ARE YOU A CONSISTENT CHRISTIAN?
ACTS 2: 42-47 Hymns: 4,150, 406,533,643
How would you know that a person has been saved? Here is a case of a Mrs. Donga who comes to the church, she has confessed faith in Christ and so is a church member. She gets tired of the sermons and does not feel like attending the Lord’s Supper and prayer is not one of her best activity. She does not delight in the word of God but if there is one word that she can use to describe this whole experience is boredom. Obviously, these are things that she has not shared with you but she comes to the church occasionally, she misses the Lord’s Supper many times in a year. She does not attend prayer meetings. What would be your conclusion of such a person if you were her pastor?
Here is Mr. Kilele who receives the Word of God with gladness and joy. He is so thrilled about it that he goes round telling everyone what a wonderful thing that the Lord has done in his heart of forgiving his sins and granting him forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Looking at him closely you discover that after the first year he is so bored by the sermons that he daydreams during the worship service at best otherwise it is during the service that he plans his business plans silently in His mind as he admits when talking with him. He sleeps during the prayer meetings but mostly misses them. If there are, people who make him sick are the Christians because they seem to have this or the other need. Would you conclude that the person is saved?
The third one is Mr. Holyfield who does not even know particularly when the Lord worked in His heart but proceeds diligently in fellowship and his life is moulded within the context of the local church. He is aware of the work of the Holy Spirit in his heart to bring about regeneration and remembers to have repented of his sins and pleaded for mercy to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is steadfast in biblical teachings and to prayer and the fellowship of brethren. He is always available for all the means of grace that God has provided in the context of the local church.
These are the people that the Lord describes in the parable of the sower, some good seed fell on the way others fell upon the rock, others among the thorns and yet others on the good soil. (Luke 8:4-15)Which one of this person do we show the traits?
Last week we found out how God by His Spirit moved wonderfully in the constitution of the first church to bring three thousand people into the church. How he worked through the Spirit and His Word to cause them to believe in the Lord Jesus. We pursued the thoughts further to know the preparatory means that God uses to bring about conversions. These are: the Holy Spirit who regenerates hearts of sinners to cause them to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. He uses the prayers of the church to prepare the way for conversion of sinners. We also found out that the immediate means that cause conversion are the preaching of the gospel.
Today I would like us to consider how these converts continued in their newfound life and how this life produced more converts. Sinners are saved as result of the preaching of the word of God and the effects of this word in the lives who profess to have been changed. This calls for consistent Christian living. So the great question that I would like us to ask ourselves today is; Are you a consistent Christian?
This is because, practically speaking there are two reasons that make a sinner to be attracted to Christianity:
He/she is guilty stricken and so look for the Saviour who is able to deal with this sin like for the case of the three thousand who were converted on the day of Pentecost.
The second reason is admiring the way of life of the believers. Like the case of those who were saved subsequently after the day of Pentecost as we read in this passage. When I got saved I thought I saw people who had something that I admired in them that I knew that I did not have. The Holy Spirit moved in my heart to see what I lacked – the Saviour. Both are the sides of the same coin – one negative and the other positive.
This passage provides a litmus test that you need to apply to yourself and even to others to discover whether or not you or they are Christians.
1. THE LIFE OF THE BELIEVERS
How do we know that a sinner has been transformed from the darkness and conveyed into the marvelous light? To start with, he separates himself from the world then he joins the life of the local expression of the body of Christ and continues in it.
These people were formerly unbelievers who had rejected, condemned and crucified the only Saviour of their souls. They refused to receive Him as the long-promised Messiah but instead mistook Him to be an imposter and so thought that He deserved death by crucifixion. However, they were now convinced by Peter’s sermon and the miracle of tongues as well as the work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts. Being convinced, they received this message with gladness and joy as people who had known the hope of their eternal salvation and received Him as their Lord and the Christ. Let us look at their lives further as a pattern for ours
Occasional emotions are not enough – many have perished and many will perish in their sins who were often and deeply impressed and the Lord himself said that it is only the one who will endure to the end who will be saved.
These new church met very naturally and proceeded as a church as such. They people met not under the social considerations of any sort or any compulsion, but willingly. They did it naturally from the fact that they had become members of this body. They were part and parcel of this institution and could not do any other. They did not come merely to perform a task or a duty. If you do not go to the church gladly you need to ask yourself whether you are a Christian at all. Christians do it gladly and cheerfully in order to meet with their Saviour in the company of His people. If it was not convenient to celebrate the Lord supper within the temple courts then they artlessly met in their homes. When there were poor among them they gave to meet their needs – they did not recommend them to a SOS, nearby. They took care of the poor in obedience to Christ and Apostles who told them to remember the poor (Gal. 2:10). Although the apostles never told them to sell their property to support the needy yet they gave with the joy of giving voluntarily and cheerfully (2Cor. 9:7). To pursue this matter to show their zeal for it they instituted the office of the deacons.
The Bible says that they continued steadfastly and they continued daily. This is to say that they were constantly together. They were not just the Pentecost Christians (there are too many like that today). They persevered as Christians who were destined to be with their Master and Saviour. They served Him with commitment and loyalty continually remembering that He had given His very life for the remission of their sins. That He constantly remains at the right hand of God the Father in heaven interceding for them and for us also. How many times do we meet in a week?
According to this passage those people who do not go to the church or have not use for it are by definition not Christians at all. Those people who go to the church occasionally are at best very doubtful Christians. In this category are the people who go to the church with the least devotion and dedication. Those who attend the churches when there no interesting football matches in the Supersport. Those who find it hard to come for the Sunday worship service because the World Cup is on.
