Service Video Message Video Message Audio The service video is unavailable at this time. The sermon video is unavailable at this time. The sermon audio is unavailable at this time. Scripture Verses John 1:39, John 14:6, Matthew 11:12, Matthew 5:11-12, Romans 1:16, 2 Timothy 3:12 Downloads & Resources God's Son: Are You Standing Firm in Jesus Christ? Dr. Jon Morrissette - 9/21/2003 There was a season of time when Jesus invited his disciples to simply, "Come, and you will see." John 1:39 (NIV) He did not want his disciples or anyone else to make the eternally fatal mistake of getting his true identity as the Son of God wrong. Jesus was aware that knowing his true identity was a life and death issue for everyone he would encounter. Jesus wanted everyone to know him as the Son of God. So he traveled everywhere teaching and preaching. He spoke to the rich and the poor, the young and the old. He met with the religious as well as with the irreligious. He spoke to those who were marginalized or cut off from society. He crossed every social, economic, religious, ethnic, gender, and geographic barrier to proclaim the truth of his divinity. He confidently warned people in John 14:6 (NIV), "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Jesus wasn’t deluded or psychotic. He was the Son of God who had come in the flesh to seek and to save the lost and to impart the knowledge leading to godliness and eternal life. In time, Jesus' once skeptical disciples saw him as everything he claimed to be. They embraced him as the promised messiah of the Old Testament, as the Lord and Savior of their lives, who was sent to deliver them from sin and the power of death. Jesus wanted the disciples to grow in their faith. But as we saw last week, Jesus had in mind that his disciples would take a second step. Jesus did not want his disciples to stop after knowing his identity. And he did not want his disciples wandering about like robots spouting meaningless trivia about God. Jesus wanted his disciples to grow in their knowledge, understanding, and appreciation for who he was and for what he was about to do on that old rugged cross. He wanted their passion. He wanted to win over their hearts, minds, bodies, and souls. He wanted their love and loyalty. He wanted a personal, life-giving relationship with them. He gladly suffered for their worship and friendship. So many of us, too many of us, have yet to take either of these first two steps in our relationship with God’s one and only Son, Jesus Christ. Some of us do not even possess a basic knowledge of Jesus Christ’s identity and work. Quite frankly, that is a shame. Too many of us pass up opportunity after opportunity to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus. We do not make the time or exert the effort to know the living God, the creator of our universe. I think we have said plenty about this fact over the last few weeks. The only question left is whether you or I will do anything about it. We have another problem. We have knowledge but lack spiritual passion. We know facts about Jesus Christ but our heart for worship is flat-lining on the EKG. We are resting in our knowledge of Christ, but have a divided heart and passion. A lack of knowledge and a lack of zeal are unacceptable deficiencies in the life of any disciple, but especially for those who have so much opportunity to take corrective action. We are without excuse. Standing firm in Jesus Christ. It is time to know Jesus Christ and get growing in our love for him. The first two steps every disciple must take in their relationship with God’s Son Jesus Christ are knowing and growing. As promised, I want to talk with you about a third step in developinga relationship with Jesus this morning. Standing firm. There comes a time in every disciple’s life when he must make a decision whether our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is worth standing up for. In our day and age we are not accustomed to standing up for too much of anything. It is sickening to see the cause of Jesus Christ being pushed back at almost every turn. We Christians are always the ones who are sent packing into full retreat. We are being driven out of the public schools our children attend. We allow coaches and school leaders to program activities at times antagonistic to our purposes. Christian parents are chastised for instilling their beliefs and morality in their children. Our children’s textbooks are being revised to remove any mention of the faith of our forefathers and the principles that guided them. Likewise, our nation’s history and the pledge of allegiance are being revised to remove any mention of God. And we can forget about the separation of church and state. The government is meddling in our lives and is suppressing the expression of our faith in Jesus Christ. The Ten Commandments are being stricken from the courts. Public prayers cannot mention the name of our savior, Jesus Christ. Our government leaders and the media are driving us from the public discourse. Everyone is encouraged to stand up and speak freely about anything they want, no matter how ludicrous and immoral and outrageous their stand! But when it comes to us Christians standing for what we believe in, we are to be silent. Our views are unhealthy. We're intolerant. We're ignorant. We don’t have anything of value to contribute. We just represent some small, outdated, fairy-tale Jesus. The Church of Jesus Christ is not being victorious. We are being defeated and driven back. William Bennett has written about the death of outrage in our culture over moral issues. But what about the death of outrage in the