As Christians who are resolute in following the word of God, and worshipping God in spirit and in truth, we have to contend with a host of issues. Personal issues. Interpersonal ones. Issues and phenomena arising from the nature of our society. Relationship of society to the word of God. The verdict of society and individuals on the relevance of the authority of God.
We continue to explore this month’s theme of Divine Stability and pray to seek God’s face for ourselves and the church. Illustration of Divine Stability in the life of a Christian- Ephesians 4.1-16 Jesus laid his life down and died so you and I can be saved according to God’s provision, and in the course of our lives achieve spiritual maturity and stability. Ephesians 4 is an illustration of what we as spiritually mature and stable believers will end up looking like.
A spiritually stable church is full of the knowledge of God, and brethren who spontaneously display the fruits of the spirit in fellowship. This is possible because God has given each of us the grace to display the outward manifestation of the inner working of the spirit of God. This is seen outwardly as unity among the brethren in striving to achieve the will of God. [Ephesians 4.1-10] In other words, the purpose of the inner working of the Holy Spirit produces maturity and spiritual stability. Ephesians 4.11-12 (verse 12- to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ), Verse 13: until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ The Holy Spirit continues His work until we achieve spiritual stability so that the evidence of our stability can endure all manner of trials as we go through life and encounter the issues, phenomena, philosophies and verdicts of earthly systems on the authority of God.
The Holy Spirit’s maturing and stabilizing work is important (verse 14- so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes). Here, therefore, is a near-perfect illustration of Divine Stability. The Christian’s path to achieving spiritual stability involves the personal knowledge and encounter of the true God, fellowship with His children. This enables the individual to allow God do His work and nurture them to spiritual maturity. They will eventually be able to stand as fully grown minister (servant) of the Gospel of truth and Give all of themselves to Him.
The gap between this ideal and the reality of the lives of most Christians is a well-known challenge. Illustration of the challenge Jesus illustrated the challenge of attaining this ideal clearly and encouraged his audience to make a choice. He had been spending quality time teaching and preaching. At the end of the sermon, he paused wanting to summarise and conclude by giving them a memorable and vivid illustration of what stability in their lives and endeavours would look like. He declared in Mat 7.24-25 that “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.”
It is remarkable that, just prior to making that assertion, he had just finished dealing with all aspects and essence of communal and individual lives that were as relevant then as they are today in 2018. In fact, the specifics of the latter part of His teaching could be summarised and highlighted thus: Pray [Mat 6.5-15]; Fast [Mat 6.16-18], Lay up your treasures in heaven and serve God [Mat 6.19-24]; Do not be anxious as God will take care of you [Mat. 6.25-34]; Work hard at self-improvement, and let God be the judge [Mat 7.1-6]; God is Good to His children, so in prayer, ask and he will give to you! [Mat 7.7-11]; Fulfil the Golden Rule ‘Do to others as you would like them to do to you”; Enter eternal life through Jesus Christ, the hard to find narrow gate that leads to life- and not the easy and wide one that leads to destruction. [Mat 7.12-14]; Bear fruits befitting the kingdom of God, but beware of false prophets and all manner of deceivers. [Mat.7.15-20]; Render your service out of a pure heart and without iniquity.
It must have been appealing to the spirits of many in the audience. Many of them being Jewish probably recognise some of these tough demands of the law and appreciate the difficulty involved in living a life of perfection that was essentially being demanded of them. The teaching must have seemed straightforward and justifiable, but represent some tough set of circumstances and achievements to individually attain for any of them. Yet in order to be wise, ready and spiritually stable the Lord himself declared to his audience then (and us today) that we must both hear as well as do (successfully perform) all of these things. However, the performance of those (full compliance with and fulfilment of the law) things does not purchase or guarantee salvation or success!
The demand was clear and unambiguous: [Mat 5.48: Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.], and so was and today remains the dilemma. Without them freedom from sin, justification and eternal life is impossible. He knows we need help, and is available to offer the help we require. [Roman 3.20- 26. Verse 20: Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.] [Galatians 2.16: Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.]
The Help- achieving Divine Stability
For those who have already by the grace of God been convicted of sin, and accepted God’s mercy to have Christ Jesus become their saviour and replacement for the necessary punishment, there is a help. [John 14.12-14] Verse 12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. v13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it. v15 If ye love me, keep my commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; The Lord who worked with the saints and early church apostles is ready to work with us today. Malachi 3:6 “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
Conclusion and Prayers.
Call to repentance and acceptance of the Lord Jesus, obedience to the Word of God and participation in fellowship with His saints. That is the basis on which the work of the Holy Spirit can begin in the life of an individual, leading to maturity and divine stability.
In concluding we draw our prayer points from the following scriptures. Galatians 3.13-14: “13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.” John 16.33: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.
In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 17.14-17: “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 1 Chronicles 4.10:” 10 Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked.” The Holy Spirit working in us individually, and collectively as groups of believers can help us achieve that divinely engineered spiritual stability.
This regardless of whatever issues may be of importance in the world today; or the prevailing and favoured views, opinions and philosophies in the world; or the verdict of society on the relevance of the authority of God, and His Word. Only those who build on the Rock, through prompt obedient action in response to the Word of God can achieve true wisdom and spiritual stability. All else is disobedience and vanity that ends in destruction. Romans 6.23.
The sermon, Divine Stability, by Minister Yomi Sanusi, was delivered on Sunday, April 15, 2018.