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To Grow Up, You Must Grow Down! - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig
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September 18, 2022 6:00 am

To Grow Up, You Must Grow Down! - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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September 18, 2022 6:00 am

"They that know God will be humble, and they that know themselves cannot be proud!" That's what British Puritan John Flavel once said. And that’s how John the Baptist once lived! John the Baptist and his followers provide some great applicational fodder for how Christians should get along and humble themselves before one another and God. For any Christian believer who wants to spiritually grow up and grow strong, he must first grow down.

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The mark of real growth is somebody who has grown down in humility, grown down in meekness, is one who submits himself to the Lord.

Humility is the opposite of what? Pride. Pride ruins everything. It got Lucifer out of heaven. It took Adam and Eve out of the garden. It took Saul out of the kingdom. It ruins marriages. It ruins families.

It ruins churches. Welcome to Connect with Skip Weekend Edition. Peter Pan was a kid who felt the solution to his problems was to never grow up. It seemed to work so well for him that when his favorite storyteller Wendy was on the verge of growing up herself, he whisked her away to Neverland to keep that from happening. However, what he didn't expect was Wendy was actually looking forward to getting older and the special joys that come with growing into adulthood. The simple fact was not everyone was like Peter Pan. Everybody else has to grow up sooner or later, and that's a good thing. It's a good thing for us as Christians too. However, as with so many things in God's kingdom, growing up in our relationship with Christ is a bit different from simply growing up in the world.

We'll cover some more ground in John Chapter 3 today. So if you turn there in your Bibles, Skip Heitzig begins our study with a little insight from his childhood. When I was younger, I heard more than once people say to me, would you grow up? Do you ever hear that growing up? Would you grow up? Now, typically what they meant by that is that I was acting obnoxious or playing a prank or that I should somehow act older than I was acting at the time. Sometimes I discovered that these words came from people who just took life way too seriously. In fact, I think people can grow up sometimes too fast. I loved childhood. I still do. Somebody gave me a little bit of a list of some of the benefits of childhood.

Here's some of the highlights. Decisions were made by saying eeny, meeny, miny, moe. Life was good then, huh? Mistakes were corrected by simply shouting, do over.

Money issues were handled by whoever was the banker and monopoly. It wasn't odd to have two or three best friends. Remember that? Well, he's my best friend and and he's my best friend too.

The net on the tennis court was the perfect height to play volleyball and the rules didn't matter. The worst thing you could catch from the opposite sex was cooties. It was magic when dad would remove his thumb. Scrapes and bruises were kissed and made all better. Well, that was then, but we do grow up. In fact, we should grow up. The most important area we should have growth in is spiritually. We should grow up spiritually. In Ephesians 4, Paul said that you may grow up in all things into him who is the head, even Christ.

But I've discovered something and I think you'll see it illustrated here this morning. To grow up, you must first grow down. The mark of real growth is somebody who has grown down in humility, grown down in meekness, one who submits himself to the Lord.

Humility is the opposite of what? Pride. Pride ruins everything. It got Lucifer out of heaven. It took Adam and Eve out of the garden. It took Saul out of the kingdom. It ruins marriages. It ruins families.

It ruins churches. Now in John chapter 3, we have a paragraph where John the Baptist is tempted with pride. There's a temptation for him to fall into spiritual pride, but we discover as we see him again, this guy has grown. He's grown by growing downward in humility as we see his response. John is not climbing the ladder of importance.

We find that he's climbing down that ladder. Verse 22 is where we begin this morning to verse 30. Let's read it together before we consider it piece by piece. After these things, Jesus and his disciples came into the land of Judea, and there he remained with them and baptized. Now John also was baptizing in Enan near Salim because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized, for John had not yet been thrown into prison. Then there arose a dispute between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purification. And they came to John and said to him, Rabbi, he who is with you beyond the Jordan to whom you testified, behold he is baptizing and all are coming to him. John answered and said, a man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness that I said I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him. He who has the bride is the bridegroom, and the friend of the bridegroom who stands and hears him rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice.

Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease. Okay, here's what we have. We have here an honest struggle and a humble servant, or we have a humble servant response to an honest struggle. Now here's what's happening.

Here's the background. The story begins with an apparent rivalry between two groups, Jesus' disciples and John the Baptist's disciples. John the Baptist is being eclipsed. Jesus is growing in notoriety and in controversy. People have heard about the marriage supper at Cana. They've heard about all the miracles he did in Jerusalem. They heard about his confrontation with the religious elite, and that news is spreading, and more and more and more people are coming to where Jesus is. It says that John and Jesus are both at the Jordan River baptizing.

Now here's something you need to know. It was John's disciples who saw Jesus' disciples baptizing. Jesus himself was doing none of the baptizing. You say, well how do you know that? I know that from the very next chapter. Notice John chapter 4 begins, therefore when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John.

Now watch this. Though Jesus himself did not baptize but his disciples, he left Judea and departed to Galilee. So there's Jesus' disciples. They're baptizing people, calling people to repentance like John. This leads to an argument between John the Baptist's followers and some Jews about purification. We have no idea what that argument was about. None of the details are given.

