By: Grady Brown
A. ABIDING – John 15:7
B. SANCTIFICATION – Titus 2:11-12
C. PEACE WITH SELF – Hebrews 12:14
D. FRUIT OF FAITH – Galatians 5:22-23
E. CONTINUING SALVATION – Philippians 2:12
Young Men! What an exciting identification! Youth throb with life and excitement. It speaks of final growth and development as it stands on the threshold of full maturity. It speaks of preparation for full spiritual manhood. In this study, we will be emphasizing the “process” rather than the “crisis” experiences in the life of a Christian. Repentance, baptism and Spirit-infilling are “crisis” experiences in that they
occur at a definite point in time. “Process” experiences, on the other hand, are those gradual developments that occur over longer periods of time. The balanced Christian life will be made up of both types of experiences. Two other words which are relevant to this study are
“maturity” and “maturation.” Maturity speaks of the end product of Christian growth. Maturation is the process by which maturity is
I. THE ROLE OF THE YOUNG MEN
John said he was writing to the young men “because ye have overcome the wicked one” (I John 2:13). Infant Christians must be borne through difficulties by the older saints. Eventually, however, God intends that one should mature to the point that he can fight his own battles successfully. This fact appears to be a basic principle of the universe. Just as nations send their young men to war, so God expects us to eventually become “young men” spiritually so we can fight the Christian warfare (I Timothy 1:18). The role of the young men, then, is to be overcomers.
II. THE SECRET OF OVERCOMING
John also said he was writing to the young men “because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you” (I John 2:14). This second remark makes the first possible. We are overcomers only when the Word of God abides in us. The Psalmist said, “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11). John said that he that is born of God is incapable of sinning as long as His seed (Word) remaineth in him” (I John 3:9). The writer to the Hebrews upbraided them because “when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you… and are become such as have need of milk, and not strong meat” (Hebrews 5:12). Young men should be meat-eaters! The writer went on to explain that “every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word” (Hebrews 5:13). Naturally one can’t overcome if he doesn’t have the Word of God abiding in him, but listen to the writer’s alternative?
“But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14). “Full age” here does not mean “old folks”; it is rather talking about young men mature enough to fight battles.
Notice also the phrase, “by reason of use.” Use of what? The Word of God, of course, according to verse 13. Now notice what the Word
does it exercises one’s “senses” or one’s spiritual sensitivity and makes him capable of discerning good and evil and of overcoming the
III. THE SECRET OF ABUNDANCE
Many people feel that the Holy Ghost experience is a “carte blanche” for anything and everything they may desire. The Bible, however, places some qualifications on our petitions to God.
“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples”(John 15:7-8).
Notice the two stipulations. First, we must abide in Christ. Second, His Word must abide in us. Then, and only then, can we ask what we will. As babies, we often ask amiss, but when we become young men with the Word abiding in us, our thinking becomes more mature, and we know what to ask for. Thus Jesus can make the promise, “Ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you!” This scripture also deals with fruit-bearing which the task of young men.
IV. THE SECRET OF JUSTIFICATION
“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. If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of God” (I John 2:28-29). We are justified as little children when we abide in Him. We become overcomers as young men when His Word abides in us!
I. THE RESULT OF OVERCOMING
Basically righteousness is a right standing with God produced by God’s mercy in salvation. This is called justification. But righteousness is not only what God does for us; it is also what we do for God.
Now we know that salvation and heaven can never be “earned”, but the whole purpose of salvation is to make new creatures out of us — creatures of holiness. God intends that we live lives of righteousness. When we, as young men, overcome the wicked one, lives of righteousness and holiness are the result. The state of righteousness is given to us through God’s mercy when we believe. This, as we have said, is called justification. The process that begins here, however, is a continual one of cleansing and purification and is called sanctification. Sanctification means that we are separated unto God and separated from the world.
II. THE PURPOSE OF GRACE
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11).
