Sunday, November 30, 2014

What Does Christianity Consist Of?


TEXT:            I Peter 1:6-8

TITLE:          What Does True Christianity Consist Of?

SUBJ:             The Nature of Affections

PROP:            True Christianity consists of holy affections toward our Sovereign God

OBJ:               (1)        Define affections
(2)               Demonstrate affections


In verse 8, Peter captures the state of mind of the Christians that he is writing to, as they were undergoing the trials and persecutions that had come upon them. The trials and persecutions that he is referring to are made apparent in the preceding two (2) verses. Listen to him as he writes:

            “ … you have been grieved by various trials … “


There are at least three (3) dividends or benefits of trials. Trials are of such great benefit to the believer that it seems the Lord is more than pleased to send trials to His children regularly. As a matter of fact the more I studied this topic, the more I was thankful for my trials, and I began to feel some pity toward those believers who had none.

Let’s look for a minute at these benefits or dividends:

1.      They distinguish true Christianity from false profession

Trials show the difference between biblical Christianity and a false profession of faith. This is why they are called trials. Dokimion

dokimion.   that by which something is tried or proved, a test

Trials, try or test or prove the faith of professors by showing what kind of faith it its, iow, false faith or true faith. When a person who calls themselves a Christian is tried, even severely tried, those trials, regardless of how painful they maybe, are the agents by which a person’s faith is proven to be real or false. There are a lot of people in this world who call themselves Christians. The real are quickly and readily separated from the false by a trial, or by a succession of trials. Especially if the trial is extended or protracted. The longer and harder the trial the more evident a person’s faith is shown to be or not to be.

Quite frankly, extended or protracted trials really demonstrate what or who a person’s faith is really in. Many people have “faith” in a pastor, teacher, church, bible study group, author, or even an idea of what Christianity is rather than having true faith in Jesus Christ.

The great thing about tried or proven faith, “ … may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

So the first dividend of trials is that it proves your faith to be real. The second dividend for benefit of trials is

2.      They make the genuine beauty of your faith evident

Your faith is never more beautiful than when it is horribly oppressed. IOW, the Excellency of faith becomes most evident when it is under the greatest of trials.

“ …that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire …”

The unfortunate truth is that most of us recoil from any kind of a trial, no matter what kind it is. It doesn’t matter if it is some form or type of persecution, or just plain aggravation caused by a failure, a lack of something, a forfeiture, etc. We crave comfort and ease.

Trails prove the genuineness of your faith and they cause the beauty inherent in faith to shine. But trials perform a third service:

3.      They purify and increase your faith

God designs and then sends or permits a trial or tribulation or even a persecution to rend you of the mixtures of impurities that hinder faith, that encumber faith, or that impede faith. The design of each trial is to remove all waste from your faith and leave nothing but what is true. Trials remove anything that obscures the luster and glory of your faith.

Just like gold, that is subject to intense heat and fire and is purged from dross, or alloys and the remaining gold is proven to be more solid and beautiful – true faith when tried in the fire becomes more precious, or more valuable.

So, trials are extremely valuable and extremely necessary. They prove faith to be real and not false, they make the beauty and quality of faith visible and evident, and they purge the filth, and dross from faith so that faith is stronger, more beautiful, and more valuable.

You can see in this text that Peter states how true faith operated in these believers that he was writing to. Under intense persecution and many and varied trials these same dividends that I just described appeared in them.

In these intense trials their faith was proven to be real, their faith appeared beautiful and their faith was purified and strengthened. IOW, they didn’t fold, they didn’t quit, they didn’t complain, they didn’t turn to sin, and more importantly they did not quit on Jesus Christ their Savior.

You say, how do we know this, what gives us this conclusion?

B.                 The Demonstration of Trials

1.      Love of Jesus Christ

“ … whom having not seen you (what?) love … “

Every watching eye, every friend, every relative, every acquaintance, every stranger that came in contact with them wondered at least one thing! What was it that caused these believers to number 1 – expose themselves to the greatest danger, and number 2 – to renounce anything and everything that was dear and pleasant to them?

