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Becoming a Christian

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
April 5, 2021 12:01 am

Becoming a Christian

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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April 5, 2021 12:01 am

Are you walking in light or in darkness? Today, Sinclair Ferguson distinguishes between the characteristics of believers and unbelievers.

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Coming up next on Renewing Your Mind the foundations of the gospel. The basic principles of growing up as a Christian.

I'm going on as a Christian, often suppose that you and I need to revisit regularly. The story goes that his training camp again for the 1961 season legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi realized he needed to start from scratch with the team that had suffered a disappointing loss in the championship game the season before. So with his players gathered together.

He held up the pigskin in his right hand and said gentlemen, this is a football. The message was clear and it applies on some level to us as Christians to grow in our knowledge of God and his current, we learn the finer points of our treasure Dr. we must always and only build on the fundamentals of the faith. Dr. Sinclair Ferguson thinking about some of the most basic things in the Christian life. I want us to try and do that with different kinds of people into if, for example, someone wondering what does it mean to be a Christian that is helpful for them to understand what other foundation stones of the basics of belonging to Jesus Christ, longing to his people. Knowing him and trusting him and loving him and then of course some of us may be thinking about membership in a Christian chart showing the new fellowship on we wonderful doesn't mean to belong to the family of God in this place and it's so helpful for us to be reminded again of what it really means to know and sounds, the Lord Jesus and then many of us no doubt feel that we are seasoned Christians on my wonder, do we really need to go back to some of the basics of growing up as a Christian going on as a Christian.

I'm reminded of television ads out, I saw a number of years ago for a well-known brand of conflicts under was a young man with a bowl of conflicts in front of him. He was fixing the conflicts for breakfast and then if I remember he looked up and he said I'd forgotten how good they really it sent me back to my conflicts and I actually shared the same experience such a basic breakfast cereal for people of my generation.

I'd forgotten how good they actually were on the gospel is like on the foundations of the gospel.

The basic principles of growing up as a Christian and going on as a Christian, often suppose that you and I need to revisit regularly.

Just as, for example, we may have someone make sure the foundations of a house that we are living in an arc going to purchase are solid and reliable so it such an important thing for us in the Christian life. To understand the basic principles of coming in. Growing up and going on, I often think about talk little book I bought on how to play golf, written by the Great American golfer Jack Nicholas. I actually originally bought it for one of my sons as a Christmas present, but being sensible file that I thought I'd better read first what he's going to. I was struck by the way in which technical setback tying the greatest golfer on the planet wrote in his introduction, but at the beginning of every season he would go to the man who taught him to play golf. He would meet him on the practice area and technical suite of a golf club in his hand and he would say to his coach, Mr. Drive, teach me to play golf and jet drought would take him back to the basics. How you grip the club, how you stand, how you swing it was less mature and seasoned and brilliant golfer who well understood that he needed to year after year to keep going back to the foundations so that's what we're going to try and do together will think first of all about. What does it mean to become a Christian. 12 be someone who belongs to Christ and his people and then will move on to a second stage in which will think about the ways in which God gives us gifts that enable us to grow in Christ and then in the third stage will think about what it means for us to live the Christian life and to run the Christian race right to the Valley and I want to begin by reading some words of the Lord Jesus from John's gospel chapter 8 and verse 12 and eventually I'll explain why it is that I've chosen these particular words in this passage which will look out in a minute for us to focus our attention. This is the Jewish festival of lights, and in that context.

In John chapter 8 verse 12 Jesus spoke again to them and said I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life is telling these people what it means to become and to be a Christian and there's a very personal reason I have for resetting to these verses. First of all I want to think about them, not in a personal way and often relationship to myself what is happening here in John chapter 8 Jesus is the feast of booths and God's people would gather together often in Jerusalem and they would live in makeshift tents to remind themselves of how God had brought his people out of bondage in Egypt and at the feast of booths that was the kind of double symbolism use.

It was partly a water liturgy that reminded them of how God had given them water in the desert and was partly a liturgy of light, which reminded them of how God had led some by the pillar of cloud shooting the day and the pillar of fire shooting the night and told in the previous chapter in John chapter 7, but on the last day of the feast, which was a day when they did not draw water as part of the liturgy on the last day of the feast. Jesus said if anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. He was really saying that water that was provided in the wilderness for your forefathers was really pointing forwards to the water. Only I can give them. John tells us he was speaking about the gift of the Holy Spirit.

But on that same day in the feast of booths.