This none of the details are given. This in turn leads to John's followers going to John himself and complaining that Jesus' group, Jesus' gig, is growing larger than their gig. Verse 26, and they came to John and said to him, Rabbi, he who is with you beyond the Jordan, that's Jesus, to whom you gave or have testified, gave testimony, behold he is baptizing, and all are coming to him. You see that word all?

That's called an exaggeration, an emotional exaggeration. Everyone isn't coming to Jesus but it sure seems like they are from John the disciples' perspective. So here's the principle. It's illustrated well here. God's own children can sometimes disagree. Here's two groups. They're sensing rivalry between each other and they illustrate that sometimes God's own children can disagree. I remember Walter Martin when he was alive would say to me from time to time, I knew him because he came and spoke here, he said, if you find two people that agree on everything, one of them is not thinking.

That's true, isn't it? Two human beings, they may share many things in common, but they're not going to agree on every point of life. And it's not the same with God's children as well. The church is not a society of perfect people. Now we know that, but you'd be surprised how many younger people get so disillusioned, younger Christians I mean, doesn't matter the age, doesn't matter the age, but they expect to find among the church perfection and their disillusion. They go from one church to another church to another church in hopeless search for the perfect church. But the church is not a society of perfect people.

It's the society of redeemed people who express their spirituality through their own imperfect personality. That's the way it is. Dr. Bob Cook was the president of Youth for Christ and he cleverly said, God reserves the right to use people who disagree with you. John's disciples, Jesus' disciples, they're not seeing eye to eye right now.

God's using them both. Now I can hear some people thinking, yeah, but we're supposed to get along perfectly. I mean, after all, we're the family of God. We're the family of God.

That's my point exactly. Ever been on a family vacation? Hey, I grew up going from California to Minnesota in the summer in a Rambler station wagon without air conditioning, four boys in the back, mom and dad driving. It was a mess. We loved each other, but boy, did we fight. Now we find that even in the Bible. In Genesis 13, you have the herdsman Abraham and the herdsman of Lot and there's a disagreement. That's family disagreement. We come to Genesis 31, we have Jacob and Laban, nephew and uncle having a confrontation. That's family. We have Genesis 37, Joseph and his own brothers, a confrontation.

That's family. When we get to the New Testament and we see the spiritual family, we come to these 12 disciples and they argued more than once who would be the greatest in the kingdom. We come to the book of Acts and we find that Peter the apostle and Paul the apostle had a disagreement about the law. It surfaces in the book of Galatians. In Acts chapter 15, we have the Jerusalem council at odds with each other as to the merits and meaning of salvation. We have in the very same chapter Paul and Barnabas having such a disagreement, the contention was so sharp between them that they split company. Now that is reality.

That's reality. Don't get the idea that when Christians hang around each other that it's always that they speak in soft sanctuary tones and music in the background is going. We who have walked with Christ and each other for some time know that to be true. Now sometimes such disagreements are carnal and frankly stupid. Would you not agree that the controversy in the Corinthian church, remember what Paul wrote about, one says I'm of Paul, one says I'm of Apollos, another says I'm of Cephas, then there was this super spiritual group who thought they were better than anybody. Oh no, we're just of Christ. And Paul writes to them and says you're all carnal. So there's a possibility of such disagreements being just carnal and wrong and downright stupid. I read a newspaper article, get this, a group of firefighters in Fort Worth, Texas were arrested because the firefighters deliberately set over 40 fires. The firemen set 40 fires. When they were caught and they were asked why they did it, here was their response.

We had nothing to do. And we just like seeing the red lights flash and the bells clang. Now there's some people that are like that.

They just like, they just don't have anything to do and they want to hear controversy and see things stirred up and they stir it up and it's wrong. Then there are occasions when it's not carnal, it's corrective. And when it's corrective, it is caring, it is loving. There is a time for Christians to put their foot down and to fight. Sometimes we need to vehemently disagree when there is false teaching that would undermine the very fabric of the Christian truth. We come against that. And the Bible even says we should, in Jude verse three, put up a good fight or fight hard for the faith that was given to the holy people of God. But that's the truth and we see it displayed here. God's kids can sometimes disagree.

There's something else on the heels of that that we also find. Not only can sometimes God's kids disagree, they can compete with one another. A group of servants for Christ competing with each other instead of seeing a compliment to one another. That's what's going on with John the Baptist's disciples. They have a very human reaction. They see Jesus' thing, gig, growing larger than theirs. And they love John. They're loyal to John. And they're making it about Jesus versus John. A very human reaction.

And why is that? Well, John the Baptist spent so many years in preparation and isolation. And then he came down to the Jordan River and started preaching and baptizing. And crowds of people gathered around him.

People from every strata of society, from Jerusalem, from Judea. Even Herod liked to listen to him. People were saying such things like, this guy's so wonderful he must be like Elijah the prophet reincarnated. All of that and now another star is rising higher than that. That's Jesus.

More publicity, more notoriety, along with more controversy. That's the competition. And John's disciples feel very personal about it. Now it's unfortunate, but it is true. Do you know that as far back as Paul the apostle, do you know that people around Paul saw Paul as competition?

