Growing in Christ

Growing in Christ

Scripture: John 3:3, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Matthew 6:9-13
Date: 08/09/2014  Lesson: 6
"The new life in Christ is not a patched-up life with a few external reformations. It is not a modification or improvement of the old life but a complete transformation."

Lessons on Faith

Lessons on Faith
NOTE: If you have a Bible question for Pastor Doug Batchelor or the Amazing Facts Bible answer team, please submit it by clicking here. Due to staff size, we are unable to answer Bible questions posted in the comments.

Please note: Approved comments do not constitute an endorsement by the ministry of Amazing Facts or Pastor Doug Batchelor. This website allows dissenting comments and beliefs, but our comment sections are not a forum for ongoing debate. Please be civil to one another.


Welcome to Sacramento Seventh-day Adventist Church right here in sunny California. We're so glad that you are tuning in. Whether you're listening on the radio, watching live on our website at 'saccentral.org', or watching on the various television networks, it doesn't matter how you're joining us we're just glad that you are. We know that many of you are part of our extended family that watch every week from across the country and around the world and we're so glad that today is no exception and you are ready to sing songs with us. We're all ready here at Sacramento central and so we invite you to turn in your hymnals to #511 as we begin central study hour and we are going to sing the first, second and third stanzas - let's do the first, second and fourth stanzas of #511.

This is a request from Godfrey in india, ada, jean, esta, gloria, and stella marie in italy and also I'm going to add in there walter aldridge who is - two of his siblings are up here singing today and he's in italy right now so hi walter, if you're watching. Joy, allen and janice in the united arab emirates and Godfrey in india. I already said Godfrey so extra special welcome to Godfrey in india. First, second and fourth stanzas - 'I know whom I have believed'. Thank you so much for sending in your favorite songs and I know there are so many more of you.

I was just looking at the list of requests this week and we're almost at 20,000 requests and that's not all of them that we've had since 2004 when we started letting you pick them on our website, so it's very exciting. We have sung through many of those 20,000 requests but if we have not gotten to your song yet, don't fear. I'm sure one day we will do that. Our next song - our new song - wait, I need to tell you that if you do have a favorite that you want to sing with us and we haven't done it yet, you can go to our website at 'saccentral.org', click on the 'contact us' link, and you can send in any song that's here in the hymnal. Our new song, as we continue working our way through the hymnal singing The Songs we don't know - #146 is a beautiful song that we're going to learn together today.

We're going to do all three stanzas and this is from sandy, vern, jamie, and jenny in North Carolina, and olivia in Washington. Let's all sing together #146. Wasn't that beautiful? I love that new song. Thank you so much. At this time let's bow our heads for prayer.

Father in Heaven, we thank you so much for the beautiful words of this new song. We imagine being little children back 2,000 years ago, climbing on your lap and being blessed by you. Father, we're looking forward to the day when all your children will be gathered together and we'll be with you in heaven and we can still climb on your lap and talk to you face to face. Please help us to be ready for that day and we pray that we will share the good news with others. We thank you so much for blessing us, for loving us, and for taking care of us.

Be with our speaker as he brings us our lesson study. In Jesus' Name, amen. At this time our lesson study will be brought to us by Pastor Doug Batchelor. Morning. Thank you debbie, musicians, singers.

Appreciate that. I enjoy learning these new songs. How is everyone? Welcome to those who are studying with us, our extended class and also those who are extended members of this church. We'd like to thank you for joining us. We're continuing our study dealing with the subject of the teachings of Jesus and our lesson - in a moment we'll get to lesson #6, but we have a free offer that deals with the growing in the Christian life and it's 'life in the Spirit.

' If you'd like this book it's really a classic, by Joe Crews, and it's - we've got a new cover on it. It's been very popular. We've reprinted it several times. 'Life in the Spirit' - if you've not read this then please ask for it. It's free.

Please just call the number on the screen and ask for offer #155. The phone number - -study-more - that's 866-788-3966. Ask for the free book 'life in the Spirit' - offer #155. Now our lesson today is dealing with 'growing in Christ.' We talked last week about how to be saved and once you accept Christ then how do you maintain that relationship with Jesus? And we have a memory verse. A lot of the lesson is based upon the gospel of John, Jesus' encounter with nicodemus, and the memory verse is from that chapter - John 3 - and that's John 3:3.

I always like if you could say the memory verse with me if you're ready - John 3:3 - ready? It's the new king James version. "Jesus answered and said to him, 'most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.'" Now not only is it true that unless you're born again you will not be in that kingdom and see it with your new eyes; unless you're born again you can't see the Kingdom of God now because Jesus said, 'the Kingdom of God is at hand.' So there's a new birth that needs to happen now in this life. And so in our lesson today we're going to explore growing in Christ. The sanctuary - you know the Bible sanctuary? It's an illustration of how to be saved and in the very middle of it is the presence of God in the holy of holies and man is on the outside. He's separated.

