Calvary Road Baptist Church

“The Church Of Jesus Christ: Where Boys Become Men”

  

A family moves into an apartment building to join a community of about fifty other apartment dwellers. Some apartments house a couple of single guys sharing living space. Other apartments are occupied by single women in apartments. One or two apartments are rented by young married couples. Most, however, are two and three bedroom apartments with single moms and their kids of various ages. You find out that a couple of the boys in the building go to your new school and are even in your classroom. You don’t see your dad much since he moved out of the nice house that your family used to live in. Mom and dad hate each other and dad is so unreliable that you have very mixed feelings whenever you do see him. You love him, yet you hate him for not working a steady job and for smacking your mother. You want to see him, but you get mad at him when you see him because he acts dumb. And he has a girlfriend. You are glad that he comes, but you almost always wish that he would hurry up and go. The problem, of course, is that he is so disappointing. He doesn’t really know what to do or say when he visits, asking the same dumb questions. “How’s school? Go to any movies lately? What do you want us to do today?” There is one kid at your new school that you like. He invited you over to his house to hang out after school once, and your mom said it was okay (like she has any idea where you are or what you do when she is at work). Anyway, it was very strange being at his house. You had a good time and all, but his mom didn’t scream at him. Not once. When his dad got home from work he didn’t start an argument with your friend’s mom. They seemed to like each other. And his dad isn’t anything like the stupid dads on television. His dad is kinda nice, and it seems like he knows what he is doing. When we got hungry everyone actually sat at the dining room table and his dad turned the television off. Really. Then he surprised me by actually praying without being told. When our cousins all get together for Thanksgiving my grandmother has to tell grandpa to pray for the food, but my friend’s dad prayed a real prayer without being told. It was just something he decided to do, so he did it as if he did it all the time. Later I went home so my mom could scream at me some more. But I thought about my new friend’s invitation to go to Church with him and his family on Sunday. My dad really likes for me to play Pop Warner Football on Sundays, but I really don’t like football that much. We mostly just stand around while the coaches yell at us. And my dad only likes for me to play football because he was never very good at it when he was a kid. He is so uncoordinated he can’t even ride a skateboard. And he throws a baseball like a girl. My friend’s dad doesn’t even try to do those things. I have no idea how he throws a baseball, though he did invite me to go camping with them next time they went. So, I went to Church with my friend. It was weird. There were all these kids, but they weren’t running through the halls or anything. Lots of grownups, too. I’ve never been around so many grownups. We went into this big room where everyone sat down and then stood up and then sat down again and then stood up again. Sometimes everyone sang. Sometimes everyone just stood there while a guy prayed. But most of the time everyone sat still while that guy talked a little bit loud for a long. The strangest thing about going to Church with my friend is that almost all the grownups actually talked to me. They looked at me and introduced themselves. I will never remember their names, but never before have I met so many grownups who looked at me and talked to me. And everyone shakes hands. They actually smile at each other and shake hands. One man even took the time to teach me how to shake hands the way men shake hands.

Such was the boy’s first experience with Church. It may take a month, or a year, or a decade, but that boy’s only opportunity to grow into manhood as a real man begins with a series of necessary events. He may leave and not come back to a Church service for several years. Or he may never come our way again. But if he is to ever become a man and not just a big adult male the following experiences are needed in his life:

 

First, THE LAD MUST BE BORN AGAIN

 

Manhood, real manhood, has to do with being fitted for eternity. I know that many a boy looks around and sees a fireman, or a police officer, or a soldier, or a construction worker, or a basketball player, and decides he wants to be like that guy. And that’s fine, so far as it goes. But such a vision doesn’t go nearly far enough. Many a firemen, many a cop, many a soldier, many a construction worker, many a professional athlete, and other admirable occupations, are held by guys who despite their looks, their skills, and their seeming bravery, are unsuited for eternity. The Lord Jesus Christ once told the most prominent of the Jewish Bible teachers that, despite his great successes, he was unsuited for heaven. That meant, when he died he would go straight to Hell. In John 3.3-7 the Lord Jesus Christ told Nicodemus that he was unqualified to see the kingdom of God, unqualified to enter the kingdom of God in his present spiritual condition, and that he had to be born again:

 

3      Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

4      Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?

