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January 1, 2021 7:00 pm
BJU President Steve Pettit brings a message entitled, “Character Development and Its Importance” from II Peter 1:3-4
Welcome to The Daily Platform sponsored by Bob Jones University in Greenville South Carolina today speakers and president Bob Jones University.
Dr. Steve had to please take your Bibles this morning a turn with me to second Peter chapter 1 second Peter one this morning. Last Monday night when we began our opening service here at Bob Jones University. I talked about a Bob Jones education and I talked about for things that are involved in our education. The first is a Christ centered liberal arts education with a thoroughly integrated biblical worldview. The second thing I talked about in our education is the development of character.
The third is the importance of cultural excellence and then the fourth is critical thinking and I've learned that out of those four elements that there's one of them.
That is always a challenge to students out of those for which one do you think it is what I found generally it's not a Christ centered liberal arts education with the biblical worldview. This is what you've come to expect from Bob Jones. I don't think it's cultural excellence. Though some of you may not be used to certain elements of our emphasis here at the University because perhaps you have not developed a taste for cultural or classical music or dramatic productions or operas or recitals is not your thing, you know you grew up on ESPN or something else and I mean it's a little bit of an adjustment for you and I don't think it's learning to think critically because nobody wants to be considered unintelligent or ignorant. So what is the challenge that most students face here Bob Jones and it's it's always the emphasis on character and the way that character is developed. So what I'd like to do this morning and were going to look at the Scriptures in a moment.
What I'd like to do this morning is actually talk to you about character development and its importance, and let me start out by saying that the development of character is actually the mission of Bob Jones University in a way, the University actually has an old-school philosophy about education is education plus character, the development of a person's life and that's really the reason why we exist our own University mission statement says that Bob Jones University exists to grow Christlike character and were doing it in an environment that is scripturally discipline others serving God loving Christ proclaiming a focused above. Now think about it. It's the reason we exist. It's the whole reason why we are here so obviously character development is a really really big deal so let's understand.
Then some things about character. The first thing is this what we mean by character.
Now we think of character.
We don't really start with us.
Should we start with we should start with God because the nature of God in the Bible is revealed in his character in the Bible got God reveals himself by showing us who he is and what he does. That's called his character. For example, God's character is written is reviewed or seen or revealed in his nature thing about humming times in the Bible you read about God is good, or God is merciful God is gracious or God is righteous, or God's adjuster. God is wrath, or you read all of these character qualities, God reveals himself in his character, God only reveals himself in his nature, and that way but he also in his name because the names of God reveal what God does what God is like Jehovah, the God who is Adonijah the Lord God is our shepherd.
The picture itself is sufficient to describe what he does.
He's our rock.
He's our refugees are strong tower so God reveals his nature's character in his name and also what he does in the week we see God in the narratives of Scripture we read the story line of the Bible and what is what is the storyline of the Bible is about God what God is like and what God does and how he responded how he acts so the Bible is a revelation of the nature and the character of God who God is and what God does. That's the first place to start, but then secondly we have to understand that character. When we turn to man has to have to recognize that you and I were made in the image of God. We were made to be like God. But what happened that image was more through the fall of Adam, but it is renewed through the grace of salvation and we consider the purpose of salvation. What is that purpose. Obviously the purpose is that we go to heaven. But that's not just yet were not just trying to get into the pearly gates.
The purpose of salvation according to the Bible is actually to change or to transform us into God's likeness into his image. Or you could say into his character. That's why wants to look at second Peter chapter 1.
This morning I want to read verses three and four were going to look at a few of these verses, sort of as as a base for what I'm saying but Peter is writing about the experience of salvation and notice what he says in verse three, according as his divine power has given to unto us all things that pertain in the life and godliness to the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue whereby are given and us exceeding great and precious promises that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust, not saying a lot. So let me simplify it. Here's what he say by God's power and by God's promises we have been given everything we need through the new life in Christ to live a godly life and that life is displayed at him moral excellence, and moral character. Just like a rose is blooming.
So we are to bloom as Christians and to become like Christ through grace we are to display God's character in our lives.