Doesn't that sound weird? Why would anybody want to compete or get mad at Paul? But Paul writes from the Roman prison to the Philippian church in chapter 1, verses 15 and 16. I'll paraphrase it.

Remember it as best as I can. He said, some preach Christ out of envy and strife and others preach Christ out of goodwill. The former preach Christ out of envy and strife. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds.

In other words, they want to make my stay in prison worse than it is. They just want to stir things up. Boy, that's contemporary stuff. We are a competitive society and everyone in ministry ought to study John chapter 3 and Philippians 1 because that is so real. I read something this week that sort of shocked me.

There's a seminary back in the east, a professor of homiletics that's preaching at the seminary. He said that he gives to his students, he has at least in the past, given them a test every year. And it's a scientifically designed word association test.

You know, I'll say a word and what first word you write it down or say it. So it was designed to see what kind of thoughts these seminarians were thinking. He discovered, boy, there's a lot of bitterness and resentment in these kids. For instance, he would give them the word truck driver and they would associate immediately with that lazy. And they listed several different groups of people and he was shocked at their response.

And so he said, and I quote, very often those who go into the ministry are negative and highly competitive people. Oh, we see that illustrated even with John's own disciples who are saying what they're saying and feeling what they're feeling with Jesus. Now we get, I think, to the best part. We go from the honest struggle to the humble servant. In other words, now is John the Baptist response to all this.

And you're going to discover something. John the Baptist has four things in proper order. Number one, he has the proper theology. Look at verse 27. John answered and said, a man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. Now that's a high view of God.

Is it not? Here's John the Baptist. Hearing what his disciples are telling him, Jesus' church has grown bigger than yours, John.

And John says, you know what? God is sovereign. No man can receive anything unless God gave it to him. How many of you believe that? How many of you believe that God is powerful enough to run the whole universe? Okay.

How many of you believe God is powerful enough to run your own life? Okay, good. Because you know what that means? Well, this is what it means.

If somebody else is displaying superior gifts or is more successful, another brother and sister, you know why? God gave it to him. That's why. If you believe that, that's what it means. God gave it to him. Isn't that great? I mean, isn't that what we pray for? Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Okay, if we pray that and we believe that, then why are we so surprised when it happens or mad when it happens? And here's why.

Because it didn't happen to us quite the way we wanted it to happen. They got more. I love John's response. The best way to evaluate any other Christian success, whether they have a nicer home or a bigger business or they have a more significant status or a bigger family or a prettier cat or whatever it might be, this is the way to see it.

This is the lens to view that through. God gave it to them. And I tell you why this is so important because it means if you're on the end of being the blessed person, you can't brag. It was a gift. Well, you know, it happened because I was so faithful.

Oh, it has nothing to do with you. God just is so good. He gave it to you. Listen to what Paul said.

1 Corinthians 4 verse 7. What makes you better than anyone else? What do you have that God hasn't given to you?

And if all that you have is from God, then why do you boast as though you have accomplished something on your own? That's a great view. That's John's view. A high view of God. He is sovereign and nothing escapes his notice. Do you believe that nothing escapes God's notice in your life?

Do you believe that nothing escapes God's notice in your brother or sister's life? Can you rest in that? Can you let stuff go?

Can you be content with that? You know how revolutionary it is to believe this? God gave it to them. It's hard for some people to accept good fortune. We live in a cynical culture that tells us if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Well, the fact that God wants to give us grace and eternal life is one of those too good to be true type of deals. But it is true. You can have it. You don't have to prove worthy of it.

God would just give it to you because he loves you. That's why it's called good news. That's why we need to share that good news. Well, we're just about out of time for today. But before we wrap things up, let's find out more about this month's Connect with Skip resource offer. The United States fought the devastating civil war to overcome a deeply dividing issue. As followers of Jesus and people who represent his love, we can help one another deal with this topic today.

Here's Skip Heitzig and Tony Clark. Speak to white evangelical pastors about how in churches we can create spaces for black and brown voices to be heard in a loving atmosphere, in a concerned atmosphere. This is the church's finest moment because racism is a sin.

It's a sin in the heart. So now it's our job to begin to guide them and to have a biblical mindset and also having sympathy and empathy for those who are trying to live out this Christianity and their skin may be a little bit darker than yours. Cultivate the empathy that comes from gaining a biblical perspective on racism. Get your copy of this conversation between pastors Skip and Tony when you give $20 or more today. We'll also send you Pastor Skip's booklet, The Church and Racism. Call 800-922-1888 or give online securely at connectwithskip.com. And don't forget to also ask for a copy of today's study.

It's available for just $4 plus shipping when you call us at 1-800-922-1888. We'll learn more about how to grow up by growing down next time. So I hope you can make a point to join us right here in Connect with Skip weekend edition, a presentation of Connection Communications. Make a connection, make a connection at the foot of the cross and cast all burdens on His word. Make a connection, a connection, a connection. Connecting you to God's never changing truth in ever changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-24 13:38:03 / 2023-02-24 13:46:19 / 8

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