We could call this “What Grace Brought.” But grace does not cease to act in our lives once we are saved. It continues to work as a
teacher. Listen to the next verse that Paul wrote to Titus. “Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Titus 2:12).
So grace continues to work in our lives in the process of sanctification. It teaches us how to live overcoming lives as “young men”. It empowers us to overcome ungodliness and worldly lusts. It directs us in the living of sober, righteous and godly lives. Now all this does not mean that the Christian must be a somber, fun-hating “prude” in order to please God. It simply means that we need to get all the “garbage” out of our lives so that we can experience the deepest and richest joys that God has in store for us.
In this day when the cry of the world is, “Do Your Own Thing,” it would seem that Christians should have no trouble at all in asserting
their right to be godly and righteous. Sanctification is our “thing”! And the grace of God is designed to help us achieve it. We could
call this “What Grace Taught”.
Finally, the end result of the work of grace in our lives is to perfect us and make us ready to meet the Lord. Paul, in his next verse to Titus, indicated that this was the hope of the Christians as the result of grace working in our lives. “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). We could call this “What Grace Wrought”, for the end work of grace is to present us blameless and sinless before God.
III. THE CROSS OF SANCTIFICATION
The emphasis of one word in Paul’s letter to Titus should be made in closing. That is the word “denying” in verse 12.
This speaks of the cross. Without a doubt, sanctification will bring a cross to a person’s life, but this is also the promise of the Lord. “In the world ye shall have tribulation” (John 16:33). Next time you sing “Every Promise In The Book Is Mine,” think about that one!
But in that same scripture, Jesus also gave a promise to “young men.” “But be of good cheer; I have overcome the world!”
The overcoming life belongs to those who are willing to take up the cross. “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” (Luke 9:23).
Notice that the cross is to be taken up “daily” which indicates a continuing process. In our discussion of “young men” in this class we are talking about growth as a Christian. Taking up the cross is a part of that growth. Let’s with joy take up the cross for His sake. We’ll always be the winners for so doing!
“PEACE WITH SELF”
I. PERSONAL PEACE
We can never hope to be at peace with ourselves unless we first achieve peace with our Creator. Making our peace with God is really vain, however, if we do not allow that peace to flood our our hearts and quell the fears and doubts that harbor there. There is, of course, an initial peace that comes with salvation, but as the “young man” matures in the Lord, growing in grace and knowledge, there comes a “deep, settled peace” that is unshakeable. “The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).
II. PEACE THROUGH CONFIDENCE
Paul’s admonition to the Philippians in the verse just prior to the one just discussed which promised the peace of God, showed them
how to achieve that peace. “In every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6). We can be confident in the peace of God when we carry our cares to Him instead of trying to work out our problems for ourselves. There is a peace that comes just from knowing that we can take our burdens to the Lord and leave them there. On one occasion Jesus was asleep in the bottom of a boat while His disciples braved a terrible storm on the deck above. Finally, one of the disciples came below and shook His shoulder and asked in desperation, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” (Mark 4:38). Of course, we know the story how Jesus arose and stood on the bow of the ship and whispered, “Peace, be still!” and the winds fled and the waves lay down at His feet. We do not know which disciple asked this question, but can you imagine how little he must have felt months later as he viewed his Lord on Golgotha proving to the world that He did indeed care! Yes, we know that He cares and that He wants to calm our troubled
seas with the whisper, “Peace, be still!” Our winds of adversity have to flee and our waves of turmoil subside when the Master is in our
Peter was there that night when the Lord performed this miracle; no doubt this was in his mind when he penned the beautiful promise that we can have peace by “casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (I Peter 5:7).
III. PEACE THROUGH WORSHIP
Notice that Paul’s admonition to the Philippians included the two words “with thanksgiving.” When we carry our petitions to the Lord, we are not supposed to just barge into His presence with our needs. Our entrance into His gates should be with thanksgiving and our entrance into His courts should be with praise (Psalm 100:4). This is not just a matter of respect to God; it also has a far-reaching benefit for us. There is a peace that comes to God’s people through worship.
