we should be asking ourselves is: How can I guarantee that I will grow in God?

*How can I make sure that I will last the distance?

*And not join the huge number of Christians who have - for various reasons - backslidden, fallen away, and suffered shipwreck in their faith.

*How can I keep my faith strong, and run the race to the end?

Mat 24:13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved.

In the next few studies, we'll be looking at what I call "The 7 Pillars of Christian Growth".

In over 30 years of walking with the Lord, mostly in leadership, I have never seen anyone fall away from God who is consistently putting these principles into practice.

I'd say that's a pretty good guarantee.

ILLUS - If you found out that the government had a scheme where, if you invested in it, they would guarantee you'd double your money every year, wouldn't you invest in it?

How much more important is our soul than our money?

2 Pet 1:10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble;

It's our responsibility to make our call and election sure.

This is the first of these 7 Christian disciplines that will make your walk with God strong.

The Word of God

I want to ask a couple of questions:

What will the Word of God do for me?

1. God's Word teaches me the difference between soul and spirit.

Heb 4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Jesus said something similar: John 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.

Now how important is it to know the difference between soul and spirit?

Let me refresh your memory:

*Your spirit and your soul aren't the same.

*Your soul is the part of you that makes you conscious of self.

*It has three important faculties - mind, will and emotions.

*Your spirit is the part of you that makes you God-conscious.

*It also has three important faculties - conscience, intuition and communion.

What comes from our soul, comes from ourselves - but it's our spirit that hears from God.

That makes it important for us to know the difference.

Because the difference is usually a matter of what we want to happen as opposed to what God wants to happen.

It's the difference between our will and God's will.

God's Word helps us discern this difference by clearly answering questions such as:

*Should I marry or form a business partnership with a non-Christian?

*Is it okay to have sex outside of marriage, or with the person I'm planning to marry?

*Does it matter if I don't declare my taxable income to the Tax Department?

*Does it matter if I get involved in pornography?

*Is it okay if I stop going to church?

*And a lot more.

Many Christians I've known over the years have failed to discern God's will on these and similar issues - but God's Word cuts away all pretence like a two-edged sword, and gives clear answers to the questions.

2. God's Word gives me faith.

Rom 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Faith is our spiritual muscle.

But it doesn't matter if you're as strong as Arnold Schwarzenegger, you will get to an age when you will lose a lot of your physical strength.

But did you know, that even though we may not be able to maintain our physical strength throughout our life, our spiritual muscles should be growing till the day we die.

We need ever increasing faith - and that comes from God's Word.

This brings us to our second question:

How can I make sure God's Word does its work in me?

1. I must listen.

Rom 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

There's a word in that Scripture that's easy to overlook.

It doesn't just say that faith comes from the Word of God.

It says: faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

If the Word of God is going to profit us at all, we need to be listening to what God is saying to us in His Word.

Most Christians that I've known don't do that totally.

But what they do is say, "Yes Lord, Yes Lord, Yes Lord" to some areas.

But then there's an area where it's, "No way. I'm not going to do that!"

Friends, when you say no to God, that's when you stop growing.

ILLUS - Imagine your life is like a building with millions of rooms. All the rooms are in darkness. When you come to Christ, a light is turned on in one of the rooms. That is your new birth experience. Then gradually, the Holy Spirit works His way through each of the rooms, turning on more and more lights. We call this process sanctification.

*But we need to understand some important truths.

*The Holy Spirit turns on the lights, but you and I are the ones who open the doors.

*If we keep opening the doors, the Holy Spirit will continue to turn on the lights.

*If we block the Holy Spirit's access to a door, if we hear that knock and say, "Go away!" the light will never go on till we open up.

*If we keep blocking the Holy Spirit's access, eventually He may stop knocking.

That means that if I want to keep growing, I must keep a tender heart to God's Word, and open the door every time He knocks.

2. I must digest spiritual food.

ILLUS - In 1981, 10 members of the IRA went on hunger strikes. All of them died, lasting about 10 weeks on average.

Without divine intervention, there's a limit to how long you can go without food.

Food is essential to our ongoing health, wellbeing and continued life.

It's no different with spiritual food.

We need spiritual food to feed our spiritual inner man.

1 Tim 4:6 If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.

I need spiritual food to nourish my inner man.

The food I need depends on my level of growth.

So what sort of food does a new Christian need in order to grow?

ILLUS - We've had two little babies. I saw them both come out of the chute. And I can tell you that they don't come out saying, "Hey, you! Yeah, you with the hairy chest. Don't just stand there. I'm starving. Gimme a steak."

What do babies want?

1 Pet 2:2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,

A new Christian needs the pure milk of the word.

This isn't a punishment.

It's normal for a baby to be fed milk.

But with a reasonable passage of time, you expect them to move onto something more difficult to digest.

Heb 5:12-14 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. (13) For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. (14) But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

The difference between a baby and an adult is not what it can fit in its mouth; or what it can chew, or even what it can swallow.

The real difference is what it can digest.

As the baby grows, it moves onto solid food and a broader diet.

A spiritual baby can only digest the milk of the Word, but a spiritual adult is able to digest the meat / solid food of God's Word.

So what does it mean to digest solid food spiritually?

If the crucial difference is what you can digest, what does that mean?

John 4:27-34 "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work."

That's really something.

In other words, Jesus drew His strength, not from reading God's Word, thinking about God's Word, agreeing with it, admiring it.

He drew His strength - His spiritual nourishment - from doing it.

Heb 5:14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

1 Tim 4:6 If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.

This is why: James 1:22-25: But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves…

ILLUS - The person who hears God's Word and doesn't do it is like someone smelling a steak, looking at it, cutting it up, chewing it, swallowing it - but what's the point if you can't digest it?

Where do we get our physical strength?

*Looking at food?

*Smelling it?

*Chewing it?

*Swallowing it?

We get our strength from digesting it.

If we don't digest our food, we get zero nutrition.

What about spiritual strength?

It's the same - if we don't digest our spiritual food - God's Word - we get zero nutrition.

It's no use just looking at God's Word, although it's good to read it.

It's no use admiring God's Word, although there's lots to admire.

It's no use just thinking about God's Word, although that's good too.

But to draw my spiritual strength and nutrition from it, I have to digest it (do it) - just like Jesus did.

This is summed up in one word - obedience.

God's Word is the first pillar of Christian growth.

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