The whole object of the sanctuary is getting back to God. We've been separated from God. There's one door. Jesus is the door. You must first come to the cross - that's the altar - and then there's baptism - that's the laver - there's a washing that takes place.

Then after the washing - after you accept Christ and you accept the sacrifice and you're washed, there's the sanctuary - the holy place. In the holy place there are how many things? Three things. What are they? You've got the bread, candlestick, altar of incense. Remember that. Those three things represent the life of sanctification growing in Christ.

The bread is what? A symbol of the Word of God, right? Man doesn't live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the Lord. So one of the things you must do to grow in Christ - you need to have - how often do you need to read the Bible? Give us this day our? Daily bread. That's not just talking about the food you eat. You can actually fast and some of us would benefit from that, but don't fast from the word of God. And God supplied manna for them six days a week - twice as much on Friday - so they could still eat seven days a week, right? Daily bread.

And so we need to have - do you have a daily devotional life? You'd be surprised how often I meet people that have gone to church for years and they've been raised in the church and educated in the church and - I talked to a man last week I won't tell you where - and he said, 'I want to be real Christian.' And I said, 'alright, let's start at the beginning. Do you have a daily' - he's been coming to church for all his life. Didn't feel like there's something real. I said, 'do you read your Bible every day?' 'No.' I'm ashamed to tell you that in my quiet moments I've talked to other pastors and I've said, 'do you read your Bible every day?' 'No.' Boy, that's basics friends. If you want to grow in Christ - if you've got a physical body and it's got physical needs and if you don't take care of those physical needs you feel it pretty quick.

You have a spiritual body that has spiritual needs and if you don't take care of those needs you're going to feel it. And one of the most elementary needs is you've got to eat. You know, a doctor might ask you - when you go and you say, 'I'm not feeling good.' And he'll say, 'well, how's your appetite?' 'I don't have much of an appetite.' There's a problem. And if you don't have a spiritual appetite for the bread of life, there's a problem. Sometimes it's because we're eating junk food - we have no appetite at dinnertime for the good food.

You ever have your mother say, 'don't eat that stuff now, you won't want to eat the good stuff later.' How many of you heard that speech growing up? A lot of people in our day and age have no appetite for God's wholesome bread because we're so full of junk food. The devil's got lots of things - there's lots of secular entertainment out there that will ruin your spiritual appetite. And so you've got to eat the bread of life. The other thing was there was that altar of incense. What did that represent? Prayer.

It actually tells you in Revelation this was a symbol of the prayers of the saints. And so you need to read the word of God. You need to pray. Prayer is like the breath of the soul. How long can you go without eating? Probably 40 days.

Jesus did. Actually, one man, during a hunger strike in ireland, he went 80 days and the british government said they were not going to force feed him. They let him do his hunger strike and he finally died. I don't know if any of you remember that. Part of the i.

r.a. Back then. I was shocked. A man willingly starved himself to death. So you can go longer than 40 days but your body will actually start to cannibalize itself after a while.

Fasting a few days is probably good for you at times, but you start to feel it if you miss a meal, right? You ever heard someone - dinner is ten minutes late - 'I'm starving.' We're really not starving but you notice it when you don't eat. How long can you go without breathing? Not very long. I can probably hold my breath longer than most of you because I - I used to practice. I grew up swimming and we had swimming pools in florida. Then I snorkel and I skin dive - do any of you know what free diving is? It's where you just take your snorkel and your mask and you go down without a scuba tank - we also scuba dive - and you hyperventilate a little bit first and so I can go four minutes.

Try that. Don't do it right now. We'll be calling - it's hard to go that long. But if you don't breathe - what do they say? Doctor says five or ten minutes. If you drown in cold water you might last longer - maybe 20 minutes.

They've had people that were under water 20 minutes but it was cold water so it closed down the body system and they were recovered without any brain damage. Right dr. Stone? Yeah. But if it's - you're warm - you go five or ten minutes without air you can die or have brain damage. And what does a light represent in the sanctuary? And - let your light so shine before men - sharing your faith.

So here's three things I'm talking about to grow: read your Bible, pray, tell other people. If you are sharing your faith, your own faith will grow. As you give it away you get to keep it. You don't get to keep it if you don't give it away. Now, Jesus is the light of the world.

Jesus is the bread of life. Jesus is our high priest that intercedes. Jesus is all those things. But also, those things in the holy place represent the keys - the secrets to having a spiritual life. Get involved in some mission work - some way of using your faith to share Christ.

