Andrew Fountain - How we Grow

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Sermon notes - How we 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
    • We would like to be more filled with the Holy Spirit
    • Lose character weaknesses and flaws
    • Be more filled with joy and hope, more content, more Christlike.

How We Grow

  • Understand how the Bible says we grow and change
  • Work on the process right now!
  • But how does change happen?
  • There are many ideas out there:
    • The non-christian world is also very interested in this, and one of the best selling categores of books is the How to change

How to Change

_How to Change_

Image source: link

  • How to change your life in the next 15 minutes

Switch

_Switch_

Image source: link

  • How to change things when change is hard

Mind Hacking

_Mind Hacking_

Image source: link

  • How to change your mind for good in 21 days
    • overcome addictions
    • conqueror fear
    • fix your relationships
    • improve your career
    • find happiness
  • (only 21 days!)
  • I’m not saying these books have no value, but if they really worked then why would we so desperately need more and more books?
  • The same is true with Christian books, (many of them good of course)
    • disciplines
    • techniques
    • steps
    • motivational speakers
  • It all points to the widely felt need to see change in our lives
  • 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
    • The two books of Ephesians and Colossians are very similar, and both of them are condensed versions of “everything you need to know about the Christian life”
    • Colossians is shorter than Ephesians, so it’s even more condensed
    • How does Paul expect his readers to change?
    • The answer surprised me
  • I found 8 places where Paul talked about change in Colossians
    • 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? where has it come from?
  • 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?
    • it’s the “word of truth”
  • See how it fits together:

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, it reminded me of something very clearly:
    • The word of God bringing life
    • That was exactly what happened in the Old Creation

Let there be light

Let there be light

And there was light

And there was light

  • 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 carries life 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
  • Now I’d like to look at other verses in Colossians that speak of growing

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, a mixture
  • 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
  • So what enables the things in v.10 is the understanding in v.9
  • 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…
  • Here’s a suggesion:

What goes wrong? 2 Basic Issues

  • Why are many not set free by the truth?
  1. Often they focus on peripheral truths, not the main truths
    • Motivation is out of intellectual interest or pride
  2. It is not just the truth that is needed but a response in faith to the truth.
    • 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.
  1. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for majoring in very minor parts of the law
    • But neglecting the really important things, live loving one another
      • When people who are proud of their knowledge of truth, it’s usually the same kind of thing
    • They might have a detailed knowledge of the prophecies in Ezekiel,
      but not the loving fruit of the Spirit in our lives
    • They may be great on solving apparent contradictions between Luke and John
      but not really get that God is our father
  • Parable of the man building his house on the rock
    • He who hears my words and does them
  • Probably the most important is 2.
  • But going back to 1. I want to ask you what you thing are the main truths?

Some Truths

  • Jesus died to cleanse sin, 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
  • Go through each of the above and ask what difference in makes for me?
  • for me
    • At age 17 I was not following Jesus. I was living my life for my own pleasure.
      • What truth above caused me to change?
    • I could earn a lot more money if I had continued my career in the computer industry, rather than leading a church.
      • What truths do you think are controlling me?
    • Last year my old minivan finally died. What truths controlled my choice of a replacement?

Lamborghini

Lamborghini

or Honda Fit

or Honda Fit

  • why not:

Lamborghini

Lamborghini

  • 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.

  1. 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.
  2. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience,
  1. -3. What are the key facts
    • What effects might these have on you
  2. -6. What are the key facts
    • What if God took you to heaven in a vision and showed you this, would it change your life?
  • 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
    • We’ll pray that the Spirit will bring life to these words in you

Updated on 2017-07-17 by Andrew Fountain