Living A Successful Christian Life In The Last Days
by Rev. Douglas G. Bennett
Presented by Saint Luke Evangelical School Of Biblical Studies

If you were asked to briefly state your theology, what would your response be? Many would scratch their heads, hem and haw, or attempt to change the subject. Some would say they donít have a theology. But friend, each and everyone of us has a personal theology. Simply, put , it is our personal beliefs about God and the Christian faith. Most could not effectively state their beliefs to another, let alone explain or defend them from the word of God.

Yet through Scripture we are commanded and exhorted in these last days to know, understand and defend the Christian faith and its doctrines, or teachings. [Jude 3; 2 Peter 3:17-18; Titus 1:13-14 & 2:1 & 7 ; I Timothy 4:6, 11-16 ; II Timothy 2:15,4:1-5,4:14-17; Galatians 1:8,9]

Why? Because we are living in a time when we find ourselves surrounded by every conceivable form of false teaching imaginable. Scripture warns us that in these last days false teachers will abound. [I John 2:18; II John 7 & 8; 2 Peter 2, 3:3-7 Titus 1:10,11 I Timothy 4:1-3, 6:20,21; 2 Timothy 3:1-9,13, 4:3-4 Galatians 1:6 & 7 ; Jude] One has only to look around their community or flip through the television channels to witness it for yourself. We are continuously exposed to dangerous false teachings every day. To the immature or ill-equipped believer, it can be a confusing, frustrating and potentially dangerous situation. Immature Christians are tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of man, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive. (Ephesians 4:14) So many Christians are unknowingly following false doctrines. This is hampering their personal relationship with Christ and stunting their spiritual growth. But even more sadly, it is damaging their ability to share their faith. If we cannot defend the faith in our own lives, what hope do we have to effectively communicating that most holy faith to the unsaved?

But it does not have to be that way. It should not be that way. Jude provides us a model for successful Christian living in a world consumed with false teachings. In sports, the goal is to be successful to win. But in order to prevail you must have a winning game plan. But the game plan alone is not enough to insure success. You have to apply it! In Jude 20-23 Jude lays out the winning game plan for believers. He explains that there are five things we must do to be effective Christians in these last days.

Jude 1:20
20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith;

First, we need to continuously build our knowledge and understanding of Godís Word. The word "build" paints a picture of constructing something, such as a home. So many Christians stop with only their foundation or maybe even the first floor. But Jude says to continuously build up our faith. In other words, add a second story and then a garage and then a third story and so on. We need to be building a skyscraper, not a shack. In the past, you and I may have gotten by with only a foundation. But in this day and age of false teachings a little knowledge and understanding is no longer enough.

Jude 1:20

20 ; praying in the Holy Spirit;
Secondly, Jude states that we need to continuously pray in the spirit. This means a prayer life that is Spirit guided, not man guided. We need to be praying in accordance with His will, not ours. How do we know Christís will? By knowing the Word. For John began his gospel by writing

John 1:1-2
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He was in the beginning with God.

Furthermore John wrote in the book of Revelation regarding Christís return;

Revelation 19:13
13 And {He is} clothed with a robe dipped in blood; and His name is called The Word of God.

The Word of God is the very essence and person of Christ. If you want to know Him and His will, know His word. He gave it to us and preserved it so that even though. He is not physically with us at the moment, we might know Him in His fullness. When we know the Word, the Spirit of God can guide our prayers.

Jude 1:21
21 keep yourselves in the love of God,

Next Jude says that we need to keep ourselves in the love of God. How do we do this? By continuously developing an intimate personal relationship with Christ. If we are walkingin fellowship with Him daily, we will keep ourselves in the love of God.

Jude 1:21
21 waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.

Next Jude writes that we should be continuously living in the anticipation of Christís imminent return. (cf Titus 2:13; Philippians 3:20-21) Why? Because if we believe and hope that Christ could return at this very moment, it impacts the way we live and serve Him. Procrastination goes out the window because we know this may be all the time we have left. We (and a world full of unbelievers) may not have tomorrow to do what we should have done today. It makes us realize the urgency of not only our personal walk, but of reaching out to the lost.

Jude 1:22-23
22 And have mercy on some, who are doubting;
23 save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.

Finally Jude states that we need to continuously share our faith with the lost. It takes steps 1-4 to do this effectively. The ultimate goal of Christians should be to share the life changing message of salvation through Jesus Christ with unbelievers. But as we have seen, with so much false teaching in our world, we have to know our faith to effectively share it with them.

So our game plan for a successful Christian life requires that we (1) continuously build up our knowledge and understanding of the faith, (2) continuously pray in the Spirit, (3) continuously develop a relationship with Christ, (4) continuously live in the anticipation of Christís return and (5) continuously share our faith with the lost.

One word of caution; Defend the faith, but defend it in a spirit of love. It should never be the goal or method of a Christian to demean, belittle or to simply prove something wrong. The goal is to effectively share our faith with the unsaved and to bring a unity to the body of Christ that is in agreement with the most holy faith. This is best achieved in a spirit of love. Disagreements will occur. However, Christians should not allow their doctrinal distinctives and/or differences to hinder love for and fellowship with other members of the body of Christ. [Psalms 133;1; I Corinthians 1:10, 12:13, 24-27; Ephesians 4:11-16; Philippians 1:27; Hebrews 13:1]

All verses taken from NAS Bible.

copyright 2003 by Rev. Douglas G. Bennett
Used by permission.