PULPIT TODAY SERMONS
(Note to reader: This message is presented as an outline, with only portions in manuscript form.)
Robert D. Pace
Champions are found throughout the pages of Scripture. They were heroes, appointed by God, that established His purposes in the world. And they appeared in the form of apostles, prophets, judges, warriors, kings and statesmen.
(Definition) Dictionaries define a champion as one that fights for the rights and honor of others. In the arena of sports or warfare champions are those that vanquish their opponents. They emerge as advocates and defenders of those they represent.
I. Champions of the Past and Present
A. Champions of the Old Testament.
1. Abraham is venerated as the “Father of the Christian Faith.” That’s because he believed God’s promises regardless of what he encountered. As our example, this teaches Christians the need to trust God and ‘persevere to the end’.
2. Moses is recognized as a Champion in many ways. (a) He is the author of the Ten Commandments, (b) The Emancipator from Egyptian Captivity, and (c) the greatest miracle-worker of the Old Testament.
3. Joshua was Israel’s Five-Star General that conquered the Promised Land.
4. Gideon rallied 300 men and routed 22,000 enemy troops.
5. David is recognized as Israel’s foremost King. As a shepherd, he overpowered a lion and a bear. As a militia-man, David conquered Goliath, the Philistines, and the enemies of Israel.
6. Elijah is the great Prophet that withstood 450 false prophets of Baal at Mount Horeb.
B. Champions of the New Testament.
1. Simon Peter’s first message brought 3,000 conversions. As a miracle-worker he healed the lame man at the Temple and his shadow raised the sick from the curbside.
2. Paul, whose preaching “made Felix tremble,” wrote one-fourth of the New Testament.
3. Philip, the evangelist, revived the city of Samaria until even its sorcerer was converted.
4. John the Revelator was exiled to the Isle of Patmos, but it is there that he wrote the greatest mystery novel ever recorded.
C. Champions throughout the centuries.
1. John Wycliffe made his impression by translating the Scriptures.
2. Martin Luther of the 1500s fought the religious heresy of his day and championed the start of the Reformation.
3. John Wesley was the great American soulwinner during a time of religious apathy and moral decline.
4. Smith Wigglesworth, Kenneth Hagin, and Oral Roberts brought physical healing to thousands.
II. How Champions Emerge
There have always been champions that “conquered kingdoms, shut the mouths of the lions, quenched the fury of the flames and waxed valiant in fight.” The question is: How do champions get their start? As far as the human element is concerned, what qualifies someone to arise as a spiritual champion?
A. Champions emerge because they Submit to Christ’s Lordship.
S.M. Lochrage said: “The hinges of human history have turned on the strength of the insignificant man who has linked his life with the lordship of Christ. Rivers of civilization have cut new courses because of the courage of many who have come under the loving lordship of Jesus Christ.” Lochrage continued by identifying men three classes of people:
1. People that neither confess Christ’s lordship nor obey His commands.
2. People that confess Christ’s lordship but ignore His commands.
3. And people that confess Christ’s lordship and obey His commands.
It’s the third classification that catches God’s eye as he searches for those to champion his cause. He looks for those totally committed to his lordship! This is a key kingdom principle that God’s champions exhibit: they are completely surrendered to Christ and his purpose for their life.
B. Champions emerge because they maintain their personal identity. In other words, champions know how to be themselves! They don’t mimic someone:
There are times when Elijah trains Elisha, but Elisha still knows how to be himself.
Moses trains Joshua, but Joshua knows he’s called to “lead the people in” and not “lead the people out” like Moses.
This is what God communicated to Joshua when he said: “Moses my servant is dead” (Joshua 1:2). In essence, God said: “Joshua, it’s a new day and things will be different. Be yourself, Joshua. Follow My Law and I will conquer through you.”
Paul mentors Timothy, but while Paul ministers to kings Timothy pastors common people.
Peter preaches demonstratively while Apollos teaches soft-spoken and methodically.
God gave you a unique personality, appearance, and disposition. He fashioned your DNA, character, and intellect. He created you that way so you could accomplish His purposes and achieve your destiny.
