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Author:Rev. Sjirk Bajema
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Congregation:Reformed Church of Mangere
 South Auckland, New Zealand
 
Title:Going Up!
Text:CD 5 V:1-6 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Unclassified
 
Preached:2001-09-16
Added:2008-04-25
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


P - PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS

 “Going Up!”

 

Sermon by Rev S Bajema

on Canons of Dort V:1-6

 

Scripture reading:

Philippians 3:1-4:1

 

 

Congregation...

 

We’re being drawn up. The Holy Spirit is working out that growing up into Him who is the Head - Jesus Christ. This is called our sanctification.

We heard the apostle Paul describe this. In Philippians 3:12 he wrote, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”

You see, holiness is about carrying on. The meaning for “perseverance” in the dictionary is to “go on resolutely, in spite of opposition.”

There couldn’t be a better definition of the Christian life. We go on resolutely, in spite of opposition. In spite of the opposition of the sinful nature within us; in spite of the opposition of the sensual fleshly world around us; in spite of the opposition of the spiritual evil which rules in places of power; in spite of the opposition of Satan and the hosts of demons; in spite of the opposition of the principalities and powers of darkness - in spite of all these - the Christian perseveres.

He goes resolutely on; on in the new life; on in the faith once for all delivered to the saints; on in the worship and service of God. This is the perseverance of the saints.

If you want to read a good story about this, read ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’. Read of what the character ‘Christian’ has to endure. And marvel about how similar it is to your own life!

If you haven’t read it yet - read it next!

We have to wonder, though, if the title, ‘The Perseverance of the Saints’, might not be a little misleading. It could give the idea that it’s the saints - we believers - who are doing it on our own.

Of course, it depends where you place the emphasis. Is it on the “saints” - or is it on the “perseverance”?

Our  Lord Jesus Christ says of His disciples, in John 17:12, “While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost, except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.”

It’s the same He extends now through His Holy Spirit. This is the only reason why we’re going up!

 

Article 1

You see, believer, we’re not in heaven yet! Every day again we’re reminded of this. We still sin. We stumble and fall. We let ourselves down, and most of all we let the Lord down, so often!

How come?

Perhaps you’re a new Christian. You find yourself filled with this incredible joy. You’re so happy you belong to the Lord - you’re a citizen of heaven itself! What a relief!

But there’s that sin. Maybe it was just the once - the loose word, that nasty thought, a foolish action.

It happened again, though. It just keeps haunting you. It’s teasing, frustrating, restraining you - from what you really want to be in the Lord!

Sadly, there are Christians who make money out of this. They play on your fears, your insecurities. They tell you that you haven’t had what really counts yet. With phrases like ‘carnal Christian,’ ‘second blessing,’ ‘the anointing,’ they’ll tell you that you can’t be sure you’re saved.

But they’ve got it. And if you were only to do...

Watch out! Be careful! Be Berean!

The Bereans were those solidly-biblical believers in Acts 17, who, even when they had the great apostle Paul preach and teach to them, searched out what he said against the Scriptures. And they only had the Old Testament!

When you hear or read those modern-day prophets who sound so appealing, be sceptical. As you’re offered that enticing package, remember, we’re not in heaven yet.

You see, if things were so perfect; if God’s will was for us to be completely healthy and wealthy; why, His Son would come down straight-away on the clouds of glory and usher in the place where that will be true!

That hasn’t happened. So, for now, we struggle with “the already and the not yet.” For already we’re saved, and bound for glory. But that glory has not yet come. We still await the second coming of the Lord.

Sin no longer has the power over us. Satan has been defeated - the battle has been won. As a dying animal can still have a nasty flick in his tail, though, the devil still stings!

We can compare this with the Allied armies after the Normandy invasion in 1944. The major battle was won. The end result was not in doubt. But there was still much fighting to come. There was still more time to wait between D-Day and V-Day!

 

Article 2

Still, congregation, these burdens which cling to us, against our will, are there for our good now. This is what Article 2 says. Because if the Lord hasn’t finished with us yet, it stands to reason that it must be part of His plan for our good.

Is that how you take it? Is your view the same as the apostle Paul? He said, in the great chapter of comfort, in Romans 8, verse 28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose?”

And later in the chapter, verse 37, “in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

    

Article 3

Believer, it’s this grace which continues right to the end. Is it was left to us, we would fall right out of faith! But it was never our faith!

Article 3 is about the tremendous assurance we have in a biblical faith. The assurance so many in Christendom don’t have. They still need to make it up - at least partially - by themselves.

But do we ourselves really know it? Fellow believer, do you realise the pivotal promise that the Lord gave us - the Church - through Peter? The promise Jesus said in Matthew 16 verse 18, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it.”

In the Old Testament this is pictured physically by Jerusalem surrounded by her enemies, yet being miraculously saved. In our New Testament age it’s the temple of the Holy Spirit within believers which is constantly battered. The waves of sin within, the world without, and the devil’s forces all around, are pounding against the Lord’s own.

Notice the way this article contrasts God’s grace against the utter inability of man. God’s grace is alone glorious. He does it!

This is why Article 3 is such a good summary of this whole Fifth Head of Doctrine. After this the Canons start to delve into how this grace operates.

But here we see again that the whole process of salvation is from start to finish only through sovereign grace. At no point can we do it without Him.

You only need to see who’s up against us, to realise that. It’s the most triple alliance - ourselves, the world and the devil.

The devil, who already has the world on his side. That’s why he camped right by you! He’s always on the prowl, waiting to pounce on any weakness. And he knows you - through and through!