5      Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

6      That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

7      Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

 

What was necessary for Nicodemus is necessary for everyone. No one can see, much less gain access to, God’s heaven in the next life unless he is, unless you are, born again.

Therefore, what good does it do a foolish young lad to attach himself to some fellow who appears to be impressive yet will lead that lad to Hell? Will that lad learn anything from his dad about sin, salvation, and the hereafter that will prepare him for eternity? I did not. This lad will not. Of all the men in our Church in my informal poll last Wednesday night I would count perhaps two whose fathers positively influenced them for Christ’s sake. Yet those would also attest to the fact that their father’s godly influences were not influences that took place in isolation, but were influences that occurred in the context of Church life and ministry. I point this out because a right understanding of the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ to reach with the Gospel such as this lad is a charge that is given to congregations like ours even more than it is given to individual Christians. And in fact, though any sinner exposed to the Gospel of God’s grace can come to salvation from his sins through simple faith in Jesus Christ, plus nothing and minus nothing, the most effective means of evangelizing the lost is through the ministry of a Church such as ours. This lad simply must go to Church where God is honored, Christ is exalted, the Bible is believed, and the Gospel is declared.

Imagine the thoughts and considerations of a lad like this with respect to the Gospel. He comes to Church and finds that though there are some things he doesn’t like, there are somewhat more things he does like, and so he comes back again and again. For how long does he come? Hopefully, for the rest of his life. At some point the lad begins to notice the men and older boys in the Church. After noticing the men and older boys in the Church, he then begins to recognize that they identify as Christians and that they endorse the message he is exposed to again and again when he comes to Church. Whether he can express his thoughts or not, at some point this lad realizes there is a connection between the men and older boys he sees (and would like to someday be like) and the Gospel they identify with and endorse. Encouraged by those in the congregation he has grown to like and to admire, the boy then begins to consider the Gospel message and the claims of Jesus Christ. Our prayers, of course, are that the lad will reflect deeply on his own sins and need of the Savior, and will come to trust Christ for the forgiveness of his sins. Our desire is not for the lad to embrace the Gospel as a way of growing up to be like our older boys and men, but that his fondness and admiration for our older boys and men will motivate the lad to seriously consider the Gospel, and that he will trust Christ for his own soul’s sake, and for Christ’s sake, and for the glory of God’s sake. The boy is now suited for heaven.

 

Next, THE LAD MUST BE BAPTIZED

 

Why must the lad be baptized? The lad must be baptized because the Savior so commanded. What if the lad doesn’t want to be baptized? No one should ever try to coerce someone to be baptized, especially because baptism in so many places throughout Christian history carried with it a death sentence. However, if the lad truly wants to publicly identify with the Savior in a way unmatched by any other, he will in time follow the Lord Jesus Christ in believer baptism. It is what every Christian in the New Testament does.

How must the lad be baptized? The lad must be baptized as a believer and by immersion in water. Many Christian denominations are lax about the qualifications for baptism, yet it is very clear in the New Testament that no unbeliever is ever intentionally baptized. Only believers, and then only by immersion in water because the word transliterated baptism means immersion, dipping, and plunging and has never meant anything else to the Greeks.

Where must the lad be baptized? When the question of where is asked the reference is not to geography. Geography is unimportant. What is important is that baptism is rightly understood to be a Church ordinance, with the Church of Jesus Christ functioning as its administrator and guardian. Thus, Joe Doakes has no authority to baptize anyone. However, our Church has been granted authority to baptize in Christ’s name and with His authority. The lad who is fitted for heaven, and is now baptized, has become a Church member.