You may say that the economic situation then was different from ours in Nairobi. Granted – but the question is, do we or do we not follow the pattern? We are busy looking for food and wealth – these were the same things that these people were also doing. Look at the way we are dedicated to our jobs (which we ought to be) but it should not be at the expense of the spiritual things. We need to serve the Lord with a greater dedication than these brethren who devoted them this way. We are more privileged. How much are we committed and consistent in our calling. Imagine a Christian who when applied for membership and said that he will be helping in preparing the Sunday Lunch ye he has never gone to the kitchen? Where is our commitment to the Lord? Remember that it is only those who persevere in their first love up to the end who will have life.
They were fully committed to the life of the church in its entirety. They were not just doing these things half-heartedly. It was with great enthusiasm and zeal. They were eager to spread the supremacy of Christ, to know Him and the power of His resurrection, and to be conformed to His likeness. They were new beings who wanted to live it. Their devotion to biblical teaching was total, their devotion the fellowship was unconditional, their devotion to prayer was absolute, their devotion to the breaking of bread was unqualified, their devotion to sharing their belongings was unconditional their praise to God was unparalled. Talk about devotion and you would find it here. This is the pattern for our taking; this is what we should aim to be as individual members of the body of Christ.
Let us examine the things that produce and sustain Christians who will last in this century and beyond.
Have you been baptized as a believer?
Do you delight in being instructed of the Lord?
Do you enjoy the fellowship of the brethren?
Do you savor the Lord’s Supper?
Are you excited to commune with the Lord in prayer?
Are you glad to share your property with others more especially the believe
This describes the enthusiasm these believers demonstrated in a common bond: at worship, at meals, and in the sharing of their material goods, showing their unity with Christ and with other brethren.
Do we take the needs of other people so troublesome that we prefer to keep them at bay? There were birds of your feather in the New Testament but they are denounced for their excuses (1John 3:17; James 2:15-16). We should not refuse to get involved in others’ troubles because we are members of the same body.
How a consistent Christian are you? In Brotherly love and mutual charity. Remember what James says – Faith works by love.
Do you take pleasure in praising God?
Do we conform to this picture? Is this true of us? Is this the sort of thing that we are doing and delight in?
2. THE EFFECTS OF LIVING A CONSISTENT CHRISTIAN LIFE
A. FAVOUR WITH GOD AND MEN
The Bible record that the life of these Christians received a favour from God. God blessed their fellowship. He worked a greater love for one another in their hearts. He gave them gladness of heart. God gave them generosity and bigheartedness. He made them to have a high regard for His people in order to show their love for Him. So they gave generously towards the needs Old Testament of those among them. God gave them unity of mind and heart and so were able to fellowship together with gladness.
God showed His favours to them working many wonders and signs through the apostles. Just as He had attested the work of Jesus in His ministry on earth so did He attest the work of Christ’s agents. He used them to bring forth His Word and when He did so, He manifested Himself as the one speaking by working signs and wonders. But more than that He saved sinners in their midst. The Bible clearly records that “the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.”
They had favour with men – they were willing to bless one another even materially. They were devoted to fellowship in that they may be together.
B. CONVERSION OF OTHERS
Sinners will get converted when you will show that you are enjoying the graces that God has given the believers. God commands a blessing where brethren are at harmony with one another as Psalm 133 says. The best of the blessing that God does is conversion of sinners among His people.
Of course, who wants to join a miserable crowd? Who would like to be in the company of mourners? Who will want to live with people who have no excitement in the Lord’s blessings? But all will want to be with those who are under the shower of God’s blessings.
Do wish to see people being saved? Then we need to show them by our actions that the life of a Christian is the best not by our words but by our devout Christian living. We need to live our talk by being what we have been called to be. We must commit ourselves fully to the work of the Lord in order to attract more for the Lord.
Take this case:
All those who call themselves believers are all here at nine even 8am for the Sunday Worship Service. Each person is doing his or her duty – those who are singing are doing so – singing his or her hearts out. The Sunday school teachers are happy to teach and do it with such exuberant joy that others can apparently see how much they relish it. During the service no one is sleeping, instead, everyone is busy with his or her notebooks and when the service ends no none seems to be in a hurry. After the service, the brethren want a longer time of fellowship and so they had brought their lunch to eat together. The fellowship persists even to the evening service and everyone wants to prolong the time of fellowship together that nothing else seems to matter. If one has a need everyone is willing to contribute towards the need with such eagerness that the brother in need is the one who says enough! During evangelism is not just a few people who turn up. During the prayer meetings the hall is full. During the work day you are all here, During the Dine & Listen you all are here. When we go for the Lord’s Supper, it is an a time of applause of joy.
I want to remind you that because our time here on earth is short and hastening to conclusion – devote yourself and dedicate your whole life for this one thing- to please Him who has ransomed your soul with gladness of heart and of spirit and of mind. There is no one second to spare and this is why these brethren devoted themselves to the doctrine, to fellowship, to prayer, to breaking of bread. In addition, because of their dedication and devotion, God blessed them and others through them. Even bringing wonderful moments of refreshing through the salvation of sinners and were added to them.
Would we want this church to grow? Then you have heard our duty.
You are there, you have considered yourself and you have realized that you are a sinner who needs a Saviour. I will tell you a very simple thing that you must know and do. Jesus is the only one able to add you to the number of His people – turn to Him now. Acknowledge Him by repenting your sins to Him. Ask Him to be merciful to you, a sinner. Ask Him to take that terrible heart of stone, hardened by sin, that every sinner has and to replace it with the heart that will listen and obey Him. Put your trust in Him and you will be among His number when He will come and the saints go marching in to His glorious kingdom. Please do not leave that door when you have no relationship with the Lord Jesus.