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← Praying to Grow in Grace - Geoff Thomas

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Showing Revision 2 created 04/14/2018 by Carrie Spradlin.

  1. "But grow in the grace and knowledge

  2. of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
  3. To Him be glory both now and forever.
  4. Amen."
  5. 2 Peter 3:18
  6. Now, one of the great
    goals of this conference
  7. is expressed by Peter in these words,
  8. that we grow in the grace and knowledge
  9. of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
  10. Many benefits come from conference -
  11. the renewal of friendships,
  12. moments of inspiration from speakers,
  13. and meeting someone special perhaps,
  14. but unless we grow
  15. from our time here -
  16. grow in graciousness,
  17. grow in our knowledge of the Savior,
  18. then there will be major failure
  19. in our gathering together.
  20. Some of you know Don Whitney's
  21. helpful little book: "Praying the Bible."
  22. And we gather to pray this Scripture.
  23. Lord, help me to grow in graciousness.
  24. Lord, help me to grow in knowledge
  25. of the Savior.
  26. And who needs to pray that?
  27. Well, the baby Christians here -
  28. they need to pray it.
  29. And then, the man who is the most holy
  30. and most mature
  31. and has followed the Lord for many years -
  32. he needs to still pray this prayer.
  33. So what are we asking
  34. when we are asking that we may grow
  35. in grace and in the knowledge
  36. of the Lord Jesus Christ?
  37. Well, firstly, we are asking for genuine,

  38. progressive concern for
    the needs of others.
  39. The second commandment,
  40. after to love God with all our hearts
  41. is to love our neighbor as ourselves.
  42. And that's the impact that we are to make
  43. on one another.
  44. A real concern for other people.
  45. How is it with you?
  46. Do we know where
  47. the members of the congregation are?
  48. Do we know where there are doubts?
  49. Do we know where people
    are close to giving up?
  50. Do we know where the troubles
  51. and the problems are?
  52. And you'll say, well, the elders know.
  53. Well, perhaps they do.
  54. But perhaps with some people,
  55. you know more.
  56. I'm not talking about inquisitive prying
  57. into the lives of other people,
  58. but I'm speaking about a concern for them.
  59. Do they have some fear?
    Do they have some worry?
  60. How can I help them?
  61. So, that's going to be
    our lives from now on.
  62. We're going to be corns of wheat
  63. that fall into the ground and die,
  64. or we'll abide alone.
  65. We're going to be concerned
  66. that there be fruit in the lives of others
  67. and fruit in our own lives.
  68. The Savior, then, He didn't come
  69. to be served,
  70. but He came to serve.
  71. So He calls us also
  72. that we're better servants of one another;
  73. more concerned;
  74. more aware of the needs.
  75. How is it with you?
    How is it at meal times?
  76. Do you look to see if everyone's
    got what they want?
  77. And you're concerned about them?
  78. You just don't look at the
    food in front of you?
  79. The nicer seats - are you anxious
  80. to help other people?
  81. When you drive a car,
  82. do you let other people cut in?
  83. When there are family choices,
  84. do you ask your wife:
  85. what do you want to do?
  86. Do you ask children
  87. what their concerns are?
  88. It's a very sad life
  89. if it's just centered on you.
  90. An egotistical life.
  91. And so growing in grace,
  92. growing in graciousness then
  93. shows itself in a progressive concern
  94. for the needs of others.
  95. That's the first thing
    that we're praying for.
  96. And the second thing we are praying for