They seemed to those watching that they were mad, that they acted as though they hated themselves. It seemed that there was nothing that the watching world could see that could cause men and women to act the way these believers did.

And there wasn’t anything that could be “seen”, at least not with natural, carnal, human eyes. So what was it? These believers loved Jesus Christ. They loved Him more than their possessions, more than their comfort or ease, more than their reputation, more than their employment, more than their safety, more than their freedom, and in many cases they loved Jesus more than their lives.

So, first, they loved Jesus. Secondly they had and demonstrated: 

2.      Joy in Christ

This is amazing, almost can not be put into words! Even though their outward, temporal and physical suffering was tremendous, as a matter of fact the Holy Spirit says that they were grieved - lupew -  to make sorrowful ,to affect with sadness, cause grief, to throw into sorrow
to grieve, offend , to make one uneasy,

their inward spiritual joys were greater than the sufferings or the sorrow they felt – this supported them and enabled them to suffer with cheerfulness.

Peter comments on this joy and he makes three (3) observations. Look at them with me for just a moment:

a.                  The Manner (By Faith)

“Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice …”

Their belief, their faith because it is real is the foundation. They don’t see Jesus, but they believe in Him and believe Him – therefore they have joy even in the midst of the toughest of trials.

b.                  The Makeup (indescribable joy)

“ … with joy (what?) inexpressible ...”

This joy is so different than what the world offers, or provides, or even defines as joy. This is not some carnal delight, or momentary happiness – this is divine in nature, it is supernatural. It is so sweet, so sublime, so supernatural that there are no words to describe it.

c.                   The Manifestation ( full of glory)

“ … full of glory.”

Their joy was full of glory. It was certainly unspeakable, there were no words to describe it, but there sure was something that could be said about their joy. There were no more better words to describe it than this – full of glory. It was an exalted and perfected joy, not worldly, not corrupt, not debased. It was the joy of heaven and it filled their minds with the light of God’s glory and caused them to shine with some form of that glory from God.

How are you doing? What is your experience right now in your trial? Is your faith that you profess to have been determined and proven to be real by your trial? Has the quality and beauty of your faith been made evident to you and those around you? Has your faith been purified of unnecessary junk and crud and been made stronger as a result in the weak things being removed? Do you have an increased love for Jesus Christ because of your trial or tribulation? Is your joy so overwhelming and sustaining that there are no human words for it? Do you reflect the light of Gods glory to those who are watching you in your trial?

I pray so. How I just want to thank and praise God for His infinite wisdom in generating and sending trials into my life. God knows how much dross must be purged from my life, but a glorious and gracious God He is to extend His tremendous mercy to me by testing me, by trying me. Praise be to the living God, hallelujah!

Listen to the words of James, the half-brother of the Lord Jesus Christ:

“be patient therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it, until it receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; establish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord is at hand.  Murmur not, brethren, one against another, that ye be not judged: behold, the judge standeth before the doors. Take, brethren, for an example of suffering and of patience, the prophets who spake in the name of the Lord. Behold, we call them blessed that endured: ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord, how that the Lord is full of pity, and merciful.” (James 5:67-11)

Having said these things let’s move into our first point:


We see Peter observing and commenting on the fact that these believers had demonstrated that they had true faith, true Christianity. In the midst of the greatest trial their faith was proved to be real, it was pure and cleansed from impurities and it shone in them beauty glory and honor. We say two (2) affections = love and joy.

1B       The Proposition – Christianity consists of affections

The first question that you should ask is what are the affections of the mind, or the heart, or the soul?

The answer is this – our affections are the vigorous activities of the inclination and will of the soul.

1C       The Endowment of the Soul

What does our soul consist of? It seems to consist of at least two (2) things:

1D       Perception - or intelligence

God has endowed the soul with the capability of perception. The soul discerns, views, judges things. Another word for this would be understanding.