Psalm 47:4 says: “He chooses our inheritance for us, the glory of Jacob whom he loves” (NAS).
Ephesians 1:11 says: “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.
Remember: God’s champions are comfortable “in their own skin.” You do yourself no favor when you lament that your style of ministry or personality negates your effectiveness. God infused you with your DNA and personality. Your job is to accept God’s creative design of you.
(Transition) What makes champions successful?
III. What Makes Champions Successful
A. Champions “stick to the fundamentals.” They understand the essential requirements of God’s Word and they live by them.
Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:14, “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of.”
Revelation 3:3 says, “Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent.”
Proverbs 4:13 says, “Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.”
B. Champions know how to implement God’s strategy for the task.
To obtain the victory, He tells Moses to use the rod, David the slingshot, Elisha the mantle, and Shamgar an eight-foot stick.
To overthrow the enemy, He tells Gideon to stand still, David to move forward, and Joshua to march in circles.
To secure the victory, He tells Noah to enter the boat, Peter to exit the boat, and Paul and the prisoners to hold onto the fragments of the boat.
To successfully minister, He tells Philip to leave Samaria, Peter and John to enter Samaria, and the other Apostles to remain in Jerusalem.
Champions have discovered that God has a strategy for every event and that’s why they are successful: they implement that strategy!
But don’t misunderstand this. The discovery of a miracle-formula doesn’t create a Champion for God! Yes, implementing God’s strategy is vitally important but as Elisha’s protege (Gehazi) discovered, following a prescription of touching the staff to the dead boy’s head had no resurrection power! So-called “formulas” are always mixed with something more than the formula itself. And that’s what our next point reveals:
(Transition) The strategy for claiming victories for God relates to the champion maintaining a living relationship with the Holy Spirit! Champions are closely connected to the Holy Spirit because they understand He will speak, lead, and guide them to victory (John 16:13).
C. Champions maintain a living relationship with the Holy Spirit.
Notice the people that discerned the appearance of the Messiah 2000 years ago. It wasn’t the Scribes and Pharisees that ministered at the Temple. They should have recognized the appearance of Christ, but theirs was a “head” knowledge of the Scriptures. It was people that maintained a “living relationship” with God that ascertained the Messiah’s appearance. It was shepherds, magi, Joseph and Mary, Zechariah and Anna who understood the “fullness of times” had arrived. These people had a living relationship with the Holy Spirit and listened to His voice!
Please hear this: It takes more than simply being in Christ’s presence and associating with Believers to discern Christ’s mind. We don’t discern God’s counsel because we attend church or read the Bible. It takes a deeply personal relationship with the Holy Spirit to grasp God and His ways.
(Example) Notice how even the Apostles failed to discern God’s voice–men that traveled with Jesus for three-and-a-half years. They listened to Him, ate with Him, talked with Him, witnessed His miracles, and followed His instructions. Yet, no Apostle understood Christ’s destiny of dying on the Cross and rising from the grave, even though He repeatedly foretold the events. It was the Apostles’ greatest misunderstanding. And they didn’t understand it even when they stood inside the empty tomb staring at His folded grave clothes (John 20:9). Their minds remained darkened even though they spoke with angels outside the tomb.
Ultimately, it took the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost before the Apostles could fully comprehend God’s plan for them. And this is what God offers to Christians today! As our Chief Partner in life, the Holy Spirit provides us with divine counsel, guidance, and power for living.
Are you a champion? You can be! Imagine yourself as such. Jesus said in Revelation 3:21, “he that overcomes will I grant to sit with Me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne.” What an amazing opportunity! One day, we will join the King of the Universe, center stage, and rule on His seat of authority. While we anticipate that day, we are in “training for reigning.” The Lord has given each Christian a realm of jurisdiction to exert His authority. It’s time to rise up and champion a worthy cause for Christ. And there is no need to fear because His promise is certain. “Lo, I am with you always. Even to the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20).
“For the Lord himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout. With the voice of the archangel. The dead in Christ shall rise first; then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up to meet them in the air. So shall we ever be with the Lord.”