  97. is that we are growing in knowledge
  98. of the gospel, of the Christian faith,
  99. and growing especially
  100. in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  101. A literal, mental grasp with our minds
  102. of the teaching of Holy Scripture.
  103. It may seem to you very elementary
  104. and very basic.
  105. But the first thing that
    a believer puts on
  106. is the girdle of truth.
  107. And the first thing that he must attend to
  108. in terms of spiritual knowledge
  109. and spiritual growth is familiarity
  110. with the truth;
  111. with the teaching of Scripture;
  112. with the system of Christian doctrine.
  113. It's all very well for us to speak
  114. of the perils of a dead orthodoxy,
  115. and I guess it's a real peril.
  116. There are people and their concern
  117. is not interest in the great
    foundational doctrines,
  118. but they're interested in
    the conundrum of theology.
  119. And let's avoid that.
  120. And there are other people
  121. and they're only
    interested in the doctrines
  122. that have given rise to controversies
  123. amongst Christians.
  124. Doctrines that men fight about.
  125. Doctrines that men disagree with.
  126. Let's mortify that spirit too.
  127. But we are bound as Christians
  128. to make conscience of growing
  129. in our grasp of Genesis, Exodus,
  130. Leviticus, Numbers, and so on
  131. to Revelation.
  132. And to that life of Adam, and Noah,
  133. and Abraham, and the Patriarchs,
  134. and Moses,
  135. and the deliverance from Egypt,
  136. and then the time of the entry
  137. and Joshua and Judges,
  138. and Samuel,
  139. and the rise of Saul,
  140. and the rise of David,
  141. and Solomon - the great division
  142. that took place under him,
  143. and then the destruction
  144. of the Northern kingdom of Israel,
  145. and then the temporary
    Babylonian captivity
  146. of Judah and their return,
  147. and the coming of Christ
  148. as promised.
  149. So, we ought to know those things.
  150. And know the letters.
  151. And so when the Jehovah's Witness
  152. comes to your house,
  153. then you say,
    "Do you know the Bible?"
  154. "Yes."
    "Well, what..." you say to him,
  155. "What is the main theme
  156. of the letter to the Romans?"
  157. And that's a good question to ask him
  158. because he won't know.
  159. He'll know his stuff,
  160. but he won't know a question
    as important as that.
  161. "Well, Ephesians is shorter," you say,
  162. "six chapters - tell me,
  163. what is the main teaching of Ephesians?"
  164. And then he'll get a bit frustrated
  165. and angry with you.
  166. "Well now, come back and let me know."
  167. Because you're driving him to the Word.
  168. Aren't you? To read the Word.
  169. And that is the only
    chance of him changing.
  170. And so I'm saying to you
  171. we have to soak ourselves
  172. in the Word;
  173. marinate ourselves in the Word of God,
  174. because if we're going to ask then
  175. a Jehovah's Witness to tell us
  176. what the main theme of Romans is,
  177. we better know it ourselves.
  178. We better know it ourselves.
  179. So, we ought to know
    about the Person of Christ.
  180. His deity, His humanity,
  181. His incarnation,
  182. His states as pre-existent,
  183. humiliated, exalted;
  184. His offices of Prophet, Priest, and King.
  185. We ought to know the great doctrines
  186. of God's sovereignty,
  187. of justification by grace through faith,
  188. of adoption,
  189. of union with Christ,
  190. of sanctification.
  191. These teachings are not
    simply for theologians,
  192. but they are the stuff
    of believing meditation.
  193. They are the stuff of doxology.
  194. The great hymns are about those themes.
  195. And if we're to be growing Christians,
  196. we are to be growing intellectually.
  197. We are to be growing theologically.
  198. We are to grow in our grasp of it,
  199. and we are to grow
  200. in the emotional impact that they make
  201. upon our lives.
  202. That the Word of God lives in us.
  203. Because the Psalms begin by a man -
  204. his delight was in the law of the Lord,
  205. and in that law,
  206. he meditated day and night.
  207. Thirdly, if we are praying this prayer

  208. that we might grow in graciousness,
  209. in grace, we are praying that we might
  210. progress in conscientiousness.
  211. That is, in responsiveness
  212. and obedience to our own consciences.
  213. Because God has placed that monitor
  214. in our minds,
  215. and it reproves us when we do wrong,
  216. and it encourages us when we do right.
  217. How is it with your
    conscience and you tonight?
  218. How are things between you
  219. and that monitor, that voice of God?
  220. You know, there are many consciences,
  221. and in Thomas Boston's words,
  222. they are too persnickety.
  223. They condemn what God's
    Word doesn't condemn.
  224. We must educate that conscience.
  225. Does the Bible condemn blood transfusions,
  226. for example?
  227. And there are other consciences
  228. and they let anything pass.
  229. They let pass what God's Word condemns.
  230. They are less sensitive
    than they should be.
  231. They are much too broad,
  232. much too open.
  233. So, we must always bring our conscience
  234. under the light of the Word of God.
  235. You know the Puritan illustration then