The second quality the soul is endowed with is:

2D       Preference – or inclination

This is where the soul is either inclined toward something or not inclined toward something. Another way of saying this would be, this is the choice of the soul that is based on the perception or understanding it has processes, and it is displayed if you would in liking something or disliking something, being pleased with something or being displeased with something, approving or disapproving, accepting or rejecting. This is called inclination.

                        2C       The Exercise of the Soul

It seems from a study of the exercise of the soul we can see at least two (2) things:

1D       Pleasant Exercises

Again, we perceive something, some information, some experience and our soul determines that it is pleasant or pleasing to us, iow we like it or love it, and we are inclined toward this thing, or this object, or thought process, etc.

2D       Putrid Exercises

Or the soul rejects something or someone as unpleasant, not pleasing, and we are not inclined toward it or them.

Example: I perceive and understand that a raise in pay or status at work is a good thing, and I am drawn to that and they are pleasing to me and I accept them.

But in contrast, if I am laid off, or stolen from, or become sick, or loose something I had valued or treasured, I perceive that and process that and find that I am inclined to reject that, to be displeased, to be adverse to them.

So goes it with the trials the Lord engineers and executes in our lives. How do you perceive them? As pleasant or unpleasant?

                        3C       The Extent of the Soul

There are many actions of the soul or our will or our inclination or our affections in everything we do. When we act voluntarily our inclinations govern our actions!

You say how, or in what way? In every act of the will, the soul either likes or dislikes, it is either inclined or disinclined to what ever is in view.

In every choice that we make, every action that we take the will is either inclined to and approves or it is disinclined and does not approve, there is a liking or loving, or a disliking or hating.

So, the proposition is this, true Christianity, or true faith consists of affections that govern our will. We are endowed with a soul whereby we perceive and understand, we exercise that soul by demonstrating a preference for or against what we perceive or understand, and our soul is governed by affections, whether they are pleasant or unpleasant affections.

Let’s move on and look at our second point this morning:

            2B       The Proof – Christianity is conspicuous by affections

IOW, it is evidenced by or made known by, or anther way of saying it, is that true Christianity can be seen by and in our affections.

1C       True Faith consists of vigorous and actions of the inclination and will of our soul. Our faith, which is required by God and the type f faith that He gives and accepts is not weak, or dull, lifeless, or indifferent. Listen to these scriptures:

1D       Romans 12:11 – “ … not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord …”

            we don’t often, if at all use this word, fervent, but it means to boil with heat, to have enough heat to make water boil. IOW, everything we do or really anything that is worth doing in our Christian life is valuable enough to do with complete enthusiasm. So in our service there is heat, enough heat to produce adequate energy.

2D       Deut 10:12 – “ And now Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to ear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God (how?) with all your soul …”

3D       Deut 6:4-5 – “…  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”

            The sad realization is that we don’t. We rarely if ever love our God with every ounce of strength in us. We are so easy distracted, we so easily become infatuated with things around us. Our hearts more than not are cold and almost lifeless in regards to loving God.

            You say how, can we do this? How can we love our God who loved us and redeemed us as we should?

            The answer is in Deut 30:6 – “… the Lord your God will circumcise your heart … to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.”

            This is a work of God, and God does this work in our inner most being, deep within our soul and God grants to us a new will to desire Him and to love Him.

            If our heart is cold and turned away from God, if our heart is fixed on things in this world, we need to cry out to God in our prayer closet until we are fervent or until we are boiling with heat with affection toward our God.

            The Psalmist gives us a glimpse of this type of fervency in desiring God – (42:1) “As the deer pants for the water brook, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God”

True faith, true Christianity is a powerful thing, and the power first appears in our heart in our affections that are moved toward God.

