THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 4-23-06
LESSON TITLE: "PARTAKERS OF THE DIVINE NATURE: VIRTUE"
"Therefore be imitators of God as dear children," Ephesians 5:1. Are you striving to imitate your God as a faithful child in His service?
Thanks for joining us this Lord's day. We are truly excited to have you with us today as we together break the Living Word of God. We are certainly glad that you have chosen this day, to give this time to our Creator - so that together we may Worship and Praise His Holy name!
As we come together this morning, it is my hope and prayer that we will each participate and do our part to make this time acceptable before God. As a collective offering of those who love God, and who are willing to submit their own sacrifices before His throne.
So, At this time, as we turn our full attention to the reason we have come together, let's approach our Father's throne in prayer:
Today we are gathering at 2:00 to tape more songs for this program - the Living Word. This taping will be held at the Kansas Expressway Church of Christ building in Springfield, Missouri. We hope many of you will be able to join us in this service and worship to God. Hope to see you there.
Now let's join together in our first song of the morning. The name of the hymn , "Let Me Live Close To Thee!"
(SONG # 1)
As a parent I am reminded daily of the fact that my children are going to imitate and learn from all that I do and say. In fact, whether it be a good characteristic or a bad one, they usually pick up on it just the same. Brethren and friends, this reminds me of just how careful I need to be to make sure that all I do and say are proper and good so that when they are imitated it will be a positive lesson.
Now think of God as our Father! As a father don't you think that God knows that His children will want to imitate Him? That's why we read the verse earlier, "Therefore be imitators of God as dear children." Wow, what a challenge this is, what an encouragement this should be to make us want to strive for the perfection which is found in our Creator.
So, just how far must you and I go to make sure that our example is a positive one for all around us. Read with me from 1 Corinthians 11:1, there Paul boldly says, "Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ." How many of us can say that? Probably not many! However, isn't this what we should be striving for? That others may be able to look to us and even imitate what we do, and thus by doing so they are doing the same as they would had they imitated Christ.
Finally, notice a familiar verse in Colossians 3:17. Again Paul tells us this, "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus...." You see if everything we do is according to the teachings of Christ, then we can be sure that our example is everything that it needs to be. Furthermore, we can be sure that we will be found faithful in the service of our God and receive the great reward of Heaven in the end. Are you the example for God which you need to be?
In just a few minutes it will be time to begin our main study of the day. Our topic of the morning will again deal with another lesson from our series entitled, "Partakers Of The Divine Nature." The specific discussion of the morning is concerning "Virtue." So please stay with us and after our next song together I will be leading the thoughts surrounding our main lesson of the day.
Now let's join together in our next song of the morning. The name of the song, "Yield Not To Temptation."
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Ray Sullins
Thanks for staying with us this morning.
Now we want to go again to 2 Peter chapter 1. We want to find out here another great characteristic that the child of God has the privilege to participate in and really to show forth in his or her life that they might be able to show Jesus in all that they do and all that they say.
I love the passage that we've been considering there in 2 Peter chapter 1 because we find God has loved us enough that through His power, His divine power, He has given us the knowledge, the information we need about the promises and the rewards and the blessings and really what He wants us to do. So because we know, we learn here that we are able to obey. He calls us and says that by glory and virtue, moral excellence... He calls us in order that we might obey Him and follow Him and know exactly what to do according to what He has given us, according to what He has left for us.
But then He goes on there in verse 4 of the same passage to say that because of this, because of the promises, because of what He has given us, because of the calling, because of the Word, because of all these things, we have been made what? Partakers of the Divine Nature.
So now how can I begin to do my part as a child of God? How can I work to make sure that as a partaker of the divine nature that others see Christ in me? Well, what we need to do is as we read beginning in verse 5. As he begins to state there that we need to be diligent. In fact, all diligence, as he states here. We should give all diligence. Be completely committed. Be completely committed to whatever it takes, to study, to work. Be completely diligent to add to your faith, virtue.
Now you might recall last week, we looked at the idea of faith together. So today, our main focus of the morning is "Virtue," the same idea that was mentioned also back as we've already said there according to the calling in verse 3, that we have been called by what? Glory and virtue. The idea again that we have already presented clearly as being that which describes for us a moral excellence. In other words, in this life we have those who strive to be average, those who strive to be like everyone else. We have those who might live below the standard as far as immorality, and maybe they do many things that are contrary to the average or what the majority are doing. But on the other hand, we have those who are striving to live above the moral fiber of the country, the people we are involved with, maybe the clubs that we are in, maybe the societies that we are involved with, even the religions that we are in, that there are those who live a bit above that strive for a moral excellence. They're not just satisfied with being like everyone else or being like everyone else. They're not satisfied with being with those even who are below the average. They want more. They're striving more to do something greater and show forth something greater.