 

Third, THE LAD MUST BE TAUGHT TO OBSERVE ALL THINGS CHRIST TAUGHT

 

This third part of the Great Commission of Matthew 28.18-20 rightly follows baptism because by means of baptism the believer becomes a member of the Church congregation and publicly proclaims not only his allegiance to the Lordship of Jesus Christ but also to the ministry of the Church he has joined. Sadly, most Churches are quite neglectful of this aspect of the Great Commission. Notice the four ways in which the lad comes to be trained, really the means by which the boy is brought to manhood in the fullest sense of the word now that he is already fitted for heaven. Here is how he, as a Church member, becomes the man of God who is best prepared for his journey through life on his way to heaven: First, becoming the man God wants him to be through the preaching of God’s Word. Preaching is the mainstay of the Gospel ministry, and the primary means by which God imparts grace to individuals, both lost and saved. And though many preachers preach no Gospel sermons and some few preach only Gospel sermons, the Apostle Paul set the example for all preachers when he said to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20.27,

 

“For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.”

 

It will be under Bible preaching that the lad will learn the most Bible truth, will be challenged to live out the Bible truths he has been taught, and will aspire to live for, love, and serve the Savior as an obedient Christian and Church member. That is why he must not forsake the assembly, Hebrews 10.25.

Next, becoming the man God wants him to be by means of the examples set before him by other Christians in the congregation. There was a reason Air Force Academy Cadets had heroic combat pilots leading our squadrons when I was a cadet. The Air Force wanted cadets to observe, to admire, to then emulate, and to be in a position to ask questions and hear answers from those who were what the United States Air Force wanted us to become, professional combat pilots. This approach is not rocket science. The exact same principle applies to life in a Church congregation. Boys do not grow up to be men when surrounded by women and children. But it must also be realized that boys do not grow up to be the kind of men they ought to be unless the men they are surrounded and influenced by are godly Christian men. That environment is found only in the Church congregation. May I say that virtually every preacher who comes to our Church expresses to me his profound delight and admiration for the men he has observed in our Church? These preachers have been in many, many different congregations, and they do not have to say to me what they have chosen to say. Therefore, it is with humble gratitude and confidence that I maintain that the best place where God will bless a boy’s desire to grow into manhood, the right kind of manhood, is by God’s grace here and in other Churches like this one. It will be here that the lad will see that men can be found who are not the clowns and fools all men are portrayed as being on television and in commercials. It will be here that the lad will see that men are not the wicked and oppressive chauvinists they are portrayed to be by feminists and so many of their frustrated single moms. It will be here that the lad will see that men are not necessarily the uber violent and wildly promiscuous caricatures of manhood that are portrayed in movies, by rappers, and by street thugs who have no idea what being a man really is. Here they will see men who are gentle and kind to their women and their children. They will see men who are simply where they need to be, doing what real men do. They will see what is so often lacking by those men who routinely display physical courage; a thing called moral courage, which being more rare is therefore more valuable than mere physical courage.

Third, becoming the man God wants him to be by means of the teaching of God’s Word. The primary differences between the preaching of God’s Word and the teaching of God’s Word are two: Preaching is the communication of God’s Word with a view toward an immediate and conscious response, while teaching God’s Word is the communication of God’s Word with a view toward imparting knowledge and understanding of the truth. Preaching is also the communicating of God’s truth with insistence and passion, while teaching is the communicating of God’s truth with clarity and precision. Whatever means is employed, it is a sin to bore people with God’s truth. Therefore, if preaching is where a lad will be initially challenged about matters related to manliness and godliness, and the examples of other men and boys in the congregation are where he sees truth acted out in everyday life, the teaching ministry of the Church is where the lad can come to most thoroughly understand how one truth is related to another truth and how application of the truth to daily living is best accomplished.

Finally, becoming the man God wants him to be by the lifelong process of personal discipleship. May I emphatically state that this aspect of Church ministry is where Calvary Road Baptist Church is most wanting, where we are most sadly lacking? We actually have significant numbers of Church members who either think personal discipleship is unimportant, that personal discipleship does not produce a beneficial enough return on the investment of time that is required, that it is too late for them to benefit from personal discipleship, or they fear the exposure of their low level of spirituality and lack of commitment to the cause of Christ. Yet these types of things are what discipleship is best suited to deal with. Listen to what Paul wrote to Timothy in Second Timothy 2.2:

 

“And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”

 