We have a number of metaphors and similes in the Bible as this type of faith and affection is described:

·                     running
·                     wrestling
·                     agonizing
·                     fighting
·                     exercise
·                     warring

I know this morning that every believer is at a different place in regards to our affection and their fervency; some are already boiling with extreme heat for their God, while others are weak, not even simmering, but every child of God has had his or heart inclined and exercised toward and divine things.

So, we see that true faith consists of vigorous inclinations of the will toward God. God does not accept weak, dull, lifeless or indifferent affections toward Him.

Secondly …..

                        2C       These God given affections are the very catalyst of our actions

Each one of us are moved or motivated by affections, whether they be love, or hate, desire, hope, fear, or joy.

These affections or emotions are what causes us to act and react. If you were able to one day, just wave a wand and you rid the whole world of love, hate, joy, desire, or fear – what do you think would have to mankind as a whole? It more than likely would become motionless, dead, there would be no activity – there would be no sincere, enthusiastic, energetic pursuit at all.

After all, is it not covetousness that motivates the greedy man?  Isn’t the ambitious man driven by desire? Isn’t it lust, pleasure, or sensual delight that motivates man in some type of pursuit?

What a wonderful thing it is that God has given to us these fantastic affections that catapult us into action and service, especially when we are catapulted into the love, adoration, worship, and service of our God with boiling, heated love spewing out of our heart for God! But lets take a minute and examine a third (3) thought …

3C       There is nothing more evident that the things (for lack of a better word) of our faith only motivate us as far as they actually effect us. IOW – what we see value in we will usually set our affection on.

            Col 3:1 is a devastatingly penetrating command – “ …if then – (you know that this is a third class condition in the Greek, so it assumes the proposition to be factual – iow, since you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth.”

            Paul is making an important point here, he is saying that believers are to be consistent, we are to live in conformity to the fact that we are raised in Christ – Chris is the object of our faith, and He is the source of our life.

            The Colossians were in danger of relapsing into paganism. So the antidote was not to set their mind on temporal earthly things, but they were to set their mind on heavenly things.

            Now, lets stop for a minute and make this point, Paul is not pleading with these Colossian Christians to utterly withdraw themselves from all the activities of this world and do nothing but contemplate  heaven.
As we read the rest of this epistle we see Paul lay down a series of ethical injunctions that make it clear that the believer does live in this world and has various relationships.

            But here is what Paul is saying, the believer now examines everything against the backdrop of eternity and no longer lives as if this world is all that matters.

            IOW, we are to find our complete satisfaction in God, He is to be our greatest treasure. Nothing that we have, nothing that we loose or even fail to obtain matters against the backdrop of God being our greatest and most precious treasure.

            That is how and why the believers who were undergoing tremendous hardship, persecution, and trials were able to “greatly rejoice … though they were grieved by various trails, and how they were able to love Jesus in the midst of these trials even though they had never met Him, never seen Him. It is how they rejoiced with a joy that was indescribable.”

These believers had a different set of values. They had a different measuring stick. They had different scales. They used the things of this world differently and in a new way.

They were able to give rather than be concerned about getting, they loved rather than hated and plotted revenge, they served rather than ruled.

But the good news is so can you, so can I, so can we! How? Our life is hid in Christ, and Christ lives through us.

You and I can judge everything in this world, every possession, every so called treasure or bauble, everything trinket, by the cross and by the love of God for his elect behind the cross.

We are so tempted to make excuses for our disobedience. We rationalize our love for power, wealth, success, homes, cars, and comfort and ease. We make appeals to the fact that we are weak and frail and human.

Worse than this we often construct a theology of grace that says that this type of love, this fervency, this boiling heat for God is impossible, that it really isn’t practical for everyday living. I know I did.

I know how I ran the opposite direction from God because I loved this world and the things that were in it and I became a friend of the world, how little did I know that by doing so I became an enemy of God.

We often, when we rebel and recoil and resent the very trials that God has graciously engineered for our lives have a faulty perception of this life.

We need to be deeply affected by our love for God or it will have very little if any impact on us at all.