So when we can talk about character development.
We start first of all with the nature of God. What God is like and then secondly, Christians being transformed into that likeness that comes to us through his grace in salvation. So we go back to the mission statement of Bob Jones University.
Why do we exist it's rooted in the Scriptures that we exist to grow Christlike character that leads me to the second thing this morning and that is then how is character developed.
How do you get character in your home. If you would like to have more character than you presently have. Why think we all are they I don't think I have to convince you that you need more character. So how is it developed. Let me first of all say that character is not something that Christians are only just Christians are concerned about. Fact is, all people are concerned about character.
One definition of character says this is the stable and distinctive qualities built into an individual's life which determines his or her response regardless of circumstances. It's the qualities that determine how you respond in life.
Your character determines how you act and how you react what comes up in your life and how you respond and that will determine the results of what happens in your life so it makes sense to say that people who are successful in any endeavor what their success is determined by their character and the reason why the world is so interested in character, is because they are interested in being successful and they know this.
For example, listen to the mission statement of these three schools.
The United States military Academy's mission that's West Point is to educate, train and inspire the Corps of cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of duty on her country and prepared for a career of professional excellence and service to the nation as an officer in the United States Army character and excellence. Listen to the mission statement of Harvard University. Harvard University is devoted to excellence in teaching, learning, and research and to developing leaders in many disciplines who make a difference globally listen to the mission statement of the Citadel through teamwork discipline in an intellectually challenging environment. The Citadel educates and develops each of our students to be principled leaders in all walks of life. Now the world understands that good character is the foundation for all true success. So it's not just something that Christians are interested in. It's what all people are interested in.
Furthermore, people today are crying out for leaders with character.
Listen to this statement today. Our world faces difficult and daunting problems, escalating crime, drug and alcohol abuse, workplace violence, gang activity, vandalism, school dropouts, deteriorating work ethics, domestic violence, juvenile delinquency, racial tensions, broken families at the root of all these issues is character good or bad lasting solutions to the problems of our day have to deal with the issue of developing good character that say to you this morning that we would be negligent as an egg educational institution it. We then emphasize character we would be wrong. So how was character developed well it does start the day that you're born into your family, your family has a big emphasis in your life how if you been raised.
What is important to your family. What is your family allow you to allow you to do.
What did your family restrict you from doing. How many of you felt like you grew up in a strict tone. I'm he felt you didn't grow up in a strict okay so it's about 50-50. My kids told me they said dad. We went off to Bible college and we discovered we grew up in the strictest home government, not in think we were led strict that the lighthouse was fun, fun guy we just work. That's what we did but it made a difference. What activities are you involved in how your parents discipline. How many of you ever received a spanking when you grew up.
Okay, fiscal character training on out.
What was your home life like did you grow up in a one parent home a two-parent home.
What kind of school did you attend what we are parents expectations.
But let me also say that regardless of your family and your upbringing in the end, you are responsible for your character and let me say this, that if you're a Christian. We know this, that God is the greatest parent of all and God will parents you in the realm of your character training you are responsible for the character development in your own life improperly responding to what God is doing in your life.
So how is character developed for a believer, I mean think about it. You go back in the New Testament days.
They did have Christian homes. They didn't grow up in Christian schools. They didn't have that kind of atmosphere and yet character training was a part of the Christian's life. So how do you develop character. Let's go back to second Peter chapter 1 we read verses three and four, where he talked about the fact that God's purpose is to change us into the moral likeness and character of God.
Now look at verse five, he said. And besides this, giving all diligence, add to your faith. How do you get character in your life. The world is the key word is the word add the word add means to earnestly supplier bring this into your faith means to provide these things character is built in your life through earnest focus effort.
Peter says add in other words, it's not just something that God does. It is what you do because in true biblical sanctification. It's not just God doing it all in you doing nothing, but it is you being involved in putting forth the effort, earnest commitment something you are responsible to bring in your life. It requires your diligent investment and character is always built through the exertion of effort or force, but usually that exhibit exertion of force is also against the negative for character is built. When you push against something this pushing you back. For example, what is the negative force against hard work.