Here we see the process of personally passing your own Christianity on to someone else. But from the context of verses 1 and 3 we see that strength in the grace that is in Christ Jesus and durable hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ, are both required to disciple others. However, if you remember how timid Timothy was when he first met Paul you will marvel at how far he had come in his Christian life, primarily as the result of being discipled.[1] Discipleship is best done one-to-one. And discipleship frequently begins with two people who are not especially close friends and comrades. Notice from several portions of verses in which Paul describes Timothy what became of their relationship:

 

2 Co 1:1:     Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother

1Ti 1:2:        Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith

1Ti 1:18:      This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy

2Ti 1:2:        To Timothy, my dearly beloved son

Phm 1:        Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother

Heb 13:23:  Know ye that our brother Timothy

 

It is when the more experienced and more mature Christian is regularly and routinely engaging a less mature and less experienced Christian in discipleship that profound spiritual growth can take place in both of their lives, as two individuals share their lives, relate their experiences to God’s Word, pray for each other as they feel comfortable, and enjoy each other’s victories while they help each other overcome setbacks. This is how wonderful Christians with great potential come to be greatly used Christians who more fully reach their potential in Christ by God’s grace.

 

Imagine your prayers for a boy being answered by that boy coming back to Church again and again. Then more of your prayers being answered by that boy coming to know Jesus Christ as his Savior and being baptized. Then watch that young lad grow into manhood as he sits under preaching, as he observes the lifestyles and practices of the older men in the Church, as he is taught God’s Word, and as he is discipled.

I can promise you that the greatest obstacle to his spiritual life that he will face from within the congregation will be those men he looks up to who disappoint him. He is used to being disappointed by his dad, by his uncles, by his mom’s boyfriends. But when he sees the admired man who is a Church member drop the ball of faithfulness, consistency, or leadership in his own home, the boy will be faced with his greatest temptation to slide from discouragement into skepticism and cynicism.

Consider the thrill of being a part of that young man’s life. You greet him every time you see him. He sees that he is important to the grown men that he admires and hopes to be like. He begins to consider the claims of Christ. He is converted and is baptized. Then come those challenging years when everyone who knows him outside Church, and the raging hormones of biology, challenge him to forsake the faith.

What gets him through it, by God’s grace? It may be you. Perhaps you are the man he most looks forward to seeing, to reach out to with his hand to shake, and to be treated with respect and love as he is invited into this fraternity of Christian manhood the Devil both hates and fears. Maybe you are the encouragement he needs. You may be the one man in his life who has no desire to take his dad’s place, who has no desire to be an indulgent uncle type, but who wants only to be this young fellow’s brother in Christ who walks along the pathway of life to help him grow to real Christian manhood.

Consider this as we conclude: Unless you are willing to allow someone to play that role in your life you will never, ever be prepared to play that role in that lad’s life. Yet that is a role God wants for you. Don’t you think it’s about time, regardless of what anyone else in your life has to say about it, that you stepped up a bit and began preparing for the rest of your life this side of eternity? What am I challenging you to do this morning, my friend? I am challenging you to simply take the next step in your Christian life. If you have any confidence whatsoever in my credibility as your pastor, hear me when I tell you that you will not regret taking that next step to being discipled.

In closing, let me read a poem I received only yesterday that applies not only to fathers and sons, but also to Christian men and the boys who look up to us.

 

“THAT LITTLE BOY WHO FOLLOWS ME”

 

A careful man I want to be,

   A little youngster follows me.

I do not dare to go astray,

   In fear he might go that same way.

I cannot once escape his eyes,

   And what he sees me do he tries.

Like me he says he wants to be,

   That little boy who follows me.

Now he thinks that I’m so big and fine,

   He believes every single word of mine.

Lord the bad in me please don’t let him see,

   I wish that I could much stronger be.

I must remember as I go through summer’s sun and winter’s snow,

   I’m molding for eternity

   That little boy who follows me.

Yes, I’m molding for eternity,

   That little boy that follows me. 

- Harlan Howard, an icon of country music songwriters

__________

[1] 1 Corinthians 4.17; 16.10

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org