Pray We and Our Children Imitate God (John 1:14; Gal. 5:22-23; Ephesians 5:1)
Praying Scripture Series
Prepared and Preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, July 29, 2018
Charlie Chaplin was a huge movie star in the silent-picture era. One of the by-products of his popularity were the look-alike contests that sprung up around the country. Contestants attempted to imitate Chaplin dressed as the “tramp” character he made popular in his films. Even the young up-and-coming actor Bob Hope entered such a contest in Cleveland, Ohio, and won.
Legends have sprung up that Chaplin himself took part in one contest. Steve Chandler in his book 100 Ways To Motivate Yourself says Chaplin was on holiday in Monaco when he decided to enter a Chaplin look-alike contest. Others cite the incident as taking place in Switzerland. Although the event has been embellished through the years, it did occur. Chaplin entered a look-alike contest in a San Francisco theatre. Amazingly, Chaplin failed to even make the finals.
In a similar way, sometimes we do not recognize the truth about God when it is staring us in the face.
On a similar note, we are told to imitate God. It has been my prayer for myself and my family that we imitate God as the Bible tells us to do in Ephesians 5:1.
My theme and application is: pray that we and our descendants imitate God.
- Imitate God, let’s talk about that.
- 5:1 says just that, it says: Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children…
- Last fall I preached on the broader section of that passage. Today, I just wish to talk about the main phrase “imitate God.”
- Notice we are to imitate God, not other people.
- Tozer shared: Christian literature, to be accepted and approved by evangelical leaders of our times, must follow very closely the same train of thought, a kind of “party line” from which it is scarcely safe to depart. A half-century of this in America has made us smug and content. We imitate each other with slavish devotion. Our most strenuous efforts are put forth to try to say the same thing that everyone around us is saying–and yet to find an excuse for saying it, some little safe variation on the approved theme or, if no more, at least a new illustration.
- But we are not to imitate others, we are to imitate God.
- The question must be asked, “How”? How do we imitate God?
- A few months ago, I talked about that with respect to this broader passage and I said that a key to imitating God is being filled with the Holy Spirit from Eph. 5:18. I believe that and I believe that we can know if we are filled with the Spirit by the evidence of the fruit of the Spirit. We will come back to that.
- So, let’s talk more about imitating God.
- Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3), so imitating God must mean imitating Jesus.
- What does it look like to imitate Jesus?
- We must be full of grace and Truth.
- John 1:14: And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
- Jesus was and is fully Human and fully God and He came full of grace and full of truth.
- Grace is a free gift. We cannot earn our salvation. Jesus did everything for us, completely free.
- Randy Alcorn writes in “The Grace and Truth Paradox: “During a British conference on comparative religions, scholars debated what belief, if any was totally unique to the Christian faith. Incarnation? The gods of other religions appeared in human form. Resurrection? Other religions tell of those returning from the dead. The debate went on until C.S. Lewis wandered into the room. The scholars posed the question to him. ‘That’s easy,’ Lewis replied. ‘It’s grace.’ Our Babel-building pride insists that we must work our way to God. Only the Christian faith presents God’s grace as unconditional. People say: All religions are basically the same’? Imagine a geometry or French teacher who said to his students, ‘It doesn’t matter what answers you give on the test. All answers are basically the same.’ Hinduism’s gods are many and impersonal. Christianity’s God is one and personal. Buddhism offers no forgiveness or divine intervention. Christianity offers forgiveness and Divine intervention. In Judaism and Islam, men earn righteous status before God through doing good works. In Christianity, men gain righteousness only by confessing their unrighteousness and being covered by Christ’s merit. Every other religion is a man working his way to God. Christianity is God working His way to man.”
- So, that is grace in salvation. But I think this verse means more. Jesus came full of grace and truth.
- The grace that Jesus had was not just about a free gift of eternal life; though that would be enough.
- Grace is any good gift.
- Grace is forgiving someone who did something wrong to you.
- Grace is giving someone a second chance. Grace is giving someone a first chance.
- We must give people grace in our daily lives. One more story about grace before we move on about truth.
