Keep Moving!

Bible Book: Hebrews  6 : 1-2
Subject: Growth; Christian Maturity; Christian Living; Growing in Christ

KEEP MOVING!

Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor, www.pastorlife.com

Introduction

Hebrews 6:1-2

Have you ever tried to change a habit in your life? Perhaps you have attempted to diet and lose weight, only to gain back more pounds than you lost to begin with. We may be like the lady who claimed to have lost weight but garnered some unusual looks from her friend. The weight loser then said, “I have lost 40 pounds! It's true. I have lost 5 pounds-- eight times!"

Some of you have made a pledge to exercise but found that many obstacles get in the way and you end up quitting after a few short visits to the gym. You really meant to get into shape but you drifted away from your commitment.

Going on with something, even when we know we ought to do it, is not as easy as it sounds. As someone wisely stated, “When all is said and done, there is a lot more said than done.”

The writer to the Hebrews was concerned about the Christian going on in his or her commitment to Christ. This, unlike many other issues, is most serious indeed. Churches discover when checking their membership roles that about half the people who joined cannot be located any more. They simply slipped away from the commitment they made to Christ and to the local church.

It is God's desire and design for us to go on making progress in our spiritual lives. He calls on us to go on becoming more mature in our walk with Him. Our problem is that we often cannot see our immaturity and so we keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again. We can easily recognize immaturity in others but are blind to the same weakness in ourselves. One man said, "My wife sure is immature. Every time I take a bath she comes in and sinks my boats."

Of course, the need for Christians to grow and mature in their faith and practice has always been a problem. We see this when we read Hebrews 6:1-2. The writer to the Hebrews saw the danger of indolence, lethargy, apathy and inertia as a great danger to the Christian life and the mission of our Lord to save the lost. No generation in history has had as many forms of entertainment, nor as much time for leisure, as our generation. The call of God to each believer is for us to mature, to grow up, and to become all that God means for us to become in our Christian lives. We will go on in time, whether we like it or not, until God calls us to Himself, but the great question is whether we will go on in maturity to be more of what our Lord saved us to be? That is the question, and it is not a light one!

A preacher friend of mine did a funeral for a lady in her late seventies yesterday. He noted that the lady had lived a long and fruitful life, but then he asked the people at the funeral whether it is better to live more years or to serve God faithful with whatever years he gives us. That is a great question for every Christian. It is not how long we live that matters, but how well we live for our Lord that makes the difference.

Let us consider today the call to go toward maturity in Christ. The great questions are, "Am I now all that the Lord saved me to be? Do I know His Word as I should? Do I live in close communion with Him like I should? Am I the witness that I was saved to be? Is my moral life reflective of His Lordship in me? Is my faith pleasing to Him? Is it possible for me to grow in all these areas?" Most of us know that we are deficient in many of these areas. I don't point this out to make us feel guilty because that is not the purpose of the Lord. The purpose is to help us see the opportunity available for us to grow in our relationship to the Lord and His purposes in and through us. As we do so, we will become more effective, more joyful and will sense an even greater peace in our lives. Note three ways that we can grow in the Lord.

I. The Root

Colossians 2:6-8, "So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."

Note that being rooted refers to our salvation. We cannot be saved but once. The Lord died for us on the cross one time and He saves us just once when we come to Him. Salvation is "once for all." However, that which is not rooted cannot grow. The first question we have to ask is whether we are actual rooted in Christ. Are you certain of your salvation? Truly, some people do not grow in Christ because they are not planted in Christ.

I asked a man I met the other day to tell me when he was saved. He stopped for a moment to think and then responded. He said, “I was saved in 1984.” I commented that he had received the Lord when he was an adult. He then said this, “I made a decision when I was a boy, but I didn’t really trust Christ till 1984. Since then I have been serving Him and growing in my faith.” He was telling me that He was religious for a number of years before he was actually redeemed. He was in church but not in Christ. You can’t grow if you are not "rooted" in the Lord. This is very important. One must know that he or she has been rooted in Christ! Some people may not be growing in Christ because they have never been saved through true faith in Christ.

In Psalm 1 we read about the tree planted by the waters that bears its fruit in due season. Yes, that is exactly what God desires to do with each of us. He wants us to bear fruit; however, we cannot bear fruit if we are not planted - rooted - in Christ. First and foremost a person must determine that he or she has experienced the New Birth and is in Jesus!

