How Can We Guard Against Being a Stagnant Christian? – Part 3

Stagnating in our faith is never a good thing. It is something we need to guard against. But how?

How do we guard against being a stagnant Christian?

We guard against becoming stagnant Christians by staying focused on what awaits us

In verse 11 of 2 Peter 1 we read,

“For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Pe 1:11)

The first time I traveled back home from a long week of classes at Southern Seminary my flight was delayed. We were actually loaded on the plane, about to push back when the pilot came over the intercom and said, “Folks, this is your captain speaking. A thunderstorm is rolling into the area, and we are going to have to wait for it to pass before we can take off.” What the captain thought was a passing thunderstorm turned into several passing thunderstorms. Just as soon as one moved out of the area, another would pop up. So we waited…and waited…and waited, until finally just after midnight we were able to take off.

When we finally landed and deplaned in Dallas, it was close to 2 o’clock in the morning. I was tired. I had just spent a week away from home, attending class all day, and sleeping in a foreign bed. I was ready to be home, to say the least. That’s what made that drive doable, that’s what propelled me down the highway in the wee hours of the morning — the thought of home.

That’s the same thought that should propel us to supplement our faith with these qualities, the thought of our heavenly home. The home that awaits us is greater than any home that we can have in this world. It is perfect in every respect. It’s a home free from death, disease, and corruption. A home where God will reign and rule and the corrupting influence of sin won’t be felt because it won’t be present. That is the home that awaits us. The home we will walk into one day. So keep pressing on. Your eternal home awaits.

But here is the thing, we can’t press on alone. We have to have people around us helping us, encouraging us, pushing us forward, which tells us that:

We guard against becoming stagnant Christians by surrounding ourselves with those who will stir us up

Motivational speakers abound in this country. You can find someone to motivate you on almost any topic. The reason for that is because we need motivation. We need someone to stir us up so that we will head in the right direction.

But as helpful as motivational speakers can be, Christians don’t need them. Instead, what we need are other Christians dedicated to reminding us of these qualities. We need others who will remind us that we have been given all that we need to press on, that we have a glorious eternal home for which to look forward.

Look at verses 12-15,

“Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.” (2 Pe 1:12–15)

Just as Peter commits to remind his church and to make sure that they have someone to remind them when he is gone, we need others committed to reminding us, which is why we have a church family, and why we should not neglect to meet together with one another. We need one another. There are no Lone Ranger Christians. We can’t do it on our own. When we try, we end up becoming stagnant. It’s no coincidence that those who are not connected to the church, who are not active in fellowship are not growing in their faith. We need others right there alongside of us committed to encouraging us to keep running the race, and we need to do likewise. If we don’t, we are going to grill we’re going to become stagnant, unfruitful Christians for the kingdom.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Are you focused on the future?
  2. Do you have others around you holding you accountable and encouraging you?
  3. Do you gather with the church often?

Resources

Post developed from my sermon How can we guard against being a stagnant Christian?

Sunset over lake

How do we know if we have the Spirit?

In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul continues to tell the Corinthians why he presses on in gospel ministry despite his groaning because of the sinful world pushing in on him. From a thoroughly gospel-centered perspective, he tells them that he continues on because of the hope that awaits after death. Referring to the body as a tent, he looks to his heavenly home where he expects to receive a building from God, a home free from the burdens and vulnerabilities of this world, a home where mortality is swallowed up by eternal life. His hopeful expectation is one reason he continues to press on.

Same Hope

As Christians, we should have the same hope, and it should cause us to press on in ministry just as it did Paul. But how can we be sure that we have a heavenly home awaiting us? There are several reasons. I’ll offer two and expand on the second more thoroughly.

  • (1) We can be sure we have a heavenly home because the all-sovereign promising keeping God has “prepared us for this very thing” (2 Cor 5:5a). Having prepared us for it, we can be sure God will bring us to our heavenly home. God’s track record is flawless, and His ability to accomplish His purposes is unquestionable.
  • (2) We can also be sure we have a heavenly home awaiting us because God “has given us the Spirit as a guarantee” (2 Cor 5:5b).

The second idea – God has given us the Spirit as a guarantee – raises an interesting and important question, how do we know if we have the Spirit?

How do we know if we have the Spirit?

When you look through Scripture, you find several tests that can be administered to discover if you have the Spirit or not, and, therefore, assurance of eternal life.

(1) Do you believe God is your Father?

“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,” (Ro 8:15–16)

(2) Do you look forward to your redemption and the return of Christ?

“And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” (Ro 8:23)

(3) Do you accept, believe and understand the things of God, which are written in His Word? 

“Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Co 2:12–14)

(4) Do you confess that Jesus is not only your Savior but also the Lord of your life?

“Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.” (1 Co 12:3)

(5) Do you seek to live in unity with other Christians? 

“For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” (1 Co 12:13)

(6) Do you fight against what the sinful nature wants?

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God…And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Ga 5:16-21; 24)

(7) Are you growing in the fruit of the Spirit?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law… If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” (Ga 5:22-23; 25)

Your answers to the above questions will reveal whether you have the Spirit or not.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you believe that you have the Spirit?

Resources

The Scriptures regarding the Holy Spirit are informed by leader questions over 2 Corinthians 5 in 2 Corinthians 1-7: True Discipleship by James Hughes