Sometimes the most dangerous question in life can be, “Why?” Its amazing how early children learn to question why they are required to do certain things. We would like to think that at some stage we outgrow asking this question, but deep within the heart of every human is the desire to understand why. This is evidenced in how we do our jobs or where we find motivation. When the “why” is clear to the human mind and the human heart, obedience is simple.
Did you know that God answers questions? He especially answers the subliminal questions of “why?” throughout the Bible. What we do not like about the way God answers our questions is that He does not always do it in our time table. What if Abraham would have chosen to not act in faith until God told him why? He would have missed the blessings of God bestowed on Him and his family. What if Job would have determined to curse God until his “why” was answered? Throughout Scripture, God gives instances of people who followed Him without knowing why and saw a great blessing because of it.
As a Christian with the full revelation of Christ laying in our laps, many of our questions of why can be answered or demonstrated within the pages of Scripture. As we are challenged to take the next step on this first Next Step Sunday of Franklin Road Baptist Church, it is easy to ask ourselves this looming question of, “Why?” Why should I be baptized? Why should I be discipled or attend a New Members Class? Why? Why? Why?
As we look at today’s lesson about The Importance of the Next Step, the goal is to answer this question and motivate you to move on in your Christian walk. Let’s look at three important proofs of taking the next step.
The next step is important in showing our passion.
Mark 10:46-58 46 And they came to Jericho:and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me. 48 And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.
In our passage, we see a man by the name of Blind Bartimaeus who took several steps in just a few short verses. What’s unique about this passage is that we never once see him wonder why he was doing all of this. We never see him questioning if it was going to work. In fact, we see the exact opposite. When everyone else around tried to quiet him, he became more convinced and cried out to Jesus even more! How was he able to be so passionate about seeing Jesus?
He had a need! Noticed what his need was. He never cried out about his blindness or the state of his affairs. He cried out for mercy!
Have you ever met someone who lacked passion? Have you ever tried to work alongside of them in something you were passionate about? Its frustrating and discouraging. Sometimes, it can even bring you down to a place where you have lost your passion for the task at hand. On the other hand, passionate people are a joy to be around. Many times a person who is passionate can have the opposite effect on someone. They can take something that is dull and mundane and create a passion for it inside of others.
Which type of Christian are you? Are you one who shows your passion for Christ to others? Or, are you a Christian who has grown stale in the Christian life? The fact is, our salvation from Hell is the first of many needs that we will have in our lifetime. Our passion does not stem from anything other than a complete dependence upon the one who can do something about it. In some situations, we will need wisdom. God is the giver of wisdom. In some of life’s circumstances, we will need grace. Paul writes, that God’s grace is sufficient! We may need strength, or mercy, or power. In their purest and greatest forms, all of these come from God and God alone.
Just like Blind Bartimaeus, our need is not always what may be obvious. Many times our need is something that only God can supply. It is when we understand that the fulfillment of this need can only be found in God that we are willing to take whatever steps necessary to achieve it! When we are willing to take steps closer to God or to become more active for God, we are demonstrating a passion that is within us. This passion comes from seeing our state and recognizing that more than God needs us; we need Him!
The next step is important in showing our faith.
Mark 10:49-52 49 And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee. 50 And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. 52 And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole.
Faith is a difficult concept of the Christian life for us to grasp. We need it for salvation, but find it so hard to demonstrate following our salvation. We trust Jesus Christ for Heaven but not for our finances or family. Bartimaeus is beautiful demonstration of faith in Christ for every aspect. He knew that Jesus could heal him. He believed that Jesus was the solution. All of this evidenced a faith that led to his healing.
Faith cannot be touched or felt or examined outside of our day to day actions. While we cannot measure anyone’s faith, it is very obvious when it is present. People recognize a strong faith in the power of Christ. God sees and rewards based on our actions of faith. We know the Bible teaches that without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). There is no magical formula for faith to be measured, but as we take steps closer to Jesus Christ and demonstrate a passion for Him, we are also demonstrating our faith in what He can do.
Accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior requires faith! Following the Lord in baptism will take a certain amount of faith. Determining to learn God’s Word through our discipleship will take faith! Finding a place to serve will take faith. Working in the nursery will take a lot of faith. Our faith in the work and promises of God do not stop at salvation, in fact, our faith is just beginning if we continue to take the next step that God has for us.
How’s your faith today? Maybe you haven’t placed your faith in Jesus Christ for salvation yet. Your faith starts there! Maybe you don’t think baptism is worth it and you’ve begun to ask God, “Why?” Maybe you need to begin to tithe or serve in the church or be discipled. All of these things take faith, but as we commit to the next step we are demonstrating the faith within us.
The next step is important in showing our change.
Mark 10:52 52 And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.
The Gospel is a life-changing message, is it not? This statement may surprise you, but “life change does not always occur at the moment of salvation.” There are some wonderful testimonies of people who were so in need of salvation that they immediately turned from all wickedness following their salvation experience. On the other hand, think of how many Christians you know who have truly experienced the miracle of salvation and never seen true life change because they failed to take the next steps in their spiritual lives. They have fallen back into sinful habits and wrong relationships only to never experience the transforming power of their new relationship with Christ. Bartimaeus was healed by his faith. We don’t know anything about the past of this blind beggar, but he could have easily taken the healing of the Lord and opted for his own lifestyle. He could have thanked Jesus and returned to begging and chosen to do something else with his life, but he did none of those things. He took the next step!
If you will recall, several weeks ago, Pastor Norris brought a message entitled The Compound Effect. In the sermon, he preached about how our lives are made up of the sum of our daily decisions. If we are continually yielding our decisions to the flesh and making wrong decisions, those choices will compound to bring us to a horrible place. On the other hand, if we are constantly walking in the Spirit and making sound spiritual decisions, those too will compound to bring us closer to the Lord.
Taking the next steps in your Christian life will compound to eventually bring you closer to CHrist. By following Jesus Christ, Bartimaeus proved that not only was his eyesight changed, but his life was changed as well. There is a contrast in the life of Bartimaeus. One time, we see him on the side of the road begging, and the other, we see him on the road following after Jesus. What a change he experienced in his life! What a wonderful picture! It would almost have seemed a slap in the face of Jesus Christ for this man who had been healed to return to the side of the road to beg. In fact, its almost humorous to picture, yet many Christians experience the healing of Christ Jesus and never follow after him. Are you a “side of the road Christian” or are you an “on the road Christian” taking those steps to follow after Jesus?
We can all ask ourselves why the next step is important until Christ returns. The natural response to the work of Christ in our lives is to take that next step. By taking the next step, we are demonstrating passion because we have a need. By taking the next step, we are demonstrating faith in the work of God for salvation and whatever work He desires to do with our lives. By taking the next step, we are showing ourselves and the world that our lives have been changed and we are a new creature.
Today would you eliminate the question of “Why?” and choose to demonstrate your passion and faith? Would you become a Christian who is on the road to a changed life? Every Christian has a next step, whether or not we choose to do it is up to us!