Christian Church? Does anyone beyond these four walls know for whom and what we stand? Have we ourselves even come to grips for whom and what we stand? We must be convicted to spread Christ's message. Is our knowledge of Jesus Christ and love for Christ’s kingdom boiling over into deep conviction? Are our consciences being stirred to action? Are our spines being stiffened with tenacious resolve? Are we rising up and championing the cause of Christ in our own lives, in our communities, and in our circles of influence? Or are we cowering in fear, timid and unstable in our relationship with God's Son? Years ago I saw a film called "Glory" that was based on the Civil War era, when the North and South were fighting over slavery and states' rights. One of the critical strongholds in the South was Fort Wagner, which overlooked and protected the harbor in Charleston, South Carolina. Fort Wagner had to be conquered in order for the cause of the North to advance. But it could only be conquered at a great price. Someone had to lead the charge. Listen, as General Strong explains the strategic importance of taking Fort Wagner to the commanders under his authority. (Note to reader- a film clip from the movie was played.) There comes a time when Jesus looks into our souls for the same character and strength of heart evident in Colonel Shaw. The cause of Christ is advanced by fearless people of strong character. There is a saying of Jesus in Matthew 11:12 (NIV) that is rarely quoted in which Jesus says, "From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it." The cause of Christ so badly needs men and women of valor and courage, people of character and strength of heart, who are unafraid to take up arms and advance the cause of Christ. The cause of Christ is not advanced by people-pleasers or by the faint-hearted. The cause of Christ is not advanced by lovers of the world who apologize for being of Christ. The cause of Christ is not advanced by people walking on eggshells, who are afraid they may say or do or become something the world hates. Forceful men lay hold of the kingdom of heaven. Men of conviction. People of the book (the Bible). People who are outraged and have had their core values threatened. Men and women of principle, with clarity of vision and purpose. There should come a time when we willingly stand up for our faith. There should come a time when the following words of Jesus should be a personal encouragement to us. Matthew 5:11-12 (NIV) says, "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." There should come a time when like the apostle Peter, we stand up for Jesus Christ and face our accusers with our swords drawn in Christ’s defense. There should come a time when we join with the apostle Paul in saying in Romans 1:16 (NIV), "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes…" There should come a time when we discover the truth of Paul's words in 2 Timothy 3:12 (NIV) that, "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…" The question before us is not just whether we have come to know Jesus Christ. The question is not just whether we have grown deeply in our love and appreciation for Jesus. The question is are we are willing to rise up and stand for the one we know and love? After Colonel Shaw broke the news to his soldiers about the Fort Wagner, they quickly came to terms with their faith in Jesus Christ. The one question on every soldier's mind was, "Do I believe enough in this cause to stand strong and fight?" Those soldiers took great comfort knowing for whom and for what they were standing. They banded together in faith, trusting in their Lord Jesus Christ to see them through. In the end they accomplished the impossible. They turned the tide of battle in favor of the North and inspired millions to stand up and fight for their freedom. Timid people never know true victory. At a recent conference on Christian leadership I heard a quote by Teddy Roosevelt. "It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points out where the strong man stumbled, or where a doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs, and who comes up short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause. The man who at best knows the triumph of high achievement and who at worst, if he fails, fails while daring greatly, so that his place will never be with those cold timid souls who never knew victory or defeat." So we know Jesus Christ. So we have searched the scriptures and know the one who claimed to be the way, the truth and the life. So we can teach and preach, sing, and enumerate the countless graces bestowed upon us in Christ Jesus. And so we say to one another that we love our lord and savior Jesus Christ. We say that we have grown in the grace and knowledge of our savior. We worship. We serve. We are devoted. We are appreciative and eternally grateful. But are we ready to stand for Jesus Christ and be counted among those of character and strength of heart? Are we ready to carry the banner of Christ into battle? Are we ready to spend ourselves in a worthy cause? Is the cause of Christ real to us, or is this whole thing just a charade that we give lip service to? Knowing, growing, and standing firm. What's the next step? We come to know Jesus Christ. We grow in our love and appreciation for him. We stand with him and for him in the cause of the kingdom of heaven. There is one more step that we will discuss next week. This morning, where are you in your relationship with Jesus Christ? You cannot stand until you grow in your love for Jesus. You cannot grow in your love for Jesus until you know him. Remember, first things first.