  236. of the sundial.
  237. And the sundial will work
  238. if it's at the right angle
  239. and in regards to the light of the sun.
  240. But on a bright moonlight night,
  241. you can go out to your garden,
  242. and you can look at a sundial.
  243. And there will be a shadow -
  244. a moon shadow.
  245. And it will give you the
    totally wrong reading,
  246. because it's not a moondial,
  247. it's a sundial.
  248. And so there is the conscience
  249. of the cannibal.
  250. And there the conscience
  251. of the abortionist.
  252. And they are not living in accord
  253. with what the Word of God
  254. who created the conscience gives to us.
  255. Now, let's supposed that you have
  256. an enlightened conscience.
  257. Let's suppose that you have the full light
  258. of God's Word on your conscience then.
  259. Are you carefully obeying it
  260. when you are emotionally disinclined?
  261. When you're lying on the floor
  262. in despondency and sulking
  263. and unhappy because your worst fears
  264. have been realized?
  265. When you're in the depth of depression
  266. and self-pity,
  267. and there's a duty that
    you have to attend to -
  268. it's a duty, it's very unpleasant;
  269. it's very demanding.
  270. Do you do what your conscience tells you
  271. that you should do?
  272. Do you have the maturity
    to stand on your emotions
  273. and reject them in the face
  274. of their reluctance and aversion
  275. to attend what God commands us?
  276. There's no greater peril
    in the Christian life
  277. than to make our emotions the touchstone
  278. of our duties.
  279. And time and again, we
    have to pick ourselves up
  280. off the floor of discouragement and say,
  281. I have a duty,
  282. and I know this is right,
  283. and I'm going to do it.
  284. Or again, let me ask you,
  285. are you conscientious about small things?
  286. Because there most of all
  287. Christians are tested.
  288. We don't have huge sacrifices to make,
  289. but every day, there are
  290. many little duties that you
    know have to be done.
  291. And we have to pay careful attention
  292. to matters of detail,
  293. because our Lord, He commends people
  294. who are faithful in little things.
  295. And so often we are losing the battle
  296. in little things.
  297. It might seem to you
  298. not a big issue to be in prayer meeting
  299. on a Wednesday night there.
  300. It might not seem a big issue
  301. to be in Sunday nights at church.
  302. It's a small thing.
  303. It might seem just a little thing
  304. to ignore writing a letter to someone
  305. to say thanks for your kindness to me.
  306. Certain things.
  307. But we must make conscience then
  308. if we are going to grow in graciousness
  309. our conscience - we respect it.
  310. Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
  311. And then fourthly, we must

  312. make progress in victory
    over besetting sins.
  313. And that's a great reality
    in the Christian life.
  314. There's just some sin that you know
  315. it's a problem for you, isn't it?
  316. And you know you're not going to grow
  317. unless you deal with that particular sin.
  318. It's perfectly possible to be normal
  319. in every part of the Christian life
  320. in your emotions and your affections
  321. and will and so on.
  322. Everything seems to be in order
  323. except at one point.
  324. You're in the grip of one temptation.
  325. You are dominated by one lust.
  326. You are entangled in the meshes
  327. of one particular sin.
  328. And you see it in the world around you.
  329. It's called monomania.
  330. One man - in 99 out of
    100 areas of his life
  331. he's straight down the line.
  332. But there's one area of his life
  333. where he's walked,
  334. and he's grasped by one sin.
  335. And when you say,
  336. well, it may be a mysterious thing
  337. that I'm not growing as I should be
  338. as a Christian.
  339. Is it so mysterious?
  340. Is the reason why I'm not growing
  341. as I should be because my spiritual life
  342. is diseased in one area.
  343. Unless it's dealt with,
  344. it's going to - just like a bug,
  345. a virus is just in one part of you
  346. and it affects the rest of you.
  347. You're weak and listless and so on.
  348. You must deal with that besetting sin.
  349. Worldliness, prayerlessness,
  350. irritability, impatience,
  351. aggressiveness, what have you...
  352. So, those are four,