There's lots of ways to do it. You may not be a preacher or a missionary or be comfortable giving Bible studies - be part of a small group. Go on a mission project - help build a church. There's something everybody can do. And so, share your faith, let your light shine somehow - give away tracts - I mean, everybody can buy literature and leave it laying around at hair salons or somewhere.

You can probably tell I went to a hair salon this week. Actually, there's a story behind this. I was giving myself a haircut and, you men, you know you've got those little beard trimmers that kind of hold it off so far and I just - you know, I just wanted to get a summer haircut and shorten it a little bit. I like it short enough to where I don't have to fuss with it at all - it's, you know - and the thing fell off - the little separator/clipper thing fell off and I was going...and I went, 'oh no!' And I went up there and I thought, 'oh, I'm committed now.' So I just...it'll grow, you know. When you - it doesn't matter that much for me.

And Karen was online last night and she was watching a camp meeting somewhere and she just yelped out laughing and she said, 'look at this. David assherick just shaved his head also.' I don't know if any of you saw that camp meeting. And you can tell because he's got a suntan except all around here is white so it's new. Anyway - so I was going to send him an e-mail and say, 'we're brothers now.' How'd I get on that subject? Okay, you've got to be born again. Let's get to our lesson.

So nicodemus - nicodemus is only mentioned in the gospel of John, but he's mentioned several times. The name 'nicodemus' actually is a Greek name and - any of you ever heard of nike shoes? Nike comes from the Greek word 'victory'. And nicodemus means 'victory of the people' - which is interesting. He was a pharisee and part of the sanhedrin. Pharisees were a people - 'phara' - that meant separated ones - pharash - 'to set apart; the separated ones' - and Jesus not only denounced them in the strongest terms, but in some ways he commended them.

He said, 'unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the pharisees you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.' Meaning it not only needed to be a different type but a higher quality of righteousness. But they were very particular. Remember that pharisee stood and prayed, 'lord, thank you that I'm not like other men.' Very righteous group. They were very Godly - very particular and holy - and some of them were good. A number of the pharisees - you read in acts - came around and ended up following Jesus.

So they were seeking after God. There were mainly three - possibly four groups that you had - religious groups in the time of Christ. You had the pharisees - very - the most religious, you had the sadducees - they were very liberal. They didn't believe there were spirits or a resurrection. You had the zealots and they were more a political branch that wanted to overthrow - they were kind of the nationalistic group - one of Christ's apostles was zelotes and he was probably among the zealots.

And barabbas was a zealot. And then you had the essenes - the Bible doesn't say much about them but John the baptist was probably associated with that group. They were separatists - very holy - a lot of washings and baptisms. They lived around the dead sea. And so it was in that context nicodemus wanted to talk to Jesus but because the pharisees had denounced Jesus, he came by night.

You know it says three times in the Bible he is the one who came at night. Now one reason he came at night is not, perhaps, because he was ashamed to be seen with Jesus during the day; he wanted a private audience with Jesus. Jesus was hard to get alone, but also nicodemus was somewhat famous. You know in the Jewish writings it mentions a person by the name of nicodemus, The Son of gordian, who lived during the time of the roman emperor vespasian and it was said that he was so rich he could support all the inhabitants of Jerusalem for ten years. And that's written in 'adam clark's commentary.

' The Bible does say nicodemus was rich. He helped pay for that hundred pounds of myrrh that was used to anoint Jesus. Early in Jesus' ministry he came alone. At the end of Christ's life he came openly and was involved as a disciple and helped subsidize the church, no doubt, in those early days. He came to Jesus and he had some questions.

Now I'm going to have some of you read some verses. We've got a microphone there and I don't know - yep, we have a microphone over here. Who has John 3:3? We want you to read that again. I know it's in our memory verse but we'll - you've got that right there? We'll have you read that in just a moment. And it says here - remember we read that you need to be born again, but Ezekiel 18:30, verse - what does that mean? Ezekiel 18:30-32, "'repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin.

Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart'" - so the concept of a new heart and a new life is not just a new testament concept. You find this, also, in the old testament. Go ahead and read that verse for us - John 3:3. John 3:3, "Jesus answered and said to him, 'most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.'" Now does Jesus say it may be more difficult to see the kingdom or you cannot? Is that clear? And he says 'unless you're born again.' This is a criteria - 'you must be born again' Christ said. Now when nicodemus heard that this was a must and something you had to do, immediately he thought, 'I want to make sure I don't misunderstand what he's saying.

' And then he starts to ask the obvious, I mean, it's actually ridiculous. He said, 'how can a man, when he's old, enter into his mother's womb again and be born a second time?' I mean, you know, he knew Jesus didn't mean that. So he was saying, 'tell me exactly what you mean because you're saying unless this happens I cannot be saved. After all I've done as a pharisee and the exact way we follow the teachings of Moses, I cannot be saved?' He wanted to make sure he understood that. Jesus said, 'how can you, a teacher in Israel, not understand these things.

