"SHINING AS LIGHTS IN THE WORLD" By Holding Fast The Word Of Life (Ph 2:16) INTRODUCTION 1. In our efforts to determine how we might truly "shine as lights in the world", we have gleaned from Paul's comments that we must: a. Work out our own salvation - Ph 2:12 b. Do so with "fear and trembling" - Ph 2:12 c. Allow God to work in us - Ph 2:13 d. Do all things without "murmuring and disputing" - Ph 2:14 e. Be children of God without fault, by being "blameless and harmless" - Ph 2:15 2. Fundamental to our ability to do all these things, and to "shine as lights in the world", is that we "hold fast the word of life" - Ph 2:16 a. It is the "word of life" that instructs us HOW to work out our own salvation b. We saw that the "word of life" is designed to teach us the "fear of the Lord" c. The "word of life" is the "sword of the Spirit", and therefore a crucial element to allowing God to be at work in us d. Through the "word of life" we learn the danger of disputing and murmuring e. And with the help of the "word of life", we can be blameless and harmless, children of God without fault 3. But for all this to occur we must HOLD FAST the "word of life"; what is the proper way to do this? a. From Ezra, a young priest in the Old Testament, we can learn what is necessary, and the proper order b. In Ezra 7:10 , we learned that he "had prepared his heart..." 1) To seek the Law of the Lord 2) To do it 3) And to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel [Following his example, I would suggest that we first "hold fast the word of life"...] I. THROUGH DILIGENT STUDY A. DILIGENT STUDY REQUIRES... 1. Longing for the Word like a baby longs for milk - 1 Pe 2:2 2. Receiving the Word with meekness, and implanting it our hearts - Ja 1:21 ; Ps 119:11 3. The only way I know that this can be done, is through: a. Daily Bible reading on your own - cf. Josh 1:8 ; Ps 1:1-3 b. Taking advantage of every opportunity to study with others B. SUCH DILIGENT STUDY IS NECESSARY - 2 Ti 2:14-16 1. Otherwise, we can lead to the ruin of hearers! 2. Because we might shamefully mishandle the word of truth! 3. Rather than leading others to God, we might instead increase to more ungodliness! a. Notice Paul's warnings to the young evangelist Timothy - 1 Ti 6:3-5 ,20-21 b. Also to the evangelist Titus - Ti 2:7-8 ; 3:9-11 [So if we really want to "hold fast the word of life" in a way that will help us "shine as lights" and not be ashamed, we must start by preparing our own hearts to study it diligently! We must also "hold fast the word of life"...] II. THROUGH CONSISTENT APPLICATION A. THERE IS THE DANGER OF BEING A HEARER, BUT NOT A DOER - Ja 1: 22-25 1. We deceive only ourselves - 22 a. Not God (He knows our hearts) b. Not the devil (he has us right where he wants us, as hearers only) c. Not those who know us (they can see our inconsistency) 2. We deprive ourselves of the true blessedness of God's Word, which comes in the DOING of it, not just in the HEARING (or reading) of it - 25 B. THE WORLD ALREADY HAS ENOUGH "PHARISEES" - Mt 23:1-3 1. That is, people who "say, and do not do" 2. Even though what they were saying was correct, they failed to "practice what they preach" 3. Nothing undermines our efforts than those who claim to be Christians, but do not live accordingly! C. BUT THROUGH CONSISTENT APPLICATION, WE DEMONSTRATE THE VALUE OF THE WILL OF GOD - Ro 12:1-2 1. By offering what is "reasonable service", we can "prove" (demonstrate) that the Will of God is "good and acceptable and perfect" 2. Where people might not listen just to our claims, they might think differently if we demonstrate in our lives that God's way is the best and only way! [So after we have learned God's Will, let's be sure to live it! Then, and only then, are we in a position to do the next thing as we try to "hold fast the word of life", and that is to do so...] III. THROUGH TEACHING IT TO OTHERS A. THE NATURAL FOLLOWUP TO STUDY AND APPLICATION... 1. Ezra realized that this was the proper order - Ezra 7:10 2. Sadly, many people go about it in reverse order (teach, attempt to do, and then study) 3. But if we have properly studied and applied God's Word, people will take note, and want to know more about who we are and why we are the way we are! B. AS THE PEOPLE OF GOD, PROCLAIMING THE "WORD OF LIFE" IS OUR PRIMARY FUNCTION IN THIS WORLD - 1 Pe 2:9-10 1. We are to "proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" 2. Is this not another way of saying that we are to teach others, to share the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ with others? C. HEREIN LIES THE GREATEST HOPE OF SHEDDING LIGHT IN THIS DARK WORLD OF OURS! 1. For if God has called US through His gospel out of darkness into His marvelous light... 2. ...then perhaps He will do the same for others with whom we share the same gospel! 3. So as we endeavor to "shine as lights" with the help of that Word which was used to call us into God's marvelous light, let's not neglect to share it with others! CONCLUSION 1. Like many others, I am very concerned about the direction our society appears to be going 2. I do not take issue with the motives and zeal of others, but I question the WAY some people who believe in God are trying to change our society for good 3. Can we not learn from the failure of the "Civil Rights Movement" to change the hearts of men through legislation or even violence that maybe there is a better way? a. Not to say that changing legislation through legitimate means is not a worthy goal for Christians b. But to say that it alone is inadequate 4. The "better way" is the way God used His people to ultimately change a "pre-Christian culture" (known for immorality and injustice) into one that at least on the surface held up Christianity as a religion of preference rather than ridicule 5. How did they do it? Though it took several hundred years, it was done by "Shining As Lights In The World", in the manner in which Paul wrote in Ph 2:12-16! With the help of God, perhaps we can do the same. At the very least, we can assure that we will save ourselves through God's grace!