So today I want to bring to you the title of our sermon today “Discovering Commitment”
Turn your Bibles with me to the book of Romans, the 12th chapter, the book of Romans the 12th chapter.
You see, There was a man from Haiti selling his house for two-thousand dollars, he found a buyer who loved the house, the only problem was the buyer could not come up with the two thousand dollar asking price. After a great deal of negotiating the owner of the house agreed to sell under one condition, that he would own the nail that was over the front door. The agreement was made, what would it hurt to let him own the nail above the door the buyer thought.
After a few years the original owner wanted to buy the house back, but the new owner refused to sell the house back to him. So the first owner went out and found the carcass of a dead dog and hung it on the nail which he still owned on the house. Before long the house began to smell of the dead carcass and the family was forced to move and sell the house.
The sad reality is that this is true of those today who are uncommitted to Christ. When people are not committed to Christ in a holistic sense, it leads to being uncommitted to His Church. That un-commitment is like a nail in our lives and in the Church and it leaves rotting smelling garbage hung all over our lives.
The fact is Commitment is a problem in America today. Our culture does not see that importance of commitment any more.
As a matter of fact commitment is the main factor in church growth and church decline.
Why do you suppose that there are close to 100 million church members in America yet they are not making more of a moral and spiritual impact on our society?
Why is it on Sunday morning thousands of churches have more empty pews than full?
Why is it that the average Sunday School in America has less than 66 in attendance and that the average worship service has 84?
Why is it that only 50% of the number on any church membership is expected to show up on Sunday morning?
If Christians really believe in a real heaven and a real Hell, how can we be so silent? . . . The answer to all of these questions is simple!
God’s people have made a decision about Jesus….but are not willing to make a commitment to Him.”
Folks, There is a difference between making a decision and making commitment.
Charles Stanley in his book, Confronting Casual Christianity says; There is a significant increase in divorce in today’s society and it because couples today make a decision, but don’t make a commitment. Every person who married made a decision! They stood before a preacher and made promises and recited vows. They made a decision, they kissed each other and walked out together to live, but not necessarily “happily ever after” and not necessarily together. So why did they divorce? The answer is that they made a decision, but they did not truly commit their lives to each other. But when a couple marries and makes a commitment to one another that is a different story Charles Stanly says.
Listen, the same is true in the church. Jesus is the Bridegroom and the Church is the bride, and The reason that the church is not making more of an impact in our society is that many church members made a decision about Christ, but have not made a commitment to Christ. The reason only 10% of the church works in the ministry of the church, goes to bible studies, life groups and Sunday School is because a decision for Christ has been made, but not a commitment.
You might be asking: well isn’t it about the relationship not the religion? And you would be right, but Society has taken this relationship that we are to have with Jesus Christ our Savior, the Prince of Peace the King of all Kings and wronged it. This whole teaching that it is only a relationship not a religion is like a shotgun blast leaving holes all over the place. The wrong teaching leaves people uncommitted to the church. The church has suffered and the church will continue to suffer, until we teach and correct the problem.
Listen to me; The Bible hasn’t changed. Our perception of the Holy Scriptures has changed because of poor inadequate teaching from the pulpit and the class rooms. The fact is that every preacher preaching the truth of the Scripture and proclaiming the Gospel since Paul’s day has done it with teaching from Paul’s letters.
GOD HAS NOT CHANGED WE HAVE CHANGED BECAUSE OF THE FALSE TEACHING.
This has left us with Christians everywhere looking for a non-committal religion with only Jesus Christ as part of their lives. The worst part it only comes on Sundays for an hour to an hour and a half. Paul teaches us that this is not true and that our whole lives should be given to God because of what God has done for us.
Paul is writing the Church at Rome to let them know First, he wanted to come to Rome to visit them. Second, to instruct them and impart spiritual gifts to them for bettering the Church. He also intended to do evangelistic work, encourage them and straightening out the incorrect teachings that they were dealing with.
Part of their instruction we find in this letter was about the unity and committed to Christ. When you are committed to Christ you are committed to His Church.
If you are there in the book of Romans read with me from the 12th chapter beginning with verse 1.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. 3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them.
Praise God for the Truth of the Holy Scripture. It is my prayer today that each of us no matter where we are in our walk today, that through this teaching, through these scriptures see our error and commit our lives to God and His church.
And that brings us to our Big Idea today:
Our Big Idea is Commitment= Action.
Paul gives anyone who read or listens to the scriptures a clear call for commitment and that commitment calls for action in our lives.
He says in these opening verses “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”
This first verse gives us Reason for Commitment.
The word “appeal” in the Greek translation means Beseech, it occurs 100 times in the bible and 60 times it is used to influence the Action or behavior of another Christian.
(Commitment = Action)
It appeals to the person’s better judgment rather than trying to command or rebuke them to do something. It is a plea, to beg you, rather than to command.
The Phrase present your bodies as a living sacrifice, The description of the bodies speaks of not part of our bodies but the whole being or the whole person.
During the 1st Passover when the God used the tenth plague to free the Israelites from the Egyptians, the plague would kill the first born male of every family and every animal, however when a lamb was sacrificed and the blood was placed on the door post for death to pass that house, the whole animal was to be used, they had to cook it and eat it and what wasn’t eaten was to be burned. The whole lamb was used in sacrifice to God.
