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But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
To him be glory both now and forever!  Amen.  – 2 Peter 3:18

There are many ways to describe what we Christians should be and do as THE BODY OF CHRIST in the world today.
+ Connection – Celebration – Caring Influence – Character Transformation
+ Worshiping, Shepherding, Disciple-making
… Disciple-making that includes both LIFE TRANSFORMATION and LIFE MISSION

(Concern for the general state of the western church in the midst of growing secularism:
1/3 dying / 1/3 stagnant / 1/3 growing)
For that reason …
Two focuses so far in my time together with you … “Whole Gospel” and “Discipleship”

DISCIPLESHIP is applying the whole gospel of Christ to our lives and sharing that good news with others …
+ The gospel of LIFE – we were made for relationship with God and others and a life of holy satisfaction.
+ The gospel of the CROSS and REDEMPTION – we need forgiveness and     reconciliation and peace.
+ The gospel of the KINGDOM – we were made for the responsibility of stewardship of all that is good in the
world today and of rulership with Christ in the world to come.

The Disciple’s Calling – Servanthood, Friendship, Childhood/Sonship is simply God’s calling to life in Christ!
The Disciple’s Virtues which we will explore today, are simply the character qualities of life in Christ!

= Character qualities … moral excellence of a person … a good or admiral quality or property … the truest expression of our souls … the real you … for people of all cultures and ethnicities and beliefs they are the essence of authentic success … what is best in us.

VIRTUES show up in our lives as:
Values  – “core values”
Behaviors  – “core-behaviors”
Motivations – “core motivations”
Reputations – what we become known for and that makes Christ known to the world.




2 Peter 1:1-12
GIFTS OF GOD for all who trust in the righteousness of Christ
1 Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a FAITH as precious as ours: 2 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. (HOPE) 5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your FAITH GOODNESS; and to goodness, KNOWLEDGE; 6 and to knowledge, SELF-CONTROL; and to self-control, PERSEVERANCE (HOPE); and to perseverance, GODLINESS; 7 and to godliness, MUTUAL AFFECTION; and to mutual affection, LOVE. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. 10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, (anchors!) 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.(HOPE) 12 So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have.

Philosophical tradition: “Become what you will be.”
Christian message: “What you will be is what you already are in Christ.” …
+ These callings and qualities are what we already have by God’s grace
and our faith in his SON Jesus.
+ They are then areas of focus for a life-time of continued growth
toward maturity as disciples of Jesus.

Galatians 5:13-26
GROWTH AREAS in our lives …in behaviors and motivations that lead to true freedom …enabled by the Holy Spirit
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in LOVE. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “LOVE your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is LOVE, JOY, PEACE, FORBEARANCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, 23 GENTLENESS and SELF-CONTROL. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

A further expansion and application of the great commandment of LOVE.
Life Formation under the influence of God’s Holy Spirit

2 more Bible texts …
GOOD NEWS HEADLINES that demonstrate Jesus to others
… other believers …other longing people of the world
+ Ancient Greek philosophy (Aristotle and Plato) recognized …
… temperance, wisdom, justice, courage
+ Paul recognized … FAITH, HOPE and LOVE
+ Early church fathers adopted these as the 7 virtues
FAITH, LOVE and HOPE are repeated again and again throughout New Testament.
– Virtues simplified and summarized – Cardinal virtues  (like cardinal colors in painting)

Colossians 1:1-7
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2 To God’s holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ: Grace and peace to you from God our Father. 3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your FAITH in Christ Jesus and of the LOVE you have for all God’s people— 5 the FAITH and LOVE that spring from the HOPE stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel 6 that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace.

FAITH in Christ Jesus
LOVE for all God’s people
HOPE stored up for you in heaven and motivating you now

Faith and Love get a lot of attention, but HOPE?  Definition?
– Confident expectation.
– Knowing that I will not have to live by faith forever.
– Living and leaning toward God’s perfect future.

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
1 Paul, Silas  and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace and peace to you. 2 We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. 3 We remember before our God and Father your work produced by FAITH, your labor prompted by LOVE, and your endurance inspired by HOPE in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. 6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 7 And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, 9 for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

FAITH, LOVE and HOPE in ACTION … not just core values but core behaviors and motivations!
Your work produced by FAITH
Your labor prompted by LOVE
Your endurance inspired by HOPE in our Lord Jesus Christ

SUMMARY APPLICATION … These Christian virtues are gifts of God to be developed in us … that will …

Form your life … and fill your need for …
Forgiveness and reconciliation – FAITH
Relationship and satisfaction – LOVE
Duty and destiny – HOPE
Confirm your faith to …
Appeal and compelling witness to lost and wandering people who were designed by God to desire …
Faith (rudder vs, float and drift)
Love (community and family)
Hope (answer the secular art world and life expressions of longing for hope)