And what is it? That is God. That is the fact that we as partakers of the divine nature must strive for the high road. When everyone else would do this as a result of something in life, what do we do? We strive for moral excellence. When someone hits us on the one cheek, what do we do? We turn the other cheek. When someone does evil or does spiteful things against us, what do we do? We don't retaliate, but rather we still show them love. We even do good to our enemies. We take the moral high road. We must be virtuous. Well, when you think about the concept of moral excellence or the concept of the high road or the willingness to go the extra mile. Then we begin to see some strange ideas really toward our human nature. We begin to challenge, to do things that really don't make a lot of sense to us because we are often given to peer pressure. We are often satisfied with just being amongst the crowd and being like everyone else. We are challenged by God to do more, to set a higher standard, to be even more excellent than most and in moral issues to say, "I'm always going to stand on the side of God." Then we begin to see virtue. Add to your faith, virtue. We need to be a morally excellent people who strive in all we do to allow the world to see Jesus in us, ultimately the Father, that He might be glorified in all things. Isn't that what we learn in so many of the great passages of scripture, in so many encouraging passages that tell us that when we do the work of God, we give Him the glory. When we do things in the name of God, we do that which gives Him glory, and all that we strive in our lives to accomplish must be done in order that we lift Him up, in order that we accomplish things that show forth our love and commitment before our God.
I want you to turn back to the Sermon on the Mount with me in Matthew chapter 5 and as we begin looking at moral excellence. I think we find something here in the first gospel sermon that we hear from Christ, at least that which was recorded. When He sat down, a great multitude, most likely of Jews, and He was preaching to them about those things that they would be required to do as followers of God, not only some things they had been doing, but some things that were new according to the plan that Christ was now ushuring in that would become soon the New Law through the sacrifice of His blood.
If you'll notice there in chapter 5, we have there what are referred to as "The Beatitudes." There in chapter 5 if you'll notice in verse 6, I want you to hear the striving for something that is greater, that is better. Read with me in verse 6. "Blessed or happy are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness." Oh wow. We have just an exciting passage there where we are challenged to see that true happiness is when we strive to be those hunger for something. Now, you and I know what it is to be hungry. There's not a one of us maybe who hasn't been running late and we skip breakfast and then it's getting closer and closer to lunch and maybe we eat a late lunch and by that time our stomachs are growling and we say, "Oh, we're going to starve to death." And all of us have been in the case before where maybe we haven't had a drink or water or maybe we've been exercising a lot and we're very, very thirsty and we think, "Oh, we're just going to die if we don't get something to drink." Well, now apply that physical concept to the spiritual. Imagine if we were hungering. Imagine if we were thirsting out of control, almost out of physical control, but now in this sense out of spiritual control, hungering and thirsting. But for what? Not the physical things. Not for food or those things that might satisfy the flesh, but striving, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, God, for more knowledge of God, for more ability to know what He would have me to do so that I might obey, for more ability to quench my thirst, to be able to quench my spiritual hunger. Then I am reminded of what Jesus Himself said, "I am the bread of life." He says, "If you eat this bread..." He says, "You will never be hungry." He said there to the woman at the well in John 4, "If you drink this water, this water of life that I represent, you will never again be thirsty." And she proclaimed there, the woman, she said, "Give me this water that I might drink." We hunger and we thirst to be righteous. Certainly you and I know what righteousness is because the scriptures tell us that righteousness, true righteousness lies in one place and one place alone and that is in God Almighty.
In fact, in the book of 1 John chapter 3, we notice there in verse 7 that as John addresses Christians, he says, "Little children, let no one deceive you because he who practices righteousness is righteous..." Hear the last phrase. "Just as He is righteous."
Now we see several things here. Number 1, He, God, is righteous. Hunger and thirst after what? Righteousness. Now I want you to notice what the second thing that 1 John there said in verse 7 of chapter 3. He went on then to say that we ourselves strive for righteousness, that we are righteous as the little children of God for He is righteous. So what do we learn about a person who is striving for moral excellence? They might strive to be like God, and God is righteous and therefore we strive to be righteous. What is righteousness? Righteousness obviously is that which pertains to God, which is holy and pure and acceptable and good and wondrous in the eyes of God. On the other hand, unrighteousness. We know what that is. Unrighteousness is that which transgresses God's law, sin, those things that certainly are contrary to His Will as the Thessalonian writer tells us there in 1 Thessalonians 5 and verse 17. We know all unrighteousness is sin. Transgression is wrong so we must turn rather to God where righteousness lies and strive and desire and want to immitate Him that we might again be those who by glory and virtue, moral excellence have been called and therefore in our face have strove to be morally excellent. Why? Because God is, because God challenges us to be, and God, especially Jesus in the flesh, set the example that we might follow and strive as well to emulate.