How is one rooted in Christ? We see in Colossians 2:6 that one is rooted in Christ by receiving Him! Salvation is not a matter of turning over a new leaf, it is the planting of a new tree. Receiving Christ means to turn from our own life, our old life and to accept His new life! He roots us in Himself. We are grafted into the Living Tree. Our life is in Him! Have you done that? There may be someone here today who is not growing as a Christian because, simply put, you are not a Christian. Now is the time to come to Him. Accept Him! Be rooted in Him.

II. The Shoot

Philippians 2:12-13 reveals that God is at work in believers - Christians! He is the One who makes us grow and develop into all that He has planned for us (Ephesians 2:8-11). In the Colossians passage we read a few minutes ago, we note that Paul called upon believers to grow in faith and to “overflow” with thanksgiving. We are to have a joy unspeakable and full of glory, as Peter expressed it.

Look at some passages that repeat the theme of growing in Christ:

Ephesians 4:14,15 "grow up into Him"

1 Peter 2:2 "that ye may grow"

2 Peter 3:18 "grow in grace ... knowledge"

2 Peter 1:5-11 "add"

2 Corinthians 7:1 "perfecting holiness"

In Hebrews 11:13-16 we see the record of some who had a desire to go on, to grow and to become all they could be till they met the Lord. Note the Lord's attitude toward them. Hebrews 11 has been called the Hall of Faith. The Lord places a record of them in His Word because they exemplify what it means to “go on” in the Lord. Then, in Hebrews 12 we are encouraged to lay aside every weight and the sin that easily holds us back, and we are urged to run with patience the race that is set before us. We can only do that when we are looking to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.

Before my mother passed away, my wife and I drove her to a cemetery near Madison, Georgia during one of her visits so she could place flowers on her father's grave. While we were there, we looked at many of the old tombstones which dotted the little graveyard. Some of them caused Jayne to weep and touched us both emotionally. The graves which moved us most were small, little graves which represented the brief lifespan some of them had known. The stones were carved with dates indicating that a few of the children had lived only a year or two, or perhaps three short years. We talked about how the mothers and fathers of these little ones must have grieved as they laid their little children to rest. They were born, and so quickly they died.

Yet, it is possible for Christians to do the same thing spiritually. Some are born again, but then so quickly they die to the cause of Christ. They never go on to maturity. Even though they may be living physically, they do not reach the heights God has planned for them. Though a Christian cannot lose his salvation, it is possible to be lost to the greater causes of Christ in this world. We can be alive in Jesus but dead in our effectiveness. That happens when we fail to "go on" in our growth and development in Christ.

I talked to a man a few years ago who spoke with tears in his eyes about his failure to complete God's will in his life. He told me that he had served the Lord faithfully for a few years, but then he had gotten sidetracked by the world. He was an older man and knew he had very little time left on this earth. He said, "I can never do now what I may have done. I've thrown away so many years and now I see the error of my way. If only I could go back and have another chance." Sadly, we only get one chance in to live faithfully for Christ. "You only go around once," it is said, and that is true of life on this earth. How sad to be rooted in Christ but to never produce the shoot - the growth that rises up in honor of the Savior.

Ephesians 2:8ff clearly tells us that God saved us for the good works that He planned for us to do. God has plans for me. He wants me to keep growing and to keep going for Him. I wonder, what works has God planned for you and for me that we have never fulfilled? Does it grieve Him to see us falter and fall short of His will for us? It must, for He mentions growing up and going on so many times in His Word. If it is that serious for Him, it ought to be that serious for us.

In fact, in 2 Thessalonians 1:3 Paul wrote something like this: “It's incredible to see how much you've grown, both in your faith in Christ and in your love for one another. Everywhere I go, I brag to others about your spiritual growth. How I thank God for you.” Wow! Paul is speaking here of his joy in seeing the Christians at Thessalonica growing in Christ. Can anyone write a statement like that about you or me? The people at that church were growing in faith and love, and it prompted Paul to give thanks to God for them. Who is thanking God for the growth that we are revealing in our lives?

