Andrew Fountain - How We Receive New Life and Grow

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Full sermon notes - How We Receive New Life and Grow

There is not one of us here, I would venture to say, who is completely happy with who we are.

Most of us have areas of our character where we would dearly love to grow.

  • We would like to be more careing, more loving, more disciplined
  • We would like to love God more, pray more
  • Lose character weaknesses and flaws
  • Be more filled with joy and hope, more content, more Christlike.

But how does change happen?

There are many ideas out there:

  • disciplines
  • techniques
  • steps
  • motivational speakers
  • Demo of a pot of earth—how do I get a plant to grow in it?
    • plant a seed
    • how can a seed produce a whole plant?
      • because the seed is an amazing tiny capsule of information and growth mechanisms and it contains life
        • (although of course the life is through God’s own power)
  • I have been reading and re-reading Colossians to ask how change happens in people
    • How does Paul expect his readers to change?
    • The answer surprised me
  • I found 8 places where Paul talked about change.
    • and in every singe one, there was the same surprising answer!
    • Lets look at them and see what is behind it:

But let’s look at the verses:

Colossians 1:4-6

  1. I heard of your faith in Christ Jesus,
    and of the love which you have towards all the saints,
          because of the hope laid up for you in heaven,
  2.       of which you have heard before
          in the word of truth, the gospel,
  3.             which has come to you, even as it’s in the world
                bearing fruit and growing
                even as it does among you
          since the day you heard and came to recognize
          the grace of God in truth.
  • The fruit here is faith and love
    • The image is of a growing plant
    • But what makes it grow?
  • See the “because” in v.4
    • It’s because they heard of the kingdom of heaven
  • What is the seed that is growning and having fruit in v.6?
    • its the “word of truth”

Colossians 1:4-6

  1. I heard of your faith in Christ Jesus,
    and of the love which you have towards all the saints,
          because of the hope laid up for you in heaven,
  2.       of which you have heard before
          in the word of truth, the gospel,
  3.             which has come to you, even as it’s in the world
                bearing fruit and growing
                even as it does among you
          since the day you heard and came to recognize
          the grace of God in truth.
  • When I read this, something clicked in my mind
    • The word of God bringing life
    • That was exactly what happened in the Old Creation

Let there be light

Let there be light

Image source: amf

And there was light

And there was light

Image source: amf

  • God’s word carries with it the power of his Spirit
    • He speaks the word, and the Spirit causes the words to come to life

Earth

Earth

Image source: Nasa

  • So the Old Creation was made by God speaking, and the Spirit giving life to the Word
    • In the same way the New Creation happens when we speak the good news of Jesus Christ
    • This truth is the seed that brings new life
    • Just like a seed, it has power in itself

Colossians 1:4-6

  1. I heard of your faith in Christ Jesus,
    and of the love which you have towards all the saints,
          because of the hope laid up for you in heaven,
  2.       of which you have heard before
          in the word of truth, the gospel,
  3.             which has come to you, even as it’s in the world
                bearing fruit and growing
                even as it does among you
          since the day you heard and came to recognize
          the grace of God in truth.
  • Let’s look back at the verses and see how this is the case

Colossians 3:9-10

  1. …you have stripped off the old man with his practices,
  2. and have clothed yourself with the new man
    being renewed in knowledge
    according to the image of him who created him,
  • The old man is the Adam that is in us
  • The new man is Jesus
    • We are being renewed into the image of our Creator
    • But what is it that is causing this new life to flourish?
      • knowledge !?
  • Now this surprised me
    • because I have not found Christians who know a lot of truth to be always the most loving and Christlike.
    • Sometimes they are, but more often they are a mixture, just like anyone else.
  • I ran a Bible Seminary for 9 years and there were some wonderful Christians there among the faculty and students
    • but there were also some very immature and even unspiritual people.
    • Not much different to most groups of Christians.
  • I have been a member of churches where there is an intense focus on truth,
    • but this doesn’t necessarily result in wonderful fruits of growth and Christ-likeness.
  • So I was surprised.
  • So if say to Paul, ok, we understand that salvation needs to come from an understanding of the truth of Jesus
    • But not spiritual growth.
      • That is through discipline, prayer, worship, working through issues
  • Now those four things are very important, so why does Paul not mention them?
    • Every single time he talks about growth, it is the same deal—truth

Colossians 1:9-11

  1. …we also, since the day we heard,
          have not ceased praying for you and asking
    that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will
    in all spiritual wisdom and understanding
  2.       so as to walk worthy of the Lord,
    in all ways to please him,
    in all good work bearing fruit and increasing in the knowledge of God, 11
    in all power being empowered, through his glorious strength,
    in all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father
  • I’m just going to give you a couple more:

Colossians 3:16

  1. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,
    teaching and warning one another in all wisdom

Colossians 2:6-7

  1. Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him,
  2. rooted and built up in him and established in the faith,
    just as you were taught
  • Here again is the image of a plant growing

Are we renewed by truth?

  • Problem: What Paul seems to be saying does not match up with our experience
    • Knowing more facts does not make us grow!
  • Nevertheless, this truth seems to be everywhere in the NT
  • Parable of the sower “The sower sows the word.” (Mar 4:14)
  • “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. (Mat 4:4)
  • “and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)
  • So how do we resolve this?
    • Question time…

What goes wrong?

  • Why are many not set free by the truth?
  1. Often they focus on peripheral truths, not the main truths
  2. Motivation is out of intellectual interest or pride
  3. It is not just the truth that is needed but a response in faith to the truth.
  4. This response is in the power of the Spirit.
    • This involves all of who we are, thoughts, emotions, deep beliefs.
    • There is often not an expectation or openness to this happening so it is blocked out.

Some Truths

  • Jesus is alive right now and his salvation is real
  • Jesus loves me. Nothing can separate!
  • He really is all I need
  • The world around me will soon be gone
  • The new creation will be so much better and I have an amazing inheritance to look forward to
  • God hates all sin and will judge this world
  • for me
    • Why don’t I pursue a lucrative career in the computer industry?
      • What truths do you think are controlling me?
    • My car just turned 200,000 km yesterday. I should probably get a new one. Why am I not particularly excited about that?
    • What if I am tempted to eat that extra chocolate desert?
      • I am Jesus’ servant. I am his soldier. He loves me and is cheering me on. Soldiers must be disciplined
  • So if we believe this is true, let’s try it right now!
    • Here is some “seed” from Colossians chapter 3

Colossians 3:1-6

  1. If, therefore, you were raised together with Christ,
    • the things above keep seeking, where Christ is,
      sitting at the right hand of God. 2
    • the things above keep thinking about,
      not on things on the earth,
  2. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
     
  3. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also with him will appear in glory.
    • Therefore put to death what is in you which is of the earth:
    • sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
  4. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience,
  • What practical ways would our life be changed if we really believed these things?
    • We need faith
    • The Spirit to make the seed of the word germinate and bring forth life

Updated on 2012-02-03 by Andrew Fountain