Then - that's one reason I'm reading this old testament passage - he said, 'you need to get a new heart.' Where do you buy a new heart? We're not talking about a heart transplant. The Bible says, 'as a man thinks in his heart.' Where do you get a new mind? This is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Jeremiah 31:33, "but this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." The concept of having the law of God in your heart goes way back before even Jeremiah. Deuteronomy chapter 6. You remember in chapter 5 Moses gives the Ten Commandments for the last time? In chapter 6 he says, 'hear, o Israel, the Lord our God is one.

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all your heart. These words I command you today shall be in your heart.' Of course it's talking about the mind. We use the heart - I mean, valentines day you give someone a card shaped like a heart and it's always that pretty kind of nebulous-looking heart. You wouldn't really give them something that looked like the actual pump with severed arteries. I mean, that wouldn't look very romantic.

But when you say you're giving a person your heart, what do you really mean? Your affections. It's something that's happening from the neck up, not in the chest. Sometimes you feel something in the chest when your heart is aching, but it really begins in the brain. So you need to be born again. A.

w. Tozier said, "there are" - oh wait a second - I want to get someone set up for the next verse. Corinthians 5:17 - who has that? Corinthians 5 - we gave out that slip - over here? Let's get you - put your hand up so he's sees you - with the microphone. Alright, a.w. Tozier said, "there are two spirits abroad in the earth.

the Spirit that works in the children of disobedience and the Spirit of God. These can never be reconciled in time or in eternity. the Spirit that dwells in the once-born is forever opposed to the Spirit that inhabits the heart of the twice-born." Someone said, 'if you're born once, you will die twice. If you're born twice, you will only die once." If you're born once you die the second death - you die twice - but if you're born twice - meaning born physically and then later born spiritually, you will only die once. You may not die at all if you're alive and remain when the Lord comes, right? 'God' - someone said - 'has no grandchildren.

' You cannot be saved by virtue of having parents that are in the church, you must have a personal conversion experience - a personal relationship with the lord. It's got to be real. Now you remember what happened to king Saul when the Holy Spirit came on him? He was - king Saul started out good and God - Samuel the prophet said to him, 'then the spirit of the Lord will come upon you and you will prophecy with them and you will be turned into another man.' Wouldn't you say that's another way of talking about the new birth? the Spirit of God comes on you and you are a new man. You are a different person. And that leads us to our verse we're going to read.

So go ahead and read for us 2 Corinthians 5:17. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." So this is a work of the spirit, being born again. How do you schedule the new birth with God? How do you put your order in? Do you apply? Where do you go and click on and say, 'i'd like to download a new heart?' How do you actually do that? Well, the Bible says it's the work of the Holy Spirit. You cannot always schedule the Holy Spirit but you can do everything you know how to do physically to invite the Spirit to work on your heart. For one thing, a change of heart comes because we see his love for us.

We love him. Our hearts can be broken because we see his love for us. The heart of Peter was broken at the cross. The heart of John was broken at the cross. And as we behold the goodness of God and his sacrifice for us, the Holy Spirit moves upon our hearts.

We can make a choice through prayer. Even though we may not feel like it we can choose to pray and say, 'lord, I want to give you my heart. I may not feel like it. I may want to change my mind in ten minutes, but I know it's the right thing to do. I want to choose to give you my heart.

Take my will. Do in me what I cannot do for myself.' Surrender. Turn yourself upside down. Empty yourself. Say, lord, I am willing for you to fill my life.

Make room, consciously, with the will that you do have, for the Holy Spirit to come into your life and then God can begin to do things for you. You know, God really makes a note - you give him permission, when you say things in your prayers, that he otherwise does not have. And, you know, if a policeman knocks on your door and says, you know, 'i'd like to search your house.' You say, 'go ahead.' He has a right to search your house. But if you say, 'no.' He's got to go back to a judge and it takes a big process for him to get a warrant to be able to search your house. But if you give him permission, when he stops you on the road, to search your car, with your words he can then search your car.

You may not even want him to but if you say it, he can. And so what you say gives legal permission for God to begin to do things in your heart through your prayers. Even though you may not feel like it, you can ask him. So the new birth - that change of heart - that miracle power of the Holy Spirit can happen through prayer. David prayed - psalm 51 - "create" - notice he doesn't say, 'repair in me the old heart?' He says, "create in me a new heart.

