Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program

Children who are in elementary school sometimes experience a science lesson on living and not living and the difference between the two. This is not a study of living and dead, but a study of what belongs to one of the kingdoms of life science and what does not belong at all because it is non living. For example, a piece of iron would be considered non living, while a grasshopper or grass or bacteria would be considered living.

In order to make sense out of this, science and most science textbooks offer some standard or checklist to determine if something is living or non living. The items being considered must meet all, not some of the standards in order to be placed in the living category. Most of the checklists are similar to this one. There are seven on my list.

  1. Does it take in food or nourishment in some way.
  2. Does it eliminate waste?
  3. Does it reproduce?
  4. Does it respond to stimuli such as heat, light, water, touch, chemicals or something else?
  5. Does it move in some way?
  6. Does it grow, repair, replace or mature? Does it change in that way?
  7. Is it made of cells or at least one cell?

Humans and other plants and bacteria meet all of the qualifications for this question. Non living things would meet some of the requirements, but not all of them.

For example, an airplane can use fuel. It can give off exhaust. It can move and it can respond to stimuli, but it doesn’t reproduce, it doesn’t grow and it is not made of living cells.

For example, a 747 didn’t grow up from a little airplane and a 747 does not give birth to a piper cub. So we know it is non living.

Now why am I saying this? In thinking about Christian living in this world today, or in considering our churches, a similar checklist could be used to help us evaluate if we are counted to be living and viable members of our Lord’s kingdom. Are we living for Christ?

This applies to individuals and it applies to churches as well.

Let’s take a few minutes to evaluate how we can go through some of these standards to see if we are functioning in the Lord’s Church as he expects us to.

Number one. Do we take in proper nourishment from the Word of God?

Acts chapter 17 verse 11, written by Luke, he spoke about the people in Berea who were of noble character because they received the message with great eagerness and daily examined the Scriptures. They were consumers of the Word of God and the teachings from the Word of God. They were being fed by the Word. They were being fed by the apostles. They were growing because of what they learned.

As a result of this, as they evaluated the teachings of Paul and the prophetic teachings of the Old Testament they could prove that they were alive since they were consuming the Word of God.

By reading and studying Scriptures we are showing ourselves to be hungering and thirsting after righteousness as Jesus pronounced a blessing on folks like this in the Sermon on the Mount.

Sadly enough, we can sit in a church, hear God’s Word read, and be taught, and still not be nourished. We have to tune ourselves in to the Word of God and tune ourselves in to the teaching. And we need the Spirit of God and his guidance in order to gain from what we hear, in order to be consumers of the Word.

In John chapter five verses 39 and 40, Jesus talked about some Jews who had studied the Scriptures. They had received the Word in the sense that they had studied it, but they refused to believe in Jesus. And this was a situation where it was in Jerusalem on a Sabbath day and they were neglecting who Jesus is and missing the whole point of what was there, even though they knew the Scripture. May we never be found to do such a thing to the Word of God

Number two. As living Christians, we need to be sure to eliminate what is harmful and polluting to us.

We will call this the waste that needs to be eliminated.

In Chapter 12 of Hebrews verse one it says to throw off everything that hinders us. We need to throw off the ways of a sinful nature and this doesn’t happen automatically. If we put in the things of God, we would be pushing out the things that hinder us and help us to grow for God. If we are full of Jesus and his Spirit and our minds and our hearts are that way, we leave no place for sin.

In Ephesians chapter four verse 22 Paul reminded the folks to put off the old self, to eliminate that old self in order to serve God.

Back in the days of the Old Testament prophets, Isaiah said for the wicked to forsake his ways. That is in Isaiah 55:7, to get rid of the old ways.

In 1 Peter chapter two verse 11 we are told to abstain from sinful desires.

So not only are we who claim to be living in Christ to be filling ourselves with the things of God, but we need to make no room for the things of the world. We need to eliminate those. We need to push those out of the way. It is not easy to do and not without errors. But when those errors happen, we can go to Jesus for forgiveness to clean us up and start us all over again.

The third characteristic I want to mention is living and growing in Jesus. The things that are alive grow and living people in Christ in the Church grow. We are expected to grow personally and as a church.

In Hebrews chapter six verse one it tells us to go on to maturity, to grow up, to grow in Jesus. And in 2 Peter the very last verse in the whole book says this.

“Grow in the grace and the knowledge of the Lord.”

That is what we are to do

So we ask ourselves. Am I growing as a Christian? Is my church growing? Am I being stronger in Jesus, not just in number, but in spirit and in strength of serving God?

So we ask what are the signs? What are the signs that we are growing? How can we tell we are growing in Jesus?

Paul figured this out. In 1 Thessalonians three he says this in 3:12 that we are to grow in love for each other. And, you know, this happens only because we are loved by God and we receive God’s love and we share God’s love with others and with God himself as we worship him. So this is one of the signs that we are growing is that we grow in love for each other.