What is it your own. What, what is it laziness. How many of you would say I'm definitely by nature lazy.
Okay, everybody is okay.
Do you think like the rest of the world is like super excited about working hard and you just like that shell all the time, all's not that way were all lazy, so you don't you don't lazy people don't develop character.
Nobody ever succeeds in anything in life by making it easy character doesn't come that way character comes through the resistance of forces against you and you fight against those negative forces, and in so doing you develop character.
So if you come to Bob Jones University in this place is easy for you and you just slide through. And there's nothing hard about it than we have miserably failed because it should be challenging because this is character development time what you want to do with your life. You want your life to just float down the river and everything is easy way, go buying alarm clock from Walmart and wake up. Not that way. And so maybe maybe you come here in this freshman year you go a man I like Bob Jones was really really hard.
It's supposed to be because it's the development of character and notice what Peter says Christians are to add to their faith, he tells us what the character is notice he says add to your faith virtue what is virtuous moral excellence that is evident in your life as you consistently are doing what is right is basically choosing the higher moral standard.
We know God's character is God is a moral being and so we choose moral excellence we choose it in sexual morality we choose it in honesty and integrity, and quality of standards in my work. In other words, I'm going to do the very very best that I can. I'm going to have virtue in my study habits are not to be lazy. I want to be discipline.
I'm in a memo to work at it in my music practice. Everybody understands that practice is the way in which you develop character in your life, but it's how you practice in how you come at it.
This is what excellence is all about.
Now let me ask you, is there not a negative force in our world that works against moral excellence must be honest how much moral excellence is being worked against through just the things of war of the world as it comes into our life through technology. So you have to add those things you have to be committed to those things, the notice he says add knowledge was at tell me tells me learning is a discipline character is built through the discipline of study. Good grades are the fruit of good character. You know, getting in the Bob Jones University is not all that hard staying in Bob Jones root University is not always that easy classes are challenging they should be learning this study is not natural. Why because thinking is hard. It takes discipline to lessen and to learn the kind of grade you make is directly proportional to the development of your skill in listening and reading and writing. It's our responsibility to create a character-based atmosphere that is conducive for good learning environment. You know that that's one of the reasons why we have a dress code.
Think about it it's about character. You have to get up and prepare for class and in preparing you have to prepare your mind to study the first thing I do every single morning as I wake up I stumble into the kitchen to make coffee because you can be saved without coffee but you can't be spiritual without coffee.
Second thing I do is while the coffee is brewing. I go take a shower you know why because I I have to get my brain in gay then I go back, make my coffee go take and sit down and I spent my first hour my day in devotions with God. It's it's a it's a habit it's a part of discipline to study. You have to show discipline you have to show focus. You have to show attention, you can't roll out of bed, put on your pajamas and come the class. Could you imagine will be like Bob Jones of your pajamas. The class maybe your say, okay, okay, help me understand why you really care.
It's my life. It doesn't really matter because in the end it's it's what I'm going to experience so so why you know why because all leadership cares about the integrity of the people that their leading because you know why because it's a matter of love. We actually love you and we actually think this is the better thing for you. It's a love thing man is because you really care it's because you're old enough and you seen enough in life to know to look back and say look, we really care about you. We really want you to do well and we believe this is the better approach to add to your faith these things. Temperance pieces add to your faith gives me knowledge add to your faith virtue. The notice number three. He said add your faith. Temperance what is temperance. It means to reject wrong desires to to do what is right.
It's self-control. Learning to control. For example, your time, what you're being stretched on that one for sure. Learning to control your thoughts you think how do you discipline yourself when you come here and you got a whole new realm of thoughts. Learning to control your tongue, avoiding the foot-and-mouth disease by sticking your foot in your mouth. Learning to control your temper. Learning to control your finances, your treasures, learning to control your taste buds.