" This man was selling his house and the buyer came by and the man said, 'I'm sorry, we'll try and fix up the shades and I know it needs a little paint and the fence in this place is a little rickety. We'll fix it up.' And the man said, 'don't worry about it because I plan on tearing down the house and building a new one so don't waste your time on the old one.' And God does not remodel our lives so much as 'old things are passed away' - how much is made new? 'All things are made new. The things you once loved you will hate' - when you're converted - the music I once loved I hate. The food I once loved I hate. The friends I once hung around with I avoided.

I mean, just everything starts to change when you go through this new birth. And the things you once hated you love. I mean, it's just a whole change in your actions - in your attitudes. But the concept of a new birth is not just a new testament concept. Even Moses talked about circumcising the foreskin of your heart.

It's a heart transformation. Now you may not feel anything right away, but you pray and you give yourself to the Lord. Some people, they're converted like that. It's just - it's an instantaneous, dramatic, emotional upheaval - a convulsion - and they become new. I've seen it happen that way.

And then I've seen it where it's like a little break in the dam and it starts with a trickle and little by little God begins to work in a person's life until pretty soon they look back and they're completely different. And it can happen in degrees and it can happen instantly. Don't ever question - God can do it instantly. Now, because a person can change some of the outward behavior, does not mean the inside has been reborn. This is one of the biggest problems in the church is the church is full of people that still aren't converted.

They may be moral people. They may be good people. They may be honest people, but they're not born again yet. Nicodemus and others, they were good, moral people but maybe they weren't born again. In the book 'steps to Christ' page 58, there e.

g. White says, "it is true that there might be an outward correctness of deportment without the renewing power of Christ. The love of influence - the desire for the esteem of others may produce a well-ordered life. Self-respect may lead us to avoid the appearance of evil. A selfish heart may perform generous actions.

" That doesn't mean that we've been converted. There needs to be a new life in the Spirit, which is our next section. Matthew chapter 7 - there'll be a fruit difference. How do you know if a person's been converted? "A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Therefore by their fruits you will know them." If there's been a change in the heart, there'll be a dramatic difference in the fruit in the life. Titus 3, verse 7 - I'm sorry, Titus 3:5 through 7, "not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit," - notice it's washing - it's a renewing - it's a regeneration - it's something that may be a sanctifying process that happens in the life - "whom he poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by his grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life." the Lord changes us gradually sometimes - sometimes it's dramatically. Galatians 6:15, "for in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation." We need to be born again. It's a new life in Christ. The old life is not to be renovated.

You know, I remember - you ever heard the expression 'lock, stock, and barrel?' I used that expression for years before I even knew what it meant. Then I heard the story behind it. Years ago, when they had these old flint lock rifles - a very simple mechanism. You had the wooden stock of the rifle, you had the barrel and you had the lock, which was the trigger mechanism. And this old farmer came into the gunsmith and he said, 'my gun's got some problems.

' And the smith looked it over and he said, 'yeah, it looks pretty worn out.' And the farmer said, 'well, I think if you could just fix up the barrel and get me a new stock and repair the lock' - he says - 'then it would be okay.' You know, he'd grown attached to it. He kind of was affectionately - had that rifle for years. And the gunsmith said, 'well, you're asking for a new lock, stock and barrel - you may as well get a new rifle.' And so the Lord is not wanting to patch us back up. He wants to make us a new creature. You become a new person.

And without a miracle we can't do this. Someone look up for me - I'm going to get to this in just a second - 1 John 2, verse 28. Who has that? We'll get you a microphone over here. Some of you remember a couple of years ago there were a couple of young men that were tormenting some tigers in the san francisco zoo? And one of the tigers somehow got out of its cage and, I think, killed one man and mauled the other. And they were talking about should they euthanize these tigers because they were dangerous? And I think they concluded that the tiger was acting exactly like the tiger was supposed to act.

But people were provoking it. You know that verse in Jeremiah 13? "Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? You might do good who are accustomed to do evil." The fruit in our lives is the outgrowth of what's on the inside of our heart. I got a birthmark. Had it all my life. It's because it comes from the inside out and all of us have behavior that seems to continue to come out.

We can try and suppress and alter with human effort and, you know, some things can be achieved but - there's all kinds of programs you can go to, but the real key is if the heart is changed then the behavior on the outside flows out differently. Does a leopard have to try to grow spots or does it just happen naturally? If you and I want to have the right fruit then where the effort needs to be is a change on the inside and, by inviting the Lord to change our hearts and to focus on the inside, the works of Christianity become natural when the heart is changed. So many people find the Christian religion drudgery because they are trying to change something on the outside that is coming based on what's happening on the inside. It's like the old illustration that you've got a crabapple tree that produces crabapples. Now a crabapple might have great fruit stock - the tree itself - but the apples are going to be sour.