“Andre is a twenty something African-American who was recently hired for his first promising job. After making it through an impoverished and difficult inner-city upbringing, he enrolled in a mentoring program to help him find and retain a well-paying career. Now, if you purchased this in a bookstore, you may have no idea why a young man would need to learn how to find and retain employment. ‘Just get a job’ is the simplistic mantra of people who don’t understand guys and girls like Andre. But when you have never had parental involvement and have lived in four different foster homes growing up, you miss out on learning basic life skills that some of us take for granted. Many of Andre’s role models’ only income was from the social service check they got for being a foster parent. Andre was never encouraged to learn and never watched a man develop a skill. He had never seen a man get up early and come home at the end of the day for five days a week. He never experienced a strong work ethic leading to a better job with more money and better benefits. He rarely saw anyone graduate… ”
Andre needed grace. He needed a mentor to help teach him life skills and guide him in finding a job. You know what, he also needed truth. What is Truth?
- Jesus came full of grace and truth. Truth is God’s Word.
- Truth is integrity. In Truth your actions and your words reflect what your inner being is.
- But there is also ultimate moral truth, and that is from the Bible.
- Randy Alcorn compares truth to gravity in his book “The Grace and Truth Paradox.” Whether we like it or not gravity is here. Whether we like it or not Truth is here too. Even if you don’t agree with truth, it is Truth.
- In John 17:17 Jesus is praying to the Father and says, “Sanctify them in Truth, Your Word is Truth.”
- I love the word of God.
- The Old Testament law is Truth. The Ten Commandments are Truth. Do not commit adultery, don’t lie. People need truth. The Bible teaches that if you don’t work, you don’t eat (2 Thess 3:8) and that is truth.
Alcorn tells a story that relates to truth:
“Flew across the country to not preach at a church that invited me to preach. After leaving my hotel I rode with a prominent Christian leader to the church. I knew this man had been accused by the media of misrepresenting certain key details on his resume, so I asked him about the charges. He admitted saying and writing some things that weren’t true—but it didn’t seem to bother him. I told him, calmly, that I thought he should repent and publicly ask for forgiveness for his dishonesty. He said nothing and we rode to the church in silence. A few minutes after we arrived, I was escorted to the office of the senior pastor, where we were scheduled to pray before I preached in the service. When I stepped in, the pastor slammed the door behind me. I was surprised to see his face turning scarlet, his veins bulging. He poked his finger at me. ‘No way will I let you preach from my pulpit!’ he thundered. Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw the man I had just confronted. The pastor told me I had no right to question our brother’s integrity. The pastor was fully aware of the man’s reputation but thought it none of my business. We left the office the pastor still seething.”
- Speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15). Love must be our motivation, not making me look better, but love.
- 64% of Americans say, “I will lie when it suits me as long as it doesn’t cause any real damage.” 53% say, “I will cheat on my spouse—after all, given the chance, he or she will do the same.” Only 31% of Americans agree that “honesty is the best policy.” When asked what they would do for ten million dollars, 25 percent said they would abandon their family, 23 percent would become prostitutes for a week or more, and 7 percent would murder a stranger.
- I believe imitating God means pursuing a life being full of grace and truth.
- This is not easy, but Jesus was and is full of grace and truth.
- I pray that myself and our descendants are full of grace and truth.
- Check to see if you have the fruit of the Spirit.
- 5:22-23: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
- I have also been convicted to pray that myself and my descendants have the fruit of the Spirit.
- How are you doing with love? Joy? Peace? Patience? Kindness? Goodness? Faithfulness? Gentleness? Self control?
- Are you showing more of the fruit of the Spirit now than 1 year ago? What about 10 years ago?
To be filled with the Holy Spirit means that we allow him to occupy and control every area of our lives…How much of you does the Holy Spirit have?
When teaching this to my seminary students, I bring two glasses of water and two packets of Alka-Seltzer to class. I drop a packet of Alka-Seltzer, with the wrapper on, into one glass. Then I plop an unsealed packet into the second glass, and watch it fill with fizz.
I say to my students, “Both glasses have the Alka-Seltzer, just as all Christians have the Holy Spirit. But notice how you can have the Holy Spirit and not his filling.” Our goal is to live in such a way as to unwrap the packaging around the presence and power of the Holy Spirit within us.
Do you know Jesus? Luke 9:23
God created us to be with Him. (Genesis 1-2)
Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)
Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)
Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)
Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)
 A. W. Tozer in The Pursuit of God. Christianity Today, Vol. 38, no. 11.
 Tome, Brian. Free Book, pages 130-131
 Randy Alcorn, The Grace and Truth Paradox, pages 51-52.
 Randy Alcorn, The Grace and Truth Paradox, page 53.
 Adapted from James Emery White, Long Night’s Journey into Day (WaterBrook, 2002)