Temperance means to be responsible for all these areas of your life. You're responsible for what you do. You can't blame anybody else in the notice, he says add to your temperance he says add perseverance what is perseverance is the inward strength to withstand stress and to do my best. Your means to persevere. It means don't quit, finish what you start. Stick it out. Life feels like you're climbing up a steep hill and it's really hard to get to the top so stick it out be determined.
Snogging to get easier. You think like this can get easier mad folly. Bob Jones will be so cheesy.
We are listening to the wrong voice booed real life is challenging the test of your character is what it takes to stop you. Character means you have to be faithful you have to say when it anybody can go to college for one semester.
But to do it for four years, four years for you.
Seems like eternity, but it's not.
It's that fast. To me for years is like plasma add to your faith these things, and character requires a discipline structure with some kind of impose form you put yourself in the structure, and you get with it and you go forward. I read recently how to successfully implement a character training program in any organization. Listen to what it says number one emphasize good character establish a culture that encourages everyone to develop good character. Describe and define good character make decisions based on good character train how to implement it and emphasize the importance of good character. The number two require good character that is establish a culture of good character by enforcing principal base policies communicate the expectations. If correction is needed to correct the character deficiency based on the poor behavior I learned long ago when discipline I don't I don't attack you. I deal with the character.
What you need to change because in changing those things is going to change your life and then number three recognize good character prays it point out the words the actions of the attitudes that demonstrates character qualities that are a benefit to other people. So character is developed in a structure in an atmosphere where you are putting forth effort, and that leads me to the final thing and that is this what is the end purpose or what is the end goal of character development.
Or maybe I should ask you this way. Is there any difference in Christian character versus character development in the world because I'll tell you, you go play on a college football team at the one team I guarantee the coach emphasizes character and if the world believes it character is necessary for success. What's the difference between the world's viewpoint of character and actually Christian's viewpoint, and in some ways. Character development is actually very's very similar but there is a difference.
I want to conclude this morning by explaining Jonathan Edwards was perhaps the greatest theologian in American history.
He was a prolific writer. They say that he spent some 15 hours a day and study extremely discipline.
In 1722 and 1723 at the age of 19 years old. He wrote 70 resolutions that he reviewed weekly until he died at the age of 54. Think about these resolutions had to do with areas of Christian living and Christian character. Now the melt. What did Jonathan Edwards see as the basis for keeping these resolutions, and developing this character and listen to his own words he said being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God's help, I do humbly and treat God by his grace to enable me to keep these resolutions so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ sake.
Edwards went on to relate a right to dissertations one entitled the nature of true virtue. It's talking about true character and secondly the end for which God created the world any describes his views on different levels of virtue and he said this, specifically their two condors common morality is what we call common character and secondly true saving virtue. He wrote that God created all things for his own glory and just not for human happiness, thus true virtue does not arise from self-love, the desire to be successful in the world's eyes, but from a desire to see God's glory displayed above all love of self-love, a family love of nation is good only to the extent that it magnifies the glory of God. What makes Christian character different from the world. It's all about the end. Who is it for is it for you or is it for God. As we finish this morning.
Look at second Peter chapter 1 and notice what he comes to the conclusion at the end of adding these moral virtues and character to your life. Notice what he says in verse seven and to godliness, brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity what is charity is that it is the mountaintop is the top of Mount Everest for the Christian because what is charity charity is living your life. Ultimately, for the benefit of other people character for selfish ends will always be empty, but serving others is always life's greatest fulfillment. The end purpose of character is learning how to sacrificially serve other people and that's why Bob Jones University exists within the cultural and academic soil of liberal arts higher education Bob Jones University exists to grow Christlike character serve that is scripturally discipline others serving God loving Christ, proclaiming and focused above that is the greatest goal of life to become like Christ in character that I might be able to successfully serve and help other people. Father, thank you that in Christ.
You can change our character. Lord help us to unselfishly embrace your purpose and plan, and help us to grow in our character that we would glorify and display your likeness to all people in Jesus name, amen.
You been listening to a sermon preached by Dr. Steve Pettit, president of Bob Jones University. Thanks again for listening and join us again next week is will hear more travel messages from the Bob Jones University Chapel platform