The fourth indicator that we are living for Jesus is that we are reproducing fruit which results in there being new Christians. Jesus himself gave the command for Christians to have that responsibility.

Do you remember the Great Commission that was given first to the apostles? One of the passages is in Matthew 28 and there are others where Jesus says, “Go into the world and preach the gospel” to share his Word, make disciples. He wanted us to be reproducing Christians.

According to Acts chapter one verse eight, they were going to start in Jerusalem and go into Judea, Samaria and the other parts of the earth. They were going to spread out in sharing the Word of God. They were going to reproduce for Christianity to be spread. And that is our responsibility. It is our responsibility for it to be carried out each day to share Jesus with others. And it is our turn to do this. The apostles did it. Those before us, those who shared the gospel with us have done it, and now it is our job.

Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy chapter four verse five to do the work of an evangelist. Bible students know that Paul did this most of his life after he became a Christian. He went on missionary journeys and he served God first to the Jews and then especially he was the gospel preacher to the Gentiles. And Jesus told him he was going to be as well.

So as Christians we must ask ourselves, am I working to reach other people for Jesus?

The next standard that I want to look at for living and non living is: Do we respond to stimuli? Responses to stimuli, such as heat, light, touch and so forth, but, in turn, we are expected to respond to the stimulus of God’s Spirit in us.

Let’s quickly look at some examples where this took place, guidance where God caused something to happen.

These are very familiar to you. In the book of Luke we know that Mary was told by an angel that she was going to be the mother of Jesus. That was the stimulus. And she said, “This is fine. I accept this. So may it be as was said.”

Joseph… Do you remember Joseph who married her, on three occasions he had a dream. He had a vision that he was told to do something.

First of all he was told, “Don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife,” in Matthew one verse 20.

And then in chapter two down in verse 13 and following he was told to take Mary and Jesus and go to Egypt. And later on in chapter two we find that he was told to come back from Egypt. Each time he did what he was told to do. He was following those directions that he was given.

In Acts chapter 16 verses six through 10 we find that Paul left a very successful ministry to go to Macedonia. Why did he do this? God gave him that Macedonian call and he responded to that stimuli and he went to where God told him to go.

The Holy Spirit of God dwells within us as Christians. Even today we are comforted, enabled and directed by the Holy Spirit. We must ask ourselves. How do I respond to the Spirit’s direction as we are told to serve God and what he wants us to do? Do I seek the guidance of the Spirit or do I shun what I am being told?

Next, it may be that we are being told to get up and do something. Just like living things move, we are sometimes being told to move, to get involved, to actively work for Jesus. We need to be on the move for Jesus.

Now folks, it doesn’t always have to be a big movement. The move might be simply to turn off the television and open a Bible and begin to pray and begin to read and study God’s Word. It might be that we need to get up and go to a worship service and have somebody go with us. It might be, as Paul said, he had to go further than that. I can’t help but think again how Paul made many trips to share the Word of God as he regularly was on the move for Jesus. We need to live the gospel and share it with others and be on the move for Jesus.

So that is one of the standards of being alive in Christ.

Lastly of all, all living things are made of cells and they carry on life processes. You know, there are some one-celled animals, but most of the ones that we see and most of the ones that we know about are multi-celled. In fact, without the aid of microscopes you don’t see the one-celled ones, but we see multi-celled living things, because we see each other.

We see animals. We see our pets. We see other people that we go to church with at other times like this. We are made of many parts.

That reminds us that the Church is made up of many members who function and grow together, to grow stronger and serve the Lord. They depend on each other. They work together with each other.

You know, scientists tell us that cells make up tissues and tissues make up organs and organs make up organ systems. As Christians, we are to be a part of this great system with Jesus as our head, Jesus as the one who directs us, Jesus as the one who has given us life and who saves us.

It is our desire that each of you today will be a part of this great Church. These standards, remember, apply to us as individuals and they apply to us as churches.

In closing, let us evaluate if we are truly alive for Jesus taking in what he gives us in his Word while we throw off what is harmful to us so that we can reach out for other and to others for Jesus. As we grow stronger and respond to God’s direction, then we will be on the move for him and be vital parts of his church.

So I covered all of those standards in those last couple of sentences. If you have never made the important step to receive Jesus, you are not alive in him at all.

In Ephesians two Paul describes people as being dead in their transgressions and sins. I know we didn’t talk about dead and alive today, but that is what Paul calls people who have not accepted Jesus. Each one needs Jesus to be alive, as we do today.

Please consider making the important step today to accept Jesus as Savior. It is better to live for Christ than it is to wish that you had. It is our prayer that God will bless you as you have need.

Wayne Hobbs lives in  Sellersburg, IN and is a  member of the Sellersburg Church of Christ