Today’s message is the first in the seven week Once Captive Series published by Probe Ministries. We are focusing on identifying the philosophies that creep into our lives which are contrary to God’s plan. We want to identify these philosophies and learn how we can live in obedience to the Word of God and be protected from captivity to the deception of the world and the devil. The motivation for this series is the alarming rate at which Christian young people are departing from the faith in which they were raised.
What are the things we most desire in the lives our the children and teens in our families and churches? Right away, most parents will express their desire for their children to be healthy and fulfilled in life. And oh yes, getting a job is also high on the list!
But the aspirations for Christian parents and for Christian young people go beyond the earthly aspirations for health, happiness and success. We want our young people to know Christ as their Savior and to live for him.
So, it ought to alarm us when we discover that an alarmingly high percentage of Christian young people are not continuing in the faith. This was the discover of a survey initiated by PROBE ministries and conducted by Barna research. Their survey results were compatible to other recent surveys. The compilation of these surveys can be found in the book “Once Captive” by Steve Cable.
The PROBE survey focused on the spiritual lives of 18-29 year olds and revealed the following trends:
1. In 1976, 20% of young people ages 18-29 expressed “no religion” when asked about their religious practices. However by 2010, this number had almost doubled to 37% in 2010 and remained consistent as recently as 2015 (Pew Research Center).
2. 25% of American adults ages 18-29 identified themselves as “Born Again.” This percentage has stayed consistent in the past thirty years. But this offers only scant hope, because as we shall see, the definition of what it means to be Boern Again leaves us in doubt whether or not most of these young adults truly know Christ as their Savior.
3. Barna asked six qualifying questions regarding what it means to be “Born Again.” The researchers discovered that only one third of young adults who claim to be Born Again actually possess a biblical world view. The other two thirds did not claim to follow even the simplest of beliefs regarding salvation, God or the Bible.
4. Probing further, Barna asked questions that sought to determine how many of the “Born Again” young adults combine a Biblical WV with Biblical practices such as praying daily, reading the Bible, sharing their faith and attending church. Shockingly, only 14% of Born Again adults ages 18-29 followed the most basic of practices that one would expect to find in the lives of every Christian.
5. And only 2% of those who claimed to be Born again gave answers consistent with applying a Biblical world view to life choices such as beliefs about abortion, not practicing sex outside of marriage, believing that the Bible is true in all areas, not engaged in pornography in the past year, and other key biblical practices.
So, while it might seem somewhat encouraging that a full 25% of American young adults claim to be born again, it is clear that the culture has a far greater influence on their thinking and life choices than does the faith they claim to possess.
What can we do about this?
That is the question this series seeks to answer.
Today we will begin with one important aspect of our thinking that helps define our biblical world view.
CHRISTIANS MUST HAVE AN ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE ON THIS LIFE IN ORDER TO MAINTAIN A BIBLICAL WORLD VIEW!
We draw this conclusion from an important passage on life taken from 2 Corinthians 4 and 5.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 4:16–5:10, NIV84)
Note 2 Cor 5:5 Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
When the Bible tells us the purpose for which God created us, we ought to sit up and take notice!
I. In this passage there are Three Contrasts
A. 4:16 Outer person and inner person.. though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. The INWARD PERSON relates to our sanctification! We are all getting older, but as we get older and our physical time grows more limited, our inner person becomes stronger. This concept is difficult for young people to appreciate because they view themselves as growing stronger and not weaker. But the reality is that all of us are one day closer to our death, regardless of our age.
B. 4:17 Present affliction versus the eternal weight of glory. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. This passage is a great comfort when we suffer. We understand the benefits of training for a physical challenge. We use the phrase “no pain, no gain.” Athletes know that training is difficult and sometimes even painful. They endure the less pleasant aspects of training so that they can receive a greater reward through their efforts. The same is true in our spiritual lives. The difficulties of this life yield a far greater reward in heaven. Paul is not minimizing afflictions – he is putting them in perspective!“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18, NIV84)
C. 4:18 Temporal and Eternal. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. All that we see and work for on this earth is TEMPORARY. Jesus helped us understand this when he said: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19, NIV84). “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”” (John 6:27, NIV84)
These three contrasts provide the PERSPECTIVE Christians are to have about life and death, time and eternity.
II. In addition to these three contrasts, we are provided Six Eternal Perspectives
A. Eternal Glory. 4:17 We do not lose heart!. This is repeated from 2 Cor 4:1 “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.” Knowing our future gives us hope to carry on!
B. Eternal Body. 5:1-4 if this earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, and eternal house in heaven, not built with human hands… Our body is an “earthly tent.” Tent’s are temporary. Our heavenly body is better
C. Eternal Purpose. 5:5 Not it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come . We have a greater purpose in life than just accumulating THINGS and enjoying PLEASURE EXISTENTIALISM says “Carpe Diem – SEIZE the DAY. Today is all there is, so get all that you can. But we were created for more!
D. Eternal Fellowship. 5:6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body, we are away from the Lord. At the end of life, we will spend ETERNITY with the Lord. Don’t become entirely focused on this life. We are PREPARING for ETERNITY
E. Eternal Fulfillment. 5:7-9 We live by faith and not by sighy. WE are confident I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body, or away from it. Can you say you would prefer to be with the Lord? That gets EASIER when we GET OLD, GET SICK or EXPERIENCE TROUBLES We are not speaking of a DEATH WISH, but rather a COMFORT that there is something greater that awaits us! Henri Nouwen said – I will be restless until I find rest in my Father’s House
F. Eternal Reward. 5:10 for we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things he has done while in the body, whether good or bad. For Paul, heaven is not just a destination, it is a motivation. The motivation is to honor Christ through all eternity! “the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”” (Revelation 4:10–11, NIV84)
A. Am I balancing Time and Eternity?
B. Is my focus PRIMARILY FIXED on pleasure, happiness and things, OR is it primarily fixed on pleasing the Lord.
C. “and find out what pleases the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:10, NIV84)