“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts….and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:15- 17).
Paul definitely linked the peace of God with worship to God.
IV. PEACE THROUGH SUBMISSION
The remainder of this passage in Colossians has some very pertinent material relative to peace. Wives are told to submit to their husbands. Husbands are told to love their wives. Children are told to obey their parents. Parents are told to provoke not their children to anger. Servants are told to obey their masters. Since rebellion is at the root of much of the turmoil and unrest in the world today, it stands to reason that submission to the authority that God has given will certainly bring peace to our lives.
V. THE PURSUIT OF PEACE
“Follow the things that make for peace” (Romans 14:19). “Flee also youthful lusts, but follow…peace” (II Timothy 2:22). “Follow peace with all men” (Hebrews 12:14). In each of these passages the word “follow” comes from the Greek word dioko which means to hotly pursue. We are not to simply fall into a peaceful situation if it happens to come along. We are rather to earnestly pursue peace in our lives and the lives of others.
The same Greek word dioko is used in Pauls declaration of determination in Philippians 3:13-14. “Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press (dioko) toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus!” Let us pursue peace as earnestly as we pursue heaven itself!
THE FRUIT OF FAITH
I. FAITH — A WAY OF LIFE
Faith is the basis for the life of the new believer. But faith is much more than that. Faith is the thread that brings continuity to the
fabric of Christian life. Seen as the way to God, it is listed with the six foundation stones of the New Testament Church (the principles
of the doctrine of Christ found in Hebrews 6:1-2), but faith’s work is not finished in the foundation.
Faith is not only the means of spiritual attainment, it is also a product of the Spirit-filled life. It is part of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Further, it is a special manifestation of the Spirit in that it is one of the gifts of the Spirit (I Corinthians 12:8-10). So it is that faith is not an attribute that can be “attained” to the extent that it can be left behind in our search for higher planes of spirituality. Faith is found throughout the entire spectrum of Christian experience. It will always be present in the life of the Christian regardless of spiritual status. The disciple of Christ is forever known as a “believer.”
II. FAITH — A VENTURE
The word “faith” is translated from the Greek noun pistis and generally means a firm persuasion or a conviction. What we seek here, however, is something more than a generality. We need specific insight into the relationship of faith with abundant living. One can have a conviction, even a firm persuasion, and still not enjoy a full and overcoming spiritual walk. Faith is not passive mental assent; it is rather active venturing. Faith is not the attainment; it is rather the striving for attainment, the reaching forth for new plateaus of spirituality. Faith is a discontent with the status quo; it is the stretching of oneself to new dimensions. When we cease to reach for new knowledge, new experiences, new achievements in the Spirit, we cease to have faith even though we are not apparently regressing. God’s perfect will and fullest intention for our lives is progress, maturation, expansion. When we cease to pursue the higher calling, we cease to do the will of God.
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6) We do not “have” faith so much as we “express” faith. Faith is the expression rather than the possession. Faith is not some force we hold in reserve until it is needed. Faith only exists when it is being expressed. Faith is the actual “doing” rather than the “having to do with.” Faith is not potential; it is kinetic. “Not as though I had already attained, either were
already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14). The Christian life is called a life of faith because it is a venture. The Christian receives, not because he passively “believes,” but rather because he actively reaches forth for his desires and needs. He receives according to his ability to reach out. Paul said that God was “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Ephesians 3:20).
That power that works in us is faith, and no man is without that power. Paul assured the Romans that “God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith” (Romans 12:3). We all have the ability to reach for things spiritual. However, when especial crisis confront us and we lack sufficient power, God has a special endowment of the Spirit, the gift of faith, that will enable us. It gives us, not the attainment, but rather the enablement to reach for attainment.