Not only was no water drawn as was customary, but every day of the feast lights when lit huge amounts of oil work poured into massive light formations in the temple in Jerusalem under was celebration and there was dancing, you may have seen some Orthodox Jews dancing as part of the liturgy of their services are slave celebrated great occasions and that was dancing for the man on the lights apparently illumined the whole of Jerusalem. Indeed, it was said by the rabbis. Whoever has never seen this has never seen joy but on the last day of the feast.

Not only was there no water but the lamps were not lit and it was on that date. Jesus said to the people here in John chapter 8 verse 12. I am the light of the world.

Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but have the light of life under the rest of this chapter, Jesus explains to them quieter as they need him so much and eat.

He doesn't in terms of being in the darkness and being in the light from verse 12 to verse 20 in John eight.

He tells them that they were walking in spiritual darkness implies that in verse 12, you are walking in darkness, unless you have me as the light of life and means obviously not just physical darkness but spiritual darkness.

Remember what Nicodemus says in his interview with Jesus in John chapter 3 in verse three, he can't understand what Jesus is saying in Jesus system.

Nicodemus, unless you are born from above, you'll never be able to see the kingdom of God and Jesus is telling his contemporaries. This is their natural condition about how he said in the sermon on the Mount. If what you think is the light within you. And of course most people think that we don't make I see clearly.

But is this part of the light that is in you is actually darkness, then how great is not darkness that is so much spiritual darkness within you are not able to see and understand the gospel in Jesus is saying to these people.

This is your spiritual condition you know the reason you do not understand me out follow me is not because God's revelation is not clear. It is because you live and you walk in darkness on the indication of Manatee tells them in verse 15 is that you judge everything according to the flesh worldly standards of understanding. But then Jesus adds to this. They not only walked in spiritual darkness.

But in verses 21 through 30. They lived in spiritual death. Look at what he says in verse 21 Jesus said to them, I'm going away and you will seek me and you will die in your sins. And again in verse 24 I told you, but unless you believe that I achieve that is the Savior. You will die in your sins they thought of themselves as being all high but she's a saint.

Don't you understand that spiritually you are dead. You may have all the trappings of life, but you have no real life.

Paul says something similar doesn't. In Ephesians chapter 2, he says we are dead in the trespasses and sins in which we walk home is in the Highlands of Scotland. I remember sitting in the garden one day and I saw a beautiful red Robin. Just beside the path undersigned look tight as I thought what a beautiful creation… What a marvelous color and in the longer I looked, I realized the there was no movement, and I went over in a poignant moment I realized the Robin in all its beauty have no life. It was a day and I felt a compatible loaf our lives the way in which we dress ourselves up to give the impression that we know what it really means to live Jesus saying to these people, many of whom had all the trappings of the religious life, you know, if you don't know me and trust me, you may feel that you alive, but in actual fact you are spiritually dead and then suddenly he adds something else.

In verses 31 through 36. Not only did they walk in spiritual darkness and live in spiritual death. But he says you know you're actually being held in spiritual bondage. He says if you trust in me and then my words in verse 32 you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. And you notice the responses are very typical response. It's a distinctively Jewish response, but in some form of a very common response. I am absolutely free. I am absolutely free.

And Jesus begins to show them how in fact, their response to him indicates that they are actually in spiritual bondage is really saying you know the litmus test of real freedom is that you have discovered the freedom that God gives in and through me. And of course it's one of the things that happens to people listen to when God is working in their lives. One of the first things that come to realize is that they do. Remember how Wesley puts it in his him fast and in sin and nutritionally undoes that a way to convey so many people say I'm going to do better and I'm going to try harder and what in fact they discovered is that they are more and more conscious of their spiritual bondage and this is what Jesus is saying by nature. We are slaves to sin and only he can set us free, and we see this in the response they make to him.

Jesus says truly, truly, I say to you everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. They signal really really offspring of Abram we are free. No, he says, because you sin you will become slaves to sin only don't really realize it wouldn't understand that if they didn't trust in Jesus Christ. That was a sure sign. They will actually in slavery.

I often think, actually, in this context of the story of the two Wesley brothers, you know, they came to what well the colonies that are no United States of America and there they met Moravian missionaries on both the brothers will ask fairly pointedly do you hope to be saved. Here is what Charles Wesley, already a clergyman in the Church of England said in response. He said I do hope to be saved, and Peter bola asked him on what ground this was Wesley's response, but I have used my best endeavors to serve God and Peter bola simply shook his head.

He was a man who had studied theology who was an ordained clergyman and he was like Nicodemus he was, says Charles Wesley would later write fast balling in sin and natures night. Thank God he and his brother both came to saving faith. But this is the story walking in spiritual darkness living in spiritual death held in spiritual bondage and then Jesus adds in verses 37 through 59. They had also become spiritual orphans, and he challenges them about this on the list. I will have Abraham as our father, who says well you may have Abraham as your father but your real spiritual condition is you don't really know God should actually I think again this can be very typical of religious people that they say the our father which no one of the things that is characteristic of religious people who are not in their hearts to Disciples of Christ is that when the crisis comes. That is no and not instinct to: Abba father and the family will say things like all God, but they don't have the instinct to say father and this was true of these people.

