If you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel…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. Colossians 1:23; 2:6-7 NIV
This is just my pet peeve, so allow me to get it off my chest. Then maybe I can move on from it. I can’t tell you how many sermons I have sat through that the application point is, “So, if you haven’t accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, now would be a great time to do that…” I am not against pressing for a decision when the gospel is preached, don’t get me wrong. Repentance and faith in Christ are a big deal, not just for those who have never placed their trust in Jesus, but for all of us.
Here is where I struggle: I want the application points to be brought to the point of growth, not just to stop at accepting Jesus. Parents don’t just have babies and say, “Well, my job is done. You’re on your own now kid.” No, that would be absurd. Birthing a child is just beginning. So it is with the Christian faith. Now it is time to continue in our faith, to be established and firm, to be rooted and built up in Jesus. We need to help each other learn how to be established and firm in the faith, and to put our faith into practice.
The “Great Commission” verses of Matthew 28:18-20 tells us to go and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to observe (obey) all that I have commanded you. The whole idea of making disciples reaches beyond simply making a decision for Christ. The application points of sermons then should reflect what it looks like to be established and firm, rooted and built up in Christ, strengthened in the faith, and overflowing with thankfulness.
With that in mind, the following are some of my application points of what that would look like:
- Established and firm. Hebrews 12:1-2 urges, Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. There are a few things in that passage. One is that being established and firm means to get rid of any known sins and weight in our life. No sin habits, no hidden sins, no bad habits, no questionable things–put them aside. This Christian life is a marathon, not a sprint. It calls for endurance. Just like a die hard runner has a whole different lifestyle (no sweets, early morning runs, geared for the long haul), so must we be.
- Not moved from the hope held out in the Gospel. Hebrews 12:2 tells us to fix our eyes on Jesus. That is one way to stay steadfast and strong. Encouragement is another way of staying the course. Hebrews 10:24-25 states, Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. The root of encourage is courage. We meet together to give courage to one another. Sermons are a way of speaking courage into the body of Christ, to say “Stay strong and don’t give up–you are on the right track.” The more we see evil amping up in our society, the more we need to depend on this because the more outnumbered we will be.
- Rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught. Psalm 1 is a marvelous psalm that gives the contrast between the one who does not stand in the way of sinners and the one that does. His delight is in the law of the Lord and in His law does he meditate day and night. And he will be like a tree planted by the streams of waters that brings forth its fruit in its season. Its leaf does not wither and in all that he does he prospers. The godly feeds on the Word of God, delights in it, and his roots go down deep. When the storms come, he stands strong. He bears fruit. “As you were taught,” connotes that this grounded person takes advantage of godly teaching, which includes Sunday school, regular church attendance, small groups and personal Bible study. “And in all he does, he prospers.” That’s a promise of a blessing.
- And overflowing with thankfulness. In Romans 1:21, Paul wrote that when things fell apart being unthankful was to blame: For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. It is the start of the downward spiral. On the opposite end, in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 Paul commands: give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. If you want to know God’s will in your life, start by giving thanks in all of your circumstances.
My application is this: Take a look at these four areas and pick a couple of things, maybe just one to work on. If you have been grumbling a lot lately, pick #4 and list out all of the things you have to be thankful for and start giving thanks. If you have some sin habits you need to shed, get rid of them now. Ask God to search your heart and spotlight what it is that is grievous to Him and hurting you.
May you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the Gospel. Just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, established and firm, strengthened in the faith as you were taught and overflowing with thankfulness!