(The following is the rough draft of a manuscript sermon to be preached on October 9 in Fountains Hills, Arizona. At the end are some application questions for small groups discussion)
Walk With Christ
I have a duty this morning, to teach you what is called a “distinctive” of Harvest Bible Chapel. That means it is something which we emphasize and something which may distinguish our fellowship from other Christian groups.
My point is very simple: God saves us so that we will walk with him. We are saved from sin to obedience. We are saved to walk with Christ. I am going to say something similar over and over: We are saved to walk with Christ.
A week ago, my family and I went to the see the Space Shuttle at the Science Center in Los Angeles. We looked at the tires, and the computers, and control panels and cockpit. We watched movies of take-offs and looked at exhibits, and then walked under and around the actual shuttle. We spent an hour looking at and around the space shuttle, but it was alway the space shuttle which had our attention.
This morning will be like that: we are going to look all sorts of passages and ask all sorts of questions, but in the end our position will be the same: You must walk with Christ. I must walk with Christ. It is our duty, our destiny, our honor and our joy. There is going to be a lot of repetition, but there will also be many parts. Just remember this will be like walking around the great space shuttle exhibit: Here we are looking at the space suits, there we are looking at the giant thrusters, but we are always looking at the space shuttle.
I am going to come back to this idea that we must walk with God. First, I am going to show you that we must walk with God. Then I am going to consider some objections to walking with God. Some people think this is legalism. Some Christians are ignorant of the need to walk with God. Some other Christians — probably most of us — know that we are to walk with God, but it seems beyond us and struggle with hope and despair.
Therefore, I am going to prove all that we must walk with God. I will tell the legalist that walking with God is not error: instead it is the entire point of salvation.
The Christian who just doesn’t know about holiness, who has been confused: for you, I will try to un-confuse you.
And finally, for those who veer between hope and despair, I will seek to bring some comfort and stability.
So on to our main point: You must walk with Christ if you are a Christian.
There are areas where Christians can be distinguished from one-another and still be Christians. Some Christians baptize the infants of believers; some do not. Some Christians believe we are now in the millennium; some think the millennium is still to come. These distinctive are important, but they do not distinguish between those who are Christians and those who are not.
This morning we are going to discuss the distinctive of “walking with Christ”. No Christian can be a Christian who does not walk with Christ. I not know how one can claim to be Christian, a follower of Jesus, if she does not walk with Christ. This must be an emphasize of a Christian Church, but it is sad that it might actually make a Christian Church “distinct” in any manner.
You see, the idea and command to walk with Christ is everywhere in the Scripture. Jesus gave the Church one command, make disciples. You can see this in Matthew 28:19-20, the Great Commission:
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:19–20 (ESV)
Do you see that language, “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you”. That means that disciples of Jesus have to do something. It is inherent in the idea of being a disciple: one who is a learner and a follower. A Christian knows Christ, loves Christ and follows Christ:
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
James 1:22 (ESV). To be a Christian is an active, passionate pursuit of holiness:
Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
Hebrews 12:14 (ESV). Or John:
16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
1 John 3:16 (ESV). Or Paul in Ephesians:
4 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,
Ephesians 4:1 (ESV). It is in the Old Testament also:
1 Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
Psalm 1:1–2 (ESV). All of these passages and dozens more besides make the point that being a Christian is very much a matter of how we live. Being a Christian is a matter of holiness, of leaving behind sin, or walking with God.
13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
1 Peter 1:13–16 (ESV). You must be holy, you must walk worthy; there is no option, there is no wiggle-room on this point?