  353. and then one more point
  354. in which when we are praying for
  355. growing in grace,
  356. we are praying that we should grow
  357. in evangelistic earnestness.
  358. Now, you know, when you
    first knew the Lord,
  359. you see it in the young convert -
  360. it's lovely to see - how bold he is.
  361. You tremble at times
  362. because he'll blurt out things
  363. that you might have
    said rather more sweetly.
  364. But he just sees the world's need
  365. and he sees Christ as a great Savior.
  366. And he speaks a word
  367. in and out of season.
  368. And the mature amongst us, we smile
  369. and we may sneer even,
  370. because much of it was immature.
  371. The witness was unwise and indiscreet
  372. and ineffectual.
  373. But that does not justify that fact
  374. that many Christians as they grow older,
  375. they grow more reticent and quieter
  376. and share their faith less and less.
  377. The vision of the world's
    lostness just disappears.
  378. And that's a maturity that our churches
  379. need to do without.
  380. It's expected sometimes -
  381. it's only the young people
  382. who go out on missions and work
  383. and go to Mexico for a week and so on.
  384. And they haven't the equipment;
  385. they haven't the wisdom.
  386. They're great helpers, but
    they're not great leaders.
  387. So, as we've been coming now,
  388. we've been Christians many years.
  389. How is it with you
  390. and your evangelistic concern?
  391. Are you prepared to get involved
  392. in every true evangelistic cause?
  393. Are you prepared to support it
  394. and pray and give and cooperate?
  395. I know there's a lot of
    misplaced evangelism.
  396. I can give statistics for
    evangelistic failure,
  397. and you know all that.
  398. And that won't help us at all.
  399. We must stand back
  400. from simply criticizing.
  401. And we have to be involved in every form
  402. of biblical evangelism.
  403. We have to do that.
  404. And it's a sad thing for any Christian
  405. if that vision is gone.
  406. So, I'm saying, those
    are the sorts of things
  407. we are praying for when we hear
  408. the exhortation - the
    last words of Peter -
  409. but grow in grace;
  410. grow in graciousness.
  411. And we're talking about making
  412. progress in being
    concerned for other people.
  413. And growing in our knowledge of the Bible
  414. and what the Bible teaches.
  415. And growing in conscientiousness.
  416. And growing in victory
    over besetting sins.
  417. And growing in evangelistic earnestness.
  418. And then, very briefly, as a postscript.

  419. How is this to be achieved?
  420. How are we as Christians going to grow?
  421. And the first answer is
  422. that it must be a priority in our lives.
  423. These are Peter's last words, aren't they?
  424. Think of the life he lived.
  425. He preached at Pentecost
  426. and 3,000 were converted.
  427. Do you think he would sort of float along
  428. in the glow of that for
    the rest of his life?
  429. But he doesn't. He's here and there,
  430. and he's going to Cornelius' household,
  431. and he's traveling and he's
    speaking everywhere.
  432. And his last words to people are:
  433. grow now; grow in the grace
  434. and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
  435. That's the greatest thing in our lives.
  436. There's nothing more important for us.
  437. What's more important than this?
  438. In the midst of all the other engagements
  439. and preoccupations and concerns,
  440. a Christian's relationship with God
  441. controls his life.
  442. It's what his life is built around.
  443. And his greatest longing is to be more fit
  444. for the Master's use.
  445. This one thing I do - one thing,
  446. the apostle says,
  447. a single eye Jesus speaks about.
  448. I look at my own life and I wonder
  449. as the years have gone by,
  450. have I changed that scale of values
  451. and my sense of priorities?
  452. I know it's easy to react against
  453. extreme religionism.
  454. A person just talks about religion
  455. and isn't interested in anything else.
  456. That's unbiblical too,
  457. because in the Bible,
  458. they talk about all
    that's in God's creation.
  459. But there's a far greater peril
  460. than that sort of extreme.
  461. And that's a reduction
  462. of religious aspiration;
  463. of religious vision;
  464. of a relegation of my
    relationship to Christ
  465. to not be the first thing
  466. and the greatest thing in my life.
  467. And at times I think it's happened to me.
  468. And it's happened to other people.
  469. That things that should be primary
  470. have become secondary in my priorities.
  471. And I think as I look at my old church,
  472. and at evangelicalism as I meet it,
  473. I see slackness and sloppiness
  474. coming into so many areas of church life.
  475. For to me, to live is Christ.
  476. That's what he says, isn't it?
  477. If our chief end in life is not that,
  478. we are facing the most appalling
  479. and unhappy futures.
  480. And then secondly,