4C       The bible addresses our affections and our inclinations in these affections . They are fear, hope, love, hatred, desire, joy, sorrow, gratitude, compassion, zeal, and many more terms.

            Sometime when we have the time, we might do a word study on each of those types of affections, but the chief of these affections is love.

            True faith, true Christianity is summarized in love, love is the chief affection.

            What was Jesus’ answer to the lawyer who asked Him what was the greatest commandment?

            “ You shall (what?) love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”

            Paul seems to have summarized this statement when He said (Ro 13:8) “ … therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

So, true Faith consists of vigorous actions of the inclination and will of our soul, these God given affections are the very catalyst of our actions, what we see value in we will usually set our affection on, and the bible addresses our affections and our inclinations, iow we are not left ignorant of them.

Let me if you will, try to illustrate these points and then I will close.

                        5C       We can see holy and true affections illustrated.


David, among many things was called (what?), a man after God’s own heart.

David gave a tremendous portrait of his faith and he opened in his soul in the Psalms. When you read most of David’s Psalms you see the total expression of devotion and affection for God. You see admiration, fervent love, David’s earnest desires, his cravings for God – you see His delight in God. We are awed by David’s delight in the word of God.

At times we see David’s deep grief for his sin, the sin of those around him, and the sin of God’s own people.

Do you see how wise and gracious and loving the Holy Spirit was to move upon David and others to record these affections for and toward God? They are our worship textbook, they are our blue print to love God and admire Him and long for Him.

David often speaks not as a private person, and as a public worship leader. David can teach us to love God, to admire him, even in the midst of trails or great tribulation, just as the believers did that Peter is writing to.

Beloved fly to the Psalms even today, and cry out to God and the Holy Spirit to forgive if need by your coldness and indifference to God, and a lack of indescribable joy, and the misplaced love for the things of this world, and use these texts to fall deeper in love with the God of your soul.


What Does True Christianity Consist Of? True Christianity consists of holy affections toward our Sovereign God

If this is true, then our first conclusion is this, we need to desire the means that move our affections toward God:

            We need to read the Word of God regularly
            We need to be constantly under biblical preaching
            We need to constantly worship and be in an attitude of worship of our God
            We need to sing praises to God
            We need to pray and cry out and wrestle in agony with God that our affections     would be hot, boiling with heart for God

If this is true, then our second conclusion would be to discover and own our shame before God for being no more affected with the things of God than we are.

            God has given all the affections that we have for the purpose of worshipping Him             and magnifying His glory. But how common is it that the very affections God has        given to us are given over to things not above, but on the mundane things of this         life.

            Our interests are worldly, we delight in our own selfish needs and desires rather    than delighting in God. Our appetites many times for God is not sharp, our love is cold rather than hot, our heart is hard rather than tender, and we become grieved when we experience trials or testing.

If this is true then our third conclusion should be to desire, to crave, to long for our affections to be placed upon things of eternal value. How we should long for God to reach into our hearts and make them most tender and move our affections solely upon Him as our greatest treasure.

It is not my desire nor intent to bring anyone to the point of despair. I desire you to see the joy and the love that the believer in our passage had even in the midst of the greatest trials imaginable. I desire for you to see how valuable and necessary trials are.

Tails are extremely valuable and extremely necessary. They prove faith to be real and not false, they make the beauty and quality of faith visible and evident, and they purge the filth, and dross from faith so that faith is stronger, more beautiful, and more valuable.

This text shows how true faith operated in these believers that Peter was writing to. Under intense persecution and many and varied trials these same dividends that I just described appeared in them.

In these intense trials their faith was proven to be real, their faith appeared beautiful and their faith was purified and strengthened. IOW, they didn’t fold, they didn’t quit, they didn’t complain, they didn’t turn to sin, and more importantly they did not quit on Jesus Christ their Savior.

They loved Jesus whom they had not seen and they had joy that was indiscernible.

Let’s pray!

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