They claimed that God was the father because Abraham was the father but none of them would never have played our father in heaven. Let your name be holy because they were spiritually, often they had no family.

They were adrift on a sea of religion could not bring them into any intimate fellowship with the Lord Jesus points out that the litmus test of the is is you know if God were really your father you would love his son. I wonder if any of you men of a married woman who said love me love my mother would come as a package deal, and that's what Jesus is saying the litmus test of whether God is your father, is that Jesus has become your Savior. But he says in verse 43. Your problem is that you can't even bear to listen to the word of God's son severely while they assume they could see that they had life but they were free, they belong to the family. But the truth of the matter is they want in darkness and they were spiritually dead and they would in bondage and they were spiritual awesomeness and outside of the family of God. And so Jesus invited them to himself out of the darkness. I am the light of the world to ever follows me will no longer walk in darkness, but have the light of life. I began without there are speakers sin away my own Christian life began with verse five I think I could summarize what is meant for me to become a Christian and to be one these last 50 years and more, no, in terms of this verse. How when I was a nine-year-old boy and began to read the Bible for myself for five long years Christ shone the light of his word upon my mind but my mind was darkened. I didn't think it was because I lacked intelligence, it was that I just couldn't see. I was like a young Nicodemus.

I just couldn't see and then in his grace. Christ began to shine his light upon people I knew, I began to see there was a connection between what I'd been reading in the Bible the kind of new life that these people I knew where living and then Christ began to shine his light from his wound light into my heart. I remember as a 14-year-old boy reading the words of Jesus in John 539 and 40 when he says you study the Scriptures because by doing that you think you have eternal life, and you won't come to me to have life, and I think that was the first time in my life. God's word seemed to walk off the page and I sense that Jesus was speaking.

This is a perfect description of where I've been for five years thinking that by doing religious things reading the Bible every day saying my prayers, trying to help others. That's what would make me a Christian and it was a slow Jesus walks off the page full of light and said sink what I'm speaking to you, you're not coming to me but if you come to me you will enjoy both light and life console with the encouragement and prayers of others. I went to a Sarvis in my home city and the sermon that was preached was in John chapter 8 verse 12 and it was ensuring that some I have the voice of Jesus say as Horatius Bonner says in his come to me come into the light, and you will never again walk in darkness. Of course, that our days of darkness-dark days. Sad days, painful days in my life but I think I want to testify after decades of seeking to follow the Lord Jesus that he's never left me in the darkness because he's always there, as he promised, shining into our lives so slow light of the world and since that day it was the first Saturday night of February in 1963. Since that day. I think I've been able to say the words that Jesus spoke here. I myself of knowing to be true. So I want to say the greatest thing in the world is to be a Christian trusting in Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord, but also sometimes think the greatest mistake a Christian speaker could ever make is to think that everyone who is listening to him has already become a Christian. And so it's good for us to end this first session by asking that question of arson you in the darkness. Are you in the trusting in Jesus Christ, you walking in the spirit and listen to coming best Dr. Sinclair Ferguson in your listing to Renewing Your Mind glad you joined us today.

The apostle Paul tells us in second Corinthians chapter 13 to examine ourselves to see if we're in the faith, and Dr. Ferguson provides us with a great basis for doing bad in his teaching series. The basics of the Christian life. What we just heard is the first of 12 messages in that series, he explains what it means to be a Christian to discover God's will and how to endure hardships among other principles.

We like to send you this to DVD set for your donation of any about to litigator ministries you can make a request or you can call us with your gift. Our number is 800-435-4343. Living the Christian life boils down to living for the glory of God and each section in this series examines it a different aspect of our lives in Christ. So again request the basics of the Christian life.

Our phone number again is 800-435-4343 and on behalf of all the Baikal exterior ligature ministries, let me thank you for your generous financial gift. Have you checked out our Internet radio station every day ref net features a fresh playlist of trustworthy teaching just like we heard today along with Bible readings and music and you can listen at any time. Just download the free ref net app to your phone or tablet.

Learn tomorrow and renewing your my Dr. Ferguson returns – here's just a portion of will here soon. Christian is a different person with a different identity, he or she is given in incident by the lead generating what is console one of the marks of is that we try. What does it mean to be a Christian.

We hope you'll join us Tuesday for Renewing Your Mind

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