  481. it must be a priority -
  482. secondly, our religious lives
  483. are not going to take care of themselves.
  484. We can't simply expect our soul
  485. to nourish and fend for itself;
  486. to provide for itself.
  487. You have to see for it.
  488. I have all the weight of
    an apostle's command
  489. to say you have to grow.
  490. You have to make sure you are growing,
  491. and that applies to every form of life.
  492. We're concerned for our plants.
  493. We give our key to our neighbor
  494. and we say I'm going to Florida now
  495. for two weeks, can you feed the plants?
  496. When I'm away, we're concerned
  497. about the bushes and the flowers.
  498. We're concerned about our animals -
  499. how they'll be fed.
  500. And our minds
  501. and our intellects -
  502. what stuff we are feeding our minds with.
  503. They won't look after themselves.
  504. And so our souls -
  505. our souls won't look after themselves.
  506. We have to feed our souls,
  507. as a program of provision for them.
  508. Peter speaks in the 17th verse
  509. about being led away
  510. with the error of the wicked,
  511. and we all know people
    who've been led away
  512. because they didn't look after
  513. their own souls.
  514. There are people -
  515. and Paul tells Timothy about them -
  516. they have a form of godliness.
  517. And they go to church and so on.
  518. But it's just a form.
  519. It's formalistic.
  520. That's it.
  521. There's nothing under it.
  522. Nothing beneath it at all.
  523. So, let's be so careful about this.
  524. You know, not to prove
  525. I'm not a Puritan.
  526. Not to prove to people
  527. that I'm not narrow-minded;
  528. that I believe in Christian liberty
  529. and the freedom of conscience.
  530. To show people I know about politics
  531. and I can speak about all these things.
  532. I wonder if some of the energy
  533. that we pour into that,
  534. can be poured into
  535. my relationship with Jesus Christ.
  536. And that I'm growing.
  537. I'm growing in the knowledge of Him.
  538. My Savior.
  539. And that I'm feeding my soul.
  540. So, how do we do this?

  541. Well, it must be a priority in our lives.
  542. And then, we must be aware
  543. that we've got a duty to feed our souls;
  544. that they won't look after themselves.
  545. And then Peter tells us
    in this 14th verse:
  546. "To make every effort
  547. to be diligent..." he says.
  548. Be diligent.
  549. And in what direction?
  550. Well, you've got to seek
    food for your souls.
  551. You've got to get away to a conference.
  552. Travel a long distance to be here.
  553. Drive 15 hours.
  554. Drive through the night.
  555. Drive just to be here.
  556. And search for things
    that can nourish you
  557. and build up your knowledge
  558. and your graciousness;
  559. that you don't want to be unfruitful
  560. and static,
  561. but there's a dynamism,
  562. and a maturing,
  563. and a beauty, and a fragrance,
  564. and a loveliness about your life.
  565. You're seeking for truths
    that will do that.
  566. That will produce love,
  567. and joy, and peace,
  568. and longsuffering, and gentleness,
  569. and goodness, and faithfulness,
  570. and meekness, and self-control.
  571. You've got to fall in love with the Bible.
  572. You've got to search it.
  573. You've got to ransack it.
  574. You've got to sit under the
    best ministry you can
  575. on a Sunday.
  576. You've got to read the best books.
  577. You've got to sit and listen
  578. to older Christians as they talk together
  579. and they reminisce about how God
  580. has dealt with them over the years,
  581. and learn from them
  582. the mysterious influence
  583. that one Christian can have over another.
  584. You seek good fellowship
  585. with other Christians.
  586. And you hunger for truth -
  587. you want the Word of God to come
  588. not in word only,
  589. but power and the Holy Spirit
  590. and much assurance.
  591. Fall with love.
  592. Meditating upon Scripture.
  593. Praying Scripture.
  594. So, you read a verse like this:
  595. "But grow in the grace and knowledge
  596. of our Lord and Savior..."
  597. And you say, "Lord, me too.
  598. I want to grow.
  599. I want to grow.
  600. This week, I've got a special time here;
  601. special privileges.
  602. Help me to grow
  603. in the grace and knowledge of my Savior
  604. Jesus Christ."
  605. Because your souls
    won't grow without food.
  606. And there's no food for the soul
  607. like the Word of God.
  608. There's no place to be better
  609. than before the face of Jesus Christ.
  610. You need that.
  611. Let's pray together.

  612. Heavenly Father,
  613. we've heard these searching exhortations,
  614. and so now we just roll
    them out before Thee,
  615. and oh, we wish we were much stronger,
  616. and maturer, and wiser, and more loving,
  617. and more patient, and gentle,
  618. and longsuffering.
  619. Oh, we wish there was more purity
  620. and love for what is good and holy.
  621. Oh Lord, give us a nudge.
  622. Give us a little push -
  623. a big push as we go.
  624. Speak to us.
  625. Humble us.
  626. Encourage us in the
    Christian life this week.
  627. That as a result of being
    in the conference,
  628. we'll grow in the grace
  629. and knowledge of our Savior Jesus Christ
  630. to whom be glory forever and ever,
  631. Amen.