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
To him be glory both now and forever!  Amen.  – 2 Peter 3:18

* * * * * *


– from “When God Whispers Your Name” by Max Lucado
I choose love.
No occasion justifies hatred; no injustice warrants bitterness.
I choose love.
Today I will love God and what God loves.
I choose joy.
I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance.
I will refuse the temptation to be cynical, the tool of the lazy thinker.
I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God.
I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God.
I choose peace.
I will live forgiven.
I will forgive so that I may live.
I choose patience.
I will overlook the inconveniences of the world.
Instead of cursing the one who takes my place, I’ll invite him to do so.
Rather than complain that the wait is too long, I will thank God for a moment to pray.
Instead of clinching my fist at new assignments, I will face them with joy and courage.
I choose kindness.
I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone;
Kind to the rich, for they are afraid;
And kind to the unkind, for such is how God has treated me.
I choose goodness.
I will go without a dollar before I take a dishonest one.
I will be overlooked before I will boast.
I will confess before I will accuse.
I choose goodness.
I choose faithfulness.
Today I will keep my promises.
My debtors will not regret their trust.
My associates will not question my word.
My wife will not question my love.
And my children will never fear that their father will not come home.
I choose gentleness.
Nothing is won by force.
I choose to be gentle.
If I raise my voice may it be only in praise.
If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer.
If I make a demand, may it be only of myself.
I choose self-control.
I am a spiritual being. After this body is dead, my spirit will soar.
I refuse to let what will rot, rule the eternal. I choose self-control.
I will be drunk only by joy. I will be impassioned only by my faith.
I will be influenced only by God. I will be taught only by Christ.
I choose self-control.
Love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
To these I commit my day.
If I succeed, I will give thanks. If I fail I will seek his grace.
And then, when this day is done,
I will place my head on my pillow and rest.

– adapted from a poem-sermon delivered by the 20th century African-American pastor Bishop S.M. Lockeridge

Christ is enduringly strong, He is entirely sincere.
He’s eternally steadfast, He’s immortally graceful.
He’s imperially powerful, He’s impartially merciful.
No barrier can hinder him from pouring out his blessing.
He’s God’s Son.
He’s a sinner’s Savior.
He’s the centerpiece of civilization.
He’s the greatest phenomenon ever to cross the horizon of this world.
I’m trying to tell you, Church –

He does not have to call for help, And you can’t confuse Him.
He doesn’t need you and he doesn’t need me.
He stands alone in the solitude of Himself.
He’s august and He’s unique.
He’s unparalleled and He’s unprecedented.
He’s supreme and He’s pre-eminent.

He’s the loftiest idea in literature.
He’s the highest personality in philosophy.
He’s the supreme problem of higher criticism.
He’s the fundamental doctrine of true theology.
He’s the cardinal necessity of spiritual religion.
He’s the miracle of the ages.
He’s the superlative of everything good you can call Him.
I’m trying to tell you, Church —

He can satisfy all our needs, and He can do it simultaneously.
He supplies strength for the weak.
He’s available for the tempted and tried.
He sympathizes and He sees.
He guards and He guides.

He heals the sick, He cleanses the lepers.
He forgives sinners, He discharges debtors.
He delivers the captives, He defends the feeble.
He blesses the young, He regards the aged.
He rewards the diligent, He beautifies the meek.
I’m trying to tell you, Church —

He’s the key to knowledge.
He’s the wellspring of wisdom.
He’s the doorway of deliverance.
He’s the pathway to peace.
He’s the road to righteousness.
He’s the highway to holiness.
He’s the gateway to glory.

He’s the Master of the mighty.
He’s the Captain of the conquerors.
He’s the Head of the heroes.
He’s the Leader of the legislators.
He’s the Overseer of the overcomers.
He’s the Governor of the governors.
He’s the Prince of princes.
He’s the King of kings.
He’s the Lord of lords.

His office is manifold.
His promise is sure.
His life is matchless.
His life is limitless.
His mercy is everlasting.
His love never changes.
His Word is enough.
His grace is sufficient.
His reign is righteous.
His yoke is easy.
His burden is light.

I wish I could describe Him to you!
He is indescribable because He’s incomprehensible.
He’s irresistible and He’s invincible.
You can’t get Him off your hands.
You can’t get Him out of your mind.
You can’t outlive Him, and you can’t live without Him.

Herod couldn’t kill Him,
Death couldn’t handle Him,
And thank God the grave couldn’t hold Him.

There was nobody before Him, There will be nobody after Him.
He had no predecessor, and He’ll have no successor.
You can’t impeach Him, and He’s not going to resign.
Listen to me, Church –