I also want to encourage us not only the need that we have as Christians to be those who consider Jesus' Word that we are those to be righteous, but also in this concept of righteousness, we find an idea in scripture that is known as "perfection." The idea as translated in the New Testament as well as in the Old Testament as perfection is often and commonly translated as "complete." What we're talking about here is not the ability that I have or you have to be perfect because it is impossible as humans who allow temptation to come into our life and as we sin (Romans 3:23), "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." There in 1 John chapter 1, he says, "If anyone says you don't sin, you're a liar." He is talking to Christians. Sin is inevitable. We are going to sin. We are going to make mistakes, not necessarily because we want to, but because we're going to allow temptation and sin sometimes to creep in but we can repent and the blood of Christ will cleanse us from that. But what perfection is is a complete striving for perfection, striving to do our best, striving to give it our all, and certainly God is perfect. Psalm 18, verse 30 tells us that our God is a perfect God. Our God is one who makes no mistakes and even Jesus as He lived. We learn there in the Hebrew book that He was one who lived, that He was reviled and He was tempted and guess what? He did not sin. He was touched in all the infirmities that we are, but He never sinned. Why? Because He was perfect. Our God is perfect. Our God is righteous.
What must we strive for? Righteousness. Purity. Holiness. What should we strive for? What should we strive for? Perfection. And just like the Hebrew writer again says, "Go on to perfection, leave the fundamental things. Leave the elementary things and grow up into an adult in the service of God no longer being satisfied as a child in His service. Go on. Move toward and reach for perfection."
I also want you to look in Ephesians chapter 4 with me because in Ephesians 4 and verse 13 we find this verse. "Until we come together in the unity of faith and in the knowledge of God to a perfect man." Notice he says here, when we come to the knowledge of God and when we are unified in God, we strive for perfection, a perfect man, and then he even explains it because he goes on to say to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. What are we measuring up? Well, what is the standard? What are we looking for? Jesus is here that we might measure up to the standard of Jesus Christ, striving to be what? Righteous as He is righteous. Striving to be what? Perfect as He is perfect. Striving to be what? Holy as He is holy that in the end we might be found as a perfect man. What again is a perfect man? A perfect man is a man who is measuring up to the stature of Christ, who is completely doing their best to show forth their love for God. And then also this concept of righteousness and perfection can be seen further in the excellence of scripture, not only in the Word of God itself, but the excellence of God. God strove to be excellent. There in the book of Phillippians chapter 1 beginning in verse 8, we learn there that "the witnesses of God must strive with affection to serve Christ." But notice in verse 9 and he says, "And this I pray that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment." He says, "I hope that you will love more and that you will discern more." In other words, know right and wrong and know what is best. But hear verse 10, "That you may prover all things that are excellent that you may be sincere and without offense until the day of Christ." He says that you may prove all things that are excellent. Why is it that we love? Why is it that we strive to discern and know more about God? That we might prove those things that are excellent. Obey and do what He says. And that we might furthermore, verse 11, "Be filled with the fruits of the (what?) righteousness." We must strive to be filled with those fruits of righteousness that they might know, that is those who see us, that they might know who? God, the Godhead. That they might know and see God in us and that we again might glorify Him.
Are we excellent in our works? Are we excellent in things that we speak? (James 3 and verse2.) Are we excellent in the things that we think on and virtuous? (Phillippians 4 and verse 8). Are we striving again to make sure that we are complete in God, that we are fully accomplishing the task that has been placed before us? Do we really count and rely on God to know that with His help we truly can do all things because "He is the one that strengthens us," Phillippians 4 and verse 14. You see, we have a great challenge, a great challenge to be like God in striving for moral excellence and striving to be righteous as God is righteous and striving to be perfect as God is perfect and striving to be excellent as God is excellent as His Word is excellent, as He challenges us in word and deed and in all that we do including thought to be excellent, to take the high road.
My challenge to you today is the same which we have found from the Word of God. Strive for moral excellence and not only that you might glorify God now and save your own soul and that others might see God and want to know Him and therefore as well be saved, but that you might receive that mansion over the hilltop. Will you do those things that God commands this day so that you might be saved? Will you confess His name? Will you repent and turn from sin? Will you be buried with your Lord and Savior in baptism so that He can add you to the church so that you might be a part of His family so that in the end you might receive that reward in heaven someday, eternal life forever and ever?
(SONG # 3 - "Wonderful Words Of Life!")
Let me thank you again for choosing to be with us today. What a glorious time we have had before the throne of God. We invite you to join us every First day of the week, at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this time of Worship before God!
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Are you striving for the moral excellence which God requires of you as His follower? Why not do all you can today and every day to be more like your creator!