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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
A sermon preached at the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Evening, September 9, 2001
"Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life"
(I Peter 1:18-19).
In the verse, the word "fight" is from the Greek word for "conflict," as in a conflict, or fight, for the prize in the Greek Olympic Games. It describes the conflict of an athlete desiring to win.
1. The attitude of fighting to be converted is described here. Fight so hard you actually win the prize - eternal life through Christ is the prize.
Paul illustrated this fight by saying,
"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course (race), I have kept the faith" (II Timothy 4:7).
Paul tells us to "strive for the mastery" - literally fight to win Christ, as he did.
The whole Christian life is a fight. It is particularly a hard fight of striving to enter into Christ at conversion. You aren't going to be converted without a fight - a real struggle.
2. Those who are too lazy to fight, to strive, remain seeking (straining, struggling), but they don't enter into an all-out fight to be converted. They may strain and struggle, but they are too lukewarm and lazy to enter into an all-out fight to win Christ and be converted. They are spoken of as "lukewarm" in the Bible. Christ says,
"I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot...So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth" (Revelation 3:15-16).
3. You have to fight to win any sport - karate, football, any sport. You can't be lukewarm or you won't win. And you can't be lukewarm and win Christ and real conversion.
4. Turn to Luke 13:24,
"Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able" (Luke 13:24).
"Strive" (agonizomai) - struggle to compete for the prize. Fight with the enemy. Fight to accomplish something important - conversion!
One young man told Dr. Cagan last night, "I hope to be saved." But just "hoping" won't do it. You have to strive - struggle to gain the prize of conversion.
1. You have to fight with the enemy. Satan will fight you. Demons will fight you. Lost friends and relatives will fight you. Your own depraved inner nature will fight you. Will you enter into this struggle, this athletic competition which is greater than any other competition?
2. You also have to fight to enter into Christ. You must struggle (agonizomai), fight with all your strength and concentration, to lay hold of eternal life in Christ.
Now how do you fight to lay hold of Christ in conversion?
1. You must train to fight. This includes serious struggle, serious prayer, and serious Bible reading every day. Training to enter the great struggle to get your soul converted.
2. You must desire to win the prize of conversion more than anything else in the world. No athlete wins unless he concentrates his whole mind and body on winning.
You must fight to be in church at every service to hear the God- sent message.
You must fight to remember the sermon, fighting against the Devil, who wants to pluck the words out of your mind. Fight to think about what is preached. Fight to make it apply to you.
Then, you must fight to actually leave behind your weak and sinful old ways. Fight for a new way of thinking about Christ and sin. Fight for Heaven itself.
"Strive (fight) to enter (into Christ): for many, I say unto you, will seek (strain) to enter in, and shall not be able" (Luke 13:24).
If you have your heart fixed on winning a Black Belt in karate, you have to fight for it. If you have your heart fixed on making a touchdown in a football game, you have to fight for it. If you want to be a converted Christian, you have to fight for it. Don't let anything keep you from winning the prize - conversion in Christ. Fight for it with every ounce of strength in your body and heart and mind.
I would not be a preacher if I hadn't fought for it - with all my might. You will not be converted and become a real Christian if you don't fight for it as hard as you would fight to win a football game.
Lost friends must go. They will pull you back from the fight. Sluggishness and laziness must go. They will stop you from winning the prize - salvation in Christ. You must force yourself to listen to the sermons.
You must force yourself to read the Bible every day - seven days a week. You must force yourself into Christ. He is the greatest prize you could ever, ever win!
"Strive (agonize - fight) to enter (into Christ): for many...will (only) seek (strain) to enter in, and shall not be able" (Luke 13:24).
Solo by Benjamin Kincaid Griffith: "If You Linger Too Long"
by Dr. John R. Rice (1895-1980)
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