LOS ANGELES—Matteo Sloane was home on spring break when FBI agents showed up at his family’s Spanish-style house in the hills of Bel Air at 6:15 a.m. to take his father to jail.
By the time his father came home at the end of that day after posting $500,000 in bail, Matteo, then a freshman at the University of Southern California, was ready to confront him.
“Why didn’t you believe in me?” Matteo asked. “Why didn’t you trust me?”
Devin Sloane, the 53-year-old founder of a water-treatment company, was one of 36 parents who have been criminally charged with paying to help cheat the college admissions system for their children. All but one of the 13 parents sentenced so far has received prison time for using college admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer to rig SAT and ACT tests or to disguise applicants as athletic recruits. What would possess a parent to do that? For the purposes of this lesson, what does that say about how he was doing spiritually? Was his trust in God? Did he believe in his son? What did he believe in? Where was his faith?
How easy is it to let the unspiritual values of this world become our chief motivation for the choices we make in this life. Jesus often asked the question: Where is your faith? Let’s consider how a strong faith in God and commitment to obeying His word give us a spiritual edge and eternal benefits over those without it.
Faith is what comes when we hear the Word of God as God’s word and not just an old religious book of stories. God calls us to a spiritual experience with Him, a relationship, a mission and an ongoing order of life. Two spiritual basics: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. The love of the Lord is the greatest commandment. These two, if embraced and practiced according to the word of God, will lead us in a spiritual relationship with God that protects and provides for us both temporal and eternal benefits and blessings. God calls us to a spiritual life, 24/7/365. Just attending church services is not enough. This spiritual life involves faithfully embracing who Jesus is, believing what Jesus did and practicing what Jesus says. As Jesus told us, this is the wise way, building life on solid rock. Not to do so is the foolish way, like building a house on sand.
As I said last week, our elders have presented to us a vision that includes: Spiritual, Relational, Missional and Organizational aspects. (Upward, inward, outward and onward). These are interrelated and interdependent, as we will see. My plan is to take one at a time to see how God’s word speaks to us about it. So, todays message is spiritual vs carnal Christian faith. Let’s turn to 1 Corinthians.
Early on we discover in 1 Corinthians that spiritual gifts do not equate with spiritual maturity. 1 Cor. 1:7 says of the church in Corinth: You do not lack any spiritual gift… But almost immediately after that statement they are rebuked for their divisions and disunity. Look at vs 10f. From here Paul begins to define the difference between wisdom and foolishness spiritually speaking. God’s wisdom is best seen in Jesus Christ and him crucified. This is the very center of Christian wisdom and God’s spiritual power to save. When this is preached, sinners receive good news for their salvation and find reconciliation with God! Just listen or follow along as I read 1 Corinthians 1:18 -2:16. See how God’s word describes how God’s wisdom is based on spiritual revelation that the world sees as folly. Instead those who are perishing place their hopes in academic acumen, social status or human intelligence, scholarship and philosophy. (read).
Now think about what this says! We have God’s Spirit so that we can know God’s thoughts and understand God’s wisdom. By the way, God’s wisdom is hidden from unbelievers, from unspiritual people. They can’t see it. 2 Cor. 4:3-4 tells us that the gospel is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. Like Jesus said to Nicodemus in John 3: no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. Then Jesus explained: unless a man is born of water and the Spirit, he can not enter the kingdom of God.
When we hear God’s word with humble hearts that seek Him, His word produces faith that blossoms into repentance, confession and obedience. When we humbly receive the word planted in us, it can save us! The power of God’s grace is poured out through His Spirit as we repent, confess, and are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of our sins. The blood of Jesus cleanses us and we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit who seals us as God’s children, lives within our bodies as His temple, and empowers us to love and life that reflects Jesus Christ. This is a spiritual transformation! But we must not resist or quench or grieve the Holy Spirit by returning to worldly ways or putting our hopes in worldly words.
The New Testament is written by God’s Holy Spirit as the standard and measure of our spiritual maturity and health. As we read through the New Testament remember we are reading the Holy Spirit inspired instructions for spiritual life as sons and daughters of God.
I close with this: Even though the world is changing around us, God’s eternal vision for us does not change. God’s spiritual vision for us is eternal. All of us are moving toward the light of God or deeper into the darkness of evil. We are changing. We live in a changing world, but we serve an unchanging God, and though God does not change, He changes us. 2 Cor. 3:17-18, 4:16-18.