And if you tie gravenstein or red delicious or fuji apples on a crab apple tree, that might fool people for a little while, but eventually it's going to keep producing crab apples. If you want to change what that tree is going to do, you've actually got to take a chainsaw and you cut that thing off pretty low on the trunk and you graft in a whole new kind of twig and then you have different apples. You can take a crabapple tree and graft in red delicious, gravenstein, fuji - did you know that? Yeah, I've got a friend he's got like twelve different kinds of apples on one tree. You can graft - this is more than you asked for but - with citrus fruit - you can graft virtually any kind of citrus on a citrus stalk. You can have one tree that will have mandarins, oranges, grapefruits.

You can take a walnut tree and you can get black walnuts, english walnuts - whatever else. You can take stone fruit - peach - you can have plums on that tree, cherries - you can have all different kinds of stone fruit on that one stalk. And on one apple stock you can graft in all different kinds of apple trees. How many of you knew that? Yeah, you can - some of these trees, once you're in their kind, you can graft all kinds of different things. You can't graft an orange into an apple.

You've heard that expression? 'Different as apples and oranges.' But you can graft stone fruit - plums, nectarines, peaches - into a good stalk and there may be some exceptions to that but in many cases they'll do just fine. Anyway, but there's got to be a change in the root of it. Alright, that is a good segue into 'abiding in Christ,' which is our next section. And why don't you go ahead and read for us - I believe it's 1 John 2:28. "And now, little children, abide in him; that when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.

" 'Little children abide in him.' Does that sound similar? Turn in your Bibles to John 15 - I was just going to read John :5 but I thought, 'well, I may as well read more of that chapter because that's the essence of the whole segment teaching that Jesus has about abiding. Go to verse 1 - John 15:1 - "I am the true vine," - meaning there are false ones out there - "and my father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me" - now wait a second. You know what that's a picture of? The Father is the vinedresser. The Father is wanting us to be abiding in his son, Christ.

The Father's not asking us to abide in him, but to abide in the one he sent in his name. And The Father is doing all he can to make sure that we are pruned properly and we are being fruitful and that we are abiding in Christ. "I am the true vine, and my father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me" - you know, read through the new testament - just type in the words 'in Christ' - find out - that's one of Paul's favorite teachings - in Christ - everything is in the lord - in Christ - you need to be abiding in him - "every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away; and every branch that bears fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit." Another reason this is an important verse - you know, there are some that teach that once you are saved you cannot be lost. Doesn't Jesus say there are branches that are in him that are not bearing fruit that will be taken away? Isn't that what it just said? So the idea that once you are in Christ you cannot be lost - Jesus doesn't teach that.

"Every branch in me that does not bear fruit...he prunes it that it may bear more fruit." And if we don't bear fruit we're cast away. "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in me and I in you as a branch cannot bear fruit of itself." You have a grapevine - I should have brought one in today - you have a grapevine and you disconnect it, you have a little branch, the little twigs that go off the grape branch - you disconnect it - it's not going to bear fruit. If it was starting fruit it will shrivel. It just dies.

"As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me." So for us to have the fruits of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, so forth - we need to spend our time making sure that we are remaining attached to Jesus. And that's through that devotion life we were talking about. Daily we are making sure that we are attached to Jesus. You ever done any grafting? You can graft grapes too, you know, all different kinds of grapes. You can have one grapevine that'll have several different kinds of grapes on it.

That's true. You can take a branch from a red - or what do you call it? Seedless - red seedless - or from a concord or different kinds - and you can have one grapevine that will have all different kinds of grapes on it. But when you graft them, it's a delicate process. You make a careful cut, you've got to cut the branch down while it's still green. You have to do it while it's got the life and the sap in it and you make a 'v' in it and you can stick it in there.

You can wrap it - they also have a substance you can paint on it to make sure it stays dry - that it stays moist - that it doesn't dry out and the sap will begin to flow between them and pretty soon it starts to heal the spot where it grafted and it grows strong. You don't have to worry anymore. But it's something that needs to be cared for. We need to make sure that we're grafted into Christ and that we are drawing sap - we're drawing life from his spirit. If we're doing that you don't have to worry about the fruits.

The fruits will come because the mind of Christ ends up being your mind and the life of Christ starts being your life. So it's all about abiding in him. "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches.

He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much fruit; without me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you will ask what you desire and it shall be done for you. By this my father is glorified, that you bear much fruit;" - the purpose of our lives is to bear fruit for the glory of God. - "So you will be my disciples.

As The Father loved me, I also have loved you; abide" - there's that word again - "in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide" - notice that, the commandments are connected with abiding - "if you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love just as I have kept my father's commandments and abide in his love." How does he want us to keep his commandments? As he kept his father's commandments. Does that leave any doubt? "These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full." So this whole passage about abiding ends in joy. But he just makes it so clear that we need to remain in Christ in order for us to have that fruit. Mark 4:19 - what keep us from bearing fruit? - "And the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word and it becomes unfruitful.

