Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Christian Life

[The following entry follows a sermon preached by Steve Smith at Gray Road Baptist Church. The title is "Christian Living: Explained and Exemplified", and you can click on the title to listen to the audio.]

This week's blog entry has been written by my ministry colleague at Gray Road...Steve Smith. He preached in my place and has written the following encouraging words for us to consider.

Hello Church...as I was considering our text from this past Sunday, I wanted to discuss one question. What happened to the disciples?

Throughout the Gospels, the disciples are proved to be selfish, self-centered, self-ambitious men who don’t seem to understand anything that Jesus is telling them. Our text in Mark 10 is just one of many examples. Clearly, this is the norm in the realm of fallen humanity. We are all born in Adam and have inherited a nature that craves the things of worldliness. 1 John 2:16, as far as I know, is the best Biblical definition - “the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions.”

This is the state of humanity in its fallenness, living everyday to fulfill the desires of the flesh, acquire the desires of the eyes and taking pride in possessions. In Mark 10, we see that the disciples of Jesus were caught in this very same snare. They were vying for power, prestige and importance over others. Honesty requires that we admit that we all struggle with these types of issues in our lives in one way or another. Nevertheless, something happened in the lives of the disciples that changed everything. This is what I want to discuss for just a moment.

The moment of transformation came on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. The disciples continued to prove their self-centeredness throughout the rest of the Gospels all the way up to the Crucifixion. Out of fear for their own lives, they deserted Jesus Christ as he was arrested and left him to face the Jews and Romans alone. Yet, in Acts 2 everything changes. In Acts 1:8, Jesus told the disciples, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” This promise is fulfilled in the next chapter. “When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.” Acts 2:1-2. Everything has changed now. Men have received the power of the Holy Spirit. God has now made the bodies of believers His temple.

It is incredible to see effect of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the disciples. The man who had just denied Christ 3 times weeks earlier stands up and boldly preaches the Gospel to the very same people. Acts 2:42-45 says, “they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers…Awe came upon every soul…had all things in common…And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.” This is the effect of the Holy Spirit on men. Selfishness, greed, pride and vain conceit have now vanished because of His presence.

Simply stated, if we are going to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, it is going to be the power of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives. This is not a natural exercise, it is a supernatural one. By the power of the Holy Spirit we have been set free from the chains of the law and sin. James, only a few short years after making this request, fell at the sword of Herod because of His powerful witness for Christ. What changed in him? He now possessed the Spirit of God. Apart from the Holy Spirit, we can do nothing. Let us be a people who seek and obey the Holy Spirit. Only then can we follow after Jesus.