We can readily see why the father of the demoniac boy said to Jesus in tears, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). In effect he was saying, “Lord, I am limited in my ability to reach out. I’m reaching as far as my present ability will allow. Help me, Lord, because I want to reach higher.” So faith, then, is seen as a continuing attribute of the believer whereby the “young men” achieve victory and overcome the evil one.
III. FAITH — A FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
Faith needs to be understood as a divine impartation. When manifested in the life of the Christian, it is really the work of God rather than our own. Paul’s exhortation in Galatians 5:22-23 did not speak of our fruit; it spoke of the Spirit’s fruit. Let us prepare our hearts in such a way that God can endow us with this great spiritual gift!
I. SALVATION — A FINISHED WORK
To speak of salvation as an ongoing process does not in any way discount the value of initial salvation. When a person is born again, he is truly “saved,” that is, he has been redeemed from his sins. Since redemption is based on the work and blood of Calvary rather than on anything that man does for himself, we can readily see how redemption is a finished work. A person is no more redeemed after living for the Lord fifty years than he was five seconds after he was born again.
II SALVATION — AN ONGOING WORK
Though redemption is a finished work, salvation is not complete, however, with the new birth. True and total salvation is an ongoing process throughout the life of the Christian. There has been much discussion through the years concerning when the blood of Christ is applied in salvation. Actually, many of these discussions miss the whole point. The blood of Christ is not a part of salvation; it is our salvation- “Without shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22). When the blood is applied, a person is then redeemed. If this application occurs only at baptism or only in repentance, then only that particular process is necessary for full salvation. The blood, however, is applied not at just one part of the salvation process, but throughout it. In fact, the application of the blood does cease with the new birth. Consider I John 1:7. “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” This scripture is talking about the Christian “walk.” It indicates to us that the blood is continually applied throughout our walk with the Lord. It is not a one-time, initial application when we are born again; but rather, the new birth commences a new life of living under the blood which continually cleanses us from sin.
John, in Revelation, chapter twelve, talked about how Satan accused and deceived the brethren, but would eventually be cast down from power. John revealed the secret of the brethren’s ability to overcome him in verse 11. “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” Remember that is our first lesson we learned that the
role of the “young men” was that of overcoming. We also learned that the “young men” represented Christian growth and maturation. Here we readily see the ongoing process of salvation which occurs in the lives of “young men” as the blood of Jesus Christ is continually
applied enabling them to be overcomers.
III. SALVATION — A TOTAL WORK
The healing of the impotent man by Jesus at the pool of Bethesda in John, chapter five, reveals a very important principle concerning salvation. Jesus, when He saw that the man had been desieged with his infirmity for many years, asked him, “Wilt thou be made whole?” He did not ask, “Wilt thou be made well?” or, “Wilt thou be delivered from thy sickness?” Jesus was concerned not only with the infirmity of his Physical body, but also with the man’s soul and spirit. He wanted the man to be “whole.” On another occasion, in Mark, chapter two, a man sick of the palsy was let down to Jesus through the roof of the house where He was preaching. Jesus did not say to this man, “Son, thy sickness be removed from thee.” He said instead, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” The maladies of our spirits, of our souls, and of our
bodies are not as segregated as we sometimes seem to imagine. There are, to the contrary, very much inter-related. James indicated a
definite relationship between things spiritual and things physical. “The prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him” (James 5:15). We are not accustomed to using the word “saved” in this context,
but we would not be in error to say to a sick person, “You need to be saved!” or, to a person in financial distress, “You need salvation!” Salvation becomes a more precious thing to us when we come to understand it as everything God has for us, His best intention for our lives.
IV. SALVATION — AN ULTIMATE WORK
Salvation is everything God is doing in our lives. All our maladies, troubles and woes are the result of the state of sin in which we exist in this world. Salvation is the process whereby God is bringing us from under the curse placed on this world because of the original sin in the garden of Eden. It is a continuing process that will consummate when the Church is taken from this world in the rapture.