" Sometimes we are not bearing fruit because the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, the desire for other things choke out our desire for God. If we, through our choice, make the desire for God supreme in our lives - someone tell me if you can think of anything - what is more important in life than God? Everything's made by God. We have an opportunity to live forever with God. God is the most important one so what should occupy our thinking that is worthy more than God? So God should be all in all for us - in our lives - in our minds. Psalm 80, verses 8 and 9 - there's some old testament teaching about the vine here.

'You have brought a vine out of Egypt; you have cast out the nations, and planted it. You prepared room for it, and caused it to take deep root, and it filled the land." What was the vine that he brought out of Egypt? It's his people - and Jesus is a type of that but it was Israel. Notice this next one - Isaiah :7, "for the vineyard of the lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of judah are his pleasant plant" - the vineyard is God's people and the individual vines represent - or the vineyard, rather, is God's nation - the individual vine is God's people - "he looked for justice, but behold, oppression; for righteousness, but behold, a cry for help." - And he said, 'and if my vine brings forth bitter grapes what will I do? Break down the wall. Cut down the vines. Let the wild beasts go through it.

' He wants the fruit. You can read that whole passage there in Isaiah chapter 5:1 through 7. John - I'm sorry, John 3:6, "whoever abides in him does not sin." Now, that verse - it's very plain - it says, "whoever abides in him does not sin. Whoever sins has not seen him neither known him." Does that mean a person who is abiding in him never sins? Not necessarily because the word 'sin' here in the Greek is talking about practices sin. It's not really talking about an isolated incident.

It's talking about living a life of sin. If we are living a life of abiding in Jesus, that is incongruous with living a life of sin. The two do not go together. They do not mix like oil and water. And so, if you want to make sure that you are not living a life of sin, make sure you are living a life of abiding in him.

Avoiding sin is so much more natural when we are abiding in Christ. People who are having problems with temptation - what did Jesus use to fight temptation? The Word of God. What is Christ also called? The Word of God. If we're abiding in him - if we're feasting on the word - does the word help keep us - 'thy word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin.' What keeps us from sin? 'Thy word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin against you.' And so the more time we spend abiding in Christ - Jesus is the word - the easier it is for us to live those lives where he's in us. Alright, let me see here, I've got one more section - oh well, I tell you what, let's go to 'prayer' - I want to deal with that.

Mark 1, verse 35 - a Christian is a follower of Christ - what was Jesus' example? "Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, he went out and departed to a solitary place; and there he prayed." Jesus made time for prayer. And it says, 'having risen a long while before it was daylight.' You know, at one point it says, 'at the fourth watch.' He had been in the mountains praying - at the fourth watch he came to the disciples - that was three in the morning. It's pretty early to wake up. Martin luther used to wake up about 3:30 or 4:00 in the morning every day and he'd devote two or three hours to prayer. John wesley - woke up early and spent hours in prayer.

George whitfield, jonathan edwards - I'm mentioning these names because these were people who brought great revival and one of the keys to the great revival was the time they spent in communion with God - is prayer. Very few people spend a lot of time praying and I think that that's the key - that's really the key to revival. That's key to abiding in him - is just pleading for that relationship. When you are not in prayer, the devil is probably preying on you. And so the more time that you are in prayer, the devil trembles when God's people pray.

You are impervious to the devil's asSaults when you are on your knees. Do you know it's hard to pray and sin at the same time? Don't try it but - prayer keeps you. Jesus spent time in prayer. So this is part of living that new life. Matthew 6:5 - Jesus said, "and when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites.

" You notice Jesus didn't say, 'and if you pray.' Jesus is assuming prayer was going to be part of the life of the believer so he said, 'and when you pray' - not 'if you pray.' He said, 'don't pray for others to see. You know, they used to pray long prayers in public for people to think how pious they were and he said, 'pray to your father. Have it to be spontaneous. Someone look up for me Mark :24 - who has that verse? Hold your hand up. Oh, you've got that right here? Hold your hand up.

Right over here. So a microphone can find you and a camera as well. And then there - and if you're going to pray, pray with passion. James 5:16, "...the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." Now the fact that he's talking about effective fervent prayers would lead me to believe that there are ineffective, listless prayers. Let's be honest with each other.

Do you sometimes struggle to pray original prayers? I mean, if you are in the habit of praying daily you will find yourself saying the same thing. And it actually takes some effort to say something new and original so that it's - and that means you've got to think about what you're saying in prayer. If you had a daily appointment with the president and he said, 'look, we're going to spend five minutes together every day and every day you saw him you said the same thing, wouldn't you think, 'well, that sounds kind of boring. Say something original. Say something intriguing.