Then there are the temptations of this world. How the wife of Lot showed their power!

You probably know that story from Genesis 19. Lot and his family were pulled out of Sodom and told to flee and not look back. The angels warned them to get away.

But she couldn’t - she had to look back at the world with its temptations. She lusted for Sodom and Gomorrah. And she was turned to a pillar of salt.

Oh Christian, beware the seducing sights and enticing sounds of this world! While it cannot destroy you as it did Lot’s wife, it can yet block you from seeing heaven. The things of this world can hinder your prayers, and even stop them for a while.

Then there are the “remains of indwelling sin”. This is what we met in Article 1. These sins are what remind us that we’re not in heaven yet. These sins we hate in ourselves, when you’ve gone and done it again!

 

Article 4

So we know we can fall! Like the foolish sheep we are, we stray. Article 4 pictures it well, “converts are not always so influenced and actuated by the Spirit of God as not in some particular instances sinfully to deviate from the guidance of divine grace, so as to be seduced by and to comply with the lusts of the flesh.”

Watch out! Keep close to God - that’s prayer! Check yourself all the time, by His Word.

It could be that not only are you swept away for a time, but that it’s God’s just permission that you suffer. That’s so, on the last day, you will be saved. There are the stories of David, Peter, and other saints in Scripture, which show this.

Think again of the Allies, when they landed at Normandy. The crucial battle was won. And, yet, there were still battles lost as the Allies made their way to Berlin. Who could forget the Battle of the Bulge, or the terrible mistake at Arnhem?

There is one vivid case illustrated in 1 Corinthians chapter 5. There Paul speaks these words about a man involved in adultery, “When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus, and I am with you in spirit, hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.”

Congregation, church discipline may not feel good - in fact, that’s rarely the case. But it is for the believer’s eternal good! That’s why God sent Nathan to David. And that’s why the words of Jesus convicted Peter.

 

Article 5

Congregation, until such a believer comes clean with the Lord, he will suffer. Article 5 is clear about this.

These sins terribly offend the LORD God. They result in a deadly guilt; they grieve the Holy Spirit; they stop your prayer life; they interrupt your walk with the Lord; they wound your conscience.

You can even lose the sense of God’s favour. That’s means you might wonder whether you belong to the Lord at all!

Sadly, this is not a judgment proclaimed clearly in our day. There is a simple ‘believism’ about. “Just love Jesus,” they say, “and all your problems will go away.”

That’s a very shallow Christianity. It’s certainly not living biblically.

Because of that, it has no strength to sustain through difficult times. Nor does it have a thorough theology to match up against some of those other beliefs.

One example of this is the mission to the Muslim world. That is the most difficult area of witness, humanly speaking, in today’s world. After the events of the last few years, we get a bit of an idea why.

You see, Islam is a tightly constructed theological system. Like Judaism, it hase this strong, rational strand throughout. Islam can answer all life’s difficult questions - even if the answers seem to have the most unyielding hatred. It has, indeed, cast a net of fear over billions of people.

So - which type of mission has an enduring force, and blessing, to meet this devilish empire? No airy-fairy, never-land religion can challenge such a power. That’s why the Reformed Presbyterian missions, with their distinctive whole world-and-life view to tackle every aspect of their lives, can be effective there.

It is this same perspective of God’s Word which is best for you. Otherwise, you have to say at the time of serious sin that you’ve lost your faith altogether!

Well, that’s how it would be if it depended on how you felt at any particular time. But this belief rides out the rough ups and down of our emotions. Because we know those things - hard as they are - are actually part-and-parcel of genuine faith.

Why do you think Jesus Christ suffered and died? Was it only to give us a jump-start in the faith? Surely it was so that His Spirit would help us all the way!

Imagine a mother who gives birth to a child. A child which she and her husband have lovingly planned to have for many years. But then they abandon the child, because now the child is finally born!

It’s only the start to that baby’s life. There’s so much care, years and years of it, before the child is an adult.

Just as we aren’t perfectly mature until the Lord calls us to himself out of this life, so He keeps looking after us. His Word is full of that care, and the believer’s thankfulness for that care!

 

Article 6

Now we’re well into Article 6. This is the truth that God brings us through. He does it!

Though we deserve alienation from Him forever over and again, He keeps us. In the words of this Article, He “does not wholly withdraw the Holy Spirit from His own people even in their grievous falls.”

In a world of much insecurity and deep unhappiness — in a world that this past week suffered terrible shocks — there is a constant strength. For there is a God who never changes; the God who stands above it all; the God who controls it all. He’s the God who brings us through!

Even when it’s we ourselves drawing away from Him, the power of His love cannot be stopped. He will win through. V-Day is on its way. The victory is being won in you!

Listen to those words of His which have been such a comfort through countless generations of the faith. The words which conclude Romans 8 are those which seal us to Him! As Paul says there in the verses 38 and 39, “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Amen.

 

PRAYER:

Let’s pray...

O Mighty, Sovereign God, we bow now before the splendour of Your power. For You will do what You said You will. Though we are so small and so weak, You are so big and so strong. We can depend on You.

In fact, we must always look to You. Through Jesus Christ we must draw in the grace which has turned our lives around -for all eternity.

And then all hell can break loose - thousands may perish, even us - but we won’t die. Because You have conquered that last enemy. Death is defeated.

In Jesus saving and ruling Name, we pray, Amen.

 

 

 

 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
The source for this sermon was: www.rcnz.org.nz

(c) Copyright 2001, Rev. Sjirk Bajema

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