The Sacrificial system of the Old Testament used the blood of a lamb for the forgiveness of sin and then the whole lamb was used as a burnt offering to God, nothing was to be left. The Complete animal was gone, nothing was left. Paul makes this connection with our bodies, however it is not the dead or the dying for Christ, that is at the heart of this issue, it is the commitment for Christ and sacrificing our whole lives for Him which is done in Action. A sacrifice is an offering to God and in pretense we see that the offering of our bodies is a full dedication which we see through the teachings of sacrifices and burnt offerings. A Sacrifice is an act of service, obedience, praise offered to God and offering.
WE are told to present ourselves as “living sacrifices” with the understanding that there is no such thing as “partial sacrifice or a partial commitment.”
Listen folks, It is impossible to be “sort of committed.” You are either committed or you are not committed. It is not possible to be a partial sacrifice.
Ephesians 5:2 says Referring to the sacrifice of Christ “as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
Here we are a living sacrifice giving ourselves up too God, while we are dying to self remaining alive to serve.
It is Commitment that equals Action.
Paul goes on to say that this is your spiritual worship.” This word Worship in the Greek is derived from the word “service” Such as in a slave serving their master, or to work for pay, it is used in way and listen to this “of a man laboring who gave all his strength in return for pay, not just a common slave but a bond servant one who does the work voluntarily. It is to serve, but also, that the man came to give his whole life for the service.
But the tie in comes at the beginning of Verse 1 where Paul says '“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God”
Think for a moment about the mercies of God in your life, what has God done for you? Paul Uses the word “therefore” to point people back to his argument from Chapter 1 through 11 that mankind is sinful and have fallen short of the glory of God, we have dishonored Him with our lives, we are deserving of His wrath, but yet we are made right with God, we are justified on the basis of what Jesus Christ has done in His life, death and resurrection. And because of this Paul says I plead with you because of the Cross, I beg of you because the resurrected Christ has given you life, I beseech you because of what Jesus Christ has done in your life To: to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”
To commit ourselves to God means that we are to yield ourselves to Him, surrender to Him, abandon ourselves to Him, entrust ourselves to Him and place ourselves at His disposal, for the work that He wants us to do. True commitment is not something that you can take back.
Paul Goes on to tell us in verse 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
This second verse is a power house of scripture in these two statements 2 Do not be conformed to this world, And transformed by the renewal of your mind. It shows us there is only two ways to become.
From the word “conformed” we get our English word “scheme” from. It means conformation that it is outward without necessarily any inward change. The word is also sometimes translated “fashioned.” He is saying, “Do not allow yourself to adopt the fashion of this world, to be forced into its mold. To conformed to the same pattern of this world.
The Word Transformed is the word that from which we get the English word “metamorphosis.” This is an inner change, which has seen outward manifestations. This is not something you do yourself.
What I want you to understand is that you are either conformed or you are transformed and based off what you are conformed or transformed is what determines whether you can or cannot discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
That’s what has happened when it comes to the relationship not religion aspect, which then makes the disciples non-committal to the church. But scriptures over and over again tell us that it is the Same Jesus that rose from the dead, it is he that is the head of the Church (1 Corinthians 11:13 and Ephesians 5:23), it is Christ Jesus who is the Bridegroom and the church is the bride (Isaiah 54:5 and Revelation 19:5-8), it is he who will come back one a day and establish his Kingdom where we will worship Him (Colossians 3:4, 1st Thessalonians 2:19) and Revelation 22:12 tells “Behold I am coming soon, my reward is with me and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the Last, the beginning and the End”.
But, we live in an age where commitment to Christ and the church is just not popular, but the scriptures are telling us it is fundamentally correct.
Here is what happens when people are conformed to the way of the world they either try to transform the church to their way of thinking or they leave the church. When people are conformed to the world they don’t attend bible studies, they lose focus of their responsibilities in the church, the stop coming to life groups and Sunday school. Because of this they cannot and will not discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Being transformed by the renewal of your mind not only is an inward change that shown in your outward appearance. It is literally to change ones form. Because of this transformation, you are able to determine the will of God what is good and Acceptable. Our renewal doesn’t come from just sitting around but by being active in the faith, in the word, in the life of the Church, in the worship of God in prayer and thanksgiving. This is a work of the Holy Spirit but it requires cooperation on the part of the believer. The end result is that you may “prove,” that is test out and discover by proof, what is the will of God. It all begins with commitment that = Action.
Verse 1 call’s us to the act of Commitment
And Verse 2 deals with the pursuit of keeping it
Jesus tells us “If anyone wants to come with me, he must deny himself, take up the cross daily and follow me (Luke 9:23).”
We must realize that our commitment to God and His church requires action.
Commitment to the church means deciding on a church “home” and moving in for a permanent stay. Commitment to the local church also means actively using the talents and gifts to serve in the various ministries of the church.
Paul reminds us in Romans 12:6 that “we have different gifts, according to the grace given us.” Ministry means putting those gifts to work, putting them into action. We need to be a part of what the church is doing not just spectators.
1 Corinthians 12:4 Paul tells us, “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. (5) There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. (6) And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. (7)But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: ….. (11) But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.”. We are told that God has placed people with the different gifts in each of the churches. If the persons with those gifts are not using their gifts then those jobs are not being done, the church is not being effective, the church is suffering.
Eph 4:11-13 tell us also:
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God
We must commit ourselves to the ministry of the Church and use the spiritual gifts that God has given us because commitment = action.
Will you make a commitment today and put it into action? If you have not committed yourself to the saving Grace of Jesus, then you need to begin there.
Will you commit yourself to the Church? To be involved? Commit yourself to begin building some new relationships within the church.