I've got five minutes to conversate with the president. Wouldn't you want to - you'd think if you said the same thing every day you'd think it would probably be an insult. He'd see you coming and go, 'uh, here it comes again.' Have you heard people pray that you know and their prayers almost always sound exactly the same? It's a struggle in our family prayers since we pray in the morning and we pray at night and, you know, there's typical things we always pray about - our loved ones and we pray for health and different things, but I think God wants to hear us speak from our hearts. So it's worth investing some time. God says, 'come now, let us reason together.

' You know what that's appealing to? He wants you to think. Think about when you're talking to him. Reason with him in prayer. So it's an effectual prayer - it's a fervent prayer. What does 'fervent' mean? Passionate.

It's from the heart. You know what makes your prayers the most eloquent? It's your sincerity - your desperation. Alright, go ahead, read for us Mark 11:24. Mark 11:24, "therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them." Alright, so he's not only telling us to pray with passion and pray with our heads, he's saying pray with faith. Whenever you ask for something, believe that you receive it.

Now does that mean you can ask for anything? Or does James also say, 'if you ask anything according to his will?' And so, if you are abiding in Christ, you will not be praying for the wrong kind of things. Does that make sense? Because you'll be wanting God's will. I mean, even Jesus said, not my will, thy will be done. He was fully surrendered to the father's will in his prayer. Christ's prayers were always answered because he always prayed according to God's will, right? And so ask that God will help you to know his will better.

Someone look up for me Luke 9:23. Who has that? Right over here. We'll get you a microphone. And the last section is probably the most - one of the most important - and it deals with dying to self everyday. Paul says, in Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in The Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

" Hardest thing in the world is to deny our natural carnal desires - is to deny they - just the natural, selfish inclinations that we all have. Okay, are you ready? Go ahead, you can read for us Luke 9:23. Luke 9:23, "and he said to them all, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it." You know why I like this - I like this passage in particular is because here in Luke, when Jesus makes this statement, he includes a very important word: 'daily' - daily. Not only do we need daily bread, it says, 'take up his cross daily.

' It's not something that happens one time but part of growing in Christ is every day laying your plans before the Lord. Daily prayer, daily bread, daily choice not to live a selfish life but to live according to God's will, daily looking for opportunities - every day you should pray and say, 'oh lord, how can I share my faith with someone else today?' Amen? You know, before we run out of time, I just want to read something to you from - this is also from the book 'steps to Christ' and I lost the reference, I apologize. It's in the section about being born again. Remember Jesus said to nicodemus, 'don't marvel that I said you must be born again. The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it but you cannot tell where it came or where it's going.

So is everyone who is born of the Spirit. When the Holy Spirit came at pentecost it came like a rushing wind, didn't it? "A person may not be able to tell the exact time or place or trace all the chain of circumstances in the process of conversion, but this does not prove him unconverted. Christ said to nicodemus, 'the wind bloweth where it listeth and thou hearest the sound thereof, but you canst not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth. So is everyone that is born of the Spirit. John 3:8.

Like the wind, which is invisible, yet the effects of which are plainly seen and felt, it is the Spirit of God in its work upon the human heart. That regenerating power, which no human eye can see, begets a new life in the soul. It creates a new being in the image of God. While the work of the Spirit is silent and imperceptible, its effects are manifest. If the heart has been renewed by the Spirit of God, the life will bear witness to the fact.

" It'll be seen - the fruits will be in the life. You may not be able to trace all the circumstances - you know, I meet these people and they say, 'I remember the day when the altar call was made and the music that was playing and I came forward and I accepted Jesus that day and' - some of you may be able to put your finger on the day. I can't do that. Because for me, it was sort of like a - it was a transition that I don't know exactly when it started. I know the range of time.

It was over a period of months. A lot of changes were happening. I was convicted and it just sort of happened in stages. But the bottom line is you ought to be able to look back and say, 'something happened.' That you're a new creature - old things have passed away, all things are made new. Amen? Well, we're out of time for today's study.

I want to remind those who are watching, we do have a free book if you missed it at the beginning. Just call and ask for the book 'life in the Spirit.' The number's on the screen. Ask for offer #155. We'll send it to you. Please read it and then share it with somebody else.

And until next time, God bless you and we look forward to studying together again. Did you know that Noah was present at the birth of Abraham? Okay, maybe he wasn't in the room, but he was alive and probably telling stories about his floating zoo. From the creation of the world to the last day events of Revelation, 'Biblehistory.com' is a free resource where you can explore major Bible events and characters. Enhance your knowledge of the Bible and draw closer to God's word. Go deeper.

Visit 'Biblehistory.com'.

Name:

Email:

Prayer Request:


Share a Prayer Request
Name:

Email:

Bible Question:


Ask a Bible Question