I’ve watched Christian parents as they rejoice in the growth of their children – just as my wife and I have in the growth or our own. How satisfying it is to see them grow stronger, smarter and more mature as the years pass. Sometimes we place a mark on the wall to record the increase in height as they grow. Can God point to a mark on heaven’s wall and show how much you and I have grown since we came to salvation? That is the question we are considering today. We ought to be "going on" and "shooting up" with growth in Christ.

So, we have seen the Root, which is salvation in Christ, and the Shoot, which is our development in Christ. Now let’s consider one more thing that has to do with our progress in the Lord.

III. The Fruit

Somewhere I read that a giant oak tree is just a nut that held its ground! Indeed, think of how many hot summers, pouring rains, and bitter cold winters an oak tree must endure to reach full height. You and I are like that in our spiritual life. We must endure! We must not go back two steps for each step we take forward. Again, I call to your remembrance Psalm 1 and the tree planted by the rivers of water. A tree is stationary but a tree keeps growing and eventually bears fruit. Indeed, the closer we are to Jesus (the Water of Life) the more we will grow and the greater fruit we will bear.

Jesus never meant for the Church He purchased to be an emaciated, anemic, and powerless fossil. According to Paul, the Church Jesus is coming for is to be a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing (Eph. 5:27).

Someone said that wrinkles in our spiritual clothing are the result of sleeping in our robes of righteousness; and spotted garments are the product of toying with the filthiness of this world. God did not save us so we could slumber until He returns. He has commanded us to remain unspotted from the world (James 1:27) and He has called us to "occupy" till He returns (Luke 19:13). The term "occupy" means "to carry on business" or "to be occupied with His business."

Read John 15:16: "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.”

The Lord’s desire is that we bear fruit. In fact, He clearly states that we did not choose Him, rather He chose us and He did it so that we might bear fruit. Dear Christian, Jesus did not save you just to get you into heaven, He saved you to be a fruitful tree in this world for His name's sake. When I was a boy growing up in North Carolina, my dad used to say, "Son, I want to act right and don't embrass your family. Remember, you are carrying my name everywhere you do." That is exactly what Jesus tells us. We are carrying His hame and we are to go forth and allow Him to bring forth fruit through our lives.

Also note that according to John 15:16, the reason some of us are not getting our prayers answered is because we are unfruitful believers. Jesus clearly linked a fruitful life with answered prayer. You see, you are not just failing God when you are unfruitful, you are failing yourself and others as well.

In Matthew 13:23 Jesus spoke in a parable about a person who hears His Word and then bears fruit, some a hundred fold, some sixty and some thirty. In that parable Jesus pointed out that those who hear His Word and obey it will produce fruit. Abiding in Him, learning and acting on His Word, and seeking to fulfill His mission, will in effect produce fruit in our lives. If we are not being fruitful, it is because one or more of these ingredients is missing.

Galatians 5:22-25 states, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self–control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Here we see what the fruit of the Christian life really is. Also, note that it means to walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh. It means to give your life to Christ fully and completely. You cannot live for self and bear fruit for Christ! In Matthew 6 Jesus tells us that no one can serve two masters. You will hate one and love the other. If Jesus is indeed our Master, let us love Him and “go on” in a dedicated process of growing in grace.

Conclusion

When you leave some of Atlanta's major highways, you will read a sign on the off ramp that states, "Keep Moving." The sign orders the driver to merge into the traffic and not to stop before doing so. Authorities know that stopping at this critical juncture could result in devastating accidents. Likewise, the Christian is to Keep Moving. We never retire from our progress in the Lord's work or in our spiritual walk. Someone has well said, "Sanctification is like riding a bicycle; you either keep moving, or you fall down."

First, let me ask you, “Are you truly saved? Are you rooted in Christ?” If not, come to Him today and begin a beautiful journey with the Lord. Repent of your sin, trust Him, confess Him as Lord and He will change your life. You will be born again, and you can begin to grow in all that He intends. He has great plans for you, but you can never know them till you know Him.

Second, I am asking every Christian today to look at your life and ask if you have been and are growing as Christ has planned for you. Surely there are many of us who can make a re-commitment of our lives to Him today. Let us “move” and “go on” today by coming forward in this service to dedicate ourselves and ask for His power to help us grow up in Jesus.

Now let us sing, and let us respond to His call in our lives!